Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back "Home" Again in . . . Loomis, California

Lacy, Eleanor and I rolled into Bob and Judy's ranch in Loomis a little after noon yesterday.  Judy is one of my very best friends in the world.  She and Bob married while I was in Guatemala, so I missed a very important historical event!  Seriously, I worked with Judy at Kaiser in Roseville and we have become the greatest of friends - especially since we've both retired.  Judy had been widowed several years ago; then, along came Bob, a retired accountant and rancher.

Judy is now the chief lady rancher on this beautiful ranch.  Loomis is a very small, and somewhat distant, suburb of Sacramento.  Judy is lifelong resident of this area, knows a lot about its history; Bob has been a resident for many years and has owned this ranch for over 20.  When he and Judy 'hitched up' they began a ranch 'overhaul' that has resulted in a very beautiful and comfortable home and property.  

Combining pet families and making additions, they currently have:  two horses, four llamas, four Chihuahuas, two lop-eared bunnies, a cat, and a pond full of Koi (Japanese for 'carp') of every color koi come in!  Oh, and they have resident geese, that do not migrate; some days there are 10 or 20 hear in the ponds and pastures; some days there may be a hundred!  They fly in early in the morning and fly back to (probably) Folsom reservoir every night.  They can be a nuisance what with poop and such; but for me it's heaven to watch all the animals all day long.


You may remember a similar photo of Floribunda 
right after I moved in last July.  
Bob and Judy's ranch was my first adventure.


There's another beautiful 'ranch' across the street.
Each property is about five acres - 'gentlemen ranches'
I took these photos about 8:30 this morning.



These are pampered, well-loved horses, 
Mindy and Pollyanna, who are kept overnight
in the barn and then let out during the day.
I say pampered because Bob and Judy try to protect 
them from the cold nights!  50F!!!


In those trees is a wonderful tree-house 
for the grandkids.  It's even carpeted!


Unfortunately, California is in for a bad summer if 
we don't get lots more rain and that's not likely; so, container plants, 
landscaping and watered pastures may not
be possible.


Lacy has an affinity for this rose garden. No roses to 
smell - yet - Lacy


This is a small landscaped and enclosed garden area where
they let the bunnies run free and play in the bushes and flowers.
Oreo and Sable also have an indoor / outdoor hutch in sun and partial shade.
In the summertime, with our really high temperatures
the bunnies are brought into the house during the hot days

Here are three of the four Chihuahuas:  L to R:
Lilly, Dusty and Marty.  Max had taken a real liking to Lacy's
soup bone and was out on the deck going at it.

It's Spring, it's Sunday, we're with friends - 
I'm happy . . . and I wish you a happy Sunday
too!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Decoding a Myth of the Vernal Equinox . . .

Remember I said I was going to try to find out why there wasn't actually equal day and night on the Vernal Equinox, yesterday?

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski gives this definition of Vernal Equinox:  This is when the sun crosses the equator going south to north.  It happens during Earth's orbit around the sun  and simultaneously on the imaginary dome of our sky.  Remember that the Earth orbits the sun one time per year; but the Sun orbits the Earth one time per day.  On the Vernal Equinox the Sun crosses the equator, an imaginary line drawn right around the Earth's middle, like a belt.  It devices Earth into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

Kottlowski says that the word equinox means "equal nights," and as a result it's rumored that there must be equal hours of both day and night (12 hours).  But, he says that's not really true, that we get closer to equal day and night hours based on the effects of daylight saving.  The one place on Earth where one would probably see the most equality between day and night is at the equator, somewhere like Quito, Ecuador.  [I visited Quito years ago and had a photo taken of me straddling the equator].

Today I leave Bakersfield to meander north towards home (Judy's ranch in Loomis, CA).  I don't plan to make the whole trip today but maybe as far as Modesto or Stockton; then it'll be just a short hop to Loomis tomorrow - without commute traffic.


Eventide of the Vernal Equinox . . . and Today's Adventure

Thought I’d check what the actual sunrise and sunset times were for today.  Sunrise (PDT) was at 6:57am and sunset (PDT) was at 7:05pm.  What?  Today is the vernal equinox; aren’t the day and the night supposed to be equal?   I guess I have another research project; I’ll find the answer.  According to the World Clock and Astronomy, it was the 16th that had 7:02am sunrise and 7:02pm sunset.  Well, I’ve just got to get this figured out.  I’ll share what I find out.

