I’m in my late sixties, ok maybe only sixty five at this date, Sept 2012, and retired living near the Russian river, near a little worldly town, called Guerneville. Redwood country. One of my main pastimes is kayaking on the Russian River, something I do, almost daily. I first started out kayaking the Monte Rio area and the upper Guerneville area. I did about five years on the river at Monte Rio going up and down the river. Up, mostly, to the Vacation Beach damn and down to the Cassini Ranch area where the first fish ripple is in the river for fish coming up to do their egg laying. After watching what was going on with the river for five years, I began to wonder what was going on down river, below the Cassini’s ripple, so I started kayaking at Jenner,  mostly launching at the Jenner visitors center. I’ve been doing this for about four years at the time of this writing. One of the most amazing things about me kayaking the river most everyday, including winter, is I seem to be the only one that even comes close to doing it, on such a beautiful river. :O)

Anyway, I’ve been watching everything that’s been going on, with the otters, the seals, the fish, and the people and just mother nature and how she runs things.

I think I’m pretty good at observing things as I worked for HP in the Reliability Physics Lab, taking electronic parts apart with acids and microscopes to find out why they didn’t work. Doing this, lead me to study the processes used to manufacture these types of things.

My background……Great grandfather, whose house I live in was recorded in this area in 1861, I think it was, at the age of five, with his mother working a boarding house at the old quick silver mine. I was raised in his house, playing in the redwoods and creeks around the house. I spent about a year on the east coast at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and two terms or two years in Vietnam 1966 end of, to 1968, June I think it was. Went to the local junior college and got a degree for electronic tech. Worked at HP summers and went to Cal Poly University for electronic engineering. Did three years and went to work for HP for about ten years in the Reliability Physics Lab.  Worked on a private three thousand acre ranch for about four years operating and working on heavy equipment, building roads and ponds doing most of the maintenance on the ranch. At this time I lived in a hunters cabin, with no electricity for about ten years. Best place I ever lived. I worked for myself as an electrician for awhile, just making enough to get by, until I retired, full time.

Now, I kayak the river and have been starting to do some of the other rivers in the west and also starting to get back into some desert traveling with my old van.

I’d say, I’m enjoying life and trying to live it to the fullest, whatever that is? :O)

28 Responses to About

  1. Therese Carpenter says:

    Thank you so much for posting your shared experiences, especially about Nathan. I met him last year when I was working response on the fires at Armstrong and he shared his story. Could you please reach out to me?

  2. Cody says:

    Hi bob
    I live in AK and am about to get a van somewhat like yours. It does not have 4wheel drive or a lift. It looked like yours had a lift and maybe locking front hubs. Just curious on if your van came like that or is there an aftermarket parts for thoes year of vans.

    • Bob says:

      Hi Cody,
      No you can not get a van like that with four wheel drive and hubs, you have to build one. We used a 1970’s four wheel drive Chevy truck for the axels and transfer case and transmission. The van is lifted only enough to fit the transfer case in, about two inches as I don’t like lift. Most parts are still available for the old vans as they used mostly Chevy truck parts anyway. Most cars and trucks in those days had a lot of the same parts so when I need van parts I look for Chevy truck parts around the van’s year which is 1967. One thing I’ll mention is I put a TBI with computer in there that is made by a third party but uses all GM stuff for this so all the parts can be replaced it need be by the early GM computer systems around 1990 which really makes the old van a much better driving van. Howell Industries makes this GM compatible kits to put TBI on and get rid of the funky old carbs. As far as I know there are only the two of these vans with four wheel drive, they just didn’t put four wheel drive in vans in those days. The conversion wasn’t too bad, there was some welding on the axel housings to line things up with the springs but it mostly went together pretty easy, if one is a good mechanic.
      The transmission and transfer case needs some moods to mount them too. So if it’s Chevy go buy a wracked four wheel drive truck and use the parts to make the conversion. Since my van is a 1967, truck parts from 1970 to 1980 worked. The other van we did was a 1968 so we used the same type truck. Ford can likely be done the same way. It really does make a nice camping rig that will take you most anywhere and is actually much sturdier than most modern vans. Anyway, if you do get any old van the TBI from Howell Industry’s will much improve any carbed type van.

  3. Lani Johnson says:

    Dear Bob,
    Will you give permission to use one of your chicken processing photos in a guide to chicken processing workbook I’m assembling?
    PHOTO: plucker-2.jpg
    The photo shows your chicken plucker (not yet attached to water) and scalding pot. I’d like to use it to illustrate setting up the processing area. I will attribute any way you wish, leaving your watermark “bobseyes.net” on the lower right corner. Suggest: “Photo courtesy of Bob Noble, Bob’s Eyes, bobseyes.net.”

