Monday, November 30, 2009


The highlight of my day came at 9:15 am, when I called Odel with a health report that was the result of the hastily scheduled mammography “call back” appointment this morning: FALSE ALARM.  Everything looked good on the follow-up mammogram and ultrasound; we were cleared for takeoff.  YIPPEE!

By the time I got home, Odel had gathered up our errant forwarded mail (which we had bugged the RV park office about all week), vacuumed, and finished his walk.  I was so wound up from my early (7:45 am) appointment and its happy aftermath that I needed a 30 minute walk to wind down and put my brain into “departure mode”.  It had been a month since we last moved, and I didn’t want my distracted state to result in a problem on the road.

Heading south on Interstate 5 in CaliforniaWe left Cal Expo RV Park at 11:00 am on a good day for travel: moderate temperatures and no wind.  The views on our drive south on I-5 varied from mundane to desolate – this is about the worst time of year for a trip through the central valley.  Smog hung heavy over the brown fields and vineyards, eclipsing the view of the coastal range and the Sierra.  We fell in line between the semis and watched the miles tick off on the GPS, humming along to old favorites (now called oldies) on Sirius satellite radio.

A short lunch stop.  A break at Love’s Travel Plaza to refill the fuel tank.  We turned into the driveway of the Wasco Elks Lodge just as the sun dropped down to the horizon – wow, these winter days are SHORT.  We pulled into position on the perimeter of their huge, empty gravel lot for an overnight of dry camping – no need to even unhook Jules.  The jacks and slides were deployed in no time, Luna got out to stretch her little legs, and Odel removed bug debris from the windshield while I handled the interior setup.  The football game started, we whipped up some dinner, and kicked back to enjoy what feels like our first night on the road.

A line from one of the oldies we heard today (America’s Ventura Highway) is spinning around my head: “…the free wind is blowing through your hair…”.  I don’t have much hair for it to blow through, but I sure identify with the sentiment – and it feels particularly fine tonight.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I received an email this morning that cracked me up, from our friends Doug and JoAnn: “We liked your old computer wrote blogs.” 

Yes, it did, much more frequently than this new one!

It is obvious to me that I would not blog if we did not travel.  New experiences and new sights – and flavors - nudge me to the computer in a way that walking the same bike path, visiting my dentist, buying groceries at Safeway and driving the familiar streets of Sacramento does not.

Doug's (my BIL) Smoked Turkey - Fantastic! Our time here in Sacramento is winding down, and it has been alternately fun – great times with family and friends – and productive.  Now that the big Thanksgiving meal is over, our thoughts have turned completely to hittin’ the road.  We’re planning to leave on Monday, by noon, after my last doctor appointment (yes, can you believe it – still one to go).

2003, our first year of fulltime travel, was a whirlwind.  We only stayed a few days (frequently, just one) anywhere, always anxious to see what was over that next hill.  2004 wasn’t much different – just about everywhere we went was new to us - but then we began to revisit places and campgrounds we had seen and liked in prior travels.  2005, 2006, and 2007 were a mix of longer stays in favorite spots interspersed with explorations of new areas. 

2009 was a different story.  With our prolonged stay in southern California last winter, our two-month volunteer job in Oregon, and an unanticipated several-week-long trip back to Sacramento last summer, this year included very little new ground for us.  Instead, we concentrated on repairs, maintenance and upgrades to Scoopy, bringing her back to tip-top shape after her 7 years of travel. 

Time to fill those white spaces!Now we are ready for adventure!  If 2010 unfolds as we envision it, we’ll be filling in some of those big white spaces on our travel map.  Instead of our usual winter months in the southwest (no visit to the Quartzsite gathering for us this year), we’re going to head east, beginning a big, slow, counter-clockwise exploration of areas east of the Mississippi.

We’ll hit Texas shortly after the new year begins. Winter 2010 will be spent in Texas and Louisiana, and on into uncharted (for us) territory: Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas.  In spring (late April?), we’ll head back west to Memphis to visit Odel’s family, maybe as far west as Little Rock, Arkansas, for a longer (re)visit there.

By early June, we picture ourselves in Maryland – maybe via Cincinnati to see Joy and Greg? – for a visit with Odel’s daughter and her family.  While we are close, we might as well explore those little New England states before we head across the top of the US enjoying the Great Lakes, a highlight of our first year of travel.  For fall… maybe a return trip to Glacier National Park?  Yellowstone?

As all full timers know, this isn’t a plan, it’s a seed, ready to germinate and flower as we travel.  The details are blurry (or non-existent), but the desire is strong.  With Scoopy in great shape, it feels almost like our first year, but better: all the happy anticipation, far less of the “what if” anxiety.   

So, Doug, the travels resume soon, along with the blog posts.  Good times ahead.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I keep thinking that I’ll suddenly find myself with time on my hands one of these days… but it hasn’t happened yet! 

My Dad, Mom and me at Fitzpatrick Winery We took advantage of the balmy fall weather on Sunday to take a wine-tasting trip in the foothills of the Sierra, east of Sacramento, picking up my Mom and Dad on the way.  The wineries of El Dorado and Amador counties tend to specialize in red wines, particularly Zinfandel, a favorite of mine.  Unlike the Napa and Sonoma valleys to the west, these wineries are tucked into hilly countryside, hidden in folds along winding, often narrow, two lane roads.  Very few (if any?) charge for tasting, and the tasting rooms are frequently staffed by someone very involved with the winemaking.

Fall color in the vineyardsOur target on Sunday was Sierra Vista Winery, where they were hosting a special event: wine, chili, and chocolate!  I’m not sure of the proper wine-and-chili pairing, but the chili sure tasted good on a cool fall day – as did the chocolate and wine.  We left empty-handed, heading on visit an old favorite of mine, Fitzpatrick Winery.  Their hilltop location is a great spot to drink wine and take in sweeping vistas of the vineyards, now cloaked in fall colors.  They make dynamite red wines and very special ports, several of which we purchased for consumption on cold winter nights. 

Monday held a trip back to “Gold Country”, for lunch with my Dad and sister Nancy in Placerville.  This cute, bustling little town has quite a history and I always enjoy a visit there.  After lunch, we took a short stroll so Nancy and I could pop into a favorite store or two.  It was really nice to have some quiet time with my dad and sister… we all enjoyed each other’s company.

Teavana Teas - YUM! Today was “catch-up” day, nibbling away at the long list of “things I haven’t gotten to yet”.  Finances to get caught up.  The Boomer mail arrived and needed attention.  A trip to Trader Joes with Thanksgiving in the back of my mind.  Back home for lunch, then a walk over to the mall to the Teavana store to replenish my stock of teas with old favorites and a couple new blends. 

Teas is “the new coffee” for me, since my doctor recommended cutting out coffee (and increasingly frequent heartburn) a couple years ago.  Since then, I discovered several teas I LOVE, and I usually get small amounts of three or four new blends when I’m near a Teavana store. 

I’ve suffered a bit of insomnia recently, so today I was particularly interested in their Tranquil Dream herbal tea, which I am sipping as I write.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy chamomile… it’s so sixties!  In Tranquil Dream, chamomile is blended with mint and and who knows what all else, very soothing. Sleepy Luna enjoys the new flannel pillowcase. With the light rain falling, a warm cup of tea with honey, and Luna already sleeping beside me, I think tonight might be quite restful.

Tomorrow I have a date with my friend Becky for breakfast, a date with the mammogram machine at 11:30, and plans with our RV’ing friends Jim and Ellie for dinner.  An appointment with our financial planner on Thursday and on Friday: nothing!  Nada!  Huh, we’ll see about that.  :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Today’s email from my sister Sydney told me that Halloween was over and it was time for the blog to move on.  Has it been THAT long??  I checked: Yes.

Fall flowers When we lived in a sticks-n-bricks home, I did the normal, post-middle-aged female medical routine: a couple visits per year to the dentist, annual OB/GYN, annual mammogram, annual physical checkup with blood work.  How’s that cholesterol?  How about blood sugar, and blood pressure? Osteoporosis yet?  A visit to the dermatologist (skin cancer in the family) every couple years.  And each year of the past nine years, my doctor has recommended (increasingly strongly) a colonoscopy, which I had no intention of pursuing.

As full-timers who return to our ex-hometown for a month each year, we condense those annual visits into the first two weeks after we hit town.  My personal schedule for the past two weeks in Sacramento went: pick up the lab slip for required blood work, visit lab for blood work, visit OB/GYN, visit dermatologist, visit dentist, go for colonoscopy consultation (watch a video!), cleanse my colon of even the memory of food, have colonoscopy (!), annual physical checkup, annual mammogram.  It feels a little bit like being a science animal… something poking you almost every day.  Except for my ears, each orifice has been thoroughly examined.

And, yes, I finally did the colonscopy.  Why?  Well, Odel had one done before his radiation treatments began a year ago, so I felt somewhat wimpy.  Then I read Dave Barry’s HILARIOUS column about getting a colonoscopy, “A Journey Into My Colon – And Yours”.  It didn’t seem so bad when I was laughing so hard.   While I was still in good humor, I called my doctor for a referral and – next thing I knew – I had made the commitment.

French Toast for breakfastFor you undecideds who know you SHOULD have a colonoscopy but haven’t so far: it was not NEARLY as horrible as I imagined.  I’ve never worried about the procedure; like most people, I worried about the preparation and cleansing.  Yes, it tastes icky and yes, the effects are dramatic – but it is do-able with the focused application of willpower (oh, so easy to say this when I don’t need another one for 10 years).

I was mostly out through the procedure, but did awaken enough to watch 10 minutes or so of my colon’s exploration on TV, and I have a portfolio of 12 photographs (each labeled with the name of the particular area of the colon: cecum, appendix opening, IC Valve, etc. – very educational) to admire.  I wonder how long it will be before they begin providing a full, narrated video on DVD?

So, that all ate up some of my usual blogging time.  And then there were the computers…

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that I was over the hump on setting up the new computer.  In the midst of all the medical stuff, Odel and I visited a nearby Best Buy one day to “think about” buying a second computer… we didn’t want to share any longer.  On that particular day, a laptop that was PERFECT as a second machine was on sale, ONE DAY ONLY, $100 off the usual price.  We bought it… so between medical appointments and worrying about the colonoscopy, I worked on computers some more.  Most of the setup went smoothly, but occasionally the thought of sitting in the dentist’s chair listening to a drill sounded like a relaxing alternative. 

The Curley Family (my sister Nancy second from left) at breakfast. Now both computers are working (and I have found Windows 7 to be very easy to use, with some great features), we have a router set up for our own little wireless network, the worst of the medical appointments are over, and we’re getting into the fun, social aspects of our month-long visit.  This morning, our day began with breakfast at a new restaurant with my sister Nancy and her family, then she and I took off for shopping at a holiday arts and crafts show, followed by pedicures – an excellent antidote to the last two weeks!