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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Only “Way” To Go

Today’s Groaner……Why isn’t gambling allowed in Africa?   (answer later).

As usual, we have been busy!  For starters, last week I rented a Segway and rode it around on the beach and in the downtown area of Pismo Beach.

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I rented it from Wheel Fun Rentals, a place right on the beach.  Carol was kind enough to take some pictures of me while I was on it.  I would have taken the camera with me but you are not supposed to take pictures while driving one of these units.

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It was amazing how quickly you adapt to balancing on these.  After about 10 minutes it feels fairly natural to shift  your weight to control your speed.

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Top speed on the beach is about 9mph and I reached that after about 20 minutes of going over bumpy terrain.  This Segway model had overly large tires – ideal for going on the beach.

Carol also used my video camera to make a video.  It is the first time she has ever used it and I am impressed with the results of her efforts!

We have also been doing our daily exercise.  Today we took a walk around houses in the Shell Beach area.  Shell Beach is actually below a cliff that we walk along the top of.  From there we got some really neat views of the rocks.

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And now, the answer to the groaner…..because there are too many cheetas!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Catching up is hard to do….

It has been a while since my last post….mainly because I have been very busy programming a web site for the Shriners Childrens Hospitals.  The site is about 80% done now and went live this morning for the all-star players to begin making their entries.  Hopefully all will go well.

The Super Bowl turned out to be a super dud.  The game was not even close, no drama at all.  What a way to end the season.

We have been doing a lot of walking the last few weeks.  We’ve done walks down to the Pismo “downtown” and the beach.  We also did a hike last week up in the hills along a path shared by dirt bikes and walkers.

This path winds around the Johnson Ranch.  It is a 3+ mile  trail through the hills with a elevation change of 300 feet.  What they don’t tell you is that it is up 300 feet, down 300 feet, up 300 feet, down 300 feet…….You get the picture.

Speaking of getting the picture, here are a few from that walk..

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Above, you can see the side of one of the hills we walked along.

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We actually walked here from that hill you can see across the valley.

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Above you can see the path traversing a hill.

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And the picture above shows the path cut into a hillside.  The walk took about 90 minutes and we kept a pretty good pace.  Though the bikers did all pass us!

Another walk we took today was from Shell Beach along the top of the cliff along Shell Beach Road back towards Pismo.  This walk took slightly less than one hour.

The three shots below were all taken from the same place, facing slightly different directions.

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We had some rain over the weekend, but as you can see, the clouds have moved out and we have beautiful skies.  Our temps have been great.  Today the high was 64 and the low last night was in the mid 50s.  Very comfortable weather for sure!

We have also been watching the Olympics quite a bit.  Speaking of the Olympics, you have all probably heard that the athletes have been living in a village that is not quite all done.  Well, I found the story below on one of my football sites;

"A member of the U.S. bobsled team once spent time with the Bills and Packers, before being cut by each before the start of the regular season. But former receiver Johnny Quinn has a new claim to fame.

"Apart from becoming a U.S. Olympic bobsledder, Quinn has broken out of a bathroom at his hotel in Sochi.


"Via our friends at NBCSports.com, Quinn busted through the door after he realized that: (1) he was locked in; and (2) he had no cell phone device with him.”With no phone to call for help, I used my bobsled push training to break out,” Quinn said on Twitter, with the hashtag ‪#‎SochiJailBreak‬."


So the construction was quality was so good, no one caught that they put the locks on the doors on backwards! Vladimir, me thinks your inspectors might have been in too much of a hurry!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Shifting Sands

Our friends back home often ask us what we do on our long trips to Pismo Beach.  Well, you can’t do something new every day for sure, but many of the things we do here are different from those we do at home.

For example, usually on Mondays, we drive out onto the beach and have lunch in the car facing the waves.  While eating we listen to podcasts from the White Horse In, which is a religious radio program featuring Mike Horton and three other ministers.  It is our church substitute. 

We also often walk to town and around the stores and houses.  We do walk at home too, but not right up to the beach! 

