Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending where we started–Fresno

It’s 52 degrees and overcast, a typical Fresno winter day – not too hot and not too cold, but yucky.  That’s why we are looking forward to hitting the road again soon.  We started our full timing last year and what a year it has been.  We almost ended the year in the Emergency Room, but more about that later.

The first 3 months we really spent most of our time with RV’er friends and at the rallies we attend: FMCA Golden Spike, Escapee Boomers, Escapee Geocachers, Escapees at Winter Blast in Lake Havasu, and of course the Nick Russell Gypsy Gathering at Yuma.  On the ‘FUN’ scale of 1-10 we topped the scale at all of them.  Thank you, everyone, for making it so easy to join the world of

full-timers. We also thank all our blogger friends who are so much more faithful than we are in making us feel a part of the RV community. Love your blogs!


Our biggest celebration this year happened in Oregon when all of my sister Janet’s family and all of my family got together for Mom’s 90th birthday party.


With the family scattered from Oregon to California to Wisconsin it is probably one of the last times everyone will be together.  Now we rely on Facebook to keep in touch. Whether Joce and Paige’s families are vacationing in Palm Springs, Jany and Patrick are in Oregon, Mom’s in Fresno, or our kids and grandkids are in Fresno, we are as close as our computer to seeing what is happening in their lives until the next time we hug them in person. Isn’t technology is great?!!!


We sure have enjoyed our adventures this year. We went all the way to Maine and ate lobster every day. Even hunkering down in Bangor, Maine, through Hurricane Irene was fun; over and done in a day. Unfortunately, others were not so lucky. There was lots of damage along Irene’s path and we were blessed to be in about the only area that did not sustain much damage.

We came back to California in a hurry, stopping only for diesel, almost $2000’s worth in a month!  Thankfully we do not do that very often. We did take a quick detour to see our friends, Richard and Francis (the Dr.’s Dahl and Langley) at their new digs in Logan, NM.  Boy, if they would join the RV lifestyle, we would sure have a lot of fun together. Of course that goes for so many of our other retired friends, but if every retired person was an RV’er we would not find anyplace to park.Winking smile


We added another Golden Spike rally to our memories and helped our daughter, Jennifer, with the Floriculture department of the Big Fresno Fair. We took a couple of short trips, to the Coast and to Sacramento to end our year.  Again, granddaughter, Julie, traveled with us to Sacramento and as always we had fun shopping. 


Oh, that Emergency Room thing I mentioned.  While in Sacramento a couple of days ago, I had an “vertigo episode” at 2:30 am Thursday morning, my first and hopefully last. After talking to the 24 hour nurse line in the middle of the night, calling my doctor on our way home, I finally followed the strict orders to go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Hospital immediately.  I HATE Emergency Rooms!!! I went to Urgent Care. The doctor said I couldn’t avoid going to the St. Agnes Emergency as they have the right equipment I needed. After 6 looooong hours of sitting, CAT scan, MRI, EKG, and blood tests I was released with the good news.  No TIA’s and the most normal brain they have seen in a long time (Tom says there is no excuse for forgetting things now). If you ever want to see the breadth of human conditions, visit an Emergency Room close to midnight! Those health care workers from Doctors and nurses to security and janitorial workers deserve to be sainted. They do their job with caring, efficiency, and good humor; it does not matter who they are treating – bag ladies to socialites (great reality check).

So, as in the year 2011, all’s well that ends well, in our life and we hope yours as well.  Happy New Year 2012.  See you as we will be On the Road Again, Caching Places That We’ve Never Been.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The best made plans sometimes ….

We planned on making a short trip to Sacramento to take some of Tom’s dads’ railroad papers and books to the State RR Museum.  After a crazy Christmas work season, granddaughter, Julie, finally had a few days off and wanted to travel again in the big gray motor home with grandma and grandpa.  Julie is now in her 3rd year at Fresno State University and works part time as well so we do not have many opportunities to travel with her.  Two and a half years ago she went with us for 2 months all the way to the east coast.  We had a great time so this was to be another great adventure. 

