December 2009 Archives

Awake: 6:42am     sleep 7+19      frost, then sunny     overnight @ Seattle, WA.

Nick walked over @ 9:00am to join Katrina in a 45-min run around Queen Anne; "'twas a little cool" Katrina admitted.

Late morning, Kathy & I caught the city bus just around the corner to go to lower Queen Anne with Nick & Jerry. I called Nick on his cell phone so he would know we were en route & he could catch the same bus.

1st we visited the FedEx Office & sent a special package to PA; then we scrutinized the large Metropolitan Market, just below the FedEx Office, for some wine & groceries. Next, we walked a block & toured a true wine & spirits store + bought a few items for another special occasion early next yr. For the most part, our shopping was complete. DSC08276.JPG Then we caught the bus & returned to Queen Anne Hill. Jerry & Nick, of course, got off at their stop & we continued on to Safeway, looking for (1) more item, which was not available.
We walked back to Zack's house, approx (9) city blocks.

Around 1:30 Nick, Eriko & Jerry arrived; Nick is our chef & Kathy our back-up for tonight's dinner. Nick ordered dry bar-b-q seasoning as well as wet bar-b-q sauce from the Rendezvous in Memphis, of our favorite restaurants when we lived there.

Kathy already coated the ribs with the dry seasoning, wrapped them in plastic wrap, & refrigerated them. The ribs have to be slow baked for @ least (4) hrs. Nick & Kathy kept their eyes on the prize & turned out delicious ribs.

Since, Kathy felt we might not have enough ribs, she also made pork tenderloin, using the same Rendezvous seasoning. We also made oven roasted rosemary, parmesan potatoes, salad, broccoli, & bread from Macrenna's.

What a scrumptious & pleasant-tasting meal; to me, it was almost like eating dry ribs @ the Charlie Vergas Rendezvous in Memphis. We need to do this more often.

After the dinner dishes & kitchen were properly cleaned up, Katie & Zack introduced us to yet another new game called: "Wii." This game has many sub games like: Fit, ski jump, bubbles, hula-hoop, etc. One stands on a platform that senses motion, balance & weight from the participant which is enough to activate movement on the screen to complete the game or activity being performed. We all participated with these young people & their challenges; what great fun it was. In fact we were having so much fun, we nearly forgot the hour. DSC08289.JPG Lights out: 12:54am.
Awake: 6:06 am.     sleep 6+41      mostly sunny     overnight @ Seattle, WA.

Katrina went running without Coco for (40) min mid morning. Zack made (2) (15) min trips to Ken's Market to get the right kind of orange juice for Katie's breakfast.

Then Zack got on his drums & played along with the simulated digital rock band members for a good (20) min.That usually wakes him up. DSC08243.JPG
Next, Katrina & Zack played a few Mario games; I think they were on the 5th World trying to reach & conquer the coveted 8th World.

Around 3:30pm, K & I started walking to Nick's condo, taking the scenic route. This late afternoon & evening, we have been honored with a treat: taking care of Jerry while (6) of the gang go & see the I-Max 3-D "Avatar." Jerry seemed to be just as delighted to be with us as we were enchanted to be with him.

After the movie goers said their goodbyes for now, we started spending time with Jerry by putting together a small Lego car that Katrina & Zack recently gave him for Christmas. Jerry was quite patient with our slow building process for longer than I thought possible...but the hints of potential boredom were near so we gathered up the 100 + small Lego pieces & started a baseball game.

In lieu of hitting or throwing a ball, we would roll it across the floor & try to aim it into a small container; winner would be: the person who got the most balls in the container in (3) rolls. That game lasted @ least 30-40 min & Jerry really enjoyed the competition.

Next, we talked about Superman & Kryptonite & how when Superman was a little boy, he didn't realize he had special powers. Instead of boarding the school bus, he would race ahead & meet the kids @ the school, etc. Jerry had many questions about the super guys that his dad talked about.

The next game, we did some pretending; using the coffee table & larger Legos, Jerry would drive his train around the town to provide food for our homes. After some snacks, Kathy got out a few children's English books & started reading to Jerry. Soon, Jerry started showing signs of tired eyes. He fell asleep on Kathy's lap during the 5th book & was sleeping for about ½ hr when the gang returned from seeing the exciting Avatar movie. Katrina invited us to walk back to Zack's house with her, & enjoy the clear, crisp nite air as we took in the lights of the city & the many Christmas lights displayed on the houses. As we passed Carey Park, many people were there just admiring a great view of the Seattle Center Space Needle & downtown Seattle.

DSC08273.JPGJerry continued sleeping during the many accolades our boys + Katrina & Katie gave the movie; a few of them were ready to see it again. Kathy laid Jerry on the couch where he stayed sleeping while we left.

Late evening dinner: Split Pea soup with balsamic vinegar & sour-dough bread. Nick & family declined joining us for the occasion due to the late hour.

Lights out: 11:23pm.

Awake: 7:50am      sleep 8+31      sunny      overnight @ Seattle, Washington.

Nick invited all of us to meet with him & his family @ 9:15am @ the "Top Pot" for donuts this morning. I've heard that he likes this place & usually every Sunday, brings his family here for donuts. Donuts are not enough for my I took no chances & had my bowl of (3) different kinds of cereal with yogurt, blueberries & strawberries smothered in organic whole milk.

@ the "Top Pot" Zack asked me what I would have; after perusing the many types of donuts & other pastries, I chose a cherry scone, which was darn good. Kathy & Katrina shared a thick slice of squash bread & the rest of them had donuts.

Zack had to leave the party early to pick Katie up from the Sea-Tac airport upon her return from Chicago. After some casual political discussion, we all broke up & had different things to do.

K & I did some quick grocery shopping @ Trader Joe's then walked back to Zack's place. Just as we were approaching the Z house, Zack & Katie pulled into their parking spot.

Early afternoon, more Mario games with Katrina, Katie, & Zack. Katrina was very vocal & really enjoyed this game amidst frustration.

About (6) months ago, Nick & Eriko bought a used player piano built during the early 30's...however, there are a few things that might need repairing. So after Nick & family finished their pot-luck luncheon across town, he swung by Zack's house & picked Kathy & me up & brought us to their condo.

Nick & I had some free time this afternoon so why not take a look @ the classic piano. Neither of us know much about player pianos; with (2) flashlights, we began our investigation into this mysterious music maker. We didn't get too far due to the complexity of the system, but we knew enough to stop & do no more before Nick Googled the Internet for some much needed help. What he found out was: this is no job for amateurs. And, I am thankful that we did not take screws, bolts, nuts, air tubes, etc, from the inside works before checking with Mr. Google. Whew! DSC08253.JPG
After that, K & I walked back to Zack's house by the scenic route. As we were arriving, Katie & Zack were just leaving, making another trip to the airport. This time, to pick up roommate, Nate, arriving from Missouri & to get Katie's luggage that the airline failed to have on her return flight to Seattle.

Late dinner: power burger with caramelized onions, salad, chips & sourdough bread.

The evening was still young & these lively people had more Mario games to conquer. Tonight  we have Katie in the audience & roommate Nate as part of the Mario team.  

Lights out: 11:25pm


Awake: 6:57am     sleep 6+21      frost, then sunny     overnight @ Seattle, WA.

Katrina got up @ 8:45am & took Coco with her for a (30+) min run. Coco always looks happier after returning from a good run with Katrina.

