Monday, March 24, 2008

Update: Easter

Update: The Pacific Grove minister gave us some Easter date information.

March 23 is the second earliest date possible -- first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. The last time it occurred this early was 1913; the next one will be 2160. So, except for still-living people born before March 23, 1913, this is the only March 23 Easter anybody now living will see -- unless, like Ted Williams, you're cryogenically preserved and are thawed out in 2160. I think the last March 22 Easter was in the early 1800s, the next will be in 2200 something.

The latest Easter can be is April 25, next occurring in 2038.

As an EASTERling, I thought you'd like to know.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vegas to Monterey

Monday, March 17.

Got an early start, planning to get most of the way to Monterey today. There wasn't a convenient place to gas up in Las Vegas and just over the CA line I found diesel at $4.299! Later in day I bought more at $4.109 and felt I'd found a bargain. But, that may be the last diesel fuel I buy for three months.

Desert terrain until the town of Mojave, CA, several miles west of Barstow. Beyond Mojave we climbed up and over a range of rolling hills, showing fresh green grass for spring. A pleasant sight.

Then, through Bakersfield (home of Buck Owens) and across the San Jouaquin Valley, miles of vineyards and fruit and nut fields/orchards, whatever. Then, over another line of rolling green hills, highlighted by great swatches of wildflowers, and to the town of Paso Robles for the night. We're only about 100 miles from Marina/Monterey.

After a pleasant drive up an interior valley (bright green hills, sheep -- we thought we were back in New Zealand!), we checked into our Marina Dunes RV park about Tuesday noon and I went to campus to complete some paperwork and find my office. Wednesday pm we went by the RV park near the campus. As we wrote last time, we planned to move there when there is an opening next week or so. Well, we didn't like this RV park -- sort of primitive, crowded, and in need of renovation, as had been planned. And not as handy as we thought to campus. So, we'll stay at Marina Dunes. It's about 15 minutes from campus, no worse than driving from Cedar Crest to Albq, and will be an easy drive when Susie needs to drop me off and keep the car. Also, one of my faculty contacts said there may be carpools I can join.

On Wed and Th we did a little exploring and came across some charming California boutiques -- Wal-Mart and Target. Susie said what's wrong with us that we're excited discovering these stores!

Most of Th and F were consumed by March Madness -- on my part. We did find some time to walk the 1/3 mile or so over the dunes fronting our RV park to the beach. Then a long walk down the beach and back home. Here's a Monterey Bay shot. That point way over there is where Pacific Grove is located, about which more below.

Saturday we drove on south and west around Monterey Bay to Pacific Grove -- finding our way to a church we planned to attend Sunday. Then back to Cannery Row -- between downtown Monterey and Pacific Grove -- for some strolling and lunch overlooking the bay. Here's a chamber of commerce shot of the Pacific Grove coastline, flowers in bloom.

People had told us that if you wanted to get a good feel for Monterey living, we should live in PG. I can see why, but we're happy in Tuzigoot and our RV park in Marina.

Here's a bust of John Steinbeck at Cannery Row and then his description of Cannery Row, ca. his novel set in the 1930s:

"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses."- John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

Steinbeck is the author, of course, of The Grapes of Wrath, in my mind one of the best novels ever written. I plan to immerse myself in Steinbeckiana while we're here. I've got several Steinbeck books at home I haven't read, but unfortunately, I forgot to bring them. I'll have to check on getting a library card.

Now, if I recall the history I was told a couple of years ago when we visited here, at one time, say pre-Depression era, the Del Monte Resort in Monterey was a favored Hollywood retreat. However, the stink from Cannery Row ruined the resort. The Navy bought the Del Monte and the old resort hotel is now the administration building for the Naval Postgraduate School (abbreviated hereinafter as NPS). The cannery business dried up in the 1950s and now Cannery Row is shops and restaurants. We went in one called As Seen on TV. You could buy all those neat gadgets that tend to be advertized on late night TV -- but I didn't see a Ronco slicer and dicer.

There's also a Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory on Cannery Row. We didn't discover it until we'd eaten, but we'll be back. Out in front was a Tom Hanks/Forrest Gump lookalike entertaining the visitors -- stupid is as stupid does.

Pacific Grove was started in 1887 as a Methodist Church retreat. They now call themselves The Butterfly Town. First Methodist Church is called the Butterfly Church. The sanctuary has lots of glass so you feel almost like being out of doors. The large window at the front of the church features a large stained glass butterfly and various butterfly parts. Don't know yet when butterfly season is, but we'll watch for it. Here's a picture of the sanctuary off of the church's website. Don't think you can see butterfly parts, though.

