August 30, 2006

Fishing is fun

Big enough for 2Last year, we had a really good time fishing here in Yosemite. Water was nice and clean, trees gave cool shades, beautiful scenery and small creatures. It was almost therapeutic just to be in such a wonderful nature. So fishing at Tuolumne river was one of my main reasons why I wanted to come to Yosemite.

Yesterday evening, I had sudden urge to go fishing. It was already getting dark outside, but I had to go. Keath and Kodiak agreed to come with me. We packed fishing tools quickly and started walking towards the dam. Walked around the pond and entered the trail, we realized the level of water was really really low. Even at the dam, water level was almost 3 feet lower than the edge of dam, not like last year with full of water and the width of the river is almost 1/3 of its full width. Instead of water, there's huge sand bar in the middle. Keath checked the shallow stream and noticed some fish still there. If there is fish, we have to try, don't we?

As the result, Keath got a baby (about 6 inches long). Too small to bring home. Say good-bye to the kid and release him back to the stream. See you next year! It's really dark and cold already. I was really disappointed, almost sad to see the changes of the river, no catch and too cold as I forgot to grab jacket. I wish I could come here a couple weeks ago when the river was still full of water and fish.

Good eatDuring Kodiak's walk this evening, we decided to check the other parts of the same river. One section was shallow, but still has nice flow and, and, and FISH! Yey yey yey yey! Sorry Kodiak. We need to go back to RV and get the fishing tools.

I heard it before that "the fish you can see is the fish you cannot catch". I don't remember when and where I heard about this, well, it's true. We can see lots of trout swimming, chasing each other, or making splash right in front of our eyes. But, nobody wants to play with our lure or yummy bites. Smart fish.

After trying different methods, Miki caught 1 good size trout. Clean up and bring it back to home. There must be hundreds of good recipe to cook trout. As fish-eater Japanese, I'd rather cook it simple to enjoy its freshness. Means - salt the fish and gill it on BBQ. I wish we could have wood campfire and grill these fish... It must be the best way to eat fresh fresh-water fish. Unfortunately, the fire danger level is really high in Yosemite and no wood campfire now. (I bought marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers... Sad)

Kodiak is also fish-eater Japanese (dog). He was stirring at our main dish during the dinner. Sorry Kodiak. We can't share this with you because you have very sensitive stomach. Trust me, this is tough love. LOL

August 28, 2006

Blackberry and turkeys

Bears' favorite - BlackberryYesterday, we found blackberry bushes while out walking Kodi. The whole area is covered with blackberry bushes, which are all full of berries. We tasted some and it was really good. So this morning, my main job is - to pick some blackberries! (Not those blackberry device addicts! (CrackBerrys?))

Make sure to wear long pant since blackberry vine has thorns like roses. Tiny, but sharp thorns give your hands and legs nice itchy scratch. Grab a container and my good body Sony CyberShot and go!

At the beginning, I was more playing with thorns than blackberries. Man, such a friendly thorns! It really wants me. After few scratches, I started learning where and how to pick berries. Once I get used to it, I was hopping from this vine to other vine like honeybee. Shortly after, I filled the whole container with blackberries and headed back home.

10 oz of blackberryKeath was impressed how much I picked and decided to weigh it. 10 oz! Wow! That's a lot! hhhmmmm... How are we gonna eat... Muffin? Sounds good. Pancake or Belgian Waffles? Then need whipped cream. It will be nice to throw some in yogurt. O! Blackberry salad dressing will be Nouvelle Cuisine a la Yosemite. LOL

Keath, Kodiak and I went to Jamestown and Sonora in the afternoon. While cruising in Sonora, we saw a sign said "Turkey Ranch". That sounds much more fun than walking around the old downtown area. Let's go check the big ugly birds.

Well, turkey ranch was filled with turkey. Look around you and all you see is turkey. And they are watching you, too. For some reason, Watching the farm instead of something like petting zoo I expected to see, I was overwhelmed by hundreds of turkeys and their smell. Take some pictures and drive back to the town.

Shine like cavier

To see turkey pictures? Click "Continue reading"

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August 26, 2006

Way to Yosemite

Are we there yet?Yeah! We finally made it to Yosemite! We put up with the delivery nightmare of Data Satellite System just to come to Yosemite. And here we are in Yosemite at the first time this summer.