Meanwhile, I walked about (4) blocks one way to the nearest hardware store: "Five Corner's Hardware Co" & purchased a Ball Tank Kohler for the running toilet upstairs. Hmm, wrong type. My 2nd round-trip walk was successful; I had to do a little adjusting & trimming on the Korky Red Flapper but the fix should last a long time. However, my guarantee is only good until we leave town.

Then Zack drove us to the Nick condo where we changed to Nick's mini-van & motored to the Washington Park Arboretum, which, in 2009, has been celebrating their (75th) year anniversary. The day was cool with a slight breeze but we were dressed for the occasion, plus the sun peeking thru the trees & bushes helped a little. We followed Jerry's leadership on many of the paths. Our walk lasted @ least (1.5+) hrs. DSC08247.JPG
Back @ Nick's condo, we gabbed a short while & then K & I walked to St. Anne's Catholic Church for 5:00pm vigil Mass. One extreme to another; tonight the big church had less than (100) attendees present vs. the overflow crowd on Christmas Eve. Maybe some church goers got tipped off & we didn't; the church's boiler failed & there was no heat to be had. That was the coolest Mass we've ever attended!

Next, using both autos, we returned to Zack's place for a dinner of: fresh tuna steaks, fruit salad & a mixed salad, & brown rice. Tonight's entertainment, a movie called: "UP." An animated film that was a little sad to begin with, but as time went on, the sadness decreased & the adventures increased until it had a very happy ending. Jerry was delighted. DSC07808.JPG Lights out: 11:19pm.
Awake: 6:36am      sleep 6+17      frost, then sunny     overnight @ Seattle, WA.

Merry Christmas everybody!   Kathy started the breakfast preparation before 7:00am; then Katrina came down stairs around 8:00am & joined in helping Kathy.

Next, Zack got up about 9:00am & just in time to join Katrina in a (30) min run with Coco.

Nick & family arrived @ 9:20am. The Christmas special breakfast: (egg, bacon, mushroom, potato casserole, apricot fruit slices & cutie oranges) was served after Katrina & Zack returned from their jogging.

Then the Christmas gifts were brought out from underneath the highly decorated tree by Jerry, who distributed them according to the names on the packages (of course, he needed a little help in reading the names). There weren't that many gifts given, but they were thoughtfully selected & most welcome indeed. Jerry was all smiles; he was delighted with his gift of Geomag magnets & immediately began building "structures" on the kitchen table.

Jerry's smile became even more evident when he discovered his gift of a remote control fast car. He couldn't wait to go across the street & run that fast car on the asphalt covered school playground. I believe that car had to be recharged (5) times during the afternoon.

DSC08235.JPG My job today: diagnose a running toilet upstairs & fix it if possible. After a (10) min close inspection, I decided to simply shut off the water valve for now & when one needs to flush, open the valve; then close it until the next visit.

Dinner: We hammed it up for Christmas; baked ham with pineapple, twice baked potatoes, cooked corn, mixed salad & our special Vollkorn 6-grain seed bread.

Tonight's entertainment: besides watching & listening to Jerry, some of us watched the movie: "Ice Age." I tried...but could not stay interested in this movie.

Daughter, Melissa called from Indiana, PA; we all waited in line for our turn to talk with her & enjoyed hearing about their day. Even tho the day was less stressful, both in PA & here, we still missed our whole family being together.

 Lights out: 12:36am. DSC08219.JPG

Awake: 7:09am     sleep 7+01     frost, then sunny     overnight @ Seattle, Washington.

Nick called mid-morning & invited us over to play with Jerry. "1st K & I have more food shopping to do" I told him. "So you'll be over about 2:30 pm then?" he inquires. "Well, Kathy also wants to get a head start on tonight's meal so we'll do our best to see you before 2:30" I tell him.

Zack let us use his Camry so a shopping @ Trader Joe's we went. We did a thorough job @ Joe's & then made a quick stop @ Macrina Bakery just down the street from Zack's place & bought a loaf of Vollkorn German style 6-grain seed bread.

Katrina took the dog, Coco, for a good (30) min run mid morning. It's a treat for Coco to get some much needed exercise since he spends so much time indoors. 

After Kathy was comfortable with her dinner prep for tonight, she wrapped a few Christmas gifts before we all left with Zack, in his car, arriving at Nick's condo much earlier than he expected; @ 1:30pm.

We sat around & gabbed for a few hrs plus watched Jerry pretend to put his small stuffed animals to bed using tissues.

@ 4:40pm, K & I & Katrina walked to the nearest Catholic Church, St Anne, & attended the children's vigil Christmas Mass. All pews were full; extra chairs were set up along the walls & still, people were standing. The microphone worked sporadically.

The school children re-enacted the Nativity story at the gospel reading & the children's choir led the congregation in several Christmas carols. As we were leaving the church at the end of Mass, I complimented the priest on his homily & the Mass...his response, "It was a zoo!"

We went back to the condo, & then, using (2) autos, we returned to the Zack house for a dinner of: Jack Daniel pulled chicken, Caesar salad, chips (salt with vinegar & regular salted).

Later, Katrina, Eriko, Kathy, & Jerry, made traditional Christmas butter cookies, which we then ate for dessert; Jerry had his usual 3.5 cookie quota.


I couldn't resist showing how Eriko gives Jerry a few lessons on Zack's drums; he's a quick learner.However, Zack is still the local king of drums. DSC08190.JPG
Then the remainder of the evening was taken up by almost (2) hrs of the latest digital Mario game. The main players: Zack, Katrina & Nick. The audience: Jerry (on Nick's lap), Kathy, Eriko, myself & Coco.

 lights out: 12:19am. 

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Awake: 8:02am    Temp? sleep 7+17    mostly cloudy    overnight @ Seattle, WA.

For today's dinner, Kathy needs meat & other that must be done sometime soon.

Nick had an annual physical about 11:00am in Queen Anne close enough that he could walk to. While Nick was doing that, Eriko & Jerry were driving across town to where she teaches a rhythm class to small children. After the rhythm class, Eriko & Jerry went to a play group with some of Eriko's friends & their children. Their schedule allows Nick to be free to roam with us during the afternoon.

Zack went to sleep late last night, woke up about 5:00am & took Nate to the airport. We figured he'll be sleeping a little later this morning & he did.

About 11:20am, Zack drove us to the toy store in Queen Anne: "Once Upon a Child" where we searched for certain gifts for Jerry & other members of the family. Nice store with a lot of things displayed from Europe, ....... & other countries. Katrina made a nice purchase for one of her friends, otherwise that was it.

When Nick finished his physical, he walked over & joined our group. Just across the street was yet another toy store; not much to choose from so we all got in Zack's Camry & headed south to Costco.

Nick introduced Zack to a shortcut path leading to Costco; very scenic & @  times...scary.  Zack introduced Nick to a new theory of driving a car with no fuel! As a matter of fact, we all became interested in seeing Zack's amazing demonstration; not scenic but also scary.


We were all in favor of having Zack fuel up 1st when we arrived @ Costco...except Katrina. She had to go to the bathroom so she was let out pronto.

After a few hrs of perusing most of the things Costco had to offer, we checked out, paid our bill, & headed back north to main downtown Seattle. Zack the driver was following Nick's route for yet another toy store called: "Magic Mouse Toys" on 1st Ave. Parking was a problem but the boys let us out & they moved the auto twice during the (40) some min we were in the store. This toy store had it all; I've never seen any toy store like it yet.

 We found what we wanted & headed back to lower Queen Anne where we picked up a few more things at that Safeway.

