*****

Alaska, Last State in North America, 2017 (No Boat to Hawaii)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crafty Problem Solving


I'm not much good at solving big problems, but when it comes to small "space usage" problems I'm in my element.  Craig has often said that I was an engineer in an artist's body.  Around the RV I let him take care of the mechanical questions and I love to find, fit, or create the storage containers. 

There is a space next to the passenger side chair that begged for improvement. Built into the wall there are cup holders, a flexible map light, and a compartment that is just right to hold the looseleaf binder I use to keep our travel plans and reservations together. 

Between this wall and the chair is a space that is about seven inches wide (more if you count the space under the chair skirt).  Anchored on the chair-side floor of this space is a small fire extinguisher. I wanted to be very careful about putting anything there because I did not want to block or compromise access to the fire extinguisher!

Although we use the navigator program on the Android cell phone, I also like to have a hard copy map available.  On our recent trip, I used my large Motor Carriers Road Atlas to plan our routes. Sometimes the navigator will tell us to take a different route from what I planned. It doesn't know we are a motor home.  I like to have the Atlas out on my lap so I can override the navigator, but I don't want to be holding it for the entire drive.  

The Atlas is rather large, 12" x 15" and I did not have a "good" place to put it when we are driving.  It is too large to fit into the compartment where I keep my looseleaf binder. (The binder is 10 1/2" x 11 1/2"). Putting it in the pocket behind the seat worked, but it was awkward to get to it when I needed it.

 The space next to the chair was ideal, but I needed to be sure that putting the Atlas there would not compromised getting at the fire extinguisher.

I make custom boxes to ship my animal heads all of the time. I make large boxes smaller, and combine small boxes to make larger boxes.  I understand space.

So for this problem I made a custom box using foam core board (light, strong, available at any craft or office supply store) to hold the Atlas.  To make it blend in I covered it with wood grain Contact paper. To keep it in place and be sure it would not be in the way in an emergency, I attached it to the wall with  a couple of spots of self stick velcro. 

From the back
From the front




The Alfa is a diesel pusher, so the entry door and steps are in front of and to the side of the passenger seat. It seems the steps really accumulate sand and dirt quite quickly.  The small yellow handled brush is kept here so I can sweep them off frequently without having to go back and get the broom. 

It was my first purchase at the camp store in the Pinnacles National Monument last year.  We  broke a bottle of wine when it fell out of the refrigerator and shattered on the ceramic tile floor.  Glass everywhere! I had a broom, but not a dust pan.  This little set was called a "tent brush."  

So this little brush is a reminder of one of our first RV lessons.  "Be very careful when opening the cabinet and refrigerator doors for the first time after travel."  Things do shift.

Have you ever had things fall out on arrival?
Do you use both a navigator and a map?  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

RV Tips


First off I want to express a big welcome to my sister-in-law, Elaine, a new reader of my blog.  I hope this view into our life is entertaining, and you keep checking in on us often.

Speaking of which, I wish I had another exciting trip to be posting about, but alas, we are housebound for the next month or so.  But, I just can't keep my fingers off the keyboard so the posts will be mostly about work on the house, food and diet, and RV things.  

I have learned so many useful things by reading the blogs of other RVers.  I have a couple of things to share, and this is a good time to do so.

Can you guess what this, and what it is for?


It is a white bath puff that has been Super Glued to a clamp type hair clip.


I clip it onto the steering wheel of the Accent when we tow.  I have marked the wheel so I know exactly where the center of the wheel is when the tires are straight.


I can see the puff thru the windshield, and when the tires turn I can see the steering wheel turn.  This is very helpful when we are doing the last check before towing.  When we were first getting started,  Karen and Al suggested we do a full check of lights and turn signals each time we tow, and also for one of us to drive the RV forward a few feet while the other watches to be sure the wheels of the Accent are tracking and everything looks good.  At this time, I find seeing the puff move with the steering wheel helps me be sure it is not locked.

I can also see the puff in the rear view camera from the cockpit of the RV.  Our camera is black and white, and not the best, but if I know what I'm looking for I can see the puff as we go down the road. 

This tip was from another Alfa owner we met up in Oregon.  At first I tried tying the puff to the steering wheel, but it wouldn't stay in place.  The Super Glue and hair clip were my idea and work perfectly!

