Just another average sunset in paradise!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving is over!

I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving feast at my brother Rick's home. In addition to the traditional turkey, we had ham and 10+ side dishes. Dessert included 5 types of pie and ambrosia salad. There was enough food to feed an army which is a good thing as at times the number of people eating and talking seemed like an army to me.

The weather has done a flip-flop and for the next week the temperature at the Kern River will be several degrees higher than here in Bakersfield. With the promise of clear skies and temps in the mid 70s I really have no choice but to head back up the canyon! I am taking some gold panning equipment along and hope to have new found wealth to report when I get back.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kern River Camping - Part Two

When I arrived at Keyesville South I chose to park on a small side road at the top of the cliff because someone was already parked in the area I preferred.  Two days later my camping neighbor climbed up the hill to introduce herself and ask if I could help her with her trailer's interior lights.  Believe me, I am no expert with 12 volt systems but within a few minutes I identified the problem - a dead battery.

She had recently purchased the battery and a small solar panel trickle charger.  Unfortunately where she was parked she got no more than two hours of sun each day.  I brought down my generator and solar panel to charge up the battery.  I have my solar panel on a 20' length of wire so it can be moved around to sunny spots most of the day.  By sundown her battery was fully charged and she had lights for the first time in a couple of days.

She invited me for a cocktail at her campfire.  It was enjoyable getting to know Christen and hear the stories of her travels as a single woman.  At one point she asked why I was camped so far from the river and I explained that I enjoyed being away from other campers and wanted to give her the same consideration.  The next morning we took a walk around the campground and found a nice spot for Dod down below which was separated from her site by a couple of large boulder formations and large trees.  I moved!

Dod's New Site

My new spot had a lot of advantages: less wind, less traffic, closer to the river and closer to the restroom.  The one problem with the site was that the area was on the muddy side.  My brother Rick came up for the day and within a couple of hours we had solved the mud problem, built a fire ring and gathered a truck full of firewood.

My new pine needle wall-to-wall carpet.

First time I have built a fire ring.

Woodpeckers were busy storing nuts for the winter.

After four days of beautiful weather, clouds moved in; the wind roared through the canyon; and the temperature plummeted from the mid seventies to the low fifties.  With a forecast of rain and even lower temperatures  I decided to bail and go back down the hill to Rick's house.  Cristen decided to leave early also and head for a friend's house in Palm Desert.  We made plans to meet up there on my way to Mexico and even discussed the possibility of a two vehicle caravan down the Mexican coast.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kern River Camping - Part One

A couple of weeks ago my brother Rick and I went up to the Kern River and discovered a really nice free campground.  This one is called Keyesville and has campsites on  both the north and south side of the river.  Keyesville is handled by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and is one of several free sites on the Kern River.  The south campground has some fire rings and two vault toilets.  The north campground has the fire rings and vault toilets along with picnic tables.  Two really nice things about this campground are that it is only 40 miles from my brother's house and less than a mile from the town of Lake Isabella.  Lake Isabella City has a Von's (Safeway) marked, a McDonalds, a Burger King, gas, propane, a Rite Aid drug store and a number of small town type stores.

I pulled in around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday thinking I would have the whole south campground to myself.  As I drove by on the upper road I saw a trailer parked in the campsite I had picked out the previous week.  No problem!  I camped right on a little side road and had a great view of the river about 50 yards below me.

You can see the river flowing by below Dod.  I wish I could include sound as the music of the rapids is incredibly soothing to me and made falling asleep easy.  The hiking was great at this site.  There are roads that go up into the hills and trails along the river.

There were fishermen and prospectors visiting the river daily.  I never saw anyone catch a fish but there were three vehicles that came by 5 days in a row to pan for gold.  They must have been getting good results or they wouldn't have come back daily.  The government estimates that during the gold rush of 1847-49 only about 15% of the gold was taken.  I may try that next summer when I get back from Mexico.

Dod looks great from up on the hill. Even though he doesn't look quite this good up close I still like him!  Part two tomorrow includes an unexpected visitor and a change of campsites.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another reason for delaying my trip to Mexico

MONEY!  While I could leave today and have sufficient funds to travel all over Mexico for the next year or so, I want more!  I sold my business in 2004 and became semi-retired, working only a few weeks a year on special short term construction projects that paid too well to turn down.  However, construction has nothing to do with the business I sold.

My business was buying and selling used medical equipment.  I traveled nationwide to attend auctions of used medical equipment and visit hospitals to negotiate for the purchase of their "unused" surplus equipment.  I made a very decent living doing this.  Since retiring in 2004, I have concentrated on the purchase and sale of one very specific piece of equipment.  Generally, I buy and sell a few of these units each year and make a profit of a few thousand dollars on each transaction.

Recently I have found two of these machines that will come up in an online auction in early December and I already have a buyer.  While I could probably complete the transaction while in Mexico, I feel more comfortable remaining here where I have more reliable access to the internet, telephone, UPS and everything else necessary for the smooth completion the purchase and sale.

Also, my brother Rick has expressed an interest in becoming involved in used medical equipment.  While we await the auction in early December, I will teach him the methods I use and we will form a partnership wherein he will be able to handle all the details in the U.S. and I will provide my input by telephone and email from Mexico.

So, the question is "Should I stay here at my brother's enjoying our time together and all the amenities to be able to go to Mexico with a few thousand extra dollars in the traveling kitty?"


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Projects 2 and 3 completed!

I realize that I posted about starting these two paver projects just the other day but in reality, they were started in early October and finished last Monday, November 7th.  Follower Bob commented that "a little physical activity, (at your own pace) can be quite enjoyable".

Thank goodness I was able to do it at my own pace.  The pavers we used were 12" x 12" by 1" thick and weigh just under 20 lbs. each.  Each of the nearly 400 pavers had to be lifted off the pallet at Lowe's and put in the back of a pick up (I think we made 7 trips.) then unloaded and stacked at Rick's house.  That involves moving almost 4 tons of material.  Next, the pavers had to be carried (as needed) from the garage to the building site.  By the time the pavers were placed, straightened and leveled, they had to be lifted another 3 or 4 times each.

Our average start time was around 9:00 a.m. and we rarely worked past 1:00 p.m. each day.  While my brother and one of his friends helped with moving dirt and supplying me with pavers, I laid each individual one and my arms, legs and back told me when quitting time had arrived.  In a former life, I had a construction company and did a little block wall work from time to time.  If I had contracted out to do this project for another homeowner, I probably would have completed it in one week and not five but I might not have been able to type for several weeks afterwards.

Rick's wife Karen seemed to enjoy teasing me about the slow progress almost daily but in the end said that it was definitely worth the wait.

The next project is to build a pergola on the other side of the house.  "Pergola" is just a fancy name for an arbor or shade canopy.  Ours will be fairly simple with just a frame of 2x4s 8' long by 5'wide by 8' high with shade cloth covering the top to allow growing ferns and other delicate plants here in Bakersfield where the summer temperatures often top 100 degrees.  The following "before" picture was actually taken today and my  goal is to finish the project within 3 days!  

I hope Karen is not reading this blog because she will definitely hassle me if I miss my goal!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Side trip to Kern River and Lake Isabella

Shortly after completing the flower bed installation I decided to take a trip into the neighboring Kern River Canyon for some alone time.  We went up through Kern Canyon just north of Kernville and found a free campsite right next to the Kern River.  There are several National Forest dispersed camping areas along the Kern River between Lake Isabella and Johnsondale.

Great view to the East and the river to the West

Even though this was a nice campsite, I only stayed one night here.  It was peaceful for the most part (some traffic noise) and it was easy to fall asleep listening to the river flowing by.  The highlight of the day was when four Navy jets buzzed through the canyon at about 1000' above my head.  

The next morning I headed for Lake Isabella (about 15 miles south) and explored several potential sites.  I finally settled on one of the very few that had shade and a view of the lake in the distance.

This tree provided shade for most of the day.  As the shadows moved, so did Dod.  The line on the rocks at about the height of Dod's cabover is the high water mark for the lake.  Now the lake is several hundred yards away and probably 15' lower.

The area around our camp was covered with a carpet of green and we had a  panoramic view of the surrounding Sierra Nevada foothills.  It was super relaxing to sit out and read books.  I finished 5 books in 6 days!  When not reading, I explored some of the many roads and trails that crisscross the lake bed.

The rock formation is probably 60' high and I would have liked to climb to the top but being alone and so isolated I did not want to risk it.  I stayed at this site for 5 days and saw a total of 8 vehicles and only two hikers.

These campsites are within 60 miles of Rick's house so I can easily get to the area in less than 2 hours.  I have since found several other great, free campsites to which I will return soon.


I missed having Jesse with me as he would have had the run of the entire lake bed and been good company on my hikes.  Jesse and a local family from Bakersfield fell in love and I gave him to them.  While I miss his company, I think he will be happier with a permanent home.  He didn't enjoy traveling that much and I found I was foregoing stops I would have made had he not been with me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Thanks to all the veterans from the United States and our allies for their service in the cause of freedom!

My brother Rick is a veteran and proud to display the flag - actually over 100 flags - on each and every patriotic holiday.

Dod says thank you too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time really flies!

Kevin and Ruth, of Travel with Kevin and Ruth, reminded me yesterday that it has been well over a month since my last posting.  A lot has happened and, as always seems to be the case, my plans have changed!

When I arrived at my brother Rick's house in late September, my plan was to cross the border into Mexico around the 1st of November.  Today is November 10th and I am still at Rick's!  If you remember my post about Southern Hospitality you will understand why it is so difficult to leave.  In addition to the normal electrical hook-up and three meals a day, Rick has added cable tv and Netflix to the list of amenities!

In order for me to feel better about all of the freebies I was accepting, I suggested that I do some projects around the house beginning with building a 120' flower bed for the back yard.

Prior to building the small retaining wall for the flower bed, the entire perimeter of the back yard was filled with about one yard of bare dirt made up about equally of mud and deep holes dug by Rick's german shepherd "Gizmo".  (Sorry no before pictures.)  We still need to add landscaping but that may wait until Spring.

The first project turned out so well that we decided to install pavers on the side of the house up  front and also on the walkway from the front of the house to the back yard.

Front area before

Walkway before

After pictures will be coming soon as well as some posts about my side trips while here in Bakersfield!