Monday, April 27, 2009

At Home Interlude

Monday: (04/27) Since we arrived home at 5am with only a partial nights sleep, I slept in. Lou took us all out for a belated birthday breakfast. I chose the Country Inn in Cupertino. Not noted for health food but good food. I had a country fried steak, eggs, hashbrowns and a couple of Swedish pancakes. They do pancakes right here. Lou and Dawn shared a similar breakfast.

For some reason I never got into gear today. I did setup my new Spot satellite personal tracker.

It's quite cool today and is supposed to be cooler tomorrow. Weird weather.

Dinner was collected leftovers that made burritos.

Tuesday: (04/28) Breakfast burritos this morning. Dawn headed down to San Jose for work. I finally got the pictures for the last couple of weeks selected , adjusted and published.

Lunch was a meatloaf sandwich for me and a green salad with gazpacho soup (salsa) as the dressing.

About 3:30 I caught the train headed for San Francisco to the BAADAUG meeting. (Bay Area Application Developer Adobe User Group) It's been a while since I've been to one of these meetings. The Dreamweaver project manager spoke to the group about the new features and about other neat stuff. Good meeting. Of course, there was the usual pizza at the meeting for dinner.

Lou got the date for her knee surgery, May 14th. She worked on her dolls today.

Wednesday: (04/29) I started the process of moving our phone number to Vonage and changing our lindline to a DSL only line. We've actually been using Vonage for 4-5 years for our home phone use. The landline number just forwards to the Vonage line. I've put off cancelling the landline because we've had the number for years, we need the DSL, and changing it would have been difficult to impossible. Two things recently changed that. We can now get a DSL only line without a phone number and we can move the old phone number from ATT to Vonage. Of course, it wasn't perfectly simple but it was possible.

The first order of business was to change the ATT line to separate DSL and voice accounts. Then Vonage can grab the phone number which will cancel the separate voice line leaving only the DSL at ATT. A lot of work. The actual $ savings may amount to from nothing to $30. I will then have two Vonage phone numbers, one of which is our old ATT number and one that is the original Vonage number. I can manage the lines much easier at Vonage and there is unlimited time nationwide and no additional charges for features. If I then deleted the original Vonage number then there would be a $20-$30 savings. But, I'm thinking of placing one adapter (we had an extra that we used to use in the RV) at Dawn's place where she has a lifeline only with DSL, no long distance. That would give her access to make long distance calls rather than use her cell phone. And, we can make calls to either house ring both locations so there won't be any missed calls. When we're on the road, I ring my cell phone if Dawn isn't home. Isn't technology wonderful. Keeping the additional line adds $15. Not having to advise all our business and family contacts of a phone number change is really nice.

Thursday: (04/30) I actually accomplished things today. Seems like most recent days aren't too productive. Among the accomplishments was the installation of the new outside lights on the side of the house. They are motion detector fixtures that accept a standard base bulb and aren't so big a gaudy that they become ugly. I installed LED lamps in the fixtures. The previous fixtures were only photo electric controlled fluorescent lights. They were on all night and were quite bright. So bright, in fact, that they had to be shielded to protect the neighbor from the spot light effect. You can't read by the light of the fixtures but they allow safe movement in and out of the house and through the gate.

In addition, I had a pile of little tasks. One was finding and ordering a new pressure regulator (jigger valve) for the pressure cooker. A little weeding in the yard. Working at the computer, and more.

Lou and Dawn were out on the town thrifting and other things.

We had quesadilla for dinner.

Friday: (05/01) We started the day with a visit to a rummage sale. Lou and Dawn were customers, I was the chauffeur. We came away with only a couple of small bags.

Breakfast was next on the list. I had a couple of ham egg muffins. Lou and Dawn had corn tamales, and fruit. Replenished, we went grocery shopping. That was followed with a visit to the bank and a visit to Costco.

All that shopping took all day. We went to Celia's Mexican restaurant for dinner. We shared two combinations (buy 1 get 1 free) and followed that with sopapillas with honey and ice cream for desert. The restaurant is only 1 block from home, but we drove over. The drive saves Lou's knee for more important things.

It's been raining all last night and today. Just a steady light rain. It's almost a little too late to be considered an April shower since it is now May.

