Archive for ◊ January, 2018 ◊

17 Jan 2018 Posting From Jack In The Box……
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This State park is right on the ocean and just a couple hundred yards from INT 5. Amazingly if is relatively quiet. Unfortunately this park is poorly maintained. Other than a single ranger at the check in gate I haven’t seen any maintenance people and the park is in desperate need of a lot of tender loving care.

With no internet in the park I contacted Sprint to see what options I have under my current “plan”. When we converted from Verizon, which I now consider a big mistake, we went on a special plan which is only sixty bucks, a month, for two phones. The Sprint service is miserable in Canada; however, we make few calls. Here the service is better but very limited when it comes to bandwidth. After two different agents who tried to sell me on a “better” plan I was able to buy an additional GB. With luck that should hold us over until we arrive at Pachanga on Sunday.

Judith was up at eight to greet the day. We discussed the plan and options for getting to Northern California for Bill’s funeral. I checked into flights out of the closest airport which is John Wayne International. It is about forty minutes north of this State Park. I did the math and from the time perspective flying only saves two or three hours, in each direction, and that is if everything happens as planned. As soon as we find out when services will be held we can make the final decision.

I headed south to Ocean’s Eleven at nine thirty. The famous card room is only twenty miles south. I was driving at the 70MPH limit and people were going by like I was standing still. I saw more cars on this twenty mile drive than I do all summer in Smithers.

Before I could enter the ten o’clock tournament I had to be issued a players card. That’s music to my ears because that is one of the many technologies Capture sell. We don’t sell this product in the LA area but……………

Over the years I’ve hear a lot about this room and finally got a chance to play today. The tournament room has ten tables and the main poker room has twenty nine. They have another room dedicated to black jack and other table card games. I was expecting the level of play to be much better and I wasn’t disappointed. Seventy players plunked down there sixty bucks and the cards were in the air at ten. Nine men and one woman were at my table. Most were my age and regulars. This was serious poker NOT an all in fest with players reaching in their pockets for rebuy after rebuy. The tournament pays twelve places. It was almost two when I busted out at seventeenth. One of the players summed this tournament with the following “a player has to be good to make the last two tables and LUCKY to get in the money”. Amen…..

After a quick lunch I tried the Sprint hot spot. Nada. We hopped in the truck and went to get groceries in the hopes Ralph’s would have internet. Not. I Googled a Starbucks and found one just three blocks away. There was a parking space right next to the building and I was able to log on and post my block without leaving our truck. The Starbucks is only a mile from our RV Park and I’ll be posting my blog from there until we leave for Temecula on Sunday.

Tomorrow we’ll drive to the Regan Library which is a hundred and twenty miles north of San Clemente. We’ll leave here at nine and have lunch before we spend a couple hours seeing the sites. Hopefully we’ll make it back threw LA before the commute traffic begins.

16 Jan 2018 In San Clamente………..
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No Internet in this State Park…  Looks as if I’ll drink Starbucks and posting my blog for the next week.

My day started about seven. I put on the coffee and put out the last of the cat food for Spooky. She showed up like clockwork at eight in the morning and five at night. She would quickly gobble down the food and be on her way. She wasn’t young I don’t think in great health but she was doing what it takes to make it from day to day.

The RV repair place opens at eight and I was the first through the door. I got propane and gave the counter guy, Randy, Let Trump be Trump. I read it last week and Judith finished it last night. It was an interesting and surprisingly well written book.

California never ceases to amaze me. It is the most populated state in the United States yet there are areas that seem literally deserted. Today, because of the mudslide closure, we got to make a detour from Santa Maria to just above Bakersfield where we turned south on INT 5. While CA 166 was crowded with all the detour traffic the one hundred and twenty mile trip went through just two or three tiny towns. Between large expanses of nothingness there were huge vineyards and Orange trees as far as the eye can see.

Once we turned south on INT 5 it was game on. I was hoping there would be light traffic since it was Martin Luther King Day. Wrong. All the lanes seemed full on pavement that has gotten worse since the last time we traveled this route three or four years ago. Five and a half hours after we left Pismo Beach we pulled in San Clamente State Park. We quickly set up and headed down an almost washed out “nature trail” onto find out, when we got to the bottom, it was closed. We walked along the beach watching a handful of surfers trying to ride waves way above their paygrade. There is a high surf warning producing what look like ten to twelve footers.

