A Vacation & Other Stuff

On September 8th we started working in earnest to get the old RV ready for a trip to the beach. The main focus was to run the water system through a cleansing process to ensure we wouldn’t catch some exotic disease from critters that seem to linger there. Though the RV is 36 years old, we can only verify that such a cleansing has never happened in the last six years that we’ve owned it. Prior to that, I suspect it was never done, either. Since we’ve been known to use the RV a number of times in the past, and have never suffered ill effects one may wonder why it was necessary that this task be performed prior to this next trip. The answer, of course, is that Diane determined it was necessary meaning nothing else was going to get done until the water streaming from the various exits of the system smelled totally like bleach. Therefore, we made it happen. Then we cleaned it, over and over until the offensive bleach odor (and taste) was removed. Let me tell you … adding the odor and taste of bleach is a snap. Getting rid of it, not so much. It took a while.

Part of the cleaning process included adding water to the grey and black water tanks then driving around a while so it would slosh around and make sure all interior surfaces received a cleansing rinse. Doing this was fun for me because it was the first time Diane rode with me while I drove the RV. All previous trips involved her driving the chase car, the one with air conditioning and a working radio, while I drove the RV which has neither. That’s not really too bad if it’s a cool day because the heater works great. So, having Diane with me was special.

Most of the sloshing voyage was on narrow back roads with lots of curves and bumps that put my rookie RV driving skills to the test and solidified Diane’s belief that we don’t need a tow car because she’s perfectly OK driving the chase car. However, we had already purchased a tow dolly for the PT so she was just out of luck. By ending the trip with a stint on a nice wide road her fears were soon forgotten.

Last Sunday morning, the 13th, the trip took on a serious note when Diane went took her Mom, Jean, to the store and left instructions for me to pack my underwear. So I did. It took me about 3 seconds then I went out and went to work getting the tow dolly connected to the RV and getting the PT secured. That took me about 20 minutes, something I was very proud of because I’d never done it before. All that remained was to get Diane home, crank up and head on down the road to see if it would fall off.

When Diane returned, that’s just what we did.

Eight miles down the road we stopped at Fred Meyer’s for gas because we had no idea how much was in the two tanks on the RV. The gas gauges don’t work very well. When I got out to unlock the gas tanks I was supremely gratified to see the PT still behind us. Since I hadn’t felt anything odd, or seen anything flying off the road behind me, I was pretty confident we still had it, but it was nice to eliminate that tiny little bit of doubt. Apparently I did an OK job of connecting all those chains and wires and had more confidence that it would stay put and follow us all the way to Cape Lookout State Park south of Tillamook.

The 2.67 hour trip went entirely as planned with the exception of where to dismantle the tow car lash up so I could back into our assigned spot. After driving around the park for a while, we came upon a turn around with a wide area that would allow me to stop and unstrap the PT so Diane could drive it. Though I can easily push the tow dolly around when it’s not connected to anything, I just can’t push if a mile which is about how far we were from our spot. So, I left it attached with the hope no one would get angry and start throwing stuff when I stopped in front of our spot to un hook it and push it out of the way so I could park. Thankfully, all went well even though the guy in the Flair next to us pulled up a chair to watch me do all of that. He said his favorite part was me attempting to get the rig level so we wouldn’t be sleeping with our heads downhill. It was the hardest thing I did all day. But I finally did it even though the parts of the inside of the RV I was using to check level are so not on the same plane as the beds. Discovering this anomaly proved to be the first step of successfully getting our heads at least level with our feet. Then I put the awning out and the RV adopted an obvious starboard list. Since that meant Diane’s bed (we have twins) leaned her into the wall, I called it good.

Oh ya. With the starboard list in effect, unless it was securely latched, the bathroom door would swing open and stay that way. Fortunately, if one were sitting down when that happened, it was fairly easy to grab the little knob on the door and pull it shut without allowing the folks in the trailer or RV next door to see anything important.

Cape Lookout State Park is a great place because the farthest spot in the back of the park is only about three blocks from the beach. Being back there isn’t a bad thing, we learned, because the closer one gets to the beach in the park, the denser the pack of mosquitoes becomes. Being closer, of course, conditions one to traverse the last 30 feet of solid mosquitoes with little or no pain after the 4th trip. Those in the back generally don’t make it more than 2 times before giving up and just staying close to the back of the park. It was OK.

Here we are being happy that we survived the Mosquito gauntlet …IMG_2272

We looked like this the entire time we were on the beach. The only difference is that sometimes Diane didn’t hide behind me.

