Glendale to Travis AFB – Day 11

We all got up early enough to shovel a warm breakfast down our throats in preparation for the trip north to Travis. It was not a minor trip for us old folks – 5-7 hours dodging maniacs is not a walk in the park for most people because of the random idiots who think bad driving is a skill. Thankfully, most of those we encountered on this trip were sane and stayed within 10-20 mph of the speed limit meaning we moved along at 70-90 mph for most of the trip.

I began the drive which is unusual for us because Diane is normally the pilot. But her broken arm was giving her fits so she didn’t need that distraction while navigating through LA traffic. We left the big city at 1000 and as we progressed, one thing led to another and I wound up driving for 4.5 hours, almost to Stockton, pretty much non-stop. When we did stop for a Rest Area, Diane took over and had me look for a place where we could sit down and have a decent meal.

I chose Sizzler, the one in Stockton, and directed the driver to that location. It was a very nice one and we all really enjoyed the restful, nourishing delay. It made the remainder of the trip, about 2 more hours, much easier to endure. Getting to the base was via a very bumpy road. We were glad when we reached the gate and an adorable security airman directed us to the Air Force Inn. “Signs are hard to see so just go straight ahead and it’s at the 5th light, on the left.”  Excellent directions.

I got us checked in – one room for the girls, one for me and Diane. We’re in room 4040 and they’re in 4041, directly across the hall from us. How handy.  Considering that we at late, and didn’t get to our rooms until 6-something pm, I didn’t figure there would be any major food purchase this evening. We have snacky stuff if anyone wants it.

I’m done for today. Apparently I’m getting too old for this stuff. Tomorrow will be spent at a more sedate pace after we get past San Francisco, on our way to Fort Bragg on Highway 1.

 

Taking a Break, and Universal Studios Hollywood – Days 7 thru 10

Wednesday we took a break from running all over the place doing stuff. It started well with most of us not getting up until 9-10 am, or thereabouts. I made coffee (pretty good coffee, too) and let Diane sleep in until 1100 or so. Then, at 1215 I drove the girls south to Del Mar so Ceiarra could meet her Aunt Penny for the first time. Lunch and a visit was included in the trip.

After meeting their host, a very nice lady, I went back to Carlsbad and helped Diane do the laundry. Then we just sat around doing nothing until 1600 when I was summoned back Del Mar for the pick up.

Safely back in Carlsbad I continued to rest, preparing for the journey north and back towards home.

Thursday was a short drive to the Embassy Suites in Glendale which was the closest city to Universal Studios that had a room we felt was reasonably priced. Everything else was ridiculous. Glendale is only about two freeway and 8 miles from Universal and it only takes 45 minutes to make the trip one-way. We booked the room for two days so the girls could spend the entire day there on Friday, the first day that the new Harry Potter ride opened. We got up early, ate our complimentary breakfast, and had the girls at the Universal entrance right at 0900 when they opened. We turned them loose on the masses and returned to our room where we spent the day planning the segments of our trip home. We also watched the Oregon State Beavers lose their first baseball game since April. They played LSU and would have advanced to the championship game with a win. Now they have to play LSU again tomorrow for that honor. Dang. After the loss we left the hotel in search of sustenance which we found right next door at Conrad’s Family Restaurant. Diane had a hamburger and I had a Denver omelette. Both were very good.

Just before we were finished eating Lydia texted to report that she and Ceiarra were 30 minutes away from needing a ride back to the hotel. We delayed that a bit because we had to finish eating then had to go back to the hotel for the truck. It was way too far to walk both ways.

The girls were stranded in an ice cream cone line when we first arrived at the entrance so we had to exit and make another run at it. They weren’t there the 2nd time, either, but finally appeared on the 3rd time around. It was all good. They reportedly had a marvelous time and didn’t spend all their money.

That’s pretty much the day in a nut shell. Tomorrow we head north to Travis AFB where I reserved two rooms at the Air Force Inn.

I didn’t take any photos today so don’t have any new ones to share. So, I’ll just show you a couple of old ones when Lydia, our High School Graduate, was really short and liked spaghetti.

