Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Down the hill to Palm Desert

It was a bit painful leaving the pleasant temps of Idyllwild to greet the 100 degree heat of Palm Desert, I mean we do like that 80 degree isotherm, but when it comes to family we all make certain sacrifices. Luckily for us the Palm Desert Thousand Trails park (our second free 4 night stay) had plenty of 50amp sites so we just cranked up the A/C and made ourselves comfortable. This campground is a bit stark and more like a parking lot, but we weren't there for the ambiance and it was only a couple of miles from my parents home, so it was perfect. It was going to be a busy and emotional four night stay.
Mom doing what she does best, cooking up a fabulous family meal!
The first night was awesome! My brother came over for dinner with his kids, Eliot and Izak, who are almost 16 and 13 and a surprise guest, my ever-loving cousin, Cher with her cute pooch. My nephews are getting so big and busy with their own lives - they are great kids. My cousin, Cher, and I are 3 years and a day apart and we've always been close. I stayed with her in Los Angeles when I flew in for my mom's birthday a few months ago and we always have the best of times - something about us Aquarians!


This is a scene I remember well from my childhood -
my brother, Richard, always standing in front of the fridge with the door open!
We ran around the next day doing errands in the 100 degree heat, Bill got a shingles shot, but the insurance company wouldn't cover mine until age 60 - so I passed on that. And my mom and I geared up for our drive into Orange County to pick up my daughter who was flying in from the bay area to take care of some legal matters. The three of us had a great time that night, so wish I had a picture of us! We dined at Seasons 52, where Bill and I had eaten in Naples, FL with his cousin, Karen. Their menu is seasonally-inspired and nothing on it is over 475 calories - beautiful presentation and quite delicious! It was easy to find something to fit my plant-based, whole foods diet here.

We needed another day in Palm Desert but the Thousand Trails membership we had only allowed for a maximum four night stay. If you didn't go to another TT campground for a week you can stay a maximum of two weeks in each park. We were headed to the Sedona, Arizona area to another TT campground two days hence so even though there were probably over 300 empty sites in this campground they wouldn't even let us pay full-price to stay one more night! It actually worked out just fine as we went and spent a night at the campground where we workamped last fall and it was great fun to see our old co-workers.

Our visit was short and sweet but we will be coming back in January for my nephew, Izak's, bar mitzvah - flying from Florida, though, our first trip away from Bebe in a couple of years.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Idyll Awhile...

... is the name of the cute little wine bar in the town of Idyllwild, California. We first visited this little mountain town when we were in Palm Desert back in December 2011. While sipping tequila at a bar, a local, who had lived there for many years, told us about his home town and why we must take a trip up the mountain. Idyllwild is nestled in the San Jacinto mountains and is about an hour away from my parents place...but the distance is so much more when talking about the town vibe. Where Palm Desert is a sea of concrete and golf courses, Idyllwild is a panorama of mountains, pine and streets angling every which way.

We were excited to use our new Thousand Trails membership here and basically stayed for free for four nights in Pine Cove, an even tinier town just above Idyllwild. During "the season" getting a spot in this campground can be difficult, but just getting INTO a spot in this campground can be a challenge, even for the seasoned rver. The entire campground is built into the mountain and the roads are all "cattywhompis" (park ranger's word!) with sites at odd angles everywhere you look. Trying to follow their "map" was impossible and after getting terribly lost driving around in the Subie, looking for a site, I signaled to Bill to just park Bebe and we could drive around together. Thankfully, he being the navigator and all, was able to make a little more sense of the map and we finally found a site that we thought we could get into. Once there we were able to relax a bit and really enjoy the peace and quiet of a pretty empty campground in the warm fall sunshine.

