Friday, December 26, 2008

After Christmas

Location, Home

Well, Christmas is over and we had a great day yesterday at Chelsea and Steve’s. We drove down in the rain and arrived about 10 AM. After a breakfast of egg strata, sausage, and a pull-a-part roll, we opened gifts. That took a couple of hours. Later we had a ham dinner prepared by Steve and Chelsea.

We watched the Lakers beat the Celtics on TV and came home around 7 PM to lots of wind. At least our power stayed on this time. Last week after a gust of wind passed through we lost our electricity for several hours.

We took down all the Christmas decorations today except for the outside lights. We have company coming for the next several days and then we will be gone for New Years so just decided to get it done.

I was checking my calendar for the past year to see how many days we have used the RV. In my mind it wasn’t very many compared to other years but further checking showed we had camped a total of 103 days. Not bad really. That’s almost 1/3 of the year. We also were gone from home for several other trips but with the car, not the RV.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Location, Home

Christmas Eve and all the little kiddies are waiting on Santa Claus. Well….. not quite. Around our house we have no little kids here any more. Just old folks, and one large dog. Actually son Craig’s dog Chloe. Chloe knows there is a large succulent bone somewhere in all those presents and her nose goes 100 mph when she gets a wiff of it.

A short message tonight.

May all who read this have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm being lazy

Location, Home

Ummm, what have I been doing this week? Not much. I did finish my Christmas shopping and wrapping a few days ago. And I dug out a small tree stump along our back fence. The rest of the time I have spent on the computer and reading. I am reading almost a pocket book a day. They are part of a series I have collected for some time and they are easy reads. Unfortunately, the next book in the series is no longer available so I may need to do a lot of hunting for it. I forgot where I bought most of the books as they had $2.50 stickers on them. Could have been at a used bookstore in Houston or Quartzsite, I just don’t remember.

I BBQ’ed chicken tonight for dinner along with steamed broccoli and a packaged pasta dish which made for a good dinner.

Clyda has been making cookies and fudge. I have helped myself to the cookies which are oatmeal with cranberries so they aren’t all bad but stayed away from the peanut butter with chocolate kisses on them. Cookies are my down fall.

It is supposed to start raining this evening and continue for the next four days. We can use the rain if it is a slow rain not a down pour. That would really hurt the burn areas. I bought a new rain gauge the other day. Our old one cracked from age.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First big rain

Location, Home

Where the heck did the week go?

Clyda has been working on the Christmas cards and I have been updating and printing the address labels, plus other computer stuff. It seems to occupy lots of my time.

We had rain Sunday night which actually totaled 1.9 inches locally. I woke up several times during the night when it was really coming down. We had a few showers yesterday and today. So far, there hasn’t been any real problems in the fire areas. Let’s hope that continues as those folks have enough problems.

I mailed Christmas packages today and did a little shopping. We received several packages ourselves yesterday so all is falling into place for the holidays. Of course, the cards are coming in also. It is great to hear from family and friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Solar panel mounted

Location, Home

After a few setbacks with the solar panel mounts, and with son Craig’s help, I got the panel mounted and hooked into the system.

Craig made some stainless steel blocks which were drilled and tapped to act as captured nuts to which the mounting bolts were screwed into. I now have two panels with 245 watts of output. On a good sunny day with the panels oriented to the sun I could conceivably get 14 amps output. That should charge my batteries just fine.

When we bought the RV I had the idea of installing 2 solar panels with a good controller and 4 six volt golf cart batteries. Adding a 1500 to 2000 watt inverter would give us all the power we would ever need while boon docking without shore power. The next thing will be a new 20 amp solar controller. I will look at that while we are in Quartzsite this winter.

Re-reading the last post, I found a few typos, so I will correct them before I get emails about them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

New solar panel

Location, Home

I should have mentioned in my last post that the one movie I really enjoyed was Australia. It was like the old time epics we used to see.

I have been trying to buy another solar panel for the RV and had found one on the internet on Craig’s List. I agreed to the price but the seller was located south of Los Angeles but did make trips my way occasionally. On Saturday we arranged to meet on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, CA. It was about an hour and a half trip for both of us. I had taken an old car battery with me and my voltmeter and some clip leads to test the panel. The first one just didn’t check right so we tried another. It seemed ok but we only had weak sunshine as there was a lot of cloud cover, so it only put out about 2.2 amps. I accepted it and headed home.

This morning we had more sun so I tested the panel again and it now put out more than 4 amps so I guess it is ok. I need to do some work before I can install it on the RV. I need mounting holes drilled and I need some stainless steel lag screws to hold it down. The real problem may be getting some self leveling caulk to seal around the mounting brackets. Usually only RV repair facilities carry this stuff. It is available on-line if I want to order it.

I am working on our Christmas newsletter. It is always a problem to decide what to put in it and to find some meaningful pictures to use.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back to reality

Location, Home

We arrived back home yesterday about 4:30 PM after spending a week in the Bay Area. The drive up was slow because of traffic but coming home was a breeze by comparison.

Besides eating too much, we shopped for bargains, visited Richmond and Point Richmond, and spent one night with friends Jack and Judy south of Ukiah, CA.

Something I never do is watch movies, at least hardly ever. I just don’t think much of the movies being made these days. However,……that being said, I did watch lots of movies this past week. Five or six I believe and enjoyed them all. Thanks Cindy and Gary.

Today it was back to reality! We got all the Christmas decorations down from the garage attic and put up the outside lights, put up the tree, which had a light problem (more on that later), decorated the tree, and more or less put up all the other decorations. As usual, we have way more decorations than we need. I suggested to Clyda that we could forgo all this if we sold the house and lived in the RV. No room there for “extras” which would be nice. Sigh…..I guess that won’t happen.

As to the “light problem”, I bought this tree with all the lights installed so all I do is plug it in. Alas, one half string didn’t work. It had multiple burned out bulbs which mystifies me. Craig helped me check some but we finally decided to turn that part of the tree to the wall and trouble shoot the problem after the holidays. The tree looks fine even with those lights out.

I am working on our travel plans for after the holidays. Part of those plans fell into place today with the arrival of an invitation for a 50th anniversary reception in Indio, CA in January. It will be our first stop for the winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Not much new

Location, Home

I actually left the car at the dealers for two days as it was done late on Thursday and I didn’t want to fight traffic to pick it up. I did pick it up Friday morning and the safety items added were a piece of plastic near the visor over each door. It matches and looks like it came with the car so no big deal.

I picked up a cold so am lying low for a few days.

I also need to make a selection for my Medicare supplement as my former employer dropped our insurance. It came down to cost so I elected to go on Clyda’s insurance but I get to keep my own doctors. No vision care coverage so we will pay for our exams and buy glasses in Mexico. Much cheaper that way.

I have been reading all the RV blogs and am jealous of those folks who are situated in their winter RV parks already. Getting anxious to go myself.

It is raining right now and flash flood warnings are up for the burn area. I don’t think too much rain is expected.

