Monday, July 30, 2012

California Coast

Sunday, July 22 - We did laundry in the morning, but after lunch we caught the ferry to San Francisco.  We got a good look at San Quentin and Alcatraz.  When we arrived, we started walking, but I just couldn't, so we sat and watched people before we returned on the ferry.

Monday, July 23 - We got a call from a fellow LDer, Kate.  She said since we were going through Santa Cruz and that we had to stop for  a visit with her and her husband, Terry.  We first met them at Oliver Lee SP in NM after we ordered KoKo.  We have seen them on previous trips.  They are a very gracious couple.  We stopped for the evening at Henry Cowell Redwood SP.  Kate and Terry came over and we went out to dinner and then they showed us around Santa Cruz.  It is so nice to catch up with friends that you haven't seen in a while.

Tuesday, July 24 - We were going to stop at Elkhorn Slough.  Kate told us about it and the pictures on the internet looked just like a place where we would like to paddle.  After driving several miles to the entrance, we found the gate closed. It’s operated by NOAA and California and they must have important things to do on Monday’s. We continued to Monterey to the Laguna Seca Recreation Area.  This is a lovely place to stay and we have a great view out of our back window.  The only problem is they are holding races this weekend. So we will have to move along.

Sunday my finger on my right hand started hurting.  By Monday, it was painful, swollen and hot.  So I thought I probably had an infection.  My doctor had really scared me about getting an infection on the side where I had lymph nodes removed.  We headed to a "Doc in the Box".  The doctor wasn't sure if it was infected or arthritis.   He gave me pills for both.  Then we went on a search for a grocery store - no luck.  Maybe people in Monterey don't cook.

Wednesday, July 25 - We were up early and continued our grocery store search.  Finally found a Safeway eight miles out of our way.  Now we could have lunch.  We then went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This is a very interesting place.  I enjoyed the seahorses and the jelly fish.  We also saw two sea otters, so cute.  Also saw  penguins, puffins and several other birds that swim.  It was a very good day and my feet did not hurt after standing for three hours and my finger is getting better!

I took the new camera to the aquarium. It mostly refused to focus through glass. I steamed as every kid took perfect pictures with their iSomething. I tried our phone, but I never got the hang of using it. The Jellies were my fav, Several varieties. This is the only one that came out and it’s not in focus.

If you want to see what we saw go here.

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Unfocused Jellies

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Pretty Fish

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One of the really strange seahorses

Great exhibits, but they let too many people in.  By noon, we could not get close to anything.

Thursday, July 26 – By 7am the race fans were coming in. A triple axle tried to back in a space that had room for a popup. He tried for quite awhile before giving up. The spaces were $350 each for the weekend, but that included admission to the motorcycle races.

We were up and away early to try to snare a place to park tonight. It only took us three hours to drive 45 miles. There are lots of turnouts and pictures to be taken. Besides, I thought the road was good for 45, even tho it’s posted for 55. Why people drive a scenic road at high-speed is beyond me. Hwy 1 is certainly not a short cut to anywhere.

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We got to Kirk Creek at 11 and the full sign was out. I was going to ask the camp host about other places when a Cruise America exited. I said “Did you just have an opening?” He said the woman had reservations but left early, so we could have the place. It’s one of the best sites. Right on the cliff. It reminds us of Tillicum Beach in Oregon.

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In the afternoon, we drove the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road which starts near the CG. It goes over the coast range to US101. It’s one-and-half lanes wide and is a typical California mountain road. It climbs steeply from sea level to 2,800 feet at  the saddle. The taller peaks are at 3,600. You have a great view all the way to Hawaii. Regrettably this afternoon, it was overcast and not photogenic.

We saw several dispersed sites on the road. The one at 1,475 feet suited us just fine and we might just park up there.

Friday, July 27 – The sun was out and the marine layer was lifting by 9am. It was a glorious day on the Pacific coast.

After all the activity of the last week, we needed to veg and this seemed like the place. We lazed around until after our nap. Then we drove south to the San Louis Obispo county line, about 20 miles south of Kirk Creek. We stopped at most of the turnouts and took pictures. The last stop was the best.

