Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A fire update.

This has been quite week since the 5th largest fire in California’s history began on December 4th near Ojai. CA. It has burned 237,500 acres so far with 709 single family residences destroyed. There are almost 8,000 fire fighters on scene with 983 fire engines, 27 helicopters, 79 bulldozers, and numerous other apparatus. Two main fire camps have been established to support the fire fighters.

All schools have been closed until after the holidays. Very few people are out and about so you can imagine the toll on local merchants. Masks have been distributed for free at several locations. Everyone goes about with masks on as there is fine particle ash in the air.

The real culprit here has been the winds in the canyons South of us. Here in our area we have not had any wind at all, but winds are forecasted for later in the week. All the smoke has drifted West along the coast so cities to the West are also getting all the smoke. Temperatures have been in the high 70’s and low 80’s and the humidity has been as low as 1% in the back country. All conditions which make fire fighting difficult.

We have been covered with smoke and ash the whole time but this morning we have real sunshine for the first time in over a week. I finally swept the patio this morning so we don’t bring the ash into the house. Wearing a mask of course.

Ash on our street.

This fire may burn for some time yet so it affects everyone in the area.

We have most of our Christmas shopping done, Christmas cards are mailed, packages sent off to friends and relatives, and a few parties have been attended. With the fire, lots of our gatherings have been canceled as some of our friends were in the fire area. All are safe so far.

Monday, November 20, 2017

All things must end, part3!

Saturday, Nov 4th was grocery day in Pahrump, NV. Jeff had found the Pahrump Valley Museum so we stopped for a tour. A very nice museum with a very good overview of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Depository. Also, a train room which was in progress with more work before the display could be opened. We got a preview as train buffs.

After lunch and grocery shopping we returned to Furnace Creek.

Our next big hike was to “Big Bird Canyon”. It is about a 1.5 mile hike up a wash into a canyon with large fossil footprints of a big 3 toed bird. I was last in this canyon in 2010. We spent more time looking for other footprints and believe we found more than previous visits. We walked further up the canyon looking for some rock alignments we had found years ago. Unfortunately, time did not improve my memory as to their where abouts. We decided that a further 1 or 2 mile hike would be required to find them but next year, not today. As it was we had about a 0.8 mile hike back to the vehicles after we reached the highway.

3 toed fossil bird footprints.

We again were looking for grave sites but this time it was up Echo Canyon to the town site of Schwab. I thought I had been to Schwab but had only been to the Inyo mine. We could only drive to with 1.3 miles of Schwab as the park service has blocked the road. So hike we did. We found the grave sites because of a photo our friend Tom had on his iPad. There could be more grave sites based on depressions in the ground which may be collapsed graves. Hard to know for sure.

Grave site at Schwab.

The National Park Service opened up the Keene Wonder mine site which had been closed for 9.5 years die to suspected arsenic in the ground and mine tailings. They also re-enforced some of the mine structures. There was a grand opening which we did not attend due to limited parking, instead we waited a day to explore the site.

Keen Wonder mine with towers in the background.

Having this site open means there are several canyons and mines which can now be explored. We decided to check out the Johnny Cyty mine which is about a mile from the Keen Wonder. Along the way we crossed several small streams which are the output of springs. These springs provided water for the mines but all are highly sulfated in fact so much so that we could not stay near the source for long because of the smell.

Johnny Cyty's cabin.

Johnny Cyty's mine.

The remainder of the trip had us participating in lectures and programs put on by the Death Valley 49ers. All were really interesting. 

I need to talk about the Desert Ballon Recovery Crew or DBRC. We started collecting mylar ballons last year and contined doing it this year. We found a total of 31 this year, 9 in one day. Mylar ballons are hazardous to electrical wires and animals. Jeff has created a Facebook page to show our colections. Check it out.

 Mylar ballons on our camp cloths line.


All things must end, part 2!

On Sunday the 29th of October we waited at Longstreet for word from Bruce that our sites in Furnace Creek were open before we drove into the park. Finally left about 10:30 and drove right to our sites except for Jeff who had to wait for his site to empty at noon. A warm day so no rush to set up camp. Slowly got things done.
On Monday morning we drove to Cow Creek (where permanent staff lives) looking for two grave sites that Jeff knew about. We walked down to the salt flats and easily found the sites. They are just rectangular rock piles with a board marker.

