Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all - I hope each and every one of you had a very joyous Christmas.  Our Christmas this year was celebrated in Arizona.  While we did enjoy not having to cope with the cold weather, it just isn't the same without the kids so maybe...............
 
A street several blocks away  decorate with the Night Before Christmas.  Some of the places were absolutely wonderfully decorated.  This year, because of the nice pleasant weather, we walked up and down the block and were able to truly enjoy the sights


The past week was busy with the usual pre-Christmas preparations - shopping, cooking, decorating.   Oh but on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we had an absolute feast.  

Christmas Eve
 The weather was terrific with warm days, little or no wind, and almost perfect temperatures but that sure left.  Today was cold (only 15C) and a strong, nasty, north  wind. That meant an inside day which is perfect when trying to clean up the leftovers.


Once again, with a week that was spent mostly in the kitchen - some cooking but mostly eating,  the news is pretty slim.  I hope the weather up home soon moderates and everyone is back to some balmy temps.  

Have a great week and I'll be back next year!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another Week Late

This has been becoming a bad habit - being late with my weekly story.  Mostly it's because I have been waiting for something exciting to tell you.  But while it's been a fun week, nothing terribly exciting has happened.

We did celebrate a couple of birthdays this past week.  Both Gerry and his cousin Myrna turned another year older.  Much as they try to make time stand still, it just isn't happening.  No big party for them but a fun get together (actually much the same as we have every night).j


Every year there is a light parade in the area where we are staying which was this past Friday evening.  What an outing - an early supper, walk to the corner for the parade, and home all tucked in nice and warm before eight p.m.   Gosh, what an exciting life!!  The evening, as most evenings, was pretty cool so we used various means to keep warm.

We had several pretty cool evenings this past week - a low of +3C for a few nights - Jack Frost was creeping pretty close I must say.

Since I haven't been able to walk, I have been doing a bit of cycling.  Here is a view of what I see as I cycle in this area.

This next week will be the usual flurry of last minute shopping, and Christmas preparations as we prepare for the end of this week.  We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas as you enjoy the holiday season.

Today is the shortest day so from now on, we will see a little more sunshine.  May that sun shine upon you!!




 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Long Week....

Yup, it's been a long week - nine days long in fact.  It's amazing how every day is a weekend and before you know it, it's a couple of days past my "blog" day which is Sunday.  One can so easily get confused on the days of the week.

This past week was one of work - at least for Gerry.  He spent the week honing his autobody skills as he tried to repair the spot where the mailbox attacked him.  And I must say that he did one heck of a job.  The paint match is not exact but one would expect some fading.  Also, the clear coat seems to have quite a sparkle to it but hopefully, with some polish, and time it will tone down.  Having said all that, it is not easy to find the exact spot if you don't know exactly where to look.  So take that mailbox!!!!

Another project was to have the windshield problem rectified.  Well that got partially done but it goes in again this week and hopefully that will be another problem solved.  Slowly the issues are being dealt with and soon all will be good again.

After having some marvelous weather, we have had a couple of days of wind and a real downturn in the weather.  In fact there is concern of frost which will wreak havoc with all the garden crops out in the field.  Last night it dropped to below +5C and they are predicting pretty cold temperatures again tonight.  And while the sky was clear and sunny today, there was a chill in the air as it was only a high of14 or so.  So you put on a sweater and all is great.

This week there is no rambling as we stuck close to home and just relaxed.  Perhaps more will be happening for my next blog which hopefully will be on Sunday.

Have a great week!!

 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Into Yuma Foothills

This past week we moved onto a lot in the Foothills - a Yuma subdivision of sorts.  Here we have all the amenities of water, electricity, and sewer.  That is particularly nice on cold winter nights (and days too).  Having said that we do have those same amenities when out in the desert (well, except for the sewer - that we have to go somewhere to dump).  We are on a lot across the street from friends so that makes visiting much easier, quicker, and more spontaneous.
 When we were out at Mitry Lake, you could often see the birds swimming by - often you would see some coots.  Coots were everywhere - old ones were on the shore watching the birds swim by.  At night you could often hear the coyotes howl - and they often sounded like they were right next door.


Once in town, we did a little shopping.  The highlight of the week is going to Del Taco Thursday evening when they have a special on chicken tacos - $0.75/e for seniors (another perk!) - what a dining treat.  After eating, we went to an outdoor holiday jazz concert.  To be able to sit outside in December and enjoy some music is absolutely great.

Since we are near friends - we have three couples and we take turns making supper.  That is great fun because you always enjoy the camaraderie of great folks, you only cook every third day, and every day is a dining treat.  The downturn is that it causes closet shrinkage but that is why we make New Years resolutions I'm sure.

