various braindroppings. infrequent. some incoherent. Please COMMENT, critique, complain, and send me a link to your blog or photos page. You can also click "follow" and get an email upon addl. posts. thnx!
Monday, May 25, 2009
This 1990 Blue Bird Wanderlodge, model SP36, has been well maintained, and must have been stored indoors for much of it’s life, since the original paint is still shining. It was the Silver Anniversary edition, that included many extras not found in other versions of this coach. This fully self-contained home on wheels is ready for anything from a weekend in the mountains to a full-time tour of the country! While you're driving, your passengers can watch movies in the livingroom or the bedroom, fix a meal and eat or play cards at the roomy dinette, or even shower in the spacious bath, since the coach makes continuous hot water for you from engine heat! Up front, the pilot and co-pilot have top-notch sound systems with individual volume and equalizer controls.
The full-featured galley includes a dual burner stove and a convection microwave that will run off of the generator or the 3000 watt inverter from a huge bank of house batteries. Pop popcorn at a rest stop, or roast a turkey on the way to the campsite. Dual sinks and disposal make for an easy clean up. The large refrigerator/freezer runs off of electric, 12v., or Propane, and you can make a Smoothie or a Frozen Margarita with the built-in Nutone power blender, or other attachments. This coach is designed to handle cold weather in style with three different heating systems running off the engine, propane, and electricity. The holding tanks are also heated, and the entire coach is well insulated with several inches of expanding foam. Hot desert travel is a breeze as well, with the “dash” A/C that runs off the engine, and, if needed, the two roof A/C’s that can run off the generator.
For privacy, just activate the power draperies, or the total black-out shades in the rear. You'll find bright and efficient flourescent and LED lighting throughout the coach, even inside the closets and cabinets! This coach features a 32" flat TV, as well as a unique, 50" projection theater across from the couch for big movie nite fun! Deadbolt the steel door and you’re safe and secure in an all-steel mini-fortress. The queen size bed has a premium mattress providing a good nite's sleep anywhere, and the sofa pulls out into a double bed that is actually very comfortable, since the “seam” is down the middle, between the two people, that are off in dreamland. Custom wood flooring, leather seats, and earth-toned cabinetry create a complimentary environment for relaxing. The bathroom features a porcelain toilet and a shower/tub unit that’s as roomy as many home showers, with a high showerhead and plenty of elbow room. Go ahead, take a long, hot shower. The rapid-recovery water heater provides almost endless hot water. Even if dry camping, there’s 100 gallons of fresh water on board. The walls of the bathroom swing away, doubling your floor space. In a Blue Bird, you're never cramped. And when two couples use the coach, the double doors provide discreet access to the bathroom from either side.
And speaking of space, this unit has seemingly unlimited storage space. The famous high quality Wanderlodge cabinetry is everywhere, from ample overhead cabinets, to a roomy, pull-out pantry, to a huge cedar-lined wardrobe closet that has sliding mirrored doors and automatic lights. Things like magazine racks, tissue holders and drawers are right where you need them, and there’s even a lighted china cabinet for items you'd like to display. Under the coach, there is a pass-through bay and several spacious compartments all protected by solid steel doors and locks. One bay has a full-size roll-out tool box. Having just one rear axle, leaves even more bay space. For very large items, the roof is completely encircled with the iconic, Blue Bird luggage rail, and the aluminum decking can handle the weight. Feel free to walk around or even watch the sunset from your perch in the sky. While up there you’ll notice the high-gain wifi antenna, the motorized-lift amplified TV antenna, and two state of the art solar panels that constantly provide 12 amps of charge to the battery systems, free and green, whenever the sun is out, which is perfect for dry camping or isolated storage!
