Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Well, Christmas is almost here and other holidays seem to be sprinkled around this time of year:  Chanukah and Kwanzaa spring to mind.  So I guess all religions are causing their believers stress.  Happy days indeed!

Yes, I am a grouch.  Yes, I am a non-believer.  Please don't bother to tell me how wrong I am; plenty of people have done that already.  I was probably rude to them in return.

We are having a Christmas eve luncheon with our daughter today.  She is all excited about going on a trip after Christmas so we'll get to hear lots about that later today.  Then on Friday we will have friends coming to visit for a couple of days.  It's been a long time since we've been together and we are looking forward to catching up with them.  Of course having guests means extra cleaning, planning special meals, etc.  Lots of fun!

Every day when I drive into town (we live in a sort-of subdivision a couple miles from the center of town) I see three or four flags or banners calling for re-electing President Trump in 2020.  It makes me feel like I don't belong here at all.  The President is just so foolish, so self-centered, so bad at being the representative of our country.  Of course, I have trouble liking any of the Democratic candidates but Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are just disgusting.  I remember hearing in 2016 how happy the people of Indiana were that Mr. Pence was being taken off their hands.  It is the only argument I can imagine that makes not-impeaching President Trump a good thing. 

Speaking of the Democratic candidates, wow, what a bunch of losers!  And the front runners are mostly old.  Don't get me wrong, old isn't automatically bad but Bernie Sanders is 78!  I mean the average life expectancy of men in this country is only 76.  Let's be darned careful about Bernie's running mate because we're probably going to inherit him or her.  Then again the Democrats all sound like they think socialism is what our country needs.  I can't think of a better way to lose the election.  I do like Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg but neither has any federal governmental experience.  Elizabeth Warren has experience but she is 70.  Oh well, the Russians will probably give the election to Trump anyway!

So, have a Merry Christmas, happy Chanukah or joyous Kwanzaa!  On to 2020.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Something different

We've been doing a lot of international travel since our beloved pets died 6 and 7 years ago.  The dog had a cancer that was operated on several times and it just got to the point where she would still be in recovery at the time a new eruption would be found.  The vets just could not get all of the cancer out of her.  The cat just died of old age.  We took the opportunity and traveled via cruise ship a lot but also just taking a month and visiting Italy or Australia or wherever.  Well, that's over now!

Saturday, Nov. 30,  we went out to lunch then thought we would stop by the local animal shelter to see if they had any new dogs that we hadn't seen before.  Long story short:  we brought home our new dog!  It's a weird dog for sure.  It doesn't pull on the lead much when you are walking it but it is totally untrained.  Of course we don't know what it's previous owners called it so we can't call it by name.  However, it doesn't know any of the common commands:  come, sit, stay....  He doesn't even know how to play.  If you bounce a ball in front of him, he watches you but has no real interest.   We were told that it was found out in the desert abandoned and covered in stickers so it was shaved!  They said they thought it was a year old and starving.  On Wednesday we managed to get in to see our vet and she suggests the dog is more like six or seven years old and we believe her to be correct.  The dog just doesn't act like a young dog.  Also, he weighs something like 57 lb (25kg) and while you can fell his ribs they aren't sticking out as though he was starving.  So anyway, here's a photo of Ollie our new dog.
According to the animal shelter, Ollie was shaved in late September or early October and his coat is still not growing out.  The vet suggested that the follicles might have been burned and the hair may never recover.  At any rate, he looks like he was shaved last week by a drunk who didn't know what he was doing!  There are little tufts of hair here and there but large portions of his coat has hair that is perhaps 1/16th of an inch (1.5 mm) long.  We'll see.

He is pretty smart and he definitely responds to food!  He's learning his name, sit and come.  He is a long way from perfect but it's coming along.  We have a crate for him to sleep in since he isn't house trained at all.  We put him in the back seat of the truck and took him on a trip to Las Vegas that worked out really well.  There is a restaurant/bar called BJ's that has a small outdoor area and they said having a dog out there was just fine.  He was really good just waiting for us by our feet while we had lunch.  We are already thinking of our first trailer trip with him!

When we flew to Norway to take that North Atlantic cruise something happened to my back and I've had pain ever since.  Before the cruise we would walk around our neighborhood about 2.5 miles (4 km) 5 or 6 times a week.  I still can't walk a tenth of that distance without severe pain.  Just shopping in the grocery store can send me for more ibuprofen.  The doctor sent me to Physical Therapy but after 10 visits I've had only minimal improvement.  They are going to try dry-needling which sounds like a semi-copy of acupuncture.  It would be cool if that worked!  However I'm scheduled to visit a orthopedic specialist the first week of January.  Should be lots of fun too. 

So, that's all the news from around here.  Thanks for stopping by.  Hopefully I'll manage to update this before but if I don't have a Happy Holiday - whichever you celebrate!

Friday, December 06, 2019

Not a lot going on!

Well, we managed to make things calm and comfortable at home again so there isn't a lot to report.  Well, a little.

Went to our daughter's in Las Vegas for a Thanksgiving luncheon.  It ended about 3 pm and we headed off home.  That means going up through a 5,400 ft pass (1,600m) and, since it was raining in Las Vegas, it was snowing on the pass.  The bottom line is that we've never driven the Escape in anything over rain.  As it happens, it turned out really well!  We'd be stopped and giving the gas a little touch, the car moved ahead very easily.  Since the traffic was moving at about 1 mph, that worked going up hill.  Coming down, we gave the car ahead lots of room but braking was never a problem either.  So, we're thrilled!

