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Monthly Archives: August 2013

We Know We’re Back in California Because……

We get to walk among giant redwood trees…….  We never get tired of these big trees.  Grandson Griffin has never really been an outdoor person but while he was with us we introduced him to nature whenever we could.  Even our teenage game-boy was impressed with the giant trees.  Too bad the older kids don’t have to write “What did you do over the summer?” essays anymore. Image

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We saw at least two major fires close up……..  One fire was in central California and the other was a half-mile from where we’re currently parked in El Cajon.  They really jumped on this one, with three helicopters dumping water, a fire chief flying overhead and a ground crew.  Fortunately it was put out within an hour.  I had fun taking action photos but I actually wanted to be closer.

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We get to have dinner and play cards with our relatives…..  Here in San Diego, we are close to Arlyne’s brother Rod and her sister Clara and several nieces and nephews.  It’s nice to have our people around us.  It’s good that everyone is doing OK.

We’ve been stuck in huge freeway traffic jams……  We’ve forgotten how to avoid the commuter periods.  The jams are not really caused by accidents, just by too many cars and generally poor driving.  I wonder why cars are still built with turn signals…..nobody uses them.  And headlights should always come on automatically when it gets dark.  I just love summer driving on freeways at 8:30 pm when 25% of the cars have their lights off.  The other day we saw a freeway driver break at least four traffic laws in the space of 20 seconds.  1) Speeding, 2) reckless driving, 3) not using turn signals, 4) following too close.  I threw a big handful of profanities at him but he was out of range and the words were weightless anyway. 

We get to experience temps of 100+ degrees…..  It’s only about 80 now (whoops!  Later it was 99) but it was 104 when we got here.  The heat actually feels pretty good to me, having grown up in Arizona.  And the golf ball goes farther in high temperatures.

The Mexican food is fabulous…….  No matter how you cut it, our proximity to Mexico has brought wonderful Mexican seafood and other great dishes to San Diego and Southern California.  We went to a little place called Pancho’s here in El Cajon.  It’s next to a gas station down the street from us and guess what?  It was very, very good.

I get to play golf on courses that I’m familiar with…….  I had a nice round at Mission Trails even though one of the guys I played with liked to make a 150% swing every time.  He had two out of bounds, lots of missed fairways and only a couple of nice shots to the green.  He works for the golf course and plays 1 to 2 rounds every day.  I told him he should try a 95% swing and that he was probably “throwing away” a lot of rounds by playing so much.  Any given round doesn’t mean that much.  He reluctantly had to (sort of) agree with me.  He’ll probably have a wrenched back and need arm surgery in the next year or two.  I got to play with my brother as we were heading back to San Diego.  Now that was fun.  Nice going Bro.

 

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We get to see half our grandkids (the other half’s in Texas)……. and their cousins.  How fun to see Quade and Ava and Aidan during the summer.  We get to see the cousins Brittney and Kylee who have grown up a lot.  Actually, at one time, we had five of our six grandchildren in one room because Samantha flew to San Diego from Austin as we arrived.  All our grandkids and their cousins are so beautiful, even the boys.  It’s incredible.

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We get to go to the beach…..and body surf……  We’ve seen beaches but Torrey Pines Beach is one of the best in the world.  Arlyne and I aren’t much into beaches, mostly because of the sand and the sunburn.  But that’s mostly because we’re seniors.  I went in the water (which was not 59 degrees) and thrashed around with Griffin and Samantha.  Too bad I didn’t have a boogie board like they did. 

We have to go to doctor appointments…..  Between us we have 5 or 6 doctor appointments before we start back to Texas.  Let’s hope for the best.

I got to see former co-workers from my 26 years at Cubic Defense at the “Captains of Industry” luncheon!   There were eight of us there.  Almost all of us are retired and full of interesting stories.

Arlyne and I are closer to our next assignment.  Whoo Hooo!  We’re hoping to get a job as birding guides at a National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. 

 

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

Goodbye to Washington: A Whirlwind Tour of Nearly Everything

We’re in San Diego as I finish this up (finally).  As the title says, it’s been a hectic but wonderful trip around the northwest with Griffin, our grandson.  We left our assignment at the Coast Artillery Museum at the end of June.  Thanks so much to the Museum “staff” of Alfred, Kevin and Claudia and our other colleagues, Bill and Saralee.  We made a lot of friends there, including Tim and Darlene. We had a memorable time at Ft. Worden.  I have to say that we were pretty sedentary during our stay and we hope to change that. 

Our apologies to a bunch of friends.  We were not able to stop in the Bay Area to visit with all of you.  Motoring around with our motorhome, towing a car, has proven to be impractical.  There are really not a lot of RV parks around.  However, we are strongly considering driving up to the Bay Area in our car in a few weeks. 

Grandson:  Griffin arrived in Seattle by air from Texas and it’s been non-stop ever since.  It’s difficult to describe everything we saw and did but this blog is a synopsis of the incredible, fun-filled last couple of weeks.

The next morning after Griffin arrived we took in (of course) the Coast Artillery Museum and artillery hill.  We met Kevin on the hill and he got a chance to brief Griff on the batteries.  The next day we attended the American Fiddle Tunes concert at Ft. Worden.  I liked most of it but the program stretched the definition of “American” with Irish, Peruvian, Mexican and Italian fiddle music. 

Ft. Casey and Deception Pass.  A lot of the sightseeing in the Northwest involves driving long distances.  Thanks to Griffin for handling this part with grace.  Crossing on the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island with our motorhome (unhooked from our car) was fun.  I thought maybe we wouldn’t make it with such a heavy vehicle but I was surrounded by other motorhomes, trailers and boats.  Not a problem.  Griffin loved Ft. Casey and the big guns there.  He climbed all over the top of the batteries and down into the dark places underneath.  To his credit, Griffin asked lots and lots of questions.  We continued our drive up to Deception Pass and hiked down to North Beach to see the bridge from the water’s edge and check for birds. 

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Fall City Visit.  We always like to visit with Dave and Aileen Windows and their family.  We celebrated the 4th of July at their family BBQ.  Griffin met their grandkids, who are about the same age, and eventually they got along just fine.  Thanks Dave and Aileen.

Trip to see the Eagles.  This was actually the most memorable little excursion we had with our grandson.  He had never seen bald eagles before.  The two parents, Lucy and Ricky, were sleeping in a tree a hundred yards from the nest in Sequim, where the eaglet was testing out its wings.  Griffin was excited to see such gorgeous creatures so close.  He managed the spotting scope for me and set it up so people driving by and stopping could look through it too.

Cape Flattery.  A trip to Cape Flattery is not to be missed.  Griffin had seen a lot of “sights” by then but even he thought this was pretty good.  A lady excitedly told us that there were two puffins in the inlet to the right and we rushed over there from the trail.  Turns out they were pigeon guillemots.  But I did see one puffin flying by.

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Hurricane Ridge.   Griffin really liked this beautiful place.  High up above the forest with snow still covering some of the peaks, it is truly a spectacular view.  We saw American pipits all over the place and this bird was added to Griffin’s growing list.  We got very close to a black-tailed deer that was more concerned with flies than us.

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Naval Undersea Museum.  It isn’t fair to compare this museum 30 miles south of Port Townsend to the one where we volunteered.  The Government (read: taxpayers) built it and continues to fund it.  It’s a very nice place and we all liked it.  This is where I got the idea to use their one-man decompression chamber when we left Washington to recover from the mostly dense, cold, rainy conditions.

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Orca Boat Trip.  These types of trips are usually chancy and we don’t always get to see what we came for.  Our luck was great this day as we had some 30 orca sightings, including one that swam directly under our boat!  For Arlyne and myself, we caught sight of (and photographed) a marbled murrelet.   We missed two puffins that flew by the other side of the boat. 

Trip to Skagit Valley.  We drove up through a bit of the Skagit Valley and saw an eagle or two but not much else.  The winter up here is filled with birds but not so much in the summer.  We parked at an RV park in Anacortes and pulled off the now famous orca boat trip the next day.  What a great trip for all of us.

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Trip to the mountains: Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens.  Mt. Ranier was a fabulous day for all of us, with some little hikes and super views of the mountain.  But for a spectacular view of nature, it’s hard to beat this astonishing result of one of the world’s biggest natural events (at least in human memory).  At the end of the road to Windy Ridge, a fabulous Mt. St. Helens view point, Griffin and I hiked up to a higher vantage point to see the destruction caused by this huge eruption of 1980.  A woman and her little boy were standing next to us so I said “Griffin, you’ve heard of nature’s wonders……well this looks like one of nature’s blunders.”  Ooops!  Went too far that time.

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Fun with Griffin:  Nearly everywhere we went, I got stuck in traffic and seemed to hit every light as it turned red.  I told Griff that I must have special powers in order to do this.  He agreed and cautioned that I should only use my powers for GOOD.

At Hurricane Ridge, Griff and I hiked up to Sunrise Point, a short but steep little hike to an overlook.  When we got to the very end of the trail, I asked a guy next to me if the little hill he was standing on was the VERY TOP of the trail.  He said “I guess so.”  I told him I wanted to go back and tell my wife that I couldn’t make it to the top but my grandson could.

Crater Lake.  We always wanted to go here but it was always a little far.  This time we invested our resources and were rewarded, including not only wonderful views but two more things.  We saw new birds and met the Minister of Tourism for Peru and talked about Machu Piccu with him and his family.

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Trip to Tillamook Cheese Factory and Oregon Coast.  Thanks to Griffin again for enduring a lengthy road trip.  The Tillamook Factory was quite fun, if a bit crowded, and the ice cream and cheese were fabulous.  I have to find an outlet for their products.  The Oregon coast was the most fun for Griff.  He loves the beach.  We spotted common murres for Griffin and added this bird to his list.

This blog is a nickel tour of the entire northwest and at least you have a taste of our trip of nearly a month.  It’s nice to be “home” in San Diego and I’ll have more later. 

Bob Draper

 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Bird Lover