20130830

Won't you let me take you on a Sea Cruise?


Ooo-eee, baby !  For those of you who can remember back that far, in 1959 Frankie Ford had a hit record called "Sea Cruise."  This kinda happy song was also featured in American Graffiti Soundtrack.  All of which brings me to announce that Jimmy and I have booked a 17-day Princess cruise from Los Angeles along the west coast of South America to Santiago, Chile in December!  Ooo-eee, baby, won't you take me on a sea cruise ?  Yes!  The ship stops in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, and ends in Valparaiso (two hours from Santiago).  We decided to hang around a few days in Santiago and Valparaiso, check out the local sights, etc., before flying back to LA just after Christmas.  Oh boy!  We are looking forward to this, big-time!

Not too much else has been going on with us since Tom and Diane flew back to Tallahassee two weeks ago.  Smoke from the American has kept us indoors a lot, tho we did enjoy a couple of smoke-free days and got out to yank St John's Wort from the back yard.  The American fire began three weeks ago, has burned almost 28,000 acres (and is still burning), but it has now been contained!  Yippee!  Mornings here seem to be smoky.  Afternoons, the smoke clears out, but by then it's too hot to do much outside.  We've gone to see two movies on hot afternoons.  Elysium and the Butler.  I didn't much care for the first one, but we both liked The Butler.

Last Sunday we hopped down to Pioneer Park in Nevada City for their third free outdoor program of the summer (we missed the first two).  

Where's Jimmy?

Eclectic music program!  Click on the picture to enlarge it if you want to read it.

All the musicians barely fit in the band shell.

These concerts are always fun and draw a big crowd, upward of 500.  Hard to get a picture of the whole shebang, mostly due to the sun's position.  By the time the music begins, the sun is pretty much behind the tall trees, but there's enough brightness to make the camera's eye crazy (mine, too)!  This is a volunteer concert band and while every single note isn't always perfect, the entertainment is worth the price of admission!  Everyone seems to have a great time, both musicians and audience.

We packed up our chairs, took a tasty dinner to eat on the grounds, noting that Lazy Dog Ice Cream had their truck parked nearby for dessert!  Yum-yum!

And lastly, today - Fri, Aug 30th - my sister, Nannie, and BiL, Bubba, will be pulling in here for a nice visit.  They've been on the road in their travel trailer for a couple of months and we're one of their last stops before heading home to Baton Rouge.  They spent a week camped next to us while we were in Montana in July and we spent a fun-filled week.  O boy, more fun!

The weather is supposed to cool off by the end of this week and smoke from that monster Rim fire near Yosemite is forecast to drift toward Nevada, rather than sink our way.  That terrible fire has burned almost 202,000 acres, and is approx 32% contained.  A long way to go on this one, sorry to say.  This is a very bad fire season in the west.

The End of Tail.

20130813

Go climb a rock, Mountain Mamas! Monday, Aug 12th (updated 8/17/13)


When friends come to visit, we enjoy taking them to see the sights in our fantastic Northern California area.  Diane and Tom flew in from Tallahassee FL a few days ago, and wouldn't you know it, the so-named American River wildfire began about the same time.  Located approx 25-30 miles south of us (as the crow flies) in mostly inaccessible terrain, we're not in any fire danger here in Nevada City.  We spotted the smoke on Sunday as we four roamed Grass Valley's downtown streets, but we weren't affected then.  When we awoke Monday morning, a nasty smoky haze enveloped our beloved city, obscuring our view of even backyard trees, burning eyes and throats.  Yikes!  Jimmy checked the Squaw Valley webcams online and saw that this entire region looked clear.  A plan was made to escape and head for the hills!

We packed a picnic lunch, loaded water, binocs and cameras and hit Hwy 20 east (and I-80), up over Donner Pass to Squaw Valley.  Along the way we watched the A/Q progress from bad to worse and questioned the wisdom of our plan.  As we crested Donner Pass, the air miraculously cleared, thank goodness.  (Actually it has everything to do with winds.)  Part of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, Squaw Valley is at 6200' elevation - pretty thin air for those Florida flat-landers!  Regardless, they were game for an adventure.