Other than that, it's a quiet time.  We are looking for a dog to make our house stinky again but it's a work in progress.  We'd really like a shelter dog but we'll see.  Sorry for the short update but it's quiet around here!  Take care.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More travel!

Ok, so we've been gone again.  This time we do have a really good reason though!

My wife's sister-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer recently and her husband (my wife's brother) was holding a Celebration of Life to memorilize his wife.  It was held in a small town near their home on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  I've never attended such a celebration but this was quite interesting.  She was a poet so various people read their favorites from her poems.  It was quite a fitting sendoff.  Of course having someone close to you die of such a terrible disease is really quite awful.  In her case it was especially nasty because originally there was hope that it was operable and in the end it was not.

The ceremony did lead me to think about what I am doing with my life and I believe I'll be making some changes to give more back to our community.  I was thinking that if it were a celebration of my life it would only be family members attending.  I need to do more.

Because of the sadness of the occasion I didn't bother trying to take photos but there were sure some opportunities!  That part of the world is both beautiful and depressing at the same time.  Locally it is called Washington's Banana Belt.  Well, you could have fooled us!  Rain, mist, cloud and just plain wet was the order of the day.  You fly into Seattle then drive about 3 hours so that pretty much takes a day.  Coming home is another day.  So on a 5 day trip you spend 3 with the people you've come to see.  Yeah, I guess you could compress it if you wanted but I'm over 70 and don't want 12 or 14 hour days. 

Now it seems as though things will settle down for a bit.  We have no travels planned so anything that comes along will be a surprise.  Right now the things on my calendar are getting lab work done and my annual visit with the doctor.  Talk about hot stuff!

So this is what Washington looks like in good weather.  This was taken July of last year on the Washington shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A little trip...

So I really do like being home.  However, my wife and I just got back from another little jaunt so I can't whine about it being dull quite yet.  This time it was 'business'. 

For several years I've been a member of a board that is supposed to tell the Dept. of Energy, Environmental Management people what local people think about the Nevada National Security Site - aka the Test Site.  You may remember it as the site used for testing atomic weapons back in the day.  Well, it's still there and parts are still radioactive and all is off limits except when you are taken on a tour.  It is 31 miles 'as the crow flies' from home so that is the excuse for me being on the board.  Actually, I'm just interested because of it's place in history.  Once a year the group gets a tour to visit things we'll talk about in the coming year and I always invite my wife.  We spend the day wandering around the site (on a bus with guides!) seeing places that are scheduled to be 'cleaned up' in the next year.  Security is pretty tight:  cameras and phones are banned and the guards do carry guns

I am not afraid of radioactivity so long as it is far enough away so visiting these places is always interesting.  Some of the pollutants need to be cleaned up; some simply cannot.  One place I remember was a concrete bunker that was polluted with some cleaning agent.  We recommended that it be locked and signposted as 'Do Not Enter'.  Recently the DOE transported hundreds of truck loads of dirt from one place to another because the first area is on an Air Force base and was needed for training.  It seems silly to move dirt but those tests ended in the 1990's and it was still polluted today.  The site has special areas reserved for Low Level Polluted Waste and that's where the dirt ended up. 

ANYWAY, every year there is a meeting of people from our board and other similiar boards from around the country.  This time I got to represent our board and the meeting was in Sun Valley, Idaho.  We've been near Sun Valley but never in the actual town.  It turns out to be a pretty little place and the resort we stayed in was quite nice.  The meeting was a day and a half (and pretty dull) but we also got to tour part of the Idaho National Laboratory.  We got to visit the EBR-1 nuclear reactor built back in 1953 and some other reactors still being used for various tests.  It wasn't as historically dramatic as I find the Test Site but it was very interesting all the same. 

We could have flown but decided to drive just because we haven't seen all that northern Nevada has to offer.  It is a 600 mile (970 km) trip one way but we were in no hurry so we made it two days up and two back down.  We got to visit a few new Nevada towns and see a bunch of pretty scenery.  No photos unfortunately because it was cold and windy.  When we were touring the Lab. areas photos were not allowed anyway; and yes, their guards carry guns as well.

So that's what we do for fun.  Drive, drive and drive some more.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coming on home...

So last time I left you we were having an 'at sea' day to get to Greenland.  I was looking forward to Greenland just because the place seems pretty difficult to reach.  On Viking ships, and I believe most, you get a little 4 or 5 page news release every night.  On this night we received one extra piece of paper:  a Projected Weather Forecast. 

"Due to strong winds of up to 40 knots at the entrance of Prince Christian Sound, we will not be able to enter the Sound at our scheduled arrival time of 06:00 AM.  The wind is forecasted to drop during the morning of September 21 and the planned entrance is now amended to 1:00 PM.  This will allow us an enjoyable scenic sailing through the sound utilizing day light.  With this change in schedule, we will be unable to make our call to Nanortalik, Greenland."

Grrr!  But in the end it was actually rather fun.  Cruising the sound in the afternoon meant lots of photo op!  Here we've been sailing in open water for a week and suddenly it gets pretty narrow.
One of the things that, well, I just don't understand is how people live places like this.  I've spent my adult life in cities and suburbs.  Even now, living in rural Nevada; this isn't what you'd call empty.  There are police and fire fighters and stores.  It isn't like that some places and this had some of them.
The folks who live in this little community seem probably to be on their own.  I'm sure there is a tiny store there where you can get things or at least get them shipped in if you request them but it's not like the FedEx guy will be bringing your Amazon order in 2 days.  I want to give you another view of the town that shows a little more of the area.
That is one tall mountain! 

