Monday, March 06, 2017

Life in the fast lane - NOT!

I haven't been blogging because the hightlight of my days has been our annual fight with weeds in the yard.  Exciting stuff, huh.  We usually buy at least one new sprayer every year; they just get clogged up or stop holding pressure or whatever.  Then we go over the lawn.  This year we used about 10 gallons (38 l) of spray on the first go-round then another 5 gallons (19 l) when the tiny weeds had grown a bit.  I'm thinking there are another 2 gallons (8 l)  in my future since there are yet more of the tiny guys popping out. The weather has been quite mild so the weed population has been enjoying life. 

Otherwise we did manage a trailer trip to San Diego.  Our son and his girlfriend live there and we like to check up on them from time to time.  The trip over was uneventful.  We normally stay in the same park since we love the view of the water.  They keep raising the rates but we just have to do it.  Their wifi is almost non-existant so that is the bad news.  Still, being without the internet for a week is probably good for the soul. 

Our trailer has a picture window in the back so when we back into our space we get a great view.  Sunsets can be great.

There are always people to watch.  In this case rowing crews out practicing.

The traffic is always awful and this time we seemed to hit rush hour more than usual.  Of course driving this huge truck doesn't help any.  It also doesn't help that the city has taken roads designed for two lanes in each direction and changed them to three lanes in each direction without actually widening the street.  Those lanes are narrow!  The streets are also very poorly maintained.  I think they do a lousy job here at home but they are superstars compared to the work done in San Diego. 

We did spend a day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  We did really enjoy the day but I have to admit to thinking it's pretty expensive.  Adult tickets are $52 and if you want to go on some of the tours the prices go up fast.  I could see a family of four dropping $500 quite easily.  At some point we got thirsty and discovered that a bottle of water is nearly $5. 

Still, it's fun to watch the animals.  These elephants had some hay in a bin up above them but there was more hay hidden in that round toy.  Only one trunk would fit at a time so the big guy was hogging it.

I also liked this shot of the giraffe drinking.  He must have been doing good because he was there for quite a while.
Of course none of us had a camera; my wife's camera battery was dead, our son doesn't own one and I left mine at home.  Grrr!  At least we got a few cellphone photos. 

So, that's my  life these days.  A little weed killing and a little animal watching - as I said, life in the fast lane.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 20, 2017

May you live in interesting times

I'm no Chinese scholar but I've always heard my title to be a Chinese curse.  Well, we're in for it now.  Let's hope things don't get TOO interesting.  As I've said before, I didn't vote for the man but he is our new President.  For eight years I've heard and read about people disrespecting President Obama.  I've got to give this new guy a chance.

On a happier note, it's raining in the desert.  The weather folks are saying that the three storms that started yesterday should give us about a inch of rain.  That is about 25% of the annual quota so it's a big deal.  Fortunately it is spread out over several days so it shouldn't cause any flooding.  Yes, it does flood out here, just not this time.  And just to make it more interesting people don't really know how to drive in the wet. 

Well, actually, I don't think many of them can drive worth a darn anytime.  I had the enjoyment of driving home from Las Vegas the other night.  The number of people who tried to hide in my blind spot was amazing.  They seem to be the same people who think turn signals are the work of the devil.  There was even one genius in a new Audi TT Coupe that was driving without headlights - this is about 3 hours after dark.  Grrr!

The rain does make for some interesting photos.  Here are a few from the last couple weeks.

Here's hoping for a great 2017!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Happy New Year!

I certainly want to wish everyone a joy-filled, healthy and prosperous new year.  Well, I can dream, can't I?  You must understand that I am a very conservative person and conservative people dislike the unknown.  They also dislike large changes.  We here in the US are faced with a new President who is very different from the last several Presidents.  He also doesn't seem to have an agenda, I should say a fixed agenda.  It seems to change over time.  He is talking about dismantling, or attempting to dismantle, parts of the federal government.  What was I saying about disliking change?  2017 will be an interesting year for future history students.

Around here the conservative person can be pretty happy.  It is cool, highs in the 50's (12C), freezing 2 nights out of 5.  In the last couple of days we've had a storm front come up from the Gulf of Mexico bringing lots of wind and some rain.  But the basic look is almost always the same.  We have lots of brown dirt with some vegetation and a backdrop of beautiful mountains where ever you look.  We've told each other a thousand times that without the mountains we just wouldn't be here.  Every time you look at the mountains they look different.  Sometimes there is sun, sometimes a cloud obscures part of the mountain, sometimes the cloud casts a shadow on the mountain.  They are always the same and always different. 

I was poking around on the internet the other day and found the photo posted below.  I don't own it and if you do and it offends you to have it posted here I apologize and will remove it.  However, I just find it to be so amazing that I had to share it.
It is a photo I certainly wish I had taken; especially if I can ignore the whole taking pictures while driving thing!  Anyway, I do love it and wish I'd taken it.