We love mountain towns and our first visit brought good food, fine wine and beers, and the meeting of very good people. One couple, that we really hit if off with, was going to come down and visit us in Slab City but their newly adopted dog ended up in the hospital and the trip was cancelled, somehow over the last 9 months I lost their contact information and all of the emails we sent back and forth. This is soooo not like me - I am pretty diligent about keeping track of things..but even the picture that I had on our blog from that visit came up blank, it was pretty weird. We remembered a few things about them, but not their names. We were only in town for 4 days so we wanted to see if we could track down these folks asap. Once we were settled we jumped in the car and headed back to the Idyll Awhile wine bar where we first met them hoping that in this small town someone would recognize them with the few facts we remembered. We sit down at the bar and I have a glass of wine while Bill manages to impress the owner by ordering the best beer they have out of about 50 in their case - he's a professional, what can I tell you. We tell the bartender our tale of woe...these great people, we don't know their names, yada yada yada and he tells us their name and hands us her business card with all of her contact info on it. You just HAVE TO love small towns!! I immediately sent her a text and an email and within minutes I had a reply and we were making plans for drinks and dinner on Friday! Unfortunately the hubby was out of town and didn't get back early enough for us to see him but we went to our favorite restaurant up there, Cafe Aroma, and had a great time.

Our four days passed quickly, as they always seem to, and I don't think we did much of anything except walk around the town and investigate the county park for future camping, but this much I know....we will be back!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

R U Swngers?!

NO WE'RE NOT! Just to set the record straight! I don't know what it is but for some very strange reason a lot of people think that Bill and I are swingers. In our early days of dating we used to hang out at a bar in Walnut Creek where my daughter, Lauryn, used to bartend. People asked her all the time about us - I just don't get it; maybe because we like to have fun? No, that cannot be the reason, I mean, everybody likes to have fun!

In preparation for my first burning man Bill warned me that there was a couple in our group that had an open marriage and he was sure this guy would be all over me...well, he was very polite about it but he made no bones about the fact that he was very interested. We are still friends with this couple and have been to burning man, the hash, his house, our house and many social gatherings together without either of us feeling uncomfortable. That's their lifestyle and they don't push it on us.

Since we have been full-timing it seems as if there are more people out there into this "swinging" lifestyle - sometimes they say something, sometimes they don't and we just try to make it apparent that we are a monogamous couple. Recently, though, we befriended a full-timing couple that I had an inkling about but no one mentioned it so we went with the flow. eventually it came up and even after I made it clear we were not interested the wife wouldn't leave it alone and it eventually became so uncomfortable that we had to part ways, canceling some fun plans we had made with them.

I just want to know - do we have to wear a sign or something???

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Forks Over Knives"

THIS is an excellent documentary! Our friends Daniel and Jen highly recommended we watch it as we were picking their brains about their new diet...not diet as in losing weight, but diet as in what they eat. Not that they haven't lost weight! I have been watching online, as they posted pictures of their life on Facebook. the ever shrinking of Daniel and Jen. At last count, when we saw them in Tahoe, they had each lost 35 lbs. Jen commented that she hadn't been this thin since high school - all I knew is that they both looked fabulous! Now to begin with both Daniel and Jen are amazing cooks so them adopting a plant based, whole foods diet didn't mean they were going to suffer, they would just take it to a higher level! I was a bit hesitant to watch the movie as I couldn't stomach Michael Moore's "Food Inc" - Bill sat through it but I had to walk out...but Jen assured me it wasn't that kind of movie. I got Bill on board and we sat down one night and watched it...the first thing that Bill said afterwards was "Well, you can't argue with science." Bill views most of life from a scientific viewpoint so the arguments they put forward were compelling. It was hard not to agree that we had to change the way we ate - for Bill, who is on both blood pressure and cholesterol medication and whose father had diabetes, this was a real necessity; I, personally, have had stomach issues my entire life and the last several years I have put on over 20 pounds. It was going to be difficult to give up everything we love to eat but I was willing to try it and, to my amazement, Bill was totally on board. Now, we weren't going to go 100% vegan but we were going to try and make the majority of our diet whole foods and plant based. 

I was a little worried about how we would do this in the RV and more importantly how it would impact my life, being the person who cooks the most. I would be what you would call a lazy cook...I really only enjoy cooking for a crowd and my favorite meal would be throwing a piece of fish and some vegies on the grill or cooking up some shrimp and pasta...easy stuff. But making soups and stews and smoothies and constantly keeping my fridge filled with fresh vegetables and fruits - oy vey, just the thought of it exhausted me. But what could I do...I want Bill to outlive me, I have been trying to get him off the half & half he used in his daily coffee since I met him and I finally had the opportunity to make this a reality.

