Monday, December 16, 2013

Not much happening

I have been challenged to write another blog (thanks Miss Terry Confused smile) so I might consider this more like one of those Christmas letters included in the Christmas Card documenting the previous years’ life.  However, this will only include November and December and WILL NOT be written in third person.

The month of November has found us scheduling weekly doctors’ appointments. We have been poked by phlebotomists, drilled by dentists, and examined by our favorite doctor, Dr. Rosalinda Nogales. Tom has been run through the CT machine and blown in the nebulizer. Now enough of the yucky medical stuff and on to the fun things we have been up to.

A bonus of visiting back in Fresno is having the grand boys visiting us after they come home from school. They talk about all they are learning and it is fun to hear and encourage this younger generation.  One of the biggest joy has been spending time with our number one (oldest) granddaughter. We have shopped, helped with Thanksgiving dinner, and shared cooking tips and recipes. I could write pages about the Facebook and texting exchanges we have; needless to say it fills my life with lots of laughter and pride in our self-proclaimed overachieving granddaughter.

Our Escapee friend, Margie Rogers, asked us over a year ago to place flowers on her mother, uncle and grandparents’ graves of we are near Tulare in November.  We planned this mission on the weekend of November 23rd.  There is a lot of early California history around the Visalia/Tulare area. We drove a short 40 miles to the Visalia Elks for the weekend to explore an area that we haven’t spent very much time visiting. Seems like it is the localities closest to your home town that you visit the least.

We bought flowers, went to the Dollar Store for 2 nice vases, and found the grave sites of Margie’s family. We had a lovely time looking around this very old cemetery. We even tried to find a geocache, but apparently the recent storm had either washed it away or buried it in mud.


Tom had been researching the 1880’s history of Sontag and Evans, 2 train robbers active in the Visalia/Tulare area. Most interesting to us was the connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad as both our fathers and many relatives were engineers for this company. John Sontag went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  He was eventually killed at the Stone Corral north east of Visalia. We found it on Google Earth. That’s it in the upper left side of the picture below.


Unfortunately. the Stone Corral Ranch, located just below the the green area in the lower part of the the picture above, had a locked gate across the road and we were not able to drive up to the corral where this incident occurred. 


At first John Sontag looked with favor upon the railroad, after all, he was an employee of the Southern Pacific. However, when he was injured on the job in 1889, and was taken off the payroll, Sontag turned to a life of crime. For four years, he and his partner, Chris Evans, terrorized passenger trains in the central San Joaquin Valley. Finally the two men were cornered at Stone Corral near Visalia by a sheriff's posse. The result was that both robbers were badly wounded. On July 3rd Sontag (shown above, propped up on a mound of hay) died, and the next day was buried. Hiram Rapelje (second from the left) attended his funeral and eulogized the outlaw as a "brave man." Ironically, etched on Sontag's tombstone is a steaming locomotive. ~Fresno county historical society~

Another excursion was to the small town of Exeter to have dinner at Monet's, a tiny French restaurant recommended by our son, Jason, who is an Executive Chef. It was beyond delicious. Cauliflower soup, crab cakes, steak, lavender water, a decadent chocolate cake for desert… beyond delicious!

Another simply delicious event was Thanksgiving at our granddaughter, Julie’s. The turkey was stuffed with oranges, and drenched in beer. We had riced potatoes and gravy, stuffing, Mexican corn, the most delicious corn muffins made with creamed corn and honey, biscuits, and about 6 different kinds of pies.  We played Cranium until 2 o’clock in the morning and laughed until we cried.

Sandwiched in-between the doctor’s appointments, the holiday festivities and Christmas shopping, helping Mom buy then set up her new Windows 8 computer (I am so envious), I did manage to attend the 1960 Roosevelt High School girls’ Christmas luncheon. We had a great time telling stories when we were in high school. What a great group of girls!

