Thursday, December 30, 2004

Landers Family Visit

Thursday, Visiting with Don's Uncle Emery and Aunt Mary in Landers, Ca.

We arrived late in the afternoon after taking Hwy 79 North through Julian and Hemet.
Julian is very interesting and we couldn't leave town without one of their famous apple pies. The weather was nice all the way. There has been a lot of rain all around and it's very noticeable here in Landers. Lots of the streets become streams and a lot of sand gets moved. Makes for interesting driving.
Friday, We continued the visit.

Best picture of Emery and Mary with Lou and Dawn looking at craft projects.

If it doesn't move, Emery will paint it. On the bottom right above, a view of the McCutcheon Ranch.

Mary fixed a nice breakfast and we had dinner in Yucca Valley at the Fish and Brew

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Didn’t Go Far

The wind really blew hard last night along with a lot of rain. We acted like we're on vacation today. Arose late, a nice soak in the Hot tub, breakfast, and duck feeding. We finally hit the road about noon. We stopped at Viejas Casino and Outlet Mall. Dawn wanted to stop at Border's Book Outlet. We had lunch and the time passed and it was 4pm already, and very stormy. We checked with security and are spending the night in the lot of the Casino. Maybe we'll get an early start tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Final Day At Balboa Park

We had a lot of rain last night. With the sand that was blown into the camp site yesterday, the water made it more messy.
Today, we took in five museums. We started with the San Diego History Museum. There wasn't much there so it didn't take long. Half the museum is being redone.

We then went to the Model Railroad Museum. This museum is great. Several clubs are based there and the layouts are great and getting better. The best was the Three-Railers layout. There is a huge HO display partially built. When it's complete it will be amazing.

We then looked around three art museums. Sad to say, I liked the window better than the "art" inside the museums.
Tomorrow we hit the road.

Monday, December 27, 2004

San Diego Fleet Science Museum

Started today with a look at a nice cactus garden near the Fleet Science Museum. There were some great large cactus and desert trees there. We played around the Fleet Science Museum (which is much like the Exploratorium in San Francisco). Watched an Imax movie on under sea volcanoes.

We went to the Auto Museum. They had a lot of Oldsmobiles, from the beginning to the demise. Lots of vintage motorcycles, including a 1967 Honda 305 Scrambler just like one I used to have. They had the 1948 Cadillac that is equipped for non-stop travel including oil changes and tire changes as it travels down the road.
We returned to the Science Museum for some more play since they closed late.
We then went to Old Town to the Coyote Cantina for dinner. When we returned, we found our awning put away, we had left it out. Our neighbors were nice to have retracted it during some heavy winds today. Thanks neighbors!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

San Diego Natural History Museum

We went through the Japanese Garden. This isn't a very elaborate garden, but it was worth the visit anyway.

The Botanical Arboretum was nice. Some very pretty flowers on some different plants.
We went through the Natural History Museum. The two biggest displays were a display about the 2003 fires around San Diego and a dinosaur display, primarily about dinosaurs being feathered and being ancestors of birds?
We looked around Spanish Village which is a craft shop village next to the museum. Some very interesting stuff there, especially the succulents and cacti in the plaza of the village.
It was quite cold when we came out of the museum. Fortunately, it warmed up later in the evening when it was time for the hot tub.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas 2004

Up late, went to the pool and hot tub. This is the warmest day yet, probably in the 80's. Goofed around at home today.

A campfire and BarBQ ribs at home tonight.
I need to apologize for the view of the webcam. We're the third site in from the beach and I still haven't made a good camera mount so the view hasn't been good here. Sorry.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Museum of Man

Today we visited the Museum Of Man at Balboa Park. We arrived at 10am opening and left at the 3pm closing and were worn out. Interesting museum of primitive weapons, Eskimo and Indian life, ancient Mayan hieroglyphs, and a display of the evolution on man.

A beautiful building houses the Museum On Man.

There are some rather large objects in the museum.
Museuming can be tiring. We drove toward Old Town and stopped on the way at Phils BarBQ. Excellent. Old Town was interesting but closing down early on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

San Diego Zoo

We visited the San Diego Zoo today.

Mom and year old baby panda.

Papa panda.

