Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning from my mistakes

I should know better than to start a blog at midnight after Tom heads to bed.  We always collaborate on the blog: I write it and Tom corrects it. As a result I know I really had some people confused, especially Tom Smile.   Just to clarify, we are in Santa Maria now, Thursday, 11-10-11.  We are going back to Fresno to attend the 11-11-11 cache event tomorrow at 6:32 pm (that adds up to 11).

We have been having a super time while here on the coast. When we arrived at the Santa Maria Elks we were greeted by mobs of people who were here for the Friday night “Cook your own steak” dinner.  We paid for our week, parked the RV and walked back to the Lodge for  dinner.  We have parked often at Elks Lodges and have often eaten at Lodges, but we have never experienced a dinner like this one.  There were probably 200-300 people there, some cooking steaks, chicken, ribs, or fish; some socializing; some eating; some just drinking.  We paid, Tom chose his steak and threw it on the bar-b-q.  And this is only 1/4 of the grill.


Then on Saturday we went for a drive, first stopping just down the street for a geocache.  This was right our in front of the Elks Lodge and was named “I’m STICKING around”.  There were 2 big cacti within feet of GZ (ground zero).  One of the cactus had been damaged.  There were pieces of it all over the ground.  We spent about 10 minutes looking for a nano (about the size of the end of your little finger).  We were about to leave when I noticed this LITTLE container just laying in the dirt.  We signed the log and replaced where we thought it might be near to the original spot and left a message on the cache sight.  It’s nice caching with a Droid because we can log the visit right when we find the cache. 

We drove over to Guadalupe, about 10 miles away to check out the Far Western Tavern, an icon eatery on the Central Coast.  We have been here many times over the years beginning with our stop to enjoy their “Bulls Eye steak” on our honeymoon, 49 years ago.  My parents and Tom’s parents have eaten at the Tavern over the years.  I don’t think it has changed a bit. The window coverings are still cow hides.  The Oxen heads still hang on the wall with a brass plaque honoring their many years of service to the founding family, The Minettis.  Tom had the Bulls Eye and I had an amazing barbequed chicken over a sweet potato polenta.  All this came with shrimp cocktail, chicken tortilla soup, a relish tray, bread, and Santa Maris salsa.  If you enlarge the picture of Tom’s steak, you can see the shinny piece of fat in the center where the Bulls Eye got its name and also makes this steak so tender.  

Sunday we went shopping at the Five Cities Outlets.  We each found comfortable sensible shoes (Mom loves me best).  This expression always makes me laugh and think of our good friend, Kay.  We have worn our new shoes every day since we bought them and they have never hurt and have been so comfortable.  I got the new Nike Air-Sole and Tom got Sketchers.  I am always a happy camper when I can walk all day and my feet don’t hurt. And to make this purchase even better, they were on sale at the Outlets.  We celebrated our successful purchases at Old Juan’s Cantina with my favorite seafood enchiladas with extra cheese on everything and Tom’s combo, enchilada, taco and tostada.  Old Juan’s serves small batches of fresh warm chips and the best salsa. We were back home in the RV in time to watch ‘60 Minutes’. 


The next morning – actually closer to noon – we drove to Solvang, about 30 miles south to Buelton then 5 miles east on CA-245 to the pretty little Danish town.  We were hungry and ordered the biggest most delicious Danish Pancakes ever.  Mine came with home made cinnamon apple sauce and real maple syrup.  Tom had eggs and bacon with his.


Then we went SHOPPING!!!  If I were a millionaire I could spend a good portion of it right here.  The beautiful clothes, hats, even socks are like none other.  We looked in our favorite shoe store – should have know better – and found the perfect black clog by Clark.  They were actually cheaper, relatively speaking, than the Mephistos I tried on. Open-mouthed smile  We shopped some more, bought some pastries to eat before visiting the Santa Inez Mission, and ended our day in Solvang by finding a very cleverly hidden cache.


You can see we have a pattern going on, it’s all about the food.  Tuesday we drove north up Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 65 miles to the quaint little town of Cambria.  Our first stop: Linns. This restaurant was rated 5 stars and when we saw that there was a bakery attached, we knew this was where we wanted to eat.  This is one of those restaurants where the waiters are perfect, the food exceptional, and the prices reflect this level of 5 stars.  I had a tomato basil bisque with a 3 cheese grilled cheese sandwich on wheat sourdough bread. This was grilled in butter!  Tom had a BLTA with apple cold slaw.  When we finally finished we could not even fit in their unbelievable deserts.  Crying face 


We walked off lunch by trying for a cache, but our Droid GPS would not settle down and we finally gave up.  This one had not been found in a long time, so it may have gone missing.  We did a little shopping and Tom found an awesome shirt. It fit him perfectly, the pocket matched the pattern of the shirt perfectly, and it had a big frons pattern that he likes but is hard to find.  Another successful day and a drive down to coast as the sun was setting. We pulled over for a picture.


