After making new friends in Elko, Bonny and I hit the road in a cool morning and sprinted home to Redding. We drove the RV to our favorite local RV site in Redding at JGW off Knighton Road. If you ever have friends that need an RV/Trailer site on the river – thats the place.
Below is the map of our journey. Here are our operational stats:
Weight 34000 lbs. Length with Jeep and bikes 63 feet Fuel 150 gallons Water 100 gallons Miles driven 8,482 Hours of driving 165 approx. Gallons of Diesel 1116 Average price per gallon $3.12 Oil consumption 0 qts Generator hours 72 Nights on the road 93 Calls to Dr. Phil - 0 New and Old Friends - Priceless
We slept in the rig every night except when we were at Hillsdale College for one week. Bonny and I never called Dr. Phil and we enjoyed good home cooking almost every night except when we enjoyed some great restaurants along the way.(Doug here: Bonny is a great cook).
Our only technical issue was a failed latching ground relay for the house water pump easily fixed by a 12 inch jumper wire while Bonny was shopping in Michigan. Thanks to the good wrenches at A&N Diesel in Redding our now 13 year old Tiffin Allegro Bus with a turbo charged 8.9 L. Cummins 400 on a Freightliner chassis has proven itself reliable and a road queen.
Click on this map below to see a bigger map
So, mission accomplished! We were educated, entertained, and entranced by this great big country. We made new friends and visited some long time friends during our journey.
A few parting thoughts:
America, God truly “has shed His light on thee”.
When asked after the Constitutional Convention as to what type of government the convention had agreed upon, Benjamin Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it”. That challenge was issued to all Americans 229 years ago! Never forget that you and I are “We The People…”! Our nation comes with rights and responsibilities!
Let us all strive to prove ourselves worthy of this great gift and commit to strengthening the ties that make this nation great.
God Bless America.
We are on a roll through Wyoming, Utah, & Nevada…passing through the beautiful valley before you hit Salt Lake City. We got a brief look at the area Lindsay’s parents are building a home out side of Heber City in a town called Charleston. After we left Salt Lake City we saw miles and miles and miles of salt flats. Evening found us in Elko, Nevada home to Cowboy Poetry. We stayed for the 2nd time in a very nice RV Park called Iron Horse. At the office they directed us to a Basque restaurant called The Star. What an experience…first we were ushered to a “family style” table where the current occupants immediately bought us their favorite drink “pecan punch”. We continued to share our meal with Donna and Jim for the next two hours and never stopped talking…after dinner we moved to the bar and continued our discussion. By the time we parted we were invited to stay at their home on our next trip through Elko…they have RV hookups on their property. They told us it was a good thing we came to the Star tonight because we would have never gotten in over the weekend. Donna is a realtor in town and Jim works for the FAA.
Here is a list of the sides that are served prior to your main entree: Cabbage soup, salad, bread, spaghetti, french fries, garbonzo and black beans, & green beans…all you can eat. But their steaks are what they are famous for.
We saw this little cutie on our way out this morning. It might be something that my friend Carole would be interested in.
We are aiming our coach towards Cheyenne for lunch with Doug’s former partner Jim Harper and his wife Ingrid. We are enjoying a book on tape (no, Bonny it is a digital file on your phone – no tape we just call it that!) by James Patterson and Bill Clinton called The President is Missing…seems to make the miles fly and driving really enjoyable.
The corn & soybean fields are turning into more pasture land and we are actually starting to see some mountains again. God this land is beautiful…how blessed we are.
Our lunch with Jim was sweet. Jim fixed it himself. He has been doing all the cooking for the last 12 years…”For better or worse, in sickness and in health”. Ingrid joined us briefly at the table but I think our chatter tired her. Always generous, Jim sent us on our way with another box of goodies…mixed nuts, two bags of his wonderful coffee, feta stuffed Greek olives, and two very nice bottle of wine. To top it off, he included what is called a “Cowboy steak”.
We have been pretty much disconnected for the last 3 months. We are finding that this week has not been easy for the Democrats with the Supreme Court rulings against mandatory payment of Union dues and in favor of the cake maker’s religious rights. We also just heard that Justice Kennedy is retiring the end of July…smile.
Our granddaughter, Regan just sent us a picture of the offers to Morgan for college enrollment next year from Yale, Tulane and the Boston University. Just think, this time next year we will all know where she is going…how exciting. I love Hillsdale College, but I know that is not for her. I love Morgan’s adventuresome spirit. I love that Madi knows her heart. I am eagerly looking forward to what life holds for Regan with her kind heart and persistent attitude. What does life hold for these three precious young ladies? Stay tuned.
We got news last night that a Long Beach fire captain we shot and killed while responding to an explosion at an 11 story home for elderly and handicapped. Our hearts are broken. As it turns out it was a resident of the home that had planned a murder/suicide. Dave Rosa was a 17 year veteran and had been Andy’s captain for a year. Sean was also in the academy with him. He was well known and loved.
Another day of traversing the USA..Iowa to mid Nebraska. The absolute green has changed to spots of a drier more arid landscape. We managed 400 miles today and stayed the night in Kearney RV Park. It was basically gravel with no trees & hot…there were fireflies though. The sunset over the lake in the quarry made up for the heat!