But we do a lot of the same things we do at home too.  We still have to grocery shop, get haircuts, get mail, etc.  The main thing is that we can do some different things here that either are not available at home or can’t be done at home this time of year.

Speaking of going out onto the beach…. We noticed today some large cuts or ridges in the sand that were not there a few days ago.  The picture below shows these cuts.  I’m guessing the high tides caused them along with the big waves (we had a few days of 10 foot waves!).  Will be interesting to see if the ridges are gone soon.

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People also ask about our RV park here at Pismo.  Well, the sites are not the most spacious, but there is plenty of space in our site.  The good thing is that the neighboring sites are not really right on top of you.

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Another thing here is that Pismo Coast Village is on the beach and yet, not on the beach!  There is a lagoon to cross and some dunes. 

As you may have read, I have made many modifications to our rig.  Probably the best one is the scissor lift that lets us get a view of the ocean at night. 

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I do need to put in a warning buzzer though if you open the door while up in the air.  That first step would be a doozy.  I just think of the whole thing as being an uplifting experience.

OK, so the last two pictures are not for real.  They were actually used by Jay, the CEO and General Manager of PCV in his talk at the corporate annual meeting.

But, at least as far as the last one goes, it does get me thinking……

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fore!!!!

Time to catch up on activities……

I have been very busy coding a website for the Shriners.  Every year the Vancouver Shriners put on an all star football game called the Freedom Bowl Classic.

They asked me to setup a website for the players, coaches, media, sponsors, and general public.  Since they are already recruiting players for the game this year, they need that part of the site operational as soon as possible.  So I haven’t been posting to the blog as much.

So, I’ll take a break from coding and create a post here of some of the activities we have been doing.

Last Thursday, while our RV was getting washed and waxed, we drove down to Goleta to spend the day.  Goleta is about 15 miles west of Santa Barbara.  We stopped at several state beaches including Gaviota state beach where I took these pictures.

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Above is an oil platform out in the straits.  There are about 15-20 of these off the coast going all the way down to Ventura.  I was hoping to get a decent close up of the platform, but it didn’t work out.  The platforms are not wells.  Rather the wells are down on the bottom of the ocean and connect to this platform by pipes.  There is equipment on the platform to warm the oil and then pump it onto the land where it makes its way to the refinery.

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This park also had a boat lift station at the end of a pier.  Not much going on here except one guy fishing.

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This is the view down from the pier access to the beach.  There is a railroad trestle to the left that is used by the Coast Starlight.

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I have already forgotten the name of this second park we stopped at.  It had a nice day use area with the beach.  Later I found out it was Refugio State Beach.

We then went to the Howe House grounds in Goleta.  The house was closed, but we did walk on the grounds and also partway around a lake adjacent to the grounds.

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During the walk, we got a great view of the control tower for the Santa Barbara airport.

Saturday, I attended the shareholders meeting for Pismo Coast Village.  We own a share of stock in the company and they hold the annual meeting every January while we are here.

Among the displays were pictures of the various paintings on the clam at the entrance to the park.  The paint job is changes seasonally.  I took these pictures of the displayed pictures and for being a picture of a picture, they worked pretty well

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Halloween Clam

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Turkey day Clam

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Christmas Reindeer cCam

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Monarch Butterfly Clam

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Easter Bunny Clam

There are actually clams all around town and someone paints them when the seasons change.

Today I played 9 holes of golf walking.  I actually shot really well – 4 over par for the nine holes.  Had 7 pars and almost had 8.  On hole #2 though, I took a triple bogey 6 because my first shot hit into a tree.  When the ball fell down from there, it was in a depression surrounded by roots and low hanging branches.  Hard to recover from that one.  Interestingly enough, though, about 10 seconds after my ball dropped from the tree, a second one fell!  Seems someone else found that tree and their shot did not come down. 

Anyway, 4 over for 9 holes is fantastic golf for me.  My first shots weren’t all that great, but my approaches, chips and putts were right on!  Many one putts which really helped the score.

I found this item from a Facebook posting by one of Carol’s friends.  It makes a lot of sense…literally.