    The workbook is intended as a take-home set of notes for folks who attend a chicken processing day at our little homestead in Tennessee. It would occupy part of one page.

    Thank you for considering this request.

  4. H M says:

    Hey I was wondering if you still have a Sweet a tooth for Jolly Ranchers
    When you are on one of your Adventure?
    I read your blog, pretty interesting stuff. I thought you would want to know
    “The Best Place your ever Lived” burnt to the ground in this latest fire and belongs
    To no one now.
    I knew you loved the place so did I.
    Hope you feel like talking some Day.

  5. Lisa Bacon says:

    HI Bob
    my name is lisa bacon i’m a producer with CBS news
    Where are you headed today? and do you see any fires burning?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey Bob, thanks for your excellent fire coverage/reports. The Sundberg’s are cousins of mine.

  7. Kim Lawson says:

    Hi Bob, you know my sister Mila. We lived in and around Guerneville for about 10 years (57-66). I moved to Sunnyvale to work for Lockheed (now Lockheed-Martin). I’m staying in Monte Rio for August and have been watching the fire(s). We came here from Palm Springs to avoid the heat and humidity. Great work on your blog, keep it up.

  8. MJ says:

    Hi, we have very much enjoyed reading your blog especially with regard to tapping and maintaining springs. Would you be interested in helping us to develop a seasonal spring on our property in West Marin, or do you know anyone who would be? We would of course compensate for time and materials etc
    It runs as soon as we have good rains and usually until March if the weather stays wet. Hate to see the water running off and going to waste!

    Kind regards

  9. Elizabeth Carpenter says:

    Hello Bob,

    I found your I found your blog and your YouTube. I have been searching for help on how to develop a spring I have.
    ~~ Elizabeth

  10. bnoble2012 says:

    Hi Dwayne, I know the problem. I got that weather strip off the shelf at Pep Boys Auto and tires.
    I think I got this one.
    It’s ten feet long and just fit my Chevy barely, but works pretty good. The clip is pretty big and will fit over most stuff. There are also some bulb clip on’s on that page that might work for you.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Hi my name is Dwayne. I noticed your van engine posted pic. I have a 1966 ford econoline van. I have been searching for an engine compartment cover seal. While searching I found your site. Yours looked like it was new. Do you know where I could get one. Not sure if a chevy would fit. But willing to try anything. I have been looking for several years. Been using soft rubber and foam stick on seals but they flatten out after short time and I get fumes badly. I travel all over the nation and live in my van. If you know where I might pick one up please let me know. Thanks Dwayne.

  12. James Luckin says:

    Hi Bob,
    I found your blog whilst on vacation in a wonderful house at Guernville on the river with kyaks included. The wildlife is a revalation, this is our first time in California. Your comments saying that if you don’t see you’re not looking are spot on. We saw otters, kingfishers, turtles and so much more. Loving the mix of your blog, nature and a bit of petrol headed tinkering is perfect. Back in the UK now but I’ll be keeping up with life on the river through your posts. Keep it up.


    • admin says:

      Welcome aboard James,
      I’m very fortunate to be living in this place everyone else has to travel miles to get to, eh.

  13. William says:

    Howdy Bob,
    I’ve just spent an hour looking through your website, having reached it from some Nevada googling concerning the Diamond A Ranch. I’ll definitely be back when I have more time. My wife and I are planning a Rogerson, ID-Jarbidge-Rowland-Mountain City-Maggie Summit-Bull Run-Tuscarora-Midas-Golconda trip in 2016 and your posts are an inspiration for that.
    Your van is Da Bomb! I’m 60 myself and definitely old-school when it comes to trucks. I’d be very interested to know how you did 4WD on the van: Did you drop the van onto a Blazer or 4WD pickup chassis, or did you add a transfer case and front drive axle to the van? If you added the tc and the front axle, what vehicle was the donor, and what trans case did you use? By whatever means you did it, the outcome looks great and I bet the fuel-injected 250 I-6 is sweet. That’s a tough old bread truck motor, for sure.
    Thanks for your efforts to post your travels and be safe and happy.
    Raleigh, NC

    • admin says:

