Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Day 10 - Weird Ice Cream

No theme parks today. Three days in a row may have been a bit much. While we were walking around Downtown Disney yesterday afternoon, we had some ice cream from the Salt & Straw. According to someone else looking at the flavors, it’s supposed to be a real gourmet ice cream place. The flavors seemed unusual enough to warrant trying then out. Maybe too unusual for some as the two guys in front of me left the line saying, “They don’t even have chocolate and vanilla!”. In the interest of trying the unusual, we had two half scoops in a bowl. The first half was “Black Olive Brittle & Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese” and the second half was “Smoked Sea Salt & Chocolate Crack”. The second doesn’t show up on the list as it is one of the flavors-of-the-month. Both flavors that are unlikely to be found in Fairbanks. Both were very tasty though a little bit salty. The first was very good with just a hint of olive and goat cheese. I’d definitely have it again. And, I liked that they gave you the option of two half scoops.

We went to Downtown Disney around 4:00 and the shuttle pickup time was 5:30. By 4, I was all “lined out” meaning, I was tired of standing in line. Or even just standing. According to Apple, 16k steps yesterday.

Today’s activity was the Olive Hills Dog Park about five miles from the RV park. Really nice dog park in spite of all the negative Yelp reviews. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Day 9 - More Disney

This morning, we took the campground shuttle to Disney’s California Adventure, another theme park adjacent to Disneyland. We arrived before 9 but it was already starting to get crowded. The first stop was one of the newest rides and a fun one. Radiator Springs Racers. We learned that the trick was to use the “single rider” line. Since each row of seats in the cars holds three people, they fill the third seat from the single rider line. Works fine and we waited maybe 15 minutes instead of 75 minutes. Right now when I’m writing this post at 3:30, the app is reporting a wait time of 215 minutes. The ride isn’t that good.

Here is Bridget in the car that we were racing. The red car won. The ride features animated vehicles from the movie Cars. Afterward, we went to the Soaring ride and picked up a FastPass for an hour and a half later. We then headed for the Ferris wheel and picked the non-swinging cars. Last year, we went into the swinging cars and I didn’t care for it. The Soaring ride was as good as I remember. It’s sort of a mashup between a hang glider and an IMAX movie with other physical aspects thrown in such as smells and water misting. Another fabulous ride.

We went to a live-action Frozen show. It was much more than I expected. Live actors singing and dancing for over an hour doing a slightly abbreviated version of the animated movie complete with great aerial feats and some non-human characters. It was great. One of these days I may need to watch the movie. BTW, the blue sky and fluffy clouds in the background are painted on a huge wall behind the theatre.

We didn't actually ride this ride, The Guardians of the Galaxy. I was just standing around waiting for Bridget to take some pictures. The crowds here were incredible as it is a popular ride. It used to be the Tower of Terror after a Hitchcock movie. Something about a falling elevator. It doesn't sound like fun to me. But I'm old...

This is just the Ferris wheel. Two-thirds of the cars are on tracks that allow the car to move in/out and swing pretty wildly. Or at least I think they are swinging wildly. Originally, Bridget was going to stay at the park for the fireworks and I would head back to the RV to walk the dogs. But, I think that Bridget is feeling the effects of three consecutive theme park days. And decided not to say for another six hours. And nothing broke down while we were around....

Monday, March 18, 2019

Day 8 - Knott’s Berry Farm

Today was spent at Knott’s Berry Farm which is a few miles north of Disneyland. It has a lot of amusement park style rides including a large number of roller coasters. We didn’t go on any of those. This is a full-size steam locomotive versus the 3/4 scale one at Disneyland. It’s a low-thrill ride. Knott’s Berry Farm classifies all of their rides 1 through 5. I believe the train is a 1.


We went on the Calico Mine ride. This is one of the first rides here that used animatronic characters. All of this was really high-tech back in the 1960’s. We used to visit this park before it was a theme park. Admission was free and they sold tickets to the rides. Needless to say, we didn’t go on that many rides. They started charging for admission when people would just hang around the park all day (and night).

Back then, the stagecoach ride was something that I never remember doing. Probably because it was one of the more expensive tickets due to the overhead. A lot of people plus horses and not that many people per hour. Of course, this ride broke down while we were riding it. When heading up a hill, the horses stopped and wouldn’t continue pulling the stage coach. It took almost five handlers to get the team moving again in a straight line. The driver said that each horse would pull and if they didn’t feel the other horses contributing, they would stop and wait. Anyway, we got an extended ride. We were up on the roof just behind the driver.

Bridget collects these smashed pennies from every tourist place we visit. This place was a gold mine for smashed pennies. They must’ve had ten machines each with three different pictures. I think she settled for four. The Woodstock hat is a new one from the Peanuts store just outside of the gate.

This is the Calico Mine ride. I remember when this ride opened. It was a big deal. We ended up riding it a couple of times today. Compared to yesterday’s crowds, today was very pleasant. There were a lot of school age groups but we didn’t have to wait very long for any of the rides. The stagecoach was a long wait but only because of the small number of people on each ride and only one stagecoach running. Most of the rides we just walked on or maybe waited in line for five minutes or so.

This was the warning side for the stage coach ride. As you can see, it was also a low-thrill ride just right for seniors like me. BTW, I did get a $10 discount as a senior. They figured correctly that I don’t go on very many rides.

We ended our day here at Knott’s by having their famous chicken dinner. Even that place changed from what it used to be. Back in the day, they had one thing on the menu and that was fried chicken. And they used to print the chicken recipe on their paper placemats for you to take home. Not any more. I must admit that the chicken didn’t taste as good as some others but the price is decent. And, if you’re like me, you have a lot of pleasant memories of this place. We went here often while I was growing up.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Day 7 - Disneyland

Writing a short (or long) blog post while standing in line for a ride seems to be a reasonable way to spend the time. We arrived around 9:00 and used tickets that Bridget purchased online. Some sort of online special of three days for the price of two. The first ride broke down while we waited so we picked up a FastPass for later in the day. This was Indiana Jones.


We practically walked onto Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Very short lines. After a delicious breakfast/snack of grilled cheese and tomato basil soup, we went back to try again using the FastPass. The ride broke down again when we were almost ready to board. They got it running again then it broke down again just after we got back to the boarding area at the end of the ride. We were led off the ride by walking a short way along the side of the track. Not a good day for that ride.

No FastPass for the It’s a Small World ride. I think it was about 40 minutes of listening to the same music. But it’s Disneyland so you put up with it.

We watched a musical show then on to lunch. This place is pretty crowded due to Spring Break. Poor planning on our part. But since this isn’t our first visit, there is no pressure to see/ride anything. We are catching our shuttle back to the campground at 4:30 so we are not going to be closing the park.


We went into the President exhibit expecting Great Moments With Abraham Lincoln but watched a preview of the new live action Dumbo movie coming out later this month.

Back to the RV park by 4:45. Time to relax w/ibuprofen...

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Day 6 - Visiting Family

Today, we picked up my middle son, Kenji, in Long Beach and headed to Fountain Valley where we met up with relatives from my dad’s side of the family. We met up at Stonefire Grill since there was plenty of room for us to spread out and the food was served family style. The pesto pizza and the tri-tip were the real stand outs as far as food goes.


We got to meet the newest addition to the family courtesy of Erin and Austyn. Erin’s parents, Ken and. Celia, are in the photo above. My other cousin, Helene, brought her whole family to the meetup. Helene and Jeff are on the left in the first picture. Most of their family is in the third picture. We had seen most of this group at the family reunion in Vancouver, B.C., last summer. It was great to see everyone again and Kenji seems to be doing just fine after his move to California last January.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Day 5 - Anaheim, CA

It wasn’t too hectic of a drive from Palm Springs into Anaheim today. We left just after 9:00 so we missed morning rush hour and the lunch rush. But there was still a lot of traffic. Fortunately, the route was known from back when I used to live in the L.A. basin. Some highways didn’t exist back then such as I-215 and some are wider than I remembered. But not too bad. We got set up before noon. And there are citrus trees scattered throughout the park. Oranges and lemons are free for the picking.

The pool is surrounded by what looks like date palms. It’s kind of hard to see in the picture but it looks like there are dates. Today is kind of windy which means that the pool is nice and quiet. Tomorrow, we are headed for Long Beach and Huntington Beach to visit with family. Then, I think, Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm before Bridget heads north for a couple of days. Next Friday, I’ll be moving to a Thousand Trails park for a couple of weeks.

This place is more RV park than campground but at least there is grass between the sites. A tree does get in the way of the awning so I can’t put it out. We are a couple of miles from Disneyland and right across the street from a handful of restaurants. There are only a handful of RV parks anywhere around Disneyland and they charge accordingly.  The free WiFi is slow but at least it’s free. In Palm Springs we paid $15 for the week and it was still slow. But Verizon is 27 Mbps down and 17 Mbps up. So we always have that option. Plus, there are probably 30 over the air TV channels in case we are completely bored…

Something odd at the last campground. Last night, the EMS (Progressive Industries Electrical Management System) started to report error after error. The EMS disconnected us from shore power as designed and was reporting under-voltage errors and frequency errors. Really odd. Rather than debug, I just turned off the breaker at the pedestal and turned on our inverter. I turned the breaker back on this morning and all seemed to be well. It makes me wonder what someone in the the park was messing around with. Nice to have the batteries.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Day 4 - Pi Day -TT

I was told that we needed to pick up a pie today in honor of π Day. So, off to the grocery store. I also wanted to fill up on diesel as tomorrow is a travel day into the Los Angeles basin. We are only going into Anaheim and not Los Angeles but still I think it’ll be a hassle while towing the trailer. We filled up at a Ralph’s grocery store which accepted my Fred Meyer number. So we got a modest 20¢/gal discount. Especially here in California, anything helps. On the pump at this Ralph’s grocery store, they listed all of the taxes. Including Federal, State and Local taxes. The State tax was over double the other two combined.

Earlier in the day, we stopped at an ice cream shop and we weren’t charged sales tax. I asked the clerk why. He said that they charge sales tax if the ice cream is consumed in the shop and no sales tax if it is “to go”. Very confusing.

I’d stay here at the Palm Springs Thousand Trails again. It would be more convenient if it had some sort of store on the premises and I like the jacuzzi at some of the other parks better. There are complaints online such as you are crammed in but I don’t think that’s the case. Especially compared to some other RV parks such as Lake Havasu or Las Vegas. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Day 3 - How to Spend the Afternoon - TT

You can see more of the date palm farm look from this angle. The RV spaces are simply the space between the trees. And the streets are the rows between the trees. Not too much accomplished today. Grocery shopping, laundry, and we wandered over to the RV dealer next door to see what they had in used Class A, diesel pushers. They had several and one that would be a good fit. This demonstrated that what we may be looking for in the future is available at a not unreasonable price.

Then, it was sitting around the pool time. I must admit that I like sitting around the pool especially on days like today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Day 2 - Bridget’s New E-Bike - TT

It’s been a long wait but Bridget finally has her e-bike. It is a RadMini Step-Thru that was just released on February 28th. It has a 750-watt motor, a 48volt 14 AH battery and has a range of 30-40 miles depending on terrain and the rider’s level of participation, I.e. The more the rider pedals, the longer the battery lasts. It also has 20” rims and 4” wide “fat tires” though they are more oriented to street use. I assembled it today and adjusted the brakes and the rear derailleur and took it for a short test ride around the RV park. Handles nice and you can tell it has twice as many magnets on the cadence sensor. The pedal assist reacts much faster and smoother than the GreenBike-USA that I have. What is missing when compared to the GreenBike model are things like the rear rack, fenders, turn signals, and horn. But it did come with a bell which I had to add. They seemed to be following the Henry Ford model for color. Any color you want as long as it’s white. The color for the non-Step-Thru RadMini is only black.

A huge thank you to David and Cee for accepting the shipment at their apartment in Loma Linda. Many RV parks won’t accept packages including the Palm Springs Resort that we are at now. The Needles Marina was an exception as was the Benson, AZ, park. We had checked out before the bike would ship. Right now, Bridget is attending a basket weaving class here at the RV park next to the pool. (Underwater basket weaving?) And I’m getting ready for another audio conference.

BTW, you may have noticed that the day-counter in the title restarted and that’s because I looped back through Fairbanks. I want to keep track of the days outside of Alaska. After yesterday’s wind and rain, today was wonderful weather. A perfect day for riding the new e-bike around the RV park.

The picture below shows the palm trees around the pool. The palms are all in line and I think they are date palms. The RV park probably used to be a date farm.



Monday, March 11, 2019

Day 1 - Loma Linda - TT

No, we haven’t left Palm Springs yet but we did head into the L.A. basin today to visit with Fairbanks friends David and Cee. Bridget also had her e-bike and medication shipped to them as the Palm Springs RV park didn’t accept packages. We had a wonderful visit and learned how a plant-based diet could positively affect your health and well being. I will definitely looking into this as first hand accounts are always pretty convincing. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant and they served the tom kah kai soup in a hot pot. The soup was delicious but not as spicy as I normally get it.