Four days of no TV, no phone. Just us and the mosquitoes every time we left the rig, and leaving the rig on a fairly regular basis to walk the dogs. They insisted, according to Diane and I believe everything she tells me. When she tells me they want to go out, though I’ve not heard them exchange even one word, I believe her and take them out. I got pretty good at it.

The only casualty of this trip was when I lit the pilot light for the water heater. I got it lit the first time, then it went out when. So I lit another match and held the pilot button down a bit too long so that when I touched the match to the place where the pilot light lived, all that extra gas caught fire and blew out virtually every available hole on the water heater and burned off most of my eye brows and the last 1/4 inch of the hair on the left side of my head. The air around me immediately smelled like someone had just had a permanent. It was awesome. I couldn’t wait to get inside to share it with Diane. She wasn’t impressed. Turns out the frizzled ends brushed off quite easily. The ones that didn’t are on my eyebrows. I believe they are permanently curled, now, giving the appearance that I’ve had a bunch of pubic hairs transplanted mainly above my left eye. Since I only see it when looking in a mirror, which isn’t often, it doesn’t bother me. Diane was more comfortable with me wearing a hat low on my head whenever we took a walk. I think it’s sufficiently curly that I can use it to hold a little velcroed curtain over my eye when I sleep. Kinda dumb, but bet I could do it. If Diane lets me, I’ll take a photo.

One of the dogs loved the trip because she didn’t have to be on a leash any time we were on the beach.


The beach is over a mile long and, at this time of year, if there are 10 people visible, it’s crowded.


Looking south …


Looking north …


Alas, Thursday showed up signaling the end of this mini-vacation was near. Even so, we both felt as though these few days were much longer because we totally enjoyed ourselves and had a very relaxing time in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was OK to be heading home.

First, however, we had to make it to Warranton for an afternoon soccer game between St. Helens and Astoria high schools. It was an uneventful trip because the rig ran really well with an exceptionally loud squeal from one, or both, of the belts on the engine. It didn’t bother me much, but Diane was totally embarrassed. As far as I was concerned, it just added to the authenticity of our 36 year hold ride. It wasn’t constant, but quit once we got up to speed. We understood the game was at 4 pm, figured it would take 2 hours to get there, left at 1 pm, made it in 1.5 hrs, and learned the game was really at 4:30. So, we were two hours early. The times are probably wrong, but that’s OK. The point is, we were early. The JV team won 10-2 and it could have been much, much worse. Lydia was moved from Keeper to Defender when the score was 7-1 so she got some field time which she also enjoys. Her team mates took turns filling in for her as the keeper. Most of the second half our girls spent playing keep away from the Astoria girls without attempting to score. It was like a drill they run all the time in practice. Varsity also won, 5-1.

After the games we headed home in the dark. Again, it was an uneventful trip. Everything worked just great. I had to take the PT off the trailer and put everything away before going to bed because I was being forced to go golfing Friday morning at 0830. I golfed better than I ever have. Part of the reason for that is because I started actually counting all my strokes instead of just guessing. Funny thing.

Another interesting thing we saw at the beach is this caterpillar. We seen hundreds of these things over the years, but none that had grey spikes.


Personally, I think it’s an alien. How about you?

Viva Las Vegas !!

So, we’ve been in Las Vegas since last Friday (28th) which you may all assume is the reason for delaying this entry. You’d think we were out running the strip with the rest of the party crowd, adding to our collection of those girly cards that are given freely available to anyone, even children, to accept those evocative gifts. It’s evident that many folks aren’t happy that their children accepted those cards by the number of them littering the sidewalks and street. I’ve been collecting those cards for years and have successfully gathered 998 cards with unique renditions of very pretty girls with very little, or no clothing, no two alike. I feel that’s quite an accomplishment considering that most of the cards are duplicates. I haven’t collected any this trip, yet, but I’m after those illusive two needed to round my collection up to 1,000. I actually saw one that I needed, but it was in the street and I figured Diane would frown on me picking it up, so I sadly walked on by, watching it disappear in my peripherals as those unconcerned people revelers around me nimbly walked over it, grinding it into the pavement making it totally useless for a valid collection destined to become very valuable.

But, no, that was not the case. Instead we’ve been spending most of our time gazing out the window of our room at the millions of lights illuminating the pointy end of Nevada. Here’s part of what we can see from our room on the 54th floor of the Elara.

