Sunday, November 30, 2008


Greetings from sunny Arizona! Our marvelous coach, Penny the Pace transported us south from Oceanside CA on I-5 and then east on Highway 8 to Yuma AZ this past Tuesday without incident. We were very grateful because on Wednesday night all H--- broke loose and this area of the state experienced a spectacular thunder and lightening storm. The rain reminded me of the type of torrential downpour, usually experienced in the tropics, arriving in waves with Yuma ultimately receiving over 2 inches. (BTW-no leaks in Penny!) Fortunately, there was no wind but that also meant the storm hung over us for several hours. The cloud cover was so low and thick we lost contact with our Internet satellite and then a few minutes later, we lost the TV satellite connection. Hmmmm … no internet AND no TV … we just sat back and watched in awe as Mother Nature reminded us she is in charge! The next day it was sun as usual ... we love it!

As I mentioned last Sunday we went to Balboa Park to attend the weekly Spreckles Organ Concert. Located in the heart of the park and celebrating its 90th birthday, the gigantic organ was a gift to the people of San Diego from John and Adolph Spreckles (of the sugar family) and is the largest outdoor organ in the world. In continuous use since 1915, the concert was performed by civic organist, Dr. Carol Williams. Lasting only an hour, the concert was wonderful and I really wanted to share some of the music with you so I figured out how to take a video with my digital camera. However, trying to upload the video into my blog has been an exercise in futility. Our internet connection speed is just up a notch or two from dial up and a one minute 30 second piece would have taken over three hours to upoad! I tried it using Blogger and Viddler without any luck. If someone knows a better way please share your expertise with me! Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Balboa Park, just minutes from downtown is a priceless jewel in the heart of the city of San Diego. At 1500 acres, it is home to 15 major museums, many performing art venues, lush gardens everywhere along with cultural and recreational attractions including the San Diego Zoo that we explored last week. We walked for over an hour after the concert and soaked in the ambiance of the extraordinary architecture, ogled the diversity of people and listened to many entertainers including a didgeridoo playing duo along with a variety of other musicians. There were magicians, palm readers, face painters, caricature artists, dogs on leashes in all sizes and shapes, an enormous Koi pond leading up to a fabulous botanical garden dating back to 1915 just to name a few things we saw. It was late so we skipped the museums saving them for another trip. It is indeed a magical place and the people of San Diego are so fortunate to have it in their back yard.

The movie, "Australia" opened on Wednesday and we went to the matinee and really enjoyed it. To quote the male lead (and recently voted the sexiest man alive by People Magazine), Hugh Jackman on the Tonight Show, “It isn’t "Gone with the Wind" but it is an epic that will stand the test of time.” We agreed. Nicole Kidman did a wonderful job in her part but 11 year-old Brandon Walters who played the half-cast Nullah steals the show from both stars. We will hear more about this young man in the near future. The spectacular scenery was in itself worth the price of admission.

Phil and I celebrated our birthdays (both born on 11-27) which also fell on Thanksgiving this year and we received birthday greetings from our children and our lovely niece, Tammy. Of course, our dear friend, Gloria was the first to call and wish us both a “happy birthday!” Together with my precious cousin, Nada and her partner, Andre’ we enjoyed our holiday dinner at the Happy Greek Chef in old town Yuma. As usual, the food was very good, the company was wonderful and there were boxes of leftovers to take home. Nada is staying in Yuma for awhile to get caught up at work and hopefully, find a buyer for her house that has been on the market since late summer. Somehow, I forgot to take any pictures! I hate it when that happens.

We had another delightful get-together on Friday joining fellow fulltimers, Bill and Diane (again at the Happy Greek Chef) for lunch. We have known Bill and Diane (there is a link to their blog on the Backroad Chronicle’s sidebar) for a couple years but this is the first time we have been in the same location at the same time long enough to find time for a good visit. It was fun and we look forward to seeing them again at the Gypsy Journal Rally in February, 2009. After lunch Phil and I made a stop at the first Wal*Mart Supercenter we have seen since Oregon and picked up a few groceries and one of my prescriptions. Yesterday, Phil got out the buckets and gave our Penny a good scrubbing and she looks like her shiny self again. After that, he went over to Aunt Elaine’s place and besides having the sad task of informing her neighbors of her passing went to work cleaning up the yard. We have no idea what Elaine’s children will decide to do with her winter home here in Yuma but we will contribute what we can to keep it looking “lived in” until they make their decision.

