Thursday, December 31, 2009

A blue moon new year's wish


Greetings from clear and chilly SoCal...as we approach the arrival of 2010 we're fading in resolve to see the new year in. Music from a live band can be heard nearby but without tickets, there's no entry for us. No matter, this park and it's trails, pools and hot tub have been restful after our long trip west. We can do without the dancing tonight, and we may even stay up long enough to hear the shouts and cheers for the new year. And if not, we'll still have our resolutions for the new year and decade tomorrow morning. More music, movies and mindless fun for 2010...at least for me as I leave my 50's. More serious resolutions are also on the list, too. Now to see how to make it happen...our best to all for a happy, prosperous and fulfilling new year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What happened to Christmas


Well, we did make it all the way to southern CA for the holidays. Had an extra day between Phoenix and Yucaipa due to a wind/sandstorm that hit us at the Colorado River. We decided to pull over in scenic Desert Center for the evening to let it pass. We still had a head wind the next day but without the sand and visability issues. Great as always to see the wind turbines through Banning Pass just west of Palm Springs dancing in the breeze.

Arrived at my sister's house and settled in to getting ready for the holidays. Went to bed early to be ready for Christmas Eve and finalizing gifts, wrappings and arrangements. We did a big dinner out at my mom's favorite restaurant, Marie Callendars and we all went home stuffed and contented. Around 5am my stuffed contentment became too much to contain and full scale stomach flu-virus erupted! What a day, Christmas Day, my memories are dim. I recall up close and personal with every toilet in the area right on through the evening. Had no stomach for food and only by 6pm was I able to take in some peppermint tea. Any semblance of appetite didn't return until Sunday, and even then only mildly so. It was a postcard Christmas dinner with the turkey, ham, cranberries, yams, etc and "auntie" Linda's trifle. (Bro-inlaw Bruce's sister). I could only look at the food and plates all set, smell briefly and quickly exit the room...but life got better on Saturday, a little, and Sunday pretty much back to normal. But, my sweetie, Ms. Nancy, now had the virus full force and was suffering equally with the same symptoms. Poor Baby...So we continue to improve and will again soon be out and about. Happy trails and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy winter solstice


(Shaman's Eye, Mojave National Preserve, near winter solstice, 2008; photo by R. Taley)

Holiday Greetings!
We arrived well after finishing the trip through ElPaso, LasCruces, NM, Willcox and Chandler. We're enjoying friends and the big city with it's Barnes & Nobles, used bookstores and last minute gift temptations. We've enjoyed our time here but looking to move along to SoCal for the holidays. Today we celebrated our 30th anniversary with day out. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends at our favorite local restaurant near our friend's house in Scottsdale. Leaving in the morning for sister's family in Yucaipa, CA. Expecting some rain and clouds for the drive west..hope for a nice ride and not much headwind. Happy holidays...

(Below at the Carlsbad Restaurant for dinner on our anniversary)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back in the 'hood

We're still traveling but have made great progress and are now back in AZ, a lot longer a trip than we remember from May and a lot faster than we originally planned. That's 2400miles to date and another 400 to go. That's a lot of carbon kharma. Will have to sit tight awhile...but we wanted to make it to SoCal and Christmas with my 85 y.o. mother and baby sister and family. So...away we went. Rain and humidity all the way to SanAntonio area. Laid over 3 nights in Beaumont,TX due to winds, rain and fatigue. Managed a visit to Barnes and Noble, dinner out and then back on the road. Took the scenic lower US90 across Texas. BTW, it's still over 500miles across from SanAnto to El Paso in case you wondered.

(Our little home looking across West Texas; hard work for the Prius to push that big motorhome!)
Managed leisurely driving at average 6 hours/day and with motorhome that's plenty for us. Managed an overnight in Del Rio, TX and included a walk over the RioGrande river to Mexico for a reconnoiter and a few Rx drugs. Nothing like a walk over a long bridge and through a desperately poor town on a day of overcast and drizzle. Tourism was really down and a number of pharmacies and dentists office looked permanently closed and the "medical" tourism was down as well. Our economy may be in difficulty but theirs is in disaster.

Spent several nights parked along the roadside as it is acceptable to overnight in picnic and roadside rest areas out west, and very much UNlike in the east where only an RV park in authorized for overnights. We also stayed in Elks Lodge parking areas, Walmarts lots and in front of friends houses. Such is the nomads' life.

Went out with friends last night to Anti-Defamation League program on "Hate and Intolerance". Very interesting Independent Lens produced documentary on the history of Indian boarding schools and the prevalent philosophy of "killing the Indian and saving the man or woman". The efforts all appeared Christian-motivated and well-intentioned. There were many Native peoples in the audience who after the film, shared their personal experiences or those of their parents or grandparents. Quite a moving evening. What was most clear was the corruption of innocence, abuse and insensitivity
(Chihuahuan desert near Willcox, AZ-yuccas)

endured from otherwise well-meaning people. It was also clear that absent these type of people, the predominant national feeling was to simply "exterminate the savages". Their were a lot of tears and heartfelt hurt displayed. Also brought up was the parallels with attitudes today towards immigrants, Muslims, gays and other groups. Unfortunately there were only 50 to 75 people in attendance.

