Wednesday, March 07, 2018

I'm doing well - 1 post a month!

Hi there.  I hate to admit it but I have exactly no excuse for not blogging this year.  We've mostly been home, haven't been sick or anything, don't have a new job.  Nothing.  I guess the best I can come up with is that I'm just lazy.  And that is certainly not a new condition for me! 

January and February were really pretty nice around here; we even flirted with 70F (21C) on the odd day.  I feel for all those folks in the midwest and east where they are having such a lousy winter.  It was so nice that all the weeds started growing in our yard and I had to go after them with the Roundup.  Our daughter and her new boyfriend (40ish) have been out from Vegas a couple times.  He can't get over how quiet it is out here.  We were doing pretty good taking our daily walk but then we got a cold spell with consistant 15 mph (24 kph) breezes and that keeps us off the walk. 

No one has been doing any building in the valley for several years.  I remember 3 or 4 years back where there were 17 new construction permits issued all year for the entire county.  Now people are building again and entire neighborhoods are under construction.  There have been three new houses built in our vicinity and now someone is building one right in our neighborhood.  We walk past it every day.  Hopefully they will be able to sell it.  One new problem is that the state is requiring that the purchaser of a piece of land buy 'water rights'.  Up until now it was possible to just buy a piece of land and dig a well on it.  Now you have to pay the state quite a lot of money (I've read somewhere about $10,000) to dig that well.  Needless to say there is quite a backlash from the "Don't Tread on Me" crowd and I must say the state has been rather heavy-handed about the whole thing.  The problem is that people build places out here then pretend they are living in Georgia and think they can have trees and grass and flowers just like people who live in rainy climes.  We just don't have unlimited water.

We did take a trip down to visit parts of Southern California.  We visited Joshua Tree National Monument where we got in a little hiking.  We went down to San Diego, of course, to see Number One Son & his girlfriend of 23 years.  And on the way home we stopped in Palm Springs for a couple of days.  That was kind of interesting.  There is so much 'history of the stars' sort of thing.  I guess it would be appealing to some folks but the town is changing a lot so I'm not sure where it is going now. 

A few photos:  we'll start with hiking in Joshua Tree.  Turns out we didn't take a single photo of a Joshua Tree!  But there were plenty of boulders!

Farther on there was a cholla walk.  This was a short trail through an area where there are an abnormal concentration of cholla cactus.  Some were nearly 10 feet tall!
Driving down those backroads in California is a totally different experience from the freeways of LA.  You didn't meet many cars and the speed limit was mostly 55 mph (88kph).  We also saw several signs warning that there were no services for 80-100 miles (125-160 km). 

Next we spent time in the foothills northeast of San Diego where our son lives.  There are several wineries in the area and we visited one that had a huge sculpture garden:  the Salerno Winery.

It was quite nice and totally free.  We were somewhat put off by the fact they seemed to want to serve food rather than wine tasting so toured the garden and left.  I cannot say anything at all about their wine.  (That's a first!)

Coming back through Palm Springs was interesting.  Of course the first thing we wanted to check out was the Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  There are two cars on the opposite ends of a line so when one goes up the other goes down.  They move people through the place pretty efficiently and you get a timed ticket.  Ours were for 13:00.  Here's the view from the waiting area.  I didn't get a photo of it but one of the cars came down with two maintenance workers hitching a ride on top!  Clearly it's the easiest and cheapest way to get folks up there but you've gotta like heights.
The cars are round and they rotate so you get to see lots.  Once you get to the top they mostly want to sell you food or beverages.  My wife and I split a $15 beer - a large beer and good but $15? 

From the top of the tramway you can actually go hike in the state park but most of us just ohh and ahh and head back inside.  Especially when it was 16F (-9C) and spitting snow.  The view of the city is pretty spectacular.  What I found more interesting was the HUGE wind farm.  The photo shows possibly a third of it; it was massive.  While waiting to go down you can see some of the mechanical parts that make the tram go up and down.  Coming down you can see the sights again.  I spent more time looking at the actual tramway.  Here is a car that we are helping pull up by the weight of our car.
There is a recorded story while in the tram that talks about how the thing was built by having everything brought up via helicopter.  You can see one of the landing stages that is probably still in use for maintenance work.  There are a few trails as well. 
 So that was our visit to the Palm Springs Tramway. 

The other big deal that we checked out was the  Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.  The zoo is divided into two parts:  Africa and North America.  The animal exhibits were nice.  They put compatible species together in the same area quite often.
Some of the exhibits were totally child oriented but most were for children of all ages.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)  There was a lot of information about various desert plants as well which we, as desert residents, appreciated.  I could see where it might get kind of boring for someone from Ohio.  One thing that they don't talk a lot about is the model train exhibit.  They claim it is the largest G-size exhibit in the world.  It was spectacular.  This photo is about a huge canyon.  It made up 15-20% of the total area of the exhibit. 

That concludes our travel for the year.  So far.  By car.  Travelling by car is kind of different for us and it's got it's own challenges.  Motels can be weird.  Finding meals likewise.  Neither of us is ready to give up on the RV but this is a new interest.  We'll see what happens.

We got home and Pahrump had it's annual Balloon Fest.  It is a three day weekend thing that usually works well.  This year, unfortunately, the balloons were only in the air on the Saturday as Friday and Sunday were both too windy. 

I guess that's all the news that's fit to print from around here.  Thanks for stoping by.