Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Steve & Carol

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Hi Dear Friends!

Our son Stephen is doing great in CNC machining school in Norman, OK and will graduate julie and stephen crop smallerin May. He is thrilled to have a new girlfriend, Julie, and we are so happy for him. In December he had laser surgery on his eyes so he is ecstatic about ditching his eyeglasses after 20 years.

Our daughter Teddi and her fiance Nick moved to CElm Street apt may 2010anberra, Australia in June to start exciting new adventures in life. Nick has a scholarship for PhD studies at the Australian National University. They would love for you to follow them on Facebook. We are so proud of them both. We miss them terribly.

 Parent Update:

2011 has been a busy and happy year for us – a big improvement over 2009 and 2010, when we lost our entire photo studio to someone who declared bankruptcy. We are still getting over that.

We got the house back in December of 2009 and worked 17 months to resell it. April 29, 2011 was the happiest day of our lives! It was also a day of joy for the buyer, a lovely young couple from Oklahoma City. They were thrilled to get exactly the house they wanted for a great price.

In June we were able to leave town for good. We drove north to Omaha, Nebraska and got into the middle of serious flooding on the rivers there. We were delighted to overlap our RV friends Mike and Julie Swain, who were in town for the birth of their first grandchild.

We drove to Milwaukee and spent a month with Carol’s sister  Sharon and Gordy Hinrichs, Mike Powell, and all the extended family. We parked BessyBus in their front yard and made a few dents.It IMG_0648 retwas wonderful to spend that time with them. IMG_0645

 

After Milwaukee we headed due west across the great plains for our first full time travel adventure. Our itinerary for 2011 makes us  feel very spoiled. It’s like we are on a permanent vacation that never ends.  We are so grateful for this happy time together.  We balance driving with resting, and touring, so we don’t get too worn out.

Here’s our 2011 itinerary:

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Jan – Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix 

OU Norman Sooners – 48

U Conn Huskies – 20

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We spend a lovely afternoon in Tucson, hiking with my cousin Kaye Ronsman and mate Kathy Phelan at Saguaro Nat. Park.

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Yuma, Arizona  – gettin it on with our Escapee Friends. We park our RV’s in a circle on BLM desert land and dry camp for two weeks, enjoying the company of our dear RV family away from home. We share dinner each nite and tell lies around a big campfire.

 

IMG_9247Los Elgondones, Mexico – paradise for reasonable dental work, eyeglasses and prescriptions. 

 

 

 

 

Parker, AZ – the stunning blue Colorado River flows through a stark, barren landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Parker 425 – desert dune buggy races in “trophy trucks”57AU5174

 

 

Feb – Las Vegas, Hoover Dam

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Valley of Fire State Park, northeast of Vegas

 

Sedona, AZ

March – Shawnee, OK  – I get to play tennis and spend time with family and friends in Shawnee and Norman.

June – Omaha

 July – Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells

Mt. Rushmore, SD

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Crazy Horse

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July 28 – Devel’s Tower, WY

 Aug 1 – We stop at Billings, MT to spend a couple days with our dear Escapee Friends, Jim and Sandie Dixon. They give us the royal treatment. They buy a new 5th wheel and we get to see it first! I can’t find a shot of Sandie and me but here’s one I love of Steve and Jim sharing a good belly laugh.

August – Glacier National Park and Waterton, Canada

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Two Medicine Lake, Glacier

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  famed “Going to the Sun Road” thru Glacier 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ceremonial powwow of Blackfoot/feet Indians, Browning, MT

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I heard munching outside my window and snapped this shot to prove a herd of cows went strolling through our RV park.

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Coeur d’alene, ID – Steve’s 10.5’ inflatable Sea Eagle boat that he keeps in the bed of our Dodge Dakota crew cab 4×4 truck. It’s more efficient but we sure do miss our Trailblazer.

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 August 20 –The wedding of our nephew, Patrick Dwyer, and his lovely bride Maria Cuenca, in Seattle

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The Three Dwyer Kids – Paul, Karen and Steve

 

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Paul’s 29’ Carver “Scooter” is parked at Fisherman’s Terminal, Seattle. Paul is the consummate fisherman, crabber, squidder, der duckener.IMG_3054

Sept – Fort Flagler, WA – Paul and  Dee spend one week each summer on the Olympic Penninsula at the tip of Marrowstone Island living in a quaint army barracks. They cook loads of crab and salmon, sing, dance, preach, hike, fish, scuba dive, and make wonderful memories. After hearing about this for 20 years, we were finally able to share Ft. Flagler with them this year.

