Monday, July 17, 2017

Technology & The Golden Age

Technology,  I use a lot of it too! 

Hood Canal WA, it just looks good!


I have a smart phone (that's really a computer) in my pocket that can take pictures & I can call people with it too! 
It's my address book, my calendar, my calculator & a place to keep notes just to mention a few.

As a 'plus', it acts as my gps, it shows me a good map of where I am, it shows me where the gas stations are & what fuel costs there. I can find assorted campgrounds  and free places to park over night . The phone even has games if you want.


Gasbuddy app on an Android phone.
The blank station didn't have a report
in 48 hrs so the price went blank.


I have a Garmin GPS. It's a stand alone tool who's only job is to tell me how to get somewhere and what's around me when I ask it. 

Well, it's also an accurate speedometer too.
It doesn't need the internet, it just needs the sky & its memory card.

One of the most valuable features is finding a grocery store in a strange town. 

Before the gps days I'd have to stop & ask where the grocery store was... 
Walmarts & rest areas also at the touch of a button.  Good places to know about it you need a spot to stop for the night while you're traveling.

After a stop at the POI Factory  my gps can show me the places from "Diners, drive-ins & dives" that's along my route!

I have a Kindle Paperwhite to read books on. Not the same as a real book, but good enough.  I can read at night or in the day, I have a lot of books with me that take up no space and with the internet, Amazon & the Gutenberg Project  I can get almost any book I want to read!
Plus there are a lot of paperback exchanges all over the country.

I have a mifi to give me internet most of the time.  Being hooked to the internet is a big part of this being the "Golden Age."

I have a Rand McNally road atlas because sometimes you just need a map. 

Most of the time you need to check on where the gps is sending you, because me & the gps sometimes have different ideas about the "good route". If I don't check every so often I'm sometimes really not happy with the machine picks!

The best maps of the states are the ones they give you at the first rest area in a state if you come in on an interstate highway.



My computer  

I have my computer too. It does this writing, it stores the pictures I take (with digital camera & a phone I take a LOT of pictures), it keeps track of the places I want to go to and the assorted tips I've picked up along the way. The computer also plays movies & can do television.

I have a wonderful companion & wife, we have a camper that meets our needs, we have electronics/technology & the internet, we have reasonably good roads, plentiful gasoline. I can still walk, remember my name and I get money sent to my bank account every month!  With a credit union that does "shared branching" I'm almost never too far away from my bank no matter where I am in the country.


I am living in the "golden age" !!



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Another day at the diamond mine


I finally made it to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. It is a place I wanted to visit since I'd heard about it. 
Dig for diamonds?  I'd like to try that!

First impressions of Arkansas...it's a nice looking state & the lady at the visitors center was especially helpful when I told her where I was going. That was a good first impression for the state.


Arkansas was green, the diamond mine was on the far side of the state so I saw a bit of it & I saw the "White" river.

There was camping & motels aplenty in the area. A good sized parking lot and a water park if you're not into digging.

You pay your $10 and head into the diamond mine.


The path to the fields
They have videos of how to do it & you can rent equipment if you want.
We rented the screen boxes to wet shake for the stones. 

It was interesting and a lot of people were into it. Whole families, retired folk & everyone in between.

Those who looked like they did it a lot had chairs with umbrellas, shovels, buckets, wagons and all sorts of screens for filtering out the dirt.

The diamond field is plowed

The digging wasn't hard, the sun was not too bad and the wash table (if you're washing for the stones) was at a good height.


A washing station & directions

No we didn't find a diamond but we had fun looking. Crater of Diamonds State Park was well worth the trip!

What we found, no diamonds. They have someone who'll look
through your booty & tell you what you found.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life is about changes

The past 3 or 4 years in my life has brought a lot of changes so another change or two is not really 'unexpected'.

Today we are going to fire up the van (a Pleasure-Way class "B" RV) & hit the road. The house is listed with a  realtor, all our (remaining) personal stuff is stored away so I will once again be a vandweller.


The RV is on the right, the minivan stays at a friend's
 house. The 5th wheel and lot are for sale.

Back to the northwest for the summer is the immediate goal...


Our "prospective" route

 There is a story behind the "listed with a realtor" part of  this journey...