The 300 HP Turbo Cat 3208 engine not only provides enough power for the coach to bound up mountain passes, but also for up to a 10,000 pound trailer or tow car. This is a rear-engine diesel pusher with air ride, -just like the Greyhound buses, and you can practically whisper to each other while riding in this wonderfully quiet coach! The 8-way power leather seats, tilt/telescoping steering, power heated mirrors, 4-speed automatic transmission, remote control spotlights, rear camera, and multitude of gauges and dash controls make driving this coach an absolute joy. Flip-down fog lights, CB, radar detector, weather radio, GPS, standard horn, air horns, musical horn, everything imaginable to make the journey a unique experience.
Outside the coach, you'll find awnings on every window, featuring cast alloy components and sturdy reliability. Plus, a giant patio awning, to enjoy the outdoors even if sunny or rainy. The radiator is designed to swing out of the way for major engine access. The diesel generator power-slides out of the front for servicing, and there are even foot-holds so you can clean the windshield easily. Every aspect is engineered for effortless use. Once you activate the hydraulic levelers and set up camp, you can lower the rear motorcycle platform and take off to see the sites on the Vespa 3 wheeled motor scooter. Or, if there are four of you, use the four electric bicycles and do your sightseeing the completely green (and completely fun) way!
Just relax and enjoy your vacation, knowing you’re in the safest, most reliable, and enjoyable way to travel, and experience the adventure, …but sleep in your own bed every night!
more at: http://picasaweb.google.com/Bluebirdzoom/MaunderMaximum#
Blue Bird Motorcoaches are so well engineered and built, that they are essentially a timeless work of art. It is certain that they will outlive most of us. Therefore we are just stewards, (‘hopefully good ones), caring for them, for a while. This does not mean that they are perfect and never fail. In fact, this complex network of inter-connected electrical and mechanical systems needs constant maintenance and periodic repair due to the stresses of mobile use, combating the environment. However, time and experiences have shown that out of the hundreds of manufacturers of motor coaches, Blue Birds’ are the most reliable and easily repairable, even though they are not the most exotic and expensive.
The members of the Blue Bird forums are a wonderful, friendly bunch that, due to pride of ownership of these fine machines, spend great amounts of time and energy sharing information with each other on everything from repairs and maintenance, to upgrades and use-tips, making the Blue Birds all that much more valuable.
The recession has hit RV values quite hard, and they are all currently worth only about two-thirds what they were a year or two ago. Furthermore, many RV coach manufacturers (including Blue Bird) have gone out of business recently because of the economic disaster. However, once the economy recovers, Blue Birds will be in demand and extremely valuable, since it will take many, many years for any new coach builders to start up and make any coaches, anywhere near the quality of a Blue Bird.
If you have a friend that is looking for a quality motorcoach, or are considering going along on a vacation with someone that has one, it would be worth your time to worry and hope that it is a Blue Bird!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I always think of camping, and my friend Jack Huston, that past away two years ago. Usually, people most remember a lost friend and loved one on the anniversary of their birthday or the day they died. And even though Jack died on Earth Day, which was so fitting for a guy so in tune with the earth, I will always think of Jack on Memorial Day weekend the most because, for about 20 of them, he and I, and whatever group we could gather-up, went camping together in the always-glorious weather of that time of year, in the breath-takingly-beautiful Arizona mountains. My memory has gone from bad to worse as I’ve aged, but I have a strong warm-fuzzy when I think of those trips, and I know that if I could remember more details, they were all good times, no matter the group assembled, due to the atmosphere provided by the fabulous destinations.
I have always taken photos. Not Photographs, but photos, “picts”, “snapshots”, you know, just quick pictures of where I am, what I’m experiencing, often with the self-timer, to help me remember that experience for “when I’m old” (which didn’t take long!). And yes, it’s true that I usually took pictures when times were good as apposed to bad, and just as with memories that get imprinted harder when endorphins and other good-time chemicals are present in the brain, we tend remember the fun times, and forget the bad. But I’m still pretty sure, these trips were all good. I really need to go thru the old “prints” of our life, before digital photos. Remember those?
