Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Running The Gauntlet, RV Style!!!

You know how uncomfortable it is to drive your BIG motorhome in the dark???  You know how uncomfortable it is to drive your BIG motorhome in bumper to bumper traffic???   Well add to that rain coming down in buckets so you can't see the road for three hours of driving!!!  I call that running the gauntlet ... requiring several aspirin and a hot tub upon arrival ... except I didn't have either.

Here's the story ... I'm going to Sacramento for a three day Christmas.  My friend Ofie is going to Elk Grove for a three day Christmas.  Since I'm going right through Elk Grove, she should go with me ... I'll drop her off and pick her up on the return trip.   I'm driving the toad, since I already picked up the RV from the repair shop and left it at my friend Cyndae's house so I have a place to sleep at Christmas.

The first inkling of a problem ... Ofie's brother lives on Hwy 99 and I only drive I-5 (wider lanes and more of them).  After a quick GPS search, I let her off on the 99 side, keeping an eye out for where to turn around when I pick her up for the return trip in the motorhome, down I-5.

After another hour of foggy driving, I arrive at my destination ... Dixon ... for a wonderful Christmas!!  Two seconds in the door and Cooper made a beeline for the fireplace.  Seems there were doggie treats under the tree ... worse than a five year old ... he tore into them and downed a couple before I could stop him.
Finally Cyndae broke into the rest of the "doggie" packages!!
This is Mom Michelle on the left, Grandma Cyndae in the middle, Auntie Rebecca on the right and Miss Lizzy admiring her new snuggly soft coat.  
After a great dinner of baked Smithfield ham (the BEST!!) and scalloped potatoes, I got a call from Ofie asking when I was picking her up.  Tomorrow I said.  Uh oh ... second inkling of a problem!!  She was only staying ONE night ... I was staying TWO!!  Lots of discussion later, I packed up the motorhome to head home.  I was really leary of traffic and the thunderstorms that were raging all Christmas day.  Maybe if I just go slow, it won't be a problem.   Hahahahahaha

Traffic was bumper to bumper the second I got on the freeway.  The good news was that my windshield wipers worked really well and I could see to drive ... kinda ... couldn't see the road from all the water spray, but I could see the tops of the cars in front of me!!!  Just out of Sacramento, the traffic eased up but the rain didn't.  Thankfully 99% of the truckers stayed home and weren't on the road.  It was just me and 9,000 cars!!  I found Ofie and we headed out for home at 4:00.  Slow driving turned out to be 45 or so.  The wind gusts were pushing on me pretty hard ... and with so much traffic around, I was afraid I might hit someone.  By Stockton, it was dark dark dark and still pouring rain!!!!  Sure could have used a few spotlights on the front to illuminate the road.  Had I not traveled this freeway many many times, I would have just pulled over and spent the night.

Finally, with a big sign of relief (I think Ofie's hands were cramping from hanging on) we took the last exit to my house.  WE MADE IT!!!!   Ofie said I was very "brave" to drive this big thing.  I don't know about that, but this trip definitely got my heart rate up.  I think I lost a couple pounds from the stress!!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's A Whiteout!!!

There have been some big storms cruising through California this last few days and they have resulted in the opening of Dodge Ridge Ski Area ... one of my favorites.  Being a long time season ticket holder here, I was VERY happy to see it open BEFORE Christmas.  This privately owned resort doesn't usually open until the following year due to the shortage of snow.  I must say, there was no shortage yesterday!!!