The trip started off pretty good; light traffic on Hwy 99 though as always the road is VERY rough.  The first mishap was the fruit bowl bounced it’s way off the counter and broke.  Julie and I cleaned that up while Tom continued driving up 99. 

Truck accident 2The next mishap was missing the signs alerting us to Hwy 99 being closed in both directions about 10 miles up the road.  By the time we realized this we were past Hwy 120, the route that would have us avoid that hour and a half delay.  Seems a big rig sideswiped a car, jackknifed the rig and then burst into flames. We followed the line of cars, and trucks big and small at 1 mile/hour for over a hour finally getting off the freeway only to then have to travel through the town of Manteca with these same vehicles all the way to I-5.  Mishap # 3:  While following a car hauler through Manteca, Tom had to use every bit of braking  power on the RV and Jeep to do an emergency stop. All contents in all cupboard and closets were now as forward as they could go and Julie just about joined us in the front of the RV and we almost became another vehicle on the car hauler.  Now that’s something we’ve not experienced in a very long time.  Thank goodness for good brakes.

I guess third times a charm because from then on we had no problems, no emergency stops and no breakages.  We pulled into CalExpo about 3’oclock and got set up in our new home.

We then went shopping at Fry’s. This was Julie’s first trip to the electronics mega store.  We looked at a lot of things and only bought a little 4 gig tiny USB drive for $5 and a set of ear buds for Julie for $5. Good after Christmas sales.

Then we went to Best Buy. After lots of comparisons of tablets, small computers, and i-pad, Julie decided on the i-pad as the only 2 essential apps she must have for school and work only came on the i-pad. It is a pretty nice tablet.  Tom had nothing to do while Julie was closing the deal on the i-pad so he decided on the least expensive Kindle. He liked the size, liked the price to be able to become familiar with the capabilities of the Kindle reader, and will probably buy the second generation of the Kindle Fire when it is released this Spring.

IMG_3443We were so hungry with all this shopping we went to Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi. All I can say is BBQ sushi is scrumptious.  We could barely finish the Texas Toast bread pudding smothered in macadamian white chocolate sauce. Julie thought the soapstone sculpture of the Tex Wasabi logo was pretty special.  With her background in Advertising and Design and Marketing she is always noticing this kind of stuff.

We came home and played on the new electronic toys.  I continued reading the book recommended by Nick Russell, Redfield Farm, a Kindle e-book set in the 1850’s about a Quaker Family and the Underground Railroad. Excellent read.

Today we did some sorting of the Railroad stuff of Tom’s dad and headed down to the Museum. The curse was still active; the staff at the RR Museum archives were all on vacation for the week between Christmas and New Years.  We did some shopping, sightseeing, and had a delicious lunch at the Delta King.


We got a geocache, fed the parking meter, shopped some more, then went to visit our friends, Irene and Bill Callahan.  Irene recently fell and broke her hip and fractured her elbow and we wanted to wish her well.  We chatted with Bill for a few minutes and were on our way to have dinner with fellow RV’ers Cool Judy and Luke Rinehimer.  We never stopped talking about this and that and even the important stuff like the upcoming Escapee Geocaching event and the FMCA rally.

It sure is hard to post a reasonable short blog when we pack so much into 2 days. Maybe I should blog more often, but then when can I geocache, work on my genealogy, knit, make the bed, clean the rig and occasionally cook? My oh my, a woman’s work is never done. Laughing out loud

Monday, December 26, 2011

A month gone??? Where did it go?

It seems like we just returned from the Coast and it was Christmas. 

We did manage to visit Santa.  That’s l to r, daughter, Jennifer, Mom, Santa, me, Julie and Sampson down front.  That’s 5 generations if you count Sam.



However, this year Christmas was totally different from years past: shopping till we dropped, decorating every room in the house, and of course the extravagant Christmas morning breakfast.  This year we celebrated a very simple but meaningful Christmas morning. 


