December 16th through January 15th, 2015 Fanthrop Inn, Anderson TX, Exploring the Towns of Washington and Navasota

This being the launch of our third year of rolling down the road, weighing this life against “what was”, most days, “what was” wins. That also has a direct correlation to the frequency of my posts. Not in any way wanting to give the impression that this life is one big happy trek through the US, most days are spent just as before, taking care of whatever it is that needs to be addressed on our never ending list.

It has been unseasonably cold here in Washington, Texas. Having only 30 amp increases inconveniences and they have become the proverbial pebble in my shoe. Each 20 degree night is aggravatingly harder with which to deal. We have set up another heating system, one from a you-tube video. Primitive, but it does help.

flower pot radiant heater

Snarkyness has regularly slipped into my vocabulary, so much so that I have purchased a t-shirt that proclaims my ever increasing sentiments.

Sarcasm

Our “it’s always something” is multiplying to the point of financial inconvenience and far above reasonable with each incident. The reprieve of exciting new adventures has slowed to a snail’s pace now that we are volunteering in one place and I am ready to pack up and move into the first thing I see without wheels. Some days this life grows gigantic razor sharp fangs and I can feel them fast approaching my behind.  A sense of humor is mandatory for full-timing existence and often difficult to grasp.

Searching for a hole-in-the-wall diner led us to Filling Station Diner for breakfast. Flies greeted us at the door and stayed to join us for breakfast. Ignoring the lumpy seats we greeted the waitress with smiles and asked for coffee and a pot of hot water. My hot water pot came in the form of a large old plastic water glass, no coffee cup, no coffee for John. The young lady asked for our order, hubby said eggs over easy, pork chop medium and a biscuit. She repeated it back and then asked how he wanted his eggs, if he wanted toast or biscuit and if he wanted grits or potatoes. We smiled and John repeated his order again requesting coffee. When the coffee finally came, it stayed empty more than full. Our waitress came back asking if we needed anything, each time without bringing the pot! Food was just OK and prices were way high for what was served. Nothing here screamed “Y’all come back, ya hear?” Weeks later, we are still in search of a yummy local diner.

Diner

Fanthrop Inn was our exploration destination for today. The Inn is in Anderson TX, 17 miles away from Washington on the Brazos but still a part of Washington on the Brazos State Park. It is a relaxing drive through the fields of cattle country.

Downtown Anderson is one street long and familiar to John and I as we had both volunteered for a Woodlands Bike Club race in the area decades ago, me as corner marshal and John as a sweep car.

Anderson was once the fourth largest city in Texas with cotton and lumber being the draw. The court house stands mid road, streets running along each side for nearly a city block.

Anderson County Building

A few of the buildings are a century old with horse rein iron rings embedded into the cement walks out front. Only a few businesses remain, the Sunshine Seniors Center, a few Antique/Junque shops, a hardware store, the old hotel turned antique shop and unknown transitional businesses with newspaper covering up the windows.

Anderson Hotel turned Antique shop

The Inn is on a quiet dead end street at the other end of town. In its hay-day, the well-traveled La Bahia road abutted its frontal property.

Fanthrop Inn

The house was built in 1834 as part of a marriage condition set by Rachel, his prospective wife, to be completed before their marriage. It grew into an Inn when the couple were constantly having stage coaches stop to ask for shelter after the long jarring ride over the La Bahia road that fronted their home. It didn’t take long for Henry to realize that an Inn would bring in a nice profit.

Tom, the volunteer interpreter at the Inn, is a fascinating story teller who captures your attention with his Texas drawl and his ability to design each of his talks to interest both adults and children, availing a few hands-on tasks for the younger visitors.

As you step up to the breezeway, you disappear into the 1840’s and each area appears as if the patrons had momentarily stepped from the room. The house was built in dog-trot style as was popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries with the men’s card room, dining room and Henry and Rachel’s room on the first floor. Second floor contained the men’s multiple bed quarters, private rooms and private rooms for women with children.

Tom begins the tour with the Men’s Card Room. Poker playing cards are fanned out beside whiskey glasses and hunks of twisted tobacco lay out on table tops. Carpet bags propped haphazardly against walls waiting for their owners to trudge them up stairs for the night.

The Gentlemen's room

Henry and Rachel’s spacious bedroom is across the breezeway with Henry’s office attached to one end.

Henry and Rachel's room  Henry's office

Upstairs is the men’s sleeping room with the capacity of sleeping a half dozen men.  Often several slept together in one bed,

Mens multi sleeping room  Men's sleeping room

and down the hall, private rooms and women with children rooms.

Private room  Female Family Room

Only the cistern occupied the back area as the kitchen had caught fire and had not been rebuilt.

Water Cistern

Kitchens were built away from the house to keep heat out and those built with mud and timber chimneys often repeatedly burnt to the ground.

A long wide dining hall, the largest first floor room in the house, ran the length of the rooms above. Punkah fans attached to ropes were pulled by slaves to keep the flies off the food and cool the room. A huge pantry was at the back of the dining room.

Dining Hall Dining hall pantry

The original corn crib, which Henry had used to make his fortune, still stands out back. Henry was a business man and originally made his money buying the extra corn from local farmers, storing it in his corn crib until winter and selling it back at a profit after they ran short.

Corn Crib

Out front is the carriage house complete with a reproduction of a period stage coach. Pecan and Black Walnut trees shade the picnic tables just outside the carriage house.

Black Walnut and pecan

Tom gives us a demonstration of the period whip used to move the team that pull the coach. He invites us into the carriage and calls out to his team, rocking the coach as if we are on the move.

Fanthrop Inn Coach House Stage Coach

Available on Saturdays and Sundays, the tour made our top 10 “best” list.

After our tour, we walked the town streets and stopped at a log house built by slaves of an Immigrant. The Steinhagen Log House, built before 1860 was hand-hewed by slaves from local timber. The stone, doors and window shutters were all hand-hewed by slaves, the log walls are un-spliced. It became a Texas Historic Landmark in 1965 but little else is known about its inhabitants or its history.

Steinhagen Log House

Back at LilyPad the cold has seeped inside causing us to pull out more blankets and readjust use of anything electrical. Our generator is getting a work-out due to the less than adequate 30 amp connection. We will never, ever again, stay in a place where our site does not have 50 amp.

As the sun goes down, we pass the corner diner, R Place, to check it out for a possible future hang-out.  It is just outside the park gate and the owner is a friendly guy, our age bracket, offering beer, wine, ice cream, lunch and Prix Fixe dinners on the weekends.  We are welcomed in, chat for two beers and a handful of self cracked pecans, joining in on the conversation about turning the back acreage, that abuts the park, into a motorhome park.  As the night sneaks up and envelopes the setting sun, we head home, locking the gate and roping off Barrington’s entrance.  Both of us prepare for another night down on the farm.

R Place

November 1st through December 15th, Washington on the Brazos Hosts, Visitor Center and 1850’s Barrington Living History Farm Interpreter

Once again, settled in at Rayford Crossing RV Resort, doctor/dentist/eye doctor appointments are scheduled, friends are contacted to arrange visits and our kids put in their requests for family time.  Not exactly “home” but at least paused in one place for the next month.

We spent a pleasant family Thanksgiving visiting our son in Seabrook for a few days before packing up and pulling out in a gully washer downpour of Texas rain to arrive at our next volunteer experience in Washington, Texas.

Thanksgiving 2014

Passing through Navasota, the closest town to Washington, I am trying my best to refrain from judging this tired little town. It has a Walmart, of this I am thankful and I am hopeful that there will be some excellent prospects for yummy hole-in-the-wall diners. Cotton and the railroad created the wealthy that built and resided in the marvelous mansions tucked into the landscape along Main Street.

Navasota Home (2)  Navasota Home (3) Navasota Home  Navasota Home (4)

Washington is a one blink town with the biggest draw being a small unadorned post office…

Washington, TX Post Office

unless you consider the only Forbes five-star dining experience in the state, Inn At Dos Brisas, an attraction.  The 313 acre Relais & Chateaux luxury inn, priced for the enjoyment of those richer-than-God Texas tycoons, distances it’s self monetarily by eons from the rest of the town’s dining choices.

Inn at Dos Brisas

As we pull into the park, tree branches scrape LilyPad’s solar panels. After backing into the back of the parking lot, our home for the next three months at Barrington Living History Farm, we soon learn that 30 amp is all the elderly wiring will muster. For the next three months we must live in singulars, turning only one electrical appliance on at a time.  We have the ability to use only one of our three a/c units, hot water is available only if our floor heaters are turned off and we will expect brown and black outs, as experienced last time we tried to live on 30 amp, on a regular basis.  From roughing it smoothly, as our Tiffin mantra denotes, to just plain roughing it.  Because of our 13.6 clearance, no other site is accessible to us. I’m a little frustrated that we must “make do” once again and somewhat exasperated having to live so restricted electrically as we begin our next venture, volunteering at Washington on the Brazos, the birthplace of Texas.

Washington on the Brazos Entrance Our Washington on the Brazos site

John will be dressed in period clothing and will volunteer at Barrington Living History Farm, just a few steps out our front door, and I will volunteer at the Visitor and Information Center.

John at Barrington Living Farm Visitor Center

The park closes at dusk and no other human is present on the multi hundred acres until next morning. No police, sheriff or rangers cruise the park after dusk. We lock the front gate and string the rope across the farm entrance road after sunset.  Our nighttime neighbors are  coyotes, a herd of deer and assorted unknown shadowy four legged night creepers.  Tonight, under the full moon, John answered the mournful howls of the coyotes.  As their chorus grew in volume, I was sure John had unintentionally invited them to our house for dinner so we climbed into LilyPad and closed our door tight against the dark and fast approaching sorrowful wailing.

Our herd of deer Our first sunset

Normally, total solitude is embraced and not in the least stressful.  The exception came when John read me the history of Navasota from early 1800’s up to present day when it included murders and drive by shootings, drugs/money/illegal gambling machines being found at the local tattoo and nail salon 100 yards from the police station, armed drug dealing gangs operating in the area, ATF agents converging on the town and seizing crack cocaine, 21 area residents being arrested for drug trafficking and weapons/stolen property being recovered as recently as 2012. We’ve been told that the ATF and Texas Rangers have brought law and order back to this minimally populated vintage western town and this information has somewhat eased my concerns.