Will enjoy our time with friends in Phoenix area and head out soon for SoCal and family there. Happy trails.

(New tombstone for youngest of Earp Brothers who was reported to be a hot head and drunk who met his maker in Willcox, AZ after 1 bar fight too many)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rolling through north Florida

We made the departure and have logged nearly 500 miles so far. Our first day took us across the drained everglades and now sugar cane fields around the south and east ends of Lake Ockechobee. Many of these lands are scheduled to be removed from cane production and reverted to the flowing "river of grass". Today we drove through the citrus regions of central Florida and on into the pine forest regions of the north central region. We're in Perry, FL tonight along rte. 19 and home of the forest products industry based on the longleaf pine cultivation and processing. Spent the early part of last night fighting with my 9 year old printer which spilled ink everywhere, including the center of the bedspread! What a mess, including my hands and clothes. The printer has been banished to the basement, and may just have to go. Haven't exactly figured out what happened, but appears to be the overspray reservoir overflowed after all these years. Later, we had a fitful sleep waiting out a hard wind and rain which left our motorhome in a sea of water. Must say I was expecting to need a pullout this morning from the sandy soil where we were parked. But, sand also means good drainage, and no problems upon exit. Not much to say for my sleep deficit but hope for a more peaceful slumber tonight.

Forgot to mention the trip to the Florida Railroad Museum while in Miami. Enjoyed seeing the many displays of locomotives, Pullman sleeping cars, passenger cars and even FDR's own personal car.

This diesel locomotive ran the line originally through to Key West, and may have been on the line for the original "Orange Blossom Special."

As a sign of those times through the 1950's the second photo reminds us of the way it used to be in a significant part of the country. Seating, sleeping and eating arrangements were also "separate" and not equal...

Happy trails and hope to move along to Alabama tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ready to roll

Yes, we're still here in Florida, but we've begun the departure process! Monday we filled our fresh water tank, dumped the other tanks, hooked up the tow dolly and Priscilla Prius, and headed out on the highway. At least for 100 miles, enough to get our road legs (and seats) ready for the 2800 mile west coast drive.

We managed to spend the last month in south Miami area enjoying morning calls from our neighbors at the MetroZoo next door. Most notable were the very loud cries from the howler monkeys. These loud calls took us back to the last time we had heard the howlers while we were traveling to the Mayan ruins of Yachitlan on the Mexican/Guatemalan border way back in 1990. We heard them but had never been able to see them "howling" until this visit to Miami...and here's the picture (and brief video if I can get it loaded It's sideways and I'm unable to rotate it so please bear with!) of the howler with the throat pouch expanded for the calls.
video

Our days were similar but rarely the same...save for visits to our regular "mataratos" (time spenders) at the local Barnes and Noble where a coffee/tea break could last for hours of reading the latest current events magazines. It answers our need for the familiar in the changing world of RV travel...all B&N are laid out the same, serve good coffee/tea and don't mind geezers and others taking up tablespace in the cafe. Plus, we always put our materials back on the shelves where they belong; a habit not universally shared.

We enjoyed the beach at Miami Beach where son Bill recently got an apartment. The ocean is a special place for us since we lived on the Pacific coast of Mexico for 2 years. It's something we miss in our desert southwest travels. This time of year the water was still in the 80's and extremely swimmable. Tom even managed a couple of scuba diving excursions off Key Largo in the National Marine Sanctuary. Nancy managed to enjoy her time reading, drinking iced tea and going along for the after-dive seafood dinner. The reefs at 25'-40' below were quite degraded but reef fish seemed abundant, even an occasional ray, nurse shark and barracuda made guest appearances.
(Cruise ships leave Miami harbor off Miami Beach)

Also spent a day exploring the nearby Everglades National Park...the "River of Grass" which flows from Lake Ockechobee 50 miles wide, a few feet deep and for 80 miles to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The predominant vegetation appears to be sawgrass, a razor wiry sharp grass interspersed with hardwood hammocks of native mahogany and bald cypress. And, of course lots of water birds and the ubiquitous alligator. It was a wonderful day of sunshine and fleecy clouds, short, self guided hikes. This time Tom went solo as Nancy continues to convalesce from a torn achilles tendon and related conditions. Plus, she didn't want to be the mosquito trap she usually is in some place reknowned for flying pests such as these wetlands...even in the dry season. We find in our travels and with our close quarters that sometimes a day apart is a cherished event...especially when one likes to "see everything" and the other would like to "sit, relax and savor" especially with an iced tea and a good book.

Even with all this, our on the road life still requires trips to hardware stores for repair items, the grocery, Costco, as well as conducting general maintenance, washing the car/RV, doing the wash, sweeping and cleaning the homespace and just daily activities...we just feel so fortunate to do these tasks in different parts of the country with the opportunity to visit some great locations. Happy trails for now...off to central Florida and to the other end of the state...nearly 700 miles from Miami to Pensacola! At our rate that's a long drive and only the beginning. Happy trails from Loxahatchee!