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Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Sonoma raceway  Sonoma Raceway pit stops
Our View of Sonoma Raceway - Looking Up the Track then Down at the Pits

We literaly raced through the summer into the pleasant music of fall. In June, Gordy and I took the Amtrak train from Sacramento to the Sonoma Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. It was the first time Amtrak offered this option. They used old freight train tracks to go from the Suisun/Fairfield station to the raceway. Since the tracks hadn't been used in awhile, the train only went 25 mph on that part of the trip.

Bud plant  Train spectators
Backside of the Budweiser Plant - People stop to Photograph the Train

We got to see a part of the land from Davis to Sonoma that we normally don't see when we travel Highway 80 - Like the backside of the Budweiser plant. There is a lot of open space mixed with farms and wetlands. Since the train had not been on part of the tracks in a long time, people were at the intersections to take pictures as we went by. When we arrived at the race track, all we had to do was cross the road. We missed all the lines and lines of traffic - just breezed right in.

The Checker Flag  Burn out
Martin Truex Jr. Takes the Checker Flag and Does his Celebratory Burn Out

I really didn't expect the magnitude of the engine roar we would experience in the grandstands. Luckily, Gordy had picked up two pairs of earplugs. We had been to car races before, but obviously these cars were on a different level. You could feel the energy and the excitement of the race. Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56) won. At the end of the race, we boarded the train and enjoyed the trip home.

Big Iron
Big Iron in Concert

June begins Fair Oaks' Concerts in the Park series. On Thursday nights, we pack up a light dinner and libations and then go to Fair Oaks' outdoor ampitheater to listen to some music and people watch. There is always a wide range of music which makes for a fun evening out. We don't make all the concerts, but we go to as many as we can. The series winds up in August usually with The Capitol Pops concert.

Egrets Roosting for the Night

Our friend, Chris told us about the egrets that fly into trees near where he lives to nest and roost for the night. One evening, Gordy and I decided to go and see it for ourselves. Around sunset, all these birds fly in. It is not just egrets, there were also some herons - both Great Blue Herons and Green Herons.

Cheri  Gordy
Bliss at the State Fair - Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Bar Rolled in Bacon - Wine Tasting

They now hold the State Fair in July. This year, Gordy and I decided to attend. We always enjoy walking through the exhibits, seeing the animals and tasting the different foods. The news people were talking up the chocolate dipped ice cream bars rolled in bacon, so I had to try it. The amazing thing was it was actually very good. I had never thought to pair bacon and chocolate but the sweet with the salt is an excellent combination. We always end our visit in the Wine Garden tasting the different wines and watching the world go by.

July was packed with many other events. My red hat group, the Delta Divas, had their ice cream social, an underground tour of old Sacramento, and went to see the musical, Sugar (based upon the movie "Some Like It Hot). The underground tour gave us a lot of the history of Old Sacramento. In the early years, Sacramento flooded alot. So, they decided to build it up. This action turned all the first floors into the basement. So we got to roam about the old basements while we listened to many of the old stories.

Exhibit  Lucy
Impressionists on Water - Marilyn and Granddaughter, Lucy

I also went with some friends, Marilyn Pearce, Harriet Neal and Mary Dobrowolski, to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for the Impressionists on Water exhibition. A little fog as we went over the Golden Gate Bridge, but otherwise a wonderful day. The exhibit was full of wonderful art paired with boats and skulls from that era. We had lunch in the cafe at the museum. Katy, Marilyn's daughter, joined us. She brought her new daughter, Lucy. It was fun to have a little one in the group.

Gordy  raft
Eppies Great Race - Gordy seen on the News - Rafters go Through the Tree

We always work Eppies Great Race in July. This year, Gordy was seen in a quick clip on Channel 3's news (that's him in the orange vest to the left of the runner). One of the never ending conflicts is the race versus those who want to go rafting down the river before the race is over. This year, a group of rafters who couldn't cross over the race, chose to lift the rafts through the trees and wind their way to the bank of the river. I had to hand it to them, the managed to do it without destroying the raft.

muffin face  rim fire smoke
Muffin Face - Smoke from the Rim Fire

I take Gordy an English muffin and beef jerky for part oof his breakfast. Buster always wants part of it so I started taking some dog buscuits and carrots slices for him. Well, to carry back to the computer/radio room, I started creating faces. Each day it varies, but it is fun to do.

One of our August outings was to a private campground near Union Valley Reservoir in the Sierra Foothills. The purpose of the trip was for Gordy to help give tests to want-to-be Ham radio operators. This camp ground is used by a lot of the off-road recreationists who have found out that Ham radio is a good way to communicate when they are on the back roads. It was a neat place and had a great bar. I found out that a pickled asparagus spear is the best stir for a bloody mary - skip the celery. Any way, the test was successful and a number of the testees passed - including an eight year old boy! The only draw back was the smoke from the Rim Fire in Yosemite. We were roughly 100 miles north of the fire but at times the smoke was really heavy. Luckily, it seemed to dissipate by the afternoon.

SF  America's Cup Plaza
Approaching San Francisco - America's Cup Plaza

Back to racing. We took the Vallejo Ferry to San Francisco to see one of the Louis Vuitton Cup races. This was the challenger's race to determine who would vie against Oracle in the America's Cup. Taking the ferry was great because you miss having to deal with all the traffic and don't have to find parking. It reminded Gordy and me of when we used to live in Sausalito and take the ferry to San Francisco for work. One thing however was the Ferry Building itself. Boy has it changed! When we used to live there, you would get off the ferry then walk through this narrow, dim hallway and exit the building. Now it has been opened up. I was surprised at the beauty of the interior. It has high archways and all sorts of vendors, bars and places to eat. Quite a busy place.