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Paul outside the Barracks at Flagler

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Row of Army buildings from a bygone era. Ft. Flagler had a battery of cannons to protect Puget Sound and Seattle.

 

beautiful curving seashore leads to Flagler lighthouse

 

 

 

 

Sept/ Oct – Seattle, Mt. Ranier, Pike Place, Music Experience, Space Needle

 And Olympic Penninsula – Port Townsend/Sequim/Neah Bay/Forks, WA

View of Mystic Bay from the front porch of Nordland General Store across the street. Our bus is parked nearby. We stayed at Smitty’s RV and made lovely new friends, Lynn and Smitty.

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whale watching cruise out of Port Townsend

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Cutie Pie at the Wooden Boat Show, Port Townsend2011-09-14 10.26.04 crop tiny

 

Joyce, WA – we met up with childhood friend Kathy Flanagan Moore from Robbins St., Seymour, WI, and our friend Sister Mary.  2011-09-14 10.57.33 small 

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Dream breakfast at a rustic cabin looking out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca! 

 

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 The morning windowlight was a luminous silver.

Oct – Carol’s 45th class reunion, Seymour, WI

Cousin Doug and Rosie take me in overnight at their lovely home in DePere. Doug just got a fancy new Canon 60d camera and is going crazy with it.

 

 

 Nov – Its winter now and we need to head south. Miraculously, it does not snow right along the Pacific coast. We are driving south along Hwy 101 and the scenery is indescribably beautiful.IMG_7767 

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Some people say they wouldn’t bring thIMG_7592eir bus on 101 because it’s too curvy or hilly. We did not find that at all. The road is smooth and new and the best drive of our lives. Once you are here, you cannot turn inland or you will run into the Cascade Mountains which would be life threatening for a big RV in the winter. The steep grades are scary enough in the summer, but slick with ice, snow and white outs in the winter.

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Murals at Old Town along the bay front, at Newport, OR. Beautiful murals are common all along the Oregon coast.

We buy whole, live crab right off the boat for $5 each. Steve learned how to clean them from brother Paul. Crab cakes! Crab omelettes! Crab stuffed tomatoes! Crab Louie!

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Real fishermen at Charleston, OR get their crab pots ready for winter season.

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Loud, sassy Stellar Sea Lions barking up a storm at Crescent City, a block from our bus. We both heard barking in the nighttime and thought we were dreaming it.

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Google the heart-warming story of the Mary D. Hume, the only steamer that worked for almost 100 years. She rests in the very spot where she was built, at the mouth of the Rogue River, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Would make a great movie. 

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We feel like we are cheating to be this far north in the month of December without any winter weather. The natives think it’s cold here, but for Oakies its lovely and mild. Daytimes are sunny and 50-60 degrees. Nights get down to 40.

 

 

 We have toured every town on the Pacific coast from Astoria, Washington to Crescent City, CA.

 

Crescent City CA lighthouse

Steve is Mister Spoiled 2011-11-30 14.47.12Rotten at The Mill Casino, Coos Bay. The rate was $30 per night, but only $20 if you took this one spot near the trash, knocked down to $18 for having Passport America, and 7th night free, giving us seven luxurious days for only $15 per night!! “And don’t forget your swimming pool and hot tub key,” she says!  (What?!!) We are enjoying pool, hot tub, casino, four star restaurants, and a shuttle that picks us up at our door and drops us off anywhere in town. Who ever heard of a casino shuttle taking you 25 miles to see the special Christmas lights display in town.?!!IMG_8636

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Christmas lights at Shore Acres State Park on the coast, west of Coos Bay.

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Bessybus at sunset on the coast. Sorry I have to post such tiny files you can’t even see the truck.IMG_9422

We just loved the redwoods, so silent and sacred. These are at Jedediah Smith State Park.

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 Dec – We pass into California. We are stopped at the state line. A female cop boards the bus and digs through my vegetable draweIMG_9152r. She confiscates all my oranges that were not grown in California. She orders me to go out by the side of the road and peel all my nice oranges. “I just want the peelings for proof,” she said. She suggested I should eat the oranges, not bring them into the state. 

IMG_0406a small We pass through the Napa valley on hwy 128 (bad idea!) and arrive in Oakland, CA for Christmas with brother Roger Runnoe, wife Dale, and their young adult kids, Jessie and Jeb. They graciously include us in three whole days of Christmas celebrations! We love our stuffed stockings and many gifts, including tickets to Revels Christmas Pageant in Oakland. This was our first time to meet Jessie and Jeb. Those are two amazing kids.

