Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving in Glendale - The Aftermath

After a week of hosting family, Robert and Mary are ready for a rest...

Jessica settles into the Southern California lifestyle

With a nod to the Eastern Cousins, Robert and Mary hold up their "BFLO" and Roycroft Inn (East Aurora, New York) mugs. So what's the story about BFLO? Can't they spell back there (or in whatever country the mug was made)?

And I pay tribute to the man we all love to hate, Bill O'Reilly

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in Glendale, CA

Jessica arrives for our drive to Southern California

Nice hat!

One day after Thanksgiving, the "In-N-Out" restaurant in Kettleman City is jammin'

Arriving in Glendale, California, Jessica with her Aunt Mary

Jessica and Aunt Mary, across "the pond"

Jessica's cousin Corey is shy before the camera

Or perhaps she has grown weary of the paparazzi...


Janie, returns from shopping, with five pounds of butter

Jessica, in an "Aunt Jane Death Grip"


Alana, Jess and Janie

Otto with his nephew Paulie

It's BEN!

Krissy assumes a classic Hollywood pose...I think

One of two "Emmy Awards" in the Aguirre household


Janie prepares a feast


Otto and Paulie enjoy the hot tub. In the background, you can clearly see Mary's "light figures" (from left to right) the duck, "Winnie the Pooh", the lamp and genie, Santa Claus and..."The Blob" (I actually forget what she called this one.) She arrayed the lights randomly in the backyard trees, but a Muse must have guided her hand in creating such masterpieces.

Martha, Janie and Jessica out on the patio

Contestants Mary and Krissy listen intently as "D.J. Jeff" broadcasts "Name That Tune" from Waterbury, Vermont (via cell phone). The guy absolutely loves his iPod!

Monday, November 20, 2006

These three seafaring philosophers provided moral support and guidance during my Americas Trip. I just received this photo today from Dicky Neely. Dicky, Bob Beadle and Guy Le Roux got together at North Padre Island, Texas. See Dicky's blog for more of life on the beach (Link).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oh, my aching back...

In pain trying to get my clothes on, especially the socks. (That’s always the worst with a back problem.) Howard came out before 7:30 and started shoveling rock that Richard allowed him to take, creating one hell of a racket!

Packed up the tent, soaking wet. Richard made coffee. He asked about my back and I reluctantly said I wouldn’t be able to help today. He was quite understanding and thankful for my help yesterday. He was confident he’d be able to finish early today.

We stood by the radio talking, occasionally listening to the news. President Bush is in Vietnam, a place he did his best to avoid when we were at war.

Chilly, damp. Riding home, took it easy on the curves. The pavement was slippery. And my skill was compromised by the back pain. It would be a disaster to take a spill in this condition.

Along the coast, many divers and surfers were out. Courageous souls who venture into these frigid waters.

Avoided the Russian River route again. Not only is the highway construction irritating, the place is depressing, with all it rotting cottages and homeowners who stubbornly battle the river.

Stopped at “Long’s” for ibuprofen, then “Starbuck’s” for some pastry.

At home, unloaded, took a couple pills and crawled into bed.

Awoke after five hours, feeling somewhat improved.

Went out to “East West Café” at 8:00 p.m. Felt very lonely, isolated from those around me. After I finished, chatted briefly with Jana, one of the servers I know. Her telling others on the staff “this is the traveler” brought a little spark of life to the conversation, but only momentary.

Back at the apartment, crawled into bed again, but couldn’t sleep. Listened to Neko Case's “Fox Confessor” album, then got up and typed some notes.

I often give thanks for having a comfortable place to return to. And for the good fortune of having earned enough money to have lived so comfortably thus far. I’ve been lucky.

At Mondavi, I really feel I was overpaid, (though underpaid when compared to what my predecessor was being paid prior to my assuming the position!)

How many would admit they are overpaid?

Certainly those in the lower ranks of the company were not overpaid. But when it came to management, and especially Senior Management and Board Members, the compensation ranged from excessive to obscene.

