"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, August 21, 2022

What a Crazy Month: Heatwaves, Repairs, A Wildfire & A Special Birthday!

San Jose, California

This was one wild month.  It started out well as we drove to San Jose and parked our rig at my friend's house for a couple of weeks.  We then drove to Monterey to visit with Ryan and babysit Jaxon while Diana was in Korea taking care of her grandmother.
We had gone out to dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant and the staff gave Jaxon a really neat cardboard car.  We played out in the rose garden for a bit but the car didn't survive too long.

Daddy in his scrubs and Jax in his jammies.
There was tons of playing, mealtimes, walks, book, bath and bedtimes.  It was exhausting but we loved every minute of it!  Jax is such a sweetheart but he is one busy boy! 

Dixon, CA
Dixon County Fairgrounds
The first two weeks flew by before we knew it and we drove a couple of hours east to visit the kids at our third son, Brennan and Alex's house.  We stayed at the Dixon County Fairgrounds.  It was actually very nice.  Sites had plenty of room to park your truck next to your rig.  Full hookups for $40.  The location was perfect as it was only a 15 minute drive to our sons.  Their house is in the middle of where our 4 kids live so it's a good meetup place.
Nice grassy area across from our rig.
While Steve and the boys were busy with football, Alex, Lindsay (son Shane's girlfriend) and I took Jaxon to the park across the street.
The next day we went to the Nut Tree Park to ride the train and carousel.  This area was once full of almond and walnut orchards way back when.  In 1921 it was a very popular roadside attraction to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.  In 1953 the railroad was built.  The original engine is still used.
Brennan & Alex
Papa, Ryan and Jaxon.

Coloma, CA
Ponderosa RV Resort
After all that fun we drove back up to Placerville.  There is an extended heat wave coming so we were happy to find a mostly shaded site.  Since we wouldn't be sitting outside with the hot temps, we took our Sunshade and hung it over the slide where the sun hits it for a couple of hours.  This really kept the temperature down inside.  Since we only had 30amp, this made a big difference.  We had a special event coming up or we'd have left a week early to our next trip up to Idaho.
One of our favorite meals was some delicious thick pork chops from the hog that Shane bought at our El Dorado County Fair.  It's wonderful to see our kids give back to a program they got so much out of while they grew up on the ranch.
The temps were ridiculously hot!  Most of the time it was between 105 and 115.  We never had temps that high when we lived here.  Since Steve wanted to change the brakes on the truck before we headed up to Idaho next week, he had to get up super early and park in the shade in my parents yard to be able to do them.  Great job Steve!  About 1/2 through the week, a transformer blew in the campground.  It affected more than half of the sites, including ours. We were able to move to another shaded site that still had electric which was a pain, but necessary.
And if that wasn't enough fun, the Mosquito wildfire broke out in nearby Foresthill.  It quickly spread through the mountainous canyon areas and it didn't take long for the heavy smoke to settle in.  Luckily there were no deaths but as of a month later it has burned nearly 77,000 acres.  It is currently 95% out (as of 10/7).  It only took a couple of days for the fire to get worse and the smoke was at incredibly unheatlthy levels.  You were supposed to stay indoors.  Next thing ash was coming down and we were evacuated from the campground.

This created a mad scramble to get packed up and leave.  We were able to get a spot at the Elks Lodge nearby.  We only needed to be here 2 more days.

Shingle Springs, CA
Elks Lodge
It was my Dad's 85th Birthday!  We had a little get-together back at Brennan's house.  The bonus was that it got us out of the smoke for a day. Plus I got to see my sister again.  It's been awhile.
Happy Birthday!
Too Big Nonna!
A cute video where my grandson INSISTS at the end that I'm too big for the baby pool!
The next morning we were leaving and heading up to Truckee, just outside of beautiful Lake Tahoe.  During my usual trailer check before leaving I found a bent shackle which was missing the bolt.  Really?!  A few quick calls and I found a local mobile welder who would come right over.  After inspection, he decided it wasn't too bad and that he thought he could bend it back with a couple of sledgehammers.  He didn't even need to heat it up.  A few whacks, 20 minutes later and $100 lighter (which included a big tip) we were on our way.  If you need a good welder in the Placerville area, we highly recommend RT Mobile Welding! 
Back in business!
From now on I'll do my inspections once we arrive instead of when we are leaving so that if I find something at least we have some time to get it fixed, duh!
Passing through Folsom and it was nice to have the winds shift and give us some blue skies.
Passing Auburn.  Well, that blue didn't last long.  We have been checking the Air Quality every day.  It's supposed to be good up in Truckee, but it is somewhat borderline.
It just kept getting worse as we climbed.  By time we got to the summit you could barely see.  I was really hoping that the smoke would stay on this side of the ridge and not settle down in Truckee.

Truckee, CA
Alpine Meadow Campground
Looked like we lucked out!  It was sunny and blue and no smell of smoke!  Our friends stayed at this campground earlier and said we could fit and would have cell.  Thanks Tina for scoping things out for us!
Alpine Meadow CG is run by the Corp of Engineers.  No utilities, but it has water/garbage.  $20/$10 with our Sr. Pass.  It's a small, quiet campground in the pines above the meadow with a small lake.  Bonus, up here at 5839 feet elevation, the temps were upper 60s during the day and upper 30s at night.

