Down Eleven Pounds

If you invent the dietetic pretzel, you will be as rich as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined. I will kiss you on the lips.

My diet continues. So far, so good. I’m down 11 pounds. Yesterday I was down 12.

You shouldn’t look every day – right? How can you not?

When I last dieted, Dr. Steve looked at my blood numbers and said, “No more Atkins.”

Actually, he hinted at it. I picked up the hint. He said he was glad I did.

This diet is very different for me, in that I’m not being 100% strict. I have had cake. I have had pasta. Just less than I would have had before.

Mostly, I’ve made healthier choices… and avoided pretzels. I love pretzels. That’s the most difficult part.

If you invent the dietetic pretzel, you will be as rich as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined. I will kiss you on the lips.

Nowadays, instead of getting the “Chicken Caesar Wrap” at dinner, I’ll get the “Veggie Wrap.” No potatoes or fries, it’s grilled vegetables there too. Mayo is replaced by mustard. I’ve developed a taste for salmon. I’m losing weight a few hundred calories at a time.

My biggest change happens when I get home from work. There’s a whole lot less grazing, and (as I mentioned) no pretzels. I do eat a lot of fruit.

These are simple things. They are working.

I have dieting and weight theories. They aren’t based on ‘real’ science, but they make sense to me.

For instance, I don’t think I could go below 160 pounds and still be healthy. I have found 200 pounds is much too much weight. So, there’s a 40 pound range to ‘play’ in.

With that in mind, I’ve lost about a quarter of this ‘optional’ weight. I’d like to lose another 12-13 pounds, bring me into the mid-170s. As a grown-up, that seems to me to be my ideal weight.

Of course, the best part for me is seeing the results. It’s easy to see how much better my clothes fit. I’ll never become a swimsuit model.

When I was in my twenties, home cooking was Hydrox Cookies and Coca Cola. I had daily lunch at Burger King – Whopper, minus onions and mayonnaise, and a chocolate shake. I never put on an ounce.

Age is cruel. You metabolism changes and hair grows in all sorts of strange places.

Health aside, I’ve got too much invested in clothes to be heavy.

On To Palm Springs

Our week in Los Angeles was great. The three of us agreed we had a wonderful time. We saw friends, ate great food, visited fun places and (some of us) power shopped.

Now it was time to move our quarter ton of luggage to the next stop: Palm Springs. None of us had ever been here before, but we all like the desert.

Helaine had taken the time to print directions before we left Connecticut. Take a right from the hotel, down to Pico, then right toward Overland and I-10. But when we got to Pico there was a sign for I-10… but pointing left!

Who to believe? We chose the State of California. Bad choice.

The I-10 East signs lasted a few blocks and then… nothing. We continued to drive down Pico. Signs on stores changed from English to Spanish and then Korean. The buildings of Downtown LA grew larger. We were very lost.

When I came to a street I recognized, we turned. There was an overpass ahead, but not I-10. I decided to find a place to turn around and head back to Pico. And then I saw the sign: I-10 East.

The drive to Palm Springs is fairly easy. As you head east, Los Angeles County becomes less pretty. Then it’s bedroom town after bedroom town after bedroom town.

We stopped in West Covina to have lunch at “In-n-Out Burger.” “In-n-Out” is a West Coast chain of fast food burger joints. Steffie had seen one on some show, and she thought it would be fun.

“In-n-Out” has a very short menu. Burgers, fries, drinks – that’s about it.

I was immediately struck by how many people were behind the counter and in the kitchen. They seemed more labor intensive than McDonalds or Burger King.

My cheeseburger was excellent, the fries were light and good… and so, In-n-Out Burger now has a new fan.

We got back on I-10 and headed east. The land is fairly flat and filled with scrub type vegetation. We moved farther into the desert and the population began to thin out.

And then, I spotted the wind turbines.

I knew this place existed, but had never really thought about it. On I-10, just before the exit for Palm Springs, up sprang a huge ‘farm’ of wind turbines. Each was on a tall tower with a three bladed propeller. They seemed to be spinning slower than would be expected with the wind.

