Saturday, February 25, 2017

Six Years and Counting

Marcia with Flowers

Every year that I have known Marcia, I have sent her flowers for Valentines Day.  The first time was six years ago before we got married.  The good thing is that they normally last through our Anniversary, which, by chance, is today.  FlowersSince we were gone over Valentines Day this year, I waited until our Anniversary to have the flowers delivered.  I LOVE!  Easy to use, they deliver out of Southern Florida, so I know the flowers are fresh, and when they come, they bloom out in a day or two.  I had them delivered on Friday…and all went well except for when Fed-Ex sent me a text to say they had been delivered, but when I opened the door they were not there.  I quickly got in the car and traveled the circle around the Condo Complex to be sure they did not deliver to the wrong door…they didn’t.  I come back inside, call and just as they answer, I hear the faint knock at the door.  I figure the driver was in the neighborhood and scanned the flowers, which prompted the text message, and by the time he got here, well, I was worried.  All this time, Marcia is taking a nap and is unaware of what is going on.  When she awoke, she again was surprised.  SCORE!  (Yes, that is a water color of Bubba above the flowers.)

“Hey, if Bubba is going to be in the blog, what about me?”  Ok Skruffy, show off your new hair cut and let me get back to the story…   Of course, Anniversaries don’t always go as one expects.  Like two years ago when I remembered the anniversary on…March 1st.  Didn’t even get the month right.  Read all about it by clicking here.   “Hey Dad, you really didn’t show what you did to me…”


Ok Skruffy, there you go.  Yes, I gave her a buzz job.  Thought I had the #4 blade in, but I had the #7 blade in, and by the time I caught on…it was too late.  At least it wasn’t the #10 blade, that takes it all the way down to nothing (the larger the number, the shorter the haircut).  Had Bubba over for another night visit and I cut around his face, his paws and his ears.  Saw an opportunity to sneak him out this morning, and did so before I took any pictures of him.  Got him over to Petco for a nail trim, and got him back to Uncle Mike’s house.  Asked the young lady who did the nails if he cried, and she said, “Only a little whimper here and there…”  I told her that I was to do it he would whimper, whine and then let out the biggest shriek…I just can’t take it.  Worth the $10 to not face that shrieking squeal cry that he has. Anyway, Bubba is doing real well, and he enjoyed the visit...I think we all enjoyed the visit.


Here is better shot, but it looks like she is mad at me, but she isn’t…at least I don’t think she is…maybe not "everyone" enjoyed Bubba's visit...either that, or someone does not like her short haircut.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Health, Friends, Flooding

So I left you on Wednesday telling you that we came home Tuesday from our trip due my possible flu infection, but by Wednesday I felt it most likely was a “slight dehydration and Nutritional Ketosis“.  Well, I am sure my diagnosis of dehydration was it…by Thursday I was pretty much back to myself.  By Friday I felt good enough to hold our prior appointment in Orlando with a lady named Gladys, she also goes by “Dee”, so we left our condo at 7:30 am, got the motorhome (easier for Marcia to travel in motorhome and easier to leave Skruffy in the motorhome than in a car) and headed over to Orlando.  By 11:15 we were pulled in near a Longhorn Steakhouse close to where Dee was staying, unhooked the car, told Skruffy that we would be back in a few hours, and went and got Dee.  By 11:40 we were sitting down at the Longhorn, and at 2:45 we were taking her back to where she was staying (she was only minutes away from the restaurant.)  Wanting to miss as much of the traffic as possible, I quickly hooked the car up, and we drove back home.  I let Marcia and Skruffy off at the Condo, and I went to RV Storage.  I unhooked the car, put it in park during the process, and could not get the key out.  Oh no, I did it again…forgot to hit the kill switch to kill the power, and ran the HHR battery down as we pulled it behind the motorhome.  That is what you get when you are in a hurry…you make mistakes.  I turned the motorhome around and used it to jump the HHR, which started right up.  Parked the motorhome, now in the dark…no easy feat, and drove the HHR home, with jumper cables in the back seat, and backed into our parking place just in case.  Good news, the car has started right up each time now since, so no harm done.

Marcia has a number of good friends…many at our church, many whom she has gotten to know over the years.  I have met a good number of them.  Although Marcia and Dee had not seen each other for at least 30 years, they still had that “Good Friends” feeling…much like I have seen with other friends she had not seen for a long time and then got back together with again.  I hated to let them know that we needed to call and end to the lunch…but the good thing is that we now know that Dee stays with good friends for up to a month during many winters in Orlando, so we are bound to see her again.  We also might see her when we are up in the Chicago area this spring, which is where she lives.

