Friday, November 30, 2012

The happiest day... a boat owner's life is the day they buy their boat, in this case, a canoe! I am hoping that because this does not have a motor the last part of this saying doesn't come true...the second happiest day in a boat owner's life is the day they sell their boat!

We are now the proud owners of a canoe, our very first boat!

We won't actually take possession of our new baby (must think of a name) until we get to Cedar Key in three weeks, but she's ours now and looks like she just needs a little bling to make her sparkle. Maybe we'll get some "wheels" to make it easier for us to get her down to the water...we'll see. Just so excited!

Thanks to our friends, Pat & Cindy Bonish of the Low-Key Hideway Motel & Tiki Bar for hooking us up with the owner who priced this baby to sell!! Can't wait to load our beach chairs and a cooler for a day out on one of the deserted islands of Cedar Key...

And oh, by the way, this is written in real time - we are now current!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Smithville... from Bill

My brother Kurt lives in the small town of Smithville, Texas, about an hour east of Austin. When Kurt saw from our blogging that we were going to be in Austin in November, he invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. Even though we've been living a relatively strict plant-based diet, we decided we would make an exception for Thanksgiving, after all, it’s just one day. So we planned to get to Smithville the day before Thanksgiving and stay through the weekend since both Kurt and Chrissy work in Austin during the week.

Kurt likes to fix things. He and Chrissy bought a run-down house not far from the main drag in Smithville several years ago. They've completely renovated the place and it now looks fantastic. Not one to sit on his laurels, they put the place up for sale and bought a new dump on the other side of the tracks to keep Kurt busy. The new place is something that most people would tear down and start all over with, but not Kurt. He has taken on the challenge of renovating the place from the bottom up, and when I say bottom I mean bottom, like where the wood had rotted out between the frame of the house and the piers that support it. This is going to be a major project, but I’m sure Kurt and Chrissy will be up to the task.

We stayed at the same campground, by the Colorado River, that we stayed at the last time we visited. This time we got a pull-through site near the entrance to the campground and our front yard opened to one of the holes on a frisbee golf course that meanders through the park. It was fun watching and talking to the people that came through. We decided we need to get some frisbees so we can join in the fun. We seem to come across these courses all over the place in our travels. 

Our time in Smithville was spent for the most part helping to clean up the yard around the new house and preparing meals. We had Kurt and Chrissy over for dinner one night and ate outdoors on the picnic table after warming up around the campfire. We stuck to our plant-based diet when we cooked for them and it seemed to go over well. I don’t think we made converts of them, but they did seem to enjoy the meals. One day the twin boys from across the street came over to help with raking leaves. They were precious and one made Debby crack up when, out of the blue, he said, “My family is very smart and rich. We’re just waiting for our inheritance to come through." 

Thanksgiving was pretty traditional, with turkey, cranberry sauce, and my garlic mashed potatoes followed by pumpkin and apple pies. Chrissy prepared everything except the potatoes and the meal was delicious. Outside of a couple of Z-pies, this was the first meat we’d eaten in about two months, and it was good, and there was much rejoicing....and then we slept. We slept for hours……  Big thanks to Chrissy and my brother for hosting us for T-day.

We went back to Austin on Friday to stock up on food at the Central Market and Whole Foods, but not before stopping at our favorite vegan taco stand, Vegan Nom. The tacos were just as good as we remembered and we got to talk to the owner about some of his recipes. Wish I could figure out how he made that bean dip—so yummy...nom nom nom.

Sunday was packing day and Debby made pasta to take to my brother’s house for dinner. This was much appreciated as Chrissy was exhausted from painting the new house and didn't have the energy to prepare anything herself. Monday, we were on the road to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to “take the waters.” That’s where this blog is being written, which means we’re actually up to date on our blogging. Yeah! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hill Shade RV Park - unofficial home of the NuRVers

I had heard about Hill Shade in Gonzales, Texas as soon as we found the NuRVers online. It seems one of the first rally's was held here and everyone we met spoke highly of Christine and Michael and their family. Last year when we were in Texas we thought we'd get over to stay with them for a bit but our plans changed and we headed back to California instead. This time, though, we actually had about a week with no plans in between our stay in Austin and visiting Bill's brother in Smithville for Thanksgiving. Their park is now very busy and full-up with people working on the pipe-line out there. I emailed Christine and told her who we were and she replied that she knew exactly who we were and couldn't wait to meet us. We got lucky and a nice spot with a huge front yard was awaiting our arrival. Unfortunately, though, Christine was not - she was out of town and not back until the day before we were going to leave.

We had been on a whirlwind in Austin and it was nice to be out in the country with nothing to do and no where to go...except, of course, to the Spoetzel Brewery, home of Shiner Bock beer, one of my favorites, just down the road a piece in Shiner, Texas.

We did a lot of cooking while there - Bill made a fabulous vegan chili (with a few twists) from our new cookbook "Crazy Sexy Kitchen" and I made a few other yummy things.  The best thing about cooking, of course, is all the great left-overs you get!

Monday, November 26, 2012


...I do love thee and am thankful for the overabundance found in Austin, Texas! My most favoritist (yes, I said that) food is the AVOCADO and one of the perks of the plant based-whole foods diet is that you can not only eat as much as you want of it but it's actually a great way to get a lot of your essential nutrients. There are many places we travel to where there isn't one to be found on a menu, but not Austin, no, it's on every single menu we've been to in our two weeks here and I'm in heaven. I thought I might have hit my limit last night, but when I woke up this morning my first thought was can I use that perfectly ripe avocado sitting in my fridge this morning!

Austin is also, much to our delight, a vegan's paradise. There are 16 vegan food trucks, yes, 16!! And most every restaurant we've been to has a few items on the menu that are actually noted as vegan. It is a college town, but I don't think that even California is this vegan friendly. Yesterdays trip to check out Vegan Nom aka Rockin' Vegan Tacos was a highlight...not only were the tacos fabulous but their Mudd Dip with black beans, chili con queso, fresh quacomole and cilantro, wow - nom nom nom!!! I am still thinking about our meal there this morning!

So now it's been two weeks since we left Austin, the above I started to write while we were of these days I will catch up and post "in the moment" blogs...after 2+ years though I wonder if that will actually ever happen!

Amaaaaaazing food in Austin! Bill hit up Biscuits and Groovy twice and we went back to Vegan Nom twice too.
We LOVE Austin! We were there last January and tried to get into the Pecan Grove RV park with no luck. They only have about 10 spaces for "transients" and a very popular location steps away from Lady Bird Lake, music venues, a brewery and good restaurants. I had made reservations months before and was very lucky to get 2 weeks at the beginning of November. We left Hamlin, and our friends, a little too late in the day so we got to Austin right at rush hour, driving a big 35 ft rv and towing a car through downtown Austin at rush hour isn't fun, but people were really nice and even let us "merge". We got unpacked quickly and set out on foot to get the lay of the land. First stop, of course, was Uncle Billy's brewery - right next door!
Bill at Uncle Billy's brewery after a long run around Lady Bird Lake

We spent a lot of time running around the lake, walking over the bridge to downtown and frequenting whatever music venues we could. We also got to hash a few times with the Austin hash and hang out with our friend Smeg, who Bill knew from his Phoenix days back in the 90's. Austin has a great hash, good trails and friendly folks. A few remembered us from the Stupor Bowl hash last January. We did the Veteran's day hash and sported our required kilts.

Friends Derrel and Pam from Hamlin took this pic - they were in town for the UT football game and came over to visit. 
always fun with Derrel and Pam
Our friends are "The Roaming Pint" -sticker at the Austin Beerwerks - who guided us to The Gingerman!
The Elephant Room

With Smeg (aka Rick) and harriette dining al fresco at El Alma

At the Hula Hut with Smeg after the hash.

Sixth Street fun with Smeg

From Vacation to Probation...

...this is the last thing my daughter said to me this morning as she spoke to me just hours after getting out of jail where she has spent the last two weeks. I just want to give a shout-out here to my amazing husband and wonderful friends who have supported me through yet another difficult time of being a mother to my sweet, loving, troubled daughter. This is an incredibly personal blog which I have been given permission from my daughter, Lauryn, to share with you.

