Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hello 2013!

Starting the new year off with long time friends, is the best way!  We left Northern California filled with family love that we hope will keep us warm throughout the next few months and traveled south to Los Angeles where we met up with our long time friends who now live in Beverly Hills.  What a sight we must have been...driving this 35' motorhome with our little Toyota truck toad through the posh streets of Beverly Hills!  We passed Mercedes, Jaguars, Bentley's, et al as we traversed the streets getting to the spot where we were going to be parking our rig while we stayed at what we lovingly call the "Venet Inn".  We love it there, as with all of our friends, it's like coming home again.  We don't do much of anything, and that's just the way we like it.  Soaking in the So Cal sun, relaxing, laughing and sharing stories.

We did take a couple of side trips, one to the Ronald Reagan Library.  Very nicely done.  Lots to see with stories to read and hear.  They even had a nice peace of the Berlin wall.  Ronald Reagan was good friends with Walt Disney, so they had a special exhibit that covered Disney's life as well.  They had the Presidential plane that we got to board as well, that was kind of fun, probably the only time we will ever be aboard one, so had our picture taken!

I always love to go shopping with Sheila when I'm there because she takes me to some fun, "Beverly Hills" stores that I can ooh and aah over.  Jack loves it, because he knows it's stuff I'll never buy, but get such a kick out of just looking!  We went to the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery to see where some of the famous stars are buried.  Marilyn Monroe had lots of flowers and kisses at her site, as did many others.  I'd been before, but it was new to Jack, so he had fun discovering some of his favorites like Natalie Woods & Bob Crane.  I personally loved one that wasn't famous, but had a great sense of humor of a psychic that did readings for $5!

Not to over-stay our welcome, we headed on down to San Diego.  I've always thought it would be so cool to stay at one of the campgrounds on Mission Bay, so we booked ourselves in for the week.  It was "cool" in more ways than one, but it was a great location for us to get to various Dr & Dentist apts. and see our SD friends.  No matter that you are on "an adventure" you still have to have the basic "stuff" attended to.  Oh well, it was all good, so that's now done for awhile at least!

 After a week in Mission Bay, we moved north to Escondido to catch up with all our friends at that end.  One of our dear friends opened up their guest house for us while we stayed beautiful, I'm not sure I want to leave again!  Such generosity while our rv & truck get their tune ups! 

I've felt like a broken record as I've answered the same questions over and over again as we have had the joy of visiting our various friends and relatives.  I'm also going to have to go on a strong diet when we leave because of all the lunches, dinners and glasses of wine I've engaged in!  It's been a friend frenzy, but so great to see so many of our friends and family, to catch up, get hugs and carry the love of their friendship with us as we travel on.
There's just nothing like it and we are blessed to have it.


...kicking back in California,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Full Circle...

It's really hard for me to believe that it's been a full year since Jack and I started out on this adventure of ours, but it has!  Wow.  One year ago we bought our rv, sold our home, put our things in storage, and set out on the adventure of a life long dream.

We drove 17,551 miles through 38 states adding New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Canada to the list.  We spent $9,990 on gas and stayed in 78 campgrounds, for a total of $6,171.24.  That included full hook-ups (water, elec. sewer & cable).  We only boondocked a couple of times, once at a friend's farm for a few days (until the mosquitoes were to much for me!) and once in the parking lot of CampingWorld that was due to do maintenance on the rv the next morning.  Just never did the "Walmart thing". 

We met all kinds of fun people, from archaeologists to  musicians from infants to folks in their 90s; students to retirees; hitch-hikers to million dollar rv drivers.  Friendly folk who cheerfully invited us over to enjoy their fire to fancy folk who keep to the more elite class of motorhome people.  We made some nice friendships that we hope will last a long time, and missed the ones we left back home.  We visited friends and family that we hadn't seen in years with promises to do so more often.

