San Diego Zoo, NAS North Island – Day 6

Tuesday was a day at the zoo, then a trip to NAS North Island on Coronado. The San Diego Zoo was one of the “must do’s” on the girl’s list. Since Diane and I knew it would involve miles of walking, we opted out and just got tickets for our girls, letting them run willy nilly amongst the animals.

After they entered the zoo Diane and I just wandered around smartly, from shady spot to shady spot, enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. First, however, we took a short trip on the Balboa Railroad …

I almost forgot about the most amazing event of the day that happened when we drove into the parking lot and, amazingly, found a spot literally 5 cars from the main zoo entrance. One in a million, right?

The brown pickup is us and the entrance is just a short ways to the left of where we parked. Pretty cool.

Here are some photos of the things we visited … all manner of artistic folks inhabit these spaces. Very creative people.

Then we found the Botanical Garden building. Very unique, with lots of pretty stuff inside.

We walked around outside some more and rested when the moment called.

After the girls saw everything at the zoo, we went to the beach on the beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The beach went to is next to the Navy Lodge on the base. It’s a huge beach right on the Pacific, just a little north of the Hotel Del Coronado.

When we arrived at the beach we noticed that there was a pleasure boat trapped on the beach and submerged in the sand. The top part was still attached but by the time we left the surf had torn it apart and pieces were floating all over the place. Folks closer to the boat were dragging things ashore to get them out of the way and the girls moved quite a few until it became hazardous due to the amount of debris.

Then we helped Diane get vertical …

… the swimmers rinsed off almost all of the sand …

… we drove back across the San Diego – Coronado Bridge

… past the 32nd Street Naval Base

… and back up the freeway to Marbrisa in Carlsbad.

That’s it for this day.

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.

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?

Happy Birthday Jeff & Other Stuff

He’s 45, but he’s still our baby boy. He will always be that and I think he’s OK with it. Now.

Jeff was born this day in 1972, in Rome, Italy. Consequently, his birth certificate is in Italian. Unique. When he started playing Little League we thought it may pose a problem, but no one seemed to mind. Apparently all those official could read Italian, or they didn’t care. He got to play which was all that mattered to us.

Jeff has made our life interesting over the last 45 years. Lots of memories, some good, some bad. Oddly, the good memories are easier to remember so it’s all good. We love our Little Baby Boy who has grown into a good man and a well-loved father. There’s more in store from him in the future, we’re sure.

Today I had really good intentions of digging up the rest of those weeds that inhabit the east side of the house, but that didn’t work out. The weather got in my way by turning up the heat. To about 117 degrees. That’s a lie, of course, but it sure felt like it. It really was 90, or so, thought. As I manipulate this keyboard it’s 85 out there and it’s 7:00 pm. Actually, it’s 7:04 pm.

I didn’t do the weeds because Diane said I wasn’t doing it when it’s 90 out there because she doesn’t want me to die, I guess. As a compromise, I got permission to mow the yard which doesn’t require a lot of physical effort. Just steering the mower which is pretty easy to do when the tires are properly inflated.

To prepare for mowing the yard, I lifted the front end of the mower off the ground to more easily access the mower deck so I could swap out the mulching blades for the hi-vac version. That needed to be done because the lower 40 is too tall to run mulching blades. Instead, I plan to just blow it out all over the place, let it dry, then vacuum it up. Much easier than trying to get the stupid thing to vacuum up heavy grass. Much easier on Jerrie.

Once I get the mulching blades off I thought, “you know, I should clean the old grass off the deck before putting on the other blades.” Yes, I actually thought all of that in one coherent sentence. So, I took the mower to the front of the house, got the power washer, changed the short water hose for the longer one so it would reach across the street, went to the gas station to fill my gas can, filled the power washer, and cleaned the deck. Whew. Then I just left it over there to dry.

