The newest of the Smithsonian Museums.Although all the Smithsonian museums have free admission, some require timed entry tickets.It is an attempt to limit the number of museum goers so all can enjoy their experience…as of today, tickets are not available until July.They do provide a few “same day” tickets, but you have to call in at 630.Doug is an early riser and bless his heart, he was able to get us tickets for today. They also allow Veterans to proceed to the front of the line – nice move!
Our first adventure was to learn to navigate the Metro system. We park at a station about 18 miles from the center of WDC. The Metro took us without a transfer to within 2 blocks of the museums.One of the few sunny days had us eating at a cafe at the National Sculpture Gardens.Factoid after I drank a large cup of coffee…the Metro system does not have bathrooms…not on the train or in the station…OH MY! You actually have to exit the station.
Having been raised in Southern California and coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, we find we were naive about the plight of African Americans – especially in the south.The museum follows African American history from 1500-present.The best history lesson I could have in the 4 hours we spent there.Quite coincidently we came across Candice Owens and spent an evening watching her U-Tube productions and an extensive interview on the Rubin Report.She is a liberal turned conservative black woman that is articulate and spunky.Our prediction is we are going to be hearing a lot from this woman in the future.
It is a cold and rainy day, but we are here at Cherry Hill RV Park.Doug has out done himself.We are here for 2 whole weeks across the road from the camp cafe, pools, and, most importantly, laundromat.Spring is just starting to unfold in Washington and we will be here to witness it.We have even spied a few Cherry Blossom trees.What we think we will like the most is the fact that we can drive 10 minutes to a Metro Station that will take us to anyplace in the city. Hooray! Now to explore!
We are on kinda of a roll and traveled over 500 miles to Waynesboro, Virginia,home of our former Long Beachneighbors, John and Betty Loudermilk.We were fortunate that they were available for dinner on Monday, but our favorite restaurant was not. Not to worry, they took us to the neighboring town of Staunton. What a treat this was.The buildings in the downtown are original and the town is charming.I cannot think of anything I would enjoy more that being dropped there for a day of shopping.This downtown is quaint and authentic, not catering to tourists.
We did drive the Blue Ridge Skyline Road separating the Shenandoah Valley from the Pieadmont.The trees had not leafed out and the valley floor was cloudy…in a few weeks it will be beautiful…today it was not.
We made great time driving from the Johnson’s to Knoxville to visit a friend from “my other life”.I was so disappointedthat we missed her two years ago, that I was absolutely not going to miss seeing her this time around.It was my bad last time…I thought she had moved to Ohio…she had not.
Vicki and I had been texting our progress all day long…parking for the night at a nearby Elk’s Lodge.She said the Kabobs were on the grill ande dinner will be ready soon. We showed up at Vicky & Kevin’s Knoxville home right on time…but they weren’t there…they were at their lake house which was about 1 1/2 hours away.I personally enjoyed our MadHatter ride through the country…Doug, not so much.We finally sat down to dinner about 8:15.Look at the beautiful views of Cherokee Lake from their porch.
April 21…Elk’s Lodge 160 Knoxville Tennessee… You can’t plan an evening like this.
By now we need to resupply…Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Trader Joe’s, & Walmart.I am still not sure about Walmart.I know you can find everything you might need under one roof, but often the search is exhausting and frustrating.We were considering staying in the night and just chill when Greg from the Elks (we were parked in their parking lot) knocks on our RV door and invites us to “bring a couple of steaks” and join them for a BBQ & we did.These folks sure know how to make you feel welcome.We enjoyed great conversation with the Exhaulted Ruler, Melanie and her husband, Greg, while watching the Nascar race for which everyone gathered.These two go around the country doing BBQ competitions like you might see on the cooking networks.Brisket, pulled pork, ribs, & chicken are their speciality.I came away with a few great tips on improving my BBQ.There is something so engaging about a Southern drawl…I love listening to their “talk”.
We made it from Memphis to Nashville just in time for the show. We got to sit just outside the studio and watch and then met Dave during a commercial break.
