Journey to Capture BessyBus 2 – Chapter 4

Fri Oct 3
Overlapping Escapee friends

We drive 20 miles north to Orem, UT to meet Escapee friends Mike & Debby “Coldsmoke.” We eat at Joe’s Crab Shack and see movie “The Judge.” Mike & Deb lived for 30 years near Denali, AK, and their kids are still there. After retiring they hit the RV trail in the lower 48. What an exciting life they have lived. Their only problem is the great expense of getting back to see family and grandkids!

Sun Oct 5
The Spectacle of Temple Square, Salt Lake City

We find ourselves parked at the front entrance to the Mormon Temple Square grounds in downtown Salt Lake City at 10 am. The four acre grounds are covered with shade and grass, fountains and beautiful buildings. Hundreds of followers are camped out on blankets, having a fine Sunday morning family outing. They are eating, drinking, and listening to a sermon on the loudspeaker.

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While shooting pictures, I am greeted warming by cheerful teenagers working in pairs. I don’t know how they picked me out of the crowd, just because I am the only female wearing shorts on Sunday morning.

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 They could have resented me for intruding in their world, but instead they chat me up sweetly and gently start to convert me. It’s assertive hospitality and effective marketing. Hey, you old standby religions should take a lesson from this playbook. I am also surprised by the high percentage of Koreans and Hispanics here, many are speaking English as a second language

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Iconic Salt Lake Temple, site of the coveted wedding sealing ceremonies.

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Salt Lake Temple and other LDS buildings, viewed from tenth floor of Joseph Smith building.

The Latter Day Saints have two required-attendance General Conference events per year, and we have lucked into one of them. There must be 5000 cars parked in the lots nearby. Dozens of police are taking up positions at street corners to handle the dreadnaught of traffic and pedestrians about to explode out of their gynormous conference center. We are at the ground zero spot on ground zero day of ground zero month. What luck! All the men wear black suits, white shirts and conservative ties. The women are fashionably dressed in long skirts, but many of the younger ones look quite sexy in tight skirts and 4″ heels.

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At the moment service lets out we are on the tenth floor viewing area of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, with a stunning view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center. Attendees are pouring out of a door on the second floor and flowing downward on ramps – S shaped ramps going in two directions. This exodus lasts for fifteen minutes, an unbelievable river of humanity. It was a privilege to see.

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Endless stream of faithful pouring out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center on Sunday morning. This shows only half of the exodus. There is an idential ramp on the right side, not shown.

 

Tue Oct 7
Provo Surgical Trick

This morning I have lip surgery for non-serious squamous cell cancer, and this is the reason we came to Provo. It’s very annoying but its good not to be dead.  I thought they would cut off a little circle where the scab was. Instead the doctor cuts away my entire bottom lip surface! Then he pulls the inside out and sews it shut to make a new bottom lip. Shocking! I did not sign up for this. I get meds and go home to bed.  About 9 pm, an RV blogger named “RV Cruzer” posts his RV for sale on the Tiffin Owner’s Form Classified.

 

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Should I delete this photo? It’s awful but fascinating. Many people have skin cancer at one time or another, but some locations are more disfiguring than others.

 

Wed Oct 8
Our life changes

This morning we are discussing where to spend the rest of our warm fall days. We are thinking Yosemite, which has to be less insane after school starts. Steve gets a cup of coffee and opens his laptop to read his favorite blogs. Immediately he discovers Cruzer’s post. It is for our exact dream bus, one we have shopped for five years with no luck. It is very reasonably priced too! We spend an hour wringing our hands and checking our finances. We must make the leap before someone else grabs it, which they surely will. We send an offer by email.

(Why this bus was so hard to find – see additional article that specifies our specific specifications. Haha. Actual title, “Specifications of BessyBus 2 – Our Dream Bus”)

Thu Oct 9

Cruzer calls us back with a counter offer.
We close the sale and make a deposit by credit card.

All our other travel plans are done for. Thus begins our odyssey to take possession of our new home and sell our old one. We make a plan to drive to Yuma first and leave our old bus there because there are more buyers in southern Arizona in the winter. Also, we stayed here before at the modest RiverFront RV Park and know that there is a perfect spot to park (“dry camp’) our old bus until we can sell it. We call ahead and the owner agrees to put our old bus right near our new one and only charge $75 per month until it sold. We will save $30,000 by selling it ourselves instead of trading it in to a dealer. But this way is more scary and complicated, and we will have to get a loan to tide us over.