Do you know what these are or how they have solved another problem in the RV?


They are over the door hooks I bought at Walmart, and they give me a place to hang wet swimsuits and towels inside the RV. 


Some RV parks have swimming pools.  Not as many as I would like, but if they do have a pool, and if the water is warm, I am sure to go for swim.

But what to do with my wet suit? 

Since I like to go to the pool either after a full day of activity, or after dinner on a warm night, I am left with a wet suit and towel and no where to hang them to dry.  We generally don't keep our awning up overnight, and I don't want to hang them outside from either the ladder in back or the mirrors in front. I know there are clever wash hanging contraptions, but I am only looking for a place for my suit and towel, not a whole load of wash.

The space inside the RV is limited I am very conscious of clutter. Our rig is a 36' class A, and the shower is quite visible.  There are only two towel bars in the bath area.  One by the sink for a hand towel, and one on the shower door for our bath towels.

I like to start my after swim shower with my suit on so I can rinse out the chlorine. If I hang my wet suit and towel over the shower door they are not only visible, but if very wet might drip on the floor. 

By hanging them inside the shower they are out of the way and dry completely overnight.  This is particularly important if we are packing up and pulling out early the next day. 

Well, thats enough for today.  I have a couple of other ideas to share, but they will have to wait.

Have a good weekend everyone, and be careful in whatever you do.






Friday, September 28, 2012

Deleted Post

I just deleted a political post. 

 I believe everything that was in it, but I do not want to pollute my blog by going in that direction.  

"Politicians and diapers should be changed often
For the same reason." 

I don't know where that came from, but it is so true.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lunch at the Ahwahnee

Friday was a rest and recovery day for us.  One of my weight loss strategies is to avoid eating in restaurants, especially fast food or Denny's-type places. Most of the time I either pack a little lunch or we eat a bigger breakfast and skip lunch.  I almost always make dinner in the Alfa.
  
On this trip we did eat lunch out on the two days when the Alfa was being worked on, because we had to get going so early and Craig didn't have time for breakfast. 

But we also are establishing a tradition of eating in the main dining room of the National Park Lodges we visit. Thus, on Friday, we decided to have a low-key day wandering around the Yosemite Valley and having lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel.



It was good, but not as special as the dinner we had had there ten years or so ago. After lunch we explored the hotel and its immediate grounds.



One could imagine rich tourists playing lawn tennis or croquet on the lawn in years long past.



A sign from another time.  



During our visit to Yosemite we did not see much wildlife.  A few deer, this fat little Sierra Fence lizard, some quail and large ravens or crows.  No bears. 


I did see one unwelcome critter: the much dreaded Deer Mouse.  It got zapped in one of the electronic traps I have set in our basement bays.



Makes me feel like buying the traps was a good investment, given the Hantavirus scare in the park right now.  I'm glad we didn't unknowingly transport it back to our own forest, or have one start a family in the Alfa!

Saturday was the dreaded "go home day".  It's easier to get going when you have been dry camping and don't have any hookups to disconnect. 

 There is no dump station up at the Crane Flat campground, so we decided to stop at the Mariposa Fairgrounds on our way home.  They usually charge $20 to dump if you aren't camping there, but because we had been there for two nights the weekend before we were not charged.

The dry camping went well.  We were a little careful with our power and water. I wish the campground spot itself had been a little more level, but the ranger explained that because it was a natural area, they were hesitant about improving the sites. 

I'm sure we will dry camp again, but not for weeks at a time like some people do. 

I'm already plotting our next adventures!  A short trip in late October or November, and a longer outing that will include a few days in San Diego for Christmas.

Death Valley is a possibility.  Has anyone been there in the early part of January?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Mile Trail

The yellow line represents the Four Mile Trail on this 3D model on display at the visitor center.
On Thursday we did the hardest, longest hike of the trip.  Of any of our trips for that matter. It is called the Four Mile Trail and goes from the valley floor to the top of Glacier Point.  It is actually 4.6 miles one way, starting at 3980 feet elevation and going up to 7240 feet.  An elevation gain of 3260 feet!

The day started out much cooler than those before it, and for once we got on our way a bit earlier.  Unfortunately we lost the early start advantage because I got mixed up and we drove at least a half hour out of the way. But the morning remained slightly overcast instead of blazing hot.