So we jumped in with both feet. Before leaving Tahoe I spent hours at Grass Roots, the local natural foods store, and combed the health food aisles at Raleys. Luckily enough Tahoe is home to many vegans and it was easy to find the staples I needed. I went through my cupboards and everything that was possible to bag up for donation I did, everything else we thought we'd just use up a little here and there and off we went into the great abyss of healthy eating...or so it felt!

Both Daniel and Jen have been extremely supportive, constantly sending me pics of meals they were making with all the details. Of course, as I mentioned, they are gourmet cooks so everything they make looks like it came out of a magazine. But it gave me some ideas and I tried to think outside my little box. We are doing well – can’t even remember the last time we ate meat and we don’t really miss it. We even made it through Bill’s entire reunion sticking to good food. But we aren’t calling ourselves vegan and are both ok with us straying from time to time. While we are in Cedar Key (a little fishing village) for the winter, Bill will absolutely fish for trout and whiting and we will absolutely eat it…not every night but we will eat it now and then.

Our travels take us to many new places where we love to sample the foods of the area. Finding restaurants with vegan options has definitely been a challenge but we have been very lucky and quite often actually have to make a choice between which restaurants to try. We have to do a lot more planning in advance especially when we know we are not going to be in a large town that will have, say, the coconut coffee “creamer” that Bill likes. I am making large quantities of soups. pastas and quinoas so we have them easily accessible when hunger strikes. A tip I got online was to cut up your kale when you get home from the market and put it in a bag in the freezer – so when I go to make our smoothies I can just grab it and dump it in with everything else. I've even found some interesting frozen items that are better choices that make it easier especially when we’re on the road for a few days in a row.

I have no idea if we’ll be able to maintain this forever, but for now, we’re losing weight, feeling good and having a little fun with it!

Hwy 395

We love traveling down Hwy 395 from Tahoe to Southern California - it's so much more interesting than I-5 any day! So that was our plan, especially since we were headed to Idyllwild. Once again hoping to avoid reinventing the wheel I turned to the Wheeling It blog I follow - they've traveled up and down 395 many times and had a great review for Tuttle Creek Campground. After a wonderfully uneventful drive out of Tahoe we paid our $2.50 fee (1/2 price with our National Parks Pass) and settled in to watch the beautiful sunset....oh, and for Bill to start working on his swing in anticipation of his upcoming golf game at his reunion!
The campground is in the shadow of Mt. Whitney with a babbling brook running through it, but try as we might we couldn't see any fish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two Weeks in Tahoe...

This was the first summer we did not spend in Tahoe in about 5 years, granted the first 3 were when we lived there year-round, but if we were to spend every summer there then we wouldn't be able to visit so many areas only rv-accessible in the summer. This seems to be a recurring dilemma for us, especially with regards to Burning Man. As much as we love to go, when we were working and living in a "sticks and bricks" we would have to use all of our vacation time for Burning Man and not have any other kind of experiences.

All of my family live in California and I just can't go a year without seeing my parents and my kids. Now, granted, I could always fly from wherever we are, which I did do for my mom's birthday, but we both also have a strong desire to get back to Tahoe as often as possible. We were thinking we could also get some doctor and dentist visits in too. So this all created the need for us to travel across the country this summer instead of staying on the east coast with an easier drive to Florida for the winter, like so many of our friends did.
From Echo Summit looking at Lake Tahoe

We finally arrived about 2 weeks after we originally planned to and I knew as soon as we got to Echo Summit on Hwy 50 that a week's stay was not going to be long enough. We immediately planned to extend our stay to 2 weeks.  The last two summers we stayed at the Tahoe Valley Campground, a mile away from our old home. We love the "Y" area and had planned to stay in the same site as in past years. Unfortunately the guy behind us had backed in too far making this impossible so we moved one site over which turned out to be even better!

