Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reckless Cattle, Reckless Kelly

It's summer, it's hot, and it's the middle of July. It must be time for the California Mid-State Fair. Last year, we visited several times during the 12-day fair with our season passes. We went to see the cattle dog trials, the neighbor's kids and their 4-H hogs, and other fun yeehaw activities.

This year, The Man and Z. attended the official kickoff for the fair - a cattle drive through the streets of Paso Robles. They rode their bicycles and followed behind the fifty heads of cattle, wagons, and all manner of folk on horseback. The route was three miles to the fair grounds: six minutes via car, a couple of hours if you're following behind cattle and horses.

Of the many multi-aged "cowboys and cowgirls" on horseback, only about a dozen were professional cattle wranglers. This was in evidence when a few feisty cows decided to make their own way to the fair grounds. At one point, getting a little too up close and personal with Z. and The Man.

(Psst: If the video doesn't work, all I know is when I post a picture, a video, or publish a post I just click and click. Where it goes or how it works is beyond me. Sorry.) 

The following week, The Man and I stopped by in the late afternoon for a free concert. The Mid-State Fair has a Headliner group or event (Monster Trucks! Rodeo!)  - with an added ticket price - but there's also excellent entertainment on the "free" stages. (Back in the 80's & 90's you could've caught Johnny Cash on the free stage. Darn it, we wish we had.) On the weekend, there are five stages rockin' and rollin' and only one is not free.

Anyway, we went to see a band from Austin, Texas called Reckless Kelly. We didn't recognize the name of the band but when we heard them play we did recognize several of their original songs. Later, in the evening we stopped by the Frontier Stage again for the end of their second show. They were excellent.

The Mid-State Fair embodies summer around here: hot, free, fun. Next year I'm looking forward to attending the Cattle Drive and will make sure to get off from work. And, if we take our bicycles I'm going to make sure to keep my bike helmet on the whole time. Just in case we encounter a few frisky cattle.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Number Twenty-Eight

"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset." ~ Ann Landers

A lovely sunset.

"If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of leftover Spam." ~ Johnny Carson

Happy Anniversary to us.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sight

This week we saw our first owl. Whoot, whoot. We've been on the lookout for an owl, any owl for quite some time. Mainly because they are such teasers, i.e., we know they're around.

We hear them at night calling to one another. On very noisy nights when it sounds like they're having a party (a hootenanny, of course) we've grabbed a flashlight, gone outside, and tried to spot one of these illusive birds. The calls we hear belong to the Great Horned Owl and since they're perfectly camouflaged in the oak trees we've had no luck finding them.

We are not alone.

So there we were, out on The Vista, enjoying the cool evening breeze and watching dusk turn to twilight. Our wildlife lookout, aka Mele, gave a bark and The Man and I noticed a dark spot down on Eagle Ranch. Through his binoculars we could see an owl on the ground. It looked as though it had just captured it's dinner.

We shared the binoculars to watch it for several minutes before it flew off into the trees.

It was too unexpected and too dark for a photo but The Man thought it was a Great Horned Owl, he described the tufts of feathers on it's head.

One day we'll get a close-up of an owl. In the meantime, we will have to make do with the life-like guardian that sits on our fence.

Scaring the varmints away.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Log Splitter: The Machine

Back in February of last year I wrote about The Man wielding his trusty axe to chop wood to heat our home and how it would eventually lead to pain and suffering. His pain; my suffering - I would have to be his in-home private duty nurse.

So we decided that it would be prudent (and beneficial to our marriage) to buy a log splitter rather than have The Man injure himself. Of course he loved the idea of buying more man tools. And, a log splitter, yee haw, such a He-Man robust tool!

But before The Man got too far researching his purchasing options our friend Jerry said he had a friend giving away a log splitter. Jerry's friend had sold his home and needed to remove some machinery from the property. (Red flags: "giving away" and "needed to remove".)

The next weekend, the guys brought the log splitter home.


It was an understatement to say it needed work and maybe a few new parts. But the machine started up right away, sounded strong, and, hey, it was free.

It took about a month till The Man was satisfied with the way the log splitter was running. He parked it across from the animal pen and got to work. He had an ample supply of oak after firescaping and creating a defensible space around our home.


Wyatt helping out.

The log splitter might not be pretty but it sure is a log-killing machine. A workhorse, just like The Man.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Out and About Around the Central Coast 7/7/14

We laid low over the July 4th weekend; we knew it would be busy on the roads and just about everywhere. From the comfort of The Vista we watched the stream of motorcycles, cars, trucks, and RVs heading every which way along Hwy 101.

By Monday we were ready to leave the compound and head out to run a few errands. We passed my favorite herd of Texas Longhorn cattle. "I usually see these guys when I'm driving to or from work and have yet to get a photo of them," I lamented for the nth time when The Man suddenly pulls over to the side of the highway. They are truly spectacular.

After completing our errands we decided to take the rest of the day off: 

At the top of SLO ~ Prefumo Canyon Road.

SLO's best crossroads ~ Prefumo Canyon Road and See Canyon Road.

Port San Luis and Harford Pier.

Hand signals (Fish on the line!)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Delta Dawn

With California's worsening drought and the increased fire threat we're hoping not to see any aerial fireworks or rockets in our vicinity today. That is, unless they happen to be NASA rockets.

We lost a little sleep this week in anticipation of a Vandenberg AFB launch. NASA was sending off a Delta 2 rocket with a satellite named Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to monitor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Apparently the window of opportunity for flight was 2:56 am Pacific time. So be it.

The Man set his alarm for 2:45 am. Mele and Molly looked bewildered at being woken up in the middle of the night but they followed us outside into the cool dark night to wait. And wait. And wait.

Waiting in the dark.

After thirty minutes we all trekked back inside the house. The Man checked NASA's website to learn that the countdown was stopped 46 seconds before liftoff due to ground equipment failure.

The next day the problem was fixed and the launch was again a "go" for 2:56 am.

In the wee hours of Wednesday, July 2, 2014, we woke the dog and cat up again. This time we listened to a live feed of Mission Control on The Man's iPhone. It was exciting to listen to the prelaunch checklist and then the countdown. The horizon started to glow while they were still counting. The Man failed to tell me there was a teeny delay so listening "live" was not exactly live.

No matter, we watched in awe as the Delta 2 rocket soared upward. We saw booster bits and pieces fall away and we heard the rumble of Mach 10 as the rocket accelerated and disappeared into space.

(Photos on the right are the cropped closeups.) 

Glow over Eagle Ranch Mountains

Rockets Red Glare

Booster Bits

As you can see we've been Rocketeers from way back.

 Houston Space Center circa 1985

Happy 4th of July 2014.