A whirlwind week of bus work and workshop travel

As the title of this post implies, this past week has been a mixture of bus-related maintenance work and travel for Photoshop/photography seminars. I mentioned last week that we were spending time with our great friends Sean and Louise in the Las Vegas area. Sean is excellent when it comes to engineering stuff and has been troubleshooting the generator on my bus for a while now. It has recently come to the point, however, where the generator really needed attention from an engine shop. We found one in the Vegas area and parked the two buses there while we waited for our Monday morning appointment.

The guy from the engine shop shows Sean what might be wrong with the generator on my bus.

I had to fly out on Sunday to teach my “Kelby Training, From Focus to Finished” seminar on Monday in San Antonio, so I couldn’t be there while they took apart the generator. I pretty much got updates from Karen and Sean regarding the status. It turns out, the generator’s “head” was cracked and needed to be replaced. It was challenging to find a new part and arrange next-day shipping for a giant hunk of metal, but that’s what we did. When I returned to Las Vegas, not only did I want to take care of the generator problems, but I wanted to replace the house batteries on the bus. The old ones were on their last leg and were in desperate need of replacing. While we waited for the generator part to arrive, we moved to the Main Street Station RV park (pretty much a parking lot with hookups, but at $17./night, it’s the best deal in Vegas for an RV.).

In preparation for the battery replacement, we had to empty the first bay under the bus. This made us truly realize how much STUFF we were hauling around, and we ended up purging a bit of it, which was great. After removing all our stuff from the bay, we had to access an awkward battery compartment and remove the old house batteries. This might not SOUND that bad, but the bus has three house batteries…. and they weigh in at about 175 pounds EACH. Sean and I went out to drop  off the old batteries and buy new ones. By the time we returned, we had a mini audience at the RV park, with some guests watching the process in lawn chairs. This actually proved to be a good thing, because our “next door neighbor” offered us his portable floor jack, and it proved to be a crucial tool in getting the new batteries in. While Sean and I worked on replacing the batteries, Karen shot some video, documenting the process. You can see that below.

When the bus work was finally complete, the four of us spent a night on the town, having dinner at a nice tapas restaurant and then exploring Vegas’ Freemont Street Experience. Sean hadn’t been to Freemont Street in ages and wanted to check it out. Overall, it was a very relaxing night, ending a very un-relaxing couple of days.

Sean, Louise, me and Karen.

After all the bus work was done, Karen and I both flew out… to different locations. I flew to Peoria, IL, where I taught a 1-day seminar with the Peoria Camera Club. The event went very well, and the PCC gang was just great! While the event was on Saturday, we did a short photo walk on Friday night and I did a light painting demo with them as well. You can see one of the resulting images from this below.

An image I made while doing a light painting demo with the Peoria Camera Club.

Karen flew to New Jersey to spend time with her family. After the Camera Club event, I flew to NJ as well, and will be spending a few days with her family before we both drive down to Washington DC on Thurs. for the next Photoshop World Conference & Expo.

A mixed bag of Nevada

Karen got this shot of me during our hike in the Valley of Fire.

After spending the first month and a half of 2012 in California, we finally ventured on … all the way to Nevada. The first part of the week was spent in Las Vegas, where we met up with lots of friends. We parked at the home of Steve and Beverly (who you’ve read about in previous blog posts). As it turns out, our mutual friends, Eddie Tapp and Judy Host, were staying with Steve and Beverly as well! Six friends all together under one roof (and driveway)! We arrived on Monday night and all went out to dinner in honor of Judy’s birthday, which happened to be the same day.

The next day was Valentines Day, and although Karen and I don’t really get into it, we used it as an excuse to spend a nice night out with our nomadic friends, Sean and Louise, of the blog Our Odyssey. We started off with some cocktails in their bus, which was parked very close to the Vegas strip. Then we went up to the Foundation Room on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. This place has become one of our favorite hangouts in Sin City. It has a rich, asian atmosphere, with dark colors, buddha statues and unique and comfortable furniture. After the Foundation Room, we went to dinner at Pan Asia, another favorite for me and Karen. It’s a no-frills kind of place (far from the strip), but the food is amazing, the couple who runs it are adorable and it’s byob. It was great to catch up with Sean and Louise, who we hadn’t seen in over a year!

The new MINI just got its new bonnet stripes installed. Pretty snazzy!

I mentioned in recent blog posts that we just got a new MINI Countryman. It’s red with a white roof, white wheels and white mirrors. On Tuesday, we took the MINI to get its new white bonnet stripes installed. They look pretty sleek and really add to the unique look of the car.

While we were still in Vegas, Sean helped me out by taking a look at the generator on the bus. The generator has been giving me issues for two years and stopped working completely. It’s been a major source of frustration for us. Sean managed to narrow things down and actually get it running… not problem-free… but running.

My bus and Sean and Louise’s Odyssey share a little peninsula on Lake Mead.

On Friday, we joined Sean and Louise on a short journey to Lake Mead. They went ahead of us and scouted out the perfect “camping” spot for our two buses. We literally have water on three sides of us. The atmosphere is extremely relaxing and at sunset, the color is beautiful. Sean and Louise even set up their portable hot tub, and we’ve been using it every night, with a view of the stars and the water.

Sean inspects my problematic generator at our “camping” spot on Lake Mead.

While we were camped on Lake Mead, Sean and I spent even more time on the generator, and we managed to make a lot of progress on it. (I say “we” but my part really consisted of handing tools to Sean when he needed them). The rest of the time was spent relaxing, working and enjoying meals together.

Sean, Louise, Karen and myself

From our parking spot at Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire was only an hour’s drive away, so the four of us took a day trip to the park and did some hiking. It’s the perfect time of year to visit the Valley of Fire, because we didn’t feel like we were actually on fire. In the summer months, that place can easily reach above 110 degrees. Karen and I did some shooting along the hike, and we enjoyed the scenery during the drive (except for the flashing police lights in the rear view when Karen was driving a little too “spirited.” Luckily, she’s cute and the cop let her go.)

Our next stop will be Las Vegas again. We are flying out this week to Hawaii, where I’ll give two seminars – one in Honolulu and one on Maui. More to come…