Kathie’s Birthday

Pictures from last night’s Halloween/birthday dinner party for Kathie – with Dave, Rachel, Dan, Lisa, Kevin, Vanessa, Darlene and myself:

  

  

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Little Cat House in the Forest

Just some pictures from another little overnight excursion with Pan and Hera in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle, this time in the redwoods of Butano State Park.

 

We’re slowly building up to longer outings with them and they do seem to be adapting to it as a second home.  They’re also learning to go out for a little exploration in their harnesses.  Hera’s become quite the little explorer while Pan is still pretty nervous and reluctant.   Neither of them are happy about being in the vehicle while it’s in motion though.

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Scottish Highland Games

Eric joined Darlene and I at a pair of events at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton: the Big Trees Scottish Gathering & Highland Games and the Harvest Faire & Steam Festival.  Lots of bagpipes… and kilts… and steam:

Video from Highland Games & Steam Festival

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Little Cat House on the Beach

Just some pictures from our first real excursion with Pan and Hera in the Mobile Cat House (aka, Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle).  To the beach (Waddell Beach) for Sunday afternoon and evening:

 

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Bavarian Road Trip

Earlier this month, Darlene and I were able to get away for a little road trip in Bavaria, the southern region of Germany.  Darlene used to work summers in Bavaria and so she organized a little ten-day itinerary for us to see some of the sights.  We flew into Frankfurt and visited several locales before flying back via Munich.  We ended up skipping Frankfurt entirely when our inbound flight was delayed half a day, but we had a day seeing castles in the Rhine River valley, two nights in Heidelberg, a day visit in Bamberg, two nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, day visits to Aalen and Augsburg, three nights in Oberau and the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area, a day visit to Hohenschwangau and then a final two nights in Munich.

Some highlights of the trip:

Visiting the lovely Heidelberg town and castle

Visiting the lovely Heidelberg town and castle

Visiting Rheinstein Castle on the Rhine River

Visiting Rheinstein Castle on the Rhine River

Walking around Bamberg

Walking around Bamberg

Exploring the enchanting walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Exploring the city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Hiking up through Höllentalklamm gorge

Hiking up through Höllentalklamm gorge

Ascending Zugspitze

Ascending Zugspitze

Visiting Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles

Visiting Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein

Visiting Munich

Visiting Munich

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Mobile Cat House

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Holy cat snacks!  I bought an RV!!  To be otherwise known as the Mobile Cat House, Traveling Cat Camper, Cat-Assisted Adventure Van, Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle?  The idea here is to be able to take extended road trips and bring the cats along so that I don’t always have to make arrangements for a cat sitter.

I wanted something small enough to be able to take most anywhere (cities, state/national parks, even dirt roads) and yet large enough that the cats won’t go stir crazy and hate it.  Darlene and I intend to use it mostly, if not always, “dry camping” (or “boondocking” without hookups for water or electricity); in other words, our intention isn’t to travel to RV “resorts” or campgrounds.  We’ll prefer being able to camp out on open national park, forest service or BLM lands.

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Now if this wasn’t mostly about being able to bring the cats along, I’d definitely go for a compact 4×4 Sprinter van conversion that would allow us to go anywhere we would have previously gone and still easily fit in city parking spaces. However, to better accommodate the cats (it is the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle after all), I eventually settled on the somewhat wider and longer Leisure Travel Vans “Unity 24TB” (Twin Bed) model, built on the Mercedes Sprinter diesel-powered chassis.  It’s a little wider and longer than a normal Sprinter van and thus a “class B+ or C” but it should still be reasonably manageable both in the city and in the wild.  Unfortunately, there aren’t yet options for electric drivetrains on campervans and motorhomes, but they’re coming.  Mercedes-Benz may well have an all-electric option for its Sprinter chassis in a few more years.

While the Leisure Travel Vans build lacks somewhat in some of the technical features I wanted, many of those aspects can be upgraded after the fact.  The rest of the craftsmanship, aesthetics and build quality are fantastic.  (I’ll be posting my notes on my RV/campervan selection process as a sort of a review of what’s available that might be helpful to others.)

Anyway, I found and bought this only very slightly used 2016 Unity from a previous owner in Montana, with just 3100 miles on it, before I drove it the 1250 miles back home.  It was great to find a relatively new used one, to avoid the immediate depreciation hit of buying new and also to skip the 6-8 month long backlog for new orders.  Leisure Travel Vans are hard to come by and dealer’s orders seem to sell immediately.  I wasn’t even able to look at one in person anywhere in California.

It remains to be seen if Pan and Hera will adapt to taking extended road trips in their new Traveling Cat House.  If it doesn’t work out with the cats, I’m sure it’ll still be a fun adventure and it should be easy enough to sell again if I find it’s not something I want to keep.  In the meantime, there’s a number of changes and upgrades I’ll be making to the Traveling Cat House which I’ll document here, RV Tips, Upgrades and Customizations, to hopefully help out others like myself.

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Cat Boxing Demonstration

Pan and Hera Demonstrate Cat Boxing

Cat Boxing Demonstration by Hera and Pan

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Polynesian Festival and Races

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Darlene and I dropped in to see the Polynesian Festival and Outrigger Races at the Santa Cruz Wharf on Sunday morning.  Apparently anyone can sign up as teams in advance and compete in the races.  We also stopped into the free Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center.  It’s a small center with some nice exhibits and videos, including a tank where you can drive around a remote-operated submersible.

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Hoan and Quyen’s Family Visit

Hoan and Quyen came up to visit for a few days with their kids Samantha, Sebastien and Sarah.  We went to Moss Landing to kayak on Elkhorn Slough, to the Santa Cruz wharf and boardwalk, to the farmer’s market in Aptos (plus a quick stop to see the dancing chickens at the Glaum Egg Ranch), to hike in Big Basin and then hang out at Four Mile Beach in Wilder Ranch State Park.

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Suspects in the Yard

Somebody’s been eating my newly planted flowers in my front yard. I was pretty sure I knew who the culprit was, but for fun I moved my motion-activated camera to the front yard, near the house, to see what I might find.  Well, it took only a couple of nights to catch a whole range of suspects prowling my yard.

I knew there were a couple of rabbits that have taken up residence beneath some of the tall grasses near the house since I sometimes see them out and about in the mornings.  And not surprising to see the coyotes trying to find the rabbits.  But it was a surprise to see a bobcat has been trying to catch the bunnies in the yard too.  And of course I also caught the true culprits who’ve been eating my flowers!  I’ve now installed a motion-activated light and noise-maker now so perhaps the flowers will recover.

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