As with most of the many times I camped with Jack, most all of the Memorial Day Weekend trips were backpacking trips, as that’s what Jack (and I) preferred over car camping trips, 100 to one. But sometimes, if the “group assembled” consisted of members of “varying degrees of hiking proficiencies”, and if we could think of a place to go where you could drive back into the wilderness far enough to not have “neighbors”, we would take the big iron things and could then take along some more creature comforts, - like chairs! I remember once when Regina was two months old, we did just that, and were kinda glad we did, because it turned very windy that night, and the tent shook so much it scared Regina, and we retreated to the Suburban. Mostly always though, we were at least a mile or two in. Including my most memorable Memorial Day outing, that I don’t remember much about. ~?
Let me explain, we had assembled a relatively large group one year, of about 20 people, for a backpack trip into a canyon that Jack had been to just once before (unusual for Jack, as most of the places he took us on MD were places he knew quite well). This was to be a “short, easy hike”, because several in the group were first time backpackers (which wasn’t unusual for these MD trips), and because, Wendy and I were taking Ethan, at 7 months, on my back, and Regina at 3yrs, 2 months, on her first hike where she’d have to walk all the way, since we were obviously loaded down fully. Well, the “short easy hike” Jack had remembered was a little steeper downhill, and longer than he’d remembered, but the camp spot was gorgeous, and would normally be considered by Wendy and I “worth the hike”. EXCEPT, I had been feeling a little foggy that morning, but since so much prep and anticipation had gone into the trip, decided to just barrel ahead, and also since I was sort of the “coordinator” of the group, I decided to just “hope it was nothing”.
This, in retrospect, was incredibly stupid and irresponsible, as it turned out to be a full blown flu that had me sleeping from the time we made camp, until the next morning when, after feeling like I could try to hike out, most of the group went along, to carry all our gear and kids! I went back to sleep in the car, Wendy drove us home, and I slept thru till the next day, when some of the group stopped by to see how we were all doing, on their way home from the 3 day trip. Wendy had even less fun than me, getting almost no sleep in the tent that night, because Ethan was having stomach problems, and periodically vomiting all over the place! –Not really the most “memorable” trip, - just the one we’ll always remember! But Jack and I sure loved those Memorial Day Weekend outings. It was our unspoken “standing commitment” to each other for so many years there, to try to get some folks together, and think of a fun new place to go. We introduced a lot of people to backpacking. And Jack introduced a lot of people to the splendor of the wilderness, including me, and that’s what I’ll always remember about my friend Jack.
Friday, May 22, 2009
If Mr. Cheney can’t keep his mouth shut, and stop ruining our country, then we’ll have to just go ahead and arrest, charge, convict, and sentence him for any one of the number of illegal things he did while in office. We’ve been letting him slide, giving him a lot of latitude, and basically letting him off on these blatant unlawful actions, because he did hold a high office. But that is about all we can do for him, to honor his years of service. Especially since the majority of us agree that his years of service didn’t serve our country very well at all. He may have believed he was doing the right thing, but time has proved that he clearly wasn’t. And if he can’t see the tremendous favor we’re doing for him, by letting him slide, and just go away, and if he doesn’t stop giving these speeches, and continuing to promote policies and ideologies that the majority of the country does not agree with, then we should stop looking the other way on his offenses, and go ahead and press charges and get him off his soapbox, so that we can stay focused on the job at hand, and continue the (hard) work on healing our nation. I believe everyone has right to his opinions. The problem here is that he gets national tv coverage, only because of his previous job (that he did poorly), and there’s no good way to insure equal time, from the view of the opposing side, - that is, the view of more than half of countries’ population. We don’t think torture is good. We don’t think it works. And we don’t think it’s a good way to run a society, for many reasons. All polling reveals this. So if he can’t accept that, then we’ll have to take back our offer of letting him slide on all that law-breaking he did. The only problem with this, of course, is the martyr syndrome that may infuse some of our less-brain-cell-endowed citizenry into trying to start riots. Really, the guy is starting to piss me off, royally. You’d think he’d be happy we gave him a chance to try out his ideas (and none of them worked out well), we looked the other way when he changed all sorts of laws about executive priveledge, and we gave him a couple a real ‘spensive heart surgeries – no charge! I mean, he’d be dead right now, if not for the goodness of our hearts. And yet he still thinks he can get in our face, and yammer on about his crazy, stooopid, disasterous ideas on how to run a country. Someone needs to have talk with him, right away, up close and personal, and explain the way things really are – and could be for him real soon, if he doesn’t sit down and shut up. I’ll be glad to do it, if Obama and his cronies are too afraid to.