Cameras, computers and other such stuff

April yard Rocky Point (2) It’s been a busy week for me, working  a bit more than 40 hours like real folks, although I still managed to do more than half of that time from home.  Working with the current project leader for a soil survey project I managed a few years ago is actually a lot of fun.  Chris is a great guy, a smart and savvy soil scientist with good ideas.  We spent two full days this week putting our heads together to refine the detailed descriptions of the geomorphology of the area.  April yard Rocky Point

Understanding the landscape and how it was formed is crucial to understanding the soils that form on those landscapes.  Part of the data associated with a published soil survey is detailed information about the landscape for each soil that occurs in the area. After our review, my job this week is to get all that information in NASIS, the big database in the sky.  It keeps my brain running at full speed and makes it a bit hard for me to sleep at night. 

But now it is the weekend, and I promised myself I would refrain from firing up NASIS and trying to keep looking at all that data.  Yeah, probably boring as heck to anyone but the few of us involved in the process, but it explains why I speed read blogs and sometimes don’t take the time to comment.  Sorry folks, really, I love your blogs. I am praying that I never need a knee replacement after reading Laurie’s detailed account of what she and Odel have been doing after his operation.  They are doing a great job, both of them, I just hope I never have to do it. I have been enjoying the migration of the Canadians back to their home territory and the folks still wandering across Texas trying to avoid the fires.  There are several women RV’rs who are departing on their big full-time journeys, and several buying new rigs.  I love reading about their adventures.  I can’t possibly link to all my favorites without missing someone, so I won’t even try. 

It is wonderful to have the MoHo safely at home again.April yard Rocky Point (7)

I love Rick’s detailed instructions and comments about the state of the current computer/internet world.  I searched his blog to find all his posts about Windows 7. One of the comments that he often makes has to do with all the new software that will only run with 7 and won’t run  on XP.  I had to pay big bucks to take my old computer from Vista back to XP so I could run the government software that will ONLY run on XP, so I have been missing out on some of the newer bells and whistles that Rick discussed, specifically the new Live Writer and Internet Explorer. 

While we were traveling last month my Dell Inspiron kept feeling really hot, and I worried that if that computer goes (it’s five years old) I would be in big trouble.  Ahhh.  Solution.  Buy a new laptop with Windows 7.  I have a great friend here in town who is an IT dude and he put me on to a business machine, a lightweight Dell Vostro, with all the bells and whistles and a shiny cherry red exterior to boot.  Also, when I got home from our trip I discovered that the government has updated NASIS to a new version that will run on the XP that is hidden inside the Professional Windows 7. 

Bingo!  I ordered the new machine and decided to keep the old one just for NASIS, but if it dies, I’ll have a backup.  Whew!  Of course, a new machine always means more computer time, and I have been moving programs and photos and documents and re-installing programs and trying to find old disks for programs that I forgot I had. I do love Picasa, and immediately downloaded the newest version to my new Windows 7 computer, only to discover that all the “people” tags did not migrate to the new Picasa with the 60 gig of photos that I have been tagging diligently.  Big sigh on that one.  I wonder if anyone knows anything about that?  Rick?

Lots of lawn to rakeApril yard Rocky Point (11)April yard Rocky Point (15)

I am working as much as I am allowed as a retiree, and saving up the bucks for our big trip to Alaska this summer.  It’s only two months away now, with a departure date of July 6th, after the Fourth of July holiday. 

Klamath Falls is having a huge celebration this year, with some changes to the parade and a big family bbq in Veteran’s Park before the fireworks.  I am so glad to be here for that to share with my kids and grandkids.  I love that holiday, and always insisted on family day picnics where I made the teenagers do three legged races.  They always rolled their eyes and thought I was nuts, but it was a holdover from the church picnics of my childhood.  Melody called me up all excited.  She is on the town committee planning the picnic and said, “Mom, we are having three legged races, you HAVE to come!”.  I’ll be there and will race with my daughter and probably laugh till my sides hurt.

 Lots of trees makes for very few sunny sites to locate the greenhouseApril yard Rocky Point (5)

Sitting here at my desk this morning, I see dirty patches of snow on the shady part of the road, but bright sunshine on the grass.  I raked a lot last weekend, and Mo finished up all the lawns during the week.  It’s beautiful except for the vole damage.  Those dang little critters just make a total mess of the grass when the snow load is heavy, deep, and long lasting. 

