Too much road time

It finally caught up with me, down for the count.  It could actually be allergies and exhaustion from the super bloom too??  It’s so beautiful out, but with the allergy season that’s going to be huge I’m afraid to go outside!

So what have I been up to since I haven’t been able to blog?  A whole lot actually.  I did head out to Bisbee, AZ for my cousins 84th birthday, so glad I did.  This is my mom’s 1st cousin, last surviving of his siblings and always there for me as a kid.  Before his wife passed away I thought she sent me Christmas cards, it turns out it was always him.  When my kids were little (Frank was a baby) I went out for the 4th of July.  I set it all up perfectly, got a mini-van for a rental car and was meeting my mom at Tucson airport.

It started off horribly from the Oakland airport…my husband was running late, so late that he didn’t have time to park and help me with all the strollers, car seats, etc. or I’d miss our flight.  He dropped me off at the curb and I ran to make the flight.  When we got to Tucson, my mom informed me that she was going to save me a few dollars and cancelled my rental car, that a cousin was coming through to give us a ride.  What she didn’t mention was that we were leaving on different days, she had a ride back and I did not.  It’s about 100 miles from Tucson to Bisbee, she didn’t tell me until the 4th of July.

I spent the day trying to figure out how to get back to the airport, calling a Sierra Vista rental car place to see how much a drop off fee would be (costing me more than the original mini-van).  My mom asked my uncle to drive me back in his truck, which at that time was a 2 seater, which meant my kids would be buckled up in the front and I would be riding in the truck bed with the dogs.  She said, “Problem solved.”

My cousin Fred overheard the whole thing, there might have actually been tears involved on my part?  He offered to give me a ride in a comfortable car.  Not only did he and his wife – who never went anywhere – give me a ride, they stayed with me the whole time and waited for me to board the plane.  It was before 9/11, it must have been ’96 when Frank was just a few months old.

He’s saved the day more than once recently, we drove through last year on the way to New Mexico and picked him up for breakfast.  I left the dog in his yard, when we got back the dog was gone.  Before we left for breakfast, he and my uncle were programming his new cell phone, not going to lie, they were driving me nuts.  It took 20 minutes calling each other, making sure each number worked.  As I drove around looking for the dog for an hour, Fred calls us and says the dog came to his back door.  That 20 minutes of cell phone programming paid off.   I just cried and gave him a big hug, relief over the dog plus wondering if I’d ever see him again?

It’s been a rough year for him, very touch & go all year.  When I got the invite, my mom let them know we couldn’t go because she couldn’t go.  Her travel days might be numbered, especially on airplanes.  The more I thought about it, the more I decided to just go on my own and see him again.  Every time I go to Bisbee I wonder if it might be my last time too?  Always bittersweet.

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It poured during the party, that was OK though because the next day was too hot.  We spent day 2 all day at Warren ballpark watching the old time baseball tournament with original rules.  Someone told me the town of Warren was shaped like a ballpark, that never occurred to me?  It’s one of the first U.S. ballparks, a fun day with my cousins.   A nice treat was the rental car company didn’t have my normal KIA or Hyundai available, so they gave me a Mustang convertible…fun!!

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I’ve been gone almost 2 months now, getting my 6 mos check in for flying in there somewhere.  I just took the train back from LA up the coast, using my Amtrak voucher for the disaster delay last time.  It was beautiful, I definitely have worn myself out though.  Sunday I collapsed and had to cancel everything just to stay in bed at my mom’s.  She kept saying how horrible she felt, I just could barely move.  We propped me up like “Weekend @ Bernies” to get me on the train where I just stared out the window for way too long.  It was cool, don’t think I’ll do it again though.

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No trips planned for a little while until I feel better, slowly moving through the week.

Cat Lady

April is pretty packed, Arizona this weekend then back to Manhattan Beach the next.  But first, I write…

There’s a house in Bend, Oregon that is within reach and is absolutely beautiful.  Whenever I go through a town I like, I obsessively Zillow it to death to see if it’s feasible.  Bend seemed great, until I looked at ways to get there.  The only way is to drive, flights are $800 round trip with 2 stops making it an 8 hour trip.  That really puts a damper on getting anywhere quickly or anyone ever coming to see me.  It was a nice thought while it lasted.

