Friday, December 28, 2007
Lou and Dawn continued on their shopping destinations around Pahrump. I took my shower and checked email. I then started preparing to leave. Dumped and flushed the tanks and filled the water tank. I left the site about 1115. First stop was to get gas. It was $3.03 at Terrible's station out front. Much nicer than in Death Valley ($4.05) or even at home ($3.40). We met at Walmart's for a little grocery shopping then we were off toward Las Vegas. We arrived in Las Vegas about 2:30. We were waiting at the signal at Dean Martin and Tropicanna and looked across the street and saw brother Ernie backing his truck into a space at the Wild Wild West casino/truck stop (WWW). A moment later Ernie called and said he had arrived. Ha Ha, we knew that already. We were headed to the Rio. We planned to park in their lot but when we arrived they had a motocross event in the lot and over sized vehicle parking was prohibited until 1/3. So we headed off to Sam's Town where we'll stay until 1/3. We didn't expect the other casino's would have had room for RV's either during the holiday.
We headed over to the WWW to meet Ernie for dinner. Ernie and Lou had BBQ ribs, Dawn had prime rid and I had a bowl of chowder and shared theirs. We still took home a rack of ribs and most of the prime rib. All was good. We topped off the evening with a look at the show in the shy at the Rio and then called it a day.
The weather seems much warmer since the wind died. As we came over the summit there was a touch of snow on the ground. It's 40 degrees here at 10pm, much warmer than the other night in Pahrump.
Saturday: Ernie came over to Sam's and we had Sam's champagne brunch buffet. Very good. After breakfast, Ernie and I went over to the Wild Wild West (WWW) to work on his truck. He has more sound equipment to install in the dash. We worked all day routing cables and such. He also has a computer stand to install. It requires the removal of the passenger seat to install a base plate. We removed it but didn't get the plate installed. We also have to replace the XM radio antenna which is bad. Noticed after routing the cable through some tight spots.
Dinner was back at Sam's cafe. Lou and I had the blue plate specials, pot roast. Ernie and the soup and salad bar and Dawn had fettuccine which included the soup and salad bar.
Sunday: Up late. Lou was up early to get over to Walmart's to get fixings for dinner. I drained the tank and filled to water. It's so cold we're using the water tank and pump for our showers.
More of the same today Lou and Dawn shopping, Ernie and I working on the truck. We finished replacing Ernie's XM antenna and got the computer mount installed. Then we had lunch at the WWW and checked out some of the machines. Ernie did very well at the machines and at the blackjack table I had no luck, as usual so I didn't try the tables.
We stopped by Walmart's for some Christmas gift getting. We then had Lou's homemade beef stroganoff at the RV. Excellent dinner. For desert we had Dewar's peppermint stick ice milk, a Bakersfield treat.
Monday: Last day of 2007. I got up early and drove the car across town to the Volvo dealer to have the check engine light problem looked at. Lou had called last week to make an appointment and was told no appointment was needed for today because they only had six cars coming in. They wouldn't give her an appointment. Lou managed to talk me into taking the car over so she could work on her dolls. Traffic was light. When I spoke to the service technician he asked if I had an appointment, I didn't . He said he'd try to get it done. I left the car and walked back toward town on Sahara. I called Lou to let her know the status. She called the rep and explained what had happened to no avail. I called Ernie and let him know I was in the near his place at the Wild Wild West and we could have breakfast. We met a half hour later after I'd walked several miles, almost to his place. Ernie drove me back to Sam's Town to the RV.
We had breakfast at their buffet and then Ernie went his way to do laundry. Very shortly thereafter the service rep called to say the car was ready, just a clogged vacuum hose and a little adjustment. Maybe Lou did have influence? Lou and I caught the bus and headed back to the dealer.
The bus ride was very informative. We got lots of information from the locals about the downtown new years party. We also picked up an information sheet on the special bus service tonight. It's wise to not drive on New Year's eve so we're rinding the bus downtown.
We enjoyed most of the evening relaxing at home and about 9pm walked over to catch the bus about two bocks away. The bus service was supposed to be every 30 minutes but we waited more than an hour before the first bus came by. Since Sam's is the turnaround point for the route, and a lot of people were waiting, when the first bus came by heading from down town, we ran across the street and caught it. Before the bus returned to the stop we had been waiting at, the double decker bus was more than full and leaving passengers at the stops.
Most of the passengers had obviously been celebrating for quite some time already. The bus took more than an hour to get downtown because it stopped at every stop where people were waiting and basically no one got on or off the bus. When we arrived downtown, we made a quick pit stop at Bally's on the back side, away from the crowds on the strip.
We met brother Ernie about 11pm in front of the Bellagio fountains. He had an easy walk from his place at the Wild Wild West. Actually, the crowds weren't too bad and we enjoyed the fireworks at midnight easily seeing three of the displays. We all departed shortly thereafter. Ernie plans on leaving in the morning and we just needed to make our way home. We walked out Flamingo Blvd to Terrible's Casino to catch the return bus. After waiting with a large crowd for an hour and a half and not seeing any bus going our direction, we went inside and warmed up, played the machines and had an early breakfast. About 3:30 we tried again and caught a nice bus with lots of room. We topped off the evening with a visit to Walmart's, across the street from Sam's Town for milk and got to bed about 4:30am.
A coupe of observations: Las Vegas doesn't seem to have their act together to handle big crowds. The bus system seemed to be totally incompetent. There were plenty of buses and not much traffic but they just didn't arrive at the bus stops. In our 1.5 hour wait to return home, we saw 12 buses head into town and none come out of town. We were at the location they were supposed to turn around due to the street closure. if they had there would have been no delays. They close down Las Vegas Blvd for the "party". They also close all the pedestrian overpasses presumably to prevent their collapse and or to protect the idiots that might fall off and they put fences down the middle of Las Vegas Blvd to maintain an emergency corridor. The corridor only seemed to have cross access every mile or so if you wanted to get to the other side of the street as we did, it was difficult. Add to that they designed the street with permanent pedestrian barriers at each corner to force pedestrians up onto the now closed overpasses and you can easily imagine the problem presented to pedestrian movement. Obviously, the city planners couldn't. Similar crowds in San Francisco are handled much better.
Despite our adventure, we enjoyed the show though it is likely an addition to our "been there, done that" list.
Ernie woke us in the morning. He needed some assistance putting on new struts on his jeep's rear door hatch. The thing must weigh about 100 lbs with bad or no struts and it takes more than one set of hands to replace them. That done, he packed away some of the stoganoff we had the other night and some of the Dewar's peppermint ice milk and was on his way.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Wednesday: We got up before sunrise and had breakfast at the Mad Greek restaurant. Lou and Dawn had Gyro's and I had a breakfast burrito. All very good.
We then headed North on Highway 127 toward Death Valley. We passed the southern entrance to Death Valley, again mostly a Caltrans sign problem. It doesn't mention Death Valley where Hwy 178 West leaves Hwy 127 it just says Badwater. Well I was driving mapless and didn't relate that Badwater is in Death Valley. I still blame Caltrans. We came in on Hwy 160 into Furnace Creek. We were only on a quick look tour.
We looked around the Furnace Creek Inn. Nice gardens! Stopped at the store and met one of Lou's former students. Small world.
We then continued South on Highway 178 through the valley. We stopped at the deepest point in the US, Badwater. There's that name again. We stopped a couple of other places and enjoyed great views all the way back to Shoshone. We then continued East to Pahrump, Nv.
The wind started to blow a bit getting a bit gusty by the time we arrived in Pahrump. We went to Terrible's RV Park and moved into our site. We plan to be here a couple of nights. We had dinner at the casino at the park. All very good and quite cheap. You know I like that. It's quite chilly here. It will likely be a bit below freezing tonight.
Thursday: Up early. (Anything before 8am is early to me. Anything before 6am is early to Lou) ou and I were out just before 8am. It was still extremely cold, not yet 30 degrees. We went over to the office to register. We're members of Passport America which terribles honors for up to three days so our two day stay was $28+ total. We don't use it as often as we should but using it just three days a year pays for it. One day to go now and 4 days of the year left. We were last here January 4, 2006, almost two years ago.
Lou and I then took a walk around the place. When we returned home, Dawn was ready for breakfast so off we went to Terrible's buffet again. The buffet is so cheap, ordering from the menu doesn't seem worthwhile. Breakfast $3.99, Lunch $4.99, dinner $5.99. There isn't a large variety but there are choices and everything is very good as in no Costco items and all much better than Denny's. There are exceptions. Last night Lou and Dawn shared a prime rid dinner from the menu while i had the buffet. They were more than satisfied and had left overs. There meal was $8.99.
After breakfast, Dawn enjoyed her shower. Lou and I had ours before our walk. Because of the freezing, we're not hooked up to water or drain just electric. Lou was first and had to break the ice in the drain to get it to flow. Our shower drain and holding tanks are exposed under the RV so cold weather bothers us on occasion. I then filled the water tank and drained the holding tank, then put away the water hose and filter and drained the sewer hose so they don't freeze up. The drips from the hose froze into a big chuck of ice on the ground. It was still cold at 10am.
Lou and I left Dawn to entertain herself and went to look and some new homes nearby. Very nice prices and good construction quality and designs. Lou isn't pleased about the cold now and the potential for summers heat. There is also the fact there is no bus system here and that would be a problem for Dawn. Too bad. The mountains are beautiful and it seems to provide all the other amenities a place to live requires. That may be why it's rated number one on the best places to retire in the US.
We learned that there are fish in the lake here at the RV park and fishing is free but it's too cold for any of the fish here to bother to bite so maybe on another visit. They also have paddle boats and kayaks for free use as well. Again too cold now.
Lou and Dawn are out thrifting. Tomorrow we will probably head off to Las Vegas if brother Ernie is near arrival there.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It rained all morning and we even had a deluge or two on the drive over to Sunnyvale but it then started clearing.
After we got home, we started the final packing and prep to leave. I didn't want to drive during the commute so we waited until a little after 7pm to head out. We had to pick up something for Lou at Dawn's place on the way out of town. Traffic was light and the roads were drying out. We made really good time. Our route out of San Jose on Hwy 101 to Hwy 152 to I5 then Stockdale Hwy into Bakersfield. We arrived at Doug and Helen's about 12:15.
Wednesday: I fixed the Helen's garage light, one of the things that appeared on the todo list before Dawn and I arrived. We all went over to the hospital to see Doug. Helen's son Jay came as well. We all went by the Pantry restaurant for an early dinner.
Thursday: Lou fixed pancakes and sausage for breakfast.
Lou Dawn and I went shopping for some materials for some projects at Helen's. I needed to put a cable through the wall of their bedroom to allow use of their generator if they loose power. Doug needs power for his peritoneal dialysis machine. They lost power a few weeks ago for a lengthy period and have since acquired a generator. Helen is also reorganizing here sewing room and needed some additional wall shelves. And then Lou needs a hook for the bathroom ceiling to hang a doll from.
It's always a thrill to try to find materials for projects now that there aren't any real hardware stores, especially in an unfamiliar area. Neither Lowe’s nor Home Depot had everything we needed for the shelves but between the two, we made do. These aren't fancy shelves just simple wall brackets and vinyl clad boards to fit. Neither store either had all that was needed nor material of adequate condition to be usable. There is usually better quality material at Lou's thrift stores!
Aunt Mary and her daughter Maryjane arrived late in the evening and stopped by the hospital for a visit with Doug on their way into town. Helen was there as well. We all had a late chicken dinner at home.
Friday: Helen and Mary went off to the hospital to pickup Doug. He was released this morning. He had a couple of doctor visits on his way home including a visit to the dialysis center.
Lou Dawn Maryjane and I went to breakfast at Spencer’s restaurant on Rosedale highway. After that we all stopped at a nearby thrift store. It was quite interesting and large. It took a while to get them away from there. They dropped me off at Doug's place.
Lou Dawn` and Maryjane hit more of the thrift store trail.
