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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nephele's....

7:53 am - Wednesday - I am awake.....it is overcast.....different is good.  I am awake because I went to bed so early.  TLE even beat me out of bed this morning.

Another of our seasonal couples departed TVC yesterday (John and Deb) for a long planned trip to France and Italy.  We are down 5 employees over the past 10 days and within the next 10 days we'll be down some more as the season also winds down.  Section E's ghostown like appearance reminds me of early May.

We pretty much hung out at the coach all day Tuesday relaxing, and just enjoying the quiet of Section E.  I was pretty much a 'slug' all day long, but sometimes you need a day like that.  Since we worked Monday night (Monday, as you know was our 45th anniversary) we went to dinner Tuesday night.  Long time Newell friends Richard and Rhonda had eaten at Nephele's last summer and were quite enthusiastic about their experience.  We had wanted to have our 44th anniversary dinner there, but our plans to be on the road on our anniversay on our way to Cape Blanco interfered, so this year we made reservations several weeks in advance to be sure we got a good table.  Yelp, by the way, gives them 4 stars on 166 reviews......


.....we arrived about 5 minutes early for our 6 pm reservation and were seated immediately at our corner table near a large picture window.....



.....we immediately ordered their very popular 'Seafood Cheesecake'....I know, sounds kind of weird, but it is amazing......we would return just to order this appetizer with a good bottle of wine it was that good.

Seafood Cheesecake

......I ordered their Louisiana Roasted King Salmon for my entree, and TLE one of their specials....Almond Crusted Baked Grouper.....her side was the House Salad, and mine was the soup of the day, Shrimp Gazpacho, served cold.  Everything exceeded our expectations including this fabulous dessert TLE and I split.....


.....Chocolate Toffee Ice Cream Cake.......what a way to end our anniversary dinner!

We were home by 8 pm, changed clothes and began our walk around TVC....we had intended to walk all four sections to kind of work off a little of the stuffed feeling we both had, but stopped off in Section G to talk to customers and friends, Chuck and Kelly, who were outside watching a TV program.  Chuck and Kelly have been coming to TVC from Scottsdale, AZ for 20 summers now.  Chuck and Kelly were married here in SLT 30 years ago, and honeymooned here just like TLE and I did 45 years ago.  We were in bed a little after 10 pm.....

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Milestones......

9:06 am - Tuesday - Partly cloudy, 58 F degrees, light breeze, and a day off from work.  Today marks exactly 4 months since we arrived at TVC on April 30th......hard to believe a third of a year has passed.  Today also marks 4 years and 7 months since we began our fulltime life on the road.

I have written several times about our breakfasts at Bert's.....well, in the interests of symmetry we went to Ernie's late Monday morning for breakfast.  Ironically, Bert and Ernie used to own and run Bert's, but at some point in the past Ernie decided he wanted his own restaurant, so he built his two blocks away from Bert's on the opposite site of US-50.  Just as Bert's, Ernie's is also walking distance from TVC......


.....not a  surprise that the menus of the two restaurants are very similar, or that they both serve breakfast and lunch all day (6 am to 2 pm).  We had breakfast and referred to it as our 'Happy Anniversary Breakfast'.  Yelp gives Ernie's 4 stars on 245 reviews.  Oh, and by the way, thank you to all who congratulated us on our 45th anniversary both here, and on Facebook.  We were back home by noon and relaxing prior to the beginning of our afternoon shift. 

After 8 years of use we are retiring our 2.5 gallon ShopVac and replacing it with a more petite 1.5 gallon ShopVac courtesy of Amazon Prime.......


......plus we can hang it on the wall, getting it off the floor!  Just like our old 2.5 gallon ShopVac, this one is also wet and dry.

