Seekin' My World

Subaru Outback traveling, ATC Bobcat on Tacoma in the past

Another Yosemite trip August 8, 2020

Filed under: Subaru travels — Sierrashadow @ 7:58 pm
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I am enjoying the quieter summer in Yosemite with the limited entrance due to COVID. It is quite a bit drier now, but still beautiful.

Bridalveil Falls was exceptionally wispy.

We had a lovely picnic by the Merced River at Happy Isles.

There were interesting roots in the river that were brilliant red.

The second day we started up 108 just for a day drive. I wasn’t planning on going beyond a Kennedy Meadows because the road gets very steep, but Tina was enjoying the scenery. At one point I asked if she wanted to go through Tuolumne Meadows since we had the car pass. So we did.

It was such a beautiful day. With excellent company.

 

Panama Canal Cruise March 8, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 1:32 am
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In January I took a ten day cruise with my best friend/college roommate of forty years ago.

Holland America has its own private island. I have been there before, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but it is a good first day to decompress from life. Warm, turquoise water. Soft Australian sand.

Aruba was beautiful, but I didn’t see much of the island as we took a sailboat to a reef to snorkel. That was fabulous! So many beautiful, colorful fish. We snorkeled over a shipwreck, which was cool, but also cold as the water was deeper, and the current was stronger. I am glad to have done it, but once was enough.

In Curaçao, I visited an herbal garden and folkloric dance show. It was underwhelming, but I still enjoyed it. I bought some moringa oil to try. We also visited the Chichi factory, a tourist trap. The traffic getting back to the ship was horrible. But we did get a chance to walk across the swinging bridge to the older part of town. I had been there when I was sixteen, 46 years ago, and at least that part hadn’t changed at all.

The architecture is gingerbread ornate, but it works surprisingly well here. It is a UNESCO heritage site, so quite pricy but protected. I remember the bells playing on my first visit, but they seem to be broken now. The tall bridge in the back is the traffic jam from above. Nice to have a way around, but quite the bottleneck.

The main reason I wanted to do this cruise was the Panama Canal, and it did not disappoint. We arrived at O’dark thirty, but by the time we lined up for the locks it was light. We started on the bow deck, but moved to the side and back to experience different aspects. It is a prolonged process. This was an “in and out” cruise, not a full transit, but we still got to see three locks.

We tendered off the ship to experience Panama. My friend went to a museum in Panama City while I went to an old Spanish fort. They had to protect the gold leaving the new world from pirates. It was a very rainy day, but it cooperated and only rained hard while we were in the bus. They recommended we wear raincoats, but at that temperature it was like a sauna. I would prefer to get wet! We saw white faced monkeys in the trees.

We went by the “new canal” with wider locks. The ship going through just barely fit, it was mammoth! They use tugboats instead of the little trains on the old canal that we went through. I will admit it is an odd sensation to watch your ship sailing away without you. But I got to see it going back through the canals. Never fear they come to pick you up in Colon.

Not much to say about Colon, it is an armpit of a destination.

In Puerto Limon, Costa Rica I took the Tortuguero canal trip. We saw herons, sloths, tiny bats lined up six feet away, toucans and poison dart frogs. That was all in the wild. Then we took a very long bus ride up to a rainforest preserve that had a snake house, frog house, and butterfly enclosure. They have an aerial tram that takes you down to a waterfall walk. Nice to see the top of the canopy. My friend went ziplining and had a blast, but heights are not my thing.

We had an extra day in Fort Lauderdale so we drove down to the Everglades. As a westerner it is difficult to appreciate such a flat landscape where a matter of inches in elevation can make a vast difference in biomes. But it was fun.

We also visited Key Biscayne. I enjoyed the drive and lighthouse, but again, “Where are the waves?” Too quiet on the beach. We stayed in the Light Haven motel, which was kitschy and retro. I had a key lime pie in honor of my father on the anniversary of his death. I would have liked to have been there to support my mom, but both her and dad would rather see me out there enjoying travel.

 

San Diego final March 3, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 6:12 am
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Today I went to the Taylor guitar factory. My father would have said, “I learned more about guitars than I needed to know.” But it was fascinating. The factory is in El Cajon, free tours are M-F at 1:00. There were about 30 people today. They give you headsets so you can hear the guide if you are straggling, or the room is too loud.

