Monday, October 31, 2011

"We don't quit agree" Continued

Sunday I started writing a post entitled "We don't quite agree" when Craig looked over my shoulder and said "We should talk about this..." So, I deleted the content but somehow  the title got published.

It drew some amusing comments which I didn't discover until tonight. We really weren't having an argument or anything, we just didn't have the same ideas.

The "what" we don't quite agree on is how far we should go for a weekend trip. 

Although I do enjoy walking up the back drive to just visit the Alfa, and sleep in her from time to time, I want to get more experience helping Craig park her and also learn to drive her myself.

I've read that it's good to drive an RV at least once a month to keep the engine and tires "happy." So I want to scheduale a couple of short trips between now and our longer Christmas adventure.  

Craig agrees with all of that.  
But we differ on suitable distances and destinations.

Craig suggested Crater Lake, Oregon, But it's 489 miles away, and closed for the winter.

His next suggestion was Death Valley. It's 515 miles in the other direction. 

No dear, these are not weekend drives. 

We have driven that far in a day,  but even then it was not just for a weekend, and it was not in a motor home. 

I'm thinking no more than 100 miles. 

Less would be even better.

We tossed around a few other destinations and finally settled on  Pinnacles National Monument.  It's about 90 miles away. 

We went there on 9/11 in 2002.  We wanted to go somewhere peaceful and away from all news broadcasts, not wanting to be deluged with "one year later" media coverage.  The trails were very interesting, but unfortunately it was about 100* that day, and I suffered a case if heat exhaustion while hiking up the mountain.  I hope I will do better this time.  Maybe we will take an easier trail! 

The temperatures are sure to be cool, if not cold! We might even have a bit of stormy weather.  But if we do we can just hunker down and be cozy.

So our next adventure is planned for this upcoming weekend. Reservations have been made. We will leave on Friday and come home on Monday.  

It looks like we will have a very nice spot.  It is rated for a 37' RV, and is quite near the visitors center and the shuttle bus stop. It only has a 30amp hookup with no water or sewer, But I think we will be just fine without.

There is a potable water spigot near our spot, I have been told it tastes terrible, so we have decided to fill our fresh water tank at home before we leave.  

Since bringing the motorhome down to the front drive is part of turning it around to get out, we will fill the water from the house.  I will have to go and buy an extra white hose so we can reach the gravity fill, but that's OK,  it's something we can use later if we want to flush our tanks.   

Now to plan what clothes to take and what we will be eating ...

And before I forget... Welcome new followers  Allen and Lolita, I look forward to getting to know you thru your blog and comments.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We don't quite agree

Tea Time in Merikay’s Woods

Craig and I have an evening tradition.  At 8:30 PM he makes us each a cup of tea.  He gets Sleepy Time and I get Sleepy Time Extra. Sometimes we will have cookies too.

I have been an evening tea drinker fro a long time.  It has only been recently (about the last year or so) that he has joined me and has taken over the task of preparing it for us both.

Since I do 99% of the cooking and dish washing, I rather enjoy this small bit of pampering I get each night.

Last night we had our tea up in The Big White Thing.

 We went up right after the Stanford game finished, (no good radio, TV  or WIFI up there.) So it was a little late.

It’s so cozy up there.  We slept there last night too. 
Haven’t done that for a couple of weeks.

The weather has been quite mild all week and we didn’t need to run the furnace at all. I kept thinking about all of you who have had an early season snow storm.

Gotta love California!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If the Government is Buying Elephants ...

I got a call from Craig this afternoon. 
 He said "If the government is buying Elephants ... it must be a sign of a Republican takeover."

He can check our primary email from anywhere and was able to see and read an incoming order for a Large Elephant placed by someone in Washington DC with a .gov email address.  

I cannot tell you who the order was from, but I can tell you it was not from Barack Obama!

They also ordered a Warthog.

My animal sales have been very slow this fall. 

 Heck, slow is not the word, nonexistent is more like it. I had a very good summer, but this is my first order in six weeks. 

