Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Getting ready....

Yep, Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those of us in the U.S.  It's one of the favorite holidays in our house because we have a lot to be thankful about and we know it.  It's also a pretty nice time of year in this part of the country; the extreme heat has finally let up and it isn't actually snowing yet.  I have to wonder if the number of traffic accidents doesn't skyrocket though; people are just crazed about getting that 'just right' turkey or a special tablecloth or something.  Personally I prefer to hide at home if I can!  The cooler weather also means I can post a photo like this:
In the summer our oven doesn't get much of a workout since the a/c has plenty to do without the additional heat.  The bbq is definitely our go-to cooking method in the summer.  This little piece of pork loin came out really nicely and the bacon added something to the peas even after it had contributed it's good moistness to the loin.  Yum!

On a completely different subject, I take a lot of photos.  I'm currently using two cameras and my cell phone.  I guess I could use the computer but not that many people want to see photos of me!  The cell phone has both forward and backward facing cameras so you can take photos of yourself and something else at the same time.  My wife and I were fooling around the other day and I took this one that is so bad it's funny.
I saw some famous guy on tv talking about his selfies where he takes a photo of someone else with just maybe one of his own eyes in the photo.  I thought I'd try it with this feature of the phone.  It actually turned out better than I'd hoped when my wife tried taking a photo of me at the same time.  Hm, another life in the fast lane moment! 

I'm probably going to be busy until after the big day so I'll take this opportunity to wish all of you in the states a Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Thursday to the rest of the world.  Let's hope it is a peaceful and loving one everywhere.  Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What to do in Vegas....

I've just discovered a really great view of Las Vegas.  It's off the top of the Rio Hotel.  The Rio is aging but is still alive.  If you want the view you need to go the the Voodoo Lounge.  You get into the elevator and press the only button - the one marked 51.  And out into the sunshine you go and UP.  You are going up the side of the tower on the left.  The lower building comes into the story later.  Did I mention it's a glass elevator?  Hope you like heights!

Happily, as long as I have something to hold on to I'm ok with that.  Not ok enough to take my camera out and take a photo but....  And this isn't my story!  My lovely wife has been known to taunt her daughter into doing things that she, the daughter, might not like doing on her own.  (Unbeknownest to either of us going up in that elevator was one of them!)  Anyway we wandered up and ended up in the "Voodoo Lounge".  During the day it's pretty dark and dumb like any nightclub.  When you go outside you have a great view of the Las Vegas strip.  I guess at night it's really cool looking at the lights of the strip from north to south.  The Rio also has the Zipline.

The Zipline is a little trip you can take between the 50th story of the main building and the top of the 20 story building on the right in the earlier photo.  The company is pretty careful about what you can carry:  they actually scan your body like the TSA before you leave on the ride.  Then you are strapped into a mini-seat and off you go.  Unlike most ziplines you don't just get off at the other end; you get towed back to the top backwards.  It's fun to watch while you are waiting for a red light but I've got to say it's better from the top of the building.  Yep, my wife managed to get her only daughter to go on it with her.  Privately I told my wife that I'd go if the kid couldn't manage it but she did and I got to take pictures!

And they are off!  You can see there is quite a view off to the west.  However I'm told that mostly they were looking at that red building that was to be their landing point.  Anyway, after the trip down (15-20 seconds) it's maybe another minute while they are towed back to the tower.

So finally we had a visit to Las Vegas that wasn't just visiting the various store we don't have here.  Our daughter kept asking me if my wife was this crazy when we were younger.  What do you think?  LOL  Life in the fast lane and all that!  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day!

Here in the states it's a day to remember our military veterans and you know I've got to say it, you deserve it!  Thank you for your service!  Some of us did very little, like me, some gave all.  Let me tell you, you just don't know what's around that next corner.

Aside from the holiday I still don't have any exciting news.  Our weather has cooled to highs in the 60's F (15C).  Sometimes we get a shoulder season and sometimes we don't.  This is one of the 'don't' years.  We did get some rain in the last month and it's caused some havoc.  Much of Death Valley National Park is closed due to flood damage.  That's pretty lousy and some of the areas like Scotty's Castle is going to take some extensive repair.  It is going to be closed for quite a while.  I'm a member of a public advisory board for the Nevada National Security Site aka the Test Site.  It is where the U.S. tested nuclear weapons from the 1950's through 1992.  They had some pretty substantial road damage due to flooding as well.  Happily that whole area is carefully monitored so we can know that there is no radiation washing down off the test site or anything like that.  I always get a kickout of this photo showing people sitting out in the desert on folding chairs waiting to see the bomb go off.  A different time indeed!  This photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Field Office.

