30 Months Fulltiming: June 2017 Report

Well, we have sort of recovered from the great photobucket fiasco of ’17, but there are still glitches we are working on, and still have a about eight months worth of older posts to fix as well.

The Distance: 962 miles once we finally left Travis AFB, headed to the Pacific Coast, and then made our way north all the way to Washington.   Our 2017 tally is up to total is 4,815.  July will see a major slow down as we catch our breaths and try to get back on budget track.

The Places:  We departed from Travis AFB in Fairfield CA and crossed the coastal mountain range to get to one of our favorite 2015 spots: Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA.  There we split time between Cleone Campground and MacKerricher State Park.  From there we undertook our great gambling sprint, staying at five different casinos as we pushed through the rest of California, Oregon, and part of Washington.  Finally, we crossed the ferry from Mukleteo north or Seattle onto Whidbey Island to close out the month at Island County Fairgrounds.

Serenity on the ferry to Whidbey Island

We mixed things up a lot this month in terms of types of facilities, with 8 days in a military campground, 7 in a private RV resort, 9 in public parks (3 state, 6 county) and parking lot camped for 6.  We had full hook ups for 3 days, power and water connections for another 13, and dry camped for 14.  Aside from the subsidized rate at the Travis AFB, enjoyed full hook ups, sometimes even with cable or usable wifi, for 30 days, and dry camped for one. Other than the tax payer subsidized rate at the five different military facilities, and the cost free stays at the casinos, we didn’t use any discount program this month.

A tiny portion of the rabbits of Langley.

The Budget:  We got ourselves on track this month by staying 4.5% under budget, but still have a long way to go to recover from the budget busting May.  We were able to stay in the black this month despite the costs of a short trip back to Florida and expensive campsites in California by supplementing our income with some modest winnings at the various casinos (using the complementary free play money they gave us) and then two markets on Whidbey Island.  The drycamping days helped a lot, and despite sprinting all the way to Whidbey, we only had to fill the big tank twice.

Tilth Farmers Market and Music Festival.

The Drama and the Improvements:  I can’t believe I was contemplating eliminating this section entirely for monthly reports this year.  We have definitely had drama!  The theft of our awesome portable Honda generator at the last casino stop tops the bill, but the loss of all of our photo links on this blog when Photobucket eliminated third party hosting continues to be an issue for us.  And the battery disconnect switch failure that left us stuck for a couple of hours was no small matter either.

As to the embedded picture status:  I have spent hours and hours trying to shift our photos from Photobucket to Google Drive, and now have them “fixed” going back into November of last year.  That leaves two problems:  I still have to fix April through October, 2016 (pictures older than that were hosted on our now completely full WordPress site,) and the newly uploaded Google Drive pictures don’t seem to be showing up for everyone.  Some users report seeing everything just fine, others can’t see a single picture.  I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m still working it.  Once we get that little glitch solved, the whole mess will turn out to be an improvement for us: we have a much better organized and labeled picture database now, and I don’t ever have to deal with Photobucket’s terrible interface again.

Here are our monthly reports for the year so far:

And here are our 2016 and 2015 annual summaries, each of which have embedded links to the individual monthly reports from those years.

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Recovering from the Photoshop picture hosting fiasco? You tell us…

As you many of you noticed, on July 13th all of our embedded pictures going back to April of 2016 stopped showing up on the blog.  It turns out that Photoshop, with no notice, suspended third party hosting on anything but there ultrapremium ($399 a year) memberships.  Since that time I have spent hours trying to fix the broken picture links by hosting them on Google Drive, and establishing the new embed links to the blog.  I am hearing mixed reports, so please: tell us what you are seeing.  Since making the last adjustment I have heard from one commenter that says its working fine, another that says it still isn’t working, and a third that says it works if you go direct to the blog, but does not work if you go through our facebook post.  I’ll make it easy for you: Can you see this picture?

If so, how about in recent posts like this one, or maybe that one?  What about in older posts like this one?  Let me know in comments please!

Our First Week on Whidbey Island

So we made it.  After 750 miles, a handful of nights parking lot camping, the theft of our Honda generator, and a significant electrical problem, we arrived at the Mukilteo Ferry Landing to take the boat to Whidbey Island.  We saved $15 bucks by disconnecting Loki, but it was still $57 for the crossing.

