Bye-bye, January 2017

(If you're looking for my Australia posts, click on "Road Scholar" under Labels at left, or if you prefer a certain section, click on it; i.e., Australia, New Zealand, or even individual cities, such as Auckland or Sydney. I know some of the posts are long, but those adventurous, full days equal long posts!)

January 2017 has been one of the wettest on record for Northern California, but not THE wettest ever. Nevada City received 22.31" of precipitation (rain and snow) in January, and 50.37" for the entire rain year (July 1st to June 30th) ... so far, that is!  February looks to be wet, also, at least the beginning.  (Our local newspaper this morning -- February 1st -- reported January's precipitation as 25.93", so let's just say January was WET.)

Image may contain: tree, sky and outdoor
Photo from Nevada County Weather - the Original

Above, you see the top of the base of Pioneer Monument at Donner Memorial State Park is 22 feet? That was the height of the snow-pack in 1846-47, that fateful winter when the Donner party tried to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  That's a lot of snow!  As of the 26th (this year) their snow-pack measured 5.5 feet, which is pretty impressive in its own right.  More is on the way, though the next snow will probably fall in February!

January set a record for snowfall in the Tahoe-Truckee region, with a total 237 inches in Soda Springs (elevation 6,768'), surpassing the previous record of 159 inches in January 1973. That's over 19 feet!

Although I don't have any technical data to share from our place, I have a few snow photos of my own to share, all taken in our yard ....

These pictures (in our yard) are from various snowstorms in January.

Looks heavy on that tree branch.

This Pacific Dogwood is wearing a different guise of white blossoms!

No grilling in January!

We both worked to clear the driveway.

Above and below:  This snow from this storm was so wet and heavy, that as the temperature rose a bit, big plops of snow fell from the trees, and you'd better hope that a) you weren't beneath one of these mini-avalanches, or b) you had on a jacket with a hood! 

After clearing the driveway one day, more snow fell in the night, and we were back out shoveling the next morning, 'cause we knew we needed to use the car that day.

Finally, on Sunday, Jan 29th, with much of the snow gone, the day warmed enough for us to consider walking on the canal trail (without freezing to death, wussies!).  This time we chose a new route, which started out fine ... and then you see we were trudging through snow!  But, the sun felt soooo good (hello, Vitamin D).

You had to go around this giant in the middle of the trail.

Here's a shot I took this afternoon about 1pm, and that's what's left of our snow pile from the Jan 23rd storm.  Rain is forecast for all of the upcoming week 😕, which will put an end to this pile.  NorCal is no longer in a "drought," and rain is welcome in the Golden State, but, another whole week of it?  Good thing we have plenty to read!


Parade Wrap-up ... through Jan 8th, 2017

Chalk up another year, and neither of us is sorry to see 2016 bite the dust.  These days, rather than saying, "where in the world did the past year go?" I've been saying: Writing 2017 feels weird, and I'm not sure why ... it just seems so darned futuristic.  Heck, as a kid in the '50's, I always considered the year 2000 far-flung and far away, which made penciling in the Big Y2k a real science fiction biggie for me! Now we're 17 years into the 21st century?  The years are flying too fast -- I must be getting old!

But 2017 already brought us a special reward:  Watching the Rose Parade in person, a spectacle we never dreamed we'd see.  Near Victory Park at the end of the parade route, this year's 42 sensational floats are on display.  It costs 15 bucks to get in, but this was part of our rally's package deal.  Protected by barricades, you can view them up close, examine their intricate patterns, design and workmanship, really catch the fragrance of the flowers, see how vegetables and fruits are used, or seeds, bark, coconut fiber, seaweed and so on. 

This "Teammates in Life" float was special, and a theme trophy winner for excellence in presenting the parade theme.  We talked to one of the donor recipients on hand who told us about the Polynesian catamaran:  The pictures depicted on the sails are 60 floral portraits of actual donors, and the vessel is propelled by a team of 24 organ, eye, and tissue transplant recipient rowers.  12 living donors and recipients walked alongside the float in the parade carrying flowers in celebration of the life they have given and received.  Long ago, Jimmy and I signed up on our driver's licenses to be donors, and we encourage everyone to do the same.  Our brother-in-law, Bubba, and a friend named Jim are both organ recipients -- this one is for you guys!  Click here to watch a time lapse film on making this beautiful float.  (hit your back button to return to the blog)

Think these Ragu float salt and pepper shakers are small?
How about two feet tall?

I found my pins from the two years Lyn and I volunteered to work on the City of Santa Ana floats: in 1988 the city's entry had larger-than-life sculptures of primitive and ethnic artworks displayed at the city's Bowers Museum, and a 1989 city-sponsored entry from Santa Ana that celebrated the 100th birthday of Orange County and the 100th Rose Parade centennial.  Now I have to find my pin from this year!

From the sublime to the mundane:  The yucky 18" snow berm (above and below) at the top of our driveway is gone, thanks to 50 degree temperatures, and heavy rain that's been pummeling NorCal.  I think we have a storm total of something like four-and-a-half inches of rain so far, and the storm shows no sign of stopping!  We've lived here for nigh onto five years and have never seen a blustery wind like we're seeing today.  Since the driveway is clear, we drove to the Elks Lodge earlier and brought Tergel home, and parked her where she belongs. 💗

Jimmy and I have learned a few things about taking trips.  We realize now that after a month traveling in New Zealand/Australia, a puny ten-day recovery time (with Christmas in the middle!), and immediately taking off on another ten-day adventure in Tergel was too much.  We get it.  Give ourselves more time!  And while we enjoyed the Rally in Pasadena, which enabled us to see and do much that we wouldn't have done otherwise, we're really not "rally" people.  Too danged independent, I suppose.  Adventure Caravans is a good outfit, and we have no complaints with them. Spending the week camped next to Sue and Mo (and Ratty Matty) made the week extra-special for us, we four had a grand time!