Lauryn is a survivor, she is my daughter 100% which is a good thing and a bad thing! She had a difficult time growing up, as did many of us, but she has yet to shed the weight of those experiences and let them work for her, instead of letting them drown her. She ended up in the Orange County, California jail after having a warrant issued for her arrest from a DUI experience earlier this spring. She was surprised to hear about the warrant because she had received the toxicology report back from the hospital (where she was taken after she passed out while driving) and it showed she had 0.000% alcohol in her system and the DMV had mailed her back her driver's license. But the DA was charging her with a DUI due to the fact that she had 2 prescription drugs in her system. She was in Long Beach for the big hair show (she is a hair stylist) and we (her dad and I) had given her the trip as a birthday present and I let her use my credit card to rent a car, ok, yes, big mistake I realize now. She has never been a good driver, very easily distracted and hasn't driven a car for several years now using her bike and public transportation to get around. After spending the day at the hair show having a fabulous time and not eating all day - she got into her car to go visit a friend before joining her hair show friends at a party - where she never showed. Luckily for her she didn't hurt anyone -this is definitely the best part of this story. Anyway, long story short, Bill and I were in southern California last month and I flew her down to go to court and deal with this. Having never experienced any dealings with the courts I was pretty ignorant about how things actually go down. The DA makes her a deal which she accepts and pleads guilty but the judge doesn't accept any of the deal, except for one part, and sentences her to 30 days in the Orange County jail (she had requested to serve in Contra Costa County where she lives). I am flabbergasted and cannot believe this is happening, I mean on all of those shows on tv they make a deal with the DA and that's it, right? Ha ha...folks this is not tv land!!

Things get worse when she doesn't sign up for the DUI class in time and chooses (with advice from the DUI school) to wait to sign up until after she serves her jail time so she won't have to pay the absent fees while in jail. Her dad buys her a ticket to get down to Orange County where another amazing person in her life picks her up and brings her back to his house to stay until she has to go to jail. She flies down a day early to go to court to request an extension of her DUI school. The judge laughs at her and tells her he is going to sentence her to an additional 30 days in jail because she has broken her probation by not enrolling in time and that she should "..have a good time because the jail is full of felons right now..." At this point she freaks out and asks for a public defender...obviously something we should have done from the get go. Let me backtrack her for a moment to comment that Lauryn has some super amazing friends and one of them works with a law firm (is not an attorney) and has some experience in this area. She advises Lauryn to go find the public defender who gives her some great advice and goes back into the court room with her to request a formal extension of time and the judge looks at her, and after being a total asshole to her earlier, winks at her and says "oh that's all she wants - sure."

Luckily for her the public defender also told her to remove any piercings she has because if she goes to jail with them they will put her in solitary confinement for the entire time. So off she goes to the local tattoo store to have it removed. She is doing all of this by bus in Orange County - she's pretty good about getting around but this is quite the day. Trying to get enough money together to put onto her account at the jail so she can get something other than a bar of soap to brush her teeth, bathe and clean her clothes with in addition to supplementing the meager meals they provide. Again she has been given advice from the many wonderful people in her life. She is great about providing me a website where you can get a lot of information about what happens in this jail which is well known as one of the worst jails in California with regards to the type of people who are here and the strictness of the courts.

Once she's in we all have to learn how to connect with her by mail and phone, another bit of education for me to add to my resume. Lauryn has connected me to a few of her friends which is great, one friend in particular has been very supportive, everyone who knows her wants to help and is going way out of their way to figure out how to let her make collect calls from the jail which cost about $1/minute. I am really quite taken aback by how many people love her and support her.

She ends up being put in a jail with a crazy girl because the "dorm area" is full, but I think this was probably the safest place for her. She isn't able to shower for 5 days and can't get any of her "commissary" money until after the first week she is there. She makes friends with many there and they all help each other out...but of course there are always haters out there and she learns to stay away from those inmates with the "yellow wrist band" showing that they are violent. Sleep is difficult on the metal beds, plus she deals with insomnia on a regular basis, she gets her period and has to deal with that, no cigarettes in the California jails - another thing that I am hoping will help her quit her addiction ..she journals every day about her experiences, relishes the mail she receives and hopes to help the friends she has made, while there, after she gets out. On her last day all of her journaling and papers with the inmates names and booking numbers is confiscated as "evidence" and she leaves as she came, with the clothes on her back.