LV Cup racing  NZ Emirates
Louis Vuitton Cup Races - La Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand Passing Alcatraz - Emirates Racing Home

San Francisco set up the America's Cup Park at Piers 27 - 29. It was a short walk from where the Vallejo Ferry docked. In the park were many vendors for merchandise, food and spirits. There were lawn areas with giant flat screens where you could sit and watch the race or you could go out on the pier area and watch it live. Parts of the race were along the Marina Green and you couldn't see it from the pier but you had a view of Alcatraz and the finish line.

America's Cup
America's Cup Race - Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand

On both trips to the Bay, we enjoyed bright, sunny days. The boats and races we fabulous. There was a bit of a sticker shock when it came to getting a beer or a glass of wine. It averaged around $11.00 for a beer - granted it was premium New Zealand beer but $11.00???? The the wine, yes good Napa Valley wine labels, averaged $14.00 for a small, plastic glass. Oh well, that is the cost of going to the city.

We went out with our friend Jim on a number of occassions for salmon fishing. There were a lot of salmon in the ocean this year and the run was supposed to be good. Quite a few fish did come up but they weren't consistant. We finally got a couple of fish. We should have had more, but I lost two.

My sister and her friend, Sheila came for a visit in early October. We headed to Apple Hill. During September and October, Apple Hill is very busy with freshly harvested apples, great pies, arts and crafts and other stuff. I bought a jar of pickled asparagus to use in bloody marys but then found out they were great cooked rolled in a skinned and boned chicken thigh with Havarti cheese. The pickled asparagus just adds that little zing.

We made another couple of trips to the Bay Area. One was for Pacificon (Ham radio convention). We ran into a number of friends including John Kernkamp who moved to Idaho last year. Gordy was able to solve a couple of radio problems and get the right equipment, so it was a good trip. The other was for an IBM retiree luncheon. Recently, they had made some changes to our medical coverage, so this was a good time to learn more about them. Also, it was a good time to see old friends. Some of the people had really changed and it wasn't until later Gordy realized who they were.

Red Skunk  Igor
Brady McKay with Red Skunk - Igor and Friends (Bob Ringwald and Pat Yankee)

At the end of October, we headed for Pismo Beach for their Jazz Jubilee by the Sea. It is a great festival, very much like the Sacramento Jazz Festival of old.

Sunset  Band
Sunset at Pismo Beach - Three Trumpets Band
(Corey Gemme, South Burgundy Street, Brian Casserly,
Coronet Chop Suey, and Gordon Au, Au Brothers,

We settled in and enjoyed three days of music and walks on the beach. I managed to refrain from picking up a lot of sand dollars - the beach is always loaded with them. But did comehome with one. It was a very small guy with a big barnacle on it. We ran into another Ham we know, Gene Mondro. He plays the clarinet and was there for the music and to jam with other musicians. The day we left, we found out we were actually camped right next to him and never even knew it!

Buster  Buster
Buster in Physical Therapy

In October, Buster started physical therapy to try and strengthen his back leg muscles. On big component was the treadmill in the pool of water. The water did two things, gave him a little lift but also offered some resistance. They varied the speed and length of time on it as his muscles built up. there were a number of exercises they taught me to do at home in between his visits. So, I spent a lot of time driving to and from Davis. I think this fall with the trips to the Bay Area and the trips to Davis have put more miles than normal on my care, and she loved it! Buster is doing pretty well now. He still has some weakness but he is active and loves his walks.

WB Sunset  Duncan's Cove
Sunset at Wright's Beach - Duncan's Cove

November arrived before I was ready. The Garden section had a great tour of the Thundering Herd Mandarin Ranch in Penryn. We came home with not just fresh mandarins but also some very yummy products. The owner has a friend that grows olives. They take the mandarins and crush them to make a great mandarin orange olive oil (they also do the same with Meyer lemons). That little zing of orange or lemon flavor to the oil enhances a number of foods especially salmon.

The grandkids, Tyler and JJ, didn't make it for Thanksgiving dinner this time because they didn't get home from college until later in the week. We still had our family dinner on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Diana made this great hors d'oeuvers tartlet with cream cheese, blue cheese, cranberries, etc. It was simply delicious.

Gordy opens Oysters

As we have done for many, many years, we packed up our leftovers and headed to Wright's Beach for Thanksgiving Week. The group that takes over a big part of the park for a large Thanksgiving gathering was there. We are actually starting to get to know some of them. This year, Gordy and I decided to try crabbing at Duncan's Cove. I gave him two of the crab snares for Christmas. We put some bait in them and cast them into the water - like we saw the guys do last year. Mine snapped off the line almost immediately. Gordy worked his for a while but was unable to reel it in. Eventually, it too snapped the line. Obviously, it is not as easy to do as it looked.

We went to Drake's Bay Oyster Farm for oysters. Luckily, they are still open. The government is trying to shut them down as they designated the area as a Wilderness Area. The company has been fighting them. So far, they are still able to harvest and sell oysters. And, we really had a nice meal from the oysters we bought. We also made a trip to Stormy's for their wonderful prime rib dinner. As always, it was a great trip to the ocean.

Judy and I  bubble lights
Judy and I at Christmas - Bubble Lights

When we got home from the beach, Christmas smacked us in the face. For some reason, my mind set was still in October. It was a mad dash to get everything ready and it was over before I knew it. Luckily, everything got done and we had a wonderful holiday. My sister actually had time off at Christmas and we got to celebrate during Christmas instead of a month or so later! I was slow to take the tree down because I finally could just stop and enjoy it.

Well, that's about it from here. Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by.

Gordy and I with this Year's Catch