Indian Canyons

Today we visited Indian Canyons, an area not far from Palm Springs. I’d tell you which direction it is but have no idea and don’t feel inclined to look at a map right now. If I had to guess, I’d say they are south and east of the village. OK. They are south of us. I had to look.

Getting there was simple partly due to GPS but also because of the handy signs that are posted all around the place.

Our initial desire was to hike up Tahquitz Canyon which takes about an hour. After talking with a nice young lady at the ticket counter I made a command decision that it wasn’t in Diane’s best interest to go that direction. It’s uphill going in and is littered with huge steps anywhere from 10 to 20 inches tall. So, we took her recommendation and headed for Indian Canyons. Honestly, not going to Tahquitz was also in my best interest. I talk a good story, but doubt if I’d have made it without a lot of pain from either falling down or from gasping for breath.

At Indian Canyons we chose to tackle Andreas Canyon, the shortest of the many available choices. According to the map we had it was only one mile long and was lined with green indicating it was an easy one. Some of the others were up to 7 miles long and were marked in red.

This is where the fun begins

The canyon trail runs along Andreas Creek that has water all year long. It’s crystal clear and pretty cold when compared to the 100 degree temp of the air. Thankfully, the path is shaded most of the time with the myriad California Fan palm trees that are fed by the stream. There are lots of other kinds of things growing but they are pretty short, not good for shade unless you collapse and someone passing by is kind enough to roll you off the trail. The low foliage is good for collecting tons of debris that gets washed down the canyon when the creek gets rough in wet weather. The evidence is everywhere. There are piles everywhere that indicate the water level in the canyon is at times more like a deep roaring river than a sedate shallow creek.

After conquering Andreas we returned to the car to plan our next adventure for this day. I suggested we visit Palm Canyon which is within the boundaries of Indian Canyons. The clincher for Diane was that there is a trading post at the trail head, so that’s where we went.

Once there I discovered that Palm Canyon was more than a simple hike away and they advertised that this trail was also a rattlesnake habitat. So I prudently chose to visit a small waterfall falling down a little canyon on the other side of the trading post.

It was a simple and satisfying hike. Got some photos and Diane was just coming out of the trading post when I got back. Great timing.

The road out through Split Rock

Then we went to Ralphs. There are Ralphs grocery stores pretty much everywhere in this area. Makes it handy when you need something. The last time we needed to go there was to get a pool noodle for Diane. This time it was for ketchup and more mayo.

Back at our condo we cooked steaks Diane got yesterday which was pretty tricky because there are no BBQs around and all we have is a microwave. But, it’s also convection. So we fiddled around with its dials and buttons, finally figuring out that we could, indeed, cook steak in this micro. Quite nicely, I might add.

Then we ate, and took a nap prior to getting ready for a good night’s sleep.

Outta Town. Again.

What I see while floating on my back in the pool.

Yes, that’s what I see while floating on my back in the pool which is located in Palm Springs, California. It’s a very serene, calming view. We’ve been here for two days and have decided we really like it. To the point where I checked on Zillow and discovered that Cary Grant’s old abode here in town is on the market for $2.9M. When I saw that I just about ripped the pocket off my jeans trying to get my wallet out so we could run right down to the realtor and make a deal. It’s either that, or just rent Leonardo DeCaprio’s home for $4.5K a night. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps we’ll just think about it a while then go back to Oregon where God lives. It’s true. That’s where he lives. He told me.

Getting here was just half the fun.

We headed south from home last Saturday morning about 9 am. First thing to note is that’s a record for us because we’ve never in our lives (that I can recall) have we left to go someplace at 9 am. It’s true that we’ve planned, numerous times, to do that, but generally we get going closer to noon. So, 9 am was good. It gave us time to stop at Scappoose Bagel for a wonderful start to our day. We love their bagels and save them for special occasions. I’d eat one every day if Diane let me but she doesn’t want me to get any roly polier.

After navigating the customary route up Cornelius Pass, to US 26, then right on US 217 to I-5 south, we were officially on our way to Klamath Falls, our first stop. To get there we escaped the helter skelter mess of I-5 by excecuting a tricky left on Highway 58 in Eugene, home of the Oregon Ducks.

It was an uneventful trip on a relatively vacant highway so we loved it very much. We’ve spent too many hectic trips up and down I-5, from one end to the other, so getting off the beaten path was a perfect beginning to our vacation.

We arrived in Klamath Falls fairly early so we had time to relax a bit before calling it a day. So many times in the past we didn’t find a room until we were ready to crash. Now that we’re older, planning ahead pays off. Diane is an expert at that and makes all the reservations on our route. It’s good to know where we’ll spend the night.