They had a nice Easter service -- outstanding music -- started with Star Wars theme and a percussionist really pounding his tympannies. Butterflies are Easter symbols -- transformation/resurrection from ugly caterpillar to beautiful butterfly, and the preacher tied it all in. Also contrasted ugly, brown bulbs that turn into colorful daffodils.

Had Easter lunch at Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf. When we visited two years ago, Susie had found a restaurant on the Wharf that featured a fried artichoke heart appetizer -- literally dozens of artichoke hearts, she claims -- and we were looking for that. Didn't find it and ended up with an overpriced, disappointing meal. Right outside the window, though, seals and sea lions were enjoying spring weather.

Well, one more week until classes begin. I think I'm pretty ready for the first week, at least, and a good start at subsequent weeks of lectures and assignments. We shall see.


Rob and Susie

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On the Road Again

Greetings Friends and Family. Tuzigoot is on the road again. We're on our way to Monterey, CA, where I'll be teaching at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Before we even got from Cedar Crest to Albuquerque (3/11) we got a call from the RV park operated by the Navy adjacent to NPS. The park would be open this spring. This was good news. We were told last fall that it would be closed for renovation from April through June, just when we would be at NPS. Hence, we made reservations at an RV park about 10 miles up the coast. This is a very nice RV park -- highly rated and just over a dune from the ocean-- but we had hoped for the convenience of the NPS park. I could walk to campus and Susie would be close to town.

Well, after we were told about the shut-down, the manager said keep checking, you never know about the government. I had, but the word was always the same. A couple of calls the week before we left had not been answered, so it looked like no dice.

We stopped in Albq so we could call back for a reservation; I left a message. Late afternoon, just as we pulled into a Holbrook, AZ campground, we got a return call. Turns out we could locate at the NPS RV park on March 28, but only for 10 days until the uber-manager got back to see if we could stay for the three months duration. (They had gotten the word only Sunday that the renovation was being delayed -- you know the government -- but somehow the place was well-booked by Tuesday.) However, the fact that I was an NPS professor would provide some priority, so our agent was optimistic that we could stay through the quarter. We shall see. It's a good sign. We also want to look at the NPS RV park to be sure it has all the amenities we want. (:-) We told the ocean-front park we'll be there for at least 10 days and maybe week by week as we wait for an NPS slot to open up.

Our address through March 28, at least, will be 3330 Dunes Drive, Marina, CA 93933. We'll let you know when that changes.

Driving west on I-40, through Flagstaff, I tipped my hat at the Sedona turnoff to nearby Tuzigoot National Monument, namesake of our first motor home and now TuziTwo. Also kicked myself for not planning a stop there for a photo opportunity. The monument features these pueblor ruins dating back about a thousand years.

Little bit later, kicked myself again for not leaving enough time to go out to that new glass platform that extends out over the Grand Canyon. Some other time, maybe on the trip home, but then it will be summer, and hot, so ... . At any rate, here's an artist's conception and go here for a video.

Our objective now is to get to Las Vegas to see some Mountain West Conference basketball tournament games - Go Lobos! - and daughter, Heidi. Also, just relax after the hustle of getting loaded for a nearly four-month excursion.

Thursday night we went to Lobo men's game -- unfortunately, they lost in overtime to Utah, a team they had beaten twice. Heidi had used her connections to get us seats in a suite, so we had sweet suite seats. The Lobo women had won their first round game on Wednesday, so we went to their semifinal game Friday afternoon, which they won. On to the finals.

Saturday afternoon the Lobo women's team won! Fifth time in six years. This year they entered just rated fourth. Through some upsets of other teams they never had to play a higher seeded team. 'Twas a close, exciting game, and we prevailed over San Diego State U.

There's a twist on our traveling configuration this time. We had the Explorer modified for towing, so we're pulling it instead of the PT. Just thought we'd prefer to have it for driving around the Monterey area and for weekend exploring if we don't drive Tuzi. It weights about 1000 pounds more than the PT, but I didn't notice much difference in pulling it.

Sunday we went to early church with Vegas friends, former Albuquerqueans, Budd and Carolyn Bornhoft. Heidi, too. Then we had a pleasant breakfast and visit at the cafe here at the Oasis RV Resort. Very nice, but the weather turned cold and wet. Rain overnight -- snow level on the surrounding desert mountains not very many feet higher than the city -- and cold -- in the 40s. Tomorrow we leave for Monterey, will get there Tuesday.

We'll be in touch.


Susie and Rob