Monday, April 30, 2012

Yosemite Pines RV Park

After a wonderful week with family, Marcia and I drove up to Yosemite Pines RV Park today (Monday) so that we are within a short drive to Yosemite, which we will visit Tuesday-Thursday before we head back on Friday to the Sacramento area.

Bubba is doing better, still not fully healed.  Skruffy and Bubba had a "BALL" in Sandy and Arny's backyard.  They were, what we quickly called, on "Squirrel Watch" all day long.  Of course, here are some pictures....

And, of course, there is the attack (above).  Neither dog could come anywhere near where the Squirrels were, but both tried...even Bubba with his hurt leg.  Below is a picture of Bubba favoring his back left leg as he stalks a squirrel on the fence (squirrel is not in the picture)
Overall, Bubba is not whimpering, he walks on it, although gingerly, he does stand up on his two back legs with his front legs on the tree, and he does run using all four legs, and also by hopping on three.  

My mom was so worried about Bubba, it led her to drinking!

Well...not really....she was just holding Arny's beer while he tended to the deep fried turkey, grilled corn on the cob and grilled Sweet Asian Yams.  Add Marcia's Oriental Broccoli Salad, and, for those who did not take off early, a great lemon pie from Marie Calendars.  Below is Arny with his prized fried turkey that he made just for Marcia, who had never had one before.

Before the big BBQ on Sunday, Marcia and I had breakfast with my parents, Sandy, Arny and Patti, and then Marcia and I went to Church at Calvary Chapel Roseville.  

That led up to today.  We left my sister's house around 10:15.  We arrived at Mantica Walmart around 11:30, but the parking lot was too full and we parked across the street and went to Safeway instead.  It was the perfect time to try out Marcia's new GoGo Scooter.  I got it out of the back of the HHR, she came down the lift and sat right into the scooter.  She put it in gear, and off she went with me running after her.  Safeway was nice enough to let us take their shopping cart across the street to the motor home, and I was nice enough to return it after we were done.

We filled up with Diesel and also propane at the Flying J in Ripon, and then we headed up California 120.  CA 120 is a good road, until one has to climb a few thousand feet....then it was slow and steady.  Marcia took a few pictures along the way.

Sometimes I think she had her eyes was a long drop down on her side...  I was happy with how the motor home took the winding third gear (3 out of 6) for much of it, but it climbed and climbed, and the temps in the engine and transmission were just fine.  I did get a bit close to one side for one turn and the HHR did hit the curb there for a second, but other than that, I had it under control.

And then, following the GPS, we went right into a, well, might have been a dead end, not sure, but we had to turn around.  I had to unhook the HHR, and Marcia drove it the final 3 miles or so.  First time she drove since her surgery, and she did great.  We got into our camp ground, and we just love it.

Can't wait until tomorrow.....and to the family and friends....sorry, no cell service, but we do have WiFi and Cable and peace and quiet and a lovely view.  Below, the view out our window....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bubba, Vent, Family

Lots of people emailing asking about Bubba.  Bubba has a torn ACL in his doggie knee.  Our treatment of choice is for him to take Rimadyl for a few weeks, then a Halfprin (half of a coated aspirin) as needed after that.  He is walking and running on three legs, then four, then back to three, but is not whimpering or crying or letting it get to him any other way.  He also gets up on his hind legs and scratches at the tree where the squirrels are at...watching and barking at the squirrels is both Bubba and Skruffy's new favorite thing to do.  Our camera needs batteries, and my phone pictures are just not worth crap, so sorry, you will have to wait until I get the camera up and going again.