One more item:  Jimmy is taking Tergel to the fix-it shop on Thursday to get the recalcitrant dinette slide fixed.  She also blew a circuit breaker the night before we left Huntington Beach, leaving us with only one or two electric outlets that worked.  Time for Tergel maintenance.  Humans need it all the time, so 'tis with our homes.  She'll be good as new soon! 

That's it.  The End.


Critter viewing! Tuesday, 1/3/17

I'm sitting at my dining room table, looking at a mighty dreary landscape outside the window, light rain doing in last week's leftover snow, wind whipping bare branches, and a cold, foggy film covering all.  Jimmy and I drove home to Nevada City from SoCal yesterday (via the 405 to the 5, not much traffic, but a very long day) because we wanted to beat this "epic atmospheric river" that's threatening our part of the world for the next seven days. No way did we want to drive Tergel, towing Smartie, in what looked to be bad weather, especially since we'd considered using the coast route to return.  So ... here we are, safe and warm inside, and if I don't want to feel chilled, I need to shift my gaze from the window and take a light-hearted look at some of the cuties we saw up close at post-parade float viewing on Tuesday.  I offer them to you, too!

 "Prosperity in the Wild" presented a whole host of stunning creatures (above and below).

If you didn't look closely, you would've missed this grinning sneaky spotted python, but there was no missing the beautiful pink and white Roseate Spoonbills on the other side of the float, if you walked around the entire float, which we did.

And the parrots, below.... 

Look at this mythical phoenix, a symbol of renewal in "Go Roses" by Honda!
Up close, it's quite an accomplishment.

This is one of ha-ha floats, entitled, "The Cat's Away."  Self-built by Sierra Madre Float Ass'n, it shows mice taking over a tea set.  Really cute.  Our little mouse, above, flew in circles around the teacup.

Hummers and fuchsia on the Miracle-Gro float, "Everything's Coming Up Roses."  The sky was starkly overcast when I took these photos, hence you don't get the true bright colors that I saw, and I'm sorry about that.  Cool, cloudy days like today means the flowers don't wilt so fast, tho, a good thing for post-parade viewing.  Nor was the wind blowing petals every-which-a-way.

Big, bad winged dragon, with scary-looking teeth; made with what I do not know.
From "Be Your Own Knight."

Mikado Pheasant from China Airlines, "Return to the Beauty of Taiwan."
Enlarge the pictures to get an idea of what materials are used on each critter.

Above and below:  Cal Poly Universities "A New Leaf" float was my favorite.

I loved this little yellow chameleon.  With yellow lemons interspersed in bright yellow mums, this guy rocked.  His eyeballs swiveled, just like a real chameleon.  If you enlarge the picture, you will see the eye is covered in seeds and pea beans, what appears to be quinoa, rice, purple statice, and other natural materials. 

Of course, you would guess Lions Club International would present this float.  Driving down Colorado Blvd in the parade, with the wind blowing it's mane, he looked like a real lion.  He was drop-dead gorgeous.

This (two-toed?) sloth and the li'l froggy above are both on the "Echoes of Love" float, called The Bachelor.  We don't watch the show, but (according to the parade brochure) apparently Nick is returning for his turn to hand out roses and find his true love.  T'was a colorful float with lots of critters, and good luck Nick, whoever you may be.

Here's UPS Store's 42 ft giraffe again.  He's learning how to read!  Nice specs!

From "Waves of Hope," by Northwestern Mutual, ol' crabby, the pelican below, and the purple dolphins represent a life full of happiness and lasting memories that come from being a (cancer-free) kid.  This float featured quite a few more cool critters and people smiled when they saw it.


Most of the parade participants put out statistics on how many and what type of flowers they used to create these fantastic floral floats. You would be flabbergasted at the number -- it's astounding.

A turtle (or we would say a "tergel") from Dole's "Spirit of Hawaii" -- a float chock-a-block full of wonder.

"Lucy Pet's Gnarly Crankin' K-9 Wave Maker" was decorated with fishies along its side.  I think the white is crushed rice.  Amazing what can be done!

Another dragon, but this is a friendly guy, a globe-trotter that blinks its eyes, and emits "smoke" from its nose to welcome 2017 across the globe.  "Doing Good in the World" presented by the Rotary Rose Parade Float Committee, this is it's 30th year in the Rose Parade.  Outstanding decoration.

Last on my post, but not least by any means, is this pair of beautiful swans presented by United Sikh Mission, entitled "Together We Rise."

BTW, we disconnected Smartie in the Nevada City Safeway parking lot yesterday evening, and drove her up the hill to see if we could get in our driveway. Nope. The snow plow had done what snow plows do -- cleaned the road by piling snow berms up on driveways.  Because we weren't home to clean it off last week, the 18" pile got rained on and turned to ice. And it's road-grime ugly, with leaves and gunk from the plow.  We made two trips in Smartie, emptying essentials from Tergel, and drove Tergel to the Nevada City Elks Lodge till we can get 'er in the driveway. We finished up around 9:30pm. (We left Huntington Beach at 9am.) Tergel will be fine at the Elks. Smartie is parked across the street at our neighbors.  Hooray, today the river of rain is melting that snow, thank goodness, so we won't have to pick-ax it away.

Meanwhile, our gas fireplace is radiating heat (ahh, so nice to stand in front of it), the central heat comes on every once in a while to blow even more warmth into our home, and I'm fixin' to put a cake in a 350° oven, which will add a deliciously sweet aroma, as well as hot up the kitchen.  Guess I'm cookin' with gas!  The day has become stormier, nastier, and I am happy to sit here and smile at these few images from the Rose Parade.