Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Moon Goes Down, The Sun Comes Up

Funny how that works, but it makes it more interesting, especially for someone who likes to take pictures.

Our meeting started at 8:30 yesterday morning.  The first half was all about how to interest more people in the Chapters.  Our group doesn't have much of a problem because we go many interesting places and ride great trains, steam trains in particular.  Many clubs however, just sit around with their knife and fork at the ready.  In my perspective, that's rather boring.  I want to go and see and do!!!

Subway made a killing as three huge boxes of sandwiches arrived for lunch.

Next up was the planning portion for the WMHA Rally in Indio the first of January.  This is where the ice cream social part comes in.  Really, my job is pretty easy.  Order ice cream, ask for volunteers, give ice cream away for free.  I just have to be sure I get golf carts for the final day cleanup.  In the middle of all that, OUR club has a rally with BBQ salmon and pork tenderloin.  Not bad for a day's work!!

Once the meeting was over, there was of course a happy hour and a great catered dinner, not to mention meeting up with a lot of really nice people.  I hear stories of a few mean people running around the country in motorhomes, but I haven't met one yet.  MOST would give you the shirt off their back if you needed help.
The moon came up and went down ... another beauty through the smog and clouds still hanging out over the central valley.  Amazingly, the moon moves very fast across the sky.  I set up the tripod with the moon in one corner, and before I knew it, it moved halfway across the shutter.

 The same smog and clouds were still there this morning, helping the sunrise be a spectacular one.
Today I'll pack up and head back home.  It's a short drive, so there's no hurry.  To hurry would mean I have to finish unpacking this beast ... and the car, come to think of it ... so I'm taking my time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Big City Of Hanford!!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do that "meeting thing".  As the Ice Cream Captain for the Western Motor Home Association Rally in Indio, I'm expected to attend the planning meeting held in Hanford California.  The only redeeming factor is the local ice cream store ... Superior Dairy Products.  Although I haven't had the pleasure, one scoop is equal to a pint of ice cream and will cost you $5.00, not to mention the banana split that feeds six and then some for only $7.00!!  Since this meeting destination is so close to my home, I don't bother with the tow vehicle.  Maybe I can thumb a ride!!

Previously, I have had only a 110 plug, if that.  The big dudes get the full hookups.  Even so, I decided to arrive early to beat the heat ... figuring I'd just sit inside with the generator running.

Guess what!!!  The early bird gets the worm ... and I got a 50 amp hookup on the end.  YAY for me!! Many rigs came in, but continued on down to check in.   I asked the first gentleman I saw upon entering if there was anyone parking us, and since he said no, I just backed in to the perfect spot.
About an hour later when I saw my friends Kurt and Betty Simon come in, I ran into the roadway and flagged them down to park in the very last 50 amp spot next to me.  Needless to say, they were most appreciative.  They are considerably longer than I am, so I loaned them my cones to be sure no one ran into their hitch.  You know how these old drivers are!!
In getting ready for the super moon last night, I took a couple of sunset pictures.  Between the clouds, smoke and smog, it was definitely gorgeous.
At the appointed time, I was front and center with all the necessary equipment, only to have the clouds totally block the moon.  Nothing ... blackness!!  I went inside, but couldn't stand the thought of not getting any pictures, so I went outside maybe five times, to be disappointed every time.
Finally about 9:00 it peeked out from behind the clouds, but there was still so much smog that the pictures came out fuzzy.  Too bad it wasn't clear like the previous night when I got a great image!!
C'est la vie ... I guess I'll just have to hang around another 18 years to get a good picture of a super moon eclipse!!
At 5:00 there was a happy hour with a potluck dinner at 6:00, for which I brought a broccoli salad, as did three other people.  Easy to prepare the day before, then just throw it all together with some dressing.  Everyone definitely got their broccoli on!!  Betty made an amazing blueberry salsa salad with gorgonzola cheese!!  Stuffed to the brim, I played with the puppies until bedtime, counting the number of trains that went by.

We seem to be between two sets of tracks, with trains running all night long across five intersections.  If moving products by train is any indication, we are in a big boom!!  There was only one weird one that had a funny whistle, like a tinker toy train.  No idea what THAT was!!

Today is a long meeting, followed by lunch and another meeting and more food, all catered.  I hope they don't have broccoli salad!!

It's a cool 70 degrees this morning so all my windows are open, hoping to capture some of it before the sun comes up. 

So for now ........ let the meetings begin!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

I've Been Invaded!!!

