Saturday, May 31, 2008

Breaking News-5-28-08

After the ballgames in Chicago, where the Dodgers lost all three games, Mom has changed her allegiance. She now will root for the Cubs-Except when they play the Dodgers. Just because we're in Las Vegas, Matt talked her into a bet.

Congratulations Matt on beating your mother! The bet was that we would put it on the Blog for everyone to read and comment.

Needless to say, we stayed away from the casinos.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Utah & Zion National Park

On Thursday we moved the MoHo up to St. George Resort, a Western Horizon location. We plan to stay here a week and see the National Parks in the area. The resort is an older park, with tight roads and small sites for our size motorhome. But we got a nice spot with no one next to us so it was very nice. There was some nice grass areas that Pearl enjoyed after the sand & rock in Las Vegas. When we got there the weather was in the 80s, but soon moved into the low 90s. One of the nice features of the park was 50 amp service which allowed us to run both of our air conditioners. That kept the coach nice and cool during the day, which allowed us to leave Pearl with comfort.

Our first park was Zion National Park, which was only a short drive from our RV park. We didn't realize how popular Zion is. Last year it received 2.7 million visitors. During the summer they don't allow cars in the canyon, they use a shuttle similar to what they do in Yosemite valley. The shuttle works great in that it drops you off at the major spots, then later you can pick up another shuttle and move on to another stop. The shuttle runs every 5-8 minutes, so its real convenient.

One of the plans we have for this summer is to get more exercise, so we've planned to go hiking every other day when possible. So we jumped on the shuttle and stopped at the first interesting hike, the Weeping Rock.

It's only about a 1/2 mile, but it would give us a good start. It's called weeping rock because the water comes right out of the rocks and forms a stream that runs into the Virgin river. Because of the moisture, plants grow right out the rocks and form hanging gardens. After the hike up to the rocks, we followed a path up the stream, hoping from rock to rock.

We jumped back on the shuttle and stopped at the grotto for a picnic we had packed in our backpack. We discovered that it's better to pack a lunch than buy one at the parks. But we also discovered that it's better to go to a picnic area in the car so we don't have to haul the backpack everywhere on the hikes. It's really refreshing to sit at a picnic table under the cottonwood trees and enjoy good food.

Next we rode the shuttle to the end of the canyon to hike the Riverside trail. This is where the Virgin river enters the canyon at the Temple of Sinawava. It's an easy walk along the river as the canyon gets narrower. Here's a picture of us at the little falls near the beginning of the trail.

Further up the canyon we found a bend in the river which had a lot of round rocks near the bank. Many people had stacked the rocks into mini sculptures, which we found very interesting.

Of course, we couldn't leave without contributing our own stack. Here's Linda making our mark in Zion. Of course, they probably fell over in a couple of days, but it was fun.

The total length of the hike was about 21/2 miles round trip, but it was pretty level along the river, and nice and cool.

Our last stop was at Zion Lodge stop, where we crossed the river and hiked up to the Emerald Pool. It's named after the green color of the pool. And it has one of the few waterfalls in the park. It was a pretty setting, but the falls were nothing like a waterfall in Yosemite. It more like a leak. The hike was about 2 miles, up and down hill, and we were getting worn out. When we got back to the lodge, John found an ice cream stand and we refreshed ourselves.

Then it was back to the visitor center and our car. We really enjoyed the day, but we were pretty tired. It shows we're not in really good shape, but at least we're working on it. To see all of our pictures, please click on this link:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Las Vegas & Hoover Dam

After we left L.A., we spent a couple of nights in Las Vegas. Over the years John has visited Las Vegas many times with his job, so he knew his way around town pretty well. It was never one of his favorite towns. We stayed at a Thousand Trails campground that was east of downtown.

One of the reasons we stopped here was for John to visit Hoover Dam. This was one stop that he had wanted to make for many years but never had the time when the visitor center was open.