My ski buddy Peter Treso and his daughter Loren, called to say they were ready to hit the slopes.  Despite the pouring rain here we took off early yesterday morning, hoping it was cold enough to snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains.   We just started to see snow at Long Barn and by the time we got to Pinecrest, we were wondering where all the snow plows were!!  With no waiting in line, we had our passes and were on the slopes in minutes.  So much nice powder ... my skis stuck to the snow like glue ... I wasn't going anywhere.  With no notice, I hadn't had time to get wax put on the bottoms ... a quick trip to the repair shop, $15 and 15 minutes had me back out on the slopes just sliding along nicely!!!
The good part about it snowing a LOT is that most people stay home and we have the place to ourselves.  We were not disappointed!!!  Within an hour however, whiteout conditions persisted.  We could barely see the lift chair in front of us, let alone anyone laying on the slopes ... and there were lots of those obstacles!!!  Better to hit the road for home ... it's snowing more and more ... and we DO want to be able to get out.  Good thing we left when we did.  Peter's car DOES have 4-wheel drive, but it wasn't helping.  45 minutes of tough digging on our hands and knees, and Peter pushing while I drove, FINALLY resulted in us getting out of the parking lot.  Poor Loren thought we were going to spend the night!!!  Still no snow plows in sight, we headed rather blindly down the road.  Not much visibility here!!
Two years ago, we were driving down this same hill when someone hit the brakes, resulting in a 3 car pileup ... thankfully we were able to stop in time because Peter was driving slowly.  On THIS road this day, he was also driving very slowly and carefully.  Of course the big macho guy in his macho truck wasn't happy with that at all.  No Brains was trying to show off to his girlfriend and the rest of the cars following us.  He passed us on the left when we stopped at a stop sign.  Dummy had no weight in the back of his truck, gunned it too hard, turned it too hard and slid right off the side of the road down the slope into a tree.  We laughed and waved as we went by him headed down the road.  Guess he made a great impression on his girlfriend!!!  Wish I could have gotten a picture!!!

Finally we came up behind a grader plowing the road.  By this time there was at least 6 inches of snow in the road.  Nice guy that he was, he pulled over for traffic since he was barely going 5 mph ... letting us all slug through the deep snow!!
Further down at Sierra Village, the State snow plows were hitting the roads hard, making driving much easier and a little faster.  The snow let up a little so visibility got better.
Almost down the hill at Confidence, there is still lots of snow.  There was NONE here when we came though 5 hours earlier.
At the lower end of Twain Harte, the snow finally turned into rain.  A great day of skiing with best friends and lots of snow adventures.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Are You Still Here?????

Me too .... guess the world isn't going to end today... at least it hasn't yet.  Maybe I shouldn't be speaking so soon.   However,  since we don't have a calendar any more, I chose to make one for myself.  It has 3 Saturdays, 3 Sundays (good TV days) and one Wednesday for the garbage collector.  NO Mondays in my week any more!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

RV Maintenance !!

Being a single woman, things like maintenance and upkeep on vehicles (and homes) can become a problem.  Someone (a guy) needs to write a short "maintenance" list for us women who travel.  If I knew what needed to be done when, I might be able to do some of the work myself.  At least I would know when to have the work done in order to have fun and safe trips with no worries.
That said ... my RV mentor told me to have the oil changed in my diesel pusher at about the 6,000 mile mark, and that I should occasionally start the engine and run the generator under power.  I'm getting ready for a month long trip back to Southern California/Arizona, so have been checking tire pressure, running the generator, just generally making sure things work.

Tire pressure:    FIRST, you need a "truck" tire gauge.  Got it!!  SECOND, you need a way to put air in the tires.  Got it!!! (a compressor)  THIRD ... tire gauges don't always work on all the tires. One tire read 20 pounds instead of the 110 I need.  FOURTH, let the pressure build up in the compressor!!!  Otherwise it takes a very long time to put air in!!!  I'm sure that the tire is not flat however.  After several phone calls, I got a friend to bring THEIR tire gauge to check it out ... 91 pounds.  Maybe a NEW "truck" tire gauge is in order!!  (I AM going to Quartzite soon!!)

Start Generator:  It's been cold here, so it took a little while to get it going, but it worked great.  I turned on both heater/ac units and let them run.  Everything is good.

Camera Check:   Back works great ... left works great ... right is black.

I'm at 6,000 miles, so time to make an appointment at La Mesa RV in Davis, California.  That done (two weeks ago) I drove  up to Davis Tuesday.  On the way I discovered the CD player is locked up.  Add that to the list.  For the third time in three visits, I have a new service manager.  Seems they don't last longer than 3 or 4 months.  That's kinda scary!!!!  "When do you need it back Ms Kissack?"  This Saturday please.  "Well we are closed Saturday and won't be able to get parts for the camera or the CD player for at least two weeks.  The plants back East close down for Christmas."  REALLY???  Why didn't someone tell me that when I made the appointment??