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Electric bicycles are coming! They will take the world by storm. They will replace the car for most all short commutes of single riders in fair weather. They will do this because they are faster and much more efficient (than either a car, a regular bike, or walking). They will do this because they are much less expensive. They will do this because the planet is sick. But mostly, they will quickly take the world by storm, and replace the car for so many trips, because electric bikes are fun to ride! Bicycles have always been fun to ride. Ever since the “Safety Bicycle” was perfected in 1880, with it’s chain, sprocket, and air-filled tires, the bicycle has always been universally accepted as fun to ride. As long as there were no hills. And as long as there were no head-winds. And as long as you were fit, and strong, and feeling good, and didn’t mind working up a sweat. The bicycle could make you feel like you were sailing, or even flying! But not through water or air, but through your own neighborhood and town! The envy of everyone, as you were having fun, and getting to where you wanted to go. With half the effort, and over five times faster than walking! But there were those hills. And that head wind! And those days when you just didn’t feel all that energetic. But what if you could magically take away those hills, and that head wind, and make the bike feel like you were always going downhill, and with the wind? Then it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t feel good some days, because a ride on a magical bicycle like that, would make you feel good again! You could sail and fly through your favorite parts of town, running errands, getting things done, but you wouldn’t be getting tired, you’d be getting therapy! And so it seems clear, that if there were a magical bicycle like that, everyone would want one. And would ride it often! And if that happens, our lifestyle would improve. And it would help to heal our planet.
Well, the electric bike does all that. And more. That’s why it is already taking the world by storm. Many places like China and Europe have already experienced massive explosions in the growth of this new product. And it is becoming a new paradigm for transportation. America is just now starting to discover the wonderful advantages of pairing a bicycle with an electric motor. Even though we tend to have greater distances to travel, and our cities are designed to cater to our love affair with the automobile, people are finding that an electric bike can solve so many problems on shorter commutes, that sales in the US have begun to skyrocket here as well. And for every electric bike that is purchased, and more importantly, every time we replace miles-driven with miles-ridden, on an e-bike, our lives, and our planet, benefit greatly. So, you might ask, “just because electric bikes are so much easier and more fun to ride than regular bikes, how much of a positive impact could they really make, even if we did replace a lot of our short car trips with an e-bike?” Well, it’s hard to say. We won’t use them much on long trips, say, over ten miles each way. And we won’t use them much when it’s raining because we like to stay dry in our cars. And we won’t use them if we need to pickup more items than will fit in our baskets and saddlebags. So, what does that leave? A LOT! In the US, the climate is pretty nice, most of the time. The national average daily miles driven is 29 miles. In addition to those who are starting to commute to work by e-bike to save hundreds of dollars in monthly fuel costs, it is easy to see how we can replace millions of our little daily errand-running trips with an e-bike instead of a 4,000lb, gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing, budget-breaking car.
Here are a few Fun Facts about e-bikes:
>Faster in many cities for short commutes, due to traffic jams.
>Healthier lifestyle, gets you “out”, pedaling some.
>More efficient than any other form of transportation, including walking and regular pedal biking. Electricity takes less energy than the amount to grow food.
>Decreases congestion on city streets. Can you imagine how many more bikes can fit on a road than cars?
>Greenest transport. Zero emissions. Better health not breathing pollution. Helps climate crises.
>More fun than being sat on by a hippopotamus.
