Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Trip!

Young son and I went with my buddy to find the snow today. Our usual close spot was only wet (did I mention it was raining?) and 42F so no snow there. We had to get higher. We drove up to Frazier Park and towards Mt. Pinos recreation area. At about 6,000ft slushy snow started showing on the ground. At the top we were above 8,000ft, the temperature was 28F and the snow was waist deep! Unfortunately I forgot to bring my snow shoes so after trying and failing to walk in the snow young son set to sledding. We stayed for about an hour then headed lower to eat our lunch in the Jeeps (my friend had his also) and then back home. I'm going back, maybe this weekend to go snow shoeing!

The Forest Service building at the Mt. Pinos parking lot

Young son preparing for the cold

Citizen Grouch wishing he had his long handled underwear on
Young son on the slopes

Young son almost wipes out some other sledders!

Lunch time before heading home to warmth and more rain!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas hike

The weather was sunny and warm today and perfect for a ramble in the mountains. The dogs and I headed to the nearby national forest for a quick walk. The area we went to used to be a real magnet for campers, hikers, and dirt bikers but after the Northridge earthquake damaged the access road the state and the forest service took the opportunity to limit vehicle access to only official vehicles. There was a trail that climbed a couple thousand feet and stretched 20 some miles to another forest service road but it fell into disuse and is now overgrown. It was my favorite hiking trail but it is gone now.
We hiked on a dirt forest service road that crossed a creek 6 times between where we started and an abandoned campground about 3 or 4 miles up the road. The campground used to be a very popular place but yet another place shut down and closed off by the forest service. On the way back I encountered three women who worked for the state testing the creek water. They admired the dogs and confirmed to me once again that dogs are chick magnets.

On the trail/road with the pups. It was warm in the sun but as soon as we got into the shade the temperature felt like it went down 10 degrees.

At the first water crossing I carefully removed my shoes and socks and waded through the cold, cold water. Same for the second one. By the third one I just rolled up my jeans and waded across. At about 2/3 of the way to the campground the stream and the road share the same space.

You used to be able to drive through here but no longer. On the way in I waded through with my boots on. On the way back I went barefoot. Man that water was cold!

Almost to the campground, another stream crossing point on the road.

The former campground, now pretty much empty except for two vandalized outhouses.
The hike was great but if I had known about the water crossings I would have carried some soccer sandals to wear while wading. In some places the water was rushing over the road deep enough and fast enough to pull a hiker over into the creek if I had slipped on the slimy algae, so anyone reading this (you know who!) better be careful or you may get hurt and wet!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas day

Merry Christmas from most of the Grouch family! As I promised I will give my review of "True Grit" which we saw this afternoon. It was the only movie with a huge crowd waiting to see it. For the first half hour or so while watching it I kept seeing the cast from the original movie in the scenes being played out on the screen but after awhile I let go and went with the action. This movie stands on its own and is completely true to the book. The first movie had much of the book in it but they softened the ending but not in this one. This movie is more period 'correct' in the clothes, the town, the firearms...something that young son says only I would notice. I recommend this movie, go see it!
Everyone had a great Christmas morning and many successful gifts were exchanged. I hope everyone also had a great Christmas! We will be sitting down for our Christmas turkey in a few minutes. Here are some pics of the Grouch family enjoying Christmas so far and remember to click on the pics for a larger view.

Making Christmas cookies

Christmas morning opening gifts!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the grouches and grouchettes around the country! We survived the heavy rain over this week with no damage although other places in SoCal were not so lucky. our favorite getaway place - Laguna Beach - was swamped with high water from the ocean and mudslides from the hills. What a mess!

Christmas eve we did the usual Grouch family tradition of dinner at Pizza Hut (how this got started I have no idea but it has been going on for years!) followed by midnight mass at 10 p.m. I guess the midnight part is that we got home before midnight. Both sons and younger daughter were present and everyone looked handsome and beautiful depending on the gender. The missus was particularly radiant which makes this grouch proud. We watched "Meet me in St. Louis" with Judy Garland when we came home which the Missus doesn't like but younger daughter did so that made it worth while. Tomorrow is of course opening presents, I will make scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast (another tradition) and then we're off to see "True Grit" in the afternoon. The original movie is my all time favorite flick. My dad took me to see it at the theater, one of three movies that I remember him taking me to see (the other two were "The Longest Day and Von Ryan's Express) and I was captivated with the scenery in the movie which was filmed in Colorado. At the age of 15 I became determined to go to the Rockies which I finally accomplished in 1976 and then again when we moved there in 1981 for a year. I got to return a couple times on business with my previous employer in later years. I loved everything about the movie. I hope the remake measures up! We'll see, report to follow.

Everyone have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain and more rain!

It is raining which of course everyone in SoCal ( except maybe the guy in my neighborhood with the "Proud Atheist" bumper sticker) have been praying for. Apparently the prayers got put into a backlog which were just listened to and because so many prayers were logged in, we're receiving 6 month's worth of rain in about a week! Whoa, too much! The city that I work for is now on storm watch for mud slides in the hills that burned in the Station fire a couple years ago. So far no mud slides but when I went on mudslide patrol this afternoon I saw some houses that I am glad I don't live in because if the hillsides let go there isn't anything going to stop that mud, not even the houses in the path.