IMG_1517 IMG_1525 IMG_1527Quite festive. We can see, from left to right, Aria,The Cosmopolitan, Rio, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Paris, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Trump, Wynn, Palazzo, Encore, Ballys, Venetian, Harrah’s, High Roller Ferris Wheel, and the Stratosphere. Granted, we can’t see the fronts of them all, but enough to make for a pretty dramatic night sky.

The main reason for making Las Vegas our vacation destination this trip was to join a group of old folks with whom we’ve become acquainted over the years because of our mutual fascination with the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The 109 in attendance, including us, still own PTs, and a large number of them drove their vehicles to the party. The notable exception was our new friend from Sydney, Australia. Pretty cool that he came all that way to visit with us. There were lots of folks from Canada, and the US East Coast, too. This event was the brain child of our friend, Rick, pictured below with my bride, Diane.

IMG_1539This gathering was for breakfast at the Gold Coast for which we had to leave our warm beds at 0500 Monday morning. It was good. Rick, Rick, and Pat had microphones and went around the room giving everyone a chance to introduce themselves. Once some of them got the microphone, however, they were compelled to share some pretty involved stories about their love affair with the PT. IMG_1553Pat Chase, who is, oddly, the current husband of Pat Chase, gave an impressive dissertation on the PT Cruiser from its concept to production, and all the emotions associated with that little car during it’s production run from 2001 through 2010. In another 15 years our 2005 convertible will be a classic. Can’t wait for that. The downside of that is that I’ll be 86 and the state of Oregon probably won’t let me drive it.

The remainder of Monday’s activities for us, after breakfast, was to find a car wash so we could get the bugs scraped off the front of Diane’s new Impala. I found one really close to the Gold Coast that is strictly a hand wash facility. They did an outstanding job and made the car look awesome. This is the new ride …IMG_1491Monday night 58 of us took a 3-4 hour ride on The Big Bus tour of Las Vegas with Kate as our tour guide. Had it not been for her interaction with our crowd of old folks, the trip would have been kind of ho-hum, “look at all the pretty lights” instead of the incredibly detailed, historically correct narrative of every building or vacant lot we passed. She even gave us some pretty interesting back ground of many of the questionable people we passed during our travels. Kate is extremely funny and could easily, in my estimation, excel as a standup comic. Perhaps she is one of those already, but that wasn’t mentioned. She was, however, the Witch in “Wicked” and played all over the west coast for considerable amount of time.

DSC_3012Kate has a commanding presence and we all fell in love with her during that 3-hour tour. What a gal. Here she is making friends with one of the many Ricks who made the trip from Oregon. One of the other Ricks is sitting right there to the right in front of Linda. The other Rick, our leader, was sitting up front.

Sadly, the Rick pictured with Kate injured his knee on the way up the steps to this seat and had to be carted away in a wheel chair at the end of the tour. We trust he will be fine, eventually, but don’t have a prognosis at this time. He was taken to one of the local hospitals, of which I found there are many in the area.


Here are a few of the places we saw along the way down the strip.DSC_3026 DSC_3027 DSC_3030 DSC_3019 DSC_2999 DSC_2997 DSC_2992

Then we headed for the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street. 
DSC_3033 DSC_3036

We’ve been there many, many years ago, before it evolved into what it is now, so we weren’t prepared for the incredible transformation that’s been made in that area. It’s pretty amazing.

DSC_3045 DSC_3047

Outside the Golden Nugget, Fremont Street is totally covered with a curved video screen that stretches over 300 feet. Below the screen, for the entire length, stretched 3 zip line wires on which people whizzed by overhead.

When we first got there it was displaying random graphics which were very pleasing. As we walked through the crush of people on the street, we were smitten with all the pretty lights and the great attitude of the crowd. We didn’t encounter any attitudes at all during our circumnavigation of this amazing venue. About halfway around all the lights along the street, and those advertising the various facilities, were extinguished and the overhead display lit up along the entire length of the street and the sound was cranked up as we were entertained with a Bon Jovi concert of epic proportions. It was mesmerizing and incredibly fun to watch. Even for an old guy like me. DSC_3049 DSC_3052

Inside the Golden Nugget all the lights are covered with these incredible artsy creations and all I could think about was how I’m so happy I don’t have to change the light bulbs in them. Pretty, but really sharp on the pointy ends.DSC_3055

Also inside the Golden Nugget is the Shark Tank. A swimming pool surrounds the tank and you can see a tube running through the center of the tank. That’s the end part of a water slide that starts a couple of floors above the tank and through which people fly, probably with their eyes closed. Kinda freaky.DSC_3061

Prior to the evening festivities, we wandered around the Miracle Mile Shopping portion of Planet Hollywood where Diane found a hat shop. She loves hats and looks great wearing pretty much anything on her head.