Today we decide to make one last outing as tourists here. We drive up into the mountains on Nebo Loop Road (FR015) south of Provo, going past 11,929 ft. Mt. Nebo, highest point in the Wasatch range. We are savoring spectacular views, drop-offs, s-curves and Aspens at their peak. We always take lunch with us.

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Tue Oct 14

Case of the Missing Jalapenos

We can’t leave Provo till my stitches come out. I have an appointment for 1 pm but talk my way into coming at the crack of dawn so we can leave town by 9 am. Or so we thought. Remember those Trappey’s Sweet and Hot Jalapeno’s? We ordered six jars shipped UPS ten days ago from Florida and they’re still not here. We endure a fiasco of phone calls the night before. Amazon is involved, UPS is involved, the shipper is involved, the Elks are involved. One person says they never left Florida, another says en route, a third says “on the truck!” It will cost us $30 to reship these if we don’t connect. At 10 am, we hijack a UPS truck driver in an industrial parking lot and yes, our stinkin’ Trappey’s are on board. Give us our box, sweetie! We are so disgusted we don’t even feel like eating them anymore! But NOW we can leave town! (I am buying these exclamation points! They are twelve for $1!)!!

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Tue Oct 14
Provo to Vegas – 380 mi

The temperature has gone from 60 degrees at Pinedale, Wy to 70 at Provo, to 85 at Las Vegas. We make it here by 4 pm and park at the Clark County Shooting Range and RV Park, recommended by Escapee friends Terry and Jeri. This place is so big and fancy it’s dumbfounding. It is built for international competitions and must have a half mile of trap and skeet shoot stations, each with an RV site.

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Can you count how many skeet shooting stations are here? Goes on to infinity!

Plus multiple rifle and pistol ranges. We are almost the only ones here. We are looking down on the twinkling lights of downtown Vegas. I am riding my bike like a queen. Steve is in a lawn chair drinking Jamison and talking to friends on his cell.

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View of Vegas strip from our bus, downhill and south of Clark County Shooting Range & RV Park

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See Steve far left in his lawn chair with Jamison & cell phone. Drink in that gorgeous sunset over the Las Vegas strip.

 

Wed Oct 15
Las Vegas, Nv to Yuma, Az – 310 mi

I wake up at 3 am thinking about those $500 flights from Yuma to Milwaukee. I check my phone again and find two one way tickets leaving Friday morning for $250 each. Whohoo! I order them on my phone – Oh this modern world!

In the morning we drive south on I-95 through downtown Vegas, past old faithful Binions, past the Stratosphere and new Ferris Wheel, past Sam’s Town on Boulder Highway, and then south out of town. Last chance: Needles, Ca before the endless desert of I-95.

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Look at this crazy wacky road through the desert south of Needles, Ca. on I-95

By late afternoon, we reach our old haunts – Parker and Quartzsite, Az, and finally Yuma, last stop before Mexico.  We pull in to our old familiar RiverFront RV park, pretty whipped. BessyBus says she is home

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This is what we see out the front window of our bus – the cute clubhouse at RiverFront RV Park, Yuma, with old timey 1950’s theme.

While driving, we were also struggling to get our money ducks in a row. We have to get a loan from the Oklahoma state employees Credit Union. We have to sell mutual funds and wire money to our checking account. This is complicated. Some want 48 hours, some want four days. We don’t have much time.

Thu Oct 16
Rats Nest

After three days of phone calls and effort, the deal decides to collapse at the last minute! We are about to lose our airline tickets. The Credit Union has given us a loan, but they refuse to release the funds until they have a signed title in their hands by overnight shipping. The seller refuses to release the title until he has the funds in hand. It’s a Mexican standoff! Surely we’re not the first people to buy an RV! At the last minute a third wrench is revealed – there is also a large lien on the bus. The lien holder, Bank of the West, wants THREE WEEKS after payment in full before they will send lien release. This is absurd. More appropriate would be one week. Either way, we can’t take possession.

The seller is using an RV dealer for paperwork only. This dealer has been very neglectful – hasn’t even called us once. This morning the seller gets a new RV dealer involved. At the last minute, Brandy Elliot from Youngblood’s RV Center, Mayfield, Ky., COMES TO OUR RESCUE!

