Archives for April 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – Trip to Alcatraz

Having completed the first of our three west coast jobs, Hubby and I decided to become tourists today. We started with breakfast across from the hotel at the Golden Gate, an unpretentious second floor restaurant that had no crowd (unlike a couple of others we passed on the way here), but the food was certainly palatable and reasonably well-priced. From there, we headed down a few blocks, made a quick stop to check on something at the Macy’s Chanel boutique, then walked down to pick up a trolley bus (as opposed to a trolley car, which we would do later in the day), which took us to Pier 33 where the Alcatraz ferries were running. After standing in a line forever (apparently because the two groups in front of us hadn’t decided what they wanted to do, and apparently had to have every last tour option explained to them), we finally got our tickets (in under a minute), then stood in line waiting to board the boat, getting our pictures taken in from of the Alcatraz matte that has become a popular way for some concessionaire to make money, then headed out. Juast as we went, I received a phone call from my Tennessee UPS driver, saying he had a package for me! Seems my order from had been sent to the billing address instead of the shipping address as I had instructed, so I had to text him the new address, and he quickly diverted it for me, thank goodness. Now I’m worried about the second package, which was being sent separately, darn it! Can’t imagine they’re going to send that one to the right address now! Anyway, we had just about arrived at the Alcatraz dock by the time I got off the phone. We disembarked and headed down to an area on the dock where there was a female Park Ranger explaining some of the history and all of the rules of being on “The Rock.” Because it was a long uphill slog from the docks to the prison, we took the assistance bus to the top, which had switchbacks as sharp as anything we’ve seen on a horse trail, before picking up our headsets for the audio tour. Fascinating, frightening, depressing, and the palpable tensions of ghosts full of angst, we spent several hours wandering the prison and the grounds. It’s incredible that there are places you can go where you can feel the emotions the predominate there, like the Vietnam Memorial in DC, where the sense of tragedy, waste and mourning are tangible. It took us awhile to identify that emotion here, and eventually realized it was mostly hatred and anger. The gardens provided a small respite and the wildlife sanctuary full of birds also lightened the atmosphere somewhat. Glad we did it, not sure I’d ever want to do it again, though. Ferried back to the mainland and walked down to Pier 66 where there is a wharf full of restaurants and souvenir shops, a typical tourist trap, but we found a nice place for a quick early dinner before walking to the trolley car stop, which then (for a rather exhorbitant fee) took us up over the hill and back down to the hotel, stopping right outside. Once again we joined our friends for drinks at the manager’s wine reception, before heading back to our room, knowing it would be a short time till the morning, and the hard bed wasn’t going to help much!

Sunday, April 14, 2013 – Rest Day at Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Had a hard time winding down from the late night, but slept as late as possible trying to make up for lost time. Not easy, considering how hard the bed was. I went downstairs to find out about changing rooms, and was told a room had already been chosen, it was just a matter of cleaning. It was on the 15th floor (out of 20), so it bodes well to be a better room. They also mentioned that anything higher might have some noise from their famous (and loud) Starlight Room club on the 21st floor, so I guess it will be a superior room. After getting that cleared up, with the understanding the room would be ready by 2:30, we took a walk out to find brunch and a store to buy some essential sundries. Kitty-corner across the street from the hotel was an old-fashioned diner where we went for a late brunch, before retiring back to the room to wait for our new room to be ready. We discovered there wasn’t any movie channels on the TV, just basic cable, so we watched a Sunday morning show before we finally called down at 2:30, and was told the room was ready (they hadn’t called yet, though, but now it was ready). We grabbed our already-packed bags, I ran downstairs for the key, then ran up to the room to check it out. The desk had told me the bellhop had already moved our suitcases (which I found hard to believe, as I had just left Hubby moments before, but they insisted), so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the 15th floor. Turns out Hubby and luggage weren’t there (surprise, surprise), but the room was much larger and quite nice, though the bed was just as hard. I went back down to 3 to help Hubby get everything moved, and before long, we were tucked away in our new and expansive room. Out the window, we even had a view of a horse and a palm tree, reminding us of Florida! Okay, so they were plastic, so what? It was still a better view than we had from the third floor! After we settled in, we headed down to the lobby for the manager’s reception (free wine), ran into our friends again, then went to check out the meeting room we would be using for the next two days. Everything looked good, just one or two minor adjustments, so we headed up to try to, at last, get some rest!

Saturday, April 13, 2013 – Fly to San Francisco

Woke up bright and early, spent the day packing and preparing, giving final instructions to our hosts for taking care of the animals, then headed off to the airport. The flight was scheduled for 4:40, but by the time we reached the airport, that had been delayed about a half hour. Then it was delayed again, and again. By the time we took off, it was 6:45, more than a two hour delay. It turned out to have nothing to do with the weather, instead it had to do with the San Francisco airport being short a runway, and flights were being held at the point of origin until they could schedule their arrival! I had hoped to reach SF before the sun went down, or at least just as it was doing so, but by the time we arrived we were incredibly late. We grabbed a cab to the hotel, which was the Sir Francis Drake downtown, and it was almost midnight by the time we arrived. Unfortunately, the desk hadn’t held a room for us (I thought I had left instructions for the catering person to do that, but I didn’t follow up), and the hotel was nearly sold out, so we were stuck with a tiny little room on the third floor that was so small, we had to climb over our suitcase to get to the bathroom! Clearly the old servants quarters or something, it definitely had the feel of “steerage.” They’ve promised to move us tomorrow, but I hate having to spend the day waiting to move, then moving. It really cuts into the “rest” day we had planned, but we can’t possibly stay in this cramped little room for a week! We ran into some friends (who we’re scheduled to work with in the latter part of the week) in the lobby at 12:15 a.m. (there flight was late as well), said hellos and goodnights, then headed back up to our room to try to get some sleep. Bed is hard as a rock!!