As for today’s adventure . . . I posted that I was planning to either make it a really short day by driving only to San Bernardino, or Glendale.  I left Desert Hot Springs at 10:45, which got me to the San Bernardino area by about noon.  “Well,” said I to Lacy and myself, “I think we need to continue to Glendale.”  So we stayed on I-10 and headed west towards Glendale.  Somewhere between San Bernardino and Glendale I admitted to the kids and myself that what I was really uncomfortable with that was causing my hemming and hawing was the infamous Grapevine.

For those followers who are unfamiliar with The Grapevine, it is a grade that essentially begins at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon at an altitude of very close to sea level, and ascends the canyon to Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains via I-5.  The grade is named for the canyon it passes through with its wild grapes that still grow along the original road.  The Spanish name is La CaƱada de las Uvas(the mountain pass of the grapes). 

The highest point is at an elevation of 4,431 feet and the grades are 6%+ both uphill and down.  It’s the major route for the long haul truckers who must use it for transporting goods between Southern and Northern California and all of the Pacific Northwest.  Closure for any reason causes a formidable disruption to traffic; and, it does occasionally close due to heavy snowfall during winter storms.

These photos are from Google Images - I was too busy to take photos!




Sometime after passing Glendale, I decided that the way to calm down about traversing the Grapevine was to "just do it!"  So we pulled off a little north of Glendale for a snack, gas and potty break and headed on to I-5N and the Grapevine.  End to end it's about 40 miles; but takes at least an hour to cover the distance in a car.  Floribunda just hung in there with all the big trucks, at times going 35mph on some uphill grades.  There are signs instructing drivers to turn off air conditioners for a number of miles to prevent overheating, and they even supply water stations for overheated radiators. I also attempted to do a large part of my downhill braking using my lower gears, and thus, hopefully saving some brake pad wear.  The road is curvy and the downhill portions can be hairy; I chose to stay in the right lane even if I had to go slower than normal (behind a truck).

Along about the time I saw the sign (above) that Bakersfield was 39 miles, I made the decision to head there to look for an RV park.  I've stayed in Bakersfield in my Toyota Dolphin but couldn't remember the name of the park.  So, when I found Bakersfield River Run Park, online, it was easy access from Highway 99, off I-5 and it's really lovely.  The grass is green green, the trees are all in leaf, the sites are paved with lawn in between each site, and it's $31 - not bad.  Tomorrow I could backtrack to connect with I-5; but I think I've decided to head to the Sacramento area on Highway 99N.  It takes me through the Central Valley, but passes through several cities and towns; some you may be familiar with:  Delano, Fresno, Tulare, Visalia, Madera, Chowchilla, Merced, Modesto, Stockton, and up into South Sacramento.
Over the 44-year period between 1970 and 2014, Bakersfield has grown 400% (from 70,000 to 545,000),[making it one of the fastest growing cities in California.
It was 90F when I arrived here at 4:30; it's cooled down to about 70F right now and will probably cool more by early morning.  Life is good.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of the State flower, the California Poppy; they're starting to pop up and should be in full bloom in a few weeks.
 



That's all for now.  I need to research this equinox discrepancy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vernal Equinox . . . 2014 . . . Back in California, Where I Started From . . .

March 20, 2014
First day of Spring
Vernal Equinox

Beauty

Fun

New life

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are approximately equal everywhere and the Sun rises and sets due east and west.

Here I am in Desert Hot Springs getting ready for the final few days of this adventure that began last July, when I moved out of my house in Roseville and into Floribunda Flair with Lacy, Eleanor and Lincoln, who, sadly, we lost in Amarillo, TX.
This photo was taken in early August as I was preparing to venture out from my girlfriend Judy's ranch.  I spoke with Judy and her husband Bob yesterday; I'll be camping there again in a few days - such great friends they are.

I'm in process of deciding how I want to handle the trip from here to I-5N, as I seriously choose to avoid as much Los Angeles traffic aggravation as possible.  I can go only as far as San Bernardino, only about 60 miles, spend the night and take on 210 to I-5 tomorrow.  Or, if I feel lucky, I may go as far as Glendale today; then leave tomorrow, after commute traffic (is there ever a non-commute traffic time there?), to start heading north to and on I-5.  The answer remains to be seen.

