Monday, April 30, 2007

10:30 p.m. Monday April 30, 2007

It is only 52 degrees outside and Phil and I both are cuddled up in our blankets with the little electric heater going full blast to maintain 70 degrees inside Penny. The forecast is for clouds and showers tomorrow … brrrr!

This morning, we cleared out of Penny by 8:30 a.m. and after going over the list of tasks we wanted done on our girl with the service manager, Tom, went to find a place for breakfast. We decided on the local Denny’s and although my requested medium rare steak (and eggs) was still mooing when I cut into it, the meat was tender. I ignored the fact that my plate looked like I had severed an artery and managed to do serious damage to my meal. Because I can eat my steaks cooked any where from rare to well done without ruining my meal I enjoyed my breakfast and I must say, in Denny’s defense, Phil’s steak was cooked perfectly.

Our next stop was downtown at the Albany Visitor and Convention Association where the “Information Specialist” on duty, a very friendly and helpful man named Don gave us maps and informative brochures about the self-guided drive to see Albany’s Victorian Homes and also the area Covered Bridges Tour. We agreed to go looking for the covered bridges and set off to find #1. Well, to make a long story short, after an hour and a half as well as three stops to ask for directions, we finally came upon bridge #2. Try as I might, I could not make heads or tails of the directions on any of the maps until we finally stumbled across our first bridge. From there, the directions started making sense! We never did get to #4 but we had fun and found some really neat country roads and picturesque small settlements, all within a 20 plus mile radius of Albany.

We were back in town in plenty of time to have an early dinner (we went to Red Robin-food was good) and get back to McKay’s an hour before they closed. Even so, it was almost 5 p.m. before Penny was backed out of the service bay and returned to her RV parking slot and she still needs a few things done tomorrow. Here are some of the pictures we took today …

"Covered Bridge Capital of the West.".

Oregon has 51 covered bridges, more than any other state west of the Mississippi. The first bridge built in 1851 near Oregon City no longer exists. Chambers Bridge, a 78-foot span built in Cottage Grove in 1925 to carry logs to a mill, is the only covered railroad bridge remaining in Oregon.

Covered bridges were built to protect the wooden trusses from weather. The design increases the life span of a bridge from the typical ten years to eighty or more.

Gilkey Bridge over Thomas Creek, at 120 feet long was built in 1939. With open sides and curved portal openings, this bridge is a standing reminder of what was once the town of Gilkey, Oregon.

At 130 feet, Shimanek Bridge is the only red bridge in Linn County. Built in 1966, it is the fifth covered bridge built at this site over Thomas Creek. This special bridge boasts Gothic louvered windows on each side and a cedar shake roof.

Crossing Thomas Creek, the 105 foot Hannah Bridge was built in 1936. The bridge features exposed trusses and rounded portals.

Just a few feet from the Larwood bridge, this crumbling water powered wheel once provided electricity to the locals and the brochure says it "is a reminder of simpler times." Ya think?

Beside a tiny wayside park, Larwood Bridge, built in 1939 is 105 feet long and near the confluence of Roaring River and Crabtree Creek.

Built in 1939, Hoffman Bridge across Crabtree Creek is 90 ft. long and built mostly with hand tools. You can see the adz marks in the upper timbers.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

9:48 p.m. Sunday April 29, 2007

We have had a wonderful weekend! Our treks along the back roads of Linn and Marion Counties in the Lone Ranger have taken us through some peaceful agrarian countryside. Ribbons of two-way lanes following property lines delineating hundreds of acres of green, lush fields and orchards renew our faith in the farmers of America. There is so much variety in the landscape around this area and so many different ways to cultivate the soil; we are mightily impressed with the expertise involved. This time of year, hop fields, grass and alfalfa along with berries, onions, and vineyards abound. Sweet smelling, rich, dark brown patches of earth freshly plowed and patiently anticipating seed is mixed in amongst the green. Our two days of slow meanderings have taken us alongside pastures filled with dairy and beef up to their knees in fodder along with Llamas, emus, horses and donkeys—a delightful variety of farm animals!

Also, it has been our privilege to visit with some much loved family members that live in the area. We went to see cousin Sandy, and her sister Dottie and husband, Sy in Newberg and met their newest granddaughter, Jasmine and said hello again to her big sister Jada. Dottie and Sy are babysitting giving the mom and dad a well deserved break. Believe it or not, we did not take one picture! Sometimes I wonder ...
Today we went to see my Aunt Lola, her husband Rees and their daughter and fulltime caregiver, my cousin, Sherry in Salem. Sherry's grandson, Wyatt and his mother, Josie were at the house for a few minutes so we got a quick hug as they went out the door. My Aunt is doing very well after suffering a stroke recently.
Tomorrow morning we will hand over our Penny the Pace to the competent mechanics at McKay Trucking and we will let you know the results ASAP

My beautiful and dear Aunt Lola who celebrated her 92nd birthday in January. She is recovering rapidly and miraculously from a stroke and continues to be sharp as a tack!

We visited my ancestral cemetery in Newberg, OR. This is the newest addition to the COX family plot--our dear Virginia who passed in 1998.

