Sometimes She Wanders Off . . .

After a delicious lunch at Pho Barr, and a quick stop at Harbor Freight for some suction cups, we made a Costco run.

Besides the usual stuff, I found a set of these.

Tile Trackers

It’s a set of 4 Tile Bluetooth Trackers. Clipped to your purse, keys, etc., one will allow you to track them anywhere within about 400ft. And using a Bluetooth crowd-sourcing technique, they can be tracked at a much larger distance.

And what do I needed to track? Well, it’s who, not what.

It’s Jan.

Jan tends to have ‘Squirrel!’ moments. We’ll be walking about WalMart/Sam’s/Costco, etc., and I’ll look back and she’ll be gone. She’ll see something off down another aisle and she’s gone. And even worse, I’m walking along talking to some other guy’s wife.

And sometimes it can take me a while, criss-crossing the store, to find her again.

Now if she normally carried her phone, I could track her on that, but it’s usually still on the counter at home. So I’m clipping one of these to her purse (which she always has with her.) so I can find her without sending out a search team.

We’ll see how it works out.

The upcoming month of May is going to be a busy one for us.

Jan’s going to be Landon-sitting all next week, starting tomorrow. Brandi, Lowell, and Landon are coming down to Webster to meet us for lunch at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood, after which they’ll take Jan back with them. Friday I’ll go up to Katy to bring her home.

Then the week after, on Tuesday we have the Ramses exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, with lunch beforehand at Katz’s Deli. Thursday we have lunch with our friends, Debi & Ed Hurlburt, at the Longhorn Steakhouse up in The Woodlands area. After that on Friday, we have the monthly Alvin Opry show over in, where else, Alvin.

Plus that day, the 13th, is also the last of my 180 day Bone Graft Stimulator treatments that I have to do every night.

Then the next week is another Alvin Opry friends get-together at the Saltgrass Steakhouse once again.

And the following Thursday, the 26th, we leave for our 2+ week Alabama Vacation/Reunion, not getting back home until Sunday the 12th.

Like I said, a busy month.

 

Our first visit to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.


April 30, 2010

Some Really Big Trees…

Today we headed out to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Leaving about 9 am we drove 70 miles south thru Fresno to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.

But before we left we set the crockpot on a timer so that when we came home we’d have a big pot of Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti waiting for us. Then we hit the road, heading toward Fresno, about 30 miles south.

Leaving Fresno, which is at 300 ft. elevation, we starting the climb up into the Sierras, with some great views along the way.

SequoiaView

And just like yesterday we ran into snow. We started encountering it about 4500 feet, and it just got deeper the further up we went.

SnowRoad

SnowPile

SnowPile 2

When we got to the Ranger Station at Grants Grove at almost 7000 feet, we really saw the snow in deep drifts.

GrantsGrove

There was a lot more snow here in Sequoia than in Yosemite yesterday.

GrantsGrove2

After checking in at the Ranger Station and checking out the Gift Shop, we had to change our travel plans. We had planned to drive the big 60 mile loop thru the park and come out down south near Visalia. But we found that loop was closed due to the heavy snowfall and would not be open anytime soon. That meant we would not be able to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Bummer!

But we would be able to see the 2nd largest tree, the General Grant tree, so we headed over to Grant’s Grove a couple of miles away to take a look.

This is the first big tree we saw right in front of our truck when we parked. It’s hard to convey how really big these trees are. The pictures really don’t do them justice.

SequoiaBase

And across the parking lot were these twins.

DoubleSequoias

And here is the General Grant tree. It’s 267 feet tall and about 35 feet in diameter. It is estimated to be over 1600 years old.

Grant Tree 3

And here is an internet picture of the General Sherman that we didn’t get to see. It’s about 275 feet tall and about 40 feet in diameter at the base. That’s as big as our RV !  It’s between 2300 and 2700 years old. The spread of the branches at the top is almost 110 feet wide.

Sherman Tree

After viewing the trees, we went back to the lodge for a really good lunch at the restaurant, much better than the one at Yosemite yesterday.

Then after lunch, we drove out into the forest for about 10 miles just taking in all great scenery along the way.

SnowTree

SnowRoad 2

Then it was time to head home. Coming back down thru the mountains, we went thru several cloud layers, but by the time we got down to the bottom, it was clear and sunny again. And going from almost 7000 feet to 300 feet really makes the ears pop.

We got back about 3:30 to a coach filled with wonderful smell of our dinner cooking away.

We ate about 6 pm and it was great. It’s the first time Jan’s fixed this Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti, but we’ll definitely have it again.