Saturday: (05/02) The rain had stopped and it was a nice day but i spent most of it inside working at th computer. I'm trying to spend at least 4 hour a day working on projects on the computer.

Lou and Dawn went to a vision conference and an Art Show at Foothill College in Los Altos.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asparagus Festival, Stockton, Ca

Sunday: (04/26) After the Bass Pro visit we headed on to Stockton for the Asparagus Festival. It was my first chance to use my new senior status for a discount on admission. Dawn and I tried the french fried asparagus and looked around but there wasn't much there but booze and food and scant crafts and art. There was what some might call music and there were a lot of people there (crowds and long lines). Now we can say we've been to it.

Lots of people at Asparagas festival Anything Asparagas
Too many people at the Asparagus Festival.

Asparagas sprouts in the ground
We did learn something about growing asparagus. Dawn wants to try some.

Orchid Orchid
There were some orchids on display or sale that looked really nice.

Thistles Look Nice
Of course, the natural city landscaping is nice too. This thistle was growing next to our parking spot downtown.

We then looked for book stores in Stockton but ended up in an old residential area with 1/2 lane wide streets and a book store that must have been in a house. Needless to say we had to pass after we managed the tight squeeze out of the neighbor hood in the 54 foot long 8'5 foot wide vehicle. Fun! Fun!

We then dropped by the Sherwood Mall. They had a Barnes and Nobles that had a book Dawn needed. I browsed the mall. The mall wore us out so i put up the dish and relaxed while online update this blog and installing a new application I read about that integrated webmail into Windows so when you click a mail link or "mailto" link, it brings up Gmail rather than Outlook. Very nice.

About 7pm we moved on downtown finding a parking spot for the rig right next to our restaurant Xochimilco Cafe near San Joaquin and Main. That's no easy task for a near 54' vehicle, especially in downtown areas. The restaurant was full but had a table for us. We shared the Xochimilco Special (a chelli relleno, enchilada, toastado, steak ranchero with the usual rice and beans). More than enough for two. We never touched the tortillas but took them with us for later because they are home made and looked good. As we were leaving we were to only customer remaining and the sign light clicked off as we departed. Guess we just made it.

We left town heading South on I5 but didn't get too far. The freeway came to a standstill in Tracy. We managed to move a few hundred feet further and exited the freeway and stopped on the side of the onramp. We settled in watching some TV. It was about 9:30. After a little more than and hour the freeway had started to move a little faster and was actually moving normally after a couple of hours but I decide to further relax instead. A really good reason to travel in an RV!

Monday: (04/27) Just a bit of today. A little before 4am I woke up at our resort on the onramp in Tracy. The drive on home was easy and the RV was parked by 5am and Dawn and I completed our nights rest in our own beds.

Bass Pro Shop, Manteca

Sunday: (04/26) Today is slightly significant.. It's my (Don's) 60th birthday. That means more eligibility for senior discounts. Oh boy!

Bass Pro Shop, manteca, Ca
We moved North a little to the Bass Pro Shop in Manteca, Ca. We passed it as we drove by on Highway 120 toward Turlock Friday. They don't open until 10am so we enjoyed breakfast in the lot and did some blogging while we waited. I warmed up some banana pancakes, and fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast.

The store opened at 10am but the parking lot was filling up before that? What was going on? They were having some sort of competition for flycasting and archery and evidently recently opened and it was the weekend, so it was busy. But it's a big place so no problems.

I decided to solve my getting lost, or Lou's impression that I am, by buying the Spot GPS Satellite Messenger. Now I can go off on my own and let Lou know I'm OK via satellite communications. No cell phone signal needed. I can also let her know I need help or call for 911 response as well. It's only three buttons and three fixed responses but should make all feel better. I'm not usually one to get something that requires a subscription for service but I made an exception for this. Cost $149 for the device and $149/yr for the service. That includes the additional cost of providing for web based tracking of my movements which sounds interesting. I guess this is my birthday present from Lou, she just doesn't know it yet.

Friday, April 24, 2009

CSU Stanislaus, Turlock, Ca

Friday: (04/23) I took the morning off then I did some final preparation to leave. Lou picked Dawn up in Mountain View and stopped by the Hong Kong bakery to pick up breakfast. Lou stayed at home and Dawn and I took off toward Turlock about 1:30. Traffic was messed up on Highway 880 and 580 but eased up after Livermore. I stopped near Ripon to get LPG.

