San Francisco vacation – Day 1

My wife and I took a mini vacation for the long Labor Day weekend and made the drive up to San Francisco.  On Friday, we had to wait until my kids’ remote learning classes were over for the day so we didn’t get out of town until about 1:00 pm.

We took the 5 FWY all the way up and then took the San Mateo Bridge across to our Hotel.  We made the 415 mile trip in about 7 hours. We went through a McDonald’s drive thru for lunch and stopped at a couple of rest stops and a couple of vista points along the way.  We had no agenda or set plans for the whole weekend and just had fun along the way.

What is an ashtray?

It was a long drive but totally worth it.  I got a room in the Marriott in San Mateo near the airport which is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco.  It was a little bit of a drive to get into the city from here but the hotel was almost empty and we got upgraded to a suite and free parking.  We stayed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in a 4 star hotel for less than $400.  Thanks COVID!

By the time that we got checked in there weren’t too many restaurants open after 9:00 pm but I found an Italian joint in downtown San Mateo and picked up some over-priced personal pizzas.  They tasted great but that may have been a symptom of having just finished a long road trip.

I got a new gas griddle and made chicken fried rice for the first time

For the last 3 years I have been asking for Lowes gift cards for birthdays, Father’s Day, and Christmas.  I finally collected enough cards and was able to purchase a Blue Rhino Razor gas griddle. My whole goal for getting this griddle is to learn how to make Japanese food like at Benihana.

My sons and I unboxed and put it together.

Once it was assembled, the older boy and I seasoned it.  We set it to it’s highest setting and let it come up to full heat for 10 minutes.  Using gloves and tongs, I gave it a thin coat of vegetable oil and let that burn in for 10 minutes.  We repeated this step 2 more times for a total of 3.

While the griddle was seasoning, I prepared the ingredients to make Chicken Fried Rice.  I cooked the rice the day before and let it dehydrate in the refrigerator over night.  I softened a pound of of butter, added 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, some soy sauce, and lemon juice.  I diced up an onion, shredded some carrots, and chopped up some green onions.  I also cubed up 4 chicken tenderloins and soaked them in soy sauce and salt.  I cracked 5 eggs into a bowl and stirred them up as well.  Eventually, I want to get good enough to crack the eggs on the grill, cut the chicken, and make an onion volcano.  This was my first time making it so I played it safe and prepped everything beforehand.

I transferred everything to the shelves on the sides and started cooking.  I set the heat to high on the 2 right burners and medium on the 2 left ones.

I started by cooking the chicken first and then moving it to the left to stay warm.  This was followed by the onions and carrots.  I sprayed the grill with canola oil first and then added some garlic butter while they were cooking.

I then poured the eggs on the grill and cooked them halfway.  I then dumped the rice on top of the eggs and thoroughly combined them.  Once flattened out I gave them some garlic butter as well.

I let the rice cook for a few minutes and then mixed in the chicken, onions, carrots, soy sauce, and salt & pepper.

I added in the green onions and cooked for a few more minutes and then spooned them in a bowl for serving.

We had the rice as our main dish for dinner and it turned out as good as I had hoped.  Now that I feel confident with this recipe, I am going to try adding some steak and vegetables to the next meal.

The final step was to bring the griddle back up to heat and clean it with a wet towel and give it another coat of seasoning.

Boy Scout Red Mountain campout

Every year, my son’s Boy Scout troop has a campout near Red Mountain, CA.  They get to throw Tomahawks, work on their Archery skills, shoot .22 rifles in sit down shooting station, and shoot shotguns.  This year, the troop added knife throwing to the activities.  All of these activities are performed under the supervision of fully trained range masters.

It is one of the campouts that the boys remember the most.

Knott’s Scary Farm 2019 – week 2

This week, I decided to watch a couple of shows as opposed to going in all the mazes again.  I attended the Puppet Up show, which was awesome!  It’s an adult themed improv show made with puppets.  The host asks the crowd for ideas and then the puppeteers improvise the ideas into a sketch.  I was laughing the whole time.  There is a camera on a tall tripod at the front of the stage and they hold the puppets above their heads in front of it.  Monitors are mounted to the floor so that the performers can look down and see where the puppets are located on the 2 screens behind them.

