Dec 23, 2011

Just in the NICK of time

I know there are those of you out there having difficulties.  Our friends Bob and Linda are still playing the  "Norcold not Cold" game, and poor Nick can't find seat straps for his kayak, and even Howard can't find anything to write about.  But all of these pale in comparison to our difficulties.

Just over a year ago we discovered what may be the best way to make coffee.  It's called an AeroPress.  Yes, I am addicted to coffee.  But not just any coffee.  It has to start with good beans, then made into an espresso strength elixir, and finally diluted with hot water.  In coffee circles it's known as an Americano.

Our beloved Aeropress has served us faithfully for over a year.  But lately it has been showing it's age, although I will admit I expected it to last longer than a year. The chamber wall became rough and the seal on the plunger started to leak and no I'm not talking about our toilet. Actually we had the seal replaced on our toilet last year, but I digress.

By now I'm sure you are saying, "no problem just get a new one, or order one on Amazon".  Therein lies the problem.  The Aeropress is hard to find, and as many of you know unless you are staying in an accommodating RV park, getting things shipped is a hassle.  As a last resort we even hauled out an old French Press, but it just isn't the same.

We are currently at a wonderful Santa Barbara County park about 10 miles from the little towns of Solvang and Los Olivos, so this morning we headed out in search of the elusive Aeropress.  We soon discovered that the Danes in Solvang are not serious coffee drinkers.  Oh they drink coffee with all their wonderful pastries, but not the kind of coffee I'm wanting.  We moved on to Los Olivos, another wonderful little town full of wine tasting rooms, but again no Aeropress.  After a detour to support the local wine making economy we stopped at a little grocery store in Santa Ynez named El Rancho Market to pick up a few things for our upcoming feast day.  As Judy was looking for a few special ingredients I wandered over to the coffee isle and what did I find?

There sitting all by itself on a shelf, my shiny new Aeropress.  So tomorrow morning I can make myself the perfect cup of coffee, and peruse my blog list and find out all the important stuff going on in the world.  You know the really important stuff, like is Bob and Linda's Norcold cold? And who's "moochdocking" with whom?  All is right with the world once again.

Until later.

Dec 15, 2011


Every year thousands of Elephant Seals arrive at the Piedras Blancas beach in San Simeon to give birth and breed. The males begin arriving in late November and the females in December, with the first birth usually  happening somewhere between the 15th and the 20th.

We have visited the Elephant seals on previous visits to the Central Coast but never in December and we were curious to see if any pups had been born yet. So we loaded ourselves and Mollie in the car and headed over to the coast for the afternoon.

Highway 46 West is the most direct route to the coast from Paso Robles and is an absolutely beautiful drive. But most of the time when we head to the coast we take a detour and go the road less traveled route.  Driving on Santa Rosa Creek Road can take 2-3 times longer but we love the back roads and the scenery is breathtaking as the road climbs up and over the mountain range and down into the small coastal town of Cambria.

John stopped to photograph some old farm equipment and as he was taking the picture he heard some galloping in the distance. He looked up and was startled to realize that a horse was running directly towards him.

He just wanted to say Hi!

After driving through Cambria and getting onto Highway 1, we headed north where we were surprised to see this group of Zebras grazing along the fence.

The beach had a few adult seals resting and basking in the sun but there were no baby seals yet. The docent I spoke with said that pups have been born as early as December 14th but they were still waiting for the first pup to be born this season. Thousands of pups are born here each year and by late January the beach will be covered with seals.

We stopped and had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in this area, Moonstone Beach Grill.

A fish and chips platter for John and carnitas tacos for me. Delicious food and a priceless view!

After a quick stop in Cambria for some coffee to go we made our way out of town and headed home. 

Highway 46 East is again the easiest and fastest route back to Paso Robles but we were still feeling adventurous, so after a few miles we detoured off of the highway onto the Old Canyon Road, headed south towards Whale Rock Reservoir, keeping an eye out for Santa Rita Road which heads east back towards town.

Slow, one lane and at times unpaved, it is a feast for the eyes and the soul.  We slowly drove along and at times going no faster than 15 mph, carefully watching for oncoming traffic. Of course on this road there isn't much traffic.  I think we only encountered 3 or 4 vehicles in the 11 miles of twisting, curvy roads.  Fun!

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by.

- Judy

Dec 12, 2011


Elks Lodge rv park
Atascadero, CA
12/6 - 12/17,  2011

Posted by Judy

While John takes a blogging break, I thought I would jump in and let everyone know where we are and what we have been doing.

A week ago we made the short drive from Salinas to just south of Paso Robles. Without question, this is one of our favorite areas to visit and explore. The area surrounded by rolling hills (or huggable hills as I like to call them), is about an hours drive from the ocean, and is smack dab in the middle of one of the best wine regions in the country.