Now about the visit to the Vet.  The first doctor we say was GREAT!  In fact, he knew a vet in Pine Bluff that I knew because he attended school at LSU.  He told us of the tear, and the treatment options which included letting nature handle it, which has a 75% chance for this tear of being a full success, and two different surgeries, one running around $2,000 and the other around $4,000.  But he asked that we talk to the "surgeon", even though we told him that we were taking "door number one".  Well, the surgeon comes in and immediately tells us that our poor little Bubba was going to need major surgery if he ever was to have a happy, doggie life.  I said, "Well, I don't know why you are telling us this because we already told the other guy that we...."  He cuts me off, "Bubba is going to have severe arthritis later in life if you don't have this surgery!"  "And how much is this surgery?", Marcia asks.  "$4,200."  "And how much to put him down?", she asks.   "Well, I wouldn't put this dog down.  I wouldn't even give you a price on that...How could you...", he says, obviously showing that he had met his match.  "Well, I love my dog more than you can imagine", she says, "but I will not be spending $4,000 on him!"  He walks out as she, well, let's just say she visually showed him how many friends he had in the world.  She goes out in the waiting room after having enough of this, and the other Vet comes back in.  I told him that we liked him a lot better than the surgeon, and he says, "Well, he is a surgeon, and he has to sell...I mean, he has to, um, justify his, um....."  "I understand Doc, but he ain't doing it with our money.....and by the way, if we have his surgery, will he guarantee that Bubba will not get arthritis in that leg?"   Yep, that is what I thought as he said, "Absolutely not...there can be no guarantee."

Yesterday my brother-in-law Arny manufactured a piece of thin stainless steel for the refrigerator vent, and the cover is now on and secure.  He is something else.  I told him that my only regret was that his "work" was going to be covered up by the vent cover so that I could not show it off.  Tried to take a cell phone picture, but it just doesn't do it justice.

It has been nice to visit with all the family out here.  We are headed to Yosemite on Monday, and will be back on Friday.  We have had an opportunity to visit with my parents, and Marcia has met everyone except for one brother and his wife who lives up in the lower Sierras, and a sister-in-law who is not feeling well. 

Last night my sister Patti brought her two Terriers over, Parker and Charley.  These two brothers are rescue dogs that she has had for a little while now.  Little Parker is a firecracker, and wanted to show Bubba and Skruffy who the boss was.  After a short time period, Uncle Arny (Sandy's husband whose house we are staying at) got all the dogs to have a some-what friendly meeting....although Parker acted up a few times.  There is a new "little general" in town, that is for sure....glad to meet you Parker and Charley.

Next week we hope to share some wonderful pictures of Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, some more big trees.  We won't be able to go to Tioga Pass, because that is not yet open to cars.  So the "high country" will have to be on a future bucket list.  Oh, and we got something yesterday to help Marcia enjoy the trip a bit more....we purchased a red, four wheel, "GoGo Scooter".  It easily fits in the back of the HHR, is not very heavy at all, and will allow her to travel along some of the ADA accessible pathways that the National Parks have.  She missed the two giant Sequoia Trees, which you could not see from the car, but now she will be able to travel along any path I travel.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hair Cut

Nearly 17 years ago my mom was diagnosed with Stage II, Low Grade Lymphoma.  She went through treatments, and yes, she did lose her hair.  She has been cancer free (other than skin cancers) for about 14 years.

Nearly five years ago I started growing my hair out so that she could cut it and I can send it off to an organization which would use it in a wig for some other person who is fighting the same thing.  I did not tell her that this was why I was growing it out.  On Christmas 2009 I finally told mom and dad, and mom cut my first "pony tail" off the next day.  I asked her if she would like me to do it again, and she said yes.

Well the plan was for Christmas 2011, but mom and dad moved from the Kansas City area (8 hour drive from Pine Bluff) to Sacramento area (like a 35 hour drive).  So we changed the plan to her 82nd birthday, which was yesterday, Wednesday.

This time other family members were able to be there.  For one, Marcia, because I did not even know her back in 2009.  My son Michael, who lives in San Francisco, and my sisters, Patti and Sandy and brother-in-law, Arny.  And, of course, Skruffy and Bubba (the latter is going to the vet Thursday morning, still limping and hopping.)

So as we awaited for the big birthday was eager to get into action.  
 Above is the before picture, my arm is around my sister Sandy
 There it goes....
 Look at that smile on mom's face!  That is my son in the background.
Happy birthday mom...and no, I won't be growing it that long again!  And no, you cannot give me one of the "butch cuts" that you use to give us as kids either.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sacramento, Bubba, and Refrigerator Cover

On Sunday we drove down to Visalia and went to church at Calvary Chapel of Visalia.  In Palm Harbor we attend the Calvary Chapel of Palm Harbor, and enjoy the teaching directly from the Bible, known as expository bible teaching.....going through the entire bible verse by verse.  Here is a picture of Calvary Chapel of Visalia.
Later on Sunday we did a few house keeping chores with the motor home, and had a relaxing day.  The RV Park we were at is nothing great, but it was quiet, provided us the electricity (30 amp), water and sewer we needed, and was a great location for visiting the parks.  It was not far from the river, which you could barely hear at times, and we had a nice shady place to park.  Doubt we will be back in the area again, but would stay here again if we were.