We will be leaving for the bay area tomorrow for Thanksgiving with friends and a few extra days of bumming around.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and special congratulations to my niece Angela, her husband Jim, and son AJ, on the birth of their second son yesterday. Way to go!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chasing mice

Location, Home

I took the car in for lube, oil, and filter this morning. It also needs a safety recall item installed. I decided to just leave the car and came home by the courtesy van. They called later and said that 2 items need to be installed so I will just leave it until tomorrow.

I removed the stove from the RV to check a potential problem with the oven burner. It sounds like a blow torch when it gets hot. I couldn’t find any visual problem so I hooked up a propane tank to it and ran it for 2 hours with no problem. I reinstalled it in the RV and ran it and still can’t repeat the problem.

I also have been doing mouse patrol. I don’t have any mice right now but the little buggers have been getting in too frequently. I sealed all places in the forward bay where they might get in and also found what I think is the real culprit over the rear tanks where all the wires, water, pipes, etc come through the floor. There are 3 large holes to bring all this in so I filled them with expanding foam. I hope this cures the problem. I still have a few places in the frame where they might get in so will work on those tomorrow.

I have started to think about what we might do after the first of the year as far as travels go. A little planning gets the old Hitch-Itch going, that’s for sure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fires in California

Location, Home

I am sure everyone knows about the devastating fire near here in Montecito which destroyed so many homes. They had such terrible winds which drove the fires everywhere while here about 12 miles away we had no wind at all.

I have been on to the local city and county websites for information as they have listed residences by street address which have burned. I have a friend who along with her husband owned three houses in the burned area. It looks like all three burned. One was unoccupied as it was sliding down the hill, one they lived in up the street while building a new house further up the street. The new house was finished and cost a bunch of money. All gone now. Down the hill from the original house was one owned by someone I worked with. That house is gone also. All burned in a matter of minutes. Most people barely had time to get in their cars and leave.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wedding reception

Location, Home

On Saturday we traveled to Thousand Oaks, CA to attend our nieces wedding reception. Chelsea and Steve were married in Maui on October 18th with just a small wedding party, hence the blowout reception on Saturday night. And what a blowout it was. Chelsea had planned it all and it turned out perfectly with cocktails on the patio, tables for eight with black table cloths with black and white runners, large table center pieces with votive candles and flowers, and great food.

Place cards.

Table center piece.

Beautiful tables set for eight.

Chelsea and Steve.

Clyda’s sister Candi is here from Washington state for the reception and to see friends. She will leave for home on Saturday. She and Clyda have been busy going here and there.

I have been unloading the trailer and truck. I dumped and flushed the tanks today. I still need to remove everything from the forward bay to see if there is any more mouse evidence and check the under carriage to see where they might be getting in.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Home from Death Valley

Location, Home

Just a quick note tonight as I had a really long drive today. I left Death Valley at 7:20 AM and arrived home at 4:20 PM, a 9 hour drive. I did make a few stops but still, it is a long drive.

More later.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Groceries and.....

Location, Death Valley

The weather changed on Friday. It was very hot during the day but as evening came the wind came up and so did the temperature. The wind did die about 10:30 PM but the temps stayed high. It was in the high 80’s at 3:30 in the morning. Sleeping was miserable.

About 7:15 AM on Friday, it started to sprinkle. It did this off and on until about noon. It didn’t stop our annual chorizo and eggs breakfast. That, along with refried beans and burritos makes a breakfast of champions.

Saturday was a busy day as we had grocery shopping to do. We drove to Shoshone, CA for their annual Death Valley Days which run all this weekend. The weather was mild with no wind which is unusual for this time of year. After looking at the crafts for sale and browsing the new and very good display of women in Death Valley at the museum, we drove to Tecopa and the hot springs. This is an annual stop for us. It cost $5 for all day but we only spend about 20 minutes in the hot water. After a shower we enter the pool to soak. Men and women each have their own pools as no clothes or bathing suits are allowed. Birthday suits only, thank you.

Refreshed, we move on to China Ranch, south of Tecopa for a date shake. This is a real high light on a warm day.

Back to Shoshone then on to Pahrump, NV for propane, lunch, groceries and fuel before heading back to Death Valley. Mean while, there is a black cloud to the west which looks ominous to say the least. Shortly after leaving Pahrump we run into rain which is heavy at times especially at Death Valley Junction. The rain ends as we enter Death Valley and descend below sea level. The sun and clouds make for breath taking scenery around us as the hills light up.

It had rained in the valley while we were gone but we had a very pleasant evening around the campfire.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Death Valley

Location, Death Valley

I have been in Death Valley since Friday the 24th. The weather is very warm during the day, about 95 degrees, and absolutely perfect at night around the campfire. Overnight temperatures are in the 65 degree range which makes sleeping with just a sheet comfortable.

We have done little since we arrived. I did make the trip to Beatty and down through Titus canyon on Monday. It was a very nice trip, my first, in the canyon. It was one of the few places I had not visited in all the trips I have made here.

Bottle house at Rhyolite, NV

I rechecked some of the geoglyphs (rock alignments) that I had found in the past. I am always concerned that they have been disturbed by people or washed away by water. In this case, all were still intact, which at times amazes me.

I hope to post this today as there is WiFi here at the visitor center and the grocery store. I want to add some photos also.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Desert Ramblin

Location, On The Road

I will post this as a catch-up log of the past 7 days on the road when I get Wi-fi some where.

I left home on Wednesday morning at 8:55 AM and had only normal traffic on the drive and arrive at Calico Ghost Town campground North of Barstow, CA about 2 PM. My friends were already there having spent the night in the nearby Boron rest stop. By the way, this rest stop will be closed for about a year and a half while they rebuild it. I wonder if they will still allow overnight camping.

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning we relaxed. Thursday afternoon we walked the streets of Calico Ghost Town which was getting ready for Halloween and the big Ghost Town Haunt weekend.

Friday morning we took the one hour drive to Baker, CA and parked behind The Mad Greek Restaurant in the large lot for RV’s and trucks. Al and Mike arrived shortly after we got there and we took Al’s Pathfinder for a trip to the new Kelso Depot in the Mojave Preserve. The Park Service had this historical train station rebuilt for use as an information and display center for the preserve which was created in 1994 by the Desert Protection Act. We ate our sack lunch in their picnic area before driving to a lava tube the park ranger had told us about. The tube is accessible by a metal ladder. Much of the tube has collapsed as the lava cooled. We next drove to the Aiken Mine which still has all the loading conveyers still in the mine.

After arriving back at Baker, we awaited the arrival of Nobby and Deana from southern CA. The pulled in an hour or so latter. After some snacks we all went to the Mad Greek Restaurant for dinner.

On Saturday we drove to Primm, NV on the California/Nevada border and parked behind Buffalo Bills Casino in the large lot they use for trucks and RV’s. This lot will be our home for a few days. Our goal here is to drive the old Borax Traction Road which originated outside of Death Valley and ended in Nipton south of Primm. Our first obstacle was to get access to the road from Primm. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has closed all access from Primm to keep the ATV’ers from tearing up the dry lake bed and surrounding area. We drove south to the Nipton road and accessed the Traction Road from there. After driving back towards Primm we were stopped by more locked gates and signs the BLM had posted. We did drive further south and found the old road bed as it headed for a railroad siding on the Union Pacific Rail Road.

We ate dinner at the buffet in Primm. It was ok.