We are headed west and not stopping until we are back in Redding. As last time, two years ago, we are passing the Great Lakes and I will not see a drop of water. With poor planning and time restraints, we will not be able to see friends in Nebraska or Wisconsin including our presidents waiting on Mt. Rushmore…another time…another trip …God willing.
Today we breezed through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa staying the night at Sleepy Hollow right off the freeway near Oxford, Iowa. A nice place with a lake and trees for $39 with full hookups. I think Doug sleeps better when we stop at a campground rather than on the roadside like a truck stop, rest stop, or Walmart.
The last person we say goodby to this morning as we leave is John. Again he is helping us shlep our stuff to the RV. John is Mr. Hillsdale College during our stay – a new friend.
Canadian Lakes, Michigan is our destination for a visit with my friend from LBMMC, Bev Vanderwal at her beautiful “lake house”. As we head towards Canadian Lakes I see cows & corn fields & wild day lilies along the roadside. It is still spring and it is beautiful.
The first glitch on our trip occurred as Doug was trying to park in a campsite there. This is a large and very old campground that was built long before 40 foot coaches. The grass was sparse and there was a lot of soft sand…our bus got stuck. I am so glad that Doug is always up for a challenge although I did hear him curse – a bit. This episode was a real potential disaster. A couple of folks showed up to help dig us out – so typical for the folks at RV and campsites.
Doug here. So Bonny has asked me to explain what happened. She has it right. This RV spot has grass but towards the back where my rear wheels needed to be was SOFT sand – covered by some very sparse grass. Anyway, as I backed in the wheels began to spin and quickly dug a 6-7 inch trough around the drive wheels. My first and only attempt to “rock” out” of this made it another 4 inches deeper. Enough of that. No tow truck that could move our 36,000 lb. bus could approach this place because of surrounding RV’s and trailers. it was late in the day and we only had a few hours of daylight left. We tried to relocate the sand blocking the front of the tires but that wasn’t working well. Then I remembered that I had hydraulic jacks that could lift this coach off the ground and we could but boards and gravel under the drive tires and drive it out! Well that worked perfectly and we used the jacks supported on picnic table tops to just lift the rig in the air and but more boards under the tires and the crisis was DONE. Whew! We moved to a MUCH better spot. Open a beer and kick back now!
Then the next day Doug was soaped up and showering when the water pump just stoped – NO flow. He was “gleeful” to have another puzzle to solve. I left for Bev’s and a hot shower (Bonny just left me and went to find a functioning shower?). Bev and I spent the days working our jaws. At 10 am it was pouring rain and by 3 pm it was bright and sunny. Her lake house has been so sweetly decorated and is a gem to visit. Best of all it is only a 70 minute drive from her home in Grand Rapids. The drive itself is beautiful traversing Amish farms. Doug fixed the electrical circuit to the water pump and finally got his shower while we shopped. Thats what we call a division of labor. Doug fixes something and I shop – not bad.
I toured the museum with a delightful 4th grade teacher with incredible energy and inquisitiveness. I also met the most fascinating man during our time at Hillsdale, Marvin Treiger.
Marv was a radical leftist and communist in his 20-30’s. He became involved with the Weather Underground and knew Bill Ayres and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn. At the time, he had a black girlfriend but the Black Panthers told her she need to drop him because he was white. As he aged and he explored life he became a conservative and today he is a Trump lover. What a life journey! I had the pleasure of his company on the bus ride to Detroit. He had a lot to say and I listened!
Another interesting couple went to high school with Hillary Clinton and they have seen her over the years at class reunions. Ken and Patti both remember Hillary when she was a Goldwater girl in the 1964 election. I guess she “evolved” over time.
The president of the college, Larry Arnn, showed up as we were touring a large chapel under construction. He and the architect (bow tie) showed up and finished the tour with us. It gave me a great appreciation of all the intricacies and planning that go into building a structure for a multitude of purposes.
I cannot say enough about this experience. We both want to come back for a series on Economics. I am not sure why it has taken 70 years for me to become interested in the history of this country and its founding fathers…I was more interested in dissecting a frog when I was in college.
Hillsdale College is a small (1,500 students) private conservative Christain college in Michigan founded in 1844. The College does not accept ANY federal money so they are free to set their curriculum as they see fit. They offer a very classical liberal arts lower division education with emphasis on the history of western civilization and the classical political and social principles underlying our American Constitution. We had 4 one hour classes each day with 4 different professors…so interesting.
We are staying in an on campus hotel which consists of 36 rooms, multiple conference rooms and cozy gathering spots. They even had a 1000 piece puzzle for us to work on. Talk about servant leaders…the first person out the door to help us “move in” was John Cervini.
John is the director of institutional Advancement at the college and a wonderful person. He is also a new friend for us on the Road of Life.
The cost of the course includes 3 meals a day, cocktail parties, & a BBQ, lectures at lunch, and Q & A in the evening. Did I mention that the food is fabulous? Tuesday night we went to The Lodge where several in our group went skeet shooting. They have an absolutely amazing shooting facility and their women’s shooting team has been their college division champs five out the last seven years! On a tour of the campus we learned that nothing is locked down…it doesn’t need to be. We were told that the students don’t have lockers, just cubby holes where they leave everything from computers to purses with no worry of anything being stolen. Remember when we used to leave our front doors unlocked? This was very refreshing. In Long Beach you can’t even leave you bike out front for a few minutes unattended or it will be gone. When we first moved to Redding, we often left our door unlocked…unfortunately, not any more.