I installed the outlet strip through the wall for hooking up the generator. I installed shelves in Helen's sewing room. Installed a swag hook in the bathroom for the doll that Lou bought the other day at the thrift shop. It's a cute little porcelain doll that looks like a pixie. It just needed some cleanup and a place to stay.
Doug finally made it home after his appointments late in the day. He doesn't look very good still but much better than he looked at the hospital.
Dinner was leftovers, a favorite.
Saturday: A little shopping and other misc tasks today.
Sunday: Lou, Dawn and I went over to the Ranch Market for breakfast. Lou had a chorizo and eggs burrito, Dawn and I had Torta Cubanos.
Mary and Maryjane headed back home. Dawn is made her vegetable soup for dinner.
Monday: Today was a get it done day. It looks like we'll be leaving tomorrow afternoon of early the next day.
We had a nice bacon and egg breakfast but developed problems during it's preparation. A circuit breaker for the kitchen tripped and that interrupted the toast. When i reset it the breaker failed. It will have to be replaced.
Dawn and i started the day with haircuts. Lou did a little grocery shopping. We all then went over to OSH to get the replacement circuit breaker. When we returned, Dawn andd Lou started some Basque soup (vegetable). Dawn makes good soups. I replaced the bad circuit breaker and setup Doug and Helen's new Honda EU2000i generator by adding oil and gas.
Lou worked on her dolls in the sunshine. it was quite nice today.
Dinner was soup, and it turned out excellent.
Merry Christmas: We had a nice breakfast here at Helen and Doug's. We tinkered around until it was time for dinner. Helen's Son Jay had us all over for prime rib dinner. Very good and Lou' and Dawn's favorite meal. We were back home by 6pm and prepared to leave. The road East had high wind warnings this morning but the Highway Patrol says it's OK now so off we go. Hate to eat and run, but, toddle-do. We wanted to get out while its calm. i took a couple of pictures of dinner which I post later.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday: I took a trip down to San Jose again about noon. The tenant called yesterday afternoon complaining about mice in her kitchen, still. Lou's been working on sealing under the sink but there still leaving little traces around the kitchen. I did some more sealing under the sink. I'm not sure how big the mice are but I couldn't see any way there were getting in around the pipes but caulked or taped over all openings, no matter how tiny.
I then checked under the dishwasher. It had been removed when we installed the new flooring a couple of months ago and I caulked all around the edge and "knew" there were no openings there. Wrong. There was about a one inch mouse hole there. It was quite difficult to seal it off since it was on the back wall and my arm are just about at the max working back there through the 3" space under the dishwasher. I didn't have any flooring compound but did place a metal fender washer in the hole and covered it on top with a PVC cover. I then went under the house and finally found the other side of their route and covered the area with a piece of plywood. Hopefully they give up and leave now.
I also checked the orange tree stump. I had added chemicals to help disolve it. It's too close to the gas meter, and house to grind out.
Thursday: Dawn and I were up too early to head down to San Jose to a pancake breakfast at my former place of "work." We had a nice breakfast of pancakes and sausage and a lot of visiting. The picture above is of the Traffic Operations Center I used to work at. The monitors are new replacing the nine year old previous monitors. i brought my camera but forgot to get any pictures of the breakfast. there was quite a crowd as usual. As I was leaving I snapped the above picture.
We dropped by the San Jose library to pick up some books Dawn had requested through the inter-library link. I picked up some egg rolls at the House Of Eggrolls in Santa Clara on our way home. Dawn stopped by Rasputin's used book store as I picked up a couple of things at Trader Joe's market.
After lunch of the egg rolls, Dawn studied and we both worked on preparation for departure next Tuesday.
Friday and Saturday: I worked on cleaning up the RV. I then decided to do some of the things on the RV ToDo list. I wanted to finalize the load management for when we're on battery power. Because of where the power panel is located, it was more difficult than I would have liked but it's now done. The power panel was split into two sides, inverter loads and non inverter (utility or generator) loads. Its been limited by the inverter input until now and the whole RV was on one circuit. Not the best. I also added a new outlet that is not on the inverter and to be used for the electric heater. I also added a few plug strips for easier individual load shedding.
All went well until the last plugstrip. I then broke the TV installing the plug strip. It can only happen to me, I hope. Oh well, it would have been obsolete next year anyway so now I guess we can get a new HD TV instead. That wont be for a while though so we'll be a single TV RV for a while. It's a tough life.
Sunday: Laundry day, not exciting but necessary. The RV fridge was loaded from the house. Other packing was done. Pretty close to ready to leave.
Dawn and I went downtown to the Palo Alto Cremery for dinner. We both had pot roast. Very good. And for desert we shared a chocolate pecan pie.
Monday: Up very early to take Dawn down to San Jose. She has a final at 11am and I have a dentist appointment in Cupertino at 9am so Dawn had to get to San Jose before I return North to Cupertino. I actually got in about 8:30 and was back in San Jose by 10am, so why the hurry.
When we dropped by for her test, it wasn't ready so we went shopping. At 5:15, she met with her professor and got her test but it's too late to do today so tomorrow morning she will take the test. (The test needs to be enlarged for her to take the test). So, we probably wont get back to Palo Alto until later Tuesday. We then need to do the final prep to leave. We may get out late Tuesday or Wednesday morning?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Wednesday: Lou and Dawn went down to San Jose. Lou went to her doll class and then they went to Dawn's History Club party. I “worked” on the computer. Learning more about Linux, installing programs and otherwise wasting the day. It's cold outside!
Thursday: Dawn went over to Stanford for her last intern day. Not actually, just her last day for credit. She'll return to her intern work there when she returns with us in February after our sojourn to the desert. when we returned, Lou was packed and ready to leave for Bakersfield. She's going down to visit Helen and Doug for a few days.
Friday: Dawn and I went down to her apartment in San Jose about 3:00pm. I drilled some holes in the orange tree stump and added the stump remover pellets. That took care of the work for the day.
We walked over to San Jose State for Dawn to drop off some papers at her professor's office and books at the library.