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We will spend a week touring San Francisco and then we will be back in southern Arizona by Jan 15. Plan to be back in Shawnee/Meeker/Norman, OK by March, 2012.

I am sad that I could not make one blog entry for each day of our travels. When we return home around 6 pm, it takes me two hours to process the photos, not because I have so many, but because my software and computer have slowed down to a crawl. Then it takes me two hours to write the words, even though the message is short, I compulsively rewrite until I feel it is polished. Then I open the blog and it takes two more hours just to upload the words and a few photos. As a result, it is six hours of effort for one teeny post. I know my friends are guffawing at me as they read this, because their blog entries take only 15 minutes. Jeri Williams finally got me to download Windows Live and I am using it for the very first time tonight on this long post. It works much better than posting directly into WordPress, because the photo upload has a slow two-step process. In Windows Live it is a simple drag and drop.

Uploading also takes me longer than people in houses because my internet is a Hughes satellite dish on the roof with an average upload speed of 900 kilobytes per second.

I hope to speed up in 2012 so I can post a short one every day.

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Steve and Carol Dwyer

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“I left my heart. . . .in San Francisco.”

High on a hill, it calls to me. . .

to be where little cable cars,

climb halfway to the stars,

the morning fog, may chill, the air,

I don’t care.

My love waits there,

in San Francisco

above the blue

and windy sea.

When I come home to you

San Francisco

your golden sun

will shine

for me.”

Crescent City CA & the Giant Redwoods


Jedediah Smith State Park – Dec 20, 2011

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When it’s December in the Pacific Northwest you might easily face grey drizzle for eight days straight. Or ten, twelve. Just pick a number. So if you open your eyes in the morning and see brilliant blue blue sky, you smile and actually moved to leap straight up out of bed. Make the most of this day! And if today is the day you are going to walk among the giant red redwoods of northern California, well, you fairly explode upwards out of bed!

“Daylight’s a wastin’, Big Steve!”

We’re too eager to pause for breakfast cereal. Big Steve makes the coffee. We grab it and go. Why is it that the coffee always tastes better when somebody else makes it?!

We pulled into Crescent City,Ca, late yesterday afternoon and it gets so dark around here so early around. So you don’t have much driving time if you get up at 10 am, get on the road by noon, and have to get off the road again at 4. Yes, we’re shameful, we know it. We can hear all you 6 am early birds scolding us . . .blah blah blah. We are actually stupid to stay up til 2 am because what is the point of being up in the DARK hours?!  And being sound asleep in the SUNNY hours. We are trying to shift our schedule, I promise. Last night we had to watch Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Whatever, and we didn’t even start the movie til 11 pm.

It gets dark here early because a) it’s December and b) we are so much further north than we were in Oklahoma, and it really makes a difference to our internal clocks!

After arriving yesterday we took off in our truck to explore Crescent City,CA, but we only had 2 hours and the whole town was wrapped in thick, heavy fog. All I got before dark were a few shots of harbor seals in fog, and a couple redwoods in fog. These are strictly novelty shots for beauty or mood. You really can’t see much. So last night I was praying for sunshine.

This morning we are so excited to see the brilliant sun. We grab our coffee and camera and take off to see the giant redwoods. Our first problem is, we don’t know where they are. We head for Tourism office, but on the way we are detoured by the sound of barking seals in the ocean just two blocks away.

That reminds me! We both woke up laughing this morning and scratching our heads because we both heard the distinct sound of seals barking in our dreams last night. It was fun, but this morning we realize it was real! The harbor is two blocks from our bus, and a big herd of Stellar seals are permanent residents there, lollygagging about day and night. They don’t bat a whisker when humans line up to take their picture.aIMG_9312

When we arrived at the seals I was excited to see the morning sun turning their coats a coppery brown. Yesterday in the fog they were solid black. I pressed the shutter and nothing happened! Darn, my camera battery is back in the bus on the charger. Haste makes waste. We have to run back home for the battery.

When I put the battery in and turn the camera on, it acts like I just put a new SD card in,and it asks me, “Do you want to format (erase) this SD card?”  I immediately press YES out of pure muscle habit, without even thinking. So there goes all the fog shots I took last night. They are all erased, gone. I have never done this before! I don’t know why the camera asked me that question when I put a battery in, not a card.

So now I am determined to re-shoot what I lost. At least seals look prettier in the sun – many things actually look better in shade or soft light.aIMG_9301

After re-shooting the seals, we turn around and see, on the opposite side of the jetty, a beach with crashing waves and a dozen surfers. Woo-hoo! Well, it’s Saturday. That’s why they’re all out! I can’t leave without shooting them. The sun is directly in front of my lens so it’s silhouettes only, but I get some cool shots.

