Saturday, June 30, 2012

Burney Falls

So far so good!

I hope I am not tempting the fates by saying that so far everything is going smoothly.

I really like having my own bed and cooking my own food in my own kitchen! 

I think the dishes are so much cleaner hand washed than in the dishwasher at home!

So far every meal has worked well.  I brought all of the right cooking equipment.  I've used the slow cooker and  baked bread in the bread machine.  

We continue to "eat healthy!"

The choice to move the Alfa from the Lassen area to Burney Falls instead of driving up as a day trip was the right one.

The move went smoothly and we stayed in a small RV Park, with almost all "full time residents" around us. Driving north the 60 miles to Burney, puts us about 90 miles from our next stop at the Lava Beds National Monument.

I did the wash in the late afternoon because the clean laundry was just steps away and the cost of $1.00 per wash and $1.00 per dry was too good to pass up. 

We easily saw and relished Burney Falls in one afternoon.

Although the afternoon temperatures got into the 80s, the falls created a refreshing cool atmosphere.  

The day's walk was thru a shaded canyon along a rushing stream. 

Everyone seems so friendly!  On our walk we met a couple that were just a little younger than we are, and exchanged hellos.  They noticed our Wisconsin Packer shirts and struck up a conversation.  

They asked us if we had heard the good news about the Supreme Court decision.  We had, and we were happy and excited about it.  

Everyone we met seemed a bit relieved. 

A good day for the country.  And another good day for us!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pictures From Wednesday at Lassen National Park

Craig took all of the pictures on our Wednesday drive and hike at Lassen National Park.  I asked him to pick his favorite three, and I added three that I liked that also told the "story" of the day. This boulder was huge!  It is balanced near the edge of a sheer drop off near the Bumpass Hell trailhead. 

Unfortunately we were not able to go on that trail because it was still snowed in. 
Instead we drove to the Visitor's Center and watched a half hour film about the park which included footage of Bumpass Hell.  It is Lassen's largest hydrothermal area.  Oh well, we  saw similar volcanic features in New Zealand a few years back.  Stinky mud and steam! 

From Craig: if anyone's wondering about the name of the area, it seems there was a man in the 19th century whose last name was Bumpass.  He was guiding a party through the area, including the editor of a local newspaper, when he fell through a rock crust into a pool of boiling mud.  He was never the same, but the newspaper made him a local hero and the area was named for him.

Speaking of snow, this picnic table was still surrounded. 

You might think all of this snow made things cold, but it didn't.  I'm still wearing a light sweater here, but by the end of the day I had rolled up my long pants to "shorts" length.  It was a beautiful day!

Several of the small lakes along the road in the higher part of our drive were still a snow covered combination of water and ice.  The light blue was an interesting color.

We did get to hike, and once again the vistas were amazing.

Kings Creek Falls was at the end of a very difficult stretch of rock strewn path.  The picture above was in one of the more level and less rocky places.

If you notice the size of the trees in the top left part of the picture, you can imagine how big the falls were.  Snow melt doing its thing!

After our hike, Craig's hip was bothering him a little so he asked me to drive the Accent home.  As a passenger I often nag HIM about going too fast.  We were coming to the last couple of miles of the park when the speed limit changed from 35 to 25.  

"Slow down!" he says.  I didn't ...

Just as we got to the exit a ranger pulled up behind me and as soon as we were out of the park he turned on his lights and pulled me over.

I've learned from the past that in such a situation is best to never admit your guilt.  Be contrite, but never apologetic. Don't argue, answer the questions, but don't cry.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

"Umm, because I didn't have my permit hanging from the mirror as instructed? I thought it interfered with my line of sight..."  I held up the valid pass.

"Do you know what the speed limit is here?"


"No, 25.  Do you know how fast you were going?"

"I've only had the car for a few weeks, and was more concerned with driving safely than looking at the dashboard...  "

"Registration and proof of insurance please." He took them off to his vehicle to call it in.

I was sure I was going to get a ticket, which would not be good, because I got one last fall and already used up my traffic school option for the year.

Then the nice ranger came back, handed me my information back, and gave me a warning ticket!