There were still a few places on the island that we wanted to see. One was Sand Beach. I think it is just about the only beach with sand and waves. It reminded us of something up around Malibu or Carmel…very beautiful. We saw the kids teasing the waves, but not in the water. There were few sunbathers…mostly windbreakers and hats.
We met a couple there from Michigan that had come here on a motorcycle. As you would expect this precipitated a long conversation with Doug. The gal was a first grade teacher living in a small town of about 900 in middle Michigan. She said there was something very liberating about traveling by motorcycle. She had 3 tops and one change of denims. She doesn’t do her hair or wear any makeup when traveling. Could you do that?
We were going to do another carriage trail but the weather was changing and it was getting a bit late to start a ride. We opted for an early dinner at a road side lobster pound. I had my fill of clams and lobster…no other food group except dairy…butter.
Today hanging around the rig we got to actually see the low tide which occurs at 3:54 am & 4:06 pm today. If we had a fishing license, we could be clam digging right now. I never want to forget how beautiful and peaceful it is here looking at the ocean with the trees cradling our RV and dancing in the wind.
Not a lot of nail salons around here. Got a manicure and pedicure at Walmart…not bad.
When you think Maine, you think of Bar Harbor which is representative of a true summer retreat. It is a quaint town on the Atlantic. Today, it has become a tourist attraction invaded by cruise ships and many tourists from across the USA. Still quaint but very crowded. I was wondering where are the beaches? There are very few sandy beaches here…so different from my idea of sunbathing and surfing. (There you go Bonny – your “minds eye” is tricking you again. This is a part of the fun of discovery) Costal Maine is, however, the perfect place to escape the heat and humidity of summer on the East Coast. We also headed to the end of the island for a photo op at the Bass Harbor Light House. After navigating steep steps and stairs we were left to climb over large boulders for the picture. This is when we came face to face with the fact that we were no longer agile enough to do this…we will have to buy a postcard. Doug never did get this classic picture of this particular lighthouse.
Exploring the “quiet side” of the island, we stopped at South West Harbor for a delightful lobster dinner.
The carriage roads are unique to Acadia National Park. They loop through 51 miles of waterfront and forrest. Conceived and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., these roads were created to make the natural wonders of Mt. Desert Island available to everyone. They are only open to bikes, hikers and horse drawn carriages – of course. Doug and I did the 8.5 miles Jordan-Bubble Pond Loop. It seemed a lot longer. While the elevation was only 200 feet, it seemed to repeat itself several times. Spectacular and so quiet.
Pooped, we returned to our little piece of heaven on the ocean for a quiet and recuperative evening.
We are off to the visitors center to start planning our exploration of the park. It was opened in 1916. It was the first national park east of the Mississippi and the first national park where the land was donated entirely by private citizens. John D. Rockefeller was one of those citizens and he planned and built the carriage trails (more later).
We started on the Park Loop which is a 27 mile scenic route around a portion of the island (Mount Desert Island is the 3rd largest island on the east coast). One of our stops was Cadillac Mountain which is the highest point on the island at 1,800 feet. It is famous for being the first place to see the sunrise in the USA. Sunrise is at 4:46 am…I don’t think so…I am just starting my REM sleep about that time. Next was a stop at Jordan’s Pond for their famous popovers and tea on the lawn…except there was no lawn yet. It was under construction for the “season” that hadn’t quite arrived.
The couple that we had met in the RV parking at LLBean arrived today at our same campground near Acadia National Park. Their names are Lance and Shawna. They sold their home in La Mirada and have been full timing for about 1 year accompanied by a dog and 2 cats. They thought the cats would have died a long time ago…so much for 9 lives. They both still work remotely. He is an IT guy and has their rig “rigged” so they could probably get a wifi signal in Death Valley. We shared a campfire and a couple of bottles of wine and the sunset. During the evening someone in the camp ground launched those lanterns that are made out of a paper bag, popsicle sticks and candles…I had never seen one before…3 times we got to watch those little hot air balloons lift high in sky over the water and fly higher and away.
I saw some fireflies tonight.
Melanie and Mike found a house in Ladera Ranch and it is in escrow. We also remember that it has been a year since Malia’s accident. Thankful.
MA to Maine today and stopping in Freeport, Maine – home of LLBean. It was a fun day shopping…mostly for Doug. We spent the night in the parking lot of LLBean, which is designed for just that purpose. This is their headquarters and they have 5 stores here ranging from biking and boating to a Home Store. When asked how late they stayed open, I was told they are open 24/7…they don’t even have locks on the doors because they NEVER close…One salesperson told us that for employees to attend the funeral of one of the founders, they had to tie the doors shut with ropes from the inside. In this day and age of police presence and security guards, it just struck me as remarkable way of doing business.
This is a very typical outlet area housed in an atypical fashion with many of the stores occupying historical old buildings…visually very appealing. I love the brick and vaulted ceilings. On a recommendation we dined at Tuscan Bistro…packed on a Thursday night. Doug got talked into a fungi pizza that consisted of many shaped mushrooms. I thought “too many vegetables for him” but he liked it.