We have settled in, both of us enjoying the experience of working with the staff here at Washington on the Brazos.  Cold weaves through the park. The blankets of fallen leaves reveal the shift that is brought into multicolored focus every autumn. Each falling leaf brings the landscape closer to dormancy. The nuts of the La Bahia Pecan trees have fallen and are picked up by scavenging holiday bakers and the local furies.  Nighttime temperatures drop, and in the morning, frost covers the ground as the earth begins its rest for winter once again.

Texas La Bahia Pecan

Barrington Living History Farm was the home of the last president of the Republic of Texas, Dr. Anson Jones. Built in 1884 and moved several times, the house is original but the remaining buildings on the farm are only representative of that era.  The farm was built to the specifications of the descriptions in Anson’s journals.

Farm Office

The main house, a dog trot style clapboard primitive Greek Revival, fitted with typical period furnishings, is the centerpiece of the farm.  Two enclosed rooms on either side of the open “dog trot” area makes the house seem expansive.

Anson Jones Farmhouse

The farm is set up with the garden and chicken coop out back, the oxen field is to the side, the kitchen is directly in back of the dining room, the pig sty is across the larger garden next to the barn and all surrounding the house within easy access.  No bathroom…they used the trees surrounding the house as was typical of even the wealthier families.

The open area between the bedrooms and living space was cooler than the enclosed rooms and on hot humid Texas summer days, the furniture was pulled into that open area to take advantage of the cool breezes.

The masters room is in front of the house with an extra room in back for adult family members.  One corner was reserved for the learning center.

Anson Jones bedroom  Spare bedroom  Children's games and toys

The dining room is in back near the kitchen with the living room in front.  All were heated by wood burning fireplaces.

Dining room  Living room spinning wheel

Surrounding the house is the smoke house,

Smoke House

both slave quarters, one built in an inexpensive fashion with a wood chimney lined with mud and a dirt floor

Older Slave Quarters and garden Inside older slave quarters Older slave quarters beds

and one built resembling how Anson would have had it built after he had became more affluent, with a stone chimney and wood floors.

Newer Slave Quarters  Inside newer slave quarters

The kitchen was built away from the main house to keep heat away.  Kitchens also had the habitual habit of catching fire and burning to the ground.  Kelly, one of the interpreters, stands in the doorway keeping warm by the fire.

The Kitchen The main house kitchen

Both the main house and the slaves had gardens.

The main house garden

Anson’s slaves worked the fields raising corn and cotton.  John demonstrates how a pound of cotton, about the size of a basketball, was measured.

Cotton Bin  A pound of cotton

The barn was used for storage much like our present day garage.  Animals were not kept in the barn.

The Barn

Ben, another interpreter, is demonstrating the use of period tools and a wooden vice to make dowels.  The tools hang on the barn wall behind him.

Ben shaving wood  Woodworking tools

The Farm takes on a desolate guise in the Texas winter. Gopher mounds and fire ants spread quickly across the farms landscape without the freezing weather to force down their population.  Each area of the farm is sectioned off by fences made in 1850’s style.

1850's fencing

The farm functions just as it had in the 1850’s complete with butchering a hog in January, salting it in wood barrels, smoking it in the smoke house for 30 days and making sausage.  Most of the process is open to the public.  The farms sausage, cornmeal and greens are cooked over fires in cast iron pans and consumed by Barrington’s volunteers each Saturday.  Because of the yummy homemade meal, Saturday quickly became John’s favorite volunteer day.

The animals are the same Spanish breeds that existed while Anson lived on the farm.  Pineywoods cattle,

Pineywoods   Pineywoods Oxen

Ossabaw Island hogs,

The Pig Pen  Ossabaw Hog

Cochins and Araucanas chickens,

Chicken coop

and our favorite, a rooster named Cramer, who crows each time a visitor passes his male chicken declared kingdom,

Cramer the chicken

and one lone Spanish Black turkey.

Our Lone Turkey

We learned that the working cattle on the farm are called Oxen and differ from regular cattle only by the fact that they have been trained for four years to wear a yoke, respond to commands and plow fields.  The farm also has longhorns.

Pineywoods Cattle  Pineywoods

Texas history is as stubborn and proud as its first settlers, reverently called the Old 300. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexican authorities organized Anglo immigration from the US asking only that these settlers convert to Roman Catholics, live by Mexican laws, pledge allegiance to Mexico and be responsible for their own safety.

In 1824 the state of Coahuila y Tejas was formed by the new Mexican constitution. The Mexican Government closed the boarders to immigrants that were flowing into the state of Coahuila y Tejas in 1830. When Santa Ana became dictator, he repealed the Mexican constitution of 1824 removing all remnants of states rights and left the settlers frustrated and eager to declare their independence. Santa Ana quickly gathered armies to crush the revolt. By 1834 there were over 30,000 Anglos living in Coahuila y Tejas.

The town of Washington was chosen as the site for the 1836 Convention. Although Washington was a small town catering to farmers, it was centrally located, on the well-traveled La Bahia road and convenient to the Brazos River.  Because the convention was offered a new building with free use, the town was capable of feeding the Texas Delegates and had ample boarding houses in the area, they gathered to write the declaration of independence from Mexico and to form the Republic of Texas.

Birthplace of Texas  Inside the hall

The declaration was written by George Childress patterned after the United States of America declaration and his statue stands at the entrance to the education Center by the Visitors Center.

Childress

Although the delegates were aware that Santa Ana was leading his armies to fight the uprising at the Alamo, they continued their deliberations. While the delegates hashed out their declaration of independence from Mexico, the Alamo fell to Santa Ana’s soldiers and by the time word reached Washington that the Alamo was under siege, American hero’s James Bowie, David Crockett and William Travis had already fallen along with hundreds of Texian patriots that fought by their sides.

In 1899 Brenham schoolchildren under the leadership of Superintendent E. W. Tarrant erected a monument to mark the site of Independence Hall, where the Texas declaration of independence was signed.

Children’s Monument to Independence Hall

Tonight is Barrington Living History Farm’s Christmas program. John is dressed appropriately in 1850’s attire and is in charge of keeping the hundreds of period candle lanterns lit. I was to work as a greeter keeping the Wassail and cookies refilled for the over 300 visitors that will pass over the bridge into an 1850’s Texas Christmas Celebration. Unluckily the smoky fires that surrounded the farm complex sent me back to LilyPad and John volunteered without me.

The celebration was complete with period musicians, a Yule Log burning near the slave quarters, the farms fireplace was glowing and rooms were beautifully adorned with live holly, volunteers dressed in period clothing and performed skits of 1850’s celebrators, storytellers told tales of Christmases past, the preacher gave short sermons blessing everyone and farm workers fired bullet-less period firearms. The gaiety lasted until well after 9pm with a pot luck dinner ending the program.

In the days that followed the celebration, visitors to the park were scarce as Christmas drew near.  Our days off were spent cleaning, doing laundry and driving into the “big city” of College Station, nearly an hour away, for supplies.

Tonight at dusk, after our nightly rounds, the tree next to LilyPad became heavily populated by a parliament of owls having serious and lengthy conversations with their peers in nearby trees.  Even our presence directly under the tree did not interrupt them.  As we readied for bed, the conversation continued and we fell asleep listening to faint hoots bouncing between the trees that surround LilyPad.

October 20th through 30th 2014 Bryce Canyon, travels from Kanab Utah to Arizona, New Mexico and Back Home to Texas.

Friday, a day of relaxation and another shot at the Bucket List, hiking up Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park for a second time,then reversing to a downward path for a walk among the hoodoo’s.

Bryce Canyon, UT

Bryce Canyon was named for Ebenezer Bryce, an immigrant from Scotland who moved with his family to the Paria River Valley in 1875. His skill as a carpenter was prized enough by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to send him to settle the area. Local’s called the strange rock formations near Ebenezer’s home “Bryce’s Canyon” and to this day, people continue to call this area Bryce Canyon.

With KatieBug snug in her crate, we drove around the rim to each of the Points, all of us hiking up to admire the views.

Sunrise Point

Sunrise Point

Sunset point

Sunset Point

Bryce Point

Bryce Point Bryce Point far right

Bryce Point rim and close up of the hikers on the rim

Bryce Point distance view Bryce Point Closeup

Praia View

Paria View

Rainbow Point

Rainbow Point Rainbow Point (2)

Agua Canyon

Agua Canyon

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge (2)

Hoodoos are pinnacles, spires or odd-shaped rock left standing by the forces of erosion. I find them the most fascinating of mother nature’s structures. Multicolored sandstone, rising hundreds of feet above their bases, they are wonders that will indefinitely leave me amazed.

Among the hoodoos

Hoodoos and close up of people walking the paths

Hoodoo viewers Hoodoo viewers close up

Mossy Cave, walking among the hoodoo’s

Mossy cave walk amoung the HooDoos

It was a struggle being on meds and short of breath to scale the mount leading to Inspiration Point but determination forced me up to the 8,100 foot top to peer out at the never ending view of colorful hoodoo’s.  John hiked ahead cheering me on.

Inspiration Point trail

Considered sacred lands by Mormon and American Indian cultures, it becomes eminently clear as to the reason the moment you draw in your first breath from the Point and gaze out into eternity.

Inspiration Point1 Inspiration Point 2

Exiting the park, an open field was home to dozens of prairie dogs that popped their heads up out of their holes and made mad dashes across the fields.

UT Prairie Dog

Homeward bound, we passed an RV park with a wonderful old truck turned RV at its gate.

Mountain Ridge RV Park

Decades old homesteads left standing, sprung up from wagons traveling west, pioneers living off the land in hand hewn log cabins, gathering together for safety.

Old Homesteads

The late afternoon sun lighting up Mt. Carmel mountains.

