Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pinnacles NP, North Wilderness/Balconies Cave Loop Hike

Wednesday: (12/31) Breakfast sandwiches to start. My hiking group members Colin. Loretta, Cris, and Kathy arrived early at 0900 for our 0930 hike. We drove up to the Old Pinnacles Trailhead to start our hike of the North Wilderness Loop. The weather was great, warmer than expected. The trail is much better marked this time. When Lou and I hiked this many years ago it wasn't a trail at all, just an idea. Not too many other hikers on this trail today. The parking lots didn't fill all the way either. The North ilderness was beautiful with the greening thay the rains have brought. Our return was through the Balconies cave, another talus cave, basically a lot of big boulders piles over the trail. We finished about 1500. 10.3 miles today. They all returned home and will be returning for Friday's hike. Lou and Dawn left this morning for a day in Holister.

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SOme different scenery in North Pinnacles. On right, Colin taking a photo of the group.

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Approaching Chaparral area.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quite Relaxed

Tuesday: (12/30) Lou made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. I took a short walk around the campground then out the Bench Trail from the campground to the Peaks View Trailhead. I wanted to check the route for part of Friday's hike. We relaxed at home all day Chili sizes for dinner.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pinnacles NP, Condor Gulch/High Peaks/Bear Gulch Hike

Monday: (12/29) A nice morning, warmer, no frost this morning. A breakfast sandwich to prepare for my hike. Seven hikers arrived for my hike. We were on the Condor Gulch Trail about 1000 and finished about 1500. Nice clear skies and shirt sleave weather. We met Joe, a member of the Condor Crew with his radio tracker checking the position of the condors in the area at the top of the High Peaks Trail. He was a wealth of information about the birds. We had lunch with Joe as we learmed everything about the birds. While there a couple of Condors were spotted flying across the valley. Too far to get a really good view. Just after we left a pair started circling just over our heads nice and close. The birds continued to circle almost like they wanted to make sure Joe got a good view of them. We certainly did. Then at the Juniper Trail Junction we met Susan, another hiker from our group out for a hike with her family. As we headed home we visited the Bear Gulch Reserviour which was full. Then we completed the hike through the Bear Gulch Caves which were wonderful. Great 6.7 mile hike.

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Looking up toward the High Peaks from the Condor Gulch Trail. On the right we are taking a little side trip off the trail.

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Some of the fun spots in the High Peaks area.

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Condor Crew member Joe taking radio sightings while we lunched. On the right we're headed down from the top where we then sighted the circling condor.

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A concor circling overhead.

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Heading down toward Bear Gulch on High Peaks Trail.

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Bear Gulch Reservoir.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Laguna Mountain Recreation Area

Sunday: (12/28) Another nice morning with a few light clouds here and there today. Today we were off to look at a possible future camping spot, Laguna Mountain Recreation Area to see if the motorhome could go there. Two nice campsites most suitable for the RV, nice and level. Pretty good road to the site. Not too many trails yet, mostly short stubs but they are building a loop trail which I'll need to check on. Laguna Mountain RA is about 26 miles Southeast of our campground in the Pinnacles National Park.

We then headed North on our Sunday drive to Gilroy. I found I needed a few things so we visited Harbor Freight and Walmart, and of course a thrift store. I decided to pickup a bundle of work gloves for my Friday hike this week. Just insurance for the barbed  wire pig fence passage portion of the trail. We also needed a short heavy duty extension cord for our electric heater. It normally sits under the dinette table by a dedicated outlet but since Dawn uses the dinette as her bed we can't leave the heater on due to her blankets blocking the air flow. We had a late lunch at the Black Bear Diner. We didn't get back to camp until after 1900. Lou served leftover chicken with rice and carrots for dinner.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pinnacles NP, Balconies Cave/Juniper Canyon/High Peaks Loop Hike