Zack dropped Katrina & Nick off @ his condo while Kathy & I went back to Zack's to put groceries away & get organized for dinner.  Nick & family & Katrina will be over for dinner later.

Dinner: pork tenderloin, braised apples& onions, broccoli & roasted garlic parmesan rosemary potatoes. The remainder of the evening was taken up by more video games on the big screen.

Lights out: 12:08am.      

Awake: 6:54am    Temp ?     sleep 6+50      overcast      overnight @ Seattle WA.

After coffee, Kathy got right with the program of cooking prep for tonight's dinner feeding (7.5) people.

Mid morning, Nick called to confirm today's plan of meeting @ the Pacific Science Center @ 12:00 noon. I let him know that we will be there on time.

Kathy comfortably finished the meal prep with time to spare before we left with Zack to meet up with Nick & family.

The Pacific Science Center is great for kids as well as adults; with hundreds of hands-on science exhibits; not only was Jerry entertained with Nick & Eriko's help but also we adults were many times amazed as well. I found out later that the Pacific Science Center has offered a constant rotation of traveling exhibits; so you wait a few months for your next visit,& there may be many different exhibits to astonish you. All together, we were @ the Science Center for (2.7) hrs & it was very much worth our time. So...thank you Nick, Eriko & Jerry for the opportunity & experience.

Back @ Zack's place, @ the dining room table, we got into a political discussion that went on for over an hr; we seniors do not always agree with our younger boys...& that's nothing new. We are all entitled to our own opinions.

Dinner: Stuffed peppers, spinach salad & whole wheat bread. Nate also joined us for dinner.

After Nick, Eriko & Jerry left for their condo, Zack tutored Kathy & me on the Rock Band Guitars; a digital game that is almost like real playing in front of an audience. We were both a little clumsy @ 1st, but eventually did a little better.

Then Zack let us practice on our own while he drove to the Sea-Tack Airport to pick up Katrina; they returned around 10:15pm. Katrina reported she had a good flight. She was also hungry; luckily there was a little filled pepper left over which satisfied her hunger. During Zack's absence, about (30) carolers strolled down the sidewalk, & sang (2) Christmas carols for us as we watched & waved in delight. DSC08185.JPG
Then roommate Nate started packing for his trip to Missouri to visit his parents & siblings for Christmas. Zack will be taking Nate to the airport around 5:00am tomorrow.

Late evening, Katrina & Zack did some playing on the digital guitars as K & I readied ourselves for bedtime.

Lights out: 12:45am.
Awake: 5:35am     Temp 53     sleep 5+39     overcast     overnight @ San Diego, CA.

We both woke up a little early to have a light breakfast before going to the airport this morning; then we changed into our travel clothes & positioned our suitcases by the front door ready for Larry's cell phone call. We got the call @ 7:45am & we are on our way.

Fast moving traffic had us to the San Diego airport within (15) min. We thanked Larry, wished him & Sallie a happy holiday & expected to take a position in the security line.

What a nice surprise; there was no line. Since we had printed out our boarding passes, we didn't have to check in at the counter. With shoes off & our carry on suitcases & computers cases inspected, we were inside the terminal area within (13) min.

Time passed quickly & before we knew it, our numbers were called for boarding. Kathy let me have the window seat but I saw little ground cover after takeoff. Our flight time from San Diego to Seattle was 2.5 hrs with a relatively smooth flight altogether.

On the tarmac in Seattle, we got the all clear for cell phone usage. No sooner than I turned our cell phone on, a call came from Nick; he was circling the arrival pickup area & would be making his 2nd  round soon. I let him know that we were in the back of the aircraft & it would be about (15--20) min before we showed up. On his 3rd circling, Nick spotted us. Jerry was in his car seat & seemed happy to see us.

Nick took us to Zack's rental house so we could unload our suitcases & computer bags.Before Katie left Seattle to spend Christmas with her parents in Chicago, she swept the floors & vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen & laundered the bed sheets. And to complete the festive move, Katie, with Zack & Nate's help, put up a real Christmas tree with ornaments & lights.Nate & Zack also put outside lights on their porch. Katie made fudge & chocolate covered pretzels for our enjoyment as well before going to Chicago. Way to go Katie....& Zack & Nate.
We talked with Zack for awhile & then Nick invited us all to his condo. After a visit to see Eriko, Jerry showed us the Lego structures he & Nick built this morning representing our trip from San Diego: 1st the motorhome, then the Suzuki car & next the airplane; a clever & thoughtful piece of work I thought.

None of us have had a real breakfast this morning...except Eriko, so we headed for the restaurant, Queen Anne Café. It had rained before we landed & now on Queen Anne hill, it was windy & cool. Breakfast was more like brunch, then we returned to the condo where we spent a good (2---2.5) hrs talking & playing with Jerry before Nick transported us to the Safeway store in Queen Anne where we all stocked up on some groceries.

Around 6:30pm, Nick dropped us & our groceries off @ Zack's place & we said our good nights to Nick & we'll see him & family tomorrow.

Dinner: lots of popcorn & mixed nuts.

Evening movie: "Angles & Demons." We watched about ½.

Lights out: 12:40 am.

Awake: 6:42am    Temp 51    sleep 6+05   overcast     overnight @ San Diego, CA.

@ 6:52am, Katrina called from her condo in Littleton, CO. The hard drive on her Apple computer is maxed out & she wants me to bring some data to Seattle so Nick can possibly help get rid of superfluous stuff & allow more space.

Kathy had been trying to print out our boarding passes for tomorrow's flight to no avail; it won't print documents. I thought it would be an easy software fix but it took me over an hr to find & correct the matter. Whew, that will propel our status @ the airport.

Mid afternoon, K & I took another walk from the campground; this time, we checked out the nearby golf course & driving range, & then, walked the Rose Creek bike & walking path for @ least an hr. Another nice day to be outside!

Back @ our M.H. we both finished our packing.

Dinner: Acorn squash, tilapia fish, brown rice with golden raisins, broccoli, & bread.

My brother Don called from PA; we discussed each others Christmas plans.  

Evening movie: "Too Many Husbands" with Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, Melvyn Douglas, Harry Davenport. Arthur finds herself in the position of having one excess husband when she marries Douglas after receiving word that her first husband, MacMurray, drowned in a shipwreck. Her marriage to Douglas is cut short when MacMurray returns, having safely made it to an island from which he is rescued. Comic tensions flare when both husbands vie for Arthur's affections. After the two men are fed up with her love for attention, they both leave and become friends. A court ruling finally declares that Arthur's marriage to MacMurray is still legally binding. The film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Sound. 1940. Not too shabby.

Lights out: 11:56pm.

Awake: 6:34am    Temp 50    sleep 6+28     sunny    overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Kathy did (3) loads of laundry & started packing her suitcase in her spare time. I finished going thru our forwarded mail & then started packing my suitcase in my spare time.

If you had two small flashlights, one with good batteries but a burned out LED bulb; the other with weak batteries & a good LED bulb, what would you do?

Of course you would switch the good batteries into the flashlight with the good LED. I did that in record time, taking both flashlights apart, etc. It only took about (50) min & now I have (1) good light. To the extreme right is a penny, just to compare the size of these small units. Double click on picture to enlarge.  DSC08165.JPG We attended the 5:30 pm vigil Mass @ Saint Brigid's Catholic Church in San Diego.

Dinner: leftover Italian sausage in marinara sauce, left over eggplant parmesan, leftover green beans, a fresh mixed salad, & whole wheat bread.