We parked at the trailhead on the valley floor and started our hike thru a forested area.  There were many large rocks that had either been left by the glacier or fell from the granite walls above.



After the first mile or so, only a few tall trees blocked the view of the walls of El Capitan across the valley.




The higher we went, the more spectacular the views.



We lost count of the number of switchbacks and rock stairs.  As I rested many, many times on boulders along the path, I thought about the men who built and maintain the trails in our National Parks.  Parts of the trail had been coated with asphalt in the past.  It was pretty broken up in places and in others the sand over it made it a bit slippery.  I was very glad I had hiking poles.




I think this was about half way up. Glacier Point is the highest place in the park, higher than the Cathedral Spires. The wonderful clouds kept the day a little cooler.  


Eventually we could see the valley floor.  The cars looked like tiny ants.

The trail was not crowded, but there were other hikers. Many people take a bus up and walk down. Some walk up, and take a bus down.  Some just drive up, or take the bus both ways and don't hike the trail at all.


This is part of the panoramic view from Glacier Point, with Half Dome in the middle.  The last time we were here we drove up and it was a memorable experience. We were "wowed." But that had been like eating the whole box of chocolate all at once. Hiking up and stopping to look and rest a hundred times, was more like savoring the most exquisite treat bite by bite. Each bite better than the last.

As we approached the top, we met a ranger on the trail.  He encouraged us and told us we were almost there.  Great words to hear. We knew about the bus, but hadn't bought tickets. We had heard they were available at the top. The ranger told us the last bus left at 3:30, so we still had a little time to see the view and eat our lunch. 

We asked at the visitors center about tickets, and   learned they cost $25 each, and had to be bought from the bus driver.  The park employee I spoke with said we had to pay cash.  Oh dear, we didn't have $50 in cash along.  Then another employee told us we could talk to the driver and ask if we could pay at the other end with a credit card.  The problem with this was the end was at the Yosemite Lodge which was a long way from where our car was parked.  I was concerned we would get there too late for a shuttle ride back to the trailhead.

We took a deep breath, sat down in the amphitheater, enjoyed the view, and ate our lunch. 

What to do?  We were both pretty tired, but the day was not hot and the return trip was all down hill.  

We wandered over to the observation area and took it all in.  By this time we had both gotten a second wind and decided to hike back down.


The first couple of miles down weren't too bad.  I enjoyed seeing  the views I had seen before from a different angle and with different light.

The next two miles got harder and harder.  The parts of the trail that were the hardest going up were also the hardest going down.  

Craig said I did the last mile or so in slow motion.  One step at a time.  

From Craig: watching Merikay come down at one point, I was inspired to hum Lohengrin's wedding march as loud as I could.  You know, the slow, stately "here comes the bride, all dressed in white...".

But we made it.  We figure that with walking around the top and walking to and from the car, the total hike was 10 miles.  I was exhausted, but proud. 


As we left the valley the Cathedral Spires were glowing in the late afternoon sun. We saw many people waiting in the meadow for sunset, but we didn't have the energy or desire to join them.  

Another time, another trip.  We will catch the sunset in Yosemite then.  Something to come back for.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Water for San Francisco

Since this was not our first visit, we were not immediately drawn to the Yosemite Valley. Instead we headed over to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on Wednesday. 
Spillway


The Hetch Hetchy valley was  similar to Yosemite with its sheer granite walls and remarkable formations.  Ninety years ago a dam was built and the valley floor was flooded.  San Francisco gets most of its water from Hetch Hetchy.  Some say the valley should be restored to its original state, but I think what is done is done and people need water.


We walked across the dam and thru a stone tunnel to get to the hiking trail along the North rim of the reservoir. 



We could only see a small portion of the water.  It extends for about eight miles. 


Most of the trail was not difficult, but occasionally scrambling over piles of rocks was required. I may have lost some weight, but I am still not very limber!


Once again the heat kept our hike shorter than we would have liked.  I carry a bottle of water for each of us on the sides of my pack.  It is just big enough for a small lunch, sun screen and Kleenex. I like it better than a backpack.