On Sunday we drove North on I-5 to the Goodsprings exit and headed west to some old mining areas. After looking over this area we had lunch near an old mine before driving further west to the Sandy Valley where we picked up the traction road. We drove the old road south towards Stateline Pass. At the pass we found the road to be in good condition but it soon ended as if they stopped building it. Our recourse was to back track or take a very old road down into the wash. Of course we took the wash as a way out. After losing the road and driving cross country, we eventually got onto the better road out and ended up at Primm. Unfortunately, we ruined a tire while driving cross country by driving a stick through the side wall.

Dining in the desert.

On Monday we drove back to Baker and then towards Shoshone, CA on Hwy 127 to the BLM area outside of Tecopa, CA. Tecopa is famous for its hot springs. We spent the afternoon exploring old mines east of Tecopa.

On Tuesday we drove towards Pahrump, NV to continue part of the traction road however, the road in both directions was closed by BLM signs. BUMMER!!! We decided to drive south towards Tecopa by a dirt road which also was closed by the BLM. Our only option was to go back to Shoshone and then to Tecopa. While in Shoshone we talked to a BLM officer about the closure areas and found out the Traction Road now lies within BLM Wilderness areas so is closed to all traffic.

That ends any possibility of ever driving the road. We decided to go to China Ranch south of Tecopa and have a date shake for lunch. The temperature had been creeping up, so a date shake really tasted good. After lunch we drove east of Tecopa and explored some open pit talc mines. These were very extensive and went for a couple miles along the hills. Part of the group returned to camp while the rest of use drove further east to more mines. We saw 2 big horn sheep on a ridge above us. A great sighting. We drove by a round about road back to camp and arrived after 5 PM.

The wind came up last night about the time we were ready to go in for the night. I finally pulled the slides on the RV about midnight as the wind was trying to lift the RV. I rocked and rolled all night so consequently got little sleep. The wind is still blowing this morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Almost ready to go!

Location, At Home, CA

My arms are sore! I washed the trailer on Saturday and then started to wax it. I used Nu-Finish which is not a wax, at least that’s what it says on the bottle. I have been using it for years on my cars and it is supposed to be good for a year. The trailer does look good except on the side that gets sun on it. There the side feels smooth to the touch but is not as shiny as the other side. I really should put another coat of wax on that sun damaged side but may not have time tomorrow as I have a dentist appointment and Clyda has a doctor appointment. Also, I need to buy groceries for myself and to leave some here for Clyda and Craig.

I will be leaving around 9 AM Wednesday morning for Barstow, CA. There I will meet a couple of the guys for 2 days and then move on to our 4-wheel drive trip. I hope I have everything done by then. My checklist has a lot of checks on it so that is good. My meal plans are in good shape; at least I hope they are. I will have a chance to pick up groceries twice while on the trip.

I am doing computer backups right now. I do that every couple months. My backup hard drives are getting really full so I need to write some of the older files off to DVD’s for long term storage when I get back.

I don’t know if I will have any access to the internet while I am gone. Last year we did have access while in Death Valley for a short time. The person controlling the WI-Fi didn’t know what they were doing and cut people off but refused to look at his settings. It made everyone mad but he was too stubborn to change anything after he made his decision. I hope it is better this year.

If I don’t have Wi-Fi anywhere along the way it will be November 7th before I get back home. I am actually coming home early to attend my nieces wedding reception. Until next time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Break in the weather.

Location, At Home, CA

Well, the weather broke today and we lost our heat wave. Actually it was a very nice day until late afternoon when the “sundowner winds” started. Shortly after the winds came, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to be only in the 60’s.

I took advantage of the drop in temperatures and poured the cement around my new drain. I formed it as a basin to feed the water runoff to the drain itself.

I did a little bush trimming and cleaned the air cleaner in the truck. The service shop mentioned the filter yesterday when I had the truck in for lube, oil, and filter along with a new transmission gasket. The gasket had been leaking which of course left a stain on my concrete pad.

Tomorrow I hope to wash the trailer and start the wax job on it. Something I don’t really look forward to.

Late today I received sad news that one of my cousins had passed away. We were not close but in recent years had spent some time together. He and his wife spent 4 days at our house while touring the area and I had stayed with them after a family reunion a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slow progress on my chores

Location, At Home, CA

It has been HOT here the last few days. I have been trying to finish the patio roof but it is just too hot to climb up there and work. I did manage to get all the tin pieces cut and installed but still need to caulk everything.

So, I have been doing some other things. I finished the drain around the shed and scrubbed the bugs off the front of the RV. I still need to wash and wax the rig if the weather permits.

Did I mention that it rained on Saturday? Not a lot, but it kept me from doing much outside.

I started to shred the tree cuttings the other day but the shredder wouldn’t cooperate. In fact it caught fire while I was using it. The pull starter wheel rubbed and set the plastic on fire which started the pull cord burning. I had to remove the shroud to put out the fire. All the pull cord mechanism burned up so I need a whole new shroud now.

I sent out the first draft of the food assignments for the desert trip today. I am sure someone will find a problem with it but that’s the way it goes.

I took the truck in for lube, oil, and filter today. They are keeping it overnight as they had to replace the transmission gasket as it was leaking.

Clyda has been venturing out with the wheelchair a couple times a day. She goes down the street just for something else to do. She uses her crutches more than the wheelchair now. She is allowed to put a maximum of 30 pounds on her foot while in the boot. That’s not much but it is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hot days work!

Location, At Home, CA

Fantastic birthday party for our friend Don on Saturday which included a band playing Blues music, great food, and lots of people who we don’t see very often.

I am trying to get all my fall work done but it is hard to do with all the other things going on. Tomorrow we are meeting friends who are camping, for dinner.

I did get some things done this afternoon even with the high temperatures. I installed a plastic edging around the flower beds which will keep the dirt in the bed when it rains. I started installing a drain line in back of my garden shed. There is a drain around part of the shed already but this extends that drain.

I cut and realigned the new drain to the front yard so now I can finish by pouring cement around it to make a nice drain pan.

I am working on a fix to the patio roof to keep leaves and debris from getting under the flashing. It involves cutting 40 pieces of tin to fit them in the roof channels.

I am also working on food assignments for my upcoming desert trip. I have been doing this for years but sometimes it tries my patience as people keep changing when and how long they will be on the trip. I am sure by now everyone is getting anxious to find out when and how much they will need to cook.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catching up on yard work.

Location, At Home, CA

Yesterday I took the rain gutter off the patio room to clean it. This gutter is an integral part of the roof structure and traps all the debris flying around. The only way to clean it is to take it down.

Today neighbor Paul brought his chainsaw over and we cut down the two plum trees. Boy, were they ever full of termites. That part of the yard looks pretty bare but they needed to be cut down. Now I need to chip all the brush.

I finally planted the dwarf lemon tree Clyda had bought some time ago. I talked to the espalier expert yesterday about how to take care of the tree as it grows. He had a simple reply, “just bend the branches they way you want them to go”. Sounds simple, so I will try his way.

This weekend will be busy as friends are coming to town for another mutual friend’s 60th birthday party. I will be good to see everyone again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Roomba! Do you Roomba?

Location, At Home, CA

Now I’m not talking rumba as in dancing here but rather the Roomba vacuum cleaner from irobot. While we were in the bay area in August I bought a Roomba at a one day sale at a local big box electronic store.

Notice the little white brush which cleans along walls.

My thought was to use it on our bamboo laminate flooring which shows every bit of dirt if you don’t vacuum it every day or so. Of course, having a large dog running in and out doesn’t help even if she is short haired. She still sheds.

The Roomba model I have is a cheaper model than some available. That’s probably why it was on sale. It needs to be manually plugged into its power source to recharge the battery. Newer models have a docking station to which the Roomba automatically returns when it needs battery recharging.

It starts cleaning by going in a circle wherever you start it which orients itself to the space to be cleaned. From then on it pursues a seemingly random pattern to clean a space. It really is a pre-planned pattern which eventually covers all the space more than once. It does a remarkable job of cleaning. Dirt is collected into a small dustbin which needs to be emptied after each cleaning.

To confine the Roomba within a specific space or area I use rolled up rugs or the remote sensor supplied with the machine which puts out an electronic cone which limits the Roomba to a specific area.

Today I cleaned up the patio where the fence boards had been stored while they were drying and stored all the boards in my garden shed. They will stay there until I do the remainder of the yard fence.

I also started my fall pruning and yard clean up. Son Craig had pruned the trees hanging over the back fence so I want to get all the trimming done before I start shredding everything. We will also cut down two plum trees which are old and being eaten by termites.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting some things done.

Location, At Home, CA

I did get a few things accomplished this week. I still had 95 fence boards to stain. These will be used to replace the fence at the side of the patio and to rebuild the “wood shed” behind that fence. I got half stained on Monday and finished the rest today. I was short about a gallon of stain so had to pick one up to finish. At $35 per gallon, I try to make it go as far as I can.

In the last report I said I thought the big TV in the RV living room was bad but on further investigation, it is the remote that has gone bad. The new digital to analog converter works just fine.

My to-do-list is still fairly long but I am hacking away at it. We were originally planning on a short RV trip later this month but I think that is going to be scrubbed due to Clyda’s leg. We have just too many steps in the RV for her to negotiate to make that trip possible. Instead I am planning for the desert trip in mid October. That is really not far away so I best be getting to business.

I caulked some places under the RV that could possibly have let mice in. Only time will tell if that is successful.

I follow the blogs of several RV’ers that were traveling in Alaska this summer. All are now back in the continental US or close to it. Last year when Clyda and I were in Canada, it was amazing how far north we actually got. One of the roads we took is a well travel road to Alaska by many RV’ers. Maybe we should put that on our future schedule.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane update

Location, At Home, CA

Days just seem to roll by with no thought about accomplishing anything. Clyda had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday. They took an x-ray and everything is fine. She can remove the “boot” and exercise her foot some. She also uses her crutches to get to the living room when she has company and to sit on a stool at the island in the kitchen for meals.

I decided I don’t need an FM transmitter for my Ipod as I already had an old one from my Sony Disc Man CD player. I tried it and it works in the car and RV but not in the truck. Wonder what that is all about. The Ford truck radio is rather fancy so maybe it has lots of shielding or something.

I bought a Digital TV converter for the RV so we can use the analog antenna and analog TV while on the road. It appears that the big 27 inch TV in the RV living room has bit the dust. I used the 9 inch set we used in the old trailer to test the converter but it wouldn’t find any channels. Neighbor Paul tried the box on his antenna and it worked fine so I need to see what is wrong in the RV.

Saturday afternoon we drove down the coast to attend a double birthday party for friends. Clyda rode in the backseat and managed fairly well. She was tired by the time we came home. She did go to the movie this afternoon with a friend. I drove her and rolled her into the theatre and then ran errands until the movie was over.

Son Tim and family in Houston went through hurricane Ike on Friday and Saturday. They live just west of where the “eye wall” went through. They had lots of wind which blew the metal whirly vents off the garage and lifted the cap shingles on the house which let water in. He also had a water leak in the laundry area which soaked the insulation in the attic. The biggest problem has been electricity which went off about 11 PM Friday night and is still not back on. His neighbors across the street however do have electricity so Tim is running on generators.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update on activities

Location, At Home, CA

I had planned to do an update tomorrow but decided to add a short entry tonight. Clyda is making progress but it is slow. She gets out of bed more often for a short walk (hobble) with crutches to the living room.

I have been updating an older PC by reformatting the hard drive and putting the Windows software back on. It runs much faster now. I have installed Clyda’s greeting card programs on it and little else. I also disassembled an LCD display that a friend had asked me to look at. It was tough finding how to get this thing apart but with the help of the internet I found a few clues which helped. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find anything wrong so I guess I will put it back together.

I have been loading more CD’s into my Ipod which does takes time. Today I bought a cable to go from the Ipod to the AUX input on the car radio. For the truck I need to get an FM transmitter which I saw at Radio Shack for about $60.

Between taking care of Clyda’s needs and doing errands I don’t get much else done. My To-Do list is still rather long.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Location, At Home, CA

I have been too busy and most nights too tired to update this journal on a regular basis.

First an update on Clyda. A week after they put a cast on and the Grandkids and a few friends had signed it, they removed it. She also had her staples removed from the surgery. In place of a cast she now has a large black walking boot. Of course she can’t use it to walk for some time yet but it does allow her to adjust the tightness of the boot for comfort. This thing is all Velcro straps so there is a lot of adjustment available.

In general, she is still in bed most of the time as weight on her leg causes pain when she stands up. She can go to the bathroom, wash herself, etc, with the aid of crutches. We are working on how to get her in the shower with the aid of a plastic chair.

On another note: the grandkids and their parents spent 3 days last week at Disney Land before flying home on Saturday. We miss having the kids here. The 2 weeks just flew by.

On September 3rd I celebrated my 69th birthday. The night before, I took a large chocolate sheet cake to the Elks club for our table to eat. Of course there was a lot left over even though we had 12 members at the table. On my birthday I attended a retiree’s meeting which had two purposes. We had a speaker giving us the latest info on Medicare and also the 3 year project to produce a history of Delco Systems was completed and the books were ready to pick up. It is a great book about all the activities we participated in and accomplished since 1961 until the doors were finally closed on the last project in 2004. I worked there for almost 32 years from September 1963 until June 1995 when I retired.

For my birthday son Tim and wife Diane got me an 8 GB Apple Ipod Nano to store all my CD’s on. A chance statement I made while they were here is what prompted them to send one my way I am sure. Thanks Tim and Diane. It is a great present. I hope to use it to store all my music and then play through a transmitter to any radio. My first excursion into the mysteries of this tiny little box was indeed daunting but I figured that millions of people, some with less smarts than myself, have made them work so I should be able to also. It has been a learning experience but I now have several albums loaded from CD’s to my computer and into the Ipod. It will take some time to load all of them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clyda update.

Location, At Home, CA

This is just a short entry to update Clyda’s condition. She has spent the last week in bed with her foot propped up. She has some pain but mostly when she lowers her foot.

Yesterday she had a Doctors appointment and they removed the original wrapping and took an x-ray. Everything is fine so they put a cast on which ends just below her knee. She of course is tired of staying in bed and is planning to get more active as the pain decreases.

I have a TV in the bedroom to occupy her time. The Grandkids are at Disneyland for a few days but will be back tomorrow evening. Unfortunately, they leave for home on Saturday. More later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Location, At Home, CA

Oldest son Tim, wife Diane and grandkids Matthew and Ivy arrived as planned on Saturday afternoon. It was good to see them at the airport. We are looking forward to 2 weeks of fun together.

Then tragedy struck. Clyda fell and broke her ankle on Monday morning while walking Craig’s dog. It required the Paramedics and a back board to get her to the ambulance as she was on the bike path near the grade school. Goleta Valley Hospital Emergency room straightened her ankle and wrapped it. She spent the night at home. On Tuesday she had surgery to repair it at the out patient surgery center. She now has a whole machine shop of screws and plates holding it together. Of course, this is the leg she had the knee replacement on and of course, she fell on that knee also. The x-ray showed no damage to the implant so hopefully it is only bruised.

She had a nerve block at the back of her knee so she has had little pain. She is flat on her back with her foot elevated for a week. It will than be 3 months before she can put any weight on the foot.

She is really bummed as Tim, Diane and the kids are here. She had been so looking forward to them coming.

She has a phone next to her bed and can have phone calls. I will move a TV in to the room later and I am sure she will get sick of soap operas really fast.

I will keep everyone informed about her progress.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another dump run

Location, At Home, CA

After my morning walk and breakfast, I started loading “junk” into the truck. I had several old fiberglass corrugated panels to get rid of so I sawed them in half so they would fit the bed of the truck. Lots of old PVC pipe once used to water the flower beds went in along with old water hoses, some that had been chewed by skunks looking for water, as well as all the stumps and tree roots that didn’t get burned at Visitadores in May. I ended up with a fairly large load which cost $16 at the dump. It is always a relief to get rid of stuff. I would like to fill one of those large roll off dumpsters that the local trash company has with all the things that have accumulated around here. I’m afraid one wouldn’t be enough. Oh, well!!!

I was really tired this evening and I doubt the work I have been doing is to blame. More than likely it is staying up until midnight every night watching the Olympics on TV that is to blame. I wouldn’t miss it.

The grandkids will be here on Saturday for 2 weeks. Can’t wait to see them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The fence is done!!!!

Location, At Home, CA

The fence is officially done….. I put on the last two pieces of what I call “trim” to complete it. I do need to do some paint touch up but that is minor. Later, I will rebuild the fence along side the patio and redo the “wood shed”. I need to “think” about that before I start as we are now talking about removing the flower bed between the patio and the woodshed as it hasn’t served as a flower bed for some time. It takes way too much water to keep anything growing in it.

I loaded all the old fence and any other scrap wood I could find and made a dump run after lunch. I only paid $14.75 for a very large load as it was considered “wood scrap” and will be ground up and recycled.

Tomorrow I plan to take a load of just plain “junk” to the dump. Later, I also need to take a load of old concrete in for recycling. I will wait until after the flower bed is removed, if in fact we do remove it before I do that.

I need to report on some unfinished business. If you have been reading this blog you know I had sent my digital camera to Canon for repair. They eventually (actually a very short time) fixed it and FedEx’ed it back to me. I got it on Monday just before we left for the Bay Area. So far it seems to work just fine. They fixed the original problem with the memory and also something about a black spot (hole) in the lens? Anyway, it works and it was fixed for free, the best part.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The fence is done!!!!

Location, At Home, CA

I don’t mind building fence but the last piece plus the gate has been frustrating, slow, and error prone. I started on the gate yesterday morning and although it was slow, it went well. By the end of the day I had the majority of the gate built and the fence boards on except for 2 near the middle which need to be cut to size. I hung the gate in place over night.

Today was finish up day but first thing this morning I made a trip to the hardware store as they had spray cans of paint on sale, two for the price of one, and I needed paint for the shelf Clyda bought at Ikea last week. I also needed a few more bolts to complete the gate. After cutting the two boards to complete the gate I worked on the last few boards to cover the metal hardware on the posts. This process took me all afternoon with much frustration, recutting, trial and error and a few cuss words. Finally it was done including the latch.

View from the inside.

What a gate!!! That should last.

View from the street side.

The result looks good and should out last me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back to work!

Location, At Home, CA

Well, after a week off and a slow day yesterday, it is back to WORK. Neighbor Paul had another section of forms ready so this morning’s order of business was to pour cement for that section. About an hours worth of labor and the cement was poured. Paul finished it as it dried. I mixed a small amount of cement in a 5 gallon bucket to fill the 2 pipes I had cemented in earlier. Filling the pipes helps strengthen them and keeps water out so rust doesn’t form.

I needed bolts for the fence hardware I had purchased recently so off to the hardware store I went. Prices have sure increased in the last year so it takes more than a few dollars to buy bolts.

After lunch I set up the chop saw and figured out how to makes the cuts for the post stringers. This was all a slow process as each board needed to be cut to a different length. The fence drops in height down to 5 foot at the gate. This allows the Gas Company to read the meter by looking over the fence. Actually, they use a small monocular to read the dials.

Back of the fence showing the hardware and drop to the gate level.

Tomorrow I will start on the gate. This is always fun so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Hot August Nights"

Location, At Home, CA

Boy-oh-boy! What a week! We were at Cindy and Gary’s house to celebrate “Hot August Nights”, a celebration of friends, and Cindy and Gary’s recent retirement. There were 4 couples gathered for this celebration, Clyda and I, Budd and Brenda, Don and Bev, and our hosts, Cindy and Gary.

On Thursday before everyone gathered, Cindy and Clyda shopped while Gary and I visited Fry’s for some electronic stuff. You can never have too much “electronic stuff”. I bought an Irobot Roomba which is a small circular electronic vacuum cleaner which was on sale for one day only. It does a heck of a job and we plan to use it in the kitchen on the bamboo floors.

The remainder of the day was spent in and around the pool as the temperature was in the 90’s.

On Friday we drove to Emeryville and the Ikea store. Clyda wanted some bookshelves. We found what we wanted but not in white so I get the job of painting one of the shelves. Next we drove to the Crate and Barrel Outlet store in Martinez. The ladies shopped while Gary and I browsed bookstores.

Then it was pool time for the remainder of the day. Around 3:30 PM Don and Bev arrived and Budd and Brenda came shortly after. We all spent the remainder of the afternoon around the pool. What a way to relax.

On Saturday we drove to the Amtrak Station in Martinez and took the train to Sacramento. It is about an hours ride. The train was very full or I should say many seats were occupied by one person taking up the whole seat. We sort of made room for ourselves by asking people to move over. It is amazing what a large group will do to reluctant folks.

The train drops you off in Old Town so the first stop was at Fat City for lunch. It was very good. We had a room to ourselves with appropriate group tax for service. At 17%, it is kind of steep.

We wandered around the shops and eventually got an ice cream before going back to the train station. It was very warm the whole time which kind of dragged everyone down but we still had a good time. We arrived back at the house for more pool time.