Friday, April 12, 2013 – Paperwork Day

Spent the day in the usual way before flying off somewhere, finishing off as much paperwork and computer stuff as possible, and doing our best to relax, which isn’t easy with so many things to do in preparation for a long trip to the west coast. Fortunately, it’s a late afternoon flight, so we’ll have plenty of time to pack tomorrow. Hubby did take one quick trip to town to run an errand, but the rest of the day was spent holed up in the RV. Went to bed early, trying to make some deposits in our sleep bank!

Thursday, April 11, 2013 – Travel Day to Charlotte Stables

Another early morning, headed out, stopped to pick up a quick breakfast just before getting on I-77, then headed north to our next location. We had time, so we took a side trip to Kings Mountain. This is a horse camp I’ve had on my radar for some time, but haven’t had a chance to check out. We’ve been considering coming here between jobs, but after seeing it, we decided it wouldn’t work this trip, mainly because it is so deep in the woods (which we normally like) that we wouldn’t be able to get a satellite dish (which Hubby wants while I take a short trip for another job at Baltimore for a few days). Cell phone signal is here, but not by much either. So we’re glad we checked it out, now we just need an alternative for the week between jobs we have upcoming. We headed back out to the DCT Farms in Bessemer City, and were warmly greeted by owner Jena and her handyman (and ex-husband) Wade. Had a little trouble negotiating the low limbs coming in the driveway, but Wade climbed on top and kept them from scraping anything off the roof. Once up to the barn, they had already cut some limbs off another big tree in order to make a space for us, and we were grateful. It’s a perfect spot, with some shade and some sun, excellent for a satellite dish, had a good cell phone signal, and is less than 30 minutes from the airport (not the mention, the price is right!) We got settled in, the horses have their own paddock (though there was a bit of a ruckus with the horses in the paddock next door at feeding time), and the dogs even got to know Jena’s pack, and started to fit in nicely. Overall, it looks like it will be a great place for all concerned!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – Ride Day at Mill Creek

We couldn’t pass up the chance to ride here, so we saddled up the horses, on an absolutely perfect day, and headed out for just a short ride, our last for at least a few weeks, possibly even longer! Headed out on the yellow trail, then took the blue cutoff to get us to the Palmetto Trail. Parts of this loop are gorgeous, and some have been ravaged by fires and logging, but overall the trails here are really good, especially for some cantering and even galloping, because there are some nice long stretches. It was a lovely 2 hour ride, just what we needed, since Hubby hasn’t been riding much, and he needs to get back into shape for it. That may take awhile considering our upcoming schedule. Enjoyed the day, though, before returning to do some prep work to leave. At least I got the laundry done, we’ll be ready to pack on Friday!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – Laundry Day

Tried to rest a little today, mostly did laundry and computer work. Still trying to get used to this new Splendide machine, which both washes and dries in the same machine, but takes so much longer! I washed and hung out to dry, though, the weather was perfect for fresh air! Also spent some time on the computer getting some work done, and had to run out nearly 10 miles to find a cell phone signal good enough to use for my internet, so it wasn’t very relaxing for me. Spent almost two hours away from camp doing that work. Can’t wait till we get back on the road when we DON’T have a bunch of jobs coming up! Love the work, just really need to take a break pretty soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013 – Travel Day to Mill Creek

A long day today, started early and finished, well, not as late as some days, but late enough. Fortunately it was mostly freeway here, so it was easy on the horses, albeit long. No trouble getting over the Florida border (they are sticklers for having all the right paperwork, whether you are coming or going), and the rest of the trip was, fortunately, uneventful. Arrived at Mill Creek a little after 3:00, got everyone settled in, including satellite dish, but about 4:00. A nice relaxing evening, though we’re all tired from the long day of driving.

Sunday, April 7, 2013 – Rest and Prep Day

Tried to rest today, a nice relaxing day, and also to get ready to leave tomorrow. Having left South Florida so late, we don’t have much time to hang about, we need to get farther north asap. Changed our plans a bit, decided to head straight up to Mill Creek Park in South Carolina, so that I can get some laundry done before we fly out for almost two weeks in San Francisco. At Mill Creek, we can get electric and water for just $10/night, and it’s only a few hours from Charlotte, so even though tomorrow will be a long day, we’ll only have short days after this. Plus we like the trails at Mill Creek, they’re a bit more interesting than here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013 – Ride Day at Welaka State Forest

Had a so-so night sleep, a leisurely morning, then finally saddled up and headed out at around 2:00. There’s only one “real” trail here, the Sandhills Trail, but then there’s a number of firebreaks that cut back and forth along the forest. Not a terribly interesting trail, typical Florida, though a few rises in the grade here and there made for a slightly more interesting ride than we’ve had in a while. Horses were definitely raring to go, though, having been cooped up in a box stall for the last two days, although this morning I did put them out on their anchors for a while. Got lots of canters in, they were ready! We followed the trail as described in the maps, and which they claimed was 6.5 miles long, but according to my GPS was barely 5 miles. They also claim over 18 miles of trails, and I suppose if you went down every fire road and fire break you might be able to come up with that, but it’s not a very interesting forest, though I guess it was a good re-entry into the trail riding life-style. Enjoyed it nonetheless, “no hour on the back of a horse is ever wasted!”