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.

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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Planning next adventure!!

Last year MIA in May was declared, it was almost 3 weeks of driving back from New Mexico through Northern Arizona, hitting the places I’d never been to.  My route from Las Cruces was Santa Fe, Farmington (don’t recommend), Four Corners, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Mammoth, then home.  We had an engagement party where we had to shuffle (adult) kids and dogs around.  I drove my truck to Las Cruces, then flew back to watch the other dog.  When I went back to Las Cruces to pick up my truck I planned to be gone the whole month.

This year is MIA in March to be timed around the birth of my friends first baby.  I’m on-call as self declared adoptive grandma.  My friend is going it alone, she’s an only child and both of her parents have passed.  She’s been talking about it for years, she’s now in her late 30’s.  Having had 2 C-sections, I know I couldn’t change a diaper for over a week.  I left all of March open for her, including the timing of my trip.

It’s a pretty quick flight to Seattle, that shouldn’t be a problem.  Another friend lives on Lopez Island and sent a pic of herself on the ferry with her car going over.  I thought, “I’m driving!”  That way I can take my time going up and see Eugene and Portland, places I’ve never been.  If I time it right, I’d actually be close by when the baby is born and won’t have to book a quick flight or an ungodly drive during the day.

My May trip I paced myself about 6 hour driving days staying around 2 nights at each place (except Farmington, that was just a stop to see Four Corners).  The only thing with that pace is that the first night would be recovering from the drive, one full day to see everything, then pack up for the next drive.  3 nights would have been better at a few places just to get myself together a little.  2 of those nights in Monument Valley were in the back of my truck, with a few naps in the truck bed too.  My next destination should have been the 3 nighter, just to get the red dirt out of my teeth.

I’m spending at least a week helping with the baby in Seattle before I head out to Lopez Island to see my other friend.  There’s a train in Vancouver, Rocky Mountain, that are week long trips.  What I might do is go for that too?  Despite my way to frigg’in long train trip a few weeks ago, I still love trains.  The problem is, I can’t plan it or make reservations – everything’s going to have to be on the fly.

I’ll admit, I can be cheap with hotels getting the best offer not thinking about safety or the sleep I’m not going to get thinking about my safety.  My poor choice of Farmington led me to call my husband to arrange my stay at Lake Powell.  As I scroll through Priceline, that’s something I’m going to have to remember.

Just so any of you decide to do my May route, the choice should have been Durango.  I linked all my blogs to the locations from that trip.

This will be quite a trip, not even sure how long I’ll be gone?  I have my new camera ready, I’ll bring the drone too.  There won’t be any truck sleeping (except naps), it’ll be too cold.  Getting my body ready for the trip, fighting an ear infection and still the bruised tailbone.  Gives me something to look forward to and a reason to get better ASAP!!  It’s been raining here, caught one great pic on my iPhone from a parking garage of the snow on Mt. Diablo yesterday.  Lots of pics if you press the links from my May trip. For not getting a lot of hits on my blog, I’ve sure been writing away when I start adding the links.

 

 

 

Stuck on a Train

It’s been pouring in LA all week, with no plans to get back to NorCal on my journey I figured the best thing to do is have an adventure and take the train back.  I love trains, a friend of mine took 13 hours getting back over the Grapevine on I-5 – normally a 5 to 6 hour drive.

I scheduled an  Uber driver last night to pick me up, giving me plenty of time for rain and traffic to Union Station in downtown LA.  All went well, got to the station dry despite the rain.

My business class tix got me into the 1st class lounge where there were drinks and snacks before we got on…then the delay.  NBD, an hour for a new engine.  Now I’m sitting in Burbank while the new engine conked out, I would say for almost an hour now?  Well, I wanted adventure!!  We’ll see if that’s going to include a night in Burbank at a Motel 6 or something?

This is just a shame, I was really hoping it would be a rainy day train ride up the coast.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen?

While I was in Manhattan Beach, I went to the new marine lab at the end of the pier for donor day.  My mom was involved with the original lab, it was nice they had a special day for the previous volunteers.  Got a few good shots when I was down there at least before the rain.

An update, we’re back at Union Station in LA awaiting????  Ugh.  Made a quick field trip to grab lunch & possibly a latte, the bathrooms at the station were full of homeless.  I went back to the 1st class lounge at the train station to use those bathrooms, then tried to hit Starbucks but the line was too long.  Grabbed a Wetzel Pretzel hot dog to come hang out on the train some more.  It’s actually more comfortable on the train than in the station.

At least I grabbed some food, I had made a 2p dining car appointment that of course didn’t happen.  If we ever get moving, I’ll keep writing.  Right now I’m just a tad worried I’ll be on this train for 2 days before I get back.  When the train took off the 1st time, I was like a little kid taking pictures.  Now I’m just kinda blah and over it.

2 Days later:  That turned out to be a 7 hour delay, we left at 5p instead of 10a – getting in at 5am to Martinez.  The coastline was totally dark, pitch black actually, didn’t get to see a thing past Van Nuys when it got dark.  I didn’t write the rest of the ride because I was like a zombie.  The good news is, when I finally got home and re-woke up to call Amtrak gave me a trip voucher.  When the train started rolling I grabbed dinner from the dining car then just vegged out the rest of the ride.  I didn’t even read or watch a movie, just tried to enjoy the ride.  I must have slept a little?  I kept waking myself up snoring 🙂  Sorry to the rest of my car-mates.

Planes, trains & automobiles January.  Drove to New Mexico, flew to LA then the train back – reverse order – also lengthy.

While in Manhattan Beach I got to spend the week with my mom for her birthday.   Got a few pics I’ll post from that and some others of my LA time.  It rained most of the time, I did get to have some much needed GF time.

I also had an interesting FB exchange (I gotta get off FB!!).  While it rained I was checking out Zillow in Carlsbad and noticed what I thought were vacation trailers close to the water.  I have a few FB friends in Carlsbad, did a shout out to see what those were?  When I looked into it more I saw it was a over 55 retirement community (which I qualify for but not ready to go there just yet).  The dirt rental was about $1,500 when I looked it up a little more.

In the meantime, a friend’s wife who just became a real estate agent started posting pictures of trailer homes on my FB page.  When I said I wasn’t ready for a retirement community, she started posting pics of a trailer park in Hermosa Beach.  So now my “friends” think I’m looking into trailer homes??  Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t see a $500k trailer in Hermosa Beach as a smart investment.  I don’t see anything down there as a smart investment right now, it’s crazy expensive.  She most likely thought I was trying to get my foot in the door down there, I can’t imagine inviting my childhood friends over to my trailer for dinner?

I’m leaving the post up though, for some reason I think it’s hysterical!!  We played golf with some guy about 20 years ago who lived in the tree section and I said, “I grew up in the tree section!”  He said, “It must be hard to not be able to afford to live where you grew up?”  My husband & I laughed on the way home, we don’t live there because we’d have A-holes like him for neighbors.  People spend so much time thinking others are jealous of them they don’t realize they’re coming off as pricks.

I had a good time down there with my mom and a few GF’s though, it was really nice.  I can always go “home” and spend the time with my mom.  I’m so glad Amtrak gave me a voucher, I really want to take that train trip during the day to see that coast route!!  Thought I’d spend a rainy day, clinking glasses in the dining car watching the sunset in someplace other than Van Nuys.

These are finally leaving Union Station, where the train was on the coast and my view from there 😦

& yeah, I’m still a little grouchy from my trip – I actually did have a great time despite the FB trailer park incident.