After all the chaos this week we planned to just relax and enjoy celebrating our 38th year anniversary.
As par for the course, that didn't last either.  We did have a couple of nice days before the winds shifted again, bringing in a heavy cover of smoke.
We celebrated our anniversary in Truckee at a wonderful Italian restaurant called Pianeta.  I don't normally like to eat Italian out as it mostly disappoints, but after seeing that they make a lot of authentic dishes from Northern Italy (where my family is from) I really wanted to try them out.  Our dinner was fantastic!  We had cocktails and Beef Carpaccio to start.  Then Steve had the House Made Salsicce (sausage) over Creamy Polenta and I had the Pasta di Olio with Shrimp, pine nuts and veggies.  We also split a huge Salad with Gorgonzola and Vinaigrette.  We brought one of our last Sangiovese bottles of wine from Nello Olio with us.
Dessert was Lemon Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries.  Dinner was SO good!  I'd definitely come back!
We couldn't even walk around the quaint town of Truckee due to the smoke.  The next day we decided we'd leave early as it was even smelling of smoke in the trailer with it all closed up.  We'd finally had enough.  We felt awful though, having to miss the funeral of an old friend, but we weren't sleeping well and coughing a lot. With the National Forest closures happening we didn't want to risk get evacuated again while being 2 hours away from the trailer.  We were able to pull over a couple of days later and watch it on a live Zoom feed. At least the fires and smoke in Oregon that were drifting over to McCall, Idaho, have cleared.
Idaho, here we come!

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Replacing our Awning & A Crazy Week with Friends & Family

Coloma, CA
Ponderosa Resort 

Once back in Coloma for the week we had a big job to do.  Replacing the awning.  We've had the material for a couple of weeks but we wanted to wait until our friends, John & Tina joined us so that Steve could get some help.  They camped next to us. (thanks for the pic Tina).
We knew after 8 years that our original awning was getting dry and brittle and would need to be replaced.  We had a big wind a couple of months ago and it ripped in the upper left corner where it attaches to the side of the trailer.
Our friends Mike and Rose came over so Mike could help out as well. First, remove the old awning.
Straps were attached and the bottom roller bar comes off after the rivets are removed.

Next the new awning material gets put through the upper grove and screwed in place at the ends.

Mike and John feeding the material through the bottom on the roller.
New rivets put in.
And here it is!  It took them a couple of hours.  Thank you both John & Mike for helping!  I'm glad all I had to do was take some pictures.  It might be hard to tell in the pictures, but the new awning is a fade to gray style.  I do like the white strip against the trailer as it lets light into the bedroom window.
Finishing touches.  We're very happy with it!
San Jose, CA
A week later we drove 3 hours to San Jose to babysit Jaxon and visit friends and family.  We started with a visit to Debbie and Rooty since we were staying at their families home/yard.
We had a great dinner at Brew City.  The food was amazing!  Debbie had a Filet Mignon Wrap and I had a Strawberry Arugula Salad.  The Wings were delish too.  They all loved their beer samples.

We watched Jax for the day and had a great time.  He loves building things with Papa.
Nonna loves her giggly Meatball.  Especially his kisses.
Park Time!
Fun for the little ones and the big ones!
Later in the week Debbie and I went on a hike leaving from the cute town of Los Gatos up to Lexington Reservoir.  This was my first hike since Covid and while I was a little winded, I did great.  Even with the elevation gain.
The Two Debbies.  We've known each other since 2nd grade!
Los Gatos Creek running along the first 1/2 of the trail.

Lexington Reservoir where we had a great lunch that we brought with us.

It sure felt good to get back on a trail.  That evening the four of us were looking forward to dinner at the Cats before watching a band that a friend of ours plays in.
The Cats is an iconic spot.  From their website:

Established in 1896, and originally a stop on the old stage line, The Cats Roadhouse served as a weigh station for horse-drawn lumber wagons on their way to San Jose, as well as a rowdy social club for local residents. At the time the road was first paved, around 1920, the Cats was one of the area’s most notorious speakeasies and bordellos. During the 40′s and 50′s The Cats building housed a realty office, gun shop and sporting goods store. The restaurant and tavern were re-established in 1967 and it is one of the last remaining Roadhouses in the United States. Today the legacy continues as a destination and place to be for generations to come. 

Rumors of two ghosts, one female upstairs and one male downstairs are still talked about today,

we hear they are friendly and keep an eye on the place for us.

It's probably been 35+ years since we've been to the Cats.  It has been closed for a while and just now reopened.  Unfortunately, they had staff problem and closed last minute just before we arrived.  So off we went to Historic Downtown Los Gatos and had a great dinner at Loma Brewing Co.
Then it was off to Downtown San Jose where an old friend of ours was playing in a band.  Until recently, I hadn't seen Derek since I was maybe 10?  He gave me guitar lessons!

The next evening we finally got to meet our 2nd son, Shane's, girlfriends parents.  It's only been 3 years!  Covid kind of messed that up and we were gone much of last year.  Love your parents Lindsay! They are wonderful people and we were very glad to have finally met them!
On our last morning I wanted to take Steve to Jack Holder's Restaurant that Debbie had introduced me to.  Oh my, do they make the best Green Chili Verde & Eggs!
The Flintstone House visible from Hwy 280.
Our final day was supposed to be a visit to my uncle (I haven't seen since Covid started) but he wasn't feeling well so we decided to go visit my grandparents/great grandparents graves.  Steve hadn't been to them before and was surprised to see how fancy a mausoleum can be.  Back in the day, Italians put a lot of money into where they ended up.  And it wasn't below ground.  A small fortune was spent on these fancy granite tomb resting places.  I didn't take any pictures of the ornate decorations.
My great grandparents.  My Nonna was the one that came to Italy in 1906.
My grandparents.
My grandparents on my Dad's side.  My Mom is uber organized.  She has already added her and my Dad's info on the headstone so all we will have to take care of is their death dates.
And to end on a sweeter note, one last picture of Jaxon waving goodbye until we see him next week!
It was such a crazy week and the next one will be more of the same!