Monday we left around 8:45 am for Sacramento.  We stopped for lunch at a Rest Area in Turlock along highway 99, and arrived in South Sacramento around 2:15, just at the time I wanted so that we would have less traffic.  Highway 99 is as bumpy as ever in places, just like I remembered it.  I have driven between Sacramento and Turlock so many times that I have lost count...definitely in the many hundreds of times.  But that was nearly 40 years ago, and things are much different now.  It is nearly homes and businesses all the way to Sacramento.  

We arrived at my Sister's house in the Citrus Heights/Roseville area by 3:00.  The motor home just fit into the new RV pad my brother-in-law had installed a month or so ago.  We will have water, and 20 amp electric service, so we will be set to go until we head off to Yosemite in a week.
Above is a view from the street and along the wall to the left, while below is a view from their patio.
Skruffy and Bubba started to enjoy the large back yard full of grass, birds and squirrels.   It did not take long and we heard Bubba yelp....and he started limping.  Our first thought was that he stepped on a bee and got stung.  Tuesday he seemed to be walking and even running on it better, but then the progress stopped.  He sure is favoring that leg, but we are going to give it another day or two to see how it goes.  He must have twisted it or something.  He is not whimpering or whining except when we try to touch it, and even then he does not complain much.  We hope it is nothing serious.  He is such a good dog, about 8 years old, has seizures from time to time, and we just hate that he is having more problems.

On Tuesday, with rain headed to the area for Wednesday and Thursday, I finally got up on the roof to put the refrigerator cover on.  But the news was not the best...when the old one blew off it took the back portion of the bracket where the cover screws down off with it.
Above is the vent without a cover, and below you can see the damage to the bottom part where the screw holes are missing.  Looks like when the cover decided to go, it took the back part right off with it.
Fortunately for us my brother-in-law is an expert car body repair man.  He has a machine in his garage which can bend and mold metal, and he is going to manufacture a metal brace to attach to the vent frame for the back of the cover to mount onto.  For now, as the picture below shows, it is mounted with just the front two screws, which is good enough to keep the rain which is coming from getting into the vent and running down the back and sides of the refrigerator.
So far we have seen most of the family in the area.  On Wednesday my mom turns 82, and we are having a BBQ for her birthday.  She also gets to cut my ponytail off for the second time, last time it was Christmas, 2009.  Will tell the story and show some pictures in my next posting.  For now, keep your good doggie thoughts on Bubba...he needs them.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sequoia National Park, and Tree Identified

Much like yesterday, we had a leisurely morning, and left for Sequoia around 10 am.  This time we decided to get a picture of the "tree" which yesterday we were told it was a Blue Oak.  But on the way up we did see some Blue Oaks, but this was not the tree with white had lighter bark, so the ranger was wrong.  We did see some of the trees that have the white trunk, and here are a few pictures...not as big of trees like we saw yesterday along the "back roads route", but they are the same type of tree.
 Here you can see how this tree looks dead, while everything else is green, it is still barren.
 This group, below, were just starting to get some leaves along the top.
Today we stopped at a different Visitor's Center, and the lady who worked there, not in the typical "Ranger" uniform, went over to the book shelf, found a book on trees, and compared it to the picture I showed her on the camera.  It is a California Sycamore, she said, they are common along the divide between the foothills and the mountains.  Ok, mystery solved.

