A Blog Post a Day Keeps the ??? away?

I have just reread Brave new World by Aldous Huxley.  It was published in 1953 and I believe the first time I read it was in 1958 in a high school class under the tutelage of Carl Lang.  None of that will mean much to most of you, but if you haven’t read the book recently the relevance  title of this post will mean even less.

It all started because in response to something someone said I replied “In the year of our Ford”.  My next thought was “where did that come from”?  Then I thought that it was from Brave New World (hereafter BNW).  Since we are on the road, just running to the library to pick up a copy to read is not simple.  However, when we were visiting in Florida, I bought a Kindle.  I “went shopping” and found a copy of BNW in Kindle format and zap I owned it.  Yup in the far future as written in the early 1950’s they have changed their worship to Ford and taken the tops off of every cross to change them to “T” (as in Model T).  I will not pursue BNW any further, if you want to get the link between the title and the book, you will have to read it.  Time for me get a half gram of soma.

Today we have gone Elks Lodge to Elks Lodge.  We are back in the Monterey Lodge we visited last March.  It still has a wonderful view of the ocean.  We had thought of stopping at a Harvest Host winery, actually we did, but it was only noon when we stopped so we tasted Tobin James reds and bought a couple of bottles of their Merlot before retreating from the mobs to our coach for lunch.  We decided to move on to the Monterey Elks, as planned 3 hours previously.  Harvest Host is yet another “club”.  It is a loose association of farms with sales venues across the country which mostly have space for a motorhome or two to dry camp on their grounds  for a night.  The list is only accessible to members  and it includes wineries, dairies, cattle ranches and truck farms with farm stands.  They are mostly well off any route we are likely to be on when going point to point, but they will be interesting when can take the time to venture off the beaten path.

I seem to have drifted away from my initial thread.  That happens.  Back to the Kindle.  These are wonderful sources of reading materiel.  We have a shared subscription to the NYTimes and it is really much easier to bring the Kindles to the table over breakfast than trying to find room for two laptops along with the meal.  See a book you think you might like to read and find it and sample it before buying.  Think a strange thought like “In the year of our Ford” and track down the 60 year old book and begin reading it within minutes.  It is really amazing, by the way, how much I forgot about that book.  I may have to venture into 1984 of similar vintage and assigned reading by the same teacher.  I have reread that some time in the last 50 years, but darned if I can remember when, I do remember RATS and I do remember turned down page corners for the sexy parts, or at least they seemed sexy then.  Can’t dog ear a page on the Kindle, but I can bookmark it, or highlight it or share it.

I search through the “Under $3.99” regularly and download samples.  If I like them they are mine at once, if not,they are deleted from the Kindle and the wishlist.  In case you think you will miss the feel of the paper and the heft of a book, remember trying to read something like War and Peace or a really fat paperback book.  They all fit in the same 4 by 6 inch frame that weighs a few ounces and on e ink can be read in any light you can read paper in, you do need light.  Carol has the Kindle Fire, she does not need any light since it is backlit, but reading in sunlight can be difficult.  Also the Fire weighs much more, maybe twice as much as my Touch.  It still is lighter than most books.  When we fly to Rochester, it will be so much easier to carry our Kindles than than the books we need for the flight and down time in Rochester and if we run out of reading material on the ground no need to find a bookstore or news stand.  If wifi is not available, I merely turn on the hotspot on my phone and we are connected to more books than the Library of Congress.  How cool is that?  I must seem like a real ad for Kindle, but I am sure that if we had Nooks or Sony’s the atitude would be the same.  Maybe if we had “Gizmos” – see The Last Bookstore in America by Amy Stewart – we would feel differently.

The Lagavulin tastes fine and I am sure the dinner of fresh giant artichokes (from the San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market) and squash and salad will feature some really nice wine.  I had best post this before I become maudlin.  Tomorrow we drive about 15 miles to Laguna Seca Recreation Area (yes the race track is there) to meet the Braunsteins and the Springfield RV Club.  Should be some great fun.