My husband keeps saying I should go back to Manhattan Beach, especially because of my mom needing me soon.  Being a full time caregiver doesn’t thrill me, the time is coming pretty soon though.  This weekend is her 1st cousin’s 84th birthday, he’s been touch & go for the last year at least.  He gave me a big hug last time I saw him and said, “I will see you again.”  Yes he will, for his birthday after a year of being in & out of hospitals.  Death doesn’t come at a specific time, it could be 5 min. or 5 years, you just don’t know?  That’s the case with my mom, am I signing up for 5 years or 15?  Some of my friends parents are well into their 90’s.  Our former neighbors have both sets of parents living, all in their mid-late 90’s.  My mom does great still, the vultures are circling though and she needs help.

I put up a picture on Instagram of a embroidery design I made then had digitized, an old friend of mine commented then said he just moved to MB!  Lengthy story, we met in our late teens through my college BF.  My college BF went to my HS, his dad was a teacher there, he was actually from West LA and would commute with his dad.  We’re not in touch, I always stayed in touch with his best friend who was from 90210.  Not in touch more than decade check ins, still it was always good to catch up.  I was so excited when he said that he lived there now!  PM’d my cell, told him we’d be down in a few weeks…crickets.  Txt’d my BIL we’d be down for my H bday, the same.  Hard to make dinner reservations when no one gets back to you??

Being a woman can be such a curse.  I go right back to being 19 yrs old when I get that kind of news and almost 40 years of life has moved on since then.  Do I want to move back to a town where I have childhood/teenage memories and am coming back as a 56 year old to take care of my mom (maybe get a few cats??).  Ugh.  Last time I went to the beach I got about 10 points of volleyball in before I had to call for a sub, everyone else else still looks smok’in hot in a bikini at my age.  I recognize it’s LA and there’s probably some surgery (& eating disorders) involved, there’s just not a chance in hell I’m playing v-ball in a bikini ever again.

On that thought, I’m going for a baby shower of a pro volleyball player and that part makes me smile.  When I could play without a sub, her mom & I would play at the pier and put our kids in cribs on the beach.  Our boys played for Golden West and were roommates there.  We raised the kids as cousins practically, so this is really exciting!!

There’s some relief in being older that I’m not expected to partake in the bikini contest anymore.  I’ve already missed a lot, I like the idea of being there and helping my friend become grandma then watching the baby on the beach while they play vball, like I did with the soon to be mommy.  Maybe it’s all good and I can go back as an adult and not a teenager?  One thing’s for sure, no more HS alumni events.  Our last one we were the only ones not announced at the football game, then cropped out of the group selfie.  Whatever 🙂

Bend, Oregon

Last stop, what a great adventure this has been…nothing like a lengthy road trip to make you appreciate a nice shower and super sonic toothbrush.  My husband has been the concierge while I just drove, letting him know where I was going to be the next night then an email reservation would pop up and I would just press the address & go.

When I first pulled up to Wall Street Suites after driving from Seattle, I thought he got me a crappy motel off the Hwy.  When I saw the clerk didn’t have track marks (I say that because I couldn’t stay in a hotel in Santa Cruz, CA because of the clerk), I thought I’d at least check out the room.  It was like a small cabin, I slept like a rock!  It was convenient to downtown, hoofing distance.

Bend was beautiful, I hit some decent weather to get out.  The downtown area reminded me of Walnut Creek when I first moved here in 1992 before they built up Broadway Plaza.  It’s even more beautiful with a river right through it, gorgeous bungalow houses, lots of my favorite things (like coffee shops).

There’s still snow on the ground, after checking out the downtown I drove around a bit to cover as much territory as I could.  The only bummer about this trip was off-season timing, otherwise I could have hiked or spent time on that river.  Instead I checked it out for a return trip, possibly a place to live?  Those houses were gorgeous, not bargain basement either.  The Old Bend houses are over a million.

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Favorite house

A few things about Oregon that I wasn’t used to, the zero sales tax.  That was a nice little bonus that I read was subsidized by a higher personal income tax.  The other thing was the gas station attendants…by the 3rd time I filled up I didn’t scream when the guy came to the window to fill up.  My gas station routine is pull up, then dig through my purse on the passenger seat for my credit card where there would be someone at the window when I turned my head to get out of the car.  I had to make a conscious effort the 3rd time that there would be someone there and not to scare the crap out of both of us.