We have a “to do” list of our own to get to work on so our days will be filled with a variety of chores for the next couple months. Phil and I trust everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you for taking the time to check in on the blog and keeping up with our (sometimes mundane) adventures. We really appreciate you stopping in!

Until next time ...

A tiny Dr. Williams perched on the bench of this huge organ visiting with the audience.

However, there was no doubt who was in charge when she played.

After the concert, the San Diego Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams being interviewed by The Learning Channel that taped the entire concert.

A magnificent and very well behaved Great Dane by the Koi pond.

One of the 2000 tropical plants inside the wood lathe structure of the 1915 botanical garden.

Just beautiful!

The children were fascinated by the didgeridoo players. A haunting and primeval sound as one man chanted "Happy Thanksgiving" into the instrument.

A lovely day and a beautiful fountain.

Yahoo!! Under $2.00 a gallon in Yuma. Chevron and Arco have joined the ranks and reduced their prices as well. We hope to enjoy it while it lasts!

Diane, Bill, Joy and Phil after lunch at "The Happy Greek Chef" in Yuma, AZ.

We were seated in the renovated dining car portion of the building.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


After someone you love dies there is emptiness inside that permeates every conversation, every daily action and every thought you have for a very long time. She was so loved and so loving, her passing has left a big hole in our hearts and we will forever celebrate having her in our lives. Our Aunt Elaine will be missed more than we can say.

Helen "Elaine" Cahill
Elaine lost her battle with cancer on November 17, 2008. She was the loving mother of Shannon (Brad) Towle, Jonelle (Jim) Bauserman, John "Jody" Cahill and Casey Cahill; and wife of John Cahill who predeceased her on July 8, 1983. Born to George and Hazel Ellison in Glenns Ferry, Idaho on May 15, 1926 she was the beloved older sister to Beverly (Don) Eagan. [Joy’s note: Also the much-loved younger sister of four older siblings by her father’s first marriage: Violet Fisher, Ethel Swigart, Harry Ellison and Elma Anderson, who also predeceased her]. She adored her grandchildren, Justin (Crystal) Towle, Beau and Dane Bauserman, Lacey Cahill, Kelsey and Lindsey Cahill; great grandchildren Braden and Laken Towle; and her numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. She and John started their married life together in Alturas, California where she graduated from Modoc Union High School in 1945. Her favorite summer trips were to visit with her beloved classmates and friends who still live in the Alturas and Susanville area. Elaine lived most of her adult life in the Federal Way and Puyallup, Washington areas. In her later years, after retiring from United Airlines, she traveled to Yuma, Arizona during the winter months to enjoy the sunny weather and the friendship of her fellow "Snow Birds". Her large, extended family and loving circle of friends were dear to her and are invited to celebrate her life at a future date after the holidays.
I read a lot of different blogs—leave comments on many of them and really enjoy hearing about other bloggers daily lives and interests and learning from their experiences. Most of my favorites are written by other Rvers but I also read blogs written by happy and dedicated homemakers, foodies, crafters, authors, artists, and family members along with every other type of blog you can imagine. If you can think of it, there are people out there blogging about it! At this stage of my life, I avoid any that are controversial and prefer blogs that are upbeat, agreeable and instructive. All this reading does take time and using that valuable time for such a purely selfish activity pleases me very much but also lays a lot of guilt on me however, never fear—I will persevere.

In my reading adventures the other day, I saw a label (blog title) similar to this in a particular blog that gave me a good laugh and reminded me of myself so I decided to share it with you: “Even though she doesn’t have much to talk about, she didn’t let that stop her.” All week I make notes and contemplate what I’m going to write about but still worry that my mind will go blank on Sunday morning, the appointed time to begin my blog. However, it seems like once I start typing, the words are there … be they to the point or off the wall and I really identified with that statement and I’m sure some of my readers will concur.
To many it may seem that fulltime Rvers are bouncing across the country like the steel orb in a pinball machine on its roll to the bottom of the playing field but believe it or not, usually that is not the game plan. We may resist acknowledging its presence but most of us have a strategy of sorts, a semi-structured timetable if you will in order to be in certain places at certain times. What we all have in common is the freedom to choose our route according to our own individual wishes. Most of us have a “theme” or a fixed mission we will try and fit into that plan. Several of those might include National Parks, Memorials and Monuments, fishing in every state, and a variety of museums or major league ball parks. Here at Backroad Chronicles we have two. Whenever possible, we arrange our route to include some of the above but most importantly we try to include the capital city and administrative building of the states we pass through. If it is possible, we will tour and take pictures inside but often times we make these treks on the weekend (when the traffic in the city is minimal) and sometimes the building is closed. When that happens, we are content to photograph the exterior and call it good. Also, in order to search out the U. S. Post Offices in the cities and villages along our day trips we will wander off the highway in each little back road community and take a picture. This picture usually includes the town name, state and zip code but it always surprises us when we find one without these of which there have been several. Neither Phil nor I can remember when we started this file but as we unhurriedly pass through many small towns and settlements tucked away off the mainstream thoroughfares it usually adds sights and sounds in each town we might not otherwise experience. Some day I will share some of those photos with you, some are really a kick!
This past week although we are grieving, life did go on. We were invited to dinner and had a wonderful visit with Phil’s cousin Norm and his charming wife, Susanna in San Diego, Another day we went to two tapings in a row (they needed warm bodies to fill the seats) of the Dr. Phil Show in Hollywood. We also spent an afternoon at the San Diego Zoo and in between those accomplishments managed to get our laundry done. One day I will explain the ordeal we go through on “laundry day” which is all due to my obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to the simple act of washing our dirty clothes but I will save that dissertation for a week when nothing else has happened! Lucky you!

