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When It Rains . . . (Redding, CA)

Shrimp Benihana . . . It’s the Sauce

. . . We Cook!

We’ve been near Redding, CA for 4 days and when it wasn’t raining (everyday), it was/is hot.

So we dined out and cooked in.

For dining in, we dug up three Bon Appetit magazine recipes:

  • Shrimp Benihana
  • Sauteed SeaScallops with Lemon Dill Sauce
  • Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Mustard & Horseradish Sauce







Coating Beef with Pepper




Great Views




Scrub Jay Outside Our RV


Stealth Camper Down the Road from Us

Verizon & Apple: Two Customer Service Stories


Let’s start with the bad story — Verizon.

On Friday, May 17th, I ordered a Verizon modem (USB730L) and an Unlimited data plan with it from Verizon’s web site. This is the plan I gushed about previously on my blog: Verizon’s Prepaid $65 Unlimited Plan

The USB730L modem and 1-month of the Unlimited plan cost $345.67. I thought it money well spent as I now hoped I could ditch my other costly Verizon data plan.

Or so I thought.

The modem arrived at our mail forwarding service on Monday, May 20th, and we had it sent with our other mail to our current RV campground in Redding, CA. Our mail and Verizon modem arrived on Friday, May 24th.

From the MIRC (Mobile Internet Resource Center) I knew that after May 21st Verizon’s Unlimited plan would no longer be available. However, I thought I was safe because I bought the modem and plan before May 21st. I was dead wrong.

The modem came packaged with a note saying it had already been activated. However, after spending several days speaking to Verizon reps, supervisors, and managers, I was unable to activate the Unlimited plan on my USB760L modem.

During those several days, I was given correct, incorrect, misleading, and I think outright lies from Verizon. While several Verizon reps truly tried to help me, others were more interested in getting me out of their queue as quickly as possible.

Awful experience, but I was not surprised by it.

I sent the modem back to Verizon today, Wednesday, May 29th, but it should take 5 or so days to get back to Verizon. There is a 14-day window to return the modem which ends on Friday, May 31st.

Please take my survey:

(A) All of the $345.67 I spent will be refunded.
(B) Some of the $345.67 will be refunded.
(C) None of the $345.67 will be refunded.
(D) None of the $345.67 will be refunded, and Verizon will add additional charge(s).



On Friday, May 25th, my Apple email account stopped working. No email on my iMac, iPad, or iPhone. I thought “What did Jan (my wife) do now?” Actually, I thought it was something I did . . . some inadvertent click or swipe.

I contacted Apple via their online chat. The first rep was nice enough, but gave me instructions (which I followed) that closed my browser and the online chat session with it. Not too impressed with Apple support at this point.

The next rep recommended that we talk via phone instead of online. Great idea. He asked if he could watch my iMac screen while he did the troubleshooting. I gave him permission, but after several attempts to fix my email, it wasn’t happening, so he got an Apple engineer involved.

Pretty rapidly Jason, the Apple engineer, figured out that my email problem was not on my end. He admitted that Apple had an “event” (or “issue”, I forgot his term) on their end. I felt better for no particular reason.

Anyway, Jason said it might take a few days to fix as this was Memorial Day weekend. He emailed me on my Gmail account (always have a 2nd one, guys) with a case number and his personal voicemail number. He warned me that I might lose email that was saved on my Apple account.

On Tuesday the 28th I left a message on his voicemail asking if he could expedite my email fix. I didn’t expect much as Jason is off Tuesdays. Nevertheless, a few hours later, my email began working again. There were 100 or so new messages, plus all my saved messages were still available. Eureka!

Interesting Times: Yosemite to Redding, CA

Click on map to enlarge

The beginning of our trip was a semi-nail biting drive from Indian Flat RV Park down Highway 140 . . . some steep grades, lack of shoulders, sheer drop offs into the raging Merced River . . . but other than that, it was a beautiful drive.

Our original route from Yosemite to Placerville was to be along Highway 49. However, about 20 miles into this highway we saw “Road Closed” signs. We just kept driving because we figured there would be a detour ahead. We were wrong. The road just ended.

Dead End, Sucker

No detour at all. So we unhooked our Jeep from the RV, turned the motorhome around, and then re-hooked the Jeep. This, plus backtracking, plus a longer route, added about an hour to our trip. No biggy. We arrived at our Placerville campground late in the afternoon.



Our Campground Site


The Campground Spa


Dinner with Tim & Beth — great company, great food




After 4 nights at Placerville, we hit the road early this morning because SOMEONE BOOKED A CAMPGROUND STARTING ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. Fortunately, traffic was light because we were on the road by 7 am. Yahoo! Dodged a bullet.

We arrived at our campground near Redding at about 11 am, had dinner at a burger joint, and did some grocery shopping.

Our Redding Site



Then at about 8 pm my iPhone received this incredibly loud text message from the National Weather Service that said in effect Tornado Alert! Take cover immediately!

We had been seen thunderheads building all day, but thought nothing of it. However, when we checked the Internet weather radar, it looked bad.



Fortunately, the storm missed us and ran out of gas. When we were outside our RV watching the sky, we met our neighbor who was camping in a small, pull-behind travel trailer in the site next to us. Her name was Jan and she’s an Earth Science high school teacher. Jan told us that she lost her home during last year’s wild fires, but was in the process of rebuilding. However, she also told us that it will be another 5 months before she can move in to her new house.

Hites Mine Road (El Portal, CA)

Click map to enlarge

While at Yosemite, we looked for hiking trails near us. We found the Hite Cove Trail just a few miles away from our campground. However, upon closer examination, we discovered this ideal hiking trail was closed because of last season’s wild fires. Nuts.

Then we looked closer to home.

Turns out that Hites Mine Road starts in our campground and ends up at the same place — Hite Cove — as the closed trail. But, of course, there’s a gotcha — Hites Mine Road has several switchbacks and climbs 1,600′ and then descends 1,200′. Well, it turned out to be a great hike and Flirt loved it.

Lots of switchbacks

The first day we made it up to about 1,900′ (the 1st switchback) and then the following day Flirt & I climbed to 2,300′ (the 2nd switchback).

On the way up . . . plenty of Indian Paintbrush . . .


. . . wild fire damage . . .


. . . and the occasional trash cabin



On the 1st day, Jan stopped, but I kept going . . .


. . . and going (Jan’s in the white circle)


Lots of great views the higher I went . . .





Flirt was with me all the way up . . .




However, both Flirt and I were getting winded


Going down was hairy as the 2nd switchback was littered with baby-fist sized rocks that really slowed down walking.


Click on map to enlarge.


We arrived in our Yosemite campground on Monday, May 13th. On Tuesday we drove into Yosemite Valley to see what we could see.

There are many, many natural and man-made sites to see the valley. There is also traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.

Our parking spot


After parking the Jeep, we did lots of walking and had lunch somewhere. The we went in search of “The Kiosk” where we hoped to make reservations to raft down the Merced River inside Yosemite. That was the plan . . . and we found The Kiosk . . . a needle in the Yosemite haystack.

We Found Half Dome Village


We Found The Kiosk


However, since the Spring water runoff was particularly fierce this year, rubber rafting was delayed for a time — long after we’re gone. Bummer. We snapped a few pictures and called it a day.




Since the weather forecast was rain, rain, and more rain, we didn’t want to Park & Walk again. So we took a 2-hour bus tour of Yosemite Valley. A wise decision.

Look, it’s tourists!




A Bad Sign