That’s pretty much it for yesterday. We had a terrific time and are looking forward to the evening festivities today. We’re having the Old PT People Banquet (OPTPB) at the Gold Coast. Should be a hoot.

Attacked! Again!


Guess what!

Diane forced me to mow the yard again today, since it was incredibly beautiful, so I did.

I stayed out there mowing until the pain got really bad.

The good news is, I got my ‘pouty lip’.



I guess I don’t have to tell you that I found the yellow jacket nest again. This time, however, I had my can of spray and was able to take out a bunch of them, but one little kamikaze got through and nailed me on the chin. To honor his bravery, I just brushed him off and he flew away.

My vision seems to be going away so I’m going to quit while I can still see the Send button.

Angry Bees

Today was totally awesome, right up to about 4-5 hours ago. 

I’m better now, but still recovering. Here’s what happened …

First thing this morning, about 8:30 a, I donned my work clothes, using my nifty yardstick suspenders to hold them up because they are too big now. That’s not totally true, of course, because I always use those suspenders on my work pants. It’s kind of like a trade mark. Jennifer gave them to me as a joke, but I wear them almost every day when I’m working. I love those suspenders.

Before doing garage ‘stuff’, I hitched the trailer up to the mower because it was full of wood, from a dismantled couch, and I didn’t want it to be that way. So, I carted it down to the burn pile and tossed it all out. On the way back, I stopped along the fence, over which hangs our neighbor’s walnut tree, and gathered up a little more than one Avon box lid of walnuts. The last time I did that, I had about 5 lids full, one layer. 

The walnuts got me into the ‘picking’ mood, so I moved on to the two apple trees that still have fruit on them, and added them to the trailer. There were at least 10 dozen apples, many of which will be converted into applesauce. 

Shortly before 9:50 am, Diane took off in a panic because she had an appointment to get her flu shot at her doctor’s office but she couldn’t find her purse. She drove herself anyway, which is definitely against the law. I briefly considered calling the police to turn her in but figured that wouldn’t end well for me. So, I ignored her infraction and got busy moving ‘stuff’ around in the garage, something I do once in a while that looks like work, but actually isn’t. In this instance, however, I actually did some constructive rearranging, moving a pair of captain chairs, that Diane bought at a yard sale a couple of years ago, to get them into a location less annoying to me. They were destined for the ’79 Winnebago, but I actually like my seat so stalled her out. When we returned from vacation, those chairs were right smack in the path we use to get to the Yogurt Refrigerator in the garage. It’s imperative that we be able to get to that refrigerator in the morning, especially when it has yogurt in it.

While I was doing that, Jeff appeared out of nowhere to pick up those very same chairs. If I had waited just a bit longer, I wouldn’t have had to move them at all. Still, it was a good thing to see Jeff, as it is to see all relatives. In this case, if you don’t know, Jeff is our son. I helped him get the chairs to his van then offered to give him the Garage Organ, also. He accepted so, hopefully, that will go away soon. At this rate, in another couple of years, we might have the other side of the garage cleaned out to the point where I can actually park my car in there. Diane’s been using the garage since we moved in because it was a rule that I make that so, or she would make it necessary for me to employ a lawyer to talk over how to divide up the property. So, she can drive in and out at will. Sometimes that’s what she does on a rainy day. She’ll get in the car, back out into the driveway, sit there for a moment, then drive back into the garage. I don’t know why she does that. Kinda quirky.

She really does do that, but only when one of us forgets something. She didn’t do that today. She just drove off without her license. As soon as she was gone, I found her purse laying on the printer. Actually, it was one of the many purses she leaves lying around the house, but I know the one on the printer was the one she wanted because it had her wallet in it.

Jeff left with the chairs, then Diane showed up shortly thereafter with a Buick full of food because she took her Mom, Jean, to Safeway to restock the depleted larders. We don’t really have a larder, but we have empty shelves and drawers where food used to be. Now the Yogurt Refrigerator actually has yogurt in it. And, I have milk to drink. She bought me a couple of bagels, too. I love those things, but can’t eat too many of them because they make my pants too tight.

After unloading the Buick, Diane checked her cell phone messages and discovered she had missed a call from KayKay, Ozzie’s hair dresser. He gets a poodle-do about every 36 days, and he always needs it. When the yard is wet, he probably should have one a week because he’s so short that I can’t cut the grass low enough to keep it from hitting his belly. He’s a mess for most of those 36 days, but for the first few he looks great and actually smells good. So, off Diane went to get him back. He was wearing a cute little neckerchief with Jack-o-lanterns on it which I took off right away. He and I have talked about those things and he’s let me know he really doesn’t like them. But, KayKay always puts one on him.