At 2 in the afternoon, after the Mexican standoff, Brandy says “I’ll give you a loan! And I’ll release those funds! And I’ll take the risk that the lien release will eventually be released. What a doll! Brandy takes a loan app from us over the phone in ten short minutes. Within one hour she has a loan for us from a bank!!! It’s 3 pm Mountain time, 4 pm Central, 5 pm Eastern. The banks are closing! That’s how close we came to losing our airline tickets. The loan is with CFSB Bank, Benton, Ky. They even have better interest and longer term than our old credit union!

Brandy overnights a bunch of papers to the seller’s home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, so it will be there on Sunday morning for us to sign. Then SHE carries the risk that – not only will the lien be released when she pays them off — but the other funds from our checking account will also be wired to her on Monday morning. She has talked to our local banker and knows that those funds aren’t even in our account yet! But our banker vouched for us (Sue at Vision Bank, Shawnee, OK) and Brandy believes her. What fantastic trust. What great people.

We both have grey hairs over this situation but the deal is back on and sealed by 5pm Eastern closing time. We can actually breathe again and pack our bags. We never know what time it is in Yuma because Arizona doesn’t spring forward or back. Mexico wraps around us to the south and northwest (weird!)  Also, when we drive due north for groceries, we go through California for one mile and then back into Arizona. If we keep our phones on auto time, springs fly out of them. Also, if you don’t tell ATT to shut off your roaming feature permanently, you will have $2000 per month of international roaming charges.

end of chapter 4

To find Chapter 5, go to top of this page, then click on “Home.”
From Home, scroll down until you come to Chapter 5.

Journey to Capture BessyBus 2 – Chapter 5

Fri 10-17
Yuma to Milwaukee.

Oh the irony of a perfect bus! We would have flown/driven anywhere in the US to pick this thing up, but it appeared 30 miles from my sister Sharon’s house. My sissy sweetly picked us up at the airport, gave us a ride home, fed us, and insisted we sleep in her bed while she and Gordy took the guest bedroom. I tried my best to talk her out of it. The next morning we intended to rent a car but she insisted we use hers for the weekend. And how about this – on this weekend, Enterprise Rent-A-Car costs $200 per day from the airport, or $30 per day if you rent from elsewhere in the city.

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Carol and Steve with sister Sharon & hubby Gordy at their 30th wedding anniversary surprise party, Aug, 2014, Milwaukee, Wi

Sun 10-19
Mequon Wi to Sheboygan, Wi – 25 mi

We drive north from Mequon to meet Mark (“Cruzer”) and his wife Leann at their lovely home in Sheboygan, on Lake Michigan. The fall trees are at their spectacular best. Weathered old farms and fancy new ones dot I-43 along the way. When we turn the corner onto his dead end street, we see our bus down at the other end, facing us, surrounded by golden fall foliage. It is a beautiful sight.

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Mark, Leann, and their 100-pound German Shepherd, Dakota, greet us warmly.

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Sellers Mark and Leann, (www.rvcruzer.com) meet Steve and Carol – who bought their bus in 24 hours, sight unseen.

Mark is a nationally known RV expert. He did many upgrades to this bus over the years, and blogged about it thoroughly at www.rvcruzer.com. Because we had seen so many pictures of it, and knew the upgrades to it, and Mark’s reputation, we felt we knew this bus head to toe. This is the only bus in the country we would have or could have ever bought sight unseen.

As soon as the handshakes are over, and before I can even peek inside my new home, Steve and Mark begin reviewing the outside of the bus. Mark thoughtfully gives me a movie camera so I can follow along and record every aspect of owning and managing this bus. How brilliant was that!

During this shakedown tour, we encounter many more lovely “fringe benefits” we didn’t know about, such as a Corian backsplash added to the wall behind the bathroom sink, which had been wood before. I whisper to Steve, “Seventh heaven!” We go inside to sign the paperwork. The bus is ours. They hand us the keys to drive it home. But there’s a catch. We need driving insurance. We called Blue Sky on Thursday and didn’t hear back from them while we were flying on Friday. On Saturday they were closed. Now it’s Sunday. We tell Cruzer we must go back home without our bus and return Monday morning. We’re not sad after all because we’ve been pretty much in shock this whole time, and driving off with it would be just too much. They send us off with a loaf of freshly baked bread hand made by Leann with non GMO Einkorn wheat from Europe. It was the best bread I’ve ever had in my life. Leann grinds the wheat herself. Amazing, Leann!