We then packed Bridget’s new bike up and headed back out to the desert. There really are some horrible drivers around here. A not unusual move was cutting from the far left lane to the acceleration lane on the on-ramp, passing trucks and cars then swinging all the way back to the left lane weaving through traffic all the way. Weaving through traffic seemed to be the norm as is speeding. Speed limits only apply to others…

I don’t really look forward to bringing the RV into the L.A. basin on Friday.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Waiting at SeaTac

Here’s the difference from me, the snapshot taker, and someone who knows what they are doing. The first photo is Dom’s modified photo followed by my original. I looked at mine and my only thoughts were how to remove the greenish blue artifact near the sun and I wanted the snow in the background to be white. I just let Apple take care of the exposure and called it good enough. I didn’t even bother with the greenish artifact.



Right now, I’m sitting in the Seattle airport waiting for my next flight to Palm Springs. I made it to the airport just fine even though TSA was bothered about my unopened box of Cheese-Its. Feeling a need to X-ray it multiple times.

The wait here isn’t long and the gate is right Waji’s so my late breakfast is Spam musubi. I can’t complain about that. It sounds better than Cheese-Its.

Even though this dog may look familiar, it’s a different dog named Charlie. I was invited to dinner last night by JedW and this is their dog. The age and history suggest that he may be a sibling of Bridget’s dog. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

More Running Around

Even with all of the running around this morning, there was still an opportunity to get out on the Ural. The weather is very Spring-like with temperatures in the mid-40s and lots of sunshine and even though sunset is 6:30, it's still pretty light out an hour later. I stopped at Fred Meyer this afternoon to pick up a few snacks for the flight back. The ride was just a quick run to warm up the engine and blow out the cobwebs. I couldn't think of anywhere else to go so I just stopped at the normal lookout at the university for a quick picture. It was nice to get out on the rig.

My flight back to Palm Springs leaves tomorrow morning at 5:30 AKDT. That stupid time change is tonight as well so I need to be sure that I don't arrive late for the flight. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Back in Fairbanks

I'm back in Fairbanks for a few days and much of today was spent at the University. On lower campus, the engineering students had their ice arch. This is an educational project to develop not only a self-supporting arch but one that could hold additional weight. I don't know anything about this one beyond noticing that it had LED lights draped over it. The engineering buildings are the two in the background.

I got all of my errands done (I think). One additional one that was unexpected was replacing the 12-volt battery in the Prius. I had left instructions to plug the car in when it was not being used as the computers and other systems continually draw power from the 12-volt battery. This isn't the large battery that powers the motor but just a smaller AGM battery under the rear floor. Smart move on Toyota's part that you can't open the rear hatch without power from the 12-volt battery. So to replace it, you need to crawl in from the backseat and remove floor panels to reach the battery. It was completely dead and could not be revived with a battery charger. Its replacement was $215 from Bulbs and Batteries. At least they had one in stock and it was over $100 cheaper than the Toyota dealer.

Tonight, there is an Arctic Amateur Radio Club meeting. I haven't been to one since September and since I'm on the board, I probably should show up once and a while.

Another surprising thing happened today. Alaska Airlines sent an email apologizing for the delay getting into Seattle. And their apology included a code for $100 off of a future flight. To me, they didn't need to do that but I'm not going to complain.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Day 58 - Enroute to Fairbanks

Today started really early with the alarm going off at 3:45 AM. I got dropped off at the Palm Springs airport and was surprised that large sections of the terminal were outdoors like Hawaii. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised as other smaller airports in California were that way. The flight from Palm Springs to Seattle was an Airbus 320 (I think) and at the last minute, I got upgraded. The first class seats are unlike any other Alaska Air flight I’ve been on. Enough leg room that I couldn’t even touch the bulkhead, electric reclining seats with recliner footrests and built-in massage. There was a wired remote control and keyboard for the screen buried in the other armrest. I didn’t play around with that since I just discovered it while we were on final approach.

There is a 4½ hour layover in Seattle. It was also snowing here this morning so we got to sit on the taxiway for a while due to delays on flights leaving the terminal. We ended up sitting on the taxiway for 90 minutes. Quite a few irritated passengers who missed their connections. The person next to me was an off-grid equipment vendor so I ended up talking to him for a bit. Specifically, hybrid inverters. These are ones that will allow you o combine power from multiple sources, such as battery and 20 amp shore power, to power higher power devices. The classic example is a 2000 watt generator running an RV air conditioner. More power is needed initially to start the compressor and this extra could be provided by the inverter. The generator has plenty of power to keep the unit running once it's started.