Gerry spent the latter part of the week fixing the side of the motorhome where the mailbox attacked him.  It is looking mighty fine - we just need a calm day so we can spray it.

May you have a great week!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving


This week is when our American friends and neighbours celebrate Thanksgiving.  Of course we are obligated to celebrate with them so it's a bonus for us - we get to celebrate twice. We were fortunate to celebrate with friends so we were able to enjoy a great visit and wonderful food.  I decided to take a hint from my daughter earlier in the year and make a cornucopia - I was really pleased with the outcome.

Of course with Thanksgiving comes Black Friday which actually started with some retailers on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday; and some carried it on to Saturday.  I guess an extension may mean extra sales.  I took part on Tuesday which was great as there weren't a lot of folks out.  Since that went so well I thought I might as well try Friday - oops, everyone was out.  There were some great sales which of course I had to buy.

While it was a quiet week it certainly ended on a high note.  Our heater core replacement arrived so the task of installing it began.  Well, two and a half hours later it was in, it was working, and there were no leaks.  Other than some awkward spots to replace screws, and a bit of twisting and lifting, it all went together quite easily.  So glad to get that done as we will likely need it before we get back home.

Now we will be looking at getting our windshield replaced before it ends up on my lap.  Back when we were on our way south, our windshield came loose.  Well it has held together pretty well but it has shifted again so the time has come.  This week we will be moving onto a lot in Yuma so we will make arrangements at that time.

Since it's been a very quiet week, with us just enjoying the sun,  there isn't a lot to share.  I hope your past week was great and may this coming week be just as great.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Quiet Times

This past week has been a nice, quiet week after a month of exploring and enjoying all sorts of different places and things.

We spent part of the week near Holtville on some BLM (Bureau of Land Management); otherwise known as just camping out in the desert.  The weather was great and the peace and quiet was unparalleled - it doesn't get better than that.  Since it is still early in the season, there were very few folks around.

There are a couple of flea markets nearby at a town called Calexico, CA which is right across the border from Mexicali, Mexico.  Since this area was very familiar to us in days past, we went the back way.  Oops, there is a detour because of road construction, so we followed the detour signs and turned where we thought we should and oops again.  We are on the road to cross into Mexico, but they planned on people like us so we heed the sign that says "Last turn around before entering Mexico".  Even the GPS was confused as it can't adjust due to construction.  We did eventually determine that we had to go further down the road and we did find our flea markets.  Unfortunately, they don't allow photographs because it is something to see.  Some areas are relatively well organized, while other areas you see piles of stuff lying, usually on tarps, in piles on the ground.  I often wondered how they sold any shoes as I have no idea how you would ever find a pair.  To sum it all up, the majority of items sold were jeans, shoes, or junk.  It was fun though just to watch the folks.  The amazing part is at the end of the day, they pile everything into containers, be it trucks, trailers, barrels, or boxes.

While here we started the ominous tasks of repair - first the microwave which had quit, and the heater core, which also said good-bye.  We got the microwave almost down but the two of us could not lift it high enough to remove from the brackets.  Since it is a combo microwave/convection, it weighs 90 pounds - it has to wait for someone stronger so back up it went.  Then the work on the heater core. 

The dunes
But, Gerry's cousin was now at Mittry Lake, north of Yuma so it's time to move on. This area has long been a favourite spot of ours.  We get here to find that there are only a couple of units which means we have our choice of spots - we get a great one.   The trip is always enjoyable as we pass the Algones Sand Dunes which I find quite fascinating.



The view out our door
The repairs are now really going to begin.  The microwave comes off, check the voltage, turn on a breaker, and voila, microwave is repaired.  Now the heater core - a few more bolts and slowly, all the bolts necessary were removed and then we pondered on how to get it out.  By cutting a couple of holes, we got it done.  Some more colourful and descriptive language, and that is now off.  The next question - can we get it replaced or fixed.  By now it is late Friday so tomorrow, we start the quest.

The weather this week has been unbelievable.  The days are nice and warm, sometimes a bit breezy, and the nights cool off - you can't beat that.  Until next week, I hope you have a good one.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Monterey Bay Area

This week we left San Francisco area and off to the Monterey Bay area.  The drive was fairly short but in the rain, and the traffic was light.  Other than a small cloudburst when we arrived (perfectly timed as Gerry was connecting our water supply), the weather was coolish, but with pure sunshine during our three day stay.  This week is riddled with many pictures as it is just too difficult to choose only a few and to try to show the beauty of this area.