Good news is that after two days, they called to say the camera had just come unplugged.  They fixed that and "taped the heck out of it" in the hopes it wouldn't happen again.   "The CD player is trashed and we will order another one".   Hmmm not very professional.  The bad news is that the oil change is costing me a cool $300.  Does that sound right to you???  I have no idea how often to change the oil now ... hoping it's not too often ... I'll definitely be cutting down on my grocery and heating bills!!!

So maybe one of the long time RVguys will write up a small list of all the things to check and maintenance required in order to keep us woman on the road.  I know we have a reputation for bad driving and maybe you would rather we NOT be out there.  But trust me, it's better to have us out there in safe RV's that have regular maintenance,  than going 25mph down the freeway possibly causing an accident cuz we "think" somethings wrong ... or parked on the side of the road desperately flagging you down.   Thanks in advance ... it is greatly appreciated!!!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another GREAT Climbing Day!!!

Okay, enough with the climbing pictures.  But WAIT!!  It was a milestone for me!!


A midweek escape landed us at Metalmark Climbing Gym in Fresno.  Three of us including Ofelia and her daughter Nina, took off mid morning in the pouring rain for some great climbing.  Being a Wednesday, there was no one there ... just two guys changing some of the routes.  After almost four hours of climbing, we virtually had the place to ourselves.  I'm tying on to my harness, getting to climb ... Ofelia is attaching the other end to her belay device so she can stop my fall should the need arise.  Luckily that hasn't happened to me ....... yet!!!
After warming up on a 5.9 (really?  I always warmed up on a 5.6!!) they insisted I try a 5.10a.  Okie dokie ... here I go!!  Pretty tough at the top, I actually completed this climb.  I was sooo excited!!!
Next up Ofelia did me one better ... 5.10b
Here's Nina tying in getting ready to climb.  Safety is a big thing ... everyone checks everyone elses "connections".
And Nina put us all to shame and climbed a 5.10d.  Course it helps that she is half our age and a great outdoor climber along with her fiance Ryan.  
You can see in the above image and in this one, just how awkward some of the positions are that you have to get in, in order to make the climb.  Half the problem is figuring out which holds go with your route ... and how to get to them!!
From here we moved to another wall for a different climb!  Amazingly enough I completed another 5.10a climb!!  I was hooting and hollering after this one.  
Now I can call myself a 5.10 climber!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

**** 5.10 ****

Almost!!!  Just a tad shy!!!  Just 3 more holds!!!

More climbing with Ofelia.  It's such a good feeling to face a physical challenge and beat it!!!  I've never climbed the hard routes before, being rather intimidated by Ofelia's feats.  It's easy to just say "no, that's too hard, let me down".  I watched her climb the 5.10c wall with some trouble, but she did it.  That motivated me to try harder.  The good news is that the more you climb, the stronger you get (at a pretty fast pace) so the harder you can climb!!!  I did only 5.9 walls this time and finally decided to tackle a 5.10a.  The hand and foot holds are smaller and farther apart, plus they are in more awkward positions.  On the second try I got to the last overhang and I couldn't quite hang on with one hand and reach far enough with the other.  My forearms felt like they would explode!!  Next time for sure!!!!