We are leaving tomorrow. Doug had picked this great little beach town that “ back in the day” hosted concerts with names like Dean Martin, The Rat Pack , Aretha Franklin, and the Beatles. Long stretches of beach along the Atlantic Coast remind me of Sunset Beach in southern California and apparently just as crowded. It seems everyone is preparing for the “the season” that just hasn’t quite arrived. It was a little late in the day, so we did a Jeep tour instead of the bike tour of the beaches and Newburyport which is a charming town on the Merrimack River where it joins the Atlantic.
OBP is a company located in Lawerance Massachusetts on the Merrimack River. Some say the city has seen better times…others feel it has hit bottom and is now being rediscovered and rebuilt. The company is one of many operating in an newly refurbished old mill complex. OBP is a small company that makes lighted vaginal specula and rectal specula and is now expanding to other lines of disposable lighted surgical retractors and instruments. The board and the founding Medical Director differed on how to grow and evolve the business and he left the board. OBP needed a medical director on the board and Doug was asked to take over the position! Doug has found this more fun than work. The company has been growing and they have just moved to a bigger part of the complex. We have made new friends and Doug has been impressed with the Board and management team. The annual shareholder and board meeting required our attendance in Lawrence.
Last night at dinner, Betty, the mother of the CEO and wife of the president of the board of directors told me she used to assemble and package the speculums in one of the rooms at her house. Made me think of a couple of college dropouts that started assembling computers in a garage…
We left the cape today but managed to squeeze in one last bike ride…the best of all. It was cold (in the 50’s) and sunny. We completed the rest of the Cape Cod trail to a town called Dennis about 18 miles. The views were especially nice leading us past Sheep Pond, Seymour Pond, Long Pond, and Henckley’s Pond. In many places there was just a narrow spit of land separating the water
Here comes my first medical complaint of the trip. I have had two corneal abrasions and next to childbirth they are the most painful maladies I have ever experienced. The irritation and pain become all consuming. The only relief is a visit to an ophthalmologist and placement of a contact lens…never convenient especially on vacation. Was it just the green dust in the or ????. We were supposed to be out of our RV spot 10 minitues ago. Squirting with water and a shower did not give relief. Was I looking at a trip to an Urgent Care? Where would Doug park the RV? Plus we had several hours of driving ahead of us. Doug to the rescue…fortunately he had brought a pair of his “loops” which are highly magnified glasses that he wears doing heart surgery…he was able to identify and remove an errant eye lash. NO Ophthalmologist needed! Thank you Thank you Thank you!
It seems the clouds and the sun are competing today and the sun won. Doug washed the RV ( BIG job!) and we finished our ballots after much discussion and seeking advice from some friends in Redding. We switched from LA County back to Shasta County this year. We simply feel more connected there. We know the city manager and sheriff and the local radio hosts are good friends in our dinner group – there’s even a McConnell Foundation!. We have met most of the people running for the City Council…
I finished up a little shopping in Chatham…that has satisfied my shopping urge for the rest of the trip…that itch is scratched. Finding stamps was a challenge.
We are finishing up our time in Cape Cod with dinner at The Cape Grill in Harwick. This is a town I wish we had more time to explore. I had the BEST martini ( x2) I have ever had called a Kalyspo. It is made with a pepper infused vodka – HOT. This is a picture of me when we got home. I am not used to TWO martini’s!
I did rally enough for a walk just as the sun was setting. You never can describe how perfect a time is. The sun was setting the the lake. There is an old cranberry bog in the middle of the camp ground that is a bird refuge. The frogs were competing with the bird and the frogs won. The humidity was gone and the air crisp with the smell of the camp fires…perfect just doesn’t describe it…just imagine. These pictures lack the smell and sounds but…
We are leaving the Cape tomorrow but hope to get a bike ride in first.
I can see why people love it here. You are basically in a forrest and at the sea shore at the same time, two lane roads that twist and turn through charming little beach towns and very few intersections with actual stop lights. I wonder if the bike riders drive the locals crazy. It seems the bikers on the Trails to Trails have the right of way and the cars have to stop when a bike is crossing the road.
Most homes are of the cedar shingle look and have wood burning fireplaces. When it is beautiful you hit the beaches and when it is not, you cozy up with a fire.
The two most bothersome things here are deer tics and green pollen dust. Lona says we should be wearing tic spray all the time. I think I saw one…it looks like a roasted sesame seed with legs. The other is the green pollen dust apparently from the pine trees. It supposedly lasts a couple of weeks…we have managed to pick those 2 weeks the last few times we have been here. It will literally turn a dark car chartreuse and gets all over everything. One day we left all the windows in the RV open and came back to green dust reminding me of all the surfaces I now would have to clean!
Paperwork today. Paying bills and working on our ballots.
Clambake tonight…The Lobster Claw in Orleans. Great food with Great Friends – wonderful evening!
An unexpected sunny day found us on the bike path and I got a few hours shopping in the quaint town of Chatham. We had time for a great bike ride on the “Rails to Trails” 22 mile Cape Cod line. It was just a beautiful day. This video tells the story! That’s Doug I’m chasing.
That evening we had a fire that actually burned (I started it) and cooked a rack of lamb on the BBQ
We have moved from American Oaks in Eastham to a new site in Sweet Water Forrest in Brewster. Sweet Water is a more secluded tree covered camp ground. We have the same great site we had 2 years ago fronted by the largest Rhododendron I have ever seen! I think we will watch the flowering over the next 5 days we are here.