The building and studio were somehow exactly as I expected. The welcome was also as I expected, warm and friendly.They even have a coffee shop & bookstore and provided home made cookies.Doug “the cookie monster” loved this.Even though our question was not used on the broadcast, they had us meet with one of Dave’s staff to answer that and any other questions we had regarding paying off our mortgage helping the grandkids.Some of the pictures below show a wall of the sayings you become accustomed to if you listen to his show regularly.Two of my favorites are…”The paid off mortgage is replacing the BMW as the status symbol of choice”.“Remember, there’s ultimately only one way to financial peace and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus”.This is one of the most incredible organizations I have ever come in contact.I would love to work there.
The drive through Nashville to Clarksville was beautiful.As last time, 2 years ago, we are following Spring.Everything is green and the white Dogwood are blossoming. Doug reminded me that Tennessee is “the greenest state in the land of the free”…quote from Davie Crockett.
View from my window – Clarksville, TN near Fort Campbell, KY
We had home made pizza that night at the home of good friends Bob & Julie Johnson.I will stop complaining about LA traffic after a conversation with Julie.Julie is a professor at Vanderbiltand has always taken their son to school in Nashville on her way to work.This is about 40 miles each way daily…fast forward…their son is now a junior in high school and is on the tract team.We all remember what it is like ushering our kids to all their school events, sports, and other obligations.Because of the dependably bad traffic in Nashville, they have leased an apartment in town to accomplish this.Bob (the dad) is retired and now commutes almost daily to Nashville to fix dinner and attend school activities.Their home in Clarksville has become their “country home.”
Doug and Bob managed to get away and fly their drones.Doug still talks longingly about the days when he was a pilot and Bob was a Black Hawk pilot and senior officer with the Night Stalkers.Bob was career Army and stationed at Fort Campbell when Doug was a surgeon with the 101st. ABN for two years …they have remained good friends all these years.Boys and boy toys….smile. In August of 1981 Doug and Bob flew across the country from Fort Campbell, Ky to Long Beach in Doug’s 1951 restored Bonanza. There are many stories about that flight and that old plane!
Bob took us to this store and it is a HOOT!!! a new concept to me.This is how it works.Picture a big store front or warehouse full of rolling bins.These bins a full of “stuff”.On Saturdays the bins are filled with all new stuff that costs $5.By Thursday everything is $1 and on Friday it is $.25.Saturday starts again with all new stuff.“you never know what you will find”Bob says some people buy there and then make a living selling on eBay.He once found a beautiful high end faucet set.Doug found a BP cuff like we use in the office and paid over $60 for in Costco. We were speculating where the merchandise originated and we think Amazon returns that are not worth the effort to restock, overstocks, and inventory reductions.It was fun and would have loved to go back but we were off to Knoxville the next day.
“Adam Ruins Everything”
This is a cable channel program that Bob got us hooked on.I think we sat and watch 5 episodes of this very funny and educational program.Medical costs, immigration, hygiene, the entertainment industry to name a few.We absolutely have to find this when we get back from this trip.It is soooooooooo good. I think it was on something like “the Truth” channel or something like that. It deserves more research.
“Doug Does Everything”
No this is not another TV show.Doug actually does everything on this trip from drive, navigate, purify the water, plug us in, audio entertainment, maintains the electric toilet, not to mention all the advanced planning.The RV with the Jeep attached cannot back up without unhooking the Jeep, a little mistake or wrong turn can turn into a huge headache. Even getting fuel requires preplanning.My jobs are cooking, cleaning, and laundry.So far on this trip we have eaten out most nights.I have done laundry while visiting friends. And I have vacuumed once since we have been on the road.How hard is it to keep 320 sq. feet clean? (Doug here: pretty hard when I’m around)We have not watched TV (other than at Bob’s) in 3 weeks…haven’t missed much.We drive down the highway listening to audio books and the Best of Elvis.
We are listening to an audible book called Beneath a Scarlet Sky.Listening to this crafted story makes the miles fly – we actually look forward to the drive just to listen.It would be considered a historical novel based on direct interviews with the actual man, Pino Lella. The saga starts in Italy in 1943 as the German Nazis rush to occupy Italy to counter the Allies invasion.
Doug found the Audible Books summary: “Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, … ” and the saga goes on.
We learned a lot about northern Italy and the challenges the Italians faced in their own divided country. The actual record of the Italian nation protecting and hiding their Jewish families was quite admirable. Its a well crafted story based on the true life adventures of a young man swept up in WW II.
