Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow vs. Rain Redux - Wed., Feb 29, 2012

Ely, NV:
Okay, after tonight I'm changing my answer on snow being preferable to rain. 

As we were driving home from Cathedral Gorge State Park, the weather descended. I'm talking blizzard. As we drove into Ely, NV, the snow was blowing. As it got dark, we had what we refer to as a Star Trek "jump to lightspeed" drive.

Our first thought was to try to get out of Ely and off the pass because we thought the snow would abate at a lower elevation. Once we got five miles out of town, in the dark, with no streetlights and the next town 77 miles away, being barely able to see the road or the reflectors on the side of the road, Bob decided it was time to head back to town and get a motel for the night. I was scared. No snowplows had come in either direction and the snow was falling like crazy. I'd guess we had three inches of snow in about 1/2 hour.

My laptop battery is low, so I will continue this story when we make it back to the 5er.

Suffice it to say, I'm thankful Bob was working today and we were in his work truck with good tires and 4WD! Right now we're safe and cozy in our motel room.

To be continued...

Picture taken from our motel room.

Road trip - Tues., Feb. 28, 2012

Tonopah, NV:
Bob called me from work at 3:30 p.m. to ask if I'd like to go on a road trip to
Caliente, NV where he needs to do two roof walks on Wednesday. I wasn't sure I would be able to go because around 2:00 p.m. while I was in the laundry room, I got vertigo while I was loading the washers. It came on suddenly with sweating and not feeling well. 

I finished loading the washers and headed back to the 5er, went to sit in the recliner and felt sick to my stomach. Thinking it would pass, I sat quietly and closed my eyes. I did some deep breathing. It got worse. Made it to the bathroom just in time to be sick. 

After that I felt about 75% better. I set the timer for 15 minutes, went back to the recliner and Sunnie joined me, loving on me like he knew I didn't feel well. For the next fifteen minutes, I sat quietly and petted the cat. 

When the timer went off, I returned to the laundry room and put everything in the dryers. I got the laundry finished with no further incidences of vertigo! Woo hoo.

Bob came home at 5:30 p.m. We ate salad and decided to have dinner at Subway in Fallon, NV.

Because this is the first time we're leaving our fur-kids alone for a day, worry-wart (me) had to put another kitty litter box in the bathroom as well as "kitty-proof" the 5er. (Kitty proofing entailed taking down and putting away all towels, napkins, paper towels, loose papers, and anything else we thought they might get into.) We left an extra bowl of water and three bowls of dry food out. Thankfully Bowie and Sunnie have each other to play with and sleep with. They'll be fine.

The drive to Caliente, NV  from Sparks is seven hours. Bob's first job walk is 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. At first he thought we'd get up and leave around 2:00 a.m. from Sparks. Then he thought about it and said, "Why don't we leave tonight? We can spend the night in Tonopah and drive 3-1/2 hours in the morning." That made sense.

I'm glad we got out of Sparks when we did. The weather forecast is for 80% chance of snow and very gusty winds starting about 4:00 a.m...wind gusts up to 50 mph. 

Our drive to Tonopah was uneventful with clear roads all the way. We made a brief stop in Fallon to get our dinner to go at Subway. On our drive down US 95, we saw warning signs for deer, free range cattle, wild horses and mountain sheep. When we saw the sign for the mountain sheep, Bob said, "We'll have to be careful not to ram them. We may have to dodge them." (Dodge Ram, mountain sheep, get it?) Maybe you had to be there.

Tonopah is around 6,000 ft elevation. There are little patches of snow on the ground here and there. Temperature when we arrived at 10:00 p.m. was 32 degrees F.

We are staying at the Best Western Hi Desert Inn. We got their last room which is a two-room suite! It's very nice. We even have two bathrooms. Our suite is bigger than our 5er. LOL. 

Best Western has free breakfast so we will eat at 5:30 a.m. and then hit the road. Tomorrow Bob has two job walks...the one in Caliente and another at Cathedral Gorge State Park. While Bob is up on the roofs, I get to catch up on my reading or take a nap.

I am stoked about going to Cathedral Gorge State Park. I wanted to go there, but it's so far in the middle of nowhere that I didn't think we'd actually make it. Tomorrow's the day!! I will take lots of cool pics. Most of the hikes in the park are pretty easy, so we'll probably make an afternoon of it. 