Our Campsite at CSU Stanislaus
We then headed on to California State university, Stanislaus in Turlock, Ca. Dawn had a conference to attend there and I'm the chauffeur. The campus is quite nice. The weather, fortunately, has cooled down and is quite nice as well.

Lou had a doctor's appointment to have her knee looked at this afternoon.

I enjoyed the evening working at the computer and watching TV, Dawn had a good time with here colleagues until late in the evening. We then left the campus a went over to the nearby Walmart RV resort for the night.

Saturday: (04/25) We were up early and I delivered Dawn to the campus for more conference. I then drove across the street to the OSH store parking lot and tinkered on the RV. I needed to fix the dead front TV outlet. The relay died. I also did a little cable management while I was under the dash. I installed eyelets near the drawers that keep sliding open as we go down the road. I can now secure the drawers with small bungee cords.

AJ's cafe and grill.
With a couple of tasks complete, it was time for breakfast. I had spotted a cafe across the street with a bunch of cars out front. That often points to a good local restaurant. The AJ's Cafe and Grill proved to be as good as expected. I had a combo of a couple of eggs, bacon and Swedish pancakes each. Very good. The lunch and dinner menu look good as well but they have short hours on Saturday and Sunday so I'll need to look elsewhere later. Darn.

Lots of nice ponds on campus Great ponds
I took a walk around the CSU Stanislaus campus. Lots of water and grass on the campus.

Pond near student housing. Amphitheater at CSU Stanislaus
Student housing is by a big pond. The amphitheater is quit nice.

Ponds bring fowl. Goose and goslings.
Water brings birds and here are some geese and goslings. They all make walking a little more challenging.

I looked around town some including a visit downtown. Turlock is a nice town not the typical dead valley town. About 3:20pm I was in the mood for lunch/dinner so returned back by the university and had dinner at DeCHINA Buffet on Greer St. The entrance isn't impressive very small in the corner of a strip mall but it is quite large inside and quite nice. The selection wasn't too large. It didn't have a buch of the same food with multiple names like many of these buffets have. Everything they did have was very good. usually if they make a good hot and sour soup then everything else will be good and that was true here. Listen to me, the restaurant reviewer.

When Dawn called to be picked up we were then off toward Ripon. We passed a Tractor Supply Company (TSC) store there across from the Flying J and wanted to visit. We like to look round there. Its a typical farm store like Fisco. Dawn always finds interesting books and magazines there and i like the hardware. I picked up some drip irrigation items i haven't seen elsewhere and an aluminum bar to made new braces for the solar panels. Dawn got a Back Home Magaine much like Mpther Earth Magazine.

Tractor Supply Company campsite
As we checked out we asked if we could spend the night in the lot and they said OK. Just after the store closed the lot became a hot spot of police activity. A pickup was pushed into the parking lot and searched. A second car arrive to assist. Neither officer bothered us and we spent the rest of the night in quite solitude.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Hot Spell At Home

Monday: (04/20) We stopped in downtown Santa Cruz for a while. Dawn looked over the bookstores while Lou an I looked around the shops. Finding a parking place for a 60' vehicle combination is often a challenge but we found a nice spot. It was in front of the ploice station so we, of course respected the parking limit sign there. They had a sign there but I still remember they don't have them everywhere in town.

Lou fixed chili sizes for lunch.

We're back home in Palo Alto again. At least until next weekend. It's nice to be home. It's in the 90's today so it is hot but the house is cooler inside. Guess that added insulation helps. Also the backyard is cool in the shade. The first order of business though was to clean the cooler. It looks like cooler season is here. I also had to look into why some of the sprinklers weren't working. It turns out I inadvertently turned off one of the controllers. It seems to work better when turned on. Now maybe the plants won't look so wilted tomorrow.

Lou fixed salad for dinner.

Tuesday: (04/21) I ran the old car over to the garage for service then Dawn and I went down to San Jose. Dawn had her internship work at the city. I started with a breakfast buritto from the La Victoria Restaurant near Dawn's apartment. I then got to work. I had to clean her cooler, fix a loose rain gutter, and work on her computer. We had lunch at Lee's Sandwich Shop, a Vietnamese restaurant next to City Hall where she works. She had a BBQ Pork and pork pate sandwich, I had some egg rolls and we shared an avocado smoothie. All very good.