It started out like any other day, at about 5:30 in the morning.  I had a long list of things to do, but Cooper had other ideas.  He's become such a snuggle bunny and of course once he's asleep, I'm paralyzed and can't move.  
I finally ordered this cheap little Weber barbecue for the rig.  It turned out to be not exactly what I wanted, but it's small enough to fit in the rig with ease.  Unfortunately, I had to assemble it, which you know isn't my forte.  Without written instructions (only pictures), it was a little confusing.
When I got to the point where I should install the lighter, this tag was attached, giving me more than second thoughts.  There may be an explosion in my future according to the label.  I'm hoping to find someone willing to light it the first time while I stand VERY far away!!
It's all together, now I just need that volunteer!!
After a quick run to the grocery store for supplies ... I have to bring a salad to tonight's potluck ...  I put all the bags on the counter to unload them.  I nearly freaked out when I felt something crawling on my arm!!  What the?????  It's an ant!!  Must have crawled on the bag when I set it down to open the door.  

Then there was another ... and another ... then the light bulb went on!   I realized the entire counter was covered with ants.  YIKES!!!  There's nothing worse than a kitchen full of ants.  Seems they found my sugar container, the one I had just filled to the brim.  

I didn't have much in the way of spray, but found some wasp killer that seemed to do the trick.  I cleaned and cleaned, killed and killed!!  When I thought I was done, I wasn't.  Upon opening a drawer with the brown sugar, there was another whole invasion!!  Three drawers and one electrical outlet later, I THINK I got them all.  I sprayed everywhere, all of which will have to be cleaned up at a later date.  
Still under smoky cloudy skies, I got a couple of sunset pictures, but the moon remained elusive.  I caught one very small glimpse of an orange globe, but it was immediately obliterated by clouds and smoke (another good reason to leave California) before I could even get my camera on the tripod.

I waited and waited ... everyone else was posting pictures of the eclipse so I turned off my phone.  By 8:30 it peeked out from behind a cloud, but the color was gone.  Here I was finally ready ... biggest lens, tripod, remote shutter ... the whole shebang ... and the moon didn't cooperate.   Now I have to live to be at least 82 to see the next one!!  

I'm loading up again for a quick trip South.  Once I get there, I'll process the pictures I did get and post them.  

My internet was acting up this morning, which doesn't surprise me.   I haven't signed up for the NEW internet which takes away my unlimited account.  Since I'm getting emails daily that it will crash November 6, I imagine I will have more and more troubles.  When I get back, I'll check out what's available, although that's not much in my area ... and unfortunately they know it!!  I think my days of an unlimited use account for $40 a month are over.  The new service by Sprint will be close to $100 a month.  The interesting thing to note is that my MiFi is Sprint and doesn't work at my house.   ????

Happy Trails ... I'm off!!!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Everyone Look UP!!

Yikes!!  I got bad info ... don't wait until 10:00 PST ... it should be visible around 7:30 or so!!!

It's all over the news ... a lunar eclipse happening tonight (Sunday) which won't happen again for almost 20 years.  A blood-red supermoon will occur tonight in combination with a lunar eclipse.  Not that it actually turns red, but the earth's shadow crossing over the moon makes it look that way.  This won't happen again until 2033, so step outside about 10:00 Pacific Coast time and take a look UP.

I took this picture of the full moon last night.  It's pretty hard to photograph the moon because it is so bright in the sky, it fools your camera's automatic settings into overexposing every shot.  For those interested that can set your camera to Manual ... try ISO 200, f-8 or f-10 at 1/125th shutter speed.  From there you can fine tune it to get some great pictures with your telephoto lens.
I started the day early yesterday ... didn't sleep a wink.  It's just too dang HOT here and I'm too cheap to turn the AC on.  I washed one side of the rig late Friday night, getting another 1/3 done by 8:00 am.  After that, the temperatures rose too high to be comfortable.  I retreated to the house and set the thermostat at 82.  It ran on and off all day. $$$$

I vacuumed the house for 2-1/2 hours, dumping the bin three times.  I can't figure out how it gets so dirty in here when no one is home!!  My internal temperatures quickly raised to higher than is comfortable, so I set up every fan I have around the living area and turned on the ceiling fan.  $$$$$

Every time I thought of something to do, it involved a long walk back out to the rig to get whatever it was I had not unloaded yet.  Five trips later, I grabbed my big plastic container and brought in a couple of large loads, including all the canned goods.  One trip for makeup, one for my camera, another one for the card reader for my camera, another one for the tripod I'll use tonight, etc. etc.

Most of the afternoon I sat on the couch trying to stay comfortable.  I'm the one you see in Oregon outside at 6 am in shorts and a t-shirt.  My internal temperature is already high ... making me a good candidate for melting in this weather!!