Mt Carmel, UT

Mt. Carmel Junction’s infamous Thunderbird Diner and their Ho-Made pies

Ho Made Pies, Mt Carmel, UT

Deciding to leave Best Friends Animal Sanctuary a day early, we offered our site to our Sanctuary neighbor from last year who was parked up at Dog Town. Volunteering each year for several months, he comes in his cab over truck camper and happily fills in holes dug by the dogs, clears brush and clips back overgrowth.

Come morning, we begin our journey back to Texas,drawing near the end of our second year of travels in our rolling box, both of us remain alive, some days happily married and relatively sane.

Awoke to Fila Brazil, “Get A Move On”. Everything that must go on the bed is made ready…pictures off the wall, towels from the racks, extra blankets from the counter, shoes must go in trays, small appliances not able to fit in cupboards.  Shake out rugs and roll them up, clear everything off counters, rubber band cabinets, lock down, store and put away anything that moves. Pull in slides, open shades, raise jacks, start engine, hook-up Ribbit. Almost, not quite, done completed while we are on auto pilot. Check and double check as carelessness can be very costly. Next pause, a day away, Holbrook Arizona. Ribbit’s pump was still malfunctioning so again with the continuation of loud non-stop buzzzzzzzing.

Holbrook, our overnight in AZ, was an unassuming little town just outside of the Petrified Forest off Rt. 66. The train near our RV site was determined to let everyone within miles know that it was coming down the tracks so the whistle blew every 15 minutes until way past my bedtime.

Sunset in Holbrook, AZ

Up early, another day of continual noise from Ribbit’s pump for the eight hour drive. Can’t be fixed so it must be endured until we reach the REMCO dealer in Albuquerque. Another “It’s always something” was the loud rattle of the sideboard cabinets installed last year that had broken free from the wall and were bouncing with every road dip we encountered. This was going to be a noisy headachy day.

Travel along I-40 through Arizona and New Mexico takes you past numerous American Indian Reservations, the largest being the Navajo Reservation.Navajo Reservation, AZ Arizona

A long stretch of miles, few scenic views, irregular sightings of old disheveled billboards, paint distressed beyond recognition, announcing the coming of a long ago deserted Indian gift shop occasionally attached to a gas station lacking the ability to sell gas.

Indian Markets, AZ  Indian Gift Shop, AZ

With each small patch of mobile home communities we passed, traditional hogans, spiritual Navajo dwellings constructed with exact specifications, sit in reverence among the homes. Requirements include doors facing east and floors to be dirt. At least two specifications not difficult to fulfill considering the available landscape.
Hogan  Hogan (2)

Hogan (3) Hogan (4)

It is hard for me to imagine living in the desert among the dry withered scrub brush, constant wind blown dust and rock scape as far as the eye can see.  Harder still to imagine living in a Teepee.

TeePee, AZ

After pulling into Albuquerque and settling in at the KOA we searched out our previously contacted REMCO service provider and made plans for the repair.

Next morning we dropped off our rolling duo, the owner loaned us his Camry to drive for the day and we moseyed off to Old Town for a little country breakfast and sightseeing.

Albuquerque’s Old Town has been the focal point of community life since it was founded in 1706 by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez. It is the Historical Zone of the City of Albuquerque and home for many families whose ancestors founded the town.  One of the first homes, Casa De Armijo built in 1706, graciously lends its covered frontage to entrepreneurs of handmade silver jewelry displayed on colorful Mexican blankets offered to tourists strolling around the square.

1706 Casa De Armijo

Quaint and architecturally fascinating, the square is the center of approximately ten blocks of historic adobe buildings turned art, antique and dining establishments.

Shops on the square   Hand forged antique iron shop

Centuries old hand hammered wrought iron and hand hewn wooden doors and window frames adorned many of the buildings.

Hand forged iron guard  Hand carved door of an art gallery

Brick lined side streets wind into courtyards bursting with floral color and local cacti.

Side street courtyards

Spicy scents drift into the main footpaths from slivers of alleyways while bright banners announce the promise of a festival atmosphere shopping experience.

Chili Alley  Side street shopping

The north side of the plaza is home to the oldest building, continuously serving as a house of prayer for nearly 200 years.  San Felipe de Neri church built in 1793 is beautifully simplistic and a cool peaceful respite on a warm day.

San Felipe de Neri Church  1793 church interior

KatieBug enjoyed visiting with the children in the square and posing for Kodak Moments.

KatieBug in Old Town Square, Albuquerque

Our explorations of the area resulted in stumbling across the entrance to a tiny vibrantly Spanish chapel being exited by several scarfed devotees.   The entrance held just enough room to kneel and pray to the Virgin Mary.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel-entrance

Further inside, reverent monotone colors and a quiet spot to be at peace with God.   Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel alter

Returned the Camry, picked up LilyPad and Ribbit, next morning we departed Albuquerque with the surrounding Sandia Mountains draped in clouds, fog and a low buzz harmonizing with our satellite radio music. Bumps seemed to give it strength.  Better after the repair but still ongoing, we paused to call REMCO again, pick up suggested parts, attempted to install them, drive another hour, call the repair shop for suggestions, stop for more parts, install them and finally halt our travels at a rest stop, cranking up Ribbit’s engine to let it run while we drive the balance of our trip. Not the recommended towing procedure and far from the perfect solution but stopping hourly along our travels to let Ribbit cool down should soften any damage.

I-40 and Rt. 66 took us past The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup New Mexico opened in 1937 as a base for movie productions. Its motto: The Charm of Yesterday with the Convenience of Tomorrow. Falling into decline after the opening of I-40, it was bought and restored by Armand Ortega. Originally built by the brother of film director D.W. Griffith, it is located on historic old U.S. Route 66 and became the temporary home for many Hollywood movie stars including Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, Spencer Tracy, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn, Jackie Cooper and John Wayne. Movies made in the area spanned from 1940’s to 1950’s and included Streets of Laredo 1948, Fort Defiance 1950, The Hallelujah Trail 1964.

Gallop, NM

Blue Collar Radio, enjoying the funnies as we roll across yet another desert with occasional kitschy petrified rock and fake looking dinosaur statue adorned gift shops.

The Yin and Yang of eight hours of motorhome travel through the barren desert, having a toilet on board so you don’t have to pee behind cactus on the side of the road.

New Mexico

At first, looking off to the side, it seems the Department Of Transportation had abandoned miles of an old unused asphalt road, leaving it to the whims of desert downpours and shifting earth. A closer look revealed split open cracks with plants struggling to squeeze themselves through the parched dirt and black volcanic rock, not asphalt, that makes up the majority of the land.

Lava Flow, NM  Lava Flow, NM (2)

Due at Rayford Crossing RV Resort in two days, we drove the whole day, stopping at our favorite no cost RV Park, Childress Wal-Mart Parking Lot, for an overnight.

Walmart RV Park

Continuing on the next morning until nightfall to arrive in time for the Chili Cook-off and a meet-up with Tiffin friends from past years gatherings. Family, friends, doctor appointments and planted in one spot for the next month.  Life is Good.

October 10th through 19th, 2014 Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Kanab Utah, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Utah

Leaving the deserts of Las Vegas, after never stepping foot in even one casino for the first time in 30 years, we began working our way up to the most splendid scenic views in the country.  Leading my list of most awesome are Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

Along the way, signs warning us of falling rock.  Gigantic boulders perched precariously at the edge of plateaus on the brink of tumbling down mountains with the slightest encouragement from melting snows or a good old gulley washer.

Falling Rocks (2) Falling Rocks

Kanab, known as the Greatest Earth on Show has a majestic 360 degree view like no other. Our home for the next 10 days is one of two sites available on Best Friends Animal Sanctuary grounds. Their sites include level cement RV pads, each with full hook-ups, incredible views of the sandstone canyon, picnic table on brick patio and are located just up the road from where we volunteer.  If you look real close, you can see the square back of LilyPad’s hinny in the narrow dark green strip of spruce trees.

Best Friends RV site Our site full view

We passed on the tour this year but all newbie’s should invest in the hour van ride around the Sanctuary. You will be amazed at the reach this Sanctuary has on our country’s rescue organizations and homeless animals. The tour is a great first step in learning what is being done to “save them all”. An enticing benefit for volunteers is Angel Canyon café with its $5.00 all-you-care-to-eat vegan lunch and an awe inspiring view to enjoy while chatting with staff and other volunteers.

View from Angels Cafe

On our first evening, we drove up to the plateau to catch the sunset.

Sunset on the plateau

This year we planned to be with the piggy’s in the morning and dogs in the afternoon. Volunteering between Old Friends, senior dogs and their quirky personalities and Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, full up with recently rescued piglets from a closed down local breeder and Dog Town where John walks dogs and scoops poop.

John and I love volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. They provide homes to approximately 1,700 animals including puppies, dogs, elder dogs, kitties, cats, piggy’s, goats, sheep, horses, parrots and other birds, rabbits and small rodents, and small specialty animals. No matter what you love to hug, you will find it waiting here just for you to love on!

The Sanctuary also has a memorial grounds where you can bring your pets remains to be buried in Angel Canyon. It’s a beautiful peaceful spot with dozens of benches to stop and reflect while gazing out over the sandstone canyon. Wind chimes are scattered throughout the grounds and with the sound and the view, they create a comforting atmosphere.

First day we registered, watched the required movie then drove to the piggy’s. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to interact with them all! We prepared the food and fed the elder pigs first. Very grumpy until they got their food, becoming distant afterwards and wanting to plop down and rest immediately after pigging down breakfast.  Prepared food for the general population next. Sizes ranging from 300 pound PJ, who required a guard so the other piggy’s didn’t take his food, down to the 100 pound recently rescued piglets.

Guarding PJ's food DSC_8423

We stood outside and dropped the food into dozens of trays while they all stampeded from one tray to the next.

Breakfast The pig compound

Last came breakfast for Nick and Holly, two wild boar mixes. They were fed by the horse caregiver, also named Holly, and she stands about 5’6” tall which gives you an idea of their size.

