June 28…on road by 6 am and covered 517 miles

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.

Salt Flats – miles of salt!
Our Star table buddies and new friends! We love meeting people on the Road of Life!
Carole’s new RV???

We saw this little cutie on our way out this morning.  It might be something that my friend Carole would be interested in.

June 27…On the road early

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”. 

This is a BIG Cowboy steak! Thanks, Jim

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.

June 26…our hearts are broken

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!

Sunset over the lake in Kearny Nebraska – the beginning of Indian country for the Pioneers back in the day…
Wind power technology from a different perspective! Up close and dangerous.

June 25…Pointed west

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.

June 23…Leaving Hillsdale College

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.

 

June 20…Day trip to the Detroit Art Museum

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.

President Arnn and the architect at the new church site

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.

Our Classmates

June 17-23…Hillsdale College course in Constitutional Issues & Controversies

Hillsdale College in the evening

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. 

This pretty much sums up Hillsdale College. Abraham Lincoln spoke at the college. Hillsdale was founded on freedom and actively supported the abolitionist movement. It was founded in 1844. It has always admitted men and women of all races from the day it opened!

 

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 Cervini of Hillsdale College

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. 

The ??? oh yes, the Unforgettable’s. These young ladies treated us to a real concert  after dinner. Their performance was professional and excellent!
One of our 4 hours a day lectures by superb faculty

June 13…last day of sightseeing!

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.

The only sand beach in the park
Just one of the many little coves and scene In Acadia
Bonny attacking this lobster AFTER consuming a small bucket of steamed clams!
No clams for me – just this 1.5 pound lobster!
Dinner is served
Our RV neighbors – we met them in Freeport Maine at L.L. Bean. Friendships can start even in parking lots!
Bonny checking out some lobster buoy birdhouses

June 12…Catch up day

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.

Early morning Low Tide
Afternoon High Tide from inside our RV

Not a lot of nail salons around here.  Got a manicure and pedicure at Walmart…not bad.

June 11…Exploring Bar Harbor

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.

Bar Harbor shoreline
Another Bonny lobster meal!
Good local brew

June 10…Acadia’s Unique Carriage Roads

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.

June 9…Exploring Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park

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.

Our RV site from the beach!

The top of Cadillac Mountain
Bonny making it up the mountain – with style
Looking down on Bar Harbor

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.

June 7… 12 minutes through New Hampshire Headed for Maine

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.

NO LOCKS!!!
Camping at L.L. Bean – how appropriate!

June 6…Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts

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.

Newburyport

June 4-5…OPB Meeting for Doug

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…

June 3…On to Salisbury Beach

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!

June 2 Saturday

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!

One Martini too many!!!

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!