Friday, September 30, 2011

Oldie Goldies

Because of our interest in vintage Airstreams and Shannon's new acquisition of a vintage travel trailer, we are keenly aware as we drive along, of both vintage rv's and the newer very small trailers which have come full circle to meet the needs of today's vehicles. It seems that in every small town we pass through, we see oldie goldie travel trailers being used sometimes for housing but also road-ready and in the campgrounds where we are staying. We think it is a tribute to the people who value a well-made conveyance and are satisfied with something minimal rather than the huge, ponderous motor homes that are excessive. Many nights, we find ourselves sandwiched between two such vehicles that are also hauling more toys behind them.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but it is encouraging to see the creativity and resilience of people who are making a home out of an rv and making a living wherever it's parked. Few of the places we have stopped are for wanderers only. Most have some or even many long term residents. One wonders if financial circumstance is the cause. It often seems so.

Like many that we see who are living small, for whatever reason, we feel some pride in traveling small and making our tiny rolling house have as little impact as possible in consuming less as we indulge ourselves in seeing this wonderful country.

One can see that the economy has affected many towns through which we pass. However, the farmers are still harvesting, the people are keeping on, and manufacturing is still happening. We find the people to be hospitable, positive, and upbeat.

As for these two oldie goldies, we are moving on with our compass pointed toward Portland and always open to new possibilities.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Frustrations and Disappointments

In travel, as in life, no amount of planning guarantees success. A frequent frustration across the country has been the difficulty getting accurate information about parking so that we can visit historical sites, museums, and other places of interest. We check websites, we call ahead and ask, and very often when we arrive, there is no place to park with the trailer even though we have been assured that there is. Yesterday was no different.

One of the prime spots on our "to see" list proved completely rv and trailer unfriendly. And after going up a 6% grade with a twisting, narrow road, we arrived at the Oregon Trail Center to find signs impossible to read from a safe distance, parking lots tiny and inaccessible, and only one area for rv's which would have required us to climb a hill on foot that was way too much for either of us. And so we left deeply disappointed.

But on a bright note, we had driven into Baker City and on a whim, visited their museum and enjoyed it thoroughly so the day was not a bust. It turns out that Baker City is the home of Wally Byum, Airstream inventor, founder, and intrepid traveler. The city museum had an entire room devoted to the development of Airstream trailers and the worldwide caravans he led over the years. What a way to feed our fantasy!!

We rode around through the town seeing beautiful old homes and historic hotels and city buildings. We really liked Baker City. We continue to follow the Oregon Trail and will stop at historical markers and marvel at the tenacity and strength of the people who made that journey. It is no wonder that the northwest is a different kind of place. On balance, the disappointments and frustrations are far outweighed by the beauty of the land and the serendipitous pleasures around every bend,

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Idaho Isn't Just Potatoes

I never expected to connect with my heritage in Idaho. But in the heart of Boise, I found a wonderful place called the Basque Block, a collection of restaurants, shops, memorials, and a museum, all celebrating the large Basque population in the area. My home province in Spain is in Santander, right next to the Basque provinces and I find that much of my family culture especially food, is Basque influenced. So in order to honor my heritage, I tried all the food I could. From tapas to croquetas to saloma sandwiches to exquisite rice pudding, I made sure I left with a sampling of all that was available.

I learned in the museum that the berets my grandfathers wore so often are a typical cap worn by the Basques in their daily lives. And so, I purchased a miniature version to decorate my Christmas swan, Pavlova. Just a little holiday ritual we indulge in every year.

With tummies full we ventured out to the Birds of Prey Center in the high desert where we were able to see many unusual birds such as eagles, falcons, and condors. The California Condor exhibit was especially remarkable because they are housed in a cave-like structure much like their normal habitat and spend much time on a large snag. If you stand and watch, you can see them spread their wings which have a nine foot span. Unbelievable! Perhaps the most interesting bird was the African Eagle whose beak and feet change color according to their mood; kind of like a feathered mood ring. I found myself wishing that some people had this feature so I could read them better.