Up the Coast and Plans Keep Changing

We stayed on in the LA area as planned and visited with the Arnalls who we know from my days on the JDC Board (that’s American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – for those who don;t know the acronym). we had dinner at Palomino which was a nice restaurant in the UCLA area. We also had lunch in Venice at Roses Cafe with Jan Shapiro, Carol’s sister-in-law’s sister.  Along the way we had a brief visit to Yechiel’s office, a couple of trips with Avtalyon to Capoeira, a Brazilian dance form that derives from a martial art.  He is quite taken with it.  We also had a day out with Azriel which included a stop at an air museum, The Black Bird site.  There is a display on the grounds where they were built of a U-2 and a couple of Black Birds (one SR 71 and an early prototype that saw extensive service designated an A-12).  There were also several interesting planes ranging from a C-47 to an F-4 D Phantom and a F 111 Stealth fighter.  Azriel was captivated .by a maintenance worker who was working on the U-2.  His grandfather had flown the U-2, it was quite a tour of the plane.  From there we went to Devils Punchbowl State Park.  Words will not do it justice.  The upthrust rocks jut into the sky at angles over 45 degrees.  The mountains around are over 8,000 feet and the park itself is over 4,000 feet.  We all had a good time scrambling over rocks and down trails.  Azriel got into it as well and was quite a trooper.

Eventually it was time to move on.  As we rolled out of Malibu Beach RV Park our only destination was Agoura Hills, about 30 miles away, to get an oil change and routine service.  We once again were thwarted in our effort to stay at Santa Barbara Elks as they were full.  We continued on up 101 to El Capitan Beach State Park.  there we paid $35 for the privilege of staying on a parking lot sandwiched between the ocean and the 101 with a passenger rail line in the mix.  There are no hook ups and there is not even a dump.  The views were  wonderful and we had a couple of very nice walks.  Pictures will be posted when I have some bandwidth to work with.  While stopped we made some phone calls and changed our plans.  We are going to hang out on the Central coast for a while and meet Anna Lee and Jerry Braunstein and their Springfield RV club in Monterey on Sunday for a few days of fun and wine tasting as a group.  Then we will continue on up to Davis to see our niece before turning around and retracing to get to Phoenix well before we fly to Rochester.  Of course there are other friends including the Hoggs who are in these parts (these parts means southern California and Arizona –  rather broad designation).  Also we hope to see our friends in the Phoenix area as well.  Time will tell.

Elks Lodge 322 is located between a cemetery and an RV storage lot and backed up against the 101. Interesting surroundings.  The lodge is nicely kept and seems to be very active.  The camping area is extensive with water and electric (30 amp) hook ups for a dozen coaches and a dump available to members. The RV storage lot is part of the Elks property.

6 for Drinks, 4 for Dinner, Sleeps 2

To any RVer the subject line is a standard answer to the capacity of a motorhome no matter how big.  We have been known to break the “rule” on occasion, for instance when we invited Deb and Scott to spend the night with us New Years Eve.  Privacy can be hard to find in a coach as the space is so limited and the walls so thin.

This past weekend we stretched the “rule” yet again.  We started by having our grandson Azriel on board Saturday night after bringing him out after Shabbat.  This was a down payment on his 11 year old RV trip with us.  We have neighbors in Malilbu Beach RV Park who have a 9 (almost 10) year old boy and Sunday morning we took a wonderful walk just south of the grounds of the park with Nate joining us and accompanying Azriel.  About 2, Azriel’s parents Yechiel and Miriam and his brother Avtalyon came out.  While the boys played, I got busy on the grill with vegetables cut up by Carol preparing dinner.  Although there were only six of us as compared to ten last year, the grilling did seem to go on forever.  Eventually we were able to gather in the coach, the temperature had dropped too low for comfortable outdoor dining.

After an episode of National Geographic “Galapagos” from Netflix it was time for everyone to bed down.  Yes, we made room for all six of us to sleep on board.  We, of course, took the Master Suite in the back.  Yechiel and Miriam got the convertible couch, Azriel got the dining booth (the table top gets dropped onto the benches and the cushions cover the surface) and Avtalyon got the floor using the cushions from the couch as his mattress.  I don’t think anyone would recommend this as a long term sleeping arrangement (more than one night!), but it did work fine for the night.  In the morning we took a ride to Point Dume where we walked on the beach and climbed the Point to look over the ocean.  There was a video production crew set up on the parking lot to record an episode of Modern Family (whatever that is).  This tied things up a bit.  We returned to the coach for lunch and everyone seemed ready to take it easy for the afternoon, playing some catch and just talking.  Later in the afternoon we watched another episode of “Galapagos” and it was time for everyone to go home.