April yard Rocky Point (4) One area they tore up especially is the 10 by 12 space where the greenhouse will be.  We are going to stake that area off today, and my job will be to get what is left of the sod up and leveled.  The chickadees are here in force, and the squirrels are already raiding the feeders.  Big sigh again.  One more year of squirrel battles, rabbit battles, and deer battles are ahead of us.  Hopefully we can keep all those critters out of the greenhouse!

Like many of us out there, I read Al’s (The Bayfield Bunch) often, gleaning information about all sorts of things, not the least of which is photography. If you search his blog for the word “camera” you will get 8 pages of posts about this topic!  I once was a “photographer”, darkroom and all, but now I just “take pictures”.  My old fabulous film camera Canon A-1 lies buried in a case in a cabinet.  I haven’t had it out for years now. Al’s photos inspire me, though, along with lots of other great blog photographers, and I decided that I can no longer be satisfied with my little Nikon point and shoot.  It takes nice photos, but the fine detail and perfect focus isn’t there, the telephoto isn’t enough, and the lens bends ocean horizons on the edges.  No amount of Picasa fiddling will fix that.  My choice of camera was the same as Al, I decided on the Nikon D90, and have been searching for the best price, hoping to manage a purchase before we travel the wide open landscapes of Canada and Alaska, hopefully filled with wildlife that will require a telephoto and vistas that will need a wide angle lens. 

I fertilized the rhodies a lot last year, looks like we have flower budsApril yard Rocky Point (12)

Talking with my other daughter yesterday, the one now driving airplane engines all over the country with her husband, yielded a surprise.  In one of her other lives she was a professional portrait and wedding photographer and she offered her high end Nikon equipment to me for the Alaska trip.  Whew!  I can’t even remember what the models are, but it’s top notch, one with a metal body that will be heavier than the D90 but will give me the chance to see if I really want to lug a DSLR around while traveling. 

She also made very clear that her telephoto lens is an auto focus anti vibration thingy that is about $2,000 worth of fancy.  Whew again!  I just hope I don’t get mugged while traveling.  She laughed and said, “Now Mom, the only bad part is that you have to drop it off on your way back from Alaska.”  Well, Duh!  But at least I don’t have to come up with plus or minus $1,000 bucks for the D90 before we leave.  Yay!



A gorgeous day on I-5 (and a few minor glitches)

Lodi to Bakersfield (3) Gotta thank everyone for all the encouragement yesterday, both on Facebook and as comments on my blog post about the break-in.  I was even surprised at how comforting it felt to have people noticing and sending along good thoughts.  A couple of folks mentioned our good attitude toward it all, but again, as we looked around last night at how unscathed we were, it was impossible to not have a pretty good attitude.

This morning, even though there were huge clouds all around the San Joaquin Valley, we saw promises of brilliant sunlight peeking through.  Although we didn’t get up till 6:30 or so, I had been lying awake since four, watching the perigee full moon through the sky visible below the back bedroom shade.  All sorts of scenarios went through my mind, still trying to figure out just how they managed to do some of the weird things they did.  So yeah, that good attitude held up fine with the lights on, but in the dark of night, not so much.

Lodi to Bakersfield (8) We got up, neither one of us much in the mood for breakfast, and checked out the weather on the internet.  Didn’t look real good for us no matter which route we follow, so we just decided that driving down the open country of I-5 on the west side of the valley was more agreeable than bumping along on my least favorite road, Highway 99, even though 99 would have been a shorter route.  Our latest plan was to amble toward Bakersfield and then check again about the passes, and probably camp somewhere this side of Castaic and the Flying J on the interstate. 

Of course, with so many little things missing, we also decided that a shopping trip to Camping World, south of Bakersfield on 99 was a good plan, and we still hadn’t completely let go of our wish to travel via 58 to Tehachapi and our friends.  Speaking of friends, Loree is at this very moment sitting in Tehachapi, and her photos of the snow there looked a bit daunting.  Either way, a night of boondocking was on the agenda.

Lodi to Bakersfield (10) The drive south on I-5 was actually breathtaking.  With all the storms, there isn’t a bit of smog or pollution in the air, and the wild cloudy skies with brilliant sun breaks only intensified the spring green of the annual grass rangeland of the western perimeter of the Great Valley. I said to Mo, “I have to get some real photos, not windshield shots, this is just too gorgeous>.”  She replied, “Well, I can’t pull over here in the middle of nowhere, but I’ll keep watching.”  In less than 2 miles, we saw a sign indicating a “vista point”.  Perfect!  The exit wound up a high hill right next to the interstate with an amazing 360 degree view of the entire valley north, east, and south, and the coast range rising to the west.  In addition, we found ourselves looking down on the California Aqueduct just below us.