 If I considered myself a "real" business, I would have to close up shop.   A few years ago I would be booked solid with Christmas orders by now.  

Maybe it is part of a job stimulus package. 

 My job.

This is a repeat customer.  Last year they bought a Tiger and a Rhino. 

Actually, I don't think it is "the government."  I think my customer is someone who lives in DC and works for the government, hence the .gov email.  

But selling an elephant to the Obama administration  makes a fun story.

And it's good to have some work to do.  

It makes me feel loved.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Sometimes I comment a lot.
 Sometimes I don't.

But I usually read all of the blogs that I follow.

Except when I don't!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friends and Family

Life is Good!  

Especially when you can spend a nice weekend meeting new friends and visiting with family.

Chores around the house got away from us Saturday morning such that we were late arriving at Laurie and George's wedding.  Craig didn't realize how long it would take to get from our house to Salinas, and then we  ran into some unexpected slow traffic.  

 Actually we were so late that we missed the ceremony completely, but we did get to meet Laurie and George, enjoy a piece of cake and punch, and wish them well in their new life.

We have invited them over for dinner on Thursday, so we will have a chance to get to know them a bit.

Funny how everything seems to happen all at the same time!  I knew my brother, from Wisconsin, and his wife were planning on visiting our area on a trip thru California this fall, but I didn't know when they would be here.

They have a very nice 32' class A National RV, and were taking the long way from Wisconsin to their winter home in Arizona. It turned out they found a campground about ten miles from our house, and after the wedding we connected with them and had a nice evening together.

I haven't seen him for a couple of years.  We talk on the phone once in a while, but it's been several years since I've been back to Wisconsin. 

  On Sunday morning they came  here for coffee and to see the Alfa.

Then we all went down to a Sports Bar in town to watch the Packer Game, then back to their camp to have a little cookout.

It was so good to see him.  And to hear his "big brother" tease about my toy RV and white spotter gloves.  Although I let my family know I had a blog, I didn't think they read it very often because none have signed up as followers nor ever left a comment.  It turns out that both my brothers and my kids DO read my posts!  He finds it amusing.  

The weekend ended to soon and we had to say good by for now.  They are off to Yosemite in the morning.  

Life IS Good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turn Left, NO your other Left!

I'm not ashamed to admit there is something slightly wrong different about my brain.  I know I'm dyslexic, I can't spell, and I am left handed.  My mind mixes up letters, sometimes reading "saw" as "was" and seeing a "6" as a "9".  But hey, I'm an artist!

Sometimes I have to concentrate and feel which hand I use to write, before I can be sure which is Left and Right.  It is almost as if it is a new discovery each time, instead of something I know.

My family has often laughed at me when we are going somewhere and I am the driver.  If I'm told to turn Left, I might turn Right, and they tell me "No Mom, your other Left!

Or if I'm in the passenger seat and giving directions, I am better to just point which way to turn rather than to say "turn left" or "turn right."

I have always just bluffed my way thru life with this.  I understand maps, but following them can be a challenge.  The only time I have experienced driving with a GPS lady giving me directions was in a driving rainstorm and she totally confused me.  I would have been better off on my own.

Given that, I was quite unsure of myself about helping Craig back into the driveway.  I was also quite sure, that based on past experience, he didn't trust my giving directions either.

I'm not going to go into details, but it did not go well!  

We got her parked, but a neighbor walking down the road stopped to see if we were in trouble!  By that time we had just gotten thru the worst, and Craig was in the clear to just go straight back. But I'm sure the whole mountain heard us getting to that point.  

Sound travels miles across the hills! 

One of our problems was that  we had not agreed on what the hand signals meant, nor what or how to communicate.  I kept telling Craig which direction the back end needed to go, and he kept telling me that was useless, because all he could do was steer the front end.  He kept asking which way he should turn the wheels, and I could not tell him.

I need to say I had asked him for some practice time in a parking lot before we tried this on our own, but he didn't think it was necessary.  So this mess was his fault too.

