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Monday, March 27, 2017

On to the FINAL FOUR!

7:26 am - PDST - Monday - 54º F, humidity 93%, wind 3 mph from the west southwest......feels CALM.....heavy overcast......seems as if we are getting the traditional 'May/June Gloom' in March.....heavy marine layer in the morning, which burns off by late morning.

We haven't been in an RV park for a long time where one could witness the traditional 'Sunday vacuum' empty out the park in an hour, or so, but that is the way it was this Sunday.....one minute the park is full and the next time you turn around there is a line of RV's driving out the park.

Our kids, those who had stayed over in the park Saturday night, were on their way home early Sunday headed back to their workaday lives, whilst I headed back to the trailer to finish the 'deep cleaning' job I had started Saturday on my Cannondale Bad Boy.  Within about 2 hours I had finished and decided I deserved a good ride up the SART (Santa Ana River Trail)......a clean bike just screams 'RIDE ME!', and who am I to refuse?  I got dressed and was out the door within minutes riding the approximately one mile over to the SART trailhead and then 7 fast paced miles north before I did my turn around.......my goal was not miles, but calories.....1,000 to be precise.  I haven't ridden my bike since our last day at Tecopa Hot Springs before we descended into the 'Valley of the Wind' (Death Valley) the next day......almost a week.  The SART is one of my favorite urban bike trails, and I've put 100's of miles in riding her north and south over a couple of decades.  I was back at the coach in just a shade over one hour having eliminated just over 1,000 calories in just over 16 miles.  There is nothing like a vigorous ride to release some endorphins into your body chemistry, which in turn lift your spirits, and take the edge off of some the chronic pain your old bones feel nowadays as you continue to pile one year on top of another.

TLE essentially took Sunday off, though she did a little stretching.  I took a nice nap, watched some more NCAA March Madness 'elite 8' games, and then another nap.....both games were close and had very exciting endings.....can' ask for much more than that.  We now have the final four teams....North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and Oregon.....the FINAL FOUR games will be played this coming Saturday, then the final game on Monday between the winners of those two games

It's been a while since we had sufficient broadband to stream Netflix, or Hulu an we had some missed episodic shows to watch so we spent a few hours Sunday evening doing just that.......as TLE remarked about 9 pm.....what a nice day!

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The whirlwind.....


7:17 am - PDST - Sunday - 52º F, 92% humidity, wind - CALM.....what a completely different environment we find ourselves in this week!  Heavy overcast with a promise of sun by noon time.

Day two of our whirlwind return to SoCal was well underway by 8:45 am as we drove with Chris and TAR* over to the Mt. Rubidoux trailhead for another speed walk to the top and back down.....this time my daughter Kate, her husband Nick, and her three children joined us.....Nick pushed the baby (Jolene Rose) in a stroller whilst Elijah and Charlise ran circles around the rest of us.....once again TAR* was first to the top.......

Another Rubidoux family summit! (left to right: moi, Kte, TAR*, Chris, Nick, TLE, Elijah - front row: Charlise and Jolene Rose

......Saturday's temperatures were even lower than Friday's....the high was somewhere around 66, or 67º F with partly cloudy skies.....a perfect day for a hike.  On the downhill side I walked with my daughter Kate and we talked and talked......the views, as always, were breathtaking......love the long views.

We were back at Rancho Juruapa by 10:30.....Kate and Nick rented one of the park model cabins for the night in preparation for her husband Nick's birthday bash later in the day at Chris and TAR's site.

Chris' son Christopher arrived shortly thereafter with my latest batch of mail and packages.....one of the packages contained the new 12 volt electric motor to replace the failed one that powered the large 'attic fan'.  I quickly set about transferring the large fan blade from the old motor to the new, and then installed the entire assembly.....it works like a charm and TLE is once again a happy girl......she loves that fan!