Left Acton in the afternoon yesterday. Took care of some errands before leaving LA, then headed up north. Our plans is drive as far as we could and stay at a Wal-Mart parking, and leave early in the morning to get to Yosemite. Hopefully we can reach Fresno before midnight.

Since there wasn't any traffic, Keath pushed more and more and at the last, he decided to spend the night at Wal-Mart in Turlock. This is the first time we spent overnight at a Wal-Mart. It wasn't bad, actually, it was nice and safe as 3 security constantly checking their parking lot all through the night. I was way too tired and crashed, but even security alert man, Keath, had a good sleep after confirm that Wal-Mart parking is much safer than he thought.

Strange name 1/2Got up early and get ready to move. Well, we meant to do that. Just needed to fill RV, get some parts for RV, grocery shopping, etc took longer than we calculated originally. No problem. It's still before noon. LOL.

No major traffic or anything until we hit the notorious Priest Grade. The old one is too steep for RV, so we took new PG. In the middle of steep hill, they were re-doing the road and controlled 1 lane traffic. Luckily, we didn't need to wait too long to pass the section.

After Priest Grade, enjoy the scenery and cruise to Yosemite Lake. We hoped we could get the same end site as we had last year. Unfortunately, the new manager of the park changed the whole area designated ONLY for the park employees. That's not fair. They have 50amp power (even it's metered) while the rest of the park have only 30amp hook-up. And that area gets the best satellite receptions, too. Oh, well. That's bummer. Hope this is not the sign of "not so happy changes" by the new park management. Hey, we would love to see "Improvement" for members. Of course, happy employees will serve better. Then, make members happier, please.

BTW, our moving house hit 55555miles on the way to Yosemite. Here's some memorial shot.

55555 miles☆

August 24, 2006

The harvest of hard work

The REAL ORANGE JUICEGood news! We've changed, modified, postponed, cancelled our trip to Yosemite this summer, but, but, but, finally we could adjust all known schedule and make Yosemite trip happened! We will leave Los Angeles tomorrow no matter what. Cross fingers for us!

Couple days ago, Keath stopped by his mom's house on the way back from work and brought a big bag full of oranges. There's an old orange tree (and a lemon tree) in her backyard. The taste of fruits varies every year depend on weather, sun, water, etc. According to Keath, this orange tree hasn't produced good oranges for a while. For some reason, this year, the fruits became super sweet. So Keath's mom shipped us some to make orange juice.

OK. First, rinse all the oranges. They are not big, rather small size oranges with really thin skin. Then, cut each orange in half and hand squeeze. It's not easy task as she gave us more than 30 oranges, but when I taste some, OMG, all the hard work was rewarded! It's incredibly sweet. No tanginess, and no bitter & sour flavor. It's just pure orange sweetness! Forget about those "juice from full-grown on the tree oranges" you see at stores. This is the REAL ORANGE JUICE. Now I'm happy! Appreciate the sun and did happy dance.

The mom's orange juice was so great, I had to pour some for Keath. He was on the phone when he sipped some and I can see his eye blow raised with unexpected delicious fresh juice. He's not a orange juice person usually, but at the dinner, he requested the REAL ORANGE JUICE as the choice of this drink. Please save some for the weekend. We can have Mimosa with breakfast. It will be awesome!

So what happened to the orange tree to harvest amazingly sweet oranges this year? Did we do something special this last year? Maybe because mom fed the fertilizer for citrus tree? Maybe because of not enough rain? Maybe she trimmed some overgrown brunches?

I know the truth. She had Kodiak all through the last winter. That made the major difference from regular year. (You dig?) Kodiak did work hard to let us enjoy the harvest. Good job and thanks, Kodiak!

August 22, 2006

Wild Raccoon Party

The sign of raccoon visitWe had unexpected visit from young raccoons last night. They were totally wired and had fun playing around our RV. I say they had too much fun.

This morning, with mix feeling of curiosity and worry, I searched around RV to see there is any signs of the raccoon visit. First thing I noticed was a clear paw-print right next to BBQ on white tablecloth. That's right. We used BBQ to cook bacons 2 days ago and oil receiving pan was full of bacon grease. It seems raccoons either "wash" or "dip" their paw into bacon grease and walk around the table. As I get closer look of the table, I found more paw-prints even on the spatula and BBQ cleaning brush.