 

Thru LA to Carlsbad – Day 4

Days 4 thru 7 are so full of stuff, and I have lots of photos, that I’m going to break it up so you won’t get totally bored. That, and I have 47 photos to share that total 118 MB of data. Too much for one post. So, I’m going with Day 4 now.

That would be the day we finally arrived in Carlsbad and got checked in to our rooms. This time, instead of a three bedroom house, like we had at NAS Lemoore, we had a two bedroom condo. Well, actually, it’s a one bedroom condo with a studio adjoining. Perfect for the four of us. The girls had their own space with a bath, and we had ours. Yes, perfect.

Getting to the room from Lemoore, however, was a serious challenge because we made it a point to drive through Los Angeles so the girls could experience the traffic. They weren’t disappointed, but I’m sure they wish we’d chosen a speedier route. Yes, it was a dumb thing to do, but we only had to do it once, right? Right.

As it turned out, Diane gave up driving before we reached the infamous Grapevine over the hills into the LA area. So, I had the honor. What fun. Additionally, I wound up driving all the way to Carlsbad, a  v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w. t.r.i.p. Really. And, it took most of the day. No, it took all day. We arrived over two hours later than the original arrival time computed by our GPS lady before leaving Lemoore.

Once over the Grapevine, and into the city, the speed dropped to around 0-20 mph and that’s the way it was for the duration, all the way to Carlsbad. That’s a stretch of about 100 miles. It was brutal; 4-6 lanes (each way) of vehicles cruising along at a little over walking speed most of the time.

But, we made it. Yes we did.

Our accommodations here at Marbrisa Resort are on the ground floor. The girls’ room has a small patio that is about 10 feet from the gate into the pool area, right next to the hot tub. Perfect, right? They certainly think so. They have four pools to play in.

Somewhere during that grueling day, we stopped for lunch at a Panda Express where I pigged out on a bunch of shrimp which resulted in this …

The dreaded Gout. It hurt, and I limped a lot, but it didn’t stop me from keeping up with the crowd. When we had a chance, we went to the commissary at Camp Pendleton and got the most horrible cherry juice in the world which Diane made me drink to help resolve the gout problem. I managed to gag down a glass but that was it. Nasty stuff, and I kinda used to like cherry juice. Next time I get gout I will just live with it until it’s gone.

Today is Wednesday. I’ll fill you in on Monday and Tuesday next. I’ll leave you with a photo of “my girls” waiting for a table at an eating establishment somewhere on the West Coast, South of Los Angeles. Might be the Green Dragon in Carlsbad.

Here’s what we ate …

That’s it.

Happy Birthday Cedric, and Days 1 thru 3

Cedric turned 20 years on the 13th. I started this tribute on the 12th then events surrounding tasks necessary for us to vacate our premises jumped the line and took precedence. More on that, later.

Our Sailor is currently in the middle of the Pacific Ocean headed west for a 6-8 month trip on the USS Nimitz. We don’t know specifically where the ship is going, but for most events happening on that side of the world, the ship only has to get close. He’s in a very safe place. This is his first cruise and it’s going to be educational for him. We just hope he stays safe. When the notion strikes send good thoughts his way for a safe journey for him and all his shipmates.

Last Tuesday Diane got her third cast. Another pink one. For the first couple of days she yearned for the old cast. It’s better now and she’s doing great. So far she’s driven most of the way on this trip, just like normal.

On Wednesday we gathered up Lydia and Ceiarra for a trip south. The weather was perfect … around 61, no rain … and there was excitement about the days ahead.

The first leg of this trip ended in Medford for our first night. When we head south, Medford is almost always our choice for the first stop. Before that, however, we stopped in Albany for lunch with Jack and Wynette. They were making their way north from Arizona and we were very happy to have an opportunity to spend some time with them. Lunch was good and we had a great visit. Then we parted and continued on our separate ways with well wishes for safe journeys.

At the Medford sleeping facility, a lite supper of nachos and wine or beer. I had nachos, as did the other three, and Diane had a glass of wine. All complimentary. What a deal. They weren’t bad, but sometime in the night I had an epic Montezuma event. Therefore, I figured that I probably shouldn’t have eaten the nachos. Or maybe it was the pulled pork they had for the meat. Or the liquid cheese. Hard telling. Regardless, I’m fine now and it’s behind me, literally. I’m healed.