We plan to go home by way of Ely, NV.  I'm a little concerned because weather forecasts for tomorrow night are for snow and gusty winds. (Blizzard effect.) If it gets too bad, we'll spend another night in a motel and head back Thursday a.m. (Another reason we prepared the 5er for the cats.)

It's late. Wake up call at 4:30 a.m. We're off on another adventure!!

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snow vs. Rain - Mon., Feb. 27, 2012

Sparks, NV:
At 6:00 a.m. Monday we woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground with snow falling. Snow fell throughout the day. At one point, I had about 3" of snow on top of my car; however the temperature was too warm for the snow to stick on the roads. 

Snow is fascinating. I love being indoors watching the snow fall. It's a peaceful feeling. The world outside gets so clean and white. There's a grandeur to it. 

If big, fluffy flakes are falling, it's fun to go outside to try to catch the flakes on my tongue or let them fall on a dark coat so I can see the beauty of each snowflake. 

Snow seems so useful for:
Recreation: Skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and snowboarders. 
Snow pack: A good, heavy snowpack melts to create reservoirs and fills lakes and rivers.

I confess I have not lived anywhere with heavy snowfall like Montana, Wisconsin, upstate New York, Alaska or Maine. Heavy snowfall poses its own challenges in the form of digging out, shoveling walks and driveways, and getting streets and interstates plowed.

Having grown up in Oregon, we had mostly rain in the winter. And not just rain--we had downpours with flooding at times. At other times we would have gloomy, grey skies for days on end with a fine, stinging rain that just irritated the senses. I got so tired of the rain. The continual grey skies were depressing.

On the bright side, I like what rain produces: gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful green forests filled with moss, rivers, streams and lakes and, in springtime, the most idyllic green farmlands and new growth on trees.

Snow vs. rain...I choose snow. How about you?

What a week for computers! Mon., Feb. 27, 2012

Sparks, NV:
Wow! Last week sucked here with our computer issues. First my hard drive was on its way out. I took the self diagnostics I had to the Geek Squad. Their diagnosis:  two issues: 1) hard drive on its way out; 2) viral infection. They told me I could a) contact HP and order recovery disks--since I didn't have any--to rebuild my hard drive from scratch or b) buy a new computer, backup disk and new Microsoft Office Suite Product Key Card.

We opted for option "b" above and paid Geek Squad to transfer documents, photos, favorites from my old hard drive to my new hard drive and back up my computer. (I also got a new backup drive included in their service, for a price of course.) 

On Thursday evening we purchased the new computer with transfer of info and back up drive. Friday I took my computer back in to have the transfer and backup drive work done. It took them a little over three hours.  

I was very happy with the service that Best Buy's Geek Squad provided and would highly recommend them. I can't say that every Geek Squad will be as good as the one locally, but I can certainly vouch for the Geek Squad here in Sparks.

My previous computer had a large tower (desktop), with 19" monitor, keypad, and speakers. All that took up a lot of room in the 5er. My new computer is a laptop, compact, all in one unit. It takes up a lot less room on our dining room table plus it's much easier to move if we want to have company over for dinner. Bob also has a laptop...that's another story.

I was using Bob's laptop while we decided what to do with my old one. I turned off his computer one day and closed the lid. Or should I say attempted to close the lid? It wouldn't go down all the way. 

I didn't think much of it until Bob came home and tried to turn on his computer. His screen was white with two little black blobs down near the bottom of his screen. He could turn on his computer and we could hear it opening, but the screen did not work. Uh-oh. He figured out that the screen had a couple of cracks in it. He had kept a little "worry stone" and another small thing on his keyboard near the screen. When I attempted to close the screen, I smooshed the screen onto the rock and the other thing he had sitting there. Mea culpa. I felt so bad I had damaged his screen, especially hot on the heels of my computer crash.

Another computer down. We were afraid he was going to have to get a new computer too, BUT hallelujah he heard an ad on the radio for a used computer place. He took his laptop to them and they had a old laptop of the exact same model as his and they were able to replace the screen. They also fixed his "6" key which Sunnie had somehow popped off the keyboard AND they fixed his wi-fi connection. It took them about 3-4 hours. Bob was happy.

Saturday evening, we drove over Donner Pass to Auburn, CA for Kodiak Roofing's 20th anniversary. They had a very nice shindig at a country club with a buffet dinner, slide show of jobs and people from the past 20 years, and lots of door prizes. There was also a putting contest. I enjoyed getting to know the people Bob works with. I-80 over Donner Pass was free of snow and ice since there hadn't had any precipitation for a while. Nice.