Nick Skyped us after our dinner for (42) min; we had to use the cell phone backup for audio as our signal strength was not so good. Nick & Jerry had just finished taking a bath.

Mostly we talked with Nick as Jerry was somewhat distracted by "Poissan Rouge" on the computer; but that was ok as we got caught-up on Nick & Eriko's activities. 

We finished watching: "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" with George Pal, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Karl Boehm, Oscar Homolka, Buddy Hackett, etc. Fanciful adaptations of Grimm tales offset by OK look at famed brothers lives. Best of all are Puppetoons sequences in toy shop, Hackett battling fire-breathing dragon. 1962. A good movie for kids... & we realized that but watched it anyway.

Lights out: 12:37am.
Awake: 6:09am      Temp 49     sleep 6+32     sunny     overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Mail call this morning from the campground office; our forwarded mail has arrived from Alaska. That consumed most of our morning.

Larry called from Watertown, WI. He updated their arrival information to San Diego; 1:40pm today.

@ 12:30pm, K & I motored our Suzuki to where Larry & Sallie have their motorhome parked; then we used Larry's Honda & headed for the San Diego Airport cell phone parking lot & waited for his call. We didn't have to wait very long; their flight was right on time. They were delighted to be back to this warm, comfortable climate.

The wedding celebration went very well & they enjoyed the rendezvous with many of their friends & relatives. Before we left, Sallie invited us for dinner @ 5:00pm in their motorhome; the beginning of their Sabbath (Shabat).

Back @ our campground, I visited with Ken, a near neighbor whom we spoke with when we 1st arrived. Turns out, he's an airplane nut himself & I ended up looking @ some of his airplane pictures on his computer.

Dinner with Sallie & Larry: blessings & prayers introduced wine, challah bread, mixed salad, minestrone soup, turkey pot pie, coleslaw, & a frozen dessert (all homemade by Sallie following Kosher ritual). Boy...did we have a lot to talk about. Larry & I even reminisced a little about our flying experiences. We enjoy Sallie & Larry; they are really good people... & their dogs are so human. Their new dog, Teddy (about 8 mths) gets Larry's attention when he wants to go for a walk by grabbing the leash with his teeth & pulling it toward Larry. DSC08149.JPG
Evening movie: "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm." We watched about (30) min.

Lights out: 12:06am.
Awake: 7:11am    Temp 47    sleep 6+29     mostly sunny     overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Several days ago, we were notified that starting today, December 17, 2009 @ 8:00am, all electricity would be shut off in the campground for approximately six (6) to eight (8) hours.

We were ready for this outage; our bus was all warmed up & all systems were shut off, except for our (2) computers, the refrigerators & the freezer. I was keeping an eye on the voltage & they shut the campground down @ 8:10am. The amp draw from our battery pack was (2) amps most of the time.

Kathy wasted no time in getting after her Mac computer & Mac book during the outage; she is getting very good @ i-photo. Around 2:30pm, somebody was getting restless & suggested that we go for a long walk. It took about (20) min to get going, but (1.2) hrs later, that idea kind of made our day.

 The weather was beautiful; we weren't alone walking the Bay area: other walkers, runners, joggers, skaters, bikers, baby carriages etc., kept our senses busy avoiding collisions.

I am so fascinated when seeing Pelicans dive from the air after prey, capturing fish in their pouch. They fly so eloquently thru the air, skimming the water until they spot their target; then their airspeed is lost in a quick climb & then a direct power dive. I believe these are Brown Pelicans. DSC08160.JPG
When we got back, the power may have just been switched on as our battery pack was busy being recharged.
Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan & a spinach salad.

Evening movie: "Holliday Affair" with Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey, Gordon Gebert, Griff Barnett, Esther Dale, etc. Well-done Christmastime story of war widow Leigh, with a young son, who's courted by nice-guy Corey. Fate intervenes when she meets articulate, kindly rolling stone Mitchum. 1949. A good down to earth Christmas story.

Lights out: 11:37pm.
Awake: 6:47am    Temp 47     sleep 6+01     sunny    overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Mid morning, we visited the local Radio Shack in Mission Bay, & on our return, stopped @ the office & picked up our mail.

Next we drove over to Fashion Valley off Friars Road & searched for the Apple Store in the Fashion Mall complex. We took our Apple computer with us but left it in the Suzuki in the event we didn't need it. I bet we spent (20--30) min trying to find a reasonable parking space...& then another (20) min finding the Apple Store. But once we found it, we made the best of it.

Michael, an Apple guru, saw us looking stunned when we walked inside the store. I gave him the scoop on our new Apple & how different it is from our Dell...then fussed about the small notebook of info that we had to deal with when trying to learn more about the Apple. "Is there not a book that we could read & teach ourselves what we want to learn?" I asked him. He turned & quickly walked over to the small library of books & selected: "My New Mac." "This is the best book we have on the Mac," he told us.

Kathy then asked Michael a few questions re: Finder, how to delete forward, Safari. getting pictures from someone else's site & moving mail from inbox to folder. He was very helpful.

Back @ our motorhome, Kathy horded the Mac book for hrs...even throughout the evening until movie time was announced. She has not complained hardly @ all about finding what she's looking for or answering questions on different aspects of the Mac. DSC08152.JPG Meanwhile, late afternoon, Melissa called. She gave us an update of what's been happening with them (all is well) & we discussed some birthday ideas for gifts for Andrew. We talked for about (45) min.

Early evening, Katrina called from a shopping mall. She is Christmas shopping & has questions about: what do you think about this (blank) for Matthew & that (gadget) for Andrew & so forth? We did our best to offer good opinions. We talked for a good (54) min.

Dinner: Tilapia fish, brown rice with golden raisins, broccoli & whole wheat bread.

Evening movie: "The Man who made the movies." A documentary; very interesting. 

Lights out:12:42am.
Awake: 7:14am   Temp 47   sleep 7+08    partly cloudy   overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Ever since we arrived in our campsite, we've kept our #4 slide retracted due to a tree & its branches that would be too close to our slide when extended. Plus there is a bird that has been hanging out in that tree that litters the asphalt daily; and that litter is like a white paint that the locals say will soon burn a hole in the steel and demolish a full sized motorhome if left unattended.

We notified the office about this dangerous condition & they agreed to remedy the situation today. Sure enough, (2) healthy guys with tree/limb cutting equipment, made fast work of a few good size limbs to our satisfaction. We thanked them & let them know that we like this campground a lot. I was able to photograph the culprit bird that obviously has the (power keg) to ruin motorhomes. It could be a California Gull; I'm still checking. DSC08157.JPG
Around 2:30pm, we motored over to Sallie & Larry's motorhome & assisted them in loading their suitcases into their car; then rode with them to the airport. They are attending a wedding in Chicago on Thursday & will return on Friday. We volunteered for this assignment when they 1st mentioned the plan.

Dinner: Italian sausage with peppers & onions in marinara sauce + leftover salad from the restaurant last night.

We finished watching: "The End of an Affair" with Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, John Mills, Peter Cushing, & Michael Goodfliffe. Graham Green's mystic-religious novel about a wartime love affair in London loses much in screen version, especially from mismatched stars. 1955. Slow but interesting love affair with a religious conclusion.

Lights out: 12:46am.
Awake: 7:33am    Temp 52     sleep 7+24   sunny      overnight @ San Diego, CA.

