Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
There has not been much happening. Outside heat discourages photography on neighborhood streets. Nonetheless, I feel like I need to continue the trotter.ws life record, just because.
Marianne finished a painting we've started calling "Fish". We like it. Others say they like it. (Now I have to add it to her "web presence".)
Otherwise, things are quiet. I visit Vern and we fail to solve world problems. Marianne and I occasionally shop at the farmer's market. Javier and daughter Ely cleaned up our windows and the outside of the house. It's all good.
We continue to enjoy our electric car, but I've been thinking about the NEXT vehicle. Electric seems to be the way of the future, thanks to Elon Musk and the Tesla family and we placed an order for a Tesla Cybertruck in December of 2019, but I doubt it will be built before 2023. The company has well over a million orders like ours and the factory won't be finished for months yet.
Over the last week, I have started investigating an alternative to the large alien-inspired truck: an even more avant guard battery-electric-vehicle (BEV), the Aptera. The two-person, three-wheeled BEV is under development in San Diego and promises to be the most efficient electric vehicle ever made. Its styling makes the Cybertruck look almost retro. I am tempted to make another $100 reservation and see which reserved vehicle gets manufactured first. Marianne is not enthusiastic. What do YOU think?
Speaking of electric cars and avant guard design, new friends Tari and Jack invited us to dinner at their amazing mid-century home, a home that includes another Tesla, of course. I was too shy to wander throughout the place taking all the pictures needed, but I hinted that we might need to return for a photo shoot. Jack, at least, seemed amenable.
On the 22nd, we headed out on a trip of sorts. The first stop was the Rahimi house in Monte Sereno. Normally, the place is filled with grandkids, but they were with mom up in the mountains, so we let ourselves into an empty house. (Mamal would show up late, after work and errands.) After our takeout pizza dinner, Marianne got inspired by the back yard plum tree and made "obstkuchen", a favorite Hungarian/German fruit pie.
The next morning, after a detour to pick up some medicine we had forgotten, we drove up to a Stanford facility in Palo Alto for our "Project Baseline" medical exam. The multi-year health study had been interrupted by pandemic concerns, but was restarting annual assessments in their quest to gain insights into the aging process. This year's assessment was limited to questionnaire responses, urine samples, and lots of blood. (Ten sample vials for Marianne and 25 for me.) We don't get much information from all this, but we feel good about contributing to science.
After Stanford, it was "over the hill" to Santa Cruz and Monterey. We were not looking forward to a Friday trip to the coast on twisty Highway 17. By normal beach-traffic standards, it wasn't too bad, just a single accident delay of 15 or 20 minutes.
Mid way, we stopped at Moss Landing for lunch. Our first two choices were super crowded, so we passed them in favor of something new. We ended up at The Haute Enchilada, a place we'd seen before but never tried. After a wonderfully imaginative meal, set in a delightful garden, we resolved to make this a regular destination.
In Monterey, we checked in with Klare, aka Monterey Mamo, and Jack. The first order of business was chit chat. We'd not been able to spend much time with them since before the pandemic and it was good to learn how they are doing. In their mid-80s, they are managing with an assortment of challenges, but seemed good, or at least "good enough".
Though we probably did not need more food, Marianne helped Klare prepare a salad-dinner and we sat and ate and talked for another hour or more. The food was good and talking was even better. We all need to make up for the distances that Covid has caused.
The next morning, I left before dawn and settled into Starbucks for my first writing session in ten days. That went well enough that I will try to get back on the diary wagon and over-document our life.
After Starbucks, it was time at Klare and Jack's. Jack left for a dog walk and "the girls" went shopping. I had time for reading. It was all nice and "regular". Around noon, Marianne left our hosts to their normal routine and we took a tourist spin.
First order of business was a replanting at Marianne's mom's grave. While there, we noticed that Elemer's site had lost its decoration so we went out and found a plant for him too. Then Marianne watered the plants on the five family Hungarian graves. It's a reaffirming family tradition.
Otherwise, our Monterey-Carmel tourism was limited to driving around looking at nice houses and a lunch sandwich among the art museum's iron sculpture. I think this area would be our preferred place to live, but we continue to see no way to manage the housing costs. A starter home is a million and comes with a $10,000 annual tax bill. The closest we have done is to buy two burial plots next to the rest of the family, so our last residence will be here in Monterey.
Speaking of family, dinner was over at the Colton Street home where Marianne grew up and where brother Chris and his family still live. Chris and Leisa gave us a garden tour. We interrupted Spencer's gaming and gave a quick hug to Adam before he disappeared in his own world. Then we settled down to a great mushroom soup and fix-it-yourself salad. This was topped off by an evening of watching the televised Olympics. A nice family evening.
On Sunday we needed to return early to Fresno before another drive to a social dinner. Klare served us a healthy oatmeal breakfast and we left. Once again, I failed to get the pictures I should get on these visits, since they are not as frequent as we would like. Next time.
