Saturday, April 30, 2011


We are really enjoying our visiting and playing here in sunny Walnut Creek. We have done a lot of shopping and eating out, and some touring, but most of our time has been spent at home with Matt, Beth, Jack, and Katie. We do the ordinary daily stuff like swinging kids, chores, cooking and eating, catching up on tevoed tv favorites. After bath time and children are in bed we have adult time for talking or playing games. We play Mexican Train dominoes, Hand(s) and Foot (Feet) cards and 31 (cards). Recently Duane has been teaching the rest of us to play Muggins, the kind of dominoes he learned at GM. This game is played with double sixes, so with four people there is no draw pile. The strategy is rather complicated, but points are counted in fives and multiples of five.

Katie charming grandpa in our garage.

Since the weather is mostly sunny and mild we spend a lot of time outdoors. Matt and Beth leased this house partly because we could fit in the driveway, but also because of the (relatively) large yard and several different patio areas. This is part of the L shaped back patio. It offers protection from the chilly wind with shaded and sunny sitting and eating areas and space for the children.

This is the long part of the L. The children love to eat their meals out here.

Part of our driveway "rent" was to help Matt with some larger chores. My "job" was to plant this herb garden and the tomato and pepper garden below and help plant flowers.

Duane's "jobs" included fixing up the old chicken coop in the corner. Matt and Beth bought six different breeds of chicks to raise for a learning experience for the children, to harvest eggs, and because they think chickens are cool. They kept the chicks in an old Pack-n-play in the garage until they had enough feathers to move outside. Matt and Duane built nesting boxes, a roosting perch, and a manure box from old kitchen cupboards. Add wood shavings, a feeder, and a waterer and you have chicken heaven. Since the polts aren't quite ready for the chilly evenings yet, the warming light was moved with them. Duane also worked on tightening up the swing set by drilling and adding bolts to it. Some of the old ones kept backing out. He also helped moved the patio stuff to the patios and fenced the garden to keep the chickens and the kids out.

These chickens all have names: Repecka, Professor McGonagal (sp ?) Mrs. Peabody, Little Bo Peep, Princess Lay-a, and Daisy. The names are hopeful. When the chick are hatched, they are sexed before they are shipped to the garden store. Most of the time they are correct, but sometimes a rooster will show up. With these chickens, it is a matter of wait and see and hope, but that's part of the fun.

The chickens really like being out of the Pack-n-Play and in their spacious coop. They have the run of the yard during the day and are penned in at night.

The wood blocks are for their feeder and waterer, but they are too little to reach them there right now. They were unable to get chickens that will lay blue eggs. Four of these will lay brown eggs, one will lay dark reddish brown, and one white.

Katie likes to hold and kiss the chickens. Jack likes to hold Bo Peep (below), but likes to chase the flock.

Our time here is almost over. We will be packing up tomorrow and pulling out Monday morning. We are looking forward to hitting the road again because we are full-timers, but we are also sorry to be leaving. We have really enjoyed our three-week stay here and will be looking forward to our next visit.

That's plenty for now,

Louise and Duane

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walnut Creek, California

It's been a while since our last post. Did you miss us? We arrived at the house of son Matt and family on April 11th. This was after waiting for the truck to be repaired for a loose fuel line. I picked up the truck at 3:00pm and headed toward Walnut Creek, California. We got there about 6:30pm, a lot later then we usually travel. Matt had measured the driveway and said we would fit. I had my doubts. When I saw the width of the opening, I really had my doubts. The only thing that saved me was the width of the road in front of the house. It took me about 10 minutes of adjusting to get in, but I made it. A little trimming off of a few limbs and we were good to go. The great thing is the fact that there is a electric breaker box at the corner of the house right behind the trailer. There was an old range breaker that I swapped out for a new 50 amp breaker, than installed a 50 amp plug and hooked up the electric. The water hookup was right next to the electric. There is a sewer clean out in the driveway right next to the trailer. We could not have asked for better.

It has been about 2 years since our last visit. The grandkids have grown up so much. They have recently leased this house so it was new to us. The house has one more bedroom, is on one level, and has a much larger kitchen and yard than the last one. Matt likes to cook so this kitchen suited him just fine.