Home Sweet Home

Our first night back our friends Daniel and Jen, who live in our old house, welcomed us home with a fabulous vegan meal - but they don't just serve you dinner! We started with cocktails and appetizers around the campfire and then slowly moved through the many courses of a fine meal. We felt loved and blessed and knew that we had better pace ourselves because the Tahoe partying had begun in earnest!

my son, Jake
We spent a few hours in our storage unit on Thursday, still attempting to further reduce what we have in there and the fact that our friends Daniel and Jen were having a garage sale on Saturday encouraged us. There are only 4 boxes left in their now that could possibly be recycled but it's looking pretty good. We gave our mattress to my son who was thrilled. It had started to show some wear from standing on it's side for two years and I know a couple more like that will make it not something I'd want to sleep on. Since we're continuing to only be charged for a smaller unit we'll just keep everything there and see where we're at next summer. My son, Jacob, came for dinner and it was great to see and hug him in person!! He has a new full-time job and seems really happy.

Friday I had a work appointment and Friday night we had a happy hour party at our campsite which started at 5pm and the last person left sometime after midnight! There were many happy hours that night! We had a few friends show up that we hadn't expected to see and it was a truly a fabulous evening. Our friends, Ron and Calee, brought two kegs of their home brew, that were delicious...so delicious that the next morning (after they stayed the night) the neighbors came over for some breakfast brew! Suzanne, who lives in Stateline,NV ended up spending the night and earned herself the special honor of being our first-ever overnight house guest (the RTO relay team last summer doesn't count!). It was a great party but knowing that we had to be up the next morning at 7am for the garage sale made us hasten our way to bed.
Suzanne was our very first overnight house guest!

Pineapple Mimosas - YUM!
Well I made it over to the garage sale closer to 7:30 while Bill stayed in bed for a few more hours. We started the morning with pineapple mimosas - YUM! and continued that way for a few hours with Bill making replenishment champagne and juice runs until we finally just switched to wine mimosas! It was a great way to spend the morning especially with a few extra bucks in our pocket! Around 2pm we shut it down and headed out for an afternoon canoe ride. The house is on a cul-de-sac on the meadow about 200 yards from the Upper Truckee River. From there you can ride down the river about a mile to Lake Tahoe. When we lived here we quite often would hike or snowshoe over to the lake or to Fresh Ketch at the Tahoe Keys Marina for a glass of wine and bowl of soup, but we never, ever had a chance to take a boat or canoe from our home, so this was an extra-special opportunity for us.

Sunday we had more boating fun with Daniel and Jen, again, on Michelle and Mark's boat. We met Michelle the winter of 2010 when she was here for a ski weekend with Cindy, a good friend of Bill's. She fell in love with Tahoe and started looking at condo's to buy. She and Mark bought a condo in Stateline, NV and Michelle moved to Tahoe permanently with Mark traveling back and forth from his job on the east coast. We kept in touch and spent time together whenever we were in Tahoe. We introduced her to all of our friends, and knowing like likes like, she became one of the gang - it's been so much fun seeing posts on Facebook of Michelle with our friends, all having a blast, making us just a touch bit homesick but that's par for the course...  It was a gorgeous day and we stopped often along our jaunt to chill...we ended up at Sunnyside for Mark's pre-birthday lunch and finally had to leave as the sun was getting low. It was a fantastic day on the lake!!

Michelle and Mark

On our way home with Daniel and Jen we stopped at what used to be one of our favorite restaurant bars to watch the sunset over the lake. It has since changed hands and we wanted to see the place so we stopped just in time to catch the sunset and have a little cocktail. It had been a super long day, actually long 4 days, and we were happy little campers to go home and pass out!
Sunset on the Lake

Tuesday was another work day and later in the afternoon we drove over to Incline Village to celebrate my good friend, Virginia's, birthday. We hung out at the lake a bit and  then went to a fabulous dinner at Le Boule Domain. Virginia moved from the south shore to Incline a few months ago - it's so funny how life changes for all of us. She is in love, incredibly happy  and I am thrilled for her, but I miss her!

a pic from 2011 of Lillian, but one of my favorites
Wednesday I finally got to see my friend and nail tech extraordinaire, Lillian. Sitting in her familiar chair and soaking my tootsies in Liberace's copper bowl, filled with fragrant flowers was oh, so divine  I got a chance to catch up on all the local happenings and to really feel at home...

While I was gone Bill had a visit from the campground assistant manager who let him know that for the money we have paid to stay for the two weeks at the campground we can have a Thousand Trails membership to one of their zones. Included in this is free camping in the zone you purchase for the next 30 days! It sounded too good to be true, but guess what? It wasn't!! All that and we got $70 back from what we had paid to camp there. We added on a few more days in Tahoe and then I quickly went online to book our next three stops at Thousand Trail parks. Our next stop is Idyllwild where I had originally thought we'd stay, then Palm Desert where the TT park is around the corner from my parents and then to Sedona, AZ. We were going to stay in Flagstaff but this is close by and also is close to Prescott which I wanted to see, so it all worked out perfectly!

Thursday Bill and I went over and borrowed Daniel and Jen's canoe and rowed from their house, down the Upper Truckee, out to the lake and all the way over to Camp Richardson to have lunch at the Beacon. Phew -what an effort that turned out to be! Over 6 miles of rowing with a head-wind all the way there and dealing with the wake from all of the boats out there. But it was great fun and having the reward of a nice chilled glass of wine on the deck at the Beacon was delightful.

Friday night our friend Jaz, who now lives in Chico, came home and a bunch of us met over at the Classic Cue for a night of beer and pool. A raucous time ensoued, we had a blast, but the evening ended with someone in the emergency room after a little brawl, god I love TAHOE!!!

Saturday was a day of recovery and we started to clean up a bit for our departure. Sunday we were supposed to go para-sailing with Daniel and Jen, Mark and Michelle, and Suzanne but once we got to the marina it was too windy to go and it was cancelled. We headed over back to Daniel and Jen's house for an afternoon of good friends, good food and all that that entails! Jaz came by on her way out of town and Suzanne came too. Later our friend Steve came by and we ended up in a fierce (ha ha) game of corn-hole before strolling out to the meadow to watch the sun set...the sky was magical from all of the clouds during the day, it was hard to pull ourselves away...

Monday we spent the day doing laundry and a final clean up before going over to the old house with my son, Jake to play pool and have a farewell dinner with our friends. I cannot believe 2 weeks passed so quickly, and would have loved to stay the rest of September BUT....there's always next time.

East Bay 2012

It had been a year and a half since we were last in the bay area -wow! I had seen my kids at Thanksgiving in Palm Desert but we hadn't been back to see our friends in forever and when we do we never seem to come for long enough. Barely time to see my daughter, Lauryn, and a few friends and it's time to go...again...we're moving too fast and this trip was no different.

My friends Susan and Ron Stoltz offered us premium parking in front of their lovely home in Walnut Creek and it was super close to where Lauryn lives and works so that worked out great, but the temps were in the 90's during the day and with no 50amp hook up to run our A/C we knew we weren't going to last for long.
Susan was one of my first friends when I moved to Walnut Creek in 1994. She has seen me through thick and thin and has always been there as one of my wisest advisers. Once again I was seeking her counsel and advice...I do miss my friends.

As soon as we got settled we went to see where Lauryn was living - she's in a great house just a few blocks from Salon Salon where she works in Todos Santos Plaza and we took her out for dinner. I can't believe we didn't take one pic together the whole time I was there :( but here's a cute one I found on her FB page around that time.

I woke up early Saturday morning and met one of my very best friends, Beth, for a walk in my old stomping grounds down the canal from Arbolado park. I walked this trail with my dog, Sammy, for 15 years, most of the time with Beth. It was so great to see her and catch up, just the two of us.

We had planned a little brunch party in Oakland to see our "hash" friends and we had a great turn-out. It seems as if most of our hash friends are on FaceBook so we can really keep up with what's going on in their lives, FB is a lifesaver for us road warriors, wherever you are your friends are only a key stroke away. Old and new friends joined us for a super brunch at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe - recommended by our friend FoS (aka Lempi) who mentioned they had super bloodies (and they did!!). The food was excellent but seeing our friends was the best, there were even two FB "friends" that we had never met  "in person" so that was really fun.
After brunch a few of us did a little pub crawl around Oakland, or rather, we tried to! Saturday afternoon and very few bars were open but being the good little hashers we are we ended up in a great little place where I had fun sampling some amazing whiskeys with Trink!