Tomorrow is a take-it-easy day. We’re going to get together with some friends, George and Sandy, who we’ve corresponded with for awhile, but only met this past March. We discovered yesterday that we’re both in the same park here.

  

Bearizona and More Las Vegas.


April 30, 2011

Bearizona and Las Vegas . . .

Today was a travel day, from Williams, AZ to the Thousand Trails RV Park in Las Vegas. But before I tell you about that, I wanted to recount our visit to Bearizona yesterday.

Bearizona is a drive-thru/walk-thru wildlife park that just opened last year, and new exhibits are being built even now.

Bearizona Entrance

These are American Burros who are apparently more interested in dinner than us.

American Burros

Next we had the American Bison or Buffalo.

Bison 1

This guy was only about 20 feet from the truck, and I think he was bigger than the truck.

Bison 2

These are Gray Wolves. When we pulled up to their area, they were just laying around under the trees until one of the park guys went by on his ATV. They all perked up and came running over to the road, I guess thinking they were going to be fed.

Wolves 1

Wolves 2

Wolves 3

In the next area, we had Dall Sheep. We saw a lot of these along the roads in Alaska.

Dall Sheep

And more sheep, this time Big Horn Sheep. We’ve seen these a number of times traveling out west.

Big Horn Sheep 2

Big Horn Sheep 1

This is the fabled White Buffalo. True albino buffalo are extremely rare, but I don’t know what these are. They could be leucistic, which means they would have blue eyes instead of the pink eyes of an albino, or they could be a buffalo/cow cross.

White Buffalo

Finally we saw bears, lots of bears. Black ones, brown ones, little ones, big ones. All around us.

Black Bear 1

Black Bear 2

Brown Bear 1

Brown Bear 2

But the cutest ones were the four 3 month old cubs. They were playing, falling, and wrestling like a bunch of puppies, into everything.

Bear Cubs 1

Bear Cubs 3

Bear Cubs 2

They even had a baby javelina, with his own bed.

Baby Javelina 1

He even has his own toy to play with. I wonder if the Big Horn Sheep have a toy javelina to play with?

Baby Javelina 3

Another one of those ‘so ugly they’re cute’ animals.

Baby Javelina 2

A baby fox.

Fox

But, beside the bear cubs, I think everyone’s favorite were the Bobcats. It was almost like they enjoyed posing for us.

Bobcat 1

They would sit on the rock for a while, take a break and wander off, and then come back and sit on the rock again.

Bobcat 5

Bobcat 2

Bobcat 3

Just beautiful animals.

Bobcat 4

We had a great time at Bearizona and look forward to visiting it again next year to check out the new animals.

Bearizona is well worth your time if you’re in the area.

Now back to today.

We left the Canyon Gate RV Park in Williams about 9, heading for Las Vegas 213 miles away.

We were a little worried about the high wind advisories we were seeing, warning of bad conditions crossing the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, but except for the occasional ‘interesting’ wind gust, the trip was smooth and the scenery was great. Jan had worried about crossing the new bridge, but because the sides are high, and RV’s are supposed to stay in the left lane, you never realize that you are almost 900 feet about the Colorado River as you cross.

It’s really kind of disappointing.

We got into the Thousand Trails here in Vegas a little after 1 and got set up. Then about 3 we drove down to Boulder Station Casino to check out the buffet there.

And it was just as good as last year. We’re going to be here for two weeks, and hopefully we’ll have as much fun as last year.






Here in Houston


April 30, 2014

Batteries Not Included . . .

Where’s the only place with worse government bureaucracy than the US Federal Government.

Try the Chinese Consulate.

Chinese Consulate

We got there about 10:30 to drop off the visa paperwork for my great-nieces, Darby and Stahlie for their upcoming trip to China. First off, it would help if the clerks handling my paperwork spoke better English than I speak Chinese. And I think most of my Chinese would probably get me slapped. It was funny though, that there were a lot of Asians in line who were having the same language problems that I was.

It would also help if the instructions on the Chinese website about how to get a visa actually matched up with what the clerks want.

We had planned to do a same day pickup, but despite what the website says, they don’t offer that anymore. And since this was not a last minute application, we were told to pick up the visas next Wednesday. So we’ll have to make other arrangements to pick them up.

Finally leaving the Consulate, we drove a few blocks away to have lunch at Katz’s Deli, a Houston tradition.

katzs-photo1

A spinoff from the famous Katz’s Deli in New York City, it’s a favorite of ours here in Houston.

Katz

Where else can you get a real Rueben like this? And this is only the half sandwich lunch special.

Katzs Reuben

Now that’s a Heart Attack on a Plate.

Our next stop was the Interstate Batteries store. Both my engine batteries and my house batteries started to die at pretty much the same time. My engine batteries were AC-Delco 1150’s and were in the coach when we bought it in December of 2007. They appear to have been installed a couple of years earlier.

My house batteries were installed by me in March 2008 to replace the weak Trojan 105’s that were in the coach when we purchased it. At that time I installed 4 Interstate U2400’s that I’ve been very happy with. So based on this experience, I wanted to use Interstate’s again.

First up, before replacing the engine batteries, I switched off the master disconnect in the engine compartment.

Engine Master Switch

My engine batteries are on a swing-out frame that makes them easy to get to. And the coach has these connection buss’ that make it really easy to disconnect the wires.

Engine Battery Change 1

Just unscrew the four nuts and you can lift off the connections.

Engine Battery Change 2

Engine Battery Change 4

Next, I removed the old batteries and cleaned the frame.

Engine Battery Change 5

Then it was just a matter of setting the new batteries in place, made easier by the built-in carry straps. Next I fastened down the retaining frame.

I’m replacing the AC-Delco’s with Interstate 31-MHD’s. They’re a little lighter, slightly smaller, but have 925 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) instead of the 700 CCA of the AC-Delco’s. Smaller, lighter, and more power. You can’t beat that.

Engine Battery Change 7

After getting everything tightened down, and the Master Disconnect back on, I went inside and fired up the Cummins 350 to be sure it’s ready to go on Friday.

Engine Battery Change 8

These are the 4 Interstate U2400 6V batteries. Since we very seldom boondock and I’m cheap, I’m going to try it for a while with only 2 batteries.

Chassis Battery Change 1

I pulled all four out (these suckers are heavy at 75 pounds a piece.) and then cleaned the plastic tray.

Chassis Battery Change 2

Getting the batteries out and separated, I discovered something interesting. Only one of the four is really bad. Three of them read 6.2 volts, but the fourth one read 4.5, and it’s kind of swollen.

Chassis Battery Change 3

I had already planned to keep two of the old ones as placeholders, so I kept two of the good ones. You’re normally not supposed to put old and new ones together, so I just wired the two new ones into the system. But I may experiment a little when I have time. All I have to do is connect two cables to add them back online. We’ll see how it goes.

About 6pm Jan and I headed up the road to have dinner at Hruska’s. We’d heard how good their burgers were, so good that they were even written up in Texas Monthly. So we had to give them a try.

Hruska's Burger

On one level they were very good. I mean this Double Bacon Cheeseburger was over 5 inches high, and it was all fresh and hot.

But the disappointment was that it was overcooked to the point of the meat being almost crumbly. Jan had ask for hers well-done and the clerk said they’re all cooked well-done. So I don’t know if we just got ones that way overcooked, or this is the way they all are.

Maybe we’ll have chance to try them another time.


Leaving Las Vegas


April 30, 2015

A Mass Exodus . . .

The park here has really emptied out in the last couple days, presumably the temps are now in the mid-90’s and going higher. And to think that just a week daytime temps were struggling to make 70 degrees and we had night time temps running from the high 30’s to low 40’s. That’s a real change.

Not sure what’s going with gas/diesel prices in the last week, but unleaded has gone up 22 cents a gallon in the last week, and 15 cents in the last two days. Diesel hasn’t gone up quite as much, and strangely, it’s still 25 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper than unleaded.

Jan and I headed out about 4:30 to have one last dinner down in Henderson at our favorite Las Vegas Mexican place, Lindo Michoacan.

Lindo Michochan 1

We went early to beat the rush and also to sure of getting a window seat overlooking Las Vegas, previously our favorite view of the city. Of course that’s now been replaced by the High Roller Observation Wheel.

We both tried something new tonight with Jan going with the Pollo a la Parrilla, and forsaking my usual Carnitas a la Coca-Cola, I went with the Carne Asada.

Lindo Carne Asada

We both really enjoyed our changeup meals, and their chips and salsa were great as usual. And even better, as well as the bowl of salsa that comes with the chips, you also get a bowl of very tasty bean dip. Really good.

I forgot to mention on our last visit to Lindo Michoacan that we also get a cup of Fideo Soup like this with our meals.

Lindo Fideo Soup

Fideo means ‘noodle’ in Spanish, and that’s what it is, a noodle soup made with a light tomato-based broth. Really good, and a great way to start our meal.