While waiting I thought, “gee, I might as well finish power washing the front walk. I’d both ends un touched from the other day because Diane usually likes to do a little PWing herself, but not today. I was directed to finish the job, which I did. That and a little more. Not much more. Just a little.

While working on the sidewalk I only had to stop twice. Once when Doug showed up and I did some work for the American Legion Post 42 at his request, then again when Jennie appeared, looking for addresses. She’s working on Lydia’s graduation announcements. Maybe you’ll get one.

After all that, it was time for lunch but I couldn’t eat until I cleaned up. That meant a shower because I was a mess. Since I had to take a shower, my work day was officially over so I put on the PJ’s Jeff gave me last Saturday, in addition to the apple fritter, and called it a day.

While in the shower Diane constructed a Crab Louie for us. We love those things. She was well into hers by the time I showed up because she said she’d given me to 4:00 pm to finish before she started because she was hungry. I don’t blame her because while I was messing around outside, she cleaned the entire inside of the house. That’s the deals with all the dust and pet hair inside and I deal with anything that’s green and grows.

After lunch I took the trash and recycle cans out front so they can be emptied tomorrow. I took the dogs out with me because I knew they’d stay close. They got all interested in the fermenting grass I’d cleaned from the mower deck, to the point where Ziva was laying down in it. Diane poked her head out the door and asked, “What are they eating?” I didn’t know they were eating it, but they were. Must be tasty stuff, but I certainly wouldn’t do that. It was pretty nasty looking. All squishy, rotting, and just plain nasty. It was like silage. And they were eating it. Maybe they are mutated cows that look like dogs.

It wasn’t easy getting them away from their new-found treats, but I did it. I knew they wouldn’t let me brush their teeth because I’ve tried it before, so I didn’t bother. I just won’t be kissing them any time soon. No sir, not me.

Now I must stop and watch the Golden State Warriors finish the destruction of the San Antonio Spurs. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just the way it is. The Spurs are a really good team, but they can’t stay with the Warriors. They have a 67-15 win loss record this season. Not too bad.

Now I must stop.

Nuts, Bolts, and a Mower Engine

Just checking in to calm those who may have been concerned about my health and welfare after that marathon run to Bremerton a couple of days ago. I’m just fine. For those of you who may not be concerned about my health and welfare, for any reason, that’s OK. Lots of times I’m not concerned about my health and welfare, either which usually ends in a trip to the emergency room for stitches. You would think it’s because I’m careless, which is definitely a contributing factor, but the main reason for my accidents is because I’m concerned about your health and welfare all the time.

It’s distracting.

Makes me lose focus.

You’d think I’d learn, right? Especially after all those lectures I get about being more careful. Oh well, I generally mend OK and the many scars I have are like the rocks I pick up on the beach. I know what I was doing when I got it, and where I was at the time. They are memories.

Now I’m happy to share the good news that I’ve successfully earned the right to call myself a Small Engine Repair Guy (SERG). Remember that mower engine I tore apart last week? Well, today I got it all back together, didn’t have any engine parts left over, and it runs like new. I’m so happy! There’s more to this story, of course, and it’s another one of those frustrating trips, but the end result was worth it.

It all started yesterday morning when I took Diane’s truck to Emmert Motors to discover why the backup lights are always on. I may have mentioned that I semi-resolved the problem by taking the backup light bulbs out. It was tempting to just leave it at that and not bother taking the truck in for a checkup. There was always the chance of a more serious underlying issue, however, so I drug myself off the couch at 0745 so I could honor the 0800 appointment.

I checked in with Tom, gave him the keys and the backup light bulbs, then went to talk with Steve for a while. I always do that when I visit Emmert, visit with Steve. Sometimes I go there just to visit with Steve. He’s my favorite car salesman and he always has candy on his desk. After a short visit I went to the lounge area and fiddled with my iPad until Tom appeared and asked me to follow him. I did.

