Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Monday, August 27, 2012

Birthday--2nd post Aug. 27th

Just a few pictures from Liam's pizza party this evening.

Birthday cake by Donald. Liam loves trains, so that is the theme of the cake.

If you haven't read my first post today, please click on "Older Post" to view it.

One more wake-up!

Ready or not I'm leaving in the morning, early I hope. It is reaching 90 today and I already have the swamp cooler working. Yesterday afternoon and evening I got by with a couple of fans blowing cool air.

Just about everything is packed and I no doubt am taking more clothes than I will wear, but like when my kids were little, I always packed extra clothes in case someone fell into the creek. I bought dry ice and a cheap styrofoam cooler this morning, and got enough ice that I already have my frozen foods packed. I secured the cooler with some pretty fancy rigging with bungee cords as the lid didn't fit tight enough for my liking. The two ladies at Customer Service who helped me with the dry ice were so kind as to show me how to pack it, suggest the amount I will need, and generally explain how to handle it. I wouldn't have had a clue except I thought I wasn't supposed to touch it with my bare hands. Now nearly everything is lined up from the kitchen out to the living room, and I will transfer it to the car in the morning.

Pizza party tonight to celebrate my youngest grandson's 2nd birthday. I hope indigestion from the pizza doesn't keep me awake for too long, but maybe the draft beer will counteract the effects of the tomato sauce and pepperoni. I usually don't eat that stuff any more, although tacos and enchiladas doesn't seem to bother me. Not that I eat them very often either.

In between my sorting and packing the past few days I've managed to read the Nevada Barr suspense novel about the National Park at Mesa Verde. I've been through that area many times but never to the Park, and it's going to be on a future trip for me. I used to drive I-40 from Asheville and turn north at Gallup, past Shiprock, past the turnoff to Farmington, and then thru the Ute Reservation, and Cortez, and I remember passing a mountain called the "Sleeping Ute" if I'm not mistaken. I haven't had a chance to look at the map yet but will see how to get to Mesa Verde from that area. The used book I ordered that takes place at Lassen still hasn't arrived, so I won't be able to read it until I return home.

My uniforms and supplies are already out at the ranger cabin at Butte Lake, and they told me where to pick up the golf cart. I'll go by the entrance station at Manzanita Lake to get the keys and radio. I'm getting pretty excited.

My granddaughter will be coming to Sacramento while I'm away, and I will be anxious to see her before she leaves again. She wrote and told me that her backpack has been wonderful - not even a twinge of pain in her neck or back, so it must fit her perfectly and was adjusted to perfection as well. Most packs, even daypacks, cause a slight or more strain on your neck now and then. The guy at REI who sold us the pack was GOOD!

I'll be in touch most likely when I get back from Lassen - could be around the 10th of Sept. I'll see how it goes and if they don't have a lot of reservations for the weekend after Labor Day, I'll leave at the end of that week. I understand my shortcut route is open again, so I'm keeping fingers crossed that no more fires break out in the Northeastern CA area.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Walk with my daughter and other topics

Jeannie is healing pretty well from her surgery. The doctor wants her to walk every day, starting out slower and gradually increasing the time, but no power walking. I went over to visit with her today as Don had the two girls with him at soccer practice plus the fair/carnival that followed, and at which he worked his required volunteer hours.

We walked at a pace that is slow for her, and I could see she wasn't entirely comfortable, but we walked about the equivalent of 5 city blocks. It does as much for me as it does for her, so I will go back tomorrow and walk with her again. She is off all the pain meds now.

I still haven't completely decided on what food I will take to the campground - I'll have a kitchen to cook in, but I'll have to get some dry ice to keep foods frozen. I have what I want in my freezer here at home and can't see shopping somewhere along the way, but I have to be able to keep it from thawing on the trip there, plus a stop at Manzanita Lake to pick up supplies, do the paperwork, etc. I imagine it will take 6 or 7 hours before I'm finally unloading at Butte Lake.

I really need a haircut badly but am trying to let my hair grow a bit longer, so there is no sense in getting anything cut right now. The last couple of washes I went without using the hair dryer to see what it's going to look like. (I can't see enough difference to warrant the use of all that electric power). Trouble is, it changes from day to day. I'm not going to worry about it and have a bandana I can wear to cover up what doesn't look so good if I choose. A pair of gold hoop earrings and I'll look like a gypsy!

Speaking of gypsies, evidently my gypsy granddaughter has really loved the pack from REI. She said it holds so much but never feels too heavy. I think she can barely walk now from spending a day walking around Paris. She overdid it and no doubt didn't have the proper footwear. When she gets back I can see in my crystal ball another trip to REI - this time for some good boots. They don't have to be clunkers, and actually hiking boots are pretty sexy. Not that I wear them for that reason, don't you know, but because they are good for the feet when walking/hiking, and the sexy look is for the younger women. Of course I don't mind being mistaken for sexy once in a while, although it hasn't happened for a long time!!!

Ara took a train from Paris and is now in Munich, which I think she will love. There are always lots of young people milling around - people her age.

Today the high is going to be around 86F, and in the mid to upper 80's through Monday. When it goes to 90 on Tuesday I'll be on my way. Everyone please send me good vibes that I don't have campers from hell to deal with. I am definitely going to try to take lots of pictures so that I'll have something visual for my blog. I'll have the use of the internet through Monday, and from there it will be a crap shoot. It is likely that I won't be able to post until after the work stint is over with.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting ready

I still haven't done much except to go through the clothes I'm taking with me - including some cold weather clothes. I found my khaki pants that the Park service prefers the camp hosts to wear, but they had been folded and put in a drawer after laundering, and the wrinkles bothered me, or I should say the horizontal creases in the pants legs from being folded. I know I will only be there for a week and no one is going to even notice the pants I'm wearing, but I would be bothered by those creases.