After dinner, I finished washing the rig ... she's real purdy now ... and put everything away.  I filled her up with DEF fluid and sprayed all the rubber seals with conditioner.  I still have some minor maintenance to do, but for the most part, I'm ready to roll tomorrow morning for the big town of Hanford ... in the 95 degree heat ... where I won't have electricity.  Which reminds me, I need to fuel up so I can run the generator the entire time I'm there!!!

I spent another restless sleepless night on a too hard bed.  It's difficult getting used to sleeping here again.  Different bed, trains, neighbors music and loud talking, dogs barking, house creaking and it's HOT!!!  I give up ... tonight I'm turning the AC to COLD so I can get some rest.  $$$$$$$

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Being Home ... Good and Bad!

There's good and bad when it comes to being home.  Here's MY list!!

My computer hooks up to the internet instantly ... Good
It's too easy to order too much stuff on the internet ... Bad

I don't have to wash my house ... Good
I have to wash the motorhome because it is so filthy from all the dirt and grime ... Bad

I have a dishwasher that works ... Good
I have to cook more because there aren't any restaurants near me ... Bad
I have a back yard big enough for food burials ... Good

It's easier to diet when not on the road and eating out ... Good
I get bored faster and cook, therefore I eat ... Bad

I have a great makeup mirror and lots of light in my bathroom so I can actually see ... Good
I'm the queen of makeup and won't go outside without it ... Bad
Really, I won't.  People call the coroner because I look dead.  It's a pain to explain over and over that I'm really alive, just not wearing makeup!!

I have a real toilet that flushes with a handle ... Good
The handle broke and has to be replaced AGAIN ... Bad

I have real toilet paper ... Good
Actually there's no bad, because I use real toilet paper in the rig ... yup the two ply stuff with a "made for septic system" label ... I just use it sparingly because I'm cheap and I don't want my tank to have problems.

A real shower with lots of running water ... Good
The shower head is plugged up and needs to be replaced ... Bad

The puppies get to run around a huge back yard with no leashes ... Good
The puppies run around the huge back yard, bringing dirt, grass and critters in to the house ... Bad

I don't have to worry about the puppies making lots of noise and barking ... Good
The neighbors are still playing in the garage all night and making lots of noise ... Bad

I can get my mail any day I want and don't have to figure out where the nearest post office is located ... Good
I got a bill from Thousand Trails and find a $65 "assessment" charge, which they describe as paying for insurance and electricity at all Thousand Trails parks, something the representative conveniently forgot to tell me ... BAD BAD BAD!!
I figure at $25 a night, I received $1600 worth of parking at Thousand Trails this trip alone, which actually cost me $490 out of pocket ... GOOD GOOD GOOD!!  Guess I'll have to stay three more days every year to get an extra $65 worth!!

Unloading the motorhome and finding something I purchased last year hidden in a corner ... Good
Unloading the motorhome ... BAD!  How did so much stuff get in there??

Having lots of extra canned and boxed food to eat ... Good
I have to throw away lots of extra canned and boxed food because it's outdated ... Bad    I've decided since I rarely eat IN when on the road, that I'm NOT going to replace all that canned stuff.  I'll just buy what I need when I need it from now on.

It's nice to be home and relax, and not worry about the next move ... Good
It's only for three days, as I have a meeting to attend in Hanford... this could go either way!!

Time to wash the remaining half of the rig (I did half last night) and finish unpacking!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Marathon Driving!!

I for one, am NOT a marathon driver.  Two hours is a nice drive ... three if I have to.  There's too much you miss along the way if you drive for hours on end.  I broke my cardinal rule yesterday however, and drove way, WAY too long!!  

I do have to backtrack one day .... I drove from Bandon RV Park to Eureka California, kind of bleary eyed.  Traffic continued all throughout the night, unlike my previous stay, but again, the Owners there were wonderful!!
It was cool, overcast and foggy most of the way to Eureka.  Little did I know this would be the last of COOL!!  There was no problem, finding a site at the Elks ... it was practically empty.  I pretty much stayed inside, trying to gather up all the energy I could for the trip home yesterday.
Fate had something else in mind however, as I started the engine and immediately got a check engine light.  OH NO!!!  Course the first thing I thought of was to grab my phone and call Dan Chance ... my personal mechanic/mentor/problem solver guy!!  It's a good thing they get up early!!!

It was apparently nothing, since I turned everything off, waited a few minutes, then restarted the engine.  Thank goodness the light disappeared!!!  Otherwise Dan would have had to hop on a plane!!