We have been kept hopping since we arrived. Jack (4 in July) and Katie (almost 29 mos) need lots of grandparent attention. They love to visit our house. They must miss the stairs in their old house because they love climbing ours. Katie likes opening and closing the front door. Jack likes playing cooking with my utensils and my fruit basket. They like our house mostly, I think, because everything is closer together and seems like a playhouse.

Their house is near the park, library, grocery etc via car or the hike/bike path so there is lots to do when we are not playing with them at home. We arrived in time to celebrate my 60th birthday with the family. We were also here for Easter. This egg/candy hunt took place at one of the nearby parks.

One morning Katie made a train out of chairs.

This was not really an egg hunt. It was a bunch of candy and a few dozen eggs scattered in a circle. Kids just walked in and started picking them up.

Two cuties

Grandma, mom, kids waiting for the fun to begin. Grandpa took pix, dad was working.

Found some!

Katie looking.

At home both kids love to swing. Neither can swing themselves yet so guess who gets to push.

Easter Sunday we had a real egg hunt at home.

The following Monday both parents had a day off so Jack and Katie went to Wee Care for the day. We all headed to Napa to pick Matt and Beth's wine of the month and do a little tasting.

We visited several wineries and tasted several different kinds of wine. Wine country in Napa is beautiful so we enjoyed the scenery between each one. We ate lunch at Fish To Go, visited one more winery just for the view, and headed home.

Some mornings Matt works and Beth takes the kids to child care at the gym, or visa versa. When this happens we have several hours to ourselves. Sometimes we go for a walk and find some geocaches along the hike/bike trail. Sometimes we take a bike ride. Sometimes Duane works on a project and I read. Today we headed to the city of Martinez (10 miles away)to tour the John Muir National Historic Site.

We toured the big house built by his father-in-law. The Muirs actually lived in a smaller house on the grounds until his mother-in-law died then they traded houses. A little walking trail connects the two houses and gives views of a few small orchards, a remnant of the once 3600 acre farm.

John Muir's study.

The Muirs had a Chinese cook who ruled in the kitchen.

After our tour of the Muir site, we headed to the Martinez park and fishing pier. This was a joint reclamation of waste space by the county and the city. The county restored the salt marshes and the city built a multi use park with sports fields, playground, restrooms etc. The sun was warm but the breeze was chilly so we spent a few minutes taking pix of the bay then headed home. Martinez is a nice little town with lots of antique shops, locally owned business, and small eateries. We didn't take time to tour the town, but are sure our friends the Weavers would love it. Back home we played with children until 6. Then the sitter arrived and we headed out for dinner and conversation. We stuffed ourselves for a couple of hours at a nice Italian restaurant, then stopped for ice cream before we went home. In the evenings we often play games like Mexican Train or Muggins dominoes or Hands and Feet or other card games. We change partners around every couple of nights. Tonight Duane and I beat Matt and Beth at Hands and Feet.

We have been enjoying ourselves here the last couple of weeks visiting, playing with children and grandchildren, eating like pigs. We will be sad to leave on Monday morning. Meantime we have a lot of swinging the grandkids to do.

Enough for now,

Louise and Duane

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stuck in Madera, CA

We broke our rule of never traveling on Sunday and paid the price. The last time we moved on Sunday we had a flat on the motorhome and had to wait till Monday to get service. We said that we would not travel on Sunday again. So, the next time I post that we moved on Sunday, everybody yell at me. Going down route 99 in California yesterday, a car pulled up along side and motioned for me to roll down the window. He yelled that fuel was coming out from under my truck. We pulled off the highway and sure enough fuel everywhere. There was an exit about a mile up the road, so we headed there to get off the highway. There was a Pilot truck stop at the exit that we got to and got backed in to a spot. I disconnected the trailer and then called GM Road Service. They sent a tow truck in about an hour and hauled the truck to a dealer about 5 miles away. I talked to the service center this morning and they said they could get it in to fix a about an hour. Hopefully it is nothing serious. This happened once before right after we got the truck. That time they said a fuel line had come loose. Hoping that is all it is this time. I told them to check ALL the lines this time. I guess GM could not afford to buy their installers wrenches to tighten the lines or maybe it was built Friday afternoon. The good thing is that we are safe and sound in our house, just not parked where we would like it to be. All truck stops are a little noisey. Not sure why, but most of the truckers let their trucks idle all night long while they sleep. Then there is constant traffic in and out. When the truck is fixed we will head on over to Matt and Beth's house for a visit. Till next time Duane and Louise