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Finally, for those of you in snow country, this is what you don’t want to have to look forward to for eternity…

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Double click the cartoon if it is hard to read.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Those Lazy, Hazy Days of……Winter???

The last few days have had absolutely great temperatures.  Usually in the 70s, though today is supposed to hit the low 80s.  And no wind!  Just a perfect summer winter day.

Earlier this week, we went for a walk to the beach by the pier.  As you can see below, the sky conditions are great and the beach is in great shape.IMG_20140112_133015_925

On Tuesday, I played golf at the local course here, not far from the RV park.  I didn’t do all that great nor all that bad.  Mostly bogeys and a couple of doubles.  Had several putts for pars but the greens had just been sanded, so they were tougher than normal to get the pace just right.  Someday it will all come together….

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Today we went for a 10+ mile bike ride over to Oceano, a town just south of here.  There was an airplane accident off the coast of Oceano yesterday.  We heard fire engines and helicopters heading that way.  Didn’t see anything on our bike ride and we went down the street (Pier Ave.) where the emergency responders were to have gone.  You can read about the incident by clicking here.

Tomorrow, our RV will get a detailing from Rob’s RV Detailing.  We have had him do it every year we are here and he and crew do a great job.  It means we have to be out of the RV for a good portion of the day, so we will head down to Solvang and hang out there and/or at the Chumash casino.

Just remember, if tomorrow afternoon, you look in the southern sky and see a bright light, it is just the reflection of the sun off of our RV.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I’m a big fan of……

Time to catch up a bit on what has been happening with us here at what I now call “Camp David…..at Pismo.”

We arrived Tuesday just after lunch time after trying a new route from Bakersfield to Pismo.  This one uses highway 166 to cross the coastal mountains and joins 101 just north of Santa Maria.  It turned out to be a pretty good route for the RV and not a lot of traffic on it, so I suspect we will use it in the future.  It was weird though coming into Pismo from the south instead of the north.

Tuesday evening we walked down to the beach near town to see the sunset.  Carol will have many more and better pictures, but this will give you some idea of the sight.

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Wednesday, a part I had ordered for our refrigerator came.  There is a fan in the bottom of it that does two jobs.  First it cools the compressor when it is running.  Second, when the frost free mechanism turns on, there is some water that is collected into a tray that sits in the bottom of the unit.  This fan pushes air over the water and evaporates it.

The fan was making a noise that sounded like a bearing went out in it.  So I ordered another one.  It arrived Wednesday and after I got all the way in and removed the old fan motor, turns out the replacement is the wrong one.

So I called the supplier and they found that Whirlpool had not updated their diagram.  More importantly, they had the right motor replacement kit.  (There is a new style motor that is supposed to be better but needs a connector cable to mate to the existing connector).  They will ship it right away.

We also changed sites from when we arrived yesterday.  Our old site, #162, was a good site except the wifi was spotty.  I talked with the guy here who maintains the network and he suggested that we move to #190 which we did.  That made a real difference and now the internet is great.

Thursday we visited the Monarch butterflies that winter near here.  We walked over to their winter habitat which is only about a half mile away.  In the picture below, you can see them all over the tree leaves.

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Carol will have more pictures on her blog about them.  When the temperature is below 60 degrees, they clump together in large masses for warmth.  When over 60, they fly around and land on the leaves.

On that walk, my knee started acting up so we went to WalMart and got a knee brace.  That has really helped.

Friday we drove down to a state beach park outside Guadalupe.  We took some Subway food and parked overlooking the beach.  Carol took pictures to post on her blog which you can visit by clicking here.

When we got back to the RV, we did a short 6 mile bike ride.  For most of the ride, my knee was fine, but started to get sore near the end.  Also, my replacement motor arrived so I went to the park store to retrieve it.

Today, Saturday, I replaced the motor in the refigerator.  It took about 25 minutes or so and the new one works great!  Much quieter.  One thing I noticed was how much easier it was to work on the refrigerator in the RV.  The motor is located on the bottom of the unit, but because I access it from outside the RV, I actually am standing up the whole time instead of crawling on all fours to access it.