Keep looking around the area and realized there are more paw-prints on Keath's kayak, which was stored in between the table and RV. At this point, I couldn't stop laughing. Well, continue the investigation. I remember I left cargo basket on the kayak, but it's not there. Hhhmmmm. I wonder what happened to the basket. Here I found a paw-print shows that the owner of this paw-print stepped, slipped then slid to the underneath of RV with cargo basket. Yes! I was right! There I can see the parts of the basket with another paw-print are sitting under the rig. The clunk, ting, scratch and noise last night was him kicking the basket around and sliding.

I have no idea what was the occasion of their wild party. I wish I could take more pictures last night. Hope they are coming back tonight.

Paw-prints around BBQ Paw-prints on Kayak Slip & slide One more paw-print

Band of Raccoons

Racoons wild partyKeath came home late last night. Kodiak was so happy to see Keath and was laying on the floor watching Keath eating late dinner. Suddenly, Kodiak got up and went to the door to inspect outside. He persist there's something going outside so Keath grabbed flashlight and went outside to check the area. Then, I heard "Mikki, come here quick. There raccoons all over the front yard!" Hearing the word "Raccoons", I immediately rushed outside. You wouldn't believe how many raccoons were around us. 2 there, 5 on this tree and couple of more on that tree and more. I ran back to RV for camera and started taking pictures. We have no idea where they came from. Most of them look young kids.

After Keath took off to Jacuzzi, Kodiak and I could still hear all sorts of noise around our RV, like clunk, scratch, ting, etc. I guess I'd better check the damage in the morning...

July 22, 2006

Cooking in the heat

Rancho Oso(TT)
Recordbreaking High TemperatureThe record-breaking heat wave has arrived! Everyday the temperature during daytime becomes higher and higher. Then finally today, our thermometer indicates "beyond belief" 120'F. OMG. This is insane. If Rancho Oso is this hot, what's the temperature in Valley? 130'F? It's way too hot to go outside. If you think so, imagine how HOT it will be to use BBQ grill in this blazing heat? Are you willing to try? Isn't it kinda torture?

Well, Keath decided to cook sweet corns on BBQ in 120'F crazy hot temperature. I almost told him just leave corns outside for 20mins and it will be ready to eat. Me? Of course, I did cook them in boiling water which raised the temperature inside RV for a short time, but I didn't have to cook myself in 120'F heat. Anyway, sweet corns were really delicious. Now I really feel the summer has come.

Wrap corns w/ husks in tin foil Grill on BBQ, then... Generous potion of butter. Yum!

Big bite!

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July 20, 2006

Bugs Paradise

Big bug with big mouthRancho Oso in Spring was happy Raccoons fun place. Well, summer in Rancho Oso seems to be Bug Paradise.

The night we got here, Keath found a huge Potato Bug running like crazy. I know there are lots and lots of people who hate this bug. Some people even have nightmare. (Really!) I've never seen this bug before. What a weird looking bug. It's somewhere between Hornet without wings, cricket and spider mixed altogether in one.

Yesterday morning, went to kitchen to brew fresh coffee and noticed that tiny black dots are moving along the sink. OMG! Ants attack! I don't mind Potato Bug, but DO mind ants in the house. We tried to figure out where they came from as they go up the wall and walk across the rig all the way to the front and disappear into a small opening between embedded speaker and wall. Hhhmmm… They must have come from the roof. Keath quickly went up to the roof and cut tree branches touching our RV and wipe the hundreds of the rest of wonderers inside RV with wet paper towels. Problem solved within 30 minutes. Good team work, Keath & Mikki!

Before we went to bed, Keath volunteered to take trash out to prevent another ants attack. Then I heard him calling me and told me to grab box or something. What the heck he's doing outside in the middle of night? 1 minute later, Keath came back with a big bug inside plastic container. Wow! This is the bug we saw in Yosemite last summer! Keath and I were talking about this bug not long ago. It's called California Prionus, belong to a family of beetle. Sounds like this bug is listed as one of pest infesting trees especially cherry. Cherry!? Oh-no! That's not good. I found out the fact after releasing him. Maybe we should have kept it to save cherry tree (beautiful cherry blossom, fresh cherry, smoke chips, etc. It's got a lot of important use!!).