I got out my iron and ironing board. I rarely iron - in fact, I bought a new iron about a year and a half ago and I'm sure I've only tried it out once or twice at most. I can't read the lettering for the controls so I got my flashlight and figured out what the settings are. While I'm at it I decided to iron a couple of blouses that are 85% cotton and 15% linen - they are from Land's End and have to be at least 20 years old. With the beautiful fabric they are, they just get better as they get older. I would never ever get rid of anything I have that was made in the U.S., but I take good care of my clothes and they rarely need to be replaced. Good thing I don't go for trendy clothes.

Speaking of clothes, I've been buying a T-shirt from each of the National Parks and Forests I've been to this year. I started it with one from Hudson Valley, NY and the FDR gift shop, and continue to a couple from the Eldorado Forest. My favorite says on the front, "May The Forest Be With You". I'm wearing it right now!

When I mentioned yesterday that I'd like to plan a trip to the Atlantic Provinces I also mentioned that Tumbleweed Jim & Dee had been there, and that I wanted to go back and read their blog from that trip. Dee graciously sent me the link to their blog beginning with crossing the border.

I also heard from Canadians Sandra and Rae, confirming that the Maritimes are Prince Edward Island (PEI), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, and that the Atlantic Provinces are the Maritimes plus Newfoundland and Labrador. I wish I had the funds to visit all of them!

My granddaughter should be back in Germany now (Munich) and will soon be on her way back to the U.S. She had been warned by everyone she talked to that Parisians can be less than helpful to tourists, but that wasn't her experience. She had helpful assistance whenever she needed it, and even from folks young and old who spoke very little English but tried to communicate with her and help out. Of course she is 22 and gorgeous, with a beautiful smile and a dimple, and I might not find as much help if I went to Paris, but I'm grateful for the kindness shown to my granddaughter. And I realize I, like most Americans, misjudge Parisians and throw them all into one box. Gotta quit doing that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First of all I need to clarify that I will be staying in the Ranger Cabin at Butte Lake, rather than in a tent. I'll have an actual propane fridge, stove, & water heater, plus a shower. I just spoke with the woman in charge at Lassen, and she told me I can come up at any time - no need to wait until next Wednesday. I won't go until after my youngest grandson's second birthday celebration next Monday, so it will be Tuesday or Wednesday.

I'm also thinking about going on to Crater Lake, OR when I leave Lassen after Labor Day, and there I will stay in my tent. My car is going to be packed with supplies and gear.

Thanks to Peggy for reminding me that Sharlene Minshall was known as the Silver Gypsy - I believe I referred to her as the Silver Fox. I always want to call her the Arctic Fox, but that is a brand of travel trailer/truck camper! To be accurate though, Minshall made numerous trips to Alaska and no doubt spent time at the Arctic Circle! And Peggy, at one time I had read every one of Deborah McCrombie's books, although I've probably missed the last one or two.

Did I mention that I received two books I had ordered from Amazon and yesterday while waiting in the surgical center's waiting room read half of Barb Thacker's "How can I be lost when I don't know where I'm going". It is excellent and makes me want to set out on a cross country trip immediately. It also makes me determined to visit the Atlantic Provinces in the future, something I've always wanted to do. I think the Atlantic Provinces used to be called the Maritimes, and include Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and I'm not sure if New Brunswick is also included but I'd definitely take that province in as well. I have some maps from years back when I decided I wanted to see this part of North America, so one day I will get them out and plan my trip, at least in my mind. The cost of fuel is a deterrent though, as is going through Customs. It's not difficult to get into Canada, but returning is when the American Customs people can make you feel like they don't believe a word you are saying. Jim and Dee of "Tumbleweed" made this trip last year, and I'm going to go back and re-read their blog entries for that period.

Thanks to Maryann for reminding me that Goodwill is a source for used books. We have a local used bookstore that I sometimes visit, but their used books are priced on the high side, usually between $4 and $4.50 for a paperback! Of course, that's what I'm paying for the $0.01 used book I have coming from Amazon. At the library today I paid a quarter for a used paperback at the book sale. I almost bought a couple of books by Carlos Castaneda. I think I'd like to go back and re-read the first one, which is the closest I ever got to understanding a small inkling of anything Castaneda wrote although I enjoyed reading it. I guess the more stoned you are the better you understand, and I never did that stuff!

Teri also commented that Sharlene Minshall is known as the Silver Gypsy, and that she now tent camps with her grandchildren. Another person who has gone from an RV to a tent. There must be something about it!

Speaking of solo women who travel, I viewed some of Ara's photos from Europe yesterday. She has various friends she's met up with, but she wanted to see Venice and did it on her own! Same way with Paris (where she is currently visiting), she was determined to go there and ended up going by herself. She has met a lot of interesting and great people that way, and I'm so proud that she can do it solo - at least some of the time. I know from experience that taking that first step by yourself is always hard to do, but the rewards are great. She certainly is my "Little Gypsy" and I'm so proud of her.

I am SO procrastinating getting my camping things together. It reminds me of school and waiting until the night before a paper was due to even start writing it. I always told myself it was my best way to work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Camp News

Today was the day I was going to start the habit of addressing questions from readers in my blog post, but I'm so excited I think I will have to start it tomorrow. I had lots of things to write about today but can't focus on them right now.

As you know, the Lassen National Park's Butte Lake Campground has been closed for some time due to fires and road closures in the area. The camp hosts, Andy and Ann, returned to their home in Florida when the evacuation took place. I wrote to the Volunteer Coordinator and offered to work the Labor Day weekend in the event the campground re-opened by that time.

I heard from Sheryl today to say that they were opening back up on Friday the 31st of August, and asking if I was still interested. Of course I am, so I responded that I would arrive a day or two before Friday so that I could get settled in and acclimated to the job. I will probably drive up early next Wednesday. I don't see any problem remembering how to do the paperwork, but I would imagine I'll have to spend some time putting out the reserved signs in the B Loop sites. (The A Loop is unreserved sites.)