I also, for the first time in several months, set up my bike stand as it was time to give my Cannondale Bad Boy a deep cleaning.  I've put a few hundred road miles on her over the winter and there is a lot of road grime to be cleaned off the crankset, chain and 9 speed cassette......I had just finished cleaning the crankset and reinstalling it when a friend of Chris and TAR's*, Phillip, dropped by to ask me a lot of questions about our full time lifestyle....we ended up talking for about 90 minutes really getting 'into the weeds' on the subject....I suspect we will be talking more over the next few months.  

By that time it was closing in on 3 pm and I realized it was time to head over to Chris and TAR's* site for the aforementioned birthday festivities, so I got cleaned up and headed over to find the party well under way.....as the afternoon wore on more and more family and relatives arrived including my daughter Meredith, and Tim, my son, accompanied by Laila, his fiance.....we love Laila like one of our children and are so looking forward to her wedding to our son this October.  There must have been 30 people there at one time.  We had a wonderful birthday celebration, and I spent time moving from one conversation to another.  About 9 pm TLE and I called it a day and returned to the Newell for the evening where I promptly fell asleep in my recliner only to be awakened about 11 pm by TLE advising she was going to bed......sigh....time to get up, set up the coffee maker and head off to dreamland once again.

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

'It is, indeed, a wonderful life'


6:12 am - PDST - Saturday - 50º F, 91% humidity (that is like 4 times higher than we've experienced for the last 6 weeks!), wind - CALM....wait what?  No wind?  Forecast high for today is 66º F.....something else we have not seen for a few weeks.....we are no longer in the desert!

I woke up Friday with the goal of being on the road by 8:30 am and on our way to Riverside, CA where we will spend a week seeing our kids, grandkiddys, and great grandkid.  From Baker it is about 146 miles.....a rather long day for us based on the past few weeks don't you think?  Just before 7 am it was 47º F, and that was cold enough to turn on a heater to take the chill off the salon.

As I was getting ready to fire up the DD I noticed the odometer had just passed 150,000 miles the day before on our way from Death Valley down to Baker.......in reality it should read 158,000+, but the speedo was broken for about a year.......nonetheless it is kind of a cool milestone.  When we bought our Newell it had 103,500 miles on the odometer, so we have put over 55,000 on her in just over 9 years.  According to Detroit Diesel their Series 92 engines (ours is a 6V92) are not considered broken in until 150,000, and will not need an 'in frame rebuild' until 500,000 miles......I don't think I will still be above ground by the time the odometer reads 500,000.  Personally I think our 6V is running better now than it was 9 years ago......she just purrs down the road.  When I have my drivers side window open I can hear what I call this 'solid, silky, deep throated roar' emanating from the large chrome exhaust at the rear of the coach.....very reassuring.  A Detroit 2 stroke engine has a unique sound which is easily differentiated from a 4 stroke such as a Cummins or Cat, and no matter where I may be, or what I may doing when I hear that sound I am compelled to look up to find out where that two stroke sound is coming from.

Thank you for bearing with my digression.....anyway, we were, indeed, on the road by 8:28 am and 'running like a horse for the barn' towards Riverside, CA on I-15 westbound.  This is most time we have spent on an Interstate in over 2 months, and I did not miss it one single bit....we love those secondary roads!

Our goal when we are rolling our wheels is to strive to use the term 'uneventful' at the end of the day when describing our drive, and that is exactly what we got.....all I did was set the cruise control, hold on to the steering wheel and enjoy the ride as we seemingly floated down the road mile after mile.

We arrived at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park, our destination for the next week, by 11:20 am.....just under three hours to cover 146 miles (of course there were a couple of potty breaks along the way, right?  You don't really ever own coffee.....you just rent it for an hour, or two at a time.)