Yes we have had some sunny beautiful days and our friends have taken full advantage of it by taking us out on their boat and cruising the cape. This was their first time out since returning from their winter home in Florida. It is true that the Cape is always changing. We “ran into” some sand bars that were not there last year. We found ourselves in some pretty shallow water way away from the shore. I was basically oblivious to the whole thing, enjoying the sun and the view.
I joined Lona and her friends for an early morning walk in their neighborhood of drop dead beautiful “cottages” with sandy beaches as their backyard. Although many of the popular beaches get crowded in the summer, you can always find an almost isolated beach to just “beach walk”. Lona amazes me with her talent. She is a very talented painter with oils as her preference and a superb cook. Her studio is covered with her work and that is only a fraction of what has not been sold.
Ina Gardner is her inspiration…we dined on fresh gazpacho soup, snap peas and carrots in sesame oil, red potato salad and BBQ chicken. It takes me a week to plan a meal like that.
Here a picture is worth a 1000 words. Cape Cod is beautiful and colorful!
Doug is so funny. I find if I ask him one little teeny weeny question…it results in a lecture about how, why, and what if…smile. Today I asked him to reach an ice cube in the freezer so I could replace the tray…well, you guessed it, it resulted in defrosting the whole freezer!!!!!!
According to locals this has been a very unusual Spring arriving late with lots of storms. Oh well, its is a good day to do laundry then. My “que” is when we run out of underwear. We had a lovely dinner with our friends John and Lona from Chatham. They took us to their club Eastward Ho. You couldn’t see the golf course or the water view because of the rain. It is the first time I had had to dig out my tights and boots on this trip. Hey..doesn’t Memorial Day signal the beginning of summer?
We finally got on the Rails to Trails bike path that runs 22 miles down the spine of the Cap. I am so deconditioned that the 18 miles we rode in a temp raising to 84 degrees, really wiped me out. We had ice cream for lunch.
I have finally found something that Doug is an utter failure…building a fire. There would never be a forrest fire if it depended on Doug…smile. Pine cones, seasoned wood, paper, and kindling all refuse to burn. He is so funny, because he never ever gives up. We actually had a great BBQ and shared 2 bottles of wine with our neighbors until “curfew”.
We did a very hilly 8 mile bike ride on sand dunes and into a beach forrest. Doug is kicking himself for not bringing his GoPro and attaching it to his helmet. It is amazing how different the East Coast beaches are from our Southern California beaches.
Provincetown is at the tip of the Cape and has a very colorful history. Our waiter at the Lobster Pot told us that the population swells to 100,000 in season to 2,000 in the winter…it is so crowded in the summer that they close off the main street to only foot traffic. We met a couple that had taken the ferry from Boston ( about 40 minutes) to P-Town for a day of picnicking and a bike ride. Boston is so close but yet so far (by car…116 miles). There is really no industry on the Cape and the winters can be brutal. Being from such a “year round” state as California, it is hard to imagine.
This is an alternative RV Park, the one we wanted to book was full and won’t be available until after Memorial Day. I actually love it here. It is right on the Rails to Trails Bike Trail and within walking distance to restaurants and shops, etc. We were expecting it to get very busy over the weekend but have been told that the “season” doesn’t really get started until July 4.
Today is sunny and cold…really cold. We visited the National Sea Shore Visitors Center. We are learning about the ebb and flow of the spit of land called Cape Cod. The US Coast Guard actually grew out of the need to watch and rescue as many as 3 ship wrecks a month off of THIS coast. We did a short hike around a salt marsh and into the forrest.
Today is as beautiful as yesterday was ugly. We crossed the Delaware and Hudson Rivers and headed onto the Cape. We have now found the worst road ever…a connector Route 6 between Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was a “tire blower” – well almost.
Doug decided we need fuel before we entered Cape Cod. This particular fuel stop was really the first snafu of our 7 weeks on the road.
Doug usually looks ahead on Google Maps to visualize the entrance and exit of a fuel stop if it isn’t a known truck stop like Pilot or Flying J or Loves. This time he didn’t. We called ahead and “yes” the girl at the Dunk-in Donuts inside the gas station said. “Yes I think we can accommodate 63 feet”…wrong. The Jeep was hanging out in the street! This required disconnecting the Jeep while it was stuck out in traffic and we had to wait for cars to exit in order to make the turn in. This is the most excitement this crew have seen all day. Then…you can only buy $100 worth of fuel at a time and the pump shuts off and then it won’t take your same credit card again. We need about $250 worth of fuel. The other scare he had…he questioned wether he had accidentally pumped $100 worth of “gasoline” into our “diesel” tank. He was actually pale thinking about it. Had that occurred we would have had to have a hazmat team completely empty our tank and quite possibly remove the diesel tank from the vehicle…that could have ruined our vacation. The EPA has to be called to arrange the disposal. This cannot happen at a truck stop because they don’t sell gasoline and diesel at the same physical pump. Doug can laugh now, but it wasn’t funny then.
The 1st delay occurred on the I-84. We came upon a complete closure for 5 miles requiring a detour along with every other car and truck on the road, through very small towns like Shipsburg population 100. You know I actually enjoy seeing these little towns but not at stop and go speed of 3 miles an hour in an RV for hours on end. It was one of the those days that the the cloud cover was so uniform you couldn’t tell where the sun was. I am directionally challenged and this really had my eyes rolling back in my head. Next came fog so thick that at times visibility was about 50 yards… and it was close to sunset.