This is a glacier that comes right down to the ocean.  Sorry about the rain flecks on the window but we weren't being encouraged to go outside.
I was walking through the pool area and looked over to notice how close we were to land.
They have a pool grill where you can eat but on this cruise it was pretty unpopular.  It was just too cold.

The next day, day 9 of our cruise, we reached Qaqortoq, Greenland.  It was supposed to be our second stop in Greenland but it turned out to be the only one.  It is a cute little place with, of course, lots of fishing boats.  The houses must be in some order with roads, etc. around them but it sure doesn't look like it.
They do believe in color on their houses.  There is a fountain in the 'center' of town that was pretty cute.
A few years ago a group of sculptors decided to make the town their own and there are little pieces of artwork all over the place.
It was just a very cute little place.  And if you are there and need to meet people, there's a place for that.

 We, however, got back onto the ship and headed off for Canada.  Monday, our 10th day of the cruise, was another 'at sea' day.  On Tuesday we reached L'Anse aux Meadows, Canada.  It is thought to be the first Norse landing in the Americas.  There were two things we were visiting:  a reproduction of the village and the location of the actual village.  Apparently people have thought this was the place where Leif Eriksson landed for many years but there was no proof.  Then in 1960 the remains of the original buildings were found perhaps a mile from the reproduction village.  So first we visited the reproduction village.  The houses were all sod covered, this happens to be the church.
Some of the buildings were rather large.
Inside they had people doing what Viking settlers might have done:  weaving, iron working, etc. 

After checking out the village we went over to see the 'real thing'.  The Canadian park system has an office on a hilltop then you walk down towards the water.  What you find is this.
The archaeologists dug into the little bumps and discovered proof of the Viking origin then covered it up again simply to preserve it.  They had little plaques saying this place was a forge or that one a home.  Still, it was a nice place to visit.

Well, after all that excitement, we had another 'at sea' day getting us to Saguenay, Canada.  There was supposed to be a stage show for us to learn all about fur and timber trading back in the day.  It was rainy and the ship was docked quite a distance from the theater so we made an executive decision and stayed on the ship!  Saguenay is only about 240 km from Quebec City so it's pretty much a city.

Our 14th day on the cruise was a stop in Quebec City.  We took the included tour that was the worst tour we've ever been on for one simple reason:  there were at least five other ships docked in Quebec City and each one had a tour going over the same places!  There were tourists EVERYWHERE!  What little bit we saw of the city we liked but there has to be a time when the place isn't overrun by tourists.  The photos we got were just awful so I have none to share here.  I mean it was just stupid. 

The final stop on the cruise was Montreal and we visited there just last fall so our version of seeing Montreal was getting long-hauled by a cab driver to get to the airport!  Honestly, we got the same treatment last fall so I'm over Montreal.  But the airport was nice.  We had a short flight to Detroit then another home.  Las Vegas looked pretty good and it wasn't cold!

That's the end of the trip.  Hope you've enjoyed hearing about it and maybe you'll go check out some of these places.  We love traveling so there will be more.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


So last time we were just getting on the ship for our North Atlantic cruise.  Ever since I was a kid and read about navy ships in the North Atlantic during World War II I've wondered what it would be like.  I mean, the water isn't going to look different or anything but the weather was supposed to be pretty fierce.  At the start of September I thought we might start getting some bad weather but hopefully not too bad!  As I said earlier, the first two days of the cruise, Saturday and Sunday were spent tied to the pier in Bergen.

The cruise started out with a letter from the Captain stating that because of bad weather, consisting of up to 60 knot winds(70 mph or 110 kph), we wouldn't be making our scheduled first stop in Lerwick, Shetland Islands.  Hmmm, well, we did sign up for fall cruising up north.  So, instead of getting to check out the Shetland Islands we spent Monday 'at sea'.  I must admit that it did rain pretty much the entire day and it was windy even where we were.  Of course the ship has stabilizers but we were still rocking more than I've ever experienced before.

Viking has a number of ships all built to the same design.  All staterooms have a veranda that is usually quite a nice place to get some fresh air; maybe take your glass of wine out and try to get photos of birds or the sunset or whatever.  On this trip we used the veranda for a total of probably 15 minutes and those minutes were either in port or entering a port.  It was about 40F(4C) and raining for most of the trip.  Likewise these ships have two decks that are designed to give you a place to walk.  My wife and I like to walk and normally take a few laps even if we aren't the fastest people on the ship.  Not this time!  Most of the time the doors leading to the outside deck was marked as wet and dangerous and you were told not to go outside. 

So, what did we do?  Well, we did spend an unfortunate amount of time either eating or thinking about our next meal.  We usually had breakfast and lunch in a huge cafeteria on deck 7.  They have some fixed items and some that vary.  One of the favorite fixed items was the Gelato Bar; it was busy every lunchtime.  We had most of our evening meals in 'The Restaurant'.  Yeah, but it was really quite nice.  They would have 6 or 8 entrees and the same number of appetizers and deserts that changed every night and 3 or 4 that were always on the menu.  They have two 'specialty' restaurants on the ship and we ate one evening in each but the food is no better and the staff isn't as good.  During the day, the ship had various card games set up and a bean bag toss game that I guess is called a Cornhole Game.  (I don't know but that's what it's called on Amazon.)  Bridge lessons and knitting lessons were offered as well as the usual stage shows.  We found a game table that had a Mahjong game and we took that up on several mornings.  My wife found some historical tv series that she watched even knowing more about the history that the author's did.  There is an enclosed pool on board but it was downright cold in that area so I never saw anyone in it.

The 4th day, Tuesday, we made port in Torshavn, Faroe Islands.  The islands are owned by Denmark.  I don't know if you can read it but the gray building in the photo is "Bergen Fiskeindustri" which pretty much is how the islanders make their livings - fishing!

The ship offers an included (free) bus tour on most stops and has optional tours for the interested.  We stuck to the included tour since we had no idea what we would find.  The tour just wandered around the island a bit.  There was some rain and wind and some mild sunshine.  There were large groups of sheep wandering free everywhere (even at the Hyundai dealer). 
Our guide told us they were owned by the various families and shearing and butchering were done in kind of a community setting.  I still have trouble with who might own what sheep but I guess that since I don't live there I should stop worrying about it.  The islanders began having sod roofs and you still see some of those even in the city.
There are almost no trees on the island.
At any rate, we enjoyed our tour but we each have to wonder what keeps people living here. 

Our 5th day, Wednesday, was another 'at sea' day.  My wife and I were enjoying the cruise but I can see where some people might have been getting a little cabin fever.  On our 6th day, Thursday, we woke to find ourselves in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Another island, another bus tour!  This time we coughed up extra money to get to see more of the island and I can only vote it as 'ok'.  Iceland is an amazing place but we simply didn't have enough time to do it any justice.  Much like the Faroe Islands, fishing is important and, increasingly, tourism.  A couple we met onboard had taken advantage of a 'free stopover' offered by an airline and had spent a week there last year.  That seems like a great way to check it out.  Our tour guide was kind of funny.  We saw some wind turbines; there were three, she said there had been four but one was blown down.  We saw some radar domes; there had been more but one blew away.  We started worrying about ourselves blowing away!  There was a nice museum containing a boat, the Islendingur,  that was a replica of those sailed to Vinland (present-day Newfoundland) by the Vikings.  Let's just say those guys were crazy setting off in something so tiny and open.

There are supposed to be amazing waterfalls, fantastic lava fields and geysers.  It was cold and rainy and we almost all stayed on the bus! 

Our 7th day, Friday, was another 'at sea' day.  This time headed for Greenland.  I'll see if I can't get us on home next time.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 05, 2019

OK, I've been gone!

Yep, we just keep drifting off to new and different places.  This time it was another cruise with a little extra time padded on just for the fun of it.  It all started on September 8 when we flew off to Oslo, Norway.  You see there is this Viking cruise called 'In the Wake of the Vikings' which is a cute way to say the North Atlantic.  It is also a good way to move a ship from Europe to North America.  It leaves from Bergen, Norway so, as usual, we gave ourselves a few days to sightsee in the country from which the cruise would leave.

As it turns out, I twisted something and have been having quite a lot of pain ever since we landed in Oslo so our sightseeing was severely curtailed.  Oslo is a moderate sized city with lots of national institutions but we only got to see the outside of a few of them and took no tours.  We stayed in the Thon Terminus Hotel which is a new chain for us.  It was actually very nice.  Norway in general seemed expensive but the hotel did something I have never come across:  in addition to breakfast they served a light dinner to the guests.  It wasn't fantastic but considering that it was included in the price of the room AND that I didn't want to walk anywhere; it worked great for us.

We planned on three days in Oslo then a travel day ending with three more nights in Bergen before the cruise left.  The travel day was on the train from Oslo to Bergen.  There were several stops but no changes.  It was actually very comfortable and, since we are both seniors, not terribly expensive.  The countryside varied quite a bit from farm land near Oslo to a large lake to rough and rocky.  It went from sea level to 1,222 meters or 4,009 feet where there was snow and back down to sea level. 
When we made it to Bergen we went for another Thon hotel; the Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz.  This was about 1 km from the train station and I was happy to find that I could walk that distance.  It was a huge improvement over when we first landed in Oslo.  Anyway, one of the things you are supposed to do in Bergen is take the Floibanen funicular railway up Mount Floyen and check out the scenery.  Somewhere I read where one should go early in the day as it gets busy later on so we hopped up and went over to it.  The railway car is divided into half a dozen little areas each with a door on each side.  Our car had one compartment with adults and the remainder of the car was filled with little school children on some sort of day trip.  Wow!  Were they ever noisy little rascals!  However, the trip is supposed to be 6 minutes long so it wasn't that awful. Here is a photo of the car from a couple days later.  You can see the tourists along the fence up above.

We got to the top of the mountain and started taking pictures of the city below us.  You can see the storm coming in from the water.

Then it started to rain.  People were planning on hikes of all kinds and they were ready to do it in the rain.  Not so much us.  We are warm weather and sunshine folks so we hopped onto the next train going down.  As it turned out, we were the only passengers on the train!  When we got to the bottom there was a huge crush of people waiting to go up!  So I have to say what I'd heard is true:  go early!  BTW, the white ship in the last photo is the Viking Sun, the ship that would be carrying us across the ocean.