We went to Pensacola for a couple of weeks, ended up staying at a friends house that, due to insurance changes, she could no longer rent to short term vacationers. It was nice!

The town was good, the house was good, the location was good, the beaches were good. My wife said again she'd really like to live in a beach community and I again asked why she wasn't. This time the questions took root.

Turns out our friend was planning on selling her places in Pensacola and made an offer that was a fit for us! Come November, we'd have the necessary down payment and we'd buy the place. 

I thought we had an understanding.

Moving to the beach! Heck we thought, let's sell this place (it's not a lot but it's comfortable & paid for) and just do it all out!  The day after we signed the contract with the realtor our friend announced she was going down to show the house to a prospective buyer... seems she changed her mind about waiting until November.

No matter, life is about changes. If we sell this place we'll have money in our pocket to look for a place by a beach, if we don't we have someplace to come back to when it's time.

In the meantime, Arkansas has a state park that's a diamond mine, Mesa Verde NP (in Colorado) is right on the way to the Grand Canyon, and I have never gotten enough of looking at the big hole in the ground.


Good weather is coming to the Pacific Northwest and I have kids & grandkids that want to go camping.

Life IS all about changes, it's time to go!




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Low lifes & other changes

The other day we had lunch at a restaurant in town. The restaurant was right next door to a small used car outlet for a bigger dealer, the place used to be a Sonic drive-in.
It's not a bad idea, a covered area to park a used car. 


A Maui sunset.  I'm talking about used car salesmen. This is better

We weren't looking for anything, It had just been a long time since I'd gone to a used car lot.

Clean cars, most were only a couple of years old but none had prices listed.


A Pacifica, CA sunset, look close at this one!

The sales guy came out and started talking... we asked about the prices & he said, "We don't list them because we have special prices for special people."

It all came back... I remembered back in the last century, used car dealers were "not highly regarded".  Since then, many professions have joined the ranks of "not highly regarded"... like politicians and assorted bureaucrats.

I do remember my first real visit to a used car lot.

It was good to see that used car dealers hadn't changed since the last time I saw one.  



I keep recalling the term 'scum of the earth.'


Sunrise from Padre Island,TX is a nice way to end a talk about used car salesmen

I needed pictures, what's a blog without pictures? After a blog talking about used car salesmen I needed good pictures!

Sunrises & sunsets are always worth the time!



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A trip to Ikea

I'm in northern Georgia for awhile, doing routine medical stuff & hanging out. 

I finally made it down to Atlanta and we went to Ikea.  My wife had never been there before.  Ikea is an interesting place. 
I am a fan of their beds. 

So many ideas for living in a small space, some will work in an RV or a van.  I bought a futon mattress for the van, the mattress was around $80
The futon itself just didn't fit, it was too tall over the wheel well.

The futon & mattress can be bought by themselves
For lunch we went to The Varsity
I'd heard about the Varsity on TV,  I don't recall which show.


Outside


As I've heard of interesting places to eat around the country that I'd like to visit I write them down and put them on a map I look at before I go somewhere new.



I liked this place, it's not worth driving across the country to get a chili dog there but it was good. Great onion rings (really good!) & french fries.




Just wait until I make it to Philadelphia, 

Monday, April 24, 2017

How my thinking works...

I was in Lowes looking for a piece of wood to build a spice rack.   

A small rack,  just enough room for the spices I like to grab when I'm cooking.



I found the wood I wanted, it was being sold as lattice. 
$7+ for an eight foot long piece of inch and a half by 1/8th".  
Wow, spendy I thought...




As I was heading towards the check out stand I walked by the dimensional lumber. An eight foot long select 2x6 is only $6. 




Hmmm...

That got me thinking about the really nice Delta table saw I walked by on my way to the wood...





With that $600 table saw I could cut a lot of 1/8th" strips out of a $6 piece of wood even with a 1/8th" blade kerf!  


Hmmm.. a $600 table saw will save me a bunch if I need lattice. 

Of course then I'd need a place to keep the table saw...  
Lowes sells sheds!



With my thinking this is all reasonable!


