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Background info:  Mom & Dad own a 1965 Porsche 356C; in fact, Mom bought the car back in 1968! Several years ago they joined the 356 Registry, which holds annual shows on both the east and west coasts.  Last year was the first West Coast Holiday Mom & Dad participated in; how could they not when the show was right down the road in Sedona?  This year the West Coast Holiday was being held in Park City, Utah.  Wanting to participate more in club activities, they immediately registered for this year's show and planned to drive the 356 up to Park City.  After getting Old Blue, I thought it'd make another fun adventure to tag along, providing sleeping and cooking quarters, and act as support vehicle just in case.  In the meantime, since we would be driving by, it was determined that it would be the perfect time to finally see the Colorado River above Lee's Ferry and Old Blue would be perfect for hauling the kayak/camping gear.

In prepping for the trip, I replaced the auto trans' differential pan gasket and, of course, oil due to a new leak.  The van sat for a couple of weeks before I decided the night before leaving that I'd ought to fill the gas tank.  So, I got into Old Blue, turned the key and... nothing.  I always hear the fuel pump priming when turning the key so I knew something wasn't right.  I went to the toolbox, retrieved the DVOM and tested the battery: voltage was too low for starting, but it wasn't dead.  In looking at the date sticker on the battery, I saw that it was 7 years old! Thinking I'd simply remove the battery, take it to my local FLAPS, and bring a new one back, I set about removing the cables and whatnot.  After an hour messing with it, I gave up... all because of the stupid, idiotic battery hold-down clamp (the battery is only slightly smaller than the box it sits in, why on earth would it need a clamp?!); couldn't pull it out no matter how hard I tried.  So, with that, I called AAA... let the AAA guy pull it out!  Mr. AAA arrived and the first thing he said was, "Would you believe this is the second Vanagon I've worked on in the last three days?"  He performed all of his tests and told me what I already knew: the battery is failing, but it's not dead; "we can jump it, or I can give you a quote on replacing it."  Without hesitation I said, "The van's going on a 2-week road trip, the battery is 7 years old... just replace it!"  So, Mr. AAA set about removing the battery.  It was a quick swap with his other Vanagon call; not so with this one!  Well over an hour later, he finally got the battery out!  When the new battery went in, I made sure that the hold-down clamp was left out!  AAA has a great warranty along with batteries that are supposedly built for the harsh desert environment; most importantly, when the battery fails it'll be Mr. AAA, where-ever the van is, who will get bruised knuckles removing it!

I should note that all of the mileages are based on Google Maps.  Why?  Because the van's odometer conveniently broke the night before this adventure began and the Porsche's odometer hasn't worked in decades.

Day 1: Phoenix, AZ to Prescott, AZ; 121 miles

Loaded up the RV and hit the road in the early afternoon to rendezvous with Mom & Dad at their place in Prescott.  Storms were predicted, but what was about to hit caught everyone by complete surprise!  It rained in Prescott off and on throughout the night, but we awoke the next morning to hear the following report on the news: Golf ball- and baseball-sized hail with strong winds had hit the north Phoenix area (oh, crap!) and tornados touched down near Bellemont (knocked 21 trains cars off the track, destroyed dozens of RV's and damaged homes).  The storm was predicted to move into Utah today and tomorrow.  The trip was, therefore, delayed a day.  Old Blue got out of town just in time; hate to imagine what damage the van would've suffered if I hadn't departed when I did.  

MPG: 16.9

Day 2: Prescott, AZ; 0 miles

With the storm headed north, we spent the day organizing the gear (inflatable kayaks, tents, etc.) and loading it all into the vehicles so we'd be ready to roll in the morning.  The new Rola bag for the luggage rack works great; stuffed all of the kayak paddles, lifejackets, dry bags, a chair, and umbrella in it with lots of room to spare, and it all remained dry.  Much easier to load and a little more secure than stuffing a bunch of separate bags up there.