I’ll go back to Bend for sure, I’d like to spend some more time there to see if it’s a viable relocation place.  A few things I need to consider is my mom, I can’t be too far in case of emergency.  I told her March was a no crisis month for my trip, I’ll be down there in April.

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Full moon

I stayed one  more night in Mt. Shasta on the trip back down, it rained the whole drive.  It’s catch up day, which was supposed to be yesterday but I got a better offer to go sailing then to see Dennis Quaid & the Sharks at Yoshi’s in Oakland.  Seeing Dennis Quaid was on my bucket list, I’ve seen a lot of actors growing up in L.A. who look a lot different in person.  He delivered, he looked great and put on a show.

Regroup for L.A., stock up on my Nespresso pods that got me through much of my trip!

Portland – Seattle – Lopez Island

Still on the road, finally have a morning to write while I’m in Bend, Oregon sipping my Nespresso.

From Eugene, I stayed in Portland a few nights.  Most of the driving portion to get to Seattle was raining, the week before was the big snow storms so I was glad to have missed that while driving.  Rain I can handle, just couldn’t get out much.

Portland was beautiful, especially after Eugene.  There were great restaurants, very walkable (with umbrella) and it seemed to have a pretty efficient public transportation system.  I stayed at The Hotel Rose, a Pineapple Hotel, that a friend recommended.  The bonus there was a mini-cupcake every night.  I did a few touristy things, rode the tram and spent hours in Powell’s books.  Leave it to me to buy the heaviest books at the beginning of my trip, I bought some flying IFR (Instrument rated) text books that were used.  It rained the whole time, I could barely get my camera out.

Then on to help my friend with her baby…who was 2 days old by the time I got there and was back in the hospital for jaundice.  A little recap, I met her surfing in Mexico years ago and she’s single.  It’s a long story, but I drove up as adopted grandma to get them through their first week or so or she might not have had much help.

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Checking in on us @ the hospital

We spent the first day in the hospital while the baby was under the blue lights.  The baby was released that day, I brought them home in my big ass truck.  At some point I had to reset my phone, changing all the settings.  That worked out well because I didn’t know what parking garage I was in so when I checked my phone for something else it popped right up.  Good thing, I was heading in the wrong direction.

This whole trip I haven’t cracked open a map.

In Seattle, I fulfilled my grandma duties…cooked, cleaned, laughed, cried.  Her house was beautiful, totally set up for a family that she dreamed of.  On the last day, she drove us to a few Dr. appointments and I knew she’d be fine.  My next stop was Lopez Island, which I scheduled tentatively not knowing when or if I could make it up there.

I worked my way up to the Lopez Island Ferry by route of La Conner to see the tulips…which weren’t in bloom yet because of the weather, I did get a great lunch in there and a tour of the museum that made me think I could be an artist (because I didn’t see anything  spectacular).  Above pics are of La Conner.

The ferry ride was a blast!!  Was worried about my F150 in there after the streets of Queen Anne.  There was nothing to worry about, big rigs fit on that ferry.  It was a little under an hour to get to Lopez.

I should say, by the time we got out from under baby juggling the weather cleared up.  We had a few days of rain, then it was sunny and brisk.  My HS GF lives in a small farmhouse on Lopez, which I didn’t know until I got there.  Being a crappy guest, I didn’t give her a date of departure.  We joked about it, then I still didn’t give her a date – mostly because I was still in baby mode and had no idea what day it even was??  When I saw it was a one bedroom house, and they would be sleeping in the trailer out back, I cut it a little short.

The weather was perfect!!  Not quite sailing weather, just enough to hike all over the place.  She’s super fit…me?  Not so much anymore after my knee/back episodes.  I kept up though, I’ll definitely go back to Lopez when the sailing season kicks in and probably stay in a B&B so I don’t feel like I’m kicking them out of their room.  If my visit was 2 weeks earlier we would have been XC skiing down the street.