Saturday: (12/27) Enjoying Pinnacles National Park.  It was a cold morning with fogged up windows. We sleep without the heater on all night so it does get cold and takes a little while to warm in the mornings and wipe and get clear windows. When we could see out, we watched flocks of quail grazing around the campground. Lou made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browned potatoes, ham and avocados. Eventually we made our way over the to store and checked in to the campground and got our entry pass for the car. We came in after hours last night and our site was marked with our name. Then I decided to take a hike since I have tomorrow to recover. Lou dropped me off at the Old Pinnacles trailhead at 1230. I hiked through the Balconies Caves to Chapperal trailhead on the West side then up Juniper Canyon Trail to High Peaks Trail, through the fun part of High Peaks Trail and back down to the Bench Trail. The fun part on HighPeaks Trail is through slots along ledges and via carved steps. In the caves many hikers were unprepared and without lights. It is a cave. I had heard there was a new Visitor Center built on the West Side but it was nowhere to be seen near the trailhead and parking lot there. Must be further back the road? I was able to checkout the trail junctions for my Wednesday hike along the way. Lou didn't want me out after dark so I had arranged to have her pick me up at 1700 and I arrived at the pickup location at 1640, enough time to put on my jacket and gloves and pull out a snack before she arrived at 1650. No condor sightings today. Enchiladas for dinner. We watched some British comedies in the evening.

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Nearin East end of the Balconies Cave. The shady ravine West of the caves.

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Chaparral picnic area. The view West from the top of Juniper Canyon Trail.

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A tall pinnacle. The High Peak Trail.

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A view of the bench Trail near High Peaks Junction.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Off To Pinnacles NP

Friday: (12/26) Nice clear skies today. I put a few more plants in the green house and covered the two raised succlent beds. It's starting to get colder. I also drained the holding tanks. Leftovers for breakfast. I prepared a version of my breakfast sandwich with a few deviled eggs halves, two strips of bacon, and cheese in a sourdough bun. Lou and Dawn were doing their packing and Lou did some vegetable shopping. We were on the road at the planned latest departure of 2pm. Traffice got terrible when we merged onto Highway 101 from Highway 85 in South San Jose. Stop and go all the way to Gilroy. last time for a similar backup we headed over to Monterey highway and got and got caught for over an hour in a detour around a street faire. This time we toufed it out. We got off in San Martin and visited the Camping World store where I got a new switch for the water pump. When we got back on the highway, traffic was finally moving. It was now starting to get dark since it was 1645. A very slow drive down to here. We continued on to Highay 25 through Hollister and to Pinnacles National Park and were parked in our space a little after 1800. An hour later than I'd hoped. Leftover stew for lunch. Chicken, dressing, potatoes, and fruit salad for dinner.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Now For Some Sun

Saturday: (12/20) Lou made breakfast sandwiches then we were off to do the weekly shopping. We did some extra to stock up for our trip next week to the Pinnacles. When we returned I dumped the rest of the dirt from the rear of the Jeep. Most of the rest of the day I relaxed and or worked in the office. i also simultaneously watched a bunch of Durango Kid movies.  Subway sandwiches for a very late lunch. Lunch was late enough so that some apples and peanut butter served for dinner.

Sunday: (12/21) There was a hint of sun this morning but it was mostly overcast and occasionally sprinklly all day. Our tenant in San Jose called to say that an alarm was going off in Dawn's apartment. I drove down and heard nothing but replaced all the smoke alarm batteries in the house. When i tested them later, one of the three AA batteries in Dawn's apartment was dead. This is when they usually get replaced but this year one battery didn't make it to the finish line. Lou made breakfast sandwiches this morning. I stopped for Dim Sum on the way home. Dinner was shrimp pasta with a carrot salad.

Monday: (12/22) Lou and Dawn were off early for an appointment then to meet Dawn's friend Andrea. I attended a couple of webinars in the morning, one recorded, one live. Breakfast was the typically usual breakfast sandwich, this time with ham. I then tinkered at the computer blogging, updating websites and ? For lunch i took a walk to get a couple of donuts. Nice day though not much sun. I later continued lunch with an olive loaf sandwich.  Lou made some excellent ham, macaroni and cheese casserole for dinner with red cabbage.

