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Parrottrek Journal 2008

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Can you find me on the rock?

The beautiful views from Figueroa

January 1st - Figueroa Mountain - Happy New Year!!! -
To ring in the New Year, we thought we would have a fun family day, so we packed up all three birds, a picnic lunch and headed up to the top of Figueroa Mountain to take in the views. It was a bit windy at the top, and poor little Abbey almost blew off the rocks. Considering that on either side of the rocks were good sized cliffs, our outdoor picnic quickly turned into an inside the Jeep picnic. Since the Jeep is an all terrain vehicle, we positioned it in such a way that we could still see the great views of Santa Ynez and Solvang below . Next week, the Santa Ynez Valley is supposed to get three or four days of rain so there should be some snow up here on the mountain. As we headed back down the windy road we met up with a couple cows... ... literally. By this I mean that they were grazing in the middle of the road, okay so maybe a little off to the side, but still, when an animal that outweighs your vehicle by a few pounds is near said vehicle and may at any time bolt into the side of said vehicle, it makes one a bit nervous. Needless to say the cow didn't attack us and we safely made it down the mountain.

January  3rd - The Renters Are Out, HOOOOORRAAYYY! -
Well to spare you all the details and make a long story short, our renters, who for all intents and purposes were great renters for almost two and a half years, until their money ran out, have left the premises quietly and promptly. Luckily Frank and I have the next three weeks to spruce up the house for the next family to move in. However this time around we are going to sell it to the next family, instead of re-renting it. We have been landlords long enough for both our lifetimes.

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January 12th - John's 40th Birthday - The Red Barn -
One of our very best friends hit the big one today (or at least the first of many big ones to come!) We attempted to throw him a surprise party, but John, in his infinite wisdom, figured out what we were all up to and let us all know that he figured it out. Anyways... ... it was a very fun evening with lots of old-timer jokes, good friends, great food and lots of old memories remembered and shared. P.S. Since 50 is the new 30 than 40 is really the new 21, right ?????

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The raccoons enjoyed the cantaloupe

They were a little groggy being woken up in the daylight since they are nocturnal

A very relaxed deer

January 15th - A Day with the Animals - Santa Ynez, CA -
A friend and neighbor of ours here on Menlo Drive has an animal rescue/rehabilitation sanctuary that is located in the beautiful hills of Santa Ynez. This time of year her animal levels are low, compared to springtime when all the pens are full, and the feeding schedule is literally around the clock. Frank and I have various cages that we had in our house here and in our previous motorhome, doing nothing other than collecting dust in our parents' garages, so we packed them up and took them over to Happy Endings Animal Rescue Sanctuary and set them up so they will be ready to house songbirds, hawks and any other bird or animal that needs a home in their safe confines. While we were there we were able to play with and feed all sorts of the animals that she is nursing back to health. The raccoons were darling. They would run around trying to pick up the pieces of fruit that we handed them. The younger raccoon would climb on CC's lap as though she were a lap dog and comb her hair with her little paws, and dig in her pockets to see if there were any treasures that were being hidden from her. The deer was sweet and would lean against us through the fence and position herself where we could scratch her head and ears. She would slowly start to get more and more relaxed as her eyes closed and her ears would start to lay back. She was hit by a car some time back and her pelvis was broken so she cannot leap or jump, and becoming pregnant would be the end of her. She is now an education animal, and is taken to various elementary schools and will live out the remainder of her years here at the sanctuary. In the Spring, she will be the momma figure to all of the orphaned fawns that CC will get due to not such lucky victims of car crashes and hunters. Frank quickly took to one of the horses that was sent here after her human mother was "sent away" for a couple decades.

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Frank and Torrie jam

Diesel shows off his tricks

Hey, I did my trick, where's my treat?

January 16th - An Evening of Dinner and Music - Solvang, CA -
We spent tonight with Frank's sister, her husband and their two fabulous daughters, our nieces, Hayley and Torrie along with their darling new puppy, Diesel. Frank brought his guitar, and the girls just happened to have their very own, so Frank gave them each a couple lessons. Torrie, with her long fingers, enjoyed learning a few chords, while Hayley and Diesel showed off a few tricks. Maybe by the end of this season the girls will have a few more lessons under their belt.