Until next time ...

As pretty on the outside as she was on the inside!

Our dear Aunt Elaine in happier times!

Phil's cousin and his wife in front of their family picture taken during a holiday in Hawaii. We had a wonderful dinner and a great time visiting and catching up on all the family news. Thank you Norm and Susanna!

The biggest of three backyard pools for Norm's Japanese Koi fish. He is a sought after expert and has been raising these fish for over 25 years. He has dozens and dozens of them. They are various ages and from six inches to three feet long. His collection is spectacular.

One entrance to Paramount Studios. The audience entrance was a block or so away. They would not say when the shows we watched would be aired but as soon as we find out ... we will let you know.

The famous sign up on the hill. We have arrived for the Dr. Phil Show.

Our last picture before the camera and our cell phones were confiscated. Absolutely no cameras or recording devices allowed. We sat behind Robin McGraw during the first show. She is tiny and as pretty in person as she is on TV.

Another adventure to check off of my "Life List of Things to do (before I die)" It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.

Our carriage awaits us for the Skyfari Aerial Tram ride.

Riding above the treetops to get a birds eye view of the huge San Diego Zoo.

Born in 2007, this is the newest addition to the San Diego Zoo Giant Panda exhibit. Comfy in a hammock, high in a tree, 15 month old Zhen Zhen lives with her mother and is a great climber.

My favorite exhibit in the zoo! Giant Panda, 16 year old Bai Yun has given birth to four cubs.

Is this a face only a mother could love? The grand old man of the orangutan enclosure. With all his long hair, when he walked he looked like a stubby version of WA State's infamous Sasquatch.

Beautiful Hibiscus blooming in mid-November. We love southern California!

Mounted Security (San Diego mounted police?) in Balboa Park.

The Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park. We are going to a free concert this afternoon featuring the Spreckles Organ, one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs. I'll tell you about it next week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

WINTERTIME .. and the livin' is easy!

This is the question we hear most often: “Where are you?” For a map of our exact location click on the following link or if that doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into the address line of your browser:
Once the map loads, we are # 1807 and if there is any other data storm (our satellite internet connection) users parked near us, they will be on the map as well. Scrolling down you will find Phil’s most recent notation about our newest venue which he updates every time we move. Clicking on the little bars underneath “Zoom” will bring you in closer or take you out to include the entire USA. Clicking anywhere on this larger map will take you to a different page where you can move the map from continent to continent by clicking on the yellow arrows. There are thousands of us, many in other countries around the world and if you look to the left side beside the name, you might see a small pink box around a tiny piece of note paper. This indicates that particular data storm user has a web link. Most of the time it denotes they have a blog but sometimes it is a link to their online store or business. Saving this page is as easy as adding it to your favorites or putting a short cut on your desktop so finding our location is just a quick click away.

Weather in Oceanside, CA: Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine! Cool nights (at 6 am today, it was only 40’) and it got up to over 80’ yesterday. It has been about the same since we arrived. This morning there is a pretty good breeze and I wonder if it might be the southern edge of the Santa Anna winds that are wreaking havoc on the wild fires north of San Diego. Apparently, we moved south just in time.

We have been doing a lot of ocean view driving which is fairly easy around this neck of the woods. Everyone knows that the sport of surfing is enjoyed by many in southern California but the truth is … surfers are as thick as flies on cow pies in this neck of the woods. Any surf at all is full of swimmers in wet suits tied to boards of all sizes and shapes. Most are terrible at it and end up being tumbled by the wave action but that does not seem to deter the masses. Phil and I decided we do not feel like we have missed anything by not being interested in swimming in the ocean. I can’t help but have visions of the cousins of “Jaws” lined up just off shore waiting for a black neoprene encased meal to float by! Oh to be young, not to mention 10 feet tall and bullet proof again!

