Sunday, October 26, 2008


Our special granddaughter, Megan and her handsome husband Joshua welcomed their son, Sean Liam (our second GREAT grandchild) into the world yesterday, October 25th. We have not received any details yet except the three pictures sent to my cell phone showing a very happy new Mama holding her baby son. Once we know more, we will share that info with you.

Salinas weather report: Cool nights and warm days. This weather is as perfect as it gets folks!

Update on son, Mike: He tells us the actual damage was a broken arm above AND below the elbow; a shattered elbow and a broken wrist. Miraculously, his shoulder and collar bone are okay. He did tear a tendon in his foot but the doctor says it is the only one (of dozens) in the foot he doesn’t really need … so, so lucky! After his surgery and a couple scary days in the hospital he is home, walking in a special boot and getting around on his own power. We love you Michael, Get well soon!

As full time RVers, Phil and I vote with absentee ballots and it goes without saying (Then why am I saying it you ask?) that the outcome of this election could possibly affect our lives—big time. Phil thinks he may have given our mail service the wrong zip code for our location. If that is true, we could be in Salinas for another week waiting for the package to be returned then resent to us. November 4th is coming up fast and we are a bit apprehensive … thinking we may miss the opportunity to have our voices heard. It would not be the end of the world but it would be a big disappointment since for the first time, we are not going to cancel each other’s vote. We will call our service on Monday to either confirm our fears or find out if we are just being impatient.

We are parked at the Salinas Elk’s Lodge RV park and it is directly alongside a local golf course. We parked nose in first even though it was a stretch for the electric cord so we would have the pastoral and peaceful view out our front window. While watching the coming and going off the tee in front of us all week, we have decided that golf aficionados are a curious bunch. When it started getting daylight this morning, I realized the course was blanketed with a thick fog at ground level. Even before I could see anything there was a worker buzzing around in a golf cart and I watched his headlight bouncing around in the fog. It looked a bit ghostly actually until I figured out what it was. Then even though the fog was still thick, there were numerous golfers going past our window and I wondered how they could see where the ball flew. And, did you know there are remote controlled golf bag carriers? We have seen several this past week and at first we thought they were runaways until we saw the remote controls in the hands of the people following along behind. Why? I did play golf in a former life for several years and speaking from experience, how tough can it be to push or pull a golf bag on wheels over comparatively flat ground? Also, we often wonder how all these young people get time away from work during week days to play … as I said, a very “curious” group indeed!

While we were in Pleasanton, we went on a couple road trips with my sister and her husband. Sitting up front and navigating for brother-in-law Walt, Phil discovered some new features on their GPS navigation system Nuvi by Garmin. We tried out this new found knowledge (yes, we had failed to read the manual) on our own older model GPS, “Carmen” Garmin and have been having a great time. We now know how to program “Carmen” to AVOID highways (freeways), dirt roads, u-turns, car pool lanes, etc., etc. and she has taken us on some amazing back road trips. As the acclaimed “salad bowl” of America (BTW Yuma, AZ also makes that claim), the Salinas area (which includes the beautiful Monterey Peninsula) is a mega-agricultural area and the fields surrounding this city are full of bountiful food crops in all stages of growth. We have seen miles of grape vineyards, several kinds of lettuce, artichokes, corn for silage, kale, cabbage, fennel, tomatoes, prickly pear cactus and many crops we couldn't identify. Oh yes, and strawberries! Hundreds of acres of strawberries being harvested and planted—in October! Who knew?

Until next week ...

The view from our site at the Elk's Lodge RV Park in Salinas, CA. Only $15 per night with water and electric.

Another view from our "picture" windshield in Penny the Pace.

We were surprised to discover it cost $9.25 to drive the Pebble Beach community (private)road. However, afterward, we agreed it was well worth the price. If you spend $25 anywhere while on the driving tour, they will reimburse the fee. We didn't and figured we got away cheap.