The next morning we got up fairly early and amazingly got on the road again at 9 am. Two days in a row. Another modern day record. Go figure.

Day two destination turned out to be Virginia City, Nevada. What a fun place that is … clamped to the side of a cliff, wooden boardwalks on both sides of the main street, tons of touristy places full of nifty trinkets from China, and real-deal shops filled with incredible local art. Quite a mix.

We spent a couple hours wandering around the various shops then decided it was time for dinner. Based on a recommendation from our host for the evening at the Virginia City Motel which is located at the southern end of town, top of the hill on the left. It’s an old place but very nice.

Dinner was at Cafe Del Rio where we had absolutely the best enchilada’s ever. They were so good that I ate them all up before Diane had a chance to take a photo. Trust me. If you’re ever in Virginia City, go to the Cafe Del Rio. It’s really great.

This is me being amazed about the quality of the guacamole served with the chips. There was enough of it left to smear around on the enchiladas. What a treat.

From Virginia City we wandered south on US-395 down the back side of Yosemite National Park, the Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Sequoia National Forest. We didn’t stop at any of them. We simply drove south taking in the beauty of the mountains we’ve always seen from the other side. It was a very nice, beautiful change.

Ridgecrest, California was our next stop. It wasn’t a remarkable place but it was nice. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is joined at the hip with Ridgecrest. We snacked in our room after a long days drive and called it a day.

The last stretch to Palm Springs was a short one and we arrived early afternoon at the Palm Springs Tennis Club. Yeah, I was a little confused, too, but that’s where Diane booked us. And we don’t even play tennis. The lady at the reception desk got us checked in and we quickly unloaded all our stuff then took a riding tour of the city until our stomachs decided it was time to eat. We chose ‘Trio and enjoyed a very good dinner.

We’ve been here a couple of days and have been enjoying the pool which is right outside the front door of our condo.

Pretty nice.

Lydia is 20!

Her birthday isn’t until tomorrow but we celebrated it with her yesterday at the Walters’ home. Lydia requested a tea party which her Mom, Jennifer, happily provided. She’s happy she did it but commented that if someone asks her to do another one to make sure she says “no”. It was all beautiful and very tasty, including the avocado deviled eggs I made, with much encouragement.

So, it was scones, tea cakes, cucumber sandwiches, and tea, of course.

Lydia, surrounded by the family girls. Ceiarra should have been there, too, but she was in the kitchen. So all I got was Gilligan, Jennifer, Jerrie, Lydia, Diane, and Baylee

Daniel doing a great job drinking tea in the proper manner.

It was a festive party and was well attended.

Happy Birthday, Lydia.

Happy New Year

This was the beginning of the end of the last day of 2018 for us as viewed from our window in the Hillcrest Inn at Seaside. Once the sun was gone, the fireworks began.

This is the view at the end of the first day of 2019. There were no fireworks.

We spent the time with our Winnebago friends: Terry & Carolann, and Cliff & Susie. They were parked at the Thousand Trails park on the west side of Seaside. The girls shopped, the men napped. It was a good New Year celebration.

While getting ourselves gathered for the above photo, an interesting event happened. I don’t have photographic proof, buy all will agree that a 20-something couple walked by us, heading for the nearby stairs to the beach. The man was dressed warmly but the girl was wearing only a skimpy. By skimpy, I mean the back consisted of one string. Once they got to the sand, the girl looked at us and waved (I waved back), then took off running for the water as fast as she could. Well, maybe she could have run faster, but she was moving right along. She ran all the way to the water, which you can see is about 1/4 mile behind us. I figured she was doing some sort of Polar Plunge a day early and was going to dive into the water but she stopped when the water was up to her knees. Kinda strange.

My Girls, and Other Stuff

(this was written on December 19th and I forgot to post it – old age in action)

Tomorrow one of my girls turned 72. I’m pretty sure it’s OK for me to share that information because she isn’t sitting next to me right now.

From my perspective, every day with her is a blessing to be treasured. So, the older she gets the happier I am. It doesn’t hurt, either, that she gets prettier every day, and she’s just plain fun to be around.

For those moments when my security is in doubt, I got her a new coffee cup to (hopefully) remind her what’s important.

Happy Birthday, my Love.

On December 8th I joined My Girls on a trip to Christmas Mountain to select trees suitable for installation in our homes. We needed two of them – one for the Walters’ home, and one for ours. Normally shoppers ride around in a tractor-pulled trailer exiting in the forest of the desired kind of tree. Then we’d tromp around in the mud, or snow, to pick out the perfect one then say a little prayer before sacrificing it with the help of a bow saw made specifically for the occasion.