Next on the social calendar was a BBQ at my friend's Joanne and Gary's home. Joanne is a doll and threw us a great going away party when we moved from Walnut Creek to Tahoe. They are also one of the three couples we had at our wedding, close friends, to say the least. There were so many people I could have invited to the BBQ but we wanted to keep it small which meant I missed seeing a lot of friends, which I still feel badly about...next time we have to stay longer and have a nice big happy hour wherever we end up camping!! MUST STAY LONGER!!
Joanne, me and Beth - my Walnut Creek bestest friends!

One friend I hadn't seen since I left town in 2008 was Zina - we met right around the time we both got divorced and our kids are the same age too - we've kept in touch over the years but it was great seeing her in person!

With the heat continuing we knew we had to move someplace where we could use our AC - the bay area is sorely lacking in RV parks but we decided to try the Pleasanton Fairgrounds RV Park - it was the most reasonable and not too far away from Concord, where Lauryn lives. I was a little hesitant from the reviews but it turned out to be just fine and we will definitely plan to stay there again. We hate the traffic and all the commuting you must do when you live in the bay area but when it's where you want to be you don't have much choice. We didn't get to one hash on this visit, just not enough time...

One of the best things about the rv park is that it is biking distance to the cute little town of Pleasanton and we rode our bikes to have brunch with Pix and Sparkle Pony (aka Patty & Michael)! I met Pix the same day I met Bill - she is a hasher and burner and traveled often to Tahoe to play with us.

We spent the next several days with Lauryn - and of course she did my hair, have I mentioned what a fabulous hair stylist she is?!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hippie Watching in Ashland...

Cute book we saw while window shopping.

As we so often do, we had posted on Facebook that we were headed towards Ashland. I hadn't realized that a good, hashing friend of ours "Batt" had moved there. We met Batt in 2008 at the Bay 2 Breakers Hash weekend in San Francisco and became fast friends. We were both living in the bay area then and she is a traveling nurse. This was right before she purchased her first motorhome to live in full-time. About the time we moved to Tahoe she moved to Carson City and helped us with the South Lake Tahoe hash, we saw a lot of her up there and have great memories. I picked Batt's brain a lot when we started looking for an rv to full-time in and she gave me some great advice and we also learned from her mistakes ;)  In the 2+ years we have been full-timing we have yet to meet up on the road, something we've really been wanting to do - when we were crossing the country through the south, she was north of us, when we were in Arizona, she was in Colorado, etc, etc... But when she saw our post on FB she replied that she was now living in Ashland - wow, would we actually get to meet up?! She said we should definitely stay at her rv park, Jackson Wellsprings, a hotsprings we've actually been to before but didn't realize they had parking for big rigs. Unfortunately, though, we were coming through over Labor Day when she would still be at Burning Man and she wasn't going to come back until the Wednesday after and we were leaving that Monday. Soooo close...we were bummed but we had to keep moving, I was anxious to get to the bay area to see my daughter and back up to Tahoe as well.

We checked into the park and it turns out they put us in the spot right next to Batt! I hadn't seen her new rig yet, but knew she had an Airstream and even though there were 3 other Airstreams parked in the area, I just knew that was hers (especially once we saw a few hash stickers on her stuff!). And then we saw where they had put us - let me just say OMG!! This has to be our very best rv spot to date and can't imagine that anything else could come close. It looked as if it was someone's personal site with a storage shed and murals painted all over the fenced in yard. There was a patio overhang and furniture out for lounging. At one time you could tell that someone had really taken care of the yard as there were ponds, a garden, fire pit and yummy blackberries all over the place. We immediately fell in love and knew we were going to stay longer than our intended 3 days.

Many of you may have heard our "bullshitsu" story and this is where it actually took place. When we were here last, we had come for a romantic weekend and stayed at a Bed & Breakfast while attending several of the Shakespeare Festival plays. We came over one evening to soak in the tubs at Jackson Wellsprings where Bill had camped with his daughter and a couple of hashers years before. They have a pretty good size hot tub that is clothing optional after 8pm and a large cooler swimming pool. The tub was filled with bearded old men and nubile young wenches, a few people were practicing Watsu (water massage) in the middle of the tub and we were joking around that it was really just an organized groping session. When Bill went out to the sauna I was asked by one of the old guys if I wanted a Watsu session, I declined but I think Bill and I were giggling the rest of the evening and we now always refer to Watsu as Bullshitu! Anyway, I digress...