Sunday afternoon we walked around Sparks Marina Lake. There was a definite chill in the air and the wind was blowing. Lots of people walk their dogs around the lake and there's a dog park right next to the water. One group of people walking dogs had about eight huskies. It looked like a sled dog team. I asked them if they use their dogs to pull sleds. Sure enough, they do. However, there hasn't been enough snow this year to run their sleds; hence, the walks around the lake.

New photos are being added to my post from Saturday, Feb. 18, showing the animals we saw at Animal Ark.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

My computer has a virus!

I have a lot of catching up to do on my blog, but my computer is down. I cannot log on to it. (I have been using Bob's computer.) I think mine is infected with a virus. All kinds of weird things are happening. Apparently my email is bouncing back some (but not all) incoming emails.

I cannot get past my sign on screen. The screen with choices for "Safe Mode," "Safe Mode with Networking," "Open Windows Normally," etc. will not let me log on using any of the choices. If I choose an option, I get the Windows XP screen, followed by 1/2 second of blue screen, then "Monitor Going to Sleep." My computer does not close down, but continues to cycle through the above-mentioned screens until I manually power off the tower.

The message I got on the blue screen one time it stopped long enough for me to read it was "UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME". As if I know what that means!

Tomorrow I plan to take my computer tower to Best Buy's Geek Squad for diagnosis and repair.

My hard drive is not backed up so all data and pictures could be lost if they cannot fix it. Geek Squad said they "think" they can save my data and pics. I sure hope so, I have years worth of pictures in my hard drive.

Last Saturday, Bob and I spent a couple of hours north of Reno at Animal Ark, a wildlife sanctuary for non-releasable wildlife. 

Normally Animal Ark is closed in winter, but they open on two weekends to let people enjoy the animals that are active in cold weather.

Gyrfalcon eating

Gyrfalcon giving me his best pose.

The docent was doing a presentation on gyrfalcons when we got there, so we learned about this predatory bird that lives in cold northern climes. As they are heavier than peregrine falcons, they cannot go as fast so they come at their prey from a lower angle and pounce on it. The bird is so heavy that the prey is usually killed on impact. In the bird area, we also saw a barn owl, peregrine falcon, and great horned owl.

Wandering along the path, we saw a Siberian tiger (napping), kit fox, red fox, grey wolf, a bobcat, three cheetahs, and two mountain lions (also called cougar or puma). 

Grey wolf

Female cheetah

Female cheetah posing beautifully.
Male cheetah

Mountain lion/puma/cougar "cub."
The tortoises and bears were hibernating. 

Last week, I went to see "Big Miracle." This movie is based on a true story about three whales trapped in the Alaskan ice pack with only a small hole for them to come up and breathe through. The hole is five miles from the open ocean which means the whales cannot hold their breath long enough to get free and head south. The hole they've been using to come up for air is freezing over and the whales will die if they can't get to the ocean. I thought the movie was very well done and, according to the critics, was pretty accurate. I give it a B+.

Bob and I went to see "The Grey" with Liam Neeson. What an intense movie! I don't recommend it. Very depressing. And, as Bob said, there are lots of inconsistencies in the story. In the reviews I read, it said to stay until after all the credits were finished for a "bonus scene." We were the only ones in the theater who stayed. The "bonus scene" was about two seconds long but it showed the outcome.

Bob had President's Day off. To start his day, he walked 19 miles in five hours. It was 38 degrees outside for part of his walk...I think it warmed up to about 46 degrees by the time he was done.

Tomorrow afternoon I have my phone interview with amazon.com for the 2012 holiday season. No luck with job hunting at the current time. Looks like I will need to hit up the temporary agencies.

The kitties are adorable as ever. More pics when my computer gets fixed. 

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Vow -- Thurs., Feb. 16, 2012

Reno, NV:
This morning we met with our financial advisers for two hours to figure out how to allocate our funds for a comfy retirement. Another meeting will be required.

After the financial meeting, Bob had to meet his foreman at a jobsite and I had a movie calling my name. 

I went to see "The Vow." The movie was very well done and caused some tears. I loved the acting and the interplay between Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. This is based on a true story which makes it all the more bittersweet.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Woke up to 2" of snow -- Wed., Feb. 15, 2012

Sparks, NV:
It's pretty, oh so pretty! 
Two inches of snow in the city.
4" to 5" icicles were hanging off our 5er as well. The daytime temperature got up to about 38 degrees so most of it melted. However, as the sun was going down, the temperature dipped giving us an interesting ice formation on our outdoor thermometer.

