Friday, January 30, 2009

Sometimes It's Good To Be A Renter

This week the benefits of being a renter were reinforced. It all started the other night when I noticed a board warping in front of the fridge. Since we're not ones to leave standing water on the floor - especially a wood floor, I started doing a little investigating.

Upon pulling the fridge out and finding a large pool of water, I discovered that the ice maker valve was dripping. That 22 year old fitting had become loose, both in the clamp and the valve nut itself, causing what is likely a few hundred bucks worth of damage. The maintenance man came by and discovered more water had also leaked behind the wall and that ants had been attracted to the area. The guys are coming back today to start the planning of replacing some of the flooring.

Pretty cool that this problem doesn't involve me having to run to Home Depot, all I had to do was send an email. Now let's just hope that our WI home doesn't give our tenants any problems.

Oh, and a public service announcement, go and check your ice maker valves!

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Was Bound To Happen

After five months, Celeste's Noah's Ark wristband finally gave up the ghost.

It has been a part of her attire 24-7 since we visited Wisconsin Dells and America's largest water park back in August with Celeste's friends Mary and Quinn.

Check virtually any photo of her on da blog where you can see her left wrist - the increasingly tattered plastic band is there, slowly turning from bright green to medium green in color.
Noah's Ark is a fun family place - and the only family attraction/amusement park that doesn't completely kill the budget. No $10 parking charges and they'll let you come and go as you please throughout the day. They even have nice, shaded picnic areas in the parking lot to encourage you to b.y.o. No $9 corn dogs!
Quinn, Celeste and Mary in the non-wavy wave pool

Oh, and here's the wristband I had. Of course mine came off about an hour after leaving the park.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another New Ride - Under Construction

I saved my pennies and sold off some unneeded stuff over the past month or so in order to purchase a new mountain bike.

Why a new one? What about the three nice mountain bikes hanging up in the garage? Well, since I no longer feel obligated to ride a bike offered by the company I used to work for, I have chosen what I really want to ride (and what I've lusted after for about a year). Plus, I'm a bike whore and like to try out/own different bikes.

Okay, here's what I bought:

Pivot Mach 5 frame kit. Included was the frame, Fox fork & rear shock, front derailleur and headset. 5.5" (140mm) of rear wheel travel. Assembled in Tempe, AZ.
I'm pulling the XT drivetrain and brakes from another bike in the fleet. New wheels, bar and stem and an e.13 bashring are on the way. A Crank Brothers Joplin R adjustable seatpost arrived on Thursday.

Detail shots...
mmm... delicious unidirectional carbon fiber swing link

tasty red anodized aluminum CNC machined bits

scrumptious forgings and super-clean welds

I'm antsy to get it built up. All I need are the wheels and thismuch shifter cable housing. Hopefully I'll be riding it by next weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Field Trip - Hollywood-ish/LA

Saturday + in-laws = mandatory field trip. We gave Joan and Fred some options and we decided on Hollywood. Allie, Celeste and I had yet to visit the tourist trap but I did drive down Hollywood Blvd. a few years back when I had time to kill prior to a red-eye flight out of LAX.

As is always the case, we loaded up Klaus and drove an hour and a half up "the five". For some reason Californians love adding "the" before the freeway number. Midwesterners never say "the 294" or "the 39-90-94". When in Rome...

Our first stop (and conveniently across the street from the parking garage) was the Hotel Roosevelt. Built in 1927 and host of the first Academy Awards, it's a historic Spanish-style building that is now a boutique hotel that many young celebutards now stay. Others who have stayed include Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Will Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, etc.

There were a few hipper-than-thou dudes and chicks hanging out by the door, waiting for their valet-parked BMWs to be delivered 30' to them, but we didn't recognize anyone.

The interior of the place is beautiful - you can tell they spent a lot of money during its recent rehab. Kinda like many of the celebrities likely housed within.

I only had the point-and-shoot camera - not good in low-light conditions

Anyway, enough cynicism. Roughly across the street from the Roosevelt is Grauman's Chinese Theater, or as Allie misspoke it - "Chinese Mann Theater".

It is here where you'll find the hand prints, footprints and signatures of all of your favorite celebrities scrawled in the concrete as permanent graffiti. America's favorite actress/ex-casino owner has been here:

The hotel and theater are both on Hollywood Blvd, so we wandered down the street a bit. It didn't take us long to find the big names of Lefty Frizzell and Chubby Brocolli!

And the famous "fur hag" triplets - Mary, Kate and Ashley...

Allie and her mom wanted to see the Hollywood Museum. Knowing this would bore Celeste to tears, Fred, Celeste and I hit the adjacent Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Plus Celeste has been checking out Ripley books from the library lately.

Are there any tourist traps in the US without a Ripley's museum? Me thinks no.