The remainder of our time was spent wandering around the old part of the city.  There is a nice Farmer's Market which was fun to see and cheap since we weren't doing any cooking!  We visited the Fish Market and the Indoor Fish Market where we saw some fish I'd never seen before.  (Not saying much since I'm no fisherman.)  We spent some time wandering around in the Bryggen which is the old part of the city.  It was built of wood so much of it has burned down over the years.  Now what is left is pretty touristy.
And then it was time to board the ship.  The 'cruise' begins by spending two days tied to the pier in Bergen.  Weird, yes, but I guess they want you to see their home country.  We took one of the tours offered which was a bus ride around the town.  Not too exciting.  However being back on board one of the Viking cruisers was fun.  We've been on a couple other cruises on sisterships so it was like re-visiting a favorite place. 

I'm going to stop here.  There are more places to visit on the trip but I have to go cook!  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Travel? Me?

Well, yes!  My wife and I just returned from a quick trip to San Diego.  She was born there and really does love the city but the big draw is that Number 1 Son and his SO live just outside the city.  So we like to go down every now and then to torture them.  We spent the weekend doing just that then added on a couple days so we could do some tourist stuff.

Driving down there was absolutely the worst trip we've ever made down there.  First we got stuck in a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere thanks to a traffic accident.  Then we got slowed down for no apparent reason at all.  Granted there are plenty of cars on those roads but usually they just kind of carry on with it.  Anyway we left here at 09:30 and didn't get there until 17:00 which was at least 2 hours later than we should have been.  We had fun with the family finding a couple new places to eat and just generally catching up.  By Monday they had to go back to work so we got out fairly early.  My wife is the travel planner and she had found us a place called the Old Town Inn.  It is within walking distance of Old Town and was quite nice.

The first day on our own we spent shopping then wandering around Old Town.  We escaped buying a small scuplture by the skin of our teeth but we both know we'll be back in town again.  If it is still calling to us we might have figured out a place for it by then.  The second day we went to the zoo.  We love to visit the zoo and it really is quite the place.  This time it was a little warm, well a lot warm, but otherwise pretty great.

There were quite a few babies born this year so we got to see some of the young animals.  Giraffes are pretty tall even when young!

There are even wild animals living at the zoo.  Wild as in not official residents!  I'm pretty sure the bunny doesn't have a keeper.

Of course the flamingos are amazing even when sleeping!  There was another one walking up and down the fence line demanding attention from the visitors.  Nope, no one had anything to feed him.

We had fun checking out the baby monkeys.  These two were having a great time playing hide-and-seek.

As I said, it was warm and everyone (and everything) was liking the shade.

Of course the zoo is really pretty large and we only got to see about half of it.  If this was the only time we could visit we would have stayed but having seen about half of the acreage we decided to  head back to the motel.  We walked over to a restaurant in Old Town and had dinner then back to the room for an early night.  The next morning we were at breakfast at 06:00 when they open it up and were out of town soon after.  This time we only had one slowdown so made it home by noon.  Much better!

Thanks for stopping by.  Take care.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Wow, almost a month!

Somehow it's been almost a month since I last blogged.  It's been mostly kind of dull (which I don't mind at all!) and a little excitement.  It's getting something over 100F (38C) most days but that's pretty normal.  We like to get out before 06:00 for our walk and it takes at least 50 minutes.  We aren't power walking so talking about what the neighbors are doing in their yards, etc. takes time.  There is also the big discussion about what's for breakfast!

Last last month we flew to San Francisco for four days to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.  That was fun.  We stayed in a place on Hyde Street where we could go up on the roof and see Alcatraz.

The hotel is part of Wyndham's Shell Vacations Club.  We don't belong but they let a few rooms to civilians I guess.  Anyway, it was a nice little 1 bedroom apartment.  It wasn't cheap but nothing in the city is.  The rooftop area is clearly quite small but there aren't a lot of apartments in the place.  As you can see we had great weather and even managed to get a little sunburn.  Grrr!  Here we leave the desert and get a sunburn in what is supposed to be a nice foggy city. 

This is looking the opposite direction.  It was taken over looking what had been the parade ground.  There were quite a few parts of the island that were off limits.  We were there at a time when the birds have had their young and the park service didn't want us disturbing the birds.  They were everywhere!

We like to just walk around so did a pretty good job of covering the tourist water front from Pier 33 where the Alcatraz boat docks over to the Presidio.  We had two days of over 10,000 steps per my wife's Fitbit.  When we wanted to go farther or come back in comfort we used Uber.  The rides were in the $10-13 dollar range which we thought was pretty reasonable.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is reasonably nice to older tourists:  round trips from the airport to downtown and back were $9 each for seniors.

We like to take a ride around town sometimes and this time we took a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour.  It was 2.5 hours roundtrip but we got to see quite a bit of the city AND it took us across the Golden Gate Bridge where you could catch another bus to Sausalito if you wished:  we didn't.  I must admit going across the bridge was a chilly trip.

We got home and resumed that quiet life until just yesterday.  For the 4th of July nature threw us a party:  an earthquake!  The quake, 6.4 in magnitude, was centered in Searles Valley in California but we sure felt it here!  By the road it is 160 miles away but it is actually only 84 miles away.  (I use a great site called Freemaptools.com to give me the distances.)  It was quite a long quake and our house got quite a shake.  All that lead me to checkout earthquakes around here and I found www. earthquaketrack.com.  We get a lot more that I ever imagined.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Getting warm!