Taking a break, we decided to play with the balance strap.  This picture looks like I am standing on the carpet, but I'm perched on a one inch wide strap 4 feet above the floor ... hence the ropes I'm hanging on to for dear life!!!  It's a tightrope walk and really good for balance training.  If you fall, it's ok ... that carpet is actually a cushy 12" thick mattress and spring setup so you won't get hurt.
The other part of the gym is for bouldering.  These walls are extreme overhangs about 25 feet tall.  You free climb ... meaning you are not attached by a rope.  As extra precaution, there are additional mattresses that you position beneath the climb you are doing.  These range from V0 to V15 ... easy to oh-my-gosh-there-is-no-way!!!!  I'm on V0!!!!!!
Same premise ... you follow the color coded holds, starting on the floor in very weird awkward positions!  The difference here is that once you get to the top, you have to climb back down ... which means LOOKING down to see where your holds are.  EEEEKKKKK!!  One more move to the top here!!
You can see a bag hanging at the back of my waist in these pictures.  That is a chalk bag.  In order to be able to hold on to the "rocks", you dust your hands liberally with chalk (you've probably seen the Olympic athletes "dust" their hands) which not only dries your hands, but helps them stick to the holds.  As you climb, you reach behind and get more powder.    In this picture, you can see how the bag is hanging ... which means I'm climbing up a wall at a 45 degree angle.  Crazy hard to do .... no, I didn't make it!!
We also wear special rock climbing shoes ... extremely tight with a rubber-like sole that wraps around the foot and up the sides.  Makes for good "sticking" power!!

It was a great time with nice people ... most are really strong skinny minnies ... I'm neither, but at least I get credit for trying!!!  Maybe I'll see you at the climbing gym .................

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just Don't Look Down!!

We'll be back soon, turned out to be two days later.   This climbing stuff gets in your veins and you can't get enough!!  I love the challenge ... just to see if I can do it.  Admittedly I am the oldest at the climbing gym ... Ofie is 5 years younger.  Beyond that, I don't think I have seen any women over 35!!!  Of course they can climb circles around me!!!!
Here is a picture off the website that shows more of the inside.  The structures are called walls ... covered with hand and foot holds.  You can climb to the top using any holds you want, but most people try to follow the route.  Some routes move around corners and out as you ascend.  Those are my favorite!!  There are several ways you can climb ... bouldering uses no ropes ... just you and your hands and feet.  These walls are not as tall, so when you fall, you won't break something.  Top ropes are what we use ... attached at the top around a pulley so if you fall, the rope stops your descent.  Lead ropes are attached to your belt and lay on the floor.  As you lead the way up the climb, you attached the ropes to clips in the wall.  Quite a fall before the rope catches you if you slip.  This type of climbing is what Ofie and I want to learn.
My theory is that if you are afraid of heights, just don't look down.  After one warmup climb at 5.7, I spent the rest of the day on 5.8 climbs.  I completed one hard climb with two overhangs just because this guy remarked that he couldn't do it ... he just kept falling at the second section (He's behind Ofie in the picture below).  That's a challenge in my book.  Yes it was really hard .. I was hanging on for dear life using every bit of strength I had ... but I was going to do it no matter what!!!!  Ofie just laughed at me!!
Wish I had more pictures, but we always have to ask someone to take them for us.  Belayers have to keep both hands on the rope.  We have several people who want to try climbing ... they saw our pictures on facebook ... so next weekend we will be back.  Once we get them started, it's 5.9's for me!!!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Change in Plans!!!