After a great meal, and as we had planned, we went back to the rig for an hour or so. Then after it was dark, we headed back over to the Strip to take in another of our Vegas favorites, the Bellagio Fountains.

We’ve done this a number of times, so we know exactly where to park in their parking garage, and the route to take through the casino and hotel, and out the front to the walkway around the fountains.

We got there a couple of minutes into one show, and then stayed for two more full shows. The shows run about every 15 minutes, and each one of the three we viewed were different, so I don’t know how many different shows they have.

Here’s some of the photos I got.

Bellagio 0

Bellagio 1

Bellagio 2

Bellagio 3

Bellagio 4

Bellagio 5

Bellagio 6

Bellagio 7

We finally got back home about 9:45 after another very nice day here in Las Vegas. And we’ve only got two more to go, since we’ll be leaving here on Sunday, and heading back to Cottonwood for a week or so.

  

Leaving LA


April 30, 2017

Land of Fruits and Nuts . . .

With a 345 mile trip ahead of us on Saturday, we left the Soledad Canyon TT about 8:15am and headed south on the Antelope Valley Fwy about 17 miles until we got on I-5 and headed north toward Lodi, CA.

And then it was up one mountain and then down the other side. and again, and again, and again. About 75 miles worth.

The fabled Grapevine. Which pretty much ends at Grapevine, CA where things started to level out. But due to heavy traffic and a couple of wrecks along the way, we weren’t making very good time.

I knew the office at Flag City RV Park in Lodi closed at 9 so I called ahead and they said they already had our site info in a envelope taped to the door and I could settle up in the morning. Great!

We finally pulled in the park about 11pm and found a very nice Sikh gentleman waiting for us with a golf cart ready to lead us to our pull-thru site, long enough that we didn’t have to unhitch. Much appreciated after our long day.

We slept in this morning, not getting up until after 8, and not getting on the road until about 10, OK since we only had a 245 mile run up to Weed, CA this morning.

Heading out we stopped at the office to settle up and then it was back on I-5N just a couple of blocks away. And this time rather than hills, we had miles and  miles of fruit and nuts . . . and olives. Well, olives are fruit, so just fruit and nuts.

Jan and I both agree it should be a law that farmers have to put signs along the highway telling you what they’re growing. I mean, I can recognize corn, soybeans, molasses, cotton, alfalfa, and a few other crops, but fruits and nuts, not so much.

We had grapes, pistachios, walnuts, cherries, and olives. Now grapes we recognized, and I assume the cherries were the ones that were covered with nets. But the rest are just trees to us.

We want signs!

We first started seeing Mt. Shasta rising above the horizon about 140 miles out, and got these photos at 100 miles.

Mt Shasta 100miles 2

After a long climb back up into the mountains, we pulled into Friendly RV Park in Weed, CA about 3:30 and got parked and set up. And this is the view out our windshield.

Mt Shasta RV Park

Tomorrow we’ll spend some time driving around before heading up to the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails on Tuesday for a two week stay.

  

Last Day in Budapest before setting sail.


April 30, 2019

Short Skirts and Tight Jeans . . .

Not That I Have A Problem With That.

Breakfast this morning was splitting a Chocolate Croissant that we had bought previously at a bakery, and coffee and orange juice from the Aquavit Terrace Breakfast Bar.

Then at 8:30 we were out and about on a tour of Panoramic Budapest.

Panoramic Budapest

Some of this we’d already seen since it was near our hotel, but that just gave us more free time for exploring on our own.

We did learn a lot about the history of Budapest and Hungary from our guide. Later we stopped off at a pharmacy for a few things before heading back to our rendezvous spot, and then back to the ship.

When we were ready to board we found we had to pass through another Viking ship that was moored between us and the dock. Apparently this is not unusual, due to so many different cruise ship lines and a limited amount of dock space along the river. Sometimes as many as four ships are dock side by side. So you may have to walk through 2 or 3 other ships to get to yours.

Then after another great lunch, we were off on our afternoon adventure, a trip to the famous Grand, or Central Market. Rather than a bus, this time we all took the electric tram 4 stops down the line to the Market.

Tram To Grand Market

The Market turned out be an enormous glass-roofed building, with three floors of shops selling mostly food items.

Grand Market 1

There were a couple of places selling souvenirs for the tourists, but most of the people seemed to be locals doing their food shopping.

Maybe the most interesting was the way meat was displayed and sold. Nothing was neatly packaged and wrapped in plastic like the States, but laid out in neat, raw rows, with pretty much any type of fresh sausage or meat that you could want.