We even had time for a little thrifting in the afternoon, something we miss from home. We really enjoyed Boise. It seems to be a very environmentally conscience city with bike trails, parks, and river walks.

We are also finding different ways to co-exist in our tiny space. It is a challenge because everything single thing has to be put away every single day or there is not enough room to move around. There is not the luxury of waiting until later to finish something up. However, we are finding that living sparsely can give a degree of freedom as long as we have our television and computer. Oh, and the iPhone, of course.

We are now headed out on the Oregon Trail once again and will soon cross into Oregon and gain our last hour.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Saturday

Tomorrow, we leave this beautiful place in Idaho. We have decided that Idaho is a "come back" place for us. It is gorgeous, cool, and very inspiring. Thursday, I went out fly fishing with a guide. We went on the Henry's Fork River and spent all day in a drift boat. I love drift boats because they can navigate on any kind of water and the water up here can be very rocky and choppy. My guide was superb, taught me many new things....particularly how to fish with nymphs. I caught thirty rainbow trout by the end of the day and had great fun fighting them while they jumped around in the water. I really didn't want the day to end.

Yesterday, we went to Yellowstone National Park. What a beautiful place. It is utterly amazing to stand in the midst of bubbling geysers whose origins are so close to the surface of the earth. It really brings to mind that the earth is alive and that we definitely are not in charge. While touring the park, we saw a large herd of bison, several elk, mule deer, and Canadian geese.

Today, on the way to Mesa Falls (it was early in the morning), a large elk crossed the road in front of the truck and later, a bear cub. It was very exciting.

We continue to go west, headed for Portland, Oregon. I hope to be able to post photographs when I get a stronger connection that can support the transfer. In the meantime, it's one more night in Idaho.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011


No pictures today because this campground's wireless internet is very weak. However, that's the only downside of this place. We are nestled in a caldera, the results of a volcanic eruption here thousands of years ago. That means that we are sitting on the flat surface with mountains surrounding us that are really the rim of the ancient volcano. Idaho is a gorgeous place and tomorrow, I get to fish in the Henry's Fork River, one of the most famous bodies of water around here.

Today, we explored a place called Big Springs, went to the outfitter to poke around, and found a great restaurant where we had a wonderful lunch. Tomorrow morning early, I meet my guide at the fly shop and get on the water for an all day fishing expedition.

On the way to Idaho, we stopped at the Oregon and California Trail Museum. Originally, this trip was to follow the route of the Oregon Trail and we have done pretty well so far. The museum was an incredible place and we actually put our feet on the same soil as the pioneers who traveled the trail. Very awesome.

Hope to blog more tomorrow after my fishing trip but for now, we are in sixty degree weather, the Aspens are blowing outside the trailer, and Cocoa is sleeping soundly on the couch. She thinks that camping is an exhausting activity.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I Cannot Do Without and It's Embarrassing

This is the inside of the trailer and you are looking at our seven inch television. We scoffed at this little TV when we purchased the trailer and said things like, "It doesn't matter that it's so small. We won't use it anyway. We will read or sketch or journal." Well, it's true. When we have a lay-over for more than one night, we actually read or sketch or journal. Sometimes, we even blog.

However, on those days when we drive almost four hundred miles and reach our campsite at almost sundown, we hook up the electric, eat dinner, and collapse. On those days, we long for TV. Television allows us to just veg, sit back and be catatonic, not talk, snooze, and certainly not read, sketch, or journal.

The problem with this TV was that we had never hooked it up to cable. So it never worked. Well, I got desperate, mainly for weather because we were in Nebraska and the campground had a tornado siren. Therefore, I wanted to watch the weather channel. Wal Mart, here I come. I bought a coaxial cable, did a channel scan, and lo and behold, we have cable TV. And a good thing too. A really big storm blew through and we watched the TV to see if we had to go into the shelter. We didn't. I'm an alarmist about things like that. But now we have about thirty or forty channels at whatever campground we frequent.