A hungry koala.
There's a lot of zoo!. We didn't see or do everything, We'll have to return some other day to see the rest.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Balboa Park

There are bunch of museums here in Balboa Park. We plan to see most of them. We visited the Mingei International Museum and the San Diego Aerospace Museum. The Mingei International Museum contained many interesting toys and crafts from various sources. These included dolls, masks, origami, and fabrics. Quite interesting. The San Diego Aerospace Museum unfortunately lost most of its original displays in a fire in 1978. It has recovered rather well. There are many replicas along with some original aircraft. The displays cover first flight through space flight in easy to view displays with many hands on displays. Tomorrow, the Zoo!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

San Diego

We planned on meeting Ernie this morning after he had unloaded but his truck was loaded wrong so he was delayed until afternoon. We then went shopping and had dinner and then returned to the RV park for the evening. Ernie got a new digital camera which he's anxious to try.
An observation. San Diego may have the worst state traffic engineers. We're continually finding ourselves in the wrong lane or missing turns because we followed the directions on the signs or because the signs are inconsistent. I thought they were bad in the SF bay area!

Monday, December 20, 2004

The John Wayne Special

We left Refugio State Beach driving on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) through LA.

We stopped for lunch at Joe's Restaurant in Redondo Beach. We don't get to LA very often, but when we can we go to Joe's for breakfast. It simply has the best breakfasts made. I had the John Wayne Special, home fries and sausage on tortillas smothered with salsa. Lou had The Acapulco, Chorizo and scrambled eggs, covered with guacamole and served with home fries. Dawn had some gigantic pancakes. These words don't do justice to the meal. If you're in the area, stop by and then try to describe it yourself. One thing is missing from the mid 1970's visits, though. There used to be an unenclosed patio and you used to have breakfast with the seagulls. Still good food, but less ambiance.
We headed out of town about 2pm for San Diego. Traffic was good all day including on the 405 and 5 freeways during evening rush hour. We called to make reservations at Camperland By The Sea RV Park and were settled in about 6pm. We called my brother Ernie and he was coming in to San Diego on I-8 making a delivery to a Costco in Mission Bay. We met for dinner at Oggi's Brew Pub nearby.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Refugio State Beach

We stopped in San Luis Obispo and looked around some of the antique shops and bookstores. A nice downtown village.

We stopped by to see the chewing gum alley. I don't know how we could have missed this on our last visit. A narrow alley has chewing gum deposits on the brick walls on either side of the alley. It looks like it's been a tradition to add yours to the walls for many years. It really looked like art and took a moment to recognize what it really was. The rest of the streets seem clean so maybe this works? Had a lunch at the China Garden restaurant. They have an excellent buffet.

We stopped for the night at Refugio State Beach. This seems to be a nice "next to the beach", "in the trees", and "by tyhe railroad" campground.

Nice morning at beach. A surfer headed to shore, campground beyond.

Mr Milo loves to work when we travel.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

King City

Lou and Dawn went to the Donkey Walk at Bol Park in Palo Alto. There are two community owned donkeys that live there. Today there was Christmas carolers and a parade of sorts. We hit the road after the Donkey Walk. Stopped in King City at San Lorenzo County Park.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

VOIP Phone

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Circuit City and bought a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) device for the Vonage telephone service. When we were down at the Pinnacles last month, we had no service on our cell phones. The VOIP phone seemed like a way to have phone service almost anywhere because we can use the DataStorm satellite Internet system for the connection. Well, the test went well. It works.`It's OK most of the time in the RV and works perfectly on the house DSL connection. It's OK in the RV because the uplink breaks up occasionally due to the up bandwidth being only 20-30k while the downlink works well due to it being 250-500k. The devices lowest bandwidth requires 30k. There is a considerable delay of 1-2 seconds due to the satellite propagation delays. The delay takes a little getting used to. The delay is sort of like the delay you see on the nightly news where the reporter at their remote or network seems to be asleep when asked a question taking a couple of seconds to start their response. The sound quality is as good or better than our Verizon cell phone. In the RV, it works really well at night but during the day, sometimes, you don't get a good connection. Just hangup and try again and it usually is OK. In the house on DSL there is no difference from the SBC copper line.
What's really neat about this, in addition to the price ($15/mo for 500 minutes anywhere in US and Canada) is that you can have any phone area code you want and you can take it with you. Just unplug it from the RV, take it in the house, take it into the office, the library, anywhere there is an Broadband connection.
It's performed so well that I got another for our daughter Dawn's apartment. I'm a little upset with SBC's costs recently and while we have to keep the phone to have the DSL at both locations, we can keep the long distance and zone charges down by using Vonage. Another great thing, the hardware is free and it only requires a three month commitment. They must be confident it works. The PAP2 Lynksys adapter cost $60 at Circuit City and they give two rebates totaling $60.You can get a $50 rebate anywhere else or get the hardware directly from Vonage for free. It takes all of 5 minutes to have your new phone number working, including setup of the hardware and the account. I'm impressed!