If I were to have a company, there would be a strict wage cap: the highest paid executive would not be paid more than “x” times the lowest paid employee. And “x” would be something like “10” or “20”, not hundreds, or thousands.

Part of what drives wages to these extreme levels (besides greed, of course) is insecurity. The more insecure an environment, the higher the compensation required to draw talent into that situation.

I believe a solid company, with a demonstrated allegiance to its employees, and a more positive, nurturing environment, could actually provide more modest and equitable compensation, across the board, and by virtue of this, be much more attractive and successful.

Manual labor

This weekend, I again visited Richard Camera at his Anchor Bay home site. He had several debris burn piles going when I arrived. In the evening, we gathered close by one to chase off the evening chill. Thirty years ago, we had worked on some much larger burn piles in the Sierra Foothills.

Told Richard I’d be up to his Anchor Bay property before noon, so that determined my schedule. But I wasn't real eager. I had slept poorly, fitfully.

Pulled out my camping gear, which has become a routine now, and was on the road about 9:30. The Russian River drive was too annoying last time, so I went out highway 12 to Sebastopol. Foggy across the Santa Rosa Plain. Stopped at Wild Flour Bakery for something to take to Richard’s. Purchased four biscotti. A curious establishment, staffed by very “organic-looking” people. The woman who served me seemed to have a German accent. I wondered if this might be connected to a local commune?

Light traffic. A group of motorcycles came south along Highway 1 from the Russian River area. Effortlessly passed every vehicle I came upon. A glassy ocean, with a notable swell today (unusual lately). Nice waves, and many surfers out. Passing a group of cars north of Jenner, I hit a deep pothole that jolted me hard. Waited for some sign of the front tire losing pressure, but it held.

Reached Richard’s around 11:30. He had torched three or four burn piles.

“How long have you been here?”

"Since yesterday," he said.

I was confused. "When did you send that e-mail saying you were going up 'tomorrow'?”

"Thursday night." (But it was dated Friday morning when I checked later. The vagaries of electronic mail.)

Today, we were moving wet topsoil and spreading it over his leach field. Then he would cover it with seed and straw. I worked tentatively, every now and then getting a painful jab from my back.

Out for lunch. Stopped first to look at a construction site in Gualala where they’re using styrofoam building blocks as the concrete forms. Richard is considering the technology.

Went to Bonez Roadhouse again. This time, I ordered a pulled-pork sandwich. All across the U.S., I saw these offered, but this was my first. It was "okay" (too much barbecue sauce, which I don’t like). Good lemonade though. Stretched the lunch out, relaxing, but the days are short, and it comes at a cost.

Today is Richard's neighbor Howard’s 71st birthday. Richard asked what he’s doing for his birthday. “Getting screwed, I hope.”

My back was getting worse by the hour. I was relieved when Richard said “this is the last load for today.” The sun was fading. I put up the tent, gingerly stooping to assemble it.

No run to the showers, or meal in town. We just had some wine and biscotti. I brought a 375ml bottle of “Now & Zin” wine my compatriots and I had made. Surprised that it seemed more flavorful and aromatic than on previous occasions. The spicy, almost olivey oak is quite apparent now. But the wine was not harsh.

Richard pulled out a pipe and smoked some pot. We talked a bit about pot, mushrooms and such. I never tried any of it, but not for lack of opportunities. I guess I chose wine.

It was growing cold, so we stoked one of the fading burn piles and sat near it.

To bed around 9:00, the sea lions barking in the distance.

My lower back was in an electric knot, seeming to clutch my left kidney, almost making me nauseous. Couldn’t sleep. Moved constantly between three positions: right side, back and left side. Only lying on my left side with my knees tucked upward seemed to alleviate the throbbing. But I couldn’t remain long in this position. So it was a night of constant tossing and pains.