      Hi William,
      I really do like the Jarbidge high desert area a lot and hope to spend some more time in the area soon, as the weather gets nice enough in that area so keep your eye out on the blog for it. There’s endless exploring around in that area and a four wheel drive rig is a real plus, , but one could explore a lot without one.
      My old van has it’s own chassis, so I just added to it. If I remember right, I used axles from a 1972 half ton four wheel drive Chevy truck. I would of used the transfer case and transmission too, but they were automatic and I’d have to change the van’s column shifter and I preferred the manual stuff over the automatic stuff, so I found a Muncie three speed with manual transfer case from a 1978 four wheel drive suburban which worked out well. I did have to change the mounting ears on the axles which wasn’t really too hard to do. Most of Chevy’s 1970’s rigs should work as they are mostly the same stuff. The toughest part was making the transfer case shifting rods strong enough to shift all the way in back of the engine. I had to rise the van just a bit to fit the transfer case under it and there was barely enough room for the back drive line, but there was room, barely.
      And yes, the modern fuel injection with the computer was one of the best things I did for it. This type of van has bad cooling in the engine compartment, so when the van is shut off, the heat rises and vaporizes the gas in the carb, making gas smells and hard starting. Nice to get rid of the choke too. The 250 straight six is a work horse and almost indestructible so I decided to keep it instead of putting in a V8. I’m a bit slow going up hills on he highways, but with the transfer case in low, I seem to have enough power to get me where I want to go. The van will go most places a jeep will go as it has the same short wheel base of the older jeeps, 9o inches. By using these axles, the van also has front disk brakes which is nice.
      Hope you make it to the Jarbidge area, it’s one of the nicest places I’ve explored around.

  14. Hey Bob-

    Hows the Monte Rio boat launch looking? Too muddy to launch or has it been cleared?

    Love your Blog!


    • admin says:

      Hi Michael,
      I looked a couple days ago and it hadn’t been cleaned off.
      But the mud was firming up some and I could just about walk on the part that was out of water, so it’s at least better. Someone might clean it off soon, I hope. I may go down and try it again tomorrow.

  15. James Borgman says:

    I love your blog. Thank you for the updates. Looking forward to possibly seeing some steelhead photos. Bob’s Eyes are the best!!

  16. Dennis Olson says:

    Bob, you are a true “specialist” of this portion of the river and its denizens, whether fish, fowl or human. I watch your blog regularly and that’s why I showed up yesterday with the Paddle Board. By the time I got to the new breach it was flowing pretty good: http://vimeo.com/109827449

    Regards, and keep up the good work!


    • admin says:

      Hi Dennis,
      I watched your video. You were there just about the time the sand was just starting to move, as you can see it at the bottom of the ditch, as the ocean was going to low tide. Shortly thereafter, the whole thing would have washed out draining the estuary rather quickly which is sometimes quite spectacular, especially if the spawning fish start coming into the river and the seals and sea lions start their attack. All the sand you were standing on would take off to the ocean when this happens.
      As you can see, the estuary is an interesting place to hang out and good to hear you are using my blog to have some fun.

  17. Georgine says:

    Thank you for sharing and posting your adventures. Because of these kinds of posts, I’ve started getting out more both on the water and the land. Thanks.

  18. Lisa Hug says:

    Hi Bob,

    I saw your amazing photograph of the nestling Turkey Vultures at Jenner in May. I am on the Breeding Bird Atlas Committee for Sonoma County and we are conducting a 5 year study to map out all of the breeding species of the county. May we use your record of the nest for the atlas project you would receive credit for the record. Thank you,
    Lisa Hug

    • admin says:

      Hi Lisa,
      I always heard the turkey vultures must nest someplace up the coast from the old timers, as no one really knew where they nested. From my experience, up the coast, is here, among us. This is the only one I’ve documented, but I’ve seen others in the area. I also remember one on the left side of Armstrong Woods Park in an old redwood stump, on the ground like this one. Sure, go ahead and use it.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve loved reading Bob’s Eyes!

    Would you be interested in giving guided kayak tours? We’re new to the area and you know SO much about the river. But great to learn about it from you.


    • admin says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      I’m not doing any guiding at this time. I’ve thought about it and decided it might not be a good thing for me to do and might mess with my life.
      You’ll just have to keep reading my blog. All the pictures are of real life and show exactly where they were taken and that’s as far as I’m willing to go as for guiding. :O)
      Thanks for your interest,

  20. Mark Donaldson says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for all your work on this blog and for sharing your adventures. I check in on it from time to time and am always impressed.

    ps – I forgot to bring my sit-on-top grey kayak up Saturday night and it floated away. On the off-chance you happen to see one caught in some bushes somewhere…..

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