Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday in South-Central Idaho


Oh, Joy!  We had a nice drive today.  South-Central Idaho is pretty arid, flat, windy with some big and magnificent surprises.  We're settled at our RV Park for the night, Village of Trees RV Resort outside of Declo, Idaho, off I-84E.

Petunia followed along behind Floribunda like the little champ I knew she could be.  We stopped at one rest area so I could check her out and see if her battery and computer system were okay.  NO PROBLEM at all.  Also, believe it or not, the backup camera functioned flawlessly the whole day.  I can't remember right now who suggested that there might be some wetness that needed to dry out; and I don't know if that is/was the issue because it did drizzle pretty much the whole day today.  But, the Voyager worked tirelessly the whole trip.  Hallelujah - praise the Lord.

The day has been gray and showery, but what surprisingly great photo ops.  I'm not going to talk more but simply want to upload the photos.  Remember we're traveling along the Snake River ....

Drizzle, arid, big country, not much to see

 Patches of green from time to time looking through a raindrop speckled windshield
 Aha, the Snake River and lots of basalt - volcanic history here

As we got near Twin Falls, Idaho we crossed over this bridge; so we decided to take a detour to the lookout area and this is what we saw....
 Looking back at the bridge we'd just crossed

 Then standing in the exact same spot looking the opposite direction

 Also taken from the same spot checking out the people standing out on the actual lookout

 Lacy took a couple of looks, then became very circumspect, "Hmm, I think I'll just stay a little back from that kinda' low wall!"
 "Don't you agree, folks, it's safer from here"

 A day with NO SUN but absolutely perfect photo ops - Just look at that snake winding all over the place!
 Lots of basalt and other rocks here.

It's impossible to take a bad shot!

 Interesting statue honoring Ira Burton Perrine on the grounds of the Visitors' Center - see plaque below

 Twin Falls, ID remembering their founders

The visitor information / gift shop was manned by two helpful teenage volunteers who work here every weekend

Floribunda and Petunia, with Lincoln and Eleanor, were waiting patiently in the lookout parking lot

Happy Sunday Everybody!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Idaho Introduction, Boise Banter .... and Birds of Prey

Arrived in Idaho Thursday

Lots of sky, land, farms, ranches
Fall's beginning

Saturday 8AM ....
Checking in after my second night at Garrity RV Park in Nampa, a suburb of Boise.  The RV park is nothing to speak of as far as beauty is concerned, but it has grass for Lacy, all pull-through parking and is convenient to I-84 E that will lead me to visit Boise downtown today.  Yesterday the gang and I mostly relaxed (which the gang does every day) and I treated myself to a movie, “Lee Daniels:  The Butler” with Forrest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey and a large supporting cast.  It’s a loosely based true saga of a real White House butler named Eugene Allen, who served in the White House during the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.  I had expected it to be a gentle and kind depiction of a faithful butler; instead I found it memory provoking of several 20th Century eras of American history, some of which we’re not so proud.  Both Whittaker and Winfrey I found superlative in their roles; I'm always surprised to find that Oprah is really a good actress.  And, Forrest Whittaker simply continues with a long list of extraordinary roles played to perfection.  (That's my two thumbs-up for today folks!)

There is a Camping World service center here and I spoke with a service rep yesterday and they aren’t able to even take a look at my backup camera until next Tuesday at the earliest!  I'd hoped that somebody could climb up on the rear of Floribunda to see if the reason the camera's functioning sporadically is simply because of an unsecured connection.  No luck.  Geez!  I’m thinking of making an appointment at Camping World outside Salt Lake City for sometime next week, which would mean I’d have to function as is until we get there.  Frustration!

Later today I plan to take Petunia out for a driving tour of the Capitol and downtown areas of Boise, as I’ve never been here before. Another possibility for today’s entertainment is a visit to World Center for Birds of Prey a little south of the city.  I need to check on activity times.  And, one more idea is to possibly visit to the Basque Museum; I understand the Basque people had / have a strong influence on the culture of this area.  They originally came to Idaho as sheepherders – sounds interesting, to this descendant of a French-Canadian, my mom.  Hopefully I'll have some photos to share.


Petunia and I had a very pleasant foray into downtown Boise to visit the State Capitol and environs. 