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The view from the cul-de-sac

The enormous backyard

The side yard with jacuzzi

Lunch break in the front yard

January 18th - The House is Finished and Ready to Sell -
Almost three weeks later, sixteen gallons of paint, fifteen hundred pounds of trash and green waste to the dump and twenty (plus or minus a few) hours of scrubbing away cobwebs and three years of gunk, we are finally done. Can you feel the relief in my on-line voice??? If I ever see another paint brush again as long as I live, it will be too soon. It's a bit too monotonous for my taste, but then to each their own. One plus of these three weeks is that my shoulders and arms are a bit more muscular from painting ceilings for days on end and the overhead stretch of the paint roller is a new move I have added to my work-out routine. We painted the entire inside of the house, closets and garage included, pressure washed the entire outside and repainted all the eaves and fascia. The house looks amazing, and the backyard is unbelievable. That is...  after removing 800lbs of brush, leaves and overgrowth. The Jacuzzi is back to it's old self, so the new owners will have a complete house, in full working order. The best part of this renovation project is that we were able to do it on our own time schedule, and we were able to bring our sweet babies to work with us. Cody's favorite part, along with sitting in the tree watching over us, was sharing lunch breaks with Frank, and eating an entire bean burrito on his own. Abbey would sit with me inside the house, gazing out the windows to her old backyard and attempt to attack Cody every time he and Frank would pass the window she was in. It seems like an entire lifetime ago that we lived here and had lives in this town. It's a great town, but we realize that after traveling all this time we really are explorers at heart, and we have found exactly what God always intended us to do.

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Wanna buy a house? Here's the info

All ready for a new family

So many memories made here

Wanna play hide-n-seek?

Along with playing in the trees, Cody also liked showing off on the Realtor sign and playing hide and seek. He would run down the hallway and into the closets. Once he saw us looking at him, he would do a little dance, run from one side of the closet to the other and pretty much turn into a crazy bird. We were in tears we laughed so hard at him, and he was having a great time. We finished off today with mowing the lawns and spreading a bit of fertilizer, so hopefully the shades of green on the lawn will darken. Our fabulous neighbor has agreed to keep up the landscaping until it sells so it will stay in it's current glorious state.

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Frank and Madison read together

A short lived helicopter flight

January 21st - A Final Weekend with California Friends -

As we get ready to head out on our 2008 tour of the U.S, we said our final goodbye, for now, to everyone. It was a very busy weekend, but a lot of fun. Friday night we had dinner with friends in Solvang. Cindy, Rochelle, Shelby and I hung out in the warmth of the indoors, while Frank and John braved the chilly evening with a good cigar and a bit of Cognac. Saturday night we headed a little north and met up with Gwen and Chris for "An Evening with the Guitar" which was a concert put on by the PCPA Theatre. There were two groups of players. The first group consisted of three men, who were amazing.

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They each played an acoustic guitar, and sounded wonderful together.  The second group were Flamenco style, which we have now learned, is not quite our taste, but very entertaining. Sunday we spent with friends in Lompoc for a bar-b-que with Madison, her parents Tim and Sharon, along with Janice and Ben who we may not see at the end of this year due to the fact that may be being transferred to a different Air Force Base. Again, since it was a bit of a chilly day, we only braved the outdoors long enough to see Tim's remote control helicopter take a few laps around the block and then back inside next to the fire, where Uncle Frank and Madison read a few books to each other and we watched the Patriots break a new record! I guess we shouldn't complain too much about the chilly weather here, since in Green Bay it was literally only 1 degree. Brrrrrrrr!! This morning we met with our Realtor one last time, joined up with Frank's parents for breakfast and hit the highway. It sure feels good to be back on the road.

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January 22nd - Palm Springs, California -

We didn't actually stop here this year, but the views of the snow capped mountains from the highway were beautiful. We did attempt to stop here last year and take the Aerial Tramway to the top of the mountains and see them a little closer. After driving up a 16% grade to the point where our poor little bus' motor was beyond overheated with no outlets to allow us to turn around, we finally hit the top, only to find that nothing larger than a Yugo would fit in most of the lots.

Where they tried to make us park the bus made driving down the Grand Canyon look easy. Needless to say, at this time Frank was a bit perturbed, told the guy what he could do with the parking lot, and coasted slowly down the 16% grade. The motorhome obviously survived, but we have sworn never to exit the freeway here to do anything touristy. Ha! That'll show them!