We undertook the entire journey, a big sprint by our travel standards, in order to find a great but affordable place to settle down for a month and sell at a bunch of markets.  Now, Whidbey Island is not a cheap place to live.  But before long we would have access to the RV Park, commissary, and other facilities midway up the island at the Naval Air Station.  Unfortunately availability there was not to be found until after the long July Fourth weekend.  So for the time being we settled in at the county fairgrounds near Langley on the southern end of the island.

The Island County Fairgrounds are pretty utilitarian: a grass field, 30 amp power and water, a dump station, and almost nothing in the way of landscaping.  But what it had was lots of first come, first serve availability at a cheap (by Island standards) price of $25 a night.  By contrast, the few state parks on the island were fully reserved for the week, and were more than $40 a night anyway.  Besides, the fairgrounds were perfectly positioned for the first vending opportunity we had secured since leaving Tucson.

And this was fortunate, because despite our early departure from the ghetto at Muckleshoot Casino and but a limited delay waiting for the ferry, we didn’t have much time to spare.  We arrived at the fairgrounds mid morning, did the most minimum set up possible (we didn’t even put out the slides) and headed straight for the Tilth Farmers Market and Music Festival.

Shell Crowns, or Mermaid Tiaras, something Rosemarie started making this month that we are hoping will sell at these market.

It was not quite what we expected.  You hear music festival, you think a lot of people and a lot of vendors.  This was a tiny, but intimate event with about a dozen vendors and a sparce but enthusiastic crowd.  In addition to the vendors and musicians, they had some performance artists out and about, including a juggler/comedian/stilt walker and a couple of faeries in full fantasy get up doing face painting and story time for the gaggle of children present.

Butterfly adorned faerie as seen between our racks at the Tilth Farmers Market and Music Fest

The normal market hours had been extended for the festival, so it was an all day affair.  We had a pleasant time of it, sold just enough to be satisfied, enjoyed several of the musical acts, and met some interesting and informative people that gave us the inside scoop on several other markets in the region.

Once done for the day we returned to the fairgrounds to do the remainder of our full set up: connections, levels, slides, grill, outside decor, etc.  Which brings us to the rabbits.  The fairgrounds, like most state and county versions, hosts a lot of agricultural, equestrian, and other farm oriented events.  The history we were given is that decades of 4H gatherings there, particularly the “children’s rabbit chase,” which is exactly what it sounds like, led to the occasional escape of these domesticated bunnies.  Once a few mixed pairs got out, they did what rabbits tend to do.  In an area with few natural predators, the population exploded.

Just within the RV field I counted more than 20 of the fur balls.  Half tame to the point that some will eat out of your hand, they are both a town curiosity and a nuisance.  The extent of their population boom has given Langley a bit of international exposure on the invasive species front.  Google it, you’ll see what I mean.  For us, though, it was just a source of constant stimulation for Pad Kee Meow, whose murderous desires were kept only in check by a short leash and close parenting.

During the next few days we met new friends Bruce and Nancy, who have been RV living on the island since last year.  They gave us the lowdown on places of interest, restaurants, markets, and, since Nancy is a crafter and jewelry maker as well, beaches at which to find sea glass, interesting stones, and driftwood.  During one such joint outing we found enough nice glass to make a dozen or so “locally found and made Whidbey Island sea glass pendants,” which would become one of our better sellers in subsequent weeks.

We closed out June with another event, the downtown Langley Second Street Market.  At this four hour afternoon affair the city closes down a block to auto traffic, while market manager Ben marks out the assigned spots to the dozen or so sellers.  With a solid amount of resident and tourist foot traffic through this street in the heart of downtown, we did quite well our first day, and decided then and there that though we might not make the next Tilth market, we would definitely be coming back as vendors at the Second Street event.

A Mechanical Hiccup On Our Way North: Serenity Shuts Down

For the sake of story continuity, in our generator theft post I left out a bit of excitement we experienced during our casino run up the west coast.  After we left our second casino we crossed into Oregon and fueled up just enough to get us up to a really cheap area for gas a couple hundred miles further north.  About 30 minutes after refueling, Serenity gave a bit of a hiccup, sort of a very short but noticeable loss of power, less than a second, before returning to normal.  I didn’t think anything of it the first time, but when it happened again a bit further down the road, along with giving me a check engine light I got a bit worried, and had myself half convinced we had gotten some bad gasoline.

Irrelevant to the story, but did you know some Oregon rest stops have dump stations?  Came in quite handy after a few days of parking lot camping.