 Bring our troops home safely - close-up of ribbons mounted on the columns of the Capitol's Corinthian columns

Gardens surrounding the Capitol building 

Recognition of the Idaho Territory proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 

 Replica of the Liberty Bell in front of steps to Capitol

Boise is an easy city to drive - however, it is Saturday so no business traffic around the capital.  After visiting the Capitol  I used my iPhone google maps to go to the Basque Museum.  Well, I tried to go there - but actually followed verbal and written directions to a tee - and found myself headed for underground parking at a hotel complex.  So, not wanting to trust google for downtown any more, we headed southwest of downtown Boise to the World Center for Birds of Prey ....

Landscape of countryside and Boise from drive to ...

Hood painting on Volunteer vehicle in parking lot of the center.  I'm interested in learning more about The Peregrine Fund as, there's a section of the center dedicated to the work The Peregrine Fund is doing on the Island of Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa.  Aside from desiring to enjoy this current North American adventure, my Bucket List's #1 travel destination is Madagascar.  The Peregrine Fund biologists and volunteers are doing massive amounts of work on saving the habitat of so many endangered species on the island.  Many of these animals are not found anywhere else on Earth; saving them in Madagascar is their only hope for survival.
Here at the center are many living examples of birds of prey.  Many of the photos of live birds aren't good examples as the birds are behind screens and cage materials.  All of the birds can be taken out to fly - with supervision.

 Bald Eagle

Couldn't get a good photo of the Bateleur Eagle

Below is "Condor Condos"  The Peregrine Fund has been intimately involved in the restoration of the California Condor population.  Each of the birds in the exhibit is tagged with his specific number in the line of California Condors successfully 
bred, hatched and ultimately released into the wild - close to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

 There were three birds in this exhibit: numbers 80 and 92 are on the branches and number 09 is on the condo ledge

 Numbers 80 and 92 above
 #09 flying to the ledge - about a 7 foot wingspan
 Here's a closeup of that handsome dude

 The California Condor "Walk of Fame?"

 Some of the manicured grounds of the facility.  It's a relatively new and beautifully landscaped and decorated museum, aviary, and interpretive center, manned by a large number of dedicated volunteers

This lady has been a volunteer for 17 years.  This Asian-European owl, similar to the American Horned Owl is 18 months old, full grown, weighing about 5 pounds.  This volunteer has cared for this particular owl and he thinks of her as his "mom-friend."  All during her presentation he made repeated squawking sounds that she explained is his communication for his parents [the volunteer in this case] to locate him to feed.  The baby owls leave the nest but continue to be fed by both parents; this communication ensures that mom/dad can find the chicks.  The chicks can be parent-fed for up to or over a year after hatching.

After several hours of touring it was nice to return to Floribunda for a nice pork chop dinner – with lots left over for future meals.

The State of Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, our 43rd State.  Idaho is land-locked, bordered by six states:  Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana and the Canadian Province of British Colombia.  Sixty percent of the state’s land is held by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, and it leads the nation in forest service land as a percentage of total area.  There’re lots of opportunities for camping and outdoor recreation!  As of July 2012 the population of the state was 1,595,780; the capital of Boise is its most populous city with approximately 212,000 residents within the city limits and 616,500 in the entire metro area.  The State functions with two times zones:  south and south-central areas are in the Mountain Time Zone (MDT at this time); the northern portion recognizes Pacific Time zone (PDT).  Idaho is known as the “Gem State” because nearly every known kind of gem has been found within its borders.  And, it’s known by many as the “Potato State” owing to its prolific potato crops and diversity of uses for the potato.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New or Repeat Saga

Thursday morning 7:30

Let’s start at the beginning of this new saga ….

Tuesday we pulled out of Oregon City for a very nice drive (and tow) to Pendleton, Oregon, about 225 miles, stopping several times along the way to make sure Petunia was happy being towed.  In Pendleton we stayed at a Walmart and I’m beginning to think maybe staying at Walmart is our “nemesis.”  Yesterday morning we pulled out of Walmart at about 10:30 for the 187-mile drive to Ontario.  We didn’t make it!

All had been going well and we’d covered about 100 miles; we stopped at a Rest Area outside of Baker City because I’d decided, just to be on the safe side, I’d reconnect the battery in Petunia, start her and let her idle for several minutes – just as a precaution in case the battery had drained any.  Dead!  Exactly the same scenario as happened in Burns on September 3rd!  Oh, my heart sank and I descended into “poor me” and nearly complete “I don’t know what to do next!” mode.  I’m not going to relate all phone calls to AAA, Camping World Emergency Services and Mercedes Benz in Portland.  But, long story short, AAA came to the rest area after about 2 hours and the guy talked with the Mercedes Benz service rep.  Kevin, the MB service rep, suggested that it is probably in need of a new battery.  Almost as an afterthought he asked that we wait a few minutes while he went out and spoke with the technician who’d replaced the clutch on the car.

