Clear Lake and Crater Lake . . .

Today was another work day (Hey, I thought I was retired) so I was up at 10, and after coffee, worked outside going through stuff in the back of the truck and rearranging things in the bays.

About 1pm I headed into Clear Lake and back to my client from last week They’re back from their trip and had some other things for me to look at. While I was there I got them set up on LogMeIn.com so they can log into their computers at home from their iPads and laptops while they’re on the road.

I got back to the rig about 5 pm to find we have a new neighbor in the site next door. They’re in an older, but nice Rexhall. That means the park only has 2 vacancies out of 82 sites.

Jan and I headed out to the Ryan’s in Texas City for our Fried Chicken fix. We were also hoping to see Helen, a waitress there that we’ve known for years, but it seems like she’s moved back to Louisiana.

Right after we got here I happened to check the park WiFi on my Android phone and saw the signal levels were much stronger than last year so stop off at Fry’s Electronics last week and picked up a USB WiFi adapter for my desktop.

TL-WN722NC-01

It’s a TL-WN722N and I like the fact that it has an external antenna so I can add a bigger antenna if necessary.

But a bigger antenna is certainly not necessary here. Along with a better signal it looks like they’ve also upgraded to ‘N’ routers on their Access Points. This morning when I checked my speed with SpeedTest.net, I was showing 7.59 Mbps download and 5.32 Mbps upload. That’s getting into 4G speeds!

In comparison, my Verizon aircard that works on 3G here normally gets me about 1 Mbps download if I’m lucky.

When I checked the WiFi speed this evening when more people were using it, I was showing about 2.5 Mbps download. Still very good.

Since not much happened today, and we’ve picked up a lot of new readers in the last few months, I thought I’d repost our visit to Crater Lake National Park last June.

Enjoy!

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Thought for the Day:

"You cant stay drunk all day unless you start very early"

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Crater Lake . . .

Posted on June 14, 2011

Jan having gotten up earlier as usual, this morning started at 8:30 for me, since we were leaving at 9 for our daytrip down to Crater Lake National Park.

But our first stop was at the park entrance at Big Jim’s Coffee Wagon, a coffee and pastry kiosk that’s open everyday from 6:30 to 10:30 am, and gets a lot of business from outside the RV park, as well as park residents. Jan had a Hazelnut Hot Chocolate and a breakfast sandwich, and I had a Snickerdoodle Latte and a bagel w/cream cheese. Both very, very good. We’ll go back.

Big Jim's Coffee Wagon

Then we were on the road heading about 100 miles south to Lobert Junction where we would pick up SR 62.

Along the way, we saw Mt. Scott which is right next to Crater Lake, and blocks it from our view.

Mt Scott

Right before we turned onto SR 62 we stopped for gas and a pit stop at the Crater Lake Junction Truck Stop, and then it was back on the road for the 35 mile trip up into the park.

We started out about 4000 feet, and by 4500 feet we were seeing snow.

Crater Snow 1

And more snow at 5000 feet

Crater Snow 2

And even more at 6000 feet.

Crater Snow 3

Then we see this. Oh, Boy!

Avalanche Zone

But finally at about 7200 feet we pulled into Rim Village, and seeing a lot of people on top of a hill taking pictures, we decided to join them.

Crater Lake Hill

And this is what we saw! Be sure and click on this panoramic photo to see it full size. Be sure and use the slider bar at the bottom to see it all.

If ever a view was breathtaking.

Crater Lake Panorama

Crater Lake is 6 miles across and 1949 feet deep, and from where we were standing on the rim, it’s 900 feet to the water.

This ‘lump’ is Wizard Island, formed from lava eruptions after the volcano Mount Mazama exploded in 5700 B.C., and then collapsed into the crater we have today.

Wizard Island

Here’s an Internet photo showing it from a better angle.

800px-Wizard_Island_in_Crater_Lake_National_Park_-_Oregon_2008

And this Internet aerial view gives a better perspective of the entire crater.

Crater_lake_Aerial

The water in the crater, formed from snow melt over thousands of years, is some of the purest in the world, and really acts like a mirror.

Crater Lake Mirror

Since it still goes down into the low 20’s here at night, you can see a sheen of ice around the edges of the lake.

Crater Lake Ice

And here’s my Sweetie, showing up the view.

Crater Lake Jan

While we were at Rim Village we checked out the gift shop and café. The first thing we notice were these ‘snow tunnel’ entrances leading out to the street.

Snow Tunnel 1

And it’s really a long hallway leading into the building. It turns out that these are done this way so you can get into the building when there is 30 to 40 feet of snow covering up everything. Crater Lake gets a average of 44 feet (FEET!) of snow a year, and this way the snow plows can clear the entrance right along the edge of the road, so you can get inside the building.