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Saturday, July 28 – I was reading our friends Blog, Life’s Little Adventures, and realized they have all the signs of obsessive behavior. They live to hike. Now they are hiking jeep trails in the San Juan mountains. Insane! We know others just like them. Two/three hikes a week, fine, but everyday - that is over the line. I wonder if there is a help group for such?

At 7 this morning, the marine layer was all around us. Gray in every direction. By 9, it was lifting and sun beams came through. By 11, it was a fine day. After nap, we drove north and made several stops. At the last one we got this shot. Waterfall, secluded beach – it has it all.

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Staying here for a few days accomplished our goal of getting familiar with the area.

The family in the C-Class across from us has provided lots of entertainment. Perhaps it’s their first trip in it. He can not drive. Their site is not level. The jacks do not provide much lift. He woke us from our nap shoveling. Considering that the entire coast is metamorphic rock (granite) his digging efforts were not all that successful. He did get down about 2 inches and that provided a hole for the left rear wheels. The rock excavated was for the right front wheel, but he never was able to get the front tire on the mound. It took 40 minutes of backing before he called it a day. PS, He did this at 6PM and they moved to another site the next morning.

Sunday, July 29 – We made the long long drive to Morro Bay on the narrow windy Cabrillo Highway in about 90 minutes counting a stop to watch the Sea Lions.

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We have really enjoyed the weather the last few weeks on the coast. Pleasant during the day and cool enough for great sleeping in the evening. We will miss it when we head east.

We are at Morro Bay SP. As state parks go this one will not get any stars from us. Not scenic, the ground would be bare but for the leaves from the trees. And crowded. No privacy. A short tour of Morro Bay reveals a tourist town in rapid decline. Or maybe it never was much to start with.

We will paddle the bay, but I think we will move to another place. $35 for no-hookups is steep. Yes, we know the state is broke.

At 6PM the site next to us, 10 feet away, started a paper fire. Wonderful smoke and smell. We will be moving.

California is a beautiful state, but there's just too many people and it's too expensive.  I don't see how they afford it.  Our time at Kirk Creek CG was just great!  It reminded us of Tillicum Beach CG in Oregon, which is one of our favorites.  But the State Parks are extremely expensive and the sites are extremely close together.  Even a normal conversation can be heard by campers on either side.  Our LD is very well insulated, so we can usually close the windows to block out the noise.  But with people being so close to you, it's impossible to block out all the noise. 

Monday, July 30 – We drove out to Montana de Oro SP, nice, but it was full. So we moved to Morro Strand SP. It’s the same price, $32, but it’s on the beach and not as crowded. Just a parking lot with faint lines marking off spaces.

The fog did not burn off, so we essentially paid $32 to stay wash our clothes. East bound in the morning. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012



The Sierra Nevada

Wednesday, July 11 – We drove over the hill and down to Lake Tahoe. We found a place to park at Fallen Leaf Lake CG. Sadly, the CG is not on the lake, not even close. We investigated some other CG’s on the west shore, most of them are for tenting and all of Tahoe is a zoo this time of year. We decided to spend one night and head west.

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Thursday, July 12 – Before we left we took a nature walk through a mosquito invested marsh and toured some of the old “cottages” on the lake.

Our destination was Loon Lake 14 miles as the crow flies from Fallen Leaf Lake. About two hours by road as the Sierra Nevada is between the two lakes. First 30 miles south and west and then 30 miles north and east. From 6,200 feet, down to 3,000, then back up to 6,500. You really have to want to get here and we are glad we did. Loon Lake is a jewel - clear water with the trademark granite mountains in the background. [You would like it Jerri]

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Loon Lake

We elected to park on asphalt in the boat parking lot rather than on dirt in the CG. We are a little tired of dirt. Plus we have a partial view of the lake.

[I would suggest the Forest Service run CG on the north shore of the lake. It is smaller, more scenic and half the price of the concession run Loon Lake CG]

I was drawn to this area after reading about the Rubicon Trail. The premier 4WD trail starts on the other side of the lake. It’s not for our Jeep, only real rock crawlers can make the two-day trip from here to Tahoe. As I said before only 14 miles if you fly.