One is released from jail in the middle of the night and there have been rapes and murders of inmates as they leave the jail in the dark of the night as they wait for a ride home. A father who's daughter was murdered after she was released started a program called Lights On with the St. Vincent De Paul Society and they man an RV at the jail exit and provide phone chargers, telephones, pastries and a safe place to wait for your ride. I am so thankful that they are there and she has a safe place to wait at 2:30 in the morning when her wonderful friend who lives nearby will pick her up.

This has been quite the experience for all of us involved and I am hoping, hoping, hoping that my little LoLo will use this as a place to grow from and realize how truly fortunate she is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Friends in the little town of Hamlin, TX

We weren't sure if we were going to be able to see Bill's friends, Pam & Derrel, in Hamlin who we visited last January. The weekend we had planned to come they were out of town for a reunion (just a week past Bill's!) and we had reservations at a great little park in Austin that we couldn't adjust. Derrel is the only dentist in the county and is quite busy during the week but we had a few days to kill and really could use our teeth cleaned so we just planned to come during the week and see them when we could. Well, let me tell you, I am so glad we came anyway! Aside from the fact that our visiting didn't begin until 5pm and went into the wee hours of the morn', the fact that we had a few days without any plans and that there was absolutely nothing to do in this town was great! It seems as if we have been moving '90 per' since May and we had just come to a screeching halt!
parked in front of one of Derrel & Pam's homes

I am getting caught up on my work, blogging, house cleaning and the laundry. We even put all of our dishes, glasses and silverware through a hot, sanitizing wash in the dishwasher! Happy, happy, joy, joy and the weather is a purrrfect 78 degrees...excuse me while I go sit on a chaise and read, er nap!

Had some time to get my spices out of the dark pantry and out where I can use them. I also put up a small rack on the pantry door for the other ones. I used a metal ruler which I put up with thick double-sided tape and then purchased magnetic spice cans from Bed, Bath & Beyond - it's been working out great and they stay up even while we're driving on some gnarly roads!

We spent the first evening partying in Pam's "hobby house" one of the three homes they own on their block - too much fun!
We're having fun with the hat we brought for Pam's hobby house - it needed some Halloweening!
An evening at the "Man Cave"
Halloween at the Dentist with Dr. Derrel!

An evening of fun in Bebe...

We had four fabulous, fun-filled nights with Pam and Derrel and hope to see them down in Cedar Key this winter!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

back to Santa Fe...

snow coming = must off we went back to Santa Fe where we had not really had time to diverge and conquer, plus one of my really close friends was going to be there, so off we went.

Marni and I go back to a time when we both were raising children in the San Francisco east bay. We quickly became fast friends and even though she and I have both moved all over California we have kept in touch. The last time I saw her was in San Diego, Fall 2010. Serendipity is amazing...I received a mass email from Marni telling us that her youngest daughter, Tori was to appear on Jeopardy that week. In that email she also mentioned that she was going to be in Santa Fe, New Mexico - well, so were we! I quickly emailed her and we set up a date to meet for lunch and to tour the Georgia O'Keeffe museum.

It was great seeing Marni - it continues to amaze me how one can get together with a friend they haven't seen in two years (OR MORE!) and just pick up from the last visit. Marni and I are not even FB friends so we had a lot of catching up to do. She knew me "when" as I did her and I will always treasure her friendship. The museum was interesting and I'm glad I had a chance to see it and tour downtown Santa Fe. Love the town but just a bit too expensive and hoity toity for me; now back in the day....

The highlight of our visit back to Santa Fe has to be the restaurant Mu Du Noodles! Now that Bill and I have gone "plant-based, whole food" eating our focus is finding amazing restaurants where we can easily dine. Mu Du Noodles is our number one favorite find, to date. Not only are all the vegan items on the menu marked with a V but an asterisk on the other items lets you know that they can also be made vegan. We were lucky enough to be waited on by the owner and once he knew that we A) loved sake and be B) were vegan, he basically ordered for us - and we wanted everything because that meant we'd have leftovers!! Not only was the service impeccable but the food was nothing short of spectacular - from presentation to taste, a big fat YUMM!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

USAFA 40th Reunion!

posted by Bill....