Oroville Main Spillway

Above is a live snap shot of the Oroville Dam spillway, 6 pm eastern time Sunday.  The main spillway has a huge gap in it, causing much of the water to go way off to the right in the picture, instead of running down the main spill way.  This has caused massive erosion which was not part of the master plan when it was built back in the 60’s.  Also, the emergency spillway, just to the left of the main spillway but not in the picture, was activated for the first time about a week ago…and the erosion was tremendous.   The dam started to be built in 1961, and it was completed in 1968.  Right across the street from where we lived during this time period was a family whose father worked for the government, and was heavily involved with the dam construction.  I think he was with the COE, but it might have been another federal or even state agency.  He would fly up to Oroville a few times a week, otherwise worked out of an office in Sacramento.  The dam has always been deemed safe…but it is an earthen dam, and the spillways are always the weak part of an earthen dam.

I-5 Flooding February 18, 2017

Due to the heavy release and the heavy rains, rivers and streams in the upper Sacramento Valley are flooding, and yesterday I-5 had flooding across the roadway.  Above is a picture taken off a YouTube of a truck which went through the flood…that is a CHP car directly in front along the left of the roadway.  “IF” that dam breaks, it is going to be very disastrous for much of the area between Sacramento and Chico, and very disastrous for the town of Oroville.  However, unless something else gives, my family in Citrus Heights and Roseville and North Sacramento should not have any flooding because they are at a high enough elevation…with my brother in North Sac being at the lowest elevation.  Also, the Sacramento River is designed to flood to the west of Sacramento, and not to the east side of the levee…but like I said, “if” nothing else goes wrong.  Of course, we are hoping that nothing gets worse with Oroville, and that they have everything fixed up this summer when the lake’s elevation drops and things dry out.  Oroville is the largest earthen dam in the United States.

Oroville Lake July 2013

Above is Lake Oroville just 30 months ago.  We saw it this low for a couple of summers, but last summer it had gained half of its water.  Now it is filled all the way up, as shown below (same bridge, just a little different angle.)  One has to wonder if it is time to pray for drought???

Oroville Lake February 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Not feeling well, so we went home

Woke up Tuesday morning and told Marcia that I wasn't feeling well...might be the flu coming on, just did not know.  So we decided not to possibly infect others, and drove home.  Just took it easy, stopped at a rest area for an hour just past the 1/2 way mark.  It was a little hard to unload those things that needed unloading, and got the RV parked back at the storage area, dropped Bubba off and got home before dark.

After a good 10 hour sleep, after having broth for dinner, I am doing better today.  Did a bit of research and think now that with all that walking on Monday I should have drank lots more water than I was probably a case of slight dehydration and Nutritional Ketosis from the diet.  Have had more broth this morning, some eggs, and much more liquids, including a liter of Diet Tonic Water.  Going to take it easy the rest of the day and see how it goes.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Atlantic Sunrise, Foolish Moon, St. Augustine

Sunrise over the Atlantic, Anastasia State Park

Got up at 6:25 and hurried up down to the beach area…sunrise was at 7:05.  The wind was from the west, and although I was in short pants and shirt, I was very comfortable.  I had the beech area to myself for a good twenty minutes, and no one came to the overlook area I was at until I was leaving.  It was a very peaceful morning watching my first sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunrise moon, Anastasia State Park

To the west was a near full moon (hence, 'foolish moon' in title).  I set the camera on a ledge and got this nice picture even though it was still pretty dark when I took this shot.  My car was the only car in the lot.

Sunrise Lighthouse view, Anastasia State Park

To the north was the St. Augustine Lighthouse, built in 1874 and still an active lighthouse. 

Sunrise over the Atlantic, Anastasia State Park

By 7: 15 I was on my way back to the motorhome. 

Sunrise over the Atlantic, Anastasia State Park

Sometimes an Atlantic Sunrise needs more than water to really look nice!

Anastasia State Park     Anastasia State Park

On the way back I take a few pictures of the 2 minute ride back to the motorhome.  Although we did not have any problems with our size motorhome, I did notice that there are very few 40 foot motorhomes or 5th wheels in the park, due I am sure to the heavy canopy of limbs one has to encounter. 

Anastasia State Park     Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park

Here is a look at a few of the camping spots.  Many are deep, but you do have to watch your height.