>Reduces use of non-renewable energy resources like petroleum, which we need to make plastics.
>Reduces wars by reducing oil use. Most efficient means of transportation,-1500 mpg equivalency.
>Sustainable-small amount of energy needed can easily be made from total green source like solar.
>The bike above goes 18mph for 18miles without pedaling, and is available for $300 (plus $100 shipping) at target.com
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
This is the most common response lately because A. Everybody has a computer. B. Nobody has any money in this recession. And C. Even if we kinda want a new, smaller, lighter weight laptop and have the money, nobody wants to end up with Vista just to do it. Understandable. Completely understandable. But, we feel sorry for the computer industry, right? (it’s not their fault the new version of windows makes computers as slow as ten yrs ago) and we’d like to help stimulate the economy by buying something, right? What if you could get that sexy new, high-tech, 3 lb, 10” screen, lonnng battery life laptop for ~$300? – AND, it runs on XP!!! It’s true. -It’s the best kept secret in the computer world right now. Microsoft has allowed sales of their (best) operating system for a select few “netbooks” (because they know that Vista is such a hardware hog, it won’t run on anything but big machines). And the best news for us normal, daily computer users is that, Intel developed a small, super-efficient, low-cost processor, called the Atom, with these netbooks (and entry-level desktops) in mind! My favorite is the Asus eeePC1000 that is getting great reviews for build quality, and everything, actually. It comes with a 6 cell battery that results in a run time of about 5 hours! No, really, 5 hours really. They claim 7, but you know how these guys always rate these things – very best case scenarios (screen fully dimmed, wireless off, etc.). But the user reviews are saying they’re really getting five hours! 5 hrs! I could do that. 160GB hard drive, dualtouch touchpad, bluetooth, webcam, the works. So this could be our main computer, hooked up to our large monitor, with our large keyboard, and then when we need to travel-it, all our files and bookmarks and stuff are there. I’ve read the test reviews, and this processor runs 98% of everything I need (even Photoshop, though it takes a second to do a huge graphics job). Then if I need to edit video or something, I could just hook up my old computer for the day. The only thing this doesn’t have is an optical drive. So you just buy an external dvd burner (~$40) for when you need that at home. You can dump movies into it’s hard drive to watch on trips (which is another way to help batt life, by not spinning a disc). And it’s less than three lbs! So if you know anyone thinking about a new machine, tell them about this one. Remember, friends don’t let friends buy Vista. http://usa.asus.com/news_show.aspx?id=15498 It comes in black, blue, or, for those, “i” people, - white!
Remember when music was played on sound systems that made it sound good? Those of us that grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, were very lucky, technology wise, when it came to listening to music. We were lucky because there wasn’t this explosion of technology, including digital music! I know, you’re thinking “but digital music is wonderful, clean, clear, portable, versatile, and all that stuff!”. But let me ask you something, does it sound good? The answer, most of the time, is arguably “No!”. The problem is that, people select too low of a sampling rate to rip and store their music, in order to save space on their devices. Furthermore, the headphones and speaker systems being used (everything from $3 earbuds to FM modulators for car radio interfacing) sound absolutely horrid. Not to mention that so many people today listen to music while they’re walking down the street, eating a snack, and talking to friends! Back in the day, music was Gospel. No matter if it was hard rock, classical, or Gospel! It was listened to. Carefully. And the technology we had, the LP record, turntable, receiver, and speakers, were cherished and worshiped as well. And it improved every year, and you’d go into the stereo store (that’s what we called them, “stereo stores”) and drool over the latest equipment that had a little bit better specs than last years! And every few years you’d save a few paychecks and splurge on some new component, and then all your friends would be over to hear the newest album…and they’d really listen! Man, are we lucky we didn’t have ipods! We would’ve really missed out!! Spread the word. Tell people that they’re missing out. Remind them to rip music at high sampling rates. .WAV files sound better than .MP3 ones. And use high quality headphones and amplifier/speaker systems. And then you’ll find yourself really listening again!