This machine holds the two halves (bookended to be symmetrical) for the backs together while the glue sets. By the time the worker gets around the ring the first one is dry enough to remove.

Lots of fronts.

Amazing inlay details.

They have several buildings, and several computerized and robotic machines. He said they were second only to Ford factory in the US in that.

Looks like they had made 40 by 2:00.

I went home without buying a very expensive souvenir. But I admit to being tempted. The store part was amazing, and several talented people in our tour were test driving guitars. What I really wish though was that I had their talent, or had gotten started sooner.

Impressions:

Taylor seems to be working hard to maintain sustainability in ebony, mahogany and other exotic woods. They are also planting fruit trees so the people have food to eat as well.

They number all the wood from the same tree so the the pieces of your guitar of the same wood will all come from the same tree. Somehow that makes it sound better.

They have an innovative new bracing pattern, very proprietary, that leads to clearer, less muddied sound. No pictures allowed in that room.

Taylor Swift has obviously been a boon to their marketing, as she has gotten a whole new generation of girls playing guitars, mostly theirs.

It was a great day.

 

San Diego 6 & 7 March 2, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 12:04 am
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Well, day six hardly counts as San Diego as I headed north to Laguna Beach to have lunch with my nephew.

He chose a swanky hotel for lunch, but it was lovely. We enjoyed catching up, but it was a crazy busy traffic drive getting back in time for the dog.

Day seven was the Tiny House Festival at Del Mar fairgrounds. There were about ten tiny houses to tour, but the real fun was in the back where fifty or so vans and schoolies were on display. I have seen several on Instagram and YouTube. It was like seeing famous people. Plus I picked up several new sites to follow and enjoy.

Tomorrow I go down to El Cajon to visit the Taylor Guitar factory. This has been a wonderful vacation. Katrina and Ben return tomorrow evening.

 

San Diego day 5 February 28, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 11:23 pm
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Another absolutely glorious day here. I can see why the housing prices are so high.

My mother must be wondering what my obsession is with public transit. Well, it makes this very familiar destination feel somewhat exotic and different. I drove down to Old Town and boarded the trolley train. This avoids $6.50 train fare, and an hour trip can be done in 30 minutes. That took me to downtown where I boarded the bus for Coronado. The bus went over the scary high bridge and I had an awesome view. The bus drove out to the gate of the naval airbase and then came back and went down Orange towards the Hotel Del Coronado where I got off. I wandered around in there for a while. They are in the middle of renovations so I was not able to get the iconic view but I got several decent ones.

There was a man creating sandcastles on the beach that were pretty amazing. I need to research what that island out there is.

Then I wandered up Orange Street looking into various shop windows and going into a few places, but didn’t buy anything.

When the shops ended on Orange and the houses began I boarded the bus again which took me out to the ferry landing.

Then it was a five dollar fare to take the ferry across to the Broadway pier, a 15 minute boat ride. That’s my idea of a “harbor tour”. I got the classic Titannic front bow seat.

Then I walked back past the Midway and out to the point that I had missed before to see the large statue of the kiss. It was pretty impressive until the seagull sat on the head. (Grin) I had lunch out at the end of that pier at a fancy seafood restaurant, but for lunch it wasn’t too exorbitant.

Near the kiss is a Bob Hope tribute. The wounded men are more fascinating than he is. They have audio clips of his comedy routines going. There was also a man allowing you to pose with his parrots (for a fee).

Then it was a quick walk back to the Santa Fe Depot again to take the train back up to old town. I got in my car and went to two destinations that I had heard about on an “unusual things to do in San Diego blog”. One is called Harper’s topiaries, where some woman got tired of her boring hillside and has spent the last several years grooming them into shapes.

Then I drove to the Spruce Street suspension Bridge which was built at the turn of the last century. Tina knows how heights give me the willies and swinging unstable heights are even worse. But I did manage to get out to the middle where it’s very high off the ground.

The houses up on those hills are very very nice and I’m sure some of them have lovely views of downtown or Mission Bay.

The ice cream cone I had in Coronado started hitting me and I had to pull off the freeway for a gas station stop. But I still made it back before Luna did anything crazy. I definitely need to take her for a walk this evening.