No word on the services for Bill. Unfortunately this State Park has no internet and my Sprint service is down to 2G, whatever that means. I guess we’ve used too much bandwidth. I drive to a Starbuck’s in the morning, post this blog and check the flights into Oakland. Spending two days driving or two hours flying; decisions, decisions. In the morning I drive twenty minutes south and pay Hold’em at Oceans Eleven a famous Southern California Poker Room. Going to the Regan Library is high on our list. So much to do—so little time….

14 Jan 2018 So Long Pismo Beach…Thanks For The Use Of The Room
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I woke up at five. The shock seemed gone and reality was setting in making my mind spin like a windmill on a windy day. For the last forty years if I had an accounting or ESOP question I picked up the phone and called Bill. Bill’s passing raises some new issues and several of those issues concern him or in reality, his estate. It is never easy………..

Until we find out about the funeral arrangements things are up in the air. Our time here at Pismo Coast Village is over and we are scheduled to leave for San Clemente State Park in the morning. San Clemente is about three hours south of here and a seven or eight hour drive back to the Bay Area. We assume there will be a service and it will be this coming week. If that assumption is correct we’ll be within a once day drive back or a quick one hour flight to Oakland or SFO. Taking the RV back is an option but that seems like too much brain damage. Speaking of brain damage………

The easy way to get from Pismo Beach to San Clemente is straight south on Hwy101. I should have said WAS the easy way ….. The day the big mud slide occurred, last Monday, Caltrans said Hwy101 would reopen on Thursday. On Thursday they said the road would be reopened Monday. Today Caltrans dropped the bomb that Hwy101 is closed indefinitely……. This section of highway accommodates 266,000 vehicles a DAY. Yikes…….

Tomorrow we’ll pack up our dolls and dishes and head south. Unfortunately the south part will only last for about twenty miles where we will take a sharp left eastward on CA166 heading over to INT 5 the main highway between San Francisco and LA. The good news it is Martin Luther Day and traffic should be much lighter than normal. With luck we should make the three hour trip in six. Finger’s crossed.

Our original plans were to visit the Regan Library while in San Clemente but we may have to put that on hold until we hear about the funeral arrangements. The Ocean Elevens Casino is just twenty minutes away and I plan to check out the poker room.

13 Jan 2018 Smell The Roses……………
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I am in shock as I sit here just a couple of hours after getting the devastating news that a very close friend, Bill Schrambling, died today. Judith and I were eating dinner when her phone rang. She didn’t answer or look at the phone. A few minutes later she checked the phone and saw the call was from Alaine, Bill’s wife. She commented she would call her later. I had my phone on silent and didn’t hear it ring a few minutes later. A minute or so later I saw a notification of an incoming missed call from a mutual friend who I only talk to a couple times a year. I got that sick feeling and a few seconds later my worst fears were confirmed. Whitney and Bill took the train, as part of an antique car, outing to Sacramento. Once they got to Sacramento they stopped at the Train Museum. When Bill didn’t return from a trip to the restroom they found him, in that restroom, on the floor and unresponsive.

Bill and I go back close to forty five years. We both worked in San Francisco; I had just started selling dictating machines and he was an accountant with his own firm. We were introduced by a doctor, a client of Bills. We hit it off and realized we had nothing and everything in common. We played pool and gin together almost from our first meeting playing for a few bucks and bragging rights. Our favorite sport was recreational arguing. We argued about everything. If I took one side he took the other. Our favorite topic was politics. We each have unopened e-mails on the others computers. Mine will remain unopened as will his.

Early on Bill became our accountant. I had just gotten an audit notice from the IRS. With one letter that audit was cancelled. From that point on he handled our personal and business accounting and practically put a gun to my head to install the ESOP at then US Audio. That advice was great for both the company and employees. Without that advice we certainly wouldn’t have been retired for the last seventeen years and River House wouldn’t exist.

Getting old has many costs. One of those is losing friends and family members. Years ago, when I was in my mid-forties, we went to an older friend’s funeral. Before the service began and elderly man came in and sat near us. One of his friends asked him how he was doing and I’ll never forget his response “Ok, but it seems like all I do is go to funerals”. Like most people I hate funerals. I can think of a dozen reasons why not to go; I don’t have a suit with me, we’re five hundred miles away, we’re old, etc. Bill and I always joked about our mutual goals were to outlive the other and give a eulogy explaining to the mourners that I was really a closet Democrat and/or he was a closet Republican. Somehow that doesn’t seem as funny as when we joked about that over a good dinner or a game of pool.