Well, the unusually temperate weather has pretty much left and now we have been looking at 105F (40C) or so daily.  That means having the air conditioning on 24/7.  The forecast is for that to go back down to 95F (35C) but we'll see!  We are getting out to walk as soon as we wake up since it's already 70F (21C) and the sun is warm.  Our usual walk takes in about 2.5 miles (4km).  It is flat as a pancake and paved but it's better than sitting inside and losing our ability to walk anywhere!  Usually we make a game of counting the rabbits; we have both regular bunnies and jack rabbits.  We will often see a small hawk but that isn't a sure thing.  There are a few neighbors who keep horses and we have to check on them.  The past week or so we've seen balloons.  Please forgive the quality of these photos; they are taken with my phone then enlarged a lot!

Usually we see 1 to 3 balloons.  We are only having very gentle breezes so it makes for a nice flight.  We do have a balloon festival in the early part of the year.  We have quite a few balloons flying then and, of course, there are all the other parts to a festival. 

We do check out the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.  Personally I feel it is mis-named because most of the people there are some sort of craft person.  You can buy art glass, leather work, wood work; all kinds of craft work and I was happily surprised at the high quality of the work.  Fruits and vegetables are in pretty short supply though. 

We are planning another trip or three but they are down the road a bit.  As usual I'll report on them when we are back.  Until then, thanks for stopping by.  Take care!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

More quiet times

We haven't been doing a whole bunch lately.  The weather has been odd to say the least.  It's been quite cool with highs of maybe 70F (21C) but it's been fairly windy as well, like 15 mph (25 kph).  It isn't awful just not what we expect at this time of year.  To add injury, my wife managed to fall down and do something to her right side that makes walking painful.  THEN she did something to her right shoulder that caused her doctor to prescribe physical therapy.  All in all, it's not big problems but enough to keep us from wandering around much. 

We did make it in to Las Vegas a few days ago and bought a small table from IKEA.  We've been fans of the store since we lived in the Netherlands.  You wander around in the maze they call a store and can actually come up with some interesting ideas.  Anyway, the directions for the table were fun I thought.
I mean, 36 different languages to tell you how to clean the table???  It also speaks to how dull things are that I counted them all! 

At least one of our cactus plants is happy.
It usually comes up with one or two blooms but this year it is out-doing itself.  It makes the bees happy as well. 

I'm to the point that I can hardly look at the news any more.  Our President is such a jerk; I keep thinking he can't get any worse then he trump's himself.  And some people still support him.  Driving into town we pass this house that is flying TWO "Trump 2020" flags.  The Democratic party seems to be trying to keep him in office given the huge group of losers they have running for President.  There are 23 of them!  Most of them are unknown except for their own family and the front runners are the same old white men that have been unelectable for years.  These fools are simply helping the President stay in office.  To make it even worse, Biden and Sanders are 76 and 77 respectively.  I mean they are older than me for crying out loud (and Trump for that matter). 

Well, sorry for the rant.  It just bothers me that we have such an unreliable fool for President.  Thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Just checking in...

I don't really have much to report.  It's quiet around here and getting warmer every now and then.  Now we are up to the mid-80's(29-30C) most days and we probably won't be gettting much more rain for a while.

Haven't really gone anywhere or done anything since my last post.  Well, I've been making good use of the bbq and the smoker but otherwise it's been quiet.  This week I did a personal best when I smoked beef jerky one day and smoked salmon the next day.  There's only so much excitement an old guy like myself can take!  High point of today, after waking up of course, is going to the grocery store and seeing this sign.

I'm not sure if $19.99 is good for Titos but considering it is a new product - VOKDA - I imagine it's good.

I did visit our local marijuana dispensary the other day.  Since it is legal in Nevada, I want to try it again.  I went into the store on Friday early afternoon and they did seem to be doing a fair business.  The other customers were clearly repeat visitors.  I sure felt like the newbie.  We tried some 2 years ago when they first opened and it just didn't do a lot for either of us.  I keep reading about what a huge market it might become and figure this is something I can test personally.  Besides, I was pretty bummed about how dull the stuff was 3 years ago.  I was impressed though that the guy behind the counter could see my previous purchase in their records!

We keep talking about going places but so far something seems to come up to keep us here.  The house was built in 2005 and we've lived here for 10 years.  Things are needing work; nothing big but lots of little stuff.  Well, it's better than not being able to take care of it.  Gotta go.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Enjoying Spring!

This time of year is often pretty good around here.  It has been windy this year but reasonably warm.  When we haven't been out spraying weeds in our yard we've gotten out and about a bit.

Week before last we visited Death Valley National Park.  The park is absolutely huge and we'd never seen the other side; specifically over by Panamint Springs.  We decided to just drive over and check out the roads.  With the over-62 senior pass it is free to visit so why not?  I was surprised by the number of visitors though I guess I shouldn't have been.  Even in early April the high was going to be 97F (36C) so waiting until later would make it a bit warm.  We ended up taking no photos worth sharing but we did discover that the roads are excellent and wouldn't be a problem at all if we were towing our trailer.  I'm not a huge fan of high and windy roads but this was just fine even if there were places that we were happy they had installed a guard rail.