We might have done OK in a big open place, but the tight curve of the driveway bordered by a soft soil drop off on one side, and an RV denting stump on the other requires skill, cooperation, and patience.  

We got it in, but we were very upset with each other. 

  I am determined that we can, and will do better!

People learn things in different ways.  Some can transfer knowledge easily from one situation to another.  I cannot.  I can drive a car and I can it back up. (All right I did back into Craig's car some weeks back)  But, until yesterday I could not have told you which way to turn the steering wheel to make the back of the car go left or right unless I was sitting in the drivers seat and doing it.  

I say "until yesterday," because now I know!

My toy RV came in the mail yesterday. Using it has a learning aid will help me be a great RV parking guide!

I realized that to give Craig the information he wanted, I had to think in terms of which way to turn the wheel, and not just which way I wanted the back end of the RV to go. 

 I needed to learn to think in terms of clockwise, and counter clockwise.

 I took a pair of white cotton photography gloves and marked both sides with words, a big letter, and arrows.  If I put them on the correct hands, my mind and eyes won't get confused.

I marked all of the corners of the toy RV, and used tape to make little direction arrows.  
I then went out to my van and moved the van in each of the directions I had marked. 
Back end to the right, back end to the left, etc.  At each point I noticed which way I was turning the wheel. 
 I got out and looked at the front wheels to see which way they were turning.  I noted all of it on the toy RV top.

Now I know that to move right you turn the wheel clockwise, and to move to the left you turn the wheel counter clockwise.  Not "earth shattering" information, but for someone who has my kind of mind, a real challenge,

I have also written this on my kitchen white board.  I will see it often like a big flash card.  

I think the headsets will also help a lot because I will know if Craig is understanding me or not.  

He will have to learn to trust me, and to go slowly.  

Patience and cooperation.

I asked Craig if we could just drive the RV to the entrance of the driveway after the stump is removed, and practice backing it back in, but he said it would not be good for the engine to idle it that much. I had read something about not running the engine on idle for more than ten minutes in reference to starting it up at least once a month. So I guess we won't be able to try all of this until the next time we go on a trip.

Meanwhile we both can play with the RV toy.  I can practice giving it backing up directions,
 and Craig can rearrange the furniture.  

(It has a working slide too!)

Note:  funny what you learn about people reading blogs! Craig likes colorful PJs.  I call these his clown PJs. He picked out the fabric and I sewed them for him.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moss Landing

On our first day at Moss Landing we took a long walk along the dunes that separate the slough from the beach.

The path was roped off to keep people, dogs, and horses off the dunes because they are in a state of restoration.

Below is a 1 minute video of the highlights of the walk. The plants were interesting, The sunshine was perfect, and the weather was perfect.  After walking along the back of the dunes we cut across to the beach.  The waves were wonderful, and at one point we stopped to rest on a large driftwood log.  As we looked out to sea we saw the fins of a very large pod of dolphin.  There must have been a hundred of them!

At this point I'm learning to cut video down to just a taste.  I will soon be learning to add words and music.
What I want to do is create very short videos like this for my blog, but also do a longer version for ourselves.

On the second day we took a guided boat ride in the Elkhorn Slough.  The video below gives you a taste of what we saw.  It is only a minute and a half, but this time I experimented with using the still photos taken with my Canon Point and Shoot, titles and background music.

if you click on  YouTube  you can see a larger version
 Once there you can expand to full screen by clicking on the 
arrows in the lower right corner, give it a try

There is so much to learn in using the new camera and in using iMovie and iTunes.  But it sure is a lot less trouble than editing the old 8mm with white gloves!

I'm not sure if this is my thing yet or not.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Name

I just don't feel like processing pictures today so the images from Moss Landing will just have to wait.

Somehow, when we arrived in Moss Landing we missed the very obvious entrance to the KOA.  We went a little way past it and turned around, then we drove past it a second time. 