Just as we were unloading the VW from the trailer my son Chris and his wife, The Amazing Rochelle, (hereinafter referred to as TAR) had just pulled into the park in their 2007 Fleetwood Expedition (39', four slides).....they had managed to snag, with my assistance, a site just a few down from where we will be for the weekend.  We had both just barely set up when I walked over to exchange hugs and greetings....TAR* immediately asked when we were taking the Mt. Rubidoux hike she has been reading about in my blog for years.....I said "How about right now?"....and that was it....within a few minutes we were in the VW heading over to the Mt. Rubidoux trailhead. Chris and TAR* are walkers, too, and TAR* set a blistering pace up and down the mountain......

.......thankfully she waited for us at the top for our 'summit usie'......in all we covered 3.3 miles in about 52 minutes......TLE and TAR* beat Chris and I back to the car by a couple hundred yards, but that was okay because I got to spend time talking with my son, and that is something I miss every day we are on the road.....sometimes I can't believe I am the father of such a cool guy who, though will always be my son, feels more every time I am with him like a very, very good friend whom I have known literally for 44 years.

Our Beetle's interior and exterior have been neglected for several months now, and after all that time of desert living was filthy inside and out.....and in addition to that her gas tank was strongly hinting that more fuel needed to be added soon, or I might find myself hitchhiking to the nearest gas station.  After getting home and doing a little more setup I got in the VW and drove over to the local ARCO station where I took on 12 gallons of 92 octane gas at $2.99/gallon....yup back in SoCal where all grades of fuel are at least 50 cents more than Arizona, or Nevada.  On the way back down Mission Blvd. I stopped in at a small 'mom and pop' car wash I had been passing for years and had the Beetle hand washed, and the interior given a deep vacuuming.......she is smiling again.....all for the low cost of $14, which included tire dressing!

She's smiling again!

I was back 'home' by 3 pm and did a little more setting up before taking a shower, and getting ready to go drive out to Pomona to meet my brother Philip and his wife Jeannie for dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Pomona Valley Mining Company, which is perched on the side of a hill high above I-10 just a few blocks from the L.A. County Fairgrounds.  As we always do, we had a lovely conversation and the time just melted away.  An interesting fact.....my brother Philip is 14 years younger than I and is closer in age to my son Chris than he is to me.....Chris is only 8 years younger than Philip, and they have been good friends since they were both young.

 You can see I-10 way down below!

TLE and I were home just after 10 pm.....a whirlwind first day back in SoCal.....Saturday will be another whirlwind of familia activities....stay tuned!

As I sit here at the end of today's blog I can't help but reminisce how just over six years ago (February 1, 2011) TLE and I drove into Rancho Jurupa Regional Park in our 1982 Newell to spend one year as camp hosts.  We had just signed a 12 month lease with two of our children and two of their friends on our home, so we could live in the Newell together for a year before we hit the road.....TLE wanted that time to be sure she could live with me in a small space......as one might correctly surmise, I passed the test.  We left Rancho Jurupa exactly one year to the day and have been living full time on the road for over 5 years now.......seems like yesterday to me......what a wonderful life we have!

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Friday, March 24, 2017



6:53 am - PDST - Friday - 47º F, humidity 51%, wind 3 mph out of the southeast.....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon......moving day once again.....we will be leaving for Riverside in 90 minutes!

I was up well before TLE Thursday morning typing my latest missive, and then moving a couple of things in the trailer in preparation for VW insertion.  Our Jello plan was  to be on the road making the 20 mile climb out of Death Valley aka: Valley of the Wind by 9 am.  Our elevation at Furnace Creek was about -180' below sea level.....the elevation at the summit 20 miles distant was +3,100' elevation......3,280' of elevation gain in a shade less than 20 miles.  Best to do that kind of climbing while there is still coolness in the air.

By 8 am we had the VW in the trailer and were ready to roll, and so we did.....just about 200 feet over to the dump station to dump both tanks (always like to arrive at a destination whenever possible with empty tanks) and take on fresh water (again, always like to top of the fresh water tank whenever possible).....ironically, in one the lowest places in the Western Hemisphere the water quality at Furnace Creek is quite good.