We got up at a reasonable time, about 0830, had breakfast in the hotel, another complimentary meal, re-stowed all the stuff we brought from home, and headed south. Like all of our trips, we packed a lot of stuff. In the past, that was a problem because of space, but now we’re traveling in a pickup so there’s tons of room for pretty much anything Diane wanted to bring. So, she did.

Thankfully, having two healthy teenage girls along simplifies the on and off load process. They can carry some pretty heavy stuff. That’s really handy. Before leaving, Diane requested that I devise a way for “stuff” to keep from sliding around in the back so I did. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of Sterilite (made in the USA) containers the pretty much filled the back of the truck. I got them all in place, so they wouldn’t slide around, then removed those that were in spaces required for suitcases. In all, we have 7 pieces of luggage, six of which reside in the back of the truck. There are also 8 Sterilite containers. Nothing slides around. Using the containers makes getting “stuff” inside our rooms easier than when we used garbage bags. It’s less embarrassing for Diane, too.

Yesterday, on our way to Beale AFB, we stopped for a buffet lunch at the Rolling Hills Casino near Corning, California off of I-5. It was very good. If you go there, get their club card first. Having the card gets you the buffet for half price. We didn’t have a club card. We paid full price. It’s OK.

At Beale we had a 3 bedroom home for the night which was unique. It was formally base housing and quite nice. The girls each had their own room as did Diane and I. After checking in, Diane and the girls returned the 10 miles back to the base exchange to look for teen age swimming suits, and something for dinner. I stayed home to guard stuff. There were no suitable swimming suits so the girls had to wear their old ones which are, reportedly, too small. They went to the pool anyway. While they played in the pool, Diane got dinner and brought it back to the room. I ate the rigatoni carbonara she gave me with gusto. The girls got chicken chunks. Just before 8 pm Diane went back to the pool for the girls and brought them back to the house for supper. I’d already eaten my pasta and would have enjoyed it more with buttered bread, but Diane couldn’t find any butter at the store. So, she got some Nutella. I tasted it, and it’s not bad, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put chocolate spread on a perfectly good piece of white bread to eat with my pasta. So, no bread, which is OK. I’m diabetic, you know, and the pasta was more than enough carbs for me. Bread wasn’t necessary.

The next morning, Friday, Diane had two pieces of toast slathered with Nutella but I couldn’t even do that. I just ate a piece of dry toast. It was pretty good. I also had a bowl of Honeynut Cheerios.

While eating breakfast, we started watching “Magnificent Beasts” that Lydia got from Red Box at some obscure town on the way. The stop was necessary because she wanted to return the ones she brought from home before 9 pm so she wouldn’t be charged another $1. She found the Red Box Drop by searching on her phone.

At 1045 am I called the front desk to find out when we had to check out. They told me 1100. So, everyone went to work packing up all the containers and getting them to the truck before we were charged for another day. It was close, but we did it. Then we were on the way south. Again.

From Beale AFB we took US 99 from I-80. It’s a crappy road most of the way, but it’s more interesting than I-5. More places to stop, too. As a diversion, Ceiarra allowed Lydia to glue new, long finger nails to her fingers. I have proof.

Ceiarra wasn’t a fan of long nails but she allowed it to happen and they look quite nice.

The plan was to make a pass through Modesto to see the house Lydia and family lived in 13 years ago. Before that, however, we stopped at a handy Panda Express for lunch on Briggsmore Ave.

You can see C’s long nails in the photo below.

It was very good. Diane had enough food that she saved enough for supper this evening. I’m going to eat more Cheerios. I really like those things.

NAS Lemoore is our stop for tonight. I booked two rooms at the Navy Lodge because they don’t have rooms that can accommodate 4 adults. Around 2000 (8 pm) the girls came to our room with their ‘old’ Red Box DVDs wanting to return them before the 9pm deadline. There’s an RB on base so it wasn’t difficult. In case you need to go there, it’s over by the Jet Mart.

