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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fire, Fire!!!

I watched the NFL football games today and at the end of the game, noticed a helicopter flying back and forth.  This was in a Santa Ana wind with gusts to 37mph.  No easy feat for sure.

Carol mentioned that there was a fire that we could barely see from the RV.

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The helicopter was flying from the lake in our RV park, taking water over to the fire, about a mile or two away.

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The bucket he carries looks so small, but I bet it carries more water than we realize.

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He must have someone on the ground to coordinate his dumping points because he would fly to the fire, then descend down and dump his load all at once.

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Above you can see him dumping a load on the flames.  It took him about 2 minutes or so per trip so he was not wasting any time.

I didn’t think he could do this in the dark, but he is still at it.  Also there are fire engines here in the park keeping an eye on things.  Hopefully, they get the fire out soon!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Odds and Ends in SoCal

Our days here in Riverside are coming to a close quickly.  We are only allowed to stay in this park 14 days per year, and on Monday our days are up so we will be heading to Bakersfield.

Thursday we went on a long ride, first to Temecula.  They have a “Old Town” section that is good for a walk.  Carol's blog has a good write-up with pictures of Old Town so be sure to check it out.

While walking in the main street of old town, I noticed the electric meter boxes in the ground.  Not so odd, but each was accompanied by a box labeled “sound.”

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Turns out that every lamp post in the area has two or more speakers on it and they are all centrally sourced.  While we were there, they had Christmas music playing.  It was not too loud and definitely added to the experience.

Yesterday morning we went on a 10 mile bike ride on one of the bike paths that go by Mount Rubidoux.  For this jaunt, we went east towards San Bernardino.  The path actually goes into that city but we turned around before going all the way.  I would guess the entire distance would have been about 24 miles round trip – a bit much for us.

I was having major problems with the trigger switch for my Hill Topper on my bike. So I went in search of a solution to replace the switch with a better one.

I used to go to an electronics store in Riverside (Riverside Electronics Warehouse) and they had everything there you could want for an electronic project.  But that was 25+ years ago and I haven’t found a similar place at home in Vancouver.  (Radio Shack just doesn’t cut it).

But I found that the store is still in business and they still have everything you could ever want.  So I found the perfect switch and bought it.

I had to drill a hole in the handlebar to run the wires inside up to the end of the pipe where the new switch fits into.  After soldering the ends on, it was all set to test out.  It passed with flying colors.  So soon I shall have to try it out on a ride now.

Today we had to change spots for our last two days here.  These long drives of over 400’ just wear me out so I had to take a nap after lunch!

Tonight we went to dinner out at Steer and Stein.  It is a small chain in the area with spots in Rancho Cucamonga, Moreno Valley, Hemet, and Palmdale.  The food is great and the prices are reasonable – just like I remembered from years ago.  Sure wish they had them up in Vancouver at home!

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So readers, where do you think the above words are to be found?????  Send in your answer via comment to this post.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Water Buffalo????

Yesterday was Christmas Eve and during the day, we went for an eight mile bike ride.  When we climbed Mt. Rubidoux the other day, we saw the path from the mountain and wanted to ride it.

We only rode a small portion of the path but it did take us to Fairmont Park.  This park has been here many years and is really kept up well.

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The first thing I noticed was a new play area for the kids.  Everything is in great condition and with fresh and bright colors.

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Further along the ride, we came to a lawn bowling area.  It surrounded by a wrought iron fence so I put my camera and hands through the fence and took the picture somewhat blind.

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Later in the ride, we went past the golf course and driving range.  When I worked for the City of Riverside back in the mid 1970s as their programming manager, my boss and I would often come to the driving range at lunch and each try to hit the distance signs with our shots.  We actually got pretty good at it too.  I used to pack a mean 7 iron with me!

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At the edge of the lake across the American Legion Post, there is an old “Water Buffalo”.  This is actually a swimming army tank used for amphibious landings on enemy beaches!

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Here is a great view of part of the lake in the park and below is more of the lake.

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The lake is full of ducks and other birds as well as fish.  You often see families sitting alongside the lake fishing on summer nights.

Today, Christmas, we had to change RV sites.  Our new site has this interesting shrub formation.  It looks like a overly hairy sitting elephant and is about that size!

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Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Climb Every Mountain……

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The above picture is of Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, CA and it was taken from our RV park.  It is a 1329 foot “mountain” with paths leading to a cross at the crest where Easter Sunrise services have been held for many years.