  
The park is down to 110 occupied sites, and gets quieter each and every day.  It was so quiet that I got out the pressure washer and spent several hours pressure washing the sidewalk which runs along the front of the office/store, as well as the parking spaces, and a few of the throw rugs.  It was actually something I had wanted to do for some time, but there were always too many cars, and pedestrians to make it practical.  I didn't get it all done, but will get back to it Thursday if the conditions allow.

The rest of the evening was very, very slow as one might expect with an occupancy rate of 27%.  No doubt by Thursday we will begin to see the park fill up for the last long weekend of the summer.....Labor Day weekend, but I do not think we will be more than 70% full by Saturday.

As I was driving around the park around 7 pm I realized how balmy the air felt, how happy I am, and how grateful I am to be in South Lake Tahoe the whole summer with my best friend....thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Forty-Five

9:21 am - Monday - My life began 45 years ago today when Elaine Frances Houghtaling said 'I do' and we began the life long adventure called marriage.  We were both just shy of our 22nd birthdays that day, and probably too young to be talking about 'forever', nevertheless, we committed to each other for the rest of our lives for 'better, or worse'.  My life before that day seems like a mere shadow compared to my life since.  Everything which has importance in my life has happened since that day.  I tell Elaine all the time "I'm a lucky boy!" to which she always replies "YES, you are!"........ HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TLE!


We have a slight variation in our weather today.......partly cloudy, slightly breezy, but also a little warmer.....57 F degrees as I write.  Today is also our 'Friday'.

Around 10 am we decided to ride our bikes up to Baldwin Beach to check it out.....we have been coming to SLT now for 3 years and have never been to this beach.  It is the last beach before you begin the climb up the switchbacks to the Emerald Bay Vista Point......




......now I'm wondering why we have never visited this wonderful deserted beach before.....you have to walk a dirt path about 1/8th of a mile from the parking lot to get to this beach, and that is probably why there are not many people.  We both agreed this will be our beach destination this week on one of our off days.

Just when I thought it could not get any quieter at TVC it did.....we are down to about 130 sites occupied after our departures and arrivals are added into the equation.  We reported for work at the usual 3:30 pm.  As I have been doing the past few days I got my trash bucket and 'picker' and began roaming sites over in Section E picking up the small trash....I call it deep cleaning.  The guys who go through these sites after they are vacated only have time to pick up the big stuff, and rake the site.  The small stuff begins to accumulate over time and its sheer volume becomes noticeable.  Most of what I pick up are bottle caps (metal and plastic), cigarette butts, dental floss, colored string, popsicle sticks, and small pieces of paper.  I did that for about an hour and then eventually walked down to the maintenance yard to pick up a cart to make my rounds of the park.

I did get a call to go check the electric at site 121, and found, once again, that they were running to many things causing the 30 amp breaker to pop.  This happens a lot with the 50 amp RV people......most of the time they are plugged into a 50 amp outlet, so they have no concept of how many amps each of their appliances draw.  One AC all by itself can draw 15-20 amps depending on its age, and BTU rating.  All you have to do is turn on the microwave, or hair dryer adding another 10+ amps to the load, and you're over 30 amps.  

Our shift was very slow, and we ultimately closed the store at 9 pm after we had not had a customer for almost an hour.  After doing our nightly cleaning, and then checking the 4 restrooms we clocked out around 10:25 pm.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Closing circles.....

8:26 am - Sunday - Sunny, 41 F degrees, cloudless, windless, blue skies.....situation normal.  

We decided to drive over to the South Lake Tahoe Flea Market around 10 am......we haven't been for a few weeks, and we haven't been on a Saturday for a long time.  We drove because we both felt we would find something we couldn't live without, and if that something were big enough we would need more than our bikes.  I'm always looking for tools, and there is a guy there who always has good used tools he has cleaned up nicely.  I found a couple of impact driver sockets, a couple of files, a metric tap and die set, and a 'C' clamp.....