After turning in the movies I asked them if they had eaten supper – Lydia had left overs from Panda Express, but C didn’t so they thought it might be good to go grazing through the Jet Mart for fun stuff to eat. We came away with a stunning variety of non-nutritional food, as well as some that qualified as ‘good for you’. I’ll try to remember what we came away with …

  • Frozen croissant breakfast sandwiches
  • Frozen entrees
  • Chips & cheese
  • Raspberries
  • Margarine (me)
  • Half & Half (me)
  • Drinks of some sort
  • Candy bars

The plan was for them to have something to eat while they watched the two movies they rented when they turned the old ones in. That should have kept them going until midnight, easy. Since it’s only 0830 on this fin Saturday morning, we won’t know how that worked out for at least another hour because they are asleep in the next room. I suspect I’ll have to rouse them so we can get checked out in time for our mad dash on this last leg of the trip that will take us through the heart of Los Angeles. We could go around, but thought having the experience of LA traffic should not be missed, for the girls’ experience, of course. There will be more on that this evening. Maybe

So there we are. Up. To. Date.

I leave you with a selfie, and a photo for our lovely daughter who is an avid Minions fan …

One of the HUGE things I failed to mention is the weather. We’re having some, and it’s really hot. Apparently we timed this trip just right so we could experience the hottest temperatures southern California has ever seen. The thermometer in the truck registered between 95 and 100 all day yesterday and weather alerts kept showing up reporting severe heat ahead. Nifty. Last night, when I took the girls to the Jet Mart, it was still 91 out there. We checked the weather at home and learned it was 60 and raining there.

Even with all this heat, we were gratified to see that all the canals are full of water down here, the valley is green with all manner of vegetables, fruit, and absolutely zillions of grape vines. All are healthy looking. And, the big one for us, Shasta Lake was full to the brim. In years past we were saddened to see the moorages high and dry, but this time it all looks good.

The Toenail Place Door, Graduation, and a Rock Hound

This afternoon Diane had a strange request that I found to be perfectly OK, considering her condition. If you read this stuff, you already know that she broke her arm. Part of the joy of doing that is that she was the recipient of pain medication. Initially, she found that it didn’t do much for the pain until she got a new cast that didn’t cover the back of her hand which was the most swollen portion of her anatomy as a result of her mishap. So, a while before coming up with her request, she ingested half a pill to help mitigate the pain she induced during the course of the day.

She paused her program, “Madam Secretary”, I think, and said “I have a favor to ask.”

“Absolutely,” I replied, as I do for all of her requests. That’s true and she will confirm if necessary.

“I can’t drive right now and I would like you to drive me down to the toenail place so I can look at the door, after my show is done, and after Ziva comes back.”

Ziva had been gone for most of an hour already even though I had gone to each exit of the house and whistled about every 15 minutes or so. Eventually she always comes back, but there’s always the fear that she managed to get herself run over. This evening she managed to return before Diane’s show finished so she did good.

Regarding Diane’s favor request, all I could do was say, “Ooookay. I would love to drive you down to the toenail place so you can look at the door.” I knew why, but it was still an oddly formed request. You see, we’re heading south on vacation soon and she wanted to get her toenails whittled down a bit, and probably get them polished. Looking at the door would reveal when they opened their door in the morning so she would know when to be there. We discovered that they open at 10 which is perfect because I have an appointment to get my remaining teeth cleaned at 9 so she said I could meet her at the toenail place and get mine done with her. What a treat. I’m going to be excited all night and will probably have dreams about which color I should get. It won’t really matter because I never go barefooted any more. Even so, I think it might be fun to have pretty toes for a while. I’ll take a picture.

For now, however, I have other pictures to share. The big event of the weekend was Lydia’s graduation from High School. Yes, they let her graduate. Gave her a diploma and everything.

Here she is marching up the aisle with her good friend, Lexi. Oddly enough, we were sitting with Lexi’s family. It wasn’t planned.

Here they are in the front row. I had to walk out in front of everyone to get this photo. I’m sure Lydia was very happy that I didn’t fall down and embarrass her. I think that’s reason she’s smiling, not because she’s happy that she’s actually graduating.

