Monday, September 7, 2009

Back in the saddle

Well, we've made it to Yellowstone National Park. Paul and Daisy are taking a short nap (she's snoring) and I'm catching up on email and news online now that my laptop has been fixed. The hard drive fizzled in southern Oregon and it's only been a few days since Dell delivered a new one FREE OF CHARGE. Now that's what I like.

Will get back to blogging either later on today or certainly tomorrow. Next stop: the Grand Tetons and Utah's red rock country before winding our way home back to Sedona.
Actually our next stop will be the cowboy bar next to our RV park here in the town of West Yellowstone. Paul's been doing all the driving on this trip so I'm going to treat him to a cheap beer.
Cheers to all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Times

Daisy or Babe? You be the judge. We've discovered that if you take a real tight shot of Daisy, she looks like a pig.

Our one-month training session with Daisy cost $1750. This is what we got for it: she can sit and shake, only with her left paw. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this dog.

Daisy and her first nose-to-nose encounter with a Cape Buffalo.

It's all about Daisy or daisies. Get it? This is in Santa Ynez, a small town north of Santa Barbara where we strolled around and had lunch.

Pinnacles National Monument in central California. It was too long of a drive into the park so we got this one shot with Daisy and got the hell out of there.

Then went to Monterey on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. Beautiful but crowded. No place to park so we grabbed a shot on the fly.

These are our good friends George and Sarah in Monterey. And Paul scored this jacket/vest from George. Happy for any handouts along the way. Hint, hint, hint. When we left Arizona it was 115+ degrees so we didn't think much about cool weather. But it's been cool along the coast and as we move north we'll need sweaters and jackets. Thanks for sending.

Scored a delicious free lunch of roast chicken, potatoes and vegetables with George and Sarah. Wonderful and longtime friends, these two. And what a beautiful place they have overlooking Monterey Bay.

I'm about to fall out of my chair from too much vino. So what else is new?

A handsome couple, George and Sarah. But where's Daisy?

Our Thousand Trails RV park in San Benito, south of Hollister. A long way to go for few amenities but since it's free for us we're not complaining. Much.

The night we were there was the annual "Luau". Oh yeah. You might want to pass this one by.

Here's a souvenir I'll be bringing back to one of you. We were told it was a Cape Buffalo.

The staff went all out on the invitations...

....and the decorations.

The whole park turned out for the Hawaiian entertainment. Oh yeah.

Everyone dressed in their finest aloha attire.

The first things that come to mind when I think of hot, dusty San Benito are the sun-kissed beaches of Hawaii. Oh yeah.

I also think of hummingbirds. There must have been fifty swarming around this feeder.

Oh yeah.

Aloha! We are outta here.

But this camper is staying. Our next door neighbor at San Benito had her campsite and RV filled to the brim with stuff.

We've found quite a few hoarders at some of these parks. Oh yeah.

Entering Sacramento but as usual missed the iconic city sign. But we do have part of this watertower.

I once worked in a building behind this row of trees.

More good friends and more free food. John and Linda in their riverfront condo in Sacramento. What a spot.

The Sacramento River rolling by their deck. It really is a perfect place. And we had a lovely evening.

Daisy trying to get at that river.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

El Rancho Grande

Spent three nights at the Thousand Trails Rancho Oso park in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. It's a delightful little (really, not so little) 400-acre actual ranch/RV park where Hollywood cowboy actors like Tom Mix would hang out in the 1930s and 40s.

Thousand Trails touts its location as "nestled in the spectacular Santa Ynez Mountains." Unfortunately, a fire roared through these mountains two years ago and instead of a national forest, some of it is a national burn area. It will be years before the trees on the hillsides come back, if ever. But again, like all Thousand Trails, it's free to us, so.....

We've been receiving calls, emails, telegrams and smoke signals regarding that thing on the back of Paul's truck.

Yes, it's our new camper shell. A great addition as we can throw all kinds of crap in it. Like we don't have enough crap in it already. Remember, you just expand to fill the space that's available.

But it looks good and sleek with the trailer and especially in a setting like this, the Los Padres National Burn Area.

Thousand Trails has turned this classic historic ranch into something of a tourist attraction. You can stay in an RV or these cabins with the look of an old west main street.

You can stay in a covered wagon "tent" or sleep in the trash can.

Wealthy Santa Barbarans board their horses here and come up to ride through the national burn area. Thousand Trails members can ride for $40 an hour. Not being a horseback riding fan, I think I'd rather ride a Humvee filled with buffed jarheads outside the Green Zone in Baghdad. I do like the Marine Corps. Oooh-rah.

Yep, it's an old ranch, pardner.

This is Paul with his new punk hairdo. He looks like a rooster. Daisy has one to match but we couldn't get her to sit still for the shot.

Since we don't ride horses and Thousand Trails has no TV reception, they do have some pretty good movies to rent. We saw "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." Daisy loved it. And we like it, too. Cute film. Recommend it.

Also rented "Marley and Me" (this is the scene at the end). Can't really recommend this one because it's more about the two sorry main characters rather than the dog. But it did bring a tear to my eyes....

And here's Daisy eating my tear-stained Kleenex. Paul pulled it out of her butt later that evening.
Also rented "The Changeling" -- highly recommend it. "The Reader"--a pretty good movie. Paul like the nudity. And "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", a pathetic attempt to remake "Forrest Gump". A weird story that went on forever. Last, the latest "Indiana Jones" movie. Ay caramba, this has to be one of the worst movies ever.

Spent a day down in Santa Barbara. A beautiful coastal community.

Unfortunately, this was the week of Santa Barbara's annual fiesta that draws hundreds of millions of people up from LA. Daisy was freaked out by all the noise and bodies so I have her in a choke-hold to calm her down.

We found a restaurant called "The Fish House" that wasn't too crowded. Paul had fish and chips. I had soup and a small salad since I'm trying to lay off the carbs. I hate this diet.

Paul explaining the finer points of the camper shell to Daisy.

All sorts of wheeled contraptions are allowed on the Santa Barbara waterfront...

And so are pit bulls.

But martinis aren't so we're leaving.

California has too damn many people and we still have more than half the state to go before we hit Oregon. Makes me want to scream. Living in California is so...2005 (that's when we moved to Arizona).