June 28 2012 Back in Bakersville

We stayed in Bakersfield for a week then went to Concord.  Not much in Concord . . . except an Ashley’s Furniture store and a Brand Name Furniture store with air conditioning problems.  So we spent a week there, and now we are back in Bakersfield.  

I think we are going to become very familiar with Interstate 5 and Highway 99.  The view is pretty - lots of desert-brown hills - but not much variety.

We always look for non-chain restaurants and found one in Gustine called Pea Soup Anderson.  Apparently it’s a bit of a landmark so we stopped in.  And it was worth the stop but I doubt if we’ll go there again.  It was OK but Randy does so much better.
We have a Costco card now.  Sam's Club is big in the Midwest but out here in the West, Costco is the big deal.  And they have almost everything - this is the first warehouse store I've seen that sells caskets.
It’s hard to describe what we've been doing.  We are one step away from having a viable company, and while the paperwork is being processed we are learning more of the trade.  Randy has been learning how to clean and service air conditioners - he won’t actually be working on the units, but he will be checking other people’s work, so he has to know what’s going on.   I’m the go-fer as well as the data entry person, and I help Randy collect data, which involves standing on hot rooftops, looking at air conditioning units.  And guess what hangs around air conditioning units?  Black widow spiders.  By the dozens.  Oh joy.  

Hot in Bakersfield

Great, it's about 120 degrees today and Randy gets to go onto a store roof to see why the air conditioning isn't keeping the building cool.

June 17 2012 The Start of A New Adventure

We planned to leave Anaheim on the 9th, go to Riverside for awhile and eventually end up in Utah to volunteer at an animal shelter.  But something funny happened on the way out. . . A few weeks ago we had met a guy who is working on a big project, and he offered us an opportunity to work with him.  We traded emails for awhile but could not get together.  Then, the night before we left Anaheim, we got a message from him that he was in Bakersfield.  Since we were so close, we headed up there to meet with him.  And it’s been an adventure ever since!  
Some Utility companies here have developed a program to help improve the efficiency of Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems.  Ed works on commercial HVAC systems and he is brilliant at his job.  Right now he is setting up a new company, which can be complicated.  We are able to help there; Randy set the DBA, bank account and company emails, and is working on the applications that need to be submitted to the Utility companies.  I am doing all sorts of odds and ends and entering data into the utility websites.  Eventually we will travel around, checking buildings that have been serviced to be sure the job was done right, which is a perfect job for RVers.  
Bakersfield does not seem very interesting but it may be that we haven’t seen the best of it.  We spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computers, trying to pull together a company as quickly as possible.  Outside it’s at least 100 degrees so we don’t want to go out much anyway, although one evening we visited the local Emergency Room.  Randy developed a nosebleed that just wouldn’t stop, and the blood didn’t drip, it ran.  He bled for about 2 ½ hours before they got it stopped.  I was pretty worried but eventually they were able to cauterize it.  He had to be careful not to sneeze for the next few days but now he's better.  
So now we are wrapping up the creation of a company and getting work lined up.  This is about as different as possible from our previous careers but that’s part of the appeal.

June 10 2012 Beautiful Southern California

We recently went to the beach again - Newport Beach this time.  It’s great to lay on the sandy beach and soak up the sun, but don’t try to go in the water - it’s COLD.  Better to just relax on the beach.
Found a pretty good restaurant in Anaheim - Short Stop BBQ, where I would recommend the pulled pork.  Found a really good restaurant in Newport Beach - the Greek Town Grill, where I would recommend the gyros, hummus, pita bread, fries - pretty much everything we tried.
This is the first time we’ve been in Southern California in the summer.  I’m really happy about the low humidity, which is quite a change from the shower-level humidity of the Midwest.  
On the minus side, traffic sucks.  Everything that defines bad traffic happens here on a daily basis.  Bumper-to-bumper traffic crawls along for MILES.  Crazy drivers dart in and out of lanes, and of course they don’t have the faintest idea what a turn signal is.  The too-packed-to-drive time zones are between 7 am and 10 am, and again between 3 pm and 7 pm.  That really limits where we go and what we do.