He took me to the garage and demonstrated for me that the backup lights were functioning just fine. He believed me that they were on for 2-3 days, like I reported, but they were working fine now. He just said to bring it back if it happened again, preferably during the failure. So, apparently I fixed it by taking the bulbs out. Go figure. But, we’re keeping an eye on those things, believe me.

After that morning trip, I returned home and at a sandwich in preparation for tackling the lawn mower engine. Diane insisted. She was preparing for her trip to the court house to finish ups some community service she was assigned. No, wait. That was a couple of weeks ago. She finished her community service. She was going down to join her friends on the counting board for the current ballot.  Yeah! That’s it!

After the sandwich I attired myself in some of my better dirty work clothes and made my way to the church. It was raining more than not, so I was planning on getting wet because the lawn mower is stored in a small shed with no room to work on anything. As it turned out, though, the sun shined most of the time which allowed me to sit in the wet grass to do the majority of my work which was to put everything back together.

I got busy by first scraping off the old crank case gasket using a starter shim I happened to have from the last time I installed a starter on the old ’68 Chevy truck. I meant to take a chisel or knife, but forgot, but the shim seemed to work just fine. Just took a while. Made my hands sore, too.

Then I cleaned up all the parts as best I could, considering the circumstances, and went about the process of discovering where all the parts, bolts, and screws went. That really wasn’t a huge challenge because all you have to do is match up bolts to the holes they fit in. For instance, there were 10 bolts holding the crank case together and they were long ones. They wouldn’t fit anywhere else. This was pretty much true for the entire reassembly process. The tricky part was the new cam shaft which required me to match two little dots together on the cam gear, and the shaft gear. It took a while, but I did it. It just didn’t happen as easily as I had anticipated. From the YouTube video I watched it seemed to be pretty simple.

When the last bolt was tightened, I set the engine in the proper place on the mower frame and manually turned engine over to see what happened. No way was I going to try it with the starter first. No sir! Good thing I did, too, because it spun around nicely for about 1.5 rotations then went “clunk” and stopped. Turning it backwards the same distance produced the same result. So, I figured I must have missed the mark when lining up those two dots. However, I’d had about enough small engine exercise by that time, called it quits and went home.

I was only on the couch for a short time, recovering, before Diane returned home, released from the Counting Board for good behavior. We went through what has become a daily routine of “what do you want to eat,” and “I don’t care,” then Diane got a couple of egg rolls and some rice. She suggested that I eat the last Kung Pao TV dinner, which I did, along with a couple of egg rolls of my own. We have a large box of them in the freezer. It only takes 3.5 minutes for heat a couple of them up. It’s 4 minutes for the TV dinner.

This morning I got up with that stupid mower engine buzzing around in my head, mentally preparing myself for the necessity of dismantling it again to see what I did wrong.

As I was pulling the mower out of its little garage, it started pouring rain so I just picked up the engine and carried it into the mower space and went to work.

I took out all the bolts, removed the crank case cover and stared intently at the new gear I’d installed yesterday with great care. It only took me about 30 seconds to see that I’d not matched the cam gear dot with the crank shaft gear dot, but with a gear on the crank shaft that was just different that all the others. About 20 teeth around the corner was the little dot I’d missed. I firmly believe that the folks who build Briggs & Stratton engines make their crank shaft gears like that just to fool folks like me with the intent of getting them to try cranking it with the starter before checking to see that it works. Well, I previously proved that I didn’t fall for that tactic. No sir! No, I didn’t get it right the first time, but I didn’t break anything, either. All I wasted was a little time.

I released the rocker arms from the cam shaft push rods, turned the engine to the spot where the dots would line up, slipped the cam shaft into place just as easily as the guy on YouTube did in his video. The crank shaft cover went on just as easily, like the video, and things just fell into place. All those bolts and nuts went back like I had been doing this kind of work for years. Once together, the engine turned freely, as it should. The little rocker arms danced up and down just perfect, the carburetor almost attached itself, as did the exhaust pipe. When I looked around my work space, there was only one piece left, an odd looking bent wire thing that I hadn’t removed. It had fallen off something when I took the engine apart and I had no idea if it was even part of the process because I’d just found it laying in the lawn.