Below the dam, Craig was fascinated by the fact that the people in charge were attacking the north wall of the Tuolumne river canyon with the kind of water cannon that you get from a dam that's hundreds of feet high.  But he forgot to ask the ranger lady that we met on the way in, what this was about, and on the way out there was no one to satisfy our curiosity. Do any past Hetch Hetchy visitors know what this is about?




Monday, September 24, 2012

Crane Flat and Tuolumne Grove

I think both Craig and I were a bit nervous about the unknown 46 miles between the Fairgrounds and our campground.  I had read posts on several forums about the roads and felt our choice of taking CA 140 was the best option.  As it turned out it was.  The road surface was smooth and the shoulders were reasonably wide. There is a spot where we had to unhitch the Accent to cross two one-way, narrow bridges, but Craig did fine driving the Alfa.  After he crossed, I led the way in the car for the remaining miles. 


image from web
One place that was a scary for Craig was a series of tunnels.  The first two had signs that read clearance 13' 10" at curb.  Fine, the Alfa is 13' 1" at the top of the sat dome.  But the last tunnel had a sign that read 10' 3" at curb.  I guess I didn't notice it because I went thru.  Craig saw it, but knew this was the tour bus route and just stayed in the middle of the tunnel.  All was O.K., but I think I would have stopped rather than risk getting "topped."

Crane Flat campground has a mix of RV sites and tent sites.  I think our spot was one of the better RV sites, but it was none too level!



This was our first "dry camping" experience. For my non-RV friends, this means no water, no power, and no sewer hookups. We carry 100 gallons  of fresh water with holding tanks of equal capacity.  We don't have solar panels, but they wouldn't have done us much good in this shaded campground anyway.  Instead we ran our onboard generator a few hours each day to keep the coach batteries charged.  This allowed us to use the lights, microwave, and any plug-in appliances. Our refrigerator,  hot water heater, and furnace run on propane or electricity.  Our stove and oven are always run with propane.  Some experienced campers claim they can go for several weeks without hookups, but I think our limit would be about one. 

The campground was much cooler than the valley fairground so we did not need to use the air conditioner. The morning temperatures were in the 50s and Craig turned on the heat for a short time.  

The biggest hardship was the lack of Verizon coverage, hence no internet.  We did get a cell call when we were in the valley, but up at the camp there were no bars.  

We were settled in our spot by 1:30 and decided to take the 3 mile round trip walk in a nearby Redwood grove. We both forgot our cameras. But we have plenty of big tree photos already. Although there were several bus loads of people also walking the trail, it did not feel crowded.  It was interesting to catch bits of conservations in languages other than English, particularly German.

That evening we joined a group of about 25 other campers for a ranger-led "Starry Sky" program. We both know our stars, but this was an opportunity to go up to a fire watch station that is not open to the public without a guide and get a good view of the dark skies without trees getting in the way.


picture from web
The Milky Way was quite visible. The ranger told several good stories about the constellations, and managed to relate them to the park. The early evening was fairly warm,  and we were all quite comfortable. 

Because it is very dry there were no mosquitos. How good is that?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mariposa

We are back home now.  Because we lacked internet connection at the campground in Yosemite, I have lots to write about and will write about the trip in several posts rather than one long one. Each day was special. 

We left Bakersfield after a leisurely Sunday morning.  Craig found a newspaper, and I made a nice breakfast. Our destination was the Mariposa Fairgrounds located in the foothills below Yosemite,   less than 200 miles away, and we were settled in our grassy 50-amp power and water hook-up spot by late afternoon.

The California State Mining Museum was just across the lawn from our spot, so we decided to take a look while the Alfa cooled down.  It was over 90F again.

The guy working there seemed very happy to see us, and since we were the only ones there he gave us quite a commentary. 


A large mass of quartz crystals.

Along with information about the crystals and minerals on display, he talked about some of the people he had observed. He told us how kids would often come into the museum, glance at the real specimens and then be glued to the computer looking at pictures of minerals!  Or how sometimes young Asians would come in, sit down, and focus on their hand-held devices most of the time they were there. I didn't say it, but maybe they were just there for the air conditioning. 

We stayed at the Fairgrounds Sunday and Monday nights. Our reservations in Yosemite were for Tuesday thru Saturday. We decided to take a warm-up hike along the Merced River on Monday.  "Warm-up" was an apt description since the day was once again quite hot. 



