Monday, November 27, 2017

11/26 Tehachapi Glider Airport

One of the things I like about staying at the Mountain Valley RV Park in Tehachapi is that it is next to a glider airport.  Tehachapi is a perfect place for a glider airport because it is at the top of a wide pass at 4,500 feet, between the California central valley and the Mohave Desert. This photo shows the rolling hills driving in from the north, almost to the top of the pass.

Took this video and several photos when I arrived today.  I was standing just at the back of my motorhome. This was taken on a warm and sunny Sunday, so the tow plane was constantly pulling up gliders.  I am guessing people were taking rides.  Perfect day!

Click on this link to see a video of a take-off:  Glider Take-Off and Flight

Here are some still photos of gliders getting ready to be towed and flying aloft un-tethered.

Unfortunately, you cannot see the man standing to the left of this photo who is holding up the glider's wing as the tow plane starts to pull it up.  Without someone holding the wing up, it might drag on the ground, causing damage.

It is hard to see the glider, but it is against the wind farm.  

They offer glider rides here, ranging in price from $70 to $170.  I think I will do that next spring when it is a bit warmer.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

11/22 Atlas Peak Fire, Napa, CA

I got a chance today to see some of the area that burned near Napa, CA.  The area near Atlas Peak, just east of the town is where the fire started and did most of its damage in the first few days.  Anyway, I took photos from the open window while someone else drove.  The quality is not always very good because there were very few places to pull over to take better photos.  Also, it was cloudy today, but maybe I will try going up there again on another, sunnier day. 

One interesting thing is how spotty the burned area is.  On this hillside, you can see black areas where all vegetation is completely burned down to the soil.  In other areas, you will see trees that looks yellow as if their leaves are turning colors for fall, but those are trees that are singed, but still standing.  And other areas are green, where the trees have not been turned at all.  This fire did a lot of hopping around.

You can see more completely burned, just singed, and not burned at all areas.  The vineyards, by the way, were seldom burned because they were green at the time from being watered.  In these photos, the leaves were really turning yellow for fall.

Napa had some rain right after the fires and some rain about a week ago, so the burned grass is now turning green from new growth, as you can see in the area next to the road. 

This park of Atlas Peak is really badly burned.  You can see the trunks of burned trees at the top.  Closer to the road, trees were just singed.

There are a lot of fears about erosion, so we noticed a lot of banks along the road that had been sprayed with a mixture of grass seed and ground mulch.  Very few trees in this area change color or lose their leaves in the fall, so all of the yellow parts of the trees have been singed.

Notice how the bottoms of these trees were singed, but the tops are still alive. 

This part of the mountain shows heavy damage and mostly completely burned trees. 

As we got closer to the Silverado Country Club area, there were more homes.  Some were burned and some were not.

This was a very pretty area, by the way, in spite of the burned areas.  The road was curvy and hilly, so most of these homes had really beautiful views.  We noticed a lot of work going on, but it was hard to tell what kind.  One startling thing, however, was the unpleasant smell--very different from your typical campfire. Notice below, the burned homes but the green of new grass sprouting after the rains.

You can tell by the chimney in the middle of this photo that there used to be a house here.

Obviously, cleanup has not begun with this burned house.

Northern California is entering its rainy season, so these natural areas ought to start recovering from these awful fires soon.  It will take a lot longer for homes to be rebuilt.

Monday, November 13, 2017

11/13 Some "Be Prepared" Tips

There are some lessons you can learn only the hard way.  Since I have been full-timing for over five years now, I have learned some things on being prepared that I want to share with you.  This subject came to mind because I had a situation occur when I was in San Diego that I need to share.  

I thought I had all "emergency" situations covered, but learned something new when I checked into the campground I had in San Diego.  I was in a campground high on a hill with a terrific view that I had stayed in before, but this time I was not quite as prepared as I thought I was. What happened?  Ants.  Thousands of the little critters inside my motorhome, marching three and four abreast in little lines across my floor, both in my front area and in my bathroom.  I noticed these as soon as I woke up, and I ran outside to grab my ant kit, which consisted of Terro ant liquid in a little bottle and borax powder in a plastic milk bottle.  I put dots of it along their two major trails inside, then went outside and sprinkled the borax around the electric cord where the army was marching to get inside.  The ants fell off the electric cord and the ones inside started dying, so I wiped them up, hung the electric cord outside so it was not touching the ground, and went off for the afternoon.
I came back about four hours later, and found new trails of ants marching across my floor. They were now climbing up my tires.  So I quickly sprinkled more borax around each tire and on the ground near where they were coming from.  I could not see their nest because of the shrubbery. Luckily, it was still daylight, so I took my rental car and headed out to Lowes to get some real ant poison spray.  I sprayed a circle around the entire motorhome, filled my water tank, and unhooked the water hose. Sprayed the electric hose and the power pedestal.  This definitely stopped them, but I had a lot of vacuuming and wiping up to do inside. 

