Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The 'Long Live Rock" show

Last week I won two tickets for a show that sounded pretty good to us. It was called, "Long Live Rock" to be performed at Mount Vernon's Lincoln Theater this past Saturday night. Pat & I grew up in the Rock and Roll years, right from the start of that genre of music. These were going to be performed by what has now become called a "Tribute Band" which means others singing the songs of the well known performers. We have enjoyed going to Danny Vernon's Tribute to Elvis shows and, since I won these tickets at no cost, decided to go. I have a few photos to post from the show.

The theater is an old fashioned movie theater with a large stage that is used often for productions of this type. The lighting and acoustics are good so it works well for music productions. The place is owned by the city and has been completely renovated, so it really is a beautiful place.

Long Live Rock 1
This first photo is of the first singer who was singing music from The Doors. He was pretty good and we enjoyed his music. He sure has a lot of hair. The same basic band played for all of the performers, I think (we ended up leaving early.)

Long Live Rock 2
Here is another photo of the first performer. Most of my photos do not show the guy on the keyboards as he is kind of off to the right side of the stage but this one has him in view.

Long Live Rock 3
This third photo is of the same guy. I have the movie, "The Doors" in which I think Val Kilmer stared as Jim Morrison, the lead singer. I haven't yet watched it but now think I will.

Long Live Rock 4
I don't know who this guy was supposed to be. He was loud and I think there is a difference between singing and screaming. He hasn't yet learned that difference although he doesn't look to be as young as most of the others.

Long Live Rock 5
This gal I think was singing music from Pat Benatar, but I am not sure.

I guess the music was good but it really isn't from the era of rock that Pat & I grew up with. We were there from the beginning with Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and those of that era. There are many of the newer groups who have played music that we enjoy but this didn't really seem to be it. There was to be some in the second half that I know we would have liked, including some from Fleetwood Mac, Heart, The Who and Melissa Etheridge but we just were not enjoying what we were hearing in the first half so decided, for the protection of our hearing, we would leave early. So these three singers are all that I got photos of. But I think I now have pretty much figured out how to consistently get technically good photos under these challenging lighting conditions. And I am glad that the tickets were free.

PS - The hobby shop called late this afternoon to say that my model airplane has arrived! I'll go pick it up tomorrow, then figure out how to do the finish work on it's assembly and where to store it to keep it safe from our pride of cats.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008


Old friends know us too well

On Wednesday, after my blog post Tue about ordering my RC airplane, I got an email from an old friend (I can say that since he is a few months older than me and we've known each other since about 1957) with the subject line, "I KNEW IT." Gary R and I used to do a lot of things together: archery weekly at the local field archery club and at least once out in the desert where we could chase the arrows as far as they would go, water ski in the summer, talk about cars and girl friends, and more. Over the years we have come to know each other very well. Here is the bulk of his note:

"Hi, there, John Richard,

You know, many things in life change---but some do not. I was just on your "blog," and I KNEW as soon as I read your last week's entry with the photos that the guy took of your neighborhood with his Radio Controlled plane that it was only going to be a matter of time until you decided that you HAD to have one of these gadgets. When I did not see any other blog entries from you, I knew as sure as the sun rises in the east that you were on a "mission" to identify and purchase what you needed to get started in that new activity.

I was laughing to myself as I read your account of the process you went through: head to the nearest hobby store; talk to store owners; BUY all the magazines you can get your hands on that describe how to get started and what to start with. The only difference between 1959 and now is that you were able to find simulation software to allow you to learn without crashing and burning..... Can you imagine what it would have been like back in 59-60 if we had been able to "test drive" new race-ready Porsches, Cobra 429s, and the like simply by pooling our money and buying a simulator?

Of course, we probably would have also tried to find (or find someone to program)
simulators for: a "date" with Annette; sky diving; bow hunting for Alaskan Kodiak
bears; and, of course----a simulator for C***** so he could "learn to drive" without
going out into the neighborhood killing trees with his parents' new Chevy."

I guess there is a lot of truth to the idea than you really can't fool people all of the time. To those who know you well, we are all pretty transparent.

I am having fun with the simulator and looking forward to later this week when my airplane should arrive at the hobby shop. Now if I can figure out a place to store it where it will be safe from the cats.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I've been bitten.....

Alright, I have gotten real interested in radio controlled model airplanes after seeing those aerial photos of my community. I know that I can't do that yet as I first have to learn how to fly them. But I've started that process.

Last Friday I bought Hanger 9's FS-One Precision RC Flight Simulator. It comes with a controller of the type used to fly these models and a big selection of types of aircraft (it even includes helicopters!), areas to fly in, etc. I've played a bit with it, enough to learn that I have a lot to learn before I can take off and then get the plane back on the ground in one piece. That is the preferred way but it makes a lot more sense to do my crashes on the simulator, where I just push a button to return the aircraft to pristine condition. And they fly very realistically. I can dial in wind, both constant and variable, as well as fly it from pavement or grass and probably other surfaces. I know there is even at least one inside venue that can be used, but that is for small electric aircraft.