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Left Desert Hot Springs for Tulare, CA

We left Desert Hot Springs, CA after 3 days of visiting and one day of WIND!! We are not very good at remembering to take pix of our friends. I guess we were too busy yakking. We had nice visits and lunches with our friend and past Coachella Valley Nature Preserve boss Ginny Short, as well as fellow volunteers Donna and Dave. Unfortunately our Preserve co hosts Bob and Barb were ill so we had to make do with a short phone visit. On Wed. we drove to Riverside for lunch and conversation with Duane's high school buddy Danny. We met at noon and left at 5! All our visiting done we were forced by high winds to relax a day at home before we were able to continue our journey. As we left the valley I couldn't resist a pic of the windmills twirling in the breeze. Past the windmills we headed up the Sierra Madres through the Banning Pass. All went well until we stopped for lunch and fuel in the Tejon Pass. We came out to snow! Fortunately this all stayed in the pass and 5 minutes later we exited into sunshine. The truck performed admirably, the transmission doing its job on the mountain grades.

We made it without further incident to Tulare (Toolaree). After setting up we headed over to a local nursing home to say hello to a friend and past coworker of mine (Louise). Unfortunately her dementia was sudden and swift. She appreciated my visit, but didn't remember me. However, she was welcoming and we had a nice visit. Back home we rested up for our trip to Sequoia and King's Canyon. Unfortunately for us, we are a bit early for touring these parks. Most of the roads are still closed. There is enough snow in there for this area to be considered free of a two year drought! We did have a nice scenic drive to Hospital Rock.

The road we took is very squiggly and beautiful with spring flowers. It runs along the river and we kept getting peeks at it as we drove or stopped at the many scenic pull-offs.
There are other things to see besides the river. Lots of huge rock formations like this tunnel rock. Of course if the draw is to stand under a huge balanced rock, someone must be on top of it. That tiny dot on top is the head of a visitor!

Hospital Rock got its name from someone with a leg wound being given care there. There is a nice picnic area and restroom there, along with info boards about the Koweah village that used to occupy the area. A short trail leads to some pictographs and a longer path leads to the river's edge. At this time of year the water runs swift and clear green. Beautiful!

Snow on the upper peaks reminds us why the inner roads are closed to anyone without tire chains. There are several places to rent chains for the more adventurous who don't mind the cold, but this is as far as we were willing to go.

We were content to enjoy the rushing waters, the springtime colors, and the giant rock formations.

This one was especially heavy and I had to rest after my labors.

After our wanderings we enjoyed a picnic lunch--in the warmth of the truck then headed back down. We had to make several more stops for scenic views and pix. I added quite a few to my phone wallpaper. Once out of the park we beat feet back home to rest up some more for tomorrow we travel.

Basta por hoy,

Louise and Duane

Friday, April 01, 2011

Congress visit winding down

Louise has spent the week at "bead week" here in the park. She has taken classes most days on the different stitches required to make various bead patterns. She was able to complete one of the things she has worked on. In the evenings she has been trying to get a quilt done so she can leave it in California when we are there. When she gets that done she plans to return to the beading project to finish them.
While Louise was at bead week I kept on carving. This is the latest. The mouse is 3" tall.

On Thursday I went out to desert with friend Ben looking for jasper of different colors to cut into slabs to make jewelery out of. I brought home quite a bit and now have to sort it all and pick out the pieces that I think will make the best jewelery. I hate to add any more weight to the truck but can't help

We will relax here over the weekend after 2 weeks of go go go. On Monday we are heading for Desert Hot Springs to visit the friends we made when we worked in Ca. a couple of years ago. I have also made arrangements to meet up with Dan Graves, a friend from high school. He has lived in Southern California since he graduated from college many yeas ago. We get to see one another about every 5 years or so. It will be fun rehashing old times. Then on to San Francisco to see the kids.

Till next time

Duane and Louise