Grave sites near salt flats.

On Tuesday we drove out of the park past Panamint Springs Resort to Father Crowley Point on Hwy 190. This is an overlook of Rainbow Canyon (also know as Star-wars or Jedi canyon) through which Navy planes fly. When they go through they are below us and very close. It must be a real kick for the pilots to do that. It certainly is a thrill for us observers watching. We spent a few hours watching then drove back to Panamint Springs for lunch. They do a real nice hamburger and fries.

For Wednesday we did a trip to Hole-in-the-wall canyon to recheck on some petroglyphs. We do this periodically hoping that no one has destroyed them. One particular rock is still there. Walking back to the vehicles, Nobby took a different route and called on the radio that he had found another petroglyh on a rock. Following the the route he had been on we eventually found a total of 10 rocks with petroglyphs on them. A great find! We are learning that we need to keep our eyes open to things like that.

Petroglyphs on rock.

On Thursday we hiked up Corkscrew Canyon with the purpose of checking out the mine which none of us have seen for many years. We walk up a wash in which there are some rocks with numbers on them. In the past we have found three. We again found the three which always amazes me that someone hasn’t removed them. The mine area is now closed by a gate so we turned around and headed back. On the way, Bruce called me and asked me to walk back to him which was about a ¼ back up the canyon. He had stumbled on another marker which was unknown to us. Because of the number sequence we now believe they may be one more rock to find. Always leave something for next time is our motto.

Corkscrew rock marker.

On Friday we stayed in camp and checked out the rebuilding of Furnace Creek Ranch. They have removed all the old public buildings and will replace the new facility with one 2 story building. They are also redoing the Furnace Creek Inn and it will be renamed The Oasis at Furnace Creek. A lot of money being spent on these 2 projects.

(To be continued)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

All things must end!

Another great Fall Trip to the desert. We started out with only 3 of us camping at Calico Ghost Town near Barstow. We explored behind the town using Nobbies new Jeep Rubicon with all it’s bells and whistles. A great ride.

  Nobbies new Jeep Rubicon.

The next day we visited the Route 66 museum behind the Barstow train station. Quite a lot of Route 66 memorabilia. We also visited the Mojave River museum with its displays of dinosaur bones and local history. We gathered some information from the docent about local areas for a future visit.

We then moved on to Baker and camped behind the Mad Greek restaurant in the “trees” where 3 more of our crew met us. We drove out to an old Civil Air Patrol site at Silver Lake. I had found a reference to it on a desert website. Remains of buildings and a swimming pool near the high way are about all that is left.

We had dinner at the Mad Greek.

The next morning we moved on to Tecopa and our favorite campsite where we circled the wagons for a 5 day stay. As usual, we drove to the China Ranch date farm for a date shake followed by a trip to the date canyon overlook. A very impressive canyon which we hiked down several years ago through the mesquite trees. A very tough hike.

Our first goal was to visit Galena Canyon in the southern part of Death Valley. We had been prevented form doing this trip for the last two years, first because of road damage due to rains then last year the Armagossa River was running high due to a rainstorm. This year it was dry but we determined that the water last year would have been up to the windows on Jeff’s Jeep Liberty. Good thing we didn’t try it.

Galena Canyon.

This year no problem, so we explored the talc mines in the canyon and drove several roads in the area. We also explored an old Indian cave on the side of the cliff which had also been used by miners as they had built up rock walls in the front of the cave.

Larry and Jeff outside of Indian cave.

We also explored several more Talc mines in the area near our camp. Some of these are way up the side of mountains and required heavy equipment to make access roads. We drove these roads as far as possible then walked. All up hill of course.

Talc mine.
We now moved on to the Longstreet Casino North of Death Valley Junction. We have a few things we want to see nearby. We visited the Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve visitor center which is new and talked to the ranger on duty. Lots of information. We visited Devil’s Hole, home of the Death Valley Pup Fish. This area is extremely well guarded by cameras and surrounded by fencing yet 2 people last year smashed through the fence and went for a swim in the deep hole. They caught them of course but they caused major damage.