Carol and I wandered around the coach putting things back to where they belong then sat and read in the peace and quiet.  It is a mixed blessing, we enjoy the quiet, but we also really enjoy having the kids (both generations) with us.  Can’t have both at the same time.

Experience in Los Angeles

It is always surprising to find something new and different right under your nose and realize it has been there all along.  We have been visiting our family in LA for several years have driven up and down Venice Blvd more times than we care to think about.  Carol at one time noticed the Museum of Jurassic Technology and after wondering for a bit put it out of her mind.  Yesterday Carol, our daughter-in-law Miriam and I were wondering what to do with some spare time with Avtalyon in tow.  We decided to head over to the museum to see what it had to offer.  We first checked out the web site to see if it seemed interesting.  If anything it left us with less idea of what we might find, but it intrigued us enough to venture in the door.  Once in it took us over two hours to extract ourselves.  I will not try to describe everything, check out the link above for much more detail.  

The displays cover a range of subject matter from sculptures in the eye of needle and microscopic mosaics of butterfly wing scales to the history of trailer parks and trailers in the Los Angeles area.  On the top floor is a tea room with complimentary tea after 3 PM and a rooftop garden and columbarium.  The interior is a rabbit warren of small rooms, the lighting is dim and many hands on exhibits were out of order, seemingly permanently.  It is a place to study, to be amazed and to meditate.  If you are ever in Los Angeles with a couple of hours to kill and you are anywhere near the museum definitely consider spending some time there.

On our way to the house from the RV park in Malibu we have driven by Topanga Canyon Rd many times.  In fact several years ago we were forced to drive it in the dark and rain when The PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) was closed by threatened rock slides.  We had never driven it in daylight and so we elected to stop at Topanga Beach and carry our lunch out on to the beach to watch the surfers.  As we ate and watched I noticed some large bodies beyond the surf line.  There was a pod of whales passing by.  We were too low and did not have binoculars with us but given our location and the time of year they must have been grey whales migrating north.  There were also dolphins playing in the water between the surfers and the whales.  
We drove up and over Topanga Canyon Road.  It is an steep twisty road that climbs over the Santa Monica Mountains.  Eventually it brought us to the 101 in the Valley.  Leaving the wilderness of Topanga Canyon for the rigors of 4 and 5 lane freeways required an instant adjustment of thought process.  Eventually we connected to the 405 which brought us back to Pico and the house on Alcott.  

As I write I cannot help thinking about friends in Rochester who are recovering from various procedures. Lorraine, if you get to read this, know we are thinking of you.  Lisa, I have seen Scott’s postings on FB and want you to know we are thinking of you too.

Repaired and Rolling

As promised Friday morning the delivery trucks arrived with new batteries and a new motor for the slideout room.  When we were preparing o return from lunch I got a call that the coach was ready to roll.  We finished our walk back from Andele, a Mexican Restaurant about a half mile from Sunland, paid our bill and were underway before 2 PM.

While we were rolling we called Bev and Dan Armstrong who we knew were in the Tucson area to see if we could get together.  After a bit of back and forth we realized that they were going to drive to Saguaro SKP Coop in Benson AZ to hear Arvel Bird perform in the Coop clubhouse.  We were aware of Arvel Bird since he has played at the Ganandogan Powwow just south of Rochester several times, while we were away.  He has also performed with the Rochester Chamber Orchestra.  Since we were already headed for Saguaro Coop and planned to stay there a couple of nights, it made sense for us to meet there.  And we did.  Bev and Dan arrived at about 11 Am and we had a great lunch spread that Carol put together with a minimum of effort.  We ate in the sun just outside the coach and conversation continued non stop until Dan got word that Arvel was in and setting up.  We walked over to the clubhouse where Dan contributed his effort as a “roadie” schlepping stuff from the car to the stage.