......the ironic part is in the picture below the top 'C' clamp I bought 45 years ago.....I only bought one then.....when I was going through this guy's tools Saturday I saw a couple of small 'C' clamps (both made by different manufacturers) and being the symmetrical kind of guy that I am I thought I should buy a second one to go with the one I already had.......the one I bought yesterday, just by coincidence, was manufactured by the same company!!  Another circle closed.......the total cost for everything was $15.50......

45 year old 'C' clamp on top......the one I bought Saturday below!

......while we were at the flea market I got a text advising my new Nixon Chronograph watch had been delivered to the office, so after making a stop at Raley's for some groceries we stopped off at the office to pick up my watch.....


.......I haven't bought an expensive watch in years.....in fact I have been divesting myself of my watch collection.  My inspiration for this purchase is my son-in-law, Rod......he has one similar to this one, which I have admired for a long time.  This is the biggest watch I have ever owned......it looks as big as the clock on the wall, right? I am a happy boy!

We reported for our shift at 3:30 pm, and could tell immediately Saturday was a much busier day than we have experienced for a fortnight.  I was called almost immediately out to a site with a bad 30 amp breaker, which I replaced, then out to two other sites with cable TV issues.  It turned out they both had bad cables, and once they were replaced reception was restored.....weird that two cables would go bad almost simultaneously.

Saturday night was 'Live Music' evening, and we had a gentleman playing the ukulele.......


.......he didn't have a big crowd, but they were enthusiastic.

After the initial flurry of activity things settled down and we were able to punch the clock by 11:06 pm bringing to an end another great SLT Saturday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prevent defense....

8:01 am - Saturday - 38 F degrees as I type.....we have definitely turned a corner weather wise here in SLT.....six of the next 10 days will have lows in the 30's......we have three more days with highs in the low 80's then the temps drop into the 70's, with one day in the 60's.  Once again the sun is out, the sky is deep cobalt blue, and there is no wind....perfect is as perfect does.  The English Premier Soccer League is back in full swing and I have a game between Chelsea & Burnley playing in the background.....life is good.




Our VW has been at Higher Ground Autoworx all week getting the right front axle replaced, an exhaust leak fixed, and a new battery.  Every year we come to TVC we take the VW into John to get a 'State of the Beetle' report.  It has 137,000 miles on it, and we don't want any surprises when we travel during the winter.  Better to replace/repair things when it is your choice, and not when you are stranded on the side of the road 100 miles from anywhwere.  At any rate I got a call from John Thursday afternoon advising the Beetle was ready to be picked up so I rode my Bad Boy over Friday morning to pay my bill and bring her home.  It ended up costing under $700 for everything....I was expecting about double that.  As you know, in spite of anyone's best efforts to do preventative maintenance things still can break, such as our fuel pump going out two winters ago in Mexican Hat, UT.  In our 4.5 years on the road we have only been stranded that one time in either our car, or the Newell so I think it is safe to say our efforts at preventative maintenance have had good results so far.

After returning to TVC I drove the VW down to the maintenance yard to give her a much overdo bath.  Upon my return I set about assembling my new 'truing stand' for bicycle wheels.  In the past I trued my wheels on the bike, but you can only get the big 'wobbles' out that way.....the only way to really get a wheel straight again is to use a 'truing stand'......


......I've got a couple of friends who need their wheels trued, so I am looking forward to breaking in this new toy!

We reported for our shift at 3:30 pm to a slightly busier park....we had some 65 arrivals scheduled for the day bringing us close to 50% occupancy again.  With more people in the park I stayed much busier and the time passed much more quickly.  I helped a gentleman trying to get our cable TV to play on his TV, there were a few noise issues, and just generally a lot of running running errands for the office staff (TLE & Morgan).  I spent about an hour fixing the headlight on the ranger cart which has ceased working the night before.  I ended up running a new power wire from the battery to the light switch and there was light once again.

As a result of the busier nature of the park TLE and I did not clock out until 11:30 pm.  After 10 days of not enough to do it was nice to have a lot to do again.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bugaboo.....