I am really excited about getting back to the Park, and even though the holiday crowds can sometimes be maddening, I'll be up to it. If I remember Labor Day 2009, the A Loop closed a few days after the holiday and I left a couple of days after that. So in all I will probably be at the campground for one week.

I had just polished my boots as I mentioned in my last post, and thanks to Vera for giving me detailed instructions on tying my boot laces. I can't wait to try it. I just have to get a few things together, as well as to decide what food I will take with me, and I'll phone Sheryl tomorrow to see that I don't forget anything.

My daughter's bladder repair surgery went exceedingly well, and she is alert and able to walk. She was advised to regularly take the pain medication for the first 24 hours, and then as needed, and she is doing that. I am surprised that she is not the least groggy or "loopy" from the paid meds, but is comfortable and not in pain at all. She can't lift over 10# for two months, and caught her trying to carry her purse from the car to the house. I know most women's purses are heavy enough to cause us to walk lopsided, and I grabbed it as soon as I could.

I'm so keyed up right now I will just have to go look for the items I will need for Lassen. I have my NPS volunteer pin but I can't find my name tag. I'll be rooting through closets and drawers for the next week.

By the way, a couple of nights ago I ate my supper and then went for the last piece of Billy Bob's cherry chocolate cake. Some critter must have been at it because all I had left was a morsel - a piece about 1" x 2" which anyone would know isn't even a full bite. Dang! But I have two regular sized slices in the freezer if that critter hasn't hit up my stash there as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Books; fires; etc.

Reader Judilyn left me a comment about the author Sharlene Minshall. I think she is known as the Silver Fox or something similar, and yes, she did RV extensively in Alaska. When I first began to think about full timing in an RV, I was directed to this author who inspired me to think I could do the same thing. A big difference, however, was the fact that while Minshall is older than I am, she started out RVing at a much younger age than I did. It makes a difference no matter what anyone tells me. If you're the exception to the rule then more power to you. Sharlene also traveled in a motorhome, and I think my experiences might have been different if I had chosen a Class A or C to travel in rather than the 5th wheel. As they say, "you don't have to get out in order to get in", meaning that you can pull into a rest area or Walmart parking lot or wherever, and have access to your RV without anyone knowing if you're a man, woman, family, or what.

I very much admired, and still do, the fact that a solo woman RVer would make the trip to Alaska numerous times. She seemed to never have had a problem although there are a lot more RVers traveling to Alaska now, and the increased traffic is bound to make a difference. I read all three of her books and then passed them on to another woman who was planning to RV as a solo.

I am having one of the laziest days on record. I woke up at 6 am as usual, but stayed in bed two more hours! I would fall asleep for half an hour and then wake up, and that type of sleep isn't restful to me. I'll make up for it tomorrow as I'm staying at my daughter's house tonight, and driving her to out-patient surgery at 5:15 am! I'll take a couple of books with me and just hang out in the waiting room. I haven't decided about the computer and might just not take it.

I copied and pasted my post yesterday about the fires to my oldest son, and got a reply back from him this morning, setting me straight about a couple of things I wrote:

"The firefighters are all probably over 18. I think there is probably an OSHA law. As far as I know they are paid. The NPS I think as well as some states bring them on the payroll for the summer. They then get sent around the country to go to various fires. They are probably augmented by the local departments, which have volunteers. Also in California there is a robust mutual aid system, so firefighters from around the state deploy to assist other agencies during fires. I was down at Fort Hunter Liggett one year and saw hundreds of trucks from throughout the state there."

So while some of the crew I saw at Lassen may have looked like children, they were adults.

Yesterday while it was still cool enough, I sat on my porch and cleaned and sno-sealed my boots. No, I'm not planning to be traipsing around in the snow, but the treatment is for waterproofing and I might be in rain. They look too clean and pretty to wear in a dusty campground or trail, but I'll manage. I like to take good care of my boots because they were made in Italy, and I'll never find another boot in my lifetime that isn't made in China. Besides, I don't want to have to break in another pair of boots. I just wish I could find boot laces that don't constantly come untied, but I suppose I could double knot them as one does for kids.

I just had lunch and am still in my pajamas, so I should do something about that. I need to pack whatever I will be taking with me for a stay of one, possibly two days. I may even get my camera back! There are probably 500 photos on the card by now - all of Autumn and her first week of school.

Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions. And Dizzy-Dick, thank you so much for your kind words yesterday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Redding Fire and deja vu

I learned that Butte Lake Campground in Lassen NP is closed because of the fire, and that this is part of the Redding fire as opposed to the Ponderosa fire I wrote about yesterday. I think the campground is closed because highway 44 has been closed in some places. The campground is accommodating lots of fire fighting equipment and crews at this time. It brings back so many memories and a few shudders although I was never in danger but didn't know that at the time.

The ranger who drove in to close and secure the campground in 2009 told me he came through fire that was crossing Hwy 44, and that the smoke was so red, fiery, and thick he couldn't see through it. He said it might have been like driving through hell. By the time I drove that way when I left, there were fires still burning on both sides of the road but nothing to seriously stop me. The county police who had set up a roadblock in Old Station let me go through and assured me I would be ok. Thankfully I had Lady riding with me although it was similar to having a child to worry about.

Speaking of children, some of the volunteer crews are just that: children. I'm not sure if they have to be 18 or not, but many of them look much younger. They trudge through the forests and over rough trails carrying heavy equipment, and look like they could pass out on the spot by the time they return in the evening. My heart really hurt when I saw what they had to go through, and this was just leaving and arriving back at the campground. Their faces would be blackened by smoke by the end of the day, and it must have been a really tough job.