So many live with this and worse. Here I’m getting a small dose. I must appreciate that there will come a time when such pain (or worse) will likely be the norm. How will you cope then? One must accept life, whatever the terms, and appreciate it.

But I was losing the battle. Counting the hours. Dreading any movement, and worse if I had to get up to urinate. And I didn’t look forward to telling Richard in the morning that I would be useless. A long night. The slight glow in the sky brought some relief. I intended to go home early. I must have finally dozed, because I recall a brief dream, and it was suddenly light.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Armchair activist

Slept until 8:30. A feeling of being lost still engulfs me.

A sharp back pain in lower right side.

An e-mail from Richard saying he’s going out to the Anchor Bay property tomorrow and inviting me to join him. The back is a concern, but a voice says “don’t qualify your response, just commit.”

Listened to the radio for a couple hours, while washing laundry. Too cold to hang things out to dry, I took the clothes over to the laundromat to finish the cycle. A large group of disabled people were there, with a lunch spread. An odd scene.

While my laundry was drying, I couldn’t stay still. Hopped on the bike, but “where do I go?” I wandered briefly before returning to the laundromat.

"Chelino’s" for lunch. Sat eavesdropping on the conversation at a neighboring table. Two men talking about Chile and Argentina. Some kind of development, mentioning Salta, Mendoza and Osorno. At first I thought it was vineyard and winery project, but gradually it became clear they were talking about home sites. And one spoke of local opposition, which he derided. One mentioned Christopherson homes, one of California’s largest developers – are they going down there?

For a change of venue, moved over to "Peet’s Coffee" to work on some notes.

Two people meeting at the neighboring table, discussed how to address "Wal-Mart’s" project (apparently proposed for Santa Rosa) with the City Council. Further evidence of Santa Rosa’s economic decline.

I began searching the web for anti-"Wal Mart" campaigns, then spoke up when I found information. They thanked me for my interest, then handed me a flyer and encouraged me to attend the hearing, but the intrusion did not seem welcome.

A drowsy afternoon and evening. Stress causing some chest discomfort, bowels somewhat distressed and a nagging backache. Not a good day.

At home later, browsed through various environmental publications (Earth Island, Nature Conservancy, World Watch), then shifted to real estate, going through the newspapers I picked up in Alturus. $1,000 an acre, or less, not uncommon up there. Then I started looking at Charlie Tripodi’s site for Humboldt properties. Quite shocking – some properties $10,000 or more an acre.

So, perhaps I should just stop dreaming.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Unexpected landscapes

Rather than finding pristine forests and clean air, I was appalled by Northeastern California's polluted skies and patchwork landscape

Awakened at 8:00, a service truck starting up outside my window. Looked out to see a frost-coated motorcycle. "I guess I'm in no rush this morning!" It may have reached about 18 degrees last night. This cold in November? This is indeed a harsh place!

The smoky haze gathering against the Warner Mountains is not a good sign. With the area looking to grow its population, the problem will only increase. I’m drawn to the austerity of this land, but man’s destructive tendencies will bring an aesthetic decline.

Watching the Weather Channel, there are tornado watches across the south. Someone in my Fall travels said I had missed the tornado season in the South – "it’s the Spring," they said. But all the news since tells me it’s a year-round possibility.

I watched a portion of the Senate hearings on Iraq. General Abizaid argues for flexibility, and no time lines for withdrawal. All these gray and white-haired men determining the course of our nation doesn't give me confidence. It is clear that many of these men are beyond the peak of their mental powers. As I listened to Republican Lindsey Graham I actually felt he offers a refreshing contrast to those other sleepy, constipated minds.

Everything Abizaid says, smacks of “stay the course” – unacceptable.

I suspect the typical TV news image, with 5 or 6 simultaneously subject flows only encourages a lack of concentration, superficial cognition. How can you listen to a speaker, when the screen is distracting you with 4 or 5 other images or data streams?

Last night, I was considering a ride over Fandango Pass to Surprise Valley (on the Nevada side of the Warner Mountains) for today, but with the icy conditions this morning, I decided that wouldn't be prudent.