8:29 am - Friday - It is 38 degrees as I write....that is Fahrenheit, not Centigrade!  While the weather guessers are forecasting temps in the mid to high 70's for the next 10 days the overnight lows have been getting into the high 30's the past few days.  I'm rocking two electric heaters this morning to take the chill off the interior of the Newell.  Of course, part of the reason is it so cold inside is we leave windows open at night.

Thursday I spent the morning sweeping the awning mats, raking the artificial turf, and wiping off the tables and chairs in our site.  Then it was on to the trailer to vacuum, and reorganize.  It's time to begin getting rid of stuff I have no room for once we begin to move again.  I know, we're not leaving for weeks yet, but it's never to early to begin to thin out the herd.

We reported for work at 3:30 pm, and I spent about an hour 'cleaning' tent sites in Section E, as well as the grounds around the office/store/laundry before being called to site 147 to check out a potential electrical issue.  As it turned out power at the pedestal was fine, but the RV owner was having an issue with his transfer switch allowing power into the coach.  Whenever I come across this issue it makes me thankful I have a low tech RV......my 34 year old Newell has no automatic transfer switch.....I am the transfer switch.  To change my power source from the pedestal to either the generator, or inverter I simple unplug the coach from the pedestal and replug it into the generator/inverter outlet in my electrical bay.....takes less than 30 seconds.  It also reconfirms to me why I prefer to arrive at an RV park well before sundown. If something does go wrong I have plenty of daylight to troubleshoot, and solve the problem.  Once it gets dark troubleshooting becomes much more difficult.

The foregoing brings up one of my big bugaboos about RVers arriving at an RV park well after business hours, especially after 10 pm when many kids and/or their parents are in bed sleeping.  The last thing they want to hear at 1 am is your rumbling diesel pusher pulling, or backing into the site next to them.  Personally I would be embarrassed to do that.  People arrive here at TVC all the time at 11 pm, midnight, 1 am, 2 am, and even as late (early?) as 3 am and think nothing of the disturbance to their fellow RVers their late arrival is going to cause.  If I am around when these late arrivals arrive I suggest politely to them it would considerate of them if they just remained parked in the registration lane until after 8 am the next morning when the office opens.  Most agree and do just that, but there is a subset of people who really don't care about disturbing their neighbors and insist on going to their site.  I realize that sometimes circumstances such as a breakdown, or accident can upset a carefully planned schedule causing some to arrive later than they planned, but the majority of these late arrivals plan on arriving that late, or early as the case may be.  Please.....if you are reading this, and you do this on a regular basis.....don't arrive at an RV park after 10 pm and insist on going directly to your site.  Be considerate of your neighbors!  Better yet, plan on arriving hours before sunset.....you will be happier, your family will be happier, and most importantly your RV neighbors will be happier!

We were off, once again, by 11 pm, and home shortly thereafter.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On a clear day......

8:21 am - Thursday - It was 36 F degrees earlier this morning!  Taking into consideration that the high Wednesday was 80, that is a 44 degree swing overnight.  For the first time since late June we had both of our built in electric heaters cranking out heat this morning.  The weather continues to be perfect......sun, blue skies and no wind.

Wednesday looked a lot like Tuesday......I worked on a couple of bikes for friends in the morning and in the afternoon we took a ride......a ride over to Lakeview Commons at El Dorado Beach.  It's about 4.5 miles each way, and much of the distance can be ridden on paved bike paths that run almost to Stateline.....

Our two 'dumpster diving' beach chairs

Nothing like a 'pano' for perspective

 Note the color variations in the water as it gets deeper, plus the 'sea' plane, and para sailors, too.

......we arrived at Lakeview Commons about 2:30 and sat relaxing, reading and just plain enjoying the amazing view looking northward.  On a side note, the beach chairs you see in the above pictures were recovered earlier this summer from dumpsters.  They are both, obviously, used, but are in pretty good shape.  They both have shoulder straps on them so they can be easily slung on our backs for walking, or a bike ride.  When it's time to depart TVC we'll store them in one of the maintenance sheds until our return next year.

