Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moving on to a new job

Hi there everyone,

Well the last couple of weeks have been very busy ones for us. On the week of the 18th of July, I started my last week of work at Volcano Communications. I felt like I got everything wrapped up that needed to be done. I also feel like I left those who are still there in as good a situation as I could. There are a great number of people from Volcano that I will miss, but I won't miss the commute or the oddities that go on there. I know the upper management of the company means well, but I sometimes think they are more worried about them selves, then the overall good for the company and the employees.

This last week, I started a new job working for the Department of Social Services. By the end of the week, I had started my second task at my new employer. I made one rookie mistake while working on the Mainframe environment, but I'm surprised how quickly a lot of my knowledge on Mainframe programming has come back. I work with a great group of people. Everyone is very friendly and helpful in getting me acclimated into the environment. The members of the Department of Social Services are very, very community oriented and organize countless activities in support of those less fortunate in our community. I am very proud to be at this fine organization. :-)

At the end of this last week Carol and I went to the California state fair here in Sacramento. We didn't ride any rides, but we got a lot of exercise walking around the fair grounds, checking out the exhibits and viewing the vendors wares. I also got to try out our new Canon digital camera. It's a digital SLR which is something I've wanted for a long time but was afraid to 'Pull the trigger' on. We're enjoying it though. We look forward to taking many picture's of all of our adventures going forward.

Happy camping! - Eric and Carol -

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday the 15th - Ghost town and Borax

Hi there everyone,

We enjoyed our last full day from home checking out a couple of attractions in the Barstow area. First we went to the Ghost Town of Calico which was just a couple miles from the KOA that we were staying at in Yermo. After which, we went to the Borax plant in Boron to check out their visitor center.

First, we went to the Ghost town that Walter Knott of Knott's Berry farm fame to check out this ghost town that was originally built in 1881 and was burned nearly completely to the ground after a fire. The town was re-built by Walter Knott in 1951. The town feels like you are walking through a Knott's Berry farm attraction. Most of the buildings look like ghost town buildings from the outside, but once you walk inside, you feel like you are in a strip mall store front. There were a lot of things that they were selling that had nothing to do with the history of the town like Mini tonka trucks and such. If you want to see a ghost town, skip Calico and take in Bodie which is off of 395, south of Reno Nevada.

Calico has a camp ground that is part of the park. Though it is 'Dirt camping', it is a nicely set up camp ground with many sites that have full hookups.

After we had lunch at the Calico Campground, we headed west to the city of Boron to check out the visitor center at the Rio Tinto facility which is better known as the home of the Borax twenty Mule Team. Carol and I had been past this Borax plant a number times during our lives, but always wondered what was there. Well, on this trip, we found out. We drove in to the plant and found a wonderful visitors center that is in the rim of the massive dig where Boron and other minerals are mined. If you are ever passing by and have the time, make a point to check out this visitors center. It is well worth the $3.00 admission fee.

We topped off the day with wonderful dinner at a place called Lola's. A hole in the wall Mexican food place in a little strip mall. We found this place with Yelp on Carol's cell phone.

We head home on Saturday after a wonderful week off work and seeing new places in our country. As always, we had a wonderful time!

Happy camping! Eric and Carol

Friday, July 15, 2011

Four states and an Iron Bottom Special!!!

Hi there everyone,

Well, Thursday for us was a busy day. We traveled through four states in 12 hours. I was what we would call in my old ‘Drum Corps Days’ a real, “Iron Bottom Special”! We started out at camp in Glendale Utah back tracking a bit north towards Panguitch and then west to Interstate 15 so that we could travel south from Utah into Arizona for 27 miles, then for about 120 miles of Nevada including Las Vegas where we got Fuel and both rigs washed. Then we continued on into California where we finally ended up spending Thursday night in Calico/Yermo California at a KOA.

It was a day of errors a bit. We were trying to find a RV wash off the highway, we got lost, but then we found this road with a sign that said 'Truck Route'. So, we took that, went past the Mission Tortilla plant and ended up in a culdisac. So, once again, we had to un-hook the CRV so that we could turn the Moho around. The truck and RV wash that we went too, caused us to burn a bit more time than we had originally planned, but the end result was a very spiffy looking motor home. While I was fueling the motor home, Carol then got the CRV washed up. Then, after both rigs were washed, Carol realized “uhh, our stop on Friday was going to include a ghost town and the Borox 20 mule team museums”, so they might get dirty again. Oh well. :-) Then, we figured we would spend the night, boon docking at a Wal-Mart in Barstow, but it turned out they don’t allow boon-dockers, so we had to back track 7 miles to Calico to stay at the KOA.

