Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays to all

Well, my time at Amazon came to a close on December 21 and not all to soon.  It was a good experience with lots of lessons learned along with many new friendships.  The Fernley facility hired 267 workampers and 207 made it to the end....kind of tells you it was hard work.  Amazon give us all glowing reports (its only the second year for the program at Fernley) and were really impressed by us "older workers" work ethics. By the end many were grumbling about the cold weather and could not wait to pull out and head for warmer climates.  The Sparks Marina RV park was pretty empty by Thursday morning.

With this blog, I'll try and catch up everyone on what the family is doing.  I didn't send out Christmas letters this year, so the bog will have to be it for Christmas and New Years wishes. I'm not going to include pictures this time, either.

Oldest son Craig arrived from New Mexico a week or so ago and hung out at Jeremy's house in Portola doing their favorite past time and hobby....making beer. (Jeremy plans to enter in the Reno Home Brew Contest in May) Mid-week they drove up to Chico and toured the Sierra Nevada Brewery and picked up a lot of tips.  Both are pretty experience home brewers and apparently the tour guide was a little surprised at some of the questions that were asked. Craig's girlfriend flew in on Thursday and they headed down to Pacific Grove to visit "grandma" for Christmas.  Craig plans to continue on to Sierra Vista, AZ, to work on his house and get it ready to rent.  Seems the property manager keeps adding to the "to do list".

Middle son Justin arrived from Virginia on Thursday for a few days.  He has been attending grad school in Virginia , working on a Masters  Degree in environmental policy.  He interned with a non-profit environmental policy research center last summer in DC and was recently offered a full-time job with the same group.  He was on target to finish his masters in May, but now will only take one class at a time so it may be a little longer before he completes his masters degree.  In today's economy, the job was paramount. Liz, his wife, is also working on her MBA(in addition to working full time) and taking a concentrated course over the holidays so did not make it out west this time. These are two very busy young people!!

Jason and Rhonda are still in Tennessee.  Jason is working for Lowe's Cabinet Making department near Nashville and is extremely grateful to finally be employed and have insurance benefits. . Rhonda recently started treatments for multiple myoloma ( a type of cancer of the blood) and has been doing well. Her latest tests shows the treatments are working to bring her protein levels closer to normal.  She has had quite a rough time and had to have a rod put in her arm to due to a tumor fracturing a bone and it didn't heal.   She is a survivor and fighter.

Christmas Eve, Justin, Jeremy, and I took the RV down to PG to spend Christmas Day with mom.  She was thrilled we all arrived including my brother Dale and his wife Carolann. We had a wonderful dinner in the Canterbury dinning room  on Christmas day after spending a relaxing day walking on the beach, (nice balmy weather) visiting and catching up.  I hated to leave, but Justin had to catch a flight out of Reno today.

I still haven't decided where I am going or what I am doing next.  The jello has been shaking, but can't seem to get it to settle down at all and let me know.  For the time being I'll stay a Jeremy's house at least until the snow starts to fly..the weather has been good, in fact there have been record breaking temperatures in the Tahoe basin.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall update, November 8

Well, I've have several inquiries as to how things are going.  I've been extremely busy the past six weeks.  The first month was spent at my son Jeremy's house driveway parking.  I has a huge house which backs up to BLM land, which also has a nice level parking area just perfect for my little Born Free.  You can't see the pad in the picture, but it is in front of and just to the left of the stairs. The picture was taken about two weeks ago, right after a little dusting of snow.

The first few days at Jeremy's were spent going back and forth to Verdi, Nevada  to empty out my storage units.  We rented a truck and transported all the furniture to Jeremy's house.  He only had a bed, dining table (a previous hand me down from me) and TV in the house , because his girlfriend took everything  when she moved out.  Jeremy went through all my stuff and we sorted, and sorted, and sorted some more and set aside stuff for a garage sale and other items for my other son Conlan who need a few house hold goods. (he is suppose to come out from New Mexico for Christmas) I condensed old files, tax returns, statements, etc accumulated over the past 15 years into a few bankers boxes and pictures.  Some day I'll get those pictures into some albums.  Most of the furniture has found its place in the house, and those pieces that Jeremy didn't want and I wanted to keep found a place in the basement.

The garage sale was very successful, although not very profitable.  I had hoped to re coop the cost of renting the truck but the proceeds didn't cover it.  Oh, paying storage fees.  The left overs were gladly accepted by the local Goodwill.

After cleaning out the storage units and garage sale I headed over to the coast to see my mother.
On the way I saw this:
A huge pumpkin in the back of a pickup truck on the freeway in the San Francisco Bay area!! Sorry about the poor quality.  The cracked windshield doesn't help, but it has since been fixed.  There were quite a few heads turning.