Through the redwppds
Pebble Hill Golf Course
I filled in at the Pro Shop
Aptly named-Pebble Beach
 



The first day we took the 17 Mile Drive.  This drive is around the Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach and is often referred to as one of the most scenic drives which runs through a redwood forest and along the coastline.  While only 17 miles, it took us about three hours to make the trip as there were many stops and many "kodak" moments.  The scenery is really unbelievable.  The golf courses are second to none and beautiful but one must question the lush green grass during a time of severe drought.  I know - words of a non-golfer.  A short visit to the beach at
Carmel-by-the-Sea certainly explains why this area is so popular.  Before we called it a day we toured a restored mission - Carmel Mission which is still an active parish.  It was founded in 1771 and it's amazing to see the work done and how it has been preserved throughout the years.



The pounding surf





We then go to visit Monarch Grove Sanctuary - this is where monarch butterflies, west of the rockies, gather to spend the winter.  There were only a few fluttering about so not sure what happened.  We then went down to Fisherman's wharf.  This is similar to the one in San Francisco except it is smaller, and far more evident of the fishing industry plus less commercialized.  Here we had lunch, had a window overlooking the marina, with the birds begging for food.  On our way home we stopped at a farm stand to try some advertised deep-fried artichoke but no luck.  This area is the artichoke capitol of the world so at least we did get to see how they look when they are growing.

Lover's Point



Then it was a trip down the California coast to Big Sur.  Once again it was a very scenic road.  I absolutely marvel at the many homes built on the edge of cliffs.  Gerry made mention that he didn't get to see much of the scenery as he was busy watching for the 25 mph curves so I graciously offered to drive.  That didn't turn out real well due to the fact that we were now on the inside edge to it was more difficult to see some heights, and rocks, and pounding surf.  Plus, I apparently was trying to rival Mario Andretti - my how things seem different from the passenger seat.




 















It was now time to leave this area and head out towards the desert.  While not as scenic, every bit as interesting.  There were a couple of areas that had oil according to the number of oil wells.  While we often see oil wells in action but have never seen them in such clusters in very small areas. 
Also, windmills - I believe they were older ones but they too were numerous and almost in clusters.


As we drove we noticed bells along side the highway.  They were every mile or two and on both sides of the road and we wondered what they were about.  Finally on one there was a sign - we figured out that they marked a historic route - El Camino Real and by using google, found out that they are mission bells.  

The week has come to an end as we are camped in an area near Holtville, CA that we haven't stayed at for a fair number of years.  It is quiet, and not crowded and time to recover from the sight seeing of the past few weeks.

I see that the weather back home has been unusually pleasant which will certainly help shorten the winter.  I hope you have a good week so until then...............
 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

San Francisco - Here We Come!

Before we head out we decided to tour the small town of Winters which we were nearest.  We walked the streets and stopped by a couple of spots for some wine and cheese tasting.  What a great experience - the staff were so friendly and we were even give a free bottle of wine.

From there we went to our next spot closer to San Francisco.  On our way through Fairfield, we toured the Jelly Belly factory,  tasted some samples, and bought some jelly flops (should have bought more).

We set up camp and the next morning we headed into San Francisco.  Following the GPS, it seemed strange that we were going through residential, and business areas - check the GPS - it said shortest distance - that had to be changed.  Then following the map, we seemed to be going around the bay rather than over the bridge - chech the GPS again - it said to avoid toll roads - that had to be changed.  As we go over the bridge, there are twelve lanes (I think) to go through the toll gates which immediately go down to four lanes. 


I must say that they have a very effective method of doing this.  The next day we go in again but this time all the settings on the GPS were set correctly, and we went down there pretty quickly.  BUT, coming home is a different story.  The signs indicate that rush hour is 3-7 p.m.  We never thought that if you started out during that time it would take that whole time to get home.  We sat twenty minutes without moving a block - do you think that patience was running a bit thin with our driver!!!  The next trip in was using the Rapid Transit.  Fortunately we found out that we were on the wrong train early enough so we could easily transfer to the correct one.  All part of the adventure.

San Francisco is unique, beautiful, and a great place to visit.  We did a city tour, a bay tour, and rode the cable cars.  The city tour took us to various spots in the city where we could get on and off at various points.  The golden gate park is huge and beautiful.  We got off and took a short walk while waiting for the next bus.  We also got to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, passed the area where the hippies hung out, and various other sights.  The bay tour was on a fishing boat operated by a couple of young fellows.  The narration they provided was informative and humorous as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz.  Then it was on to the cable cars.  Here the lineups were long and some of the cars were pretty crowded.  Gerry got to hang on the outside right at the front which he said was the best spot.  Generally it seemed that the cars ran every 10 minutes or so,  except during shift change - it is more like 30-45 minutes.