Before we got to Las Vegas, we thought we would stop at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, something we had never done before. We’ve heard these are very RV friendly places and since we don’t have any in California, we thought we would give it a try. Well, though the parking lot was big, the RV sights weren’t big enough for our 40 foot class A, not to mention having the CRV attached, so we had to disconnect so that we could navigate the Moho around in the parking lot and figure out a place to park. We then went in and had some yummy cobbler!

The motor home and its crew of Roxy, Lilly, Rosie, Carol and myself are doing great and we are having a great time. The three dogs have just been wonderful on this trip. They have been so patient when we are on the road or out on some adventure. As long as I keep an eye on the gauges on the motor home, there isn’t a hill this rig can’t climb. :-)

I’m not quite sure what is on the agenda for today, but we’ll make the most of it, whatever it is. Happy camping! – Eric and Carol -

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Hi there everyone,

Today was a fun day, we started out the day with a visit to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. This is a Animal rescue site that use to be featured on a National Geographic program called 'Dog Town'. This organization has over 300 dogs, more than 500 cats, 50 horses as well as bunnies, Pigs, and other wild animals. We got to see an orientation Video as well as an hour and a half long tour of the massive and wonderful facility. They have over 350 full time employees and more than 4,000 volunteers. WOW! Though we would love to be part of it, Carol and I think they have things pretty well covered. It might be a place to keep in mind if you are ever in the area and want to do volunteer work, 'cause they have RV spots you can rent while at the facility!

After we had lunch in Kanab, which is just south of the Animal Sanctuary, we headed north, past camp up to the town of Panguitch. This is a little town we read about in the Via magazine from AAA. The article was about a family that bought an old movie theater called the GEM and re-opened it after renovating it, in addition to an ice cream shop. These folks have a lot to be proud of. If you get a chance check out their website at The rest of the town of Panguitch was great too look at as well.

Tomorrow, we are going to start our trip home by heading through Las Vegas and stop at the ghost town of Calico California and then take a tour at the 20 Mule Team Museum in Boron California.

Stay tuned!

Happy camping! - Eric and Carol -

Another wonderful day, this one at Bryce Canyon

Hi there,

Well, we had another wonderful day checking out the south western part of Utah on Tuesday. This time, we went to Bryce Canyon. The big surprise to the trip to Bryce canyon was the little known Red Canyon. Red Canyon is an area you travel through on your way to Bryce canyon from the Glendale area. As you travel down Utah 12 from higway 89 on your way to Bryce canyon, you come across this amazing area of red rocks and Hoodoo's that make up Red canyon. We didn't stop and check this area out until we were on our way back from Bryce canyon, 'cause we didn't want to miss out on anything about Bryce canyon. But we did check it out on the way back. The only problem was, that when we got headed back, the Red Canyon visitors center was closed. So, if you are ever out this way, be sure to check out the Red Canyon visitors center on the way to Bryce canyon.

Bryce canyon is also a national park, like Zion is, and they have a bus system that takes you in and out of Bryce canyon. We found the area very interesting. The way the rangers explained it to us is, Bryce canyon is what Zion looked like hundreds of thousands of years ago. And Zion is what the Grand Canyon looked like hundreds of thousands of years ago. Or in other words, Bryce is the child to Zion and the Grand canyon is the parent to Zion so to speak. At Bryce canyon, all three points that look out over Bryce Canyon are all beautiful in their own right, but they all look down on the same area, so it's kind of like if you have seen one view point you have seen them all. However, if you are in really great shape, we would suggest you hike one of the trails down into the Hoodoo's.

However, if your shape could use some improvement, then hike around the Hoodoo's at Red canyon as Carol and I did. I think that is why Carol and I enjoyed Red canyon so much, it's because we could get right up among the Hoodoo's without killing our selves. Both canyons however should be on your 'Must see' list!

We had our first lousy meal on the trip. We at a place called Fosters Family resturaunt. There were a number of positive reviews on Yelp for this place, but we are thinking it was employees leaving those reviews. The food was edible, but not great.

Well, today, we are off to Best Friends animal Sanctuary for a tour around this facility.

Happy camping! - Eric and Carol -

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zion National Park - in a word WOW

Hi there everyone,

Well, we have completed our first full day here, based in Glendale Utah, and today we explored Zion National park. This is one of the many Jewels of the National park system. It cost $25 per car to enter the park, and it was a bargain! We spent from 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM exploring this valley of Sand stone. In order to get around in the busy season, your only option is the shuttle buses, which is really the only way to go as there is a narrative that plays while you are riding from stop to stop to explain what you are seeing in the area.

