Monday, March 29, 2010

North to Morro Bay via Santa Barbara

When we got to Wilma and Bruce's as we were forewarned, we found Bruce working on recovering from either food poisoning or the flue. He was not moving very fast, nor eating much. Each day we were there he made good recovery so by Mon when we left he was looking pretty good again. While there Wilma let us do some work on her yard that included some trimming and planting here tomato crop for the year. The guy at the store was giving her a bad time about being so late at planting tomatoes. Did not seem late to us since we will not be planting for 2 months in Illinois. Sun Wilma guided us on a road trip to the ocean side near Malibu for a good Fish lunch at Gladstone's and a look around. The way over there took us through Hollywood and Beverly Hills as we drove westward on Sunset Blvd nearly all the way from Burbank to the ocean. Some interesting scenery and houses on the way. We enjoyed the visit with Wilma and Bruce and were sorry that Bruce was not up to more activities, but we were happy to take it easy at their home after all our travels to that point.
This is a rose from Wilma's backyard

Today we drove from Burbank to Morro Bay and spent most of our spare time in Santa Barbara visiting Chase Palm Park, the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens and the Santa Barbara County court house.
When we got to Morro Bay it was near sunset, but we were unable to see it or the rock in the bay that the area is so famous for as it was very foggy here. We hope to take a second look tomorrow morning and see more of the bay area.
Tomorrow we head north to Fremont to visit Scott, Rosi, and Gemma for a few days.

California Poppies at the Botanical Gardens

Botanical garden flower

Santa Barbara County Court House

View from up in the Court House tower

Inside the court house

Thur 3/25 Catch up

On thur we headed north towards Burbank. We spent some time in La Jolla Bay just north of San Diego on the way. The first photo is of a beach area that is hard rock but has channels and holes in it like a sponge (only made of hard rock). Interesting look.
Further on we visited Birch Aquarium at Scripps in northern La Jolla. I took several pictures of their fish tanks with the thinking that I can make my own screen saver (you know the one with fish) by doing a slide show of all the pictures. I took them all without a flash so with the slow shuter speed any moving fish came out as a blurred fish. So much for that idea.
After driving through LA expressways at about 4 pm with minimal traffic problems, we made it to Willma and Bruce's where we stayed for the weekend to take off again Mon.

La Jolla Bay beach with the unusual beach

One of many Fish tanks at Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Tank with Jelly Fish

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to the bay

We spent the entire day down at the San Diego Bay area where we did a tour of the USS Midway, took a 2 hour bay tour, and visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Again, the weather was nearly perfect, except for a little haze that made some of the long range view and pictures a little hazy. We were amazed at the size of the Midway. We were up and down all kinds of stars all over the ship. The flight deck contains many aircraft that would have been used on this ship. It was put out of commission in 1992 and they have made it into a very interesting tourist attraction.
To see the bay area we took one of the bay tours. Some pictures are included below. There is much naval activity in the bay area including major re-furbishing of ships. The USS Ronald Reagan which is a nuclear carrier was docked across the bay for re-furbishing.
Tomorrow we end our visit to San Diego and head north to visit Wilma and Bruce in Burbank. We are looking forward to visiting them and Wilma has even offered to let us have a change of pace by working in her rose garden. We are ready for that change after all the tourist activities.

Flight deck of the USS Midway

Looking back at the city and the Midway from our bay tour boat.

Another bay side view of the Midway from our tour boat.

This is the USS Ronald Reagan in port for refurbishing. They say they only have to fuel the nuclear ship about once every 22 years.

This is the bay view of ships in the Maritime Museum. From right to left you see the Star of India (red under side), HMS Surprise (as seen in Russel Crow movie), and the B-39 Soviet submarine (just the end).