Girls Luncheon 2013 Rev 

We look forward to a wonderful Christmas season. It is freezing cold in Fresno now. After the holidays, we will be joining our Golden Spike chapter at the FMCA Indio Rally. After that we are off to Q with the Boomers and the Geocachers.

If we do anything ‘exciting’, I’ll try to blog again before we leave California.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Escape to the Beach

After being in Fresno for almost 2 months we have escaped to the Central California Beaches.  We were busy while in Fresno: Doctors’ appointments, Roosevelt High School Class of 58 Reunion for Tom, and helping daughter Jennifer at the Big Fresno Fair. Of course we had some grand parenting fun times especially watching Logan in the play, Pirates, The Musical. He did a super job. We enjoyed Julies’ first dinner party in her first apartment, and we especially enjoyed the surprise visits on a regular basis from Ryan. But it was time to leave.


For the last week we have camped at the San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz Elks lodges. Last Friday we left Fresno at 9 a.m. and arrived in San Luis Obispo in time to attend the Christmas open House at the Apple Farm Inn. The Christmas decorations were wonderful and the flowers at the Inn are always outstanding. We had lunch, a real comfort food experience.  They also had wine tasting and beer tasting. I didn’t think the wine was that good and quite honestly I am just not a beer aficionado so half of mine went in the flowerbed. We did bring home yummy muffins for breakfast the next day.

Sunday we had breakfast burritos at the Elks. Later that afternoon we visited the Chapel in Morro Bay where Julie and Claudio will be married. As Tom is officiating we are a little anxious and excited about this very special event.

Monday we drove to Pismo Beach, one of our favorite little towns alone the coast. Tom’s family has gathered there for many years first clamming and building campfires on the beach. Now we search out the best restaurants, walk on the pier, and eat gooey cinnamon rolls in the morning.  We went to Mo’s BBQ where they have now started serving the best fish tacos with a lime cilantro sauce. That is my new ‘go-to’ menu item in Pismo.  We topped that off with a kiddy-cone from Scoops Ice Cream Parlor.  We walked down to our old hangout motel, Wave Court, and discovered the bus barn and all the cabins on the south end are gone. We walked north along the beach and found the restaurant, Pierside, is now out of business and boarded up. Pretty sad to see these changes.


imageTuesday I wanted to get some yarn for another project so in to downtown SLO.  I found a pretty midnight blue yarn with a little sparkle thread in it. I am knitting a sweater. Hopefully I can finish before next spring. Then with the memory of those Pismo tacos still in my mind, I looked up fish tacos on Yelp and found a little Mexican place in SLO and we took home 2 dinners. I even had enough to have leftovers.

Wednesday we drove down to Solvang. Love the huge pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House. We walked the full length of Solvang, bought some humus at the street market, indulged in the Swedish bakery goodies, bought the cutest hat, and another Kachina doll for our American Indian décor bathroom

Then yesterday we drove up to the Santa Cruz’ Elks. We decided to save a little money and eat in last night; fish and a nice salad. Well, not only did we not save, our dinner cost us lots. I was microwaving some panko crusted fish when I opened the microwave door and the ceramic plate literally jumped out, hit the Corian counter and BROKE. We ate the shrimp salad and checked the internet for a replacement plate. $64.86 later we have a new plate coming for our Sharp Carousel Microwave. I think we should have gone out to dinner. Confused smile

Today we drove up to Davenport on the Cabrillo Highway 1 to see the remodeling job that Jason had worked on at the Davenport Café.  It still looks good and we had lunch too. 


We found a geocache at the Jail and then drove about 45 minutes to New Almanden. We have an App on our Smart Phones called History. It highlights historic houses, museums, districts, and other places of historic interest. We saw the New Almanden, historic district, Casa Grande, and the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum. Since we have visited gold, silver and copper mines in our travels and have learned the importance of mercury, this museum sounded like one we would enjoy. We met a interesting docent that not only had worked as a docent for 25 years, but was also the daughter and granddaughter of mercury miners of the Quicksilver mine. She was being photographed for a story for the San Jose Mercury News newspaper. It looks like we, too, will be in the story as interested visitors to the museum.  We were so impressed with the quality of this museum, a 2013 award-winner, and highly recommend it. This picture demonstrates how Cinnabar ore was heated to extract mercury.


