Thursday, August 20, 2015

More travel!

We had been talking about the trip to the Northwest for some time when my wife comes up with this promotion that comes from the Catalina Island Ferry system:  a free trip to Catalina Island on your birthday.  Well, free is her favorite word so now we were talking about two trips at the same time.  First to the Northwest then three weeks later heading for Los Angeles and Catalina Island.  Hmmm.

You know driving all the way to L.A. for a couple days on Catalina didn't sound that wonderful and I was pretty sure the neither of us would care for more than a couple days on the Island.  But, it is L.A. and there are other attractions.  One, right next to the ferry terminal is the Queen Mary.  We love the old ocean liners and staying on the Queen Mary would certainly fit into our trip.  Then I remembered all the advertising Disney is doing about the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland.  Do you see what's happening here?  See how easy it is to fill a week in L.A.?

We took off on Sunday the 9th headed for Disneyland.  My wife was taken there the first year it opened.  Then she lived in California until her mid-twenties and continued to visit from time to time with the kids.  When we lived in Orlando we visited Disneyworld quite often but I had never made it to the original Disneyland.  She wanted to show me.  We found a much different situation now; I guess 40 years does make a difference!  We stayed in the 'Resort District' at the Doubletree Inn.  It is the last property in the 'district' and walking from there to the resort was probably about a mile.  Still, it was an ok place to stay.

Disneyland was all alone when my wife started going to it then in the mid-70's it got surrounded by hotels so that the attractions looked small.  Well, they've fixed all that!  Mostly they bought up the hotels, demolished them and turned the land into parking lots.  The remaining hotels are farther away and only six or seven stories tall.  While walking around in the park I didn't see anything outside the park at all.  The park itself is much smaller than the Florida park but seems to work for the kids.  We were there in summer so there were quite a few kids; actually hordes of kids!
There were hordes of strollers as well!  That is one of the smaller stroller parking areas. 
We saw plenty of kids sleeping in the stroller while Mom and Dad were visiting Disney!  We got there about 09:00 (they open at 08:00) and it wasn't too bad but as the day wore on it got more and more crowded.  It was only about 80F (26C) so not really hot but because it is closed in there was no breeze.  By 13:00 we had had enough and left for Downtown Disney.  Downtown is an area of independent shops and restaurants; i.e. they serve alcohol!  After dodging strollers for a couple hours we needed wine with our lunch!

We could have gone back to Disneyland but we'd seen almost everything there was to see so were more than happy to wander back to the hotel.  We didn't go on any of the rides except for the train and the riverboat but that wasn't the reason for our visit; my wife wanted to see the changes and I just wanted to say I'd been there.  We were done!  That night we ate in the hotel restaurant and had a fairly nice meal.  Then went into the lounge for one last glass of wine.  The bartender served us then went on break!  She just sat there reading her paper and ignoring us; her only customers!  Absolutely amazing.  We stretched out drinking our wine so that she could come back on duty and give us the check.   Really?

The next day we didn't hurry but made it to the Queen Mary around 10:30.  We were amazed to find that our room was ready!  So we dumped our stuff in the room and took off touring the ship.
There is a Russian submarine tied up with the QM but it was closed for repairs.  I was just as happy to skip it as subs can get a little tight.  It wasn't so bad when I weighed 180 but these days those tight spaces are just a bit tighter!  You can tour most of the QM.  Inside in the passenger areas the walls are wood and beautifully finished.  We got to see some of the mechanical spaces but none of the really good stuff like the engine room, etc. We did get to visit the bridge, officer's country and the radio room; they were done to passenger level.  The radio room is kept up by a local ham radio club which was pretty cool.   Much of the deck is beautiful teak but there are places where it has been replaced with plywood.  The plywood may be cheap but it sure isn't lasting. 

I loved this view of the hull.  They wanted this ship to stay together so they used plenty of rivits!

Our room was quite nice.
This was taken from the entry way and the bathroom is beside me.  We got 2 portholes for the view and the door visible leads to a small closet.  There was a tv mounted in the corner partially obscuring one of the portholes.  The view was of the dock.  We could have had a sea view but figured who is going to stand at the porthole and look out?  I was really kind of surprised at the size of the room.  I'm sure it must have been one of the more expensive cabins when the ship was in use.

Some people complained about noise from neighbors; we had no problem with that.  We did get some noise from the hall because there was a 1 ft by 2 ft louvered opening in the door for ventilation.  My wife noticed that the toilet dripped water when used and when we reported it to the desk they had someone come over and fix it right away.

We ate at a restaurant that is just across the water so we could see the QM.  This was Parkers Lighthouse.  They were a little screwed up offering wine that they didn't have but the food (sushi for my wife and shark for me) was good and the location/view was fantastic.  Parking was validated to only cost $4 rather than $10.

I've blathered on way too much already.  I'm going to hold the big trip to Catalina Island for another day.
Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

More catching up....

So we made it back from the latest Pacific Northwest trip on July 14th.  On the 15th I had a meeting of that advisory board  of the old Test Site.  These days it is called the Nevada National Security Site but all but a few sticklers call it the Test Site.  (Please note that the famous Area 51 is NOT part of the site so don't expect to see any little green men if you choose to visit!)  Like any governmental unit they love acromyms which drive the rest of us crazy but we all try to get along.  The meetings are in the late afternoon-evening starting about 4 p.m. and ending around 9 p.m.  This one was mostly about transportation of contaminated waste.  I got to learn all kinds of wonderfulness about the required signage and good stuff like that.  Of course I already knew that this stuff is radioactive but that the packaging is sufficient to make it safe to handle.

On the 19th we celebrated Number One Daughter's birthday.  I won't offer the number but it's getting up there!  Then on the 20th-22nd my wife and I attended a three day class driving to and from Las Vegas every day to learn about the Community Monitoring program.  This is a bunch of volunteers who oversee weather stations planted around the Test Site.  I wanted to learn more about them and the Desert Research Institute which oversees the program and does a lot of the physical work at the Test Site - taking measurements and that sort of thing.  When we hear that radioactivity in the groundwater is nearing the edge of the Test Site; they are the ones making the measurements.    It turns out they do a lot of environmental research and are part of the state higher education system. 

That gets me to the last week of July and by this time I was ready for some time off!  Of course that means I have time for stuff like smoking some pork, making a couple more trips to Las Vegas for normal 'shopping' and the like.  In addition, in August my wife will turn 65.  This means she is eligible for Medicare; there are quite a few hoops you need to jump through especially if you aren't taking Social Security and she isn't.  I'm wanting to spend some time at home!  We'll see how that works out.  Don't hold your breath!  In fact we are off to Vegas yet again today. 

I can't make this post a total whine so I'll include a photo I took back in June.  When you go to Las Vegas from Pahrump you leave our valley and go up over a 5400 foot pass (1,650 m for the rest of the world).  Then you come back down into the Las Vegas valley.  If the weather is nice and it isn't too windy you can get a balloon ride across the valley.  Here the balloons are coming back to earth just before the mountain gets pretty steep.  This was taken about 07:00 on one of my commutes into the city.

Take care.