I had a feeling it belonged somewhere around the carburetor and studied that area for a long time before giving up, cleaning up, and driving to the Scappoose Sears store to look at the new mowers and see if I could find something similar on them. No one questioned me as I wandered around the dozen or so mowers on display, lifting the hoods and staring intently at the  engines. I can only surmise that they didn’t want to take a chance they’d have to talk with me because I was pretty ratty looking, even though I had arrived in a pretty nifty little car.

This investigative effort proved to be a waste of time so I went back to the church and dialed up Bing to see what I could find.

Finally, I found a reference that gave me the answer. The left-over piece was the part that chokes the engine when the accelerator lever is pushed to the maximum level. So simple. Well, now I know and think I could repeat this job quite easily, without YouTube, in a fraction of the time I’d spent learning.

Once the engine was together, I bolted it to the frame, installed the pulleys, connected all the wires, and whatnot, then sat in the seat. I didn’t try starting it right away, but just sat there a bit, resting. Actually, I was casting good mojo at the engine, willing it to turn over and run. Apparently mojo works because when I turned the key it fired right up and ran like a top. I only let it run for a few seconds before realizing that I’d failed (again) to replace that 48 ounces of oil I’d drained from the engine at the start of this process.

Withe new oil installed, I started it, and ran around in circles in the little yard next to the shed before putting it all away. There would have been more circles, but it was raining pretty hard.

I’d done it! I fixed the mower! The small engine repair guy said he could do it in 5 hours, at $80 an hours, plus parts which I paid about $80 for. So I saved the church $400, minimum. All it cost me, in addition to those parts, was some of my time.

To put that in perspective, considering I was making about $40 an hour when I retired the second time, had I been charging for time it would have cost the church about $480 in time plus parts.

Good thing my time is free, right?

In my eyes, that time was well spent because I’d learned a new skill. I’ve busted a lot of those little engines over the years, but had never been compelled to tear one apart to see what makes them tick. That’s odd, too, because I generally tear everything apart right away to see what’s inside, but not engines. Turns out they are actually pretty simple and made me realize that had I been a little braver, or inquisitive, I could have saved a lot of money over the years by fixing those things instead of replacing them.

Now I’m a mechanic. Really, I am. Once my hands heal up, and my sore muscles go away, I’m pretty confident I can talk someone through this process should the need arise.

All that’s missing is the hood. It’s all good.

Maybe I’ll go find my Bubba Teeth and make my own video.

From a Flawless Plan to an Adventure

The plan was:

  • Jennie to take Cedric to Sandy for double-header – Lydia was to pitch both games – and Diane and I would meet them there.
  • After the games, take Cedric back to his ship, USS Nimitz CVN-68, in Bremerton, WA.
  • Diane would drive Jennie’s car home while we headed north to Bremerton.

Simple plan, right? Well, it morphed quickly into the Adventure when Diane returned home from her dermatologist in the morning with lots of burned, crispy spots on her neck and doctor’s orders to remain out of the sun for 4 days. Considering the way the sun shines around here, that could take a couple of weeks. When I returned from golfing, which I did while Diane was at the dermatologist, she said she wouldn’t be going to the games which changed the entire plan for driving Cedric back to his ship.

The new plan was for me to drive Jennie and Cedric to the game, then just head north after the games. Simple, right? Well, to get ready, I had about an hour to mow the front yard, shower, and pick up Lydia and Cedric for the 1.25 hour trip to Sandy. Traffic was horrendous and it took 2 hours so we missed the first inning. It was OK because Lydia wasn’t pitching. Brooklyn was! Shock. She was supposed to have been off doing her Columbia County Rodeo Queen responsibilities. So, the six seniors got to play two more games together. Lydia pitched the first 3 innings of the second game then moved to first base.