Last Thursday we went to the movies in the afternoon. Oceanside has a 16 screen theater right in the middle of downtown. We saw “Changeling” a true story about crime and police corruption in the 1930s staring Angelina Jolie. The story was very interesting although sad and she was very good—but oh those lips! I know she is considered a beautiful woman but her puffy, pouty lips look painful to me and are a definite distraction. To add fuel to my diversion, they painted them bright red and no matter what she did or what time of day it was—early morning or during a good cry, the lips remained brilliant and without a smudge. Really Hollywood … what is your point?

Coming out of the theater we realized while we were inside the downtown streets of Oceanside had been transformed into an enormous Farmer’s Market which as it turns out, is a weekly event (weather permitting … ha!). Before heading home we strolled for an hour or so listening to the music, perusing the homemade crafts and wares, homegrown produce and enjoying the luscious sights and smells of all the food being prepared. I always want to buy everything in sight but Phil manages to keep my enthusiasm under control by reminding me of the small amount of storage, inside Penny not to mention in our already full refrigerator! There were throngs of attendees so people-watching was very entertaining as well.

On Friday we revisited San Diego and Coronado. Phil spent many, many months at a time over the years working TDY in this area and he always loved it. Being an expert in his field (plastics) he was regularly loaned out for various ship and submarine repair jobs by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton where he was employed. He went on jobs to the east coast as well but he always preferred the San Diego trips as the weather was always so wonderful compared to the usual winter months in WA State!
Lastly but definitely not "leastly", I want to welcome my newest readers and thank them for all the encouraging comments. Although I am a novice at the mechanics of blogging I am learning every day from the community of bloggers that I am following with great interest. You are all so good at it and have so many great ideas--all your wonderful efforts make my day!

Great Grandson

Sean-Michael Liam

b: 5:57 am October 25, 2008

Joshua and precious Sean-Michael.

Badly lit picture of a beautifully done bus conversion parked on the street with a "Welcome! Come on in sign." We did and it was very interesting. They added the top half of another bus to make a loft for more sleeping complete with spiral staircase. All work was done by the owners inside and out. The woodwork was gorgeous and well made. However, too "hippi-ish" for us and definitely not our cup of tea.

The bus is owned by a religious community that has a booth at the Farmer's Market selling herbal tea ... uhuh ... sure.

Apparently nice people and very welcoming. I'm sure they are recruiting new blood for their organization.

Southern California coastline panorama. It is so beautiful, it takes your breath away!

Beautiful San Diego sky line.

All along the beach drives in southern CA there are older RVers parked. Apparently, the "no overnight camping" law is not enforced. The jacks are down, the TV antennas are up, the toads are unhooked and the curtains are pulled. Most are too old to have slide outs. Low income Americans surviving the best way they can.

Warning! A political statement (rare on my blog) to follow ...

If things do not change soon in the country, this is how the dwindling middle class of the United States is going to be living in the not too distant future.

The beautiful Coronado bridge.

The lowest price we have paid in several years!

Sun worshipers abound! The beach at Oceanside, CA.
Looking back towards shore from the Oceanside Pier.

Ruby's Diner, our late "Linner" spot yesterday out on the end of the long Oceanside Pier.

After more than a half-hour wait along with dozens of others outside on the pier, we were shown to a tiny booth for two in the corner while many booths all around us remained empty. What's up with that?

The selection was sparce and typical greasy diner fare. We had cheese burgers and fries and the food was just okay in our opinion.

Definately a "tourist trap" and a one time event.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


We are parked in the tiny (8 spaces) RV area of the Simi Valley Elks Lodge in Simi Valley, CA. Most sites have full hookups and they charge $15 a night. Lots of trees but our Data Storm (Internet) found the correct satellite and Phil managed to line up the Dish TV without any problems. When we arrived, we over shot the turn into the lodge driveway because the property sits back off the road and it is not very well marked (unless you know where to look) and the driveway is narrow. A phone call to the lodge redirected us and we made a U-turn with Penny the Pace and The Lone Ranger … fortunately there was a wide place to do it.