Day 3: Prescott, AZ to Bryce Canyon, UT; 370 miles

Leg I: Prescott to Marble Canyon, AZ.  After a pancake breakfast, we loaded up the last-minute paraphernalia and hit the road, fingers crossed that there would be clear skies and no break-downs.  En route to highway 89 near the Prescott Airport, another late-model Westfalia passed in the opposite direction -- gave a wave out the window and got one back! Old Blue faired pretty well on 89 out to highway 40; cruised up many of the hills at 55-65!  The trip from Ash Fork to Flagstaff, on the other hand, was a completely different story: a semi nearly took the front of the van off changing lanes, which he didn't have to do since no one was behind him waiting to pass; a little blue SUV chucked a rock into the driver's side mirror housing; the hill climbs were bad, but the cross- and head-winds were worse when it came to slowing the van down!  Passing through the Bellemont area revealed, first-hand, the damage created by the tornados that touched down yesterday... I can say for certain that I shall never move to "tornado ally" in the mid-west!

Stopped at McD's in Flagstaff for a quick lunch (sure would be nice if In-N-Out put in a store up there!) and we were then on the road again.  A EuroVan Camper passed the other way out towards Wynona... no wave back. It's really a shame the odometer crapped out just before this trip because, if there's one thing the van likes it's tail winds!  It flew up every hill on 89 doing 65!  Just before turning to head towards the Colorado River, an old Bus camper passed the other way... gave a wave back!  Crossed the Colorado River via Navajo Bridge; river was running like its old, pre-dam self: muddy!  Pulled into the Chevron at Marble Canyon to fill up. MPG: 20.05 (like I said, it really likes tail winds!)

Leg II: Marble Canyon, AZ to Bryce Canyon, UT.  From Marble Canyon to Jacob Lake it was almost all uphill on 89A and there was a cross/head-wind... slow going, but pretty drive!  Stopped in at the Jacob Lake gift shop so Mom could pick up a trinket and then we were off to Kanab, Utah.  By this time it was dusk and the deer were out feeding amongst the trees and next to the road.  With the storm clouds looming off in the distance, it made for a beautiful pastel sunset.  Driving through Kanab, another Westy was spotted in a parking lot.  Leaving Kanab, it was getting pretty dark.  You know that "deer in the headlights" look?  We got to witness that first-hand; lots of deer around and in the road!  Considering how dangerous the route was getting (including hot-rodders that don't care for their safety or anyone else's), we decided to try to find a place to camp for the night.  We stopped in Hatch, but the campground was down a dirt road (not good for a classic car -- and I mean the Westy... just kidding!).  We ventured on to the Bryce Canyon turn-off and, rather than go further, we pulled into an RV place not far off of 89, and ended up parking next to a VW/Winnebago Rialta from Canada.  It was darn cold that night; since we had electric hook-up, we plugged in the new heater.  To say it worked is a gross understatement; that little heater got the van nice and toasty in minutes... literally!  The fridge fired up on propane without issue and was nice and frigid by morning.  Didn't get much sleep due to the traffic and the cold air wafting through the tent (I knew I should've put the rain fly on!); the cord wasn't quite long enough for keeping the heater on all night.


Day 4: Bryce Canyon, UT to Park City, UT; 268.2 miles

Leg I: Bryce Canyon to Beaver, UT.  In the morning, the skies were clear and the air was crisp; good day for a drive!  In typical fashion, we didn't get rolling until about 10am.  Considering the late start, we determined it would be best to take the quick route over the scenic route.  We ventured to highway 89 and had a blue EuroVan following us all the way to the highway 20 interchange.  Highway 20 is a beautiful drive out to I-15.  At the top of the mountain pass, I got stuck behind a truck towing a horse trailer (and I mean a commercial-size truck, not a pick-up truck).  The guy refused to drive even close to the speed limit, from the top of the mountain all the way down to I-15, and there was no safe place to pass him; if the horses were allowed to get out of the trailer and gallop, they would've beaten their driver to the highway!  We stopped in Beaver for fuel and snacks and continued on our way.  MPG: 17.0

Leg II: Beaver, UT to Park City, UT.  In the first 80mph section (80?!), a silver late-model Westy was going the other way (probably not doing 80 either)... got a wave back!  Arriving at Nephi, we stopped at Wendy's for a late lunch.  Storm clouds were building and it sure looked like it was going to snow at any moment, but we didn't encounter anything other than a few sprinkles.

In order to get to Park City we had to go through Provo.  Now, the last time we drove through Salt Lake/Provo, it was a nerve-wracking experience.  This time was no different: Traffic was bumper-to-bumper, accident on the other side of the freeway, and the signage was pitiful and confusing.  After a 5-mile detour, we were finally headed in the right direction to Park City.  Highway 189 is a terrific route to the ski resort; gorgeous rock canyon lined with trees displaying their fall colors, and, while the level was a few feet low, Deer Creek Reservoir was still rather full.  Leaving Heber City, we had a long, steep hill to climb, but got to enjoy seeing another rather large lake at Jordanelle State Park; will have to go back someday (when it's warmer!) to camp at the shore and take in some kayaking!  We pulled into the resort at about dusk.  While Mom checked in, Dad and I began unloading what we needed in the room.  While doing so, a 356 Registry member walked by and said, "Nice Westfalia.  I've got two Syncros, myself."  This was merely a set-up for what was about to take place.  When we first pulled in we heard that the parking garage was full.  But the valet later said that parking was indeed available, provided the van would fit.  Dad & I immediately jumped into the vehicles and sped off to the resort's garage.  I inched the van up to the height-check bar; just fit!!  The upper level was valet-only; continuing down the ramp and around the first corner, I spotted an end space and planned to back into it... until I rounded the second corner and spotted an even better place to park.  Would you believe that there was 1990 Westfalia with bra and the relatively rare TransAwn 2000 awning was parked right there?  Yep, Old Blue had a twin to hang out with! If you think that's amazing, get this: That Westy was the "Porsche Support Vehicle" for a yellow 1965 Porsche 356C!  Sadly, we never met up with the owners; we'd have love to have done a little photo shoot before leaving town because the odds of that type of encounter ever happening again are pretty slim (in retrospect, I should've left a note on the windshield!).


Since we didn't want to leave the hotel for fear of losing a parking spot, and since the restaurant at the resort was incredibly expensive, we opted to eat... you thought I was going to say "in the RV", didn't you?  We would have, actually, but since the garage was filled with 356 exhaust fumes and since we had camp stoves with us for the pending kayak trip, we made dinner in the room.

Day 5: Porsche 356 Show, Park City, UT; 6 miles

Up and at 'em bright and early to head over to Main Street in downtown Park City.  Over 150 Porsche 356's lined Main Street.  The forecast was incredibly wrong: instead of being sunny, it was cloudy and cold!  Despite that and some parking issues, everyone had a great time.  Met up with the Syncro guy again and this time I got more details on what he has: One is a Doka, the other is an ultra-rare construction-type Doka with built-in storage compartments.  Mom's 356 didn't win, despite all the nice compliments the car received throughout the day. In fact, the awards dinner was interesting: almost every green car won its class and all the winners were male, and they served a spinach salad...  But, it's not about winning, it's about participating!

What was funny was that a split-window Bus was watching over the event all day from behind an art gallery's front window... see the photo. ;)

Day 6: Park City, UT to Bryce Canyon, UT; 275 miles

Before hitting the highways & byways, we stopped for fuel.  The van was practically on "E" and we had a big hill to climb going to Heber City.  MPG: 17.1

Leg I: Park City, UT to Fairview, UT.  We basically retraced our steps from Day 4 for the first part.  It was a beautiful day for a drive: sunny, clear and warm.  Now, why couldn't it have been like that yesterday?! It being Sunday, quite a few folks were out enjoying the lakes and Provo was a ghost town.  Once in Provo, we headed to highway 89 so that we could enjoy the scenic route back down to AZ.  And the scenic route didn't disappoint!  In Fairview, we stopped at the museum to see their mammoth; it being Sunday in Utah, everything was closed including this museum.  They did, however, have an outside display of old equipment, including the original "Westfalia", LOL!



Leg II: Fairview, UT to Panguitch, UT.  After stopping in Ephraim for a McD's lunch, we pressed onward.  In Richmond, we ended up taking a little detour from 89 and, instead, took highway 24 towards Capital Reef.  Along the way, we passed two EuroVan Campers; gave a wave to each but didn't get a wave back from either.  At the highway 62 junction the brakes were slammed on and we pulled off the road: Looking at the map, continuing on 24 would be a much longer route.  As much as I wanted to stop in and see Capital Reef, we determined the shorter way would be better, considering we had to be at Lee's Ferry the day after tomorrow, and wanted to do some kayaking at Lake Powell.  Highway 62 follows Otter Creek all the way to Otter Creek Reservoir.   At the end of the road, we pulled over again to take in the scenery, stretch our legs and to decide to drive the 5 miles to Antimony for gas, or to keep going back out to 89.  "Surely there's a station in Kingston", so we continued on our planned route.  Beautiful drive on 62 out to 89; fall colors in the trees, Bryce-like rock formations, streams...  Arriving in Kingston, no gas!  "Well, here's hoping the van makes it to Panguitch!"  I kept one eye on the fuel gauge and one on the road the entire way.  Made it to Panguitch with fuel to spare!  MPG: 20.0(!)