This farmer has hundreds of acres in grass. A sign we saw reports: "Linn County, the grass seed capital of the country."

We saw miles of white rail vinyl fences in the Oregon countryside. One small sign said, "Vinyl is Final."

Friday, April 27, 2007

7:04 p.m. Friday April 27, 2007

It has been another beautiful day in southern Oregon! Our drive to Albany was smooth (I-5 is in good shape in Oregon) and uneventful (just the way we like them) once Phil maneuvered Penny out of the Union 76 station near the freeway entrance in Grant’s Pass. Even at an angle, we scraped bottom although it does not appear there was any damage done (McKay will check it for us). I guess some gas stations are making so much money they don’t need ours. Even with careful consideration, at times it is difficult to find fuel stops that are RV friendly.

We are parked and plugged in here at McKay Truck and RV and they will go to work on Penny this coming Monday morning. When all is said and done, I will post a complete rundown of the work and the final cost. Our checklist is short this year and unless something unforeseen is found, we should be on the road again very quickly.

This sign caught my eye on a blue road in Oregon and gave me food for thought.

What kind of littering is "inoffensive"?

View of Mt. Shasta from I-5 driving north to Grant's Pass.

Spectacular view of Mt. McLaughlin heading south between Grant's Pass and Medford. We drove the Lone Ranger back down to visit one of our favorite stores--Harry and David's.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

9:03 p.m. Tuesday April 24, 2007

Today was a beautiful day so Phil and I went out and played. We drove south to Chico on old historic Highway 99 and came back for a lovely early dinner out on the deck at the Riverside Grill on the bank of the Sacramento River or should I say “stream” at this point in time. A diversion dam located on the east bank of the Sacramento River downstream from Red Bluff appears to influences the depth along with perhaps whatever amount of rainfall is received. For the biggest river in California originating on Mt. Shasta and emptying into the California Delta, it sure is a docile little waterway in Red Bluff today.

We are camped at the Elks Lodge and Penny’s master bedroom suite is backed up facing the freeway. It is a wonderful spot to rest for a day or two but the traffic noise is unbelievably loud and although it quiets down at night … it continues to be bothersome. We came across the Moose Lodge just south of town and they have about ten water/electric hookups and we were coveting the quiet until a train came barreling by across the highway. A road crossing initiated a shrill series of whistles and suddenly, the Elks seemed just fine after all.

The one little cup of coffee I drank last night (we hardly ever drink coffee past noon) with my strawberry rhubarb pie ala mode at Shari’s Restaurant was keeping me awake to maximize my enjoyment of the symphonic road noise then, to top off my fitful, sleep deprived night—the carbon dioxide sensor located above my bedroom window went off about 2 a.m.! At first I thought maybe we were being asphyxiated by the nonstop traffic on I-5 but calmer heads prevailed when Phil decided the batteries were going dead. Of course, they could not keep quiet about it until morning. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the night sans sniffer. This morning we realized we were out of AA batteries so after purchasing a fresh supply, Phil added new ones tonight. I think I will be putting our battery changing chores on a schedule.

Another bottlebrush (this time it is a bush) in Chico, CA.

The dining deck of the Riverside Grill on a perfect afternoon.

The placid Sacramento river in April 2007.

The Kelly-Griggs House Museum is a classic Victorian home that has been converted into an exhibition of antique wares from the past century in Red bluff, CA.

Beautiful Catholic Church in Red Bluff, CA.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

9:22 a.m. Sunday April 22, 2007

We have returned to rain country. I was awakened several times last night by the sound of the spirited wind and persistent rain having their way with Penny. The last time I woke up, it was difficult to get back to sleep. Apparently the strange sound (even though not totally unpleasant) will take some getting used to. Happily, the weather people have promised that this morning it will clear off quickly.

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I love the Internet. I also love traveling, reading, television and genealogy. My latest love is writing—writing my mother’s biography to be specific. Oh, I have a notebook filled with poetry written years ago but writing non-fiction is definitely my newest niche.

However, that said, like nearly all of you—what I love most of all is my family and we have just spent three terrific days with my sister, Robin and her family here in Pleasanton, California. The town of Pleasanton is just what is says … “pleasant”. With a small town atmosphere, Main Street has a plethora of restaurants (many with sidewalk seating), shops and within a short distance small malls spread out from downtown in several directions so it seems whatever your desires, there is a merchant happy to meet your needs. Phil and I visited the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market and took a stroll to do some window shopping while admiring the blooming trees and annuals that give the narrow streets a European feel. Our day yesterday was topped off with a gourmet dinner at my niece (and namesake) Julie and her husband, Doug’s impressive home in Fremont. Great niece, Cindy and nephew, Rex joined us rounding out our party of eight. It was a great visit and wonderful family time

Tomorrow will be another travel day as we continue to inch our way north toward Washington.

Sitting: Joy and Robin

Standing: Julie, Doug, Cindy, Walt and Rex

Taking the picture: Phil ;-)

Julie and Doug's dining room ready for our salad course.