Then last week we took a bus tour on the Nevada National Security Site.  This is where the majority of our nuclear weapons testing was done back in the day.  Today the site is used for a variety of things where security, space and even nuclear debris is useful.  (They train police and fire fighters on dealing with accidents that include a nuclear component; like the stuff your dentist uses to xray your teeth.)  Public tours are available but they are few and far between, like once a month.  If you are interested in visiting you should sign up around a year in advance!  Really, all remaining tours being offered in 2019 are full.  They are pretty rigorous about security and two of the things you can't bring are cameras and cellphones.  You also need to pass a paperwork security check but after all that you get a 250 mile bus ride.

Anyway, I managed to get onto a board that is supposed to advice the site management on how local people think they are doing.  I've been on the board for several years and we usually get a special tour about once a year.  This year we went to a part of the site I've never visited before where some of the larger underground tests were conducted.  One of the concerns with underground testing is that the ground water can be contaminated with nuclear debris.  The Dept. of Energy has drilled many wells around the test areas to test the ground water.  There are also wells on other federal land outside the site.  Happily the ground water doesn't move a lot out here and testing has shown that the water has traveled off the site but won't reach private lands for several hundred years by which time the radiation danger will be well past.  (The primary traveling nuclide is Trinium which has a half-life of 12+ years; it isn't something that has a half-life of 500 years or anything.)

Finally I drove into Las Vegas the other day to buy a couple things.  On the way there and back I go past Red Rock Canyon which is really quite a beautifully impressive place.  There were zillions of tourists!  There is a sign where people like to stop and take selfies with the sign.  This time a tour bus had stopped there!  Anyway, the rock is really very beautiful and a real attraction for rock climbers.  This photo is from 2010.

On the way home I stopped to get a couple photos of the cactus.  They are having their moment and have lovely blooms.

So we haven't been just sitting around home but have gotten a few miles on the car if nothing else.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

We are just hanging around home.

We were all tired out when we came home from our Panama Canal cruise so have planned for this year to be fairly quiet.  Lately, as I've been whining, we've had a full-time job spraying weeds but that is over for a moment or two.  This is a pretty good time of year in Southern Nevada and our daytime temps are squeezing into the 70's (22C) so wandering around is fun.  There are a few things we need to do around the house and this is the time to start in on them.  I'll whine about them when they get underway.

My wife and I are of an age when aches and pains are a regular part of life; therefore ibuprofen.  Unfortunately there are things the miracle drug cannot cure and one of those things has taken a woman whom I only met once but via her husband's blog felt I knew her.  Croft is a guy who liked to write about their travels and his wife Norma was always there keeping him 'in line'.  Lots of us guys need a woman like that and Croft was lucky enough to have found his.  I wish him the best adjusting to the loss of his friend, lover, wife and so much more.

Life here is going on with the usual panache.  The headline on our newspaper this a.m. was that we now have a Starbuck's store!  We had a Starbuck's counter in one of the local grocery stores but I guess that wasn't enough.  I'd put up a link but they haven't updated the website with that burning news.  In other local news, our county, Nye, has been involved in a reality tv show:  Live PD. The sad news is that our local sheriff's officers will not be followed by their film crews from now on.  I'm not sure why we are getting the boot but I expect it is because we don't have a lot of 'action'.  Let's face it, there aren't that many people living here (and most of them are old) so we can only have so many drug busts. There goes our moment of fame.

I manage our investments and I've been fascinated by the marijuana industry that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  Part of the reason I find it interesting is that it is legal to possess small amounts in Nevada.  We have a local dispensary for legal recreational and medicinal weed.  We also have a couple other places offering CBD, a non-psychoactive form, that is supposed to have considerable medical uses.  Of course every sleezy salesperson (sorry, financial advisor) is pushing one company or another.  Believe me, I have no special insight and haven't bought anything yet!  There is a lot of interest in Canadian companies since they have legalized marijuana nationally.  There are also the brands that are associated with alcohol distributors but that is also primarily a Canadian connection.  I'll probably buy into some of the Canadian interests only because President Nutbag (I mean Trump) and his idiot Cabinet could turn on marijuana in an instant and amp up the pressure on the states to resind legalization. 

Well, that's what is wandering around in my head today.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


That's my curse word of the day:  weeds!  But I guess that's what happens when you take a moment and turn away. 

Actually we took more than a moment, we took two weeks.  We had a birthday celebration in Washington state so decided to make a trip of it.  We went over to the California coast by driving up highway 95 to Tonopah then on to Reno.  Then we hopped onto I-80 for a few miles and got off right after the Donner Pass onto California 20 and took it all the way to the coast.  That puts you in a little town called Fort Bragg.  Our timing was pretty good:  perfect weather going over the Pass then the next day chains were required!  Then we drove up highway 1 for a few miles until it ended on 101.  Let me tell you, that section of highway 1 is twisty and then some.  From the ocean to 101 was 22 miles and it took over 40 minutes to drive.  Then we just headed north.  It was a very pretty drive and we even managed to check out a few redwood groves.  There was a fair amount of rain and even a little sleet but nothing very serious.

The town we were headed for is Sequim, WA which is out on the Olympic Penninsula.  Of course, being Western Washington, it rained a bit but we lived in the area for something more than 15 years so there was no danger of us melting.  We got to see everyone, sing Happy Birthday and go out to eat a few times then it was time to head back home.  This time we were on familiar roads; south on I-5 then cutting across California back to Reno and down home.  Again the weather was just fine.  In places in California there were two or three feet of snow on the sides of the road but the roads themselves were clean and dry.

