Sunday, June 27, 2021

Turning East

 Before leaving Bellevue I had a nice lunch with my sister. She was not in the best of moods as I insisted that she must take her walker (on the advice of my brother and her nurses). But, she did smile for our selfie!

There next morning we turned our wheels toward the east. 

We stopped in Bozeman, Montana one evening. My sons had talked about it in the past and I wanted to do more than buzz by on the Interstate. We rode our bikes into town and along a nice "rails to trails" bike path. We stopped at Schnees, on the advice of our Stock Broker. He told us it was a great store for hiking boots and sport clothes. I gave him a tough time for not warning me in advance that they also sold guns! The Mister found a shotgun he liked, but decided he didn't really need one! Phew! After a bit to eat and a stroll along Main Street we returned to the rig and continued our trek the next day. Bozeman was a nice break in the mundane life of trekking across country.

Our next fun stop was a visit to Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore; all in one day! And then, to top it off, we went to a chuckwagon dinner and show near the campground. As we left South Dakota we swung down into the Badlands and circled through the amazing landscape: green grass prairie as far as the eye can see on one side of the highway and canyons of gray, pink and yellow hues of eroded sandstone on the other. Such a contrast. 

We planned a stop at Soldier Creek Winery near Fort Dodge, Iowa. On our way through acres and acres of alfalfa, corn and occasional pig farms I tried to catch as many "barn quilts" as I could. Painting quilt block designs on barns appears to have begun in 2001, but it is reminiscent of the hex signs found on Pennsylvania Dutch barns that began in the 17th century. 

Our stop at the winery was idyllic. Soldier Creek Winery is a member of the Harvest Hosts programs. Campers may stay at participant's farms or businesses for a nominal fee at most, and can take tours, taste goods and purchase wares offered by the farms or businesses. Although we have belonged to the program for years we have not stayed at any of the venues until this trip as they often are not convenient to the major travel routes. I am so glad that we went a bit out of our way. The owners have 160 acres, most planted in corn. Their son went to an agricultural program after high school and upon his return told his dad that they should plant grapes. His daughter was also in an agricultural program and went on for an advanced degree in viticulture. She is now the wine maker. They make 15 or more different wines. We participated in a wine tasting, enjoyed their Friday night music, bought a few bottles of wine and continued on our way!

We are now near Dayton, Ohio. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new chapter. We are picking up a Winnebago Navion 24D that the Mister found online. We love having the smaller motor coach, but the Atlas we are currently using is just a bit too snug with all of us. So, we head into the dealer tomorrow, go through our orientation for the new coach and we will each have a coach to drive from here to the end of our journey! His and Hers I've heard of everything!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Secret Path

 I happened upon a secret path while walking the dogs near a campground in Bellevue, WA. Well, maybe it wasn't that much of a secret... but it is was an interesting transition from an urban campground next to I-90 to a neighborhood above the hubbub and noise with lovely, lush plantings. I almost felt like we had entered a different universe - perhaps Narnia of the Northeast!

Beauty can be found... 
Even in a concrete jungle!

Friday, June 18, 2021

S to the Fourth Power


That has been our work for more than a month as we cleared out the house we have in California. This was just a "sometimes" house, and because of Covid, we had not even seen it for well over a year. 

How can two people accumulate so much stuff in such a short time of ownership?! 

We sorted things into several piles:
Go to Florida
Store in California 
Give away
Throw away

Going into this I had a few options for selling some of our unwanted furniture: 

I found a company that will charge for the space your stuff takes up in their truck, then haul everything away. What can be sold is taken to a resale shop, and you get 50% of the selling price. What can't be sold is donated or tossed When I connected with them, sending pictures of everything we had to get rid of, they said I'd use almost an entire truck (obviously they have never seen me pack!!) and only offered to sell about 8 items of the 35+ I sent to them. Then, they added on the "disposal fee" which was more than the fee for the truck. Forget that!

Our realtor knew of a company that would buy your stuff for pennies on the dollar and pick it up for free. I had to submit pictures of everything, because they would not visit homes due to Covid. They agreed to buy my furnishings for $500, and pick it up for free. Hooray! Then, one of their workers got hurt and they stopped picking up furniture. Oh, no! (My words may have been were a bit stronger!
I connected with a few other companies that would pick up your "junk" for a fee. Three were willing to come, but not until several days after we had to be out. 

Thence began a marathon session of posting pictures and descriptions on FaceBook Market Place and Next Door...and answering hundreds of inquiries...and giving out directions...and hauling things to cars...and getting rid of things. It was an onerous task!

