I'm in the Northeastern U.S. It's getting cold here fast and I expect the snow to fly before too long. I like your idea for reinforcing the wing joining rod. I'll measure the ID and get a matching, cheaper carbon fiber rod or maybe even a wooden dowel as well!
You're going to like this bird! Your mods are like mine and you'll have tons of control even in the wind. If you put a stronger motor as I have, you'll be able to fly her in the wind with little difficulty. I don't know how the stock motor would do in the heavier wind?
BTW, I fly helicopters too. I have a Blade 400 and a Heli-max Axe CPV3. While I don't really do much 3D other than loops, rolls, and the occasional flip (with the Blade 400, despite what the box says, the Axe CPV3 just isn't up to it IMHO), I have a ball with them! Here's a link to my youtube video of me flying my Axe CP at the park down the street from my house:
The little helis are actually a lot more tricky to fly than the bigger ones in my experience..
Good luck with your maiden!