Eventually we returned to the coach and ordered in pizza which we elected to go and pick up.from G and F Pizza in Benson.  Good pizza if you happen to be in Benson and happen to be in the mood for pizza.  Not likely for most of you readers I am sure.

The show was wonderful.  Arvel is a master of the fiddle and native American flutes and I am sure many other instruments.    Rather than my blathering on about him click here to go to his website  http://arvelbird.com.  We came away with 2 CDs we bought and 1 that he had messed up the signature on which he gave to us.  We also picked up a DVD of him in performance which he gave away with the purchase of the CDs. He and his wife are very close with our friends the Armstrongs.

We all parted company after the concert and in the morning Carol and I left Benson behind to roll closer to LA.  We stopped mid afternoon at the Hi Jolly STVA (that is Short Term Visitor Area) just north of Quartzite AZ.  As I may have mentioned in the past Quartzite straddles I 10 just east of the California border.  Most of the land is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of Interior and with some limited regulation is generally open to free or very low cost camping.  In STVA here there are no facilities.  We have no access to water, dump or electric.  We have plenty of water with us – 100 gallons and the capacity to hold 100 gallons of sewage.  For electricity we are using solar panels and some time on the generator.  Those new batteries are working out just fine.

We shopped for a new coach, we will be doing that for some time now, we may even buy something eventually.  Today I was pretty enamored of a Winnebago Journey (you heard that right Dot and Larry).  It is the same length as out coach and has a lot of nice features.  The price is, lets just say up there.  Plenty of time to think this over and look some more.  In the mean time we added some new LED lighting and other “stuff” that we just had to have.

Tomorrow we will rise at our usual time and try to get on the road by nine.  we have about 4 or 5 hours (LA traffic will determine that) to drive I 10 to the coast and then up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to Malibu Beach RV Park where we will stay until the 24th.  There may not be much posting for the next two weeks.  We also booked flights to Rochester from Phoenix, February 17 to 20.  Haven’t been in Rochester in February in 12 years but our friend Zvi Zeitlin is giving his 45th annual recital in Kilbourn Hall on Sunday at 3 PM and he has announced it will be his last.  Two days later he will be 90.  

A Temporary Show Stopper

Our plan has been to drive to LA with brief stops along the way to visit with people as we go.  We made a stop in Austin to have dinner with Leigh and Patrick, yummy meal at “Second” we highly recommend it.  we parked at the Austin Elks Lodge which is up on hill overlooking downtown.  Hard to beat the view.  Leigh and Pat came for happy hour and we shared the bottle of Champagne that Scott Deb had brought – sorry we couldn’t find a time to share it with them – it was a very nice NY  Champagne -and and then we went on to dinner.

The next morning, that would be Tuesday, we got on the road relatively early and stopped in Fredricksburg to shop at Rustlin Robbs purveyor of salsas jams etc. lots of etc.  We also made a stop at the cooks store where I found Costa Rican coffee, Carol found a new fry pan and we did some other financial damage.  We continued on along 290 eventually joining I 10 for the long pull to LA where it is known as THE 10.  We stopped at the Walmart in Fort Stockton, they moved it since we stopped there last, and bought a couple of things before settling in for the night.

By 8:30 AM we had cleaned up from breakfast and were ready to move on.  I started the engine and pulled in the living room slide with no problem.  I threw the switch to activate the bedroom slide and nothing happened.  I traced the power as far as I could, actually made sure all the fuses were good and put in a call to Coach-net, my road service company.  They contacted H & H Truck Service, just a half mile down the street, who sent over a technician.  He started tracing the power all the way back to the motor for the bedroom slide out.  This is located under the bed, under the the storage compartment under the bed.  There was power all the way to the motor.  He had no way to repair or replace the motor.  He cranked the slide in manually so we could head on down the road to our next stop, Las Cruces where we will be having dinner with Leora Zeitlin and Stewart Kelter in about an hour.  We will be here at least until Friday noon as the parts will not be shipped until tomorrow.  We were very pleased with H & H Truck Service and with the way coach-net took care of our needs including getting us an appointment with Sunland RV in Las Crucis where we are parked now.