Shopping… well, we did do a little shopping for the grandkids, but that was all.  After many years of exchanging gifts between our 4 generations (the upper 3 generations either bought everything they wanted or were trying to downsize the ‘stuff’ accumulated over a lifetime) our daughter Jennifer, thankfully called a halt to the commercialism.  


Decorating… now that was just hard to do when everything was either packed away or given away.  We did add a decorative steering wheel cover and our favorite hand carved Christmas decoration given to us by our niece, Denise.


Breakfast… it was much more simple at mom’s with all of us contributing.  You know we enjoyed it just as much, it was just as delicious, and it was so much easier.


This year mom, Jenny and the girls, Julie and Jamie, and Tom and I enjoyed a simple church service.  We sang Christmas carols, celebrated Jesus’ birthday with the rest of our small church family, and were reminded again of the reason for the season, the gift of salvation.  I like the Quakerly way of worship; keep it simple. 


We hope to get out of Fresno for a couple of days before the first of the year.  Julie has been working her ‘you know what off’ as the manager of the Santa picture event at River Park and she will be traveling again with us if only for a couple of days.  Fun, fun, fun.


Then begins 2012 and we will be On The Road Again, Caching Places that we’ve Never Been.


And so in closing, Tom and I hope your Christmas was as meaningful as ours was and your New Year will be healthy, filled with exciting safe travels, and many, many blessings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fresno Foggy Days

Not much happening around Fresno these foggy days.  Well, today is not as foggy as it was a couple of days ago as we had WINDS yesterday. I thought once we left the Midwest we were done with the slide toppers blowing and the ‘homestead’ rocking, but I was wrong.  When that 50 MPH wind hit in the middle of the night two nights ago I thought someone was breaking in; then I remembered the local TV weather report to expect strong winds.  Luckily we are parked next to the garage/shop in our old driveway and somewhat sheltered from the buffeting. There were many trees and power lines down around Fresno and Clovis, but we were not affected.  That is one good thing about being self contained… if we loose power we can just start the generator and we are good to go. 

We have, however, been busy since coming back from the coast last month.  One of the projects Tom has been tackling is helping granddaughter, Julie, get ready for the Santa’s Workshop so he has been out in the shop collecting little tools that look like Santa’s elves might have used them.


Julie had asked Grandpa Tom to help Santa make some toys.  So after days and days of cutting, painting, sawing, and detailing the toys were done.  The animal circus train and Alfred the Duck were finally done just in time for the grand opening of Santa's Workshop at Fresno's River Park Shopping Center.


And here they are in Santa’s Workshop.

CIMG0027Santas Toys

Then on Black Friday we went to see Santa fly in at River Park in a helicopter. Unfortunately, this was one of Fresno’s foggy day so Santa had to come in a fire truck. There were a lot of kids, police on horseback and one big fire truck at the festivities. 

2011-11-24_16-26-48_694We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  Funny how things work out.  We came back to Fresno for the Holidays and the first ‘big’ one was Turkey day.  Mom and daughter, Jennifer, went to my sister, Janet’s, in Oregon.  Son, Jason, and family went to Bakersfield.  SIL, Greg and granddaughter, Jamie, went to Greg’s parents.  So we were invited to go with granddaughter, Julie, to her boy friend Claudio’s family’s holiday celebration.  This was to be a Mexican Thanksgiving celebration.  I don’t know what we expected, but the volume of food for the 9 of us around the table was more than abundant.  The menu went like this: a 24 lb. stuffed turkey, a 20 lb. ham, mashed potatoes, riced potatoes, gravy, corn, corn bread, muffins, cranberry relish and cranberry sauce, wine and sparkling cranberry cider. WHEW! I guess Claudio's family celebrates just like we do just on a larger scale.

Then came desert… 12 pies to choose from.


We were warmly welcomed by the Garcia Family and felt just like one of the family. We even were able to join in the Skype with Claudio’s brother and sister in New York City.  It was a great Thanksgiving with our new and expanding family.