From the outside
And, of course, the requisite kitty pics...

How do you like them apples?

Why do we have cats?
  1. Their relaxed posture
  2. Their intelligence
  3. They can be left alone for a weekend with extra food, water and their kitty boxes
  4. They are independent
  5. They are total loves
  6. Their playfulness provides lots of entertainment
  7. They are mischievous
  8. They are curious
  9. They are enthusiastic
  10. They make our house a home
  11. Nice to have other living beings around
  12. We've had cats our whole lives and life doesn't seem complete without them
  13. They're good hunters

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day - Tues., Feb. 14, 2012

Sparks, NV:
Today is Valentine's Day, day of romance.  

For dinner, I prepared chicken curry stir fry with a mixed greens salad (included jicama, carrots, red cabbage, chopped pecans) and brown rice. After much food preparation, dinner was ready just about the time Bob got back from his Tuesday walking group. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gold (and Silver) in Them Thar Hills - Sun., Feb. 12

Virginia City, NV:
Last time we went to Virginia City, we did a 10K Volkswalk and learned the history of gold and silver mining. We walked all over the town, through residential areas and the Comstock Cemetery.

Today we headed up to Virginia City from Sparks--a much closer trip than driving from Fallon to Virginia City--to spend time looking in the shops and looking at the view.

This time in town we were able to read the history signs INSIDE the shops and saloons, as well as look at displays. There's a jewelry shop at the north end of town that has a rock and mineral museum in it with, of course, some gold and silver on display. 

Happy jail bird?

One tough cookie.

100-mile view from one of the saloons. You can barely see the light-colored mountains in the center behind the dark ranges.

Some homes downhill from the main street.

Mt. Rose Ski Area in the Sierra Nevada Mtns.

Broader view of the scenery heading down the mountain on Geiger Grade.
When our Virginia City afternoon came to a close, we headed back home and decided to celebrate Valentine's early. We had a wonderful Christmas gift from close friends in Vegas of Olive Garden gift certificates and we decided to use them for Valentine's dinner. 

Olive Garden had a three-course dinner special (limited menu) for $12.95 per person. Here's what we ate: all-you-can-eat salad and breadsticks; for entrees, I had four-cheese meat spaghetti and Bob had chicken over pasta with a smoked Gouda cheese sauce. For dessert, the options were little mousse concoctions: I opted for chocolate mousse with dark chocolate crumb crust and Bob had white chocolate mousse with dark chocolate crumb crust. What a yummy dinner. I had enough spaghetti left over for dinner the next night.

We returned to the 5er for the night. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dinner with Hawaii friends at Harrah's - Friday, Feb. 10

South Lake Tahoe, NV
When Bob got home from work he changed clothes and we headed south to Carson City for the drive up US 50 to South Lake Tahoe. I drove so Bob could nap. It was still light out so we had a very pretty drive up the Sierra Nevada. It was twilight when we got to the lake so we could just see it as we started down the hill toward the lake.

As we drove, it got pitch black as there weren't many street lights where we were. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw motion in the lane next to me. Heading straight into my path was one of the biggest raccoons I have ever seen. At 45 mph there was nothing I could do to avoid it. Thump, thump. I ran over it twice. OMG. If you know me, you know I love animals and it pained me to hit it! I'm glad it wasn't a deer or we would have been in a world of hurt.

We got to Harrah's 1/2 hour early and went to the sports bar to watch the Portland Trailblazers play the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets have the most bizarre uniforms I have ever seen--green on one side and navy blue on the other with a yellow stripe down the sides. Are they trying to confuse their opponents?

But I digress. Our friends Robert & Dorothea met us at the bar and we went to dinner at the American River Cafe in Harrah's. The ambiance was very nice...a woodland theme. Dinner was good. We loved catching up on each others' lives. Robert and Dorothea are part of our Hawaiian ohana (family). We are so happy they told us they were coming to our neck of the woods. Robert and the rest of the family snowboarded. Dorothea held down the fort at the ski lodge and watched over the grandkids when they got tuckered out from lessons. Thank you, Robert and Dorothea, for the nice treat.

Bob, Susan, Dorothea, Robert
Our drive back to Sparks was uneventful. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to go between Sparks and Stateline, NV at the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

Bob is thinking about doing the Lake Tahoe Triple in 2013--that is three marathons in three days. It takes three days to get around Lake Tahoe doing marathons (26.2 miles per day). My biggest concern is the altitude and the hills. This will not be an easy task. We'll see what 2013 brings.