 Well, that's it for today.  I've definitely got to get out and do SOMETHING!  Take care and have a good one.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

It's been a while.....

Posting hasn't been high on my 'to do' list lately simply because I haven't had much to say!  Here in Southern Nevada we are transitioning from way-to-hot to downright-chilly.  We had snow down to maybe the 4,000 foot level last night (we are arougn 2,500 ft) but it's pretty much melted now at 10:00. 

Apparently my wife and I needed something to do because we've decided to look at new cars.  Our RAV4 is a 2010 model.  It's very basic with an automatic transmission and power windows but otherwise nothing.  Even though it only has 50,000 miles we would like something with more toys.  We like the car and the type (mini-suv) but would like a bit more power and, as I said, toys.  It's kind of a pain shopping because we have a Jeep dealer and a Chevy dealer here in town; anything else is in Vegas.  And, of course, going in and talking with a salesperson takes a couple hours so it pretty much blows the whole day since getting my wife out of the house before 10:00 is pretty much impossible.  (I guess if there were a fire......)

The first hurdle is the sticker shock.  You see these cars 'starting' at $2x,000.  Well, when you go for the top of the line you are closer to $35,000 and we haven't looked at any of the luxury brands.  So far we've seen the Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Subaru Forester and Outback, Mazda CX5 and Kia Sorento.  Someone told us there are 14 cars in that niche and I'm thinking it is more like 100.  At least it feels like it!  We have one request that keeps tripping them up:  a power seat for the passenger.  Only the Ford and the Kia manage that one.  How tough is it?  Everyone manages a driver side power seat but the rest don't even have an option for a passenger side seat.  Geez.  We'll see how the luxury brands handle it but neither my wife nor I are hot to spend another $10,000 to get a name and a power seat. 

Speaking of my wife; she's signed up with a personal trainer for twice a week workouts.  He's a young guy, born the year our daughter graduated high school, but pretty low-key.  He's putting her to work though.  She never perspires but she sure is after almost every workout with him.  The gym has all kinds of machines and she's learning to use every one.  I'm staying away because my theories of working out are completely different from his.  (Yes, I do have opinions on working out.  You might not think it considering my rather round shape.).  She's enjoying the experience but is already wondering how she can keep exercising after the string of lessons runs out.  (She signed on for 24 or 36 lessons; I didn't pay much attention.)  It should be interesting though. 

So you see it's been pretty dull around here.  Maybe next week something will turn up.  I wouldn't count on it though!  Have a good one.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A few photos

Ordinarily I take photos of the things I see around me.  They aren't especially amazing just things that catch my eye.  When we were in California I took only a handful of photos because it seemed like a time to be 'in the moment' rather than recording it.  We were within walking distance of Venice Beach.  It wasn't crowded but parking would be a huge problem if you drove there.  It's not a small beach!
Not very crowded either!  There is a pier here that is pretty laid back.  I understand the Santa Monica pier is completely different with shops and all.  Here there were walkers and people fishing.  But it's a LONG pier!
I've seen quite a few photos of the blood moon.  Living in the desert I thought this would be a piece of cake.  Well, maybe not!  The mountains in the east kept the moon hidden until it was quite high so the red color didn't really come through.  Then there was a cloud layer!  Oh well!
My wife and I like to walk around our neighborhood in the early morning.  In summer that means before sunrise.  Now that it is a bit more temperate we are still getting out by 07:00.  We had some rain recently and that means snow on the mountain.  It probably won't last but on October 7 we saw this for the first time since last spring.
The rain is also a signal for the desert to come to life for a few days.  We pass this saguaro when we walk.  This display lasted one day.  The blooms are still there but the color is completely gone.
We don't get things that dramatic often but we do enjoy just looking at the clouds.
Even some man-made formations.
All those folks zooming past/over us travelling to and from California and other points East and West.  I like the quiet, the cool morning air and the familiar path.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Older, yes, wiser, well you can't have everything!

I managed to turn 67 years of age last week.  We had thought it might be a quiet time but decided that we should return to Los Angeles to see a few of the sights.  It was still quiet but just not here!

We drove over on Thursday landing at a Hilton near the Marina del Rey.  We wanted to be within walking distance of the beach and this turned out to be a good choice.  I got to see lots of boats, water and sand.  Each of those is pretty special if you live where I do!

On the Friday we drove up to Malibu just because I'd never been there.  Getting out of Santa Monica heading north was a huge pain because they are fooling with the roads.  We ended up driving through the Brentwood Park area which is apparently a pretty ritzy neighborhood.  We found a restaurant on the beach and had lunch then headed back towards the hotel.  Coming back was much easier; how the roads can have detours in only one direction is beyond me but there they managed it.