The other activity that has kept us busy since coming back has been Geocaching.  We went to the 11-11-11 event at Marie Calendars and met lots of new (to us) cachers.  Julie and Claudio also attended with us and Julie announced her Path Tag designing  service.  She has designed our Path Tags, and the Escapee Geocacher tags as well as her own.  If any of our readers would like to contact Julie for a Path Tag design this is the link.  We also placed a cache right in front of the house.  It is a D-3, T-1 1/2.  Check it out here as it is a doozie!  We call it Eastside Connection. For our geocacher friends who will not be looking for this cache in Fresno, this is the spoiler

That’s just about all the news I can remember for now.

We will be be, to quote another blogger we read, whimsically irregular bloggers while in Fresno. If you subscribe you will be notified by email when we post, or subscribe with your gReader on your android.
Until we are On the Road Again, we will be Caching Places We've Never Been.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning from my mistakes

I should know better than to start a blog at midnight after Tom heads to bed.  We always collaborate on the blog: I write it and Tom corrects it. As a result I know I really had some people confused, especially Tom Smile.   Just to clarify, we are in Santa Maria now, Thursday, 11-10-11.  We are going back to Fresno to attend the 11-11-11 cache event tomorrow at 6:32 pm (that adds up to 11).

We have been having a super time while here on the coast. When we arrived at the Santa Maria Elks we were greeted by mobs of people who were here for the Friday night “Cook your own steak” dinner.  We paid for our week, parked the RV and walked back to the Lodge for  dinner.  We have parked often at Elks Lodges and have often eaten at Lodges, but we have never experienced a dinner like this one.  There were probably 200-300 people there, some cooking steaks, chicken, ribs, or fish; some socializing; some eating; some just drinking.  We paid, Tom chose his steak and threw it on the bar-b-q.  And this is only 1/4 of the grill.


Then on Saturday we went for a drive, first stopping just down the street for a geocache.  This was right our in front of the Elks Lodge and was named “I’m STICKING around”.  There were 2 big cacti within feet of GZ (ground zero).  One of the cactus had been damaged.  There were pieces of it all over the ground.  We spent about 10 minutes looking for a nano (about the size of the end of your little finger).  We were about to leave when I noticed this LITTLE container just laying in the dirt.  We signed the log and replaced where we thought it might be near to the original spot and left a message on the cache sight.  It’s nice caching with a Droid because we can log the visit right when we find the cache. 

We drove over to Guadalupe, about 10 miles away to check out the Far Western Tavern, an icon eatery on the Central Coast.  We have been here many times over the years beginning with our stop to enjoy their “Bulls Eye steak” on our honeymoon, 49 years ago.  My parents and Tom’s parents have eaten at the Tavern over the years.  I don’t think it has changed a bit. The window coverings are still cow hides.  The Oxen heads still hang on the wall with a brass plaque honoring their many years of service to the founding family, The Minettis.  Tom had the Bulls Eye and I had an amazing barbequed chicken over a sweet potato polenta.  All this came with shrimp cocktail, chicken tortilla soup, a relish tray, bread, and Santa Maris salsa.  If you enlarge the picture of Tom’s steak, you can see the shinny piece of fat in the center where the Bulls Eye got its name and also makes this steak so tender.  

Sunday we went shopping at the Five Cities Outlets.  We each found comfortable sensible shoes (Mom loves me best).  This expression always makes me laugh and think of our good friend, Kay.  We have worn our new shoes every day since we bought them and they have never hurt and have been so comfortable.  I got the new Nike Air-Sole and Tom got Sketchers.  I am always a happy camper when I can walk all day and my feet don’t hurt. And to make this purchase even better, they were on sale at the Outlets.  We celebrated our successful purchases at Old Juan’s Cantina with my favorite seafood enchiladas with extra cheese on everything and Tom’s combo, enchilada, taco and tostada.  Old Juan’s serves small batches of fresh warm chips and the best salsa. We were back home in the RV in time to watch ‘60 Minutes’. 