I think that many, if not most of them are volunteers, sort of like sending the Reserve Army into a war zone. In both situations they risk injury and death, and have little control over when they will be called. I truly believe that all who put themselves in harm's way so that the rest of us don't have to, are heroes and I salute them all. That includes law enforcement and fire department personnel.

The mailman just drove by and didn't leave me a book. Maybe tomorrow. The thing I hate about buying anything online is having to wait. When I want it, I want it now! Good thing I'm a patient person.

Speaking of books, Luci&Loree left a comment suggesting author Sue Henry, who writes mysteries with a heroine who lives in Alaska and travels in an RV with her dachshund Stretch. That rang a bell with me because a few years back I read a book about a woman who lived in Alaska and traveled in a Minnie Winnie. I think the book I read took place in Hawaii though (where she had to rent a Minnie Winnie, lol - can't drive one to Hawaii). Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions for books.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More books; fire in N. CA

Reader Beth Murray left a comment on my post about books I'm currently reading. She mentioned she liked the author Nevada Barr, and especially her novels that take place in the National Parks. I have seen Nevada Barr on library shelves but for some reason I've never read one of her books. So I found her website and got a list of books that feature the national parks. Firestorm is one, and it takes place at Lassen Volcanic NP, which as you know is where I was a camp host in 2009. Coincidentally, there were fires in and around the Butte Lake campground that year, and I worked hard to help evacuate the campground, as well as to accommodate the numerous fire fighting companies that came from all over California.

I looked on Amazon and found Firestorm, used, for $.01, so of course I ordered it. The shipping is $3.99 so my grand total for this book is $4.00. I definitely want to read it and hope I find some parallels with my experience in 2009. That's an outrageous amount to pay for shipping one paperback book, but I think I will want to keep the book rather than return it to a library so I will just pay the four bucks!

As I was glancing through the Sunday paper this morning I see that a fire caused by lightning is burning in the vicinity of Manton to Shingletown, which is my shortcut when driving to Lassen from Sac. I cut over from Red Bluff and then take the beautiful and usually isolated back roads to Shingletown where I meet up with the highway to Lassen. I hope they can contain it before it gets to the Park.

I was up early this morning to get to the farmer's market before the crowds arrived, as well as before the music started. I did well on both counts, and was soon on my way back home. I bought some organic strawberries that are gorgeous! The peaches looked good too, but they are just too darned sloppy for me to bother with. Now if Billy Bob would come up with a recipe for a cake using fresh peaches I could get some next week!

My granddaughter has enjoyed Italy, including Venice, Tuscany, a beach somewhere on the Italian Riviera, and Rome. Right now she's in Barcelona which she likes, but didn't care for Madrid. She will be returning to Germany soon and travel in the south of that country before returning home. I think she will love Munich, although my favorite has always been Nurenburg.

Well, I'm going to try to work the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle while it's still cool enough to sit outside in good light. I'll get it started at least, and then turn it over to my daughter to finish.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reading, etc.

I mentioned that I've been doing a lot of reading since I'm stuck inside until the weather gets cooler. Reader Peggy Vaughn recommended a series written by Barb Thacker, and here are the 3 books: 'How Can I be Lost When I Don't Know Where I'm Going"; "Wandering Across the Continent with Barb Thacker and Her Dog, Ink'; and "Still Going. . . Blissfully Lost in the Baja : Wandering South of the Border with Barb...". They sound interesting to me and I've ordered two of them from Amazon, both used. One of the 3 is sold out so I will wait until I can find a good used version. I expect these books to be delivered the first of next week.

A trip to the library led me to check out a couple of books by Carla Neggers, who writes romance-suspense novels. I like her because while there are some tense and dangerous moments in the stories, there isn't any dwelling on violence and gore, nor are there graphic descriptions of it. Even the sex is just sufficiently described without the monotony of a Nora Roberts novel. (Not that I think sex is monotonous, but to have six or more nearly-alike descriptions in one novel is over the top, in my opinion.)

So I've read two novels by Carla in two days, and one of them, "The Angel" is set in Boston and Ireland. The scenes in Ireland take place in a village in the vicinity of the one I lived in for 3 years and mentions lots of places I've been. I couldn't figure it out - I could have zeroed in on one village but in the story there is only one pub in the village. I wrote to Carla via her website and asked her about the location, stating that I doubt there is a village in all Ireland with only one pub. She responded and gave me a hint of where she located her mythical village, and it's the same as what I had figured, although as she admitted there are two pubs in that village.

Most of her novels take place, at least in part, in New England, and usually in Maine or New Hampshire. I read one of them this past summer when I was in NY, and found that "The Angel" is related insofar as many of the same characters are in both stories. There are two more books in this series and I have put a reservation in for them at the library.

Another book I checked out is by James Doss and is the latest in his Charlie Moon mystery series. Some people may be more familiar with the mystery writer Tony Hillerman whose mysteries take place in the Navajo nation in NM; the blurb on Doss' books describes Doss as doing for the Utes in Colorado what Hillerman has done for the Navajo.

That's how I'm occupying my time these hot afternoons, although I'll have to slow down a bit or I'll run out of things to read! Oh, and sometimes I get on a non-fiction kick, and often check out a book I've heard discussed on Book-TV.

Secondly, I have had comments about my low electricity bill and have taken a look at them. The last one was for July but keep in mind that I went camping at Lassen for one week in July. I used 59 kw of electricity @$0.062871 per kw, for which they charged me $3.71. However, I seem to get a $3.50 "Customer Charge" on my bill every month, plus a "solar surcharge" at $0.001301. I have no idea what this is about, but it ran me $.08 in July, for a grand total charge for electricity in that month of $7.31.

In February when I was here for the entire month, I used 279 kwh @$0.062126, or $17.33 plus the customer charge plus the solar surcharge. The gas ran $60 in February, but I keep the setting at around 55, plus or minus 5 degrees. A lot of the $17.33 electric bill for Feb. would have included the blower motor on the furnace, and I ran my Lasko portable electric heater a lot of the time.