I also watched a comedy/magic show at the birdcage theater.  It was fun but not as good as the puppet show.

In total, I watched 2 shows, walked through 2 mazes, went on 2 rides and was out of the park by 11:00 pm.  The lines for the mazes were much shorter than last week.

Knott’s Scary Farm opening night 2019

My buddy Dave and I have been attending Knott’s Scary Farm together every year since 1996.  It is an annual tradition.  Some years there are up to 15 people with us and other years it’s just us and 1 or 2 of his sons.  Either way, we always have a good time walking the mazes and watching the show “The Hanging”.

The last 3 or 4 years has seen the number of people attending the event go up, the lines get longer, and The Hanging lose some of it’s edginess.

I have always looked forward to watching The Hanging for it’s numerous pop culture references and bawdy humor.  About 4 years ago, they changed the actor that played the main character, The Hangman, and pretty much eliminated all of the adult humor.  It made the show nearly unwatchable.  I hoped for better the next year and got the same boring show.  Then, last year, they started bringing some of the humor back.  This year they added a new devil character that I really enjoyed.  He is irreverent, politically incorrect, and humorous.  The show is not back up to it’s previous level but they are on a good trajectory.  Unfortunately, the surprise ending may signal the end of the show’s run.  We will have to wait until next year to find out.

We usually attend the 1st or 2nd Thursday of the event as going on the weekend is  always a crowded nightmare.  In years past we were able to go in every maze at least twice and maybe a ride or two.  This year we barely made it through all the mazes once and the log ride one time.  We walked through the last maze at 12:50 am, 10 minutes  before the park closed.

This year, I purchased the Scary Farm annual pass and parking.  This will allow me to attend the event as many times as I want and covers my parking as well.  By my estimate, they will pay for themselves in 2 1/2 trips.  Last year I went 5 times and this year I hope to make it 6 or 7.

I am going again next Thursday and hope that the park will not be as crowded as it was this time.

We found a really cool Art Sculpture yard

We spent the weekend with my younger son’s Cub Scout pack at Mataguay Scout Ranch in Santa Ysabel.  On the drive up there we saw some cool metal sculptures on a hill while traveling down highway 79.  There ended up being  a whole lot full of them.  We stopped on the way back and walked around and admired them.  I highly advise stopping by if you are ever in the area.  There are pictures below the map.

Good Omens – a short review

I saw a commercial for this series the weekend after it came out so my wife, mother in law, and myself sat down to watch it. It started out pretty formulaic and halfway through I was pretty sure what was going to happen next so I went outside to finish a woodworking project. That night I checked in with the wife and found out that I had pretty much guessed it right.  I wrote it off in my head and forgot about it for the next few weeks.

It popped up in my feed so I figured that I would go ahead and finish that first episode to see just how close my guesses were.  It ticked off all of my boxes but in entirely unexpected ways.  I found that intriguing and decided to watch the next episode.

As I watched each one I started to enjoy it more and more.  I have now watched the final episode at least a half dozen times.

The story pretty much ended how I thought it would, but the way that it got there was totally unexpected.

At first I thought that the 2 main characters were over the top and kinda campy, but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed them and knew who was who.

I give Good Omens 4 stars.

Boy Scout Canoe Trip – 2019

My son’s Boy Scout troop makes an annual trip out to the Colorado River to work on their canoeing and kayaking merit badges.  This outing is a family camp style so parents and siblings are also welcome to join.  We tried a new place and time of year this time.  Traditionally they have been in September up near Needles, CA and this year we tried out Blythe in May.

We drove up to the new camp location on Friday night.  The gas tank was getting low so I passed our exit and drove the extra 2 1/2 miles over to the Arizona side and filled up my tank for about $1.50 a gallon less than the California side.

Once we got to the park, the scouts got together and setup their camp.  The majority of the boys slept in the open air under the stars.  One of the older patrols setup a lean-to shelter and I saw one tent setup.