Our GPS indicated that we were not near any towns and actually in the mountains. We really needed to just stop…but where? Doug took a chance with an off ramp (remember, we cannot back up without disconnecting the Jeep). We ended up in some sort of truck loading facility. We hunkered down for a night of pounding rain. Doug was awakened in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke and immediately thought it was us…it wasn’t. As it turns out it was a house about 2 blocks away…he was just aware before the fire trucks responded. Me, I was blissfully sleeping.
Leaving our RV tucked in and stored at a farm outside of Dulles Airport, we are heading back to Long Beach for a whirlwind weekend. Melanie and Mike are having a ceremony to recognize their marriage in the Catholic Church followed by Charlotte’s baptism. Friends of M & M are staying with us at our house in Long Beach…Haley, Jessie, & Jessica. Saturday was a day long celebration of Charlotte’s 1st Birthday. Another announcement that was a surprise to of us…Charlotte is going to be a big sister. We were told that this baby is the size of a blueberry and already has a 4 chambered heart.
Flying from Dulles to LAX was actually a pleasure. Apparently Alaska Airlines has recently acquired Virgin Air. We enjoyed 2 movies and the ability to order food from the computer screen at our seat. Thumbs up for Virgin. The United flight back to Washington got us back safely, but not with as much enthusiasm…glad I brought a good book because nothing else worked.
As we were preparing the RV to leave for LB, Doug took this picture of the shoes I brought for our 3 month adventure. He got a big kick out of 13 pairs of shoes…well, a girl needs to be prepared for anything, right?
Colonial Williamsburg is several blocks square and represents life as it was around the time of the colonies started their fight for independence from British rule 1776. There was a span of about 150 years from the settlement of Jamestown (very close to Williamsburg), with prosperity and growth and little in the way of British interference.
Each store front or house teaches something different about the culture at that time from the courthouse, mercantile, millinery, blacksmith, to the coffee house. Everyone is in authentic period dress and is well versed in history and happy to answer any question you may have.
One of the activities Doug and I found most educational was a 45 minute soliloquy by James Madison and another by Thomas Jefferson. We also loved a performance by a free Negro woman that owned 53 acres of land, was a laundress, and actually owned 1 slave. From her perspective the authors of the Delectation of Independence were “gentry” and only represented 5% of the population at the time. She believed that the rest of the population had little to say about the goings on of the government…hum, sound familiar?
This particular activity was on an open stage behind the Governor’s Palace on a beautiful lawn and under huge shade trees. We complained about the heat 90 degrees and 50% humidity. Since the majority of Williamsburg’s activity are outdoors, we look back and are thankful it didn’t rain, as it has been for the last 2 days.
The entire area has been beautifully maintained always with an eye for authenticity.
I find myself looking at FB and seeing all the Happy Mother’s Days posts…and I find may self feeling sad for all those that find Mother’s day to be a day of pain. All those that have lost moms recently, all those who have lost children and all those that wished to be mothers, but were never afforded that blessing. Perhaps it is the labor nurse in me that has seen the greatest of joy and the greatest of sadness. Maybe it is having witness my parents loose my brother John. When I was the only one, my mom wishing she had had more children.
Margie Keenan lives in Belmont Shore. Doug worked with her for years in the Critical Care Unit at LBMMC. Margie and I became friends when the nurses voted to have the California Nurses Association represent them in negotiations with the hospital administration. Margie had also been in Washinton, DC petitioning for nurse patient ratios for nurses in other states. We all ended up in Williamsburg at the same time ( compliments of Face Book) and met for breakfast at The Five Forks, a diner that hasn’t changed since the 50’s.
This area of Williamsburg is considered the Triangle and consists of three historic sites…Jamestown, Yorktown, & Williamsburg. When Doug scheduled 5 days here, I thought that was way too much time…wrong.
Jamestown was the first settlement by the British (1608) in The New World and in what eventually became the colony of Virginia…named after the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth. I had always been taught that the colonies were a result of people fleeing Europe for religious freedom. That was not the case for Jamestown. It was purely for financial gain and supported by wealthy men. Jamestown struggled for many many years and almost failed due to disease, weather, famine and altercations with the Native American inhabitants. This new museum is dedicated to that story.
150 years between these two events
Yorktown was the waterfront town where the last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought…(1781) Cornwallis surrendered there after literally being backed into a corner. The British Fleet was blocked by the French at sea from entering the Chesapeake Bay and delivering reinforcements and supplies to Cornwallis’s troops. Bad weather prevented their escape or retreat across the bay.
There are so many fascinating and interesting stories about warfare and simple survival. It seems all we have learned on this trip is about the founding of this nation. First the exploration, then the settling, then the conflicts and wars to preserve it. LOTS OF WAR.
Tonight we went to Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Williamsburg proper. I’m sure it is the same one Andy and I came to on our tour with Long Beach City College 19 years ago. It is a replica of the original tavern and boarding house in which George Washington stayed. My favorite was the Spoon Bread which is like a bread pudding made with corn.
That evening we attend a trial in the Court House. It was a reenactment of a trial of one of our founding fathers for high treason. The premise of the trial was that Britain won the Revolutionary War instead of the colonies. Input and questions were encouraged by the audience and we even got to judge the defendant’s guilt or innocence. He was found guilty and was to be sent to London so that he would be “drawn and quartered” – a gruesome form of punishment for high treason that I will let you look up.