We love the relaxed, lay back atmosphere of this place and all of Ashland. We quickly found the Ashland Co-op and the local brewery where we were also introduced to some spirits from the local distillery, in addition to my new favorite from Bend the Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Infused Vodka - YUMMY!

I love to garden and living full-time in an rv one doesn't get much opportunity to do that. But after pulling into our magical little spot this over-grown jewel was calling my name and one morning I woke up and it was the day - the day I would try to bring out the glory in our yard. I donned my work gloves and went through at least 4 large green leaf bags in about 6 hours before I was pooped. We had a great day just hanging out and ended it with some cocktails and appies on the deck admiring our handywork.

One morning as I was walking to soak I noticed a big blue truck in the public parking lot that was covered in playa dust and knew that someone had just arrived from Burning Man. I didn't even think it was Batt because I didn't think her truck had a cab on it and she would have parked at her site. On my way back home I did notice that it was gone and figured they had come in for a quick overnight. But then as I was starting to go into the rig I noticed a dog wandering by that looked exactly like Batt's Ramsey. I had never met him before but had seen pictures, and guess who was right behind him?! None other than our neighbor - she had come home early because she was missing her puppy!! The funny thing was that the day before we had just extended our stay to a week because we were loving Ashland AND we realized we just couldn't park right next to Batt and leave without seeing her - the bay area and Tahoe would just have to wait a few extra days...

We saw one play while we were here and it was magnificent - "All The Way", about LBJ's time in office from Kennedy's death to his reelection - a must see if in the area!! Our last night in town we went out for dinner to the "New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro". I had read about it on YELP! when we first arrived but unfortunately had forgotten some of the key points by the time we actually went - oops! Let's just say the reviews were accurate. It took us about 10 minutes to find the entrance, we arrived without a reservation, and it took them a few minutes to determine if we could have one of the 5 remaining tables in the 6 table restaurant! The decor was very cool with hammered, copper tables but their attitude stunk all night and it was probably the first time I actually resented giving a restaurant my money.

We were lucky enough to enjoy two dinners together and reminisce about our crazy times and catch up on the new ones. We fell in love with Ashland and cannot wait to go back!
fond farewell before Batt went off to work...

Pulled in next to Batt to use her sewer, I think we fit quite nicely!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bend, Oregon

Bill and I both blogged about our stay in Bend...hope it's not too confusing!

After leaving Coeur d’Alene we headed south to Bend, Oregon. Debby had been reading a lot about this place and was hoping to find a quaint small town suitable for our retirement. On the way there, we drove through the high desert of Washington with the intention of camping overnight next to the Columbia River. Unfortunately, a minor navigation error took us down the wrong side of the river through about 30 miles of construction and we would have had to backtrack about 10 miles to get to the riverside campground. We elected not to go that route in part because of the need to backtrack, and in part because of the trains that run parallel to the river that would have kept us up all night.

So instead, we stopped for gas right after crossing the river and had another in a continuing series of incidents where someone had left their car parked at the gas pump (at the only RV accessible island) and gone into the station to enjoy a leisurely meal at the attached Subway. Then we were off in the direction of Bend and Debby started searching for places to stay nearby. We wound up at a fairgrounds RV park where we had just missed the demolition derby. Lucky for us because the place had been packed until just a few hours before we got there. While there, we took our plants out for some sunshine and discovered a tiny frog that had hitched a ride from Coeur d’Alene in one of the flower pots. I found a nice shady shack to put him in and wished him luck with his new home.

I was very excited to visit Bend. From everything I had heard about the town I had thought this just might be a place I could settle down in. I got online and searched for "things to do in Bend" and came up with a few things for us to do. Of most notable interest was the Bend Ale Trail. Bill has turned me into quite the beer snob and we are always interested in discovering wonderful craft beers. But an "ale trail" with the promise of a cool "Silipint" commemorate cup? How could we not join in! The problem was we had about 3 days to go to 9 breweries, wow...could we do this, well, we had to give it a try! I also have a cousin in town that I wanted to see and had posted on the Bend Hash House Harriers site that we were in town and looking for a trail or whatever was going on.