I'm really embarrassed to admit it, but I need my TV. Seven inches and all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Few Tidbits For The Evening

I thought this was the cutest place. It sold antiques and vegetables. Not antique vegetables though. I bought a beautiful tomato there.

Here are the girls on the wet ride through Kansas. Rain, field upon field of corn that, we fear, is genetically engineered, and a wind farm.

And, finally, a beautiful German Shepherd that we met at a rest area. She and her partner are therapy dogs and were off lead the entire time they were at the rest area. Extremely well trained, beautifully built, one of the highlights of our day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going To The Dogs

Please meet Scooter and Lightning, two crocheted snails that Janet bought for the rPod. They serve as a reminder for us to slow down, stay in the moment, look at things from a different perspective, and always be ready for adventure. Because you know, for a snail, three inches is an adventure. And we sometimes even call our Pod escarGOt. We may be slow but we cover a lot of ground.

-Our little rig has a maximum speed of 55mph so we have lots of time to view the passing scene. Sometimes people honk at us along the way. We think they may be saying "howdy" but really, they are telling us to go faster. No way, we say.

Yesterday, Shirley, Janet, Cocoa, Scooter, and Lightning visited the AKC Museum of the Dog.

Scooter and Lightning

Cocoa--No that is not a muzzle. It is a Gentle Leader head collar, a very effective training tool.

The highlight of our day was our visit to the AKC Museum of the Dog, a place we have wanted to visit for a very long time. If you are the least bit interested in dogs, dog art, trophies, and beautiful, adoring faces, this is the place for you. What a wonderful collection of art! Paintings, photographs, bronzes, antique collars, as well as trophies, all in an estate home donated to the county. It was the farm/mansion of a Monsanto executive and includes a lovely park for hiking, biking, horse riding, etc.

St. Louis is a really big city and we found it easy to navigate but we're happy to be back on the road in more rural areas. Right now, it's a drizzly day, the farm fields are beautiful and we enjoy seeing silos and barns much more than monuments and edifices. We have the Pod pointed toward Kansas. Next stop, the National Poultry Museum, just outside Kansas City. Anyone who really knows us, knows that we have a fantasy for raising chickens someday. Yes, it's true.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bright Eyed and Rested

On the road to Paducah, Ky and the American Quilt Museum. Will try to post pictures but I'm having a little trouble with my transfer software from the iphone to the ipad. I'll get it figured out. We had a great night's sleep, primarily because we were at a pristine, wonderful campground with beautiful trees, and immaculately kept grounds. Cocoa slept through the night without re-arranging herself numerous times in my bed so that was a plus for me. Jan and I were even able to take a lovely walk in the cool air before heading out this morning.

Jan got to check out a rack set-up for canoe and bicycles similar to what she has in mind for our truck----a great find.

Greatly enjoyed the rolling terrain of Tennessee and views of foothills and mountains in the distance. Roads are excellent with no construction woes. We are beginning to see signs of fall. Maples are beginning to turn with yellowing and an occasional flash of red. We've seen several flashes of crimson sumac and in the morning fog, we are seeing the first slight yellowing of birches along the roadside.

Later: Just left the quilt museum. It was a spectacular display of creativity and dedication to the art form. Amazing murals on the flood control wall by the Ohio River; beautiful buildings on the downtown square in Paducah (unfortunately closed on Monday). Cocoa enjoyed seeing the quilts and walking through the town. Tomorrow, she gets to go to the AKC Museum of the Dog in St. Louis.

By the way, I love my new short, short, short haircut. (I know you thought it was short before ). I don't even have to comb it and no gel or hairspray. Saves me a lot of time each morning. I highly recommend it.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Day Out

Well, yesterday was our first day out and it was a typical first day. We always have to get accustomed to traveling again since we take such long breaks between trips. As usual, we wondered if we had done everything to leave the house just so, checking each of our voluminous lists for all of the chores that are involved in closing up the house.