Although my friend Ofelia and I were supposed to hike to the top of Yosemite Falls yesterday to work off that Thanksgiving meal (and what a great meal it was!!), she woke up with a screaming headache and didn't feel like hiking up one of the hardest trails in Yosemite.  Since I had been up since 4:00 am agonizing over the turkey dinner prepared by an Escapees RV group at the Los Banos Fairgrounds, I wasn't too disappointed!!!  Later in the morning, Ofie called and asked if I was up to climbing.  I NEVER turn down a chance to climb, so we made arrangements to go to the new Metal Mark climbing gym in Fresno.  She invited her son-in-law-to-be Ryan to go with us since he had the day off, Ofie's daughter Nina had to work at Mercy Hospital.  Since climbing must be done in pairs, another friend Scott was invited.
Before you are allowed to climb at a facility, you must sign your life away (yes, it is a dangerous sport if you act stupid and don't follow the rules), then they actually give you a test to see if you know what you are doing when it comes to attaching your harness and stopping a climber who has fallen.  Your partner is your belayer ... you free climb up the wall while they keep the slack out of your rope.  If you do fall, they can stop your descent easily and fast, so you only crack your knee and elbow on the wall!! They pretty much have your life in their hands.  For safety they do have a 12" thick cushion on the entire floor ... just in case your belayer isn't paying attention!!
You can see all the colored stickers on the walls by the hand and foot holds.  They indicate which holds are related to the climb rating.  Climbs are rated from 5.5 to 5.13 (and some even higher) by their difficulty.  Higher difficulty means smaller (teeny tiny) hand and foot holds, much farther apart!  The other very important thing to note at this gym is that all the climbs have one or two overhangs, meaning the walls are slanted OUT at the top.  I didn't realize this at first.  It didn't take me long to go find the TWO straight walls when I got tired!!!  I'm at the top of a 5.7 wall here with Ofelia belaying me.  You definitely want to have TRUST in your belayer.   Oh and you can cheat ... you can use any hold you want if you get tired ... but it's more fun to try and stick to the difficulty level.
I got up to 5.8 ... next time I'll start with 5.8 and try a few 5.9's.  It's tough when you feel like you are almost upside down.  When you are hanging at a 45 degree angle, pushing with your feet and clinging with your fingernails, it's hard to let go and reach for another hold without fear of falling off.   Yes, I've seen guys (and girls) climb literally parallel to the ground upside down!!!  Pretty sure I won't have to worry about that though!!  I'm belaying Ofie here ... she's on a 5.10 route.
Ryan up higher, climbing the same route Ofie just climbed.  You could blow both of them over with a feather they are so skinny ... but all muscle!!!  The bags hanging off their backs are for ground chalk.  You put quite a bit on your hands before you start to climb (and during if you need to) ... it helps you hold on to the rocks without slipping.  
They also have crack climbs.  Ofie and I don't like crack!!!!!  But Scott likes trying the hard stuff.  You insert your hand into the crack, turning your wrist and spreading your fingers so your hand is the anchor that holds you up.  Unfortunately, your hands end up a bloody mess ... the walls are concrete!!!
Since it was Black Friday, we asked if they had any membership specials ... and sure enough, they waived the $100 initiation fee and gave us a discounted Teacher/Instructor membership deal that Ofie and I couldn't turn down.  After four hours, we headed off for dinner at Chipotle Restaurant, but Ofie and I will be back soon ..............

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving full of friends and family!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

All Quiet on the Central California Homefront!!

Not much going on here except cold and rain.  I'm supposed to be on a training schedule for running another marathon next year.  Of course shopping and decorating take a front seat, so I'm a little behind. This morning, after turning off my sprinklers which were watering my already soaked front yard, I headed out the door for a four mile run in the rain.  It wasn't bad actually since I run better in really cold weather.  It was running against the wind that slowed me down considerably.  Once done, you feel great ... for about 30 minutes ... then the achey breaky pain hits.  To combat the after affects, I take a product called Recoverite by Hammer.  It's specifically designed to reduce the inflammation of torn muscle fibers and promote healing and rebuilding.  Sounds awful ... and it is.  No one said running was pain free ... it's fun, but it hurts!!!  And trust me, this stuff tastes like crap!!!  LOL   It does, however, work, so I hold my nose and chug it down, followed by breakfast.  In about 4 hours, I should be able to stand up and walk again!!!!
Not being able to get out due to the weather, I decided over Veterans Day to set up my Christmas Tree.  Since I'm in the "back to my roots" mode, I scrounged around until I found western and cowboy type ornaments.  This is no small task, since the tree is 8 foot tall.  I know ... it's not real!!  I would love to have a real tree ... but over the years I've cleaned up enough pine needles.  I put on one row at a time, then run the lights on that row.  Much easier this way.
While putting the tree up, I thought it might be a great idea to use my healing rope as garland.  There are two kinds of ropes used in working cattle ... heading and healing.  Just as it sounds, one is used to catch the head and one to catch the heals, each having a different construction and feel.  The length was just perfect!!!
More lights, some ribbon and ornaments and it started to look pretty good.  A trip to Beverlys Fabrics  resulted in a dozen cute ornaments at a sale price of $3 each, however on a later trip to Walmart I found more of the exact same type for $1.97 each.  I'm beginning to like Walmart more and more!!
Almost done, I just need the last box of ornaments.  Too bad I can't find them!!!  Last year I decided to put them somewhere in the house instead of the garage.  That wasn't a good idea at all, because now I can't find the last box.  Oh well ... I'll keep looking!!  I have a few days left.
All this hard work deserved a cookie ... except I didn't have any.  A quick check of the kitchen and I had all the ingredients to make these Apple Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies again.  These definitely don't help my running, nor my eternal weight loss program, but boy do they taste good!!!
I'm starting to stiffen up all over, so best get up and moving or I'll be perched on the couch for the next two days.  Thanksgiving is coming and it's time to hit the grocery store for supplies.  Maybe even Walmart to see if they have any new ornaments!!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving ... Time For Cooking!!!