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January 23rd - Firebird International Raceway - Phoenix, Arizona -

Tomorrow starts the 2008 Test-N-Tune here at Firebird. Last night we stayed in Quartzsite, home of 'The Big Tent' which is the country's biggest RV and RV supply show. We needed a couple things that you can only find there, so we did a bit of shopping, spent the night in the hills where the sunsets and moon rises are beautiful. The camera didn't quite capture just how close the moon looked or how clear you could the Man in the Moon, but perhaps you can get some idea.

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We are looking forward to testing, since there are quite a few new faces on both teams and the test sessions are always far more laid back to get to know everyone versus the first race of the year where tensions are high and everyone is busy. The nights here are perfect for sitting outside by our new campfire listening to Frank play the guitar and Cody sing along.

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January 24th - Rawhide Steakhouse and Old West Town -

Kenny and Sheryl, team owners, took the whole lot of us, 30 to be exact, out to dinner tonight. The first day of testing turned out to be a lost day, due to weather and track conditions, but it made for an early evening off of work for the guys. The restaurant which was once just an open field across the way from the racetrack has now been built into a huge western town. The different buildings include a saloon, two mercantiles, a horse boarding facility, blacksmith, small bank and every other item that you would imagine the old west to have, including gunfights every so often in the middle of the streets. Since it was very cold and very rainy tonight we didn't wander too far from the warm and dry confines of the restaurant, so we will have to come back another day to walk through the streets. The food, live guitar entertainment and company of teammates was a lot of fun. I can guarantee you all that this year is going to be a lot of fun, with all the different personalities and humor of the guys on both teams. Not that we don't miss the faces of last year,  but it's fun to have a new group to work with. It makes things feel new all over again. The evening was complete when the balloon man made us a Top Fuel Dragster balloon and a Funny Car one as well, even though the colors were a little off. The Funny Car balloon made it out the door before I could snap a shot of it, but the Dragster had enough character for both of them.

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If you look close you can see Frank and I

A beautiful rainbow we saw on our drive

What oven mitts look like after a month with Abbey

A fresh new mitt ready for destruction

January 27th - Phoenix Arizona -
We spent one last day of testing with the team, watched them go down the track a couple of times and then headed back to Santa Ynez for a funeral for Frank's Great Uncle Daryl. It was a beautiful drive with all the rain and the rainbows. There are actually three rainbows in the picture above, but you can't quite make them all out. The service for Frank's Uncle was very nice, and had almost the entire town in attendance which meant so much to the family. Daryl was one of the founding fathers of the Santa Ynez Valley, he built more than half the buildings and started quite a few of the hotels there, including Pea Soup Anderson's which had made the Valley almost world famous. He will be greatly missed as his house was where all the holidays were held when the nieces and nephews were small and all the family reunions of the last few years took place. It was wonderful that we were able to head back for the services before leaving the state. Daryl's daughter is not only a relative, but a very close friend of mine, in fact we worked together at the bank as job partners for almost 3 years.

January 28th - Abbey Gets A New Oven Mitt -
Yes that sounds like a crazy thing to buy a bird, but for some reason her favorite thing is to climb in the drawer where I keep my oven mitts and tear them to pieces, so I have learned to get her her own and put it on the floor of her bed. The third picture is what was left of her last one, only 3 months old and the far picture is what the third picture looked like brand new. Yikes! Apparently an oven mitt ticked her off at some point in her little life and she has taken revenge.

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February 1st - Bradley gets a Black Eye :( -
Our sweet little Bradley was playing on his pirate ship today. Since the last three weeks his pirate ship was outside in the somewhat sunny weather of the West Coast, we hadn't yet stuck it to the counter. Needless too say, it toppled over. The sad thing is, is that it was right next to the edge of the counter, and as it fell off the counter top and crashed to the floor, so did he! Poor Bradley ended up underneath the ship once it made contact with the tile below and screamed like a little kid for about 20 seconds, ran to Frank's arms and wouldn't leave the comfort of Daddy's shoulder and neck. We of course checked for wounded wings and hurt feet and ankles, but all seems okay, except for a good size lump on his head, a black eye, and a vengeful look in his eye every time he sees his beloved pirate ship. It is back safely stuck to the counter with earthquake putty, so hopefully he will brave boarding his vessel once again in the near future.

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How many layers can you count?