Today our first attraction was the General Sherman Tree.  The General Sherman is the largest tree by volume than any other know tree in the world.  It is estimated to be over 2,200 years old.  That would put it before the birth of Jesus!  And it is still growing each year!!  
It is hard to tell in the picture above, but there are people at the base of the tree.  Below is a close up look at that, the picture is a bit grainy....but it shows you how large this tree is.
Then we went to up toward "Moro Rock".  Moro Rock is a large granite dome formed by exfoliation. There is a stairway built into Moro Rock, only 700+ steps.  Stairs go 3,500 feet up the domed rock.  Well, those who know me know that I don't do airplanes, and I don't do rocks with 700+ steps.  Here is a picture of Moro taken from way down near the entrance to Sequoia Park.
On the drive to where one who is brave enough, and in good enough shape, would climb these stairs, we came across a tree which was blocking the road.  Some nice person cut a large hole in it to allow people to drive through and under, but I was not sure if we could make it....
So I put Skruffy up there and told her to bark real loud if we were going to hit....That little girl is such a trooper!

And when we got close to where one would hike and climb up Moro, I got this shot, right after Marcia said, "Are you sure you don't want to go up it honey?"
Yes honey, I am sure.... Here is a picture of the stairs I found after we got back to the motor home off the Internet just to show it....hmm....looks like red blood along the hand rails, must have been from some other unlucky chap who was forced to go up it ....
So wrapped up another day of wonderful sights....
Great fragrances....
And high adventure (Skruffy on top of car as we were going through the tree)....
Tomorrow is going to be a day of rest, then off to Sacramento on Monday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kings Canyon, Sequoia Redwood Trees, and a Bear

After a fairly leisurely morning we hit the road for Kings Canyon around 10 a.m.  The RV Park manager told us about a back roads way to go to avoid the construction in Sequoia National Park that could delay us for up to two hours.  What he did not tell us was that this back roads way was truly a back roads way to go.  The road did not have a yellow stripe down it to divide the two traffic lanes, and at times the road could only fit one vehicle at a time.  Of course, we were just in our HHR, which is not that big.  The route took us from Three Rivers down to the bottom of the reservoir, up the other side of the reservoir and on to Badger California where we hooked up with a highway that took us to the highway which connects Fresno and Kings Canyon National Park.  Overall the route was full of blossoming flowers, including the California Poppy and many, just starting to bloom, Blue Oak Trees.  The Blue Oak Tree was in sharp contrast to the other trees which had already bloomed.  For awhile we thought that they were dead, but a closer look and we can see green just starting to pop out along the tops of some.  It looked a bit eery at times, and the Ranger in Kings Canyon told us what they were.  Although we did not get any pictures of the Blue Oaks, we did get a picture of some of the color we saw along the way.
And as we got closer to the Park entrance, we started to see snow along the sides of the road.
And at one stop, the dogs probably were thinking that that desert land was looking pretty good just about now....

After we purchased our life-time pass to the National Parks, and we all took care of business, we headed off to see that part of Kings Canyon that was open to vehicles.  Here is the best overlook that we found, showing where the middle and south forks of Kings River meet.
 Here is a closer view the merge below
After that, it was off to see the Big Sequoia Redwood Trees.  We had been driving through various groves of trees to get to Kings Canyon lookout area, but we had not stopped to see how large they really are. 
One thing I knew about the Redwoods is that it is hard to take a picture and bring in the perspective of how large and magnificent the tree truly is.
This is the same tree from a bit closer, but you still can't see how BIG it really is.  If I had Skruffy sitting on top of Bubba, you still would not be able to make them out because I am too far away from the tree in order to get the entire tree in the shot.
Above is one with cars in the foreground.  This tree is at least 40-50 yards away from the vehicles, and it still dwarfs them.
Above is one from close I can't get the bottom nor the top of the tree in the picture.  Look at the width of the tree trunk, and compare it to the other trees in the back ground.
Above is the General Grant tree, which is the second largest tree known to exist by volume on the planet.  The largest is General Sherman, which is in Sequoia National Park, and we plan to see it tomorrow.

While at the ranger station I inquired about the road construction.  I was told that they stopped work at 6 am this morning, won't start back up until after the weekend, so we could have gone up to Kings Canyon through Sequoia after we decided to go back to Three Rivers that way even though we will back track tomorrow to see some of the stops, such as the General Sherman Tree.

We came around a corner, following a UPS truck of all things, and two cars were stopped right in the road looking a Sequoia tree.  UPS truck started to go around, but stopped too...that is when I saw it....a bear had made this Sequoia its home, and had stuck its head out to look around.
As we were able to drive by, it had gone inside the "cave", but here is what this bear called home.
Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.