Late morning, K & I walked around the campground & Mission Bay for (1.2) hrs of exercise & curiosity. Then we visited Radio Shack & Trader Joe's in Mission Bay.

Around 6:20pm, we met Larry & Sallie outside our campground & they took us out for dinner @ an Italian cuisine restaurant not far from our campground. We continued our gab session & updating of the (3) yrs we haven't seen each other.

K & I shared a fresh salmon & pasta dinner & we all shared a dessert of crème brulee & tiramisu; a very delicious meal. DSC08146.JPG Afterward, Larry drove us to Carrie (older daughter) & husband, Benji's new home on the hillside overlooking some of San Diego & the Pacific Ocean. Carrie & Benji & their 2 little children are in the process of moving in.

We returned to our motorhome around 9:00ish & watched some of our recorded politics.

Lights out: 12:06am.
Awake: 8:02am     Temp 57      sleep 6+39     off & on rain      overnight @ Anaheim, CA.

Before we left this campground, Nick Skyped us. We tried using the Apple computer, but. unfortunately the WiFi signals were weak so we we'll try again when we get settled in San Diego.

We left the 2nd most expensive campground (which was very close to Disney Land) @ 10:37am  joined I-5 heading further south. At times, the rain subsided & pockets of blue sky could be seen through the overcast; however, about (10) miles from our campground destination, a sudden cloud burst gave our coach a welcome washing to San Diego.

Today's travel: 89 miles      1+54 time      13 gal used      6.6 mpg      47 avg speed.

After we parked & got organized, we Skyped Nick on our Apple computer. Well, we tried to Skype but.....the campground wifi signals were up & down on strength making it difficult.

While skyping with Nick, the doorbell rang & who should appear but Larry & Sallie, our young friends from Watertown, WI. We had this rendezvous planned but didn't expect to see them so soon. It's been (3) yrs since we've been together so a chatting we will do after a quick sign off with Nick. It wasn't long before darkness started moving in so we made a plan to dine together tomorrow night & continue where we left off this late afternoon.

 We like our campground site a lot;I managed to get this shot before Sally & Larry visited.  Just look @ the good view we have of the lake & hillside out our passenger side window. This is rare to have when when hundreds of RV's are parked in the campground.  DSC08145.JPG
Shortly after Larry & Sally left, we Skyped with Zack using the Dell computer; my air card signals aren't so strong either so we backed up our Skype with the cell phone audio. We must have talked close to an hr & covered a lot of territory; we sure are looking forward to spending more time with our West coast family over the Christmas holiday.

Late dinner: leftover blue cheese burger with a mixed salad.

Evening movie: "The End of an Affair." We watched (20) min.

Lights out: 12:09am.
Awake: 4:30am   Temp 53   sleep 6+01   nighttime drizzle     overnight @ Buellton, CA.

I couldn't sleep any longer so I got up in the dark, used a flashlight & did some reading...until sun rise. Then used another 1.1 hrs of generator time to warm up our shrunken house, eat breakfast & program our GPS's for the next adventure.

We leave the grassy field of Flying Flags RV Park & Campground (which was a little wetter but still solid earth) @ 8:22am, following State hwy-101 southbound.

Once again, our windshield wipers are busy clearing either drizzle or heavy rain as we roll along so we can have a better view ahead. We wanted to see more of the cities along hwy-101 but for the lack of reasonable priced & appropriate sized campgrounds, it wasn't easy to do. So we passed up: Santa Barbara, Ventura & Oxnard, etc to name a few. The closer we came to Los Angeles, the more cars entered the 3-4-5 lane hwy. At times, with the mist from the car/truck tires & the steady falling rain, the road surface was sometimes blanketed out. DSC08135.JPG
We arrived @ our destination in Anaheim @ 11:10am.

Today's travel: 166 miles    3+27 time    28 gal used     5.9 mpg     48 mph avg speed.

This campground, the Anaheim Resort RV Park, is the 2nd most expensive place since we started RVing in 2002. We parked the bus & kept our slides retracted, had lunch & started planning for tomorrow's next adventure.

Lunch was: a blue cheese bacon burger with a mixed salad. It was so good & a bigger meal than I wanted to finish so we both decided to save the rest for another day.

Next, carrying our umbrellas, we attend the 5:00pm vigil Mass @ the Saint Boniface Catholic Church, about (2.2) miles from our campground. The church was very large & nearly every pew was filled.

Evening movie: "Sideways" with Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh, Mary-Louise Burke, Jessica Hecht. Giamatti gives another great---and thoroughly natural, totally believable---performance as a would-be author, passionate xenophile, and social misfit who takes a college pal off for a week in California wine country before he gets married. Along the way, this odd couple meets two attractive women who seem to return their interest. Told with wit, truth, compassion, and the eye for detail that marks all of Payne's work. 2004. This story & movie was great; don't miss it!

Lights out: 1:23am.
Awake: 6:45am     Temp 51      sleep 7+00      drizzle --- rain    overnight @ Buellton, CA.

We did not open our slides during our Paso Robles visit; during these times of consistent precipitation, we keep the coach shrunk & get to know each other better...& occasionally sleep on separate couches.

We left the Paso Robles RV Ranch @ 8:23am without scraping any parts of our undercarriage on the steep hill. Following State road-101, we continue to admire all the beautiful hills, valleys & canyons, plus seeing vineyards on both sides of the road that seem to go on forever; this 101 route is simply an eye opener. Plus throughout the day, our windshield wipers got a good work out.

We arrived @ the Flying Flags RV Park & Campground in Buellton, CA @ 10:55am. This campground is quite pricey...but we have a choice: pay the big bucks & enjoy a nice campsite for the night or dry-camp in their open field with no hook-ups. We chose the open field.

We were told that the open field is hard ground & we shouldn't have to worry about sinking in grass. During our travels today, we had off & on drizzle & rain; however the rain system haven't drenched Buellton very much far today.

Today's travel: 97 miles 2+02 time 17 gal used 5.7 mpg 42 mph avg speed.

Driving on the open pasture, the grass covered earth definitely felt solid, bumpy, but solid. I was comfortable about doing this, but hope we don't get too much more rain tonight.

As we sat & had a early lunch, Kathy read about the nearby town of Solvang, & how in the early 1950's a group of local Danes decided to build their business buildings & homes using genuine, old-world Danish techniques & styles. Well, after I read the same article, we had to go & see this.

When visiting the city of Paso Robles, I thought nobody could top that place for good living with all the wonderful little stores & things to see & do; that was, until we walked & roamed the streets of Solvang. Those business buildings & homes were so inviting on the outside, you wanted to go inside to peruse the rest.

The whole town looked & felt just like a genuine Danish village with the half-timbered walls & steep roofs & brick-work sidewalks & colorful containers of flowers, etc. So we continued strolling along the streets, savoring the fragrance of fresh Danish pastries & baking aebleskiver (ball-shaped Danish pancakes, served with jam & powdered sugar). The aroma was tempting but we were tough & resisted.

We tried to buy some fresh Danish whole wheat bread from (3) different bakeries but they were all sold out for the day. I even tried on a pair of Danish wooden shoes but they didn't come with arch supports so I gave up on that too. DSC08120.JPG
Of course, a Danish town would be remiss if it did not honor Denmark's most famous figure, the beloved storyteller & writer of more than 160 fairy tales: Hans Christian Anderson. His stories, such as "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Little Mermaid," & "The Princess & the Pea," have been translated into more than 100 languages & told to children throughout the world. He also wrote plays, travel journals, novels & poetry. We enjoyed a perusal of the rather small museum dedicated to Anderson's life & work located upstairs in the Book Loft Building. 