Friday, July 13 – We paddled the yaks in the morning and in the afternoon went to the head of the Rubicon Trail where a volunteer talked our ears off about it. Literally hundreds of tricked out Jeeps make the trek every weekend and camp along the way.

While we listened, several dozens Jeeps passed by. They all look alike. None of diversity you see in Moab or Colorado. I would guess there are a few shops in the area that make a Rubicon capable rig. Also, they all have shiny paint jobs. What’s with that?

Later we visited a few of other nearby CG’s. At one, I tried out a sail powered kayak.

We can get an almost decent cell signal less than a mile from the lake. 

Saturday, July 14 – Lazed around in the morning. Dorothy could not get warm in the 77 degree air. Old women! After lunch we paddled the yaks again.

Sunday, July 15 – Someone, sometime told me I needed to visit Silver Lake. I had marked it on the atlas and this morning we headed for it. That’s down from 6,500 to 3,000, back east on US50 a few miles and then south on a busy forest service road to CA88, which is designated as a scenic byway. And it is scenic and has almost as much traffic as US50. CA has way too many people. I think most of them are out of work and out on the roads. [We counted over a 100 cars a mile coming from Tahoe toward Sacramento]

Anywho, we get to Silver Lake and the CG is not on the lake and the sites are suited for very small rigs. No worries, we head a few more miles east to Carpels Lake CG. Guess what? It’s not on the lake and the sites are worse, short, tree cover and crowded. Oh we could park the Jeep in overflow parking for another $5. Launch the boats for another $10. Welcome to the fee state.

We head back west and find an abandoned Forest Service CG that had several rigs in it. The sites are large and the price is zero. Five nights in CA and five wo cell coverage.

So far, all the CG’s in CA with lake in the name have not been on a lake. California is a lot like going to Canada, the exchange rate is not very good.

San Francisco

Monday, July 16 – We head west on CA88 toward the Bay Area. It’s downhill all the way. We drop from 7,600 to 1,500 feet in the first hour and down sea level in the next hour. We arrive at Marin RV in Larkspur. It’s decent. A few long terms, Cruise America’s and some fancy buses.

Tuesday, July 17 – We drove to the Marin Headlands. Dorothy had never been there and it had been over 40 years since I had been there. Even with limited sun, the views were magnificent.

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On the one way road, the speed limit is 15mph. Being it’s a federal park with rangers, I kept the speed to less than 20mph. This was totally unacceptable to a yahoo in a Mini Cooper who rode our bumper until I just stopped. This elicited a lot of arm waving from him. I started up and when he could he passed us off-road slinging gravel. He had Illinois plates.

Since the sky was now full blue, we went back to the Marin Headlands for sunset.

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Wednesday, July 18 – We drove into the city to do a little sight-seeing and a little shopping. By lunch, the sky was pretty clear.

In addition to the very fine public transportation the city is famous for, there are some alternatives and new wrinkles. You see limo’s everywhere. The daily rate is less than $400 for 8 hours. Rental bikes have expanded. They block traffic at all tourists destinations. We have seen more than a few families peddling in dense traffic with kids under 10. Insane! New to us are three wheeled Go Cars and Segways’s. They are all fine with us, but they run in herds and ignore all traffic laws.

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We located a Middle Eastern store and stocked up on fava beans (foul). Now we can have garlic breath for breakfast again. Also topped up with single malt at our fav store D&M. They have over a hundred brands. They keep the Glenfiddich and such out of sight where it belongs.

Where we would like to live if only we had 15 million, plus another million or so a year for expenses.


Pacific Heights


Either style suits us

Dorothy writes: A day in San Francisco - today we drove into the city.  We are staying across the bay in one of the few RV parks around here.  You think what's the big deal about the Golden Gate Bridge, it's just a bridge, right?  Wrong - it's beautiful and to me it's a symbol of America, much like the Statue of Liberty on the other coast.  As you catch your first glimpse of it, it's breathtaking.

