As a Christmas present for ourselves we bought two things with my last corporate bonus check. One was a second DSLR camera package. I have been using the Canon T5 Rebel and love it, but switching lenses in the field is a hassle, and it’s nearly impossible to do without getting dust on the inside of the lens and cause some pictures to have spots on them. Plus Lee loves to take pictures also and passing the camera back and forth, especially in a wildlife situation, doesn’t always work. Finally, he can use the extra camera for video shoots and we can write it off as a business expense, so ultimately we decided to take the plunge and buy a second one. As cheap as I am, I do not regret this camera purchase one little bit, because it has paid off in hours of free entertainment. We also decided to buy an Instant Pot. My friend Kelly got one and my interest was immediately piqued. It cooks rice, makes stews, acts as a pressure cooker, and tons of other things. It uses 1000 watts, which is doable with our inverter while boon docking, and most importantly, allowed me to give away three other appliances. Space is at a premium and the crock pot, pressure cooker, and rice maker were taking up valuable space. I left the crock pot and pressure cooker at the volunteer annex in the Redwoods (with their approval) and am giving the rice cooker to my youngest daughter, pending a rice taste test with the new pot. Some purchases are no-brainers for me and the fact that it does seven things and takes up less space absolutely put it in this category. Because this campground doesn’t receive mail we sent the purchases to the local UPS store. Generally shipping to a UPS store works out just fine, and although you have to pay an extra $5 for them to receive things for you, it is so worth it for some items because you can guarantee safe delivery and pickup.
On Saturday we decided because of the rain to stay at the camper. Nick, our friend from New Hampshire, has lived in this area for the last few years and we were very excited about seeing him. We also just needed a day to get organized and chill a little. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that the Mazda Racetrack was rented for the day by a local racing club and from 8:30am to 4:30pm cars were zooming around the track. We are camping right on a curve and the squeal of brakes and tires as cars took that turn too hard really started to get on my nerves after a while. Ironically, we decided not to stay at the military campground near Kay because it was also near the JetPort and instead chose this campground. Lee specifically asked about noise when he made the reservation and was told it would be very quiet because it was off-season. Not cool. If you like racing, this probably would have been fun for you, but the high level of noise drove us inside and we could hear it everywhere in the camper. Oh, and did I mention there is a gun range next door as well? When we weren’t hearing the cars, we heard the constant sounds of shooting. Again, this might not bother some people but I like my quiet. I will say the evenings are incredibly quiet, so we have booked things to do almost every day now to be away from the camper.
Nick is about 1-1/2 hours away so he drove down and we spent a lively evening catching up and having dinner. We covered a wide range of topics, got some advice about marketing our business (Nick started his own production business specializing in 3D projection mapping, Lucid Creative, two years ago and is doing great), and ate some wonderful cupcakes that Kay made. We also laid in plans for the whole week and luckily since this is a relatively slow week for Nick he is able to come to some of the activities with us. For those of you who don’t know, Nick starting interning for Lee at Cheshire TV when he was 15 years old. Then he became a part-time employee and with Lee’s encouragement went to Full Sail University for production. He has worked on cruise ships, gone around the world multiple times doing projection, video and lighting for several touring concert performers, started his own business. The company creates 3-D projection mapping video effects, which is a truly beautiful cutting edge technology. His company is doing really well, and his client list just keeps growing. The sky is the limit for him and Lee and I are so proud of him.
The next day we went to the Winchester Mystery House with Nick, his girlfriend Slushie, and his younger brother Max. The Winchester Mystery House is a place Lee had heard of but never gone to. The widow of the founder of Winchester Repeating Arms gun company was super rich and extremely eccentric. She was a great believer in spirits and was very concerned that the spirits of the Native Americans that her husband’s guns had killed were haunting her, so on the advice of several psychics she continually was building her house for over 30 years, and in such a way as to confuse the spirits. Stairs and doors that go nowhere, rooms that just end with no seeming purpose, it’s like a real life fun house. We took both the back stage tour (which was not that great) and the mansion tour (which was OK but way over priced) and although pictures were not allowed in the main house, Lee and I snuck a few. I’m not usually a rule breaker, but the only reason you couldn’t take pictures is because a movie was going to be shot there soon and I thought that was pretty dumb.
Overall, I thought the tour was way overpriced and I don’t recommend the behind the scenes tour at all. Everyone had a good time though and it was a good thing to do close to Nick’s house. After our tours we drove to Nick’s new apartment and met his roommate and business partner Kyle. Normally I wouldn’t recommend this arrangement, but when I saw their work setup (12 computers and a 3D printer) I understood how helpful it was for them to work close together. Kyle sous-vide rib eye steaks and made asparagus with poached eggs and homemade walnut vinaigrette. It was a menu worthy of Top Chef . Sous-vide preparation is putting the meat in a hot water bath (he used an ordinary cooler) and maintaining a temperature of 130 degrees for a couple of hours. Since the meat is slowly cooked it is very tender and has the consistency of a good prime rib. I’ve never actually eaten anything cooked this way and was fascinated by the preparation, plus it tasted really good!! They also had a great selection of wine, the conversation was intelligent and fun, and we really enjoyed ourselves. I liked Kyle very much and was glad to see Nick has surrounded himself with such great people. Plus it truly was the best dinner party I have ever been to in my life. Absolutely loved it.
Monday Lee was supposed to go to Alcatraz, but unfortunately all of the tickets were sold for the entire week, so instead we went to see the new Star Wars Movie. I loved the movie as well and definitely felt it did the franchise justice. Then we went to eat dinner at one of Kay’s favorite little restaurants on Alvarado street. This is the “downtown” of Monterey and was lit up very pretty, but unfortunately it was pouring. We had to park the truck pretty far away (Lee is doing an excellent job parking the truck in these tight quarters), and walked down. The food was plentiful and reasonably priced and I can see why the DLI students like to hang out here and study. They also have a really cool Farmer’s Market/Street Festival on Tuesday evenings (we were going to go but it rained really hard). So, we dropped Kay off at her place and then came back and took a breath. Lots of running around the last couple of days and Lee’s back really started bothering him. We just took it easy for the rest of the night and prepared a bit for our work kamping job interviews the next day.
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