My flight is due to arrive in Fairbanks late afternoon today. Hopefully, there aren't too many delays.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Day 57 - Palm Desert, CA - TT

This morning, we packed up after our five days behind Chiriaco Summit. A nice campground that I would recommend to anyone. Besides the camp host, there are only two other vehicles and they were tent camping. Since I wasn't able to test out the new Progressive Dynamics converter running on a generator, I pulled out the other Champion 2000 watt generator. We have two of the Champion generators in case we want to run the air conditioner. But we only needed one at Quartzsite and none here. The batteries were down to 73% in the morning so I thought that this would be a good test of the converter.

I started the generator without a load and let it warm up a bit but left "economy mode" off so that the engine speed would stay higher. Then plugged in the converter and it was drawing 10.6 amps AC. The generator supported the load just fine. When I looked at the Trimetric battery monitor, it showed 72 amps DC were being pushed into the battery. This is what I was looking for, a way to charge the batteries with a minimum of generator run time. After running the generator for about 30 minutes, the batteries were up to 85%. BTW, that 72 amps were from the combination of the converter and the solar charge controller. I wanted to test this as someone on a forum mentioned that his Champion generator would shut down when the converter was plugged in. This was about 1000 watts which was well under the spec for the generator.

We arrived at Palm Springs Thousand Trails a bit before the official check-in time and found a convenient pull-thru site. This place is more a typical RV park but the sites are reasonably spaced out. And there are these nice palm trees. And we can see the pool out of the back window. Today is the first time that we are running the air conditioner. It's 81°F right now.

I'm flying back to Fairbanks tomorrow morning for a couple of days and this RV park is only about 14 miles from the airport. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Day 56 - South Entrance to Joshua Tree

After three days of going to see museums and places, today we are not really going anywhere. We did go to the south entrance of Joshua Tree Natl Park where there was a nature walk with lots of flowers in bloom. All of the rainfall they’ve had around here the last couple of weeks has brought a lot of color to the desert. I have no idea what any of the flowers are but just took a couple of snapshots showing them off.

In the picture on the right, you can see I-10 in the background. We are camped about four miles down the road. The Chiriaco family built the gas station/restaurant/store before the highway was built. They also raised the funding and governmental support to build the General Patton museum and own the land that the free campground is on. Lots of travelers services. I had taken out some salmon to thaw yesterday for dinner but it was still pretty frozen at 6pm. No problem, just walk down to the restaurant. Having these services close by the free campground has been really nice and even though this isn’t “boondocking”, it’s convenient. We aren’t watching our water consumption as carefully as we did at Quartzsite so I added the ten gallons of water that I had been carrying around in the truck. Each five-gallon container took only a coupe of minutes to drain into the tank.

Tomorrow morning, we move on to another Thousand Trails RV park in Palm Desert for ten nights. We only made it to 98% on the battery bank due to cloudy conditions this afternoon. This was after a completely clear morning. Then I ran it down to 90% by running the microwave and the Instant Pot making dinner.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Day 55 - Joshua Tree Natl Park

The last time I was in Joshua Tree, it was still a National Monument. I was here as a student in a basic rock climbing class which was part of a basic mountaineering course. Needless to say, that was quite a while ago. Seemingly, a lifetime ago. After stopping at the Cottonwood Visitors Center just north of the south entrance, we stopped for a short walk through a cholla forest. A somewhat frightening thought as the needles come loose very easily and are very painful to remove.

The demo I saw was tapping a cholla with the leather handle of a rock hammer and bunches of needles stuck to the handle. Anyway, as long as you didn't touch them, they look kind of cool. We are guessing that this is either some kind of fruit or flower on the ends. There weren't any explanatory leaflets in the box at the trailhead.

The next stop was Hidden Canyon. Apparently, this was a place for cattle thieves to hide their catch. A somewhat lush area surrounded by rocks. With easily defended approaches. The walk through the canyon was about a mile. There were a few rock climbers in small groups practicing their hobby. The class I took used Joshua Tree since the rocks gave you good grip and were pretty stable. They didn't flake off in your hand like some other locations. It's a good place to learn.

We then drove to Keys View which had a good view of the Coachella Valley. Mt. San Jacinto is the peak and I was hoping to be able to take the cable car from Palm Springs. But we learned that the road to the tram was one of those that was washed out during their recent flooding and won't be open again this year. To the right of the peak, you can see the smog/fog from the Los Angeles basin spilling out into the desert. It's almost like a wall. When I was learning how to fly, we came up to this wall and it was over 10k feet high, We had to come in under special VFR which meant relying on instruments following vectors from air traffic control. This was because you couldn't see the ground due to the density of the fog/smog layer.

The pano was the inside of Hidden Valley.