A festive cake for the occasion

Frank, Meagan and Jim huddled around the heater

Sweet Dee Dee

February 3rd - Super Bowl Sunday - In California??? -
Yes we are actually in California, however it sure didn't feel like it since the temperature was about 52 with a wind chill of somewhere in the 30's. You'd think we were actually in New England somewhere watching the game. I will say I love to watch football, not every week, but every so often. This game was well worth it. Shirl, Candy, Helen and I were the first ones outside sitting in the front row of the big screen TV on Helen and Richard's motorhome with five layers of clothes, a couple down blankets, and our handy heater to keep us warm. Shirl, as you can tell by the picture, is a Patriots fan, and since my favorite team wasn't in the Super Bowl this year, or anywhere near as usual, I thought it would be fun to cheer along with the undefeated team. Deep down however, and please don't get too offended all you New England fans, I love it when the underdog wins. Soon after the game started and all the rest of the gang joined us, Shirl and I ended up further and further away from the heater somehow and as you can see above Frank, Jim and Meagan took full advantage of it, along with sweet little Dee Dee, Helen and Richard's new puppy and the mascot of the game. She actually only stayed out for about 5 minutes since she is so tiny and it was freezing out.

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KABOOOMB!

The crowd was dancing

Brandon, Kenny and Tommy walk through the crowd

Frank and I hard at work :)

February 10th - Winternationals, Pomona, California -
We have nicknamed this weekend as the weekend of fires. Every morning when we get to work, Frank lights the pilots lights in the kitchen so Eddie and I can cook lunch for the teams. Thursday morning, one of the burners was cracked just enough to release a stream of propane that burst into flames as Frank went to light it. The flame was big enough to singe all of Frank's eyelashes off, trim his eyebrows pretty good and singe the hair around his ears and face, but thankfully not big enough to do any skin damage, aside from a very dry and flaky nose. The second fire of the weekend was one of the Funny Car drivers, Tony Pedregon, when his car literally burst into explosive flames halfway down the track. The flames burned through his fire suit and hurt his hands a bit, but he was back at the track in full health with minimal bandages later this afternoon. Our hospitality tent was the center of attention this weekend with a D.J., great music and a full house. Neither of our teams did too well in competition but it's the first race of the year, so hopefully things will improve and the rest of our Sundays will be better.

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February 12th - Two Springs RV Park - Palm Springs, California -
Back when we were in Quartzsite, Arizona, we received a coupon book with free nights stays at various RV parks around the country. Most of them were 'stay two nights get one free', but the coupon for Two Springs was 3 days 2 nights absolutely free, so we took them up on their offer. As our good friend Shirl says "If it's free, it's for me!" We now see why they were giving out this promotion, since they are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and the sites are very barren. You can buy your own site here, much like our place in Florida, but the amenities are scarce, as is the greenery and the only water view is that of an old half dried up man made pond, but it does have a few goldfish in it. You also can't build much on your site here other than a storage shed and dress up the cement area of your pad with stonework or pavers. The first day we were here the weather was gorgeous. It was about 85 degrees so we took the top down in the Jeep and drove over to Palm Springs for lunch and a walk around the town. Palm Springs is a very nice town with lots of stuff to do, but again if there aren't green hills and meadows and lakes and wildlife I can leave it behind. The views of the mountains are pretty, but you see a great deal of the wind generators as you look across them, so those take a bit away from it, and considering they have hundreds and hundreds of the wind generators I have to believe it must get pretty windy here. Tomorrow we might drive to Indio and look at the Outdoor resort there. We have heard it is an amazing place with lots of lakes and the sites are all customized.

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February 13th - Outdoor Resort, Indio, California -
WOW!! What a difference between parks. This outdoor resort is beautiful. You hardly feel like you are in the dessert anymore with all the grass, flowers, trees and lakes that connect. You can take your boat from your own private dock and drive to the pool, or the restaurant or the bar. Lots of people had peddle boats which looked like the way to go. You could travel via water and get a bit of exercise as well. The sites are truly customized.

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Some people have put close to a million dollars in upgrades on these sites and have everything from a sushi bar to full gourmet outdoor kitchens to their own pools and spas in the backyard with swim up bars. It was nice to see and quite impressive, but it's still in the dessert and the dry heat is not to our liking. And the beach isn't  5 miles away.

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