Of course, being so close to Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewing, we had to stop by on our way home for a couple of brews and an early dinner before continuing our trek homeward.......

We love this table as we park our bikes on the other side of the lattice fencing seen in the background enabling us to keep an eye on them.

.....we arrived back home just begore 7 pm, and settled into another evening fire.  A few minutes after I lit the fire  we were joined by fellow nomads Brian and Maria (30 somethings) whom we met our first year on the road when we stopped off briefly at Cedar Key, FL........the aforementioned cold chased us indoors by 8:40.  We watched Masterchef, and were in bed by 10:30.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grapefruit.....

8:36 am - Wednesday - Weather: Sunny, clear blue skies, no wind, 45 degrees.  Ever get tired of perfect weather?  No, me neither.....I just need something to complain about once and a while.

Tuesday was a perfect day for me.....I tuned up 3 bikes for friends, and cleaned my Intense 5.5 up from our trip to Mammoth.  I had the tunes going all day in the trailer, and the time just melted away......one of my favorite ways to spend a day.  TLE spent the day reading (one of her favorite things to do), and running a few loads of wash through the splendid Splendide.

Around 4 pm we mounted our trusty Cannondales and rode 4.6 miles (we covered about 9.3 miles in all) out to Meyers to try a new to us restaurant, Verde Mexican Rotisserie.  We had seen this restaurant across US-50 from Getaway Cafe for the past two summers, but had never given it a try until Tuesday.  Yelp gives them 4.5 stars on 145 reviews.....that's pretty impressive, and so is their food!   I ordered two fish tacos, and TLE a chicken quesadilla.....we both loved our entrees.  In addition they do offer four draft brews......Corona, Pacifico, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (IPA), and a fourth I cannot remember......why?  Well, I stopped at the Ballast Point offering and decided on a pint to chase my food......TLE ordered the same, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.....there is just a hint of grapefruit in the background.  A very refreshing brew!  Ironically, the Ballast Point website suggests paring this offering with fish.....



......and, by the way, the fish tacos and quesadilla were wonderful.  We ate alfresco.....no surprise there......and sat in the shade of a market umbrella enjoying the evening air for over an hour before beginning the return ride to TVC.  We had a little head wind on the way out to Meyers, so it was nice to be chased home by a tailwind!

For an encore we decided to have a fire, drink some grapefruit (see a trend here?) margaritas, and smoke (me) a couple of cigars........


.....as I have said before, a great day deserves an appropriate ending!  We sat by the fire until almost 8 pm listening to music, and just enjoying the Tahoe air.....there is nothing like it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

38%

9:51 am - Tuesday - Went to bed about 12:30 am this morning, and didn't get out of bed until 9:15 am this morning......I needed that!  Slept like a brick, as they say.  Clear blue, sunny skies once again.

We are officially down to 38% occupancy as of Monday morning....wow....these are like mid June numbers.  We had 13 arrivals on Monday, and an equal number of departures.  TVC feels like a tomb compared to the prior 7 weeks.

I spent time installing new hydraulic disc brakes on TLE's Cannondale F600.....like mine, her original disc brakes were just worn out so I bought her new brake levers, calipers and rotors.  I found out while removing her rear rotor that part of her problem had been a somewhat warped rotor, which made it almost impossible to adjust her rear brake.  Well, now she has 'new' everything and should be good to go for another 10 years.

The weather finally changed Monday morning......we had heavy cloud cover all day Monday, a lot of thunder late afternoon, and finally actual rain for about 15 minutes around 6 pm!  Our first rain, although probably not measurable, since mid June.  While brief, it was enough to settle the dust.