As new Elks members, we are able to stay at the local Elks rv park this year and this particular park has full hookups and 50 amp electric, which is definitely an added bonus. It has turned out to be a very convenient location for touring wineries and driving to the coast, and is just a few miles from one of our favorite stores, Trader Joes!  In fact we like it here so much that we have extended our stay by another 5 nights.

This past week we drove over to Lowes and found a small table top tree. With a string of lights and some inexpensive ornaments we now have a festive Christmas tree sitting in our front window.

Yesterday and again today we took a break from wine tasting and exploring and just stayed close to home. I finished up a couple of knitting projects and we finished wrapping and packing gifts that we were mailing to family in Michigan. After the boxes were mailed and sent on their way, we did a little organizing and purging of the motor home and even managed to fill a box with a few items for the local thrift shop. We can now see most of the floor again!

This evening was BBQ ribs night at the Lodge so we walked over there and enjoyed some wonderful, tender, Santa Maria style ribs served with pinquito beans and tossed salad. Ribs so good, they didn't need any sauce!!

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by.

Dec 2, 2011


According to my wife, a few family members and the large audience of faithful readers.... (at least 3) have inquired about our whereabouts and well being.  So here is the bullet point version of what we have been up to for the last month.

1.  Had car repaired.  It was more expensive than I thought.  Two thousand dollars.  I have to say that Allied Insurance and the body shop were great to work with.

2.  Went to the Evergreen Aviation and Space museum in McMinnville to see the Spruce Goose.

3.  Joined the Elks.

4.  Had Thanksgiving with family.

Oh, did I forget to mention it rained.  It rained some more.   It kept raining.  It rained so much that we had moss and mildew growing in our window seals.  It rained so much even Mollie refused to go outside.  She just sat by the door with her legs crossed hoping for the rain to at least let up long enough for her to take care of business.

We also got to follow the antics of the Occupy Portland movement.  Based on what we saw on television I'm not really sure what they accomplished except to destroy a couple of beautiful parks and leave the taxpayers with several million dollars in repairs and overtime bills, not to mention the lost business for the local merchants.

I do understand the frustration that people are feeling right now, but there must be a better way to work for change. As a small business owner I am only too aware of our current governmental policies and lack of leadership.  I don't care whether you are Republican or Democrat, I think we can all agree that there is a giant void between most of us and Washington.  There that is my political rant for the rest of the year.  By the way did I mention it rained a lot in Portland.

We were packed up and hit the road while the part of Portland that wasn't protesting was shopping.  We were rewarded by our effort with a beautiful sunny day.  Wow Oregon is a pretty state when it stops raining.  Our first night found us in Yreka Ca. at a convenient but expensive park just off the highway.  Our second night found us in Chico Ca.  We decided to try out the Elks rv park.  We paid half the price as the night before, and were just as happy, so happy that we stayed two nights.  We then moved south to the Escapees park in Coarsegold.  We were here to visit Yosemite and did make one trip up to the park.  We had planned to go back, but with the high winds predicted, decided it would be best to stay home.  Other than losing power for a few hours the wind didn't really bother us.  I won't bore you with the details, since the national media covered the story pretty well.  I think because this park was built into the side of a hill, we were protected from the heaviest of the winds.  Just south of us in Fresno it was a very different scene.    

This morning we decided it was time to see the coast so we hooked up and headed west.  We made a quick stop in Medera to fill our propane tank and enjoyed the drive in the sun.  Things were going smoothly, too smoothly as it turned out.  We were less than 15 miles from our destination when our GPS thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit.  Normally I cross check our directions with Google map before we leave, but neglected to this morning.  Our GPS decided to take us the shortest way, not the fastest.  Never mind that the short route went up the side of a mountain.

Those of you that know me know that I am pretty fearless, or foolhardy depending on your point of view, when it comes to taking our 40 foot motorhome and towed Explorer down narrow country roads.  Well I think this may have been the most daring or foolhardy thing I've done in a long time.  By the time I decided this wasn't a good idea there was no room to turn around.  In fact there was barely enough room to go forward.  So for the next 10 miles we crept up the  one side of the mountain and down the other.  I'm sure the 3 or 4 cars that met us wondered who the fool was that decided to take a motorhome on this road.  So I'll finish by saying that if you find yourself in California, a little north of Salinas, you might want to avoid taking the San Juan Canyon road otherwise known as the Old Stage road.  Just saying....

We did manage to find our way to the Salinas Elks where we are safely secured for a few days.  So now you know what the TireSwing gang has been up to. By the way, did I mention it rains a lot in Portland.

Until later.