Left to right: Brooklyn (pitcher), Kayla (3rd base), Bailey (left field), Ceiarra (1st Base), Mercedes (catcher), Lydia (any position needed)

Towards the end of the game Cedric gave us a huge sigh, hung his head, and reported that he had forgotten his keys at home. That required another change to the plans. Instead of going directly north via the freeways, we had to detour back through St. Helens. This increased the 3 hour trip to 4 hours. He had also forgotten one of his hats. OK, it happens, so we just dealt with it and went on about the business of watching the rest of the game.

Before leaving, Cedric had time to say good-bye to Lydia who was going home on the bus with the team. She got very emotional knowing she wouldn’t see him until next February, at the earliest. She cried, something she rarely does. For that reason, and others related to female hormones, some of her team mates started crying too. It wasn’t long before many of them were crying in support of Lydia’s sadness, and Cedric was getting hugs from many of the girls who don’t even know him, wishing him luck. It was a Kodak moment the coaches couldn’t ignore so they gathered the team for a picture of them crying and laughing. Cedric was very touched by it all, as were we.

Then something happened off to my left that caused a reaction that soothed the crowd.

With all this emotion going on Coach Little told Jennie to just take Lydia home with us, which we did. She slept with her head in Cedric’s lap most of the way. During the trip it Lydia said she’d like to go to Bremerton with us because she’d never been on a navy base and would like to see Cedric’s ship. School on Friday was the only issue but Jennie resolved that quickly and the deal was done. Lydia was going with us.

We got to St. Helens around 2030, Lydia got a go bag while Cedric passed out more hugs with his brothers, Jeran …

… and Ahmed …

… and away we went. It was dark, nothing to see, and Jennie drove from home to Bremerton. We got on base no problem, and dropped Cedric at his ship’s liberty gate. Lots of lights but not a photo-op.

Then we went in search of the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites (NGIS). It took an hour to find it and required the help of a person on the phone guiding us while she used a map of the base. While looking for parking I noticed signs indicating the spots we’re reserved for NGIS which looked suspiciously like NCIS so I didn’t park in them. Finally, I looked closer and noticed it was for the hotel and gratefully parked.

When checking in I bantered with the desk clerk, Randy, and learned he was born on Guam. Jennie piped up, “I was too. In Agana!” she said. What a small world even though Jennie was born there about 20 years before Randy.

Room had one bed and a recliner. Lydia, to be kind, said she wanted the recliner but I declined her the recliner and reclined in it quite comfortably the entire nite while the two girls, one of whom forget her Jammies, rested nicely on the queen bed. Even though Lydia slept in the clothes she wore for the trip, she intentionally didn’t bring Jammies, so I guess it was Jennie’s Jammies that didn’t make the trip. It was OK. By the time we got the lights out, it was about 0100 and we were all dog-tired.

Got up about 1000, left the room, then went to the NEX for some trinkets to commemorate the journey. Then I drove them all over the base to get a good view of the USS Nimitz in the daylight so the girls could see it. Last night it was too dark to see it clearly.

Then we went to breakfast at Denny’s which was almost all the way north in Silverdale. We all ate quite well. Lydia had a bacon burger with avocado which I had doubts that she could wrap her mouth around …

… but she did …

Jennie had this, but didn’t want the sausage links …

… so I got them with my Denver omelette …

After breakfast, Jennie drove us south toward home, the long way through Shelton, because we didn’t want the freeway stress. About 50 miles from the finish, she cried Uncle and I took over to the end. She drove the lion’s share of the trip and didn’t scare me even once. I was proud of her. After I started driving it began raining harder, and harder causing me to run the wipers at full speed much of the time.