It's about a half hour drive from our campground out to the dam site. Of course, this being a government site, they charged $7 to park and $15 each for the tour. There was an expanded tour of the powerhouse, but we didn't think it was worth the $35 per person cost.

Hoover Dam, also know as Boulder Dam, was started in 1931 and completed in 1935, 2 years ahead of schedule. It was built to primarily control the flooding on the Colorado River and provide water for farmers and cities. The electricity generated powers parts of many cities in AZ, NV, & CA. The total capacity of Hoover is 2,074 megawatts.

One of the interesting facts that we found out on the tour is that the workers worked 7 days a week, with only 2 days off a year, July 4 and Christmas Day. Once the concrete started pouring, it worked 24 hours a day with no days off. They cooled the concrete with refrigerated water running through tubes to help the concrete cure. If they didn't use the cooler, it would take 125 years for the concrete to cure.

The design of the dam was very innovative. We asked about earthquakes and the guide mentioned that they registered over 20 quakes a day. But the design of the dam makes it very resistant to earthquake. The dam floats in the canyon, and is not attached to any of the walls. The pressure of the water of Lake Mead against the curve of the dam forces it against the walls. Considering that the dam is in AZ & NV, it remarkable that Southern CA gets the most electricity.

It really is one of the top engineering marvels of the world, especially considering it was built back in the 30s. We did find out that the lake is down 60' from the top of the dam due to 7 years of drought. This year looks a little better and should bring the water level up a little bit. It's hard to believe that the last time the lake was completely full and they had to release some water through the tunnels was in 1999. Originally it only took 6 years to fill Lake Mead. It goes to show weather patterns can run in cycles.

There are two powerhouses, one on the Nevada side and one on the Arizona side. The hold identical generators. There's also two small generators which generate enough electricity to run all of the dam operations, lights and tour needs.

One of the uses of the dam after it was completed was a bridge over the Colorado river for US Hwy 93. After 9/11, the road was closed. But it reopened about 2 years later, there was heavy security and any trucks or RVs are inspected. Because of the constraints, the government decided to build a new bridge. Here's a picture of their progress.

It's going to be a beautiful suspension bridge, but of course it will cost more that the entire construction of Hoover Dam. Oh, one of the other things the guides mentioned is that the dam is completely paid for by the selling of the electricity, so it cost the taxpayers nothing. Not your normal federal project.

If you want to see all of our pictures, click on this link to our Picasso album:

We also took the night tour of the strip. It continues to change with new hotels and now new condo towers. The lights are brighter than ever, but the crowds are down. There's a lot more specials and the shows aren't as crowded. We still don't think that any shows are worth $100 a seat. But we've always been in the minority. It's still a very unique city, even when it's been hard hit by the housing crisis and the bad economy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cousin's Sunday Brunch

Before we left SoCal, we were blessed to able to meet with Linda's cousins, Ken & Donna, and Steve & Charlotte. And we were twice blessed to have Nicky and her new daughter, Abby, join us. Here's the proud Grandpa. He looks pretty proud.

Nicky & Abby were quickly the center of attention. In fact, John forgot to take a picture of the group! Sorry, Steve, Charlotte, & Donna.

Here's Linda doing her favorite thing, holding a baby. I have to keep reminding her that they grow up.

We really did talk about other things at the brunch. It was great seeing Steve & Charlotte again after our short visit when they stopped by where we were staying in AZ. They are devoted Angel fans and always go over to Phoenix to catch some spring training games and to visit their family. We're so glad that everything is going so well for this great couple.

To see all of the photos, click on this link:

Ken & Donna are doing great adapting to this Grandparent thing. We have always enjoyed spending time with our cousins, and hope they have time to visit us either during the summer or when we get back to AZ for next winter.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Additions to the Family-Violet Perez

Our timing was perfect to welcome another addition to the family, Valerie & Rick's new daughter, Violet Rossa Perez, Iris's new sister.

She's very beautiful! We're sure that the men will be lining up at the front door very soon. Rick's going to have his hands full with two cute girls at home.