Then we dropped off Dawn's home made fruitcake at what's known as The Dungeon. Actually a classroom in the Anthropology building. The Anthropology club was having a potluck. There were some interesting items at the potluck.The very green tea cake was possibly the most interesting but Dawn's fruit cake was the best. On the right above, Dawn's opening her gift during the white elephant gift exchange at the potluck.
Saturday: Dawn was off early to the Friends Of The Library book sale. She came back with a couple of bags of treasures. I just “worked” on the computer. It's been so cold and drizzly that it was nice to stay inside. We did finally pull out the corn stalks. Dawn has plans to use some of it with her crafts.
Sunday: A strenuous day watching the Sunday morning political shows and working on the computer. After lunch of my favorite grilled ham, pepper and cheese sandwiches, I decided to actually do a little “work.” I laid most of the bricks on the side yard walkway, the last remaining part of the side yard walk project. Just two edges to finish trimming.
Today the sky was clear and it was quite a bit warmer than the last few days of dreary overcast drippy days.
Dawn and I walked down to Chicago Pizza for dinner. We had our usual “Fridge” pizza (sausage ham, and mushrooms) and a couple of beers. The walk there and back was our exercise.
Monday: The finished brick walkway. This morning it only took about an hour to do the final trim work and sweep in th sand. It doesn't look too bad and should keep us out of the mud.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Success, Lou took me down to the clinic. They require you to show up with your ride or no procedure. We headed off an hour before the hour before arrival time and just as we left, I got a call form the clinic that they could take me in early since someone didn't show up. That got me in 30 minutes early by the time we got there. Everything went smoothly. They did their inspection and trim job and I was good to go for another five years. Just a little woozy.
Of course, the first stop after that was for FOOD. We stopped by the Hometown Buffet since they have lots of food and it's all ready right now. Actually, I wasn't really all that hungry but I just ate to get back in the habit and regain my strength.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Easy trip up to SF. On the walk to the convention center we stopped by a ceramic shop that Lou wanted to go see. Turns out there isn’t so much more there and the prices aren’t that much less that Lou wont just use her usual shops closer to home.
We stopped for brunch at Mel’s dinner next to the convention center, but outside the high convention center prices. We shared a pot roast sandwich and had tea.
When we entered the show the first car we saw was only half a car. The Tango is a well built four wheel car that is about as wide as a motorcycle. It carries two people, though a tad cramped. Lou and I fit inside with moderate use of a shoe horn. It’s performance is similar to a drag racer. It’s an all electric vehicle that has a two hundred mile range on its batteries. Oddly enough, it’s extremely stable even though it is so narrow due to the batteries being so low to the ground under the seats. Parking is no problem and lane splitting is supposed OK too. Interesting vehicle, but, it costs over $100,000. Not good for us. George Clooney can afford it, we can’t. We’ll wait for the price to drop, and drop, and drop.
We looked over a number of garage built all electric and electric hybrids with supplemental batteries. All look interesting but I’m not really interested in an odd vehicle.
We talked a lot with the Toyota people about their hybrids. They are supposedly testing a new fleet of hybrids with extra batteries for use on battery only for most use. They sound interesting. Many have been built by others but Toyota is interested in the bigger market so price/performance are more important to them. The current Prius looks good. Excellent gas mileage but is too short on two things important to us. Safety (only 4 stars of 5) and can’t be towed on all four wheels, needs a dolly. So on we went.
We looked at the Suziki SX4 SUV. Good mileage (24 city 30 highway) and low cost ($15-17k) . Excellent warranty and safety rating. Can be towed on four wheels flat. It is a smaller SUV and therefore lighter (only 28-2900 lbs).
Next stop, the Mazda Tribute SUV Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). It gets good mileage (34 city and 30 highway). It’s reasonably priced ($25K+). Has good safety ratings of 5 for everybody except the driver which is 4. It can be towed on all four wheels. The Tribute is identical to the Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape but as shown at this show was $8k cheaper. That price difference may have been just the superficial features we don’t want anyway like an electric drivers seat, a backup camera and ultrasonic bump warning system and a couple of more speakers for the stereo. This one is our favorite because it meets our criteria and is roomy enough without getting too big.
Saturn had their Vue HEV. Not much info yet and we couldn’t touch it.
I liked an older Jeep Treo concept vehicle. It’s just what we need, a three person car. I’m not sure where the third bicycle would go?
Now this isn't too practical! Raise the hood, project your Xbox game on the underside of the raised hood and drive along merrily?
It was fun looking at all these cars but most of them we wouldn't have because they are so poorly designed and non functional. There was the small handful of serviceable vehicles and a show like this is the only way to auto shop!
We walked up to Chinatown for dinner at the Silver Restaurant it wasn’t as good as in the past. Must be new owners.
The train ride home was a little long. We arrived at the station at about 6:25 pm. The first train that stopped at our station in Palo Alto would have left at 6:56pm. Two other trains that wouldn’t stop there were to leave at 6:14 and 6:27. But, some problem existed on the tracks and four trains were stacked up just down the track and three here at the station. The 5:56 train that would stop at our station was still sitting there and passengers were moving from the 6:14 train to it because the 6:14 had been cancelled. About 6:35 the train left the station, moving slowly and waiting at stations and along the route due to the delayed trains ahead. The train was packed and we didn’t have a seat, along with many others standing in the isles and sitting on the stairs. People were taking it well. Many parties were started when beers were opened. The man next to us opened his bottle of a nice wine with the corkscrew he had just bought. I assume all the booze was intended for use after their arrival home but they were going to do what they could to forget the delays. We got a seat after a couple of station stops. We arrived home after about an hour and a half ride which normally takes one hour. Our arrival time at our station was actually a couple of minutes before the train we intended to take, the 6:56pm train, would have arrived so we really weren’t delayed at all.
We now are a little better prepared in the event we need to replace Lou's Volvo. It is getting a little older (21 years) and a little higher mileage (over 300K). From the show we learned we like the Mazda Tribute HEV (same as Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape). We also liked the Suzuki SX4. It gets good mileage but is a bit smaller. We have never really considered ourselves as SUV people even to the point of ridiculing them on occasion. I guess we've changed? Cars sure have.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Last week, when I stopped at Lowe’s I bought a new attic ladder. It’s a neat telescoping spring balanced ladder for small openings. After measuring and looking at what was needed to make the ladder work I decided to return it. It’s about 6 inches too short.