Rigging of the Star of India

In doing the tour of the B-39, you had to crawl through several portals as shown in this picture.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Day at the Zoo

Last night the weather guys were predicting a good chance that we would have rain today. In the morning when it was supposed to be raining, we looked out and the ground was dry and it was overcast. A look at the weather radar on the computer indicated the rain has gone past us and over to Phoenix by early morning. Looked like the day would be good for the zoo so off we went. The zoo is next door to Balboa Park so no problem finding it. By the time we got there it was clearing up and we even left our coats in the car. The day turned out perfect. Around 68 to 70 and sunny all day. That is the weather San Diego is so famous for.
The zoo is very big and complex to navigate because it is located on a very hilly and tree covered area. They have maps of course but they are not to scale and it takes a little work to get where you want. They even have at least 2 stretches of moving walkway to assist climbing up some steep hills. There is a tour bus that can be taken to any one of their 5 stop points. We did ride that for one trip. The ride we took that I was not excited about was the overhead tram. Any ride that hangs like that one usually does not get my approval. Well it was free so I had to try it. We survived. We got there about 9 am and stayed until after 5. I do not think we covered everything, but saw most of the major areas. Walked several miles in doing it. We are both showing a little color (red) from the all the sun we were exposed to over the past days here and in Scottsdale.
I have attached a few sample pictures below. They were quite excited about a baby Panda bear that they have. We sorta saw it. It was up in a heavily leaf covered tree so could only see enough to tell there was something there. A peak later in the day and he was down in a hammock like bed with just a little fur showing.

This is not the baby or mother of the baby. It is eating bamboo. When we came back in the late pm it was still feasting on bamboo.

This tiger was asleep nearly out of sight when we first got there. A scheduled talk and feed by his keeper brought him out for pictures.

These are included for my sister's parakeets to see.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Balboa Park Day

Today was Balboa Park day for us. We retraced a trail we blazed to the park yesterday with little difficulty except the GPS was not happy with our trail. Traffic was no problem at around 9 am when we were on the road. Parking was easy to find. In fact at lunch time we went off site to eat and returned to a closer in parking area.
Balboa Park consists of 1,200 acres total including the Zoo. I took many pictures of the buildings that housed various museums. They are said to be Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings. See some of the photos below. We spent all of our time covering all the grounds that included for us the Botanical Building, Cactus Gardens, Rose Gardens, and Palm Canyons plus much more. We did not go into the Zoo today. That will be covered tomorrow or the next day. I must have liked what I saw as I took about 160 pictures today at the park.

This tower included a set of chimes that would ring on some routine basis.

This was typical of the outside decor of many of the buildings.

The effect observed looking down the outside entryway hallway of one of the buildings

This is actually not a picture from the cactus garden, but includes flowers and cactus as observed in the official cactus garden.

Pictures of orchids in the Botanical Building shown for my sister. They must have been having a special orchid exhibit as they were all over the building.

The flower of a Bird of Paradise plant. There were several groups of them in the park.
Most of them seem to be at their peak of flowering now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Travel to San Diego

Our visit with Al and Jean in Scottsdale went very quickly. We enjoyed the visit and opportunity to just relax together. The weather was nearly perfect all the time we were there with the highs the first day about 85 and all the others in the mid to high 70's. It was just like walking into the middle of spring. The fact that all the little league baseball teams were playing on the various fields in the local parks made it easy to think spring with a touch of summer.
Today we drove from Scottsdale to San Diego (373 mi) with a fairly early start at 8:30. We got to our motel at around 4 pm. After unloading a bit we took off for a reconnaissance of the area. We drove past the Zoo and Balboa Park as we are fairly close to them. Then we drove down to San Diego Bay and parked the car and walked up and down the dock area. We took a few pictures and have attached a sample.
Will be whipping the computer some more this pm and work more on activities for the following days we are here.

Looking back towards the city from the harbor

U.S.S. Midway in San Diego Bay

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Yesterday we made the trip for Las Cruces to Scottsdale as per plan. We took the northern route on Hwy 70 and through Globe Az vs. going down around Tuscon as the GPS (Tom Tom) wanted to do. It was a scenic drive through NM and Az desert and the best part of the drive was over and down the mountains from Globe for about 20 miles towards Phoenix. This area has some very steep rock lined canyons and curvy road way. Further down towards the valley the desert and hills are very green now from all the rain they recently had. Very lush looking for the desert area.

Today Al and Jean took us over to Fountain Hills the home of a very large fountain. Today they had a special display an noon for St. Patrick's Day. See the photo to see what they did.

The weather was very nice today. We had clear blue skys, a fairly strong breeze and and about 85 deg. top today. We are showing some red color from being out in the sun generating that vitamin D today.

This is the fountain in the center of a 28 acre lake in Fountain Hills. It has a 560 foot tall plume that can be seen from a long distance. We were right on the edge of the lake to observe it today.

