Friday, December 30, 2005

Red Rocks State Park

Mr Milo Mr Milo
Mr Milo seems to have adjusted very well to travel.
Hwy 126
We took Highway 126 from Ventura toward I5 then Highwy 14 to Palmdale and North to our campsite at Red Rocks SP.
Red Rocks State Park Red Rocks State Park
We made it to Red Rocks State Park and the Ricardo Campground just at sunset. It looks really nice.
Red Rocks State Park Red Rocks State Park
Red Rocks State Park Red Rocks State Park
Nice campground and interesting rocks and plants.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Solvang and El Capitan SB

The high tide has finally come around to a decent hour. This morning it was 8:10 am. This was the highest tide and was quite impressive.
Solvang Ca
Our mail from home finally arrived and we hit the road. We stopped in Solvang and looked around the shops. We had a great butter cream round from one of the bakeries. It was very good.
In Solvang, on our way back to the RV to leave, we stopped in a pet store and found a self heating pad for MR Milo, our cat. He seems to have been cold recently so we've been looking for some sort of heated sleeping mat, either one that is heated up in the microwave or a reflective (self heating) that uses the cats body heat. Anyway, we finally found a reflective pad in stock and bought it. Mr Milo really likes it so we suppose it works.
We then headed South to El Capitan State Beach. We were going to stop at Refugio SB but that campground was closed for the season. El Capitan SB is just a couple of miles further South. We then headed down to Goleta to do our laundry. Though it was a travel day, we didn't get very far. Hopefully with an early start tomorrow, we'll get closer to Death Valley, our next destination.
El Capitan SB El Capitan SB
Friday Morning:
Our campsite at El Capitan State Beach Campground. We were right next to the re-construction of the main sewer line. Nice campground. We;ll be returning when we can stay for a while.
El Capitan SB El Capitan SB
The seagulls and pelicans liked the heavy seas. Good eating!
El Capitan SB El Capitan SB
On the left above is a picture of the sandy beach, 4-8" sand grains. This beach in this heavy surf makes more noise as the waves are going out and the rocks are rolling than when the waves splash onto the beach.
El Capitan SB El Capitan SB
This path is barely above sea level with this very high tide. Beautiful park!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

High Tides

Pismo State Beach
A nice sunset.
Pismo State Beach Pismo State Beach
Tides will be very high peaking tomorrow at 6.6 feet above normal. We have been rising early to get out in the wee hours of the morning to see the high tides at their peak.
Pismo State Beach Pismo State Beach
They splash against the dunes with the small eucalyptus grove that protects us in our campsite. It's really nice that early. shortly after sunrise it gets colder? After we returned to camp it began to rain. Looks like an inside day.
Pismo State Beach Pismo State Beach
On the left above is a blomming eucalyptus tree. Sunrise clouds on the right.
Later in the day, we headed down to old town Arroyo Grande. We're checking out all the feed and pet stores in the area. We stopped at the Eclair bakery for a delicious Apple strudel and tea. We then headed down to San Luis Obispo for another feed store and Lou picked up some maps at AAA. We then went downtown to look around and had dinner at the Golden China Buffet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Exploring East

Today Lou and I rose before sunrise to look at the high tide. We walked down the beach and into Grover Beach. We had breakfast at the (Train) Station Cafe. We continued through the neighborhoods and to Hwy 101 and found a shortcut by the railroad tracks back to the campsite. Success! Lou and Dawn can now take the shortcut, less than 1/2 mile, to the outlet malls. This beats the 2-3 mile drive to get to the same place and comes with exercise built in. The rest of the morning was spent on business then, after all the travelers left the campground, it was time for the most pleasurable activity of RV'ing, dumping the tanks. The weather was good all day but cool. We had another nice campfire in the evening.
Pismo State Beach
A nice Turkey Vulture resting on a light pole on our walk east.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wintering Monarch’s

Pismo Beach is home to the largest population of Monarch butterflies during the winter. Those butterflies call a eucalyptus grove next to our campground home.
Pismo State Beach Pismo State Beach
We attended the docent's presentation observed the clusters of resting butterflies. On the right above is a freshly hatched butterfly.
Pismo State Beach Pismo State Beach
Th life cycle on the left above. On the right the butterfly's favorite food, milkweed, actually a beautiful flower, not a weed.
Today they didn't come out much because it was quite cool. Yesterday it was warm and the trees were orange and butterflies were everywhere.
Sorry, i didn't get good pictures of the butterfly clusters on the trees nor mass quantities in flight. It was too cool when I had my camera.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