By 8:40 am we were finished and merging on to SR-190.....the climb begins immediately outside Sunset Campground and I settled quickly into 3rd gear at about 2000 rpm's for our 20 mile climb to 3,100' elevation.  Red line on the Detroit Diesel Series 92 engine is 2,100 rpm's.....by keeping her at 2,000 rpm's the enormous belt driven fan forces a greater volume of air across the cooling fins of the larger than life rear facing radiator thereby keeping our operating temperature around 195º F for the entire climb.  You do not want to 'lug' up a long climb at low rpm's with a series 71, or 92, because they will quickly overheat, and if the temp gets over 250º F you will suffer, most likely, catastrophic engine failure.

We reached the summit without incident, and I quickly upshifted into 5th gear, and set the cruise control at 60 mph.....we stopped in Shoshone around 9:50 am to take a brief potty break, and were back on our way shortly after  10 am for the final 57 miles into Baker, CA, our destination for the day.

Why Baker, CA you might wonder....well, two of our nomadic friends, Steve and Candy, would be there for two days preparing for the annual 'The Challenge Cup, Baker to Vegas Relay' as volunteers, along with Ron and Karen (Ron is the Fontana/Rialto Elks Lodge exalted leader).  We were invited to stay with them at the Baker High School grounds.....below is a picture of all the RV's already there when we arrived.....Steve and Candy's RV is just on the other side of our Newell.

By noon time we were parked, and I was receiving one phone call after another....mostly about this summer at TVC from prospective employees, and from Victor, our assistant manager.  By 1:30 pm I was finished with phone calls and went outside to greet our hosts and talk for a while.  Around 4 pm I excused myself to go inside and watch some more 'March Madness'....first up was Michigan vs. Oregon, but about 4:45 pm I had to pry myself away from the TV for the evening's potluck dinner sponsored by the race events organziers.  We had a lovely time talking and eating until after 6 pm when we headed back to our respective domiciles for the evening.

I caught the very end of the Oregon game in which Oregon barely prevailed 69-68.  Next up was West Virginia vs. Gonzaga and once again Gonzaga barely survied 61-58....the game could have gone either way.  Kansas creamed Purdue by 32 points.....boring....and in the fourth game favored Arizona was upset by Xavier 73-71.....so 3 of the 4 games were 'squeakers'.......very interesting games right down to the last second....looking forward to Friday's matchups!

We were in bed by 10 pm and already thinking about a week with our kids and grand kiddies....thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

'You don't always get what you want....'


11:36 am - PDST - Thursday - 64º F, 31% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the west........partly cloudy skies.....we made it from Furnace Creek to Baker, CA in just 2.5 hours......wonderful drive today!  The forecast high in Baker today will be 77º F.....we are definitely, finally in a cooling trend.....the forecast temps in the Riverside, CA area where we will be for a week beginning Friday are in the 60's and 70's......and no wind forecast......wonderful!  Of course, the day we leave Death Valley aka: 'The Valley of the Wind', the wind finally dies for the first time in 4 days.

After 3 days of continuous winds in the teens TLE succumbed to her allergies......I closed all the windows first thing Wednesday, and turned on A/C to the low fan setting to hopefully filter all the dust and pollen out of our interior air, and that seemed to help, but by that time she had a sinus headache to beat the band, and spent a large part of the morning in the darkened bedroom with a pillow over her eyes.  Regrettably that ended our site seeing plans for the day......I got a chair out and sat outside in the sun reading for a couple hours in the still cool early morning air.

That was pretty much my day Wednesday, other than checking on TLE periodically to be sure she had not succumbed to anaphylactic shock.....she did not.  By early afternoon she was beginning to feel slightly better and joined me in the salon.  Later in the afternoon I busied myself with putting away what little stuff we had deployed, which was not much, in preparation for our liftoff early Thursday morning.