Tuesday: (12/23) Nice clear skies and no rain! Lou made breakfast sandwiches then Dawn and I were off to the Dentist. Leftovers for lunch then Lou Dawn and Andrea were out on the town again.

Wednesday: (12/24) Some rain showers today. A ham, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Lou was off early for shopping. Opened Christmas presents in the evening after dinner. I worked on the RV. replaced the broken City water inlet, drained the water tank, filled the filtered drinking water bottles, collected my tools, and started tidying up and putting things away. Beef stew for dinner. Courtney and Cecelia joined us for dinner.

Thursday: (12/25) Oatmeal for breakfast. Deviled eggs and stuffed olives for nibbles. An early 1400 Christmas dinner. Courtney, Cecelia, Meile, Ping, Anan, Ernie and ourselves. Ham, potatoes a gratain, glazed heirloom carrots, and fruit salad. Apple strudel and/or fruit cake with peppermint stick ice cream for desert. In the afternoon, I did my packing for the trip.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Rainy Walk At Saratoga Gap

Friday: (12/19) Lou made pancakes and sausage for breakfast. I quickly unloaded part of my load of dirt so Lou would have use of the jeep while I used the Hyundai for my hike carpool. I drove over to Jessica's house and picked her up, Our other carpooler cancelled. We headed up to Saratoga Gap Vista Point to meet the other hikers for the hike. Last night I checked the weather forecast for today and it didn't look any better so I sent out a message to all the people signed up for the hike. While there were 37 people signed up a few days ago, the list had dropped to 22. My message advised that our hike would be wet and muddy. not surprisingly, the list dropped to 15 people. Actually, that is surprising since we had a 50% chance of rain. Anyway, 13 people actually showed up for the hike and yes it rained most of the way. This hike was planned to cover about 8.5 miles through Castle Rock State Park then provide an option to end there or continue for another 4.5 miles through Long Ridge and Saratoga Gap Open Space preserves for a 12.1 mile total hike. With the steady rain we all opted to do the short version. It actually was a nice hike since everyone was prepared for the rain. My jacket was soaked. Nice hike. These past two hikes were both in the rain and both had good attendance. My group has some really intrepid hikers. A ham sandwich for a late lunch. Macaroni and cheese for dinner.

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Some mushrooms and the headwaters of San Lorenzo River.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Wonderful Rain

Sunday: (12/14) A wonderful breakfast at Brian's Restaurant in Los Altos. A visit to Fry's Electronics. And more rain.

Monday: (12/15) Breakfast sandwiches to start our day. I drove Lou to an appointment and dropped Dawn off at the train on the way. Rain much of the day. I had a webinar to attend after Lou's appointment. We didn't make it home so I stopped off at a Marshal's store in Mountain View to let Lou have something to do while I was Webinar-ing for an hour and a half. It's the first time I've used my Nexus 7 for a webinar. It worked fine. Olive loaf and horseradish cheese sandwiches for lunch. Some computer updates and maintenance occupied my evening. Baked potatoes with BBQ ribs and coleslaw for dinner.

Tuesday: (12/16) Lou and Dawn were off to an appointment in San Jose. After I made a breakfast sandwich I was off to San Jose as well. I dropped off a few things at the house and took some measurements then headed over to Campbell to Lane Sprinkler Supply where I picked up a pump basin with extensions. I also stopped by Home Depot to look at a few things as well. I then stopped at La Victoria to pick up lunch. I was next in line when Lou called and said we should meet at Super Taqueria for lunch. So, I left La Victoria and met Lou and Dawn at Super Taqueria. I finally got to work about 1230. I dug the hole for the basin, a deep hole about 36 inches round and 4.5 feet deep. I then placed the basin and extension in place and hooked up one drain line and a stub for the other. I still need to trench about 10 feet across the flower bed to hook up the other line, possibly tomorrow. I backed filled part of the basin until I ran out of rock. It was starting to sprinkle so I put away my things as it turned into ta heavy rain. Luckily, I had a pretty good day, no rain until 1530 after a good rain over night. That's what I'm hoping tomorrow will be like as well. Monday-Wednesday /were/are all 50% chance of rain days. I cleaned up and drove back to Palo Alto. I hadn't planned on actually getting any work done today just getting the basin. When I got home I fixed pork chops which I diced and put in a rice, beans and salsa mixture which Lou topped with Mexican sour cream and avocado slices. Yummy!