Graceland is one of “1,000 Places you Need to Visit Before You Die.”We found it to be a reminiscent and delightful place to visit.Elvis was a big part of the music scene while we were coming of age. We were reminded of all the things we had forgotten about Elvis.
Gus’s Fried Chicken came highly recommend on Yelp and the price was right $.My other choice was the French Restaurant in the Peabody Hotel.I am kind of a “hole in the wall” kind of girl…so Gus’s it was. Do you think that an armed security guard outside the front door should give us a clue not to leave our bikes on the back of the Jeep?Memphis is a city in transition and some areas are definitely “Do Not Enter”.I think Gus’s changed Doug’s opinion of chicken…wonderful.However, they would not serve me a beer because I didn’t have my ID! The night was balmy and beautiful…we walked on Beale Street which is the similar toNOLA’s (New Orleans) Bourbon Street, only cleaner.Our last stop was the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis…unfortunately we missed seeing the resident flock of ducks.It is an old and stately beautiful place with rooms starting at about $400/night.
Long day today covering over 500 miles.Factoid…We drove through Benton AK home of the first Walmart.We arrived late at the Graceland RV Park in Memphis to find that the Heart Break Hotel has just been demolished – what a heart braking moment (couldn’t resist).
The Heart Break Hotel was just across the street from Graceland and was built in response to Elvis’s hit song and was not the inspiration for it.That made us feel a lot better.
We spent the weekend just hanging out, visited the Arboretum and Dallas Zoo so Charlotte (Melanie) could feed the giraffe, and we experienced an Escape Room – interesting.
Mariana is a volunteer at the Arboretum.It is quite beautiful and visited often by Dallas residents.It sits on a lake with a 7 miles bike and walking trail.
We next visited Deep Ellum.It is similar to Belmont Shore on steroids seemingly inhabited by millions of millennials.There we experienced our first Escape Room with a Shakespeare theme.We would have “escaped” if Mike and Doug where not so hell bent on “solving” a puzzle instead of using simple mathematics.
After that it was off the Pecan Lodge for BBQ takeout.According to Matt, it is the 2nd best BBQ in Texas.If you buy more than 5 lbs. of meat, you don’t have to wait in the line that went out the door! We bought more than the 5 lbs for our gang.
Somewhere in there was Saturday night at a place called the Meddlesome Moth.Known for its craft beers, but what we enjoyed were all the small plates that we shared including bone marrow, lamb on a stick, steak on a stick, potato, chips with blue cheese, moth balls (fried ricotta cheese) and a variety of salads.Sunday was brunch at the Mudhen and a walk around the Farmer’s Market.
Navigating in and out of Dallas everyday was more than challenging even after Doug realized that he had set ‘no tolls” into his GPS.I could never drive the freeways here.Even Doug says it takes 2 people, one to drive and one to navigate.5 major interstates cross in Dallas along with all the on and off ramps for the city not to mention all the construction.Even Mariana excludes the freeways on her Google maps and only uses surface streets.
Longhorn cattle were originally brought by the Spainards during their trips from Mexico up into the Texas territory. Herds were left behind after the Mexican Revolution from Spain. These hardy cattle proliferated in southern Texas until after the Civil War. They became a new source of meat for the U.S. during and after the Civil War.A few other factoids.After the Civil war, there were 6 Longhorns per person in Texas and in the north there were 6 people in the north for each head of cattle.The Northerners loved their meat (much like I do).That was the beginning of the great cattle drives and the cowboy.Cowboys were just that, boys between the ages of 15-21 – much younger than most people realize. There were very few “Cattlemen” – except for the big bosses.
That night we met Doug’s son, Matt, and his wife, Mariana, for dinner at a place called Ida Clair (pronounced “I Declare”) and of course it was all Southern fare.The city of Addison is known to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US.Shrimp & Grits yummmmm.
After dinner Matt and Mariana were going to go pick Melanie, Mike, and Charlotte at the airport.Doug and I were speculating how they were going to get 3 extra people, a car seat, stroller and luggage into a MiniCooper. They never told us that they drove TWO cars to the restaurant! Mystery solved!
The Grapevine RV Park in Grapevine, TX (24 miles from Dallas) is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.Our spot is out of the edge of a lake.