Leg III: Panguitch, UT to Bryce Canyon.  It was getting towards dusk when we pulled into the Red Canyon campground just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.  We parked in a spot on top of a hill, amongst the pine trees with a nice view of the red rocks.  After pulling in, we noticed a familiar white van down below us: a EuroVan Camper (which never popped its top ).  Considering the overnight temps were darn cold and we were without hookups, I immediately set about installing the rain fly while it was still light out.

Day 7: Bryce Canyon, UT to Lake Powell, AZ; 139 miles

Bryce Canyon, UT to Lake Powell, AZ.  Slept much better than the last night at Bryce -- rain fly cuts down on the cold air flow by a lot!  On the way to the outhouse in the morning, I couldn't help but observe a AAA flatbed truck backed into the EuroVan's camp.  Two older ladies were out traveling together and the van had stalled on them as they rounded the turn on the hill.  The camp hosts helped push the van into the spot it was being towed out of.  They were very nice ladies and had a great attitude about the whole thing.  The van was bought new in '01 and this was the first time it had a major breakdown on the road.  Despite that, one of the women said, "This thing is a piece of crap compared to my old Westfalia!"  The lady had owned an '84 Westy for a number of years and traded it in for the EVC and has regretted it ever since.  I told her that she at least had more creature comforts and conveniences in the EVC and she replied, "Yeah, but they don't work!!"  The top wasn't popped last night for two reasons: to keep it warmer in the van, but also because they couldn't raise the top; in fact, despite it having hydraulics, the top had always been difficult for them to raise and thought the Westy's top popped a whole lot easier!  They presumed that the alternator went out in it and were having it towed to a VW repair shop in Cedar City.  The one lady's parting words were: "No matter how much it costs you, keep your Westfalia!"  Words to live by.

The camp host mentioned last night that they may be closing the campground for the season; sure enough, as we drove out to the entrance, the "closed" sign was out on the gate.  Coincidentally, the camp hosts' daughter is a Colorado River runner with one of the commercial outfitters.

We made a stop at a market in Kanab to replenish the food and ice supply and were then off to Lake Powell via highway 89 through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the first time any of us had been that way.  Many Utahans may not have liked it, but I can sure see why all that land was turned into a national monument for preservation: it's beautiful!


A few miles before reaching Lake Powell, the brakes were slammed on again (good thing the motorhome behind me wasn't tailgating!).  Mom switched passenger seats so that both vehicles could get through the entrance gate for free with the Golden Age Pass.  After selecting a camp site, we headed to the lake to get some kayaking in.  While unloading at the ramp, a German tourist approached and asked if we spoke German.  He saw the Porsche 356 Holiday magnet on the hatch, which was made up, in part, of the German flag colors.  He then complimented us on how nice Old Blue looked: "Is this new?  Wow, it's in great shape!"  That's probably the best compliment yet, considering a guy from "the Motherland" didn't recognize an old T3.

As you can see in the photos, the lake level is really low.  It's now quite a hike to get to the top of the ramps.  However, many of the old historic things that the lake drowned are now seeing the light of day again.  Now, if only the dam would disappear, we could see Glen Canyon the way Major Powell saw it!  Since it was practically dark when we got back to the ramp at Wahweap, we simply slid the kayaks into the van as-is, rather than deflating them.