The whole camp got up at 5:30 am to get prepared for the day.  We all put on our swim clothes, got our gear ready, and made sack lunches for the day on the river.  The boat rental company was there at 6:30 am sharp to ferry us to the drop off point.  We had 72 people and 37 water craft present for the 16 mile adventure and it took two trips to get us all there.

I’m guessing that we were on the water by about 8:00 am.  I left my phone back at camp in my car so all my times are approximate for the day.  We were split up into 5 groups of 7 or 8 watercraft.  I was in the first group code named “Naboo” which was followed by the group code named “Hoth”.  I don’t remember the other groups names but they were all Star Wars related.  All the different groups had new scouts/parents and many were new to canoes and rowing.  We got off to a slow start but most of them had it down pretty good by the 11 to 12 mile mark.  We had a strong current and not much wind or boat traffic so we made good time and got to camp by around 2:30 pm.  We unloaded all the people and then helped the boating company to load them all up.

Once we got back to the actual camp site everybody took a well deserved rest.  Once dinner time came around the Boy Scouts made their own dinners according to their meal plans and quartermasters.  The adult leaders made Blood Orange Chicken and we had a very good taco bar setup.  Everything always tastes better when you’re camping.  For desert, they made S’Mores cake in the Dutch ovens.  Pretty much everybody was passed out by the 10:00 o’clock lights out.

I woke up around 6:00 am to the sound of rain falling on my tent.  I got dressed and packed up my sleep bag, sleeping mat, and camp cot before venturing out.  Once I did, I discovered that it was barely drizzling.  The drops always sound louder falling on the rain fly of the tent.  It’s a good thing too because most of the boys were sleeping outside with no cover.

We got most of the camp packed up and then the scouts and leaders went down to the lagoon and offloaded the single trailer full of kayaks and canoes that we had rented for the merit badge training.  It took a couple of hours but all of the new scouts finished their Canoe Merit badge activities.  They will now be able to use kayaks next year.  The boys that already have their Canoe Merit Badge worked on the Kayak Badge.

We left the camp around 11:30 am and stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger.  We also made a brief stop in Cabazon for our traditional Dinosaur selfie.  We had one other scout that rode up with us.  After dropping him off we were home by 4:00 pm.

Forbidden Fantasy Show 2019 or Bust!

I finally got the chance to attend the Forbidden Fantasy show since they moved their location to the AVI Resort & Casino in Laughlin, NV.  This was the 22nd annual show and I have attended every one until they moved it here two years ago.  I am most definitely happy that I was able to make it this year.

Full show coverage can be seen at

I left my house around noon on Friday, stopped in Barstow for lunch, made one quick pitstop on Interstate 40, and was in Laughlin by 5:00 pm.

Cars and trucks were already rolling into the two show areas by the time that I checked into my room.  They had vehicles in the grass behind the hotel as well as the side parking lot.

I met some friends for dinner at the hotel buffet and then headed back out to the grass area to take some night shots of the cars and trucks. (I have better shots on TRUCKRUN dot NET)

I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and set up the Giant Jenga game that I had made to donate to the raffle.  I set it up across from the Raffle Booth so that people could play with it before they tried to win it.  You can find more info on the build at

I then spent the rest of the day hanging out with friends and taking pictures of the car show.

There were about 30 member of my car club, Relaxed Atmosphere, there and we all met up for dinner in the steak house in the casino.  We took up 2 long tables and one of the servers just up and walked out during the course of the meal so all of our checks ended up being combined into one big one.

After dinner we hung outside near the cars, inside at one of the bars, and at various spots around the casino.  I didn’t make it back to my room until around 3:00 am.

The 11:00 am check out time came around way too soon.  I got checked out just in time and then went outside and got a few more shots of the vehicles on the lawn.  I also checked out my buddy Frank’s clothing booth and hung around for trophies.  The trophies were all handed out by 2:00 pm and then I got the hell out of Dodge.  It was an uneventful trip home and I was very happy to see my family and sleep in my own bed.  I can’t wait for next year!