Thursday, November 2, 2017

Almost Home

When we left California it seemed that our trek across country would never end. Now, as we approach our final destination in southern Florida, it doesn't seem so bad. We have certainly taken a leisurely route. We refer to it as the "Three Thirty Rule" meaning we will travel no more than 330 miles or arrive no later than 3:30 PM. Certainly our trip has taken more days than it could have, but the quality of our days has been so much better. (IE... we aren't bitching at each other ...... as much!!!)

Our travels up to Jacksonville
We arrived in the Jacksonville area on Friday, and spent the weekend with family before moving on to our home near Labelle, FL. We were anxious to see the resort, as Hurricane Irma went right over it. And everyone had reported that although there was damage, it was not anything like it could have been. The staff of the resort has been (and remains) very busy cleaning up debris and broken limbs. The pines, oaks and palms are all a bit thinner than they were, and limbs seem to droop a bit more than in the past.

Last year I took a picture of the palms reflected in the mirror of our motorhome. I took a second shot of it last night. It shows the impact of the hurricane on the palms. They look so sad.



Here is another before and after shot. The first is a picture of our lot with the huge oak at the back and a pretty Bismarck Palm in the front. Compare this picture to the one I took this evening.  What a difference.




   

Thursday, October 26, 2017

RV Museum - Amarillo

We pulled into Amarillo with a few hours to spare before evening. We had heard that there was an RV museum in town, so off we went. The museum is the private collection of Jack Sisemore the owner of Jack Sisemore Traveland, an RV dealership.
We enjoyed seeing the collection. Jack has collected and restored a number of trailers and motorhomes. In addition there was quite a collection of motorcycles
The highlight of our visit was meeting Jack, and his brother Jess. We were on our way out of the RV supply store at the front of the dealership when an older gentleman stopped us and asked if we had enjoyed our visit. I thought that perhaps we were talking to Jack and asked. Yep, he was the real deal. And, the fellow next to him made some comment about his brother.  I remembered reading that a motorcycle had been given to Jack's brother, Jess. So, I asked if he was "Jess". He answered in the affirmative.
More than anything else about our visit, talking with the two brothers made my day! I loved visiting with them for a while.

Here are some pictures from our visit:

























Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ships (Recreational Vehicles) that Pass in the Night (on the Interstate)

As we travel I occupy my time by calculating gas mileage, locating campgrounds for future stops, finding fuel stops and checking accessibility on satellite views, making notes in a journal about where we just stayed and occasionally writing and posting a campground review online. I use the Internet to look up places mentioned on signs, manufacturing plants we pass to see what they make, and sights to see that we aren’t stopping to see, and report the information I find to the driver. I also check maps for traffic information and the weather. And of course, I check email and social media to catch up on friends and what they are doing. 

Our travels over the past 4 1/2 years have put us in the position to meet people from all over the world. Sometimes the meeting is a brief conversation about where folks are from, where they are going and how do they like their rig. Other meetings involve stories told while enjoying a glass of wine, and perhaps dinner. And some encounters involve traveling together that promotes friendships that endure. Facebook gives all of us the opportunity to see where some of our friends are, or where they are heading. 

As we turned our wheels to the east I noticed that friends of ours were in Amarillo for the week on their trek home to California. They were leaving Amarillo on Friday and were planning to spend the week in Albuquerque. They were staying at the same RV resort where we were planning to stay. We had reservations for Thursday, and would leave for Amarillo on Friday. We would be ships that pass in the night... Or RV’s that pass on the Interstate. We could wave to each other! Since we aren’t in a huge hurry to get across the country, and knowing we still have a long way to go and taking breaks is what we said we would do, we added another night’s stay in Albuquerque so we could have a brief visit with Bill and Denise. And visit, we did. We talked, and drank, and had yummy food at the 66 Diner. The ladies had a show and tell; Denise showed the projects she has been knitting while on the road, and I showed the quilts I had on board. We laughed that one can not have enough yarn or fat quarters. The guys talked shop. They talked about brakes and driving in the wind, and fueling up and acceleration. The next morning we had breakfast, shared hugs and good-byes, and “see ya down the road!” 


Those planned encounters happen, whether the planning happens weeks or months out... or a day in advance. But we have also had serendipitous encounters where we just happen upon someone. We have bumped into friends at campgrounds, rest areas and while driving along the road. While we were in Albuquerque it happened again. We had a blown headlight so proceeded to Camping World to get a new bulb. While waiting in line the lady at the next register looked very familiar. When she talked I knew it! There was Nancy, a woman we traveled with on a west coast tour two years ago. Nancy was on a Route 66 RV tour. We joined the group’s happy hour and had fun meeting more people and catching up with Nancy. 


