Hi, again

In mid July there is a balloon meet in Mirande.  I did take my balloon one year, in 2005, but really, I don't like getting up so early for those early morning flights, and if I enter I take up a place from someone else, I can fly here any time, and people come from all corners of France.  There are only 15 places.  So I generally go and lend a hand if someone is short on crew.  This year during the meeting the organiser said, bring your balloon if you want, to make a flight.

I think I would have done, one evening.  Except Eleanor had borrowed my van, I need it to carry the balloon.  In 3 months she drove it 8,000 miles, hauling friends back and forth from musical events.  She has to take friends.  It costs something approacing $0.50 per mile for gas for my van here in France. 

I took a couple of photos at the event that I like.

This next one I am particularly pleased with.

I did get to make one flight at the meet, as passenger.  Herve had used a whole tank on inflation, discarded the empty tank, and needed more weight in the balloon.  I was taken on board as ballast. I am glad that he did not wish to jettison me in flight.

Eleanor has decided she wants to learn to fly balloon, we have made a few training flights.  Also a girl living locally has been learning, she has recently bought her own balloon. We have made a few flights.  Here is a photo taken on I think a flight with Eleanor.  The area is a bit 'bumpier' than it looks in the photo.  When you fairly high, the ground looks flatter.

So, finally, we get to the trip.  Unless I've forgotten something.

Yep.  I have forgotten something. I haven't uploaded any of my photos to the computer.

Right, now I have. Uploaded the photos.  I'm not very impressed.  If you want to see photos of the quality everyone sends round as PPS files then you might as well hit delete now.

OK, so maybe I'm now left with my sister Helen, my Aunt Lucy, and maybe a couple of faithfuls.  Hi to the few.

I've also noticed that my previous camera seems to have totally stopped working.  Earlier I noticed that if I put it on full zoom it shut down but otherwise it worked.  So I took it back to the shop.  I was 3 days out of guarantee.  It would cost 25 Euros to get a quote for the repair, and they said repairs generally coast between 100 and 200 Euros. I only paid 125 Euros for it, it didn't seem worth it.  Anyway now it doesn't work at all.  This one, that is bust, would fit in my pocket and I really need one for my pocket.  My new one will not go in my pocket.  It's better, and bigger.  So I'll have to get another if I can't fix it.

The trip started with a disaster.  My fridge works on mains voltage, gas, and 12 volts.  So before I left I ran it overnight on 230 volts to get it cold.  However, when I left for the trip I forgot to switch it on to 12v. So by evening it was getting warm.  By the next morning it WAS warm.  As luck would have it next morning, although I got it switched on, I forgot to plug it in.  At lunch time I noticed so it was then working.

Then I noticed the light was out on my auxiliary adapter.

I need to explain.  I have installed 2 batteries in the van.  The first works the van stuff. 
I have a control box that regulates the charging between the two batteries.  The second is for the auxiliaries, such as fridge, fluorescent interior light and 12v to 230 volt converter, to run my computer charger etc.   The idea of the 2 batteries is that if I over run on the auxiliary stuff, I still have enough oomph left in the main battery to start the van in the morning.  Even if the second battery is flat, the main one is still OK.  The places where I park for the night, it would be a real disaster if I couldn't start in the morning.

The control box has an outlet that will only work if the van ignition switch is in the auxiliary position, this is the position that will allow the radio to work when the engine is not running.  This outlet from the control box I have connected to a 4 way cigar lighter socket.  This is what I referred to as my auxiliary adapter and is where my auxiliary stuff is plugged in.  This outlet of course has a fuse.  I noticed after the fridge stopped working, this fuse was not only blown but melted.  I installed a new, bigger, 20 amp fuse.  Same thing happened.

Right, so now that with all that technical stuff (and no photos) I have probably lost even sister Helen and Aunt Lucy so I wonder who I am still talking to?

The simple solution to that problem was to leave the fridge switched off.  Because of course, if the fuse is blown, it knocks out all my other auxiliary stuff, such as computer charger, phone charger, and interior light.  I can manage without a fridge but I do need the other stuff.  It's not real hot anyway at this time of year.

So I've started.  With kitten.  He didn't like the first day at all.  He sat on my lap and cried.  All the way.  The next day he didn't cry so much but sat on my lap most of the time.  By day five while I drove he was sleeping on my bed contentedly in the back.  When I stop, if the area is right, I let him loose.  Usually with a leash attached so that I can find him easier.  But now he knows, when we are travelling, this blue van is home.  Any problem, such as loud noises, he comes hurtling back.

So, still no (mediocre) photos of my trip.  Patience.  But as I said, you're not missing much.

Oh.  Hang on a tic.  I think I missed this photo. Taken before we left home.  A rare moment of tranquillity.

I headed north. I set the GPS to search for little roads and followed that.  I've already mentioned I've got this GPS that plugs into the computer, I get a decent size moving map.

Now, I think I already mentioned some half dozen or so advantages in having a wife - there's someone to sit in the back and tell you where the rattle is coming from, or, when you are home, to tell visitors "he's in the shower".  Another advantage used to be that she was the person who sat beside you in the car keeping her finger on the map to show where you were.

No longer needed!  I have a moving map! 

On the photo I am at the bottom of the screen, red dot, about to drive northwest along the turquoise coloured route which changes to green in 3.2 miles.  Of course it's easy to change the scale to show the whole of my route, whether or not I have programmed it in.  It works pretty well like your regular GPS except the screen is a whole lot bigger. You can see more.

I don't remember where I took the next photo.
Since you'll probably hear this often, let's call it idrwitt.  Maybe a wife might have remembered!  Bring back that advantage I just discarded!  But the time and date are marked on the photo file so I could always look that up if it was important.

Pity about the wire running across the view below.

The first night I stopped at a place that was listed in 2005 as an official camper van free parking spot.  There was no one else there.  I don't know if it's still official.  Didn't seem to matter.  Kitten had a short free run.

I think it rained most of the next day.  After a rain free summer, it rains when I take a trip. Although we found a field for lunch where Kitten had a great time exploring.  In Entraygues sur Truyere I noticed some camper vans near the river, and a notice reading 'camper van parking'.  I stayed there the night. I picked a corner and Kitten had another run both in the evening and the morning.

I am now looking for stopping places were Kitten can have a run around, it seems to work.  I enjoy having him around.  Mostly.

I asked about fuel and was told, don't buy it here, it's far too expensive.  Go to Espalion. Which, the next day, I did.  We took the pretty roads and again found a great place for Kitten to play at lunch.  A brilliant view, but such views don't come out well on photos.

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