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Above left, the city finally did grind the supposed trip hazard on our sidewalk. On right is the sump.

Wednesday: (12/17) A bit more rain today. Lou made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. i then headed down to San Jose stopping at U-Save Rockery for some baserock. It was raining as I finished loading the rock. I quickly unloaded the buckets of baserock and went inside. It was now raining a steady hard. I watched some TV and after a while visited my nearby Subway shop for a sandwich for lunch. I finally got back to work about 1330. I backfilled around the pump basin and one of the connector trenches using all the baserock I had brought. And I had thought I'd have way too much but still need more. I then loaded some of the dirt (mud) from the dirt pile and transported it back to Palo Alto where I added it to my dirt pile. Lou had made a nice pot roast which i enjoyed for dinner before heading back to San Jose. I was raining hard again. Hopefully it stops tonight and dries out enough to work tomorrow. I shopped my way back to San Jose in terrible traffic. Nice to get out of it and into dry stores a few times.It was always just as bad when I returned to the road.

Thursday: (12/18) Breakfast at La Victoria Restaurant. While it's not raining it's still rather wet. I got out into the mud at about 0900. I backfilled about four feet with dirt from a new section I started to dig out. I ended up installing about five feet of drain line with clean out and to drain inlets on for the gutter and one for the low flower bed. I also prepared a load for the Jeep. Dirt management is my job now. Lou and Dan borrowed the Jeep all afternoon so they could transport Dawn's friend Andre and here seeing eye dog. The dog has more room to relax in the Jeep. Lunch at Subway. I loaded up the Jeep after cleaning up and getting it back. They still have their $2 meat ball sandwiches. Leftover beans and rice with pork chops for dinner. Not a really productive week but some progress was made. No more work until January 5th now. Time for Christmas break and a little trip. Lou and Dawn attended a History Club event this evening.

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A couple of dams to help keep the amount of unfilled trench to a minimum.

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All secured for the holiday break.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stevens Creek Trail

Saturday: (12/13) No rain today, just mostly overcast. Waffles and bacon for breakfast. We decided to take a walk today. I have wanted to scout the Stevens Creek Trail in mountain View. I'd like to have a few rainy day hikes ready and this trail is a city trail and paved all the way. It turns out it's probably not a good really rainy day candidate because several road crossings are passing under roads with the creek where high water can, and did rise above the trail, two feet above in this recent storm per the debris. It is a nice walk from Sunnyvale through Mountain View out to the bay. about 4.5 miles one way. Lou and Dawn made it 2.5 miles up trail today, pretty good. I did the whole 9 miles and picked them up.  Dinner was Lou's BBQ ribs, twice baked potatoes and coleslaw.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Monte Bello Ridge Hike In The Rain

Friday: (12/12) I made breakfast sandwiches to start the day. Sorry jack In The Box. After the extreme rain yesterday, today wasn't bad. In fact, when I fist looked outside the sidewalk was dry. Later when I was waiting for my carpoolers to arrive, it was sprinkling a little. Fortunately Jessica, one my fellow hikers did the driving today. We drove up to Monte Bello Ridge OSP and met our fellow hikers, all 14 that were signed up. We enjoyed a nice hike out the Canyon Trail. Since it's an old roadbed, the mud wasn't as much of a problem as it would have been on a slippery trail. A nice route for today. The usually dry and minimal creeks were flowing well. In fact, Stevens Creek was too wide to cross at the terminus of our route. Nice hike! I had leftover dim sum and a hot dog for lunch.

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A rainy hike with nice views.

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Lots of water today. Normally it's just a short step across the Stevens Creek.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

And The Rains Came, Really!

The predicted 10 year severe storm came. Fortunately the winds left early while the rain continued. Our pump is cycling every few minutes to get rid of the water from the yard and downspouts. Even so, we have some good puddles in the back yard where it doesn't drain into drain inlets. We could go out and sail some toy boats if we wanted. I enjoyed the day working at the computer. I did learn of a couple of missing items on some hike announcements I made for our visit to Pinnacles National Park in a couple of weeks. I forgot to mention the directions to the trailhead and it would have been easy to to end up 95 miles away by road or 7 miles away by trail because the two sides of the park do not connect by a short road. I also forgot to mention the $10 entrance fee. These things can be important to some. I'm amazed. I scheduled three hikes and have 20 people for one and 10 each for the other two. I assume if you'll drive 90 miles to do a 5 hour hike a $10 fee wouldn't bother you. So, I updated the hike info on the meetup website. We're cheating and camping at the park for the week. I really didn't expect too many hikers from our group due to the distance and because it's over New Years Eve week with one hike on New Years Eve day. In addition, two of the hikes are in the Wilderness, not the well developed trails. The rain continued and the rear yard was a few inches deep in places. It was nice to be inside all day.. I was tinkering with my server, wherever it is trying to make some adjustments that evidently are not possible. Hopefully I'll get it setup correctly eventually. The more rain the better. Popcorn for breakfast. Spaghetti for lunch. Dawn's vegetable soup for dinner.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Concrete Action

Monday: (12/08) We had rain forecast for the morning but fortunately didn't have any. I drove down to San Jose and got to work. I had a nice long break for the holiday and due to rain of a week and a half. After getting breakfast at La Victoria, and enjoying it, I unloaded the Jeep.

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I brought a few block bricks down for temporary steps and some bags of concrete that was leftover from my previous concrete work here. They have been nice and dry stored in the shop in Palo Alto. I don't have much storage here.  Then I was off to get 20 more bags of concrete. I then poured some concrete to patch the drain crossing the front walkway. After lunch, I then broke out some damaged walkway and poured that too. That pour was finished late about 1500 so the finishing went well into the night. Without the sun, it really takes some time to cure.

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About 1500 there appeared a lot of traffic on our nice residential street in front of the house (above left). I learned later that it was because the police closed 10th Street, a couple of blocks from the house because a gunman was reported in the business building at San Jose State University. It's finals week which was likely the cause of the report since they didn't find anyone. While that was going on my but was in the air as I was finishing the concrete with a potential gunman in a tower building two blocks away. Helicopters and TV trucks were busing the area. The helicopters moved to another emergency a short time later when a jumper caused the closure of Freeway 680. That closure caused another bunch of extra traffic through the neighborhood as well. Busy day for the police. My dinner was from Subway. There $2 meatball sandwich can't be beat. It's 2345 and I'm still waiting to do the final finish then to do the brush finish of the concrete.

Tuesday: (12/09) Breakfast from La Victoria Restaurant. It was overcast all day. I spent the morning prepping the driveway to patch. Final filling and final height of the embedded drain inlets and cleanout. I also formed for a flower bed by the atrium. With all that done I started pouring after 1000, early by yesterday;s standards. i only had 12 bags of concrete and knew I'd need more but i decided to pour what i had before heading off to replenish. I had poured a little more than half so I bought 12 more bags. Better to have more than less. I finished placing the concrete about 1300 2 hours earlier than yesterday. I cleaned up the work area and did some finishing and it was 1600. I stopped by Subway for lunch/dinner. I did the final finishing about 2300.

Wednesday: (12/10) Breakfast at La Victoria. What can I say, it's a habit and their burrito lasts.

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Today was cleanup day. I loaded the Jeep with Concrete debris and dirt and drove it home to Palo Alto to dump. I picked up lunch on the way at Dim Sum King. I also stopped by Harbor Freight to get my sump pump and they were out. Darn, probably folks preparing for our bad storm tomorrow. Above are the two walkway patches.

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Two ways to look at the driveway trench patch.