And this is the picture Tom got.


The end of another perfect day.  We are so blessed.

The next day, Wednesday, we had made plans to meet our friend, Deborah, for lunch.  Deb and I have been Facebook friends since working together for the Special Quest project.  This was the project that pushed us into the RV’ing lifestyle.  I had a contract to work with SQ one week a month for six months in six different states.  We were able to travel the three weeks in-between.  We bought our first diesel pusher, a 2005 Monaco Diplomat, and left Fresno to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago area, Chicago to Alexandria, Alexandria to Atlanta, Atlanta to Burlingame, CA, then Burlingame to Denver.  Now that is just about the perfect Workcamper gig.  Tom camped while I worked with the most amazing group of people dedicated to the support of parents and the community of pre-schoolers with disabilities.  Deborah was one of those champions of the disabled.  We were excited to see her again and she carved out some time from her busy schedule to have lunch with us.  We picked her up and went to an Irish Pub, Rooney’s, in Orcutt. We shared stories, laughed and ate until we had to take Deborah back to work.  She even said she can’t wait to retire so she can travel like we do. 


Deborah recommended a must-see local historical mission/state park, Mission La Purisima.
We drove back down toward Buelton then turned west toward Lompoc.  This Mission has been beautifully restored.  This part of California history is dear to our hearts as Tom’s family was part of the early California Mission history. His grandmother’s family was part of the Santa Barbara Mission family back as far as 1802 when California was Alta California, a part of Spain.  These are some of the pictures of the Mission.






We ended our day with another unbelievable sunset.  As we drove back to Santa Barbara via the coast route the reds just kept getting redder.  I don’t think our cameras could get the full effect of the colors. We stopped at the Jetty for Clam Chowder in a bread bowl and fish and chips. Just another delicious dinner at the coast.


That brings us back to today and our trip into Pismo Beach.  We ate at Mo’s, had Ice Cream at Scoops, bought another cool shirt for Tom and walked the town reminiscing about the many years we have visited this beach town, from before we were married with Tom’s family, on our honeymoon, with friends when Tom taught in LA and every first weekend in August for our Fresno/Bakersfield family reunions.  It was a perfect day!  Tomorrow we go back to Fresno.  So we will be On the Road Again, Caching Places that we’ve never been.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Back to Fresno–Back to Caching

We have been quietly thinking about placing a few caches lately.  While we were in Elkhart we place a small Altoids tin cache in front of the RV/MH Hall of Fame.  Thus far it has been found 13 times and 10 Travel Bugs have been traded there.  That is a pretty active cache and we are thrilled that people have visited this great  RV’ing Museum. At that time we also were notified that 2 of our caches in Fresno had gone missing.  As soon as we got back to Fresno we check on Lean on Me #1 and found it was still there.  This is a picture of that Lean Rail designed by Julie, our very talented granddaughter.

Julie's leanrail sm

We checked out Lean on Me #3 and it was indeed missing so we replaced it, but this time across the street because the “Muggle” factor was too great.  That means there are just too many non-cachers that are hanging around that could take the cache when they see it being found.

CIMG9682Lean Rail #3

Remember, in our last blog we learned about the Merci Train.

We looked up the California train and placed a cache, “Forty and Eight”, there.  It has been found 4 times.  We told the story of this interesting piece of history for the cachers in Fresno.


During this caching activity, we got on line and ordered several different kinds cache containers.  We place a very unique cache container right in front of our old house.  It was a pretty tricky cache and we labeled it a 3, 5 being the hardest and 1 being the easiest.  We were pretty excited when a local cacher, Dr. A, came to find it and  left this log, “ Buford1 and I got to the cache site and I thought it was going to be a quick grab, but it turned out I was fooled. So we searched and searched. "B" from T&BnaRV came out to find out who was looking for the cache, and also very nicely shared a pathtag with each of us. I was focusing in on something that I thought might be the cache, but Buford1 was afraid I might do something wrong and so convinced me to be cautious. Finally I went and got a hint from the RV, and it turned out I was right on track, so got to gloat a little bit to Buford 1! This is a very creative cache container, and I'm giving it a favorite point- in fact the first favorite point I've awarded! Thanks for a great night caching FTF with a super cool container. #2405”.  This from a cacher that we have admired her cache ‘hides’ and her impressive ‘finds’, 2,405, for a couple of years.  If you want to check out the information on “Eastside Connection”, check it out, but I can't show the picture because it would give it away.