Iris hasn't quite figured out what's going on, but she willing to give Violet a chance. But Violet doesn't know how to play quite yet.

We all had a fun time introducing ourselves to Violet. In fact, Aunt Linda even got to babysit. She was in heaven. Aunt Linda brought some violets for the garden to go with the Iris' she planted last year. Hopefully they'll be a reminder of these special times.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

We Meet Chase Fredrick Wedell

One of the first things we wanted to do when we arrived in SoCal was to visit the newest member of the family, our nephew Chase. We also wanted to visited with Katie & Michael, the proud parents. So on Thursday we(Lois, Linda, & John) made the drive to Murrieta with much anticipation. And we weren't disappointed. Chase is a very special addition. Here's a picture of everyone oohing & aahing over the little guy:

Here's Aunt Linda introducing herself to Chase. He seems very impressed.

And here's Great Grandma getting in a little quality time. Chase is loving all of the attention.

Here's Chase's special room. It has a pirates theme. Hopefully he won't get lost finding the treasure on the map! The whole room looks like it was done for one of those shows you see on the Home & Garden network

We had a great time visiting with Chase. Oh, it was nice to visit with Katie & Michael too.

If you would like to see all of the pictures of our visit with Chase and his parents, please click on this link:

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Our Old Hometown of Turlock

We left San Juan Bautista at the early (for us) hour of 9:00am. It's a fairly easy drive through Hollister, over Pacheco Pass, through Los Banos, and on to Turlock. We made our way to our good friends Kathy & Bob Whiteheads ranch, and parked next to Bob's Famous Red Barn.

The reason Bob's barn is so famous is because he has a geocache on his ranch, and on it's known as Red Barn Bob. Many people have found it, some with Bob's assistance.
While we're here we're going to add our first travel bug to the cache, one honoring Best Friends Animal Society. The metal tag has a tracking number that unique to this bug. We hope it gets moving to other caches soon.

Our reason for coming to Turlock at this time is to visit Doctors. Our joy in coming back to Turlock is to visit all of our friends who we miss dearly.

Thursday, April 24, was our first busy day at the Doctors. Linda & John both had appointments for their annual physicals, John had an appointment with a dermatologists, and Linda had a follow up appointment with her hand Doctor. All of the appointments went well, except the the dermatologist wants to remove a cyst off of John's shoulder. John knew he couldn't get through the week without something. On the following Tuesday, John went under the knife, and 4 stitches later he was fine. He didn't even faint or scream! The biopsy came back fine so there's no problem.

On the following Tuesday, before the surgery, John met with his cancer doctor and everything was back to normal. The doctor was very pleased, but not as pleased as Linda & John. The blood counts were great, and there's no sign of any bleeding in John's stomach. We don't have to go back for another 6 months.

Most of the time we spent in Turlock was with our friends. Kathy is a terrific cook and we were lucky to eat dinner with them 4 times. We also went out to dinner a number times with different friends, visiting others at their houses, and playing Mexican Train a couple of times which Bob won(I think he cheats, but I can't figure out how).

One of the highlights of the week was a 60th birthday bash for our good friend and car nut, Gary Sanders. Rosemarie put on a great party, first for his family, then for all of his friends. We were honored to be invited and meet some of Gary's childhood friends. It was a great night that went into the next day. Congratulations to Gary on reaching this milestone. His family bought him a hydraulic car lift, so we know where Gary is going to be spending the summer, under one of his cars.

John got to visit with his old friends from work. When we first arrived in town, John had lunch with George & Kristine, plus all of the old field personnel who were in town for a training. John had a great time catching up with the field, and throwing barbs back & forth. The following week John had lunch with just Kris & George, which allowed him to get updates on their families and friends.

All to soon our appointments were completed, and we needed to travel down to SoCal for other appointments. We'll miss our friends, but we won't miss the Doctors(especially John). Hopefully we can meet up somewhere outside of Turlock with some of our friends on a special trip.