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Above let the front walkway with it's two patches. A flower bed by the atrium.

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Above left the fireplace cleanout is a bit below what should have been the top of the concrete so the concrete had to take a dip to allow the door to open. I hope it does actually open when i try to use it after the concrete is really dry enough. Now the driveway pavement looks really bad. Some day it needs to be replaced but not now.

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When I returned to San Jose I loaded the Jeep with more dirt. It holds 17-18 five gallon buckets which I estimate to be about 1400-1500 pounds. Above left most of my dirt pile is gone, just some good top soil left. I was busy cleaning up concrete spatter and such. I also cleaned the rain gutters and installed a few temporary down spouts. We're supposed to get heavy winds and 3-4 inches of rain tomorrow, a serious storm for this area. Note the dangling black drain lines acting as temporary downspouts.

I met Lou and Dawn at Applebee's for dinner. When I got home I  emptied the dirt out of the Jeep. I don't want it to have to remain there through the weekend due to a really wet yard.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Long Awaited New Library

Saturday: (12/06) A nice sunny day. After a nice Lou's breakfast we made our way to the grand opening of the new Mitchel Park Library and Community Center.

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With what seems to be the recently normal Palo Alto project management this opening was delayed more than two years due to problems with the construction. It is nice to have it open now but it probably wasn't worth waiting for. It's a new modern library, the kind that where books are obsolete. Seems like fewer books in more space. The construction is such that normal wear and tear will make it look really shabby in a year or so.

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While there we also got a tour of the police departments command vehicle. A real waste of money. It does nothing that a proper fixed facility can't do. These vehicles are everywhere since 2001. As we were told it was only about half local money, the rest was a federal grant. Typical lack of understanding where public money comes from. Enough rant. Otherwise I relaxed while Lou and Dawn were off to a Christmas cookie party. We had lunch at LUU Noodle house and I had leftover pizza for dinner.

Sunday: (12/07) Overcast but no rain today. We did have some showers last night. I spent most of the day working in the greenhouse and moving plants into it for the winter. Lou made French toast and bacon for breakfast. Grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches for lunch. Dawn's soup for dinner.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Alice's Restaurant For Lunch

Friday: (12/05) My usual Jack In The Box hikers breakfast. I met the San Jose Mid Week Hikers group at Wunderlich Park in Woodside for a hike up the mountain to Alice's Restaurant for lunch. A nice shared tri-tip sandwich for lunch. Since I was near Redwood City coming home, I stopped at Redwood Supply for a look around. I found some interesting shoe spikes  that are more compact than the spikes I have. Since I probably will never need to use them, smaller should be better. Lou made spaghetti for diner. After dinner we were on the road in terrible traffic to get to San Jose to attend the Kaucher Mitchell Mathis-Swanson Storytellers event at San Jose State. Always fun.

Monday, December 1, 2014

First Good Rains Arrive

 Monday: (12/01) Lou and I had an appointment this morning. Today was another clean up day. I spent some time in my office, Lou in the closet. Lou made waffles for breakfast. We had leftovers for lunch. I had latkas and bacon. For dinner I made a new dish I saw on The Chew TV show last week. Creamed Spinach Potato Gratin with pepper sausages. It was very good.

Tuesday: (12/02) Another very rainy day. I spent the day in the office cleaning up the files. Leftover Creamed Spinach Potato Gratin with pepper sausages for breakfast. It was 50% off today at Uncle John's pizza today so I had pizza for dinner. Lou and Dawn had to fend for themselves by getting a glutton free pizza from Chicago pizza. There's cost 2.5 times as much for one third the size of pizza.

Wednesday: (12/03) Another very rainy day. I spent the afternoon cleaning up the greenhouse. I was busy pruning the plants that have remained there all summer as well. Pizza for breakfast. Salmon rice for dinner

Thursday: (12/04) Another very rainy day. Office cleanup today. Pizza for breakfast. Lou made creamed Spinach Potato Gratin again with chorizo for dinner. This is round two at the recipe. The next attempt by Dawn may be with hamburger?