I left after lunch, Dawn came home later on the trolley. It was another HOT day so Lou and I remained inside most of the rest of the day. What sissy's. Lou has been working on her dolls. I tinkered at the computer the rest of the day.

Dinner was European bologna, cheese,with a tapenade (peppers and olives) spread.

Wednesday: (04/22) Dawn fixed Irish oatmeal for breakfast. I worked around the yard some while it was cooler and then worked on the RV.

RV antenna upgrade
I installed a UHF antenna enhancer onto the existing antenna. It's supposed to double the UHF reception range. I also cleaned out the upperside of the roof vents by removing the rain covers and vacuuming and wiping. The Fantastic fan had eaten a leaf and was making a racket when it ran. It was pretty hot by the time I finished.

Later Lou took Dawn over to catch the trolley to San Jose for work. She stopped by the Hong Kong bakery before returning home to get our lunch. Their habit forming.

Today was much cooler but I did get a little hot up on the RV roof. I cooled it inside the rest of the day. Lou did more work on the dolls. We went to Lou's favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. We shared the #21 Combination Chow Fun. We also had a couple of egg rolls. It's quick cheap and good.

Thursday: (04/22) I managed to get both cars and the RV washed and vacuumed today. Also did tank duty at home. I managed to break my macerater pump in the process. Should be ready to roll again.

Since we returned home a couple of weeks ago we've left on weekend trips every weekend. Short trips will be the norm for a while but possible not every weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunset Beach SP, Watsonville, Ca

Sunday: (04/19) We left Tulare about noon, caught Highway 198 West through Hanford and Lemoore stopping at Harris Ranch at highway 198 and I5 for a late lunch. I had the chicken fried steak and lou and Dawn shared liver and onions. Everything was excellent as expected. After lunch we continued on highway I98 through Coalinga to King City. We stopped at Safeway there for a couple of things including water. We then continued on taking Highway 183 to highway 1 to Sunset Beach State Park just North of Watsonville. I haven't camped here in about 38 years and it's changed some, for the better. We're only here for the night but will probably return since it's so close to home.

No Wood Gathering Sign
The sign above was at the entrance to the campground but I always ignore such signs. We like to camp together so we often gather in parks.

Our Campsite At Sunset Beach Strawberry Fields Forever
Our campsite at Sunset beach CG. The Watsonville strawberry fields right behind the park.

Gopher Snake At Sunset Beach Lizard At Sunset Beach
While I was settling in with the RV, Dawn was talking to some birds in our camp and almost tripped over a gopher snake. We watched the snake for a while. It was digging out a hole, either it's own or one where it hoped to find dinner and didn't mind our being there so close at all. It finally got the opening big enough and disappeared into the hole. Here is a video of the snake. I may have to change the video format for easier viewing. Video Of Gopher Snake Digging.

Lou and Dawn fixed cold chicken, ramen noodles and a fruit salad for dinner. It's been rather warm today so cool food is in order. While they prepared dinner, I walked all around camp trying to find a place to leave the money for the site. No iron rangers in any of the campgrounds. At the entrance station, a mile or so back, there was one just past the ranger hut that wasn't open. The signs said "pay at campground ahead" but no specifics. I finally found a host in the last , farthest campground. So many people really need to take a signage 101 course. It was a nice walk though and dinner was ready when I returned.

Monday: (04/20) The ranger dropped by while we enjoyed our morning teas. We learned why the snake was crawling into the hole. Evidenly, in a couple of weeks a bunch of little snakes will probably emerge from the hole along  with the big snake. Around that time of each year, the rangers get lots of reports of rattle snakes all over the campground. of course, there are no rattles, just a bunch of little snakes.

I fixed sausage, egg, and cheese muffins for breakfast then Dawn and I took a walk up over the big sand dune (mountain) that separates our campsite from the beach.

Ladybugs A Lady At The Beach
Lots of lady bugs both in the bushes and on the beach. i guess they take vacations as we do.

A Clean Beach Bird In The Surf
It's a nice clean beach, white sand, no rocks and no debris. Many birds enjoy it.

Flower Delicate Purple Flowers
There were lots of interesting and different flowers on the walk up and down the hill and in the sand on the beach.

