Sunday, August 29, 2010

Movie Recommendations

We saw two movies recently that I will feel confident in recommending. No 'Gods Must Be Crazy' in this group (although I still think that movie is hilarious!).

"500 Days of Summer"

"Orson Welles and Me"

Both have much to like in them. I liked that the theater people in "Orson Welles" didn't constantly hug each other. It was a more reserved time in 1937 I guess. I also didn't see any fist bumps (thank goodness).

Check them out and let me know if you like them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Found Money

Some posts ago I mentioned the variety of items I found when riding my bike to and from work. I used to find a fair amount of money including a $20 bill and some singles. Since we entered the Great Depression #2 I've noticed the amount of dropped money has decreased significantly. My bike mileage is also shorter these days so my money spotting opportunities have also decreased. The missus and I decided about a year ago to keep all of the money found outside the home in a candy dish on the kitchen counter to see just how much we can accumulate.

So far we've gleaned:

60 pennies
17 nickels
6 dimes
3 quarters

This doesn't count the pennies we've seen mashed down into the road surface but are not retrievable. I wonder if more pennies are found because those who drop them can't be bothered to pick them up and the found denominations decrease in reverse proportion to their value because of that value? I do know as I mentioned that found money is much less than before. I guess tough times makes folks value their pocket change!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

*****News Flash****

Stop the presses! Young son passed his driving exam on Monday and is now licensed for the streets and byways of California. You have been warned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Missus' Grand Day Out-Big Bear part III

Mrs. Grouch being a good sport agreed to go on a off road trip while at Big Bear so we headed off to find the mighty Santa Ana river flowing in a valley near Big Bear Lake.

(click on the pictures for a larger view)

As promised we located the mighty Santa Ana river. The Grouch and Roscoe are standing in it. Back where the Grouch comes from this body of water would be called a crick. Out west any year round flowing body of water is automatically a river. The water was shockingly cold!

Molly loved the water as always. The Grouch could only stand in it for a couple minutes before the cold was almost painful. The air temperature was in the high '80s so it was an interesting contrast.

After enjoying the shade and the running water we set off to climb up the Clark grade trail. This started out pretty mild and not too steep. But, the higher we went the rougher the road got and the further the drop on one side became. Near the top the trail was only as wide as the trusty Jeep and the drop looked high enough to successfully parachute off of. I believe the trail was more than what the Missus had signed up for.

When we reached the top we found evidence that others had difficulties on the trail. The Grouch holds a broken tow strap and some vehicle trim that was shed by a vehicle in trouble.

The Missus spied the trail marker at the top of the trail. She said that if she had seen that before we started on it, we wouldn't have started!

The Grouch, The Jeep and the faithful dogs.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Interlude - Point Magu Air Show

Air Show! Young daughter emailed us a couple days ago to mention that the Navy base next to her ANG wing she serves with (they share a common runway complex) was having an air show this weekend. Mentioned this to young son and the Missus and both said they wanted to go! And, it was going to be free admission! Who could pass this up? Not this old grouch for sure.
So, not too early today we loaded up into the trusty Aztek and set off for the coast. Young daughter has drill this weekend so she could not attend with us but she did get to see and hear some of the activities during the day capped by a ring side seat atop one of the base buildings as the Thunderbirds streaked over her part of the base during the finale of the airshow. Can't beat that!
So, now for some pictures. Click on the pics for a larger view.

The first interesting item we encountered was in the apron outside of the gianormous hangers. A bronze plaque inset into the concrete commemorating a visit by President Kennedy in 1963. Who knew?

An ironic display was the Predator remotely controlled aircraft.
The future probably lies with this type of aircraft and manned military airplanes will someday be a thing of the past and with it airshows and the romance that goes with the aircraft and their pilots.

This B25 is seen frequently at area airshows. Young son was going to tour it but the crowd was too heavy around it. However, he did tour it, but years ago! See the next picture.

Same plane, different airshow and with young son, much younger, peering out of the pilot's seat!

The mighty C17 built in Southern California by Boeing at the old Douglas factory in Long Beach was on display. Young son looks nonchalantly at the impressive cargo plane.

The same plane going through its paces later. A very impressive short take off and landing cargo plane that can carry 170,000 lbs of cargo!

Young son and the Missus next to a Humvee which coincidentally was brought by some NCOs from my state reserve unit!

The Grouch's dad flew in a plane much like this while working as a Norden bombsight tech in WW2. His was an AT11 but the planes are essentially the same.

Not something seen at many airshows - a WW2 Japanese Zero fighter! Its arch-enemy was also at the airshow - a Grumman Hellcat fighter. I think it was there to keep an eye on it.