We were in time to take a nice walk to the beach and find a lovely little Italian place for dinner.  They had a neat little trick.  They would bring you a large (1.5L) bottle of chianti and a couple of glasses - not wine glasses just ordinary glasses.  Then they say just refill your glasses as you wish and tell us at the end of the meal how much you drank.  It's $6.50 a glass so it's pretty easy to blow through $25 worth of wine.  Well, at least it was easy for us!  You have to know that wine wasn't top grade so they have a nice little profit center thing going on there.  Of course once in a while someone is going to lie about the number of glasses they had but I'm thinking the waiters are pretty expert at judging the amount missing from the bottle.

Saturday we headed for the La Brea Tar Pits.  I've heard about them since childhood but this was my first visit.  It was really pretty cool.  They have over 5 million fossils that have been recovered from the tar; a good number exhibited in the associated Page Museum.  There was a creature called the Dire Wolf who got caught way too often.  They had an exhibit consisting of 400 wolf skulls!  We took a tour around the grounds of the park.  There are places where the tar is leaking through the earth and creating new 'pits'.  They are mostly fenced but there were a couple that were new enough that you could step in them if you weren't careful.  Our guide was careful to warn us to keep out of it because it does not come out of clothing or off shoes!

After the museum we decided to check out 'downtown' Hollywood.  Wow!  Talk about people!  We didn't even get out of the car.  LOL  We wandered back to the hotel and hid!

Sunday was the day for the Getty.  We got there about 11:30 - we were on holiday!  There is a cable car that will take you from the parking to the museum on the top of the hill but there is also a way to walk up so we did that.  It was really cool!  We saw two deer wandering around.  They were shy but certainly not afraid of us.

The museum itself is amazing.  Another word is HUGE!  There are five major buildings of two or three levels each plus some outdoor gardens.  Entry is free but parking is $15.  The artwork we saw was European mostly from the 15th through 19th centuries however there was some Greek statuary.  The exhibits do change so I could certainly go back.  As it was we spent four and a half hours going through the place and only saw about half of it.  There is a separate Getty Villa up the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu but we didn't stop there.  I understand it is specializes in the art of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.  Maybe we'll check it out on another visit.  You can visit both the museum and the villa and only pay for parking once but I'd be dead from exhaustion if I tried it.  Back to the hotel and after a bit of a rest we wandered out to a Mexican place we'd seen for dinner.

Monday we started slowly again walking around the marina and finding a nice place for breakfast.  Then we pretty much took all afternoon to drive home.  It was raining and that made it extra fun.  It was a great little get-away.  I have to say not cheap but lots of fun.

Thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Still hoping....

As you might guess from the amount of posting it's been pretty quiet around here.  We are looking forward to losing the triple digit temps.  104F (40C) is the highest so far in September;   when I started this update a couple days ago we were down in the 97F (36C) range.  Now we are back in triple digits.  We did get some rain in September:  .01 inch on the 12th and .03 inch on the 15th.  That's kind of deceptive because that's measured in one spot near one of the city parks.  Rainshowers blow through the valley leaving a very small footprint.  I must admit that we drove into Las Vegas and were in rain at least half of the way; maybe it followed us like the raincloud follows Pigpen in the old Charlie Brown comic strip.   There is a wunderground site that shows .13 inches on the 15th.  At least we get some nice rainbows out of the deal!

And sunset the other night was ok as well though that pretty color is probably created by smoke from the wildfires in California.

As you have probably guessed from all the weather info things are pretty dull around here these days.  We walk almost every morning while it's still cool and my wife has started visiting the gym twice a week working with a personal trainer.  So far I haven't gone with her but it's coming.  Losing 20-30 lb (10-14kg) is clearly needed. 

I'm turning 67 in a couple weeks and we'll probably go over to Vegas for dinner.  We don't care much for the strip because it's over-priced and pretentious but there are plenty of other fine places to eat.  If we are absolutely under-whelmed we may just hit our local steak house.  It's pretty good and half the price of Vegas. 

I've been using the smoker somewhere around once every 10 days or so.  The salmon is coming out pretty well if we can find Pacific salmon.  Around here we mostly find Atlantic salmon in the stores and the Atlantic is a fattier fish and that causes some problems.  The Pacific is dryer and firmer.  I'm still struggling with brining the fish; sometimes I over brine and sometimes under brine.  Steaks are pretty reliable after an hour or so in the smoker then a couple minutes on the grill.  I did manage to do some smoked pork chops that were amazing!  My only real problem is that with only two of us the smoker is WAY too big and if I were to fill it even a fourth full we'd have frozen smoked whatever for the next three months.  Happily it is electric so smoking something takes very little effort just some time. 

Sorry to be so dull but there it is.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one!