The trail we walked was along an abandoned railroad right-of-way along the river.  It had been cleared of tracks and was quite level. It should have been an easy trek and we had the option of going many miles, or only a few. 



We  stopped at a shaded picnic area for a snack after about 1 1/2 miles.   Most of the trail was unshaded and brutally hot.  I had a bit of heat stroke a few years back and can't tolerate the heat very well, so after our lunch we turned back.



Before returning to the car, I cooled my feet in the river.  The redness of my skin is not sunburn.  It is from being overheated! I'm glad we are finally smart enough (sometimes) to turn back.

I'd love to hike this trail in spring when the river is full and the weather is cooler. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Out of touch, then Giants clinch


From Craig: 

We just finished a two-week RV trip, at a very important time for me as a  baseball fan. When we left, both of our Bay Area baseball teams, the Giants and the Athletics, were doing well at contending in their leagues.  Both continued to do so as we swung through several days of repairs, maintenance, and new tires.  I got a little scared that if they both kept playing so well, we might have another 1989 earthquake  :-)

Last Tuesday Sep 18 we drove into Yosemite National Park. We heard that it was pretty much a communications wasteland, which was true with one exception.  Our Verizon cell phone (which is also our internet "hotspot") had zero bars of any protocol: 4G, 3G, 1X, or the really scary indication on the phone: zero bars of no protocol at all!  Which means no internet access!

At our campsite Crane Flats on the north rim of the Yosemite valley, scanning the AM radio band showed no stations at all!  As a kid I in Milwaukee I used to listen to stations in Nashville and Little Rock and Denver, so getting no stations at all was a shock. But it turned out that the FM band was full of stations, including the A's home station.  Now I know why I can't get 95.7 at home in the Santa Cruz mountains: they send most of their signal east to places like Yosemite!

The nights I got to hear Athletics games in Yosemite were disappointing: they lost all the evening games, though they did win one day game while we were out hiking. But I had no way to learn Giants results at all.

Today as we drove home and crested the mountain range leading into civilization, I learned that the Giants had won all of their games while we were out of touch, and that they were in line to clinch the National League Western division title tonight. 

Which they have in fact done, which makes for a wonderful homecoming for me as a wandering RV baseball fan.  

I've been listening to interviews with the (amazingly young) Giants players while typing this, and there really is no sport in the world that has a successful result like winning first place in a 162-game season.  Despite the earthquake fears, I hope for another Giants vs. Athletics World Series!

Merikay will be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On to Yosemite

Today we drive the last miles to our four night campsite in Yosemite National Park.  We drove the first 12 miles of the road there, yesterday on a trip to the Merced River for a short hike. (The weather was so hot and there was no shade we turned back after 1 1/2 miles.) The road looked good for that distance.  We saw several tour buses coming the other way so it should be OK for the Alfa.

This will be our first multiple-day dry camp.  Everything is A-OK in the rig, and the hikes are all picked out!







Sunday, September 16, 2012

OUT Of TOUCH

Looks like very poor internet connection for the next six or seven days.  I'll post when I can.  We are alive and enjoying ourselves!

Ants!


Life in Southern California is so hard that (most or all of) an anthill in Prado Regional Park decided to leave home in favor of our RV.

Since then we have relocated the whole rig to Bakersfield. 


Along the way we picked up some Terro ant killer from Home Depot, and have set out several samples for their approval and consumption.




They really seem to like it. You put drops of it down on a piece of paper or cardboard and they gather around and suck it up. It doesn't kill them right away like a spray would.


The theory of this product is that the ants are supposed to take it home to their nest/anthill, where it will "do in" the whole family.

Since Chino is now more than a hundred miles away, it's going to be hard for them to follow the original theory. So we will have to see how it affects the little buggers.

We have used it very successfully at home when the late summer ants invade looking for water. It took a couple of days before we stopped seeing any stragglers.

Changing the subject, we're finished with our three days of maintenance work.  We got a second opinion on the brakes and were assured they were good.  But the same mechanic advised that we should replace the front tires.

They gave us a tire dealer recommendation and we spent Friday having a pair of Michelins put on, with a discount under the FMCA Advantage program.  We also had a full two-axle alignment, and had all four corners of the Alfa weighed.