This is a video of her Bop. I am not sure if I can embed a video, but I will try. It keeps her busy for a while. I just wish it held more food. Only the top yellow part has food in it.





 

SD day 4

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 12:18 am
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I decided to do another transit day. I parked at the mall near UCSD. BUS 30 took me to campus where parking would have been challenging. My goal was “Fallen Star” a tiny house perched on the 7th floor of the Engineering building.

I got there before it opened, so I wandered around. College is not what it used to be when I went, as there is a Starbucks and other fast food places right on campus. There is even a thrift store on campus. I enjoyed seeing the five bank in a boxes there on campus for the kids to use. Students do very little interacting with each other as they have their headphones on and their cell phones in their hand.

Eventually it opened and I was able to go inside the building. It is not a normal house perched on the edge. It has been designed as an optical illusion much like Knott’s Berry farm was. When she stood near the door she appeared to be normal size but as she walked to the far corner she shrank because the building gives you that optical illusion. It’s only a 5° slope but when you first walk in it gives you a mild sense of vertigo. Everything has been designed to maintain the illusion except for hanging chandelier which of course hangs plumb. The artist was a child emigre and was trying to convey the disorientation he felt when he first arrived in America. The first photo was taken on the level, notice the stairs are not even. The second photo is cocked so the room appears level, but isn’t.

The man standing in the doorway said he was 5 foot eight, but he sure appears to be larger than that.

While waiting for the FallenStar to open, I googled UCSD public art and found there was a whole trail. So I walked to the gigantic stone teddy bear.

Then I walked toward the Geisel Library a.k.a. Dr. Suess, where the path way up to it is a gigantic snake. It was very well done.

In front of the library an artist has taken a eucalyptus tree and completely covered it in iron. It’s his protest that so many of the trees have had to be torn down to build the buildings.

I just witnessed an act of kindness. A disabled man that got on at the VA hospital ask the bus driver if he could have change for a $10 bill. Of course the bus driver cannot do that. But a passenger stepped forward and gave him the money, not just making change.

I went down to Little Italy, where there is another art store. Nothing exciting though.

The weather has turned cloudy. I headed back a little early. But it was an interesting day.



 

San Diego Day 3 February 27, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 2:45 am
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I went to Torrey Pines State Park today. The road to the top was closed, so I walked up a bit, but it was tough going with not much scenery. So I went back to the car and poked my way down the coast to La Jolla.

The cove was really pretty with sea lions, cormorants, egrets, pelicans and scuba divers. I cannot accurately describe the stench though. Guano and fish breath.

I came home and took Luna for a walk at Batiquitos Lagoon. She pulls on the leash, or I walk much slower than Katrina. But we had a good time.

I don’t know what I want to do tomorrow. I need to research.

 

San Diego day 2 February 26, 2020

Filed under: Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 12:01 am
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I programmed my GPS to take me to Balboa Park, but while on the way there, I realized I was within a block of the art store I visited last time. My mental map still works. I got a new brush, but decided not to buy the great deal on French watercolors in a decorator box. It worked out to four dollars per tube, when they are usually $10-12. But I don’t need more paint. I need to use what I have.

Eventually I made it to the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. I remember driving through the park several times as a kid, but not really doing anything there. I was glad I went early, as the school field trips started taking over the place. Fortunately, they were more prevalent in the Natural History and Air and Space Museum than Art.

There was a lovely Titian there.

And the special exhibit was Bouguereau, who I like a lot. He does a great job on children.

The only Rubens was a sad little still life. There was a Van Gogh but it was horrible; small, dark and clunky. And of course, every museum has a Degas ballerina.

The most impressive thing to me was a gorgeous embroidered kimono. I don’t know how many hours went into making it, but it was stunning.

Then I cruised through the botanical hall.

Then I went over to the Spanish Village where the craft shops, lots to see, nothing to buy.

I actually spent the first five years of my life living in San Diego. I was curious to see my first home. So I programmed Dafter Pl. into my navigation and headed there. I was glad I had been prepared for the blight in the area. The house looks pretty good, but the Stout’s house across the street is condemned, and brings down the neighborhood. I put in Katrina’s address to navigate me back, but it sent me past an area that reminded me of kindergarten. I made an off route turn, and found Webster elementary. I took pictures of what I remember as the kindergarten playground. I really did walk pretty far for a five year old! Again, my mental map skills seem to be working.