Snow Tunnel 2

Even the outside restrooms are done the same way.

Crater Lake Restrooms

A little after 1pm we drove about half a mile along the rim to the Crater Lake Lodge to have lunch.

Crater Lake Lodge

Originally built somewhat shoddily in 1915, it had deteriorated to such an extent that in 1989 it was condemned, torn down, and rebuilt from scratch, with only the Great Hall being saved. And they did a beautiful job.

Jan and I had great Reuben Sandwiches in the dining room,

Crater Lake Lodge Dining Rm

and then went outside to take in another great view of the lake from the lodge porch.

Crater Lake Lodge View

We even had a Steller’s Jay taking in the view with us.

Stellar Jay

All during the day, we kept bumping into this group of motorcyclists, who asked me to take their picture with their camera. So the last time I saw them I took a picture with mine.

Motorcycle Gang

If it had been a little later in the year, we could have taken the 31 mile loop drive around the crater. And we could have also come in the north entrance and saved ourselves about 100 miles. But the loop is still snowed in.

It takes 10 men working for 4 months starting in April to clear the loop. They can do about 1/4 mile a day to clear 30 feet of snow from a roadway 30 feet wide. That means they’re moving over 1 million cubic feet of snow a day. That’s over 25 million pounds. A DAY!

After getting our National Park Passport stamped, we headed back toward home, after having a great day.And then to top it off, after coming through the tiny town of Fort Klamath on SR62, we had probably our last view of Mt. Shasta, about 90 miles away. What a sight!

Mt Shasta from Crater Lake Rd

We got home about 6 pm, after a 9 hour trip of about 275 miles. A long, but really nice day.

Tomorrow, who knows?

But I know I’m sleeping later.

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Thought for the Day:

“Whether to shoot someone once is a moral, ethical, and legal question. How many times to shoot them, well, that is a tactical question.”

Early to bed, . . .

Jan woke up about 4:30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep so she came out to the living room to read for a while and was still out there when the sun came up, so she went outside and got these great photos.

Galveston Bay Sunrise 1

Galveston Bay Sunrise 2

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This is a close-up shot of some of the refineries and chemical plants down in Texas City.

Galveston Bay Sunrise 3

After the sunrise photos Jan went back to sleep for a while before I got up at 10, and then about 11 we headed up to Clear Lake for lunch and some errands.

Our first stop was the park office so I could pay for our site for the first month. We had to wait to see where we ended up before they knew how much to charge us. But no one was in the office so we’ll try later.

Our lunch stop was at King Food, pretty much our all-time favorite Chinese place. And apparently it’s not just our opinion.

By a mystery diner visit, they were recently selected as one of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the US.

King Food Award

After our favorite Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce, Extra Extra Extra Spicy with added Jalapenos, our next stop was our storeroom.

We wanted to pick up Jan’s bird feeder and check out our Christmas decoration situation. It’s amazing how much stuff we still have in storage. Of course a lot of it is my son and his families’, so it’s not all my fault.

Next stop was to drop Jan off a at nail place to get her toesies done while I headed over to a client’s office. Looks like it’s about time to upgrade his computers, since they’re 3 years old and starting to have problems.

Picking up Jan and heading toward home, we stopped off at Buc-ee’s for coffee/cappuccinos and then Wal-Mart for some Christmas lights to wrap around the wicker ball we bought yesterday. I got two sets but it may take another set to completely cover the ball.

Coming back to the park I made another run past the office, once again with no luck. I don’t think they want my money.

Back at the rig, I set up the bird feeder and Jan filled it up with birdseed, and also threw out some old bread for the seagulls.

Later, a little before 5 we headed out for supper at the Monterey’s Little Mexico over in Dickinson. On the way out of the park, I tried the office again and lucked out this time. I’m now paid up until the 20th of December. For some reason I had to pay a $100 deposit. Don’t know why, I’ve never had to before.

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Thought for the Day:

"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others." – Robert Louis Stevenson

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A Big Winner . . .

We decided to have breakfast out this morning so about 10 we headed up to Seabrook to the IHOP. As usual for a Sunday morning, we had a 20 minute wait before we got seated.

After breakfast we went next door the Home Depot to look at their Christmas ornaments. Jan was looking for some that might be Landon-proof for him to hang on the tree.

Next we stopped by Michael’s Craft’s in Webster to get a large wicker ball to wrap with LED lights to make a large ornament for the rig.

Wicker Ball

After Michael’s we headed over to Brandi’s for the afternoon. They just got back last night from their Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with Lowell’s parents.

And apparently Christmas came early this year for Lowell.

Slot Winnings

After winning over $700 at the slots, a little later he won an additional $3230.

A very nice Christmas indeed! And this is not the first time he’s won like this.

