Friday, March 31, 2006

Riding The Rails

Our adventure today was a ride on CalTrain up to Hillsdale Mall. We went down to California Avenue, our local village here in Palo Alto. We visited the bank and then FedExKinkos to get passport photos taken. We also stopped by Mollie Stone's Market for a few things needed for tomorrows dinner. After all these tasks were done, we boarded the train for a day of shopping (looking mostly).
We got day passes so we were able to jump on and off the train. We had an additional reason for taking this trip. We want Dawn to become familiar with the train so she can use it when we're on the road. She is visually and mobility impaired and needs assistance boarding the train. Things didn't go well when we boarded at California Avenue Station to start our trip. The conductor is supposed to assist passengers waiting in a designated (blue painted) area to board. Dawn was waiting but the conductor never made any effort. I stood in the doorway of the train which can't move until the door closes, so the train wasn't going anywhere. He yelled at me, and I yelled at him. He finally got the idea and assisted Dawn. (This was a training exercise for Dawn and the conductor as well.) As it turns out, there were three conductors on the train. I'm not sure why they need more than one since they don't handle ticketing anymore and you have to get your ticket from a machine before boarding. Anyway, one conductor, who looked like a supervisor, came by a while later and talked to the conductor that was remiss and he they spoke with Dawn and asked her destination etc. What he should have done in the first place. He handled the rest of the trip properly for Dawn. So the trip was worthwhile. We'll have to do more practice trips until they go smoothly.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

San Jose History Museum

San Jose History Park Doctor's Office
San Jose History Park Dentist Office San Jose History Park Doctor's Office
Dawn is working as an intern at the San Jose History Museum performing an inventory, revising the docent manual and doing research on the display materials in the Doctor's and Dentist's Offices.
San Jose History Park Trolley San Jose History Park Trolley Barn
We rode the trolley around the village and toured the trolley barn where they recondition the trolleys and some old autos.
San Jose History Park Service Station San Jose History Park Fiat
There is a nice example of an old metal service station building. It brings back memories of my childhood, walking down to the corner of the street I lived on in Bakersfield. It looked very much like this station, except more used. I particularly liked the soft drink dispenser they had at that station. It was one of the old type that was filled with water. You would slide you choice out and it was nice and cold, pleasant treat in hot Bakersfield. New vending machines never get the drinks cold.
There was also a nice reconditioned little Fiat car that was being used for a photo shoot. Looks more like a roller skate. Note the spare on the rear bumper.
San Jose History Park Light Tower San Jose History Park Printing Office
In old San Jose, they tried street lighting. They had an interesting method. They built the tower (above left) and tried using an artificial sun to light the town.
We had a very nice tour of the printing office. The docent was very knowledgeable and it was quite interesting.
San Jose History Park First Radio Station
San Jose is the home of broadcast radio. In 1909, twelve years before the government thought to issue licenses, Charles Herrold created a broadcast radio station. In 1921 it was licensed as KQW, later becoming KCBS which moved to San Francisco. In 1909 he also started Herrold College of Engineering and Wireless in San Jose. His radio station was the first to broadcast music and news. KQW also originated advertising in broadcasting. I'm not sure that is a valued legacy.
San Jose History Park First Radio Station San Jose History Park First Radio Station Water Cooled Mike
Charles Herrold above left. On the right above is an old microphone that required cooling with water. The microphones became very hot after 30 minutes or so of use. That is the origination of "Is the microphone hot"
San Jose History Park First Radio Station
Th KQW studio above.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Few Calculations

I was a bit curious so I went through the gas log book. Since getting the RV on April 26, 2003, we've driven it 27,431 miles. Used 3,497 gallon of gas. Total fuel costs were $10,373. Average miles per gallon were 7.8. A little over 9,000 miles per year.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Project List Growing

It seems that being on the road is much cheaper than being at home, even with the high cost of fuel. When we're home, there are projects to do. Being on the road minimizes the projects due to the size of the RV relative to the size of the house and yard. I'm not sure how much we'll get done before we depart again but here is a short list of what we intend to do. New rear fence, new carpet, paint the house, new double pane windows, and a new garage door. We're now also planning to replace the kitchen cabinets and counter top. We were inspired by our visit with Uncle Doug and Aunt Helen's and their kitchen remodel.
There also is a bit of concrete work to do a Dawn's house.
I'm already tired!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

When It Rains…

When we returned home we found that our sump pump, wasn't pumping. The back and side yards were flooded. We get a lot of water and we installed a French drain and drain inlets that are drained by a sump pump. It's worked great since about 1998 without any attention. Must have died of old age. The motor evidently burned out. Fortunately, the same exact pump is still made and replacement was easy. After running a while to drain the sump and surface area, it has been cycling every few minutes draining the water from the very saturated ground. Hopefully, all will be drier soon. No damage, just darn wet and muddy.
Don's brother Ernie was going to drop by with his two dogs for a weekend visit but we had to cancel the visit. The dogs like to run in the yard and would have been big mud balls. Instead, we drove over to Santa Nella to Pea Soup Anderson's to meet them for dinner.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Home Again