I am conservative about electricity and unplug what I can when I'm not using it, such as the microwave, coffee maker, and other devices, plus I unplug the power bar with the lamp, computer and Mifi chargers before I go to bed. I can imagine how much more efficiently it will be to heat and cool my house when I finally can replace the windows.

I'm planning to grill shrimp and veg kabobs for my dinner, which meant I finally had to clean the grill. Yuk, how I hate that job! Does anyone else use a charcoal grill and if you do, do you clean the grill rack itself each time you use it? Anyway, you know what I'll be having for desert.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Made a cake today!

After picking up the rest of the ingredients I needed I followed Billy Bob's recipe for chocolate cherry cake. What a cake it turned out to be! I had a big supper, followed by two big ol' pieces of cake, and I will probably have some with my ice cream a little later. That cake is delicious, moist and just plain beautiful! Thank you Billy Bob, but holy crap, what am I going to do with all that cake! It will take me about 3 days, at 3 meals a day, to finish it. I'm not used to a lot of sweets in my diet and may die of sugar overload!

Nothing else going on today - I walked my mile and a half this morning, and may do it again tomorrow, but I'll take a break on the weekend. There is no incentive to be out in the heat so I read an entire book today, and have several more from the library plus two coming from Amazon in the next day or two. It's frustrating to try to read as it's best in direct sunlight. I sat on the porch this morning while it was cool but the daylight was bright.

My granddaughter Autumn started school this morning, and I'm anxious to hear how her first day of kindergarten went. Both she and my oldest grandson in NY have started losing their baby teeth. They look so cute when they smile, especially when they aren't aware of how cute they look.

Well since my supper has settled a little bit I think I will go get me another thin slice of cake! God, it's so good, and I have Billy Bob to thank for the recipe! Thank ya, darlin'.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the cooler part of today I went to the library and stopped at Target on the way back. I didn't find the advertised items I was looking for a Target - never do - but I remembered that I want to try Billy Bob's recipe for chocolate cherry cake. Look at his post for August 14th for the description and recipe for the cake. Since I don't usually shop for groceries at a discount store, it wasn't easy for me to find what I was looking for.

I bought the yaller cake mix. I looked for the Comstock cherry pie filling, but they only had Comstock blueberry and strawberry, so that will set me back at least a day for making the cake. I hesitate about the chocolate frosting mix (does anyone but me still say "icing" rather than frosting? Sorta like "dressing" is what is now called stuffing.) I'm not a big fan of icing unless it's my son-in-law's cream cheese icing, but I went ahead and bought a can of the prepared stuff. I took a quick glance at the ingredients - didn't read it - but the ingredients list takes up an awful lot of room on the label, so I won't read it. No doubt there are at least 3 mentions of corn syrup.

But I will go by Billy Bob's directions as faithfully as I can follow them, and will look for the Comstock cherry pie filling tomorrow. It's getting too hot to start running around to any more stores today.

At 3:00 pm it is 90F and heading for 98 today. I believe that once you hit 90 there isn't much difference between that and 100! I'm ready for something in the neighborhood of 78 degrees and I'll be happy. Of course, inside my house things are pretty decent and the cooler is working as it is supposed to. I sure hope that fan isn't racking up too much electricity! After paying something like $11.60 last month for the electric I'll probably need to be sitting down when I open the next bill!

Monday, August 13, 2012


I am so glad to have a cooler house now, but overall the heat is getting to me. I started out for a walk around the Park this morning but had to come back after about a mile. The coolest temperatures in Sacramento are in the mornings, so if it's too hot to walk then you can imagine what it is at 3:00 PM! It's going up to something in the vicinity of 103-106 - the forecast keeps changing. I'm not feeling well at all, so I will cut this post short and write again when the days are a bit cooler.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ah, bliss!

My son Steve came over 1st thing this morning with his son and helper, 2 yr old Liam. Liam had his Black & Decker tool belt with all his tools, and they were ready to get to work. Liam got sidetracked by remembering that Grandma has a big cabinet, at kid's level, stocked with healthy snacks & kids' drinks. It's the first place they all go, and return, and return.

I only had Donald's 6ft stepladder, but Steve was able to hoist himself up onto the roof and check out the situation. He immediately saw what was needed, including a small fitting that I didn't have, so naturally we all hopped into his van for a quick trip to Home Depot. It didn't take long and the swamp cooler was up and running, blowing out incredibly cool air.

He did a few other small jobs while he was here, and we looked at National Forest maps to figure out future camping trips for me, backpacking trips into the wilderness for the guys. We also tried to prioritize future work on the house, beginning with the roof. That can wait for cooler weather however.

I went out to check my mailbox a few minutes ago and can't believe the difference in the outdoors and inside (which my thermometer registers at 83F). I'm going to grill mahi mahi for my dinner and don't look forward to having to go out to light the grill and then to cook.

I'm just so sorry Lady isn't here to enjoy the liveable temperatures, and sorry she had to suffer the heat along with me for so long.

I set up the cot today and tried it out, and I'm going to be perfectly happy with it. Forgot to get pictures before I rolled it back up for storing until my next trip, but it's so easy to work with I will set it up again before long and remember to take a couple of pics. I had thought I would head for the hills on Monday morning, but I think I may wait until all the summer vacationers are back to school and work. There is so much I should be doing around here for now - indoors of course.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bring on the Pineapple Express!

It looks like now the predicted high today will only be 102, down 2 degrees from the 104 that was originally forecast.

To amuse myself I looked up various websites to see what the coming winter might hold - hoping Sacramento would be blessed with a frigid cold streak. It won't happen, but I discovered this little statement about the Pineapple Express. I don't like to think of excessive rains with a roof that has always leaked, but I'd love to be where the incredible snow events take place.