Beautiful blooming trees along Main Street in Pleasanton, CA in April, 2007.

Blooming bottlebrush tree in Pleasanton, CA.

Giant geranium on the street in Pleasanton, CA.

Busy Saturday morning on Main Street in Pleasanton, California in April, 2007.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Borax Visitor Center - Boron, California

Photo: Weldon Brewster

The original Twenty Mule Team wagons (with life size mule figures) set the stage at the Borax Visitor Center. The small windmills up on the ridge are being set up so the visitor's center can become more "green."

Giant trucks wait to begin their workday at California's largest mine.

Photo: Weldon Brewster

Phil inside an old tire from the "old" trucks. They are even bigger now.

Buried deep in the Mojave Desert is one of the biggest and richest deosits of borax on the planet. Nearly half of the entire world's need for borates is supplied from this open pit mine.

Photo: Weldon Brewster

These windmills located in Mojave CA are the largest source of wind generated electricity in the world, providing power to over 150,000 homes a year.

Postcard copyright 2004 G. Louis Vopalensky

Friday, April 13, 2007

11:30 a.m. Friday April 13, 2007

The windstorm that battered Yuma and most all of Arizona has blown itself out. After two days of blowing dirt and gusts that rocked Penny, we have a little breeze left but when the temperatures are in the 80 to 90 degree range, a breeze feels good.

Phil and I went to Los Algodones Mexico yesterday to buy a three month supply of medication (at about half the cost) for my sister, Dixie in Washington. She does not have any prescription insurance and a couple of her meds are very expensive. I still enjoy an occasional flea market but I am no longer a “shopper” in spite of years of collecting “things” … to Phil’s relief, I have at last, morphed into a minimalist!. For that reason, running the gauntlet of “doctor/dentist/pharmacy hawkers as well as pushing my way through the vendors on the sidewalks is not a pleasant experience for me so I am always glad to get out of there. Many “snowbirds” have left Arizona already; there were no crowds and no wait at the border coming back into the U.S. so we were in and out in an hour.

My cousin Nada, who has been in New York State at a seminar for over a week, will return on Sunday. We are planning to meet with Elaine and Nada that afternoon to go out for a “good bye” dinner. Phil and I will be leaving Yuma the next day. We are both ready to roll—so it is time to pull up the jacks, unhook the “hookups” and mosey on up the road towards some summertime fun in Washington.

Friday, April 06, 2007

9:55 a.m. Friday April 6, 2007

Note to reader Larry:

Please contact me via my e-mail. I have a question for you.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

11:47 a.m. Thursday April 5, 2007

I have reached a milestone.

My family and close friends all know I am writing my mother’s biography (1914-1980). I have been laboring on this undertaking for quite a long time—more than seven years. This is my third attempt at putting her life down on paper and I am totally committed to finishing it this time around by working on it every day whenever possible.

They say if you want to be immortal—write a book. How true that is might be questionable but although, unintentional and unpremeditated my mother’s story has become a book. Her life was a complex combination of poor choices, sorrow and daring—interspersed with sprinklings of bliss all camouflaged by a stiff upper lip—and an “I made my bed and I will lie in it.” posturing.

Her alcohol induced mood swings were bizarre yet somehow she always found her way back from the edge of hopelessness into the heart of her family and friends. Her strengths were beyond the ordinary and her inimitable time on earth mattered to all connected to her, whether by blood or friendship.

The milestone I have reached is the half-way point in her life and although there is much work left to do, I feel like I am over the top and on the way down the mountain. In response to your thoughtful interest in my progress, just thought you might want to know!

Violet Lorena Ellison

Three years old, 1917

Monday, April 02, 2007

9:58 a.m. Monday April 2, 2007

Two very special people in my life are having birthdays today. My much loved grandson, Joe, the father of my only great granddaughter is 27 today (seems like yesterday when he was born) and my lovely and extraordinary niece, Tammy is celebrating today as well. When baby Joey was born on her 10th birthday she became so excited, she made herself sick and didn't get to see him until he was two days old. Because these two share a birthday, they have always had a special bond. Happy Birthday Tammy and Joe!
Not too long ago I wrote about our “to do” list here in Penny the Pace. Well, after giving it some thought I have decided to change the name on our list.

The 42 items listed will no longer be “to do’s” in Arizona 2006-2007—the new title of the list will be “Suggested Tasks”. Now you might think I have made that change out of remorse because we are obviously not going to get everything done (about half are checked off) and you might be correct to some degree. However, the fact is I decided to change the name because of the “implied” pressure.

What is “implied” pressure? In my case, it is a trigger which creates anxiety. I look at the list, I begin obsessing and before I know it, I am having an anxiety attack brought on by GUILT for not getting everything “on the list” done in a timely manner. THAT is not the way we want to live in our retirement.

Phil and I created the list strictly as a reminder because in our “senior years”, unless we act on something immediately (we do manage to remember a lunch date for instance), if we do not write it down—we forget—simple as that. Somehow the "reminder list" turned into the "boss" and after a reality check ... I fired the boss.

Aaaahhh! I feel better already!