Mon 10-20

Quck! Get some insurance!

We leap out of bed (just kidding) and secure the insurance within 30 minutes. Got big plans today! We figure out that we must email it to my sister so she can print it out for us. She drives us back to Sheboygan to fetch our BessyBus 2. It was good to have an extra person along to make a picture of the four of us. I was so shook up when we left Yuma at dawn that I forgot my good Canon camera. I have nothing but my Samsung phone to record the moment. Waaah!

Steve starts up the bus and off we go. The sellers stand in their yard, waving and shedding a tear.

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It was shoot through the screen or get no picture at all!

We are looking out this gynormous picture window at glorious yellow red orange Wisconsin fall foliage, something we have not seen in twenty years while living in Oklahoma and Arizona.

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We formerly parked our 40’ bus on sister Sharon’s grassy front yard. But last time we tried, we barely made the turn into the driveway without falling into a ditch. We know with this new 42’ bus that we can never park here again. We get permission from the pastor at Trinity Evan. Lutheran Church on Cedarburg Road to park in his paved lot for a few weekdays. We need to stock this totally empty bus with a few supplies for the 2,027 mile trip home. Leann has thoughtfully given us one roll of toilet paper. What a peach! (In actuality, we drove 2,252.2 miles.)

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Our old bus could make the turn into the driveway and fit in my sister’s yard.

I remembered to put kitchen towels and four pillows in our suitcase, but that was about all.  We had to buy sheets and a blanket, one plate and one glass. We joked that Steve used the left half of the plate and I used the right. It was confusing to be in a home that looks and feels like your normal home, but is not. For example, we bought wine but had no opener. We bought hamburger but had no frying pan.  I gave myself a silly challenge – don’t spend more than $1.98 each for the little stuff  – a paring knive, a fork, a scissors, a waste basket. Some food and paper towels. Our biggest investment was a $39 Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker from Wal-Mart, to stand in for our nice Breville Espresso Maker back home. The $39 machine was a wild animal that liked to explode milk all over the kitchen. We did not tame it or have a decent cup of coffee until we were halfway home.  (One espresso maker for sale, cheap.)

Mon night, 10-20
First night in our new home

Our first night in our new home, sleeping on a new  mattress. The temp drops to 35 in Milwaukee. I wore two sweat shirts and two pairs of pants to go with the skinny Yuma-style blanket I had bought. I froze to DEATH and woke up sick the next morning. The idea of turning the heat up never entered my mind. I’m a danger to myself. The next night we borrowed a quilt from my sister.

Thurs 10-23
Mequon, Wi to Secor, Il – 216 miles

Goodbye loving family. Day One on the road to Yuma in our new 42’ Allegro Bus.  Steve always does all the driving (which is another topic for later). He is using the new in-dash Garmin GPS, which is part of a Kenwood Stereo system, installed by the seller in place of regular AM/FM.  I always navigate from the passenger seat with my Samsung phone on Google maps, which gives us the big picture. You cannot have too much help when knowing which lane to get in for turns.

As Oklahoma residents, we have to get a bus tag in Oklahoma. Luckily it is right on the way to Yuma, and we will also get to spend time with our son Stephen and family.

We are trying to make it to the Bloomington, Il Wal-Mart before dusk but can’t. Steve cannot see well after dark. Luckily we find the Hickory Hill RV Campground east of town and arrive in the nick of twilight. Night One on the road. RVer’s can tell many funny stories of arriving after dark, only to find out the next morning that they are parked dead in the middle of the roadway instead of in a site.

Fri 10-24
Secor, Il to Washington, Mo – 257 mi

Today we will skirt around St. Louis via Hwy 50/I-255. We are avoiding the downtown bottleneck near the arch. Because we don’t have a tow car behind our bus, we cannot go to McDonalds or Albertsons or any small parking lot. The only place we can set this puppy down is in a huge parking lot. In spite of everything Wal-Mart may do wrong, they are very kind (“smart”) to RVer’s. They allow us to park and stay overnight free. We always park in the far corner along the grassy perimeter so we can put one bedroom slide out after dark. (Otherwise you have to climb over your bed to reach your clothes closet.) Then we walk to Wal-Mart to restock our overstocked refrigerator.

It works great. There was a Wal-Mart right on I-44 but Steve drove me an extra 10 miles north to a bigger Wal-Mart that has a mani-pedi department. Guess who got a gel pedicure tonight! Oh look – there’s also a steak restaurant, Colton’s, here in the parking lot. How convenient.

Sat 10-25
Washington, Mo to Claremore, Ok – 334 mi

We’re tracking down I-44 to Norman but have some dear friends parked near Tulsa. It’s right on our way – How could we not stop! We became close friends when parked at the fairgrounds in Norman but didn’t think we’d cross paths again for five years. They were flabbergasted when I texted and said, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” Kevin and Keri travel all over the country in an RV for Kevin’s job as an ironworker, supervising the installation of huge machines for W.R. Grace, Tulsa. Sometimes they have to take the roof off the building to get the machine in. We park next to them at the KOA campground attached to Cherokee Casino and Will Rogers Downs, a new race track. The quarter horses run right past our RV.

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Quarter horses running on saturday at Will Rogers Downs, Claremore OK

We have a lovely burger barbecue and visit. They are shopping for a new bus, so are combing over the details of our purchase.

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Kevin’s high dollar smoker makes our awesome dinner.

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Carol & Keri – what a doll baby.

Sun 10-26
Claremore, Ok to Norman, Ok – 153 mi

We say goodbye at noon and hike down I-44, to Hwy 177, to I-40, stopping at Choctaw road exit to show our new bus to our old friends. Guy and Cindy. They bring us a fresh warm loaf of banana bread. Thank you Cindy! Also we meet up with Wayne and Barbara, photographer friends who are loaning me, and trusting me with, their expensive Canon camera so I can make baby pictures this week. We drive on down Sooner Road to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman, Ok, our old stomping ground, arriving at 3 pm. We find only ONE spot open and it has our name on it. Ironically, this space only opened up because the couple that WAS parked here just left for Tulsa to visit guess who – our mutual friends Kevin and Keri! There is severe shortage of RV parking in Norman since Wal-Mart bought out our only park to build another store. Because of the giant tornado in Moore, Ok in 2013, this area is also overrun with construction workers from all over the U.S. We don’t have a car here so our dear ex-sister-in-law Dee picks us up for dinner. Tomorrow we will see our son Stephen. He is sore and exhausted from a 3-day weekend riding Razor ATV’s with buddies at Little Sahara State Park in western Oklahoma.

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Riding ATV’s at Little Sahara State Park

 END CHAPTER 5

To find Chapter 6, go to top of this page, then click on “Home.”
From Home, scroll down until you come to Chapter 6.

Journey to Capture BessyBus 2 – Chapter 6

This is the last chapter of our 2014 adventure:

Mon Oct 27

Dinner at Scratch Restaurant, Norman, with Stephen II, Julie, and our beautiful new grandchildren – Arjuna and Amina.IMG_7917

 

Tue Oct 28

We borrow “Steeboy’s” truck to drive to Shawnee to visit our bank, our post office, our storage unit. We take flowers to Sue at the bank and send flowers to Brandy at Youngblood’s RV. Years ago, we took two chairs dining chairs out of our first bus and put them in storage. We replaced those rigid torture chairs with two comfy secretarial chairs that recline, adjust, and support arms. It’s time to grab those old chairs, but they have vanished from storage. What were we thinking?!! Luckily, there are two chairs in the new bus we don’t want either. They don’t exactly match the old bus, but who’s checking?!

Wed Oct 29

I do a six-month photo shoot for my great nephew, River Runnoe, assisted by his mommy Jessi.

Jessi and baby River William Runnoe

Jessi and baby River William Runnoe

River Runnoe, 6 mo, 10-23-14

River Runnoe, 6 mo, 10-23-14

Afterward, she cuts and colors my hair. Jessi is a genius artist with hair.

Before Jessi - After Jessi

Before Jessi – After Jessi

Julie, our son Stephen’s wife, cooks a divine dinner for us at their new home. Pork roast, homemade pumpkin soup, wild rice, tender crisp mixed veggies. The tables are turned – the young are cooking for the old. What a feeling! I get to help the kids take a bath and read before bedtime. What a joy. We are sad to be leaving them until next spring.

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Stephen and Julie finally together in their newly remodeled home. Julie is a decorator deluxe!

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World’s luckiest grandma and grandpa with Arjuna, 5 and Amina, almost 4.