 The weather was pretty nice in Pacific Grove, although there were a few clouds.  Asilomar Beach is my favorite place to walk and enjoy the surf, and its only a few minutes from mom's place. The "surf was up".

I started the "Elf" work at Amazon two weeks ago.  I was warned it would be hard work, but fun.  So far the hard work has been just that, very hard with long hours.  I am working the night shift from 6:00 P.M. to 4:30 A.M, Wednesday through Saturday/Sunday in the shipping department packing packages for shipping.  I'm averaging between 55-70 pieces per hour depending on the size of the boxes on one line, and 90-100 on another line. The conveyor belt never stops so things are constantly moving fast. It's not hard work, but some of the boxes are heavy and big ...I'm getting biceps.:) Amazon doesn't allow you to take things like cell phone or cameras in the warehouse so I can't show you any pictures. Amazon has hired nearly 300 workampers for its Fernley plant and is bringing in 500 more temps this week.

  I have yet to see the "fun" in the work .  The way the stations are set up there is no time for socialization, except for on two 15 minute breaks and one 1/2 hour lunch in the break room. By the time you get to the break room, your time has been cut by five minutes, and its not pleasant to wolf down your lunch in 20 minutes (you need to leave time for a bathroom stop).   My hands are sore, but my body is adjusting to the weird time. Fortunately, the RV park that I am staying at is really nice, except for the commute distance to Amazon is a 65 miles round trip.  Now that the shifts and days have settled out it is possible to car pool with several other "Elves", which helps ..

On my days off I head over to Jeremy's house and live like a "normal" person, and take walks in the woods, and pretty soon, there will be enough snow to Cross Country Ski or Snow Shoe, with Jeremy's dog Rio.

Well, that's all for now.  Seven more weeks of Amazon, but I still don't know what I am doing after December 23....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where am I ? September 24

The past nine months have been a wonderful and  great adventure traveling and exploring the Mid-South, a the Natchez Trace, along with New England, with Joel,  but that chapter has comes to an end as I arrived in Phoenix to temperatures of over a 100 degrees on the 13th.   Will summer ever end? I retrieved my neglected Born Free  and Jeep from the Verde Camp Thousand Trails  (at least it was a little cooler there.) Much to my pleasure my home on wheels survived O.K. during the winter, spring,  and summer storage, except I had to jump start the engine. The engine battery was deader than a door nail.  I  had made an appointment with D and  R family RV  in Glendale to replace the coach batteries which had been removed and put in Joel's rig during storage .When I got to D and R the engine battery died  again so I also had to replace it.  It was over 5 years old so I guess it was time and expected.

I also needed to have the brakes worked on. The last RV repair vendor said I really needed new brake pads....(explains the squeak in the wheels and mountain driving is really hard on brakes), so I went to the local Ford truck service place. They don't make appointment but do have electric hookups and water  if you have stay over night and while you  wait...thank goodness because it definitely was a day to have the AC on and I did end up spending the night there.  Anyway, all went pretty smoothly including retrieving my "stuff" I had shipped from Joel's rig to Glendale via Greyhound...except my bike which Joel insisted be shipped to me.  After talking with Greyhound, it would be a few more days before the bike would arrive.

 Hmmm.  do I hang out in 100 degree plus temperature or head north to Flagstaff.  A call to my son Conlan in Tierra Amarillo in northern New Mexico  settled the matter. I hadn't seen him since last spring when we caught up with him on our way to Texas.  He had several days off so I headed to TA where there was cooler weather (a no brainer). I left the Born Free at the Elks  Lodge in Sedona and was off to meet up with Conlan and see my other 4 legged grandchild, Boone, a huge 6 year old black lab, and meet  Conlan's new girlfriend. It was a long drive, but spectacular as I skirted the fringes of Monument Valley on Highway 160.
Nothing like a lab and water. 

It was a wonderful decision to go and see Conlan.  Tierra Amarillo is a small little spot in the road, just a few miles south of the charming little town of Chama.  The focal point is the Raven coffee shop where the locals gather.  On weekends, Paul (the owner) provides live music and plays on the box drums. It happened that the weekend I was there was the last weekend of live music until next year.  That's Paul on his Garbage Can Base drum and one of his box drums is beside him.

TA is a little step back in time and reminds me of many little mountain towns before they "were discovered". My few days visit were not enough and I can't wait to return to visit in the Spring or Fall and explore more of the area.