Luna survived the six hours she was locked up. Today is Katrina’s birthday. She sent out a family video this morning. Looks like they are having fun, too.

I went shopping at SteinMart. I found a purple and teal top that screamed Brenda! And a down coat that should pack well.

Here is the view from their living room.

I think I will go out to dinner at the BBQ place they took me. It was really good and reasonable.

 

San Diego February 24, 2020

Filed under: Non ATC Bobcat travels — Sierrashadow @ 9:40 pm
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I am dog sitting for my niece Katrina. They get to go to Italy, I get a vacation in San Diego with light duties attached.

My first day was a blast. I took the Coaster train to downtown. I thought, “It follows the coast, I know where I am going.” But at one point I pulled out my cellphone with the gps blue dot because I was in a very rugged canyon with no sign of habitation. I was way inland near Miramar. I guess they “had” to go around snooty La Jolla even way back when.

Then I got on the local bus to wander. I was hoping to take public transit so I would walk and exercise more, but look where I ended up. One of the top ten donut shops in the country. The Creme Brûlée was ok but the bacon maple was amazing.

Boarded another bus to go to the Gaslamp district. Not much there in the daytime as it is all bars and restaurants. And I was already full from the donuts.

From there I decided to walk along the harbor because it was a glorious day. Seaport Village was dead midweek, in winter. I saw the Midway, but I have been on a working carrier and there are too many stairs. Somehow I missed the big statue “Unconditional Surrender”, the kiss. But it is close to the train station so I will see it next time. 

I ran across this interesting option and may try it another day for a free harbor cruise. Gotta be frugal.

Enjoying the open air art and Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes.

So a great day and I should make it back before Luna has an accident.

Public transportation isn’t quick but it is interesting.

FYI I did walk over three miles today. Not enough to burn off the donuts, but good.

 

Heat in Outback October 12, 2019

Filed under: Stuff I carry,Subaru travels — Sierrashadow @ 7:31 pm
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One of my serious concessions when selling the camper was losing out on heat. So far, it hasn’t been necessary, but the seasons are a changing.

So I bought a RV mattress pad that runs off a cigarette lighter. It was $90 on Amazon. Much more than a house model. And in retrospect may not have been the best choice.

 

The instructions make a big deal of pinning it to the mattress so it doesn’t bunch up and start a fire. I will have to improvise something to keep it taut, but can’t exactly pin it to an air pad.

But I didn’t want to risk running my battery down so I invested in a battery power pack that I hope will be enough to power it. It is the Enkeeo 222w and I got a really good deal from watching a Enigmatic Nomad review that included a discount code. So it was only $153.00 plus tax. It usually runs $220, but the code has expired, sorry.

According to the mattress specs it uses 12V on high. I don’t plan on running it all night or on high, just to keep the worst of the chill off. But I should be able to run it three hours on high, or all night on low.

But as you can see, this device has 110 plugs. I could saved about $50 by buying a regular house model but they don’t list the power draw, so I couldn’t do the calculations. It comes with an adapter that is a female ciggy receptacle.

This device comes with a charge by house (110), charge by car ciggy (12V), or charge by solar panels (MC4). So now I need to figure out where this will ride and recharge while driving. Plus fit in the snow chains we bought just in case.

This also has the possibility of running all kinds of accessories and even would have been handy in the PG&E outage we recently experienced. 24 hours without power, and we were luckier than most. Wouldn’t you know it arrived the day the power came back on and needed to be charged up.

Edit: So I got out the sewing machine today. I sewed a strip of fabric to both long sides, creating a tube for the air mattress to slide into. The wires were far enough from the edges to do this easily. Anyplace where the wires would overlap is separated by a 3.5 inch air pad. Even if my body compresses it slightly, it would not be on the edges, but in the center. I think this will be sufficient to keep it taut enough. The pictures show what will be on the bottom. The top is pure white mattress pad.

Double edit: used it one night in Bishop. On high it cooked me out in just ten minutes. On 2 it was just about perfect. Face and hands still get cold, but it works well, considering. I don’t know if the car charging the Enkeeo is going to work if it gets too depleted. I only ran it down one quarter, and 6 hours of driving didn’t bring it back to full charge. Need to research that more.