We will be in the good care of Al and Jean up until Sun am when we head for San Diego so do not expect many updates for a while.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns

Today we made the tour of Carlsbad Caverns which is about 25 miles south of Carlsbad NM. If you have any interest in caves, this is the one to see. They have what they call the "Big Room" and it is really BIG. They say it is a 8.2 acre Big Room and could hold multiple football fields.
The way we did it was to do the self tour starting by entering at the natural entrance. This is the same entrance that all the thousands of bats fly in and out of at dusk and dawn. They migrate south to Mexico in the winter and are not back yet so we did not see them. We rented one of those tape machines that give you little messages at various numbered locations through out the cave. The guided tours were sold old for the next week because of activity from spring break. Our self guided tour worked fine. In total you travel on two 1 mile tours that takes about 2 1/2 hours total. We got there fairly early and were surprised to see how crowded the parking lot was when we got out. It was a good day to be in a 56 degree cave as it was cold and rain outside. Northern NM had alot of snow and having trouble as a result. No snow here. After the cave we drove past the Guadalupe Mountains which are south of the Caravans. To explore these mountains you need to do some long hikes and we were not ready for that so just stopped by the visitor center and headed on to Las Cruces NM where we are settled for the night. Tomorrow we will drive to Scottsdale to visit Al and Jean for a few days.

Cave entrance for People and Bats

Looking down into the entry way

One of many formations observed in the cave

Guadalupe Mountains area

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ha, ha, ya'all had to change your clocks for daylight savings time. Well we did not. We crossed the time line from central to mountain which compensated for the change thus no change needed. We will have to pay for this when we get to AZ and Cal.
Today we drove from Dallas Tx to Carlsbad NM via I20, Hwys 87 and 186. We had seen a few oil wells in Tx on the other side of Dallas, but today once off I20 many more were seen. See the sample picture below. There was also a rather large gathering of wind chargers in an area about 20 miles long. I guess the wind chargers generate the electricity to run the motors on the oil wells. We also saw some refineries, so you get one stop shopping in that area.
We got to Carlsbad before dark and it was about 75 outside so took a walk at their river front park and then took a drive to the Living Desert State Park knowing it would be closed. The road there led us on a high hill overlooking the city and an observation point. There were some interesting homes up on the top of that hill and that is the second picture.
We are spending the night in Carlsbad and tomorrow will go to Carlsbad caverns and Guadalupe Mtns to end up in Las Cruces NM for the night.

Tx Oil Well

House on a hill in Carlsbad NM

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Made it to Dallas

Today we drove (307 mi) from Little Rock Ar to Dallas Tx. Actually to a suburb in north Dallas called Farmers Branch. When we got in the weather was sunny and about 65 and we were early enough that we had time with no planned activity so we fired up Google to look for some sort of park to go enjoy the nice weather. The Farmers Branch Historical Park came up and was very close so we went there. The facility was open to walk around, but the buildings were all closed. The park is about 22 acres large with several buildings. See photos below. They are doing a nice job keeping all the buildings in good shape and makes a nice display.

This weekend is the start of daylight savings time and we are not sure how to deal with it other than just ignore the change. By the end of tomorrow we should be in Mountain time zone. Normally our watches would be 1 hr ahead, but with the change they make we will be ok. Then soon we will be heading to Az where they never change and we will be messed up again.
Tomorrow we are driving (487 mi) across the rest of Tx to Carlsbad NM. That will be a long haul so closing this thing to go get rested for tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Trip to Little Rock Fri

Arkansas State Capital

Marble construction inside the capital

Clinton Presidential Center Presidential gift display

Front of Clinton Presidential Center

Today we drove (173 mi) from Branson to Little Rock Ar. We traveled down hwy 65 and this went through one town that claimed it was the heart of the Ozarks. It was easy to believe that statement. The road is quite curvy and hilly. You climb up a large hill to coast down another and repeat the process. This drive would be much more picturesque later when the trees have leaves. Every where you can see is hills covered with trees. They are still in winter garb and only the evergreens (about 5% of the population) are showing green at this time. There are several little houses along the road. From the condition of the buildings it is hard to tell for the most part if someone is living in them. It seems that they must not ever have a large item garbage pick up day in this area. Many of the houses had their front yards cluttered with stuff that must have been accumulating for several years. Front porches were magnets for "stuff". I doubt if this area has broad band connections either. Reminded me of the movie Deliverance.