They had the usual selection of multi-headed creatures and humans...
...and oddities like a model of the Queen Mary that a guy paddled 1000 miles down the Atlantic coast.
It was a fun way to kill some time. Allie and Joan told us about the Hollywood Museum, sounds like an interesting place. The building originally housed Max Factor cosmetics and had rooms painted in different colors that complemented the hair colors of the actresses who would get consulted on what make up would be best for them. I'm sure I'm getting this all wrong and that Allie is going to poke holes in what I'm writing. Oh well.

We drove further down Hollywood Blvd - lots of t-shirt shops, some bars, tattoo parlors, etc. The iconic Capitol Records building is just a couple of blocks north and was picture-worthy. Well, to me anyway.
Celeste really wanted to see Lassie's star, and we were able to find it in the 6300 block.
We then headed through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo drive. Kind of interesting that one week prior I was driving through Bombay Beach, CA - one of the poorest communities (if you want to call it that) in the state.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anyone up for a trip to sunny San Diego county?

You're more than welcome to visit. I think you'll enjoy it better than the Midwest at the moment.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Field Trip - Salton Sea

Our first camping field trip since moving out to California was this past weekend. As is to be expected at this point, Klaus took us on another adventure, this one a little bit more unusual.

A friend gave us Weird California for xmas, a fun book that has chapters on some of the Golden State's more peculiar points of interest. When reading it over the holiday break one chapter was especially intriguing - that of the Salton Sea.

We traveled west on CA Hwy 78 through San Marcos, Escondido, Ramona and the old mountain mining (now touristy) town of Julian.

On the way we stopped in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to eat and stretch our legs. We ventured a half mile or so up Lizard Wash (an unimproved gravel road) and found a good wide spot on the trail to stop.
Surrounded by jumping cholla and ocotillo and barrel cacti, Celeste went out to explore while Allie and I snapped plenty of pix.
more artsy B&W stuff, dead ocotillo

Located in Imperial and Riverside Counties, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, covering about 370 square miles. Created in 1905 due to a breach in an Imperial Valley dike that flooded the Salton Sink the Salton Sea has no outlet aside from evaporation. Due to this, the salinity level has increased over the years and now stands at 4.5% (the Pacific is about 3% off the coast of California).

We camped at the Salton Sea State Recreation area. While there were beautiful boating conditions - temps in the 80s, low wind, etc, the only thing moving about the lake were the pelicans and California gulls. A few fisherman were on the shore, but that's about it. Thankfully the campground was clean and quiet.
and so castles made of salt
fall in the sea

everything on the shoreline was covered in a thick coating of briny minerals
In the 1940s and 50s the area was a popular tourist destination with boaters descending on the lake in large numbers. The high salinity and low altitude (227 feet below sea level) allowed for speed records since there is a higher oxygen level (more HP) and the better flotation. At one point, there was a 15-lane boat launch at the state park. RV parks and resorts catering to the masses were built, but by the 1960s, agricultural runoff reached biblical proportions and the water level began to fluctuate wildly. Whole towns and sections of towns were suddenly swamped by ever more saline flooding. We'd see some of the results the next day.

I hadn't yet slept in Klaus, so we decided that all three of us would share the bed. It's slightly wider than a full-size mattress. Thankfully we're all relatively thin.

Celeste loooves the Peanuts pillowcase cover from my youth.

under a full moon
day use picnic shelters after dark
moon lover

After a somewhat-decent night's rest, we packed up our gear and hit the road to follow the eastern shore of the lake.
Old Southern Pacific RR bridge

Bombay, California is one of the cities that was swamped in the 1970s by a combo of a storm and a fluctuating lake. It's a one square mile town filled with several hundred mostly decrepit trailer homes. With a median income of $17,700, it's one of California's most affordable cities in which to live.
anyone up for a cocktail?
"ran when parked"
On the other side of the seawall lays the remains of the waterfront property that was flooded in the 1970s. Not much left other than some old trailers and structures slowly returning to the Earth.
With our memory cards bulging at the seams, we said goodbye to this surreal place and headed around the south side of the sea prior to heading back into the mountains.

One last stop up Lizard Wash for some more fresh air and exploring.
Found a nice barrel cactus too.
Oh, and these Salton Sea documentary DVDs are now in our Netflix queue.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vintage San Diego Postcard

Well, would ya look what arrived in the mail on Friday. Our very first vintage San Diego postcard.

Courtesy of our good friend Don Pal.

I not familiar enough with San Diego to know if any of the pictured buildings still stand.

Maybe if Don had included a special bonus "we don't deface your postcard" one cent stamp where indicated, the jackasses at the post office wouldn't have placed a barf code sticker across the caption on the front that tore when removed. But hey, at least they canceled the wrong side of the postcard.
Sweet rendering of our forthcoming LP!

Doodly greetings from Northern California!

Don P.

Thanks Don, that made our day!