Yes, this town was active & the stores were very busy; we didn't see anything made in China... but that doesn't mean it wasn't there.

I am sorry Paso Robles, but after a very good tour of Solvang, you will fall into 2nd place in my book of: "The best small cities in the west" so far.

En route to our dry camping field, we stop @ Anderson's Pea Soup restaurant & shared a light dinner of: a bowl of pea soup (really good) & a Reuben sandwich.

We ran our generator for 3.3 hrs & did some searching for our next campground for tomorrow.

Again, we kept the bus shrunk & slept on separate couches.

Lights out: 10:29pm.

Awake: 6:15am      Temp 41      sleep 6+33      overcast      overnight @ Paso Robles, CA.

After our regular cereal breakfast with strawberries & blueberries, we drove the Suzuki west on State road-46, then north on State road-1, arriving @ San Simeon Bay & took (2) different tours of the William Randolph Hearst Castle.

The 1st tour gave us a broad overview of the many facets of Hearst Castle; without going into the history...which in itself, is fascinating. But to keep this somewhat uncomplicated, there are (165) rooms & 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools & walkways.

The 2nd tour focused more on the architectural elements & vast art collection in the main house. Plus we saw (4) guest rooms, the huge library, & the Gothic Suite which occupies the entire 3rd floor, including Hearst's impressive private suite, his library & office.

We brought our umbrellas due to forecasted rainy weather; but when we arrived, no rain. So we left our umbrellas in our car; bad choice...when climbing the enchanted hill, rain began & never did subside during our time there. Each tour lasted 1 hr, 45 min. On our 2nd tour, fog moved in & taking photos of the Castle from afar was like seeing a fairy tale scene. DSC08115.JPG Kathy & I were the only (2) tourists aboard the big bus for our 2nd tour & our tour guide, Bob, was a pro with (31) yrs of experience. He went the extra mile & showed us & told us things he normally wouldn't do with a larger crowd.

It was fantastic; however, although we got lots of new ideas we are not going to be able to use them for our home building; ie. each bed (not bedroom) had its own complete bath, so 2 beds to a room, 2 separate baths!

Dinner: tilapia fish, green beans & rice with golden raisins. We finished watching: "Pal Joey" with Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Barbara Nichols, Hank Henry, etc. Sinatra is in peak form as a cocky nightclub singer who makes a move on every "dame" he meets--including innocent showgirl Novak---but meets his Waterloo when wealthy, demanding Hayworth agrees to bankroll his dream of running his own club. 1957. Although I am not a fan of ole blue eyes, this was a fairly good movie to watch.

Lights out: 11:45pm.
Awake: 6:25am       Temp 31       sleep 6+10      sunny      overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

After a small breakfast, I climbed up the ladder again & rid the slides of dew turned to ice.

We left the tiny town of Santa Nella by going south on State road-33, then west on State road-152, then southwest on State road-156 & south on U.S. route-101 to Paso Rubles.

Kathy asked all kinds of questions when selecting a new campground, but we didn't expect this when we turned into the driveway of Paso Robles RV Ranch: a very steep hill with a very large dip. I stopped the bus, got out & surveyed the situation, already the rear steel safety roller was about to hit the asphalt.

We were blocking a 5th wheel that came shortly behind us + a few other cars using the service road. One of the guys exited his truck, came over & suggested that I take a slanted approach from the opposite direction. He told me he has experience doing it that way & it works.

So we detached our Suzuki to let the traffic pass by, then maneuvered the coach to approach the hill from the opposite direction without getting near the wide & long dip. It worked very well & I think Kathy thanked the guy for his advice. I suppose sometime we will be adding that inquiry to our list of questions when selecting a campground.

After paying our camping fee & parking the bus, we hustled downtown to Paso Rubles in our Suzuki; we've heard so many nice things about this town & were excited to see why.

First, a short auto tour of the main downtown area which was nicely planned: wide streets & quite active. Kathy then programmed the GPS for "We Olive," a retail shop & tasting spot, she had read about in the "San Luis Obispo County Visitors Guide."

We had heard of tasting wine but never thought of "tasting" olive oil; after all, olive oil is olive oil! Not so!! Kathy was so curious & excited about the prospect of learning about the oil she uses almost everyday. Olive oil tasting involves smelling the aroma of an oil & then sipping it to taste its positive attributes. Official tasters drink the oil from dark blue glasses, to ensure they can't see the color of the oil (& be influenced by an oil's green or gold color).

There are (3) qualities testers look for: fruitiness (any positive organic smell or taste); bitterness (a sign of freshness, usually tasted on the sides of the tongue); & pungency (a peppery, burning sensation in the throat). We tried many different olive oils, ranging from buttery to various degrees of pungency (from "one cough to two coughs"). We want to share what we learned.

Try it yourself: grab that bottle of oil you've got in the cabinet & taste it. Pour some into a wine glass -about an inch or two. Cover the glass with one hand, while warming the base of the glass with the other. Place your nose in the glass after a minute & breathe in. Does it smell fruity, like green apples or cut grass or tomato leaf? Great! Or does it smell like paint thinner or bacon or a musty cellar? In that case, it's probably defective & should be thrown out. Next, slurp in about a quarter of a teaspoon & let it sit on your tongue while you breathe in. Finally swallow a bit & look for any signs of pepper in the throat. (Did you cough?) If an oil has a greasy feeling on your tongue, it's probably past its prime. DSC08001.JPG
Just across the street we checked out a cheese store, DiRaimondo's Italian Market & Cheese Shop. Not as exciting as we've tasted cheese before, but we did taste & we did buy. The olive oil....we "almost" bought.

Darkness was soon upon us as we strolled around the huge downtown park admiring the main library centered within & a number of classic old buildings that line the streets. We liked this town a lot; there were a lot of nice & cozy stores that we enjoyed seeing.

Earlier we were tipped off that quite a few homes were decorated with outside lights & other Christmas displays on Vine Street, so we took that all in en-route to Wal-Mart for a few groceries.

Dinner: leftover chili & Tostitos.

Evening movie: "Pal Joey." We watched ½.

Lights out: 11:42pm.

Awake: 6:42am     Temp 31     sleep 7+03     sunny     overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

K & I attended the 8:15 Mass @ Our Lady of Miracles in Gustine; a (21) mile round trip. Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, is a holy day of obligation for us.  

Upon entering the relatively large church, we saw only a dozen or so people. Slowly, more adults quietly came in & sat in the pews. Suddenly, (2) doors on each side of the church & many school children, from pre-school thru 8th grade, filled the pews.

A couple of students had been selected ahead of time to read the scripture passages. We were most impressed with one young girl, possibly a third grader, who spoke clearly & distinctly as she read...wait a minute, she wasn't reading! She was looking right at the parishioners & had obviously memorized the reading. Neither Kathy nor I had witnessed that before, especially from such a young girl.

After breakfast, Kathy did (2) loads of laundry.

My brother called: he informed me that PA is going to increase their new construction code costs by 5---10% in 2010. "That's not good" I tell him.

My sister, Mary Jo, called. She heard that the Grapevine on I-5 was closed last night due to snow & freezing rain & wanted to know if that was going to cause trouble for us. I let her know that we are going to be on Hwy-101 & should be ok.

We studied our campground books, used the computer & made a few cell phone calls in prep for tomorrow's travel, checking suitable campgrounds for our continued trip south on Hwy-101.