My wife is the navigator on our travels.  She uses Garmin software on her pc then enters waypoints in either the car's GPS or the Garmin we use for our truck.  Or sometimes, she uses both.
It's not every guy that has a woman and two machines telling him where to go!  Lucky me!  (Actually we took the Garmin because it has addresses for everyone in it's memory and the car doesn't.)  That photo was taken in the parking lot of our hotel in Sparks, NV.  They have a nice little lake there and we managed to wander around most of it after a day in the car.  I also got to see something I've never seen before in the park area by the lake.
I have absolutely no idea what was intended by whomever placed that sign there.  There wasn't anything really going on there; just a sign on a light post.  I guess it's an especially free area.  

So now I'm home and spraying weed killer like a madman.  We had rain when we were gone so the weeds are growing like crazy.  It will take a few days but I'll get them; every one of them.  On that note, I'll buzz off.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Spring, well, maybe

We are just hanging around enjoying not moving too much.  It is spring time in Pahrump so we get all kinds of weather with the exception of really hot or really cold.  Highs will be 70F (21C)  one day and 51F (10C) the next and down around freezing most nights.  We actually do get rain; got a third of an inch the other day (say 1 cm).  It varies a great deal from place to place so we'll get rain and someone a couple streets away doesn't.  We do all get a fair amount of wind mostly from the northwest but not always.

We like to walk in the afternoon if it is fairly nice.  We have two walks; one that is about 1.5 miles(2.4km) and the other about 2.5 miles (4 km).  Usually we go for the longer one but if it's cool or windy we might settle for the shorter.  We keep track of all the neighbor's animals - mostly horses these days but there have been others.  We also roust dogs at a couple places.  Why are the little dogs the noisiest?  At least around here there is usually a person there who will come yell at their dog.  Yeah, I still want one but it isn't quite time for that.

Our big excitement in town was in April of last year when the CEO of our local electric coop quit abruptly and disappeared.  There were rumors but nothing exceptional.  A woman who had been chief of day to day operations took over and in a month or so was named CEO.  So last week the coop announced that they were going to have to raise rates; they have been the same for 5 or 6 years I think.  Now the rumors said that the old CEO had 'borrowed' money from the coop to pay off some female employees who he's been a little too friendly towards.  Then a couple days later the sheriff and a handful of deputies went to the coop headquarters with a warrant to examine the company's books.  The next day our new CEO was arrested for embezzelment!  She is accused of having work done at her home by the company and not paying for it.  All the fun that's fit to print!

Other than that, it's pretty quiet around here.  Today was one of the nice days so life is good.  Tomorrow, well, we'll just have to see.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Live in the fast lane....

Well, anyway, this is Pahrump's Balloon Fest weekend when we have some brave balloon lovers come and show us their stuff.  Yesterday, Friday, was pretty windy so not good but today was excellent!  Check this out!
We've got balloons flying over the valley!  Of course in two hours they were all on the ground but what the heck.  Balloons are cool. 

When we lived in Florida we weren't very fond of them.  They would go over and the 'woof'of the propane burners would alert the dogs in the neighborhood then as the balloon crossed over the neighborhood you could tell it's position from the dog barking!  Well, if you knew the neighborhood dogs pretty well!  LOL

We are still talking about more travels and also about having a dog and how to merge those desires.  In short, it seems like international travel will take a backseat but we don't want to give it up entirely.  Perhaps it hinges on finding a quality place for our pet to stay while we are off fooling around.  We can't be the only people facing this dilemma. 

Have a good one.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Stopped moving for a while

Well, it's two months since we got back from our cruise and we are thinking about traveling again but not for a bit!  We ran into a neighbor the other day who we don't see often.  He said he and his wife just got back from a 60 day cruise!  OMG!  That's three times the length of our cruise and we thought that was too long.  I can't imagine two entire months.

Christmas was just the usual low-key stuff and New Year's was even quieter.  We don't even celebrate the Super Bowl!  Un-American, yeah, I know.  We do watch the Super Bowl commercials but this year even they were kind of dull.  (I have heard from others that the game was, likewise, dull.)

I keep looking at the news and all I see is that idiot President making a fool of himself time and again.  Jeez!  The 'good' news is that he is still alive and Pence isn't President.  Where we live is definitely Republican-ville.  My wife and I even joined the party just so we can have a vote on who is going to represent us locally.  Often there isn't anyone running except a couple Republicans so then whoever wins the primary is automatically elected.  This way we at least get to vote in the primary for the lesser evil.

I'm on a board that is supposed to give 'the community's view' of what is happening out at the old nuclear test facility.  We meet six times a year and make recommendations about how various cleanup tasks should be handled.  It's awfully stupid but I get a laugh out of it from time to time.  One of the 'problems' was concerning a bunker that had some stains on the concrete floor that contained PCBs which are toxic chemicals.  These stains had been there for a LONG while and the discussion was whether to demolish the bunker and dispose of the pieces OR to simply lock the door and leave it in place.  Now keep in mind that this bunker is on federal land where people are not allowed.  They have armed guards at all the entrances and when you visit you travel in a bus with a guide.  There is no way anyone would visit this bunker accidentally.  So, the big decision is whether to spend thousands breaking up this thing and trucking the pieces around or $10 for a padlock.  Really?  And some of the idiots on the board seemed to seriously consider breaking the thing up!

It's been chilly around here lately.  At least it means the mountain gets snow. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one!