In Little Rock we first visited the Clinton Presidential Center. Then we drove to the Arkansas State Capital and walked around in that building. I have never seen so much marble in one place. I cannot imagine how they made all the pieces fit together when they build the capital. It was built between 1899 and 1915. Maybe the 16 years of constructin answers my question.

After reviewing that and waiting for all the emergency trucks to clear the area we went down to the Arkansas Museum of Discovery. This building was the first capital of Arkansas (sometimes refered to as Old State House) and now has been made into the Museum of Arkansas. Nancy was interested in the dresses from all the governor's wives and I visited with a guard about what he refereed to as a "hangin judge" from around 1872. They had pictures of 6 bad guys that this judge took out in one day. Apparently lots of money was not spend on appeals.

Tonight we are tucked away in Little Rock and tomorrow will drive (307 mi) to Arlington Tx (between Dallas and Fort Worth Tx).

I get a kick out of everyone referring to "ya'all" do this or that around here. I am sure as soon as we say a word we blow our cover that we are not locals.

Branson Mo Thur

Thrashing trout trying to catch a single pellet of food.

The fish hatchery with Table Rock Dam behind it.

Thur we just wondered around Branson Mo and area and rested from the long haul yesterday.

This area is geared for many tourists traveling around in a lost fashion as they have roads color coded for easy movement around the area. The only thing missing while we were there were the tourists. This is too early for much activity, but that was good because it made it very easy to navigate the streets and nothing was busy. Nancy found out that some places closed quite early however so some shopping was canceled.

We did visit the fish hatchery where they raise trout. This hatchery is quite serious about it and they have screen cages over all of the tanks. I suspect the covers are for ground critters as well as birds as they had the lower ends sell sealed off as well. The fish were also missing the tourists. They sell you little handfuls of fish food to throw into the ponds. When you threw a few pieces in the water there was a viscous thrashing of fish bodies trying to get a pellet of food. I suspect they used more energy trying to catch what we threw in than they will get from the food we gave them.

The hatchery is just below a Table Rock Dam which is used to generate electricity, I think during peak usage periods. We did drive across the dam and visited a visitor center run by the Corps of Engineers.

This posting got entered a day late because the Internet connection that was good Wed pm was unstable (unusable) Thur pm. There are so many motel sites in the area that I suspect they are interfering with each other.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Made it to Branson

Well we drove all day and got to Branson at very close to 6pm today. Linda's Mom and sister had a very nice dinner waiting for us so that sure was a nice way to end the day.
We are now checked into the Motel and it seems to be quite adequate for our needs. The internet signal is not strong, but working fine or else you would not be reading this.
Today we had 74 degree temps after we got past St. Louis. This pm there was a fairly heavy rain storm that went through the area and there must have been quite strong storms northwest of here from what we see on TV.
Plan for tomorrow is to tour Branson and relax from the full day drive. This place seems to have gone very heavy with the tourist trap type places and apparently growing very fast from all the activity. Nancy has promised to let me go to a fish hatchery, if I allow her to go to several shopping places.
I just called up my McHenry outside/back yard camera connected to my Sling, to see that all was working ok. We could hear what sounded like several coyotes howling from out in the swamp area. Could not see them in the dark as the camera ir light only extends a few feet. Was a little chilling to hear the coyotes like that. Sorry I do not have a way to share the experience with you readers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Here we go again 1 year later

I am making this entry just as a test to remember how to make an entry onto this blog.
2 days short of 1 year since we got home from the last trip, we are off again. Tomorrow morning we take off for parts known. The plan is to end up in Branson Mo (586 mi) tomorrow pm. Our neighbor Linda is traveling with us to Branson as her Mom and Sister live there. She will then stay a while and continue her trip via airplane to join family in Fla. We will be putzing around Branson Thur then head for Little Rock Arkansas (173 mi) to look the place over on Fri. Weather is threatening us with rain, but it should be late enough in season to not have to experience snow.
In a few days we will be in Scottsdale Az visiting Al and Jean. We just heard on the weather that the Wx in Scottsdale was 45 with rain. We checked our Wx the same moment as 46 with no rain. Are we going the right direction? I bet they do not have about 50% ground covered with snow like we do.
The level of entries into this blog during our travels is not insured. Will see how much energy we have at the end of each day.

To be continued ......... ??