But the show begins even before you get to the visitor center as you pass by such icon's as Checkerboard mesa which looks just like a checkerboard. Once we got to the visitors center, we checked out the gift shop and then boarded the bus for the tour. There were so many wonderful sites to see, they are too numerous to mention, but some of our favorites were the Temple of Shinawava which is the entry point to the 'Narrows'. We hiked the one mile trail into the mouth of the Narrows, but lacked the preparedness to swim up the river to the Narrows them selves.

As we rode the bus back towards the Visitors center, we stopped at the Weeping Rock. This is an amazing location where you can see water filtering out of the sand stone above. The water pools at the top of the bluff and then filters down through the sand stone and falls out of the area above us.

Our next stop was the Zion lodge. This lodge was rebuilt some years ago after it had burned to the ground because of fire. They have done a wonderful job or restoring it to it's original grandeur.

Tune in tomorrow to see where we explore next.

Happy camping! Eric and Carol

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We start our trip to Utah

Hi there everyone,

We have set out on our annual vacation, this year, we are headed out to the Zion/Bryce Canyon area of Utah. This trip is to a new place that neither of us have been too before. As part of the trip, we wanted to take a route we had never been on before. So, we took US 50 from Rancho Cordova east through Carson City to Fallon Nevada when I got off work on Friday night. We made it as far as Fallon Nevada for the night. We had dinner at 'The Steakhouse' inside a casino called Stockmans. Our expectations were for a sub par meal, but we were very surprised. Carol had a wonderful chicken meal and my prime rib was the best that I have had in maybe 7 years. After dinner, we boon docked at a Walmart in Fallon.

On Saturday, before we headed off, we went into Walmart to do some shopping. We found the local dog adoption group, had set up a Kissing booth where you get a wet kiss from a dog after donating a dollar. It was a very cool set up, one that could be very productive for their fund raising efforts we are sure. Next, we continued east on US 50 through Austin and Ely Nevada. We found US 50 to be a beautiful route. It is very windy at times and had a number of steep grades to deal with, but as long as I kept an eye on the gauges, the Alegro bus did a wonderful job of handling the roads. US 50 is also known as the Lincoln Highway, we were so glad to be able to find one of the markers in Ely Nevada. Saturday night, we had dinner in Delta Utah at a little pizza place. Funny though, we didn't have pizza though. Carol had a tostada salad and I had a mushroom, onion, swiss burger. Both were excellent. After dinner, we had too long a run to Glendale, so we decided to spend the night at a KOA in Fillmore Utah. This was a great little KOA to spend the night. They are new owners and were very friendly and helpful.

On Sunday, we finished our run into Glendale Utah where we will stay at the Baurer Canyon Ranch RV park. This is a great little rustic location that is part of the Baurer Family ranch of 1500 acres. For lunch, we went to the Thunderbird Diner which was just 10 miles south of Glendale. Utah being what it is, many establishments in Utah roll up their doors on a Sunday. But we are glad that we got to have lunch at this place. The food was great. We are 3 for three on our meals so far.

We've got four full days here in the Zion/Bryce canyon area and a lot to see, but so far, we have a great start to the trip.

Happy camping! Eric and Carol!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I got a new job for 4th of July

Hi there everyone,

Well, this has been in the works since February, but I couldn't tell you until now. I've landed a new job working for the California Department of Social Services. I am so excited that I get this new opportunity. I've been with Volcano since 1999, but have wanted to move on for a while. I start my new job on the 25th of July. I found out about getting the job on Friday the 1st of July.

We got together with the family at Billy and Loretta's house in Pioneer for a bar-b-que. We had a great time hanging out with the family on Saturday night. Monday night, we went to a near-by Raileys parking lot to watch the Rancho Cordova fireworks display. The city of Rancho Cordova does it up right, but we didn't get to the event soon enough so we didn't get into the park to watch the fireworks, so we went to a Raileys that was about a mile away.

Also, I love getting my wife flowers when ever we have a few extra bucks. This week we had a couple extra bucks so I got my honey some beautiful flowers. I love my honey so very manies! :-)

We are leaving this Friday for a week long vacation to Zion national park in Utah. This is our first time to this part so we are both very excited to be heading out. Also, it may be the last time for a while before I can take a week off, since I am taking the new job. Ah, life is good.

Happy camping all! Eric and Carol