If we had our kayaks, we could launch from our site.It is also so windy that being outside is not tolerable.No bike riding or basking in the sun here.Doug had this wonderful vision when he booked this site, that we could have morning coffee out on the deck overlooking the water…sadly, not to be.
View from my window today
Our “unused” deck – due to wind and temperature – sadly!
The night we arrived we went to Red Hot & Blue for Texas BBQ with my Goddaughter, Andrea, and her mom, Irene.
Heading from the Panhandle to Dallas, the landscape turns from brown and sparse sagebrush to green trees and purple and pink wildflowers.Along the Dallas freeways there is construction going on everywhere….a bustling economy for sure.One of the businesses leaving California was Toyota and we passed their headquartersThis weekend was the grand opening of the Toyota Music Factory which is a huge music venue just outside Dallas. Hmmm I wonder if that investment might have been good for California???
Stopped at the Old Gin Mill RV Park somewhere out in the middle of nowhere and actually charming.As we were walking around the park we met the local high school principal and his wife (a kindergarten teacher)…Johnny Johnson.They live in a 5th wheel here and told us stories about going hog hunting (with pictures) and fishing after church on Sunday.They have 3 boys, one a traveling RN working in LA.This is probably the #1 reason we enjoy RV travel…you meet the most interesting people.Johnny said he was once a principal at a high school with only 2 seniors…imagine…Madi’s graduating class at Millikan was over 1000.
Up until today the “View from my Window” has been another RV…tomorrow morning it will be looking unobstructed across the a Texas lake and seeing the sun rise. We keep changing time zones and find ourselves eating dinner at 9 pm.
We spent a day exploring Santa Fe, New Mexico which is about 50 miles from Albuquerque.All the buildings are of the pueblo style.The downtown square is pretty much a tourist place with a cathedral at it’s center.The best place, however, was a little square that was not visible from the street.Doug and I spent a nice part of the afternoon having coffee in that square waiting for a shop keeper to comeback so I could see her artisan scarves and woven wares. She came back about 5 pm…closing time…apparently not uncommon in New Mexico!
In all the years that I have been going to Palm Desert, I have never seen the desert in bloom…and not this year either.Crossing “the Great Basin”, I wanted to see different scenery from our last trip 2 years ago, so Doug chose I-40…I think it was the same cactus as on I-10 two years ago. The Great Basin is just that – large and empty.
As a college student, Doug remembers all the Route 66 towns he drove through heading for the East Coast each summer…they were honky tonk towns and fun.Seems we have lost a lot of our culture andreplaced it with the Interstate Highway system.Too bad both couldn’t survive. Williams, Arizona has adapted and is a successful and entertaining travel oasis just along I-40 and ON route 66!
We ate at a “wine & beer garage” in Williams called South Rim Garage.Interesting beers.We tried a sour, wheat, coffee, and pale ale flight.The RV Park we stayed in was the Grand Canyon RV Park.It was very new and clean but basically a parking lot.
We thought we would say Hello & Goodbye to our kids and grandkids in Southern California.Our timing was not so great…half of them were gone and out of town for their Easter Break!We did attend our granddaughter, Madi’s College for Grandparent’s Day.Previously, I had only visited her BIOLA campus to watch her play soccer.I learned that BIOLA stands for Bible Institute of Los Angeles and that the environment she has immersed herself in is a good fit.We even got to see her beautifully decorated dorm room.Would you believe Madi keeps it at 60 degrees?I know she is part Canadian, but this was weird.
BIOLA is a highly successful college with a beautiful campus in La Mirada – it is now over 100 years old.
I suggested that Doug go around Los Angeles by taking the 210 to the 605…as usual he decided to head straight through the city…mind you, we are usually in a car, not a 40 foot coach pulling a Jeep.During our journey through LA traffic we did not see another RV, NOT ONE!!!!!! It was scary actually…Lesson learned.
Doug is sort of, shall I say, an impatient driver.If he sees a line in traffic, he will take a “short cut”.We almost missed his mother’s funeral years ago doing that.
Completingthe last 100 things on my “to do” list.Loading the RV is a lot of work.Doug can’t find anything I brought like his underwear or K-cups…Smile.Oh, and it looks like I forgot to clean therefrigerator from our last trip…OOPS & YUCK.We spent Easter night in a truck stop by Harris Ranch. (Doug Here! – that was AFTER we had a lovely dinner AT the Harris Ranch at a table beside a roaring fire!)