Holly and Holly

They had just broken their care giver’s leg, getting in an unexpected bite after being frightened, so no one was allowed into their feed and play area. Both seemed friendly enough while we were on opposite sides of the enclosure. After chow down, they wandered to the fence and grunted at us but they were not domesticated and wild boars are normally not approachable so we kept clear of both the piggy’s and their electrified fence.

Nick Holly

After washing dishes it was piggy loving time. Pigtoid: Petting piggy bristle massages your palms and is calming to humans and pigs. Sat on the ground, snouts checking us out between playing tug-o-war games with the heavy duty feed bags and head butting each other.

Bag tug o war Piggy petting

The mini-piglets weren’t interested in socializing with us humans but did pause long enough for a quick pat. The older pigs walked cautiously up, snout running along the pant legs of our jeans then immediately plopped over on their side as soon as you began belly rubbing.

Belly rubs

The prize pig of the group was a handsome boy named Rupert. Favorite of the head honcho, he was allowed to roam around greeting volunteers as was his buddy Jack.  Rupert’s talented nose is the hit of fund raisers, offering his “face paintings” for sale each year.

Rupert Face Painting  Jack, the Welcoming Committee

A smarty pants as well, he was taught to sit, which is not a natural stance for pigs.

Sit Rupert

Our afternoon was spent at Old Friends walking dogs but the constant dust clouds from cars zooming down the dirt road next to the kennels wiped out my lungs and I had to withdraw from the next two days of volunteering. Stayed indoors, on meds, gazing out at the canyon and relaxing.

Grocery shopping in Kanab is slim pickens with only two choices but we love Honey’s with their funny talking truck outside the front door and the interesting people we run into in the store.  This year we parked next to a parrot waiting patiently on a steering wheel for it’s person.

Honey's Mader Pick em up How much is that birdy in the window

Kanab is an old Western movie making town and most of the sightseeing happened for us last year.  The former history of filming Westerns is kept alive by the citizens with several great museums, diners like the Rocking V that serves authentic Southwestern foods  with exciting twists, the Parry Hotel standing in much the same condition as it did in the 30’s with dozens of Western stars and their autographs covering the walls and a renovated 30’s structure that houses the Herb Basket, a health products store, Jake’s Chaparral Restaurant and an event hall.  Jake’s makes the first fried avocado strips with Ranch dipping sauce that we had ever tasted.  Excellent appetizer.

Downtown and Rocking V Fried Avocado

Some of Kanab’s citizens lived in fabulous Victorian homes that eventually began to deteriorate. In 1974 Dr. George R. Aiken was instrumental in gathered townspeople together to restore the Heritage House. Build in 1894 for Henry Eyring Bowman by master builder John Rider, this property was returned to its original splendor and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The carved wooden details on this Victorian home are amazing.

Heritage House

Wednesday, John joined me for a day off from volunteering. Being less than a two hour drive to both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, we chose Zion as our first day trip and begun our journey on a magnificent clear cool morning.

Best Friends Canyon

The drive into Zion takes you through the plateaus up the mountain, into a tunnel that runs through the mountain and down to the valley below. That cutout in the mountain above the tree line is one of the air inlets for the tunnel.

Zion tunnel window

Along the winding road that hair pinned down into the valley were the sandstone mountains with burnt umber and chocolate dripping down their sides.

Leaking Chocolate

One of the popular stops before reaching the entrance to the park is the Checkerboard Rocks.

Checkerboard Rock

After reaching the Visitor Center, the gratis shuttle takes hikers back into the park along the road that is not open to public cars and drops them off at which ever trail they chose.  There are dozens of varying lengths and difficulties but we chose The Narrows which is the furthest into the park. Along the way, we passed the mountains known as the Three Profits.

Leaving the visitors center   The Prophets

When we reached the Narrows, most of the visitors departed and meandered around the Virgin River before beginning the hike.

The Narrows entrance    The Narrows Trail People by the river Virgin River

Our hike was paved with easy rises and people of all ages were our hiking partners.  Deer milled around on the other side of the river, KatieBug backed away from an aggressive squirrel and when the trail led across the water, we declined to follow.

Deer across the river   Squirrel

Narrows path crosses over the river

On our way back to the visitor center, our shuttle guide pointed out a few rock climbers.  I zoomed in on them so you can see how gigantic these mountain faces are in relation to the miniscule climbers  One of the bus riders jokingly named them, “dope on a rope”.

Climber on the mountain  Climber

Early morning and early evening brings out the wildlife.  As we drove through the valley on our way back up the mountain, a herd of Big Horned Sheep paused to dine.

Big Horn Sheep

Sunset closed out the day on our way back to LilyPad after a relaxing day of sightseeing and hiking.

Sunset over Kanab

Thursday morning I gave volunteering another try with the piggy’s and goats but the dust prevailed once again so we cancelled Friday and added another day of recuperation.

DSC_8429 DSC_8430

October 1st through 10th 2014, Travels to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Utah

Late awakening, flush out our tanks and onward to Canoga Park Elks Lodge near Los Angeles to visit family and find out what’s ailing Ribbit.

Poor Ribbit. First a new transmission in The Woodlands, tires wore out miles ahead of schedule in Roseburg, license plate incident in Portland, radiator sprung a leak in Pismo Beach that had to be replaced in Canoga Park and when we thought it was going to be smooth sailing through to Texas, the Remco pump that is keeping the transmission fluid circulating wouldn’t fully connect to LilyPad so we listen to an un-appreciated buzz for the five hour drive to Las Vegas. Ribbit’s first seven years was without incident until we forcibly yanked it from its spacious garage and drug it bouncing along behind LilyPad. The roads chronically pounding punishment is becoming noticeable on Ribbit and my body totally relates.

A pause at Peggy Sue’s, the 50’s burger joint in the middle of the desert. Great burgers, great fun to check out each room stuffed with old movie memorabilia for décor and wander through the 50’s souvenir gift shop after eating.

Peggy Sue's Diner

Of all the lands through which we have traveled, the desert is the hardest for me to find descriptives for its beauty. During the day, one would be hard pressed to find its redeeming qualities. It takes a concentrated effort to make something sandy, rocky, monotone, desiccated and scorched into appealing. And if it weren’t for the occasional rolling terrain and sporadic sprigs of sun dried green, even its shape would be non-descript. Guessing that the spring rains bring a spark of color to the dismal view.

The Desert

Our route traversed us through Utah, Arizona and Utah again, Arizona looking as monotone but mountainous.

Arizona

Death Valley, aptly named when you spend hours driving through rock, sand and dead stuff, has a spark of interest when the stream of glittering white salt flats flow across the sand.

Salt Flats

Entering The Mohave National Preserve, ornamented primarily with Joshua Trees and their eerily stretched black furry arms reaching towards the sun, their only sign of life being the dark green spiked pompoms at the end of each arm.

Joshua Trees

Arrived in Las Vegas and settled, with trepidation, into the North Las Vegas Elks Lodge RV graveled parking lot. An eight foot high cement wall surrounds our site, multi-colored tagging adorned the outside of the wall and snuck onto the back of an RV closest to the entrance. The Lodge is located in the highest crime area of Las Vegas. Not sure if these surroundings, reminiscent of an exercise yard for the incarcerated felons in old movies, were to keep us in, or them, whoever “them” is, out. In comparison to our stay of the last two years, the appropriate description for this stay is “scary prison”.

North Las Vegas Elks Lodge   Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort site

The area came complete with a palm tree out front tagged on two sides and our corner stop sign adorned with bullet holes.

Bullet holes

First of four Las Vegas days were spent chasing down parts for Ribbit and finding grocery stores. Our not-to-miss tourist stop, Las Vegas Distillery, began with Jason giving us a tour of the warehouse and explaining the in’s and out’s of refining moonshine. His humorous anecdotes about yeast eating the barley mash and pooping out alcohol, then dying on the farts, were greatly appreciated comic relief. After tasting their nine offerings, two being new, we were very relaxed and ready to squirrel away our box of Grandma’s Apple Pie Moonshine jars into Ribbit before returning to LilyPad.

Jason at Las Vegas Distillery

Next morning I made a point of suggesting we visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area as the Government had closed it down our last trip.  Complete with a marvelous welcome center, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was well worth our returning to explore.

Red Rock Canyon Leave nothing but footprints

The Keystone Thrust Fault, a fracture in the earth’s crust where one rock plate is thrust horizontally over another, is noticeable even before leaving town. The plates slating upwards being the most significant geologic feature, the colors were what drew me to the Canyon. Grey limestone and red sandstone, millions of years old, shaped by ice and water, frozen in time with miles of hiking paths wandering beside, between and over their tops.

Hiking paths

The drive, 13 miles long, availed pull outs throughout the conservation area for parking. Hikers of all skills, paths of varied lengths and a children’s trail, doable for me, dotted with interesting Indian relics over the mile hike.  A small water flow resulted in the only touch of color blooming along the trail.

flowering desert

Heat hid the burro’s, fox, tortoise and rodents. The drive presented many wonderful vantage points for Kodak Moments of the fascinating crossed-bedded Aztec sandstone.

13 mile drive Morning view of the red sandstone

As evening approached, Vegas began to appear in the distance and the red, white and brown sandstone was framed with the glow of the sun’s rays.

Las Vegas valley Sunset in the Canyon

Morning arrived and we are finally set free from time served at North Las Vegas Elks Lodge RV. Now to continue our adventures traveling along red, white and brown canyon sandstones. Tonight we arrive at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab Utah.

September 24th through September 30th, 2014 Our Final Days at Lone Pine Group Campground and Journey Home

Perfectly relaxing, wine drinking cheese and salami munching sendoff for our neighbor hosts, Will and Ken at Rock Creek. Next begins the arduous task of stuffing our whole nine yards back into LilyPad and the commencement of our journey back to Texas.

The wedding party campers stayed one overnight, leaving early and skirting the rain that was due on their departing morning. With three campsites used out of eleven, our final tasks, on our last working morning of the Lone Pine Group Campground host volunteer position experience, were few. Rake fire pits, empty trash, sanitize vaults, mow both lawns, strip our golf cart bare, store tools, lock wood shed, swing shut and lock our huge heavy metal gate. Lone Pine is immaculately clean and tucked in for the winter.