The famed "Pineapple Express," a phenomenon that occurs when a strong, persistent flow of tropical moisture sets up from the Hawaiian Islands to the West Coast of the U.S., could develop for a time this winter. This phenomenon often leads to excessive rain and incredible snow events.

Steve is going to drop by tomorrow morning before the temps start to rise (supposedly to 105F) and see if he can figure out how to hook up the swamp cooler. I went to Home Depot this morning and the portable a/c's that you can move from room to room are expensive. The window units won't work with the type of windows I have. So I'm screwed (although another term comes to mind) and will have to go with the swamp monster on the roof. I didn't see anything like a mister at HD, that I would be happy to set up on my driveway and move out there from Noon to 10 pm.

I'm trying to drink copious amounts of water but now and then substitute a cold beer. I hope when the weather cools I can easily reduce the amount of beer I've been drinking lately. (It's really not all that much - the beer gets warm before I can make a dent in it because of the temps, so I often put the opened can into the freezer for a while until it gets cold again.)

The hummingbirds are emptying the feeder almost as fast as I can fill it. The wasps like it too, and when I see several flying around I go outside with a bottle of windex spray. I figure that can't be poisonous so as to harm the birds, and I don't spray it near the feeder. I have noticed times when two hummers will alight and drink at the same time - something they don't normally do. When times get tough we all have to pull together!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why did I come back?

Here I am back in Sacramento where it reached 104F today, I don't have air conditioning, and at least 1/3 of my jalousie window cranks don't work or are missing. I'm suffering! Should have stayed in the mountains. With the weekend coming up it's no time to be setting off to try to find a decent camping spot, but Saturday is predicted to reach 105!

I spread out my tent on the living room floor and wiped the floor of it with damp paper towels. I had used a small whisk broom to get rid of the forest debris but still found plenty of it, along with dog hair I missed somewhere along the way. I'll be finding dog hair everywhere for a while, but I don't really mind. She would have been miserable in this weather, just as I am.

I've been trying to figure out what to do next summer to escape the heat. There is always volunteering at Lassen or other national parks and forests, and I think I could find a visitor center job so I wouldn't have to be a camp host. Other than that, the 14 day limit on staying in a particular space makes it difficult to decide where to go.

I went to the Dollar Store this morning to pick up some small items for my camping box. The nice thing about dollar stores in CA is that everything is one dollar - unlike Dollar General in, say, North Carolina, and a lot of other states.

I was planning to take pictures of my cot in various stages of putting it up, but it's just too damn hot. The sales rep at REI put the side rails in, and the cot folds in half, so I don't think I will ever have to completely take it down. You will see when I post pics. It is lightweight - somewhere between 8 and 9 pounds, and that was a big consideration for me. As you know, I've been grumbling about things such as lawn/camp chairs & lounges, and just about everything outdoors, that is so overweight you can hardly carry them. I'm tired of that and am not buying anything from now on that is too heavy for me to comfortably handle.

Speaking of heavy, you can't do much about coolers, especially when they are filled with ice and maybe a 12 pack, plus various food items. I noticed this morning that my biceps are looking good, like I've been lifting weights. I couldn't figure it out at first and then realized it was from moving the cooler around to keep it in the shade. Now I guess I need to go back to lifting the weights just to keep my arms looking halfway decent.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tue., Aug. 7 & Photos

After a terrible night with very little sleep, I packed it all in at 6:30 this morning and came home. My first reaction walking in the door was, "My God, there is so much room here!". Now that I've had a nice long shower and hair wash, I feel pretty good.

I blew up the air mattress yesterday in the late afternoon. By 7:30 pm I could see it lost most of the air, so I lugged it back out to the car and tried it again. I've had problems ever since I bought this mattress, including night #1 at the North Fork CG. Whatever I did after that first night, the air stayed in for the following 4 nights. Back to last night, I went out a third time to fill the mattress, removing and resetting the cap thinking I might not have had it in properly. By 1 am I was on the ground and went to finish the night's sleep (sleep? what sleep!) in the car. Of course I don't fit across the back seat of the car, but I put my sleeping bag in and climbed into it, with my knees bent for the rest of the night.

I didn't bother with a shower, nor did I stop at the next campground which also had showers. I forgot to pack my bath towel, and all I had were two dish towels. They would have worked, but what if someone ran through the CG yelling, "Fire - evacuate the campground!" Yeah, that probably would never happen, but it could. I'm entirely too old to still have hang-ups like that.

Other than getting onto the wrong highway about half way home, I soon realized my mistake and had no further problems. This trip, and the 2 before it, have been sort of "shake down camping trips". I need to get the hang of this - I used to have it and didn't realize I lost it along the way - but I will be able to write the ultimate "Camping Guidebook" before long.

I will post some of the photos I took and will do a recap and lessons learned post another day.

The creek at North Fork CG:

Same creek from my site. You can barely see the creek for all the elephant ears!

My stash of firewood for one night - all free for the taking.

I passed this meadow one day while out looking for firewood:

My campsite at North Fork:

A shot of Lake Tahoe. From the direction I was driving most of Tahoe was on my left, with lots of trees in the space between the lake and the road. When there was a break in the trees, mostly visible were the sailboats in the marinas. I think the most beautiful sight of the lake is coming up US 50 from Sacramento. You come to the top of a mountain and there it is in the distance looking gorgeous as ever. Up close to the lake is all tourism and vacation rentals.

These were taken on CA 4 after leaving Ebbets Pass, Elev. abt. 8400 ft. This was one of the best and most scenic drives I've ever taken, but it's a treacherous one. Very narrow and twisting, with one hairpin curve following another, and killer drop offs with no guard rails. I was wondering what kind of fool would try to drive an RV or tow a trailer in this section, and yep, I saw a few of them. I honestly don't know how they made it and I was glad I wasn't still driving my truck!