So, the bike arrived at the Greyhound in Glendale and I packed it up; hitched up the Born Free on Thursday; and headed towards Reno, Nevada.  I'd forgotten how mountainous the drive was, which translates to really poor gas mileage and long uphill stretches at 40 MPH. I arrived in Reno on Friday and it was really hot...summer is suppose to be over...right?  Anyway, I continued to my son Jeremy's house in Portola, California, (just a few miles north of Reno) where the temperature was a nice 83 degrees with no humidity, (AHHH) along with cool nights for good sleeping.

I'll be in Northern Nevada for the next three months taking care of lose ends and doing a little work camping as an "Elf" at the Amazon.Com Fernley facility, and visiting with family when I can on the California coast. It feels really good to be back in my own house on wheels and back in the mountains.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Washingto DC Part II, September 11

Today was the 10 year anniversary of 911 and I was a tiny bit apprehensive about going back to D.C. but not enough to give up a day with my personal guide, Justin.  Liz decided to stay home because  we wore her out yesterday.  We did do a lot of walking and the heat and humidity wares me out too.

Justin and I got a little later start  today and headed out just after lunch following the same routine of driving to Vienna to catch the train in to D.C. He had the whole day planned out and it was a good thing I had my walking shoes on because we hit the ground walking and didn't stop until we caught the train back home.  There was just too much to see! Our plan was to visit the National Mall and the various memorials the surround the Potomac River.

We walked by the White House. ... lots of security and some demonstrators.  Justin pointed out there was one lady who is there everyday, 365 days a year, demonstrating again nuclear power.  She must be really dedicated and independently wealthy to spend every day there.

 Some of the various demonstrators in front of the white house. The police seem to leave them alone as long as they were peaceful.  I did hear one policemen ask a bicyclist to keep his bicycle with him and not leave it unattended.

There are several war memorials along the National Mall and Park and the first one we visited was the World War II Memorial.
 The memorial is a large oblong shape and built around  a water feature.  One end is dedicated to   the Pacific  and the other dedicated to the Atlantic. There is a column for each state and wreaths on the columns.  There lots of folks sitting around enjoying the fountain.

 Next was the Viet Nam memorial.  It is  truly is sobering, especially for me as many of my classmates were involved in the Viet Nam war .  The shiny, black, granite wall reminds us of how many casualties there were. If you look closely, you can see the Washington Monument in the lower right hand corner in the distance. .
 The Korean War Memorial was very different.  There was a black granite wall with faces and names etched in it.  The etching were misty looking projecting the haze of war and and really hard to photograph.  Adjacent to the wall were statues of soldiers in a field.  The artist has done a excellent job of catching the expressions of war on their faces. Very emotional.

I think one of my favorite memorials was the FDR memorial.  It was quite large and included lots of water features and was scattered with quotes from Roosevelt. There were lots of places to sit and reflect.

The Lincoln Memorial is gigantic and it was as big as I remembered it.  Although, I think when I was 10 years old there were not nearly as many security guards and I'm sure I was allowed to explore the statue of Lincoln.

The Lincoln Memorial looks out towards the Washington Memorial over the reflecting pool, but the pool has become so fowled(no pun intended) from all the ducks and geese that it is being renovated.  If you look towards the bottom of the picture in the dark area you'll see the spot where Martin Luther King made his speech "I Have a Dream".
Speaking of MLK, there is a new memorial in the park.  It was supposed to be dedicated last weekend but Hurricane Irene canceled the dedication and with the  911 ceremonies this weekend  the official dedication has been moved to early October.

The Jefferson Memorial stands out as does the Lincoln Memorial.  Unfortunately we weren't able to go inside, because security had blocked it  off. They would not tell us what was going on, but the closure was temporary...for a few minutes to a few hours.
You can see all the police cars in front of the memorial.  There was lots of security and police activity while we were in this area.  Some of it was due to President Obama giving a speech at the Pentagon which wasn't very far away, and in the closing of the Jefferson Memorial, probably something suspicious was lurking behind a column.
The Washington Monument was damaged during the recent earthquake so it was also closed also, and the grounds adjacent were roped off, but it is still a striking landmark.

So I've hit some of the major highlights n Washington D.C. but have barely scratch the service. Justin has done a great job of showing me around and I look forward to returning and seeing more. There is a different feeling  just being near the Capitol. One gets the feeling of being energized and patriotic.  More information is available and the information seems more in depth...not as water down as we get in the West.  

I will be returning to Arizona  in a few days to retrieve my motor home and head back to Reno for a while.  On one hand I'm looking forward  to the dry heat of Arizona and the turn of the season in Nevada.  The humidity here is killing me. I don't know which is worse: dry heat at 105 degrees or 80 degrees with high humidity.   