We don't like cities and actually try to stay out of them, driving back roads to avoid them.  San Francisco is different.  The architecture is old - most homes were built after the 1906 fire.  They are painted in the Victorian colors and trim.  Those that were built in the 1950's - 1970's, just don't fit in.  They should be replaced with better designs.  The ground floor is a one car garage, the main floor is 15+ steps up and then there are the upper floors, maybe two more.  The houses sit right on the street and if you have a car, it cannot block the sidewalk.  So, you can put one small car in the garage and another one, is parked on the street with the front wheels turned out so that if it happens to roll  back, it will be stopped by the curb.  And these houses are very expensive (that's for the cheap ones).  That's not even counting the Pacific Heights area where the homes are multi-millions.

Also impressive are the old churches.  We saw Catholic churches and a Jewish Temple and an Episcopal church.  Sure wish we could have parked and gone in them.

For many years, I have said that it was easy to get around in SF.  Today I was a nervous wreck.  First the traffic lights are located in several different locations, and there are stop signs and 4-way stop signs.  Always read the signs on the side of the road and painted on the street.  If you remember the movie, "Bullitt", and you are driving down the hills, some part of you just wants to speed down the streets - what fun that would be, better than a rollercoaster!

We wanted to buy some Middle Eastern food and went to one of the neighborhoods with a Middle Eastern store.  The Old Jerusalem restaurant was a couple of doors down, which is where we had lunch.  Also some Mexican restaurants were in the neighborhood.  If there is an ethnic group anywhere, it's in SF.  One of the things I wanted to do was to shop at a local market.  The produce is outside in stands, so you get to browse.  Nothing is prepackaged.  I bought two avocados, two tomatoes, and three jalapeno peppers for $1.28.  That was fun.

And there are lots of parks in SF.  We first stopped at Crissy Field which is on the water and watched an older America's Cup boat sailing.  The old ones are chartered now that they are no longer raced.  We also went to Fort Mason and drove around. There was a big military presence in SF many years ago.

As you can tell, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, July 19 – A few tourists activities and a little shopping.


Not My Picture, But I Wish It Were

Friday, July 20 – We read that the city wanted to honor Nana and name a street after her. We saw it today in the Golden Gate Park.

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Lombard is no longer the crookest street in the area

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They call them Painted Ladies

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To Prove We Were At Twin Peaks

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Our Tour Guides At Their Cozy Home. Note Their Legs Are the Same Length In Spite of Living In The Bay Area All Of Their Lives

Friday was a delightful day.  We met Dave & Mary Gardner for a dim sum lunch.  We have never had dim sum.  It is like tapas.  They bring a bite of several different foods.  It was delightful.  Besides a good lunch, we got to spend time with Dave & Mary.  They were born and raised in San Francisco.  So who would know more about the sites than San Franciscans.  We got to see the Painted Ladies, seven famous old Victorian homes, although there  many Victorian and Edwardian homes that are well maintained.  We also went to Twin Peaks and saw many views of the city/Pacific.  As a hard and fast rule, we always avoid cities but San Francisco is different.  It fabulous and we would highly recommend a visit if you can.

Saturday, July 21 – We put the kayaks in at Sausalito and paddled around the boats. Well over a thousand power and sail boats. I think all are capable of limited coastal cruising, some are fully blue water capable. The usual gold-platers, mixed with live-a-boards.  One house boat caught our attention.

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Being Saturday, the masses were out. Kayaks, paddle boards, rowing shells, kayaks with sponsons, etc. One use of paddle boards was what we guess is tai chi on water.

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Sunday, July 22 – Rode the ferry for a tour of the harbor. Planned to walk about a bit before heading back, but Dorothy’s foot was not good before we got to the bus stop. Still an enjoyable afternoon.