And, here’s the proof. Even though her last name is Walters, she was the 14th graduate to get her diploma. I actually don’t think that’s fair because tradition is that you get them in alphabetical order.

Here’s the happy girl …

After church today we went to a party at Lydia’s friend Ceiarra’s house. She lives just across the street from Diane’s Mom, Jean, so it was a short trip. It was Ceiarra’s graduation party and it was a good one. Ceiarra and Lydia are the two who are going on a trip to California with Diane and me next week. When people ask me where we’re taking them, I say, “Camp Pendleton”. That’s probably true, but we won’t just drop them off as I suggested. It will just be a visit.

Here’re the party girls … Kayla, Lydia, Ceiarra, and Hannah,

They had a lot of fun. They are all soccer jocks and plan to play together at Portland Community College in the fall.

We delivered a box of strawberries and a card to Lydia from our friend Barb. Lydia loves strawberries and promptly opened them and dove in. She shared, too.

And, finally, here’s Ony, Jeff’s dog, with another rock for her pile. She picks one up every time she’s taken for a walk.

Funny dog.

That’s it for today. It’s early but I need get to bed because I have to visit my dental hygienist in the morning.

Then, the toes!

 

Ahmed, the Crossfire, and TLWTBA

Yesterday I visited the Walter’s domain to attend Ahmed’s going away party. Ahmed, in case you don’t know, is a foreign exchange student from Pakistan who has been living with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran since last summer. From day one he was part of the family and didn’t miss a beat by including Diane and me, calling us Grandma and Grandpa. That was pretty cool. He’s a special young man and we can’t wait to see what his future has in store for the world. Jennifer has become something of an expert preparing halal food for Ahmed and it may become a regular food choice for them even after Ahmed has returned home.

He leaves next week and will be missed by everyone. But, thanks to social media, he’s just a click away.

Also, yesterday, I returned the part I bought at O’Reilly’s Auto that I was sure would resolve the problem I’ve had with the Crossfire. The error code reported a bad Crankshaft Position Sensor. I think I already shared that previously but that’s OK. I’ll pretend you forgot.

Anyway, I had to special order the part on Saturday because it wasn’t on the shelf. I was a little surprised by the price because it was over double what I expected. However, I needed the part, and paid the price. I picked the part up Sunday morning and went right home to install it so I don’t have to drive Diane’s truck any more. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice truck and I really like it. But, I kinda like the Crossfire more at this time.

I carefully unwrapped the part and noticed it looked a lot different from the pictures I saw during my search for the part. Double-checking the part number on O’Reilly’s website revealed that what I’d paid such an exorbitant price for was a Camshaft Position Sensor, not a Crankshaft Position Sensor. Not the same critter.

I boxed it up and took it back to O’Reilly’s and explained the error of their ways. I’m pretty positive that I requested the correct part but the thing is that when I did it, I also purchased the Camshaft Position Sensor for Lydia’s Envoy. It’s her graduation present from me. She doesn’t know that yet because I didn’t wrap it. I just gave it to her. I can kinda understand why the fellow who helped me (the Manager) made the mistake because of the way the transaction went down, and I wasn’t upset.

When I returned it I was helped by a young man who was apparently new at O’Reilly because he was just learning their computer system. Thankfully, he had me for a customer because I don’t get upset about stuff like this. It just isn’t productive. So, I made it a good experience for him and we got things straightened out. Turned out the part I needed was in stock (their last one) so I got that and half my money back. What a deal.

Back at home, I gathered my tools and went to work. It didn’t take long before I had the old one out and the new one in. I cleared all the computer failure codes and cranked it up. The engine purred like a sewing machine and the engine light stayed off. Just to be sure, I checked for failure codes, but there weren’t any. I guess I can now call myself a Crossfire mechanic. Sure, it was simple, but I did it. All by myself. And only burned my hand 4 times.

Tomorrow I’m taking The Lady With The Broken Arm (TLWTBA) to the doctor who was already scheduled to see her on June 13th, Cedric’s and Don’s Birthday, and the day Ahmed leaves. Apparently the doctor saw something, we think, because she called today and requested that she be delivered to the office tomorrow morning, bright and early. So, that’s what we will do.