Well, we finally returned home. We left December 18th, made it as far as Fort Worth, Texas before turning back. The weather on the return trip was fairly consistently poor. A lot of cold, snow and rain. It is nice to be home. It always seems like a nicer place than we left when we return.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bakersfield, California

Stopped by at Uncle Doug and Aunt Helen's for a short visit on the way home.
We had great weather for the trip from Laughlin. No wind at all. That is unusual for the Mojave desert.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Laughlin, Nevada

Flagstaff Snow
Nice clear skies, dry roads, no wind and warmer temperatures. Nice day to travel, finally. Around Flagstaff and West of it there was a lot of snow on the ground but the roads were clear. They had a foot or two of snow.
We passed several wrecked truck trailers where their loads were being salvaged, probably blown off the road skating on ice.
We arrived in Laughlin to 80 degree temperatures. An amazing difference 4000 vertical feet makes. The RV enjoyed a nice oil change and lube. We enjoyed the buffet at the Riverside. Well stay here and relax a couple of days before moving on toward home.
Laughlin Ramada Train
Laughlin Ramada Train Laughlin Ramada Train
Before we left, we had to ride the local train. The Ramada Express Casino has a nice simulated steam train that runs around their property. Interesting ride, and free.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Winslow, Arizona

Thursday: We spent the night here in Winslow at Walmart's due to high winds. I looked at the weather report and it looked like we would have good enough weather Friday morning before the big storm arrived.
Friday: We prepared to leave. It was snowing a little. Lou expressed her concern. Don checked the weather reports and it was already snowing in Flagstaff and west on I40. Reports of ice. Winds of 25-30 mph gusting to 45 mph. Enough said, we stayed. You know, there isn't much to do in Winslow.
We had some good snow flurries but it's not staying on the ground. We'll probably not be leaving until Monday morning at the earlies. It's nice and cozy inside. Time to relax and do inside stuff.
Our Datastorm system hasn't worked the past couple of days. In the 2.5 years I've had it I haven't had to do any tweaking except for an early failure of a receiver. Well maybe I've been initiated. I had to do a recalibration of the dish and all is well again. Thank goodness.
Winslow Walmarts Snow Winslow Walmarts Icecycles
Saturday: Good storm last night. It is cold here but nicer here than in Flagstaff. This snow has stayed on the ground, this time. We had dinner at a local eatery of Route 66 fame, according to the menu, he Falcon Restaurant. When we were driving around town this place had the most cars out front. When we arrived for dinner, there weren't that many in the restaurant, but the cocktail lounge was full. Now we know. The dinner was good, better than the typical Denny's. Lou had Steak Mexicanna and I had their "famous" Chicken Fried Steak. Laundry day today. Might as well, it's a warm thing to do and we have more than enough to do.
A bad thing about parking at Walmart is the loss of money due to lack of appropriate resistance to things we can't do without. We replaced our VCR/DVD player today. Tomorrow?

Petrified Forest

We left Endee heading West on I40. We stopped in Santa Rosa to look at the Blue Hole but there are no signs to it and people we asked for directions evidently didn't know much about it so it probably isn't much to see if the residents haven't seen it.
We made it to Albuquerque with the intent of seeing Old Town and taking a ride on the Sky Tram. It was so windy that the Sky Tram was shut down. The visibility wasn't great either due to low clouds and dust. We toured Old Town and had a very nice dinner at Little Anita's Mexican Restaurant.
Sky City Casino, NM
We then hit the road for a while but decided the wind and possible snow would make it a wiser idea to stop for the night at Sky City Casino 16 miles East of Grants. The wind really blew and it snowed a little so maybe our decision was correct. We started late to be sure any ice was gone before we hit the road. It was down to at least 26 degrees at 7am.
We toured the Painted Desert and petrified Forest. It was very cold and windy so we didn't stay outside much.
Painted Desert
The painted desert above wasn't too impressive due to the sun not shining. The cloud cover made the hills look rather bland. We'll have to return sometime when the sun is shining.
Petrified Forest Petroglyths Petrified Forest Ruins
There were petroglyph's and ruins. I liked the bird. the ruins didn't look real. They were reconstructed ruins. Too bad.
Petrified Wood Petrified Wood
The petrified logs were numerous and larger than expected
Tonight we're at Walmart in Winslow.
The Datastorm wasn't working yesterday nor today. I'm having symptoms of withdrawal.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Palo Duro State Park, Tx