Although I've traditionally found I-5 long and boring, but fast, I'm looking forward to it this time.  I appreciate my home state all the more for having visited so many new places.  California is a beautiful part of the world.  Mountains lush with greenery and snow in Winter, touching the sky.  Mountains dry and sculpted by winds and rain surrounding deserts of sand and dust, tumbleweed, cactus, jack rabbits and snakes. Oases in those deserts of verdant growth by irrigation, like Palm Springs.  Valleys of agriculture that feed and clothe the nation.  National and State parks abound - some actually being wonders of the world.  And all along its western boundary, the Pacific Ocean and the glorious beaches and landscape for hundreds of miles. 


Sierra Nevada Mountain Range


California desert in Spring


Carved mountains and desert


Enough fruits, vegetables, nuts and cotton 
to almost feed and  clothe a nation


Artichokes


And grapes for eating and drinking

Big Sur coastline highway

Sandy beaches all along the coast

I look forward to spending good times with my family and friends.  I look forward to regaining much of my ability to hike, walk, bike, swim and generally enjoy daily life without a bum knee.  I look forward to cooking and baking with the use of a kitchen counter that's big enough to accommodate, not only me, but maybe 3 or 4 grandchildren at one time - cooking some newly thought-up creations or baking old standard grandmother / grandkids cookies and cakes.
Then, there will also be the 8th grade graduation of five (5) grandkids!  Yes, Avery, Tate, Spencer, Malia and Samantha will be out of what we used to call grammar school in early June. 
Yes, I'm looking forward to all the excitement of a fairly large family and friend network; but, that's not to say that I won't be anxious to move back in to Floribunda, hook Petunia behind, and return to this nomadic life I've come to love.  There's so much to see, so many people to meet, so many experiences to encounter.

Aaahh, but here is the picture I take with me regardless of where I wander:

I've driven across twice a day - for years - to and from work.  I've sailed under it.  I've flown over it. I've run across it.  I've swum under it.  I think of it often - as I travel, near and far.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Arizona: Tucson and Phoenix

This is a post I wrote while still in Tucson, almost 2 weeks ago.  I worked on it, then got busy with the drive to Tempe and never posted it!  Better late than never!!!

On March 9, 2014 we took the relatively short trip from Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson to the Phoenix area - just a little over 100 miles.  However, boy did we get an active reminder of those desert wind gusts.  I'd be driving along in a relaxed fashion when suddenly, out of nowhere, several strong gusts of wind would make me grab the steering wheel tightly, hoping we wouldn't be blown off the road.  I'd quickly turn on my backup camera to make sure Petunia was still following with all four wheels on the pavement!

With a stop for gas and a potty stop at a rest area for Lacy, it took us just over three hours to make it to Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe; we'd stayed here last spring when we drove through on our way home from a wonderful winter in Mexico.  My son-in-law, David's, parents live here in Tempe; so once again, I'm looking forward to getting together with Sam and Betsy for a few good visits before I continue to head westward.

But, before I leave Tucson, here are some photos taken during our three days there .  .  .
Desert Trails RV Park has been carved out of the Arizona desert.  They've managed to maintain the cactus in gardens throughout the park

Back in the early 80s, I went back to school to study Biology and Chemistry.  Botany was one of my favorite classes and I did my term project on Cacti.  Sometime I'll do a post on Cacti and Sedum - some of my favorites in the Plant Kingdom.  For now, just enjoy these prickly but interesting flora . . .







Here's Lacy making friends with another poodle in the dog park.  As can be seen in the background there are lots of dog agility learning tools for dogs alone.  I took Lacy through them and she 'learned' how to maneuver them after only one or two tries! 

Here's Petunia in the final stages of her beautification after many long highway-toad miles!

I stopped at Zona Fountains and Nursery to buy a gift for a good friend in California

Winter, Tucson style!  Blooming Bouganvilla everywhere!

So, today it's March 19th but I wanted to share these photos taken in beautiful Arizona.  And, of course, beautiful (again, finally) Petunia

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Google Domain Name Mystery Solved . . .Or Not!

Hi Everybody:

I just can’t say enough about how blog followers help a gal out when she’s a little stumped!  I got so much help with my Google domain name issue.  Thank you all; I really appreciate it.  Here’s what has happened . . . so far:  I finally was able to get (with help from you) to a place at Google Admin where I could actually explain (in writing) what my issue was.  Lo and behold, about 20 minutes after I submitted my issue the phone rang.  It was ‘Vladimir’ calling from Google; he’s located in Bulgaria!!!  He explained in much detail that Google Wallet (I’d never heard of it before today) was no longer managing the billing for domain names, that they’ve turned it over to another entity and were notifying people in time for them to renew their subscriptions before the domain name would expire and presumably go away.