So we are having a quiet winter out here in the desert.  I hope you and yours are having a quiet and peaceful start to the new year as well.  Take care and best wishes!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Here's wishing best wishes to every single person in the world.  It's Christmas AND Hannukah so that's pretty unusual.  We celebrate because of the love that is supposed to be filling our hearts and minds.  As athiests that's about as good as it gets.  Of course we have a tree.
It has been an odd few days around here. We started with some mist then we had the 'rain' continue for over 24 hours!  That's just totally unexpected.  Then we had fog.  Real, can't see the neighbor's house fog.  No photos of that because I was just loving it.  Of course I don't have to go anywhere in the fog.  That's when it becomes less fun really fast.  And because we had rain, there is snow in the mountains.
Not exactly cloudy around these parts is it? 

Sorry that I've been AWOL since Thanksgiving but actually there hasn't been a lot going on.  I managed to get some kind of cold that has kept me pretty close to home.  A smarter guy might have gone to the doctor but, well, it's me.  We did manage to do the usual food drive stuff and Toys for Tots but those are pretty low impact.  Today we are having our daughter over for dinner but that's about it.  We gave up gift giving years ago.  We are all adults so buying each other shirts or jewelry that isn't quite right - why bother? 

I'll try to do better with blogging.  I'm pretty good at reading them; it's this writing thing that is harder.  Thanks for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Black Friday USA

I guess I missed the Thanksgiving post but I was busy!  My wife and I decided that we ought to do somthing for others this year.  Our town has a Community Dinner and we decided to volunteer.  I guess there are others who volunteer sooner  because we were assigned as drivers to take meals to the home-bound.  Actually it was great.  The people knew someone was coming around and were looking forward to their meals.  My three deliveries were to an older guy who wasn't moving around very well, a very old lady who was using a walker and a guy who was caring for another two people.  It was a great experience and I'm sure we will do it again.

Then we came home and started on our own Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, that worked really well even if it was after 15:00 when we ate.
Yes, pretty conventional but definitely good.  And my wife found a reciepe for a coffee-chocolate hazelnut pie that was really amazing.  The whole day was a 10.  And we can definitely recommend the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau. 

Otherwise we are back in our groove.  It is 26F this a.m. (that's -3 to the rest of the world).  Brrr!  But it will warm up later and we will be able to take our walk.  We bought a couple extra things at the store so we don't have to go out; this Black Friday shit is just crazy!  Neither of us is much of a shopper so braving a crowd of people looking for bargains just doesn't work for us.  If I get all wild and crazy maybe I'll check out Amazon later.  How busy could it be?  LOL

Now that Italy is but a memory we are talking about Australia.  Now we just have to figure out what we want to see and how to manage it.  Of course NZ will be included.  Neither of us is all that hot on the island nations of the South Pacific so that will probably be it.  Ntext spring, fall for them, is the general target but we all know that shit happens!  Some day there will be photos but there is absolutely no guarantee!

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Final thoughts

We've been home about a month and a half now and things are returning to whatever normal is.  Well, except for the election.  That was disappointing!  But that's another story.  I do have faith that this country can survive even The Donald.

Italy was really great.  It was horribly crowded but if that's my worst problem it's just another thing to 'get over'.  It occurred to me that I haven't posted any photos of our hotel rooms.  My wife is a great supporter of Trip Advisor because of that we would ordinarily find a hotel and make a reservation for the next day.  She mostly used the phone app but used the tablet on occasion.  This room in Siena is typical for us.
She ordinarily looked for free wifi and free parking.  That got us into the $120-$150 range room.  We did have smaller rooms a couple times but this is quite representative.  The parking usually kept us out of the city center which is both good and bad.  In Siena we drove to public parking so we could walk in the city.  In larger cities, we planned it so as to not have the car.

The bathroom is also quite typical:  sink, shower, toilet and bidet.  We had a couple showers that had a problem; most notably the one in Venice where the hot water would disappear for a few moments in the middle of the shower.  However Venice was it's own special place.

It was an old apartment and probably typical of Venice.  U.S. building codes definitely weren't in effect.  There was an inset in the hall floor that said 1863 F B; perhaps that is the year it was built.  The bed was a queen size but it worked and we enjoyed the apartment aspect of the place.  It was about 400 sq. ft. comprising living room, kitchen, bath and two bedrooms.  I posted a picture earlier of the 'street' which was certainly less that six feet wide.
Much of the furniture was old.  That's not bad just different.
The eat-in kitchen was certainly adequate and had a basic selection of pots, pans, etc.  The white cabinet on the upper right contains the instant-on water heater that also went instant-off during our showers.  We did make a traditional meal here once.  Otherwise it was used for breakfasts mostly.

For two weeks we rented a car drove about in the country and in smaller cities.  We had a Renault Captur.
Frankly we thought it was rather odd looking with it's two-tone look.  In this country I'd expect it to be a used police car but, no, it was nice and new.  We did see two or three other cars with the same paint scheme but I guess it's an acquired taste.  It was a six speed manual with a rather small, frugal engine.  We found it quite comfortable.  On the back roads we mostly used we would seldom exceed 90 kph.  Once we found the Italian version of Gas Buddy life got better.  Not just because we found cheaper gas but also we could find the station which was a problem once or twice. 