Another activity we went to was the placing of an Eagle Scout project by McKenzie, the son of friends, Don and Michele.  He did all the research, planning and building of the recycling bin for the Ronald McDonald House in Fresno.  His story even appeared on the front page of the Life section of the Fresno Bee.  We were so proud of McKenzie and this great supportive family

We took Mom to Chukchansi Casino Buffet to have dinner with our friends, Cool Judy and Luke Rinehimer.  We traded stories, laughed, ate until we couldn’t eat any more and practically closed the buffet.  It is such fun meeting up with fellow RV’ers.  Judy and I have worked together on Smart Phone and Geocaching Workshops.  Even though some times we don’t see each other for many months we just seem to pick up where we left off like no time has even passed.   We just love the closeness of our RV friends.

We were also busy with the usual Doctor’s appointment and lab visits.  We had some work done on the Jeep, and just the usual daily ‘stuff’ that keeps us busy when we visit Fresno like helping with computer challenges of friends and family.  Though we were pretty busy following the Big Fresno Fair, we were getting a serious case of “Hitch Itch”, so last Friday we left Fresno and traveled to the Santa Maria.  We are staying at the SM Elks Lodge, a very nice full hook-up on a paved pad.  This conveniently places us between Solvang and Pismo so we can take day trips in the Jeep. 

We have been caching and eating and even met for lunch with our Special Quest friend, Deborah.  Stay tuned for pictures of our coastal adventures in the next blog.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home Again, but only for a short visit

Sometimes I write a blog to let everyone know where we are and what we are doing.  Other times I write a blog to help me remember what I we did.  This is one of the second kinds of blogs so if this is not your cup of tea, check in next time.

We were in a hurry to get back to Fresno to get some work done on the RV, update some medical prescriptions, get some banking done… just mundane stuff.  The best part of coming back to Fresno was spending time with our family.
When we arrived, hungry and hot, from the desert we were greeted by Granddaughter, Julie, and her boyfriend, Claudio.  Julie has been a loyal employee of Chipotle and Claudio now works there as he waits to join a fire department or ambulance company.  Those kids know how to order the special dishes.
It did not take us long to hit the road again, this time to the Golden Spike Rally in Carson City.  We had a great three days but no rest. This was our agenda:  
From the day we arrived at the Gold Dust Casino RV Parking area we were busy.  The next day started early with a light breakfast then we carpooled the short distance to Mills Park to ride the 24” gauge open air train.
Then a delicious lunch, trip to the Nevada No. RR museum.
The car on the left proved to be a very special discovery. It was one of 49 antique box cars filled with many treasures, china, jewelry, dolls, art work, etc.,  sent to the United States in 1949 by the people of France to thank the US for their generosity following WWII.  These box cars, called “Forty and Eights” because they carried 48 equipped soldiers or 8 horses.  In 1947 the people of the US had sent 700 hundred box cars filled with food, shoes, and clothing to help the people of Europe following the horrific occupation by the Nazis. While we were visiting this museum we asked where the California car was and were told, “Fresno”.  Boy, we made plans to look that up when we got back to Fresno.
Following the museum tour we had a ride on the 1926 Edwards Streetcar. 

We finished the day at Reds Old 395 Grill with a scrumptious dinner and an amazing decor.

Sunday we again carpooled to the Virginia &Truckee East Gate RR Depot to ride up to Virginia City.
This is our Golden Spike Club. 

We laughed at the hilarious Out House Races with entries like The Flapper Crapper, and The Urinator –a tribute to Arnold.

We were again stuffed by the time we left the Red Dog Saloon.

THEN that evening we ate again at the OleOle at the Casino. Who says Golden Spikers do not know where to find good food?
After all that fun, food and friends, we were on our way back to Fresno to work in the Floriculture Department at the Big Fresno Fair.  Our daughter, Jennifer, is the Superintendent of that department. There are a lot of plants and flowers shown in Floriculture: Orchids, Cactus, Green plants and every day a different group of flowers are brought to the building starting at 6:45 am.  Every day of the fair, daughter-in-law, Olivia, and I would greet those early rising gardeners, register the entries and help the judges by  logging their results.  It was a long 13 work days, but also lots of fun. To see a fun blog on the fair, check out granddaughter, Julie’s, blog, 
This is getting pretty long and I still want to tell you about our latest caching adventures, the “Forty and eight” and the “Eastside Connection”, so stay tuned.  The next blog will not be delayed as long as this one.  Currently, we are spending the week in Santa Maria, CA, so I’ll have time to tell you all about it.   So until next time, we are still caching on the road.