Vladimir assured me that I must have sought a domain name sometime in the past and that I must have been renewing it each year – huh?  Well, folks, I neither have any recollection of ever applying for a domain name:  mps2343.com, nor do I have any recollection of ever being charged for renewal of same!  However, it is true that if one types in www.mps2343.com, it goes to my blog.  I just started the blog in 2012 and I’ve always used the web address:  www.mps2343.blogspot.com.  Vladimir isn’t familiar with anything having to do with Google blogger; but he was sure I needed to renew this domain name – just because I have it!  I asked, “But do I need it - because many of my blogger friends don’t have a domain name?”  He didn’t know how to answer that and put me on hold a few times while he checked things out (in Bulgaria, I guess).  Finally, the answer seemed to be that I do need to renew it.  Well, by that time I’d been on the phone with him for almost an hour; so I asked him to just get me to wherever I needed to be to renew the darn thing.  He got me there and it’s renewed; when I have the energy I’ll check with enom.com, the company it seems I purchased the domain name from - that I have no recollection of!

Okay, enough of that!!!

So, yesterday I left Goodyear. AZ and drove to Blythe, CA.  Here's the border - I'm back in California!

We stayed in Blythe at Hidden Beaches RV Resort on the Colorado River.  Then, today, after most of the morning with Vladimir, Lacy, Eleanor and I drove west on I-10 from Blythe to Desert Hot Springs, not a long drive under normal circumstances.  But, today we experienced driving through the desert on a really dusty and windy day.  It’s not a relaxing way to drive an RV and toad, let me tell you.  Also, I’ve been trying to use Siri on my iPhone for various sorts of information.  (She's there so why not get in the habit of asking her for directions, etc?).  She directed me to turn off I-10W in Indio on Dillon Road to get to this RV Park in Desert Hot Springs.  Okay, I did that; then, found that I was driving on a roller-coaster back road for 23 miles to the RV Park that’s actually located right off I-10 just a little further west!  On Dillon Road, in the wind and all, I had truckers and hot-rodders honking at me because I was going below the speed limit in the dust and wind.  There were no places I could pull over to let them pass; so they just honked every few minutes.  Geeeesh!

I did see this Saguaro cactus close to the RV park and had to take quick shot of it - probably the biggest Suguaro I've ever seen . . .
This specimen has got to be close to 25 feet tall!  I wonder how long that fella's been around?


The great news for today is that Betty and Joe G. came over to my RV park at about 5 and took me out, which was so much fun to have a nice dinner and to catch up with them again.  I’d met them last August during the time I spent in the Portland, Oregon area having Petunia worked on.  They’re a super couple and it was fantastic being able to see them again.  Thank you, Betty and Joe, for the fun evening and catch up time.

And, finally, thank you all for your Google suggestions and help.  If anybody needs to renew his/her domain name, just let me know and I'll put him/her in touch with Vladimir - in Bulgaria!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Google Domaine Name Help, Please!

 I have received the following email from Google.  I've tried to find out if / why I have domaine name that I don't recall having set up.  I'm afraid that if I don't get it straightened out I may lose my bloodspot.  My blog address is:  www.mps2343.blogspot.com.  I tried the domaine Google mentioned in the email:  www.mps2343.com and it brings up my latest blog post.

I've tried to get through to Google by clicking on the "turning auto renewal ON," but it doesn't take me anywhere where I can renew, or find out anything about this renewal.

Can anybody help me out with this?  I don't want to have them turn something OFF that prevents me from future posting.

 
 
 
 
Domain registration for mps2343.com will NOT renew on March 29, 2014

Hello,
Per our records, your domain registration subscription for the domain mps2343.comhas been set to NOT auto-renew. As a result, this domain will not auto-renew onMarch 29, 2014.
If you do not enable auto-renew, your domain name registration will expire, your Google Apps account will no longer be associated with your domain name and you may lose all data associated with your Google Apps account. Therefore, if you’d like to continue using Google Apps we recommend turning auto renewal ON.
Please do not reply to this email; replies are not monitored.
 
 
Sincerely,
The Google Apps Team
 
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