A heavy misted fog crept along the tree tops as we pulled out of Lone Pine for the last time. The brilliant yellow leaves of our Big Leaf Maple had dropped from their branches even before turning full color but the tantalizing fragrance of the Pine and Sequoyah that dominate the peaceful Umpqua National Forest more than made up for the loss.

Hundreds of times we have traversed this winding road, passing less than two vehicles coming or going. This morning, three semi’s, six pick-em-ups and seven cars whizzed by, causing an avoidance of vehicles around nearly every turn. John and I had our travels over curvy Rock Creek’s one-plus-a-smidge logging road down to a science. The 20 minutes it takes to get from Lone Pine to its tee into Rt. 38 is driven with me at the lead, walkie-talkie in hand, far enough ahead to let John know something’s on its way. On my notice, he pulls over until it passes and I stop until I see him in my rear view mirror again. For our departure, we stopped nearly three times per mile so it took double the time.

A return visit to an overnight at Seven Feathers Resort RV Park in Canyonville, Oregon. One of the few true Resort RV Parks and a very enjoyable stay. In the morning we leave for Redding CA to visit an old friend from our youthfully wild days in Chico, CA.

Long road trips require exploring ways to keep us both entertained and new boredom killers are the job requirements of the one sitting in the passenger seat. Along with keeping an eye on the GPS directions, I take this task seriously. It is always a relief to find something of interest to discuss while rolling along. Passing “Jump Off Joe Creek” led to exploring how it got its name. Entering the town of Weed with its entrance sign stating “Weed like to welcome you!” produced a few chuckles.

The scenery was rocky and straw colored with puffs of dark green stuck into the ground with dark brown sticks. They speckled the barren pasture lands as we made our way to Redding and what I believe to be the hottest part of California. In the distance, Mount Shasta.

Mount Shasta

California has been in the news for several years affirming the drought that befell the land over the last few years. I was unprepared for the shocking loss of water in one of California’s largest reservoirs, Shasta Lake. The blue has receded from the Lakes fingers, replaced by barely moist mud. There are more absent water lines than there is water.

Fingers of Lake Shasta Shasta Lake

Our overnight was the Redding Elks Lodge RV Park and the friendliest Lodge in California. After settling, we threw back a few at the bar. Next to us sat a gentleman that graduated in 1953 from John’s alma mater, Chico State University. Meeting up with our friends in the Elks Lodge bar, the five of us chatted up old times before our dinner reservation.

Redding Elks Lodge

Jack’s Grill was our destination for dinner. Housed in the Morrison Building, its décor offers a peak into the off colored era that has long disappeared.

Built by Bill Morrison in 1935, the building was used as a mercantile with living quarters above until 1938. Leased to John “Jack” Young, a WWII fighter pilot that flew for the Lafayette Escadrille in France, he opened Jack’s Grill and a brothel upstairs. In 1941, Fat Woolf purchased Jack’s and maintained the “soiled doves”. Morrison, furious over the use of the 2nd floor, padlocked the upstairs in 1943. The Stanley’s, Morrison’s daughter and son-in-law, bought Jack’s and ran it until her death in 1991. Her husband, an accomplished pianist, played for the customers until his death in 1962. Bill Morrison Jr. managed Jack’s from 1960-1977. Don Conley became manager, purchasing the business and property in 1992.

Jack’s continues to be a link to the wild days of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and an historic site offering a window into the “heydays” of Redding, CA.

Void of flamboyance but still retaining original bathroom fixtures and lighting fixtures, foodie wise, steaks are their specialty. You enter into a dark, cramped, overflowing with humanity room, one side bordered by a vintage bar and friendly bar patrons politely crowding in with dinner guests. Without much stretch of the imagination, you could envision ladies-of-the-night strolling up to the bar.

To our surprise, our Waitress Extraordinaire was Denise, mother of Megan Rapinoe, US women’s national soccer team. She posed with Lew providing me with an excellent Kodak Moment.

Lew and Denise Rapinoe

While we slept, Charlotte had constructed a colossal web and hung around all night waiting for dinner.  In the morning, John moved her to the chain link fence where she stayed until we left Redding.

Overnight web

Next day’s adventure with friends Lew and Sue took us to Whiskeyville Lake with a lunch stop at Millhouse Deli, a delightfully eclectic diner serving a variety of home-made noon meal delights. Sun tea sat brewing in a jar on the rail as John and Lew waited for me to do my picture taking thing. We sat on the back enclosed porch and chatted long after our comfort food was consumed.

Millhouse Deli

Toured Whiskeyville Lake area and stopped to check out the host site for future reference. Winter might be a nice time for us to consider hosting at this peaceful lake RV park when we return in a few years but only if the water stays.

Whiskeytown Lake The birds on Whiskeyville Lake

On the way back to the Lodge we stopped to watch vintage cars with couples dressed in vintage clothing wander the area.

Whiskeyville Vintage in Whiskeyville

Leaving this a.m. for San Jose. Travels today were hot, hot, hot. How hot was it, you ask? It was so hot, the birds had to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.

Arrived at San Jose Elks Lodge RV park, second drink free in the lounge, In-and-Out Burger for dinner, fussy 50 amp fuse box that thought 102 degree heat was to exhausting for it to oblige. After popping fuses and trying numerous ideas, the 2 a.m. solution was to plug into the outlet of the empty site behind us. Success!

Memory fades and negative over-the-road driving conditions are forgotten until you pass that way again. California highways are ill marked, notices of closed entrances are not reported to GPS programs resulting in our GPS claiming “off route!” repeatedly. Broiling sun, numerous dips in the roads, constant cracks and continual unleveled breaks in the road, a spine hammering ride that would make even the multi-million dollar Prevost yelp with frustration and exclaim OMG, what are California road taxes going towards? We couldn’t have jostled, bounced, rattled and shook more had we been in a covered wagon on dirt roads. Sorry home state of California but your roads SUCK!

Next morning, On the Road Again, Willies melodic Southern croon awakens us to greet another day of extensively high heat travel. A slight reprieve from the heat while passing through forests of Eucalyptus trees, uphill and down, with MPG oscillating between 3 uphill and 52 downhill for the next 100 miles.

Diesel stop, stuck behind a trucker with a Christian remark posted on his back door, blocking pump 22 at Pilot for over a half hour.

Christian Truck Driver

This guy is nowhere to be found and his rudeness at parking at the pump was an understatement. Still boiling outside, uncomfortable sitting and not feeling forgiving for the outrageously lengthy wait, I dialed the number on the back of the truck and let loose! Inconsiderate, un-Christian, explained that we were unable to back up without detaching our car, unhappy about the extremely long wait, I got my pain induced, heat exhausted frustration out of my system as I politely pounced on the young man that answered. He promised he would pass on the info to the Christian owner. Still waiting, the driver came out, opened up his truck hood and began pouring in additives! Grrrr! A giant Russian, 6 foot plus, I approached him and told him it was time for him to move as we had waited long enough. John reiterated. Grumbling, he moved. Kept our fingers crossed that he wasn’t part of the Russian Mafia and kept a watchful eye on our rear as we drove on down the road.

Salinas Valley and Gonzales, the area that borders the long stretch of El Camino Real Hwy 101, is in constant motion with tractors busting up dirt clods and causing dusty dirt devils to spin-out across open fields.  Intermittent fields are green and ready for harvest,  crews bent over crops behind machines that move their pickings into boxes, carrying fresh produce to be delivered to local stores so we can make a selection, pay, drive home and enjoy the fruits of their hard labor.

Machine harvest workers

When I was young, workers weren’t given water breaks, they lived in tents or cars and no facilities were provided. Conditions only slightly improved as the owners now provide shacks for their workers, give water breaks and have port-a-potties in the fields. The job of migrant farm worker is far down my list of employment druthers, miles further down than the distasteful task of cleaning vault toilets.

Field harvest workers

Pismo Beach Elks Lodge, one block from the beach, a re-visit from last year and our overnight. After checking in, Ribbit decided to pitch a fit about the heat and sprung a leak in the radiator. Water dripping, we drove with a full gallon of radiator fluid to our dinner destination.

Clouds behind the sun provided us with a spectacular good night Sunset on Oceano Beach. Cane and camera in hand, I marched over the sand to the water’s edge, took pictures and marched back. Long treks across sand are never a good decision with my ankle but an hour in my cryo-cuff and getting awesome pictures make it totally worthwhile.

Pismo Beach Sunset

Next morning Ribbit’s radiator level was only slightly down so we topped off the fluid, drove to a Laundromat to do the wash and paused at the monarch Butterfly Park on the way back. The expansive flocks of Monarch’s are not due back until November but a few sat lazily on the gigantic Eucalyptus trees.  Leaves and branches twitched with orange color while we relaxed on a bench inhaling the soothing vapors from the trees and watching butterflies float through the air.

Small bunch of Monarchs Monarchs on a twig

We awoke to the sound of small aircraft overhead and strolled outside for a breath of fresh sea air.  Parked at the Elks Lodge back entrance was the Sheriff Department’s Viper Cop Car.  Ceasing the Kodak Moment, I asked him to pose for my blog and he politely agreed.  Now I know where all that California road repair money is going!  Actually, it was a drug bust seizure and he was lucky enough to regularly have access to the car.

Sheriff's Viper Pismo Beach Elks Lodge

Football, Dinner, more football and the day was gone. Sunset picture of LilyPad in the Oceano Elks Lodge RV Park,

Elks RV Park, Oceano Beach

sunset picture of Oceano Beach,

Oceano Beach sunset

sundown picture of Pismo Beach from the docks and another day slipped into night.

Sundown Pismo Beach Dock

September 14th through 24th, 2014 Last trip to Portland and Brookings OR

Three free days in our future so a trip to Portland to visit family was immediately added to our Oregon Experience Itinerary. La Quinta, its pet friendly rooms, free breakfast and quiet location continues to be our favorite Portland overnight.

Timberline Lodge, the closest lodge to the top of Mount Hood, outdoor scenery filming for The Shining, was scheduled for our day trip destination.

The Shining

The classis 1980 British-American psychological horror film, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson was filmed on the grounds of the historic Timberline Lodge. The original maze that was used in the film has long been removed but the Lodge, for itself alone, is worth the visit.

The Shining, in case the story’s plot has evaded your memory, is about frustrated writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who takes a job as the winter caretaker at the ominous, mountain-locked Overlook Hotel so that he can write in peace. When he arrives there with his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son, they learn that the previous caretaker had gone mad. Slowly Jack becomes possessed by the evil, demonic presence in the hotel.

Mt. Hood from the Lodge

The Lodge was not used for the indoor scenes but the Lodge’s past is an amazing part of our countries history.

Completed in 1937 and dedicated September 28th by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Lodge was a project of the Works Progress Administration and completed by Oregonians, with Oregon lumber during the depression.

Timberline Lodge  Dedication Plaque

Our original plan was to overnight here and enjoy the trails, however, the sky high view also came with a sky high price. The least expensive room was $130.00 per night and consisted of one set of bunk beds, a window and an entrance door. Restrooms were down the hall. Nope, don’t think I would enjoy the experience. We settled for a docent Ranger led tour and lunch with a view.

Mount Hood

Our docent was an excellent speaker and knowledgeable about every little detail of this remarkable Lodge. Imparting information about the Oregonians who used anvils to hand forged the door hardware, gates and boot scrapes, all with amazing details,

Anvil and tools  Boot scrape Hand forged hardware

to the woodcarvers who hand fashioned detailed forest creatures out of solid tree trunks and amazing wood carvings on walls and doors,

hand carved newel post Side doorLower Lodge entrance

to stone cutters chiseling designs into the massive stones that make up the three story fireplace,

Main Lobby  Fireplace stone carving

to tails of the first skiers who took advantage of the chill averting roaring fires before climbing up the staircase to their rooms after a day on the slopes.

Lower lodge fireplace  Original room

From the casual first floor reserved for skiers, up side steps to the main lobby, we exited an open door to look out over the valley.

Side staircase  View from the Main Lobby Road to Mt. Hood

Re-entering, the docent pointed out the 1,100 pound door, so perfectly weighted that it swings open with a slight push from one finger. Exceptionally impressive wood and iron work.

Front Door

From start to finish, a perfectly enjoyable day with family.

Early morning rise, packed up to depart for Lone Pine, one last breakfast with family. Bags in hand, walked behind Ribbit and stopped short. Ribbit’s rear license plate was gone. Walked back into the office, called the police, got a grouchy officer that yelled every time I tried to ask questions, ended up cutting the conversation short, hanging up to call back after we filed a report with the hotel.

With trepidation, I again called the police on the way to breakfast and got a nice officer who explained that I could do the whole procedure on line. Thankful that I didn’t have to deal with the grouch, we filed the paperwork while we ate.  Saying our good-byes to family, John took the front license plate and put it on the back and we began our journey home to Lone Pine. Two hours into the ride, we got a call from an officer who reminded us not to use our front license plate as it was now reported as a stolen plate. Quick stop to remove the license and continued driving with no license plates on either end.

On the way up and back to Portland, fires surrounded the freeway bringing thick choking smoke that blanketed the Eugene valley. Had to put on my Michael Jackson mask to breath and kept our air intake shut for several hours of the trip.

Smoke from the fires near Eugene

Back at Lone Pine we settled back into our routine and finished prepping for the next group.

Blue Grass Jam going on at IdleYld Lodge this early evening. Banjo, guitar, fiddle, base and mandolin jammed for two hours with special guest singers. In this land of multitudes of microbrewery beers, we drank Moose Drool while enjoying the tunes.

Blue Grass Jam

Foot stomping for Cotton Eyed Joe, clapping and foot tapping along with the Battle of New Orleans,

Cotten Eyed Joe

reverently joining in the chorus of a guest gospel singers original song written for his younger brother. Catchy tune now stuck in my head.

Gospel Singers

Returning while still daylight to check on our group campers and packing for our last family trip, visiting my dad in Brookings.  Soon we will leave our peace on earth for Kanab Utah.

A slow paced four hour drive to Brookings along the coast, we made our farewell stops at old familiar haunts and arrived at Otter Terrace Bed and Breakfast for the next two overnights. Spacious comfy room.  John could not help a cantankerous grimacing when asked to “smile”.

Our room

Awesome seal barking view of the ocean from the deck a few steps from our room.

View from the deck Barking seals from the deck

A herd of wild deer strolled around the neighborhood, unafraid of humans, stopping traffic and staring down anyone they happened upon.  Our hostess mentioned that no one in the neighborhood was able to plant anything editable without them finding and stripping the plants bare.

Our heard of deer

Delightful tranquil visit but duty called and propelled us through the newly arriving dense fog and cold rain, pausing only for three specialty stops while homeward bound.

We had noticed Kate’s on the way up and a wake-up call was beckoning after our early rise for the journey back.  If nothing else, our passages through tiny towns has availed us to invitingly friendly and unique characters, of which, for Oregon, this was momentous.

Tasty Kates Cafe

Definite hippie ambiance exploding with psychedelic colors on the outside, some seeping inside and spreading itself throughout the interior, mixing with aromas of fresh baked wonders and freshly brewed coffee before settling in the smiles of its patrons.

Entrance to Kates

Kate’s seating was one long banquet table snugly tucked into the solitary open space, with varied styles of chairs scooched in around its edges. Several couples had already arrived and seated, were chatting and enjoying their selections. When we sat, we were drawn into the conversation, a protest that was supposed to happen all across the US, the amazement being that these were not the hugely Democratic majority that populated the state of Oregon. Finding like-minded citizens and speaking freely about our opinions was a refreshing change of pace. Sometimes you find the most fascinating people in the most unexpected places.

Kate with her tasty treats

Harvest, best described as a hippy market, had a delightfully surprising interior.  Everything for the home gardener, winery and beer entrepreneur, fresh organic spices and herbs, an enormous bouquet of bottled scents, mysterious organic produce, heritage grains and a top to bottom wall covering refrigerated case with every brand of Oregon microbrewery offerings you could imagine. The bathroom had music festival posters from the last few decades plastered on every inch of the walls. Best part…huge purple perfectly ripe fresh-picked organic figs invitingly perched on the checkout counter. I didn’t hesitate in purchasing a handful, the first one gone immediately, the rest within the hour.

Harvest Inside Harvest

Just outside of Roseburg we came upon Spangler Winery.  It didn’t take much convincing for John to drive one block to the tasting room.

Spangler Winery Spangler tasting room

Inside we were greeted by three humongous Akita’s.  John got his petting “big dog” fix, we tasted a few reds but nothing came back to LilyPad.

Akita big dog fix

We arrived at Lone Pine and began our last responsibility as Hosts Extraordinaire, making ready for our last group campground guests of the season.

September 1st through September 13th, 2014 Meet up lunch with BLM Hosts, Last Wine Tastings, Final Waterfall Hikes

Breakfast at Idleyld Lodge on this lovely cool morning with our Susan Creek Campground Host friends. They are the first hosts to depart from our group of BLM campground hosts but we will meet up again in Corsicana, TX, their next workamp position, in the land of “best fruitcake in the country” baked by Collin Street Bakery.

The owners of Idleyld Lodge, Ron and his wife, are owner/operators of this blended bed and breakfast/café/bar and event venue. Ron is a friendly unconventional entertaining character, a real go getter. They purchased this Lodge last year just before we arrived for our hosting position at Mill Pond Campground and have nearly made it into the black, an amazing feat in this blink and you’ll miss it, almost a town, in Idleyld Park Oregon.

Idleyld Lodge

The four of us, and a friendly tag along camper couple from Susan Creek, dined together enduring the playful taunts from Ron at every possible verbal opportunity. He memorized every order, teased us by purposely mixing up each order as he repeated them back, then delivered to us all exactly what we ordered. After breakfast, he broke out his card tricks, amazing us and everyone else in the café. When asked about his “magic balls” (we were told to ask) he produced three red sponge balls and was able to transfer them back and forth between he and guests, through closed fists, with just a tap. A most pleasurable, engaging and delicious breakfast.

Owner Ron and card tricks

Back to the campground to prep for our incoming group. After chores, an email from Ray and Karen inviting us to a joint farewell host lunch at Elmer’s in Roseburg was accepted with just a confirming mention to John. Any social time is eagerly sought after and a chance to spend an enjoyable few more hours with Ray and Karen before we all head our separate ways was a priority event.

Soon our flock of cheerful campground hosts will end their volunteer stints and go forth, each in their own directions. Ray and Karen volunteered down from us at Eagle Rock last year and hosted the other group campground this year.  Ken and Will, hosts for Eagle Rock this year, and Dyana hosting at Tyee, were all gathered together by invitation from Ray for a farewell lunch at Elmer’s diner in Roseburg and the best of us showed up to chat and wish each other safe travels.

End of season Host Lunch

The journey to Roseburg, being 45 minutes away from our campground and the closest major town, gave us the opportunity to pick up supplies and check out the few remaining wineries left on the Roseburg Oregon Wine Tour Circuit.

After several people told us we must stop at Hill Crest Winery, the oldest Estate Winery in Oregon, we detoured from grocery shopping and drove to our 14th Oregon winery.

Hill Crest Vineyard

Not ever having ventured out during harvest time, we had no clue how they kept the birds from eating the grapes until we opened the car door and heard loud booming shots echoing from every direction about 20 seconds apart. Being a Texan at heart, logic told me gun shots meant hunting so I paused with the door open, told John “I hope someone isn’t shooting in our direction” and bolted into the tasting room. We all had a good laugh when the wine hostess told us about the air cannons used to scare the birds off the grapes. Impressive wine tasting room, friendly dogs, beautiful drive out. Wine likes and dislikes are very personal and neither of us enjoyed their offerings so nothing returned with us to LilyPad. That being said, Hill Crest Winery would not have lasted this long if it didn’t have a large following of wine connoisseurs, many entering while we tasted and were taking home cases.

Hill Crest Tasting room

Last, but certainly not least, was the very charming Melrose Winery, its friendly wine hostess and the pack of sweet lazy fur family members. Great blends of interesting reds, happily chatting hostess, warm inviting tasting room, we took home another impressive red and paused to pet pups before departing.

Melrose Winery

The winery overlooked a peaceful grassy lawn that served as an event area and tables were placed outside on the porch to enjoy a glass or a bottle of wine or microbrewery beer.

Melrose Event Area

John was in need of additional quantities of Kruse Farms awesomely delicious tomatoes. Picking direct from their fields, we haven’t tasted tomatoes this full of flavor and firm to the bite since our bicycling trips along Chico’s farming field roads back before we were married, over 42 years ago. Tomato sandwiches are on the menu for every one of our lunches next week.

Kruse Farms  Best tomatoes ever

Musical notes floated around the Market, accentuated with banjo pickers and strumming guitars while the shoppers carefully chose their produce. We have enjoyed purchasing the wonderful fresh and flavorful veggies and fruits from Kruse Farms Market, one of the best produce shopping experiences in Oregon.

Music and fresh produce

Back at Lone Pine, our campers are settled and the next few days are ours to enjoy, minus the few minutes a day it takes us to sanitize the vaults, replace toilet paper, smile hugely and repeat continually that we are at their service for whatever they may need to make their camping experience enjoyable.

This being our last month, we planned to visit the few remaining easy and moderate hikes left on our dwindling list of Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway waterfalls. An early start immediately after chores took us down an extended dusty dirt road that brought us to an easy footpath stroll to Warm Springs Falls, said to be remarkably consistent with its 60 foot flow fall. Ribbit was hidden under dust upon arrival.

Arrival at trail to Warm Springs Falls

The foot path leading to the falls was lined with gigantic wild Rhododendrons that bloom June and July.

Wild Rhododendron

The Warm Springs Creek thunders over a columnar basalt formation into a mossy arena below. Being a football field away did not deter the spray rising from the tumbling cascade and dampening us with a cooling mist.

Warm Springs Falls

This being my birthday, I chose to revisit my favorite waterfall, Clearwater Falls. The path was permeated with soft soil and thousands of intertwined roots stretch across the walkway and snake into the crystal clear waters that flow from the falls. The waterfall appears to be erupting from a wall of fallen tree trunks, steal gray rocks and green mossy roots.

Clear Water Falls

The waters that pool below are, in places, four feet deep but so clear your eyes believe it has no depth at all.

Clear Water Falls from trail  4 ft deep water

Home again, home again, to bid adieu to our outgoing group.  Enjoyable church gathering of families that departed leaving the campground as all should, taking nothing but pictures, leaving nothing but footprints. Sanitizing and cleaning out the fire pits was the only chore required and as they drove out, they handed John a personalized Thank You card for keeping the campground spotless and providing them with the friendliest of camping experiences. Times like these truly make hosting a worthwhile volunteer adventure.

Lone Pine Thank You Card

Nighttime draws near.  I am positioned near the edge of our driveway, rocking in my rocker lawn chair, gazing up at the rapidly darkening daylight sky’s, black little bat wings fluttering at sonic speeds narrowly missing my head, more still awakening and whizzing sporadically past to begin their nightly munching on the zillions of miniscule flying snacks speckling the air.

The stars begin their appearance, one piercing light after another until the sky is a sparkling mass of radiant twinkles. Slowly our group of deer step from the wooded area that surrounds us and strut boldly onto the expansive gravel parking lot. They pause, watching me for movement, their eyes luminous in the near dark, then continue on across, bounding over the wooden rails, to the ball field with its green blades of grass still growing from their nightly watering that will continue until the season ends. Not a man-made sound is heard until our air conditioner breaks the silence.  Peace and tranquility among natures forest creatures in the middle of the Umpqua National Forest.

August 23rd through 31st, 2014 Warrenton, Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Tillamook, OR

Gorgeous day for our next road trip, sunny but cool, fluffy white marshmallow clouds dropping shadows over the tree tops. This time we are taking LilyPad, Ribbit bringing up the rear. First overnight will be Portland, OR and Liz had several must-do plans.

Our only disappointing excursion this family time was the Portland Italian Festival. Mangiamo was not happening for these three Italians. All of us were somewhat dismayed by the passing off of pizza, spaghetti and gelato, totally unimaginative and cliché foods, as Italian festival fare. Our conclusion was that there isn’t much of an Italian population in Portland, at least not the verbally expressive sort that demand excellent food and make up “la famiglia mia”. Nothing else but food and music, the singer being just OK, we left within the hour.

Italian Festival Portland

Remembering last year’s visit, we were all looking forward to the Portland Saturday Market. Humongous, a neighborhood unto itself, original art, crafts, music, food and a dancing water’s fountain for the mini kids, a you-must-do-this stop when in Portland. The sound of Tam Tam’s followed us around the Market, intermittently interrupted by guitars, street singers and a few horn solo’s .

Portland Market Tam Tams Portland Market

Along the Market path we passed Portland’s VooDoo Doughnut Shop but the line stretched around the block and our former experience with aching teeth and tummies caused us to veer away and take in the rest of the expansive Market offerings before its closing.

VooDoo lines

So many choices for dinner but The Old Spaghetti Factory won out for its reasonable prices, gluten free choices and being nearby when the hunger bug bit. Back to LilyPad for our nights rest in anticipation of an early morning departure for our final family reunion destination, Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park in Astoria.

Lewis and Clark RV Park, Astoria, OR

Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure south and west of modern-day Astoria. It was abandoned after a long hard winter and the fort is now an historical park.

Astoria was named after investor John Jacob Astor. His American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria in 1811 as its primary fur-trading post and was the first permanent US settlement on the Pacific coast. Located on the south shore of the Columbia River, the city is served by the Port of Astoria and is a deep-water port capable of hosting cruise ships.

Astoria

A small town but full of fascinating history, the appealing quality for Liz was its movie making history. The Oregon Film Museum, on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 2010 and is housed in the old Clatsop County Jail. The building was used in a famous scene in the Goonies movie and its opening coincided with the 25th anniversary of the film. The museum houses artifacts from the large assortment of movies filmed in Astoria including Short Circuit, The Black Stallion, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Free Willy 2, The Adventure Home, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Benji the Hunted, The Ring Two, Into the Wild, The Guardian, Twilight and National Lampoon’s Animal House.

The Goonies, her favorite iconic cult classic, was filmed on location in Astoria in 1985. The Walsh family home still stands and the owners allow walk-ups and picture taking on the outside. Our families first stop on our togetherness outing was the Walsh House. As we chatted while taking Kodak Moments, the owner watered plants in the front yard seemingly oblivious to our existence.

The Walsh Family Home

The house was on Liz’s Bucket List and the group all joined in the visit, possibly because the span of ages were all familiar with the movie, possibly because it was a beautiful day and a walk outdoors was an ideal outing. Whatever the reason, it was well suited for a joint adventure of ages that spanned nearly 8 decades and allowed us to chat happily among ourselves Italian style.

Family Time, Goonies House

Our lunch break happened at a small restaurant, T Paul’s Urban Café, not usually able to cater to a group of 11 but they managed to seat us all together in the back area near a beautiful salt water tank and we all bubbled over with conversation while enjoying our meals.

T Pauls Urban Cafe

Most went back to the beach house, some went in search of seafood, our threesome scouted the town for coffee and activities that were open on this usually closed-on-Monday town. The Blue Scorcher Bakery Café was a unique find, scrumptious bakery goods, very Oregonian with gluten free and sugar free offerings, typical of what we have found in the small bakeries throughout Oregon. Greatly impressive was the intricate foam designs floating in our coffee.

Astoria, OR Blue Scorcher Bakery

Front door was closed but back door was wide open, so we stuck our heads inside to check out their artistic wares. Dozens of yarns, all in various stages of the dye process, being turned into intriguing works of art.

Yarn Art Store

My mother’s side of the family consists primarily of opinionated independent women, the characteristically Italian hand gesturing non-stop talking kind, sometimes articulating all at the same time, resulting in the men becoming verbally challenged by our sheer numbers and volume. Luckily the few we do have are all good natured and if they have an opinion, they wisely keep it to themselves when the female clan is in session. With only two of our Grandmother’s five children remaining, Auntie El and Aunt Susie, a gathering was long overdue. This was the first time all four of the female cousins had assembled since our beloved matriarch passed away a decade ago.

We met at my cousin’s beach front house and she rented the house next door so we could all meet up and celebrate joyously with much vino and an abundance of excellent Italian food.

John at Family Reunion

Our newest family member, four month old Emilio, named after our grandfather, was welcomed into our clan.

Emilio and Deborah

Two glorious days of family togetherness, so glad that Liz came to share in the family celebration. All those that had gone on before were remembered with wine glasses raised in toasts and so dearly missed. A foggy sunset after dinner from the back porch of the beach house, Family, Wine, Italian food…Life is Good.

Foggy Sunset at cousins beach house

Morning arrived, hugs, farewells to family and promises to gather again soon. With Liz’s vacation nearing an end, we planned visits to several points of interest along the journey back to Eugene Oregon, Liz’s last night with us before our return to Lone Pine.

Cannon Beach was a fun ocean side village with lots of shopping and a wonderful Farmers Market to explore.  Vintage structures, funny sayings on top of garbage cans and lots of dog water bowls outside the boutiques to show which were dog friendly.

Cannon Beach Entertainment Cannon Beach Farmers MarketCannon Beach Library Trash Can Rymes, Cannon Beach

A sad realization was reached when our drive along the foggy shoreline did not reveal any Puffins, my favorite bird.  The rocky shore along Seaside is a well known nesting site.

Seaside OR fog

Although there will be more coastal areas in which to search for Puffins in my future, I was excited about the prospect of sharing the experiencing with my daughter.   We settled for admiring a fine-looking six foot high solid wood Puffin carving.

Carved Wooden Puffin

Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must visit if in the area.  The factory is self guided but interesting with many displays of vintage cheese making equipment.  If you catch the workers in a friendly mood, they will wave back at you.