Now I must go to bed so I will be ready to roll in the morning.

G’Nite.

 

Breakfast, Lady Ducks Softball, & The Oregon Coast

University of Oregon Lady Ducks softball team just beat Kentucky for the second time in the Super Regionals to advance to the final 8 that will compete  for the Women’s College World Series title. They’ve done well, starting out their season with a 36-0 win loss record which is an NCAA record. Sadly, they lost 6 games along the way and are now standing 52-6, winning their last 15 games.

Today’s win was super sweet because it finished their quest to reach the World Series. It’s a double elimination tournament so they had to beat Kentucky twice. Yesterday they did it 4-0 by playing stellar defense. Today Kentucky, in a must win situation, needed the win to even the series and advance to game three. The way the game started out I figured they wouldn’t have a lot of trouble because adrenalin got in the way of Duck defense allowing 2 runs to score on an error. Then they settled down and held Kentucky to 2-0 through 3 innings when they scored again making it 3-0 in the 4th. The Ducks loaded the bases in the 5th and scored 2, holding the home team Kentucky scoreless. All the sudden it’s 3-2 and the Ducks were closing.

Then the 6th inning happened where Kentucky scored 2 more in the bottom of the inning making it 5-2 and only 3 outs remaining for the Ducks. It didn’t look too good for them but they came alive and loaded the bases with no outs. Then, to the amazement of the ESPN crew reporting the game, the 3rd base umpire called Kentucky for an illegal pitch and advanced all the runners one base. Now it’s 5-3 with 2 on. The illegal pitch wasn’t explained but the way the announcers talked they didn’t think it should have been called “in a game like this.” Really? Don’t the rules apply at all times?

That kind of signaled Kentucky’s demise because the Ducks kept hitting, scoring 4 runs in the top of the 7th making it a 6-5 game, Ducks. Three quick outs against Kentucky and it was done. Game over.

Before getting home to watch that, we went to Portland to have a “late breakfast” with our friends at Elmer’s in Delta Park. There were about 14 of us there and it was a normal, noisy affair for which we’re famous. We can typically only eat at a place as a group one time then have to wait either a year, until they either forget us, or the facility changes ownership. We’re that noisy. But, the waitresses always get good tips for putting up with us.

Since the sun was out, and it was hot on this 4th day of summer for us, we rode home with the top down on the car. Yes, I know, it’s not really summer yet – it’s still spring. But, I count every sunny day as summer. Some weeks we have 2-3 summer days, some weeks we have none. With the temps in the high 80’s these past few days, I believe that qualifies as summer. Anyway, we discovered that we could carry on a normal conversation, at highway speeds, with the top down. Nice. That’s two people who spend many parts of a conversation, in a quiet room, saying, “Huh? What did you say?” It was a nice ride and reaffirmed our decision to purchase the fun car. That feeling will continue until it breaks and I have to go to YouTube School and figure out how to fix it.

When we got home from Portland Diane took her Mom, Jean, grocery shopping so she will have enough vittles to get her through our absence next week. We’re going to Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast. It’s been a long time since we’ve been there so it should be fun. We’re taking Ziva again so there won’t be any food wars for Lydia to mediate while she fills in as Queen of the House.

That’s about it for today. Now I’ll just add some random photos that I may have taken today.

I didn’t take this one today. I just found it while looking for others and it’s one of my all-time favorites. Jennie, Lydia, Cedric, and Logan. Probably from 12 years ago and has absolutely nothing to do with today’s activities. I just like it.

This one was today. That’s Steve. He’s acting out a little because his wife, Ladeane, wasn’t there. He’s everyone’s favorite Undertaker. There’s more to that story, of course. For another time.

This Rick, Jerry 3, and Steve.

Nelda, and Rick. Nelda is married to Jerry 3.

Panzee enjoying a good day at the beach. Another one of my favs. Again, years ago.

Again, today. This is the most organized I could get everyone because no one would stop talking. We’re a noisy crowd, and we have a lot of laughs whenever we get together, which isn’t nearly often enough.

And, once again, Jerry 3 and Steve from today.

Need I say more?