Our first day trip was uneventful and we are always reminded how much Cocoa loves the smells at the rest areas since so many doggies visit the same places. The campground in Alabama was not great but the price was right. We actually thought about leaving and finding another place but decided against it since there wasn't much else any better up the road. We are finding, as we camp these days, that there are many people and families making campgrounds their permanent homes. Their rigs are very nice, large and accommodating. But this is not something that used to be as common as it is today. The economy has forced people either to leave their homes or to travel in this manner to find work. I have a friend who lives in a campground in Savannah because her husband travels to find work in the construction business so I know how common it is.

Today, we are on the road to Tennessee and the temperature is in the 50's. We are already cold and wonder how we will manage in Idaho where it is already in the 30's. Not to worry, we have our woolies and a good heater in the trailer. Will post pictures as we go along. We didn't get a lot of sleep last night (typical first night also) so we feel lucky to have brushed our teeth and combed our hair so far this morning. Next stop, McDonald's for coffee.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's Hear It For Today

* Finally broke down and bought myself a new sport's watch. My old one, purchased when I first started running, is thirty years old and held together with gorilla tape. It was time.
* Great lunch at Cracker Barrel. Love their turkey and dressing, today's special.
* Bought a new little sign for the inside of the trailer that says, "I think, therefore I am overqualified." I think it describes both of us, don't you think?
* Plan to hitch up later on when it's cooler.
* YeeHaw!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today's Likeable Things

Today's Excitement:

* Took Cocoa on all our chores this morning. She loves that.
* Got the walkie-talkies all ready with new batteries. Made me feel like I was on bus duty again.
* Called and made reservations at campgrounds.
* Had a yummy Subway sandwich for lunch.
* Downloaded new, revised maps for my Garmin.
* Charged up my Kindle.
* Am incredulous at the amount of technology I depend on.

More tomorrow, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Good Sunday

Today's Good Things:

* Lovely zinnias on the bathtub ledge.
* Chile and lime pistachios. Yum!
* Soon to be Happy Hour here on the farm.
* Great morning on the back steps drinking coffee and watching the birds.
* Almost nothing else left to do on the travel list.
* Was able to tolerate the heat and pull a few weeds this afternoon.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is This Saturday?

Tiny Blessings

* Packed up a lot of food for the freezer after a week of cooking.
* Noticed that there is a little "fall-ish" breeze outside today. Hmmmmm.
* Went to the garden very early to check on my newly transplanted basil and all four plants are standing tall and loving their new home.
* Hummingbirds are in an eating frenzy preparing for flight to their winter home.
* Received Ashley and Gavin's wedding invitation today. The invitations are beautiful, simple, perfect.
* Helped air up the tires on the truck and travel trailer. Can departure be that far behind?

Hope you have a great holiday weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trip To St. Pete

Great Visiting Day

*Spent several hours with Don and Lynne in St. Petersburg. We picked up sandwiches at Publix along with a large salad and had a feast. And nobody had to cook!
* Drove down and back on the Suncoast Parkway. Love that road!!
* Gazed lovingly at Tampa Bay as we drove on the Howard Frankland Bridge. Love looking at water!
* Brought home several basil plants from Lynn's "volunteer" group and I already planted them in the garden.
* Just washed the dog crate and almost ready to pack it in the truck.
* Watching the weather system that will pour tons of rain in several states. Hope it doesn't effect our route.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Normal Day

* Thanks to my friend Lisa for her advice about our proposed route to Yellowstone. Have changed the route to avoid possible snow closures and harrowing road conditions.
* Trip to orthopedist today and did not warrant another shot. Yay.
* One Etsy sale
* Saw a brilliant ten year old boy on CNN today who is an inventor. His quote, "The best way to know what the future holds is to create it yourself." Yes, I said ten years old and he is a big fan of environmental responsibility and sustainability. Gives me hope.
* The leaves on the sycamore trees are beginning to turn. Everyone else follows slowly behind.
* Kendall Jackson Chardonnay on the screened porch, watching the birds play in the sprinkler.

Such small pleasures.