We parked at the Scandia RV Park right in town and ended up with a fabulous site. From there we hit our first brewery, where we also had dinner. Found out the hash was having a bike hash that evening but we couldn't get it together fast enough to make it. I did connect with my cousin and made plans to have dinner with her and her husband Wednesday night. I received a couple of emails from local hashers and one of them was from someone who thought he knew Bill from their hashing days back in the 90's, in Phoenix. Seems they had seen each other about 10 years ago at a fellow hasher's wedding and plans were made to meet for beers that evening.

We started Tuesday with a great, hilly, walk up Pilot Butte where, on a clear day you can see forever, but on a smokey day, well...you can just imagine...
We had a couple of very smoky days without much of a view...

I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly cast, especially now that I’m retired and may find myself with more opportunities to go fly fishing. Debby’s vigilant eye on what’s happening wherever we go spotted an opportunity for free fly fishing lessons at Orvis, a sporting goods company. So we stopped by there and signed me up for Fly Fishing 101. I haven’t purchased any fly fishing gear yet, but when the time is right, I’ll be right on that. We also happened to be right around a corner from the first REI we’d seen for a long while and got to do some shopping there. 

Next it was time to get back on the Ale Trail and try to knock off a few breweries on our "passport." We ended the day at 10 Barrel Brewing with Bill's hash friends, followed by a fun evening of sushi and saki!

Bill, Lynn and Dave @ 10 Barrel Brewing
I woke up the next day in extreme pain and my right eye swollen shut  - just what did I do last night, I thought! Well after several hours of alternating ice and warm compresses and trying to decide if I should go to a doctor or not, I pulled out the steroid eye drops I got from an eye doctor in Arizona during tax season - 2010, when I had a severe allergy in both of my eyes. About 30 minutes later I had some relief and with a second dosage, a few hours later, I was feeling great and the swelling had completely disappeared. Glad I kept those drops around!! We made it out to one brewery that night before we had dinner with my cousins, but now we only had one day to hit the last 4 breweries!

One of the things we’ve noticed during our travels is the increasing popularity of traffic circles. They’re being used everywhere to improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion. Bend is no exception and they've added an element of artwork in the roundabouts to make them more attractive. There are even companies that offer tours of the city’s roundabout art. As a planning geek, I kind of like that.

It was great seeing my cousin Suzanne and her hubby, Paul - she is the daughter of my mom's cousins, Carl and Judy, from L.A. I had seen Suzanne and her sister Jennifer quite a bit growing up as our family went down to L.A. for family get-togethers quite a bit. Many, many years passed before I saw them again and was reunited when each of the girls wrote fabulous books.  Suzanne wrote The Curse of the Singles Table: A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex, chronicle of a dry spell that lasted longer than the Kennedy administration. This book is hysterical and when she came to the bay area to do a reading I drove to Novato to meet her. I saw her again last year at a small family reunion at her sister Jennifer's house in L.A. Jennifer also wrote the fabulous, tell-all book Ill-Equipped for a Life of Sex: A Memoir. 

We woke up early Thursday morning and Bill went to his fly-fishing class, which he loved, by the way! And I went to check out the downtown Bend scene. I thought I was having deja-vu as I strolled up and down the streets - it seemed as if I had been transported back to downtown Walnut Creek (in the east bay area of San Francisco)! Lots of chic little shops, with your typical yuppies and their little kids & dogs, along with the gentrified retirees...oy vey, I thought, we can't move here! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Walnut Creek - it was a fabulous place to raise kids and I made the best friends of my life there, but it's just not me anymore. I am now happiest in a small, little funky town more like Tahoe and Cedar Key!

I picked up my happy hubby and we set off to finish our marathon ale trail! In order to make this work I knew I had to employ some different tactics than how we started out - 2 sampler platters of 12 beers! I now was ordering 1/2 pints or 10 oz glasses wherever possible! We successfully finished our 9 breweries, before dinner and trotted off to pick up our promised Silipint prize!

On out to Ashland, where a surprise reunion awaited us!