Simi Valley weather report: Cool nights and warm days. It was only 40’ this morning when I got up so I plugged in the little electric heater to take off the chill inside Penny. That only lasted an hour or so because the sun came out and it takes just a few minutes for solar power to warm up the whole coach after that happens. The outside air warms up quickly as well and the days are topping out in the mid to high 70s and up to the low 80s. It isn’t clear to us whether wind is a normal phenomenon here in the Valley but we have had quite of bit of it almost every day. Maybe we are protected by the hills around us or maybe they are the cause of the wild and wooly gusts we have experienced but then after blowing like crazy for up to an hour or longer, it stops—just like someone flips a switch.

If you look to the right in the Backroad Chronicle’s sidebar you will find a new “gadget” as these accessories are called in “Blogger language” (Geek Speak). It is a place to acknowledge the people who on a regular basis read my blog and where my readers can link to these other blogs. I have named it “Frequent Followers” and if you are kind enough to examine my Sunday compositions and if you also have a blog of your own, please add yourself to the list. I’m not sure whether it works for those who do not have a blog but you can give it a try by clicking on Follow this Blog and see what happens. Please let me know if it doesn’t work for my blog-less readers! Also, I want to mention that the “comments” have dwindled down to nothing lately. I’m not sure what that means … either every word I write is completely benign (oh yeah, I believe that) and non-controversial so no one has anything to add OR the old adage applies … “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” Be sure, affable or adverse I want to hear from you! One note: all comments are e-mailed to me first (I made that decision after being spammed big time) and then it is my choice whether to publish or not. Consequently, (because contrary to popular belief I am not on the computer 24/7), there may be a bit of lag time between your post and my publishing. However, I promise you that unless your opinions are conspicuously in bad taste, all comments will be posted. I look forward to learning from my readers!

Phil and I have been on the go pretty much every day. Our Carmen Garmin (GPS) has taken us on some pretty exciting back roads in and over the surrounding canyons as we traveled to Santa Clarita to Wal*Mart on Thursday, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Friday then yesterday down the coast as far as Redondo Beach. The topography around here comes as a big surprise after traveling north and south on I-5 for so many years where with the exception of the infamous “grapevine”, we have seen mostly flatland along the way to San Diego. Narrow two lane roads that twist and turn around blind hairpin curves after dark are enough to get the old heart pumping but the views we have seen are beyond spectacular and my camera has not done them justice. For some reason, (Could it be we’re retired and seriously laid back?)we just have a hard time getting in gear early enough to find our way home before dark. Oh well, no harm done and lots of exciting memories … I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Penny the Pace in space three at the Simi Valley Elk's Lodge.

One of the huge sandstone rock formations on the Elk's Lodge property.

We stumbled across a film crew making a commercial (we asked). There was at least 10 trucks for equipment and personnel parked around this gas staion.

It must cost a fortune to film one of these.

These trucks were the dressing rooms and wardrobe carriers.

Just for fun ... my fruit still life photo!
On May 2nd in 1984, President and Nancy Reagan visited Fairbanks Alaska. They met with Pope John Paul II at the Fairbanks International Airport. Later, local republicans hosted a luncheon at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the campus center. At the time I was the Food Service Director for ARA, at the Anchorage Pioneer Home who just happened to be the contract food provider for the university as well. As management I was offered the opportunity to go; cleared by the president's security staff then flew to Fairbanks to help serve the lunch. I worked the right side of the head table where Nancy Reagan sat and my friend and co-worker, Sharon worked the left side where the president sat. Although I am not a republican, it was an exciting day for me with all the tight secret service activity not to mention getting so up close and personal to the commander in chief and his wife.

Oh yes, the president's food was the same as the food served everyone else but it was cooked by his own chef in a small portable kitchen right behind the curtains on stage.
Leading into the style exhibit that chronicles her life using the gowns and ensembles she wore over the past 80 years is the official life-size portrait of Nancy Reagan from 1988. She is wearing a striking red gown known to be her signature color.

Each ticket holder received an impressive 9" X 11" commemorative soft cover book about this exhibit.

Just a few of the of the 80 ensembles displayed.

The Air Force One Pavilion made possible by the good friend of President Reagan and oil tycoon, Boone Pickins.

Entrance to walk through Air Force One. This C-137C Stratoliner was a VIP transport aircraft, derived from the Boeing 707 and is the actual plane that served seven U. S. presidents. It flew over a million miles during its 28 years of service.

An exact replica of the oval office during Reagan's tenure. Kinda cool to be that close to THE room even if it was just pretend.

If you look close, you can see the risers added to the lower edge of the desk. This was necessary because he was too tall to fit comfortably in the knee hole.

This is only part of them? Wow!