If it were more cold today, it would be a white Christmas. It rained and sprinkled most of the day. Good day to be inside.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pismo Beach

Pismo Camp
A little after 8am, we took another morning walk up the beach. Yesterday we headed South toward Oceana Beach, today North until we ran out of beach. We then hiked up some stairs into a resort and on to the road back. We didn't go far before coming to JJ's At The Beach Restaurant. We were doomed as soon as Lou and Dawn saw the sign for a Prime Rib Breakfast. I had a nice Machada Omlete (Shreaded Beef). It's one of the oldest restaurants in Pismo dating back to the 1920's. Nice place , good food. We then continued down Pierce Road toward camp visiting all the shops. Our short walk brought us home at noon. Another great day. clear sky, no wind, about 65 degrees.
Lou and Dawn went shopping. Had to get a good dose to last over the Holiday store closures.
Wow, Christmas Eve already. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Good Day

Lou and I took a nice walk down the beach this morning. Big waves and noisy surf. The water had been up all the way to the dunes last night and there were some interesting sand sculptures because of it.
We all walked up to Pismo pier area for lunch. Our usual haunt, the Pismo Fish Company was closed for remodeling until 12/28 so we tried Brad's. We had fish and chips and clams and chips and shared. It was very good. We'll probably be returning there because we saw some interesting orders headed to other tables.
The weather is absolutely great. 65 degrees outside at 9pm. Not much higher during the day. A little wind in the late afternoon and evening.
Nomi House
We got good news today. When I checked the bank account I see that evidently the house sale in Bakersfield closed escrow today. Finally!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


We left Bakersfield late this afternoon and went to San Luis Obispo. Before we left Don dumped and got LPG at Camping World while Lou and Dawn made a quick visit to the Heritage Museum bookstore. We then stopped by the Ranch Market, did our laundry at the adjacent laundromat, filled our water bottles and then went to lunch with Uncle Doug and Aunt Helen at the Ranch Market. Good grub! We got away much later than planned but still arrived at Pismo Beach North Campground just as it got dark. We took Hwy 166 through Taft and Santa Maria. We setup the coach and headed to San Luis Obispo for the farmers market. We enjoyed a good look around. I especially liked the panpipe group.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Christmas Carol

Lou Debbie Dawn
We all had lunch with our friend Debbie at the Village Grill. In the evening we all went to see a play at the Spotlight Theater downtown. A Christmas Carol Revisited was a very interesting presentation. Debbie was joined by her friend Cas. Cas is developmentally disabled and is Debbie's client. The cast of the play was a mix of actors, most of which are also developmently challenged. Needless to say, the play was a little different and very interesting. Downtown Bakersfield is developing it's own theater district. We haven't visited many venues but there are dinner theaters, the Old Fox theater and others.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Hwy 25 Hwy 25
Yesterday, we left the Pinnacles a little after noon. Headed down Hwy 25 to Hwy 198 then I5 and into Bakersfield. We stopped for lunch on in a pullout on Hwy 198. Good weather and traffic on the way down. Arrived in Bakersfield about 5:30 pm. Setup the RV in front of Uncle Doug's house. Mr Milo enjoyed a short walk.
Today, Lou and Don dropped by the escrow company to sign a paper. Hopefully the house closes tomorrow or?
I spread some caulk to try to fix the leak by the dinette window. I didn't see any actual problems but caulked the top and side edges of the window anyway. I checked the roof seam and found that more toward the front, there was 3 feet of missing caulk. Did it blow away? Who knows? anyway I removed the entire length of caulk on that side, and installed a new bead of caulk. Hopefully that fixes the problem! If not, I'll completely remove the window and reinstall it with new sealer.
I obviously haven't been keeping up with the re-caulking. I did the front and rear roof cap areas before. I still need to do the right side of the roof and the vertical seams, especially at the rear. Maybe while I'm at Quartzsite.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pinnacles Morning