I also did some looking around, reading of magazines and talking with people. It turns out that Pat's son in law is a R/C flyer who has half a dozen different planes and is a past president of the Skagit Valley R/C Club, a chapter of the national AMA club. I think I will probably join them both and J has said he will teach me to fly. The plane I settled on is a Hobbico NexSTAR 46 Select RTF. The RFT means "ready to fly" and it comes out of the box pretty close to being ready. I ordered it today from the local hobby shop. I have a few photos that are from the distributor of the plane:

NexStar 46 - 1
This is a pretty large model with a wing span of almost 6 feet (68 3/4") and a fuselage length of 56 inches. It weighs about 6 1/2 pounds, before it's fuel tank is filled with 9 fluid ounces of glow engine fuel.

NexStar 46 - 2
This view shows the SpeedBrakes Training Flaps allow it to fly at a very slow speed. I've read that it will land at about 17mph. All this is good in a trainer that helps the novice pilot handle the controls before having a serious accident occur to the plane.

NexStar 46 - 3
It also has what is called automatic flight stabilization which will level the plane out from almost any position the pilot gets it into. This sounds like it may be a good thing for a novice to help preserve the plane and it can be dialed down in it's strength as the pilot learns how to fly the plane, eventually turning it off. More on this later after I try it. Anyway, this photo shows the sensor on the bottom of the body just behind the wheels that makes this system work.

NexStar 46 - 4
This front view shows another feature that is on the front of the wings, called SpinControl Airfoil Extensions. These are wing droops that provide lift even in a stall to keep the plane level and allow the pilot to regain control. They are also removable after the pilot gets to where they are not needed.

The radio control that comes along with it is a Futaba unit which I guess is one of the best brands. The receiver and all servos are built into the plane and already connected, except to the elevator that are connected in that final 20 minutes needed before flying. The kit comes with another simulator that actually uses this radio to fly the sim and it is with this specific plane with it's aerobatics already programmed in. I'll install it and fly that until I get to where I can make landings successfully before we go out to fly the real thing. Then, I'll hook my radio to J's and have him take it off, then let me fly it but with his radio in command so he can take control back immediately if I have a problem.

You would never guess that I am enthused about this. I've wanted to do something like this all of my life and now finally have the time and money to do so. My plane should be here by the weekend or first of next week at the latest. When I get it together I'll figure out how to get some photos of my actual plane, with me included in one or two so you can see the size. I'll want those as a reminder of how I want to keep it. No crashes!!!!!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My home area from the air

One of our neighbors has a friend who has a radio controlled model airplane he has built that includes a Canon digital still camera. He can fly the plane over an area and take photos with the camera from his controller on the ground. Doug's friend came with that plane on August 12th, flew it from the parking lot in our senior park and took some photos of the area. I have the photos from that session as well as a couple that Doug took of them before the flight. Pat and I were down at the ocean with our RV when this occurred so we were not here but it is still fun to see the results.

Airial photo model plane 1
Here is a fairly close up view of the front end of the airplane itself, showing the engine, prop, camera and wheels. I'm sorry that the background is a bit busy as the plane was sitting on the tailgate of the truck it arrived in and has some of the accessories used with it in view, but I think you can get a good idea what it looks like.

Airial photo model plane 2
Here is the pilot/owner carrying it into the parking lot of our clubhouse, where he flew it from. You can see the mail boxes building at the street edge of the parking lot just beyond him on the left side of the photo, and Little Mountain in the background behind the trees that are at the edge of our park. I wasn't here to see the takeoff or landing but Doug said it flew fine from this amount of open space.

Little Mountain Estates 1
Here is a photo from the plane. That is our house on the far right side, just across the street. If you look carefully you can see the sunroom we added at the left side of the house as we are looking at it here on the back of the house. This also shows some of the common area behind us that is in lawn. The houses are fairly close to each other but that is fine with most of us as we don't want a lot of yard space to have to maintain! The common area is pretty big but the park maintains it.

Little Mountain Estates 2
This view is looking south, about the same direction that the photo of the two people carrying the plane to launch it was looking. You can see the mailbox building at the left side of the parking lot. The big building there is our clubhouse which has a lot of things inside including a large indoor swimming pool, a library with a few thousand books, a full kitchen, billiards and poker tables, a piano/organ, meeting space and a large mirror room such as a dance school would have. Just beyond the building there is a glimpse of the gazebo out in the yard where Pat and I were married last year and on the near side, a shuffle board court and a golf putting green that is missing it's green cover as well as quite a bit of lawn space.