Jan, Brandi, Landon, and Lowell’s sister Sherry were going shopping while Lowell and I held down the fort (i.e. watched football).

Landon at Home

They came back several hours later with a lot of new clothes for Master Landon

A little later we headed home with a stop by Kroger’s for some lottery tickets. Maybe Lowell’s luck will rub off on me. Jan says she wants to take him with her the next time she plays Bingo.

Getting back to the park about sundown, the tide was out and with the offshore wind, the bayou was pretty empty with a lot mudflats showing.

Galveston Bay Mudflat Sunset 1

Galveston Bay Mudflat Sunset 2

Still a pretty view.

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Thought for the Day:

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."

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Moving Day . . .

After our coffee and a quick drive past the site to be sure no one had come in and parked there overnight, we moved the rig a little before 11 and got settled in at our new home.

Hooking up backwards wasn’t as much a problem as I anticipated. I had thought I might need another length of sewer hose, but as it turns out my two pieces were just enough.

Power was no problem since whoever originally purchased our coach ordered the extra-long power cord, and that’s been a big help several times.

As it turns out, the only problem was with the water connection. The previous tenant had left one of those silver 2-way hose connectors like this.

Hose Splitter

The problem was the threads on both sides were so messed up that I couldn’t connect my hose to it. And worse, I couldn’t get the splitter off, either. It was stuck good.

The pipe is PVC and when I tried to use a wrench to twist it off, the PVC started to bend. Just what I want to do – break off the pipe.

My solution was to call the park office and let them fix it. We’ll just stay on internal water till they get it fixed.

Here’s a couple of views out our front window. As you can see we’re only about 20 feet from the water.

By the time we got parked the thunderstorms were rolling in and the formerly blue skies were turning gray and dreary.

Galveston Bay 77-1

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This shot shows Jan’s favorite island. A lot of birds make this area home and it’s one of her favorite sights.

Galveston Bay 77-2

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After we got settled in, a little after 12,  we headed up to Seabrook to have lunch at Hooters, our (my) favorite hot-wing place. Really like their XXX hotter sauce.

After lunch our next stop was Wal-Mart for a few things. It looks like the Black Friday madness has subsided to a dull roar. They were busy, but not overly so. We didn’t even have to wait in line to check out.

Coming back into the park, we saw our newest resident, a Roseate Spoonbill, hanging around with a paddling of wild ducks.

Spoonbill 2

When we first saw it a few days ago, it was resting on the bank, facing away from us, and we thought it was a Flamingo. But these shots proved different.

It was still pretty cloudy, so he looks a little colorless, but in the bright sun, the pink really stands out. A beautiful bird.

I’ll try to get some better shots later.

Spoonbill 1

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We still haven’t seen the Great Blue Heron that was here our past three winters. Hope he’s OK.

Great Blue Heron

Getting back to the rig about 2, the rainy weather made a perfect setting for very nice nap. The rain on the roof of the rig made it very easy to fall asleep.

Supper was leftovers of Mexican and BBQ with cookies for dessert. Nice and simple.

Our friend Nick Russell called about 7:30 to bring us up to day on his latest misadventures. And believe me, Nick attracts misadventures like nobody else.

Tomorrow I want to dig out my truck manual and see what I can do about the broken window lifter.

If the weather cooperates, that is.

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Thought for the Day:

I’m working on my second million . . . I gave up on the first.

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Almost Home . . .

Once again I was up about 9am since we were suppose to move this morning , , , maybe. So about 10 I headed over to the office, with a detour by the site where we supposed to move today.

But as you can see it was still occupied

Galveston Bay 77

So I checked in with the office and they had no news except that the 5er was supposed to leave today.

We’ll see.

Since we couldn’t move yet, about 11 I headed off to see a client. I’m still working my way through all their computers, cleaning and tiding them up, doing updates on the OS and programs, and clean out the gunk.

About 3:30 the RV park called and said we could move anytime as the site was now empty. I told them we’d move tomorrow since I wasn’t at the park and they said no problem.

I headed back to the rig about 4, stopping by the newly vacated site to check out our view-to-be.

Looks pretty good.

Galveston Bay 76

The only downside is that since the site is set up for a 5th wheel, if we want to have our windshield looking out over the bay, (and isn’t that the whole point of parking on the water?) I’ll have to cross-connect the utilities under the rig.

No problem, but I’ll probably have to buy another length of sewer hose.

Jan and I then headed back up to Seabrook to have dinner at Chili’s, with Jan having the Baby Back Ribs, and I had my usual Grilled Chicken Caribbean Salad.

I’ve been eating this salad for years, but in 2008 they discontinued it. And we stopped eating at Chili’s for two years. When we finally went back it was back on the menu. The waitress said they’d had a lot of complaints and requests for it, so I guess our boycott worked.