Thu Oct 30

Alignment

Steve says the bus has been driving like a giant floating porpoise, so we need it aligned. We had to wait these five days for an opening at DeShields Trucking in the Stockyards section of Oklahoma City. I love the Stockyards. The side streets are home to derelicts and ne’er-do-wells. The main drag is paved with million dollar cowboys and $500 boots for sale. We arrive at 12:30 and are still waiting at 3 pm so we walk one block to the world famous Cattlemen’s Café for late lunch. Steve says it drives a lot better but not as good as Bessy 1.

Fri Oct 31
Norman OK to Paducah, Tx – 224 mi

We can reach Yuma by the northern route, I-40, or the southern route, I-10 through El Paso, or the diagonal crow fly route thru rural Texas.

Cotton picking mosquito looking monster machine, southwest Oklahoma

Cotton picking mosquito looking monster machine, southwest Oklahoma

Well, I-40 is too boring, and Steve hates driving through El Paso. So the crow fly route is our choice, more scenic and less traffic. And as a fringe benefit, it goes right by our dear Escapee friends, Freddy & Delsie in Paducah, Tx. Here we are spending Halloween night enjoying all-you-can-eat a fish fry with Texas farmers at the Double G Restaurant, a remodeled corner gas station in the center of this tiny town. Freddy & Delsie know everybody in the restaurant, but hey – there’s only 10 tables.

Sat Nov 1
Paducah, TX to Artesia, NM, 280 miles

Straight west out of Paducah on 70/62, through Matador, then west to Floydada. The scenery is great on this route, and you feel so close to nature when you are driving on a two lane road, kind of like being on a motorcycle. But we are saddened by each and every small town we come to – from vibrant, humming little metropolises, to death and decay. The main streets are boarded over, the buildings abandoned, all the children have moved away to the big city. At Floydada, turn south on 62 to Ralls, turn west on 82 to Lubbock. Bust through the center of Lubbock on Saturday afternoon, past the big Texas Tech football stadium, and head southwest out of town on 82 to Brownfield, then west on 82 to Plains, where you have a three way choice. Steve picks southwest on 82 to Lovington. Suddenly we are in remote territory with no people. The road gets sketchy – narrow, rough and a bit scary – for the first time. Bad choice, but who knew! We could do research but we didn’t bother. As we push our way west on 82 to Artesia, NM, we drive for a staggering 50-100 miles through a forest of oil pump jacks, “Texas grasshoppers,” pumping as far as the eye can see in all directions. This is the gynormous Permian Basin oil field in west Texas and New Mexico.  We park overnight at the Artesia Wal-Mart.

Sun Nov 2
Artesia NM to Deming NM, 236 miles

On the west side of Artesia, a sign gives you fair warning.

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Steep, dangerous mountains lie 90 miles ahead, and no detour, no way! We’re ready for it. We continue west on Hwy 82 and climb into the gorgeous Sacramento Mountains, driving through the quaint, cool-in-summer tourist town of Cloudcroft, NM, at 9,200 feet. (Google “The Cloud Climbing Railroad.”) By midafternoon, we slide down the mountain’s west side and land in Alamogordo, NM, then continue southwest on I-70 to Las Cruces, NM.

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Driving west out of Las Cruces NM on I-10, we approach the Florida (Flor-IDE-a) Mountains, near Deming.

Now we catch I-10 and stop in Deming, NM to meet up with our dear Escapee friend, I-Y-Q, (I wike you!), at the LoW-Hi RV Park. We are delighted to see another Escapee friend, Denise, and a new friend Margie. IYQ takes us all for dinner at The Adobe Deli, a dimly lit restaurant on the edge out of town. We are seated in the auditorium of an abandoned grade school. This place is a classic Mafia hideaway The food is five star, with nothing for vegetarians.

Scenes from the spooky cool Adobe Deli, Deming NM

Scenes from the spooky cool Adobe Deli, Deming NM

Lightning and thunder kill all the lights and power the restaurant for a brief thrill. Our three friends are solo RVer’s and belong to the club LOW – Loners on Wheels. Denise owns a toy hauler RV and drives a 1400 cc Harley. Our new friend Margie is retired from importing expensive antiques from China to Portland, Or., and she ran the store all by herself.  You meet the most amazing people in the RV life.