The AAA guy stayed with me waiting for info from MB.  After about 20 minutes the MB mechanic suggested that AAA jump-start the car (which hadn’t worked the other time).  Lo and behold, it started right up.   So the technician told the AAA guy to lead me into Baker City (8 miles) to make sure everything worked okay.  That we did and he guided me to a repair shop where the owner checked the battery – it was fully charged!

“Hmmm,” said the MB service rep, Kevin, on the phone.  He talked with his mechanic again and they decided that the problem is that as the car is towed with the transmission in “neutral,” when the battery drains the computer system switches the transmission into “park” so when I get stopped and try to start the ignition the computer is “confused” and won’t allow the car to start.  Well, that’s just great, now what? 

Oh, a little ‘trick’ nobody had mentioned ever and it’s not in the owner’s manual.  When that happens, you turn the ignition switch on and press and hold the brake pedal, keeping it pressed as the computer goes through its gyrations (for lack of a better term).  As I’ve said before, when the battery has been “dead” each time, all the lights and sounds on the dash DO WORK, the car just doesn’t start.  While at the repair shop we disconnected and then reconnected the battery like I do when I start towing and finish towing.  Yup, the car wouldn’t start and the dashboard instrument panel had three lighted bars where it should indicate that the transmission was in “park” or “neutral” – so I pressed the brake pedal and held it there until those three bars turned into “P” and voila! The car started right up.

I asked Kevin at Mercedes Benz to send me an email today with all the verbal instructions he’d given us on the phone.  He said he would do that.  I towed the car behind Floribunda to an RV park in town and spent the night here.  I unhitched Petunia and drove her into town for errands last evening  - not one single problem.  She ran like a top!

So, as of now I’ve decided to head to Ontario where I was headed yesterday.  I’m not sure what the facilities in Ontario may be but I do know it’s getting closer to Boise, which makes me a little more comfortable because there’s at least a Mercedes Benz dealership there.

And, two other problems … you know, when it rains, etc. … My newly installed backup camera is being temperamental vacillating between functioning and not.  I called Camping World and they said it’s probable that the connection on the camera itself (on the rear of the rig) is loose – engaging and then disengaging.  Well, I have to get somewhere to ask somebody to get up there to hopefully just tighten the connection.  The monitor works perfectly so I’m hoping that’s all it is.  Secondly, it’s cold here in eastern Oregon so last evening I turned on the heater in the coach.  It came on and heated for about 5 minutes then abruptly stopped and I haven’t been able to restart it since.  I met a lovely couple from Georgia in the site next to me; the gentleman came over and tried to find the fuse for the heater but couldn’t.  I went out last evening and bought a space heater for the night – it got down into the 30s during the night.  So, there’s another thing to get fixed.  The heater was thoroughly inspected in July and I certainly haven’t had need for it until now.

I’m still planning to post some photos of Kari’s Ironman – but, first things first!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Kooky Kangaroo" Does It Again .... Lake Tahoe Ironman

Tuesday Evening - Pendleton, Oregon - Parked at Walmart for the night so I'm not going to fool around with the imported photos of the Ironman competition.  Here's the post I started yesterday and I'll post pix later.

8AM  Monday morning

Just got off the phone with Kari (Kooky Kangaroo is a childhood name from a kids' card game), who is FIRED UP.  She's riding a high that comes after a job well done.  She's an IRONMAN one more time. David, my son-in-law, will be sending me photos to post, hopefully later today.  But, long story short:
*  Air temperature 31F (-0.55C) - got up into the 40s to 50s during the day; then back down into the   30s before she finished the race.
*  Water temperature in Lake Tahoe 51F (10.56C)
*  2.4-mile swim - lots of people pulled out during the swim in the icy water of Lake Tahoe

*  112-mile bike - base altitude = 6,248 feet

*  26.2-mile run

David got some fantastic shots of her during the race.  I'll get them imported to post them ASAP.  I'm working on battery power now - at Walmart.  Ta-Ta

It's Oregon, So There's Rain!


Getting ready to head out on our SECOND maiden voyage - towing Petunia.  Heading north on 205 to I-84 east towards The Dalles, Arlington or even Pendleton, Oregon.  Kind of depends on weather and how Petunia does.  Wish us luck!