Diane and Tom at the entrance.  Note the Olympic flame.

 A sneaky way to get a picture of the four of us after our picnic lunch - take a picture of us in glass doors opposite.  Jimmy, Diane, Tom and me (standing) to capture our mirrored images!

OK, so we didn't climb a rock; we rode the gondolas up to High Camp.  It is a 2,000' elevation gain.

They were game, but 8,200' was really tough on our Florida friends!  Tallahassee's highest spot is like 205 feet!

 So many rocks to climb, too!  A sliver of Lake Tahoe is in the distant right.

The gondola ride lasts eight-and-a-half minutes, but even so, we could "see" faces in these granite rocks.

Ghost trees.

 Mountain Mamas, at the top and ready to hike.  How about maybe mill around and just breathe?
 
 Back at Squaw Valley village after an ear-popping descent from High Camp.  Jimmy and I have been here before (but not in 1960) and love it.  (I climbed these rocks!)

A very nice setting for a lovely al fresco dinner on the deck at Jake's in Tahoe City, sans smoke.  Sapphire-hued Lake Tahoe sparkles in the background.  Tom, Diane, me and Jimmy - what fun!  


And then down, out of the mountains, to our home at 3100' in Nevada City.  Here's a picture I took on I-80, with a thick band of smoke tarnishing the sky and el sol locked in smoky haze.  Tomorrow is forecast to be more of the same.  This fire is out-of-control, with multiple forest service and Cal Fire personnel assigned to the fire. Currently 318 resources have been assigned including 18 crews, 16 engines, 4 helicopters, 5 dozers, 4 watertenders, and air tankers as available.  Throw all that you can at it!

Wednesday update:  This fire is only 5% contained, so the smoke (sniff-sniff) will continue.  I am an outdoor person and I miss being able to go outside....

Update:  Saturday, Aug 17th - the American River forest fire has been burning in heavy fuels on extreme slopes for a week now, and has consumed nearly 12,000 acres.  Smoke has been a "significant issue" off and on for us this past week, mornings being the worst, clearing by evening.  Our friends left on Thursday, so they're out of this smoky mess.  Daytime temps have soared into the 90's, so it must be stay-inside-time for me and Jimmy!

20130803

YNP - It's all here - July 26-27-28


Jimmy and I are home now, two months after we left our Nevada City home.  We left Fishing Bridge C/G in Yellowstone on Monday morning, and pulled in our driveway Wednesday afternoon 7/31/13.  Two great months on the road, including one month in Livingston, Montana (good friends and plenty of trout fishing!).  Tomorrow we rest, after working our tails off the past few days.  At least that's the plan as of this moment!  I tho't I'd leave you with just a few Yellowstone photos.  We took LOTS more.

Legendary Yellowstone.

Somebody didn't pay attention....

Right of way?  From the biggest bison...

 ... to the smallest mouse...

to the undeniably handsomest buck...

This is Yellowstone!

 We enjoyed both north and south rims of this Grand Canyon.

In person?  Indescribably beautiful.

 Lower Falls.

 Nope.  Not Old Faithful, but puffin' away nevertheless!

 Fascinating texture to the rims of many boiling "splashers."

 Cliff Geyser is a continuous blower-upper.  Not a technical term.

A land of contrasts:  From a lovely pair of Trumpeter Swans,

to one of a Mountain Bluebird pair in the (hot) geyser area, of all places!

The canyon near Artist's Point is vividly multicolored.  And -- it's a long, long way down to the river.


Cute face, right?  These huge beasts are everywhere!   Each one is WAY bigger than most cars.  They love to saunter down the middle of the road, which plays havoc with vehicle traffic.  Or an entire herd may decide to cross the road, in dribs and drabs, one or two at a time, to get to the other side (as happened to us when we were leaving the Park).  Well, maybe not, maybe they'll turn around.  Oops, never mind, they cross anyway.  Here come two more.  One runs, and now more run....  And so on!

The End!