Thanksgiving was always a big deal in our family ... we went to someone else's house!!!!  Although we always took food,  dinner was the same old thing, year after year.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing!!  Throw in a little cranberry sauce and I'm happy.  With the internet making delicious recipes readily available however, I try to come up with something a little different each year.  Here's my vote for 2012!!  Butternut Squash Soup!!  I know, squash isn't my favorite either ... and certainly NOT squash soup.  That said, you should try this one, maybe a small batch first.  It's easy peasy to make and delicious!!!
Peel one small butternut squash, clean out the seeds and mucky stuff ... and CAREFULLY cut it into one inch chunks.  Let your husband do the cutting if you wish ... it's rather hard to cut ... worse than a large potatoe!!!

Peel two apples, Braeburns, Fijis, any kind that are sweet and juicy and cut into one inch chunks.

Place all into a large pot on the stove (I use my pressure cooker pot) along with 1/2 bag of small carrots, one tablespoon of curry powder (don't bail on me here ... this is very mild), 1/2 tsp salt,
2 tbl sugar and chicken broth til it's not quite covering the chunks.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes (uncovered) until soft and tender.  Hit it with a potatoe masher or an immersion blender, being careful not to get it all over your stove (it takes about 20 minutes to clean up ... this is experience speaking!!!).

Garnish with grated apple (or carrot .. or both) and top with a few chopped pecans.  That's it .... done!!!  I really don't like butternut squash .. but I LOVE LOVE this soup.

Okay, I confess, I kind of stole this recipe from a local lunch restaurant.  I figured out what it had that I liked, and I came up with this recipe.  I just like that it's so quick to make ... and so tasty!!  If you don't like it, freeze your leftovers and mail it to me!!!!!

Happy Cooking!!!

P.S.  There was one more Yahoo that came in the mail today.  I drink phony coffee ... by that I mean General Foods International Coffee, Orange Cafe.  The cheapest, I mean least expensive place to purchase it is Target.  Trouble is, the last time I was in that store, they had a sign that said "sale, discontinued".  Nooooooooooo!!!  My coffee of 30 some years is discontinued???  Can't be true!!!  A quick tour around all the local markets, and sure enough, no one is carrying it any more.  Then, ZING ... out of the blue I thought to check Walmart On-line.  Yahooooooo!!!!  Not only do they have my coffee, at $3.00 a can (cheapest price ever) ... but FREE SHIPPING!!  I ordered two cases.
And there's MORE!!!  No sales tax ... and a large bag of samples, makeup remover and enough "Simple" face cream to last me six months.  Now THAT's a YAHOOOOO!!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Peanut Butter and YaHoos!!!!!

