Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mountain day trip

Halfway up Mt San Jacinto we found a cafe in a little town called Mountain Center. It was a good thing too, the curvy road was populated with Sunday sports car drivers and crotch rocket enthusiasts, eagerly testing their skills against a challenging mountain course. We needed a break from the heart-pounding action.
After breakfast at 4,000 feet, we left the popular Pine to Palms Highway and headed higher to the town of Idyllwild (pop 3,870). Our waiter had said that if we turned left there on Doubleview Road, we'd eventually get to The Point where the locals go on July 4 to look down on the fireworks displays far below. The entire town seems to be tacked precariously against the steep mountainside, affording spectacular views -- but no back yards.

Stunning pine growths obscure most of the the views of the valley; we had hoped to see our place from up there, no luck. . . it was a bit foggy anyway.
We read somewhere that these sturdy pines produce the biggest cones in the world and, sure enough, when we arrived at The Point, we found a pine cone and. . . it was huge. They come from Coulter Pines and weigh up to four pounds. Advising you to wear hard hats when working around them, locals refer to the cones as "widow makers."
We also found views stretching toward the Pacific and to our right spotted the ski runs on faraway Big Bear. On the other side of Mt. San Jacinto (elev. 10,580) there's an aerial tramway that, for $25, will take a senior citizen to a tony restaurant set high over Palm Springs. This historic tram boasts the world's largest rotating gondolas.
They've probably got some big pine cones over there too.

Coulter pines have a limited range, found only in coastal areas in California.
This cone is a mere nine inches, they can be up to 15. We didn't go looking. No hard hat.

Arizona last night?

Tiny dust particles are credited with creating spectacular sunsets over evening Arizona desert skies. Looking west often brings a breathtaking view.
At daybreak this morning we looked east toward Arizona and saw these pink clouds -- making us wonder if we were enjoying the other side of what Arizonians saw last night.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Barbershop on Wheels calls at The Hotel California

Making a break? Birdie looks out the window in
the spacious grooming van.
If you remember the Mutt Cutts van from Dumb and Dumber, you get the basic idea.
We spotted a mobile Pet Care Grooming van roaming the neighborhood last week, and since our wooly girl was due for a trim, we got an endorsement from a neighbor and made an appointment.
Tina showed up early and in 50 minutes Birdie was expertly shorn, shampooed, trimmed and returned to her Mama. Nothing to it, Tina's been doing this for four years now and loves her work.
Warm water, filtration, refuse.
The van comes with a driver and its own tank of warm water, shower, hair dryer, vacuum, clippers and extension cord. You supply the electricity.
And we thought the price was right, $45, plus tip, and a kiss (below) from a grateful pooch -- happy now that the adventure is over.
The excitement is over. They're on to the next appointment. Birdie's having a nap.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Honk if you're a Kingfish

"Squeeze me gently, and I will honk. Throw me back in to the ocean, and I will grant you seven wishes."

They were casting along the ocean shore for halibut but not catching anything. However, we found this fisherwoman who had pulled in a nice batch of ocean finnies. They were flopping about in a tupperware tub. She was happy to tell us they were "Kingfish." We had thought The Kingfish was Huey Long's nickname -- shows what we know -- but we're here to learn. They're very pretty, that we could see. She not only told us how she caught these fish, she added that if you squeeze a Kingfish gently, it will honk.
We asked for a demonstration, and sure enough, The Kingfish honked at us.
Made us smile.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bottle brush tree?

We couldn't find a label on this tree, so we have to call it bottle brush until we hear differently. We were enjoying a pop in the hotel back yard when we spotted something new: these new red bursts coming off the tips of this tree. Golly. Can't wait to ask Hai. Hope he kept the label.

Later that evening:

Yup. Hai says it is a bottle brush tree.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New life at Singing Hills Goat Dairy

Just one or two days old

Jennifer reports a fresh batch of kids at her friends' Singing Hills Goat Dairy in rural Nerstrand, Minn. Kate and Lynne (below) own the operation. Jennifer (right) went there with Christina (above) yesterday to cuddle the soft newborns.
 Lots of oohs and aaahs.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Perfect Day at the Beach for Northerners

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud
Upstairs, corner booth at Ruby's on the Pier.
That's Hawaii over the horizon.
The forecast promised it would get no warmer than 66 and be partly cloudy, so to us, that was perfect for a day at the beach. We like it a little cool and it was that. We stayed indoors for lunch, others were outside in shorts, good for them.
It's winter on the West Coast and the beach traffic was pretty light today, we like that too. There's still a nice breeze so the surfers were active, mostly waiting for just the right breaker. Surfer Kathleen coaxed them to get on it, while Stan tried to line up a shot.
The beach stretches to Camp Pendleton and the stores in town were heavy on items for U.S.  Marines in need of regular haircuts, uniforms and breakfast. Our search for an item for a nine-year-old granddaughter was soon aborted.

A dining tip for the younger folks from retired seniors:
Arrive early at The Malt Shop when the weather isn't popular. You can get any seat in the house

Lunch at Ruby's

Malt shop at Pier's End, Oceanside.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rocking, reclining update

We took delivery on our rocking recliners and built in a side table for books and laptops. Found an area rug as well. The Murphy Bed drops out of the wall onto the carpet. The recliners are on swivels so they can rotate out of the way at night or to open the shutters into the room. Sun will turn to rain and cooler tomorrow. High of 82 today.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Top this, Gentlemen!