At any rate, I took off directly into the morning sun, making driving a real hassle.  Many times when going around corners, you can't see the road at all, especially when I already ran into a ton of bugs!!
It was a pretty nice drive ... no traffic to speak of ... and along the way I just kept thinking about moving to Oregon.  Since my plans are pretty much to spend every summer up here and winter in Arizona, I guess I've become the proverbial snow-bird, a term I never thought would be attributed to me!!
When I got to Richardson's Grove, I had my camera ready.  I love to take pictures of the road going through those trees ..... until this big truck came along.  I panicked, snapped it too soon and dropped it on the floor when I grabbed the wheel with both hands.  He's just getting back on his side of the road!!  Even worse, there was another just behind him that I had to pass right at the trees!!!  I hit the brakes just in time!!  WHEW!!  That was a close one ... literally!!!
I always pull over for cars behind me, so when I saw four of these guys, I stopped to let them pass ... and they passed .... and they passed!!  There were 28 Porches traveling in a group, and none too slow!!
By the time I got to Clear Lake, it was starting to heat up, as evidenced by my engine heat gauge.  At first sight, the lake didn't look too bad.
There's lots of construction here though, causing me to stop and get a good look.  The water level is two feet below the ladder!!  One of those round-de-round people have been through Nice and Clear Lake ... they are building them everywhere!!
This is what had me worried a week ago.  This fire was in full force East of Clear Lake, and I thought I might have to take 101 South to San Francisco.  UGH!!  That's not the way I'd prefer to go.  Luckily, the fire fighters had this one under control ... at least enough to open the road again.
Lots of acres were burned, right down to the roadside on the right.  Apparently it jumped the road and took off North, destroying a huge area.
Unfortunately I finally ended up in Sacramento ... after SEVEN hours of driving with only two short stops for the puppies.  That's when I hit the freeway, which I hate to drive because along with that comes SO MUCH traffic!!  The other thing was the HEAT!  It was supposed to be in the low 90's according to the weatherman ... but of course he was wrong ... 101!!
For a Thursday, it was a horrible drive.  Traffic never let up the entire way and only got worse from accidents all along the highway.  NINE HOURS LATER ... now that's marathon driving ... nine hours later I pulled in to my driveway.

The good news is everything was okie dokie, except for that awful smell of a closed up house.  This morning I opened up every window, turned on every fan and lit every candle I own.  I've already dusted the entire house and will vacuum next, before unloading the rig and getting it ready for another takeoff on Monday to beautiful downtown Hanford!!  

I guess it's nice to be home ... but I'm already planning my trip South this winter!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Playing With The Kitties!

The West Coast Game Park Safari is my favorite place to visit because of the kitties.  Not your normal house cats, but the big kitties they raise by hand to be used for educational purposes, as well as getting them used to human contact at their new zoo home.  That's not to say I'm a proponent of raising animals to keep in cages, but at least all of these will have good homes in large zoos with appropriate care.  

This was Tiana four months ago.  She was pretty tiny and dare I say skinny, fitting on top of the log at nine weeks old.
Here she is now ... a big girl close to 75 pounds.  Obviously she doesn't quite fit on the same log!!  In growing up, she's not quite as playful as before when it comes to toys.  Now she wants to make YOU the toy!!!  Since it wasn't crowded on Monday, I got to spend lots of one-on-one time with her.  
She's eating meat and doesn't really need the formula, but it's a treat that keeps her occupied while visitors pet her on the back.  
One of the tricks is to pour water on top of the log, which she likes to lick.  She's soft as a bunny and loves her neck scratched.  This is probably the last time we will see Tiana, as at six months they are deemed too large for personal contact.
Here's little Miss Lexi at about eight weeks of age when I was here four months ago.  She played just like a kitten, jumped up on my shoulder and climbed to the top of my head.  Talk about a fun playmate!!
Here she is four months later ... all grown up!!  She is softer than the softest kitty I've ever petted.  Constantly on alert for creatures to eat, she had her eye on a couple of peacocks walking by.
Look at those feet!!  I can't believe they are almost bigger than her head!!  Lexi is a Canadian Lynx and those feet make it easier to walk through snow.  She's still a little awkward with those long legs.
I was dragging her teddy bear around while she played attack!!  I mean really, look at those hind legs!!!  They got tangled up a couple of times, but with a little more practice, she will be an amazing acrobat!!
There were two cute fat little donkeys who followed me around also.  It wasn't that I had food ... I just knew where to scratch their ears!!  
I don't have any pictures of Bonnie and Clyde, the black bears.  The U.S. Animal Inspection guy was there and deemed them too large to have public contact.  They are double the size they were last time ... bigger than a large black lab dog, huffing a lot instead of bawling and squalling!!  Their cage just has too many layers of wire to get a good picture.  This unrelated pair will remain together for the rest of their lives, which is nice to know!!  
I made it to Eureka and found only two other rigs parked in the lot.  NICE!!  It was easy to get a great site away from everyone else.  That didn't last long though!!  Come on guys ... there are 20 some sites here where you could have two empty sites on either side of you, and you choose to park two feet from my slide out!!  You let your engine run for 20 minutes while you made that decision, continued to let it run while you set up the electric AND water and it was STILL running when you put your slides out!!!   I'm glad to know you have an unlimited supply of money to pay for that diesel you just burned up in the hour and a half it took you to get settled!!  I just don't understand!!

