Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A San Diego County Public Transportation Exploration

I am in Escondido, Ca this morning after having taken a "Public Transit" adventure. As anyone who knows me can vouch for, it does not take a lot to entertain me. Getting to see new places and seeing them for very cheap will do it.

I am on a trip to San Diego with Joy this week, and while she has had to go to class and slave away today, I have had the day to kill, so to speak. I have learned that San Diego not only has nearly perfect year round weather, but they also have a wonderfully diversified public transit system that not only covers the city, but the outlying county as well. So for $15, I bought a four day pass that allows me to ride any of the buses, trolleys or rails in the county for an unlimited amount of rides. Yesterday, Joy and I took the bus across the bay into Coronado. We found an internet cafe and Joy worked on her homework and I played on the internet. After she finished, I located a couple of geocaches to find before we left Coronado (which, by the way, was beautiful!). As luck would have it, on our way to the first geocache, we stumbled upon a lovely massage place, and Joy decided that sounded better than geocaching anytime. So while I was out hoofing it looking for a geocache, she was being rubbed down by Kim, or Chan, or Jackie or whatever. When I finally met her an hour and a half later, she looked completely relaxed.

So back to todays adventure. I got up early this am with plans to use every aspect of SD county's transportation system. I started out by taking the "Coaster", a train very similar to the Amtrak trains that were at the same station. They are like the English double decker buses with a top story! I rode the Coaster to Oceanside, expecting it to be fantastic with Ocean views and a nice ride. Wrong! For the most part, the coaster tracks followed gullies and went by junkyards. The train itself was nice and comfortable.

In Oceanside, after getting off the train, walking to the ocean (where I took the picture of the surfer) and back and generally killing a half hour, I boarded the "Sprinter" bound for the inland city of Escondido. The Sprinter was a smaller, lighter version of the Coaster. It was a single level and seemed to be lightly powered. But it did the job. It was comfortable, quick and best of all, free! (with my bus pass). I was quickly in Escondido, and unlike the Coaster, I saw some beautiful country along the way. The end station in Escondido was a transit center, so it had buses going in every direction. These were the "Breeze" buses that were seperate from the SD City buses. The drivers wore Magnum PI shirts and it was casual. Oh, it also was free.

After an hour at a nearby Barnes & Noble using their bathroom and internet, I set off on a Breeze bus for Solana Beach and ultimately, La Jolla. The Breeze took a single lane road through the center of the county and it was beautiful. The views were spectacular and everything was hilly, green and well kept. Very nice place to live. And like all of this area, very expensive. Gas is around $2.25 but sometimes seen for $2.49. Everything looks rich. Many import cars and everyone seems to have an accent or speak a different language. Lots of Europeans, Asians and of course, Latinos. This is a big research area, with Scripps Institute nearby.

Finally, after a couple of bus transfers, I landed in La Jolla (by the way, this is pronounced "La Hoya", so I sounded pretty country talking about going to "La Jolla". I got some stares!). La Jolla is a very, very high end community. It is built on an oceanside slope with beach clifts, spectacular views and huge waves. I spent an hour or two here, ate lunch (a $12 Belgium Endive Salad that would have fit in a cereal bowl) and went to a great coffee shop. I also walked to the beach and snapped the photos you see of the beach clifts and rocks.

Back on the bus and back to SD Old Town station, where to complete my day of public transportation, I boarded the SD trolley for the last leg home. You would have thought I was a bus inspector or something. I can say that it was very nice to have a public transit service that is so comprehensive and integrated. I can see how it would be useful to have a similar system in many other places. I would ride the Sprinter to work if it ran down Hwy 211 in Moore county. It would be great. Maybe one day, we will see the value of some type of shared transportation in all of our lives.

Another beautiful day here in SD! I understand it is snowing in Eagle Springs this morning. Going to soon be 75 and sunny here.