The outskirts of Alturus is a shabby landscape. I started toward the "Cal Pines" development, just to see what's going on up there, then decided "why bother?" Continued west toward Redding.

The mountains west of Alturus are a patchwork of forests. Under Department of Agriculture jurisdiction, we have basically created tree farms. Was this the intent for our National Forests?

This mono-cropping is an example of human ignorance. What’s worse is for those who are educated, to ignore what they know. This type of forestry is unsustainable.

In McArthur, I noted a collection of cars parked out front of Chatty Kathy’s, so I decided to check it out. The cafe was crowded with people, most seniors (and most overweight, especially the women.) Tried a chicken sandwich, some "curly fries" and coffee. Sadly, the food was barely edible. I would have liked it to be more memorable.

Arriving at a Fall River Valley overlook, I received a sickening shock. I don't think I've seen a more depressing sight in this country. Trash-strewn hillsides and a valley blanketed in a thick dirty haze. I expect more stewardship of Californians, not this. Down below, the town of Burney, the smoky irony not lost on me.

Descending from the Modoc Plateau, I arrived at an overlook. Below, the Fall River Valley was blanketed in a smoky haze. Mount Shasta (right center) is barely visible through the muck.

California Highway 299 still life. A region's environmental aesthetic is directly related to its economic condition.

40 miles east of Redding is the site of the enormous 1992 "Fountain Fire". I stopped at an overlook to read about the fire. A kiosk at the Moose Camp Vista Point erected by Roseburg Resources tells the "the story of renewal”. Renewal involved bulldozers clearing the burned-out forest, herbicides widely-applied to eliminate opportunistic species which compete with the Ponderosa Pine seedlings that replaced the native forest. It's now a 64,000-acre Ponderosa Pine plantation (as even Roseburg calls it.)

I enjoy the rolling hill country east of Redding, dotted with stately oaks and peaceful ranches. It's a landscape that rings the Sacramento Valley for hundreds of miles.

Briefly joined the Interstate 5 vortex south of Redding, escaping onto westbound Highway 20 toward Clear Lake. The impatient, negative energy of the freeway followed me into the hills as I challenged cars through Lake County and up over Mount St. Helena. Only as I neared Santa Rosa did I seem to settle down.

Sitting in A’Roma’s later with a free cup of coffee, I looked around at the familiar faces. Uncomfortable. I have aged with some of these characters. Though I look at them and recognize them, we remain anonymous.

Watched a couple of films tonight. Strangers with Candy must be one of the worst movies I’ve seen. I couldn't bear to watch the entire film. Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man features interesting performances by Rufus and Martha Wainwright, among others, but is a poorly-crafted film (a first-time effort) and, inexplicably, barely features Cohen himself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Modoc County

Goose Lake, a dominant feature of California's northeast corner, averages only 8 feet in depth (and reaches a maximum of only 24 feet)

Rim Rock Motel, Alturus, CA

A room at this quaint little motel cost $42.00, tax included. (They "don't charge tax," I'm told.) It's clean and comfortable, and run by some nice folks. I just returned from dinner at Nipa’s Thai restaurant, a converted hamburger joint.

Afterwards, I stopped by a grocery where the locals were talking about the new street lights, about 160 of them lining the main boulevard. “It’s brighter than the airport. Truckers will think they’re in Reno.”


Up at 7:00 this morning. Ted and Jackie were up hours earlier. Quiet morning. Coffee and some Basque toast. Overcast but during the night, the rain had stopped. Ted still wouldn't let me clean up the pine needles, so I had run out of tasks.

Chatted with Jackie, continuing our conversation about their days in L.A.

At about 11:00, it was time to leave. Packed up and was on the road before noon. Chilly but not bad. My riding suit is tight! And another zipper gave out.

Followed Highway 70 through Portola and eastward to U.S. 395. I was surprised to see it’s less than 60 miles to Reno, and only about 100 miles to Alturus.