Such is the fun of RV traveling. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Scene Along the Side of the Road: Farms

Our drive through central California seemed long and frankly, boring. However, the monotony was broken by observing the produce along the side of the road and speculating on what was being farmed. Sometimes difficult to do as you zip by the rows of crops. We have heard that central California is considered by some to be the “bread basket of the nation” and could see that it earns that title. We saw the more traditional row crops, including pumpkins, spaghetti squash and melons. Some fields were being prepared for replanting. Then there were the trees. We passed miles of orchards and groves. We saw citrus being picked. At 60 mph it looked like lemons and limes. We saw nuts being harvested. I could pick out pistachio trees by the grape-like clusters near the end of the branches. We guessed that the there were walnuts, and later in our journey, almonds, mostly because of signs identifying huge hulling operations. We saw acres of dead trees as we moved south, along with signs pointing out “No Water = No Jobs” and “Congress Created Dust Bowl”. Water allocations have been battled for years, and it seems tensions have risen in an indirect relationship to the decreasing rainfall of the last years. As we moved further south in California we began traveling through an area where table grapes are grown. Seeing acres of grape vine arbors covered in tarps to allow grapes to mature out of the hot sun, and seeing many pickers beginning the harvest, I realized that there are a lot of unseen costs in producing just about any crop. I came to appreciate grapes brought to me at the grocery store at $1.99 a pound. As we turned toward the west, near Bakersfield, CA, and continued toward the Arizona border we saw different sorts of farms: those collecting energy from the sun and the wind. 

There are hundreds of windmills on the mountains. Zoom in to see some of them.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Moving Day

Or...

Things That Go Bump in the Night


We let the moving company know that we were ready.
We waited.
Anxiously.
Finally we received a call. 
Our belongings were going to be loaded on a van headed our way.
We were the last stop.
We waited.
Anxiously.

Finally the day arrived. By mid-day the van was outside our door and in a flurry of activity our furniture, our boxes, our bins, our tools, our stuff was being hauled into the house.

What a day. Even though we didn't physically carry everything into the house, we were exhausted.

That night, after unpacking a fair bit of our stuff, we slept in our own bed, in our new home.... listening to strange sounds and seeing different lights. Other than campground living, we have never lived "on top" of other folks... and here we have people all around. It is a strange feeling, but in some ways, it is a safe feeling. I walked the dogs (who were also a bit anxious and confused) around the neighborhood that night and I didn't even need a flashlight because of the streetlights... another new phenomenon for me! At 4:00 AM I heard a neighbor start his motorbike... or something with a small engine. It idled and idled. Geesh! It's Saturday morning. Who gets up that early? Who starts an engine and lets it run? The engine stopped. Then it began again. Finally I had to look. I went downstairs and opened the front door to peek out into the street. The sound stopped. I pulled in my head and shut the door. The sound resumed. I opened the door again, and again the sound stopped. But, I could hear our sprinkler system running. That's when I realized that the rumble I thought was an engine was caused by the vibration of water pipes for our irrigation system... and the sound evidently travels through the walls of our bedroom. OK, so we won't water our plants at that time any longer!

The next few days were a flurry of shuffling boxes, unpacking boxes, flattening boxes, filling boxes with packing paper, trying to find space for everything, hooking up cables, finding light bulbs, etc.

While all of this was happening the fires were burning in Sonoma County. The fires were 30 miles from our new home, but smoke and ash still filled the air, irritated our eyes and made it difficult for Mr. Dreamy to breathe. So, we changed our plans a bit. We decided to head to Florida earlier, before the grand baby is born, and I would fly back to spend some time with the new mom, our son and their children. So... off we go. New adventures await.

BEFORE:





DURING:



AFTER:






Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wine Train

Fantasy RV Tours sent me an email weeks ago about a Napa/San Francisco rally. Since we were going to be in the area we decided it would be fun to explore this area with a group. We had a busy schedule. 


We saw a lot. 
We drank a lot. 
We ate some fine food!

Some of my favorite experiences included:
  • Dinner on the patio at Frances Ford Coppola's Winery.  
  • Beach Blanket Babylon revue.
  • Lunch in Sausalito and ferry ride to the pier in San Francisco.
  • Walt Disney Family museum.
  • Chinatown walking tour and dim sum at The Oriental Pearl
  • Lunch in the dome car of the Napa train
Here's a look at the Napa train experience:

Our menu:

Food arrives by dumbwaiter
(the machine, not the guy!):

Lamb appetizer:

Salad:

Beef short ribs entrée:

Cornbread pudding and popcorn dessert:


And after dinner, a walk through the train:

A vintage dining car

Some of the many vineyards we passed:

 A view from the end:


As I walked through the cocktail car I was tickled by the sound of the suspended wine glasses:



I wrote this post weeks before fires broke out in the Sonoma area. The fires here, and in Santa Rosa are terrifying. It is hard to conceive of so many acres, homes and families impacted by the fires. We can only pray that the fires are brought under control soon, and that the 200 people on the "missing" list are found alive at a shelter. 

Almost Home

When we left California it seemed that our trek across country would never end. Now, as we approach our final destination in southern Florid...