I admit it ... I have a sweet tooth!  A REALLY BIG sweet tooth ... like the whole left side of my mouth!!!  After making oatmeal apple butterscotch cookies (what's not to like in that!!), I made banana pineapple bread with mini chocolate chips.  When I heard that recipe, I said Yuck!!  But after tasting some, it's the bomb!!  Further internet searches resulted in a recipe for chocolate cookie "flats" dipped in melted chocolate and crushed anything-you-want!  My excuse is that I'm "trying them out" for Christmas gifts.  Hahahahaha ... everyone who knows me knows I'm going to eat MOST of them!!  My list of dipping items included heath bars, mini chocolate chips, M & M's, pecans and Oreo cookies.  I'm walking down the cookie aisle and what should I find???  PEANUT BUTTER OREOS!!!  I'm in heaven ... did you know they made these??  Perfect for the cookies, if in fact there are any left by the time I make them!!  These are soooooooo good (you can see I've already been in the package) !!
The first YaHoo was after 12 phone calls, I finally got my 2012 Season Skiing Pass transferred to 2013.  Last year I had a surgery that kept me from skiing the entire season.  Dodge Ridge Ski Resort is a great place to ski ... Peter and I go almost every weekend.  If you have a verified Doctor's medical excuse for the entire season, they will transfer that ticket to the next year.  It took a little time, since I sent the first email in February .... but they finally called to say it was done.  That's a $300 savings for me!!!!  YaHoo!!!

The second YaHoo is that I have located a contractor (hard to find in this area) who will build a storage garage like this for my motorhome in my back yard.
The first problem involved the setbacks ... the Planning Department told me 15 feet.  The contractor says he does these all the time and the setback is 5 feet.  I worked in the Merced County Building Department for 10 years .... unfortunately, the employees have changed, as have the rules and the attitudes!!!   Then there are CC&R's for the subdivision, saying they have to approve any "building" ... does that mean carport??  I'm so thrilled that the contractor has agreed to handle everything ... even if it means moving the horse barn and dog kennels in order to get the building up.  This is a BIG YAHOO!!!!!  I'll keep you informed of the progress!!!!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cowgirl .. A Beautiful Woman With Dirt On Her!!!

Well I don't know about the beautiful part ... that's not me ... but a woman with dirt on her describes me perfectly!!!  I spent yesterday cutting and hacking at my neighbors trees that hang over on my side of the fence, making a big mess of sticks and trash.  I jump up, grab on to the end of the branch, pull with all my might braced against the fence, then cut and run!!!  The whipping action of the branch retracting unfortunately dumps loads of trash on my head, including big ugly bugs!!!  I discovered I need a bigger pair of shears!!!  Finally done, I came in a big dirty mess.  Even my dogs were eyeing me sideways!!

About that time, I remembered the cowboy hat I purchased in Sedona Arizona.  I mentioned I would show you a picture ... then forgot about it while in Hawaii ... not exactly cowboy country!!

If I had lived in the 20's and 30's, this is what you would find me wearing.  My boots are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own!!!  These are actually rodeo cowgirls ... they roped and rode broncs!!
I love the old clothes ... and have a couple reproduction pair of riding pants, but have been without the hat for some time.  I did find an old rolled brim Stetson that I still have, 40 years later, but have been looking for something like these FOREVER!!!
As Patty and I walked down the streets of Sedona, I noticed several western clothing stores ... we went in and out of each one very quickly.  Until ......... I saw the hats and clothing we had seen the "rustlers" wear on the train.  It stopped me in my tracks!!  I tried on every hat in the store ... with people laughing all around me!!!  No, it's too small!!  Noooooo it's too big!!!  I ignored all of them when I put on this beauty!!  It's just what I had been looking for!!!  Patty's comment was ... well it IS big, but if it's what you want, you should get it!!!!!

Sloped crown, very  w  i  d  e  brim, perfect color and it fits!!!!  This isn't the best image ... my arm isn't long enough to get the whole effect.  You just have to see it in person!!

I'll be in Indio and Quartzite in January.  If you see this big hat roaming around, stop and say howdy!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

They're B a a a a c k !!!!!

Just like the swallows ... except for their looks ... the Kissack Castle namesakes have returned!!  Buzzard Roost is again surrounded by dozens of buzzards, lending their own kind of beauty to my back yard.  Really, they are pretty disgusting!!!!  This morning I woke up to this gorgeous sunrise in my front yard .... made me think of Hawaii!!!
A short trip to the back yard however, dampened my Hawaii spirits.  Stacked across the treetops were my old friends the turkey vultures!!!