Jennie, Jerrie, Baylee, Lydia, Gilligan, Diane on Christmas Mountain

Once cut we’d drag it out of the forest to the side of the road and attach our tag to it, leaving it for the crew that roams the pathways looking for cut trees which they return to the binding station. That’s where they stick the bottom in a shaker to dislodge all the loose needles that don’t need to go home with the shoppers, then they attach it to a claw that drags is through a clever machine that wraps the tree up all nice and tight for the trip home.

Got ’em.

Then we take them home and install them in the perfect spot in the living room, fill the stand with water, and cover it with lights and ornaments we’ve gathered from all over the world. Fortunately for me, Diane loves hanging all that stuff on the tree so I get to sit in my chair and watch the process. It always turns out perfect.

This year we added a security device to ensure the tree isn’t disturbed and to ensure it has an adequate supply of water.

In preparation for decorating outside, Jeff created a new hat so he could talk with the aliens surrounding us.

Little did he know that it actually worked, drawing in an eclectic array of beings from around the universe. So far I’ve only been able to capture one with my camera. I’ve noticed it lurking around the garage for some time now but never with it’s eyes open. When their eyes are closed, you can’t really see them. I haven’t talked with this one, yet, but I will …

We call him “Sawhorse Man”

A couple of days ago Diane drove me to the VA Clinic in Hilsboro so I could talk with the hearing aid doctor about the difficulty I’ve been having stuffing the right unit in my ear. It seems that my right ear hole is smaller than the left one.

On the way home Diane stopped by the Franz bread store to pick up some cheap bread and we found this …

Kind of interesting, we thought, so we got some. My guess is that some politically correct group objected to the Bimbo brand and caused the bread people to come up with this as a compromise. It’s pretty good bread, but I feel exposed when I eat it.

On the home front, building has begun in the development below us. An office unit was added a month or so ago, then landscaping was added to make it look appealing to whoever might be standing on the front side. They didn’t do anything to make it more appealing to we who must stare at the back of the office unit, but that’s OK.

Next to the office is going to be, I believe, one of the model homes. Perhaps the only model home. I’m not sure if there will be more. An excavator dug out a few dump trucks full of red dirt and a group of people scurried around in the raid erecting the foundation forms for whatever house will sit on it.

I’m thinking of cutting down that middle apple tree so I can more easily watch the progress.

That’s all I have for today. I probably won’t be back until after Christmas so hope yours is a good one.


Back to Normal.

At our last meeting I left you with a ton of questions about our impulsive trip to Memphis to visit Graceland with no clue about what transpired beyond that adventure. And it really was an adventure. Especially for Diane who drove the entire way … 6-7 hours on the road plus the time to tour Elvis’ s domain. In order to keep from being frightened on the way back to our hotel in Nashville, I slept. We made it safely but one of us was extremely tired and mentioned that she had whiplash from trying to stay awake not only on the trip ‘home’, but on the way to get to Memphis. Still, she wouldn’t let me drive.

That’s old news so let me move on. No more questions, please …

The flight home from Nashville was no big deal. We got the premium seats we paid for so had lots of leg room. Watched a movie, read, and ate hamburgers that we bought before boarding the plane. Nothing memorable.

It was clear but brisk when we got to Portland and it got brisker and brisker as we waited for over an hour for the courtesy van to arrive and whisk us away to our bed for the night. We stayed in Portland instead of going home because Jeff had an appointment in the vicinity of the airport the next morning so it kinda made sense to avoid two trips to PDX for him. 

After a couple more phone calls, during which Diane got pretty tense because one of the calls revealed that no one actually notified the van that we needed a ride. The other call, she was put on hold and no one talked with her again until we were almost to the hotel. When we arrived we found out that the computer system at the front desk wasn’t working so people were lining up waiting for their rooms while they did their best to work around the problem. Making it worse, the young lady behind the desk was new. She was flustered, for sure, but maintained her composure despite a bit of hostility from some of those waiting. That wasn’t from us. We weren’t in a hurry like they were.

It was good to see the kids and dogs. They always get so excited when they discover that we really did come back. That happens every time we leave and return, even if we’re only gone for 10 minutes. Still, it’s fun.

We got back into the routine of our daily lives quickly. That’s not difficult for me because all I do is sleep all night then lay all day in my recliner until bed time. Simple. Many times throughout the day I sense that there’s probably something I should be doing but then I nod off for a bit and the feeling goes away. Since I feel pretty good, I’m sure there are times during the day when I either get up for sustenance, or it’s delivered to me. I also got up for a trip or two to the gold course with my friend Junior. As you know, we don’t golf all that well, but you’d never know it by our scores because we do pretty good on paper.