We also visited a place called “Point of Rocks” which has boardwalks and a live stream. Then we went on to the cabin of Jack Longstreet who lived there and raised horses. Again, lots of water. It is always a shock to see so much water in the desert.

 Jack Longstreet's cabin.

We next went to the town site of Lee which is located on the eastern slope of the Funeral mountains and on the road from Echo Canyon in Death Valley. We had been over the road before but never had time to explore the town site. It was an extensive site with lots of buildings and mines. Now of course, all that remains are rock foundations and tent sites with lots of glass and tin cans.

House foundations at Lee.
On Saturday October 28th we drove up to Beatty, NV for Beatty Days. We arrived in time for the parade which was quit long for such a small town. Many entrants tossed candy to the kids and some adults, us. We moved to the town park where there was a car show, a chili cook off, two bands, vendors and food booths. It was well done. We ate lunch then drove back to Longstreet.

Desert sunset.

(To be continued)

Friday, September 22, 2017

A little catching up to do.

To complete the jobs in progress from the last post; I bought new Trojan batteries from a local auto parts house. After spending the better part of a day cleaning the battery trays I installed the new batteries. This was not quite the chore I anticipated as the new batteries are not as heavy as the old T105RE batteries. The 105 RE’s were not available so I had to settle for the T105 batteries.

We left early on Monday the 28th and drove to Boulder Creek RV Park South of Lone Pine on Hwy 395. It was an easy trip but warm as the temps were about 103 going up the desert.

One of the reasons for staying at the RV Park was to test out the new AC unit we just had installed. I must say, it worked quite well.

The next day we drove to Glass Creek, a Forest Service campground North of Mammoth where our friends Margot and Larry had saved us a spot in their campsite.

For the next 2 weeks we explored, laid around camp, took walks, had campfires and BBQ’ed. We attended the annual Mammoth Library Book Sale and each came away with large bags of books. They sell the bags for $5 and you can put as many hardback books in it as you can stuff in. Oh, and still be able to carry it. I got some that I never would have bought otherwise. How about "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" a complete history of the nuclear bomb making effort by all governments through WWII. It read more like a college text book but was also fascinating. Or the complete history of building Hitler's "Eagles Nest" with drawings and photos.

The weather was perfect. Warm days in the 70’s with cool nights in the 40’s. I did make one boo-boo, I forgot to put the propane heater in the RV before we left so I had to bite the bullet and buy a Mr Buddy heater to take off the morning chill.

On Thursday the 14th of September we left as it was predicted to get down into the 20’s overnight and be that way for days . We drove to Ridgecrest and stayed at the Elks Club for 2 days. Clyda had not been back to Ridgecrest since we left in September of 1963 and moved to the coast. It was an eye opener as little remains of the town as we knew it. The population now is about 28,000 but was less than 6,000 when we left there. We spent some time trying to find all three places where we had lived. We found 2 but not the 3rd one.

It is not an upscale community by any means, in fact the locals we talked to at the Elks Club said that Kern county is dumping its jail overflow on Ridgecrest. There are lots of houses I would just call shacks in any other location but people are living in them.

We came home on Saturday September 15th with no problems other than my truck exhaust brake had stopped working. The vacuum compressor was running full time so I disconnected power to it.

This week I took it back to Buellton where I had it worked on in June and just got it back this afternoon. The computer module had failed again so it was replaced under warranty.

I have been doing my fall trimming this week. Most of it is now in various garbage cans waiting for a day next week when I will shred it all. I have also dug up a flower bed of “Naked Lady” bulbs. This bed had not been dug up in years and some of the bulbs are huge. Clyda wants to plant the extras in front of the garage. The ground however is hard as a rock so I put some water on it tonight hoping to make it easier to dig. I still need to dig up a bed of Agapanthas in the back yard but I think I need more water on it before I can tackle that. I think the roots go to China somewhere by the amount of prying I tried today. It is almost beyond my “senior” ability anymore to do some of this stuff

Naked ladies (Amaryllis Belladona)
That brings us up to the present.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Not so fast!