The third time it happened I pulled over, turned everything off, gave a visual check, and pulled out my OBDII scanner to see what codes it was throwing.  It gave me two that I was not able to make much of with our limited connection, so we decided to push on the remaining half hour to our next casino stop, more than a little on edge the entire time.  We made it without further incident, pulled into what looked like a check in area, shut the engine off and made arrangements to stay a night.  When I tried to start her up to pull into an RV spot: nothing.  Not a sound, not an attempt to crank, not a warning alarm, not even an indicator light.

Irrelevant but interesting bridge we crossed while nervously awaiting Serenity’s next hiccup.

After repeated attempts we called for roadside assistance through our Easy Care extended warranty policy, and they took my recommendation for a mobile mechanic I had found through my own research.  After an hour or so of waiting, bored and on a whim I tried one more time to get Serenity started, and she fired right up without hesitation, pretty much just as the mechanic was arriving.  I pulled into our spot, shut her down and talked to the man before he began trouble shooting.

Gratuitous cat photo: PKM is unconcerned with our latest mechanical difficulties.  Do we still have cat food?  Then all is well.

I mentioned one of the weird things I ran across when I googled the two codes my scanner had revealed: something about a Transmission Indicator Switch, or Transmission Neutral Switch.  He agreed that the symptoms sounded a bit like a malfunctioning switch of that nature, crawled under the bus, found the switch in question and reported that it was very loose.  He tightened it up and suggested that was the likely culprit.  Easy Care covered the bulk of the bill as well, so success!

The loose transmission switch.

Unfortunately, there was more to it.  During the next leg of our northward journey I got the very same hiccup a couple of times on the road, and when we pulled in for gas at that previously mentioned cheap gas area, Serenity would again not start.  The gas station attendant seemed not the least bit worried about us being parked there for however long it took, so that at least took some of the pressure off.  I talked to an RV repair center just a few miles up the road that agreed to take a look if I could get her in, but didn’t have a mobile tech available.  Fortunately, just like at the casino, after less than an hour Serenity fired right up.

A welcome RV Repair sign just up the road from our latest problem.

We pulled into Florence RV and Automotive Specialists, and they started in on us right away.  After a few minutes of trouble shooting, our mechanic became convinced that we had a bad battery isolation solenoid.  Like most motorhomes, we have two solenoid operated switches that allow us to disconnect and reconnect both the house and engine batteries at the push of a button.  The one for the engine, or chassis, was going bad, and after it got hot it was disconnecting the battery causing the engine to shut down.  When it cooled off, things went back to normal.

Battery disconnect panel.

He removed the panel to check what he thought was the dying switch, but after consultation with another expert determined that the bad one was further behind the panel, and once accessed looked like no isolation switch he had seen.  He was sure he did NOT have one in inventory, and wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find one.  While he researched, we made plans to stay the night, or several nights, at a nearby RV park.

The problem is in here.

Fortunately, he struck gold while searching for the part on the internet:  Thor, the RV manufacturer who bought Hurricane, had issued a recall on this exact part, and published mechanical instructions on how to overcome this potentially dangerous failure:  bypass the disconnect switch.  That’s right, Thors solution is to completely eliminate the functionality of the switch by wiring directly past it.  OK then.  Armed with the info, our mechanic had us up and running within half an hour.  We have since submitted a claim to Thor’s warranty department, and are waiting to hear back if they will cover the $150 in labor. Fingers crossed.

See that solenoid on the left?  That’s no it.  That’s for the house batteries.  The bad one is behind the circuit board.

Despite a few glitches along the way, the ease with which we can find a mechanic for Serenity has been quit the relief.  Contrast that with extensive online and phone research to find a specialized vintage diesel mechanic, usually at great expense, like we did for The Big Kahuna.  Whenever we find ourselves missing the old bus, we just remind ourselves of that!

We made it to our next casino destination after just a few hours delay.

Robbed at the Casino. Literally.

This was supposed to be a post about how we saved money, even made money, with a new plan of attack after getting behind financially in May.  It was supposed to be a happy explanation of how we decided to dry camp in free spots and won a bit of money from some casinos as we worked our way up to Washington state.  Instead, this is a post about becoming complacent, not maintaining a bit of security awareness, and paying the price for it.  I won’t stretch it out too long, but it’s a story.

PKM finds this story riveting.

Our dental work in Mexico had put us, budget wise, deep in the hole in May, and we needed to change things up to get back on track.  We couldn’t afford to travel at the rate we had been going (gas), stay in expensive RV parks (California), live high on the hog (wine country), and not make any money at markets (strongly enforced California rules locked us out.)  We had three general options: hunker down somewhere affordable, work camp, or get to a place where we could make money at markets.  After a bit of exploration we decided on option three with a bit of one: boondock at free places while we sprinted up to Washington State, and once there settle in for a month and do a bunch of markets.