I headed back to Seattle to check on mommy and baby, staying in a hotel this time for one night to see if she needed me for any longer than that.  My F150 was perfect my whole trip except for Seattle – how I got around without a scrape was a frigg’in miracle.  The worst was the hotel parking structure at the Mediterranean Hotel (which I liked besides that).  They had oversized parking, that was full of SUV’s.  I’m sorry, an SUV is not oversized.  It took me forever to inch my way back & forth into the one spot left that was pretty narrow.  When I left, I told the front desk about it and they just shrugged and said sorry.  Then as I was leaving a woman was waiting for someone in her SUV, I passive/aggressively told her it might take me awhile to get out with my OVERSIZED car.  She just shrugged, like “have at it.”

Then I had to dock the F150 for breakfast with a happy mommy/baby.  All was well with them, my job was finished and I could head back home.  Only not so fast, I headed to Bend, Oregon where I am now.  At one point, in Tacoma, my temp gauge said 80 degrees.

Besides the drive along the Oregon Trail, I rolled in last night and have only seen the Cracker Barrel (for the first time, it was a little freaky).  I’ll be here a few days before the weather turns back to rain, today looks good.

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In nomad lengths, this doesn’t seem like it’s been a long time.  I’ve been gone since the 5th with only one night of good sleep besides Portland and last night.  My criteria for good sleep is if I can lay in bed drinking coffee and writing in the morning.

 

Eugene, OR

Not the best time of year to travel through here, better than last week when the Amtrak train got stuck in the snow for 3 days.  It rain/snowed on my drive, making it easy to get over the passes that were either closed or chain controlled last week too.

This is my first trip ever through Oregon, this town in particular is a college town.  Thought I’d get a quaint hotel on the river, which it is, it’s just sharing the parking lot with a mall and I have the parking lot view.  That’s OK, only here for a night before heading to Portland.

I’ll try and get some decent pics, it’s just been raining non-stop with that little break yesterday while I threw my bag in the truck.  I’ve noticed that unless there are pics involved, no one reads this :).

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The rest stops along the way have been nice with viewing areas, not used to that.  I stopped at one with a visitor center right at the border, with a homemade board about “The state of Jefferson.”  A few places I saw it said “Jefferson State” and was a little curious?  I’d heard rumblings throughout the years but didn’t know much about this so where did I research?  Where else, google & wikipedia.  In a nutshell, Northern CA and Southern Oregon want their own state.  These are the rural areas, upon reading the all-knowing wikipedia they also voted for Trump by a landslide…not surprising as a drive through observer.

With a break in the rain/snow, got the drone up for a few shots in the mall parking lot right before a mall cop almost busted me…a narrow escape…living on the edge!

On the way out I tried to stop in downtown Eugene for lunch and was discouraged when I filled up for gas.  Actually, it’s full service gas here which took me aback.  Someone grabbing my credit card and saying it’s full service while traveling solo is not my idea of “safe.”   He had to convince me further, then he told me places to go and where not to go and we got along fine.  My FIL owned a gas station in Manhattan Beach where my H and his brothers worked in HS.  That was probably the last full service gas station I’ve been to (late 70’s, early 80’s)?  Back in the day, gas stations were where you went to get directions, maps, travel tips.  It was really nice, his tip was to skip downtown due to no great restaurants or parking.

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Downtown Eugene, lots of dispensaries on my travels so far

Eugene is a lot like Las Cruces in the food department, chain restaurants and mini malls.

Didn’t have enough time to fully explore, it seems like more of a college town than a destination spot.  I grabbed lunch at a chain with those whopper whipped cream pies (I didn’t eat, they looked good though) and took off.  My timing for packing has been great, once I was on the road it rained the whole way.

 

1st Leg to Mt Shasta

Loaded up with ski’s and Nespresso machine, yes I finally decided to go for it and drive to Seattle.  This has been done many times by college kids and parents headed to Eugene, it’s the first time I’ve done it.  I’ve flown into Redding a few times, not knowing about the meth problems in these towns until I walk around a bit.  The farthest I’ve gone driving has been to a small town where I had a drone job with a start up I worked for a few years ago.  I drove back and forth for 2 days, didn’t stay the night there.

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Hard to see, but that “Not in our Town” means no meth.

Once I passed Redding it was gorgeous!!  The countless times I’ve driven I-5 to LA is about the most boring trip anyone can imagine, straight through the valley for hours with nothing but a few cattle ranches to wake you up from the smell.