Just one of the spectacular views along the picturesque 17 Mile Drive.

Awesome view, gorgeous day!

We came, we saw, we did not play ;-)

At only $495 plus cart per 18 holes for non-resort residents ... it's a bargain, right? Yeah ... right!

The view is spectacular from the course.

Taking it easy until the next group plays through.

We have arrived!

Joy was born in Oakland (but moved to WA at two years old) and Phil lived in CA. Even so, this was a first visit to Monterey for both of us. What a treat!

Yes, I really was there ;-) soaking up the sunshine!

Monterey Bay, CA.

Boat full of whale watchers returning from a cruise. We could hear the captain over the loudspeaker saying he hoped they had a good time. The people on deck didn't respond so I assume that meant they didn't see any critters.

A dock full of sea lions. Their hoarse barking resonates from one side of Monterey Bay to the other. Fascinating creatures!

Pelican with his throat full of a fish head, It was tossed off the deck up above by a man filleting the catch brought back on a fishing boat for hire.

Old Fort Ord barracks. The California State University-Monterey Bay has taken over a large part of the old Army property and is slowly bringing it back to its former glory. Phil says that at one time, Fort Ord was considered the most beautiful Army post in America.

Although the Fort Ord where Phil took his basic training in 1964 no longer exists the Army presence is still evident.

Strawberry field ready for planting. A very efficient and clever way to keep the strawberry roots warm, the weeds nonexistent and the berries clean. Irrigation pipe lays in between the rows.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" ... workers picking berries in fields all over the valley. In October!

Hard at work ... everywhere you look.

Thousands of acres of beautiful green fields. The haze in the background is from all the tractors plowing in the valley. Without a breeze, it hangs around and tries to ruin the view ... it didn't work.

Flowers in bloom (?) or a crop of some kind going to seed? I wish the farmers would put up signs along their fields so lookie-loos would know what they are growing when it isn't obvious! We were delighted to see that some do just that in Oregon.

Fields of prickley pear cactus almost ready for harvest. I don't know why this surprised me, I guess we just never thought about it before.

Delicate and charming street lights along both sides of the main street in Soledad, CA.

Miles and miles of vinyards and too many wineries to count.
Ripe succulent grapes ready for harvest.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Pleasanton weather report: With temperatures barely into the 70s and overcast skies forecast for next week, we are folding our tent and slipping away … just in time! Monday (tomorrow) is travel day for Miss Penny the Pace and her support crew. It is obvious that the weather people read my blog and I have some influence on them because the conditions in the bay area (even in San Francisco) have been absolutely perfect this past week. Thank you to the powers that be! Phil and I are convinced we can find more of the same as we move south.

A few days ago, we received some disturbing news from son, Mike in Washington. While painting the trim on the upper floor of his house he fell off the ladder and broke himself into little pieces on the concrete driveway. His collar bone, his arm in two places, his elbow and his wrist as well as his heel were all either badly bruised or broken. He had surgery on Friday and ended up in the Cardiac Care Unit from what they believe to be a reaction to the anesthetic. It took a few hours but he was eventually stabilized and is doing much better now. Mike told his dad, “It could have been worse …I didn’t land on my head or break my neck!” In retrospect, we had to agree. It will be a long road to recovery but Mike is strong and determined … he’ll be okay. Get well soon son!

Yesterday, Phil prepared his famous spaghetti dinner for all of us. As usual, it was delicious with lots of leftovers and although Julie and Doug were out of town, it gave us another chance to say goodbye to Rex and Cindy. We will go back today to say our goodbyes to Robin and Walt and come home early to start preparing for our departure in the morning. Phil and I really like it here and as always, have had a wonderful time visiting family in Pleasanton.
We went on a drive to Napa with sister, Robin and her husband, Walt. I had heard about a little bakery/deli in town called “Sweetie Pies” on the Food Network and wanted to give their Grape Pie which is their claim to fame signature item a try. Made from concord grapes, they only bake it in September and early October during the harvest of these grapes. Well, would you believe they sold the last pie the day before and we also arrived too late for lunch by an hour? Disgruntled but refusing to let this disappointment ruin our day, we walked down the side walk to a fancy-dancy French restaurant and ate our “Linner” on the patio outside next to the Napa River. It was pricey but the service was impeccable and the food was pretty good. Not GREAT but good. After eating, we drove around Napa, ogled and photographed the old-time mansions (many now converted into apartments) and impressive architecture in the older part of town. This treat alone made the trip worthwhile

Yes, she is ;-)

Our "linner" spot in Napa. Angele's Restaurant. A beautiful day to dine alfresco!
On Tuesday, we gave Robin and Walt a day of rest from non-stop relative saturation and Phil and I drove to San Pablo to visit his older brother, Marion. We had a short but sweet catch-up on family news session as he had to leave to pick up his granddaughter at school. At 74 years old, it is obvious he has developed some health problems so it was good to see him. Hopefully he will resolve some of these physical condition issues soon but he is stubborn and apparently will only see the doctor when it is a matter of life or death! I guess as long as he can continue to get around, he will stay in denial about needing more aggressive health care. We wish it was different but must accept his decisions

Phil and his brother Marion in San Pablo, CA.
The next day our travel outing took the four of us into glorious San Francisco on a perfect day to visit the newly opened California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. Walt estimated the line to enter was over 500 feet long (out in the sun) and we had been told it would be at least a 20 minute wait. On this day, the fire marshal was seriously enforcing the capacity rule so they were being careful to only allow the same amount of visitors in the entrance door as the number of people leaving the building from the exit door. Of course, the big turn out was most likely due to it being the first “free day” since opening and as it turned out, the 10 minute wait (they were really moving fast) was well worth saving the $20 per person entrance fee. It was a fascinating building which enclosed a planetarium, a rain forest sphere and many assorted aquariums including a hands-on tidal pool on the lower level. Their main attraction was a large, pure white albino alligator. This critter was stunning!

Driving across the Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco. Yes, this is the one that partially collapsed during the last big earthquake. I am told it is all rebuilt and much stronger than before.

Ignoring my fears, I continue to love the first sight of this city. It is beautiful beyond belief.

We have arrived.

Looking through the all glass wall at the entrance.

We hesitated to go to the end of the line but quickly decided we could handle it.

Robin and Joy on the roof of the California Academy of Science.

After being destroyed in the last earthquake, that is another newly built museum (can't remember the name--we didn't go there) in the background. It is across the street. Robin says she has been to the top of that inverted tower. Doesn't look earthquake proof to me! She is much braver than I am.

60,000 solar cells help the building be a little greener.

The round windows are automatic vents over the rain forest sphere.

And ... there he is! The star of the show! This magnificent specimen did not move while hundreds of people hung over the railing watching for even an eyelash to flutter.
Nothing ... finally we left ...
wondering is he real?

Just one of the gigantic tanks full of saltwater fish.

Alligator Gar

Blue Whale skeleton beside the rain forest sphere. The size is mind boggling!

Leopard stingray!

How is that for a quick shot out the car window? Taken in "Japan Town."

Big city sky scrapers. Stretching into the sky and shining in the sun. Hopefully, they are built to withstand earthquakes.

Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley. Ring, ring, ring goes the bell ;-)

One of the dozens of steep hills in downtown San Francisco. I LOVE this city!

I want to eat here some day! Wasn't this place featured on the food channel?

Joy and Phil in the fountain plaza outside Il Fornaio in downtown San Francisco. This is a favorite Italian restaurant of Robin and Walt's and they brought us here for dinner.

Robin ordered Calamaretti Fritti (deep fried baby squid). I barely managed to gag one down but Robin, Walt and Phil loved it! I am such a wimp when it comes to eating baby anything ... well, actually baby carrots are okay.