Our friends Jen and Dees told us about a nice, safe casino up the road, so we made that our first stop: An overnighter at Bear River Casino a couple hours north of  Fort Bragg.  It was just as promised, and while checking in we learned that new attendees would receive $10 each in credit to gamble with if they up for their players club.  Great, something basically fun and free to occupy our evening!  We signed on and ended up winning $44 in real money using their credit.

Buoyed by the overall solid experience, we chose another casino for the next night stop: Lucky 7 just south of the Oregon border.  There we won about the same amount with the free credit they gave us for signing up to their players club.  And so began a pattern: moving northward we would stop at a casino for a night or two of free drycamping, sign up for their club and have some fun, hopefully even winning a bit, while never using our own money.  We even starting exploring the nearby casinos that we weren’t even staying at for the same purpose.  We didn’t always win anything significant, but we never lost because we were using house money.

Lucky 7, like at least one other casino we visited, offered addition free play money for a text.

It was going along swimmingly; we were staying at our fourth casino, having visited an additional two in Loki, when we hit it (relatively) big: Rosemarie won about $260 with the $5 in free credit at Spirit Mountain Casino in Oregon.  All in all we were up nearly $400 while having saved roughly $150 in RV Park costs, and had even gotten several free or steeply discounted meals from the casinos as well.  Giddy, we planned our last casino stop, Muckeshoot, just outside of Tacoma.  One last night, then we would pass through Seattle and take the ferry onto Whidbey Island where we had a market already lined up.

The nice RV area at Bear River.  Unlike the ghetto at Muckleshoot.

We should have pushed on.  Heck, we should have done lots of things differently.  We should have noted that this casino’s RV lot had the least security presence, no barriers preventing access on any side, and no check in process at all.  We settled in for the evening, set up Honda generator, and decided that we would not merely put the genny up for the night when we were done, but we would actually put it inside the RV for safe keeping.  We had the blinds open, door open, lights on, and were within about five minutes of calling it a night when the lights dimmed and the low hum from the generator went silent.

Not even sure which casino’s lot this is.  But it is not the ghetto at Muckleshoot.

Thinking I had run it out of gas I stepped outside only to find our shore power line connected to… nothing.  We had been robbed.  One of the nearby neighbors (who was outside in his chair during the whole thing!) reported that he saw an SUV or camper topped pickup creeping along through the lot just before it happened.  We surmised he had scoped out the lot, locked in on our generator, waited for darkness than crept up next to it and snatched it straight into his truck.

Deflated, we called casino security, who leisurely made their way out to us, and proceeded to go on the attack, accusingly questioning us about why we had the generator out, why it wasnt’ locked up, why had he seen tables and stuff scattered around our RV earlier that day when he had taken a drive through, and other unimportant lines of inquiry that would not help at all in finding the generator or those who had taken it.  Infuriating.  As things got heated, his supervisor sent that giant incompetent tool of a guard away and took over himself.  A lady from the Tribal Gaming Commission also came out, and local police as well.

Also not the tweaker laden ghetto at Muckleshoot.

Reports were taken, paperwork exchanged, and the cops, professional and business like, told me there was a chance of recovery since they would have the word out at pawnshops and the like, but it was not a big chance as the cameras in the lot were of limited effectiveness, especially at night.  It had probably been tweakers who would dump it fast and cheap.

PKM in happier times, before we encountered crime town and arrogant, ineffective security at Muckleshoot Casino’s ghetto RV lot.

So there you have it: our beloved $1100 Honda generator is gone.  We learned a lesson about complacency, and will be a bit more on guard in the future.  So to all you out there: always lock up your portable generators (like we usually do!) and be aware of the security situation when parking lot camping.  And avoid the crime ridden ghetto that is the Muckleshoot Casino RV lot!

So long genny, I hope the tweakers found you a good home.

Fort Bragg, CA: Glass Beach, Abalone Diving, MacKerricher State Park and Cleone Campground.

Fort Bragg, and Glass Beach in particular, had been on our high priority “return to it” list since our visit in 2015.  Aside from the price for drycamping at the nearby state park, we had loved everything about it.  Beautiful setting, quaint town, proximity to nature and the ocean, and ridiculous sea glass hunting.  So after our lengthy stay at Travis AFB, we made the arduous journey across the coastal mountain range along State Highway 20, whose steep grades, hairpin turns, and limited shoulders had given The Big Kahuna fits.  It was easier in Serenity, even with a tow vehicle this time, but still far from fun, and we were relieved to finally make it out of the mountains and into town after a four and a half hour run.