Hell's Kitchen, on CA 4:

My campsite at Wakaluu Hepyoo:

This is the distance to the car, and I had to carry everything that distance. Back and forth.

I found a trail leading down to the Stanislaus River and followed it, but I thought better of climbing down to the big flat rock.

A lot of folks have written expressing their fear of being in a tent during a lightning storm. I wasn't very worried about it, although it seemed eerily close at times. I just figure getting struck by lightning might feel like a massive heart attack, and to be truthful, I wouldn't mind going that way - the heart attack, I mean. I don't want there to be any reason to put me on life support.

I just heard on the Weather channel that men far outnumber women in being struck by lightning. It wasn't as much to do with more men working outdoors, but spending leisure time outdoors. Well, I guess camping in a tent could be classified as leisure so I wasn't as immune to trouble as I thought I was. I still won't worry about it as the Weather channel also said there is no safe place to be outside in a lightning storm. Where ya gonna go when you're miles from "civilization"? I'll take my chances. Maybe a tent qualifies as "inside"?

Quick note from Wed., Aug. 8:
I made a trip to REI this morning and bought a cot. It is very easy to set up, and can be folded and stored or transported without breaking it down. It is low to the ground, but a bit higher than my air mattress. I think it will work out fine for me, and I will try it at home before taking it out camping so I will be able to return it if it isn't comfortable or suitable for my use.

Sun & Mon, Aug 5 & 6

Sun., Aug 5:
As the sun was going down last night I got out the packaging for my tent to check the directions for attaching the fly. Sometimes I just throw it on and attach the corners, but it’s much better to use the cross pole on top since it makes it easier to get in and out of the door. I’m planning to camp tomorrow night at a higher elevation, and the fly does make the tent warmer. I prefer to have the top uncovered though, so I can look at the stars through the trees.

About 1 am this morning I woke up to a rumbling sound and it became apparent it was thunder. I went to the car, got the fly and threw it on the tent – not easy in the dark. I had a flashlight which didn’t help since I had to set it on the ground; I could have lit my Coleman propane lantern but the thunder was now accompanied by flashes of lightning.

I lay in the tent through the storm which didn’t really drop all that much rain, but there was a lot of lightning and thunder. I counted the seconds between the sound and the flash, although I don’t really know how to translate it into # of miles away. I think it was close, because one flash was followed by the crack of thunder at about 2-1-thousand! This morning the sun is out and not a cloud in the sky so I’m hoping my gear will dry out. I think I’ll remove the fly tonight if it is thoroughly dry, so I can pack up quickly in the morning. I’m even going to get my coffee on the run!

The new campground host came this evening. His mom and dad drove up also to help him get set up she told me they were CG hosts at Death Valley for several years. The new host was scheduled to come last Friday but his wife had a car accident, and she is home recovering mainly from aches and bruises.
He arrived in late afternoon with a Lance truck camper. They did all the necessary things to get it off the truck (I would have left it on, myself) and moved the truck out. Shortly afterward one of the legs on the camper snapped and the whole thing slid and twisted sideways. I couldn’t see how in the world they could do anything but call for a tow, but people began to stop with offers of help – mostly young folks riding by on motorcycles and in their trucks. A guy in his 30’s came with his truck and between what he had in the pickup plus what the CG host had in the small trailer he also pulled, they got it propped up so it was fairly even.
Through all this I stayed over in my own camp because I would have just been in the way. I felt so bad for him and just know that camper will never be the same. The frame is no doubt twisted and while it might be repairable to some extent, I don’t think I would ever trust it again. I wonder if he had brought sawhorses to set the camper on since he expects to be there through Labor Day. As I said, I would have packed up everything I could in the truck and gone back home, sending a flat bed to tow the camper home. His parents had brought their own tent to stay overnight, and I think the host was able to stay in his camper.

Monday, Aug. 6:
I was up at 7 am and pulled out around 7:30 and headed towards Reno. I turned off on Rte 89 at Truckee and drove down the western side of Lake Tahoe. I continued on until turning off at CA 4 towards Ebbets Pass. The part of the Sierra Nevada I’ve driven today is some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever encountered. I took a few pictures although the sun made Lake Tahoe look sort of washed out; it’s difficult to get good pictures while driving along, even if I stop at a pull out. It’s difficult to even drive because of constantly going between shade and brilliant sunlight.

I intended to stop at a campground called Pine Marten, and remembered the directions that it is right after Alpine Lake. Duh, the directions are for coming the opposite way and I missed it entirely. That is the CG that is at about 7000 ft, and I’m planning to go back probably after Labor Day with more cold weather camping gear than I had this trip. I came on down to about 3900 ft and am staying for one night at a CG called Wakaluu Hepyoo, which in the language of the Miwuk indians means Wild River. I am close enough to hear the Stanislaus River but can’t see it from my site. The signs at the campground are in English and Miwuk.

It is a beautiful campground, but like all I’ve found so far this year the budgetary cuts have affected maintenance. Knowing this you’d think campers would be more careful to pick up their trash. I’ve found two used band-aids, used Kleenex, various plastic bottle caps, and a fire pit full of aluminum cans. They only have vault toilets but there are quite a lot of them. You can smell them when you go by but I think that's because the wind blows the fumes coming out of the vent stacks on the roof. The facilities themselves were very clean.

I only paid for one night so tomorrow I will either stop at another CG along the way that looks good, or I’ll go on home. This one, by the way, has free showers. I looked into the shower room and it looks very decent but it’s all the way back at the entrance. The one I might stop at tomorrow has coin op showers, and is a much bigger CG. I prefer the smaller ones, although on a Tuesday night it won’t be crowded.