Dinner: Kathy's good chili with Tostitos.

Evening movie: "Moulin Rouge" with Jose Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Suzanne Flon, Dric Pohlmann, Colette Marchand, etc. Rich, colorful film based on life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the 19th century Parisian artist whose growth was stunted by childhood accident. 1952. This movie is based on a true story & we both highly recommend it.

Lights out: 12:15am.    

Awake: 6:52am      Temp 39       sleep 8+00      steady rain     overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

Driving the Suzuki, K & I began our journey to visit Bob & Mary Lou @ 8:15am; they are now living in Los Altos, a mere (82) miles one way.

We headed south on State Hwy-33 then west on State Hwy-152, then north on State Hwy-156 to US route-101 to State Hwy-85. We arrived @ their homestead @ 10:00am sharp.

They were expecting us & had their door open before we were close enough to knock. They both look good & lively.

Within (10) min, Bob took me on a tour of their home & showed me all the things he's been doing to really fix the ole homestead up. They've had this place since the early 70's but lived elsewhere for a number of yrs. Their eldest son, Rob, lived here & kept their house looking fairly good, until he moved out 2 yrs ago after getting married. Bob is really the master at working with wood & other things & wants to make needed improvements & changes.

Meanwhile, Mary Lou & Kathy were in the sunroom chatting away. When we finished the tour we join the girls in the sunroom & continued catching up on each others life since (3) yrs ago.

Mary Lou served lunch; Amish soup from Trader Joe's, various yummy cheeses, dip & crackers & a cranberry freeze for dessert. After lunch, using my CA map, Bob pointed out a number of interesting towns to visit when we go south on U.S. route-101 in our motorhome on Wednesday.

Next, we all took a drive to the nearby Trader Joe's Store (1/4) mile; Kathy & I needed a few groceries & Bob wanted to fuel up his Saab auto, so why not. Back to the house, more talk &, before we knew it, it was time for us to leave. DSC07994.JPG Our visit with Mary Lou & Bob was most enjoyable but much too short. However, we now know that on U.S. route-101 south of Los Altos, there are a few campgrounds that can accommodate our size motorhome, making it a simpler & possibly longer rendezvous the next time.

En route back to Santa Nella, we make a stop @ Casa de Fruita for some mandarins, garlic, yellow onions, & some pistachios. We were back at the motorhome @ 5:12pm. Round trip: 165 miles.

Evening movie; we finished: "The Owl & the Pussycat" with Barbra Streisand, George Segal, Robert Klem, Allen Garfield, etc. Hit Broadway comedy about semi-illiterate prostitute and stuffy intellectual sometimes substitutes bombast for wit, but the laughs are there. 1970. I'm not going to recommend this movie to anyone.

Lights out: 11:29pm.

Awake: 7:54am    Temp 34    sleep 8+12    mostly cloudy    overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

For breakfast, Kathy used (5) eggs, (8) slices of bread, (10) strips of bacon, & a big bottle of maple syrup; yes, French toast. We haven't had this in a long time.

Very cool outside with threats of we spent the day inside, reading & planning our next adventure.

Katrina called from Denver: we used our split cord on the cell phone so we both could talk & listen @ the same time. Katrina & her roommate hiked thru the forest & cut down their (2) Christmas trees which are already set up in the house &, at least, partly decorated.

Dinner: Italian sausage, penne pasta, & a mixed salad.  

Evening movie: "The Owl & the Pussycat." We watch two thirds.

Lights out: 11:29pm.

Awake: 6:54am     Temp 42    sleep 6+09    partly cloudy     overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

After breakfast, I did some more basement storage organizing & getting rid of unnecessary stuff. About an hr later, cool air moved in & the sun was blocked by clouds, so I quit & will wait for better conditions. DSC07995.JPG Mid afternoon, K & I again motored to Los Banos & thoroughly checked out the Dickens Christmas craft fair. A lot of display items (homemade) were exhibited, especially representing Christmas, but nothing we couldn't do without.

We left the craft fair & attended the 5:30 vigil Mass @ St. Joseph Catholic Church; a very modern structure. Inside was one of the more logical floor plans I've witnessed in a long time.

The pews were set up as a half wagon wheel so each row led toward the front & focused on the altar. The Baptismal font in the rear between the nave & pews was an elaborate (3) tier fountain with cascading water into the main bottom basin. And the acoustics were great.

Dinner: turkey rice veggie soup

Evening movie: "Of Mice & Men" with Lon Chaney, Jr., Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Bob Steele, Noah Beery, Jr. Chaney gives best performance of his career as feeble-brained Lennie who, with migrant-worker Meredith, tries to live peacefully on ranch. John Steinbeck's morality tale remains intact in sensitive screen version. 1939. Very intense; not for children.

Lights out: 11:42pm.
Awake: 7:28am      Temp 39      sleep 7+03      sunny      overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

Bob called from Los Altos; we discussed a visit plan for week.

There isn't much to see or do in this area aside from our cleaning & doing a little more organization, but Kathy searched the Internet & found: The "Dickens" Craft Fair in Los Banos, a mere (10) miles....starting today.

Mid afternoon we motored to Los Banos & not only checked the old town out, which was founded in the 1840's with a population now of approx 39,000, but also discovered an ole style snack bar/ice cream fountain in a Rexall store downtown. I didn't even think of having a root beer float, or a banana split, etc, but Kathy did & kept it to herself. I kind of wish she would have spoken up.

When checking out the Dickens craft fair, we learned they were still setting up & would open @ 5:00pm. En route to our campground, we found the Catholic Church in Los Banos for tomorrows visit.

It was a nice afternoon for a walk, which we did around the campground & nearby housing area for (45) min of exercise.

Dinner: baked salmon with pecan crunch coating, brown rice, & green beans in Boursin sauce.

Evening movie: "If Only You Could Cook" with Herbert Marshall, Jean Arthur, Leo Carrillo, Lionel Stander, etc. Arthur and Marshall are superb team in this delightful comedy of wealthy automobile tycoon/inventor and penniless woman, who, for complex reasons, become mobster Carrillo's maid and butler. 1935. Cute with a... make you feel hungry...feeling. DSC07988.JPG
Lights out: 12:45am.
Awake: 7:40am Temp 42 sleep 7+14 sunny overnight @ Santa Nella, CA.

1st day in a long time, we had no plans to do things either inside or outside our motorhome, but we did find things to do.

Sometime during the mid 90's when I was in Brisbane, Australia & on a layover doing some window shopping, I saw & purchased a Franklin "Crosswords Puzzle solver" for Kathy's birthday. She used it infrequently for yrs; but lately, she's been using it more often & now, the battery has run down. Fortunately I had a new battery in my drawer to bring the unit back to life. This was the 1st battery change since the purchase. DSC07981.JPG Our overhead slide room lights have been failing off & pun intended; it wasn't easy but I did get them working....for a few hrs ... & then, not!

Meanwhile, Kathy cleaned & vacuumed the inside of our coach while I began another re-organizing plan for our lower bay storage.

Mid afternoon, K & I took a (20) min walk for exercise, fresh air & curiosity around the campground & nearby homes.

Dinner: pork chops, fried noodles, rice with golden raisins, sautéed apples & onions & a mixed salad.

Evening movie: "My Sister Eileen" with Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Kurt Kasznar, etc. Delightful, unpretentious musical version of 1942 movie about Ohio girls seeking success in the big city, moving into nutty Greenwich Village apartment. Especially interesting to see young Lemmon singing and equally young Fosse dancing; this was the first film he choreographed on his own. 1955. My advice: unless you love musicals, stay far away from this movie.