Such a sweet boy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday at Lassen National Park

Just words in my post tonight. Craig took a lot of pictures today, but hasn't finished processing them yet.  

    Most of the day was spent driving and stopping at various spots along the way.  We drove from the North to the South entrance and then worked our way back. A couple of the trails we wanted to go on were not open.  We did do another four mile hike to see a really neat water fall. 

We will be moving on tomorrow morning. We are going about 60 miles to Burney Falls. 

We will be back.  We would like to stay at a RV place on the South East side of the park so we could explore more of it in that direction.  I am looking forward to staying in one place for several weeks at a time when we are full timers.  I want more than just a taste!

This KOA has been very nice.  I enjoyed the pool again when we got back from our hike today.

The only negative has been the weak Verizon signal. Since we also use the phone as our WiFi connection   loading blogs has been horribly slow, and most of the time getting an internet connection has been impossible.

But, as important as being connected is to us, enjoying the Parks is what we are here for.

Judy, your right.  It was Karen who expressed interest in hearing more about the weather around the country....

My poles?  I was reluctant to spend the money to buy them, and this has been my first chance to try them.  I give them a very big "thumbs Up."  They saved my ankle at least once today in a very rocky place.  I tried using ski poles, but the treking poles have more flex in the tip.  I used two most of the time, but when we got to some really rocky down hill trails, I used one and Craig used one.

One bad step could end hiking for a long time.  

Manzanita Creek Trail, Lassen National Park

Tuesday we hiked the 
seven-mile Manzanita Creek trail in Lassen National Park.  It is classified as "moderate" and climbs 1,110 feet.  The weather was a bit cool, which I prefer.  I left my jacket in the car and felt a bit cold when we stopped at the top to have a picnic lunch. Craig wore his quilted flannel jacket and ended up carrying it part of the time. 

The trail rose steadily thru alpine forest and meadows.  I have so many pictures it was hard to decide what to include.

As we hiked up, we were treated to an excellent view of the peak at right.  

There is still a lot of snow at the higher elevations.

There were also still some snow piles in shaded areas of the trail.

Just before we got to the end of the trail we met a CCC (California Conservation Corps) crew working on the trail.  We think this guy was the supervisor because he wasn't working.

I've decided the shirt I was wearing is the perfect hiking shirt!  It has a nice pocket for my every needed tissue.  The fabric is a very thin cotton so it "breathes" and the 3/4 length sleeves keep the sun off my upper arms.  I wish I had another like it! 

From Craig: the technology these state guys use is not "high".  They look in the forest for nice rich loam, then tote it by hand to the path where they spread it to help identify the trail.  This guy is carrying a fair-sized lump of soil like a baby, and laughing that we're taking his picture doing it!

Finally, a picture of the two of us on the trail.
One of the CCC guys took it for us.

By the time we got back to the trail head, the pedometer showed 16578 steps and 7.06 miles.  That included a little from the morning.  I was down another pound this morning and am feeling really good.  I like the poles I bought, but feel a little like I should be wearing skis!

When we got back to the KOA we went for a nice swim in the heated pool.  It wasn't very large, but it sure felt good to just float around for a while!

We finished the evening in a traditional RVers way.  The neighboring couple invited us to share their campfire and visit for a while.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Redding Botanical Garden

Although I made toasted cheese sandwiches for Craig, I stuck with my healthy cereal, blueberries, and almond milk.  I am determines to stick to my healthier choices!

It Works
Craig wanted to spend some time doing a few maintenance things around the Alfa which was fine with me because I wanted to just relax and the KOA itself is a beautiful place.  On the Saturday before our departure he had installed a new overhead vent in the bedroom, and he wanted to give the caulking a second layer.    (No, he didn't caulk it from inside!)

After mounting a knife sharpener I wanted, he addressed a problem he was having with one of the Leveler legs.  We are level enough, but he didn't like the way it was working.  In our owner's information there is a brochure from Atwood that included a tech line phone number, but both our Verizon and ATT phones have almost no "bars."  Craig thought it might help if we drove the six or so miles to Shingletown and try from there.  Coverage was no better, so we continued on to the outskirts of Redding 27 miles down the road.