Palo Duro SP Tx, Trail to Lighthouse Palo Duro SP Tx, Lighthouse
Palo Duro SP Tx, Area Views Palo Duro SP Tx, Area Views
Palo Duro State Park is Southeast of Amarillo, Texas (12 miles East of Canyon, Texas). In this high plain area it is a surprising change. A mini grand canyon of sorts. We just visited for the day but there are lots of campsites some of which have hookups.
We hiked the Lighthouse Trail, a little over 6 miles round trip. The trail is easy with the final ascent to the base of the lighthouse being more steep with a lot of stair steps.
Palo Duro SP Tx, Lighthouse Palo Duro SP Tx, Lighthouse
Here is what we hiked to, the Lighthouse. Lou is the small white object on the bottom right of the right picture above.
The view from there is great.
Palo Duro SP Tx, flowers Palo Duro SP Tx, flowers
Of course, there are flowers to be seen, even if they are odd and dry.
We enjoyed a very late lunch in the picnic area and filled our water tank. We had visited Flying J yesterday afternoon and taken care of dumping but hate to use the faucets near the dump to fill up. Don't know why? Anyway, we are set to go now.
We hit the road and stopped for the night just across the border in New Mexico.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Dallas, Almost

We finally hit the road from Justin about 1 pm. We headed to Dallas and attempted to see the 6th Floor museum at the book depository. We couldn't find a place to park so we left town. We're headed toward New Mexico. We stopped for fuel and dinner in Wichita Falls. Since the weather reports indicate possible high winds tomorrow, we're going to put some miles on this evening. It is West Texas after all. Nothing to see.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Justin, Texas

Wednesday: We made it to Justin Texas, our final destination East for this trip. Lou's sister Kathy lives here. We'll be here through the weekend leaving Monday to start the return trip.
Thursday: A tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards was one of todays ventures. Unfortunately, nothing much going on there. It's just the usual junk from China available from various stores. Cute how they tried to hide where the stuff was from in one store by sticking the price sticker over the manufactured by ID.
Fort Worth Stockyards Fort Worth Stockyards
We "enjoyed" the cattle drive, about 10 head of longhorn cattle paraded a block or two on the street, evidently on their way to lunch.
We had a very nice conversation with an old rancher who was the docent at the museum. It was interesting to hear about the changes that have occurred in Fort Worth since the cowboy days of old and in the recent few years.
Fort Worth Botanical Garden Fort Worth Botanical Garden
Fort Worth Botanical Garden Fort Worth Botanical Garden Clock
We then went by the Fort Worth Botanical Garden but were not impressed. Maybe it's just West Texas or maybe we're getting tired of traveling. I think it's the former. Texans seem to exaggerate the points of interest descriptions. We skipped seeing the Japanese gardens because we didn't want to spoil our ideas of what such gardens look like.
We did learn of a US Mint tour here, actually a tour of the Department of Engraving and Printing plant. I didn't know this is the only other place paper money is printed besides Washington DC.
Friday: We visited the Fort Worth Department of Engraving and Printing plant. Learned a lot about our money. The new money they're printing now looks like phony money but they are now changing all currency every 7-10 years to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed so no pictures. It was an interesting and informative tour. We went late in the day and were a bit rushed through the museum. Unfortunately, we didn't get any samples at the end of the tour. They seem to think that their money is more valuable than chocolate or wine. Why is that?
Saturday: We started at about 1130 with "breakfast' at Babe's Chicken Dinner House. (104 North Oak, Ranoke, Tx) Their menu includes Chicken dinner and chicken fried steak dinner. That's it. They bought server a salad and brought mashed potatoes and gravy and creamed corn and some great biscuits and a platter of chicken that was more than twice what we needed after we were all stuffed. It was good. I have to return for the steak sometime. We were stuffed all day. There was no problem getting in when we arrived at opening time. There were a lot of people waiting to get seated when we left, evidently that way till they close. Really good place.
We then went over to the Galleria Dallas, in of all places, Dallas, Tx. Big mall, three stories with a nice ice rink in the center. Neat to look around but just a mall otherwise. It wore us all out.

Abilene, Tx

We saw more of West Texas than we care to. Can't say anything good about Odessa or Midland. We intended to stop for breakfast but couldn't find any restaurants in Odessa or Midland nor anywhere on the freeway for miles. Things did improve a little at Big Springs. We stopped at the Travel America Truck Stop for a nice breakfast. We continued East stopping in Abilene at Wallmart's for the night. We drove the toad around Abilene and had dinner at Furr's buffet. Very good.
We have found that Texas traffic engineers are rather poor with their road sign installations. One sign a few miles before several exit choices and to something many streets away from the freeway seems to be enough , in their "mind".