Till Later (I am going to the Museum of Man and the Museum of Natural History today in Balboa Park. I doubt I will make it to the world renowned SD Zoo. Just too much to do.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Riley & Pell

Riley and Pell are great buddies.  We got Riley when Pell was three years old.  Not sure why.  Might have been because our baby was growing up and we were feeling the need for a baby.  Might have been because we felt that Pell was lonely.  Might have been that Joy was feeling the need for a road trip.  Might have been summer boredom!

Whatever the reason, we started our "Riley Experience" with some research online, looking at websites of Brittany Breeders recommended by the breeder we bought Pell from.    These breeders were in Indiana!  We hit a time when there were many puppies available, so we browsed through the list and found a puppy to our liking.  The primary requirements were that the puppy was a male and matched Pell in color scheme (heavily white with dark orange patches).  We found one that fit the bill and called the breeder.  We had found Riley!
 Joy decided that she wanted to travel to Indiana and get Riley on a weekend roadtrip with the boys.  They left one morning and got to Indiana late one night. The breeder put them up in a trailer that she owned.  The next morning, Joy started home with three Brittany pups!  Two of them were not for us, thank heavens, but for two other buyers in North Carolina.  After the long trip home and a van that now smelt like the bottom boards on a dog kennel, she delivered the dogs and made it home.  

Well, in the intervening months, Riley has grown, played, chewed and become and integral part of our family.  He and Pell are the best of friends and romp and play most of the day everyday.  Riley is nearly as big as Pell now, and he is settling down just a bit.  You can tell he is treated well.

The most surprising thing that has come out of our acquiring Riley is the obvious friendship that he and Pell have together.  They roughhouse almost all of their waking hours together, finally quitting when they tire out and collapse into sleep.  Indoor or out, they are together, running around and never seeming to tire or become inpatient with one another.  Now that Riley is nearly grown, he looks more like Pell each day.  When you see them across the pasture or in the yard, you cannot easily tell which is which.  If they are close, you can tell by seeing their faces.  We are all the time calling one by the other's name.  

So we have a pair of beautiful dogs.  We have been very fortunate with the chemistry between them.  Come by and see them sometime.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Photo Albums Online

Hey! Here are a few photo albums I have thrown up over the last year or more. I am going to have to reorganize them all soon and add to them, but in the mean time, take a look, if you like. The Walker Birthday pictures are from this week, of course.


Walker's 3rd Birthday

Hunter's Soccer - 2008

Fall - 2007

Sparta Trips - 2008

Merchant's Millpond - 2008

Family - 2007

Riley & Pell

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brittney's 22nd Birthday

 Brittney celebrated her 22nd birthday on Dec. 23rd.  All our family was here and we had Josh over also.  After endlessly reminding Brittney of how old she was getting and how no other birthdays would ever be fun anymore, we let her get on with it by blowing out her candles!

After eating way too much, we played a couple of games of crazy eights and rummy, all the while continuing to mourn for Brittney.  Among other things, we kept bringing up comparisons of this birthday and her last (21!).  

All in all, I believe she had an excellent time and spent it the way she likes best - at home with her family!   Sometimes, the only way you can tell your not dead is seeing if you are still moving!

Happy Birthday Brittney!   - Dad
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Walker's 3rd Birthday

Yesterday was Walker's third birthday!  It is hard to believe that he is growing up so fast.  His time is flying.

had Grandmother and Granddaddy over to share in his birthday cake. 
Walker really had fun and liked blowing out his birthday candles.  He
got them all the first time!

the cake, of course come the birthday presents.  Hunter was there to
help him, just in case he got into a bind.  Walker really likes doing
anything with Hunter!

got a lot of cool presents - a couple of games (Chutes and Ladders,
this duck game), a sticker book (he is completely wrapped up in the
sticker books right now - one he got from his uncle Jerry at Christmas,
he plays for hours), a toy lever action rifle and a piggy bank.

Finally, we had a family game of laser tag.  I was outnumbered because the two boys teamed up against me.  No fair!

Last, Walker got a little help from Granddaddy with his newest sticker book.

Birthday Walker.  You have been a great present to us since your real
Birthday!  I hope that your birthday was great and that your fourth
year will be as good as the first three.  I love you !