Leaving San Francisco in the morning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Thursday – June 21 – We made the four plus hour drive from Pine Valley up Hwy 93 to Great Basin NP. This place has been on  our bucket list for years. You really have to want to come here as it’s not on the way to any place else. After all the effort, we are disappointed. It wasn’t what we expected. It’s high desert and I guess we were looking for mountain terrain. But there are trees and the campsite is fine. It’s very private and there are wild rose bushes that provided lots of privacy (at least that’s what I am calling them). We took the scenic drive up the mountain. I am sure it offers plenty of scenery to those who able to hike long distances with significant elevation gains. For those of us that can not do that, it’s a bust. Regrettably, I know of no way to reliably ascertain such information in advance.
When we arrived we were tired, so we napped before filling out the campsite form. That got us a lecture from a gun toting ranger who checked my driver’s license for wants and warrants. Nice welcome.
Friday – June 22 – We enjoyed the tour of Lehman Cave. It was unlike any cave we have toured.
How some mountain roads seem to us
Saturday – June 23 – Breaking our tradition, we decided to move camp on Saturday figuring no crowds, no worries. We planned to stay near Ely, but the campground was closed. After a quick visit to the Northern Nevada RR Museum, we continued west on US50 to check out two other places to overnight. One was on a reservoir and would have been fine, but we found it was full after a trip down a very dusty road made all the worse by the high wind. We wound up in a private CG in Eureka.
Not a lot to see on The Loneliest Road but we did see Chuck & Beverly that were on the Baja trip with us in February 2008. It’s a small world.
I had planned to spend two or more weeks crossing US50. It’s not at all like I thought it would be. Plus The Loneliest Road is not all that lonely. It’s been absolutely the worst few travel days we have had since we retired. In addition, the engine is starved for fuel or air. No power. We will get it checked out when we get to Fallon. Meanwhile we limp along running in third gear getting 5mpg.
Sunday – June 24 – Nevada is looking better today. As we got closer to Austin, the terrain marginally greened up. We found the FS Bob Scott CG to be to our liking. Trees! Our site must have been a host site once as we have water and sewer. Weather is prefect. The well water here is the best tasting water we have had in a long time.
Austin is also an old mining town. I don’t know how people that live there now make a living.
The engine was normal for the first 45 minutes, then ran in 3rd gear to maintain 57mph.
Monday – June 25 – Another Lazy Day surfing and reading. A low of 41.
Tuesday – June 26 – We finished crossing Nevada on US50. We will not need to do it again. The funny thing about is that every Nevada resident we have talked to about it had never heard of US50.
[Great Basin to Ely 67 miles, Ely to Eureka 78 miles, Eureka to Austin 70 miles, Austin to Silver Springs 111 miles. Four hops, five days]
No problems with the engine today. It cured itself again.
We landed at Lake Lahontan SP, west of Fallon. It’s a large lake with beaches all around it that you can camp on. Some of the beaches will support RV’s, some not. We scouted one and nearly got the Jeep stuck. Finally saw a ranger and flagged him down and found they have a developed beach, number 7, which translates to paved parking. We took it.
Our general plan for the area is to visit friends, see the sights in Virginia City, see the capital in Carson City, camp on the south end of Tahoe, and also near the entrance of the Rubicon Trail.
An LD couple, David & Mary, we met in Canyonlands in April took our picture. He is a professional photographer. Today he advised us: “I've entered the shot I did of you and Dorothy into a juried exhibit in Fort Collins in CO. If it gets chosen, you will be hanging in the gallery in September.”  I think hanging may be the operative word. See his remarkable shot of the Golden Gate here.
Wednesday – June 27 – Headed into Carson City we passed a street sign for Pinenut Road. We both said there are no pines around here. The name of the next road was No Pinenut Road, followed by No Rainbow Road.
We arrived at John and Mary Jane Van Emmerik’s home in Carson City, NV. They had a sign out to welcome us and direct us where to park. That made us feel very welcome indeed. We met them in Rockport, TX in 2010 and enjoyed each other’s company, so here we are. They took us to a delicious Mexican restaurant and we will have to go back before we leave the area.