Along the shore of Honey Lake on the east flank of the Sierra, evidence of a recent range fire follows the highway. The damage stretches for miles, primarily on the east edge of 395. The narrow path of blackened ground attests to very strong winds that had been driving it.

It's a scrubby terrain out here, mostly sagebrush. It is very fragrant though after some rain. Bypassed Susanville, skirting eastward. It grew cold as the road climbed over 5,000 feet approaching Alturus. The town is interesting, but obviously suffering from a depressed economy.

31 miles north, I found Forest Road 30, an unpaved road providing access to the Warner Range on the east shore of Goose Lake. A mile or so up the road, a three-way fork left me confused. I had directions from a real estate agent, but he hadn't mentioned this junction. I followed a sign for Road 30.

Soon, I was into a pine forest, snow and ice covering the ground. Crept along at idle, about the pace of a fast walk. It was slow going. I realized that on this icy road surface, there was no traction to stop the bike should it start to fall. After a few miles, I still had not seen a gate that indicated the property.

The road continued its climb, while shadows lengthened and the afternoon started to freeze. I began to sense I had taken the wrong fork. It was time to turn around. I made a mental note of distances: the nearest town, Davis Creek 11 miles, Alturus 31 miles, Reno 212 miles. I noted the aircraft flight lane directly overhead. That's a negative in my mind.

Creeping back down the service road, the front wheel started to slide and the bike fell as if in slow motion. I didn't have much footing on the ice, and stood there wondering if I'd be able to pick it up. One option would be to slide it off the road and into the snow where the tires might bite into the ground more. I was concerned about the cold and my energy, so I wanted to make certain I lifted it correctly the first time.

I ventured out into the Warner Mountains northeast of Alturus, California to look at a 320-acre parcel for sale. It's somewhere out in these woods. With the sun fading and temperature falling, it became too slippery to continue. I snapped this photo after taking a little spill (my first in North America!)

Used "the handlebar method" to lift the motorcycle, struggling to get it righted, and barely succeeding. A work-out at this altitude! Knowing how powerless I was to prevent a fall once the bike started leaning, I was very anxious as I continued down the road. It was a relief when I emerged from the forest shadows with its ice-covered roads.

Lots of trees are being cut back in here, apparently for firewood. It's nice country, but winter access is a problem. (It's already a challenge, and it's only November!)

Took some photos of the area and looked at an old lumber mill site near the shores of Goose Lake. Barges were used to haul logs to the mill from the western shores of Goose Lake. By 1959, the once-thriving Willow Ranch and Crane Creek Lumber Companies closed shop.

Returning to Alturus after sunset, the dry air was getting very cold. It would drop to about 20 degrees tonight. In the twilight, deer emerged from shelter and freely crossed the highway. Stopped first at this motel on the fringe of Alturus. It had a nice feel, but I wanted to look further, price being my top criteria. Fortunately, they also had the best price of the three motels I checked.

Returned and checked in, dumped my gear in the room, then went to dinner at Nipa’s Thai and California Cuisine. Soup sounded good, so I ordered the tom kha gai (served in a sterno-heated pot.) It was quite good. It was 5:30, and freezing. I was the only customer in this restaurant. Business cards were tucked under the glass table top. One was from Ride West BMW in Seattle. A Thai restaurant seems a curious find in Alturus. Even more surprising, the restaurant has been in business here for 16 years and the owners have another restaurant in Redding.

Back at the motel, called Ted and Jackie to report I had arrived safely.

Then I turned on the TV, subjecting myself to a dose of Fox News ("Fox Entertainment" is more like it.). "Assholes!Sensationalists!" It's not the best way to relax before bed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Watch out! Here come the Liberals!!!

Is it true, I haven’t earned a penny this year? For that matter, since May 2005?

How many can claim that distinction?