After a week of resting Diane made it known that I really, really needed to take care of some things that needed to be taken care of. So I did. I’d give you details, but I don’t remember what I did.

Jennie had a birthday on October 23rd. She turned 43. I’m sure that’s not kosher to reveal her age, but I don’t think she cares. She’s our baby, she’s still cute and adorable, and the shortest one in her family. I’ll leave it at that and update you on her longevity in a separate post … no … I’m doing it here … with a bunch of photos I randomly selected from my vast array of choices.

As you can see, I don’t have many where Jennie is looking at me. She’s always busy doing something for someone else. That’s her in a nutshell. We love her to pieces and are very proud of the woman she has become.

We’re closer than ever to getting a suitable tow car set up for the motorhome. Got the car (a 2016 Equinox) before going to Nashville and ordered the proper baseplate that will fit the tow bar I got from Cousin Don. It’s supposed to be here today. If it gets here before dark I might get to work on it. I’m doing it myself because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay over $500 for a piece of hardware that I can get for $300 and that I’m sure, with minimal assistance, that I can install just fine, if I can find all my wrenches. I watched a really good YouTube video about how to do it and I’ve had luck with other projects using media as a teaching tool. So far, so good. I guess the proof of success for this effort will be that the tow car doesn’t fall off somewhere on Highway 30 and go it’s own way. I’ll let you know how that goes. You can follow along by watching the video here.

Yesterday Jeff and I replaced the old, failing microwave. Finally. It’s been behaving badly for the last year or so. It would beep often as the menu cycled itself without prompting so we turned of the sound long ago. Then, a couple of days ago, I pushed the button for the light and the fan came on. That was new. Diane was aware of a sale at Standard so we went and picked out a likely candidate. It was a good price and appeared to be just as smart as the one we had. I’m going to take it apart and fix it. I’m sure there’s a video out there somewhere that will show me how. Regarding the new microwave, we’ll have to learn all about it. It’s interesting that there is no Start and/or Stop buttons. Instead it has Play and Exit buttons. Kinda weird, but in line with the times and probably makes it easier for very young children to operate the equipment.

Diane salvaged the large glass turn table from the old one and was going to use it for a couple of plants in the Girl Room but I managed to break it to smithereens while cleaning the stove. She’d washed it and had it in the drying rack next to the sink I used to wash the burner covers. They’re big and bulky and I managed to knock the glass thingie out of the rack onto the very hard tile floor. It was really loud so there was no way I could not deny doing it. Everyone looked. She took it well. Better than the broken antique ceramic cat I broke later in the day in a perfectly innocent manner while searching for a Comcast remote for her Mom, Jean. Her’s quit working in the manner to which she had become accustom and neither Diane nor I  could overcome the failure to make it work in any sensible way. We thought we had an old one but couldn’t find it so went to Comcast and got her a new one. Took it over, programmed it, and it works like a charm. Mom’s happy.

On Sunday we visited with our Winnebago friends over supper at the St. Helens Elk’s Club. I only spilled one drink on Diane so it was a relatively successful night out for me. Thankfully, it was just water, same as the glass I spilled on her when the crowd was at our house a couple days prior. Seems to be a theme with me. It was a costume party and it allowed me to capture my new favorite photo of my bride.

I’ll leave you with that one. It’s a great one.

Banquet, Marsha, and Memphis

Saturday was a very busy day, for some people. For us it was one of another, lazy late exit from our respective beds, a late breakfast (or early lunch) then some sitting around doing a lot of nothing. We had to rest up for the banquet which was to start at 6:00 in the evening. Prior to that the crew members in attendance had a business meeting for the USS Cleveland Reunion Association. Our treasurer, Rick, gave a comprehensive accounting of our financial situation and made it clear how much it costs to keep our organization functioning. After that we went through the agenda, ultimately agreeing on where we go next year. Lots of options were suggested, and promoted, but we finally agreed on Savannah, Georgia. Another new city for us to discover.

At 5 pm we started getting ready for the big event of the reunion by finding the clothes we brought for the occasion and laying them out hoping some of the wrinkles would disappear. That really wasn’t an issue for me because once I put them on they just disappeared thanks to all the food I’ve been eating. Yessir I just filled up all the vacant space and stretched those wrinkles away. It wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t wrinkled. It worked so well that Diane asked me to put her clothing on for a little bit and kinda iron them out, too. Doing that stirred up some latent emotions from my youth when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a boy or girl. Right then the bra started to chafe reminding me that I’d made the correct choice all those years ago. Diane agreed and thanked me for pressing her clothes. Actually, her’s got stretched a little further than mine and, consequently, looked much better after i removed them. This entire exercise in removing wrinkles showed us that we no longer needed to ensure that rooms we get while traveling have irons in the room. Now I just need to ensure I don’t start losing weight thereby losing this new-found skill I’ve acquired. If necessary, I can hire out my body to fellow travelers so they, too, can avoid the need for an iron. Just have to find out what to charge, or if to charge. I might like doing it just for fun.