A second short "Good Bye"  to Joe and Betty who showed me such a wonderful time while here in the Portland area.  I'll think of you often and hope to meet again along the way.  Great couple.  Happy life.

Also, I'm trying to get photos together of Kari's Ironman - will do it hopefully later today or tomorrow.  Suffice it to say - she's, for the third time, an IRONMAN.  There are, of course, lots of incidental stories about her quest and how she and her athletes did.  Can you tell I'm a little proud of her?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Who's Daughter is an Ironman?

Yup, Kari is all ready for her latest Ironman competition.  It's tomorrow at Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada.

Now I have to give some background information about this extraordinary woman who, I'm happy to say, is my daughter.  Almost 14 years ago, on November 23, 1999, Kari delivered triplets: a boy, Spencer, and two girls, Tate and Avery.  And they were her 4th, 5th and 6th children!

As she walked in a fog of early triplet care - it was horrendous - she found that at their community center it was possible for her to go for a short swim while the triplets were cared for in the child-care center.  She hadn't been active in sports but did like to swim; she started with about 10 or 15 minutes.  Lo and behold, she found that NOBODY could talk to her while she was swimming - aaahhh - peacefulness.  She gradually went from a few minutes to 20, then to 30 .....  She loved it.

Later, my son-in-law, David, bought her a bicycle for Christmas; he thought it would be one more activity she could be involved in - alone.  With six children, three of them infants, alone time was pretty  non-existent.  Life was one constant round of diapers, laundry, crying, nursing, cooking, driving, pumping [nursing mothers know what that is] .......  And then there were the older three girls, all of whom had very active and busy lives.  It was one hectic home and life.

Well, not only did Kari find that she loved the bike as much as the pool, but she was a natural on the bike.  And thus began the making of a triathlete - from housewife and mother to Super Woman.
She's run innumerable marathons, some she considers just a training run.  She swims like a fish - and fast too.  She's even been accompanied by a therapist when learning to swim long distances in open water, which is a very different phenomena  than  swimming in a pool with the black line on the bottom.  I'm not sure that she'll ever completely be cured of her fear in open water; but she has a mantra - she counts her strokes.  As she came out of the water after her first Ironman swim, I remember asking her [as she ran by us],  "How was it?"  Her response was, "7,456 strokes!"  I don't remember the exact number - but she'd overcome her fear by counting strokes.  On a bike she's incredible.  The woman just has the stamina of I don't know what!  Last year she competed in the Markleyville Death Ride - a bicycle competition in the Sierra Nevada:  129-mile bike ride with 16,000 feet of climbing!  She flew up and down those mountain passes, finishing in less than her predicted time.  And, she seems to do these things without ever having a down experience.

I'm sorry to miss her endeavor tomorrow, as will Addison (21) and Holland (19) as they're not in the vicinity either.  But, we'll all be following online and a whole cadre of family and friends will be at the event to cheer her on.  I'm going to post a few photos of her first Ironman competition in Louisville, Kentucky in 2009 .....

Here's Kari the day before the Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky

Exiting the Ohio River after her 2.4-mile swim.  Her biggest obstacle (fear of open water) had been overcome and she felt like the rest of the day would be "a piece of cake!"

On the 112-mile bike race  - She's like the Energizer Bunny - just keeps going and going

Late afternoon - heading out for the second half of the 26.2-mile run - a marathon

Tears of happiness, "I did it!"  Almost 15 hours - but what an accomplishment.
That's Spencer congratulating his mom, the Ironman

"Kari's Krew"  I don't know why I'd taken my shirt off!  Included here:  David's parents, Sam and Betsy, Kari's girlfriend (with glasses), six kids (Quinn, Addison, Holland, Spencer, Avery and Tate), husband, David, and Mimi.  Boy, were we proud of her

Just a mom and her kids

Number One Fan - David

Welcome Home by her friends in El Dorado Hills, California

And, finally, my office white board the following week - check out the appropriate seeming notes - 'pain mgt'

This was in 2009.  Now, in 2013, Kari's an athlete, owns a triathlon club ("EPIC Tri") and coaches athletes of all ages and abilities from all over the USA.  Besides her jobs as wife and mother and coaching and competing, she's looking for young athletes to train for future Olympic competition - She's a certified Olympic Triathlon Coach.

I'll have news tomorrow about her latest endeavor....