We took numerous loads of stuff to thrift stores, and began to cart what would fit in the rental car to storage, to friends or to family. We arranged for a Uhaul U-box to be delivered...and put everything destined for Florida in it, locked it up, and watched it get loaded onto the bed of a truck. It will be stored in Florida until we are ready for it to be delivered to our home. 

We contracted with "Ben the Mover" to help us. He brought a truck and two amazingly strong workers. They loaded all of the remaining furniture destined for storage - at some point we do intend to get a condo or a small home close to the kids - and they deftly packed the storage unit we had rented. 

They returned to the house and cleared out everything else. You know what I'm talking about! The old mattress, the extra packing paper and odd bits of bubble wrap and cardboard, furniture that just wouldn't sell, furniture that wasn't worth selling, and odd bits of this and that. When they left the house was empty. 

We camped in the driveway for two nights as we tidied up the yard and visited with the kids and grand kids, and then turned our wheels toward new adventures!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Touring with Tommie

We are on the road again! 


First came Covid - which effectively shut down travel, especially for us "old folks". 

Then we decided to sell our Airstream trailer.. and then "Big Red", the motorhome. 

Then we bought a Class B to safely travel with the dogs from Florida to California.

Then came a host of medical issues for the Mister.

Then we were able to get vaccinations - which required hanging around for another month for the 2nd shot.

And finally the day came when we were clear of medical appointments and obligations... 

and we were off!!

April 21-25: The "Tally Rally" Region 3 Airstream get-together. We stopped at friends' home (Elaine & Art) for lunch, then on to the fair grounds.

We met several folks from our local Airstream group.

MaryAnn, Mike, Rosa & Robert...and Scott!

April 25: We landed in Kiln, Mississippi at McLeod State Park. This is a fairly large park with river-side sites and boating. Lots of people were enjoying the facilities. 

Lost sole at McLeod State Park

April 26: We ventured off of I-10 and turned north to spend the night at the Texas Airstream Harbor park. This Airstream-only park was established in 1972. Lots of friendly folks, and lake side views. 

Sketch of Town Hall in Newton, TX

April 27: We turned west and parked at a Harvest Host location, an olive farm in Elgin, TX. Our host, Frank Majowicz shared his and his wife's story of how they came to be olive oil producers following his 40+ year career leading to his being an executive chef for Hyatt. Sadly, their orchard was severely damaged by a freeze. He is hoping 60% of the trees will regrow from the roots. He already has plans to plant more. We purchased some great olive oil and want to check back to see if his orchard/grove is green next time!

April 28: We had planned to swing down to Lake Medina to camp with Carlos & Donna. Donna inquired if I had been looking at the weather?! They were expecting 2" of rain, which would have turned the canpground into a mud pit. It's a good thing we decided to forego our visit as they had hail and over 4" of rain! We continued our trek west, avoiding all of the bad weather south of us. We stopped in Llano for a brief stint of shopping and admiring the town. We landed for the night in San Angelo.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mason, TX
There were many interesting buildings in Mason. We'll have to stop next time we go through.

April 29: As we came closer to the Texas/New Mexico border I "penned" the following:

The sun has ris’, the sun has set,
and here we are in Texas yet!
The clouds done came; so, too, the rain.
And on we traveled just the same!
We get up early; we travel late,
And still we are in this *$%! state!

Although most of our trip this day was under threatening, but dry skies, as we approached Carlsbad, NM the skies opened up. Into each life some rain must fall, and fall it did! All afternoon and all night. I waded through 2-3" water when walking the dogs, vainly trying to keep them dry with an umbrella. I awoke at 6 AM to the eerie quiet when the rain finally stopped pinging on our roof!

April 30: We ventured down into Carlsbad Caverns in the morning. Having visited Kartchner Caverns and the caves of Sonora, to name a few, this was totally different. I admired the subtle lighting used to highlight different formations in the Big Room, which is almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high - the largest in North America. From there we turned north towards Roswell to spend the night. Most of the RV resorts in this area of the country are small, tightly packed "parking lots" with electric and water service. I picked the Trailer Village RV Park in Roswell from images on Google maps which showed it to be all gravel, but still looking orderly. I picked "good"! The park was spotless, gravel roads were freshly scraped. No campers had extraneous stuff stashed in and around their rigs. The managers (?) were welcoming. It was a great experience. 

May 1: We turned west and hopped on to I-40 just east of Albuquerque. After traveling country Texan and New Mexican roads, the interstate seemed over-populated! We arrived in Gallup, NM at another nicely run, well-kept park. 