Lights out: 12:25am.
Awake: 6:55am     Temp 36      sleep 6+52    fog--- then sunny      overnight @ Lodi, CA.

After a medium sized cereal breakfast, I climbed the ladder & cleaned the dew off our slides, & then retracted them while Kathy returned the modem & DSL Ethernet cable to the campground office. That high-speed Internet worked really well for our Apple computer.

We left the Flag City R.V. Resort, drove 1/8th mile across the street, & topped off our motorhome tank with 146 gallons @ $2.92 per gal. Then, @ 12:15pm, we continued southbound on I-5, arriving @ the Santa Nella R.V. & M.H. Park @ 1:40pm. DSC07980.JPG
Today's travel: 80 miles 1+39 time 13 gal used 6.4 mpg 49 mph avg speed.

In March of 2004, we spent (4) days @ this campground, visiting places like Hollister, where I talked Kathy into going for a glider ride....which she didn't like; then the town of Monterey Bay, where we visited the huge Aquarium & were mystified by the Aquatic life that is in another world.

The next day, we visited the towns of Gilroy, Watsonville & Castroville & ended up in Salinas & went to the famous Steinbeck Center & Museum. We spent over (2) hrs going thru the unique displays & dioramas &; suddenly realized...we were only ½ finished.

We hustled thru the last half of the center & then drove over to the town of Carmel, walked around town where lots of upscale shops & unique bungalows were seen. We even looked for Clint no avail.

Then we found our way to the beach & Pacific Ocean where we had someone take our picture. Both days were long with late returns in the dark.

This time, aside from visiting Bob & Mary Lou next week, we haven't made any touring plans...yet?

Dinner: (surf & turf), tuna steak & pulled pork, rice & a mixed salad.

Evening movie, we finished watching: "The Great Ziegfeld" with William Powell, Myma Loy, Luise Rainer, Frank Morgan, Fanny Brice, etc. Spectacular, immensely entertaining biography of flamboyant impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, with Powell quite dashing in the title role. However, Rainer (as Anna Held) is stunning, and won an Academy Award; her telephone scene is a classic. Also won Oscars for Best Picture & Dance Direction. 1936. Fantastic story; you don't want to miss this one.

Lights out: 12:26am.
Awake: 7:11am Temp 37 sleep 6+43 fog - sunny overnight @ Lodi, CA.

Kathy did (3) loads of laundry inside while I rebuilt (1) leg of my portable water filter unit outside. Ed cut the 2X4 precisely where I wanted it cut; so to be on the safe side, I also drilled holes a mite smaller than the nails I prevent splitting. Now it looks a lot better & definitely a lot sturdier. Sometime, I'll get around to painting it again. DSC07978.JPG
Mary Jo called a little after 6:00pm; we are meeting them for dinner @ the Strings Italian Restaurant in Lodi. What a coincidence, we both arrived in the Strings parking lot @ the same time.

The restaurant wasn't very busy so we were served fairly quickly. K & I shared a combination plate of lasagna in a pastry shell, tortellini in an Alfredo sauce, & stuffed mushrooms, which was quite good. Afterwards, I was getting my money clip out to pay our bill & I heard: "NO, NO!" from Ed. "Put that away!" "But we ate a lot of food & drank a lot of your wine @ your home" I told him. "Makes no difference" he replied. Alright, alright & I succumbed.

Anyway Ed & Mary Jo; we certainly thank you again for the good turkey dinner, the good times, good meals, good wines, funny home movies, etc, etc. It was fun hanging out with you guys.

Back @ our motorhome, we watched & listened to the Obama speech on sending more of our troops to war.

Lights out: 12:03am.

Monday 30 November 2009

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Awake: 6:46am Temp 38 sleep 6+43 sunny overnight @ Lodi, CA. Mid morning I called HWH Corp & ordered (2) new calendar refills for our Rocking calendars. I can usually tell when my driving gets a little falls off our computer desk & makes a big "thump." DSC07977.JPG
Then K & I went shopping in the city of Stockton, about (9) miles south of our campground. Without detailing all that we saw or did this day, let me just say: (9) stores. That's (1) store for every mile. Sherwood Mall, Barnes & Noble, Toys "R" Us, Trader Joe's, Rite Aid, Safeway, BevMo, Radio Shack & Costco. Store traffic was minimal so we were lucky to get a lot looked @ & some things bought in (1) day. We drove back to our motorhome in the dark. Dinner: leftover turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce & leftover apple/onion. Evening movie: "The Great Ziegfeld." We watched 1/3. Lights out: 12:29am.
Awake: 8:12am    Temp 48   sleep 7+10   sunny    overnight @ Lodi, CA.

K & I did more campground hunting this morning, using our camping books, computer & cell phone. We have (2) options, neither of which are convenient for our plans.

When we visited Ed, Mary Jo & Matt this afternoon, we found both Matt & Ed comfortably watching football on their big flat screen. As the game ended, I asked Ed if he would like to do some woodworking in the garage. He sprang into action, cleared an area in the garage, got his dusty Shop smith ready to cut & before I could say "thanks," he was finished. DSC07970.JPG My wooden homemade portable water filter unit has been falling apart, & one of the legs is nearly rotted. The other day I found a good 2 X 4, so I took measurements to rebuild the faulty leg; now I can do the rest later.

Mid afternoon, the (3) of us took a walk for exercise & fresh air on the Levee behind their home. Their levee is reasonably active with runners, bikers, walkers, etc. We walked about (30) min.

Late afternoon, Ed got his photo equipment ready for more home movies tonight...until, he discovered his old system has a problem & does not work. I, for one, was disappointed.

Mary Jo's dinner: oven baked Parmesan crusted chicken breasts with green beans & pasta Alfredo; very tasty.

We didn't stay late tonight due to both Mary Jo & Ed having to work tomorrow....but we will gather again on Tuesday.

Evening movie: "The French Lieutenant's Woman" with Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Leo McKern, Hilton McRae, Emily Morgan, etc. A scandalous romance between a gentleman and a tainted woman in Victorian England is contrasted with a contemporary affair between the actor & actress who are playing those roles in a movie. The juxtaposition is jarring at first, but becomes more engaging as the film progresses. 1981. Yes, it was confusing @ 1st, but it was most interesting & entertaining; the story does not necessarily end the same in truth & fiction.

Lights out: 11:57pm.
Awake: 7:40am Temp 49 sleep 7+12 sunny....breezy overnight @ Lodi, CA.

Most of the morning, K & I casually looked for a reasonable campground near the Los Altos area where my buddy Bob lives. We didn't find any but we're not finished searching.

Today Mary Jo is doing laundry so we delayed our visiting until after 4:00pm. When we did arrive @ 4:15, we were just in time to have a glass of wine before going to the vigil Mass @ St. Joseph Catholic Church in downtown, Lodi. The church was about ½ full.

Afterward, Ed drove us to the Lodi Beer Co. & Restaurant where we celebrated Mary Jo & Ed's 39th wedding anniversary. K & I shared a porter beer before eating our fresh salmon dinner. DSC07967.JPG Back @ Mary Jo & Ed's home, we watched more home movies of their kids growing up.

We return to our Motorhome for more evening entertainment & I watched ½ of the movie: "The French Lieutenant's Woman."

Lights out: 1:02am.


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