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Our Strange Visit to the NC State Fair

The picture you see was made in October when we visited the NC State Fair.  It is a picture of daughter Brittney with Kay Hagan.  Brittney, for those who do not know, is a huge fan of Hagan's and knows her daughter from school.  I believe Brittney was ecstatic to meet Hagan, and it shows.  It was also kind of strange, as we were just walking along in a thin crowd when, there she was!

We each got to meet Kay and speak with her for a couple of minutes before moving on. She seemed great and made a great impression.  It was not a problem at all to confirm our feelings for her.  Later on in the campaign, when the very negative advertising was going on, the deal was sealed.

The very strangest thing about the fair was not that we met Kay Hagan up close and got to speak with her.  The odd part was that we had just met another Senator earlier in the day.  That Senator was Senator Dole.  And I don't mean Liddy Dole, but instead the venerable Bob Dole (you know, the ED poster child).  We were roaming around in one of the agricultural areas when I wondered off to see the bees.  Brittney was with me and Joy was with the boys.  She called me on my cell and said to hurry over, that somebody running for Senator in NC was over with the cows.  I asked her who it was and she told me she didn't know his name.  I told her that two women were running for the seat and not any man.  She said for me to hurry over and see who it was.  When I got near, I immediately saw that it was Bob and not Elizabeth that she was seeing.  Brittney ran over and got a picture made with him, although you could tell that her heart was not in it!

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Walker's Christmas Deere

Walker got a great Christmas present this year (for a soon to be 3 year old)! He got a battery powered John Deere Lawnmower with trailer from Santa, and boy, is it cool! He can do wonderful things with it, like haul sticks and drive around the yard and connect and disconnect his trailer. He can even back it and go forward. Walker really loves it and we have so far been very careful to make sure that it stays charged.

I hope that the lawnmower can stay strong for a lot of years. Hunter really enjoyed his battery powered car that he had and used for many years. If Walker gets as much use from his, it will be well worth the money!

Merry Christmas Walker! Now, what are we to do for your birthday?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day - 2009

2009 has come in with a cold blast. New Years Day is here and it is cold and bitter. We started the morning at the crack of dawn. Joy had told Hunter, who had wanted to go hunting this morning, that if he would let her stay in her warm bed, than he could shoot any deer that came to the feeder in the pasture. Now this seemed pretty safe at the time, as we had not been seeing any deer at the feeder for awhile, because it had run out of feed. But Hunter and I filled it with corn yesterday. So this morning when I looked out the window, there were at least 7 big does eating corn below the house. I woke up Joy and Hunter to see. Hunter grabbed the rifle and put some clothes on. We had to decide whether to go out the front door or onto the deck. We decided on the front porch. We slipped out onto porch and crawled to the end, slipping the gun barrels out between the rails of the porch. About this time, the does heard us begin to scurry off. I told Hunter to get ready and when the deer stopped at the edge of the woods, he took a shot. Off ran the deer with tails held high! Looked like a clean miss. We went back in. Hunter was shaking and upset. He had "Doe fever". He was unbelieving that he had missed. We watched for another hour and a half before going back outside. We walked down to where the doe was, looking for blood or hair. None.
"Hunter", I said, "Let's go and sight in our rifles". We had just put a new scope on Hunter's new rifle, a Ruger 77 in 220 Swift. I also got a new barrel for my Thompson/Center Encore in 25-06 which I had mounted a new scope. It also needed sighting in. We moved the picnic table around to the front yard and set up a target in the pasture. For sandbags, we used rice and sugar bags from the pantry! And even though it was mid morning, it was still bitter cold!

After quite a few rounds of shooting, we were finally able to get the guns sighted in at 100 yards. Now no excuses for missed deer! All the guns were shooting well and performing to expectations.
Now just to get it all back inside and clean the guns. This is the work part of it all. But at least it is all indoors and warm.
Well, not bad stuff to do on a New Year's Day. But it is lunch time and time to go to Grandmother's for our black eyed peas and collards. She might have a few other things as well!

Happy New Years!!!

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