The next morning – actually closer to noon – we drove to Solvang, about 30 miles south to Buelton then 5 miles east on CA-245 to the pretty little Danish town.  We were hungry and ordered the biggest most delicious Danish Pancakes ever.  Mine came with home made cinnamon apple sauce and real maple syrup.  Tom had eggs and bacon with his.


Then we went SHOPPING!!!  If I were a millionaire I could spend a good portion of it right here.  The beautiful clothes, hats, even socks are like none other.  We looked in our favorite shoe store – should have know better – and found the perfect black clog by Clark.  They were actually cheaper, relatively speaking, than the Mephistos I tried on. Open-mouthed smile  We shopped some more, bought some pastries to eat before visiting the Santa Inez Mission, and ended our day in Solvang by finding a very cleverly hidden cache.


You can see we have a pattern going on, it’s all about the food.  Tuesday we drove north up Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 65 miles to the quaint little town of Cambria.  Our first stop: Linns. This restaurant was rated 5 stars and when we saw that there was a bakery attached, we knew this was where we wanted to eat.  This is one of those restaurants where the waiters are perfect, the food exceptional, and the prices reflect this level of 5 stars.  I had a tomato basil bisque with a 3 cheese grilled cheese sandwich on wheat sourdough bread. This was grilled in butter!  Tom had a BLTA with apple cold slaw.  When we finally finished we could not even fit in their unbelievable deserts.  Crying face 


We walked off lunch by trying for a cache, but our Droid GPS would not settle down and we finally gave up.  This one had not been found in a long time, so it may have gone missing.  We did a little shopping and Tom found an awesome shirt. It fit him perfectly, the pocket matched the pattern of the shirt perfectly, and it had a big frons pattern that he likes but is hard to find.  Another successful day and a drive down to coast as the sun was setting. We pulled over for a picture.


And this is the picture Tom got.


The end of another perfect day.  We are so blessed.

The next day, Wednesday, we had made plans to meet our friend, Deborah, for lunch.  Deb and I have been Facebook friends since working together for the Special Quest project.  This was the project that pushed us into the RV’ing lifestyle.  I had a contract to work with SQ one week a month for six months in six different states.  We were able to travel the three weeks in-between.  We bought our first diesel pusher, a 2005 Monaco Diplomat, and left Fresno to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago area, Chicago to Alexandria, Alexandria to Atlanta, Atlanta to Burlingame, CA, then Burlingame to Denver.  Now that is just about the perfect Workcamper gig.  Tom camped while I worked with the most amazing group of people dedicated to the support of parents and the community of pre-schoolers with disabilities.  Deborah was one of those champions of the disabled.  We were excited to see her again and she carved out some time from her busy schedule to have lunch with us.  We picked her up and went to an Irish Pub, Rooney’s, in Orcutt. We shared stories, laughed and ate until we had to take Deborah back to work.  She even said she can’t wait to retire so she can travel like we do. 


Deborah recommended a must-see local historical mission/state park, Mission La Purisima.
We drove back down toward Buelton then turned west toward Lompoc.  This Mission has been beautifully restored.  This part of California history is dear to our hearts as Tom’s family was part of the early California Mission history. His grandmother’s family was part of the Santa Barbara Mission family back as far as 1802 when California was Alta California, a part of Spain.  These are some of the pictures of the Mission.






We ended our day with another unbelievable sunset.  As we drove back to Santa Barbara via the coast route the reds just kept getting redder.  I don’t think our cameras could get the full effect of the colors. We stopped at the Jetty for Clam Chowder in a bread bowl and fish and chips. Just another delicious dinner at the coast.


That brings us back to today and our trip into Pismo Beach.  We ate at Mo’s, had Ice Cream at Scoops, bought another cool shirt for Tom and walked the town reminiscing about the many years we have visited this beach town, from before we were married with Tom’s family, on our honeymoon, with friends when Tom taught in LA and every first weekend in August for our Fresno/Bakersfield family reunions.  It was a perfect day!  Tomorrow we go back to Fresno.  So we will be On the Road Again, Caching Places that we’ve never been.