Anyway, here are some things to carry with you so you are prepared and do not have to make an emergency run to Lowes' as I did.  I keep all of this stuff in plastic bags in one of my underneath storage bins.  It is a good idea to keep it all in the same place so you know where it is. 

  1. The ant baits are OK if you have pets, but my experience is that the ants just march around them or walk over them.  The Terro liquid does a much better job, and you can hide dots of it behind things or in crevices beside furniture.  It is a danger to pets, but I don't have pets. I store the bottle in a plastic bag.
  2. Borax powder is hard to find, but you should always carry some.  I have had the same box for four years, and ended up putting it in a plastic milk bottle because the box disintegrated.  If you park next to a big ant hill, sprinkle a little around it, and they will be gone in a couple of hours. (I have not tried it, but some fellow campers also recommended Comet in a pinch.)
  3. The above two items work well most of the time, but some heavy-duty ant and crawling insect bug spray is also helpful.  I bought two kinds for ants and keep them in my pest area because the borax was not working fast enough. 
  4. I have two kinds of mouse traps--the regular kind and the ones where the mouse goes into a box and you just discard the box.  (These are kind of creepy because they do not actually kill the mouse, but if you can handle discarding a live mouse, fine.)
  5. Flying insect killer is also handy.  I have not been in too many places where there are a lot of mosquitoes or flies because I spend time in the west and dry places, but I have it anyway. 
  6. I also have three of those mosquito net things you wear over your head.  My grandkids who grew up in almost-mosquito-free California freaked out in Michigan one summer until I passed out the head nets. They LOVED them!  I have also used one in the Everglades while attending an evening ranger talk.  (Why do they wait until dark for these talks instead of holding them in daylight when there are fewer bugs?)
  7. One of my first purchases for my motorhome was an electronic, handheld bug zapper that looks like a small tennis net.  You cannot exactly swat bugs with them, but moving them gently toward the bugs or trapping them against a window or wall works great.  It is also satisfying to sizzle bugs.
  8. I also have a couple of mosquito-control candles for outside eating, but frankly, I don't think they work well enough.  Luckily, I don't go to mosquito areas very often.
  9. In some desert areas where pack rats are common, it is recommended that you keep your engine hood up in all vehicles and put a work light of some sort near the engine.  Pack rats will chew electric cords, which is not helpful when you want to start your vehicle in the morning. People also use those colorful light strings under their RVs to prevent pack rats from moving in.
  10. Finally, it is always a good idea to keep all storage areas closed and latched at all times. I once had a raccoon move in and tear up a roll of paper towel to make a nest. Luckily, she did not move her babies in, and I quickly evicted her in the morning.    

Anyone have any other suggestions? 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

11/3 San Diego Zoo

Been getting really lazy about posting, but here are some photos of my trip to the zoo.  I had been there a couple of years ago, but it was horribly crowded with kids on spring break.  This time it was much nicer because crowds were very small.  Even with small crowds, I probably saw only about 1/4 of the zoo because I took my time and enjoyed what I was seeing. 

The zoo really is a very big place.

First thing was to take a double-decker bus tour.  Could not see much because of all the shrubbery, but it gave me an idea where I wanted to go. 

 These giraff were hoping for some more browse in their feeder because they had eaten all the leaves already.

These guys must have been recently fed. 

Twenty years ago, I was here when Polar Bear Plunge opened.  They were passing out coupons that were good for the Safari Park but you had to go that same day. It was exhausting, but I did it.  

This guy was lazily munching on carrots, but not making an effort to actually reach very far for them.

Their pond showed the results of earlier feedings.  They toss some carrots into the pond to encourage these lazy bears to get off their rumps and swim. 

 Nice chart showing the kinds of zebras.

Can you tell from the rear what kind of zebra this is?

I watched these noisy chicks beg for food and get fed for quite a while. 

Two nests and about six chicks made this a very noisy part of the zoo. 

Bai Yun is the original San Diego Zoo panda and mother to several young.  She is 26-years-old and too old to breed, so she is just enjoying life without all those kids she raised.  

Daughter Xiao Liwu is next door, but since pandas are solitary, they do not spend time together.

There are two large bird aviaries, and I enjoyed watching the birds for a while.  Like I say, I move slowly. 

This was a real highlight of my visit.  This man had taken photos of the gorillas with his iPad and was showing them to the three male gorillas in this area.  They each watched for a quite a while.  Guess everyone enjoys seeing photos of relatives.  (They are brothers.)

There were some bonobos nearby.  These are the chimps that make love instead of war.  These were all females. 

 Anyway, the weather was perfect for a day at the zoo, so I enjoyed myself and then headed home.  Will come back sometime again.