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The "District" Part I, September 10

Saturday morning Justin, Liz and I were up early in anticipation of a very filled day.  Justin had made reservations to tour the Capitol and 10:45.  We left the house about 8:30 and drove to the train station in Vienna.  The train costs about $3.00 one way (unless you have a Smartcard or are over 65 and jump through hoops to get a senior card) and takes 20-40 minutes to get to the "District" as the locals call it.  The reservations stated we needed to be at the check in station 45 minutes before our tour for security reasons.  With it being the day before 9/11 I expected all kinds of delays, but everyone seemed to have their act together and we sailed through security and the train was not delayed.  In fact, we arrived a little early at the check in  and were asked if we would like to take an earlier tour.  We took the earlier tour which was nice because at that hour there were not  too many people.  We also found out that there are spaces available for "walk ups".

The Statue of Freedom sits on top of the capitol dome and this is the mold that was used to cast her.

The rotunda is truly elegant. The gold leaf didn't show up in the picture very well, but you can get an idea.  There is much symbolism in the painting, thirteen figures represent the thirteen colonies.
The relief looks like carving but are really paintings.
The statue room used to be used for the house but the acoustics were terrible and as the number of states grew, it became too small.  Today it holds some of the statues from the different states.  Each state is allowed two statues and they must be made of bronze or marble.  Obviously there isn't enough room for all the states statutes so some are places throughout the Capitol in prominent places.

This is one of Nevada's statues and it is of Winnemucca who was a defender of human rights and the first women native to author a book.

If you have been to Hawaii you will recognize King Kamehameha

A classic view of the Capitol.  Security was tight and there really weren't that many people.  Maybe because of 911
After our Capitol tour we headed to the downtown area for lunch.  We passed China town and saw the ornate entrance.  Although the area was busy, Justin said it was really quiet, but during the week it is really busy.
I saw this rose in one of the popular squares. Justine said the square was a very popular gathering place for the lunch crowd during the week.
Our next stop was at the Smithsonian.  I didn't realize there are over 16 Smithsonian's of varied exhibits.  We chose to go to the American History Smithsonian, it was not what I expected.  There were different exhibits about American History including a special one on the 150 anniversary of the Civil War.  I've seen so much about the Civil Way this year I passed on that one.

There was an exhibit on Greensboro counter from 1960.

There was also an interesting exhibit on the gowns of the First Ladies, probably not the most interesting thing for guys. Below is Michelle Obama inaugural gown.
And this was Nancy Regan's inaugural gown.
There was another exhibit of American Icons.  Guess what these are. ..Dorothy's shoes from the Wizard of Oz in 1939
And there were these shoes belonging Apollo Ono, Olympic champion.
These were the original Muppets.
I remember this guy from my childhood.  He started out in radio but was popular on TV

We saw so much one day, there is no way to post it all. And, there was a lot more to see, but there is no way to cram it in to one day.  Tomorrow is another day and we plan to return and see some of the monuments.

 I wished I had had my act together and contacted my representative to arrange a tour of the Whitehouse and one of the Congress sessions.  Arrangement  have to be made no later than three weeks ahead of time but best to make them 4-6 months ahead.  Oh well, I'll just have to catch them another time.  Justin has two more semesters of grad school, so what I don't see while I am here this time I can see next time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Alexandria, Virginia, September 9

My early morning flight from NH arrived at DIA mid morning and Justin was able to meet me within a few minutes of my arrival and I hit the ground running as a tourist.  We picked Liz  up at work in the afternoon and then headed over to Alexandria, one of their favorite places to walk around and explore. It is a really pretty city with lots of alleys and shops and places to poke around in.

This is the market place, and prior to the civil war the market place for slaves.

We stumbled up this fascinating sign and decided to go explore.

It was an old torpedo factory that had been turned into an art center.  There were over 80 working studios and 140 some artists.  An eclectic assortment of media...something for everyone.  This is the view from the second story.  Note the paper mache animals on the balcony.

And there was metal work.

I thought this was an ingenious way of using paper from an old book to make a whimsical mobile

                                                                          This was one of the original torpedoes.

Alexandria has a nice water front on the Potomac River.

We  enjoyed walking inside some of the buildings, mainly because they were air conditioned but look what happened while we were inside!  Oops.  I don't know if this was from all of the recent rain or the tide. We had planned to eat at the restaurant on the other side, but had to go to Plan B.

See the little blue house?  It's called a Spite House.  There used to be an alley way in which the "ladies of the night" would gather and make little fires to keep warm.  The house was built  to keep them out of the alley way because there were no city ordinances prohibiting them from being there.

 This was a long, but fun day for me.  It was so nice to see my kids.  Stay tuned.  Justin worked in Washington, D.C. all summer so he has promised to give me several days of touring.