We reported for work at 3:25 pm, and were immediately swept into the boredom vortex that has gripped TVC for the past week.  As I drove around the park I was startled at how empty it looks.......



......usually you cannot see that far down this row in Section G!  Of course, there are always things that need to be done, but get put off in favor of more important things when we are super busy, so I grabbed a broom and headed out back to sweep off the tether ball courts (big round concrete slabs) and all of the concrete around the office/store.....that kept me busy for a couple of hours.....I was eventually chased inside briefly by the rain.

I don't know if I have ever put a picture of our very nice pool area in the blog, so here is an evening picture for your viewing pleasure...... 


.......pretty clear, huh?  The pool closes each night at 8 pm, and then I check the chlorine and PH levels and adjust either, or both as necessary.  Johhny, our day time pool guys does most of the heavy lifting every morning cleaning the filters, backflushing the filtration system, adjusting the chlorine and PH levels, sweeping, etc.  After I check the pool I add water as needed.....this night I needed to add no water as the pool had hardly been used due to the cloud cover, and cool temperatures all day.

Another thing I enjoy when we are not so busy is being able to stop and talk with our long term customers (those who are here all summer).  They are kind of a sounding board for me.....I get a feel for what is going on in the park during the day when I am not on duty, and respond to their concerns as needed.  Many of these folks have spending their summers here at TVC for 20-30 years!  They are all very interesting people, and I love how much they love TVC, and care about the park.

Once again we clocked out around 11 pm as there was nothing else to do.  We've been averaging 7 hours a night the past week, or so, and it is actually nice to get home early. We haven't had a call on the Ranger Phone for 2 weeks......sweet!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to regular programming.....

8:59 am - Monday - Awoke to very cloudy skies this morning......now that's a change!  Temps will be in the 70's for the next week......looking forward to the cooler temps.

We were up a little after 6 am Sunday, walking across the street to Schat's Bakery by 7:15 to buy a couple cups of coffee and some pastry.....TLE had a croissant and I an apple fritter.  We sat for 30 minutes talking about our weekend, and then headed back to our motel to pack our stuff in the car.  We were in the VW rolling northward on US-395 for home listening to one great tune after another on Sirius-XM Classic Vinyl just before 8:30 am, and rolling into Carson City 90 minutes later.  The drive was totally uneventful, but the scenery and music were spectacular!    

We picked up a few things at Trader Joe's, fueled up at Costco ($2.39/gallon for premium) and then headed for Supercuts where I had my ears lowered before we headed up US-50 over Spooner Summit and back into the Tahoe Basin.  We arrived home just before 1 pm, and were unpacked and relaxing in advance of our afternoon/evening shift 20 minutes later.

We watched the USA men whip Serbia by 30 points in the gold medal basketball game, the last official sporting event of the 2016 Rio Olympics, took a nap, and reported for duty at 3:25 pm.  In some ways if felt like we hadn't been gone for almost 3 days.......

Back in the saddle

.....the park is still quite empty....still hovering around 50% occupancy.  TLE says we have 182 arrivals on the Friday leading into the Labor Day weekend, so I looks like we'll be close to 100% for 3-4 days, and then things will really get empty.

All evening we had thunder and lightning, but no rain other than sprinkles here and there.....I was sure it was going to rain.  We were off by 11 pm.......just not enough to keep us busy for our full 8 hour shift.  I had to quiet down folks in a couple of sites, but by the time we arrived home just after 11 the park was quiet.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My friend Paul.....

9:22 pm - Saturday - I met Paul Hood back in 1992 while mountain biking in Chino Hills State Park when I was a mere 42 years old.  He was just 29 at the time......he and his pre-teen son were riding together.  I was by myself as I usually was.....I since have become smarter.  Not a good idea to go mountain biking by yourself when you might find yourself miles from civilization at any given point......what if you injure yourself and no one knows where you are?