It was a nice drive, and the first promising place to pull over was the Visitor's Center and the Turtle Bay complex which included a zoo, museum, aquarium  and a botanical garden. 

After Craig made his call and got some advice we took a nice walk thru the garden.  (My pedometer is reading 7765 tonight.)
Mosaic Grotto
Friendly BIG spider
We didn't see any

Tiger Swallowtail

We made a nice pork tenderloin on the Webber Q.  We are used to a much bigger grill at home, but do like the fact that it's propane comes from the Alfa so we don't have to carry a tank.  We ate inside instead of out on the picnic table because it started getting quite cool.  

So many new things to play with!  

The nights get pretty cool here.  Craig is enjoying his new PJ's.  And has been a good sport about my taking pictures of him.

We're having fun!

Judy asked if other bloggers could note where they were and what the weather was like from time to time.

Last week of June, 30 miles east of Redding CA, day time temps 65* - 70*, sunny,  morning 45*. Light rain last night, but clear in the morning.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Just a quick note:

I woke up this morning with a feeling that I had been bathed in a soothing flood of healing in the night.

For the first time in months I had a long, uninterrupted sleep!

Oh, I had a few of the usual aches and pains of age, but my mind felt healed and my soul was at peace.

It is gong to be a good day.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We made it!

What a long, long day!
Hard work, 
Some stress, 
No mishaps,  
Nice lunch,
Long drive,
Safe arrival,
We're here.

We got up about an hour early this morning and had fresh baked croissants (frozen from Trader Joe's) for breakfast.  This was a real treat, and we only had them because they were still in the freezer from "before healthy eating."

While they baked, I made some deviled eggs and chicken wraps to take along for our "rest stop lunch."

Our target departure time was 11 AM, but it took until noon to get everything stowed and all of the mechanicals checked. We didn't rush, but we both worked hard to get everything done right.

Craig got the Alfa out of her parking place quite smoothly and after filling the water tanks backed out of the lower drive and drove up our road without mishap. I followed him down to our agreed-upon hook up spot in the Accent.  Getting the vehicles connected went smoothly.

Traffic was light and the miles flew by.  We pulled into a rest stop for lunch and took this picture of the Alfa and her toad! 

It was a little hard to keep our speed down to just over 55 MPH, but we both did.  The Alfa really feels like she wants to go faster, but the California speed limit for towing is 55.  Since we've had a few minor mishaps we really don't need a speeding ticket too!    

We arrived at the Shingletown KOA about 7 PM.  The driving distance was 286 miles. In a car it would have been about a five hour drive.  For us it was seven.

We had a simple dinner, a couple of glasses of wine, took a short walk and are now having a cup of tea before bed.

As Kate would say

"Life is Good!"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

10,000 steps

As I was packing things for our trip, I came across the pedometer I bought a few years ago.

When I got it I tried to calibrate the "miles" with miles as recorded on my treadmill, and it was a dismal mismatch.

It really doesn't mater.  All things are relative.  So yesterday I clipped it to my waistband to see if I could log the 10,000 steps recommended for "heart health."

No problem.  Yesterday I started the day by walking on the treadmill for 50 minutes. The rest of the day was spent going up and down the hill loading things into the Alfa for our trip.  By the end of the day I was over 10,000 steps.

Today is a different story.  It is now 4:30 in the afternoon.  I have been on my feet all day, working around the house and going up and down the stairs and the hill carting an infinite amount of stuff to the Alfa. My feet are tired!  But I have only logged 5370 steps. (2.28  miles.)  

Even though I have a few more things to do tonight, there is no way I can log another 4630 steps!  I guess that shows me how important that hour on the treadmill is every morning!

When we are on the trip, we will walk a lot.  I'm going to wear the pedometer just to see what it measures. 

Have any of you ever used one? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Mood Was Lifted When ...

Today, my mood was lifted when I started taking things up to the Alfa for our upcoming trip.

It's been so long since we took a trip that I don't remember where things should go. 

I won't do any serious packing until Saturday afternoon.