Fort Bragg Farmers Market: we can buy but we can’t sell!

This time of year MacKerricher State Park campground is tough to get into on late notice reservations, so we settled for what our online research suggested would be a very nice and affordable partial hook up, private place nearby, Cleone Campground.  It was better than we expected, so much so that we extended our stay from three days to a full week. The location was perfect, only a couple of miles from town and Glass Beach, the price was right at only $35 a night for power and water (compare that to $45 a night plus an $8 reservation fee for drycamping at the state park next door), and the grounds were beautiful.

We started in the front section, with a long back-in spot protected by heavy growth on both sides, and our stern abutting a horse pasture such that we were greeted with whinnying most mornings.  For the latter half we switched to the back portion of the grounds, snagging the only pull through spot available, a huge site under significant tree canopy.  I strongly recommend Cleone Campground for your Fort Brag RV needs.  The only downside is they have neither sewage connections nor a dump station, so you will need to use the pay facility at the state park for that.

One of our first activities: celebrating Rosemarie’s birthday!  And while we couldn’t arrange to do it with family this year, we made the best of it: sweet local cherries, wine, and a fantastic location. And of course, cake!

While there we relaxed, enjoyed the town, and hit the beach, particularly Glass Beach.  Now this is controversial:  Sometime in the past two years local politicians passed an ordnance banning the collection of beach glass in the area.  On top of that, rangers at the state park started issuing tickets for those in violation.  The problem, as the fine folks at the International Sea Glass museum explained, is that California law explicitly overrides or precludes a local law of this nature.  It comes down to the glass being, essentially, unprotected garbage that does not meet criteria as a natural resource or antiquities item.

Smores!

People challenged their citations in court and won, and now the town doesn’t try to issue tickets anymore, though they still engage in dissuasion tactics such as carefully worded public placards that allow readers to mistakenly infer that it is a crime to collect the glass, while also going out of their way to make access to the beach a bit arduous (e.g., they have not repaired the stairs down to the most popular of the sites.)  Let me also say that aside from educating us on the law and controversy, the International Sea Glass museum was really cool and well worth you time if you are in town.

Our genius cat

OK, so sure, its legal, but beyond that reasonable people can disagree about the ethics of it: Fort Bragg considers maintaining a robust sea glass laden beach as vital to their tourist economy, and visitors leaving with bucket fulls has definitively eroded the amount and quality of what you see on the beach.  We limited ourselves to a couple of select handfuls from one of the less accessible beaches (it required some scrambling down rocks to get to) and signed the petition supporting a replenishment project for the three main inlets.

Everybody’s crafting round here.

We met up with the Neely’s again!  Turns out they rolled into a park just a score of miles north of us, so we made arrangements to meet at a vineyard and wine tasting place half way between us.  What a fantastic decision:  After a false start in which we went to their sister facility actually in Fort Bragg, which was closed, we realized our mistake, headed north, and arrived at Pacific Star Winery, whose facilities are right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific.  We caught up, did the standard tasting, and purchased a couple of affordable bottles of red to share down by the cliffs’ edge.  And while there we had a grey whale come in fairly close to shore and give us a show; we watched it cruise north along the coast, sporadically diving and hunting for about 30 minutes before we lost sight.  Fantastic.

So, abalones.  I had eaten one at a restaurant in Chile, where it is apparently legal to commercially harvest them.  In California, however, they are rigorously regulated: no commercial harvesting, only licensed individuals can hunt them, and it must be done without scuba gear (in other words, free diving only.)  Oh and you can only take three in one day and 12 for the entire year.  Works for me!  Diving for abalone has been rising on my bucket list since I first ate one and subsequently saw the process highlighted on food and travel shows.

But: how to go about this?  I have zero cold water diving experience, didn’t know the area, and didn’t have the necessary gear.  Not one to let lack of knowledge or proper equipment defer an adventure, I persisted.  My best option seemed to be a guided tour/excursion with rental equipment that Rosemarie found on line, which was gonna be pricey.  On a whim, I reached out to Cousin Rob, who lived in coastal NorCal for a good portion of his adult life, to see if he had any suggestions.  He put me in contact with his long time good friend Ron, a regular abalone diver.