Lodi to Bakersfield (11) A true engineering marvel, whether you love it or hate it, and stretched out to the horizon parallel to Interstate 5, it was all that made California what it is, especially Southern California.  With my 3G connection and 5 bars on the I-phone, I managed to learn more about the aqueduct that I even knew growing up in California when it was being built.  In a nutshell, the magnificent snow melt of the Sierras flows down the Feather River to Oroville Dam, west to the Delta of San Francisco Bay, then south through a mind-boggling array of pipes, tunnels, pumps, over mountains, through mountains and ending up supplying the outrageous water needs of the bread basket of the world in the San Joaquin Valley and the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles.  I even read that the water Rick and so many others are drinking while supping at Palm Springs restaurants comes from the gorgeous Feather River high in the Sierras. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (20)  Once again on the road, the pavement was smooth enough for me to knit, and the storms coming and going made for great entertainment.  A bit after noon, we thought lunch might be nice and stopped at a quiet rest area with thoughts of starting up the generator and cooking some grilled cheese sandwiches.  Mo said, “Probably would be a good idea to start up the generator anyway, since it’s been sitting awhile”.  UhOh.  Good thing we did.  She started easily and then ground right down to a stop and wouldn’t start again.  Mo checked under the rig for any sign of what might be the problem, but no luck.  She did say that the intruders were messing around in the generator bay, and who knows what they actually did.  The sound felt like it wasn’t getting gas.  Maybe something is cut or gone, but either way it wasn’t something she could figure out so we called Camping World.  Wouldn’t you know, they are booked up until Friday!  We don’t have our battery charge indicator, and certainly aren’t comfortable boondocking without the generator, so Camping World gave us the number of Pacific Power in Bakersfield, and thank goodness they said to come on in.

Lodi to Bakersfield (24) It was another hour and a half in to the shop, and lo and behold, it was a shop dedicated specifically to generators, with Onan on the window signs.  We pulled around to the back bay as directed by a crusty old guy who wasn’t the least bit talkative.  He pulled off the cover to the generator, harumphed a bit about how Dynamax didn’t make it easy to work on, and made some mumblings about us having it in storage too long and the carburetor was probably just glazed up.

Lodi to Bakersfield (27) Mo told him about our vandals, and he crawled under to find the fuel line to the generator was cut.  Seems as though the robbers couldn’t manage to siphon the gas directly from the gas tank, so evidently thought they could get it out of the generator gas line.  Must not have worked, but they weren’t completely awful people because they actually plugged up the cut hose with a piece of pipe so all the gas wouldn’t run out on the floor and cause an explosion.   Our fixer man re-connected the hose, pushed the starter, and the generator roared to life.  Perfect.  Only after all this, did the guy actually start to talk a little bit and laughed with us about the good outcome.   I told him I was part of the RV blogging world and would put in a good word for Pacific Power  on Buck Owens Boulevard in Bakersfield.  Great service where we least expected it.

Lodi to Bakersfield (30) Back on Highway 99, we traveled just a few miles south to camping world to check out some goodies, and found another voltage meter to replace the one that was stolen.  By this time is was after 4pm and we were definitely ready to settle in for the evening.  Looking at the snow ringing the entire valley, we finally decided that we would take our chances traveling 58 directly east to the desert tomorrow morning.  A quick search on Streets and Trips yielded an RV park not too far out of town along our route and within an hour we were parked and settled in, just in time for the huge thunderstorm to hit. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (31) You wonder why I am so amazed at our good luck?  I have had other times in my life where something that looks like a streak of really bad luck is combined with amazing good luck that gets me through it all by the skin of my teeth.  This has been one of those streaks for sure, a time when I know someone is watching over me.  As we left Pacific Power this afternoon, Mo turned to me and said, “How likely would it be for us to just randomly decide to use the generator in the middle of the afternoon?”  How likely that we would be within a few miles of an Onan specialist.  How likely that the vandals didn’t let all the gas drain out after cutting the fuel line, and how likely that the whole thing didn’t just blow up completely.  How likely that we would decide to travel highway 58 and then hear that there were heavy snows and landslides on I-5 and it was closed down anyway!

Yup, so far, this has been one heck of a lucky trip.