July 26, 2009

Surf Warning

This weekend had triple digit temperatures and an unusual storm that brought in ten foot waves along the Southern California coast. For us, that meant road trip. We used the new RV as a base station under the palms at Corona Del Mar.

Sherry's Dad Art joined us, as well as Andy's buddy Travis. We had several thousand other folks join us too. The parking lot was full by noon, and it stayed that way until dusk.

If you look closely at the photos, you can see how crowded the sand was. It was not uncommon to have the waves knock you into several strangers, and none of the umbrellas in Art's photo are ours.

Sherry is looking great and enjoying the new comforts of a real RV and not the Caboose. These little road trips are really helpful for us to learn the little things about the new rig and figure out what we need to do before the Zion trip. We're still trying to come up with a pet name for it, and we're playing with variations of La Casa Rana (the Frog House), which is what we call our home. Ranita is Spanish for little frog. Since the RV is made by Dutchmen, De Kikker, is Dutch for The Frog.

July 23, 2009

The Smithsonian

OK. It wasn't a camping trip and it wasn't a family trip, but I was in Washington DC this week and managed to do enough exploring that I had to stop and buy some new insoles for my shoes. Our meetings were generally over by four, and so my opportunities to explore were limited due to the closing hours of the assorted museums.

This big fellow is a really big fellow. He is probably ten foot tall while seated, and I sure don't want him standing up. He was in the basement of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The realism of this piece was amazing.

The Air and Space Museum was open late, so I visited there after dinner. It so happened that it was the anniversary of the walk on the moon, so there was lots of media there. As impressive as the various artifacts were, I was most moved by a film I saw on the artwork of Astronaut Alan Bean. He continues to create incredible paintings, and he does them on aircraft plywood that he textures with imprints from his moon boots, rock hammer and bits of moon dust from his uniform patches. There is an excerpt of the film below.

The following day, I visited the gardens of the Smithsonian Castle (top photo), and then a couple museums before they closed. In the Castle they had displayed the judges desk from American Idol and props from the Night at the Museum movie.

I went to the Natural History Museum and was disgusted by the attitude of most of the visitors. It was as if they thought they were in a McDonalds' play-land. My favorite exhibit was on the world of ants. This piece which looks like a jelly fish is actually a cast of the tunnels and chambers of an ant colony. The biologist/artist, pours molten aluminum into the top of a tunnel and after it cools, excavates the casting. Incredible.

My last museum of the night was the American History museum. I saw the Star Spangled Banner, and this trailer was in the transportation exhibit. Very cool stuff.

I took the Metro to Union Station and then took a twilight tour of the city on the top of a double-decker bus. A quick Metro ride to the hotel and I was crashed for the night.

I slept in the last morning and then walked to the Potomac River through historic Alexandria, Virginia. It was very nice, with lots of galleries and street artists. At the waterfront, they have taken the old torpedo factory and turned it into a three story artists' gallery. Lot's of cool things going on in there. If I could afford it, I would have spent a lot of money in there.

This trip was a lot of work, with a few hours of tourism thrown in. It would have definitely been better with the whole family. Maybe next year. The video below is about ten minutes long, but I found it, and his work, my favorite part of the trip.

July 19, 2009

The Maiden Trip of the RV

What a whirlwind of a weekend. I took my Mom up to Black Mountain Lookout for a few hours and on the way down my truck died next to Lake Fulmor and out of cell range. While we were hanging out at the lake, we saw a young rattlesnake, which gave Mom the excitement she was looking for.

The truck was inoperable so it got towed into Idyllwild Garage for repairs. Meanwhile Sherry came and rescued us while we left my truck on the Hill to wait for parts. We dropped my Mom off and then we loaded up the RV for a weekend at San Elijo State Beach.

Right before we left, the UPS man dropped off my new GPS navigation unit so we had a little help driving in the dark. Andy brought Joe along, and they kept the dogs occupied. As you can see, Andy's summer hairdo is growing out.

The beach was very nice, with dozens of surfers and our boys playing Frisbee and boogie-boarding in the waves. That is Andy walking out into the surf behind Sherry-the-Surfer-Mom. A few minutes after this shot was taken, a lady stepped on a stingray and was taken up the bluffs by the lifeguards. After that, we all remembered to do the stingray shuffle when we walked in the water.

It turns out we could have skipped the late night provisioning at Trader Joe's. There was a really good taco stand at the beach that had some pretty good food. After breakfast burritos on Sunday, we set the GPS for Idyllwild and headed up the Hill to rescue the truck. Two hundred dollars and the truck was ready to go.

As you can tell by checking out a very tired Digger, we had a terrific trip and the RV is officially broken in, though we still haven't agreed on a nickname for it yet. Any ideas?

July 17, 2009

Putting the Cart before the Horse?

That is a pretty expensive anchor.

July 9, 2009

Googie Palm Springs

We're in Indian Wells this week on business/pleasure. While I consider myself somewhat of a desert rat, there is also the attraction of the Googie style so evident in the area around Palm Springs.

Googie is a style of architecture that thrived in the 1950s and early 1960s. Think boomerangs, satellites, brushed aluminum and neon. Cool dude.

We had to split the week into two parts so Andy could make a basketball game in the summer league (Go COUGARS!). It also helped me keep from replacing my sweat with Mojitos. Sherry has the unfortunate business part of the trip, but evenings have been free for dancing, sushi and shopping.

July 5, 2009

Negative Ghost Rider, the Pattern is Full

I was working a quiet shift in the Black Mountain Lookout today. Well, it was supposed to be quiet. Right around 10AM, we had some wifts of smoke less than a mile off the tower. Cranston Station sent a helicopter to confirm, and identified the smoke as a snag burning in the timber cutting area. By the time the first crews were on scene, ladder fuels were involved and the helicopter began doing water drops. We watched the chopper make five runs to Lake Fulmor for water, but we never could see the actual fire, even though it was less than a mile off the tower, it was behind the ridge. Later on, we were buzzed by a tanker coming home from the Tujunga Fire. So much for a quiet Sunday in the tower.

This morning, I edited some cool timelapse video of the De Luz fire from July 2nd. It really shows how fast a fire can grow from spark to 94 acres.

July 1, 2009

Greatest Hits

Thinking about the previous post, and looking at the comments, our greatest hits are: