May 31…A Perfect Day!

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

Bonny claims this is HER fire. I am not so sure of that. It is a good fire but …

May 28-30…The sun will come out tomorrow…

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.

Our Rhododendron bush
Now really blooming!
Here’s an EXCELLENT fire…even if I do say so myself!

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!!!!!!

May 27…Rain

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?

May 26 Rails to Trails and Smokey the Bear!

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.

Light My Fire!!!

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”.

May 25…Provincetown and The National Sea Shore

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.

Heading for the beach

May 24…Eastham Cape Cod…Atlantic Oak RV Park


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.

View from Bonny’s Window – again!
Our campsite

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. 

View during National Seashore hike
National Seashore

May 23…on to Cape Cod for Memorial Weekend

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. 

May 22…Worst travel day ever…but it was an adventure

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. 

May 17-21…Long Beach

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. 

Dulles Airport!
The extended family for Consecration and Baptism!
Charlotte and her happy parents!

Here we are at Charlotte’s first birthday

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.

May 17…Flying to Long Beach for a long weekend

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?

Bonny’s Shoes for the trip
Doug’s only pair of shoes besides his Keen’s for the trip. It’s easy to be a guy!

May 14-15…Williamsburg

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?

Young Thomas Jefferson and his Slave
James Madison discusses the Constitution
A senior Jefferson reflects on his life and times

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. 

May 13…Mother’s Day & Madi’s Birthday

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.

May 11 – Williamsburg Virginia and Breakfast with Margie

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.   

Yorktown – American Uniform Coats
Jamestown – Real life size replica of original ship that landed in 1607!
Bonny checking out a Jamestown Indian home

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.

The House of Burgesses in Williamsburg – site of our capital trial

May 9…Last day in Washington

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

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.

Kent State
Memorial Day Emotion – Arlington
Marine Coming Home

May 7 – C & O Canal bike ride (Chesapeake and Ohio)

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.

C & O canal – original business venture by George Washington.
Potomac River Falls

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.

She’s fine now!

 Dylan is playing baseball just like his dad, uncles, and grandpa.

Malia had her first dance recital.

Charlotte is preparing for her first birthday.

May 2-5…the running continues

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 Smithsonian Castle. Dave Skorton’s office is in the far left of the building

    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.

Dave Skorton is the Secretary of the Smithsonian. He runs the whole operation and reports to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Now that’s intimidating. I met Dave when I was a first year medical student – I was 22! We have known each other for 50 years!

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.

May 1…Hit the ground running!

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.