Little Mountain Estates 3
This angle of view is similar but looking from a bit farther to the left (east) toward the south. The gazebo shows up better on the far side of the clubhouse here and you can actually see a bit of our house beyond the green one that is at the far side of the parking lot. I can see the front door of the sunroom, although it is easier to pick it out if you click on the photo and go look at it in a larger version on my Flickr site.

These photos show a bit about how our park is laid out. There are 120 homes here. The houses are all double wide manufactured homes that range in size from about 1200 to 1900 square feet. All are pit mounted on foundations so they sit on the ground like a stick built house rather than being three feet up in the air like mobile homes are often setup. I would love to have an airplane like this one- might be something to look into.....

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Miniature golf at Ponderosa Falls RV Resort

There is a great miniature golf course at Ponderosa Falls RV Resort and my brother and I played all 18 holes there on Wednesday of last week. That was the day the temperature reached 84 degrees in Spokane in the afternoon and of course that was when we were out there playing golf. This RV park used to be in the Yogi Bear Campground chain and there are still some left overs from that era, including the golf course. The course has a man-made river that flows through it, starting with a water fall that is about 25 feet high. There are foot bridges that cross the river in a few places through the golf course, and at one point there is a rapids that drops probably about 6 feet.

Golf 01
Here my brother, L, has just taken a shot and you can see the ball moving toward the camera on the carpet. As you can see there are lights and the course is playable until about 22:30 hours at night. The RV you see in the background is ours- we were right beside the 15th hole. This is about the only place that I can say that I "live" on a golf course!

Golf 02
One thing about just playing alone this way is that you can kind of make up your own rules. We would sometimes have the ball end up against one of the bricks at the side of the course and we determined that it was proper to move the ball up to 6 inches out into the course so that you could hit it with the putter. Here L is doing just that.

Golf 03
This view is looking down over the rapids toward the 15th hole, with our RV in the background. I hadn't taken my camera along but, thanks to cell phones, I called Pat who carried it out to me, handing it across the fence. Otherwise I'd have had to walk all the way back to the start and to the RV, then back to where we were playing. Alright, it wasn't all that far, but it was pretty hot!

This RV park is beautiful, with many Ponderosa pine trees all through it. Central Washington State is more of a desert with very few plants other than sage brush but about 20 miles west of Spokane you start back into the trees. Here they are the long needle Ponderosa pine rather than the predominant fir, spruce and cedar trees found on the west (wetter) side of the Cascade Mountains.

Golf 04
Here is the rapids as seen from below, with the fairway of the 15th hole at the left side of the photo. Those lights turn off at 22:30 so we could go to sleep at night but the water runs all night. At first we wondered if being so close to the rapids would be a problem but it turned out to just be a pleasant background sound, kind of like being near the ocean where the surf is breaking on the beach.

Golf 05
As I said, this place used to be a Yogi Bear Campground and here is Yogi's little friend, BooBoo, atop about the 5th hole on a large piece of driftwood. The driftwood really isn't green but with strong sunlight reflecting up on the bottom of the driftwood arch, it does give it a very green color. You can also see the waterfall that marks the start of the river. Of course the hole you had to sink the ball into is under that arch BooBoo is on.

Golf 06
I didn't have my macro lens along on this trip but my standard 18 - 200mm zoom lens will focus fairly close, so I was able to get a pretty good photo of this dragon fly who had lighted on a fir tree branch. This is a bit of an enlargement from the original image as it tended to fly off if I tried to get any closer.

The park has a lot of other activities available including an indoor swimming pool, weights room, pickleball court, volleyball, plus some neat things for kids.
Spokane 02
Here my Grand Daughter, K, is enjoying one of the paddle boats in the kids lagoon at the park. K wasn't there with us this year- this photo was taken in July, 2006.

I really enjoy visiting Ponderosa Falls RV Resort. As I said earlier, it is one of the parks owned by the group I belong to, K/M Resorts, and it is one of those that I have spent the most time in. This one and Ocean Mist on the Washington coast where Pat & I visited back in August.

I have a few other miscellaneous photos from the trip that I'll post at another time. Now that we are home I have the faster Internet connection and posting of photos seems to work much better. But I did get these six edited in Photoshop Elements and uploaded to my Flickr site from my laptop computer with the WiFi connection in the park. So it wasn't all a failure.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008


Almost a week has gone by!

We have been on the road away from home now for almost a week. I love traveling! But, we go home tomorrow and I love being there, too.

Our weather has changed. Wednesday the temp hit 83, Thursday about 73 and since then the daily high has been just in the 60s and there has been some rain, mostly over night. Today is supposed to be mostly sunny and even better tomorrow which will be nice as it is easier to drive the motorhome with the car in tow when it isn't raining.

I am able to log onto the WiFi system here in the RV park but it isn't working very well with my Flickr site so I've been unable to make a post with photos. We will be home tomorrow night and I'll probably be able to get to it Tuesday, after my dentist appointment. Anyhow, I do have a few photos from this trip and we'll get them up. Eventually.


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