After Dawn returned from her appointment we all went to breakfast at Don Pedro’s restaurant downtown. We actually had lunch but the first meal of the day should be called breakfast. Lou and I had nice chili rellenos. Dawn had tacos. All very good.
Lou and Dawn stopped by the university library and I returned to Dawn’s place. The tenants kitchen sink had a leak since Lou worked on mouse proofing. The tenant has been finding droppings so we’ve been trying to seal the house better and exterminate the little critters. Some were killed when the house was fumigated a few weeks ago. Evidently the neighbors have a problem with them and now they are wandering over? They may be using the dog door? Any way, a little tightening seemed to eliminate the leak, I hope.
We all had dinner at the Bay Buffet, a Chinese buffet. We haven’t been there yet. There are three big Chinese buffets in San Jose and we’ll be checking them out. I really like the ones in Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo but haven’t found a good place near home yet. The Bay Buffet was fairly good but nothing special. The search continues.
After dinner, Lou dropped me off in downtown San Jose near the bus stop. I caught a bus home to Palo Alto. She and Dawn remained for their classes here in San Jose.
Tuesday: Nothing significant happened today.
Wednesday: Lou called early to tell me a big limb had fallen from the big cedar tree we just had thinned there at the house in San Jose. The limb was more than 12” in diameter and knocked off a six inch limb from the neighbors tree. One of the limbs fell on the neighbors car causing a small dent and broken headlight. Luckily only a small dent for such a big limb. I drove down quickly to take some pictures and the neighbor provided a couple she took of the car damage earlier. I then called the City to remove the debris. The city wouldn’t allow us to remove the tree before and required the pruning, now? They’ll be getting a letter from us.
I then returned home. Enough excitement. Lou and dawn had their classes and meetings and the thrift shop looking to do.
Thursday: Not too much exciting today. I did go out and look over the RV. I wanted to check the work that was done to it. I found that they had broken the hood latch. It’s a typical RV compartment latch, push the button to pop out a tee handle that turns to move an arm that latches the hood. You need to be alert enough to be sure the latch is open before slamming the hood shut, Most mechanics and oil changers are not that alert. I removed the arm and welded it together with a little re-enforcement as well. Good until the next service.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
As you might guess, breakfast and dinner were leftovers, a typical result of Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wolfie and Ernie played on the slide. Wolfie can run up it. Walter is enjoying his holiday bone.
Ernie and the gang depart. We're always thankful for our Ernie visits!
Oddly enough, Black Friday was spent at home, away from the hoards. Dinner was more of the same but Ernie whipped up some creamed corn, not that canned stuff but ala Ernie with white sauce red peppers and green onions. H also add oven roasted cubed potatoes. All this topped off with a green salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I think he's having fun. We certainly are.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Lou wanted to get out really early, so the alarm headed out. We drove over to Hayward to meet her friend Connie. Connie was closing her mother's house and Lou was picking up her kiln ,wheel, and other ceramic stuff. The car was quite full with the three of us, and all that stuff.
There also were the three pies that Connie baked for us. Connie has become the Thanksgiving pie maker. It's a well deserved title. But Ernie is still in competition and baked a couple of excellent pies as well. The rest of us do our part and eat the pies.
After we returned, Lou and chef Ernie went to the market to get stuff for him to cook. After they returned, I took off toward San Jose to beat traffic and be at the RV repair shop when the RV is finished. Leale's had promised it today. They close at 5pm and I got the RV from them, in exchange for much money, at 5:20, That's dedication. Everything appears to be working better. No exhaust manifold noise. The transmission shifts smoothly. And the service light is off.
Traffic was kind of heavy so I returned via the surface streets rather than the freeway. Usually faster at such times and much more relaxing. All ready for a trip next month.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
When we returned it was time for me to prepare for my dentist appointment. All went well at the dentist so I called about the RV to see if it was ready or would be ready today since I was half way to San Jose already. The RV wouldn't be ready so homeward bound I became. When I got home Dawn's potatoes and onion soup was ready.
I started to relax when I got a call from Central Computer In Santa Clara that they had an eeePC for me. Surprise! When I visited their store by chance yesterday, they had a demo eeePC. I liked it. Nobody seems to ever have one to sell though, so I left my name on their waiting list. That was a quick wait. It was rush hour and the wrong direction to get tonight so I told them I'd be there tomorrow. Well that didn't last, I dashed on down in the traffic and picked it up while they had it. I didn't want them accepting a bribe and having it disappear.
Once home it popped out of the box and was setup and online in about 5 minutes. That's because it's a Linux computer not a windows computer. Some of the reasons I got it are: 1. size, it's about 9x6x1, or tiny. 2. It has good battery life because it is very low power. It includes all the essentials and no fluff. 4. It has wireless connectivity. 5. It has a camera. 6. It's neat.
I guess I'll be busy this evening. Yes, this post was made using the new eeePC.
Oh, I guess I need to make a correction. The name of the computer is the eeePC for Easy to learn work play, Excellent mobile experience, Excellent Internet experience. That would be a mouth full so it's shortened to eeePC but it's pronounced E-PC.
Brother Ernie called and estimated his arrival at 11 pm.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The RV needed a little attention. The service light has been coming on, for quite a while. The transmission shifting has been a little more jerky and all the fluids and filters need changing. It's also getting a pre-trip inspection. Getting the RV serviced here at home is always a hassle but not as much hassle as a breakdown on a trip. If lucky, it will be returned today.
I planned on looking around the area while they worked on it. I stopped by Central Computer in San Jose and they had an eeePC on display to try out. Quit nice but the keyboard is tiny. My fingers need to go on a diet. Everything works quit well and the performance on the web is great. This post made with the eeePC.
I stopped at Lowe's and saw a nice attic ladder that might work in our small, hard to get at attic opening in Dawn's house in San Jose.