If I take things up sooner we are sure to need them at the house! The dining room table has become the staging area.  

I want to turn the refrigerator on Saturday night so I can load it at home Sunday.  For other trips I have put cold foods in a cooler and loaded it into the refrigerator when we got to our destination. When we went to San Diego we didn't use the refrigerator for the first week because we were parked on the street by our daughter's house.  But this trip will start with a five hour drive, and I have frozen things.  

The plan:
Saturday morning - Last loads of wash, grocery shop and Costco stop.

Saturday afternoon -  Load, empty water, Craig check tire air etc.

Sunday morning - Breakfast at home.  Bring Alfa down to front drive.  Fill fresh water tank and load cold food, pillows, and anything else not taken up to the Alfa on Saturday.

Departure - Sunday by 11:00 AM. Lunch at a rest stop.

Shingletown KOA for dinner!

I'm excited!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We ARE making progress on our house, but none of it is smooth and easy. 

I have heard of marriages that end when a couple builds a house together.  We considered doing that once, but quickly came to the realization that we would not survive!  I just hope we can survive the repairs needed on this place!

Progress:  the painters come on Saturday to finish the overhead painting outside the dining room windows.

We hired a real company, with insurance and workmen's comp to do it.  They say it will only take one day.  It had better, because we will be driving the Alfa away on Sunday!

Progress:  The entry wall to the tandem garage has been replaced. 

A little history here:  in spring of 2011 I reached a "breaking point" when I was consulting with our handyman on the replacement of this wall.  Craig and I had different ideas about how it should be done.  This is a garage size space that has been used for random storage up till now.  

One wall is a former outside wall of the house and has redwood siding. One wall is the pass thru to the main three car garage, and has a flip-type garage door.  One wall is a cement block retaining wall that is the current outside wall of the house, and the fourth is the wall we've recently replaced. 

The original construction of the 4th wall was shoddy compared to the rest of the house.  The studs for the wall sat directly on cement, and got wet every winter. The basic wall was sheet plywood that had rotted out on the bottom, with a half sheet as a swinging Dutch door.  It was falling apart! 

Craig tore it all out a few weeks ago.  I didn't get a before picture. 

So this is the wall as we're starting to rebuild it.

The new wall is now on a nice cement foundation so the water will no longer rot the wood.  Craig has done the trim with ironwood ("IPE") because of the water. 

A new garage door has been ordered.  It is not a cheap one from a "big box store".  It is a custom door with decorator windows, that matches the doors on the three car garage.  It will be installed and painted after we get back.

The wall toward rest of the house had a window and an old air conditioner in it.

In February Craig removed both and re-drywalled the interior wall. This left holes in the exterior siding in the tandem garage.  He removed a bit more of the siding so the patch would look better. 

We had new redwood boards custom milled to match the old.  The patch is white because the wood was  primed before it was up.  We'll paint the wall in August.  (That will be my job!

At this point the space is still very much just a storage area.  But it has definite possibilities.  If you look beyond the junk, you can see that it has a large loft area in the back.  We will be clearing it out, adding some lighting, and possibly using those old interior doors as a couple of work benches. I'll take a picture when it is cleared out and made nice.

I will probably use this space as a studio when my old room is being restored as a bedroom. 

My studio will be the LAST room to be remodeled, but if it takes some months to sell the house after it goes on the market I want a place I can work!

We are so ready to take a few weeks off from this.  We are both looking forward to some ALFA time! Four more days...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review and Alfa is home

If you enjoy a nice story written from the perspective of a dog, you will enjoy A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. We all know dogs don't write books, but this one tempts you to suspend rationality and enjoy reading the thoughts and experiences of a Good Dog.

I got it from our local library, but It is also available from Amazon. 

 In some ways it reminded me of The Art of Racing in The Rain, by Garth Stein.  I know several of you have enjoyed that one.  

Funny, how similar the cover art is!  Anyway, it's a good, non-stressful read. I finished it in two evenings.

The Alfa is finally home!

 After our little mishap last month, we drove it over to a repair place in San Jose called Leale's. They did the fiberglass repair and painting during the first week or so, but  have been waiting for  the replacement back decal to come in. 