After a brief stay in Santa Fe where we had time to go on a hike and hit the local brewery, we hit the road to my 40th Air Force Academy reunion.

This event, and getting to Idaho before Raz left, were the two things that determined our travel schedule for the summer and now we were finally on our way to Colorado. First, however, we wanted to stop at the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, about an hour north of Santa Fe and only a little out of our way. Ojo Caliente has an RV park that can handle a few big rigs and it only cost $20.00 a day, so we were in. Getting in and out was a bit of a challenge due to the condition of the roads, but the sites were large and private and close to the resort. This is a relatively large resort with lots of soaking pools and even a mud bath for those so inclined. The pools have different minerals in the water, including arsenic, iron, and soda. We lounged around the large pool all day, trying to figure out where the sun was going to set so we could get the last bit of afternoon sun. That evening we had dinner at the spa restaurant and were able to find some yummy vegan meals to complete the experience. This place is definitely worth a return trip.

The next morning we headed out to Colorado Springs, bucking 30 mph crosswinds the whole way. I don’t know why, but it seems that every time I get behind the wheel in Bebe, the winds pick up just to make the drive more challenging. We had reservations at the Garden of the Gods campground where we stayed for the Doane family reunion two years earlier. It was a bit late in the season so the campground was pretty empty and we were able to get a premium pull-through site in a newly developed section of the park.

The next day, Bruce Aaron Rasmussen (Raz) came by and he and I played pool at the campground while Debby went out to get her hair done. We had a great time and I was able to get even for the spanking I got from Raz on the ping pong table in Coeur d’Alene. That evening we went to the Marriott for the reunion check in and had a great time reconnecting with folks I hadn't seen in years. This reunion was a bit different from previous ones in that I had seen a lot of my best friends during our travels.

Friday morning I played in the golf tournament with Raz, Chuck Winter, and Mike Romito. Chuck set the tone by getting a round of Bloody Mary’s before we took off to go to our starting hole for the shotgun start. We all had a great time, even if the scores weren't all that impressive. What was impressive, was the number of golf balls Raz left in the woods. He was wearing pants with pockets like Captain Kangaroo and kept pulling out balls and spraying them all over the course until he got one in the fairway. I think he really understands how the game should be played.

That evening was the formal get together at the hotel. Debby and I had reserved a room for the night so we wouldn't have to worry about driving home. This was the first time we’d slept outside of the RV since our last burning man, and it was a nice change, until around 2:00 a.m. We were just about to get ready for bed, when the alarm sounded in the room and we were told to evacuate the building. It seems the Academy football team was also staying in the hotel, and apparently a fan of the New Mexico team we were playing the next day thought it would be fun to disrupt their sleep. It wasn't a big deal for us since we hadn't gone to bed yet, but we did get to climb the stairs back to our room on the fifth floor a couple of times and got just a bit disoriented because they had closed the fire doors to the elevators and things did not look at all like they should.

Debby had never been to an Air Force football game, so she was quite impressed by all the pomp and circumstance that goes on there. We had cadets parachuting onto the field, a flyby by two F-4 fighters, the cadet wing marching onto the field and running into the stands, cadets running onto the field after every score to do push-ups  and the falcon putting on a show at halftime. There’s really nothing quite like it. We split early with the Falcons well ahead to avoid the traffic and get warm. All in all, it was a great experience.

With the reunion over, it was time to visit with my cousins. On Sunday we went for a hike with my cousin Mike and his wife Gaye. My cousin Rick joined us after the hike and we enjoyed a yummy vegan dinner that Gaye prepared for us. On Monday we met up with Rick and Mike at the Phantom Canyon brewery to shoot pool and enjoy some local beer.

By coincidence, my cousin Rebecca was in town for work and we were able to get together with her and Rick for dinner. We went to a place called the Rabbit Hole, where we enjoyed a vegan feast that any self-respecting rabbit would die for. This place is really unique and has an incredible menu. The entrance looks like a telephone booth or subway station entrance in the middle of the sidewalk and you go downstairs from there into the restaurant (down the Rabbit Hole).

Izzy, a friend from Tahoe, was now living in Colorado Springs and we found some time to meet him for a beer and catch up, but mostly to reminisce about the people and the beer from Mt. Tallac Brewery. Special is the word that comes to every way.