In the end I bought the piece of lattice.
😄



Monday, April 3, 2017

Regrets

I'm 64 years old and there are a few things I did, or didn't do, in my lifetime that I regret. Not a lot but some.

Today I was in a parking lot and I was reminded of one of my few regrets.
It's even green...



A VW diesel Rabbit



Back in 1981 or so I almost bought a brand spanking new VW Rabbit, metallic green, four doors, manual transmission & a diesel engine.

I was in the dealers office with the paperwork in front of me, the pen was in hand, sign my name & drive away. That new car smell AND 50 miles per gallon.


I was actually holding the pen...


I looked at the $121 a month payment (yes, one hundred twenty one dollars) and said to myself, "I can't spend that much money on a car!".

I put the pen down and walked away...

Whenever I see a VW Rabbit I always remember that day and I always regret not signing that paperwork.

There are worse regrets to have.... but still.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Photographs

I've taken a lot of pictures since I started this chunk of my life.  There have been a number of cameras for this too, a couple of point & shoot with the physical lens that moves in and out for the needed zoom, one was a quality Nikon SLR and the assorted camera's that came with different phones.


Arizona sunset taken with a phone

Lately most of my photos on this blog have come from my phone camera, it's always with me & it takes good photos.

It's hard to pick just one Grand Canyon photo
and none of them do it justice

I was at the beach on the Gulf of Mexico, white sand & salt water, almost no waves. I took my point & shoot camera because my phone does way more than call for pizza or take pictures and I'd miss it if I fell in.

Gulf Islands National Sea Shore- Pensacola 

My point and shoot is a Fuji, it's waterproof & has almost no moving parts.

My first two point shoot cameras had to be replaced when the lens that came out stopped coming out or wouldn't go back in. They took good photos and did everything I wanted except they didn't last. I'm thinking it was sand or grit that did them in.  Replacements were cheap enough that they were replaced rather than fixed.

After the second camera bit the dust I spent a little bit more for a camera that was a better fit for my lifestyle. Waterproof, shockproof & no moving parts to get jammed with grit or sand. I was concerned that the lack of a physical zoom might be a problem.  It isn't.

Waterproof point and shoot with no moving parts

This has taken me to a new problem... the battery is wearing out. I've carried this point and shoot in my pocket & in a bag for long enough for the battery to wear out. That's a better problem. 
$8 for a new battery from Amazon is a lot easier than a new camera. I'm happy!

(Amazon really reminds me of the Acme Manufacturing Company from Road Runner & Coyote cartoon fame!)




With digital I take a lot of pictures, most are quick to capture what's in front of me as a reminder.


point-n-shoot a memory
Some I actually think about before hand


Sunset over the Colorado river on the AZ/CA border
Calif Hwy 1 Southbound

Going South on Hwy 1





Once I thought I had too many sunset photos.  Later I looked at them again and realized that was not possible.










Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tool of the week!

I've been a tool user for many years. Different tools for different jobs, tools I carry every day, tools I keep in the car.

On occasion I find something that is a real stand out.

I had to cut some big wood, Karen had this tool already so I tried it out. Son of a gun!
It worked & worked well!!

Harbor Freight $40 (on sale) electric chain saw

This (for what we had to do) was the BEST $40 spent on a tool ever! Just plug it in, make sure the bar has oil & go.

When you're done just put it away... For the very occasional user (us) this is the way to go!

Mind you it is a real chain saw as far as your fingers, toes & legs are concerned... you just don't have to mess with gas & oil.




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On the road again!

We finally packed up the Pleasure-Way class "B" camper & made it to Florida!


The Gulf Of Mexico around Pensacola

It was almost a year ago that I left Holtville Calif, the free BLM camping & the hot springs with Florida in my GPS.... as place to go.   I wanted to see the Naval Air Museum.


Lot's of changes for me in the last year....


We found a Whataburger on the way! It had been a long time since I'd had a Monterey Melt! 

I'm here in Pensacola right now, at a friends house with the camper plugged in.


Our van parked in Pensacola 

We went to the beach, I went into the water but it's really not warm enough for me this time of the year.

The plan right now (written in sand with a stick :-) is to hang out for a little while, check out the sites (and the naval Air Museum) & then head deeper into Florida. We need to be back in Georgia the middle of March.