May 2: After leaving New Mexico, we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park, and drove a loop through  the park. That night we stayed at the Distant Drums RV resort. Geoffrey and Katharina (my brother and his wife) came down and we had a nice visit while eating at Storytellers, the upscale restaurant at Cliff Castle Casino. It seemed strange to see so many people in the casino - even with masks and social distancing. 

May 3: Our plans to travel beyond Tehachapi went by the boards when we hit the road and became tired of the winds buffeting us. We stopped in Kingman and visited the Rt. 66 Museum. Then, we traveled the twisty section of Rt 66 to Oatman. We strolled through a few shops, then went on our way stopping at the Desert View RV Resort in Needles. It was a delightful, small resort, with tall Oleanders separating each site. 

Wild burros on the streets in Oatman

May 4: As we began our trek we decided to drive extra miles and arrive "home" in the evening. We switched plans from traveling on 99 to using I-5. That was a mistake! Even though I-5 is fewer miles, it seems very congested with trucks. Trucks and anything towing are supposed to have a maximum speed of 55. Thus trucks jam up the road, going significantly slower than cars, with everyone trying to pass everyone else - all on two lanes. It will be interesting to try CA 99 next time and see if it is any different. We made it to 102 Seaview before 6 PM. It was nice to know we didn't have to get up and drive in the morning!

We visited with the kids and grandkids. We enjoyed a weekend camping with them, and then we began to dig into the work of preparing our house for sale. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

I've Been Shot

 Covid self-isolation has taught me a number of things:

- I am an extroverted introvert. (Or am I and introverted extrovert?!) I am quite content being in my own little space. I don't need to get "out there", but if I am out in a crowd, I am not always a wall-flower - I might surprise myself and others, by standing out in the crowd!

- I can cook amaZing things just by looking through the freezer, cabinets and fridge. I don't always need a recipe, and I'm open to experimenting with alternate ingredients if I don't have one or more ingredients in a recipe. (Many of my friends are struggling because they can't eat out... that was never a problem for either of the Dreamers - we rarely eat out anyway - so we don't miss it.)

- I am not immune to events happening around me. OK, so yes, I know I can be emotional. And, yes, there has been more than one occasion where my mind/emotions rule my body and make my heart race, or don't let me sleep, or give me a sense of ill feeling. But, I didn't realize the extent of the impact outside events could have on the inside of me until the night before the election. Watching the news sent my blood pressure through the roof, and I ended up in the hospital for two nights of observation and tests! It's all better now and I was given a fast-acting, strong prescription to use in case it happens again. 

- I have learned how fortunate I am to live in these times where literally everything is at my fingertips. I can order things online and have them delivered to my door...including my groceries! I am grateful that we have the means to do this, to have a nice home and to pay our bills.

- I discovered how much I miss my family! I want to see my grand kids in person. I want to hug them, and hold them, and see how much they have grown. I miss my boys. We talk. We FaceTime, but it is not the same thing. 

So, today I was shot. I RECEIVED MY FIRST DOSE of the Moderna vaccine! This is THE MOST exciting thing that has happened to me since I earned my National Board Certification as a teacher in 1996!! No joke! 

Florida began offering the vaccine to the 65 and older crowd as 2020 came to a close. The roll out was a wreck! Lee County (where I used to winter) made national news for the audacity of having seniors standing in line overnight for the chance to get the vaccine. Our neighbors were in line beginning at 4 AM - wishing they had brought blankets and chairs! Other vaccination sites had their online reservation sites crash within minutes. We tried calling numerous numbers for counties around us, getting no answers, or out-of-order messages. It was very frustrating. The local news would announce a site where seniors could get vaccinations, and the available reservations would be nabbed within 5 - 10 minutes. I was discouraged. Yesterday, a friend sent me a message saying that the Lee Health system, of which I'm a member, was taking appointment reservations. I called immediately, and unbelievably had an appointment for the Mister and me for this morning. I was "over-the-top" excited! However, I remained skeptical until I walked into the facility and was directed to the clinic administering the shots. Whew! I can breathe again!

Now, we know that we can have our 2nd vaccine (appointment already scheduled) in 4 weeks, and after that, we will be free to head west. We sold "Big Red", our 40' motorhome. Now we have "Tommie" - our mini motor home. This will be our cross-country home on wheels. 

I feel like we have been given a 

Sorry, but no, I will not be selling this card! 

And, Sew it Begins!

No sewing! Sewing had to come to an end, for now!  The last few weeks have been rather hectic preparing for our annual trek west to visit wi...