So that's the odds-n-ends of the Italy trip.  Since then life has slowed to it's usual pace.  We did go spend the night in Las Vegas a few days ago.  We stayed at one of the smaller strip hotels, Casino Royale, but I got a kick out of the view from our window.  
It seemed appropriate to be where we could see the Las Vegas version of the Rialto Bridge at the Venetian next door.  Thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

End of the trip in Venice

When we left Lake Garda we went north and down through the mountains towards a city called Vicenza.  This was for practical reasons only.  We needed to do some laundry and we needed to be close to the Venice airport so we could return our rental car the next morning.  The city had all we needed.  The hotel we stayed at was close to the motorway so it was really a business person's hotel.  We did have a small balcony though so spent part of the afternoon out there.  The view is mostly of the apartment buildings nearby but you can see the mountains.  You can also see our little rental Renault (black with a white roof) in the parking lot.
We decided to take the car on one last mission and went up to a small town called Bassano di Grappa.  They claim to be where the grappa liquor was invented.  It was simply a small but busy city.  We had lunch at a little 'British Pub' by the side of the river.  They had pretty good food, English beer and a nice view of the river, the ancient covered bridge and the Alps.  Not a bad stop at all!
The next morning we were off to the Venice airport.  That was kind of an experience.  There are three parking garages all with the same first number; I don't remember exactly but they were like 5A, 5B and 5C.  It wasn't clear to us which one housed the rental car return so we ended up going up and down 5A and 5B before finding the return at the very top of 5C.  Well, we made it anyway! 

So now we got the bus into town, which leaves you at the railway station, and went looking for our hotel.  The hotel advertised itself as being close to the railway station and sure enough, it wasn't hard to find.  My wife had opted for what they called an 'apartment' so we were eager to find out what we'd rented.  The folks at the hotel were very nice giving us a cool drink while they hunted up someone who could take us to our new digs.  This little gal grabbed my wife's bag and off we went.  I was expecting the 'apartment' to be two or three buildings away.  Well, it was more like half a mile!  We actually measured it using my wife's pedometer!  We went along across a couple canals across a couple small piazzas and finally down this narrow passageway.
In the end it was fine but it sure wasn't where we had assumed it would be!  It was a 2 bedroom apartment with a small eat-in kitchen, living room and bath.  The bath was sketchy but it was kind of fun living there.  And, what did we do in Venice?  We walked! 

My wife and I both love boating and have owned several.  I always assumed that we'd use boats to get around Venice but we never got on board a single one.  There are plenty of boats though.  Work boats are used to carry goods all around town.

Most tourists will be using the vapparetto which is basically a boating bus or a boating taxi.  In this photo you see both.  This vaparetto isn't very crowded but most of the ones we saw were packed!  The water taxi's looked pretty cool.
Even the police use boats.  These two cops seemed to be having a fairly nice ride.

However, as I said we walked everywhere.  Did I mention that Venice is a car-free zone?  Not a car in sight when you are talking about the interior of the city.  It's just not possible.  There isn't anywhere to drive them much less park!  Delivery of things is via boat until you have to carry whatever on the 'street'.  Then you use a specialized wheel barrow.  The front forks extend a couple feet and have little steel wheels.  You then tip the barrow back so the wheels are on the next step then slide forwards until the main wheels have support then repeat until you are on top of the bridge.  Going down is just going slowly!  Those guys earn their pay for sure.

Of course everyone wants to visit St. Mark's Basilica on the Piazza San Marco.  We wandered on over there in quite a round-about manner but here's what we found.
Talk about people!  My wife and I aren't ones for crowds and this huge Piazza was filled to the brim.  As we walked along we were just weaving between tour groups each with their guide.  Some of the guides had little radios that transmitted to their group only but lots of them just yelled.  Then we saw the lines for the Basilica and the Doge's Palace.  Suddenly finding our way OUT of the Piazza sounded like a great idea.  I did take a photo of San Giorgio Maggiore church across the water.
So what we did for the remainder of our three days in Venice was to just love the city and avoid all the tourist highlights.  If we ever decide we absolutely MUST see St. Mark's, we'll go in February or sometime.  We did cross the famous Rialto Bridge.  The interior walkway was being redone and was kind of a mess but the outside is still very beautiful.  It is also very crowded both inside and out!
On the Grand Canal is where the grandest homes were built.  They are still pretty grand.  This was across from a restaraunt where we had lunch.
That lunch was kind of a special one just because the place was on the canal.  When I say special, I mean expensive.  But it wasn't too bad and every once in a while it's good to try something new. 

So that wound up our trip to Italy.  My wife's pedometer got a good workout and we saw more churches than I would have though possible.  We flew from Venice to London and London back to Las Vegas.  Where ever we have lived coming home always feels good.  Coming home to Las Vegas was no exception.  It's good to be back.  I'm sorry I've been so tardy about posting these.  I think I'm getting slower with every trip.  Anyway, thanks for stopping by!