Cold early mornings will find them at the top of trees and lined up along my back fence, wings spread as if in flight ... trying to soak up all the warm they can.  There are three in this image ... can you find them???
Thankfully the trees are all located on my neighbors property ... no mess for me!!!!  It is kind of unnerving having them circling my property, just waiting for something to die in my back yard.  Sorry guys, you'll be here a long time before that happens!!!  It does however, make it easy to find my house .... I just tell people to look for the birds circling overhead!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time for a Parade!!!

The World Champion Giants came home with a roar!!!  No matter what the city, the baseball champs are welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade and lots of pomp and circumstance!!  Thousands of people flocked to San Francisco yesterday for the big event.  Having gone through this in 2010, I chose to sit this one out at home.  The traffic from people going to work is crazy enough, but add to it another million people and it's too crazy for me.  Fans were lined up at 2:00 am in front of the Civic Building to claim their perfect vantage spot.  What they didn't know is that everything is blocked off around the building for over one full block.  That then, is the closest you can get ... at the edge of being able to see nothing and hear nothing!!!  So I watched it all on TV and had the BEST vantage point!!!  I even yelled and whooped it up a little!!  These are all I-phone pics so you can see the festivities.
The parade was great ... this year they all rode in cars driven by San Francisco Forty Niner Football Players, a great improvement over last years Trolley Cars where you couldn't see the guys.  They drove up Market Street from the Ferry Building to the Civic Center, I think about 3 miles maybe?  Fans lined the street on both sides chanting "Lets Go Giants" over and over.  At the Civic Center, they were all introduced to screams and yells that you could barely hear on TV because they were so far away.  Boring boring speeches by the Mayor and Upper Management ... you would think THEY won the trophy ... and FINALLY they got to the REAL winners ... Bruce Bochy and the Team!!  I didn't think to take pictures until later in the program ... here's Hunter Pence, the Preacher, a recent addition to the team.  He preached constantly to play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.  Boy did that work well!!!
Blanco, outfielder and Lincecum, pitcher.  You can see by the pictures, they are all individuals!!!
Vogelsong and Posey, pitcher and catcher ... basically responsible for winning everything.  Buster Posey played every playoff and world series game except one.  He's the one calling the pitches, and he's VERY good at his job ... besides that, he hits home runs quite often.  He didn't play at all last year due to a broken foot from being slammed at home plate.
Finally, they all gathered around the trophy for pictures.  Certainly wish I could have been in the front row ... the one that was a block square and was practically empty ... the fans weren't allowed in that area, and unless you had a 400mm lens, you missed these pictures ....
The guy on the left with sunglasses looking like he's holding a flag, is Pablo Sandoval, Panda Bear to his fans.  He's holding the World Series MVP trophy.  In game one ... three times up, three home runs!!!  In 2010 he didn't get to play in the World Series ... he made too many errors, many said due to his weight.  So he lost 50 pounds and came back swinging!!!  Bottom right with red hair ... pitcher Matt Cain.  Threw a perfect game ... first time in 45 years of baseball history.  Next to him in the sunglasses, my favorite Barry Zito.  With a $127 million contract, his pitching went downhill and he didn't play in 2010 either.  At the beginning of this year he completely changed how he throws the ball ... and was responsible for the winning game that got them back on the road to winning the World Series.  So many stories about these guys ... it's what keeps me going back every year.
Pretty bad pictures taken of my TV with my phone ... but better than I would have gotten in San Francisco!!!  Finally, our old friend Tony Bennett came to sing the famous song we hear at the park every single time the Giants win a game ... "I Left My Heart in San Francisco".  Can you believe it???? This man is 86 years old and still sounds like he's forty.  
When Buster Posey stood at the podium three years ago and said "lets do it again!!", no one really thought that would become a reality.  The three west coast announcers, all radio and television personalities including the great Vida Blue, admitted that not one of them thought the Giants would be here ... and yet here they are again ... because they played for the name on the front ... not the name on the back.  An amazing diverse group of men ... it's been my pleasure to know them!!!