Day 8: Lake Powell, AZ to Lee's Ferry, AZ; 72 miles

Leg I: Wahweap Marina to Antelope Marina.  No need for the rain fly last night: we were back in warm-night country!  In the morning, I decided now would be a great time to finally take a "wilderness" shower using the Zodi Hot-Shower.  No-go... the pump was dead. The second owner included a hose adapter, so I hooked it up to the hose; the heater fired right up and the water actually got lukewarm (the campground water was quite cold, so "warm" was pretty good for the little heater).  That convinced Dad to wash his hair; only, I think I may have turned the faucet on a little too hard because the water didn't get as warm as before.  After a pancake breakfast in the RV, we packed up and headed over to the ranger station to inquire about Antelope Marina.  The station was closed and not a ranger was to be found, until we turned to walk back to the cars.  The reason why no one was around was due to a plane crash the day before: two national park employees were out scouting for elk (so goes one version of the story) in somewhat stormy weather near Bryce Canyon when the plane crashed.  After discussing Antelope, we hopped in the cars and headed to "the world's largest floating marina". The marina is around the corner from the launch ramp; our priority was to kayak up Antelope Canyon, so we left visiting the marina for later, if there was time.

Aside from all of the tour planes overhead and the ski boat zipping back and forth (they have the entire Wahweap end of the lake to play in, but chose to go back and forth in a small channel?), it was a gorgeous day to be on the lake.  Towards noon, when we were about half way up the canyon, several motor boats passed us by, including a sight-seeing tour boat.  Lots of folks snapped pictures of us as they boated by.  We knew we reached the end of the waterway when we began paddling in thick flashflood detritus.  After a snack or two, we began the long paddle back; since it was still light out, we passed the launch ramp to check out the marina.  Lake Powell must be the houseboat capital of the USA.  Wahweap Marina was filled with houseboats and so was Antelope.  The rental business must be doing pretty decent despite the lousy economy because that's a lot of houseboats to be maintaining!  Back at the ramp, I began the long hike to retrieve the van.  While walking up, a ranger drove onto the scene and began placing cones across the top of the ramp (large sign said that the ramp closes when the entrance fee station closes), despite stopping to see the 3 kayaks and a small motor boat down at the water.  Not allowing launches I can understand considering Lake Powell is now a pay-to-use "facility", but not letting people take their boats out of the water?  And as if cones will keep people from driving onto the ramp... Government.


Leg II: Antelope Marina to Lee's Ferry.  After leaving Antelope Marina, we stopped in Page for lunch/dinner.  In retrospect, we should've gone to Denny's instead of going to KFC: The guy taking orders at the counter must've had a really bad day, because when the credit card reader failed to work repeatedly, he let the F-word fly; then, when the food was served up, the chicken pieces were tiny; and, there were no napkins!  Later, just as we were finishing, the F-word kid nearly came to blows, literally, with another customer.  Time to hit the road!!

We arrived at the Lee's Ferry campground after dark; popped the top, made the beds and hit the hay.  Since we could only barely hear the river, the battery-powered fans were turned on for some white noise and they lasted all night!

Day 9: Lee's Ferry to Glen Canyon Dam

In the morning, after breakfast, we drove down to the launch ramp area and began inflating the kayaks and organizing the gear.  While waiting for the back-haul rafts to arrive, two metal government boats were launched: fish studies!  Your tax dollars at work.  At around 2:30 the rafts arrived right on time.  We loaded our kayaks onto one raft so we could be transported up to the dam.  While it was rather chilly in the shady sections, and the water was frigid, the canyon was beautiful!


The camp we had planned to stay at was occupied, so we opted to keep paddling to the next camp.  The second designated camp area was huge.  But rather than set up in the actual camp area, we chose to set up closer to the water, just on the other side of the bushes from the camp area.  Just as we were finishing dinner (backpacker food is actually pretty good!), we heard the familiar sound of an outboard, followed by a <clunk>.  It was only then that they got a light out and saw that they had hit a rock garden (no running lights on either).  We didn't think much of it when they boated by us, after shining their spot light on the river bank.  Then, they came back... and beached the boat.  "Yeah, this is it!!" yelled one guy.  As they began unloading the boat, another boat landed and began unloading.  They took their gear to the camp area and began setting up camp ("kitchen over there!"), while one guy knocked our collected kindling off the fire pit and immediately built a raging fire.  All of this was done without speaking a single word to us, despite knowing full-well that we were there.  Our peaceful night on the river had come to an abrupt end thanks to these river bullies, who give fishermen a really bad wrap.  Rather than confront these disrespectful, self-righteous assholes, we picked up our tents and moved down the beach a-ways.