Whoever said that “Time goes faster as you get older” certainly was right. I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone and how long it has been since I last posted.

We finally got the RV back on Monday. As we were leaving the coast we saw people pulling off to watch the Eclipse, however, there were no good places to pull off so we kept on going.

I have spent the last three days putting all the solar panels back on the roof, putting the TV antenna back and also the Maxxair cover over the rear kitchen vent. I even checked out the TV to make sure I had that all done correctly.

I think my garden is at an end. I thought that several weeks ago but the beans got a second wind and we have frozen 9 vacuum packed meals with another few still in the refer that I picked in the last few days. The zucchini and yellow squash are done while the tomatoes are still producing. I have been making salsa with all the tomatoes but the other day I over did it. I had picked up some chilies at the grocery store and didn’t look at the heat content. Anyway, that batch of salsa was wayyyyyyyyyy tooooo hot for me. I should have tasted the chilies before I used them. My bad, that batch went down the garbage disposal. Maybe it will clean out the sewer line.

Now that we have a good RV we are going on a short trip for a few weeks to the Eastern Sierras. Unfortunately, we picked the hottest time to go. We are heading into a heat wave next week so we plan to get an early start on Monday.

But, not so fast. I had been suspecting that my 10 year old Trojan T105-RE 6 volt batteries were failing. A check of the specific gravity this morning showed that one of the batteries was not taking a charge, in fact the battery was very hot as it was being over charged as the charger tried to bring it up to the proper voltage. I disconnected that battery from the other one and tried charging separately with a line charger. No luck. It just won’t hold charge. Definately bad.

So, neighbor Paul suggested I call a local car parts house as they also stock a small amount of RV parts. Low and behold, they have Trojan batteries, so tomorrow morning I will go down and get 2 new ones. These buggers are heavy at 67 pounds a piece so getting them out of the RV will be a chore.

 How about a 6 1/2 foot tall rose bush.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The days just slip by.

We were gone for a week with the RV to camp with Budd and Brenda at Pismo Beach.
They had invited us to join them at their private RV park which we have done several times in the past and always enjoy it.

I think we played every board game in our basket of games we keep in the RV. From Marbles and Jokers (a variation of Pegs and Jokers) to Sequence and Dice Sequence, to Checkit, to Mexican Train, to and including shuffle board played on the new shuffle board in the Club House.

We also ate out a couple of times as well as stopped for ice cream a couple of times. Must have our ice cream you know.

We did our usual stop at Miners Hardware where they have everything, and at RV World for a few parts for our RV.

We visited with our friends Becky and Ron and Becky’s daughter Annette who was visiting from Minnesota. Very nice to see Annette.

We had very nice weather for Pismo as it usually is chilly with the ocean breeze however, we had some really nice days. We BBQ’ed several times as none of us like to eat out that often.

When we left last Monday we dropped our RV off at the repair shop to have some major maintenance done. It will cost a lot but we have decided to keep it a few more years and I want to make sure it will be ready to go when we want to.

My garden is still producing but some of the plants have suffered from the hot weather a week or so ago. I have picked most of the pole beans and Clyda froze them today. Tomorrow I will vacuum pack them with the Seal-a-Meal so they keep better in the freezer.

I have an appointment with my urologist tomorrow after experiencing a kidney stone episode last week. The pain lasted 2 days then quit. So I don’t know what is going on. Should find out tomorrow.

I have been working on family history much of the week. I have so much information on so many families, all related to me, that I need to get organized. I have made a start but it is only a small step on what I need to do. But I will just plug away.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Back home after a HOT road trip.

We had talked about doing a road trip to Oregon with the car earlier in the year but couldn’t make all parts of it come together until the middle of June. Our plan was to visit several of our friends both going and coming. We spent the first few days with our friends Cindy and Gary in Walnut Creek. They have a great backyard with a very nice pool which we spent our afternoons lounging beside and floating in. The pool temps were nice and warm which invited long stays in the water. Great hospitality also.

We also attended a Fathers day car show in Danville and then a nice lunch courtesy of Doug and Michelle, Cindy and Gary’s son and daughter-in-law. They were showing of ftheir newly remodeled kitchen.