Homemade Sweetheart Roses
Amazing what you can learn while watching YouTube.
Working into the early morning hours today, Andy Tu created this fine chocolate bouquet of dipped strawberries for his steady sweetheart Kelli. His first strawberry rose took a full hour to construct, he picked up speed after that. His sister Lili came in late and added her admiration midway through the six-hour project. Andy's never done anything quite like this before, saw it done on YouTube. He combined plump fresh strawberries, white and molding chocolates, corn syrup, baker's dye and a lot of love. It will be received with elation and appreciation tonight, we're sure. Kelli and Andy will cap their evening with a seafood buffet at the famed Pala Casino.
We'll stay home and enjoy a chilled bowl of Andy's mistakes.

(Andy lives upstairs at the Hotel California.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Paddleboard Yoga 101

This jetty protects the yacht club. . .and the high school classroom.
Now here's an elective we never had to worry about in the curriculum at Jefferson Senior High: We came across this high school class studying yoga on paddle boards in the storied harbor at Dana Point.
The barefoot instructor was teaching students a variety of exercises in his salty, sunlit classroom . . . we were in attendance for "Downward Facing Dog."

We don't make this stuff up. We got our information directly from an involved parent on shore who was diligently monitoring her daughter's academic progress.

Beach at Dana Point

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Here for the Early Bird Special?

Certified photo by Stan Rolfsrud.
A swallow at Mission San Juan Capistrano on February 11, 2016.
That's a time-worn mission wall in the background. 
Believers no more.
(We're not proud of what we've done.) 
Francisco has kept things tidy at Mission San Juan Capistrano for the past 11 years -- and he knows. Kathleen knows too. The swallows return to Capistrano on March 19 every year. Period. The famed cliff swallows know exactly when to come here. It’s historic fact. It is also a miracle. They use a divine calendar or something.
Doubting Stan arrived with his good wife at the mission today, armed with his myth-buster camera and a cynical attitude. Barely yards within the gate, he spotted his first target. Kathleen was not impressed, that couldn’t be a swallow, she said. Too early.
Later on, we interviewed Francisco. Yes, he knows what a swallow looks like. No, they won’t be here until March 19.
Aha! Stan whipped out his trusty myth-buster and presented the evidentiary photography. Try as he might, Francisco couldn’t keep a straight face. That was a swallow on the little screen alright, he admitted. First one he’s ever seen before March 19.
Must be climate change or something. El Nino? The Early Bird special?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Earth, Wind and Fire

"Yeah. Every day at about this time, Birdie, you look up, there they go again. . . Whatever. Let's go dig in the roses."

Little dogs, balloons and cool mornings.

High today in the 80s.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A walk in the park

Cool in the morning. High of 86 with a light breeze today. We'll stay in the shade. Finish the garage project. Watch the primary election. Andy made lunch... sesame noodles. Very thin-sliced radishes and carrots, mushrooms, peanut butter, fettuccine noodles, oil, sesame seeds. Very tasty.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

And capped with a touch of blue . . .

When you're cruising carefully-decorated model homes, it's nice to blend with thematic elements. Very reassuring to know you've chosen designer-approved color combinations for your viewing ensemble.

Murrieta regatta?

Seven hot air balloons lifted off en masse this crisp Sunday morning, with a very gentle wind urging them our way. We didn't wait for their arrival, off to the Breakfast Club for pancakes and then snooping at some model homes in the neighborhood. Alas, no one has invited us to a Super Bowl party -- so we'll be on our own for that. Will pull for the old man running the Broncos. Omaha! Omaha!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Amazing bacon and eggs

Photo and bacon by Kathleen Rolfsrud
Is 300 degrees the perfect temperature for frying bacon? Have to look that up. Never thought about it before.
We fried up some bacon and eggs on our NuWave induction cooker this morning in the Hotel California kitchen. Used a cast iron skillet and dialed up the perfect temperature, just like they do at 3 a.m. on the paid television channel cooking demonstrations for insomniacs. You can get one of these beauties for $99, plus, for the next 15 minutes only, they'll throw in another for absolutely free. You have to stay up late, when operators are standing by.
It's amazing, it's huge, it's wonderful. (Sorry about that outburst, we were watching the Republican debate tonight).

Friday, February 05, 2016

Snow accumulations

We've heard the reports and received photographs of the magnificent snowfall in our yard back home. Very impressive. Tales of digging out from the nine inches have reached us as well. For now, we'll just look over the backyard fence at Mt. Jacinto's snowy peaks -- and imagine and wonder.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Garage project

Day One on the garage storage and workbench project. Storage and an eight foot countertop on the way.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Good head, great box!

A buried magnet guides the small head back into the surrounding dock.
You can do it with your eyes closed, the web site claims. 
Opened like a book.
We upgraded the shower head at the Hotel California today. It now works equally for short people and tall people.
There is absolutely no truth to the allegation that the water shortage here has required group showers. That's a strictly voluntary measure, even in this state with its copious water usage regulations.
Kudos to Delta for the easiest plumbing installation ever. The box it came in popped right open with a flick of the wrist. Nothing had to be torn or cut out from some stubborn, unyielding bubble pack, which is usually the nastiest part of getting any new product. The hardest part was wrenching off the old shower head. Everything else was finger tightening, no tools. They suggested using safety goggles, of course. Really.
Can't wait to take a shower in the new set up, it boasts a half dozen spray settings. Decisions, decisions.
Meanwhile, back home, neighbor John Gerken reports an anticipated 8 to 10 inches of snow in Shakopee within the hour. As usual, Kathleen is sorry to miss the excitement of the new snow, Stan not so much,
It is plenty cool here, unseasonably so, we brought in some plants last night. Others will just have to tough it out.
Forecast is for non-stop sunshine from here on out, 70s later, so we're glad for that. Birdie will run in the adjacent meadow this afternoon. She needs exercise after days of waiting and riding. Truth is, we all do.