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.

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.

 

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.

Stranger Danger

Usually I don’t talk to many people when I travel.  I wouldn’t call this traveling right now, I’ve been here a bunch to see my son with a little bit of a routine going when I’m here…  Walk the dog, grab whatever my son needs while I’m here, lunch, piano, then latte.  The dog will keep anyone at bay, she looks like a huntress ready to pounce.  I don’t worry about my son living alone with this dog around.  He’s getting a roommate, which will help him not be so lonely out here.

I found this music store that has a practice room I can rent by the hour for the price of a parking spot in Walnut Creek.  Last time I was here for an extended period I was able to go there every day.  When I finished practicing, I found a coffee shop a few blocks away on my phone map.  I kind of remembered the neighborhood wasn’t great, the coffee shop was cute though so I went there again yesterday.

After I got my latte I cracked open my Kindle to read the New Yorker and some guy asked me what book I was reading?  I looked up and told him the New Yorker, then he started a conversation with me about where else besides Amazon can you download books?  I told him Amazon owns Kindle and I just download from the store.  I wasn’t being rude, I was being friendly too.

He was probably mid-20’s?  I had noticed someone sitting outside with his dog when I walked in making sure to avoid him.  After I got my drink and started reading I forgot about the guy I avoided outside.  Inside he was friendly, thought he was a student.  He was blonde, very skinny, from Wisconson originally.  He wasn’t high, I didn’t feel threatened at all.  Just seemed like a lonely traveler to me so I engaged.  A few years ago my husband traveled through Europe alone and said the hardest part of the trip was he had no one to talk to.  I thought about that when I was talking to this guy.

He wasn’t a student, he was kind of a nomad.  We started talking about the meth problem in these states here when I told him about Ms. meth’s wild ride I had in Bisbee over the summer where I was REALLY scared because she was a wild card.  We were on a night hike when we ran into this girl who had been dumped by her boyfriend to walk home.  She used my cell (so they had my phone number), then proceeded to hold this hiking group hostage.  We gave her a ride “home” after walking her back to the car, first I wanted us to be dropped off at the restaurant and she said, “No!”  I said, “I’ve had enough of you, they’re dropping us off first.”  My reasoning was more that I didn’t want us four good samaritans to drive into a meth house, the whole experience made me feel like we were being set up.  I didn’t feel safe until she was gone, instead of sounding scared though, I came off as a bitch.

Then the guy at the coffee shop started telling me his experiences, how most people are good, how to talk down a meth head, when it clicked he was the guy outside I had slithered by because he had creeped me out.  He was telling me about how when he hitch hikes people seem nice until they pull up into a gas station a few miles later then want him to pay for gas.  He couch surfs a lot, told me there’s an actual website or app for it, when people get too high he’s able to talk them down without too much trouble.

As he was talking about his nomadic life, my mind started in on an exit plan wondering if I had given him any info on me?  My name is unusual, easy to find.  Nope, hadn’t exchanged names.  I wasn’t too scared though, he really did seem like a friendly guy who was just passing through.  Still, I don’t know how I look to others (like a target?).  I had my camera backpack with a nice purse sporting my Nordstrom Trunk clothes.  I dress just enough to have a cab driver in Bali charge $60 instead of $6.  Plus, I was in a really bad part of town.

As I was wondering how I was going to get out of there without being followed the few blocks to my son’s car, I got a txt from my cousins that saved the day.  He backed off when I said I was meeting cousins, then said goodbye and wandered off with his dog.  I waited a little while before I took off myself.

He wasn’t who I had to worry about, I still had to walk through this neighborhood to get to my car.  There were one room apartments, just a door with a room like a closet with bars on every window.  Boy did I feel like an idiot for walking through there, no one was on the streets the first few times I did it.  This time, people were out and looking at me.  I chose my route wisely, not physically walking by anyone that saw me.  A car slowed down when I quickly turned that corner to duck around, making him have to back up if he was slowing down for me.  What goes on in my mind when I’m totally freaked??  I just thought of how stupid I was for carrying around this camera, looking totally out of place and that I’d be lucky if someone didn’t just mug me right there because I was screaming for it.  I took the stuff out of the car with me so that the car wouldn’t be broken into.  In the Bay Area, anything you leave in a car is going to have a broken window when you get back.  Where I was walking, it would be much easier to just give me a good shove and take it then go through the trouble of breaking a window.

I made it back to the car in front of the music store.  When I told my son about it, he confirmed I was in the worst part of town.  Won’t be going to that coffee shop again!!

For the most part, I feel pretty safe everywhere I go…mostly because I don’t usually put myself in those types of situations.  There have only been a few, “Oh shit!!” moments.  I don’t think I was in danger at all talking to that guy – we had a guy follow us in Taipai my uncle was being friendly with, who I’m convinced was a nomad cannibal.  Actually, most of those moments have been traveling with my friendly uncle where I have to be the bitch.  This was the first time I was solo and scared, no one to blame but myself.

One more day here, then off to lala land.