After a great lunch and later in the day we drove to Redding, CA in the heat of the day with outside temps at 113 degrees. I had picked the motel using and Clyda about had a heart attach when she saw it. It is located in the old part of town near the Sundial Bridge and looked like the old motels of the 1960’s. However, it had been completely refurbished inside and out and was very nice and comfortable. They also served breakfast the next morning.

When we left the motel we stopped at the Sundial Bridge which spans the Sacramento River and walked across it, took a few photos, and then hit the road to Roseburg, OR as the temperature was rising.

Mt Shasta

We arrived at my old Navy buddy Gary’s house about 2:30 PM. Gary’s wife Judy was Clyda’s friend all through their school years. We spent the next few days playing board games, laughing a lot and eating. Gary and I had played pinochle while in the Navy but do you think we could remember the rules? Not a chance. We eventually made up what we thought were reasonable rules and played several games. I never could find rules on-line that worked like I remember. Maybe some day.

Playing a board game on the patio after dark.

Installing lights on the patio.

Salmon for dinner, yummy.

 Visiting a fish hatchery.

We left Oregon and drove to Williams, CA and another motel for the next two nights. In between we visited our friends Jack and Judy who live in Kelseyville near Clear Lake. We didn’t get to see them this winter in Arizona so we had a nice visit catching up on all the happenings with everyone.

Sign in hotel room in Williams.

The next day we drove to Bakersfield via Hwy 99 instead of I-5 because 99 has more 3 lane road than I-5 and has had a lot of repaving in the last few years. Also, it is more scenic than I-5.

We stayed with our ex-neighbors, Budd and Brenda, and their daughter Kori and Granddaughter Jessica. Because of the hot weather we had to visit two ice cream shops just to cool off. The first shop used nitrogen to freeze the product while being mixed in big special mixers. Pretty cool, and good ice cream also. The second shop was the old traditional ice cream parlor from years ago with great sundaes. What better way to cool off.

We did spend a fair amount of time setting several puzzles while keeping out of the heat. It made for a nice relaxing stay.

We arrived back home this past Tuesday and have been catching up on yard work, etc ever since. On Thursday I took the trailer in and had new tires put on. The old ones were 4 years old and I had one blow out and a screw in another which had been plugged and patched and which I no longer trusted as a road tire. I did save two of the tires as spares of which I carry one with me at all times plus the normal spare. Better safe than sorry.

The garden is producing lots of things, like yellow squash, zucchini, and loads of cucumbers. I think the neighbors are going to receive the excess soon.

I did make cucumber salad a few days ago and plan to make relish maybe on Monday. Clyda wants to make zucchini bread and I want some zucchini pancakes soon.

The boysenberries are all done so I need to remove all the old canes and shred them. Of course the new canes have grown up through the old ones which makes it a real job to remove them. All in good time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

And more time passes.

We flew to Houston over Memorial weekend to attend our grandson’s high school graduation. It was a busy weekend with us arriving late Wednesday night and then taking granddaughter Ivy to the Department of Motor Vehicles twice on Thursday to get her drivers license (she forgot an important piece of paper the first trip).

Then it was time to go to Matthew’s graduation which was held in a very large facility owned by the school district which all the schools use for events. There are so many high schools (eleven) in the Cypress-Woods District that the ceremonies are scheduled every four hours throughout the day. Matthew’s was at 8 PM on the first day. It took a long time to get into the arena and we ended up sitting in the nose bleed section up high. It turned out alright as we could see Matthew march in and he was facing us when he received his diploma.

There were 781 in his graduating class. He graduated Suma Cum Laude. Quite an accomplishment. He has been accepted to attend Texas A&M University in the Engineering Department in Aerospace Engineering.

On Friday we all went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant in fact it was at this same restaurant that we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.

On Monday Daughter-in-law Diane suggested that we attend a Memorial Day service at Bear Creek Park. It was a nice service with a color guard, a bugler playing taps and a few short speeches. Oh… and they served cookies and lemonade after. Loved the cookies.

Tim had me help him with a few projects around the house but I don’t think we actually completed any of them. We did get a good start on a few.