Day 10: On the River

Woke up pretty early and went for a little walk... to the neighbors up the river since they were out fishing.  I must say, they didn't drink beer all night like we thought they would have; instead they drank soda and Hawaiian Punch as evidenced by all the cans chucked into the bushes on the beach.  They also couldn't be bothered to put the new trashcan's packaging into the trashcan!  I sincerely hope they cleaned up after themselves before they left because its folks like these disrespectful slobs that get natural areas closed off to even those who practice the "leave no trace" mantra.  Sadly, it appears that all of the "river rules" required downstream of Lee's Ferry don't apply to the 15-mile section upstream of Lee's Ferry.  Dad was out hiking as well and came back with what looked like brand new stylish, expensive outdoor pants for Mom!  It was a pretty morning and, aside from the fisheridiots zipping back and forth, quite peaceful... perfect for picture-taking.  After a breakfast of oatmeal (bleh!) and backpacker-style scrambled eggs (actually pretty good, but could've used some pepper), we disassembled camp and hit the water.

The remainder of the day was spent leisurely floating down the river, taking in the incredible scenery, watching wildlife and waving to rafters.


We arrived at the launch ramp shortly after dusk.  After decades of going to Lee's Ferry to say "bon voyage" to Dad's river trips going downriver, it was nice to finally see what was around the bend upriver!  By the time the vehicles were retrieved, it was dark; therefore, we simply tossed everything into the van, planning to sort everything out at the campground in the morning.

When we rolled into the campground, it was pretty clear that the lower loop was full, but luckily we found just the spot in the near-full upper level.  Just one problem: A baby was screaming in the next camp over.  Luckily, the kid didn't cry all night.  Since we were back in "warm country", we were able to fall asleep staring at the stars through the door and window screens.

Day 11: Lee's Ferry, AZ to Prescott, AZ; 238 miles

Another beautiful day for a drive!  While eating breakfast, we had a bit of entertainment from our neighbors: A little family reunion of sorts was being held at Lee's Ferry, with the grandparents from Utah and their offspring with her 6 grandkids from Arizona.  They took two camp sites and between was a village of tents.  One kid was running around the campground incessantly blowing a whistle; the baby kept walking out into the road, touching everything she saw; the twins looked like practicing Boy Scouts with their matching hats and hiking sticks; laundry was hanging on the divider to dry; Grandma was fixing breakfast; Grandpa was arranging and rearranging gear in the cars.  As the show was nearing an end, we packed our own gear away and the hit road towards home, first stopping at Marble Canyon to fill the fuel tanks.  MPG: 16.2

Leaving Marble Canyon, just before getting to Navajo Bridge, I spotted a burgundy Westy headed out of the overlook parking lot (funny: Dad pointed to it as he drove by, but I had spotted it a split-second before he even pointed!).  I slowed down and sure enough it pulled up to the highway just as I rolled by.  I gave a wave and got a very enthusiastic wave back!  On highway 89, before Cameron, two pick-ups towing large 5th-wheels had been parked on the side of the road and simply pulled out into traffic, obviously not looking for cars first.  We had to slam on the brakes for them; luckily, no one was directly behind us for a couple of miles.  Then, somewhere around Gray Mountain, an older white Westy was going the other way.  Gave a wave, but couldn't tell if they waved back.  We stopped at McD's again for lunch and then continued on to Prescott.  Another adventure has come to an end...

Day 12: Prescott to Phoenix; 121 miles

Not much to tell other than it was a leisurely drive home.  On Iron Springs Rd. a green Bay-window Westy was going the other way; before I could raise my arm, the driver gave a wave and, of course, I gave one back.  Once home I discovered the storm from two weeks ago did indeed do some damage: two busted skylights, one ripped boat cover (easily mended), one destroyed boat cover, and a trench dug by Mother Nature.  Not bad considering many folks had blown-out windows, downed trees and destroyed cars.

It was a fantastic trip!  Old Blue did great, and so did the 356.  To my pleasant surprise, not one single issue with either vehicle... didn't even have to add oil or coolant over the entire 1500 (or so) miles!

Now, to give the 'ole guy a good bath and fix that odometer before the next adventure!

Total miles: 1,590

Avg. MPG: 17.2

Adventure 4: Park City, UT & Colorado River Kayaking                                              October 5-17, 2010