The whole time we were in the Springs, the weather was beautiful, but a storm was brewing and we needed to get out of town before we got snowed in for the winter like the Donner Party. So we packed up and headed back to Santa Fe just in time to get blasted by 30 mph crosswinds the whole way back.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

I remember hearing about the Balloon Fiesta when we first started full-timing but then I completely forgot about it until our hash friend, Duhhh, mentioned it when I said we were heading there in October. Luckily enough I only had to adjust our "schedule" a few days to attend this little event. Bill and I had a fun experience in a hot air balloon a couple of years before when we celebrated a friend's birthday in Napa with a balloon ride. In reality it was less than exciting, we were up at 6 am to avoid the high heat that May day but it wasn't early enough, it seems, as we never got up very high or went very far. This experience, although it did not include any personal rides up in the balloon, was every bit exceptional! I had posted on Facebook that we were going to be attending and got some good advice from other fellow rvers and also an invite to meet up with another full-timing couple that was in the area.

At dawn we all sang the Star Spangled Banner with this first balloon.

Ms. Annabelle from the rear!

We started out our 4 day adventure with a bike ride over to the Fiesta grounds where we were quickly booted off as they are serious about the security of the vendors stalls while they are closed. But we made fast friends with one of the security guys who loved hearing about our full-timing adventures. We were up early the next day to see the Dawn Patrol in the dark. We had a no-hook-up site across the street from the grounds and were just about to head back for a nap when we were texted from fellow rvers to meet them. Richard and Michelle have been on the road a year or so now and were a fun couple that we invited over for a mid-day drink. They were staying in Santa Fe and this was their second or third trip down to attend the fiesta. We connected right away and told them about the hash and they wanted to attend the Balloon Fiesta hash the Albuquerque Hash House Harriers was having Saturday.

It is always fun for us to introduce people to the hash - we talk about it all the time and everyone always wants to do one but in reality about 1% of the people who say this actually show up when they say they will. Well, Richard and Michelle were one of the 1%! We met them at the start location which was a hasher's home who lived close to the Fiesta grounds and we set off on a short trail to the event. It was a good hash for a non-runner's first hash and our virgins had a great time and an even better time at the end when the hash hosted a big bbq back at the start location. We had a great time and made plans to meet Richard and Michelle in Santa Fe when we headed up that way.

Wherever we go we have our mail forwarded from Tahoe - usually it's to an rv park where we're parked, but often we have to forward it to the US Postal Service General Delivery. I go online to the USPS website and it lists which post offices accept general delivery. I found the one closest to us and used that address....well, I guess the website information is NOT always correct! Confirm, confirm, confirm...please learn from my mistakes - always call and confirm that they do indeed accept general delivery mail - in my case the post office I used no longer accepted it and this caused quite a problem. Not only did I have my mail from Tahoe forwarded to me but my mother mailed me something to this address as did Netflix. The only smart thing I did do was send my mail from Tahoe with delivery confirmation. With delivery confirmation you can go online and see where your mail is in the process. When we went to pick up our mail, after we saw it was delivered online, we were informed it wasn't there and was probably being forwarded to the main post office - over the course of the next few days we made numerous trips to all of the post offices in the neighborhood - no mail, anywhere... We saw online that it was bouncing around between all of the post offices but no one knew anything about it. We were excited when we saw that it was back in Sacramento, then all of sudden it was back in Albuquerque - FINALLY after about 2 weeks it made it back to Tahoe! I never received my Netflix movie and the mail my mom sent came back to her 3 weeks later with a torn envelope and empty of the what she had mailed to me. 

As I am sure you have figured out by now, Bill has Air Force friends all over this country, including Albuquerque! Gary and Clarissa Grant picked us up and took us to a mongolian bbq place for dinner- a great spot for us plant eating-whole foodies, we had a great time and left with some pretty awesome leftovers! We made plans to see them the following week at the Air Force Academy reunion in Colorado Springs. We also hit up our first "vegan" restaurant, Vegan Thai, where we dined for our 3rd anniversary. Not exactly how we had celebrated our other two but it was fun to be able to order anything off the menu!

Bebe at the Balloon Fiesta Mass Acenscion