Tonight we had a excellent dinner at Firefish Grill on the Wharf where our neighbor and Julies’ best friend, Christy, works.

That’s our week at a glance. It has been 2 months since I have blogged so this is a rocky resumption.  So between my knitting, playing spider solitaire, geocaching, I will be sometimes blogging when we do something worth documenting.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Washington and Oregon


We returned to Monroe, WA, after a couple of years to see some old friends. But sometimes the best made plans don’t turn out like we want them to.  That is what happened when we went to Monroe.  We wanted to see our friend Bonnie who we played a lot of cards with, partied with, and shared a lot of dinners with way back when we were first married and lived in the LA area. When we called Bonnie, she answered and informed us she was in LA!  Well, that messed up that plan.  Next we called our friends Dennis and Jill to see if we could get together with them. We got their answer machine, but left a message hoping we could see them while in Monroe.  We found lots to do like getting hair cuts, shopping at the local fruit stand, and eating some delicious meals.

So after 3 days with no friends around we were getting packed up to move south when Dennis called. We really wanted to get together so we made plans to meet at the Lakewood Elks for the night. Dennis & Jill have a Class B motor home and they drove down from their summer home on Bainbridge Island. Dennis was one of Tom’s groomsmen at our wedding 51 years ago. We had lots to reminisce about and get caught up on where we’ve been traveling. It seems that Dennis & Jill had been visiting many of the same areas in Idaho that we have been only days  after us.  We ate at the Elks and heard some pretty good karaoke. The next morning I actually fixed a very rare breakfast for the 4 of us.  It was sad saying good by to our ‘old’ friends.


We continued our travels south as we were registered for the North Western FMCA rally in Albany and had a couple of stops planned along the way.  Our first was to see Tom’s cousin, John, in Longview.  We parked at the Kelso Elks, had dinner at the Elks and then John stopped by to plan for the next couple of days activities. John was not on call for the weekend, his wife, Nancy, was with friends, daughter, Olivia, was at camp, and only John and son, Joseph, was in town. The next day we drove to John’s beautiful home overlooking all of Longview.  We talked for several hours before John took us on a historical tour of Longview, one of America’s most beautiful cities.  We even got a cache along the Columbia River.


The next day we drove to Mt. St Helens and John joined us. The weather was perfect, clear, sunny and warm. We opened the top of the Liberty and enjoyed the view.


We visited the Johnston Ridge Visitors Center, saw the movie, and participated in the Ranger talk. Tom, John and I all had parts spoken by real people that were at the eruption, some died, some lived; it was quite moving.


We stopped by the Weyerhaeuser Museum on our way down from the mountain and Tom found a piece of hand made art made from Mt St Helen’s ash.  It hangs perfectly with the other Indian pieces displayed in DA PAD.




We celebrated Tom’s birthday at Red Lobster thanks to a surprise gift card from Cousin John. Getting  a very clever cache ended our perfect time in the state of Washington.



We had reservations at Hee Hee Illahee RV park in Salem meeting up with part of our Golden Spike Chapter. We were going to caravan down to Albany to the North Western FMCA rally. We had dinner at McGrath’s with the Pooles, Simons, and Schneiders.  Really great food and really great company!!!

Our time at FMCA was pretty standard, checking with vendors, attending a couple of seminars, eating out, more eating at FMCA, ice cream socials, checking out new and used RV’s.  The only thing we bought was an ‘egg’ for the back of our RV that displays our geocaching travel bug.  This was made for us by Chuck McCubbins and is available for geocachers who have their RV registered as a TB.  Contact Chuck at Frame – Rite/Plak – R to order one for your rig.