We learned more about this great nation of ours than we ever did in school.  We saw and enjoyed more beauty than we ever did from movies or books.  We smelled more flowers and felt more sunshine and rain than we had in a long time.  I saw robins & bluebirds and fireflies for the first time.  We saw (rare) black squirrels and alligators too!  The sunrises and sunsets never stopped being a joy to watch, beginning or ending our day with such beauty.

Beautiful nature was everywhere.  Waterfalls, rock formations that boggled the imagination, rolling hills, huge mountains, plants and tall trees in every color, deep blue lakes and ocean with white soft sandy beaches filled with shells.  Even the sky was different depending on where you were.  Some nights there were so many stars that you could hardly see the black sky.  And the lightening storms!  Loud thunder, crackling bolts of white light flashing across the sky, one after another with sheets of such heavy rain you couldn't see across the street.  What an experience it was to be in a summer storm in the south!  Then there was the wind...driving across a clear open road with no buildings or mountains, nothing to slow the wind down, and it's blowing 50+ mph!  After we pulled into a campground and hunkered down, we learned that it toppled over several semi trucks further down road.

Such great experiences, everyone of them.  Listening to musicians playing everything from "old timey music" to jazz to gospel.  Watching each one play with their heart as well as with their instruments.  Watching folks dance, full of energy, "flat-footing" and the Lindy, square dancing as well as other local style of "barn dancing".  We ate some wonderful regional foods too.  We learned the differences of Bar-B-Que (all of them good!), tasted hush puppies, and even learned to like crawdads!  Jack had some of the best Mexican food ever in San Antonio (which he doesn't normally like), and we laughed a lot about the southerners adding "gravy" to theirs in Tennessee!  It was great to be able to eat straight from the farm fruits & vegetables as we drove along some of the back roads.  It was even fun to guess "what they were growing" as we passed field after field of "something green".  (Soy beans almost had me stumped) We discovered frozen custard and next to the wonderful french Beignets of New Orleans, decided there is no other dessert that can match them!

We had a ball seeing how things were made.  We all get disgusted at seeing the "made in China" label on the bottom of so many products, well I'm here to tell you that America still makes a lot of wonderful things!  Baseball Bats, Braille Machines, Harley Davidson, Toyota Cars, Crayola Crayons, Coca Cola, lots & lots of candy, beautiful glassware from Traffic Lights to Chandeliers, Fire Engines, Zippo Lighters, Hallmark Cards, and Motorhomes.  Were the home of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Tabasco Sauce, Buffalo Wings, the Charleston Tea Plantation, Ringling, Barnum & Bailey Circus, and QVC.  We enjoyed seeing shop after shop filled with hand made local items from wooden clocks to glass beads, from cloth dresses to beautiful art.  There seemed to be no limit to the creativity and abundant talent all around us.  Jack was just happy that our "little home" couldn't fit much of it in! 

What we learned from all of this was that we are not ready to stop just yet.  We still have 10 states we haven't even stepped foot in, so to speak, and several more that we just wheezed by that we want to spend some quality time in.  This past year we wanted to see as much as we could, so traveled pretty fast.  This year we want to slow it down a bit and spend more time enjoying our surroundings, nature, and the people around us.  More State and National Parks, more time to ride our bikes and kicking back reading the box of books we still have with us.

I would like to continue to write, but am thinking of making some changes.  What do you think, dear readers?  What would you like?  I could use some feedback...more detail, less?  I was thinking maybe more detail on the campgrounds in case anyone wanted to go there?  Or more about my personal journey?  Or? I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

 ...kicking back in California,  Marie

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home for the Holidays...

Spending Christmas in northern CA with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson has become a tradition we enjoy.  This year was especially exciting because it brought us "full circle" from our adventure that we embarked upon at this time last year.

California welcomed us with sunshine and views of green rolling hills and beautiful Mt Shasta covered with snow.  The drive was easy considering others were also en route for the holidays, but seemed to drag on forever as we were anxious to be with our family.