(We were later told by Levonne that she and the manager watched us drive by.)

We stopped down the street from it, and I went into the Post Office to ask directions.  Two nice ladies were getting their mail and walked out with me to point out the KOA which was all of a half block away. 

  They looked at the Alfa and asked: "Is that your Big White Thing?"

When I reboarded the Alfa I told Craig what they had called it and he decided that would be its new name.

"The Big White Thing"

I will probably still call it The Alfa.

Other bits:
We have ordered walkie-talkie head sets to use when getting in or out of our yard, or backing into park spots.

I called and requested an estimate from a stump grinding company to remove the stump which will widen the upper drive a bit.

I ordered a $10 toy Class A RV that I can play with to help me understand how to give better backing up directions.

We will do better next time! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back to the House

My heart will be up in the Alfa, so here is now just "the house."

We made it home with no problem.  La Mesa had put 1/2 tank of fuel in for us to start and so we filled it up on the way home.  First time for everything! No propane was needed. But it was good practice to pull into a station for the first time.  I had scoped it out in advance.

The drive was smooth even if Craig would not hear my words of wisdom about 55 MPH being the right speed.  

He feels he has to keep up with traffic.  I feel they can pass us.  Oh Well. When I'm in the driver seat, I will drive at a speed I'm comfortable with. 

If you have a Class A, what speed do you try to maintain on the highway?

Backing into the upper drive was as hard if not harder than the first  time.   I think we have to get head phones or something so we can communicate better.  

A little more road work is also needed, as in cutting out the side of that stump and a bit of the hillside.

But we are back in one piece.  Still married.  Still friends.

The good thing is everything seemed to work on the Alfa.  We made a few mistakes,  we forgot a few things, but we have made it thru our maiden voyage, and are looking forward to trips to come.

Now that we have gotten out once, I can be content to wait until the  trip at Christmas. We might go on another weekend in November, but basically I'd be OK with waiting until we can go for more than a day or two.  And that won't be until after Craig retires at the end of the year.  But we might just go sleep up there any night!

I'll post Moss Landing pictures during the week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

So Where Do We Sign Up?

If today is an example of a laid back day on the road, I say: "where do we sign up!"

After a very comfortable night sleep (I was totally exhausted both mentally and physically) we walked over to a local restrauant with our friends Levonne and John for breakfast.  

Their dog Gingee was sad she couldn't come in, but found a way to see her Mom and Dad.  (Levonne was NOT happy she found her way onto a table.)

On the way back to our rigs we sighted our first otter. 
They are everywhere!

Tomorrow we are going on a guided boat tour that will focus on the otters.

John and Levonne had their own things to do, so Craig and I decided to look into renting some Kayaks.  I wasn't enthusiastic because we really didn't have what I considered the right clothes, and it would have been a long walk to the rental place.  (I have never been kayaking.)

So we settled on a nice long walk in the dunes and along the beach.

I also shot some video, but I don't have my YouTube password along, so I will post a bit of it later in the week.

I was excited to see some dolphins out in the ocean.  I have lived in California for a long time and have never seen them!

One last picture:

These are the two little dings we put in the lower edge of the Alfa.  If we get home and have this be the worst, I'll be happy.

It has been a nice first day.  

Like I said:
"Where do we sign up!"

Right now our dinner is cooking in the slow cooker, Craig is watching a baseball game, and I am blogging.  Sweet!

Friday, October 14, 2011

First Drive OUT

Well, we made it out of our drive and out of our road, but it was not easy and it was not "pretty!"

As Craig eased the Alfa out of it's parking place everything seemed good:

But, as he came around the curve where the evil tree had been, he got too close to its root and got a bit hung up.

Unfortunately this dented the lower edge along the  bottom of the driver's side.  Not too bad.  But dented.

We got out of the upper drive and went down to the lower drive to turn around. 

Unfortunately, Craig started the turn into the driveway a bit too soon and came very very close to the jagged stone wall:

Stop!  Look out!
But after a few careful moves he was in the clear:

He straightened it out and was able to do a clean back out:

Not a lot of extra room, but we did it!

Then he was able to turn it around and we were headed up the road.  I did get out once more to watch the side as we edged past a tight curve along a rocky wall, but otherwise we were quite OK.

The next 1/2 mile were a little scary.  As we approached the worse of the tight, blind curves, I suggested Craig blow the horn before edging around it.  That was good because there was  car coming  the other way.

Next we had to merge onto the freeway in rush our traffic, but that went OK.

The next 44 miles were smooth.  A bit stop and go, but no problems.

We had a small problem actually finding the KOA.  Passed the entrance twice! But once we found it and a couple of guys helped us park we got settled in OK. 

We did have one more minor mishap.  A box of Kleenex was in the way of the slide edge and bent the trim a little.  I'm way too tired to be upset about it.

Taking along a precooked meal was a good idea. The white bean chili tasted pretty good!

We even got the oven lit and baked a par-baked bread from Trader Joe's!

After dinner we went for a night walk.  

The only bad thing about the Moss Landing KOA so far is that the water smells like rotten eggs!  Glad I brought a big bottle of water for coffee tomorrow!

So, a few dings, a few problems, but so far so good!

 We did it!


Arrived,  drinking wine

eating dinner,

willpost later.


2:00 PM Friday.  


Alfa is all packed.

I'm ready to go.

Craig has not come home from work yet.  
I thought he'd be here by now.

He checked the tire pressure last night, and we watched the how to back into an RV park spot video this morning.

We reread our manuals during the week.

I'm ready.

I'm waiting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


When Craig and I were in our 40's and 50's we were skiers.  We would drive up to Tahoe from our home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, several times each winter for a weekend.  We would also take one or two week long ski trips either at Tahoe or at several other locations around the country.

I had packing for such jaunts down pat.  We would watch the weather reports and make the decision to go by Wednesday.  Then I would book a motel room and arrange for kennel space of the dogs and cat. I had everything organized and knew just what to take.  Week long trips always took a little more planning because there was cooking to do.

I expect the same will be true once we have taken a couple of trips in the Alfa.  But for now I keep thinking of what not to take.  

I'm a planner at heart.  Because we won't have a car along I feel I need to plan our meals ahead of time.

I'm making a "white bean chicken chili" for dinner tonight so that I will have leftovers that we can just rewarm and have with a salad for Friday's dinner.  I'm taking the Slow cooker so I can make a pot of root beer ribs on Saturday.  I've got the breakfasts covered to, and we almost never eat lunch.

I did go out a buy a couple of folding chairs today.  I had just washed some old nonfolding plastic yard chairs and put them in one of the bays since we didn't have any folding ones.  I mentioned that to Craig this morning and he told me to go buy some.  It seems to me that there are so many kinds, each person should pick out what they are comfortable with, but Craig said to just go buy what I wanted and get one for him to match.  

I don't like to sit in the canvas chairs that fold up to nothing.  I've tried several, some really expensive ones and was not comfortable.  I do like the Camping World rocker, and maybe someday I will get one, but for now I found two very nice folding chairs for half price at Kmart.  $19.99 each.  So now were all set to sit!

I also scoped out the gas station with the lowest price for diesel (only because it was on the way to Kmart) and looked at which way we will need to enter the station that has the propane fill for RVs.  They are not the same.  The Valero station has diesel for $3.99, but no propane.  The 76 station a few blocks away has the propane, but it's price for diesel is $4.15

Everything costs more in California.  I was looking at an online site that shows fuel prices around the country and see it is much lower else were!  $3.97 is the lowest I can find here and that station is at least ten miles out of our way.  We'd use a couple of gallons to save a few cents.

So friends.  Keep your fingers crossed for us Friday afternoon as we turn the Alfa around and drive up our somewhat steep and curving road.  We can do this!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can't Sleep

It's 12:36 AM, and I am wide awake.  My mind is full of thoughts and ideas. I've been to bed, but couldn't sleep.

What to pack for a two day jaunt? Will it be cold at the Ocean.  Warm clothes? Summer wear? Both?

What to plan for food?  I don't want to eat out, even though I know there is a wonderful restaurant there, because I want to try out the stove, and the oven, and the convection/microwave.

Two breakfasts, two dinners. I think I'll make something simple on Friday night and something in the slow cooker for Saturday.  But what?  Food is always our top priority around here.

I'll have to see what cookware I have that fits into that tiny oven.  I might have to go to Sur La Table to buy that little baking sheet I saw last week. Maybe I should just stick with the throw away foil tray I have.  All I want to make in the oven is some half baked bread, or some garlic bread if I decide on Spaghetti for Friday.

Better go up and measure the oven first.

Do I stop the newspaper for just Saturday?  I think not.

I always do the full weeks wash on Sunday.  Maybe I should do a couple of loads tomorrow so I won't be behind.  

Craig is up too.  He said he is thinking about driving the Alfa,  and thinking about getting it turned around and up the road.  

He just went back to bed.

So exciting.

I'd better go back to bed now too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

They Came! They came!

Yes!  The county came and trimmed the trees. 


Music to my ears.

The deer at the end were a few locals seen along the road as I went home.

 I have booked a space at the Moss Landing KOA for Friday and Saturday nights.  It is nearby and my friend Levonne and her husband are there.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

It Doesn't Take Much ...

To make me happy.  

I've been checking the Alfa very careful every day and I haven't found any new mouse signs. The traps and bait remain untouched.

Happy Happy, 
but I am not letting down my guard.

With mice in mind, I have been thinking about being extra clean and careful with food and snacks in the Alfa.  (I am not known for being a great housekeeper, but this is a new challenge and I want to do it right.)

One appliance I have been concerned about is the toaster.  We make toast several times a week, and I will be keeping the toaster in the kitchen cupboard.  

In the house I keep it on the counter and I notice that there are often crumbs around it. I have always just wiped them up as part of the cleaning the kitchen. 

Then I had an idea.  Put a tray under the toaster to catch the crumbs.  I could wipe it out after each use, keeping the counter and cupboard crumb free.

 But to find the perfect tray?  

"Flash of genius..." The lid of one of those cheep plastic shoeboxes makes a perfect tray.  I'm going to use it in the house so I will develop the habit of wiping it out after each toaster use.  

I had a second wonderful discovery this afternoon.  
I went to the World Market store looking for a narrow basket.  I found an inexpensive basket, AND I found a set of two 8" pizza stones.

My medium size pizza stone does not fit into the RV oven, but If set these on the bias they will both fit into the oven at once, or since I have a double shelf for the convection microwave  could use them both in it.  

We really like to make homemade pizza.  I have a number of great recipes including one with caramelized onions with walnuts and balsamic vinegar, and one with only feta cheese and dill weed. 

Pizza is always better when made on a stone and now I will be able to do it in the Alfa. Now I have to find a miniature pizza peel!

Something that did not make me happy.  On Friday the guys from the county were seen on Hutchinson Road. They came, they looked, they did not trim any trees, they left.  Craig called the supervisor this morning and couldn't get thru again.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Who Else am I Missing

I know some bloggers just stop posting for one reason or another. 

There are some who post just about every day and I'm used to seeing their posts pop up on my reading list.  If I don't see them for a couple of days I might wonder, but figure they just were busy or in a place where the internet isn't very good.

If someone decides to stop posting, they don't "owe" anyone any explanation,  but it is nice when someone does write something to let their followers know they are taking a break.

I hadn't seen a new post from Me and My Dog for a while, but didn't think much of it. Gypsy did, and mentioned it in her post, so I checked and the most recent post I had by Barbra was 5 weeks ago.  

Now I'm wondering about who else I'm missing.  How would I know if someone was still posting if it doesn't show up.  Need I click on each of the 100 or so blogs on my list?  

Who do I complain to?