By the way, diesel here in Eureka is $2.99 a gallon ... I filled up on the way in!!

Sadly, I'm on the last leg of this trip, hoping to arrive home sometime this afternoon.  Time to gear up for house and rig cleaning.  At least the puppies will be happy to run loose in the back yard!!  That is if I still HAVE a back yard!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


It's a wild world out there, especially at the West Coast Game Park Safari.  THIS is one of my favorite places!!
Although white, this is a Bengal Tiger with a recessive gene.  There are only 10-15 left in the wild in India.  The rest of the population resides at zoos and parks in the U.S.
She has to be one of the most elegant, beautiful creatures on earth!!  It's kind of hard to get pictures of these guys.  They have been nice enough to cut holes in the chain link fence for photographs, but you have to be a minimum of six feet tall to reach it!!  
Here's that sweet little Sweetpea.  Who would think an opossum could be cute and cuddly?  You can't pick up a tiger and snuggle it to your neck (petting on the back only), but you can snuggle Sweetpea and she loves it!!  You might think her fur is wiry, but it's soft as can be.
You may remember two years ago when I had this baby on my lap ... Bob the bobcat!!  He's still here and now has a girlfriend.  Don't pay too much attention to the girlfriend or he'll growl at you!!
This is last year's picture of Catlyn the serval.  She's the little spotted cat from Africa who at just a couple months old, was fast as lightning.
She's grown up a little bit, changed color slightly and has become a.d.d.  She didn't stop running around the enclosure (she was on a long leash) ....
Until she found my backpack laying on the ground.  In two seconds she was wrapped up in it, rubbing her chin and licking her lips.  She must have smelled Cooper!!  
This beauty was pretty laid back and camera shy.  It took quite awhile to get her to pose for me!!
She spent quite a bit of time wandering around the water hole.  Here too, the hole in the fence is quite high ... this is a tip-toe shot!!
Where's the food?  Did you call?  I'm here!!  Where's the food?  Did you call?  Did you call me?  This little sweetie followed me around for a couple of hours.  There are dozens of goats, sheep, llamas, peacocks and a couple of donkeys that just love the snacks in the ice cream cones you can purchase.  The babies have figured out how to get to the entrance door, greeting everyone with bleats for food.
This is Gordon the hedgehog.  Another cutie that you can pet.  Gordon's a chunk, getting lots of food to eat as long as he allows pets!
But don't try to take his carrot ... he's pretty protective of that carrot!!  
Todd the beautiful red fox is still here doing his tricks for treats.  He'll sit up and give kisses for apples and carrots.
This is Todd from four months ago.  He was also here a couple years ago when I stopped in with the Chance family.  Todd is four years old now and the only fox that continues to allow petting.
There were so many pretty babies, I had to split this blog in two.  I'll post the rest of the pictures tomorrow morning.  

This is a great place to stop if you're on the Oregon coast.  They have plenty of parking for RV's and you can stay as long as you want.  There are lots of other creatures, bears, camels, emu, wallaby, deer, coatimundi, and chimps, just to name a few.  Watch where you step however, because all of the goats, deer, etc. wander around in the same space you do. 

Here's one more tip.  Animals will give you signs ... warnings actually ... that you are invading their space.  Their ears are the devices they usually use to tell you and other critters, including their own kind, to stay back.  Horses are a great example ... when they put their ears BACK, you should instantly pay attention and move away.  So when that llama comes up to you with his ears back and his mouth open,  it means you should BACK AWAY QUICKLY!!  Otherwise you will be covered in llama spit, as were two women who didn't understand the language!!  Yucky yuck!!!  Even after washing, the stink doesn't go away!

Up tomorrow ... Tiana the tiger and Lexi the Lynx!!