We did have one memorable event though. We had our front window replaced because while traveling across Wyoming and Montana we picked up a couple of big rock chips. One extended all the way down to the edge of the window and had black asphalt embedded in the chip.

On Sunday we drove from Albany to the Tillamook Elks with the cleanest front window we have had in a very long time. This was our 51st anniversary and we celebrated by going to a restaurant my sister, Janet, loves and we have eaten at with her and my mom before. Roseanna’s in Oceanside is always special and delicious.


Still crazy after all these years

Monday we met our Golden Spike buddies, Pooles, Simons, Schneiders for a day of crabbing.  We had 2 boats, crab baskets, gloves, and a sense of adventure. We added lots of laughter and it added up to one of the most fun days we’ve had in a long time.

We then picked as much meat from the claws and legs as we could and celebrated by have 8 small Crab Louis salads and a toast of wine. $288.00, not a bad price for 8 salads and more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Yesterday we were joined here at the Elks by Dan & Patty Chance and Nancy Kissack, more Golden Spikers. What do RV’ers do when they get together? They eat! And eat together we did: last night at the Old Oregon Fish Market, a good but not great halibut and chips dinner for all of us but Tom who had shrimp and chips.  Today we took a scenic drive along the coast and then on to dinner at the Pacific Oyster in Bay City.  We all raved about the food, all agreed we are coming back very soon, and all ate more than we should (we just couldn’t stop). So that’s about all we did in Washington and Oregon…. so far.  We started spending time with some long time friends and ended up spending time with our new friends.  Both so much fun and many more memories created.  We love this life and are so blessed to be able to do this.  More to come as tomorrow starts our Golden Spike Garibaldi to Wheeler Railroad Rally.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning as we Travel

Last Wednesday morning, that is a week ago Wednesday, we left Sidney, Nebraska, and drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had an appointment at the Jolley Roger RV Service Center at 12:30 to have them connect the wires of our US Gear in the Jeep.  We did not get it working before we left Fresno. We thought the ‘break-away’ was working, but found it was not holding the brake on in the Jeep for longer than about 5 seconds – not long enough. After checking everything for about 1 1/2 hours, and still not getting it to work, our technician called US Gear and the conclusion was it was a faulty controller box next to the brake peddle in the Jeep. We ordered the part. It was coming from Denver and would arrive by 2 p.m. the next day. We were parked in back of the Service Center for the night at $20 a night.
We were able to stay one more day after the US Gear finally worked perfectly. Cheyenne Frontier Days started on Friday and the RV lot was booked for something like $56 a night.  We left Friday morning. We had checked the weather in Boise, Idaho, and discovered they were in a heat wave and it would be 106 degrees when we would be there. So we shook to “Jell-O” and departed for Montana instead of Idaho.
Our first stop was a real find, Kaycee, Wyoming. We stayed at a little PassPort America park with the friendliest owner. She lives in a log cabin in front and is on the Chamber of Commerce of Kaycee. She told us not to miss the Chris LeDoux park in the middle of the very small town.  Not being rodeo followers, we had not heard of Chris LeDoux. His wife had this lovely park constructed in his honor following his death in 2005. W found a nano geocache in the fence at this park. It was very hard to find and we almost gave up; persistence won out.

From Kaycee our next stop was Billings and the Moose Lodge. As we were driving to Billings we saw the historic park, Pompey’s Pillar. This was a landmark on Lewis and Clark’s Corp of Discovery, one of our favorite parts of history. Tom is also reading Stephan Ambrose’ Undaunted Courage so this was a must see park.  We visited the gift shop, the very nice small museum and took the walk to the pillar where William Clark wrote his name. We decided the steps were too much for my knee so we took lots of pictures.

We wanted to refill a couple of prescriptions at a local CVS Pharmacy while in Wyoming and discovered there are no CVS’s in Wyoming, Idaho, Washington or Oregon. Our medical plan uses CVS so that meant we had better get all our Meds through August while in Montana. We got one prescription filled but CVS did not have 90 pills so we knew we would have to made another stop in Montana.

We wanted to visit our friends, the Steindorfs, in a little town called Charlo. We called and left a message and drove to River Edge Casino RV park. This was on the river’s edge, but hardly a casino like we’ve stayed at before. We didn’t see any gambling, only a small restaurant that was overpriced.
We fixed dinner and drove around to the Natural Pier Bridge.
Later that evening, Betty Steindorf called and we made plans to drive to Charlo. This is on the Flathead Reservation. Jim Steindorf’s father was a homesteader and got 40 acres in 1910, his aunt got 40 acres, and the family has added another 20 acres over the years. This is such an interesting area formed by glaciers eons ago. So there are what are called pot holes (small ponds). They are throughout the valley and Jim and Betty have 2 on their property. Jim’s brother farms this land, his sister has a trailer she stays in when she visits, there are several houses on the property that family members stay in when they visit. Betty has a great garden.
We had some delicious meals prepared with vegetables from the garden. We went on a drive around the area with Jim giving us the history of 100 years of his family living here. We drove up to MacDonald Lake; it was quite low as water was being released for the farms in the valley. Jim and Betty posed for me very near an area their family has picnics.
The next day we drove up to Polson to buy some of the famous sweet cherries. We got 12 pounds for $22. We shared with Betty and Jim. Boy oh boy are they delicious! 
We also visited the museum that Jim volunteers at. It houses so much local Indian history, we only scratched the surface of the information on display. A highlight of our day was our visit to Charlo High School. We drove around to the back side of the school where all shops are. We found the shop teacher, Stan Asthley. He is the woodshop, metal shop, and drafting teacher. He is also a SkillsUSA Advisor. He showed us his projects that were at the Nationals in Kansas City.
Our next stop was Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, Elks RV park. This is a very nice 50 amp and water hookup for $18 a night. Thursday,we just hung out in the RV in the morning as we were just plain pooped after a pretty busy week.  Later that afternoon we went to Fred Myers to do some shopping and to get a discount card. We also received our registration for the Jeep in Fresno so Jennifer took the paperwork to our credit union to change the loan from Wells Fargo to EECU. We were able to FAX the paperwork that EECU needed right from the Customer Service desk at Fred Myers. Pretty amazing this technology.
Saturday we drove about 40 miles north to Sandpoint on Lake Pend Oreille  pronounced “Ponderay”. In fact the police car has Ponderay Police Department on the side of their cars. We read about a very interesting museum that should not be missed. It was quite a ride through the woods for about 6 miles, well worth it. It is called the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center. This museum is worth it to plan your trip around this stop. There were a lot of airplanes, cars, military information like a lot of other aviation museums we have been in, but the difference was the relation to Dr. Forrest Morton Bird. He either flew, drove, improved, fixed, or invented something related to that display. We were personally given a tour by a neighbor/docent who was a WWII pilot. His granddaughter and her husband were visiting from Seattle and we were invited to join their personal tour. We toured the Invention Center and saw many inventions and inventors’ projects. We then went through the area featuring Dr. Bird’s inventions: the respirator that replaced the iron lung, the infant/preemie respirator that has saved thousands of babies. the G-force pressure suit for pilots, the oxygen anesthesia mixing devices used in surgery.

We had made reservations for the sunset - eagle watching – dessert cruise on the lake. It was so nice and relaxing and for $23 for seniors, we thought it was a wonderful way to end our Idaho travels.

We left Idaho and continued on to Washington. We are staying in Monroe at the Fairgrounds. We are catching up; laundry, sleep, shopping. We had hoped to see our niece, Paige and family, but they were leaving town for a wedding. That is one nice thing about being a fulltime RV’er, we can always come back. Maybe next month…………