Early Sunday is the best time for the drive from the Coast to the Valley. We left Monterey with less than a full charge, so we stopped at Casa de Fruita for our first fill-up for the day. It's a convenient stop, with plenty to look at now that Covid limits are being removed. Even the carousel was back in service. Near the chargers, we ran across the largest RV I had ever seen, a big "class 8" semi, with a huge trailer and a tiny car. The movable home seemed bigger than our stationary one.
Three hours after leaving Monterey with the temperature at 58F, we arrived home where the mid-day temperature was 98F and still going up. Marianne rejoiced in the heat. I grumbled. Anyway, we unloaded the car, started a second charging session for the day, swapped dirty clothes for clean, and headed out for another Valley and Sierra Foothill destination.
Since charging possibilities at our goal were unknown, we stopped at the Traver Supercharger to top up. This is part of the electric car ABCs: "always be charging". We used the time for a powder break and shopping at The Red Barn, a neighboring antique (= junk) store. Traver is actually an old town, by Valley standards, with history going back to the 1880s, but it is still a hardscrabble farming village whose antique artifacts are limited. Very limited.
Our next goal was Three Rivers, the village at the southern end of the road up into Sequoia National Park. Sequoia is not the busiest local NP, that would be Yosemite, but the post-Covid rush has reached even here. We'd never stayed in the area and had selected the Lazy J Ranch based solely on cute internet pictures and the fact that they had one room left. I meant to take side pictures of our cute lodging, but all I found on the camera chips was a shot of the inside of our simple room. I am out of practice for travel documentation shots.
Now, our REAL goal for this trip was a dinner with Jerry Ebner, my old college roommate. He was on a summer excursion in his RV (much smaller than the one we saw at Casa de Fruita) and planned a few days to explore Sequoia with family arriving the next day. In the 53 years since graduation, we'd visited in-person less than a handful of times, so this was a special event.
We went to The Gateway Restaurant at the north end of Three Rivers, reputedly the best dining in town. "Best", I can't judge, but it was very good, with excellent food and a view of the drought-starved Kaweah River. (Our Gateway Restaurant stop also allowed us to charge up a bit at a Tesla charger in their parking lot. Remember, ABC.)
The best part, though, was learning about Jerry's life experiences, from stories about kids and grandkids, his unexpected move from Santa Maria California, where he was a successful Ob-Gyn doctor, to Georgia where he seems to be a successful retiree. My favorite story was their Fiji cruise at the beginning of the pandemic when they were suddenly isolated on the ship, unable to depart in port after port, until they had made it back to San Diego, a week's cruise extended to a month or two. (With no infections on board, it turned out to be the safest island in the world.)
After a couple of hours eating, charging, and chatting, we drove back to the Lemon Cove RV Park and left Jerry at his home-on-the-road. After his family tour in Sequoia, he would drive for four or five days across America to his home outside Atlanta. We warned him that we might show up on his doorstep and he said that would be great, but we'd need to check in ahead of time, since his wife has a "travel gene" and will be booking more travel for them, in the RV, on airplanes, and even on cruise lines when that's possible. "Travel gene", maybe we are related.
Driving back to the Lazy J, the sun was setting behind Lake Kaweah. We took a dozen or more photos, but none really captured how nice it was. I really do need more travel picture practice. My final chore for the day was to connect the Tesla to a 110 volt outlet for our fourth charging session of the day. I simply did not want to be heading up into the Sequoia mountains, where charging is impossible, and discover I'd missed an ABC opportunity.
Monday. I started with coffee and a diary-writing session by the pool at the Lazy J. Then we drove to the Gateway Restaurant for breakfast. We are developing regular stops. A red-headed woodpecker was entertaining us outside the window. He was probably a regular too.
The drive north into the national park was twisty and scenic, although the sky was hazy from either summer smog or forest fires a hundred miles north. Breakfast was not settling well, so we rushed past most of the giant tree attractions in favor of restrooms up by the Sequoia Museum. The museum was closed, due to the pandemic, but restrooms and the t-shirt shop were open. Essentials are essentials.
Finished with "business", we had some time for a short walk nearby. The huge "Sentinel" tree must get a zillion photos every season, and I added my own.
I expect we have done better pictures in the past, but it's always a good excuse to pause and look around. (My favorite time for pictures is winter, but I wonder if our new car will be suitable.)
That turned out to be our only stop in the park. We were not prepared for a hike and that may be about the only activity one can do in Sequoia or its neighbor, Kings Canyon National Park. The main drive, General's Highway, is beautiful enough I suppose, but summer tourists clog the road and are ... distracting. Again, we need to come back in winter.
We made it home without events. Battery charging was definitely not a problem, in part because we added 6% charge during the ride down from the mountains to the Valley floor. I have to remember to worry less (but still ABC.)
As we walked onto our back porch, we noticed our mother dove was sitting high in the nest. It seemed she has a chick or two underneath her now. Pretty soon they will grow large enough to peek out.
And that's it for a family and friend diary. It was good all round to reconnect.
I don't know what's next, but stay tuned.
John and Marianne