Naval Air Museum on NAS Pensacola

In Pensacola we did a Mardi Gras parade, my first.  WOW!

Karen & I at the parade

I can't believe the energy. It was from everywhere, all around me, the crowd AND the people on the floats. I couldn't believe it.

LOUD music from every float, always there & always different as the floats passed by.

And the beads, they throw them from the floats .. Good fun!  A crowd of happy people ... even at the bar after the parade. Pensacola...who'd a thought?

I enjoyed it.


A typical float


People throwing beads

The crowd









Too much to mention at the Naval Air Museum, a great collection of airplanes & aviation history!

A really nice section on Coast Guard Aviation.

I was a flight mechanic in the HU-16A,  HH-52A & the HH-65A during my 21 years in the USCG so I do have a slight lean towards the CG.


I think I worked on this HH-52A at some Air Station over the years



The start of Coast Guard aviation in 1917 


This sign explains it all


As a side note, remember the Wright Bros first flight? The guys helping out were from the Life Saving Service station there (early Coasties).











Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I like to eat, so I learned to cook.

Blogging is such a wide open thing, sometimes there are too many choices.... what do I write now? 

Food?  Why not?  I like to eat.

I really like spaghetti & like pizza so I'll ramble on about those for a few minutes.

I used to make a heck of a spaghetti sauce, fresh ingredients, simmer all day kind of sauce. But that was then.  My current sauce comes from a can, well several cans.

Tomato paste, diced tomatoes and canned sauce

It's a meat sauce generally, most any type of meat will do, this time I used Italian sausages... they were on sale.  These were links, I split the casing & fried them up as ground meat.
If I think it needs it I can add garlic & onion.

Italian sausages uncased for frying 

I've used leftover meat, canned chicken, canned ham chunks (the last two when I was vandwelling with limited refrigeration). Rotisserie chicken works great!

Brown the meat & drain it, mix in the canned sauce, the canned diced tomatoes & the tomato paste and heat it up.

Boil your favorite noodles & have at it.  I've been putting the left over sauce in a mason jar to store it in the fridge until I use it again.. the jar came with sauce in it..

Now for my other favorite, pizza! Left over spaghetti sauce will make great pizza sauce. There are any number of ways to make the pizza skin, I'm going to show my latest way.

12" pizza pan, dough, sauce, cheese and toppings

I used to do it all by hand including the kneading but I'm not against using a machine to help  My machine today (now that I have room to store one) is a used bread machine. I picked up a used bread machine at a second hand store on a day they were going 50% off small appliances, I spent $6 on it.

The $6 bread machine I use for mixing the dough

I follow the recipe for pizza dough, that takes this machine about 30 minutes, then another hour to rise. I spread it out on a slightly greased 12" pizza pan (Dollar store).
Top with left over spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese & your favorite toppings. 400 degree (f) oven for about 12 min.

The bread machine &left over pizza

It's hard to beat leftover pizza the next day... it really is.   For those of you who'd like something really different I've made pizza in my 14" dutch oven while camping.


Cheap, easy & (IMO) fun.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Robots

The other day I read a blog that had a 15 minute video on our future with robots,
"Humans need not apply"  . The video was enlightening & a bit frightening.

Today I went to a Walmart Superstore for a few things.  Darn few check out counters were open, but there was room in the DIY counters.
I went there.

Self check out robot at work


The self check out robot up close

I enjoy going to a human when I'm checking out, maybe that's from the year+ or so vandwelling, when standing in a check out line was a chance to interact with other live humans... even if they really didn't want to talk.
The guy in front of you comments on the gossip magazine cover - do you just ignore him?

I went to the self check out section because it was open. As I was ringing up my stuff I realized that I was interacting with a robot. This robot took the place of someone who would have had to be paid by the hour, a warm body that the store would have to pay social security taxes on, and unemployment taxes & various insurances for.
As a plus, the bot may break down but it won't call in sick the day after the SuperBowl.

I'd never thought of it as a robot before.

Like the video said, the robot doesn't have to be better than the human, just make fewer mistakes.

Another robot I'm very familiar with but never think about
I wonder how many jobs these two robot types have taken?


This will probably affect my children & grandchildren more than me... probably.