I’m down to about 45% left on my battery, so I think I will post all my pictures when I get back home.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, Aug. 3:
I just got back from a huge Shell gas station/convenience store/Burger King where I sent off a post. That place is expensive - $2.39 for a gal. of Crystal Spring water ($.98 in Sac.), and gas was $4.19. I hope it’s cheaper than that when I need to fill up again.

Before I left I put everything away except for a small bag of trash, including my coffee filter and a couple of paper towels. When I got back everything was strewn on the ground. I also realized I left my vitamins/supplements in Ziploc bags on the table, and whatever it was even took those. I divide up the pills for the day into a.m., noon, and p.m., with most of them being taken in the morning. So the birds/mice/squirrels got a good dose of fish oil capsule, calcium, vit. D, iron, aspirin, and vit.C. I can’t believe I did that!

I decided to put on my jeans this morning until the sun warmed the day. I had washed and line dried them, then folded the to pack. When I tried to put them on, it was like breaking starch! Imagine me in my tent balanced on one leg while trying to get the other one to go through the pants leg. Finally got it, but then I had the other leg to do. Meanwhile, I’m doing a jig that would make an Irishman proud, and trying not to fall on my rear! There is no one in sight, and I could have just sat out at the picnic table to put the jeans on.
A campground is not the place for me to be on a weekend. This one has been relatively quiet since I arrived on Wednesday, except for a very large extended family group with many kids at at least 10 dogs, some of which bark constantly when the families go off and leave some of them behind. Fortunately this group is way in the back of the loop and is very friendly.

The campground host left the day I arrived and a new host is expected tomorrow. I remember why I don’t want another camp host job. It’s called “weekends”.

Sat., Aug. 4:
The CG was very quiet last night but this morning it’s a different story. The two sites down from me are occupied by a couple of guys and 5 boys, about 10-11 yrs old. I raised 3 sons, so I can let a lot of things go by, especially the noise, but this morning two of them ran right into my site, one chasing the other and running around my tent. There is not much space around the tent to begin with, the slope to the creek on one side, and trees on the other. I could just imagine one of them tripping over a tent stake and pulling the whole thing down, so I said “You shouldn’t be running through other people’s campsites.” They left without a word.

You may remember when I decided I’d go ahead and be an old lady, and wear my glasses on a chain. Yesterday I was talking to a young man, probably 18 or 19, about the CG’s registration process, which sites were reserved, etc. When he left he said “I really like your beaded chain. My girlfriend does beading.” So now it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks about the chain, this cute kid liked it!

I'm back at the Burger King and decided to eat an early supper here so I don't have to cook. I remember when I thought BK was good but times sure have changed. One thing I'm going to have to do is figure out some decent camping food that doesn't require a lot of preparation or cleanup.

Just finished this excuse for a hamburger and now I will go pay the exhorbitant price for a couple of bags of ice and a 6-pack of something. They don't carry my favorite so I might try something new, like PBR!

Back with ya in a couple of days.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wed & Thur., Aug 1 and 2

Wed., Aug. 1:
I left home at 8:30 and arrived at the North Fork (of the American River) CG in 2 hours, stopping once to get ice. It’s a Forest Service CG that is about 6 miles off I-80. I myself wouldn’t want to bring an RV over the very narrow and winding road, but the back of the loop is filled with an extended family with tents and trailers of all sorts. I’m in the first site from the entrance with the river running alongside my site.

In the west this can be called a river, but in the east it’s a creek (or sometimes more properly a “crick”). I can hear the water rushing over the rocks and it reminds me of many campsites in the Smoky Mtns.

This is water in the way I love it! Oceans are beautiful, and I lived within spitting distance of the Atlantic in Ireland. Big wide rivers are gorgeous – the Hudson, Ohio, Mississippi, and the Snake Rivers come to mind. Lakes are also ok, but give me a rushing creek and that is perfection! Warning signs tell me that there are rattlesnakes in the area. Always something to beware of.

I’ve paid for 5 nights of camping which will bring me through Sunday night. I have another drive in mind leading to a new area for me, so stay tuned.

Thurs., August 2:
I woke up to a very cold morning and hated to get out of the sleeping bag, but my need for a hot cup of coffee and something to eat over rode the comfort of sleeping in. I brought my sleeping bag outside and got into it on my nice lounge chair, with my coffee mug on the little table next to me.

I need to rearrange my tent and I think my head was downhill slightly last night. I am going to try the bed alongside the back of the tent which will make it much easier to get in and out of. I have so much room I don’t know what to do with it all. It’s missing a dog!

This morning I decided to drive up the road a couple of miles. I walked a few hundred feet earlier, but since my first time at Lassen I can’t pass up sticks and twigs for firewood. I usually don’t get very far and have to bring it back without dropping it. So when I drove I was on the lookout for firewood, and found a couple of spots that had some beautiful wood that were good lengths for the fire pit.

It is easier I’ll have to admit to just go buy cut firewood at a convenience store, and then you don’t have to be constantly adding to the fire. But I guess this is where the German in me comes out – I cannot see paying for wood when I’m in the middle of a forest with it all around me. I feel like I’m doing my small part to reduce the tinder from the ground.

There is something so satisfying in gathering wood for the fire, and I can relate to the millennia of women before me, and even now in some countries, where women have always been the gatherers.

I’ve been wondering where to get water to have on hand for putting out the embers of the fire when I go to bed at night. The road down to the creek is too steep and I hate to try it since I’m having enough trouble walking around my campsite without tripping. It came to me that I could use the water from the melted ice in my coolers! I’m brilliant this morning and on a roll for sure. I collected the melted ice water into a pan and then poured it into an empty gallon jug, and voila! I even had the bright idea to tear off part of the label so that I wouldn’t get that jug mixed up with two others that are my drinking and cooking water.

Will get this posted now while I have the chance. I drove about 15 miles to get ice, and the Burger King here has wifi. I will post pictures next time around.