Deer At Pinnacles Birds On Their Backs Deer At Pinnacles
Rutting Deer At Pinnacles Rutting Dear At Pinnacles
Rutting Deer At Pinnacles Dog At Pinnacles
Pictures from our window this morning. The deer are quite comfortable. The sitting deer each have a bird standing on their backs, left deer a magpie, right deer a blue jay. (Sorry for the lack of focus) The dog was at a camp nearby. He belongs to one of the resident ranger campers and doesn't seem to mind the deer, nor they, him. The two bucks are rutting for play.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Tonight we're at the Pinnacles. There are two things that occur here. There are no cell phone signals and there are no TV signals. There are great views and there aren't many places as nice to visit as the Pinnacles, but no signals.
We use Vonage for our IP phone and that fixes the first problem.
A couple of days before I left I went to Best Buy and bought a Slingbox. This is a device that connects to your home network and a TV antenna or cable box or other video source. You run a player on your computer and video and audio are streamed from you home to your computer, wherever it may be where there is a broadband connection. It works great from point to point on the network at home. Tonight we tried it out for the first time away from home. After a shakey start with the feed dropping and requiring a manual restart, every 5 sec to 5 minutes, suddenly it started working continuously with ocassional short dropout but returning automatically. It does work! That's great.
We enjoy our home broadcast stations. There are a lot of them and ocassionaally, something is worth watching. I'm too cheap to pay cable of DirecTV rates. The cost is just 2-3 times what it should be. I'd prefer it if they charged by the channel and you could select which channels you wanted. I'd pick a couple and pay my $2 month and be happier, but that's not this world. So, paying the $200 for the Slingbox seems to be a good alternative. It will pay for itself at that rate in 8 years. Actually, since DirecTV costs $41/month, minimum, as an alternative, it pays for itself in 5 months. I still have to learn what the impact of streaming video over the Datastorm system will be. If it gives us 4 hours before we reach our daily bandwidth allotment, that's OK.
Update on how it works:
Well, I've used the Slingbox several times now and can report it works with the Datastorm. I watched as much as 5 hours one evening and there was no impact to bandwidth of the internet connection over the satellite. I was even doing a lot of website updates at the same time. In the evening, there was some momentary dropout, not enough to bother me and, oddly, just as David Letteman came on it became perfect and stayed that way until I called it a night after another hour or so. The same effect on a subsequent night. Must be a lot less traffic that late. I did set down the bandwidth setting from 310k 30 frames to 220k and 20 frames. I think it will work out OK.


For some reason it took a really long time to get ready this time. Of course, we did reorganize just about everything. Stuff that hadn't been used or was seldom used stayed home. Somehow we seemed to eventually get everything into place.
Hughes Autoformer Coffeemaker Shelf
Friday I wired the Hughes Autoformer into a compartment. Since I got it, I've been having to chain it up outside. When we were in Pomona a few weeks ago, a representative from Hughes said it would be OK in the compartment as long as it had some room for air circulation around it. The RV had a permanently attached 30' power cord which I shortened to 2' to plug into the transformer.
We spent most of Saturday morning preparing to leave. I built a shelf where the coffee pot used to be. We removed the built-in coffee maker because we use the microwave for our tea. Lou has an occasional cup of coffee and uses coffee bags. Easy to store, easy to brew, always fresh.
We finally got away a bit after 2pm. We had a few errands so I took the RV on mine and Lou and Dawn the toad for theirs. We met In Gilroy, about 54 miles South of home. Not far, but it ended up being as far as we got. It seems to get dark early now. We had dinner at the Longhouse restaurant. We asked if we could spend the night in their lot and they said OK. The local Walmart doesn't allow overnighters, due to a city ordinance. The restaurant is also in the city but we stayed and had no problem.
Damaged Table Pinnacles Campground
Except that we had a very heavy rain that night. The window by the dinette leaked. Made Dawn's bedding quite wet and ruined the laminate on the table top. I clamped it together and Hope it turns out OK .
We didn't do much better getting away from Gilroy, and then Hollister. We finally arrived at the Pinnacles a little after 1pm. It's been raining all day. For some reason there aren't any other transient campers in the campground. There are the usual 6 or so ranger/botanist trailers here. They're her working on the California Condor restoration. We've spent the afternoon lazying around watching the beasts outside.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Get Set