While I was doing the repair, I also solved (Hopefully) another problem.  As I mentioned earlier, this motor also evaporates the water in the collector tray from the frost free mechanism.  Works great as designed, but not designed for an RV.  If you move the RV before the evaporation is completed, the water in the tray will spill on the floor.  We had this happen several times until I could figure out where it was coming from.

So my fix for that was to buy some plastic tubing at the hardware store and extend the tube that fills the tray directly outside the RV.  Now the water won’t even collect – it will just go outside.  Should hopefully do the job.

In a few minutes we are going to do a town walk and then have lunch on the way back.  Then the NFL football games start this afternoon.  (GO SAINTS, COLTS, CHARGERS, and of course, NINERS!).

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rear View Mirrors and Bakersfield

What does one do in Bakersfield for eight days?????

Well, since we leave here tomorrow for Pismo Beach, it is as good a time as any to answer that question….

We did a hour long walk, several bike rides of 11+ miles along a great trail system, many trips to stores and restaurants, watched some great college and NFL games (one more college one to go tonight!), drove out to an orange farm for a resupply (you can’t beat fresh picked oranges!) and just hung out.

20 years or so ago, I used to say that Bakersfield was best appreciated in your rear view mirror.  It wasn’t the greatest place to go and I was always happy to move on to where ever.

But today, Bakersfield is different.  There has been a lot of growth in the city with many stores including all the major ones.  Likewise for restaurants.  In fact there are a few more we’d try here on our next visit.

Bakersfield also works for us as we can stock up and resupply point before going to Pismo where prices are higher, probably just because it is the beach. 

The bike trail that I mentioned earlier is called the Kern River Parkway Trail and extends some 30 miles of which we have ridden about 22-23 or so.  The trail is paved, two lane, and very wide.  Carol noted that there is no glass strewn along the path either, which makes it a safer ride.

A funny thing happened on our ride today.  I needed to put a new battery in my bike’s speedometer.  So I did that before we left the RV.  When we started riding, I noticed that the miles were really accruing quickly and that our speed was 20mph or better.  Now I knew that the trail wasn’t that much downhill and we didn’t pedal that hard.  Once when we stopped for a minute, I saw the problem.  The unit was set to report kilometers and not miles.  Once I figured out how to change the setting back to miles, the numbers started making more sense.  Though it sure felt great leisurely pedaling along at 23mph.  I could have gone on at that speed a long time!!!

Our ride today was to the southwest and we quickly left civilization.  We did get out to an oil well field (Bakersfield has many wells, most of which are pumping away).  The oil well below is in the middle of a farmer’s field.

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Along the path, I stopped and took pictures in three directions.  First to the east, was a farmers field that seemed to go onto the eastern horizon!

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In the opposite direction, there was barren land with wild weeds and bushes growing.

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There is actually a river here, but it is dried up most of the time, like most SoCal rivers.  But this one is used to store water for farmers.  There are spillways and small dams that allow for storing water until needed.

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As you go anywhere these days, you may run across weird looking colored emblems of one kind or another.  This particular one was along the trail.  These are actually pipeline markers and the different colors and patters can mark the type of pipeline and the owner of it.

Back in 1972-73, when I was learning to fly, I was able to earn free flight hours by flying pipeline contracts.  Basically I flew at 500-1000 feet following these coded signs looking for any activity like construction, or digging in the pipeline route or even major leaks.  In all the hours I flew these routes, never did see any problems.

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Another interesting thing on the bike path is call boxes.  About every hald mile, there is a concrete bench to rest at and a call box so you can report problems.  Nice touch!

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We had lunch at Chik-Fil-A today because it is probably the last one we will see for a year or so.  Their founder is a devout Christian and keeps his stores closed on Sundays.  This allows his employees to enjoy that day of rest!  Yea for him!

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As I said, tomorrow we make the 134 mile journey to Pismo Beach.  We are really ready for the beach and our 2+month annual visit!