 During that time we have picked it up and took it to get Blue Ox installed, and also took it off to Dublin (30 miles away) to have the windshield reset. Given that we weren't going anywhere, it was easiest to leave it in their storage yard.

Friday morning  we were told it would be at least another week until they got the decal. Since we are planning on leaving for our trip before that, we decided to pick her up and drive her home so we can do a bit of cleaning and loading. 

As you may recall, driving down our road and parking on our land is a challenge. But we are happy to report the task went very smoothly.  Craig drove it to our driveway and then we switched places and I drove while he gave directions. We have learned how to work together quite well on this.

It really is nice to see the Alfa on her parking pad again.  It will be fun packing and arranging our things for the trip. 

I have decided that having the Alfa is somewhat like having a very expensive play house, or perhaps a cottage.  

It will only be our real home when we actually go full time. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Another cute one!

Rick Kirkman and Jerry ScottBaby Blues Cartoon for Jun/13/2012

I know many of you do not get a daily newspaper!  This was in this morning, and I thought it was apropos.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts about Blogging

This Jump Start Comic caught my eye this morning.

Previous Date | Today's Date | No Next Date

I don't participate in Facebook, but the same could easily be said about Blogger.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This and That!

The last two weeks have been very busy in very many ways.  The next two will be equally so, and the finally we will be taking off in the Alfa for a nice trip!

1. Art work:  April was a good month. I'm starting to see sales as valued in gallons of diesel fuel!  April will fill the tank at least twice.

May was a dud, but I did however receive an order for two sculptures, a Gnu and a White Buffalo.  I started them, and will be scrambling to finish and ship them before we leave.  Their sale  should cover much of the diesel fuel for our trip up to Crater Lake.

2. Painting and safety equipment: Although Craig did consider safety equipment, he decided against it.  He finished painting the area he could reach while seated on the walkway, but has now decided to hire someone to do the highest part.  Today he is once again climbing up and down on his 20' ladder and working on the lower part of the walkway itself. 

One painter came by this morning and will be sending us a bid via email.  He gave us two options.  Do it thru the painting company he works for at a higher price, or have him and his son do it on a weekend.  Since the company has insurance and workman's comp coverage, we will choose that option.  What we could save by having them do it on a weekend would be a small drop in our liability bucket if there was an accident!    A second painter is coming to look at the job  Monday.  

An end to this project may be in sight!

3. Toad:  Blue Ox and AirForce One are installed and we have towed the Accent.  We still have issues with just where we will be hooking up when we leave for our trip.  I'm sure once we get used to doing it, finding suitable hook up spots will become second nature.  It's just that everything new is so scary!  Any words of wisdom on this subject will be greatly appreciated!

4. Alfa repairs:  The back corner fiberglass work came out beautifully.  The entire back end has been repainted and we are still waiting for a new light glass and a new SeeYa decal.  The front spoiler looked pretty good too, but unfortunately we re-damaged it going out of the parking lot of the Hitch Shop.  The spoiler is just badly designed! It is way too low.  Scraping it on the ground was not anyone's fault.  Craig was driving as slow as he could.  Some Alfa owners have the spoiler cut off.  For now we will not have it repaired again. 

Since the Alfa is over at the repair shop anyway, we decided to have them  look for the cause of the increasingly annoying "whistle sound" in the cab area we have been hearing when we drive. It has been getting louder.

The report was that the windshield on the driver side has shifted out of the gaskets around it to the degree that it presented a danger of falling out!  EEK!  

That windshield was cracked and was replaced as part of our purchase in September.  We called the dealer, who referred us to the glass installation company, who told us to bring it back and they would fix it.  So we made an appointment for Friday morning and drove the 30 miles up there.  Although we were told it would probably only take a few hours, we decided to tow the Accent.  It was good practice.

It turned out that was a good idea because the glass installer decided to reset both of the front windows.  When finished he told us we could drive it, but we should be very careful of going over bumps because the goo was still soft.  When asked how long it took to cure we were told "two days."  

We knew there are some pretty rough areas on the roads between there and San Jose. We didn't want to damage the seal, but there was no place at the glass company to leave the Alfa for the weekend.  What to do?

The La Mesa dealership where we bought her is a short distance from the glass company.  We first tried to call them, but got only voice mail connections, so we just drove over there, explained our problem, and asked if we could park her there until Monday.  Permission granted.  None of the people we had dealt with last fall were around.  Since we had not had a good rapport with any of them, we were glad!  They said something about being sure we came back on Monday because they had a lot of rigs coming back from a "show". We didn't leave the keys, but will go up there as soon as we are done talking with the painter at the house!

So that's where we are!  Hope all is moving along for the rest of you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Craig is getting skinny

Craig has been very supportive of my "healthy" food choices this Spring, and has been eating all of the same dinners as I have, with the addition of extra bread.  I may have one thin slice, he usually has several. The rest of the day he is on his own and has not really cut back on higher calorie foods.  

We each get our own breakfasts, I eat a high fiber cereal, and he usually has ham and rolls, or some  frozen packaged dish.  He likes Chile Rellenos from Trader Joe's. 

He usually snacks at night, but isn't buying things that would  tempt me.  We used to share ice cream and/or English Toffee on a regular basis, but not any more. 

As I look over at him right now, he is eating a bowl of one of his favorite sweets. Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. It's almost like liquid white chocolate!  I never could just eat it like he does, straight from the can. 

On a recent shopping trip he bought chocolates and cookies.

He also continues to drink a couple of glasses of wine almost every evening.  That IS a temptation for me, but it is my choice to not indulge.  (In the last couple of weeks I have slipped a few times.)   And just because I shouldn't have any doesn't mean he can't.

BUT, what urks me is he has lost weight!   He is getting skinny!  

It seems that if I lose one pound, he loses two. 

His doctor did tell him he should lose ten or so pounds, but he has dropped more than that. I think he is close to his weight when he was in his 20's!

 Why is it so easy for him and so hard for me?

He doesn't even exercise and I walk on the treadmill every day!

Not fair!    His hair isn't turning gray either!

I AM happy with my own progress.  I'm down 29 pounds, with a long term goal of losing 15 more to get to where the charts say is best for my height and age. If I don't, I'm OK. I feel very good right now.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Exhausting day!

Some days are longer than others!  Today was one of the more exhausting days that we've had for some time.

We started out early by driving the Accent and my van over to the RV repair place and picking up the Alfa.  We left the van there and drove the Alfa and the Accent across town to the hitch place and had them finish the Blue Ox installation.  They hooked up the Accent and we headed back to the RV repair place to drop it off again so they could install the Air Force One.  Craig says he could have installed both, but he wanted to have authorized installers so that we could feel good about the result.

On the way we stopped at a large parking lot and did a series of practice turns around some large plastic water bottles (our version of traffic cones).  We both drove and we each took a turn outside watching to see how the toad tracked behind the Alfa. It was fun. 

We then dropped the Alfa and Accent off and returned home in my van. We will be able to get the car back in a few days, but they are still waiting for our new back decal for the Alfa.  Might as well leave her there.

We have also asked them to do an air pressure test to see if they can find and fix two "whistle" noises in the front windshield.  They are quite annoying.

It was just past noon when we got back home, but neither of us felt like doing any work.  Craig has finally agreed to buying some safety equipment for the window painting project.  I don't know if it is because he is tired of me nagging, or because he has had a number of people tell him he should, as comments or in person, or if he has just gotten a bit scared when he was out on the ledge.  I don't care why.

We spent some time this afternoon looking at safety harnesses online, and then decided we should go and talk to someone at REI that might give us some advice about such things.

At the same time, Craig was reading the morning paper and mentioned he would like to see "Snow White and the Huntsman."  We don't go to movies very often, but since the movie theatre and REI are in the same shopping center, we decided to do both this afternoon.  

The movie was OK.  Not great, but OK.  We did get some information from REI, but they were unable to give us any advice as to what to do.  (Liability reasons.)  We will probably be ordering some rope and a harness over the weekend.

Exhausting! But it felt like progress.