We did watch the latest episode of 'Survivor' at 8 pm, and were in bed by 9:30 pm.  In retrospect our stay in Death Valley did not turn out the way I had hoped.......the weather just was not conducive to much more than we did.  I'm grateful we drove into the south end of Death Valley in the VW the day before we drove in the Newell to see Badwater.  Sometimes things don't work out the way you envision them.....as the Stones' lyric says in their immortal song......'You don't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.....'

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Light My Fire"


6:55 am - PDST - Wednesday - 64º F, humidity 47%, wind 8 mph out of the south southeast........change is good! Forecast high is 79º F.....now that is change I can really get behind!  The wind died about 5 am, but it was a good night of sleep!

As I was sitting in my recliner reading Tuesday night a song by the Doors, Light My Fire, came on Sirius/XM Radio's Classic Vinyl channel.......and these words described perfectly the mental process I had just been through......"The time to hesitate is through.....no time to wallow in the mire....try now we can only lose....".......it's been a long time since I was so unhappy with a location that I wanted to leave the minute I arrived.....it's been a long time since I forgot to live in the moment......it's been a long time since I failed to look for Miss Serendipity in a situation, but that is what happened to me when we arrived in Furnace Creek late Monday morning.  It was hot, windy and miserable......I hated all the campground options,  and all I could talk about for the first 24 hours was leaving first thing Tuesday for a better location and better weather......I sat around stewing in my juices all day Monday.....I 'wallowed in the mire' so to speak........all day, into the night and early morning Tuesday before I decided 'the time to hesitate is through'......what have I got to lose?

Tuesday morning cloud formation

The first thing that brightened my outlook Tuesday was finding a  'open' WiFi hotspot across the highway called "Furnace Creek Guest Access" that I was able to connect to using my 'Hawking Dish'....now one might wonder 'what the heck is a Hawking Dish?', and one would be in order to do so.....here is a picture of my 'Hawking Dish'......

My 'Hawking Dish' aimed across the highway towards Furnace Creek Ranch Resort

....a 'Hawking Dish' is essentially a USB directional WiFi dish antenna designed to inexpensively magnify a WiFi signal from a distance and can magnify the signal by up to 300%.  Without the 'Hawking Dish' plugged into one of my USB ports I cannot even detect one WiFi signal, but with it I can pick up no less than 7 including the aforementioned open hot spot.  Using my 'Hawking Dish' enables me to continue writing my daily blog posts without having to walk across the street.

The second thing that brightened my outlook was less wind, and slightly lower temperatures.....at any rate, once the blog was up TLE and I hopped in the Beetle for a 20 mile drive over and up to Stovepipe Wells......I say 'up to' as Stovepipe Wells as it is at Sea Level, and we are 100'+ below Sea Level at Furnace Creek.  We arrived there in about 20 minutes......our intent was to check out their 14 full hookup sites......years ago (probably about 11) we stayed in one of those sites when we had our 1986 Fleetwood Tioga Class C motorhome....at that time these sites were 'first come, first served'.  There were several sites available, it appeared, but upon checking with the nice lady at the Registration Desk we found out they are now reservable, and that all 14 sites were reserved for Tuesday.  

Since there was free customer WiFi there TLE and I let our phones update before make the drive back to Furnace Creek.....

.....standing in the Stovepipe Wells parking lot see the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in the distance.......

.....as I gazed at them I was reminded of a trip TLE and made to Stovepipe Wells back in January of 2006......seems like a lifetime ago now......

January 5, 2006....on top of one of the dunes

.....on the spur of the moment we decided to stop in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dune parking lot to snap a few pics........

......the parking lot was already full this day, and many folks were taking the hike out to the highest dune (see it in the background).

Upon return to Furnace Creek we drove into the resort to see what was there and found there was a large warm spring fed pool there.  I decided to go into the office to see if one could buy a day pass to the pool and was advised one could do such a thing for the small charge of $5 so I bought passes for TLE and I to be used later in the day when it got warmer.