The infantryman's friend: the A10 'Warthog'. This plane is incredibly maneuverable and did many aerobatic stunts that I had no idea it was capable of doing. It made several low passes over the field and explosions were set off on the ground to simulate bombs being dropped. The flame effect was pretty spectacular. The explosions made the ground jump and rattled the windows at the ANG base according to young daughter. Too bad they also set the grass on fire next to the runway and delayed the start of the Thunderbirds by an hour!

The A10 taxing by the smoke from its ground strike.

The amazing finale: the Thunderbirds (go Air Force!). The formation flying, the low passes, the incredible precision...simply has to be seen to be appreciated! According to their schedule they will be in Pittsburgh later this year so all Grouch groupies in the 'burgh best go see them at Greater Pitt!
After the airshow we met young daughter for pizza. A great end to a great day!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Big Bear Part II

There was much walking with dogs while at Big Bear. I think it was as much a vacation for the dogs as for the Grouches. We had our two dogs, young daughter had four and her friend had at least three. Fortunately they had their own cabin as 9 dogs in one house would be too many!

Click on the pictures for a full size image!

Molly showing her mad acrobatic skills in downtown Big Bear Lake.

The dog gang terrorizing the downtown shopping district.

Swimming and retrieving in Big Bear Lake. Roscoe is too mature to participate in this foolishness.

The Grouch on a walk in a park near the rental cabin. We did a 6 mile hike the next day starting in this area.

Big Bear Lake seen from a vantage point on the walk.

The Grouch attempting to look fit and not tired from the walk! The Missus was also involved in all of this but she declined to be photographed.
Check the next blog entry for Missus Grouch's grand Jeep trip!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Big Bear 2010 Part one

Ahhh...nothing like looking at someone else's vacation photos! So if you don't want to look, now is the time to politely think of more pressing business and quietly click the screen off.

Still there? Ok then, here is the 2010 Grouch Big Bear trip report.

We left on a Friday when the temperature was starting to climb. By 11 a.m. it was already up to 100F. We towed the little trailer behind the Jeep crammed with the vital needs for our week in Big Bear. As we drove along I210 towards Big Bear the outside temperature climbed to 107F! Glad we have a modern Jeep with air conditioning. Our climb up SR 38 saw the temperature dropping to 102F. By the time we reached Angelus Oaks (our traditional lunch spot in the mountains) it was in the 90s. We stopped for a few minutes to visit with young son at the Boy Scout camp that he does volunteer camp counselor duty at each summer and then pressed on to Big Bear lake.
(click on the pictures for a full-size view)
We used a new cabin rental company and were very happy with the results. We rented a two bedroom place with a hot tub in the back yard. The cabin was big enough for us and Molly and Roscoe

There was plenty of room for me to do one of my favorite vacation activities - reading! At night the sky was dark enough to see a couple satellites each night traveling overhead.

A view of the sturdy Jeep just waiting to set off on the first off-road adventure. A friend and his brave wife journeyed up to join me for some off roading on Saturday. He planned several challenging trails for us to drive. Little did I know what lay in store!

We warmed up with a fairly easy drive to the Rose mine. The shaft was blocked with a grate about 10 feet in which energetic explorers had cut open to gain access deeper into the mine. Being old guys my buddy and I declined to explore further so instead we pressed on to more challenging trails.

We came to this cabin that is open for anyone to use for 48 hours. It was pretty manky and funky inside but if one was caught in bad weather it would be better than freezing. The gasoline stove had a note written on it with a sharpy that indicated that it leaked gas and should be used outside. Good advice!

There is a bunk bed with some nasty looking mattresses on them and various stores contributed by passers-by. We didn't leave anything seeing as we still had further to go and might need whatever we had if we broke down.

We traveled to Pontiac Sluice where the remnants of a late 50s Pontiac convertible can be seen. How it managed to get this far is a mystery. It has been there long enough that the Forest Service has declared it a landmark and will not allow it to be removed! There is not much left of it as people have been carting off pieces for years including the engine! Now that must've been a job pulling the engine in the mountains.

Next we started up Heartbreak hill. It is aptly named and it did a number on my Jeep. I banged on many boulders and rocks going up and coming back down. At some point I collected a deep gouge in the engine oil pan but it didn't punch through lucky for me. At the top of the trail is a monument to a Marine officer KIA in Iraq. He couldn't make it up the trail in his Bronco and his dream was to 'build' his Bronco when he got back to make it to the top. Sadly he never returned. His friends installed the memorial to him in 2006.

A very moving tribute to a fallen Marine and fellow off-roader.

On the way down we encountered a Jeep club called "Extreme Jeeps" who were driving tricked out Jeeps capable of climbing up vertical walls like Spiderman. They seemed a bit crestfallen to see that my Jeep had made it up and was on the way back down in one piece (more or less!).
At the end of the day we all gathered at the 'Cowboy Express' steak house for dinner. Young daughter and her friend were also in Big Bear at a place they rented for 5 days so we treated them to dinner. The food was good and the company even better.