While we are here, I ordered new batteries for the coach.  Our Trojan 105 6 volt batteries are over seven years old and are not as peppy after a night of heating and lights as they once were.  Since we will be out in the desert again soon I want dependable batteries.  They will be installed at the same time as the slide out motor on Friday.  That will leave us 4 days to get to LA.  Plenty of time.  I will try to post when we get underway again.

A Week In Livingston

We are preparing to move out in the morning.  We got in here on the 26th, Monday.  We have done very little in the way of sightseeing, hiking or other local activities.  Carol has been focused on getting her “store front” going so her photos will be available to sell. You can visit  http://anncarol.imagekind.com/ to see what she has been up to this past week.  I have had a continuous, it seems, round of minor maintenance and repair chores that have kept me busy between bouts with my own computer.  The tally of jobs seems long, but most of them were a couple of minutes and resolved issues that have been bugging me for some time.

In the mail when we arrived was a package from Fleetwood with a new latch for the throne room door and two marker lights for the front corners of the coach.  One had burned out and the other had cracked.  The throne room door latch was never right from the day we got the coach.  I had “fixed it” innumerable times and most recently had sought to replace it, but the cylinder opening is just slightly smaller than residential standard.  I figured Fleetwood would send me the part that fit.  They did, but instead of knobs the latch came with levers. It actually seems to be an improvement.  The marker light replacements caused me to be seen rolling around on the ground under the front of the coach and reaching way up into the innards to reach the connectors for the lamps.  Just a couple of minutes for each.

I took an hour and a half to wash the whole coach (not the roof) and get it nice and clean so I can dirty it on the road tomorrow.  It always feels good to remove the travel dirt so I can open a cabinet without getting filthy.  I had been trying to replace the parking lights on the front of the RAV4, but was unable to figure out how to do it without removing all of the grill and metal work above the bumper.  Took it into West RV and Automotive and they removed all that plastic and metalwork, at the cost of an hours labor, and changed two dollar light bulbs.  Thank you Toyota for an incredibly stupid design.

Part of our reason for hanging here in Livingston was to go to the New Years Eve show at the Liberty Opry.  We had contacted Deb Freedman and Scott Mackler who had just moved from Rochester to Dallas this Fall and they agreed to join us in Livingston and go on to the show.  Mid afternoon on the 31st they arrived at our site and it was really wonderful to see them way out west here.  They need to write there own blog post, or maybe book about the trials and tribulations of there move from Rochester to Dallas.  Scott has a new truck and Deb has yet to be able work as a doctor while she waits for Texas to license her.

 At about 5:30 per Carol’s plan we got in the RAV4 and headed for Liberty,  dinner first at Chili’s, the only passable restaurant in the area.  They have a bar even though the county is dry.  We joined the Chili’s Uniclub which got us permission to order drinks.  This began an episode that could have been on a sitcom.  They only had two wine glasses and three of us ordered wine.  Scott agreed to drink his white wine from an on the rocks glass.  The ladies ordered red wine, BAD red wine.  Back it went.  Deb decided to go along with Scott on the chardonnay, but Carol really wanted red wine so they brought her a Marguerite! not quite! so back she went with instructions to bring out the other red wine.  It was amazing just how white that wine looked and tasted.  I got my Marguerite and was quite happy.  We went on to the show and we all enjoyed it immensely.  It was four hours of country, rock, blues and gospel, why would any group call themselves “Rendered Heart” I kept thinking about rendering chicken fat..  I must have missed something.

We got back to the coach by a little after 1 PM and spent several minutes setting the living room up for sleeping.  The verdict is that the convertible sofa may be fine for one, but for two it is less than wonderful.  Who knew?  As we resumed consciousness, Carol began the preparation of a delightful breakfast with fresh made corn bread, scrambled eggs and fruit.  It sounds simple and the preparation was not elaborate, but we were all full and satisfied and then we sat at the table for another hour or so.  Finally as time came for them to leave we had to take some pictures to record the event.

That’s me with Deb and Scott
And that’s Carol – she let me touch her camera