Sorry this is so big, I can’t seem to shrink it?  Ode to my brother’s rockabilly band days & how I spend my road trip time:

Getting up here took me right through the forest, first the burnt out part before it got to the real beauty right by Lake Shasta.  Alas, it’s raining here melting all the snow.  Good for getting through here today, bad for any outdoor activities like hiking or breaking out my camera.  I put myself on a semi-tight schedule, the way up is to check things out so I can take my time on the way back.

Things I would do if it weren’t for the rain?  Lots of hiking trails, there’s a ski area close by for downhill & XC skiing…and that lake!!  I’d be all over that if it were remotely possible.  With the rain, it’s limiting me to sip my coffee and writing about the things I might do next time I come through here.

I’m staying at the Mt. Shasta resort, which are actually pretty nice little “cabins” supposedly close to some trails.  There’s a cute picnic area right out front, which is useless right now.  A few gripes, the non-smoking room smells like smoke and my neighbors rolled in around 11p with however many people banging car doors, yelling, headlights, slamming.  Things you would expect out of a group of people pitching in $20 a night for a room (they’re big rooms, easy to fit 6 or more people).  That’s the 2nd time I must have been on the same pace as a tour group?

They left early too, which is fine by me because I was already awake.  Now I can just leisurely watch the rain while I gear up for the next leg.

I have not heard from my friend about the baby, she was induced yesterday.  Not that I expected to hear, she’s a little busy!!  She knows I’m on my way, how I’m working this is that if she needs me – I’m there.  I learned a long time ago that when people are in need, it’s one thing to say, “Let me know if you need anything” and another to actually do something.  When my 2nd was born, one of the women at my son’s pre-school came over for a few hours so I could just ride my bike downtown.  It was so nice to get out on my own, even for a few hours.

Playing everything by ear according to her needs, ready (armed with caffeine) for whatever comes at me.

 

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Risk taking

Got a day of motoring about to Jack London Square in, no winds.  It’s been months since I’ve been able to take out the boat due to rain or just plain old too cold, otherwise we’re back to rain here in NorCal.

I’m going to go for it and just drive up to Seattle, I’ll have enough time for anything that might happen along the way (like a flooded I-5).

Paying bills & laundry, told my family their crisis’ will have to wait.  It’s rare I get a few weeks totally off.

Something the rain cancelled was my 6 mos check ride for flying, I won’t get that in until I get back.  This opportunity for a plane partnership came up that I was really excited about, I’ve been in the plane before & am very familiar with that particular plane.  I met with everyone, it all seemed cool until I looked further into one of the conditions…that I fly right seat as PIC (pilot in command) for the non-pilot partners.

Turns out that is good with FAA, I thought you had to be a CFI to fly right.  On further digging, it’s an insurance issue so worst case scenario happens and no insurance – on top of a potential lawsuit cuz hey, I’m PIC.  My husband let me know that I’d be dead, my family would take the brunt financially.  I don’t have a problem learning how to fly from right, I probably should anyway.  I’m also not opposed to letting another non-pilot take the plane while we fly straight or something, that’s NBD.

It’s OK, the flying club planes are fine so it’s not like I’m in a big rush.  I guess I visualized a partnership being independent of the other pilots, unless they wanted to ride along or vice-versa.  If flying wasn’t so risky by nature, it would be a lot different.  My Godfather was a pilot for Pan Am, died in a plane crash when I was little.  So did my friend Renato, the safest pilot EVER, a few years ago.  He helped me get my license, got me on the board & had to txt me every single month about what time the meeting was (because I could never remember).  Usually crashes have some sort of pilot error, this seemed to be an autopilot lock?  It was a new Garmin panel, his wife is suing.

When I first started flying our estate attorney & good friend freaked.  He said he loses a client a year to small plane crashes.  I’m aware of the risks and respect anyone who doesn’t want to go up in a plane with me, including my family.

It took me awhile to get back in a plane after Renato died, when I did I was fine.  We certainly all know the risk going up, and the thrill of it when you’re thinking “I get to do this!”  As much of a semi-risk taker as I am, leaving behind a bunch of potential lawsuits for my family is not something I can risk.  Really, anything can happen @ any time.  The most common thing is someone re-marrying and the new spouse swiping the estate from the kids.  Happens all the time…