Today will leave us with wonderful memories – 70 degrees and the sun is out. Doug and I walked around the Tidal Basin and revisited the FDR, Korean, & MLK memorial at our leisure. We met a group of Honor Flight folks and got to know more about their organization.
Today the headlines at the Newseum read “TRUMP DROPS AGREEMENT WITH IRAN & VOLCANO ERUPTS ON HAWAII” We were reassured by our friends Denny and Mary Mihalka who live near Kona that they are OK.
Bathrooms at the Newseum can be really entertaining with tiles quoting actual headlines that are published headline bloopers…here are a few that made me laugh out loud.
Ofter our 2nd visit to the Newseum we walked to Ebbit’s Grill near the Capitol for dinner and an end to a wonderful 15 days in Washington. We had not walked on Pennsylvania Ave and both of us commented at the same time how it reminded us of walking on the Champs-Élysées in Paris…wide street, trees, with shops and outdoor dining. Ebbit’s Grill is the oldest tavern in Washington and, because of its proximity to the Capitol, has served Happy Hour to many of our Senators and Congressmen. It is loud, packed, charming, and had great food at a really reasonable price. If you go (and you must) get reservations several days in advance.
May 8…more sightseeing
We have meet several people that don’t own cars here in Washington and wonder how they do their shopping, so we asked a young woman on the Metro. Apparently all the stores have delivery services. For a $ 5-7 fee, anything you could possibly want can be delivered to your doorstep even if you live on a 5th floor flat without an elevator. This is a concept that is foreign to Californians.
Newseum…Defending the 1st Amendment
This is a must see for any Washington sightseer. It is not part of the Smithsonian, it is private and costs about $20 for a 2 day pass. All material is presented from the perspective of the media. One of our favorites, and so emotional, is a collection of all the Pulitizer Prize winning photographs and Photos of the Year. Another was the FBI exhibit featuring stories about the Oklahoma bombings,, the Shoe Bomber, Boston Bombing. They will take you up to a 6th floor patio in the largest glass hydraulic elevator in the world. The unobstructed view of the Capital is breathtaking.
We have been in Washington DC for 2 weeks now and a bit of a routine is emerging. 430 am sharp the birds wake up and announce the day. The breeze is cool and the sun is shining through the trees…makes me happy. Our GPS has taken us though some neighborhoods that would not be featured in a brochure touting WDC. We have also seen the beautiful campus of The University of Maryland. Washington DC is sort of like Disneyland, pleasing to the eye and very exciting, but there are a lot of plain and ugly tunnels under the surface. “Beauty is only skin deep” comes to mind. The real beauty is in the people we have met.
Today we stepped out of routine and went for a bike ride on the C&O Canal trail that runs 184 miles along the north bank of the Potomac River. This canal was originally a business venture of George Washington AFTER the revolutionary war and before he became our first president. It has been preserved as an historic park and is there for everyone to enjoy…such beauty just outside our capitol.
Back in Long Beach and Aliso Viejo … grandchildren
Madi just finished her first year of college and has moved out of her dorm and back home for the summer.
Morgan is just finishing the most demanding year of high school and is starting to think about colleges. A big shout out to her for high scores on her SAT 1420 out of 1600. Go Mo Mo!
Rosie is doing what Rosie does with great flair. She started teaching me how to do my makeup when she was 10 years old. I never looked so good…problem is, I can’t duplicate what she does on my own.
Paige is recovering from her allergic reaction to penicillin.
Dylan is playing baseball just like his dad, uncles, and grandpa.
Malia had her first dance recital.
Charlotte is preparing for her first birthday.
The 4 days Christopher was here were spent showing him as much of Washington as possible. His visit is almost a blur, but exhaustion and sore feet are solid memories. One of the 3 highlights was an evening tour of downtown Washington on the first real spring day of the year.
A few factoids:
WDC is the 9th city we have called our Capitol.
WDC is equal distance from North and South.
WDC is approximately 60 square miles in size.
The #1 Industry is Government #2 is tourism
50% black, 40% caucasian, 10% other
Approximately 700,000 people reside in the district
Residents of WDC do not have a Senator or State Representative. You will see some license plates that say “Taxation without representation”- probably so?
There are 19 Smithsonian museums (2 in New York) and all are open 7 days a week & free to the public. They were founded by a man named James Smithson. He was awed by our great country, although he never stepped on our shore. He left his considerable wealth to the used for the preservation of our country’s history and specified that it always be available to the people. After his death it took Congress 8 years to agree on how to proceed with his wishes. See – they were slow even back then!
The first building was built in 1849… The Castle. The Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the world.
The entire city is built around the Capitol. North-South streets are numbered, East-West streets are letters & diagonal streets are states. I am very directionally challenged…when I emerge from the depths of the Metro I never seem to reorient myself.
While riding the Metro, Doug thought he recognized a passenger in front of us. He exited the train when we did, so I asked him if he were Tom Fitton. HE WAS! We thanked him for the extraordinarily good job he has done as president of Judicial Watch. I would have almost expected him to have a body guard.
The 2nd highlight was a private tour of the Capitol with our representative from Shasta County, Doug Lamafa’s, aide Andrea.