Mon Nov 3
Deming NM to Tucson, AZ, 245 miles

We can’t believe it’s a chilly 60 degrees and pouring rain all night here in the Chihuahua desert. Even tho Deming is just 40 miles from Mexico, you have to keep reminding yourself that it is up 4,300 feet, a high desert plain, with monsoon season in the fall. We once got in a hellacious snow blizzard here on New Year’s Eve, 2010, when we were trying to make it to Phoenix the next day to use our Christmas present – expensive tickets to the OU Sooners national championship football game.  We have breakfast with IYQ and then make pictures of him in a brand new wood carving workshop that he built on the grounds of Lo-Hi RV Park. It’s beautiful and his carved wood pieces are works of art to die for.

IYQ in his beautiful new wood carving shop, Deming NM

IYQ in his beautiful new wood carving shop, Deming NM IYQ is the grandfather and the godfather of all the Escapees, and the glue that holds us all together. We love you, IYQ!!

It’s Monday morning and we are starting to get anxious and road weary from our long journey. We both want to get off the road. We normally never drive this much. Plus we are in an empty bus.  Everything we reach for is not there. We have hamburger but no pan; wine but no opener. (Never mind, we used a screwdriver. Clever Steve put two screwdrivers, a pliers and some duct tape in his boy suitcase!) We have looked at the clock on the wall a hundred times, and it is still not there. We still have two days of solid driving left to complete our giant circle back to Yuma. We head west from Deming on I-10 and are driving through an unusual sight – endless miles of lakes have formed overnight in the desert. The view out our front window is of beautiful mountains, blue sky and fluffy white clouds, all reflected double in the shallow desert lakes on both sides of the highway.I am sorry I didn’t get a picture of that. We should have stopped the bus on the highway but that’s beyond dangerous.

We must stop our bus at Camping World, Tucson, because they don’t have one in Yuma. We need wall mounted Kleenex, paper towel holders, etc. How did the previous owner get by without them! We are warned that the new Camping World, an RV store, does not even have parking for RVs to stop and shop. What insanity! We manage to double park along a curb painted red. Just one mile away is a brand new Wal-Mart, also on I-10, where we can park for the night. I rent the Cesar Chavez movie from Red Box and feel honored to learn that he was born in Yuma and died in a San Luis, a border town 20 miles south.

Tues Nov 4
Tucson to Yuma – 245 miles

We are on the last leg of our journey.  Continue west on I-10, wrap around Tucson and shoot out the north side on I-10 to Casa Grande. Go west on I-8 through the Sonoran Desert and the Fortuna Foothills, finally home to Yuma. Exit south on I-8 by the Yuma Territorial Prison. Go south over the bridge that crosses the jugular vein of the southwest – the Colorado River. Turn west on first street, then south on 22nd street, then west on Water Street, so named because it has the Colorado river on one side and the huge Yuma Main Canal on the other side. Cropland for hundreds of miles around Yuma is irrigated to grow countless acres of vegetables which are picked by poor Mexicans and end up at your favorite supermarket. I appreciate these workers with all my heart. We turn right at 2200 Water St., into Riverfront RV Park. , for $300 per month plus electric. Jean, our British-born manager, who always wears a scarf, is waiting for us with our mail in hand, and gives us a great spot back in the corner all to ourselves. We are home!

Now all we have left to do is figure out how to move BessyBus 1 out of our full hookup site and move Bessy 2 into it. Then transfer all our stuff. That could take weeks. Then start advertising Bessy 1 for sale. She has been a good old gal for us. We will miss her dearly.

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Steve & Carol in Yuma with an extra bus to sell ASAP! We are just two lovebirds loving the RV life!

 

Total miles from Sheboygan to Yuma: 2252.2 miles.
49.9 running hours for the 400 hp Cummins.