On Sunday afternoon we went to Retzlaff Winery in Livermore. After some tasting and buying we stopped at Wente winery but they had a tour bus of people on the premises so we left and went back to the pool.

Don and Bev left on Monday so the rest of the ladies shopped while the guys went to Fry’s, Costco, and every Safeway in the East Bay looking for cheap Cutty Sark scotch for Budd to stock up on.

More pool time and left over’s for dinner. Cindy had planned and cooked all meals for the weekend and put out a spread that was fantastic.

The other activity that occupied us every evening and some mornings was the Wii. Now if you are from some other planet and don’t know about a Wii, it has been the rage for the past few years among young kids, older kids, and now adults and seniors who have discovered the Wii. The problem is finding one. They are sold out as soon as they hit the store. The Wii is a series of games played on a TV screen using hand held controllers. Our favorite game was bowling which can be played by up to four players. It is just like bowling only the alley is on a TV screen. Of course, having a big 54 inch LCD screen helps with the realism. I am afraid we all have aches and pains from the Wii exercise after the weekend.

This morning Budd and Brenda and us packed up and after one last bowling game left for home around 11 AM.

We arrived home after 5 PM with a car loaded with stuff. What a wonderful week at Cindy and Gary’s house and what great “Hot August Night’s”. Thanks Cindy and Gary for a great week, good food and better friendship. Looking forward to next year.

PS: I elected to not post any photos because of the "Mature Nature" of the subjects involved in this weekends Hot August Nights.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Vacaction

Location, Walnut Creek, CA

On Tuesday we drove to Walnut Creek. The drive took about 6 hours with stops for coffee, gas, and lunch. It is actually an easy drive with the car. We averaged 25.9 MPG which is good as there is no way to maintain a set speed because most drivers still want to go fast and the heck with fuel mileage.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we drove to the Mendocino wine country of Anderson Valley. We stopped in Healdsburg at Rodney Strong winery for a taste and then went to lunch in downtown at HBG for a sandwich. We ate outside as the temperature was perfect. In fact, the temperature was perfect all day.

We drove to Boonville and Philo. In Philo we stopped at Scharffenberger which is known for their champagne’s and had a taste or two and also bought a bottle of their Brut for later consumption.

A side story here: years ago son Craig worked for a man who had a ranch near Philo and did trenching for the wineries when they installed irrigation pipes. The lady at the winery knew everyone locally including many of our friends who live in the surrounding area but did not know Craig. It was a nice to talk to her and find out who was doing what. Oh, the man Craig worked for sold his ranch to Kendall Jackson, the big wine retailer in California. And so it goes.

By the time we started back home it was getting late so we stopped for Mexican food. It was a short evening as we all headed to bed.

No pictures today as I forgot my camera. Bummer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Drain line is in!

Location, At home, CA

Boy, am I glad this past week is over with and we are leaving in the morning for Walnut Creek. I couldn’t face another day of slave labor such as I have been doing. Although in truth, I am done with the worst part.

Today I got the 2 tunnels under the curbs opened enough to get the new drain line in. It involved digging with a hand trowel and cutting several roots. I then turned off the water to the side yard and cut the water line where it passed under the drain line. There was not enough room to get the new bigger line through the opening. I installed a “U” in the water line which now allows the drain to pass into the sump.

Drain line under curb.

New sump with water line "U" visible.

Do I look like a happy camper or what?

I had to buy an adaptor to go from the old 2 inch line into the sump. That little piece of plastic cost $15.00!!!!!!! Ouch! My next shock was the cost of three brass hose bibs to replace all the old ones on the before mentioned water line. I replaced the line going to the bibs as it had a slow leak. One of the bibs cost $13.95 and the others were $7.95 each. I told Clyda that we need to rethink this home ownership bit.

After lunch I installed the drain line and sumps and checked the line for slope to make sure it would drain properly by running water down the line. After I was satisfied with that, I buried the line. I didn’t want to leave it open while we are gone as that clay ground would be dried like cement by next week. I cleaned up all my tools and temporarily installed the old gate and short piece of fence to close in the yard while we are gone.

I have been going through a pair of gloves every 2 days. Even wearing gloves, I still have lots of blisters. All will heal by next week I hope. The remainder of the fence project is not as labor intensive but Clyda has been buying plants for the flower bed along the fence so they will need to be taken care of soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Digging, Digging, Digging!

Location, At home, CA

Yesterday was a very painful day. Digging, digging, digging! And it was HOT! But with pain comes success.

In the morning I ran some errands before the days labors began. I needed a haircut, I had banking to do, and I needed to buy the new drain line and sump boxes. After that was all accomplished, I started on the digging. The one remaining stump proved to be very stubborn to remove. I dug all around it but couldn’t find any roots on three of the sides which left the side near the neighbor’s wall to dig. I used an 8 ton bottle jack to see if that would break the stump loose but to no avail. I could tip the stump all the way to the wall so that meant the pivot root is near the wall.

I finally uncovered a large root wrapped around the drain line. After much chopping with an axe it seemed like the stump should budge. No chance, so there must be another root down there. By this time I was soaked with sweat and about out of energy from all the day’s efforts. My neighbor Tom helped clean out the dirt as I continued to chop and dig.

About that time Paul who was waiting for company to arrive walked over and suggested that his tractor might do the job. Not one to turn down an offer like that, I accepted. A few minutes pulling with the Kabota and that bad boy was out of there! Woo Hoo! Thank Goodness for Paul. The stump had completely wrapped its roots around the drain line.

With a little time left in the day I proceeded to knock the concrete out of the drain basin at the inlet to the drain.

After showering and resting for a few minutes it was time to set up the BBQ and tables in the cul de sac for a neighborhood get together. We have these once or twice a year. This one was well attended and the weather cooperated so we stayed out until 9 PM or so. A great way to end the week.

Today, Sunday, I dug the dirt out of the drain basin and along the drain line where it was still buried and removed the line in several pieces. I worked on opening the hole under two cement borders which is going to be somewhat of a problem. Roots from the trees and junipers have grown along side of the line and these are going to be difficult to remove. I knocked as much dirt off the juniper stump as I could and now I can at least move it by myself.

The result of all this effort yesterday earned me blisters on my right hand in places I have never had blisters before. They will get a chance to heal starting Tuesday as we will be in the Walnut Creek helping our friends Cindy and Gary celebrate their recent retirement. I am looking forward to that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pouring cement and digging!

Location, At home, CA

I had mentioned in my blog of June 11th that my camera had quit working while we were at Mammoth and also the GPS wouldn’t come on as we prepared to drive home. Here is an update on those subjects.

First the GPS: I charged the GPS in the truck as we drove from Tehachapi to Santa Paula and over lunch behind a service station I tried to see if it would come on. Wonder of wonders, it did. It told me it was loading which to me indicated the battery had become discharged and the software was in memory. I managed to navigate home with the unit but was not comfortable with the way it worked. I received an email from Magellan which told me how to restart the unit by holding the ON button for so many seconds then doing it again for so many seconds. It worked! I did ask them how long the battery should normally hold a charge but have not received an answer yet.

The camera: After calling Canon and receiving assurances that they would fix it for nothing, I received 3 emails from them. One was a UPS shipping label, one was instructions on how to ship the camera and I forgot the third. Anyway, I double packed the camera and shipped it off. It eventually arrived at their repair facility in Elgin, IL and I received an email telling me that along with a tracking number. Today, I received an email saying the camera is being shipped back to me via FedEx and I should receive it within 4 days. How cool is that?

Now on to other happenings. Today was another Aleve day of pain and work. We started out by pouring the first section of fence footings for Paul this morning. It went fairly quickly as we mixed the cement with his mixer which holds 2-60 lb bags at a time. We actually did it in about an hour.

Later, I started digging in the bed we removed the junipers from yesterday to find the drain line. The ground is really too hard to dig much so I started soaking it with water. I did manage to dig the section along the new fence only because that had received water from the neighbor’s yard so digging was not a problem.

The drain is not buried very deep which helps. I do need to remove the juniper stumps before I can finish the digging and Paul came to my rescue again. He used his Kabota tractor with the ripper bar attached and we managed to get most of the stumps and roots out. All except for the big Armstrong stump. That will require hand digging and chopping of the roots to get that big baby out. The ground is really nice and loose after a few passes with the ripper bar. Tomorrow, more of the same followed by more Aleve.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More "Slave Labor"

Location, At home, CA

Work, work, work, that’s all I do. The fence project is progressing but has now taken on another whole dimension. One project begets another project. Oh woa!!!!

On Tuesday I removed the remaining short piece of old fence and the gate. The 2 gate pots required a little persuasion to get them out of their holes. To accomplish this I used two 8 ton bottle jacks and a stainless steel rod to work against. I first drilled a hole in the post with a Forstner bit to accept the rod. By simultaneous pressure on both jacks, the pole was induced to come out of its hole where it had resided for loo these past 40 years.

The holes are too small to receive new 4x4 posts so I will use a 7 foot 2 3/8s round pipe. I have done this before on my other gate and it works well.

On Tuesday I bought the pipes and cemented them in. These will only be 5 foot high as the gate can only be that height so it doesn’t overwhelm the front of the house and also, the gas meter reader needs to be able to look over the fence with his scope to read our gas meter.

Craig had brought up the subject of replacing the water drain line to the street while all the fence construction was going on as the drain gets overwhelmed when we have a large downpour. Fortunately, he has always been here to keep the drain open so there has been no water damage. I guess this would be the time to do it.

We checked the slope from the top of the present drain to the street and we have about 1 foot 3 inches of slope. This is fine if we were putting in a new drain and nothing was in the way. However, 40 plus years ago we planted junipers as a hedge along the property line and the drain is buried under the hedge. There is no way to get the new drain through that hedge.

So, last night the decision was made to remove the hedge. When originally planted, all the junipers were to be of the low spreading variety but somehow a larger Armstrong variety got planted in one place. This was unknown until the plant became mature and grew very big. Each year it required extensive pruning to keep it in check. So….. it was time to remove it.

I started chopping this morning on the low junipers near the street and that went fairly well. The Armstrong was…….very Armstrongish. It had limbs 4 inches in diameter and lots of dead branches internal to the hedge. It finally took Paul’s chainsaw to reduce it to a mere stump. I piled all the cuttings up and reduced them to compost with my shredder. I filled 10 garbage cans with the shredding’s. By the time I finished the shredding, and cleanup with Clyda’s and Craig’s help, I was beat. I feel all of my age tonight. However, 2 Aleve should do the trick as Paul needs help pouring a cement footing for his fence tomorrow.

Making "small chips".

Cutting the stump with Paul's help.

Hedge removed with only the small stumps remaining.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Main fence is done!

Location, At home, CA

I just couldn’t stay away from the fence yesterday knowing there were things I could do in preparation for putting the boards up. I removed the form boards from the curb and mounted the boards at either end of the fence so I could run a string line to use as a guide for the fence board height. I made a template so I could mark each board where the screws will go. By doing this, all screws will be in line for the whole fence. It just looks better this way. The screws are #6 by 1 5/8 long and are coated just for fences. No rusty running marks on my fence!

Today, I started putting up boards. Son Craig helped for a couple hours which really made progress zoom. I marked boards and he drove the screws.

Craig at work while I marked the boards.

Neighbor Paul comes to check progess.

Completed fence.

The main section of boards was up by lunch time but the remaining 2 sections took the rest of the afternoon. Each board was tried in place, marked for cutoff, marked for screw holes, sawed to length, and painted on the cut end before installing. These boards were cut off because an existing block wall on the neighbor’s side hides the lower foot of the boards and it was decided that each board should but cut off to avoid dirt building up and rotting the boards.

The main part of the fence is done but I have a small end section to replace as well as a gate to build. That is next for this project.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More fence work

Location, At home, CA

On Thursday I set all the remaining post and cemented them in. Then I set the forms for the curbing under the fence. Between Paul and I there were enough old form boards to complete the job. This was all done during the heat of the day with high humidity. By Thursday night I was pooped.

Checking the posts for level.

Posts in and forms ready for cement.

Friday morning I picked up more bags of cement and Paul brought out his cement mixer which really made the job of pouring the curbing go fast. We can mix 2 of the 60 pound bags at once so the job was quickly done.

Mixing cement.

Filling the forms.

Later I bought 15 pressure treated 2x4’s each 8 feet long which will be the stringers for holding the boards to complete the fence.

Last night we were invited to dinner with Clyda’s cousin Bea and her husband Jack who were dog sitting for their youngest daughter Sally at Sally’s house. It was a very enjoyable evening and we didn’t get home until midnight. Consequently, I slept in this morning.

Paul came over this morning and I asked him to help me put up the 2x4 stringers today. After deciding which spacing to use, based on our other common fence, we quickly put up most of the stringers. I used his hammer drill which really drives the 3 ¾ inch screws in easily. Love that drill!!!!.....After lunch we finished the last 2 sections which required a little thinking as they are along a wall for the neighbors flower bed.

Setting the lower stringers.

Stringers all in.

I cleaned up the tools and cutoff pieces of boards and now am ready to start putting up the fence boards. Maybe I will wait until Monday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Digging holes

Location, At home, CA

The last two days have been rough on this old body. In fact, it required 2 Aleve before I went to Elks for dinner last night just to get going.

Yesterday I took down the fence in sections by sawing off the nails at each post with the Sawzall. Love that Sawzall! For now I just stacked the fence sections along the back fence and will deal with them later.

Next, I removed the posts of which very few were actually holding up the fence. Most were rotted off just below ground level. What really held the fence up were two posts which had been reinforced with 2 inch pipe which was then cemented into the ground. On these I used a bottle jack to pry them out. I also used the jack on a couple of the more stubborn posts which hadn’t rotted off.

I started trying to dig out those posts which rotted off using a drill with a long extension and a wood bit to drill into the piece still in the ground. This met with limited success. The real tools are a heavy duty vacuum to suck up the dirt in the hole and an ice chipper with about a 4 inch blade on the end of a hefty metal handle. I borrowed the blade from Don last night. It worked wonders!

By noon today I had four of the nine holes cleaned out and by 3 PM all the holes were done. I drove to town and bought 7 4x4 pressure treated posts 8 feet long and 10 bags of redi-mix concrete. By 6:30 this evening I had the 2 end post set in cement and the new posts painted with a product to deter termites.

Digging the last hole.

Cementing in the first post.

Painting the posts with termite preventive.

Tomorrow I will set the rest of the posts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

If you play, you must pay!

Location, At home, CA

You know the saying “If you play, you must pay”. Well, today I did, pay that is. After 2 weeks or so of “play” time in Mammoth, today it was back to the old grind. I started the day off with my usual walk. I ran into a lady who I see every day when I walk and she stopped to ask me if I had walked during the fire. I told her I was out of town the whole time and she said this was the first day she has walked because of the smoke and ash. She said it “felt like getting out of prison” after all the time cooped up in her house.

After breakfast I washed the truck and then went to the UPS store to send the camera off for repair. With a stop at Trader Joes for a few items and the bank to deposit some checks, I was home fairly quickly. The big task today was fence board painting. I set up the saw horses and loaded it up with boards.

After lunch I started and finished painting all sides by 3:30 this afternoon. While the final side was drying I cleaned the RV refrigerator and dumped the holding tanks. Whew!!!!!!! I am tired.

Clyda had gone grocery shopping and picked up a couple of nice steaks for dinner. A few minutes on the grill and “good eats” as Elton Brown would say.

I am scanning the internet RV websites to see what I missed while we were gone. Lots of folks in Alaska right now regardless of the fuel prices. We don’t have another trip planned with the rig until Oct I think and that will be a short one. I do still plan on the annual desert trip this fall. It is costly but what the heck, we’ll stay home when the money runs out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The GPS lives

Location, At home, CA

We arrived home about 3:15 yesterday and immediately started the unloading process and the laundry. By 7 PM we were ready to quit for the day and have some dinner but the fridge was bare so we drove to the local Cal Taco for Mexican food. It was adequate but filled the need.

This morning after church I washed Clyda’s car which was badly needed from all the ash which had accumulated on it. I need to wax it also but that needs to wait until I get the truck washed tomorrow.

I have the camera ready to mail to Canon per their instructions. Apparently my problem is well known and they say they will fix it for free on their website. After talking to one of their people I received three emails with instructions for mailing and a pre-printed UPS label. So off it goes tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t take to long as the Grandkids arrive the middle of August. It would really be a bummer to not have a camera while they are here. I have also been thinking about a new SLR digital camera but the cost is hard to justify right now.

Oh, by the way, the GPS lives. I had it on charge for the trip home and decided to see if that would bring it back to life. I tried turning it on in Santa Paula and wonder of wonders it came back to life and worked all the way home. I had stored t in my truck center console and I think it got too hot and drained the battery. The program went into some kind of recovery mode but came back after a good charge. I am sure I didn’t help the battery by storing it in the heat.

A little retrospective is in order concerning the “Gap” fire burning in our coastal mountains. This has been a widely publicized fire with national attention because of the large number of houses close to the fire area. This fire still burns and about 1000 firefighters are on the line. The local high school has been set up as a relief area for food and rest for all the firefighters and looks like a disorganized mess to the untrained eye. There are cooking facilities, Uhaul trucks, RV’s for sleeping, tents pitched every where for crews to sleep in even on the tennis courts, and stacks of supplies piled every where. All organized chaos. Or so it seems.

For the past several years as we have been traveling in our RV we have been fortunate to “miss” most if not all the major natural disasters in our area. Winter rains have produced floods which a few years ago cut off all roads to our part of the California coast, and we were gone. Last years “Zaca” fire burned for months back of our coastal mountains and rained ash on everything but we were on our 4 months trip around the USA and missed it. This fire also produced a lot of ash along with power outages as the fire burned near major power lines but we were gone. Our son Craig has had to endure the hardships of dealing with all this each time something happens and for that we are grateful. We do get to cleanup some of the mess from the ash and I am sure we will be dealing with it every time the wind blows. This winter there will also be mud flows from the burned area but maybe we will be gone again. One can only hope.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Eating well in Tehachapi

Location, Tehachapi, CA

We left Glass Creek on Tuesday morning and stopped in Bishop at Schat’s Bakery to pick up Mule Bread and a cherry breakfast roll to take to Budd and Brenda’s. We also got a large cinnamon roll to eat.

We stopped at Independence at the new Indian Casino north of town for fuel. Diesel was $5.059 per gallon. Cheapest around. Thanks to Ron and Becky for telling us this as they rolled south on Monday.

We arrived in Tehachapi and parked in our usual spot. The same place we were two weeks ago on our way north.

On Wednesday we pulled wires through a PVC conduit so Budd now has separate 30 amp electricity where he parks his RV and also separate where I park.

The weather has been hot, about 92 degrees most days but cools down at night. We have not spent a lot of time outdoors. We checked out the farmers market yesterday after having an ice cream at Coldstone. It hit the spot!

Every morning we pick Armenian pickles from Budd’s garden and also the neighbor’s garden. We pick boysenberries, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, and beets. We have made an Asian pickle recipe with the cucumbers which is very good and also had vinegar pickles for lunch. Last night we had Harvard beets fresh from the garden for dinner. Tonight we are having zucchini pancakes. Needless to say, we eat well.

We will go home tomorrow. We have been waiting for the smoke and ash to clear out from the California coast before returning home. We do have smoke and haze here from the Piute fire north of us but no ash.

No pictures again as our camera quit. I called Canon and it looks like they will repair it for free as the problem was known to them. I will mail it when we get home.

My GPS also quit. it is dead. I emailed a request to Magellan but have not received a response. I bought it at Costco so guess I will take it back to them and see what they say.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nearing the end

Location, Glass Creek, CA

Keeping track of what happened each day has been difficult this past week. One day we had lunch at the Silver Lake Resort and then drove up the road to Mono Pass and walked up the ridge to look down into Walker Lake. It was a very warm day so we didn’t walk very far.

On Friday the 4th of July we drove to Mammoth Lakes about 9:30 in the morning and parked near the grocery store so we would have a good seat for the 4th of July parade. We went to the “Friends of the Library” book sale in the bank parking lot. As usual, we bought lots of books. This sale had been scheduled for the Memorial Day weekend but a late season snow had cancelled the sale.

The parade started at 11 AM and included the usual small town groups. It was very nice. After the parade we took our chairs and walked to a nearby park for a “pops” concert. We had brought our lunch and ate it while waiting for the music to start. It was a very nice concert which concluded with patriotic songs.

On Sunday we drove to Lake George and hiked up the trail to Barret and TJ Lakes. It was a nice hike of around 1 mile round trip and an elevation gain of 2-300 feet.

It has been very hot the last few days and will continue hot this week.

We have been monitoring the fire situation in California as a fire started near our home. Some people were evacuated and power was lost several times as the fire burned near a major power line. The fire came within a mile of our house but our son Craig kept and eye on everything. The ash and smoke was the biggest problem and I am sure it will be a continuing problem every time the wind blows.

Ron and Becky left for home this morning and I guess we will head that way tomorrow with a stop in Tehachapi to help Budd pull some wires. We should be home on Friday.

Here are some photos from our McGee Creek hike.

Flowers along the trail to McGee Creek.