We flew home early Tuesday morning and were back at the house shortly after noon.

I spent the last few days working in the yard cleaning up some areas and replanting in other areas. It never ends.

Here are a few photos from the garden.

 Boysenberries are looking good. 

Yellow squash and zucchini.

Cucumbers climbing the trellis.

California poppies in the iris bed.

One of our three Lions Mane plants.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

And time passes!

Indeed it does pass. I just returned from 10 days of working for Rancheros gate guarding at the main gate in the back country. The time did pass fast but included a day of rain on Sunday May 7th. Thank goodness, us at the gate did not need to travel on any of the ranch roads during the rain but oh-boy the mud on all the other vehicles coming into and going out of the camp must have added about 200 lbs to each vehicle. All were a light tan in color wherever the mud touched them. The mud will be hard to wash off as it is a treated mud which becomes as hard as cement when dry.

All in all, the 10 days flew by with few problems. The weather for the first few days was sunny and warm with temps in the low 90’s then it cooled off after the rain and turned windy which meant many days with hoody’s on for warmth.

Spending as many as 18 hours per day on duty pushes us old men to the limit. However, with three of us taking turns during the day we all survived as usual.

Last Friday after packing up everything and having Clyda come up with the car to take some of the extraneous stuff home, two of us drove to Santa Maria to the Elks club for a few days of R & R. We did the same thing last year. It allows us to clean up the RV’s, dump our holding tanks and partake of a good “cook your own steak” dinner at the Elks fabulous cooking facility. Very good!!!

Clyda and her high school friend and another couple came up on Sunday so we went wine tasting on Tuesday to our favorite Sisquoc winery. After tasting, we had a picnic lunch with a nice bottle of wine.

Again, the wind blew the whole time we were in Santa Maria which put a damper on things but we managed to do some outside cooking for the group.

We came home on Thursday so I could attend a picnic for all the old Delco retiree’s. It is the only time I get to see many of the folks I used to worked with. The group is getting smaller, older, and bent over. It happens to all of us I guess.

I have been cleaning up all the stuff I took with me for Rancheros including the RV. All the laundry is done, the RV is cleaned up, and a dead mouse in a trap has been tossed out. Ready for another trip whenever we can plan one.

Wednesday we fly to Houston for our grandson’s high school graduation. We will only be gone over the weekend.

I don’t know what this flower is called. It is a succulent and we have it in three places in our yard. I looks like it will take over as it spreads easily.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Things are still green but the temperature is rising.

I did get the batteries in the truck replaced a few days after I purchased them, It was not a big job but I was surprised to find sand under the batteries on the tray. This is from the wind storm we had back in October while camped in Panamint Valley. The sand obviously got into everywhere so I still find it when I move or change anything on the truck or RV.

I got the pole beans planted in the garden and they are breaking through the ground.

I have been putting down cardboard on the garden pathways to keep the weeds down and then covering them with bark. It makes nice paths. The cardboard and bark will eventually breakdown and supply future mulch to the garden. It is the lazy man’s way to garden and I am all about doing it the easy way.

We have had a small amount of rain in the past two weeks. Mostly less than a half inch each time. Every little bit helps but usually we get wind after the rain and the benefits of the rain are lost due to the wind.

I mentioned that temperatures were rising and the last two days are an example of that. Yesterday was around 90 degrees and today was over 80. I don’t think it will last however but day time highs for the next week will be around 75 degrees, Still nice enough for me.

Next week is dedicated to getting all my Rancheros equipment rounded up and checked out. The propane stove and BBQ need checking and I am trying to decide if I need my neighbors camp stove out of his old RV. I have borrowed it for the last two years and it is useful but also more equipment to take along as I need an extra propane tank to use with it. Still deciding on that. Using it does give me more options for cooking.

May will be a busy month for us. After I am through with the Rancheros we are camping with a few friends for several more days. As long as the RV is out of the yard we might as well use it. We get home around the middle of the month then fly to Houston to attend our grandson’s High School graduation. Hard to believe that much time has passed. We will return after Memorial Day.

A flower from our yard. It is a Monkey Paw. I have never seen one this big.