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July 4, 2006

Happy July 4th!

Safe and Sane FireworksIt's really strange to see fireworks show from distance. Since I came to the States, I worked for a July 4th Fireworks Show somewhere in So Cal every year. It's not easy job. Carrying heavy mortars, hammering boards onto boxes, wiring, etc, etc. It's solid work all day in the raging hot sun. But once the show starts, you'll forget about the entire ordeal. Looking up the sky, and here goes fireworks displays right above you with loud thundering shooting sound. That's really rewarding and only pyrotechnitians can enjoy / share the gorgeous view.

I didn't feel like watching fireworks show in crowd. So, we had a great time with neighbor kids. (These are Safe and Sane fireworks)

Thanks Antonio and kids.

changing color & effects 1 changing color & effects 2 changing color & effects 3

July 3, 2006

Outdoor Tempra

To purify the horrible experience at a sushi restaurant in Morgan Hill, I promised to cook some "good" Ten-zaru for Keath. There was some minor issue like we forgot to buy gas for our handy Ninja stove. Don't worry. Mr. outdoor – Keath has a nice camping stove set which works great outside. Fabulous. Oh-oh! We are running low on oil. Tempura use a lot of oil… Well, worst case, just go to next rig and borrow some oil.

Go to town and get some more Tempurable ingredients: shrimp – this is MUST and I got really good deal! Yum or sweet potato – taste incredible. Onion – very sweet. Shiitake mushroom – nice. Zucchini – yummy! Cut these ingredients into thin slices. Make Tempura batter. We all set!

As sun goes down, temperature drops quickly. Nice view of deer and turkies hunging out in the field right in front of us. Perfect for sitting outside and have some fresh Tempura. The dipping sauce is REAL Japanese Soba sauce. To celebrate the dinner and Independence Day, we popped open a bottle of really good Sake from Japan. Drink cold. Yeah! This is the way it should be! Now we are in heaven. Look at big smile on Keath's face. That makes me happy, too.

I thought cooking Tempura needs lots of preparation and cleanup. Well, I was wrong. This is just like Fondue. Cut veggies, dip them in batter and fry. If you cook outside, don't need to deal with messy kitchen, oil splashed on the wall, fire, etc. What? Calories? What calories? It's mostly vegetables. Good for your health. (At least home cook Tempura is better than French fries from fast food restaurants)


Outdoor Tempra the best! I want some... yum *big smile*

July 1, 2006

Sudden appear of busy tent village

TT Morgan Hill is a one of the most family-oriented park in the system I have ever seen so far. Always see more kids running around and BBQ going inside the park. But, this last weekend was something. Because this years July 4th is on weekday, last weekend was the family day-out weekend to celebrate Independence Day.

We parked our RV at the end of row where our front door faces huge lawn and we can have nice view of field. Of course, it's far enough to be bit quieter from kids squeaking voices. (I love kids. Just imagine hundreds of kids on vacation and screaming, laughing, crying, etc around you all day). See? Needed a little bit quieter.

It's kinda convenient to us that the next site to us has broken water faucet. People rather park at different site with good condition water/power setup. So we didn't have neighbor for a while.

Saturday morning, I noticed 2 Indian guys were setting up a big tent in the site next to us. Then, they took off. About 20 minutes later, 6 Indians came back and disappear again. Next Keath saw 6 men and 2 women there. After that, we realized more Indians – kids and women – are walking towards us. What is going on there? It's way too many people that 1 camp site can allow to have.

While we were wondering how many people will be, some of them started building their tents. By the time they finished, back of our RV became sudden busy tent village just like the one in Yosemite. Not only tents, but they nicely requested Keath the permission to use the side of our site so that they can spread blanket and sit down under tree. Well, it shouldn't be a problem. Just to make sure kids won't knock over our brand new Data Satellite system (finally, it worked!) with soccer ball.

Tent village - side Tent village - back

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June 28, 2006

Wrong Japanese Dishes

Keath were tired of working and wanted to go out for dinner. So we decided to explore the little town of Morgan Hill and found a Japanese restaurant. Actually, we had choices of Pizza, Vietnamese, Indian or Japanese. Take a look at Pizza parlor. – Not in a mood. Vietnamese? Hhhmmm. Maybe. Oh, wait! It's hard to see it from outside (because both Pizza and Vietnamese restaurant has it's own main front door), these are same restaurant inside. Only entrance is separated. Arrhh… No thank you. How about Indian restaurant? Looks nice sit-down restaurant, besides coconut curry sounds good somehow tonight. But, Japanese restaurant has salted mackerel! My favorite! OK, we go in.