The Great Abalone Hunt of '17

The Great Abalone Hunt of ’17: The Hunters

Ron was enthusiastic about taking me out: he admitted that he gets a dozen every year, but rarely eats a single bite.  Rather, he enjoys helping other people have success at it, especially newbies like myself.  I was probably the 20th person he has introduced to abalone diving.  He even provided all of the equipment with the exception of the full dive suit, which I rented from a local shop for $15.  That plus the one day California fishing license and the specific abalone card ($38 for the pair) was my total expense.

Ready to deshell, clean, slice, and pound

Geared up, licensed, and a wee bit anxious, I waited for Ron, girlfriend Melissa and her daughter to pick me up mid morning and take me down to a special location near Mendocino that, given the weather conditions, he thought would be perfect.  Even with such assurances I anticipated several hours of arduous effort, free diving to perhaps 20′, to hopefully get a couple of legal (bigger than 7″ shells) finds.

In the pan with oil and butter

I needn’t have worried.  The water was a lot rougher and visibility quite limited compared to casual Caribbean diving, but I found my first abalone within 5 minutes in chest deep water, and collected two more legals inside of an hour, the deepest at maybe 8 or 10′.  Heck, the only reason it took that long was once I had two, I got picky and tried to find a big one for the final catch.  I ended up with one over 8″, so I’m pretty happy over all.  Ron finished things off by showing me how to remove the shell and clean the meat from the guts, as well as providing some preparation and storage recommendations.  This plus a bit of fantastic ‘shine made for one hell of a day.

Ready to eat!

While I was out abalone diving, Rosemarie, sister Dolores, and niece Tamiry spent the day at Glass Beach doing what needs to be done.  Dolores and child had arrived the day before and set up a tent in our spot.  Though Tamiry stayed in the RV at night, mom is terribly allergic to cats and had to stay outside, haha.  Aside from the need to watch a precocious four year old near cold rough water like a hawk, they had a grand time collecting glass and generally hanging out on the beach, especially since their timing worked out so well, having arrived just before low tide.

That evening Rosemarie turned Dolores loose on our table top drill press and diamond bits so she could transform some of her beach glass into jewelry.  Tamiry painted rocks, inaugurated our newly discovered outdoor shower (a beach bucket with flexible water spout filled with sun-warmed water), and generally contaminated herself with feline dander and hair in our rig.  We also had the old campfire standard: smores.  Dolores tried to upscale the process with a custom device that combined and melted all the ingredients, but I ended up reverting back to the “just melt the marshmellow on a stick and then mash it together” method in the end.  I call that weekend a success by any measure.

Finally, we want to give a shout out to the Fort Bragg Farmers Market for an enjoyable afternoon (as shoppers, not vendors, too many CA rules for us to sell there) and especially to Jenny’s Giant Burger, a fantastic big burger diner that will make you wonder why you ever still go to any of the big chains.  We keep our restaurant experiences rare, and yet we ate here twice during our ten day stay.

And that’s it from Fort Bragg. Since then we have sprinted up the coast, experiencing awesomeness and at least one major hiccup along the way. More on that next!

Blog Update and Photobucket Rant

If you scan down our blog, you will see that all of our pictures going back more than a year have been blocked by photobucket.  In a brilliant PR move, they have decided to piss off all users that host images on their site with direct embedded links to other sites (like this one).  In other words, they have banned third party hosting.  Of course, there is a solution: you can pay them $399 a year for the right to continue third party hosting. While that is an absurd price, particularly in light of the numerous free or very cheap options out there, what they seem to be counting on is that some users will not be willing to go through the trouble of retrieving their older pictures, re-uploading them to another site, and establishing new links.  In effect, they are holding old linked pictures hostage to painful labor made even more difficult by their terrible user interface.

To make matters worse, they provided no notice of this.  Or rather, I saw no notice; it might have been an email that went to spam, but in the numerous times I went to my actual photobucket library I didn’t get a pop up warning about it.  And believe me, photobucket is all about pop-up advertisement.  Nor did the grandfather in old photos and just limit it to new uploads.

So we will be switching hosting services, probably to Google Drive, and in the coming months we will go through the process of reestablishing working links to all of our old photos.  This will take some time, but we will work backwards and get it done.

In a way this is a good thing: even before photobucket took this drastic step, I had been thinking about changing hosting services: photobucket is a browser punishing, pop-up advertising filled mess with a very poor user interface and frequent delays between uploads and availability for linking.  So I’m glad to be done with their crappy, vastly overpriced service.  And as always, any recommendations appreciated!