I am looking forward to warmer weather when we can escape to the cooler temperatures of the Lake Tahoe area for the day (picnicking, hiking, walking). 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not Tofu -- TUFA! Feb. 7, 2012

Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake, CA:
Today Bob's job required a drive to Mammoth Lakes, California to look at some roofs to bid. He asked me to ride along with him. Woo hoo! Road trip! Estimated travel time: three to three-and-one-half hours one way.

Wake up call at 5:30 a.m. Bob had to put in a call to the person in charge at the job site he was traveling to in Mammoth Lakes, California, to find out the weather. If it was snowing or predicted to snow, we wouldn't go since it would be hard for him to look at the roofs with snow on them. Prognosis: Snow wasn't supposed to fall until 10:00 a.m. so if we left Sparks immediately, we could make it to Mammoth Lakes before 10:00 a.m.

As we were driving out of the RV park light snow was falling. Through Reno and partway to Carson City we had light snow, then ** poof ** no more snow on the roads. The mountains were covered with snow which is what's needed in winter around here for skiing and snowpack. 

The scenery on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is very pretty, especially with snow.

We drove through rocky canyons, high desert, big valleys and saw lakes and wetlands. 

This trip brought back memories of my childhood when our family took trips to the eastern Sierra Nevada. I remember Lone Pine, Bishop, Crowley Lake, Twin Lakes, Convict Lake, June Lake and Virginia Lake. Dad loved to fish so we would fish with him and Mom would paint beautiful pictures of the mountain lakes. I remember climbing around on big boulders and a mountain made of obsidian. I believe we have also hiked to the Inyo Craters, though I could be mistaken because I might be confusing the obsidian mountain and crater hike with Lassen National Park. In summer, it would be fun to visit some of those old stomping grounds.

We got to Mammoth Lakes at 9:40 a.m. 

Bob spent time looking at two commercial roofs in town and gutters at a condo up at the ski area. Here's a picture of his work truck with some snow in the background. 

After spending time sleeping and reading in the truck waiting for Bob to do his work, we did a little sightseeing.

When we were kids, mom and dad took us to an earthquake fault that we could walk in. It made an impression on me that the fault had snow in it even though it was the middle of summer. The crack in the earth was deep and wide. While we were in Mammoth Lakes we found it and I got a couple of pics of it. We couldn't get down to the bottom because of snow.

After the earthquake fissure, we drove into town and had lunch at Old New York Deli & Bagel Co. Bob had a turkey pastrami sandwich and coleslaw. I opted for the veggie breakfast burrito sans onions. We were both very happy with our selections.

Bob's turkey pastrami with coleslaw and my veggie breakfast burrito. Ummmmm.

Breakfast burrito all dressed up with nowhere to go except my mouth. It was sooo good.
It started snowing lightly when Bob finished up looking at his jobs. While we were looking at the condo gutters, we were directly down the hill from one of Mammoth Mountain's 14 chairlifts. There was fresh snow on the ground and happy skiers and snowboarders on the slopes.

Our plan is to come back to Mammoth Lakes, CA for a weekend in September to see Devil's Postpile, Rainbow Falls and hike to other waterfalls in the area.

For dessert, Sprat's Bakery was our choice. Five pastries were boxed up to take with us in the car to snack on for the rest of the day. 

Sprat's Bakery

After lunch, we took a six-mile scenic drive back to US 395. I had Bob make a quick stop so I could build a snowman for Mom. (Mom, I tried hard to make a cute snowman, but the snow was more like ice chunks. I couldn't even stick sticks in it to make arms!)

Looks more like a snowgirl.
Once we were back on US 395 headed north, our next stop was Mono Lake to hike the one-mile South Tufa Trail to look at tufa formations. Tufa formations are a lot like stalagmites except they don't form in a cave, they form in water rich in calcium, bonding with calcium carbonate in the water to form limestone.

Photos taken from South Tufa Trail:

Tufa everywhere, but no tofu in sight.

Mono Lake is big, but really only a fraction of what it used to be before California started taking water years ago.

From Mono Lake, we had a snow-free drive back to Sparks and arrived home at 5:15 p.m.

Bob went to work out and came back energized and a little crazy. He did happy dances around the living room to skeptical gazes from the cats and me.

Great day and NO VERTIGO!