They have sushi bar in the middle of the restaurant with toy train keeps going around the bar top to carry various sushi, just like revolving sushi. Train goes around and around forever… Seems nobody touched those sushi for a while. Eating sushi with raw fish at a sushi bar I've never been always makes me nervous. Why? Just because I cannot trust the quality of fish and sushi. Como on! I'm from Japan. I'm used to eat sushi with market fresh fish.

Anyway, Keath felt the same atmosphere. – No fresh fish here. We decided to order something non-sushi items. Salted Mackerel for me, Ten-zaru (Tempura and cold buckwheat noodle called soba – pronounce so-baa). My Mackerel was little bit greasy but OK. Keath's tempura was OK even they served only 1 shrimp and veggies instead of 3 shrimps with veggies like picture on the menu shown. That's not a big deal. The true problem was, when they brought the dipping sauce for Soba and Keath made funny face as he tasted the sauce. His first reaction – "waaaaay toooo sweeeeet". I thought he's kidding. Sweet soba dipping sauce? Never heard about it. Let me try --- Yuck!!! It's sweet! Almost taste like Teriyaki sauce thinned with some water. This is not right. We immediately asked the server to check the dipping sauce. It might be some confusion and they brought different sauce which meant to go to other customer. Could be possible.

here comes the train too fast to grab sushi

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June 17, 2006

Flowers for Standing Bear

Today was the funeral of Keath's mentor - Standing Bear. Standing Bear had been supporting and guiding so many young men for over 3 decades. He was the great guy with incredible influence over people who met him. As a spiritual leader, he's shown us how to respect / appreciate lives. He was at our wedding and blessed our new step as married couple. He was really like our 2nd father. I believe Standing Bear's spirits will be with us whenever and wherever we go. Here are some beautiful flowers for the beautiful person. We miss you, Standing Bear.

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June 7, 2006

Good bye, Morro Bay

Morro Bay to San Benito
Sand Dollar
Today is the last day in Morro Bay. We really enjoyed nice and cool weather and beautiful scenery here. We stayed here only for 3 days so finish up packing pretty quick. Then, why don't we walk on the beach one more time? It's getting the low tide and we found a lot of sand dollars. Most of them are in good shape. Keath told me his mom used to collect these sand dollars and sell them at Venice beach. We got some good collections today. I didn't know that sand dollars could be in different colors. Here my collection has various color and size. I like it better this way than just plain white sand dollars.

Left Morro Bay after 10 am. Took #41 East to #101 North. Road conditions are good. A couple of 30mph turns to deal with, but those were easy enough for our 34-foot RV. (Thanks for safe drive, Keath)

I did check the gasoline price among the freeway we are taking in advance. It seems Salinas area has the best price. Average $3.15! WOW! Almost $0.10 cheaper than Valley. Someone told me that the gas price is more expensive as we go up north. I guess it's not true. Glad compare the price first. Good job, Mikki.

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June 4, 2006

Fun at the beach

Morro Bay
Keath & KodiakWe are in Morro Bay now. Staying in Morro Bay wasn't in our original trip plan, but some uncontrollable situations happened last couple of weeks and we needed to adjust our plan a little bit. It's a good change, though. We wanted to spend some relax time in Morro Bay last year. Expect there should be some RV spot available for no reservation people like us. Nahhhh. Wrong. We tried RV parks, State parks, and more. None of them were available since it was already in busy season. So this time, Keath made reservation in advance. See? We learned from our experience, right? His pick of the place is Morro Dunes. Clean & quiet RV park right in front of Morro Rock. Takes no time to get to beautiful dune and beach. How convenient! Morro Dunes is a nice park, however, there are some down side, too. Like almost no space between neighbors and no warm showers available. Their shower is the same kind as beach shower; timed for 1 minute and lukewarm. Well, there's no perfect place on earth. Anyway, let's go check the beach!