At San Gorgonio Pass, hot air rises over the Coachella Valley and forces cooler air through a pass between the San Bernadino and San Jacinto Mountains. Wind speeds there average 15-20 miles per hour (24.1-32.2 kmh), with the prime wind season occurring from March to September. There are over 4,000 wind turbines in this 70 square mile (182 square kilometer) area. Most of the land is privately owned, although the U.S. Bureau of Land Management administers a portion of it.

This is an unbelievable sight, and I will check to see if it’s possible to visit up close.

We’re in Palm Springs now, settled in our hotel. More on what we did last night and what we’ve got planned for today a little later.

Greetings From California

I’m writing from 30 some odd thousand feet. I have no idea where we are, sitting in the aisle seat with the window shades to my left pulled down.

Stef saw what I wrote and pulled up the shade. We’re over mountains – probably the Rockies… possibly the Bullwinkles&#185.

Our exit from Connecticut was uneventful. Well, nearly uneventful. Over the past few days a low, throaty whir has been coming from somewhere in the rear of the Explorer. I drove it to Steve at the Exxon station. What an ear! Twenty seconds of driving to hear, “Wheel bearing. Left rear wheel. It could last another 50,000 miles.” But, would it last to Bradley Airport and back? “Yes.”

We headed to the airport… heading to the long term lot where we’ve parked for better than 15 years. AAA gives discount coupons, and it’s a really good deal.

When we got there a man with a walkie talkie was standing out front and the entrance was blocked. Full! We’d never seen that before. We went to their self park lot in the back. This would mean a cold car, covered in snow if it snows, on pickup. Life goes on.

I think we’re really close to the quarter ton goal with baggage. We checked 6, rolled 2 as carry ons and had a few random shoulder bags. The driver of the van to the terminal felt it necessary to ask how long we were staying.

I tipped him anyway.

Though the parking lot was full, the Southwest portion on the terminal was empty. Three people were behind the counter and we were the only ones needing help. I had printed pour boarding passes just after midnight, getting us “A” passes which got us on the plane in the first wave. Helaine handed them to the agent and got our baggage tags. Then it was time for me to drag, roll and push them to the TSA agents.

Even with a large load like this it no longer makes sense to use a skycap. There are too many steps, and the bags are yours to push far too soon for his help to be worthwhile.

We moved on to security screening. As we got there a sweet, white haired woman was having her sneakers removed by a rubber gloved officer. I’m not law enforcement savvy, but she didn’t seem like much of a threat to me.

My camera bag got the twice over and, of course, Helaine got the thrice over. I’m not sure what she’s done to upset the powers that be, but she is nearly always singled out for additional scrutiny.

While Helaine’s inspection continued, I noticed a Connecticut State Trooper on a Segway. I think it’s a good idea… but then I saw another trooper on a bike. Even in the terminal, I suspect the bike is faster… and the trooper gets more fit.

The flight from Hartford to Las Vegas was 5:50. That is too long to be in an airplane without entertainment. It was, by far, the noisiest flight I’ve ever been on. Not the plane – the passengers. I guess that’s part and parcel of going to Vegas. You get in that party mood as early as possible.

Our layover in Las Vegas was around an hour. Helaine and Steffie went to Burger King and brought a Whopper back for me. There is free Internet access at McCarren Airport, but my battery was down to a few minutes, so I checked my mail, sent some cryptic responses and ate my burger.

Las Vegas to Burbank is a much easier trip – about an hour gate to gate.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank is like a throwback to an older time. That’s not to say it’s quaint and pretty, because it isn’t. It’s an airport that’s bursting at the seams. It’s also the first time in years that I deplaned using air stairs! Southwest unloaded the passengers through both the front and rear stairs of the 737.

We chose Burbank because we had heard it was much smaller and easier to get around in than LAX. That was absolutely true. The baggage claim is in a covered, though open air area. Thank heavens the heavy winter rains are over! Aren’t they?

Because we’re bringing enough baggage to stay permanently, should we choose, we rented an SUV. We got a white Chevy Trail Blazer from Alamo. Nice deal. Nice car. It feels bigger and heavier than our Explorer.

The drive to our hotel was uneventful… and now as Helaine and Stef unpack, I’m typing this. I guess I’d better stop and help. More tomorrow from Southern California.

Meanwhile, a little look off our west facing balcony. I believe that’s Santa Monica in the distance.

&#185 – Sorry. Unavoidable.