We’ll probably try to move about 11 tomorrow, but it depends on the weather since we’re supposed to have heavy thunderstorms tomorrow. Just what you want on a moving day.

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Thought for the Day;

"Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death." – James Madison

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Happy Thanksgiving . . .

I was up about 9 this morning because I had a couple of chores before we head out for our Thanksgiving feast.

My first chore was to empty the backseat of the truck because we need to go by and pick up Lowell’s sister, Sherry since she’s going to be having dinner with us today. I also wanted to remove the ball hitch from the rig and reinstall our Blue Ox tow bar system.

Next I dug through the bins and found my 100ft tape measure so I could measure the two possible sites that might be available tomorrow.

While I was working outside the rig, Kathy Brophey stopped by to say HI. She and her husband Dennis have been here at Galveston Bay RV Park since this past Monday. They’ve been reading our blog for several months, and after reading about our time here, decided to stay for a month and check out the area. We’re going to get together for dinner sometime next week.

After finding the tape measure, I drove over to the other two sites we may move to tomorrow to check them out.  And it’s going to be a tight fit.

The site that’s empty right now, site 76, is only about 34 feet long. If we could put our tires right at the end, we could fit with the overhang, but there’s a tree in the way so that won’t work,

Site 77, the one we were supposed to move into tomorrow, is still occupied. We were told they were there to move it several days ago, but couldn’t get their slides in. It’s on a curve, and is 46 feet on one side and 39 on the other, so we’d fit, especially with the overhang.

I guess we’ll find out more tomorrow when the office opens.

About 10:45 we headed up to Brandi’s to pick up Sherry, and then back down I-45 to La Brisa where we were meeting Chris, Linda, and Piper for the Thanksgiving buffet.

Everything was good, except the dressing. Readers will remember that Jan’s pretty adamant that if it ain’t cornbread, it ain’t dressing. And this was just those little cubes of white bread with some spices and chopped celery and onions and stuff. Yuck!

But everything else was delicious. And along with the usual traditional Thanksgiving dishes, being a Mexican restaurant, they did have some Mexican dishes too. Tamales, great cheese enchiladas, carnitas, refried beans, etc.

All in all, a great meal. Certainly a possibility for next year.

Saying our goodbyes, and dropping Sherry off, we headed home via King Food, hoping to get some Hot & Sour Soup to take home to go with our King Food leftovers from Sunday night, which was going to be supper tonight.

But they were closed. Bummer.

After calling Nick and Terry to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving, it was time for one of those full-of-turkey Thanksgiving naps. My head hit the pillow and I was gone for about two hours. Nice.

About 5:30 Brandi called from Oklahoma to check in and double-check we got all the photos they sent.

Then about 7:30 Jan heated up our leftover Chinese supper for a great supper.

Brandi and Lowell sent this Landon pics down from Oklahoma.

Landon and Dad

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After getting some driving lessons from Dad,

Landon on Tractor 1

it looks like he’s ready to take off on his own.

Landon on Tractor 2

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And this is what happens when you eat entirely too much turkey. Just too full to move.

Landon with Stuffed Belly

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Landon invents a new sport: Cooler Riding. ‘Faster, Grandma!”

Landon Cooler Riding

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And of course, he still enjoys merry-go-round riding with Mom.

Landon and Brandi on Merry Go Round

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Thought for the Day:

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” – Thomas Jefferson

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Turkey Day Eve . . .

Waking up to a cool morning, hot coffee was a big hit, with a later lunch of leftover Sonny’s BBQ from last week with a little of the delicious Creamed Corn from Rudy’s BBQ last night.

Jan doesn’t like corn, but she loves Rudy’s Creamed Corn.

About 1 I headed out on some errands, and another client visit.

My first stop was EPO, a great local electronics parts place that I’ve been going to since we moved here in 1978. I needed some heavy-duty ‘F’ connectors and they had exactly what I needed.

Then it was Sam’s Club for some Joint Juice. They were really, really busy with the whole parking lot full. I can imagine what it’s going to look like on Friday. I certainly won’t be there.

Then it was back to my client’s for a couple of hours. On the way home our daughter Brandi called to say that they’ve made it to Oklahoma OK. They left about 7pm last night for the 7 hour drive, and Landon slept the entire way.

Getting home about 5 pm, we turned right around and headed back up SR146 to La Brisa, another great local Mexican place, and even better, it’s close by. And they have really good Chicken Tortilla Soup.

And actually, we’re having Thanksgiving dinner at the La Brisa over on I-45 in League City tomorrow. But rather than Mexican, It’s a traditional Thanksgiving buffet with all the trimmings. It’s be our first time for their Thanksgiving buffet, but they do a great job on their Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast buffet, so it should be good.

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Thought for the Day:

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams: letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814

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