Smell the roses, hug your friends and love ones and enjoy each day as it may be your last. There but for the grace of God, go I………………………………

12 Jan 2018 A Look Into Our Past……….
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Second From The Left–Three Balconies for ocean viewing

My feet didn’t hit the floor until almost eight putting me behind the eight ball. With all our blinds pulled and an overcast morning it felt like O-dark-thirty then I greeted the day.

Skooky was waiting by the back door when I put out her morning handout. I’ve fed her for over a month and haven’t come close to putting a hand on her/it. Thank you, Lord.

I had very little time to do anything before I headed out the door at nine thirty and drove to the morning tournament at the Central Coast Casino. Today only twenty players registered. I made the final table and went out sixth but no cigar. I played well and that is all one can ask. That was my last tournament at this little room until we return next November. I will go down to a larger casino on Sunday to play in there knockout tournament.

Judith was doing laundry when I got back to the park giving me time to make a few calls send e-mails. The deck replacement project is coming together and Harry, who built the new entry gate and lots more, has agreed to take on replacing the railings which was the last piece of the puzzle.

After a quick lunch we made a 2.6 mile walk into Pismo Beach and back. We walked by “our” condo we will be renting next winter and I took a picture from another angle. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the high sixties. Lots of people were on the beach with many in surfing.

Shortly after we got back to the park we headed to the theater to see The Greatest Showman at a local theater. We pulled up to what seem like an old, long in the tooth theater and it was on the outside, however, very nice and clean on the inside. The Greatest Showman is a musical which Judith thought I would hate. Wrong! I really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone. Not an F bomb or a sex scene in the entire movie. Imagine that…….

Judith brought home some tamales which made the perfect easy dinner. After dinner I won the evening Gin game.

Tomorrow they are having a tournament that runs over two weekends and since we leave on Monday playing is pointless. I have a little work to do on the trailer including cleaning and spraying the slideout’s mechanisms. If the stars align I go over in the afternoon and play in a 1-2 cash game.

11 Jan 2018 I’m In The Money……………..
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I started my day at five thirty. Job one for the day was getting everything together for a meeting with John, Capture’s CEO, to review policies and procedures for the new year. With the addition of ten new employees it is vitally important Capture is the best it can be. I sent off some memos for his last minute review and then called him at six forty five. We talked for the next hour resulting a good and productive meeting.

Next I checked in on the road conditions down Hwy 101 to San Clemente. Yesterday they said they would have the road open by today. They have now revised that to Monday. That is the day we are supposed to make the trek south and I think detouring through Bakersfield might be the best bet.

I checked in at River House and it was minus two. A warmer spell is on the way which should bring more snow. Walla Walla in in the mid-forties with rain forecast for the end of the week. It is still beautiful here in Pismo Beach with sunny days and temperatures in the high sixties forecast for the next ten days. I check our next stop, San Clemente; no rain which is a blessing in the flooding department.

Twenty players showed up for this morning’s Hold’em tournament at the Central Coast Casino. I’ve been playing well and today the card God’s smiled on me. I made the Final Table and cashed when we did a six way chop banking $129. Better than the alternative……………….

Judith was waiting when I got back to the park. We had a quick lunch then logged two and a half miles on our daily walk. We walked past “our” condo and I took a few pictures.

I took on the cooking duties and fired up the Tool Box Grill and cooked lamb chops. Judith baked sweet potatoes and I fixed my favorite spinach dish. I put a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add a ¼ cup of pinenuts. As soon as the olive oil starts popping I add the spinach and turn it with tongs coating the spinach with olive oil and distributing the pinenuts throughout. I squeeze half a lemon over the spinach and lightly salt and pepper. From start to finish this dish takes about three minutes. Yummy……………

Tomorrow I’ll play in the morning tournament then Judith and I plan to take in a movie and take our daily walk.

10 Jan 2018 City Dwellers………….
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Marcus Whitman Hotel In Walla Walla………….We will be on on of the top three floors…….