There was also a visit to the big Fry's in Sunnyvale. This store replaced the original first Fry's location that moved from a small strip mall store on Oakmead near Lawrence Expressway. They then moved to a location across the street from this current location near Lawrence and Arques and then to this current location which is a very big store. They're an offshoot of Fry's markets and their original location used to dedicate about 1/3 of the store to food and drink items (snacks) for computer geeks. The rest was electronics components and gray market computers. Things change. Business has been good for them. They are an example of what's been happening in the area though. This current store used to be a manufacturing plant, Singer electronics. Among other things, they manufactured traffic signal controllers and such. So many of that type of facility have been replaced by big box stores like Fry's and by monster homes on tiny lots and by condominiums. Things change.
I got a call from the service manager at Leale's describing the damage to be. The RV will have to spend the night or two in the hospital. One of the exhaust manifolds needs to be replaced. That will quite down the typical Chevy clap-clap sound of all of their engines. Seems like all older Chevy's sound that way. I knew this problem existed but had gotten used to it. The service light and shifting problem were probably from the same source, the throttle position sensor error. They are also replacing a bad oil line. Now they can proceed with the fluids and stuff but it won't be back today. They are also fixing the electric stairs that got bent years ago when they went down when the RV was going down the road. Hopefully it will return ready for an extended trip and a period of being ignored again.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Hobee's is a nice restaurant about a half mile from home. They started out in Mountain View in the mid '70's at Central Expressway and Rengstroff Ave. That location is still open. It was originally a Dairy Queen like drive in built in the corner of a strip mall. They served the usual drive-in fare. Then they started making the greatest fresh fruit milkshakes, then smoothies, then energy drinks. They expanded into the next store with more indoor space and started serving breakfast. They became famous for their coffee cake. Their house tea is mulling spice tea. Everything they make is good. They now have many locations from Belmont to San Jose.
Back in those mid '70's I used to occasionally be working next to Hobee's and go by there for a milkshake or lunch, or both. Always a treat. The location where we had breakfast is across Highway 82, El Camino Real, from what was the Ricky's Hyatt House Motel. It was quite a nice Motel and it was where President Clinton stayed when he was in town to visit with Chelsea at Stanford. He had the occasional breakfast at Hobee's, as well. The motel is no more having been demolished and now becoming condominiums and houses.
After breakfast Lou and Dawn walked toward home with a visit to the Goodwill store and Walgreen's. I felt like more of a walk and headed for a tour of Sears, Walmarts, Target, Costco, and Best Buy making a round of about 5 miles before getting back home. What was I thinking?
Tomorrow the RV goes in for service in San Jose. I need to be there at 8am so I prepared to leave by removing what needs to be removed and hooking up the toad. Should get out quick in the morning before the rush.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Thursday: I finished a year old project today. Last year I installed a drain pipe in the front yard and had to cut through the sidewalk. Because we had to get on the road, I quickly installed some bricks in sand as a temporary patch. Day before yesterday, I removed some more of the walkway and prepared for the sidewalk replacement. Today I poured the walkway. Since it's colder, it takes a while to set and finish.
While I waited, I watched the City gas crew replace a gas service line to a neighbors house. Interesting to see them work with the plastic piping and use the guided bore to replace the line with little disturbance of the yards landscaping. It was also interesting to see how the City manages their workforce and projects. Quite well, actually. While there were probably about 15 workers during the day. They were always coming and going, each performing their specialty at the right time with only about four at any given time. I was also envious of their equipment. Back in the days when I worked, we were always fighting to get a budget for equipment therefore most of it was older. I guess their management realizes that the right tool makes the job easier.
Friday: Actually, you're not really finished until the cleanup is done. Today was cleanup day.
Lou got her car back form the shop. They say they found an intermittent wire and fixed it for free. I like that. They say they'll make it work. The car is 21 years old next month but when it runs, it runs well, possibly even better than the newer Volvo so we like the fact its back in operational order. There was temptation to abandon it and get a hybrid but that has to wait now that it's better. We don't abandon our friends.
Anyway, her car is the one I normally use to haul stuff to the dump. Nothing personal it's just that it's older and doesn't get towed by the RV. The last couple of times I used it for the dump trip it almost remained there. When the car was ill. it barely started once and didn't start another time and the bulldozer was ready to bury it with the rest of the garbage at the dump. I loaded up all the debris from the last three concrete projects, bags of broken concrete, dirt and debris. Whenever I do a project like this the dirt just doesn't fit back in the hole? There was also the odd broken yard chair and such. The car was full. It is amazing what it can carry, as much as the neighbors pickup and half the cost since it's a passenger car. Sometimes I do miss our old Toyota PU but then it was unsafe and it did tend to be related to work and I try to avoid such things now.
I had to move the RV out on the street to get at the debris by the fence next to it. When I returned, I remembered that the tree next to and over the RV needed to be trimmed. I got a little carried away with the trimming doing a reshaping of the tree. Now some light may make its way to the solar panels. Of course cutting limbs off the tree is less than half the job. It had to be dissected to fit in the compost barrels. That occupied me for the rest of the the afternoon. After dinner I collapsed. Enough!
Saturday: A day of rest, really. I read and watched TV all day. Not too interesting but I enjoyed it. Lou and Dawn hit the rummage sales and garage sales and found some treasures.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Interesting day. Lou's car is on the fritz again. Seems like it won't start in the afternoons. That makes return trips hard. I got up early so I could clean up and catch a bus early toward San Jose. I bought a day pass but didn't ride the bus too far, just to down town Mountain View where I picked up a pork bun at the Hong Kong Bakery then caught the Light Rail. After a bit more than an hour in transit, I got off and walked the mile or so to my former work site. The Traffic Signal Association, an organization I belong to, was having a meeting there. It was nice to see some of the former co-workers and get together with others from TSA.
The presentation at the meeting was about new vehicle detector technology from Sensys Networks. Actually, it's not really new but improved to the point where it now works. They are 3 axis magnetometer sensors buried in the roadway. They use wireless communications to communicate to the traffic control or other systems. They are used extensively in California to provide the traffic map data for the state DOT. Quite interesting.