The Vonage PAP2 adapter is the small box under the router in the middle of the picture.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The Smog Test(s)

I've been enjoying supervising a water pipeline replacement project a couple of blocks away. I don't know how they could do it without me?
I finally got Lou's car smogged, after 5 tests. It's evidently considered a high risk car due to age, so it was sent to a "Test Only Station." I don't think there is any difference in the test, just that the Test Only Station is supposed to fail you so you retire the vehicle. Note, the car is an 87 Volvo wagon much like our "Toad". It runs great, and has been extremely well maintained. It's low mileage as well, only a little less than 300,000 miles.
The car failed the smog test for high NOX, every thing else was normal to low. The first test was 980, it needed to be 730 so I asked our mechanic where to take it. Seemed like the repair needed to be at a shop that was allowed to do the repair and had a tester. Our mechanic recomended a shop down the street. The mechanic there looked at the test results and said, we needed a new catalytic converter. For $250 we might pass, for $400 we'd be sure to pass $400 got us a real hungry catalytic converter that just loves NOX. I went for the "pass for sure" repair. The test on their machine said it was good (630), not as good as I expected but OK. I took it back to the test only station for a retest. It failed worse than before, now 1400, twice what the test just 30 minutes before was at the garage. I took it back to the mechanic. He consulted with our Volvo mechanic and the test now passed his machine twice as good as it did on his before (350). Another trip to the test only station and this time it passed even better than at the mechanics (250). Went dirrectly to the AAA to get the tags. Done!! Three days, $105 for tests (60, 30, 15), $400 for repair, no extra charge for the second repair. Sure sounds like a conspiracy. They just wanted to know we wanted to keep the car.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Milo’s Back, Dogs Gone!

MR Milo, the fearless cat, is back to normal, maybe even nicer, now that the dogs are gone.

"Mine, mine, mine!!"

"I heard a flood was coming"

Sunday, November 28, 2004


We had a nice visit with Don's brother Ernie over Thanksgiving week. Ernie is a long haul trucker living in his truck most of the time. He calls Las Vegas home. He is an excellent cook and always does a great job preparing Thanksgiving dinner, as well as the rest of the meals while he's here. Lou loves this. The kitchens in trucks aren't as nice as ours at home.

Wolfie, Ernie, and Walter. Walter, Wolfie, and Ernie

Walter. Wolfie.
The weather was nice and it didn't rain until the last day so the dogs didn't track too much mud inside. Usually it gets pretty dirty. It's nice to have the dogies visit, and nice to see them go. Our cat, Mr milo doesn't care for the visit though. He gets banished to the rear of the house for his own protection.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Home Again

Had to return to civilization again, darn.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Pinnacles South Wilderness

Yesterday Don took a walk down the creek bed. Much nicer than the trail. A coyote thought so too. Dawn Joined us on Saturday. Sunday morning we all hiked out the South Wilderness Trail a few miles. This is a really nice hike. We saw no one else until we got back to the beginning of the trail.

The fall colors are looking good in the above two pictures.

We even saw a lonely California Poppy bloom, only one. This area must be golden in the spring. The Pinnacles can be seen above and between these oak trees above right.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Pinnacles Balconies Trail

There are turkeys at our campground. Not weird campers but real wild turkeys. They pass through the campground before 8am each morning. On the right above is the obligatory view of the RV at a new campsite.

There is a little fall color here. These trees by the camp store are a good sample.

A view of the ridge of Pinnacles.

A view of the Balconies Trail. Balconies Cave East entrance.

Cliff overhang near Balconies Cave. A couple of views from the Balconies trail. A tarantula spider seen on the trail. There are road signs that say to avoid running over them.

The above pictures show balls that were all along the trail. They look like finely finished wooden balls when dry. They start out looking like lemons on the trees and the hull splits off to reveal light brown colored balls which darken in the sun. The two top left are examples of being fresh out of the hull and look exactly like ripe peaches. ......Lunch!

Mr Milo, our illustrious cat, takes possession of the dinette seat.