This date is always one that I remember. And on this date, way back in 1967, I probably did one of the biggest selling jobs of my life. I was stationed at Carswell AFB in Ft. Worth. I was an airman 1st class with five months left on my four year enlistment. At that time the Air Force had a rule that if you had less than six months left you wouldn’t be reassigned to another base. I worked in the com center which closed. The base decided to use about a dozen of us, all Airman first class, to pick up trash around the base. I wasn’t fond of that and came up with a plan and asked for a meeting with our Squadron Commander Lt. Potts. I told my fellow airman I was going to plea our case for an early discharge. As I left they looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I explained it was a waste of our government’s money to pay Airman 1st class $235 dollars a month when Airman Basics (new recruits) were doing the same job for $78 per month. He listened and asked me if the others were in agreement. I said yes and gave him a list. He said go back to the barracks and he’d make a call and get back to me. I went back to the barracks and told the guys we weren’t going to pick trash today but needed to stay put. Within an hour a “runner” came over and told us to pack our things and our discharge orders were being processed. Two hours later our military careers ended. The next morning my then wife, Carol, and daughter, Tina, hopped in our 1966 Chevy Camaro and drove to Oregon City, Oregon. The rest is history………….

My day stated before six. I turned on the news and wasn’t happy to hear Hwy 101, south of here, is closed and so far they have discovered seventeen dead with many still missing. We are scheduled to head south on Monday, however, we may have to detour back to Bakersfield, down INT 5, through downtown LA, then back on to Hwy 101 into San Clemente. The weather looks good for the next ten days and the DOT is promising Hwy 101 will be reopened by Thursday. Fingers crossed.

After an uneventful morning at the poker room Judith and I went to lunch at Mei’s a Chinese restaurant in Shell Beach a few miles north of Pismo Beach. While it wasn’t San Francisco or Vancouver good it was better than decent and the best Chinese restaurant we’ve found in the Five Cities Area. It wasn’t cheap but that is just the price you pay for hanging your hat in a popular tourist town.

Judith wanted to go to Moro Bay to visit one of her favorite garden shops. I parked nearby and was more than content to sit in the car and read. I’m almost finished Let Trump Be Trump. Interesting. Next on the list is Fire and Fury.

We got some good news late in the day. An apartment has come available in the Top of The Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla. We’ll be staying there for a month which should give as a good idea of how we would like living in the downtown area. The Marcus is right across the street from the commercial lot that is number one on our list. The world is unfolding as it should.

Same old, same old tomorrow.

09 Jan 2018 The Skies Have Opened…………….
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The skies opened last night shortly after midnight. The only thing louder than the rain pounding on the roof was our I-Phones going off with flash flood warnings and evacuation notices. Do we really need to know the need to evacuate for a place a couple of hours away? It rained all night and was still pouring when I greeted the day at six.

I put on the coffee and started my morning routine. I turned on the TV to find the mudslides that were predicted happened and the death toll is five with more expected. Once my mental and physical exercises were done I started getting ready for today’s Board Meeting at one o’clock.

Judith was up at nine to greet the day. As we ate breakfast Judith checked her e-mail and received the paperwork for leasing the condo. Judith now wants to take another look before signing on the dotted line.

On the way to the poker room my phone rang. I got involved in a conversation which got be to the tournament table late putting me behind the eight ball. Thirty people showed today. Minutes after we broke to two tables I looked down at 78 suited in hearts. I was about forth to act and called a min bet as did four others. The flop came 789 giving me a good sold two pair hand with six outs to a full house. I didn’t have a lot of chips and called when the first player to act went all in. The last player to act also went all in making for a very nice pot. Both players had a ten putting them on an open ended straight draw. I was ahead and just had to fade them hitting a 6 or 10 on the turn and river. The turn didn’t help anyone bit the Jack on the river gave them both straights and my tournament day was over.

I made it home in tome to have a quick lunch before our board meeting started at one o’clock. We spent the next hour going over old and new business. The bottom line is Capture is doing well and with the recent acquisition will be doing even better in 2018. We are already taking on new California customers that are part of a chain of self-storage companies that the new company serves in Nevada.

Judith went back to the condo to take a second look and to get a better feel for these new digs. I begged off going and spent the time taking a nap and reading.

Judith took on the cooking duties after she be me in Gin—-again. She cooked thin strips of pork in a sour cream sauce and served them over homemade pastas. Excellent.

More of the same tomorrow. BORING.

08 Jan 2018 Snowing At River House………….
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My day started at five when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had a six thirty meeting scheduled with John, Capture’s President, and wanted to be well prepared for a meeting to set the tone for the year. John is an early riser and always in the office by six. I called at six thirty on the dot and was surprised when I got his voicemail. I left a message and logged on to USA Today and started my puzzle routine.