Well, anyway, Paul is a very outgoing guy.....some might even say brash.  I was  a little offput by him at first blush, but he invited me to go riding with he and his son the next weekend, and I was always looking for someone to ride with, so I accepted.  That was the beginning of what is now a 24 year friendship and well over a thousand miles of mountain biking.  

In 1994 I introduced Paul to the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, and that was the beginning of many adventures.  This was at the very beginning of full suspension mountain bikes......I began riding in 1989 right at the beginning of the mountain bike boom, and my first bike was a Specialized Rockhopper......ridged fork and tail.  Over the years we have both spent thousands of dollars on the latest technology updating, and upgrading our rides......and over the years our riding group has grown.......

1993 - Chino Hills State Park - Paul took this picture of me on my first full suspension bike....a Proflex 752 (Proflex was later bought by K2).

 2007 - Mammoth Mountain

 2008 - Mammoth Mountain

2013 - Claremont Wilderness Park

2012 - Chino Hills State Park

2007 - Mammoth Mountain

2006 - Mammoth Mountain - lunch at the Yolder

 2014 - Mammoth Mountain

 2005 - Mammoth Mountain - it snowed

 2005 - Mammoth Mountain - the weekend after Labor Day!  We began our ride in a blizzard!

2014 - Mammoth Mountain - riding the gondola to the top

2016 - Mammoth Mountain.....the two old guys have still got it!

......Paul just turned 54, and I will be 67 in less than 2 months......we're both 24 years older.....our bodies are beginning to display the ravages of time.....we don't ride as fast, or as recklessly as we once did.  We used to say to each other when out riding trails that we referred to affectionately as 'HIGH CONSEQUENCE' if you made a mistake.......if our wives knew where we were riding they would not have let us out the front door that morning....sometimes there were 500 foot sheer drop offs and the trails we rode were just 12 inches wide with no room for error.

We have shared hardship, danger, and adventure together always having each other's back.  We have ridden some epic rides together.....some as long as 75 miles in a single day......a lot of miles for a mountain biker.  There were times when we overextended ourselves and were so exhausted we wondered if we would make it back home that night......literally......when one of us was down the other would always get the other going again.....one time Paul pushed my bike and his for 3 miles until I could recover enough physically to get back on my bike.  One time we literally pulled into his driveway on our bikes after a 14 hour ride just after sunset.

If I was in trouble and I called Paul, I know he would be there as fast as he could, and the same goes for me.  Most of the people I rode with prior to going fulltime are at least 13 years younger than I (Paul), or younger than my oldest son, Chris, who turns 44 this year (Brenda, Richard, Ryan, Mark.....you know who you are).  I have always been the old guy in the group.....now that I am gone, Paul says he has taken my place as the senior citizen.  His knees hurt him more as he gets older, and he cannot ride as many miles, or hours as he once did.....I'm just getting older and think more about 'what if'.......what if I have a bad crash (my last bad crash was 1999 when I broke my left collar bone).....it takes longer for us older guys to heal now, so we go slower, and ride fewer miles.  Paul is one of those friends who will always be a friend, even when we are too old to ride mountain bikes anymore.

This weekend was kind of a celebration of our mountain bike friendship, which has spanned 24 years......it was just Paul and I this weekend riding the 'Off The Top' trail (begins at 11,052' elevation.....way above timberline) one more time.........stopping periodically to take in the wonderful views, and reminisce about our long friendship and all the great epic days we have had together.  We didn't go particularly fast today, but we probably had the best time we have both had in years.....no young guys pushing us to go faster.  We only covered 22 miles today, and only did two runs.  Back in the day we would have covered 22 miles by 10 am, and been aiming for 50 for the day.  Those 50 mile days are now in our collective rear view mirrors, but the memories are strong, and the friendship even stronger.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mammoth.......