Clear weather is predicted for Thursday. Yea! Unfortunately Tuesday is to be the heaviest rain so far. Stay tuned....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Grouch and the Missus step out!

So, the Grouch and the Missus went to the Military Ball this past Saturday. I had drill that same day, so I was up at 4:45, drove 60 miles to the post, had drill, was released at 1 p.m., drove home in traffic, collapsed on the bed for a nap, got up, struggled into the dress uniform first purchased in 1986 which still fits reasonably well, admired the Missus in her new dress and
hairdo, and set off to go to Anaheim, about 80 miles back the way I had just come from. We were running a bit late but then these things never start on time anyway. It looked like we were going to be half an hour late. Well I hadn't counted on L.A. traffic. After a promising start we hit heavy traffic and crawled along for the next hour and a half. We were about an hour and a half late and by the time we got there just about everyone was seated and the speeches were just about finished. Fortunately we found a table to sit at where the Missus became fast friends with the lady sitting next to her, a retired school principal. They were instant best buddies. We had a great dinner, the Missus won a book in a drawing "Winning" by Jack Welch (how appropriate, she won a book about winning!), a piper played his bagpipes, and the band was even good! The Grouch got up to dance not once but three times! The only problem for the evening was that the Grouch's clip on bow tie kept falling off at inopportune times! Guess it had been to one too many parties.
Here are the much requested pictures. Click on the picture for a larger view!

The happy couple departs Grouch estates. The temperature was in the 70s. Take that, Midwest!

The piper, an SMR soldier. The Missus absolutely cannot resist a man in a kilt.

The Missus looking beautiful and grown up.

Here we are again looking pale. It was the lighting.

A fun time was had by both of us and we were home before midnight (just) so we didn't turn into pumpkins.

The Grouch Goes East

The Grouch traveled to North Carolina on the 3rd to visit oldest daughter and only granddaughter. It has been almost a year since they were last seen by me and I was very anxious to see them and the best dog in North Carolina, Moxie. Unfortunately the airline delayed my luggage (we were reunited the next morning) but that meant nothing since I was met by little ladybug in her PJs (it was 9 p.m. after all!). The weather was cold and it got windy but the sunniness of daughter and granddaughter kept me warm. We went on an eating tour of Hope Mills and ate at Andy's and Five Guys, and the Grouch's favorite fast food joint Long John Silver's. We visited the Airborne Museum in Fayetteville and then went to Ft Bragg and the next door airbase to view some vintage cargo planes on display. The young soldiers at Ft. Bragg (well, at this point most people are younger than me) kept calling me ' sir ' when they encountered me. It was either my stern countenance or my commanding presence, or maybe they were just being respectful of their elder.

I had a great time visiting and walking Moxie from one end of the neighborhood to the other. A couple pictures, one with the Grouch and one of my hosts:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Grouch and Son, Clock Repairs

So, the Grouch family has a grandfather clock purchased at the PX in Wurzburg Germany many years ago. The poor clock suffered badly at the hands of the movers when it journeyed from Germany to Aberdeen MD (my next duty station). When we opened the box the clock was packed in we saw that the glass in the door over the clock part was smashed and the metal plate that the hands were mounted to was actually bent into a wavy pattern. I figured it was a write-off but the Army insisted on having it repaired and luckily enough we found a guy who managed to fix the thing and get it running. Since then the clock has journeyed to Colorado, Michigan, Chicago, and has been sitting in our living room here in the wilds of Grouchland in Southern California for 22 years. It survived the great Northridge earthquake of 1994 with only some frantic bonging - I thought it fell over when I heard it but it was still standing when we rushed by it and out the door.
About a week ago I was pulling the weights up to the top to keep the thing ticking and chiming the time when there was a mighty crash and the chain I was pulling suddenly flew through the gears with no resistance on it until it jammed in the mechanism. One of the weights had come apart and crashed to the bottom of the clock in a manner reminiscent of my 401k. I recovered the weight and saw that the infernal device had come unscrewed. Further inspection showed the chain jammed in the gear. I fiddled with it but couldn't get it out. Later I called a clock repairman. He wanted $285 to come out, take the clock away, unjam it and give it a tune up. I realize the man has to make a living but $285 was not what I expected!
With encouragement from the Missus I decided to give it one more attempt to unjam the mechanism. After all if I can unjam a Browning 1919A4, surely I could deal with this! With the help of older son and a dental pick liberated from my gun cleaning supplies I managed to carefully lift the chain off of the gear, feed it back through the gear the proper way and get the clock ticking. Unfortunately the clock wasn't bonging the quarter hour. Something was still jammed.
Thinking of the Beach Master on Sword beach, D Day 1944 who told the lads in a recalcitrant Bren gun carrier "My old granny told me to just give a machine a bash when it won't work" (which he did with his walking stick, and the carrier promptly started) I decided a little force was in order for what ailed the clock.
I gave the gears a shove and with a whirr and a click the clock started bonging the quarter hour. Success! And it is keeping even better time than before the falling weight incident. I also loctited the threads on the weights so they wouldn't come apart again.
$285 indeed!