Dawn wraps her semester Wednesday and we'll be heading out very shortly there after. It's amazing! When we returned home, it seemed like it would be a long time before we got back on the road. Now it's already time to go. I have some things to do to the RV before leaving. We'll be heading south along the coast, through Bakersfield, then toward Las Vegas and Quartzsite. Dawn has to be back mid January for the start of next semester so she and Lou will take the toad home from Quartzsite leaving Don there for the big RV show week. Lou should be able to return to Quartzsite a couple of weeks later. Bad timing on the universities part. Hopefully the flea market is good during that week before the RV show.
12the Street Cleaned Up
The "gutter cleaning" project in San Jose has been going well but won't be finished before departure. The trees are gone but a couple of stumps remain and the concrete sidewalk is still to do. It's too cold for concrete work anyway, right?

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Fun With Maps

I have always wanted good maps for this blog that show where we camp and where we have gone. I rather dislike static maps and want an interactive experience using the maps. What I want is a way to navigate the reports of our travels by clicking the map to get more detailed information. I also want this to not be much work on my part. Impossible? Maybe not.
I am trying out the Google Map API to display data points on a map with an interactive user interface. The user can pan around and zoom in/out on the map with the data points still properly displayed. The user can also select a satellite view or a map view of the data. The data is from an XML database not from static images.

Here are links to individual trip campsite and route maps.

I've tried other static maps and haven't found anything that looks good and is easy to use mostly because they depend on a lot of effort to draw them manually. Then there is the copyrights problem, Google Maps may be the solution. One of the problems though is that it is difficult to use with blogger pages. So far that hasn't been fully eliminated so the map pages are just called from the blog.

A tool used to obtain lat/lng coordinates.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

A New Restaurant

We had dinner last night from Hawiian Barbecue. They just opened up last night a couple of blocks from home and sounded good. We got three different items, to go, to try them out. Don found them interesting but slightly high priced. Lou and Dawn thought they tasted good but didn't ride well. It's nice to have another option available.
We are lucky to have quite a group of places nearby. Within three blocks are: Thai City, Compadres and Celia's (both Mexican Restaurants), Taqueria El Grullense, Taco Bell, Ace Sandwiches, Mr Chau's (a Chinese cafeteria style fast food), Jack In The Box, Happy Donut, Quisno Subs, Baja Fresh, Boston Market and more.
Within ten blocks there are probably 30 or more restaurants, most local places but some chains.
Our favorite nearby places are Mr Chau's, Pizz'a Chicago, The Fish Market, Celia's, Olive Garden, and Joanie's Cafe. All are within an easy walk.

Thursday, December 1, 2005


The end of August we got Dawn a new refrigerator for her apartment from Fry's Electronics. We got the extended warranty. A few weeks ago a puddle was seen on the floor. The repair man was called and couldn't do anything on the first visit because we had wiped up the leaked water. A couple of days later he was called back and found that the defrost heat strip had failed. He didn't have the part. The part couldn't be located so Fry's requested we return the refrigerator for a credit. They didn't have that model for a replacement. Through all this, Dawn needed a refrigerator so it was left in service until we returned it this afternoon. We returned it and checked for a replacement. They had one almost identical except for the model number. It cost $10 more, of course. We bought the replacement, ask for and got a $10 discount to match our original price, but, we had to buy a new warranty. No pro-ration of the remaining 2 years 9 months left on the warranty. This was a little upsetting, but still cheaper than having to replace the refrigerator at our cost. The warranty couldn't be credited because the service man had come out to repair it. He couldn't repair it, but he came out. I'm not sure I understand it but it all makes me wonder if extended warrantys are worth it. Each repair visit involved waiting at Dawn's place for the repairman in a 4 hour window of time, two visits. Each visit was toward the end of the window. Add the time it took to return the refrigerator and the cost is significant. If I was billing my time for this at $75/hour (what I'd like to bill) I wasted more than $600 in time plus the $50 warranty plus the original price of $300 for a total of $950 plus tax. The replacement refrigerator would have been $310 for a total of $610 (300 + 310) plus tax. Not having a warrantee would have saved $340 (950-610)? It's a good thing I actually have a lot of time to waste anyway.