The banquet went well and we wound up with 46 ex-Cleveland crew members in attendance, in addition to significant others who attended. It was a packed room. The food was good and the raffle & auction items were plentiful. I have no idea how much money was spent in total, but one of our old Chiefs spent over $1000 on things his wife wanted. I believe that was a new record for one bidder. It went a long way toward ensuring the organization wouldn’t be having any financial woes in the near future. Rick reported that we were, once again, solvent.

After the banquet was done everyone went to the atrium and pool area which is surrounded by rooms for photos. We were making a lot of noise after the suggested quiet hour, but none of the other guests complained. So, we just continued to make lots of noise which made it very difficult for organizers to organize groups for photos, especially the guys. 

Finally, there was a lull in the noise and we got the guys to kind of line up for the photo.
And here are the ladies …

The festivities were finally terminated about 10:30 pm much to the glee no doubt of everyone who had an interior room, and we all headed for our respective rooms. I think.

The five Radiomen in attendance: Spence, Curt, Dan, Gene, and Me

During our good nights and farewells I volunteered Diane to deliverer our friend Marsha to the airport at 0530 the next morning. Diane wasn’t happy, initially, but I won her over. Then she expanded the day by declaring that “since we’re getting up so early, we may as well go to Memphis and visit Graceland.” I couldn’t really object because, first, she is the only declared driver of our rental and, second, well, because she wanted to go to Memphis. Even though it was pouring rain … 

Nashville to Graceland isn’t a trip around the corner. It’s about 220 miles and a 3 hr drive according to my map. In reality, it’s 220, yes, but 4.5 hours. The extended time is because there was a portion of the freeway closed but there were no detour signs pointing to an alternate route. The local folks knew about them but neither I nor our GPS were aware of how to proceed. So, I studied the map as we went and found a way around it. The long way around it, but we eventually made it. We stopped at a Waffle House about halfway to get breakfast and our first coffee of the day. Here’s proof …

Somewhere along the line we stopped at a rest area. They have names just like other states …

The first thing everyone who enters Graceland is exposed to is the gift shop. That’s where you can buy sunglasses for any occasion, just like Elvis wore …

I won’t bore you with the interior of Graceland because you’ve probably seen it before. I will say, however, that both Diane and I were pleasantly surprised to discover how un-pretentious the home was. It was very nice and we enjoyed it. It gave us a different look at how to view Elvis. He seemed to be a very nice guy who died far too young.

There was a picture in one of the out buildings that totally caught me by surprise and may also cause a second look by my brothers … 

The left photo in the middle looks disturbingly like my first grade picture. The means (to me) that at one point in time I looked like Elvis. We just didn’t turn out the same in the same, did we?

After touring the mansion we exited the venue, which is far bigger than just the mansion, and headed home. We had a 3-4 hour trip ahead of us and we were tired already. Diane drove both directions and amazed me at how much stamina she had. I had a horrible time staying awake to make sure she stayed awake. Could be we died somewhere along I-40 and I’m writing this to you from an alternate universe in the Matrix. Seems real, though.

We made it home in time to get to bed about 8:15 pm after eating a less than stellar hamburger from the Opry Backstage Grill here in the hotel. We didn’t wake up for 12 hours and didn’t get out of bed until 10-11. We’re not as tired as we were when we went to bed but it took a long time to get some energy back. Plus, it just felt good to lay around doing nothing.

Finally, the need for food took precedent over the need for rest so we left in search of something to eat. In the car I searched on line for a decent place to go and we wound up at a really nice place just up the street. The Santa Fe Steakhouse where the food is excellent.

When we walked into the place an were being led to our booth, about 25 people sitting at tables in the middle of the room got up and left. Diane said she noticed that the crew was composed of sheriffs and firefighters. When the waitress showed up I asked if they needed to go out and get another steer before they could feed anyone else. She said no so I ordered steak fajitas. Diane ordered their beef enchiladas. Both of us were overjoyed with our choices. Not only was the food excellent, the wait staff was more than wonderful. 

Now I must end this and prepare for our last night here in Nashville. Tomorrow we fly home from rainy Tennessee to bright and sunny Oregon.