Total number of peak fall foliages overlapped: 4.
–Wolcott, Co., past Red Sky Golf, up Bellyache Ridge Road to 9,120 ft.
–Grand Tetons, Jackson Wy
–Provo, Ut, Wasatch Mtns.
–Mequon/Sheboygan, Wi

Total number of friends visited (not including family),
who just happened to be strewn along our path
: 21

Irene Dan
Brad Marilyn
Tom Dianne
Dave Nancy
Mike “Coldsmoke” and Debby
Kevin Keri
Wayne, Barbara
Guy Cindy
Freddy Delsie
IYQ, Denise, Margie

 

Here’s the crow fly route:

Robinson St. to I-35 to Hwy 9 to I-44 through Chickasha, to Lawton, Ok. West on 62 out of Lawton, south on 183 thru Frederick, Ok, then west on 70 to Vernon, Tx. Continue due west on 70 to Paducah. Straight west out of Paducah on 70/62, through Matador, then west to Floydada. Turn south on 62 to Ralls, turn west on 82 to Lubbock. Bust through the center of Lubbock on Saturday afternoon, and head southwest out of town on 82 to Brownfield. West out of Brownfield on 82 to the three way choice at Plains. Steve picks southwest on 82 to Lovington, then west on 82 to Artesia, NM, then west on 82 through the Sacramento Mountains. Down to  Alamogordo, NM, then southwest on I-70 to Las Cruces, NM.  Catch I-10 past Deming, NM, past Tucson and wrap around to the north. Catch I-8 at Casa Grande, then west through the Sonoran Desert, up over the Fortuna Foothills, and finally home to Yuma.

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This bridge goes over the Colorado River on 4th Avenue at the north end of Yuma. I ride my bike underneath it every day on a fantastic bike trail along the river, that starts at my front door. Our bus also backs up to a Wetlands wilderness park that is dreamy for walking. We could not be more spoiled in this location.

end chapter 6

 To see the article/blog entry
“Why the 2007 42’ Tiffin Allegro Bus has our Dream Specifications,”
go to top of this page, click “Home,” then scroll down until you come to the article.

 

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

Deadwood

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!

steve-carol sigs @80

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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Transporting Wine Bottles Safely with Snuggy Sox

Steve and I like to shop at the “Bent Can Store.” That’s just a nickname we call it. In Portland, OR, the actual name for this kind of store is “Everyday Deals.”  There’s one in every town. You can google them under the category “salvage groceries.” Also called damaged, bulk or surplus groceries – the category name is a little fuzzy. That’s why we like to call it The Bent Can Store. A couple websites try to keep current lists of all salvage grocery stores by state and city.

Anyway, what you get is the most amazing, fun shopping ever. We never go there to do our regular shopping. We never go with a list. We only go there on what we call grocery treasure hunts. You never know what wild and crazy things you will find.

On our last trip, we got classy, name-brand wines for $3 a bottle!!! Regular price $10 and up. Steve got thirty!! bottles, all different types. He’s set for a whole year. Regular price, $300. His price, $90. I found humongous, fresh blackberries for 25 cents a box. Regular $4.50. A treat I rarely allow myself. I got four boxes for a buck. Savings $18. Now tell me this isn’t fun! I could go on and on about our outrageous buys. We cackle going out the door hulking over our booty like thieving pirates.

Now before we go any further. . .all you squeemish people out there?. . .I can hear you loud and clear, gasping about expired dates. Just hear me out, okay?

If you are a stickler about eating food out of date, just check. Many items are just dented or scratched, not expired. We make a point never to buy any dry goods, like cereal, flour, bagged potato chips, etc. These go stale quickly, and may – might – transport critters to your pantry.

If you’re worried, buy things you can see and squeeze, like produce. You’ll be amazed at the fantastic buys on produce, cheeses, kombucha, fresh yakasoyba noodles. It’s different every time. If you go back for seconds, it likely will be gone. They have great buys on blended spices, like seafood and steak rubs. I got a $20 bottle of saffron for $5.

Bent can stores can have lots of exotic foods from gourmet stores — things you could or would never afford, usually. But regular shoppers around here are on hard times and shopping basic. They pass right over the exotic stuff like saffron, wine, balsamic vinegar. We find alot of organic items, including delicious soups. I got some teas packed into cute silver foil sticks or wands. Just drop them into your cup of boiling water and twirl. In two minutes you have a lovely cup of tea. 

So give the bent can store a try. At least it’s worth one trip. The store in your area might be sad or scary, but the one in Portland is large, fresh and amazing.

By the way, how do you transport 30 bottles of wine down the highway without having a vino catastrophe? On the drive home from the store, our bottles were clanging up a storm. We could tell that any serious bump or hard braking would be disaster. The bays on our bus are full.

 So I went to my sock drawer, pulled out all my white summer tennis socks and gave each wine bottle a snuggy sweater to wear. Now we are packed and ready to go. Don’t you agree. . .we RVer’s as a group are darn inventive, problem solving types.