Two glorious weeks went by way to fast.  The first week my grandson (who is almost 4) was still in preschool, so I got to spend a day "observing".  That actually was a lot of fun!  He is in a Montessori school this year, so it was very interesting and amusing to watch the children take out various projects to work on with numerous components, and once completed, putting them all back without the teacher "reminding" them to (like at home).  I was even served a nice tea by two of the students!  Lovely.  Later that week, Our little man completed enough tasks at home to earn the "Bat Cave" he had been desperately wanting for weeks.  He was so excited he could hardly stand it.  The fact that he had earned it was even better, making it his Bat Cave!  That was the beginning of the marathon of hours and hours of Super Hero play between he and anyone who would play with him, which most of the time, was me.  ;-)  I kept running out of the proper expressions like "holy strawberries Batman! We're in a jam!"

The special Elf on the Shelf (aka Holly & joined by his friend Jolly) joined in on the Christmas fun this year.  Evidently, "Elf on the Shelf" has been quite the thing this year with children.  Playing around while they are sleeping, but "watching" while they are awake, to report back to Santa before Christmas Eve.  Lucian is just at the right age to believe in all the wonderment of the season, so our "house elves" were quite fun.  They even had a bit of "advise" to share with him when his actions of the day needed to be addressed a bit.  Each morning our little guy would dash out of bed and run to see where his two elves were and what they had been up to the night before.  It started each day off with a chuckle. 

Christmas soon arrived and was filled with all the laughter and glee that one hopes for.  I got such a kick out of watching Lucian open each present, very slowly then attempting to play with it, not even thinking about all the rest of the packages still waiting to be unwrapped!  He soon got into the rhythm and made a great "mailman" as he called it as he passed out every one's packages.  Afterwards, like all children, he took great pleasure in kicking and tossing all the ripped paper and boxes!  Tradition continued with my daughter and I in making the simple crepes my mother (and her mother before her) made for breakfast.  My son Aaron even sent me a picture & text showing me that he had fixed some too, even tho he was in Texas!  It made my heart smile.

Fun activities were tucked in here and there as well.  We did an all-family outing to see the new Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3-D movie that was a great success with all of us enjoying it thoroughly.  We also had the opportunity to visit the NASA AMES Exploration Center, where Lucian showed me all around and how he is going to go to Mars someday and grow carrots.  We got to see a film about the recent Mars landing along with various exhibits that we could touch and look into.  Very fun.  My daughter and I got to have a special night out together.  First we went to "officially" purchase her new washer & dryer.  They had already picked them out, now came the time to do the actual buying!  That completed, we went to the theater and bought tickets to see Les Miserables.  It wasn't due to come on for another 90 min. so we went to a tequila bar nearby and shared a Margarita, chips & salsa by a nice heater and listened to live music.  Lovely.  We had seen the play together, so had wanted to see the movie together too.  Special night.  Lots of laughter and love = good memories to cherish.  I even got some lovely time with my daughter's friends.  First, tea with her neighbor and then a lovely Christmas Eve gathering.

It seems like every holiday family gathering has to have a hiccup or two as well, so did ours.  Both grandson and daughter have been enjoying running and have entered a few 5k/1k runs.  They had signed up for one to do while we were in town so we could watch and cheer them on.  The run location was a bit of a drive away and very early, so we left at o'dark early.  Once checked in, it was a matter of waiting for the start time, and so a hope for a short nap.  It was raining, cold & windy.  Not what you would call a lovely day.  Top that with an antsy little boy, who just couldn't settle down, mix it with a mom who was tired and what you get is a recipe for failure.  The decision to "go home and forget the race" was made after a lot of tough thought.  Later in the week, the very old plumbing started to show their age.  It seems they do this more in the winter, and more so this winter than ever.  They continued to back up and cause poor Seth (and Alissa) awful, messy work again and again.  It was time to call the plumber and talk about new pipes.  Oh the joys of "home ownership".  Ugh. 

Alas, the time to leave finally had to always does.  One thing I learned tho, was that I can't go a whole year again without visits, so this coming year there will be some short trips (some probably flights) back for the much needed and loved hugs and giggles.  There's nothing quite like it...  

...on the road in California,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: