Monday, October 14, 2013

Lopaka's visit

It's been about 30 years since I've seen my cousin Lopaka. I was a teenager, and he was a little boy at the time. His father brought him and his younger brother, Jason, out to visit California. 

This last week, he brought his family to San Diego for a vacation. My wife and I drove down to spend the day with him. We decided we could show them around Balboa Park on one of their site seeing days. We visited the Natural History Museum, where their son Ryan got to push lots of buttons. He LOVES buttons. We saw dinosaurs and mastodons. 

We had a nice lunch and talked about family. 

One of my favorite places in Balboa Park is the Model Railroad Museum. They have every gauge of model trains with huge displays. It's like a maze wandering around to see the various exhibits, especially for a toddler. All the halls had walls about 2-4 feet high with plexiglass windows so that you could look in on the display. Ryan was like a mouse in a maze, running down halls where he really couldn't see anything. But every 10-15 feet there were stairs available so that you can get a better view. Ryan ran from stair to stair, climbing to get a view of little buildings, cars and the occasional model train in motion. 

The best stop was in a room with lots of theme decoration for Halloween. The walls and windows were lower so Ryan could see a bit more. Best of all, they had a Thomas the Tank Engine (He's very useful) on a track perfect for Ryan's viewing pleasure. AND, the had a button on the wall outside that made Thomas run a circuit around his track. Ryan stood there and pushed the button repeatedly. So cute!

We finished off with a quick look at the Botanical Building and koi pond. 

All in all, a very nice visit. I'm hoping to see Lopaka, Aimie and Ryan again in coming years.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Death Valley

I spent a glorious weekend out at Death Valley with the Boy Scouts. This was my first visit. Death Valley gets an average of about 2" of rain a year, but by the end of this week they expect to have 3". I'm fairly certain I got a rare experience. Though there was plenty of rain, it really didn't cause many problems.

We arrived Friday evening with just a few sprinkles while we set up camp. The camp site had room for lots of campers, but hardly anyone was there.

We spent Saturday morning on the Mesquite Sand Dunes. The sand was damp, so it did not behave the way the boys expected. It was funny watching them run and jump and NOT slide down the hill as they expected. We covered a lot of ground though and managed to climb the highest dune. The boys went in a bee line from peak to peak, down then up. I circled around a bit to follow the crest lines and avoid the steeper climbs.

Mosaic Canyon was incredible. The walls of the canyon are smooth marble-like rock. It was like walking through a naturally carved marble bathroom. Since it had been raining, the rock could be quite slick, but I didn't hear about anyone from our group falling.

It started raining fairly hard about dinner time, but our cook managed it. We ate a fabulous dinner of trout, green beans and rice. Another family brought home-made fudge that was so good I would have happy eaten it until I got sick. Most of us retired to our tents to stay out of the rain. The following morning there was a nice stream running behind our camp site. A few light sprinkles fell.

We visited several locations including Badwater, the Natural Bridge, Artists Drive and the Borax works. We stopped in at the general store and visitors center in Furnace Creek to buy a few souvenirs. Badwater is the lowest point on land in the Americas, at 282 feet below sea level. The cliff behind it had a sign showing sea level - very cool.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Calla Lilies

My wife really likes calla lilies. A few years back we planted two white ones and three others of various colors. Only the white ones are still alive and prospering. I understand the others don't usually last more than a season. I expected the white ones to get bigger and take over anyway.

They have taken advantage of our recent rain fall and look better than ever. They love lots of water.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazing Race

My wife is submitting an application to be on the Amazing Race. While I hardly ever watch it, she loves that show. I prefer doing to watching, and wouldn't mind going. If she gets on, I guess I might find myself watching.

I spent yesterday morning at the park video recording her and her racing partner so that they can submit the video with their application. At least we all had fun making the recording.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ok, I know I've neglected my blogs for a while. Truth is that life has been pretty busy, but very little change in the routine. Not much to report.

My wife has been walking with me recently. This evening I managed to walk her regular route with her, and I brought along my phone with a GPS app so that we could see how far she goes. We went 4.27 miles in 1 hour and 18 minutes with an average speed of 3.3 mph. She normally does the trek in an hour by herself.

She has lost quite a bit of weight recently, and I've been very proud of her efforts.

Friday, September 4, 2009

USS Dark Matter?

A little over 8 years back, my father in law and his wife sold us a no frills plain white Nissan Sentra. While I can't say I've ever been thrilled with the car itself, it has just kept running all these years. It also came at a price we couldn't refuse. I've used it to get to work while my wife and kids had access to our mini-van. It has been a wonderful help to our family. And it is not the first time he has helped us out with our cars. We've bought another car from him at well below cost, and he has helped us negotiate prices on the cars we've bought.

Last week the Nissan started having some problems. At first it was semi stalling, but then it started smoking about the same time the engine started working well again. Kinda odd, but it was clear that it needed some help. It turns out that the air conditioner compressor is tied into the belt system of the engine, and the compressor had locked up. The smoke was from the belt being stripped and once that was done the engine was free to work as it always had. Still, it requires that we fix the A/C for the car to continue to work properly.

My father in law had already talked about buying a new car and giving us his old one. He even had one on order. Great timing! We got our new car the weekend before we took the Nissan to the mechanic, so I still have something to drive to work while my wife has the van for kids and car pool. The new car does need some work done on it, and we'll get around to that soon enough. I don't think my father in law wanted to put any money into it, which is one of the reasons we got such a good deal on it.

Our new car is a black Buick Regal GS with lots of fancy stuff on it, including a sun roof. It has a nice stereo system and lots of other buttons to push.

The Nissan was definitely not worth naming, but I am starting to think about a name for our new Buick. Since it is all black, I was playing around with "USS Dark Matter". I also thought about "USS Dark Star", but that doesn't seem right either. I may need to give it a bit more time to jell.

Do you have any name suggestions? Star ship names preferred as my previous cars have been star ships. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kilimanjaro Pictures

Here is a Picasa album of my son's better pictures.