Saturday, we attempted to climb this mountain.  Unfortunately, we parked near the eastern side and found a dirt trail to walk up.  We thought it was the way to go, but it turned out to be very steep and with poor footing.  We got about two-thirds up to the top and gave up.  Fortunately, we found a paved road to walk down as the way we came up was pretty treacherous.  (Carol may have a picture on an upcoming post on her blog that shows that trail.)

Sunday evening, we went to dinner with some of our “old” friends that we knew here when we lived in Riverside 21 years ago.  Roger and Peggy joined us at Romanov’s, an Italian restaurant.

While talking with them, we mentioned our little hike up the mountain.  Roger said we should have taken the road all the way.  There is an up road and a down road and had we walked that way, it would have been doable.

So this morning, off we went to go up one road and down the other.

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Carol stopped at a monument that also marked the high point of our initial climb on Saturday.

The road up is a very gradual climb and the road is two miles long.  The road down, is much steeper, but only a mile.  Since cars are no longer allowed on the road, it really makes no difference which path you take in either direction.  So we went up the gradual way and back down the steep way.

On the way up, I tried to take some panorama pictures to show the view.  (remember to click on these to enlarge them.)

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View south into the city of Riverside

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View to the east.

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View to the north showing Flabob airport.

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View to the west towards Chino

It took us about an hour and ten minutes to climb to the top.  Of course we stopped often to take pictures.

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There is a flag on one of the smaller peaks that is very visible from down in the surrounding areas.  There is also a cross on the highest peak.  The cross and surrounding steps are owned by a private conservancy while the rest of the mountain is owned by the City of Riverside.

On July 4th, the City shoots fireworks from the top of this mountain and they are visible all over the city.

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While on the way up, I got a great overview picture of Flabob airport and the surrounding areas.

The trip back down was about twice as steep as the way up but much shorter in distance.  Even going down hill though, it was a bit tough as you had to be careful not to go too fast or lose your footing.   Carol suggested that it is a good workout because you use totally difference muscles when climbing versus descending.  The entire hike was about 4 miles by the time we got back to the car and took one hour and fifty minutes not counting the time we stopped at the top.

Finally, this little nugget below.  Seems the cows are promoting eating chicken.  I wonder why?……

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Odds and Ends in Riverside…..

Yesterday we did a seven mile bike ride and during that ride, we revisited Flabob airport.  As we approached the airport, there was a Pitts S-2-S getting ready to take off.  Unfortunately, it was behind a fence and I couldn’t get closer quick enough for a good shot.

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Later we rode around the tie down areas and saw this old passenger liner now called the “Flabob Express.”

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There was also this little home built airplane – I think it is called a Varieze.

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Later in the day, we had a great sunset as can be seen in the pictures below.

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The picture below shows the top of a streetlight fixture being lit by the setting sun while the rest of the globe is dark.  This only lasted about 20 seconds or so, just enough time to snap the picture.

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As the sunset progressed, some great colors in the clouds.

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After dinner, we went to downtown Riverside and the Mission Inn Festival of Lights.  The downtown pedestrian mall adjacent to the Mission Inn was festooned with Christmas Lights.

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There were about 5-6 of these horse-drawn carriages available for rides around town.

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Also, part of the mall was turned into an ice skating rink.

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Down towards the city hall, there is a tall Christmas tree made of globes.

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We were there from about 5:30 to 6:30 and the weather was ideal for the outside activities.  We wanted to get there as early as we could because of the crowd and limited parking.  Of course, we had forgotten about Angelo, my parking angel.  Our timing was superb and as we pulled up to the center of the mall, a car backed out of a spot that was adjacent to the center of the mall – about a 10 foot walk to the lights.

Thanks Angelo!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Flea-Bag International

Well, actually, it is properly called Flabob Airport, but those of us who learned to fly here affectionately called it Fleabag International.

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This little airport just northwest of Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, CA is a haven for homebuilt aircraft and those trying to aviate on a shoestring budget.  It is also home to the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1.  This group builds and flies homebuilt aircraft and has been since about 1928 from this location

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They have a new hangar now for their chapter meetings and building activities.

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I learned to fly here in 1973.  I can still remember my first flight with an instructor.  It was during a fierce Santa Ana wind condition and we flew up into the Cajon pass area.  We went into the pass at full throttle, all of about 105 mph.  Then the instructor slowed the plane to about 55 and since the wind was about 70 mph, we actually flew out of the pass backwards!  It was a very bumpy ride and gave me a healthy respect for this wind condition.

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I know I soloed in 1973, 40 years ago.  I don’t recall the exact day, but I do remember it.  After practicing a few touch and go landings, my instructor (Jim), said to pull over to the hangar area.  He got out and said to go make three takeoffs and landings and then come back.

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Of course, this was at Fleabag, so these takeoffs and landings were anything but routine.  On the first takeoff, the passenger door popped open but the force of the wind held it somewhat closed.  After my first landing, I taxied over to a parking area and was able to latch it.

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On the second landing, as I was lining up for the final approach, there were cows on the runway.  There was a large cow farm to the south of the airport and the fence, such as it was, was always needing repair.  The cows had no idea about airplanes so they just wandered around. 

Fortunately, I figured that the Cessna, being a high wing aircraft, would easily clear the cows.  Someone at the airport saw the problem.  I later heard that he scared them away with a few shotgun blasts.  PIC_0447

So the runway was clear for my final two landings and the passenger door stayed locked!  After getting out of the plane, my instructor “decorated” my shirt with a magic marker noting the first solo flight and the date.

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Flabob was always run on the cheap and many of the businesses there kept costs down by cutting corners whenever they could.  99% of the time, there was no problem.

But I recall that Flavio Madriaga, the co-owner (The “Fla” part of the name – Bob being a guy who supplied the rest of the airport’s name) was noted for always doing things on the cheap.

One day he needed pilots to fly over with him to Rialto Airport (About 15 miles away) and bring back three airplanes that he had painted.  One was a twin, one was a Bonanza, and one was a Piper Cub.

He asked for volunteers but I was not familiar with these airplanes so declined.  Anyway he got three pilots, not necessarily qualified in these aircraft, to go over with him and then he was the first one back.

After Flavio got back, he went out and waited near the flight line for the other three aircraft.  The story goes that the Bonanza came in first, made a great landing and taxied over to the tie downs.  As the pilot was securing the aircraft, the Piper Cub came in and ground-looped right into the Bonanza.  The spinning propeller chewed up the side and wing of the Bonanza and the tail tore the fabric off the Piper Cub.

Just after this happened, the twin engine plane came in and the pilot forgot to lower the gear.  In the space of about 5 minutes, over $100,000 damage was done to three aircraft!

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Most airports have weather stations where pilots can find out the local conditions and forecasts.  Here, at Flabob, it is totally simplified.  (You may need to double click the picture to read the writing.)

Flavio and his wife died in a crash at Flabob in the 1980s.  He forgot to remove a control lock from his elevator control and when he took off, he lost control of the plane.

The airport is now owned by a foundation which is keeping it going and using it for educational and home building activities.

And the cows are now all gone!!!!

You can read more about this colorful little airport by Clicking here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Down By The Riverside…….

Yep, that’s where we are.  We lived here before for many years.  I arrived with the Air Force in 1968 and Carol arrived in 1979 when we were married.  We stayed here until 1993.  So it will be great to spend 9 or more days here visiting all our old haunts.

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When we arrived, the temperature was 83 degrees and sunny with high thin clouds which made for a pretty sunset, but we were too busy eating to get photos.  Yes, I was outside using the barbeque to grill some steaks!  It was so nice and warm today that I was worried about the low for tonight but it will chill way down to 50!

Last night we visited the Christmas lights at CALM (California Living Museum) just outside Bakersfield.  I took some pictures and video and will edit it all down and get it posted in the next few days hopefully.

Now, some photos of interest.  First, this one is from the putting green at the Bakersfield RV Resort where we stayed for two days.  Notice that hole #8 might be a bit hard to make!

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Remember,  you can always click on a photo to enlarge it so it is easier to see!

The next photo was taken for me by Carol as we were going down I-5 into the Sylmar area.   If you look carefully, you will see that the road for the northbound traffic crosses over that for the southbound traffic.  The roads are actually on the wrong side of each other and no, we are not in Great Britain!  The roads actually stays on the wrong side of each other for about 10 miles.

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It didn’t used to be this way.  I can remember when the roads were on the correct side of each other.  However, after the Sylmar earthquake, in 1971 as I recall, one side sank where they met and it was easier to just reverse the traffic flow than to totally rebuild the road.  So that;s how it is now!