Next I checked in on e-mail and found a reply from BC Hydro. I was pleased to find there would be no more charges to complete the entry gate meter installation and they can complete the work within twenty days of receiving the notarized easement document.

I checked in at River House and there was four inches of new snow. It was overcast and still snowing with lots more in the forecast. Here in Pismo Beach it started raining about three this morning and rained off and on all day. As I type the rain is still hitting our roof. The rain is good news for the fire burning south of here. It was the second largest fire ever experienced in California. Now the problem is erosion. It is never easy.

Thirty plunked down their twenty bucks for this morning’s tournament. After three levels I had doubled my chip stack and didn’t rebuy except paying five bucks for the big blind chip. A couple hands into the four levels I thought I flopped a broadway straight: AKQJT. I pride myself in memorizing the hold cards and do NOT have to check, unless I’m trying to confuse my opponents. I went all in hoping for a call, got one, and when I turned over the cards I realized I had made a mistake. Rookie mistake.

I stopped at the RV place on the way back to check on ordering a trim piece for our travel trailer. I was hoping they would have one in stock. That wasn’t the case and it takes ten days to get one here and we’ll be gone in eight days. It is never easy.

Judith was checking out condos on the internet and had arraigned for us to view one at three thirty. We walked by this one every day and is directly across from the RV Park.

After a quick lunch Judith took off to run errands and I settled in with Let Trump Be Trump. We ordered it two weeks ago and it has been on backorder at Amazon. It is well written and gives and interesting explanation of What Happened in the last election.

Judith was back in time to take a quick nap before going to see the condo. The owner’s daughter was waiting for us when we pulled up at three thirty. This condo is right on the waterfront with ocean views from four balconies. It has a two car garage on the ground floor, dining room, living room, kitchen and bathroom on the second floor. The third floor has two bedrooms and another bathroom. They are about ten years old and maintained very nicely. The last thing I expected was for Judith to gives thumbs up to the first one we looked at, however, that’s exactly what happened. It is available from Nov 15th until Feb 15th. WE left with a verbal commitment and are now waiting for the paperwork. The world is unfolding as it should.

I won the evening Gin game and took on the cooking duties. I baked a Cornish Game Hen stuffed with apples, onions and celery. I also roasted potatoes, carrots, sliced broccoli stems and dried peaches. Steamed broccoli filled out the menu unfortunately they were overcooked and a tad too salty.

More poker in the morning and if the rain stops we’ll take a walk on the beach.

07 Jan 2018 Sunday….Sunday
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A Pleasant Way To See Solvang……….

With just a week left in Pismo Beach we still have lots to do. While we have talked to rental agencies we haven’t actually visited two bedroom condos. We did find out that renting a condo for three months has its challenges. The owners like to come for Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years and rent around those dates. I guess moving a couple of times wouldn’t be the end of the world. Not having any animals is a big plus just slightly below NOT being a felon.

I woke Judith up and nine and told her two hours until departure to Solvang. She had it on her to do list and I figured today was the day. I cooked sour dough pancakes and Jimmy Dean Sausage for breakfast.

By the time we left for Solvang the fog had lifted and the sun was out with the temperature sitting at sixty five. Before we left I Googled restaurants and we decided to try the Copenhagen Sausage Gardens. We plugged the address in the GPS and headed south on Hwy 101. The California golden hills are starting to show a little green after last week’s rains. It took just an hour to get to Solvang which lies in the Foothills east of Hwy 101. Solvang was founded in 1911 by a small group of Danish Immigrants. A hundred plus years later it is home to fifty two hundred people and seems straight out of Disneyland. We had lunch ordering the beer and sausage sampler; six five ounce glasses of German beer and four sausages. You want buns with that? Great, those are a buck apiece. We ordered at the counter and paid. The cheapest tip option was 15% going all the way up to forty; fifty one bucks for a better than decent lunch. After lunch we hopped on a horse draw carriage for a twenty five minute tour of Solvang. We ended our day at a bakery now owned by the great grandson of the original owner. The town banned franchise stores in early two thousand making it a unique and interesting community.

We were back at the park at four and took a pass on our daily walk. Judith won the evening gin game—again! We grazed for dinner. I opted to finish the prawns and Judith ate popcorn. Really?

There won’t be any poker in San Clemente so I’ll play every day this week at the Central Coast Casino. Rain is forecast the next couple of days for the Central Coast and they are now talking about flash flooding and even evacuating the recently burned area just south of here.