6:45 am - Saturday - Here we are at Mammoth Mountain, so you know the 143 mile drive south went as planned.  We were in bed by 10:30 pm, hence the early hour.  I'll meet my long time friend, Paul Hood, for breakfast in an hour and then we will head to the 'Adventure Center' to ride the gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain (11,000' elevation) to begin our first run of the day in their mountain bike park.

We were both up before 8 am Friday in anticipation of our weekend adventure, and were hoping to be in the VW driving south before 11 am.....as it turned out we departed TVC at 10:30 am on the dot.  Traffic over to Stateline was terrible, and it took us over 40 minutes to get over Kingsbury Grade and into the Carson Valley, but once we were past Gardnerville, NV we began to make good time.

We arrived in Walker, CA right at 12 pm and stopped, as planned, at Walker Burger for two of their famous Walker 1/4 lb. burgers with fries.  They have this funky alfresco dining area adjacent to the burger stand, which we love.......



......we continued our drive south along the Walker River passing through Bridgeport, and then over Conway Summit, the highest elevation point along US-395, where we took a brief break to take our traditional 'summit picture' looking southward toward Mono Lake and Lee Vining, CA......



.....we arrived at Mammoth Mountain just after 2 pm, and were checked into our motel room by 2:30......we walked across the street to the small 'Outlet Mall' where TLE spent some time......not too long.....shopping in Bass Shoes outlet store for some black boots.....she found a pair at a good price and we were off to Liberty Sports Bar for a couple of drinks before we headed back to our room to rest up before dinner.......


.....we always eat at least one meal at Gomez' Mexican Grill over at the Village, and that is where we headed a little after 6......we were, frankly, still a little full from our Walker Burgers so we just ordered a carafe of Cadillac Margaritas and an appetizer (Mexi Fries) and sat enjoying the balmy evening air.  They have live music each night at the Village, and this night they had a band playing Brazilian music, which we thoroughly enjoyed.......





.....the elevation here at Mammoth Mountain is about 1700 feet higher than SLT, but it feels the same to me.

We were home by 8:30 and settling into the evening before heading to bed around 10:30......a nice first day at Mammoth.....Saturday we will hit the trails!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The 'bear' facts.....

8:31 am - Friday - Up early......today is getaway day.....headed south to Mammoth Mountain in a couple of hours!  Greeted by another cloudless day.....so what else is new?

Thursday was another warm day.....the high was 85.  I worked on the bike of one belonging to the son of Miguel (head ranger).....the rear wheel was out of true causing it to rub constantly against the rear brake.  I readied my mountain bike stuff (shoes, body armor, tools, etc.) for our trip south all the while watching the USA women indoor volleyball game versus Serbia.  Serbia won the tie breaking set 15-13, so the USA women will play for the bronze.....a very disappointing loss!

We reported for our shift at 3:28 pm to find things very, very quiet......another quiet day/night.....only 36 departures, with 52 arrivals for Thursday.  The park stands at 55% occupancy and will not get much higher this weekend.  I spent time outside watering the grass by the horseshoe pits, the swimming pool, the front entrance island, and the island at the entrance to the group sites.  We're hoping our work this summer to get grass growing again will payoff next spring

Our local brown bears have been very active the past week.....I have seen at least one bear every single night lately, the most startling was when we pulled up to the restrooms in Section E Wednesday night about 10:30 pm.....just as I stopped the cart I heard a loud 'CLUNK', and asked TLE if she heard it.......we both turned around to find a 500 lb. brown bear sitting on top of one of the dumpsters.....less than 10 feet away.  Yup, our brown bears are 'dumpster divers', and very good at it. Fortunately, they are not very aggressive, and do not break into cars, RV's, or tents, but they love our dumpsters!

We are back to a full moon here in the Tahoe Basin.....caught this shot about 11:15 pm last night......


......Thursday night was very slow, and we ended up clocking out about 11:10 pm.....everything quiet, and yes one more bear sighting near the office/store just before we clocked out.

We're off to Mammoth within 2 hours......yay for us!  Thanks for stopping by!