About 3 pm we decided it was warm enough and drove over to the pool where we spent a couple of hours reading in between dips in the pool to cool off.....they also had very nice showers which we both took advantage of just before it was time to leave.....ironically it began to rain just about that time.......

.....it only rained for about 10 minutes, but it was a nice way to end the day.....even if the wind had come back up again......

.......my whole attitude has changed and I am back in the moment enjoying exactly where I am, and not wishing I was somewhere else........thank my Lovely Elaine for being patient with me, and for letting me work through my issues........

Our site for 3 days......large barren dirt parking lot

.....once again the wind howled at times, but it seemed a little less windy than the night before, and a little cooler, too.....

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Into the Valley.....


7:11 am - PDST - Tuesday - 69º F, humdity 35%, wind 7 mph out of the south southeast-----very, very windy most of yesterday, and all night long.....very hot yesterday....over 90º F.....not sure if we are going to stay another day in Death Valley.....forecast orginally was for 80º F today, but has changed to 88º F with high winds.....not a formula for a lot of outdoor fun.  I was able to connect to the Furnace Creek Guest WiFi across the street using my 'Hawking Dish'.....costs $4.95/hour so I've got to get this done quickly.

We were up and at them early Monday in anticipation of leaving before 9 am and driving 66 miles into Death Valley, specifically to Furnace Creek where there are a number of campgrounds.  There was very little traffic as we merged our 62' on to SR-127 north towards Death Valley Junction where we would turn left on SR-190 and begin the 30 mile plunge into sub sea level elevations.

In all it took just over 80 minutes of driving to reach Furnace Creek which sits just over 100' below sea level.  We parked directly across from Furnace Creek Ranch to figure out in which of the four campgrounds we wished to spend the next 3 days.  We settled on the one we were parked directly across from.....Sunset Campground.  This is basically a large dirt lot with sites marked off with white chalk.....most are back in sites, but there are two rows of pull throughs that are about 70' long, and we ended up on the very back row (M) in site 10 facing west northwest.....not the best angle for our solar panels, but passable.  

As we began to set up we noticed the wind picking up, which is not an altogether bad thing when it is going to be quite warm.  Unfortunately, that wind kept increasing in velocity all afternoon until it was consistently in the 30's with gusts into the 40's.  That wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was coming basically from our rear which meant we were not getting much breeze inside to keep it cool, so we ultimately turned on the big propane generator and ran the rear A/C all afternoon.

We did drive over to the Inn at Furnace Creek to see if we could get dinner reservations, but the earliest time they had available was 8:15 pm, which is later than we like to eat by a long shot, so we decided to return about 6 pm and just order a bottle wine an a couple of apps in the bar area.

Our first visit to The Inn at Furnace Creek 

The Inn at Furnace Creek from a distance

.....after our short visit to the Inn we returned our campsite then walked across the street to get our entrance pass.....all National Parks have an entry fee to obtain an entrance pass.....with our Senior Pass that fee is waived, an the campground fees are discounted 50%.....so, we saved the $25 entrance fee and only paid $7/day for our campsite.....a $46 dollar savings.

We spent the afternoon reading, and napping.....much too windy and hot to do anything outside, and as planned, headed over to the Inn at 6 pm for our wine and apps......this restaurant is quite expensive....$48 for a small filet mignon....$18 for shrimp cocktail which gives you four shrimp.....you get the picture, I'm sure.....

....there was some sort of vintage car rally staying overnight at the Inn, and these were their cars out in the parking lot.

We had a lovely time enjoying the view and the sunset before heading back home for the evening where, once again due to the heat and high winds turned on the big generator and the A/C which ran until 10 pm when we went to bed....still trying to decide if we will stay another day.....

On a side note....thank you to all those who have shopped Amazon using our affiliate link....it is appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.