After the meeting I went to lunch with the speaker and an associate. After that I continued my "walk and ride about." I walked East and caught the light rail again. It was about a mile away in the opposite direction I arrived from. I rode over to the Great Mall for a look around. Lou called and we arranged to meet for dinner in Mountain View. I rode the rails some more. I stopped by the Hong Kong bakery and picked up some things for breakfast then caught a bus back to the San Antonio Mall to meet Lou and Dawn for dinner at the New Tung Kee Noodle restaurant. After dinner we picked up some things at the market then went home. Wow. Off for a little meeting and it takes all day.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The simplest would be a tether where the vehicle is plugged in to an energy source, not very useful for obvious reasons. On a similar vein, the overhead fed vehicle requires a connection but uses a stationary cable system, the overhead wires, to provide power. This works well for fixed route service such as buses and rail vehicles but not too well for the average automobile user.
What is needed is a reliable long lasting movable electric energy source. Batteries can provide that source, in fact some of, if not the first automobiles used batteries. The problem there has been the length of use obtainable from the batteries. Battery technology has made great strides in recent years and now can provide adequate service for the average city driver. If they want to stray far though, the battery will be depleted and finding a place to plug in may be difficult.
A fuel cell can provide electric power but they are a bit costly and even if the cost is minimized it still requires a source of fuel. hydrogen. The primary development seems to be toward a gasoline driven fuel cell which may still help with cleaner air but not with oil consumption.
Hybrid electric vehicles are popping up from many manufacturers. they generally provide much improved city mileage with slightly lower highway mileage. Either mileage is usually higher than an equivalent gas only car. The manufacturers seem to have made a significant compromise by using minimum sized batteries than basically only provide the boost of power needed to start moving while the engine is restarted. With a little more battery storage, most trips could actually be by battery only and the engine would only be needed for extended trips away from a place to plug in. There are a number of such vehicles but most are home made using a standard hybrid as a start, a manufacturers experimental vehicle, or built from scratch. The auto manufacturers supposedly compromised for weight and space optimization for general consumer use. New battery technologies being developed and the rising cost of oil may change the designs and bring forth a real useful hybrid that uses battery power for most or all normal use. Some new energy storage devices can store four times the power in half the space. A hybrid electric vehicle that has high capacity batteries seems better than the same vehicle without a gas engine because it assures the return trip can be made.
This brings me to the real reason for this post. Last week I saw a solar powered car cruising down the main street near my house. It wasn't much but it was moving with the rest of the traffic. It basically was a large four wheeled bicycle with an array of solar panels on a flat roof. The rest was a skeleton of tubing. The array of solar panels was about 6'x10' and it didn't seem to have a lot of battery storage. It was fascinating to see it zip by and I would have liked to have chased it down and learned more about it. Obviously it might have a little trouble moving around when the sun goes down limited by whatever battery capacity it had. It seems that it is or would be possible to have a truly fossil fuel independent automobile. Of course, I wouldn't want to be in that vehicle I saw when it gets in a collision but I think that problem could be solved more easily than the power train development.
Perhaps now all those engineering students at San Jose State that develop packaging for eggs so they can be dropped from the second floor of the engineering building without breaking can now put themselves to work to develop similar safety for the occupants of the vehicle.
In any case, it's reassuring to see such a vehicle. Now if only, we can keep the oil companies from trying to bury it.
Now, this may seem a little odd for an RV user to be interested in reducing oil consumption. After all, RV's aren't noted for high mileage. Actually RV's generally only use fuel when they move. Once they are at their destination, they don't use much. The support vehicles for a hotel or brick home, on average, consume more fuel. However, development of a good hybrid automobile that uses mostly battery power from a source other than fossil fuel will help out RV'ers in at least two ways. It will reduce oil consumption thereby reducing or minimizing fuel costs. and it will lead to similar power plants for use in RV's. Hey, I'm not greedy, just pragmatic.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
After Dawn got off work, we left about 3:30 and enjoyed some heavy traffic especially through Sacramento. We intended to stop at Luis's Mexican restaurant but it is out of business. Too bad, it was great when we were last there a few years ago. We stopped at Safeway at their deli for dinner. It was probably better since we didn't over eat as would have occurred at Luis's. We stopped for a short visit at Boom Town then on to Reno arriving about 9:30. We checked in to our room at the Silver Legacy and Lou and Dawn called it a night. They hadn't had the Red Bull drink that I had so I took a walk around all the casino's down town before retiring.
Friday: Breakfast at the Silvery Legacy buffet. We then drove down to Carson City to the state museum. Dawn wanted to check out their book store. Lou visited a couple of clay shops and then there were the thrift shops. We then returned to Reno for Dinner at the Black Bear Diner. Then a tour of the casinos until we were worn out.
Saturday: We started the day with breakfast at the El Dorado Buffet. Nice breakfast and we all managed to control ourselves so we could still move when we left. We checked out of the hotel and Lou and Dawn took off for a tour of all the local thrift shops. Dawn found books. Lou found a single child bike trailer. We have a double wide in the attic but Lou intends to turn the single wide into a shopping cart for Dawn.
I went across the street to the Civic Center transit station and bought a day pass and headed South on Virginia Street. Key visits were the PC Club store to see a EEE-PC. They didn't have one but I did talk to the manager who bought the only one they have received and I got my questions answered. For info, the EEE-PC is a brand new computer that only costs $400, is tiny, uses Linux, and has a flash drive rather than a hard drive. It is also extremely low power so would be good for use in the RV. I'm about ready to buy one.
I stopped at Sierra RV to see a Newmar. They had a couple of Canyon Stars but not the 29' model I wanted to see. I did get a look ant the construction and a quick look says it's good.
Home Depot to see what thay have in Reno thats different than ours. One thing was all the snow blowers. I also talked to a factory rep for the Ryobi tools. They had a neat air compressor that works with the same batteries as my drill. The batteries on my current compressor are shot and I need to replace them or replace the compressor. I also need new batteries. Some of my current batteries are over four years old and don't hold a charge long. Ryobi now has Lithium batteries to replace the NiMh batteries. They cost twice as much but once charged will hold the charge on the shelf effectively indefinitely so the drill, flashlight or saw will be ready to use when needed rather than after being charged.