Bubba and Skruffy at Anastasia State Park

Not even gone an hour, and my welcoming party acted like I had been gone forever…of course, needing to go out for their morning activity might have had a lot to do with the wagging tails.

Fountain of Youth, St Augustine

By 10 am we had eaten breakfast, taken the dogs out again, and headed for our day at St. Augustine.  Our first stop was the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, but gave it a pass since there was an entrance fee.  We figured that if we wanted to visit the pay attraction, we should do it with a combination pass with the trolley which is good for three consecutive days.  Seeing everything in one day is not going to do it, so we will be back. 

Visitor's Center, St Augustine
Visitor's Center, St Augustine      Visitor's Center, St Augustine

Our first real stop after we parked the car was the Visitor’s Center, where they have lots of interesting items on display…such as this sword in the enclosed case which was recovered from an old ship wreck.  The Nuestra SeƱora de Atocha, a Spanish Galleon, went down in the Florida Keys in 1622, full of gold, silver and other valuables, including the sword which was later gifted to the City of St. Augustine.

Visitor's Center, St Augustine 

In places like this one can find their own little treasures…as I did when I confirmed to Marcia that I had been pronouncing the city’s name right all along!  (see previous posting if you don’t understand.)

St. George Street, St Augustine      St. George Street, St Augustine

We then headed down St. George Street, which is a pedestrian only area…even bicyclist have to walk their bikes.  Marcia, in her GoGo pictured left, is passing the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse building in the USA, pictured to the right.

St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St. George Street, St Augustine
St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St. George Street, St Augustine      St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St. George Street, St Augustine

Our main goal of the day was to visit St. Photios National Greek Shrine.  In 1768 400 Greeks arrived to settle the colony of New Smyrna, south of St. Augustine.  After ten hard years, the survivors sought refuge in St. Augustine, and they gathered at the Avero House for worship.  These pioneers comprised the first permanent settlement of Greeks on the continent.  The Avero House is now the location of the St. Photios National Greek Shrine.

St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine
St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine     St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine

Pictured above is the alter within the Shrine, which the Greek Church considers one of its Chapels.  The alter area is roped off because it is considered a Holy Area. 

St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine  St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine  St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine
St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine  St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine  St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine

There are many frescos in the shrine, including in the ceiling.  Above are the other six which are in walls leading up to the alter area.  I did not get any ceiling shots.  They are very pretty and magnificent examples of Byzantine art.

St. Photios Greek Orhodox National Shrine, St Augustine

Smyrna was an ancient city in Greece, now located in Turkey and is currently called Izmir.  Old Smyrna was the initial settlement founded around the 11th century BC, and later in the 4th century BC moved and its foundation was inspired by Alexander the Great.  This is where the current city of Izmir is now.  The area has traded hands between Greece and the Turks for many centuries, and the Turks have occupied it since 1922.  So when the Greeks came to America and settled first south of St. Augustine, and later within St. Augustine, you can see that they were fleeing the history of a very volatile area.  As many others who came to America, they were seeking freedom to live the type of life they had envisioned the New World could give them.  Marcia’s first husband’s mother came from Smyrna to America after her family was forced out of Smyrna to the Island of Chios, which is still controlled by Greece and borders Turkey which is across a narrow sea channel called Steno Chiou.


After leaving the Shrine we walked a few more doors down to the Bull & Crown for lunch.  Splitting a half pound burger with no bun, veggies instead of fries, we enjoyed some outdoor eating and people gazing.  We had no problem getting a table right before noon, but by 12:30 people were like hawks looking for an empty table to grab as we departed.

Bull & Crown Publick House, St Augustine     Bull & Crown Publick House, St Augustine

Top left is a picture from our table of the front door, picture right is the pedestrian street.  With no vehicles going by, it was nice and quiet, and the umbrella gave us shade in the 74 degree heat.  Smile

Park on St. George Street, St Augustine

At the end of one block there is a small park, enclosed by a iron fence, and all the entrances are locked.  I guess they want to keep their park in pristine condition…seems like a waste of space if they are not going to allow for it to be used.  However, we found the basic condition of the older city of St. Augustine to be very clean, in good repair, and they have attempted to keep the buildings looking as realistically old as possible.

Trolley, St Augustine

Next time we come, and there will probably be a next time, we will plan to stay longer, and to get tickets for the trolley, some of which are equipped to handle the GoGo.  Put a three day pass on the trolley together with some tickets for some of the fee sights, and that would be the reason for a return visit…hopefully when they are not as busy as they are now.