Back to the plus side - in the summer time southern California is covered in flowers.  I’ve never seen such gorgeous bougainvillea, even in Arizona.  Here it grows in solid blocks of red, pink and lavender.  
Creamy-white magnolia blossoms are out now, beautiful and scented  And this is the first place I’ve seen these amazing blue trees, called Jacaranda.  They are everywhere around the Anaheim area.
On one stretch of road between LA and Bakersfield they have planted (and are watering) miles and miles and miles of flowering bushes in the medium between the lanes.  It looks great, but in a state that is constantly broke I sort of wonder why they do it.  Oh well, I’m sure they have much worse ways to waste money.
All of this color and greenery requires a lot of irrigation.  Just take a short drive outside the city and it’s obvious that this land is supposed to be a desert.  The mountains are covered in dry grass and scrubby trees; on the big mountains all that short brown grass gives the landscape a velvety look, but it's easy to see why fires can get out of hand so quickly.  If this started to burn, nothing would stop it.
Further out on the planes, the dry mountains are a backdrop for the cultivated lands.  But if that irrigation stopped for even a short time, it would all look the same.  

June 9 2012 California Life

It’s a sad day when we say “Wow, the price of gas is down to $3.89, what a good price!”  California has high fuel prices and we haven't seen it below $4.00 in a long time.  Who would have thought there would come a day when we were happy to see gas at $3.89?
By now the charm of watching (and hearing) the Disneyland fireworks has worn off.  The summer is their busy season so they set off fireworks every night.  But I have to admit that when I do care enough to look out my window, they still look good, even if I am tired of the noise. 
We continue to walk to the Mexican grocery store several times a week.  The thing about this store that turns lot of people off is that nobody seems to care much how the place looks.  There's always fruit and veggies smashed about on the floor.  But the fruit and vegetables that are still in the bins are very fresh and really affordable, so you just have to be willing to overlook a few things.  My favorite item in the store is their bread.  In the front of the store is a big plastic bin that looks sort of like a lobster tank but instead of being filled with water, it’s filled with freshly-baked bread.  These small loaves are called bolillos and they are so good!  I use them for everything - sandwiches, snacks, even toast.  And you get five for just 99¢!

June 6 2012 California Graduations

We've had a couple of high school graduations here recently, and we are so proud of these young people.  Our niece Melissa graduated last weekend.  She’s done a great job and is focused on going to college next. Unfortunately we could not attend her graduation because we had to work.  But we did get a chance to congratulate her and tell her how proud we are of her when we all met up in San Diego.  
We were able to attend the graduation of our nephew Matthew.  Matthew is a studious young man - Valedictorian and college-bound.  And he sure looked great in his graduation suit!  
He's is a great guy who is focused on the all right things, and he has a bright future ahead of him.  He’s going to Berkley in the fall so his Uncle Randy and Aunt Jackie, who are old enough to associate Berkley with hippies and sit-ins, felt he ought to be better prepared.  We gave him a few things to help him out, and successfully transformed him from Preppie to Hippie!

May 21, 2012

After a few of days of work, the next adventure was a Whale Watching cruise.  Although it’s called a Whale Watching Tour, after you get out in the bay they announce that if they don’t find whales or dolphins, you get your money back.  That’s an important phrase because they pretty much always know where the dolphins are!  But that’s OK because even without whales (and we were entirely without whales that day), it was a great trip.  First stop was a large buoy in the bay where five or six harbor seals had draped themselves.  They were so laid back they didn’t even move when we stopped by.

The ship cruised out further into the bay and found a really big group of Common Dolphins, exactly where the crew knew they would be.  And they were amazing!!!  We have never seen so many dolphins together in one place - there must have been at least forty.  They were feasting on anchovies and as long as we cruised around slowly, they ignored us.  But when the boat’s captain revved the engine and raced forward, dolphins from everywhere came racing over to us, just to speed along beside the boat and ride the bow waves. 

We moved a bit further out in the bay, looking for whales.  And instead we found a small group of Risso dolphins.  This was something new to us.  They are larger than most of the dolphins we’ve seen, and they look sort of like narwhales, without the spire.  They have rounded heads without the bottlenose that we associate with dolphins. 

They are light gray but apparently they scar white.  And these guys had a lot of scars!