10:00 p.m. Jackie and I just finished cleaning the kitchen. We had watched “Masterpiece Theater’s” presentation of Silas Marner – probably from the 70s, with Ben Kingsley as Silas.

We sat with our dinner plates on our laps. I can’t recall ever dining that way in Ted and Jackie's house. Ted was not feeling well and went without (except for some ice cream!)

I’m beginning to see the challenges Ted faces with Jackie: she frequently can’t remember from one moment to the next what our intentions or plans are. She and I prepared dinner of Caesar salad, mashed potatoes with gravy and re-heated prime rib. In the middle of the preparations, a pipe fitting disconnected from the garbage disposal, making a mess under the sink.

Finally, I could be of some help, cleaning up the mess!

We watched some Fox News earlier, and it was almost hilarious to hear the hysterical opinions of their “experts” – the Democrats are bringing into their leadership extremists of the worst kind, LIBERALS!!!

"Give it a rest guys, they don’t even take over until January."

Jessica returned my call after 8:00, and it was a delight to hear Jackie and Ted get a chance to talk with her. “Now you have our number,” Ted said, implying that she should try calling again. She’s a “social butterfly” she told them. She seems to have adopted the term I’ve used to describe her a number of times.


Reminisced with Ted and Jackie, mostly with Jackie today, asking more about their lives. Learning about the childhoods in Alhambra and San Marino. Jobs in L.A., Alhambra and other areas. The Cameron Way years and the life-long friends they met there. Office intrigues in the days of “secretaries”. Their working class parents and relatives. Ted’s mother borrowing money from him – he started working at 10 years old.

Eager to help in some way, I offered to re-load the wood stack in the garage, then filled the woodshed and consolidated the woodpile under a tarp outside. Ted wanted the pine needles raked off the roof, but refused to allow me to do this when it was wet, and it rained on and off all day.

Ted admits he believes in control and doesn’t like it when he doesn’t have control. This makes it difficult to help, because things must be done a specific way in their house. It’s better to not do something, than to do it incorrectly.

A fellow working for a medical equipment supplier delivered a device to exercise Ted’s knee while lying in bed. I noticed the tall fellow with the ruddy complexion, and a shake in his hands. Alcohol? Who knows, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

A trip to the post office and grocery. I drove the Cadillac (a first for me.) Found myself always accompanying Jackie to keep an eye on her. Several times she misplaced her glasses today. A minor issue, but a symptom of her condition.

Before sitting down to lunch, got Jackie out for a walk. She keeps a good pace. Blustery afternoon with sprinkles. Nice.

I talked pretty frankly with Jackie and Ted about the dementia. It seems Jackie must develop tools (and has) to help her remember things. She writes notes about the day’s activities along with any appointments or plans.

I asked many questions, because I feel a likely candidate for such a disorder, as my memory seems so feeble. I’ve relied on notes for so long, I fear my memory has been weakened by this crutch.

Jackie says as long as she can play bridge, and enjoy good food and conversation, she’ll be happy.

They have a great community here, and they all help one another. But many are passing, many suffering from age-related ailments. These folks who have chosen to live in the relative isolation of Graeagle, will increasingly need the support of their families.

I hope we’re all up to the task, the responsibility. After all, they have given us so much over the past 26 years (for me, 24 for Jessica!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A visit to Graeagle

At Ted and Jackie’s house in Graeagle

In the back bedroom, a decidedly feminine atmosphere that is for me uncomfortable. On the shelves, portraits of Jackie’s older brother (who died in a Japanese POW camp), Jessica and Jessica's Aunt Susan.

A steady rain tapping on the metal roof gutters. I took the trash out earlier and found freezing rain (sleet?) (This is a little more disconcerting than previous visits, since I’m riding a motorcycle this time.)

A wonderful dinner tonight: prime rib, baked potato and asparagus, with a bottle of "Arboleda" Carmenere that I had brought.


Alarm set for 6:00 a.m. this morning, it was too cold to get up. Crawled back into bed. This apartment is cold, but I hate to turn on the heater. I use it just to take the edge off when I get up.