What a great and informative tour. Because Congress was not in session, we were treated to 3 surprises, one being able to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives – where the State of the Union is held. I think I sat in one of the seats that is occupied by one of the Justices of the Supreme Court. The second surprise was getting to go out on the balcony which is Paul Ryan’s at present and where Pope Francis was introduced to the US, We got to see how the votes from each house are tabulated. The House of Representatives are electronically counted and a board shows how each voted. The Senate is more antiquated. Each Senator has to physically go up and vote yea or nay with a thumbs up or down. “Why” we asked…”because that is the way it has always been done”. Where have I heard that before? The last surprise was the original Supreme Court Chambers deep in the Capitol Building.
After spending some time at both the Natural History & American History Museums, we had our 3rd highlight of the trip, a visit to The Castle and a brief meeting with the Secretary (President) of the Smithsonian, Dr. Dave Skorton. Doug was his dorm advisor when he was at UCLA and tells the story of this crazy freshman kid and his friend that always wanted to look at his “bone box” from his anatomy class. Dave went on to medical school and became a cardiologist and president of Cornell University when Matt (Doug’s son) was a student there. He and Doug have kept touch over the years and we thought this a great opportunity to catch up. He says one of his greatest challenges as Secretary, and the one thing he looses the most sleep over, is providing for the safety of the over 30 million people that visit the museum each year…imagine. The security is certainly tighter than our last visit there several years ago. There is definitely a security presence there. If our experience is typical, we always felt very safe everywhere we went.
He graciously showed us a couple of items in his private collection. One was a hand ball that President Lincoln used frequently. Another was the actual bat used in the movie The Natural. The last was the actual leather helmet worn by Charles Lindbergh when he made the first transatlantic flight. Doug and Dave had a conversation about Lindbergh’s being credited for demonstrating the feasibility of the heart-lung machine. It’s amazing to think how that development changed the world of cardiology and created the field of cardiac surgery!
I was most awestruck by the fact that most of what we saw in the different museums were the ACTUAL items on display, not replicas. Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, the actual bullet that killed him, the portable desk that Thomas Jefferson used to pen the Declaration of Independence, and the table and chairs that General Lee and General Grant sat negotiating the end of the Civil War.
Foctoid…Present Taft (all 300+ pounds of him) was the only man to be the head of two branches of government, the executive and judicial (he was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after he was president).
It is true that Thursday is the new Friday on college campuses. We were looking for a Whole Foods and ran smack dab into the middle of the U of M campus. It seems every student was out on the streets.
How did we ever manage airport pick up before cell phones? Our cell phones came in very handy for directions and ESPECIALLY when we would get separated in a museum. Christopher arrived today at Dulles – hooray!
We first whisked Christopher off to the Air & Space Museum giving us almost 2 hours to explore ( again). The best part was an almost private tour by a docent that actually retired from his job when this museum opened so he could do just this. This time we explored the hanger housing the space shuttle Discovery. This shuttle made 30 trips into space.
Then it was off to Georgetown via River Road, so he could see the beautiful homes, a quick dinner followed by cup cakes at the famous George Town Cup Cakes, and a walk up to the campus.
What a fun day today. We went to the American History Museum around noon. We are finding that we cannot focus much more than 4 hours at a time. We definitely have to go back because we only saw 1/3 of the offerings. We enjoyed an hour tour by a very animated docent. I particularly enjoyed seeing the official White House china used by the different First Ladies and the gowns they wore at the inauguration Balls. It was interesting to learn that each First Lady is allowed and encouraged to have her own style. Some were very formal while others like Dolly Madison were quite informal and fun loving. In some cases when the President was not married or widowed, a daughter or other family member or friend would serve in that place. The question was also posed…what will we do with tradition when the first woman is elected President. Hummm……Life is full of change and why am I just learning that?
Factoid…the Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the whole world
After the museum was closed at 5 PM, I wanted to see Trump International Hotel, formerly the Old Postoffice Building. What a treat that was. First off we didn’t think we could get in unless we we guests there – no so! There were police and Secret Service officers everywhere. We think Paul Ryan was supposed to arrive. We got in after a thorough Secret Service search, plopped down and decided to stay a while. We had a bottle of Trump Red Wine and a cheese board…and settled in to watch. People watching is pretty fun in WDC especially with a good bottle of wine. BYW it was bottled in Montecello where Jefferson called home. To his credit, the huge TV’s in the atrium were both tuned to Fox and CNN. BTW…Paul Ryan didn’t show and our bottle was empty and the metro stops at 11…time to go.
Observations on the Metro. Doug and I are pretty outgoing and not shy in starting a conversation with just about anyone we meet. On the Metro NO ONE TALKS…granted it is very loud,,, but everyone is focused on a mobile phone…no one looks at other people…it is weird.
Christopher is arriving tomorrow for 4 days of nonstop touristing. He has never been to WDC before…Smile Smile Smile
We were planning on going bike riding today but it is freezing!!!! Not to waste a day, we bundled up and drove to Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy. The downtown area sits next to the walls surrounding the academy and, of course, on the water. It is a busy and charming college town. It seems that all the freshmen or plebes have to wear their full dress when they leave campus. One of the factoids…the Naval Academy houses the largest dormitory in the world holding over 4,000 students and all their support facilities including kitchen and dinning area. The Midshipmen have to live on campus their entire 4 years. They are actually inducted into the armed forces when they start their freshman year. Can you imagine being eligible for retirement at age 38?