We did some shopping downtown - can you image an Old Navy store that is 3 stories or a 4 storey Ross store?  They were starting to set up for Christmas as they were erecting a Christmas tree and had set up a skating rink.
Golden Gate Bridge



Sea Lions sun bathing on a buoy
Alcatraz







Remnants of the hippie era - added colour to the buildings

View from the cable car



 

















Now it was for some down time so we went to a Sandhill Crane Festival in  a nearby town.  There was some beautiful artwork and photography.  There were some musicians playing and a couple of them were playing Native American flutes.  They had a huge display, both to just see and for sale.  They offered a chance to try to play one.  After a short lesson they invited me to join them as they played.  Of course I had to decline as time was short (hehe).

As we toured the countryside we went for lunch at Foster's Bighorn.  The original owner was a real hunter, in North America and in Africa.  The display of taxidermy pieces is incredible.  The food was great and we had a super visit with the staff.  For more information, have a look at this website
 http://www.fostersbighorn.com/FBH_Web_Site/Home.html

We also toured Locke, a small town built by the Chinese.  The streets are very narrow as the old buildings still stand.

http://www.locketown.com/ 


I hope you enjoyed our week with us and may you have a great week next week.

 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Into California



It’s been quite a week.  We started the week by visiting our friends at Scio, OR which is not far from Salem, OR.  The visit was wonderful, although it started a little tenuous.  It was hard to imagine why their mailbox would pop out and bite us – but it did and it is still up for debate whether it was the mailbox or the driver.  The end result was a boo-boo which we are trying to decide the best way to mask it.  We truly enjoyed visiting with Ken and Joanne, who after many years on the road, decided to put down roots and bought a beautiful acreage and home.  While there we toured the area which has beautiful countryside, a number of covered bridges, and great scenery.  The area is home to many Christmas tree farmers. We were fortunate enough to see how they transport them from the farm.  The trees are bundled and a small helicopter comes, picks them up, expertly swings them so they land in a truck – quite the sight.  There are also a number of covered bridges in the area which we got to see.



We hit the road in some fog and headed toward the coast.  As we travelled, the fog slowly cleared and we had a great travel day.  The drive was lovely but a couple of things happened – there weren’t many times that we were right along the coast and could see the ocean without driving into a park, and we had actually travelled that coast back in ’93. 
We decided that we would further south a little quicker and went back inland.  Another very scenic drive! We even got to see some turkeys (other than the one in the driver's seat)!!


Since there aren’t a lot of highways running north and south, we took Interstate 5 – probably the most scenic interstate that we have every travelled.  We passed Mount Shasta
and crossed Shasta Lake – wow
.  And they have some of the nicest rest areas.  As we pulled into one Gerry said “I smell antifreeze” and I said “So do I”.  We stopped and yup, we smelled antifreeze alright – as it poured out of the bottom of the heater core.  So under the rig Gerry goes and finds a couple of shut-off valves – closed them both and our problem seemed to be solved – hopefully until we get home.  We decided that the weather will be nice enough that we can get by without a heater and we can manage.

As always, as we travel along we look to see where a likely spot would be to spend the night.  We came across a little town in California – Colusa which had a casino – often a good overnight spot.  The first thing we do is go in and ask permission, and then we get a club card – jackpot.  They offered us each $25 in free play plus $10 off supper at the steak house.  The special just happened to be Prime rib and lobster for 19.99.  We played our free cash and ended up with $10.00 each – enough for supper.  The meal was excellent and the staff were very nice and friendly.  What a great way so spend a few hours and the only cost was for the tip!!  The next morning we went for a walk to discover the there were walnut orchards.  We filled our pockets with walnuts that had fallen into the ditch and our pockets were deep.  We ended up with a couple of pounds of shelled, fresh walnuts.

Next stop is Napa Valley for a few days and some great weather. 
We had booked a campsite – at the bottom of a canyon so no cell service and no internet.  Just an inconvenience since we have become so used to access to the internet on a constant basis.  We head out daily so will just do what we have to do at that time.

Our sample
My favourite

A view of Napa Valley
Grape vines
We spent the past couple of days touring both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley – both known for the vineyards and wineries. 
Pomegranite tree


Pure Bliss
Many of the wineries that have tours are like large beautiful estates – great to see but one can only sample so much wine and still drive.  We did one tour and the wine we sampled was super – I really enjoyed that one.  The others were so-so, in my opinion.  Seeing that I am such a great connoisseur of wine and only like sweet, light, fruity wines that you can buy in the stores for $4.00!!   We also stopped and had lunch at the Culinary Institute of America and then stayed for a demonstration by one of the chefs – quite entertaining.  Afterwards we got to taste what was made.  We also got to watch as they were making test batches for Ghiradelli chocolates.  It was great fun.  One more wine and cheese tasting today and then on to another spot tomorrow.

We have had a fun week and I hope you have enjoyed our week with us.  Have a great week!!