Yellow Beach Flowers Yellow Flower On The Beach
Yellow flowers on the beach.

California Golden Poppy California Golden Poppies
I also got an opportunity to get some pictures of the California golden poppies. They are lots of them here but no where near as many as we saw on several hills along highway 198 coming here. Unfortunately, there was no place to stop as we passed those fields.

Beach Bouquet Vivid Blue Flowers
A bouquet of flowers on the beach. Vivid blue bush.

Lou relaxed in camp chatting with a bird watcher that drove over from Gilroy for the day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

California Antique Farm Equipment Show, Tulare, Ca

Friday: (04/17) At home for only a week and we're away again here to the California Antique Farm Equipment Show in Tulare, Ca for the weekend. Lots old tractors, hi or miss engines, old truck, old farm equipment, a swap meet, and more. Usually keeps us busy for the two days of the show.

Even though we were only at home for  week, it was still hard to get away. Lou and Dawn packed in the morning and then Dawn went to a meeting in San Jose. I finally got away just before 1pm and headed down to Gilroy. Lou and Dawn met me there but in the short time since i had come down, highway 101 came to a standstill so they came down on the old highway (Monterey Highway). I picked up lunch at Super Taqueria where they met me then we were off arriving in Tulare about 6:20pm.

Our Campsite At Ag Expo
Our campsite at the Ag Expo. We're parked in the RV lot next to the show so the morning commute to the show is about 100'.

We drove to town and ate dinner at the Black Bear Diner. I had fish and chips and Lou and Dawn shared a Cobb salad. Too much as usual, but very good!

Saturday: (04/18) We enjoyed breakfast of Lou's apricot cobbler and Italian sausage, a nice combo. Lou made the cobler from some of last years apricots from the freezer. The show opened at 8am and we went in shortly thereafter.

Old Farm Pickups Old Big Rigs
Lots old old trucks to be seen. Old pickups and old big rigs.

Old Trucks Loading New Junk On Old
Some of the old trucks are cute and some still working.

Frankenstein Garden Tractor A
Some of the tractors are very unique. The one above left is a garden tractor decorated with some sheet metal from an old tractor. The little one on the right is a "Case" tractor or probably a couple of cases, of beer cans, went in to making the tractor.

Waiting For The Parade Seeing Green
I looked around at the tractors setting up in a line for the parade. Green comes in lots of shapes. The parade started at 9:30 and lasted until after 11:00. They all are driven by the parade route on the grounds. It's interesting to see them moving at all let alone running so well. Some of them are over 100 years old.

Big Old Tractor Caterpillar Ancestor
Big old tractors were in abundance.

Old Cotton Picker Hit or Miss Engines
An old cotton picker above left. Lots of hit or miss engines and hot air engines on display along with samples of what they were used to provide power for.

Working At Shingle Mill
An operating shingle mill was demonstrated.

Granny on A Tractor Teaching The next Generation
Granny waiting for the parade to begin. A young farmer learning the ropes.

Never Too Young Big Tractor Small Operator
Never too young or small to drive a tractor.

There was also a flea market, and an auction. Plenty to see but not as much as in previous years when they also had RV's on display, an International Scout 4x4 club show, and a quilt show, etc.

Lou and Dawn examined much of the flea market thoroughly. I marveled at the equipment. We had V8 juice and bananas for lunch.

It seems like we were just here but we evidently missed the two previous years of the show. Here are links to some of our previous visits to this show: 2006, 2005, 2004. Our first visit to the show was in 2003. That was the beginning of our vagabond ways. On the trip home, we stopped at several RV dealers in Fresno and Lou bought me our current RV for my birthday present. That was nice. I started blogging our travels with the first trip but that first visit to this show was before the blog.

Dinner was a spinach salad with apricot feta cheese, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds.

Sunday: (04/19) Breakfast was the same today, apricot cobbler and Italian sausage.

We went back into the show again this morning. There were some parts of the flea market that had been unvisited by Lou and Dawn and we all looked over all the hit or miss engines some more. i watched more of the parade today as well. Just before noon we were through and returned to the RV and departed.

Here are some videos. I may have to change the format for easier viewing?

Video of old tractor Video of old tractor

Video of old engine Video of old tractor

Video of old engine Video of old engine

Video of old tractor Video of old tractor