Left all my packing for this morning. Envisioned going to Graeagle, then later to Modoc County to check out a 320-acre parcel on the market. "What will I need?" Left tools, first aid kit and cooking utensils behind. Focused on clothing and camping gear.


Listened to an "NPR" interview with Richard Perle this morning (he was on the line from Provence, France. The bastard should not be allowed to defile such a beautiful place!)

It made me ill to hear his familiar pompous, condescending demeanor as he explained his rationale for American forces staying on in Iraq.

He still claims Saddam was linked to the terrorists. When the reporter challenged that the evidence has been refuted, he simply stated “well I’ve seen the evidence and have come to a different conclusion.”

(This is the same way Karl Rove responded to a reporter who challenged Rove by stating the polls projected a loss for the Republicans. Rove said “you have your facts. I have the facts.” Fucking pompous assholes, so typical of this Administration.)

Perle said “it’s nonsense that we went in (to Iraq) to impose democracy”. According to him, our goal was to “manage the risk” that Saddam represented. Rewriting history as he speaks.

George W. Bush did not say repeatedly that we were going to bring democracy to Iraq?

Asshole liars. I think the term "obfuscation" has never been more widely used than at present, and usually in reference to the Bush Administration.


When I was loaded up, walked over to tell Charlene and Henry my plan. I was under the impression I was coming back Wednesday or Thursday, then driving south Friday with Jess, but that trip south is a week later – Henry straightened me out.

Off at 10:00, two hours later than planned. Chilly and mostly overcast. An accident near the Glen Ellen Inn had traffic on Highway 12 blocked. I didn’t get a clear look, but after the ambulance left, and traffic was allowed to move, I passed a downed motorcycle, with perhaps a dozen more parked on the shoulder, their riders milling about. All the bikes appeared to be “crotch rockets”.

“Basque Bakery” in Sonoma was jammed, but I waited to pick up one of their “Basque Rounds”, a muffin and a couple of cookies.

The late start meant I had plenty of company on Interstate 80. Split traffic frequently, while maintaining 80 mph much of the way.

Dry roads. Still, I was anxious climbing into the Sierra. How cold would it get? Passed the elevation markers. 1000, 2000, 5000, 7000 feet. It got cold, but not painfully so. The heated grips and electric vest making it tolerable.

The ride was pretty easy, the bike having no problem powering up the hills, passing cars and trucks. I didn’t drive quite as fast as I would in the BMW 328i, but fast enough. (Why was I in such a hurry all the time? And why am I still?)

Shocked to see new development at the I80-CA89 interchange. The forest is being thinned to accommodate new neighborhoods. I guess it has been nearly two years (Christmas 2004?) since I’ve been up here.

The “Whitehawk” development is undergoing expansion and development as well. Newly-widened highways, trees coming down. Soon this will simply be the “exurbs”. (Perhaps it already is.)

And on the southern edge of Graeagle, a development has commenced in the forest.

Arrived to find Ted hobbling with a cane, but doing better than I expected. “I said I didn’t need any help, but it would be great to see you,” he had told me.

Jackie is struggling with dementia. So sad to see her short-term memory failing. Susan just left this morning. (A changing of the guard. But I might not be so helpful – I hope I’m not a burden.)

Tried to help out where I could: build a fire, do dishes, open wine(!) But they do so much, it must be more relaxing for them to have no one here.

Retired about 10:00, two hours after Ted and Jackie, staying up to type this.

Friday, November 10, 2006

On the Camera property at Anchor Bay

The Camera's homesite in Anchor Bay. I joined Richard for a day of fun, shoveling gravel for his leach field.

Long-time friend Richard Camera outside his storage shed and temporary living quarters

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Autumn in California's Napa Valley

This view is from Silverado Trail.

Napa Valley from Oakville Grade, Robert Mondavi Winery left center, Opus One winery right center