Tillamook Cheese plant Vintage cheese making Big blocks of cheese Liz and I at Tillamook Cheese Factory

The tour ends with you being offered several yummy samples of cheese.  Exiting, you must walk past the ice cream and few walk on without making a purchase.

With LilyPad packed up and ready to roll, we left for Eugene and began cramming as much into the last few hours of mother/daughter/dad togetherness as humanly possible.

Within a four block radius we found enough to satisfy Liz’s appetite for last minute vacation-nearing-an-end anxiety.

Eugene Wine Sellers offered wine tasting and samples of dark chocolate Limoncello infused fudge. Oh so delectable.

Eugene Wine Cellars

Across the street, The Wandering Goat, another coffee house catering to an attention-grabbing collection of human pin cushions with colorful tattooed skin, the employees closely resembling their patrons.

Wandering Goat Coffee

In search of a nearby local brewery, we happened upon Ninkasi Brewing Company, sampling what read as interesting. Dark, thick, heavy stout with a chocolate essence was my tasting choice. Not the dark chocolate flavor I expected so I passed on a glass. John abstained, Liz chose an IPA. We relaxed on the porch until all was consumed.

Ninkasi Brewery

Cattycorner was Natural Grocery, a small health food store. I would have loved more time to peruse its shelves but the growling in our tummies could not be silenced.

Natural Grocery

Across the street the Pizza Research Institute caught our attention. Quirky, eclectic, wood fired original pizza creations complimented the jumbled collection of vintage plates. It was very warm inside, the fans not creating enough breeze to encourage the flies to move on. What we ordered was not what arrived but the salad was colorful and included unusual veggies, the dressing was amazing and with our pizza, both filled us. Liz and I tried dry soda, a low sugar fruit infused bubbly water which will be added to my fridge whenever I come across it in stores.

Pizza Research Institute Restaurant Pizza Research Institute

On the way back to Ribbit, Liz and I were beyond delighted when we turned the corner past the brewery and came upon Blairalley Vintage Arcade. Immediately upon pulling open the door, high pitched squeals of glee interrupted the dark quiet room and when our eyes adjusted to the dark, they were met with twinkling pin ball lights dancing across every inch of the walls. Only a quarter per play, even John was drawn into the games but Liz and I raced each other through most of the quarters and John didn’t grab fast enough to spend his share.

Blairalley Vintage Arcade

Santa Cruz California’s arcade and I were intimate partners in the fast pace solo entertainment of pin ball skill for most of my teen years and continued on long after John and I were married. Their amusement worth has kept me fascinated for most of my life and, strangely, was passed on in DNA to my children. Slightly strange thing to pass on to ones offspring.

Liz’s vacation was at an end and when she was settled into the waiting room at the airport awaiting departure, we continued on to Lone Pine to ready the campground for a new group. Unpack, plug in and relax into a peaceful nights sleep.

Lone Pine Campground evening

My Verilux “happy light” usually wakes me each morning but this morning our welcome back a.m. was full of noise and excitement! Tree limb trimmers converged on our parking lot bringing in huge equipment to take down and chip multiple limbs intruding into electrical wire space along our logging road. The crew stayed to chat for a while before continuing on down the road.

Trimming Crew

Loud whap-whap-whap nose coming from above our heads and the sheriff’s department helicopter dropped down from the sky and landed in our field. Small with no doors, the helicopter flies around the area in pot patrol expeditions. Minus heaters and doors makes for 50 degree working conditions so they drop down and land to warm up and join with their fuel truck.

Sheriff's helicopter

They drew crowds from both campgrounds and were allowing a special treat, parents were able to photo their kids seated at the controls.

Pot Patrol

An hour later they were up, up and away.

Lift off

Soap, Scrub, Power Spray vault toilets, Scrub, Wipe, Power Blow pavilion and tables before our next group arrives for their enjoyable camping experience presented by yours truly, Lone Pine Group Campground Hosts Extraordinaire.

August 9th through August 22nd, 2014 Daughter visits Lone Pine, Road trip to Brookings, OR

A small blip in our same old, same old was collecting the mail, always a welcome diversion.

Just received a book from a friend and former work associate of John’s. It is a book of short interconnecting stories, the main theme being “perspective” but family and small town living followed in close pursuit. After our whirlwind former week’s events, a good read from an actual printed-on-paper book, grasped firmly in hand, with real tangible pages to turn, is a rare treat. With so little space, most of our reading material is either on, or scanned onto, the computer.

I pause on the subject of perception as it differs between the two humans living in the box on wheels. Throughout the last two years of our journey, we have had little contact with family or friends. If we workamped near family, we were so busy with our duties, we didn’t visit as often as if we had vacationed nearby for a week and simply spent the time relaxing together. John thinking we had visited many relatives while my thoughts leaned towards not enough time spent visiting.  Our living responsibilities, which includes care of our furry family member, grocery shopping, laundry, continual motorhome repairs, car repairs, workamping duties, the same things that happen in everyone’s lives, interrupted social time. Constantly existing, that nagging cue stubbornly wedged in my brain, is that this is our way of life, never a relaxing vacation.

Although John enjoys living like a hermit, I enjoy life as part of a social group, something instilled deep into my being since childhood. Forcing a social gathering onto folks that have chosen living “hermit style” is not comfortable for them or me so camp host meet-ups are rare. Perception is directly related to ones own nature. I am certain that we will end the “continual movement” stage of our retirement days and settle somewhere. The “where” or “when” is still to be determined.

Robin Williams died today. My all-time favorite comedian and movie star. Sad that someone so vibrant and talented was so troubled…I cried.

Last night Oregon showed us a bit of its temper. Inside a 10 minute period, hardly time enough to store light fly-away things lying around the outside of LilyPad, a storm blew through. Strong winds blew limbs, pine-cones and debris, smacking them up against the side of our motorhome. The top of our motorhome garage was bombarded with huge splats of rain sounding like a baseball hitter practicing. Fire starting thunder lit up the sky, our temperature plummeted from 100 to 70 and the power went off. Somewhat daunting but with immediate action being needed, not enough time to fret. Dashed around securing our things, unplugged cords and started the generator, checked on the conditions of the campground and made sure our group was safe. They took it in stride, gathering under the pavilion with flashlights, socializing and enjoying the cool evening. A multitude of large and small old dead branches fell. Clean up is going to be a female dog.

John checked our fluids in Ribbit and found an unexpected “it’s always something” surprise. He thought it was debris from the storm until he removed the green moss and found nibbled wires. Our upcoming road trip with daughter Liz to visit family would have suffered greatly had it not been found. My hero handyman fixed it and we are good to go.

Nesting Strange food source

The lack of fine dining in the area has encouraged us to explore hole-in-the-wall diners. One such place is The Narrows Tavern. More of a bar that serves food than a restaurant. John looked it up on our favorite food review sites and talked me into stopping for a menu. Sitting on the ground near the front door with his back holding up the side of the building, was a young fellow with a handmade cigarette, smoke floating lazily out his mouth, smiling ear to ear while continually making an effort to stay sitting upright. He looked at Ribbit and threw his head back laughing, his mouth stretched open wide. By the time John exited the bar with the menu, he was joyously singing “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” and energetically waving both his arms in a cheerful good-by.

Picked up  Liz at the quaintly petite Eugene airport passing hay fields, their wares boxed  and stacked in the fields like gigantic straw walls erratically placed in the distance awaiting delivery to local farms.  Must be this years fashion is square, as last years hay bales were rolled.

Roseburg hay fields

We dined at Cornucopia, an eclectic little diner that specializes in gluten free and locally grown choices with an enormous array of microbrewery offerings. Our overnight was spent at our go-to, first year water damage repair living quarters, La Quinta Inn. After dinner, our just rewards was a bucket list cross off for Liz. The VooDoo Doughnut “Old Dirty Bastard”. Glazed doughnut topped with chocolate, dipped in crushed Oreos and drizzled with peanut butter. Splitting three ways didn’t eliminate the knots in our tummies or the sugar toothaches.

Drove around the downtown area site-seeing before we each stretched out in our own queen pillow top bed heaven for the rest of the night.

Early rise for the five hour drive to my dad’s home in Brookings.  Showing off our favorite haunts, Coos Bay for Market Day delights with some foot stompin’ banjo music was first on our coastal tour.

Coos Bay Farmers Market fruit  Coos Bay Farmers Market Face Rock Squeeky Garlic Cheese

Next, a stop at our favorite cranberry sweets store in Bandon after passing several Ocean Spray cranberry bogs and a repeat stop at Misty Meadows outside Bandon for locally grown and packed berry butter/jam/jelly so Liz can give a bit of Oregon as souvenirs.

Ocean Spray Cranberry bog Blueberries and bouys in Bandon

Lunch at the Fish Market Cafe, a smidgen of exercise walking through the Bandon Farmers Market but completely erased the positive by having samples of smoked salmon cheese cake and gluten free coconut fudge. Music, fresh sea air and back in the car for the next leg of our Oregon coastal tour.  The view along the coast is amazing no matter how many times we make the drive.

Brookings bound

Arrived at Dad’s and spent a relaxing night with family, one more trip next morning to the mountain hideaway Brandy Peak Distillery for tastings and stashing more yummy Blackberry Liqueur in the car followed by a long walk until sunset on my favorite Brookings beach, Harris State Beach.

Harris Beach, Brookings, OR   Harris Beach

Harris Beach Sunset

Next morning, hugs and farewells before the long trek home to Lone Pine for our overnight.  Lumber mills, Oregon’s main industry, are casually scattered along the water inlets.

Coquille Lumber Mill

This being fishing season, one tiny vintage fishing village had an enticing Kodak Moment prepared for a mother/daughter photo, along with a convenient parking space.

Fishing Village

As we neared the home stretch, Roseburg area having 32 wineries, we happened upon Girardet Winery, one we had not yet visited.  Nothing special in the tastings but their fields were full of picture perfect plump dark purple grapes.

Girardet Winery Grapes

Arrived at LilyPad in time to show off Lone Pine Campground to Liz, its slightly cool evening serenity with Rock Creek gently flowing past mossy giant trees bending over the flow and shading the pathways.  Our little slice of heaven.