Thursday, June 28 - I have been having considerable pain in my leg, even began to worry if I had a blood clot.  Mary Jane took me to the Carson City hospital.  What a great experience.  I filled out a form at the reception desk which was just my name, address and phone number.  About 15 - 20 minutes later, they called me back and I gave the nurse my medical history and what my problem was.  She took me back to the examining room and a RN came in and got further information.  No one had asked for my insurance information!  The nurse said they treat the patient first and then get insurance information - what a wonderful experience.  The doctor came in, talked with me and finally said that there was nothing that he could do for me except give me enough pain pills to get me home.  He said I really needed to get with my doctor and then he could recommend a doctor to help me, but he thought that I probably need several weeks of physical therapy.  Of course, it’s all related to the polio I had when I was a baby.  John & Mary Jane cooked us a delicious dinner.  Of course, we talked all day.
Friday, June 29 - The pain pill really worked, because I am feeling no pain.  Don & I went into Carson City to tour the capitol and do some sight seeing.  We went to Lowe’s and as we were leaving, Don saw the LED Light Store, so of course, we went there and bought LED lights to replace the fluorescent  that we have in the kitchen.  Then we went to grocery store to buy food so Don could make spaghetti for dinner.  The spaghetti was a hit!  Again we chatted with our hosts for a long time.
Saturday, June 30 - We went to Virginia City, NV.  You remember Virginia City, it’s the town that the Cartwright's of Bonanza would go to.  It’s also an old gold and silver mining town.  At one time there were 40,000 people living there in the 1870’s.  There was a Catholic school and four public schools, plus lots of churches.  We toured the remaining Catholic church which was beautiful.  We learned a lot about the church and town from a man working in the museum at the church.  The Episcopal church closed in 2011.  We walked the main street stopping in some of the saloons and shops.  We had a good lunch in one of the saloons - thank you John and Mary Jane.   Ever the big gambler, I lost $1 in the quarter slot machine.  I very much enjoyed my hours spent there.
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Virginia City during a rat rod show
Sunday, July 1 – We gave John & mj a break from us and drove 60 miles south on US395 to Topaz Lake. Anything around the Lake Tahoe area is crowded and expensive. Dry camping on the beach here is $18 a day.
Monday, July 2 – Had breakie at a casino on the lake. Steak & Eggs for $4.95. We moved to a site distant from the loud folks next to us.
After lunch the place starting filling up and we got Taco and Mama Seta next to us with a yapping dog. Dorothy spoke to them to no avail. They pulled the no response routine. I went to the park ranger to get the number of the sheriff. The ranger said he would handle it. But right then hot-headed Cochise drove up and said he saw the whole thing and that we were racists. Rather than battle and still listen to a yapping dog , we decided to move camp. So we crossed the Sierra Nevada via the Monitor Pass and came down to a place we have been before, Indian Creek CG. It is close to full, but very quiet and no entitled assholes in sight.
The engine had no power when we started it. So we went up the pass at 26mph. So that’s four days of limping, two days of no problems and then it rears it head again.
Tuesday, July 3 – Laundry and grocery shopping day.  The main reason to go to Gardnerville was to go to a Basque restaurant.  We’ve never eaten Basque food, so this was a first.  The Basque stew was like Cajun rice with chicken.  Our entrees were lamb chops (4 each), french fries, and salad.  The lamp chops were good and we brought half of them home for another meal.
Wednesday, July 4 – Back to John and mj’s in Carson City. Seems cooler here. Best CG in Nevada. Carson City puts on a fine fireworks show. We had a picnic dinner in the HS parking lot before the fireworks started.
Thursday, July 5 – Took the Jeep in for service. Talked with the Ford Dealer about the loss of power in KoKo. They will try to diagnose it Friday.
Friday, July 6 – Ford found 8 updates concerning loss of power and re-flashed the computer. Fingers crossed this will solve the problem.
Don had a life-long dream fulfilled – he went gliding.  He had a big smile on his face and saw Lake Tahoe from the air.  Looking at the plane made me start to hyperventilate.
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Saturday, July 7 – Our 9am appointment at the Jeep dealer turned out not to be an appointment at all. Rather a leave it all day deal. We wasted an hour driving there and back. Will get it done someplace else.
Small world continues -  we had lunch with John and Heidi from Reno that were on our Baja trip.  We missed seeing Terry & El as Terry has pneumonia.
Sunday, July 8 – Installed new LED strip lights in kitchen fixture. They put out plenty of light. Went to the gun range with mj & John and fired a lot pistols. Dorothy can hit someone at 25 feet. We had garlic shrimp for lunch.
Monday, July 9 – Took KoKo for a test drive for an hour or so, dumped, filled up with propane, stopped by the library. Power was fine. Fingers still crossed. Ate too much for dinner.
Tuesday, July 10 – The new TV arrived and I got it installed. After dinner we toured one of the local ranches. Lotta of nice girls out there.
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Leaving Carson City Wednesday. Going to miss mj and John.
Headed toward San Francisco