Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mysteries, Traveling Shopping Carts & Computers

June 18, 2015
Elks Lodge #522
San Jose, California

We arrived in San Jose on Monday and plan to stay for about a week while we tour some of the sites.  First on our agenda was the Winchester Mystery House.
It's impossible to describe this house that was under construction 24 hours a day for 38 years.  This 160 room mansion was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester (rifle manufacturer) without the benefit of an architect or blueprints and under personal guidance received daily at a seance.

There are enumerable unique aspects but I especially liked the car wash.  We toured the basement hoping to catch a glimpse of the most popular spirit residing in the house, the wheelbarrow man, but he failed to make an appearance while we were there.

There are some strange things in this town.  The Target stores have TWO STORIES!  Target even has escalators for the shopping carts. 

Yesterday we went out for the day stopping first at the Computer History Museum.  It was also the last stop because I couldn't get Dave out of there until it was closing. 

This automatic computing engine was designed by Charles Babbage in 1849.  It was fascinating to watch it in operation.

Dave used to work on just about everything in the museum and he really enjoyed talking with the docents and exchanging stories of days gone by. 

 This museum even had a fully functional IBM 1401 system in a demonstration lab.  Don't you miss the days of punch cards?

Inside a 1403 printer

I entertained myself checking out the Google self driving car.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mountains and Tarantulas

June 14, 2015
SKP Park of the Sierras
Coarsegold, California

We spent the last four days at this park and have really enjoyed our stay.  We drove up to Yosemite several days and enjoyed the cooler temps in the mountains. 
I have always heard so much about Yosemite but after living in Colorado, it really wasn't much different. 


I was going to go out on this rock to get a better photo, but I was polite and let these young men go instead.

Half Dome

The waterfalls and streams were very low.

Yosemite Valley

El Capitan

This trip we traveled along the western slope of the Sierras and hope to see the eastern section of the mountains on another trip.

Tenaya Lake

Coarsegold is a very small town but has lots of attractions including an historic townsite, museums, farmers market, craft fairs, parks and an annual Tarantula Festival.  I can't tell you how disappointed I was that we didn't time it right to attend the festival.  I have also been very carefully watching every step I take in anticipation of meeting up with one of the creatures.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kings & Generals

June 10, 2015
Elks Lodge #1298
Visalia, California

We spent the last couple of days exploring Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park.  Cooler weather in the parks was a welcome change from the 104 the day we arrived.  The southern side of Sequoia was very dry with lots of dry land and yucca.  It reminded us of Arizona except for the gigantic trees.  Luckily at the higher elevations it was greener.

One tree known as General Sherman is the largest tree ( by volume) in the world and estimated to be over 2,200 years old.  We felt pretty young to be around these "old timers".

Dave looks very small standing next to this tree and it isn't even one of the largest ones.

The truck looks like a toy coming out of the "tunnel".

Wildlife was a little scarce due to the drought but we were lucky to see some bears in some of the greener meadows.  This mother bear was eating something in the grass very close to where we were walking. 

 She seemed completely unconcerned about us but her two cubs got scared and ran up a dead pine tree.

Another black bear (looks blonde to me)

We were a little concerned about the high prices for fuel in California before we left Arizona.  It's nice that our truck gets such good mileage (it helped that we were going downhill).


Monday, June 8, 2015

Laundrying Money .... Again

June 8, 2015
Elks Lodge # 1298
Visalia, California

It had been so cold and foggy along the coast that we decided to head inland today.  It was 57 when we left Oceano this morning.  Before we had driven a half hour the temperature was 92.  When we got to Visalia, CA in the early afternoon it was 100.  We decided to do the laundry while the RV was cooling down.

We were lucky to find a nice air conditioned laundry very close to where we are staying.  Our luck ended there.  I accidentally put a roll of quarters in the washer along with the clothes.  After the money came out of the roll it created quite a racket.  We rushed over to the machine to find the quarters settled in the rubber seal and water and suds pouring out of the front of the washer.  Dave didn't let me forget that I was the one who had accidentally put the quarters in to be cleaned.  His attitude changed quickly when I got all the clothes out of the machine.  In the bottom was a camera battery he had forgotten to take out of his pants pocket.  They say memory is the first thing to go.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Air, Old Age, Whales, Castles & Elephants

June 6, 2015
Elks Lodge #2504
Oceano, California

Yesterday we drove to the central coast town of Oceano.  This section of California is very pretty and is much less populated than the southern area of the state.  The beach two blocks from where we are camped is the only beach in California that allows motorized vehicles.  Needless to say it is very popular with campers and 4 wheel drive vehicles.


We walked down to the beach to find a long line of vehicles waiting to buy their passes to get on the beach.  It seemed like kind of a racket to me.  Before you could go on the beach, air must be let out of the tires so you don't get stuck in the sand.  When you drive off the beach the air has to be put back in the tires.  One person had a booming business selling self service air at the rate of $1 per tire.

We were walking on the beach watching the whales when a young couple came up to us and asked us to take their photo.  We got to talking and they mentioned that they were from San Diego and had been in the Navy.  Dave said that he had been in too but got out in 1965.  The woman was astonished with this and said that 1965 was the year her mother was born.  The man complimented Dave on had well he was doing for his age and he thought it was great that he could still walk around and everything.  They were a sweet couple but that conversation didn't do much for our egos.

Today we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to the Hearst Castle.  When I was booking tickets the night before I noticed that the morning tours were hardly booked while the afternoon tours were mostly full.  Thinking we would beat the crowds, we bought tickets for one of the morning tours.  This morning we figured out why everyone wanted an afternoon tour -  the fog does not lift until about noon. 

Notice the fog.

Another surprise greeted us as we arrived.  Due to the severe drought all the restrooms were closed and the only thing available was about half a dozen Porta Pottys for all of the people. 

Guest House

Guest House

Neptune Pool minus the water.

Indoor pool with diving balcony

Look closely and you will see zebras grazing with the cattle.  There are still about 150 descendents of the original herd that were part of a private zoo.

When we got back to the visitor center the fog finally lifted and we were able to see the entire estate.

On the way back to the camper, we stopped at Seal Beach to see the elephant seals.  This rookery was the site of the birth of more than 5300 elephant seal pups last year. This time of the year the population is made up of mostly teenage males returning to molt at the beach.  From a distance, it looked like a bunch of dead fish had washed up on shore, but with a closer look we discovered that it was seals sleeping tummy side up.

Friday, June 5, 2015

On the Road Again, Finally!!!

June 3-4, 2015
Elks Lodge # 2492
Simi Valley, California

We were beginning to wonder if we were going to have to spend the summer in Arizona, but after several delays for doctor visits, we were finally able to hit the road.

It had been a unusually cool May for Arizona, but a few days before we left it turned much warmer.  It was 107 the day before we left and definitely time to leave town.

We headed west in search of cooler temperatures but didn't find any until we reached Simi Valley.  It's slow going in California because vehicles towing trailers can only go 55 mph even on the Interstate.  It would have been great to make the trip around LA at a faster pace.  It's much nicer now that we are away from all that congestion.

We stopped in Simi Valley because we wanted to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.  The facility is located on a hill overlooking the countryside.  The locals said on a clear day the Channel Islands are visible. 

  It was very cloudy the day we were there (commonly referred to as the June Gloom) but it is easy to imagine how beautiful it would be with the sun shining and no drought.

Rose Garden

President Reagan's grave