We stopped at The Black Bear Diner for desert and tea, then got gas and headed toward home about 4pm. It rained heavily all the way home. 260 miles of heavy rain driving was no fun, but at least, there was no snow going over the mountains. We made it home just before 9pm.
On the road, Dawn became a year older. She was born at 6:01 pm on November 10th. This was her trip.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I started the day with a little disaster. I removed the forms for the new sidewalk and broke off a chunk off one corner. While I kicked myself, I continued the cleanup. While having lunch with Lou and Dawn about 2pm, Lou reminded me that I was supposed to be in San Francisco today. Fortunately, the meeting I needed to attend was from 4-8pm but I had totally forgotten. I'm just not time conscious any more. I was still dressed like a laborer so after a little cleanup, Lou dropped me off at the train station.
I arrived about 3:55 at the Adobe Software offices for the 4pm Rich Internet Application seminar. These events are very informative and inspirational. It's interesting to see what the big guys are doing with Adobe's Flex and AIR software and hear from the developers about how they did it. In addition, the Adobe engineers are there to answer questions. Good food, good beer, and good information.
While I was away playing, Lou had to go to the hospital due to an ear ache. They fixed her up, eventually.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
Friday: I still am not in a mood for work so didn't do much in the morning but did get outside and tinkered with the preparation to pour some more sidewalk.
Lou picked up the part for the dryer when she ws out and about with Dawn. It was fairly easily installed and amasingly, the dryer went back together without any problems and it even worked. Now, if I designed the dryer, there would be an access hole or cover from which that fuse could be replaced making this 3 hour job a 10 minute job. If this had been repaired by the technician from Sears, it likely would have been a three week job with three visits as it was for our tenant in San Jose for the dryer and another three visits for the dishwasher a couple of months ago.
Since we're now home again, the blog will now return to the mundane happenings of home. Sorry for that.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I then woke up the RV again and drove up to Redwood City to get the Propane tank filled. Always good to have an nice emergency residence with all the supplies when disasters like earthquakes occur. Not worried, just wise.
The final task was sifting through the mail. That pretty much ruined the day.
Tuesday: I tinkered in the RV most of the morning leaving Big Sur about 11:30. The weather was a bit cloudy in the direction of the sun but dry and clear otherwise.
The river was flowing nicely. This was about 50 feet from my campsite.
I stopped at an overlook along the coast toward Monterey with a beautiful view of the water and rocky shore. I prepared breakfast of pancakes and sausage while I enjoyed the view.
Getting in to these pullouts is fairly easy. Getting out when your on the wrong side of the road is a challenge.
Next stop, Point Lobos State Preserve. I parked out by the rocks. There's no beach here but nice looking rocks. There are a lot of seals out on some of the rocks further out in the ocean. I couldn't get a clear picture today since I didn't walk out to the point closest to the colony.
I continued down to Seaside and looked around a while. Lunch/dinner was at the Grande Buffet, a pretty good Chinese buffet in Seaside.
I then moved down to the park near Fisherman's Wharf and got out the bike to ride on down to the wharf. I found a classic car show with a very good rock-an-roll band playing. Their version of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman couldn't be distinguished from the original. almost. I looked and listened. The Nash above is one of my favorite older cars. My uncle Doug once had one.
The Morse Miner Woody Wagon above is cute. I don't think I'd fit in either of these cars but they are cute. I like the idea of Wood driving a "woody." I also walked out the wharf to see the seals then headed back to the RV as it was getting dark.
At the wharf, I determined that the whales we saw in Pismo beach may have been pigmy killer whales, pigmy north whales or one of a few varieties of dolphin. They had the dorsal fin but were all dark colored, no white? Never will know.
I headed on toward home on Highway 1 to Highway 17 and home. I did some window shopping on the way and at one of the shops in Los Gatos, about 8:05, I felt the earth move, quite a bit, in fact. We had a 5.6 earthquake, the strongest since the 1989 quake. Fortunately, I was off the road, not in the middle of a turn on highway 17. Nothing serious, no damage. I stopped for gas on the way home and arrived home about 9:30.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Up early, really! Cooked a nice breakfast of potatoes, onions, red pepper and Italian sausage. While it mellowed, I took my shower, then ate breakfast. I finished preparing to leave and then took a walk out to the beach. It was nice and sunny this morning. Now it shines? I was out onto the road at a bit before 9am. I stopped in San Luis Obispo at the market to restock.
As I came close to Morro Bay the sun disappeared in the fog. As I continued the fog changed to clouds and they leaked with sprinkles most of the way North and some rain.
After shopping, I stopped at El Churro Regional Park. I visited the SLO Botanical Gardens. They are looking a little better but still show signs of the freeze damage last year. I brought out my camera and a tripod to get some pictures. There weren't too many flowers. There were a lot of the red trumpet type flowers that the humming birds love.
Here are some better shops of the humming birds using the tripod. i'm usually too lazy to carry the tripod.
And some more. Some don't have ie great color. At one point, I was waiting near their favorite flowers and about four humming birds buzzed around my head one even thumped my ear.
There were also some butterflies, or moths.
This one is really pretty.
I stopped at Piedras Blancas to watch the Elephant seals on the beech. There were a lot of them very close in to watch. No really big guys though.
I also stopped at Mile marker "Mon 38" and hiked the trail down to an old cove where ships loaded bark used for tanning. The trail was a road that came down and goes through a tunnel to a deep water slot in the solid rock cliff than ships used to come in to be loaded. It must have been tricky getting in and out of this one ship harbor. There a really nice stream along the trail near the bottom.
When I arrived at Pfiffer Big Sur State Park it was raining. I selected a nice site with a view of the sky. There are only a few that have that view and I wanted it for both solar and satellite. It turns out I didn't need the satellite view since that have nice Att-wifi here and I have an account so am using it instead. It uses less power and is faster. As evening came the rain stopped.