Big Steve is sitting on a log enjoying his coffee while I’m shooting surfers. A little Hispanic boy about 8 runs up to my camera. He is entranced. I am delighted by how smart he is and want to show him. He immediately wants to shoot my picture. I tell him to shoot big Steve instead. I stand right next to him while he holds my $2,400 Canon 5d Mark II body with a massive, old 80-300 mm telephoto lens on it. He makes the shot like a pro. Again he wants to shoot me. Okay, let’s gamble. I crouch down next to his 4 year old sister and he gets the shot of the two of us. I run over to grab the camera and that little girl cuts in front of me and knocks the camera down into the sand. I am horrified. I spent the next 30 minutes cleaning it. It could have been a lot worse. It landed on the top right corner and didn’t get sand on the barrel. No more nice. Never never again.

We try again for redwoods but get distracted by their lighthouse. It’s a cutie. In order to get there, you have to walk across a ten foot driveway that is underwater during high tide. You can only visit this lighthouse during low tide, and even then you have to wade across 6” of water. How fun is that. All their visitors must have wet feet! In winter they are only open on weekends. I want to make pictures of the lighthouse at twilight because it is decorated for Christmas.IMG_9651 ret @200

Finally we make it to the tourism office and they are closed on Saturday. Can you believe that?! No brochures outside either. It dawns on me that every restaurant in town must have brochures, so we stop for brunch and maps.

By 2:30 we are on our way to the giant redwoods of Jedediah Smith State Park, just three miles east of town.  You drive your vehicle along a narrow, curving seven mile path. Not a road, but a car path. It’s not gravel, it’s not dirt. It’s a path of redwood needles compressed solid over time, a silent, firm, soft, beautiful car path.

The minute you start seeing these behemoth redwood titans all around you, your jaw drops and stays dropped. They are as tall as a football field, as big around as a Volkswagon, one more stupendous than the next. You squeal like a kid at Christmas. The first time you get out of your car, you are dumbstruck by a profound silence like you have never experienced before. You don’t hear a bird. You don’t hear a plane. You walk on the path but you don’t hear your feet. The silence has an actual weight to it.  What a profound, spiritual experience, this cathedral of silence hosted by your friends the giant redwoods.

IMG_9422 IMG_9500When you look staight ahead, all you can see is the bottom layer of the forest, one giant tree trunk after another, nesting in acres of giant ferns. The tree trunks are solid grey.The ferns are intense green. The pathways winding through the forest are a rusty red orange. The trees love the ferns and the ferns love the trees. Dead trees are strewn horizontally across the ground with their roots flipped up sideways, making giant pie plates two stories tall. We marvel at what shock of nature could have caused such a cataclysm – not fire, not lightning. Maybe erosion, or earthquake. Or maybe the tree just got old and died a natural death. Many of the trees have black scars around their base, branded by long ago forest fires. New trees sprout from the dead “nursery” logs. Moss covers over all and time marches on. You feel the weight of time upon your shoulders. Hundreds and thousands of years are compressed into one short day by these old souls. You are an insignificant ant intruding within their ageless, timeless sanctuary. You keep looking for grazing dinosaurs to come out from behind these trees.

The smell of the forest is very quixotic. The air is so fresh and clean and easy to breathe. Perhaps it’s all the oxygen. But you can also smell the pungence of mushrooms coming from all that moss and moisture. And it’s really dark down here in the bottom of the forest. You check your watch to see if the sun is setting, but it’s only 3 pm. So then you look up, and up, and up, trying to find the tops of these trees. You start to get vertigo and tip over backwards. Your neck does not bend that far. Finally you see a little bit of sky way up there, mingled with green tree tops. You realize its still midday up there. You marvel at how flimsy these little green tree toppers are. How can such colossal trunks can get by with such teensy hats of foliage?!

.Today I learned that “Sequoia” and “Redwood” are pretty much interchangeable. They can live 2000 years. They are the tallest and the oldest living species to grace the earth. A few of them have reached 450 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter. In the 1850’s there were about 2,100,000 acres of giant redwoods thriving in a damp, temperate rain forest that once extended from Los Angeles to Alaska. Our short-sighted nineteenth century ancestors, greedy for cheap, beautiful lumber, cut down 96% of all redwoods before a few conservationists staved off catastrophe by starting the “Save the Redwoods League” in 1918. This makes me so sad.  It took nine more years for California to establish the state parks that now protect a good chunk of the remaining 4% of acres. 4% left!

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