Somewhere during the afternoon the guy from the Habitat For Humanity Restore Store showed up with his trailer to pick up our incredibly heavy dining room table and the couch Diane didn’t want any more. After those things went away, Diane strongly encouraged me to mow the yard. The grass was actually almost dry so I took the hint and fired up the lawn mower, pumped up the front tires, which always almost go flat in a couple of days, attached all the required parts for sucking up the cut grass, and got to work.

I went real slow, and only put the mower deck on 5 instead of 4, like normal. I’m not sure if those numbers relate to inches or not. For me, it’s just a ‘setting’ I use. Seems to be a good one, especially when the grass is dryer. I apparently went slow enough to keep the output tube from clogging up, because I didn’t have to stop one time. I just mowed merrily along, without a care in the world. Well, that’s not entirely true because I really do have cares. It’s just that I really like mowing the yard. Really odd, isn’t it?

When I was done I took the clippings down to the burn pile, around which I have a very nice arc of years worth of grass clippings. I’ve never turned it, ever. I just keep adding to it, and it just seems to sink into the ground. I’ve discovered that under all that grass is some really great dirt that Diane won’t use. She still insists on buying dirt at Wal*Mart for the things she puts in pots. I’ve given up on trying to convince her to use MY dirt. So, it’s just going to continue sinking into the ground, making more and more terrific dirt.

I drove around the back of the grass clipping arc, near our lower fence, and backed the mower up over a low spot. This makes it easier to dump the bags, of which I have three. When I empty them, I always rotate them so they all get equal time getting filled up. In a cavalier fashion, I flipped my seat up over the steering wheel, like I always do so the bagger lid will stay open, and walked around behind the mower. Then I dumped my bags.

On the third bag there appeared before me an angry herd of yellow jackets, the kind that live in the ground. I guess they discovered all that great dirt and decided to call it home and were just a little ticked when I dumped more grass on their entry. Blocking their doorway created a situation where those on the outside, who wanted back in, went into attack mode and started dive bombing me.

Bees have never bothered me much, especially when Diane is with me because they like her better. This time, however, I was the only target. The first indication I had that I was in peril was the critter stabbing the back of my right hand through my work glove. He was really digging in when I flicked him away with my left hand, so I thought I probably should vacate the area, which I did. But, the bees followed me all the way back to the house, which is about 150 feet from the burn pile. I thought they’d give up, but they didn’t, so I ran up the stairs to the kitchen door, opened it briefly to call for help.

Diane came right away, but she wouldn’t come out, and I don’t blame her. She’s very allergic to stings. Me? I’m impervious to them, I though. I just kept swatting them, and turning around so Diane could see if there were any bees still clinging to my clothes, which they weren’t because in a coordinated assault they targeted my uncovered neck where they stung me about 6-7 times. They also got my right arm 3-4 more times, in well-selected locations all the way up, and one of them got me on my right side, just below my armpit. I think one also gnawed through my jeans and got me on the toughest part of my knee. That one must have been a dare between two of he attackers, or perhaps some sort of initiation. 

Once Diane confirmed that she didn’t see any more bees clinging to me, and I didn’t see any buzzing about, I shed my clothes right there on the porch and rushed into the house. Diane was thankful that I had forgotten that today is Underwear Optional Day. It’s something I started when I was working at PGE, but it never seemed to catch on. You know, kinda like casual Friday, but different?

So, that’s what I’ve been recovering from for the past number of hours. The sore places where I got my shots yesterday, and the bee stings today just kinda made my day a whole lot more interesting. If I had thought quick enough, since they were already biting me, maybe I could have convinced one of those bees to give me some cute, pouty lips. Instead, my right hand is about twice the size of the left, but the fingers still work, and the remainder of my right arm is a mess. I can’t see my neck, but my nerve endings are, even right now, making it abundantly clear that I have been seriously assaulted. It hurts, but I didn’t cry. I just made the “Sucking SSS” sound for a bit, then decided to just tough it out. 

To help me, Diane cooked a really good steak, which we shared. I love steak.

After dinner we sat on our couch and watched some of the shows that recorded during our absence last week. Afterwards, Diane held my hand until it quit hurting. She’s good to me that way.

Now you know. Please don’t feel sorry for me, unless you really want to. I actually discovered those bees when I burned down the burn pile a couple of weeks ago. Then I forgot about them.

Silly me.