I got them home a little after 1500, waited for Lydia to get her softball gear, then took her back to school for practice. The team has one more game on Friday then they can put their softball gear away. Lydia will pitch the entire game Friday because Brooklyn is definitely done for the season.

I arrived home to an empty house because Diane is at the court house again, working with the election committee. Well, the house wasn’t really empty because the dogs were here, and they were very happy to see me. They’re always happy to see anyone, even if they’ve only been gone a couple of minutes.

Oh, and the hat Cedric forgot at home? He forgot it in the truck when he got his stuff to go to the ship. Lydia found it.

I was feeling pretty good until I put this all down on paper and now I’m tired again. If it was a little later, I’d go to bed but it’s only 1730, so I’m going just have a nap.

Oops! Diane just buzzed into the garage in the roadster so maybe a nap isn’t an option. I may have to go out and kill something for her to eat.

60+ to 80+, a broken lawnmower, and other Stuff.

Yup! That’s what happened. The temps turned on a dime from a high of 60 something to 80 something. The weather things I’ve looked at show 81 for today, but our thermometers registered 86. Now, my challenge is to get my lawn mower cleaned up before the rain comes back day after tomorrow.

I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it may as well. I thought I heard that we’ve had more than 141 days of measurable rain this year so far, a record. That’s kind of tricky, I think, because there have only been 123 days registered in 2017.

Could be I have no idea what I’m talking about which is not news. I rarely do. But, it’s fun trying to make sense of what I think I hear. Diane’s solution for that is for me to wear my hearing aid, but that takes all the fun out of it.

Now, the lawn mower … it’s the one that Floyd and Nancy bought for the church. Just recently it decided to not start so I tried to get people to dig out all the small engine repair people they know so we can take advantage of the good weather. Thankfully, Howard mowed the church yard so all we need to do is clean up the cut grass. Having the mower run would help.

Well, I didn’t get any valid offers of help, except from Don, so I went to school on YouTube and figured out how to do it myself. Armed with my new-found knowledge I took my tools to the church, rolled the mower out, yanked the engine out off the frame (with Howard’s help),

and dismantled the engine down to a bunch of little parts, just like I learned on YouTube.

Doing so revealed that the bad part is exactly the one I expected it to be based on my recent education, a dysfunctional cam shaft …

It looks nice and almost new, but there’s a part broken that helps get the engine past the first compression point during the start process. It was in little pieces in the bottom of the crank case. Now I have to get a new one and figure out how to get everything back together again. I need to do that fast because I’ll forget where all those screws and bolts go in a few days. That’s all it takes. I’ll take a photo of any success I might have. If I fail, you’ll never hear about this again.

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday … leftover meat loaf. It was really good.

I think there’s about a pound of meat there, but it’s all protein, something I can eat a lot of. Keeps my B-12 levels up there in the stratosphere.

Here’s our trailer while I’m check to ensure the lights work before we left Devil’s Lake State Park for the trip home.

While we were enjoying ourselves at the beach, the bamboo took advantage of our absence and reached for the sky. Might have to trim it down a little.

This afternoon Lydia’s softball team had a double-header with Parkrose. Lydia pitched 4 innings of the first game and played 2nd base the last 3 innings of the 2nd game. It was a lot of fun. They lost the 1st game 3-2 and won the 2nd one 8-4. It was a good day. One of the highlights was when Jennifer was trying to talk with Lydia over the cement block wall of the dugout, but couldn’t hear her. So, she did this …

She had sneakers on so didn’t slip, but it’s something she would have raised heck about had one of the kids, or me, done this. Just so you know, she extracted herself from this precarious position without injury. Made me proud. It was a good day.

It’s time for me to head to bed, after I let the dogs out to bark at something and pee in the tall grass out front. Ozzie just had a $37 haircut but that doesn’t stop him from plowing through the grass in search of a spot where one of the big dogs may have relieved themselves. He’s predictable, and doesn’t care about hygiene at all.

Good nite.