Our ride is much better, but we still want to get new Koni shocks installed. Unfortunately they would have to be ordered and we didn't want to stay in Chino any longer!  

We're spending the night at the Southland RV park in Bakersfield.  Our original plan was to try a night of boondocking at the Camping World, but since the temperatures have been over 100F we opted for a place with 50 amp service and a nice pool.  It was great to spend an hour relaxing in the water while I did the wash at the little clean laundry just steps away.  At $1.50 per load wash and 50 cents per load drying it was quite reasonable.  

We are delighted that the Alfa's air conditioner works fairly well, and the refrigerator makes ice and keeps Craig's ice cream solid.

Have you ever had ants invade your RV?  What did you do about it?

I wrote the above post last night.  It is now early Sunday morning in Bakersfield.  There is a rooster crowing in the distance.

The ants are all gone!  Well, maybe I will find a few here and there, but the wall to wall swarm has been abated.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Learning Curve

Sunset at Prado Regional Park, Chino CA
As we start our second year of RV ownership, we continue to learn new, not always pleasant lessons.

For this trip I booked two nights at the Prado Regional Park in Chino, CA.   I did my homework, looking at thing like space size, hookups, and cost.  I made my reservation online and printed out my confirmation and a campground map.

On Thursday afternoon, as we sat in the hot, non-air-conditioned waiting area of the Freightliner shop, I looked over the printout.  Strange ... up to now the parks we have stayed at had check-in times in early afternoon.  This one said no check-in before 3 PM.  No problem, it was almost 4 and our rig wasn't quite ready.

OMG ... the fine print said the Park closes at 5, but that the gate was locked at 4. Campers arriving after 4 were to call the office for an after hour code.
  
I looked at the clock: 3:55 PM.  I called the number and got a recording saying the office closed at 3! 

EEK, we were going to be locked out! I didn't have a code. 

What to do?  I was very upset to say the least.  Craig pointed at the door and said "go there".  It was about twelve miles away.  Fortunately the Accent wasn't hooked up.

I arrived at the park and of course the gate was locked and there was no one around.  I could not see the campground from the entrance, but I did see a couple of fishermen about a block away at the edge of the lake.  I climbed over a low fence and went to ask them if they had a code (no) and the location of the campground.  It is at the far back corner of the park!

I decided that walking in to the campground and finding the camp host was my best option.  It was very hot, close to 100F, and I was still pretty riled up.  As I approached the gate again I saw a truck heading out.  Wait! I ran across the grass and climbed the fence again.  Turned out the driver didn't know the code either.

Just then another camper pulled up to the gate and started to enter his code. 

 "Wait, wait," I yelled as I ran over to his pickup. 


I must have looked like a crazy woman!  Clutching my reservation binder I told him my situation and he gave me the code number! 

He looked a little suspicious. He asked me which space number we were in (27) and told me they were in 25.

I thanked him and explained my husband was with the RV at a repair place and I had to go back and get him.

Which I did ...

We drove back to the park, entered our code, opened the gate and drove to our spot.  

We met our neighbor, and we all laughed about "the crazy lady waving a clipboard!"  They also told us it was often very hard to get someone to answer the telephone and they usually got a code when they placed their reservation.

The lesson?  Read all of the print out!  

Have you ever been locked out of a park at 4 in the afternoon?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA California



The Walt Disney Concert Hall is an amazing structure.  It is more than a building.  It is a work of art that pleases the eye and the mind, and feeds the soul with its powerful lines and space.

These are a few of the photos we took on our tour:

The  Lobby where we signed in and picked up our FREE self guided audio tour.
Steinway was having an invitation-only sale in one of the spaces. No better place to hear the quality of an instrument.
The main Auditorium is said to be one of the acoustically best halls in the country.

The carpet is a design tribute to Lillian Disney
This large flower fountain in the garden is made of broken blue and white china and is a gift to their mother from the Disney children.



Stainless steel

Stairway
Window
Every view was fascinating

As a complete artistic opposite, we saw this large sculpture outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

What can I say!


And finally, one of the many mirror glass skyscrapers.  I wouldn't want to be on the street below during a really big earthquake.

This post is in part an experiment.  I have made the pictures larger than I usually do and used a few more than I have in the past.  How has it loaded for you?  Is it too long?