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June 3, 2006

Happy B-day, Keath

Keath - climbing with only one handFrom Rancho Oso
Today is Keath's birthday and the last day at Oso so we decided to spend nice and relax (and packing) day. Starting with tri-berry muffin, bacon, fresh pineapple and coffee. The new muffin pan we just got works great. It fits inside the toaster and matching size for my muffin paper. I was little bit skeptical about using regular toaster to bake muffin. No way. It came out really great. Crispy outside and moist & fluffy inside. Mmmm, yummy! After breakfast, Keath did bike/car maintenance. He ran to TT Market to pick oils for Geo and found out it's only $5 for unlimited climbing pass. TT got a movable climbing wall as one of the weekend attractions. What a perfect timing! So he grabbed his climbing gears & shoes then headed down to the climbing area. When Kodiak and I got there, there he is having a great time; racing with other guy, climbing with one hand, etc. Took some pictures then go back to RV. Since we will have dinner at Stone Lodge tonight, I wanted to make some birthday special lunch for Keath. (Kinda surprise lunch). I don't have enough time… What should I cook… It's hot today. OK. I'll make Japanese style cold noodles. Angel hair like wiry noodle called Somen is very popular dish during summer in Japan. Cook noodles for 5-7 minutes and rinse in cold water (remove starch). Serve cold, usually sprinkle thin sliced green onion in dipping sauce. But today is Keath's B-day. Add some toppings to Somen and make it special version! Cut shiitake mushroom (sweet soy sauce flavor), thin fried eggs, ham and zucchini into Julienne and add to Somen. Taddaaaan!! Look gorgeous and taste great. (and really easy & quick, too)

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May 30, 2006

BBQ Elves

BBQ ElvesFrom Rancho Oso
Everybody knows the story "The Elves and the Shoemaker (by the Grimm Brothers)", right? Well, we had experienced similar odd thing before. What was the odd thing? We noticed that after using our little BBQ (Baby Q) for dinner, its grease pan became nice and clean by the next morning. It has happened a few of times in the past. Just like the famous old Shoemaker story, somebody did great job and helped us during the night. We had no idea who it was. (Well, obviously not a human, that's for sure) So when we talk about this mysterious Mr. Cleaner, we call them "BBQ Elves" after Shoemaker elves.

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May 26, 2006

Raccoon Attack #4

pow prints The Raccoons are back, and It's my (Miki) fault. Guess what they are trying to get this time? It was an empty bag of Fig Newton I had a coupe days ago. We make sure to keep Geo windows closed while parking here, so 1 empty snack bag (and some napkins with nice cheetos orange smear) shouldn't be a problem, right? We were proven wrong about raccoons' capabilities. This afternoon, when I opened Geo door to get to laundry room, I found napkins (of course with cheetos orange), tissue papers and empty Fig Newton bag. It's been really windy last couple of days, but windows are closed. It's not winds. So it means - The Raccoons again. How they got inside the car? There's one minor fact we forgot. Our Geo has soft top which its back window section's zipper has been ripped and has opening about 4 inches. That was the secret path that raccoons took. 4-inch opening now became 2 foot obvious opening. They must have searched for an opening all over the car. Next thing Keath and I saw was their paw prints all over the roof, spare tire and bumper. I was amazed how sharp their noses are and can detect the tiny scent of an empty snack bag sitting inside closed car. They are really determined and persistent about food. Yosemite bears have some serious competitors here. One more step closer to getting a hard top for Geo.

ripped pow prints

May 22, 2006

Turkey Dance

Turkeys also became more active lately, in the park and along the road. Also Keath discovered the new method to wash car.

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May 20, 2006

Crazy Animals Gone Nuts

The last few weeks have been animal crazy. First Kodiak actually caught a squirrel, then within a week he dug up a gopher. After that he treed a Raccoon on top of the motor, then found the tree house that all the Raccoons family is living in. Now, in Santa Barbara Kodiak almost stepped on two four foot long gopher snakes. Last night late at the spa we watched the raccoons swimming laps in the pool. This morning we discovered raccoons had attacked the Geo glove box.

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February 15, 2006

Hydrogen Research

Ok, what would it take to convert the RV to hydrogen.
We have a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 ...

Research Follows

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November 1, 2005

Fun with Google Maps - TT

Talking to my buddy Jeff and we were playing with the google map system. While it has some sort falls, it really is fun.

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