“View from my Window”Many of you know that my favorite thing every morning is sitting in my bed, having a cup of coffee and staring out at God’s new day.I make anyone that visits us have coffee on our bed…best view in the house.I will continue this in the RV with a description of what I see each morning.
“View from my Window”
Today I am facing northeast.I see a smattering of palm trees and a gas station…view from the truck stop.Before me is a huge expanse of dirt and gravel compressed by years of truck tires…it can only get better.
Doug and I talk about the most random subjects…today we were wondering if Jews believe in heaven.After much Google searching…we think not.We were also speculating if heaven is like the best dream you have ever had and hell is like an ongoing nightmare.Please weigh in with your thoughts.
Driving an RV is like subjecting your home to 7.0 earthquake daily…especially on some stretches of I-5.It is amazing how different road conditions are in each state and how rest stops are different in various states….we give an A+ to Oregon and Texas.
The adventure begins as the hunters gather at the the Verhoog’s to caravan into the wilds of Surprise Valley and to Cedarville, California. This is the 2017 hunt organized by Kelly and Norm Verhoog. Many of these folks have been participating in the “hunt” for over 17 years. We had among us an orthopedic surgeon, a cardiac surgeon, law enforcement folks, a couple of Lieutenant Colonels, two nurses, two musicians and entertainers, a botanist, and a social worker.Although there were several stops along the way, the general directions from Redding were “stay on 299 east until it turns into a dirt road…then you are there”.
First stop was for the boys to eat lunch at a little hole in the wall in Fall River.There we met another customer who also stopped at the Foster Freeze to get her Cockapoo an ice cream cone…sweet.Shortly after that, the boys headed in different directions to find the “perfect field full of ground squirrels”.The girls headed into the very fashionable town of Alturas for lunch.
We first visited some cute shops where we bought such things as sling shots, squirrel nuts and reindeer farts. Oh yes…we all needed to pee and the only public restroom open was at the local hospital, where we again gathered.Are you getting the picture?
Now let me explain…these targeted squirrels are ground squirrels, much like a gopher.They are responsible for destroying 1/4 of the alfalfa crop and their burrows wreak havoc on the live stock that graze in those fields.The farmers love the squirrel hunters. It is a win-win situation, except, of course, for the squirrels.On Friday night, as we were saying grace, the final line was “may the squirrels rest in…pieces”.
The place we stayed was called Surprise Valley Hot Springs…built on top of bubbling hot springs…out in the middle of nowhere.Each unit had its own private hot tub filled with hot mineral water from the springs.The heat for the unit was also from the hot springs and even though it was in the 20-30s at night, we had to use the a/c to cool down our unit from the 80’s to make sleeping possible.
Saturday was spent spread out on the valley floor at various farms where permission to shoot was granted.I asked Norm how they knew the farm owners and established a relationship that allowed us to use their property? He answered that they were all patients of his…he had replaced a hip or a knee or a shoulder. Lunch was enjoyed at a home built in 1873.
Because we were real novices at this and Doug had not killed a squirrel yet, we were gratefully assigned to Patrick who spent his whole day teaching us the art of squirrel hunting (and to keep us from shooting anyone else).Thank you Patrick.He was so patient with me and kept at it until I shot a squirrel.I was pretty happy just shooting at the mounds…they didn’t run away!
At dinner that night we tallied our “kill” and came up with 999 + my 1…I was impressed.A couple of the guys actually had counters attached to their camos.
The girls did some shopping“in town”.I got my friend Carole a spice called “Chicken Shit”….looking forward to trying it.I also found a large array of pine coffinsthat could be purchased to your exact dimensions.
Sunday, Doug and I enjoyed an hour or two so hunting for Indian arrowheads. We found a lot of chips of obsidian and portions of tools used to grind seeds into flour.Norm and Sherry both found arrowheads. These may be 2000 years old according to Norm.
We drove just east up the road to where 299 becomes gravel at the Nevada boarder and found a herd of Antelope.We also saw about six wild Mustangs…amazing.
The drive back to Redding was delightful…the spring colors have to be appreciated because many of these lush green hills will turn brown as summer approaches.
A good time was had by all-except for the 1000 squirrels!