Grand Market 2

Grand Market 3

Grand Market 4

Even the fish were fresh. They were kept in large tanks, with many different species all lumped in together, packed in so tightly that they could hardly move. You just pointed out what you wanted, and they would ‘fish’ it out and then kill and clean it on the spot. Now that’s fresh.

Viking had a number of ‘tastings’ set up for us around the area, letting us try different types of honey, sausage, pastries, wine cheese, and pickled veggies and fruits. It seems like the Hungarians will pickle just about anything. And it’s all good.

Getting back to the ship about 5pm, we met up for dinner about 7 with the group of friends we accumulated. And a diverse group it is.

We’ve got a couple from Memphis that I mentioned yesterday, a couple from San Francisco, another from Illinois, two couples from Australia, Perth and Melbourne, and another couple from Houston. She’s Filipino and he’s Thai.

For dinner they have two different menu sections. The one on the left never changes, with Angus Ribeye, Roasted Chicken, Poached Salmon, and Vegetarian Lasagna.

But on the right side are regional specialties that change every day. Each side also has its own Starters, I.e. Appetizers and desserts as well. And you can mix and match as much as you want, jumping from one side to the other. You can even get one entrée from both sides if you want.

Tonight Jan and I both ordered from the Regional menu, she getting the Seared Divers Scallops,

Seared Diver's Scollaps

while I got the Hungarian Goulash.

Skirnir Goulash

For dessert Jan got the fresh-made Peach Sorbet from the Regional offerings, while I got the Bourbon Crème Brule from the Standard side.

Bourbon Creme Brule

Every evening before dinner they have the Port Talk, a synopsis of life on the ship and what’s happening the next day. One thing discussed was getting back the ship too late.

They will wait for you a maximum of 5 minutes, and then they’re pulling away from the dock. The reason for this are the 67 locks they have to work through on the Danube (which is not Blue by the way, but a dirty greyish brown), the Main, and the Rhine on the way to Amsterdam.

The waterways are so busy that you have to have an appointment for your lock transition time. And if you miss your window you will have to wait, throwing you minutes, or even hours behind schedule, each delay cascading into the next one.

So they will leave you.

I don’t know who makes the fashion rules in Hungarian, but I’d like to shake their hand. Because the clothing de rigueur for young, beautiful women here seems to be skin-tight sprayed-on jeans, or short skirts with or without leggings, but both in high heels.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not a thing.

Just Last Year


April 30, 2021

Swimming In The Sky . . .

Elon Musk launched another 60 satellites into his Starlink constellation yesterday, and it can’t become fully operational soon enough for Jan and I. Our Comcast/Xfinity Internet here at the park is great . . . when it’s working. But often it’s hit or miss.

And it’s not fault of the park, either. The WiFi signal will still be fine, and I can connect to it with no problems. But as they say, there’s no there there. In other word, a connection, but no Internet signal.

And it may be off for 5 minutes, or in at least one case, 5 hours or so.

So, as I’ve mentioned before, we’re on the list for Elon’s Starlink Internet system, supposedly later this summer, or the early fall. As I said, it can’t come fast enough

Well that was quick.

Late this afternoon I uploaded the requested photo of both broken cups to Wish.

Wish Cups Both - 500

And about 4 hours later, I had the refund in my PayPal account.

However, even with the quick refund, we won’t be ordering anything else from Wish on Facebook. This was our second order from them, and the second one where we needed a refund, though the first one was only a partial one.

We ordered two Van Gogh decorated canvas bags, but only received one of them. So in this case, it’s two strikes and you’re out.

As usual, tomorrow will be another of our lunch/errand days, this time with a first visit to Pop Top Burgers, a new place over near our old house.

And I’m really looking forward to trying their Big Bubba Burger.

PopTopBurgers Big Bubba

It’s got a Beef Patty, Bacon, American Cheese, Grilled Philly Steak Meat, Grilled Onions, Swiss Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickles, Special Sauce And Topped With A Thick Onion Ring.

Can’t wait to try it.

A new condo complex in London let’s you swim in the sky.

It’s a completely glass swimming pool 82 ft. wide and suspended 175 ft. above ground.

Swimming In The Sky

The pool connects two blocks of the luxury buildings, and holds 400 tons of water. And the pool is constructed to move with any sway of the buildings.

Swimming In The Sky 2

So it looks like you could suffer from motion-sickness, seasickness, and acrophobia all at the same time.


Thought For The Day:

Man's Guide To Female English

  

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