Thursday, January 11, 2018

An Accidental Family History

As Denise, Stanley and I looked at the 2016 Thomas Times Christmas newsletter Stanley asked if I had saved copies of my old newsletters, noting that they are a look at our family history!  His observation set my creative juices flowing.  I would make Christmas Newsletter albums for the grandkids!

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I assembled all of the newsletters beginning with 1992.  (I’ve done Christmas letters many times through the years but none of these survive.)  Some of them were easy to scan, a few I have saved in my laptop so they were also easy to retrieve and a couple, which I had originally formatted on colored cardstock, were a bit more challenging to make good copies.

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I chose a loose leaf format so additional years could be easily added (maybe they will bind them in the future?) and purchased 1” binders, a different color for each “grand”, and plastic sheet protectors.

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In order to customize them for each kid I used actual mastheads from different years for the album covers.  The photos are a mini family tree: Us, Russ & Denise, Gary & Vivian and Kelle & Joe, and the “grands” Jorden, Stanley, Mary and William.

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Finally, I slipped a little dedication card into each album:

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When I shared a photo of the albums with daughter Kelle she replied “I want one!”

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I enjoy receiving Christmas newsletters but Christmas Newsletters as family history?  Quite a concept!  I wish I had saved my older ones and also those of friends and family!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Christmas Newsletter-55th Edition

I’ve used this format for our annual Christmas newsletter for many years.

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Happy 2018 Blogger friends!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fulltime RVing, my five favorite places…

“What is your favorite place?” is one of the most frequent of the questions I get about fulltime RVing. After 23 years of living the fulltime RVing lifestyle this question is so hard to answer.  We have enjoyed something about every place!  Number one and two are definitely in favorite order; after that they can be rearranged depending on my mood!  And, depending on my mood and our recent travels it could be totally different!

1.  MONTEREY PENINSULA, CALIFORNIA-this also happens to be our home base and where we lived before embarking on full time RVing.  Our primary doctors, dentist, ophthalmologists, etc. are there but this is not why it is #1 on the list.  I love the feeling of both small town and city on the peninsula, I love the bay which sparkles and is rich in wild life.  The climate suits me too—pretty much 65-70 degrees year round.  And, of course, good food like artichokes, calamari and produce fresh from the fields in nearby Salinas! We’ve been live-on volunteers and active with the track rental program at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a bunch of years and love it also.  GET is Track Rental Supervisor and I am a Sound Tester and Course Marshal.

Before we moved to Monterey I fell in love with the area while taking a travel Geography class.  It was so long ago that it was a cassette-directed class but I got to explore this historic and beautiful first capital of California.  A few years later when my boss at Pacific Bell asked if I was interested in a transfer to Monterey I answered immediately: “well, I’ll check with Gary but the answer is YES!”  So, three weeks later it became our home.

Me, doing my class homework in front of California’s First Theatre.

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2.  SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO has been hands down a favorite place since first stopping overnight in 1995.  We liked it so much that when we saw a Workamper News ad for hosts the following summer we immediately replied to Tom and Lisa at Rancheros de Santa Fe Campground and ended up returning as hosts for at least four years!  Let’s see, the magical sky, the Southwest architecture, the mountains, the weather including the summer monsoon rains, the feeling of small town and city AND the New Mexican food are just a few of the reasons it sits solidly at #2 on my list“

“Christmas” on the side-red and green chile and hot puffy sopapillias with honey!

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Oh my oh my…I am having a hard time settling on my next three!  OK, here goes:

3.  ALASKA no, not a certain area although we loved volunteering at Alaska State Park’s Chena River State Recreation Areas in Fairbanks.  Denali National Park was awesome, Anchorage was special and I had the best halibut fish n chips ever on the spit in Homer!  The LLONNGG drive up (and back) the Alaska Highway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We felt we were in America’s last frontier.

Near the Arctic Circle at 1:00 am on Summer Solstice

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Camp Host site at Chena River State Recreation Area, Fairbanks

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Since we couldn’t do the inside Passage in our fifth wheel we took an Alaskan Cruise a few years ago.  We checked another state capitol off our list and visited the unique Ketchikan. No words can describe pristine beauty of the glaciers!

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4.  MORRO BAY, CALIFORNIA – the beach, the quaint town, Dungeness crab fresh from a huge hot steaming pot, Morro Rock hiding in morning fog, finding shells and sand dollars while walking the beach …I feel so comfortable there!HPIM2905-Morro Rock

5.  NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA just may be on almost everyone’s favorite list!  Of course, the food is a big factor:  Red Beans and Rice, beignets, po’boys (I love shrimp the most), Crawfish or shrimp etouffee, King Cakes.  The architecture, riding the trolley, the Mississippi River, tugboats and steamboats, the World War II Museum and, it goes without saying, Mardi Gras, Jackson Square and Bourbon Street!

Christmas in New Orleans.

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It was a challenge to narrow it to five but I did it!

Some other places I really really like - in no particular order:

Maine – the whole state!

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Galveston, Texas

All of the national parks

Savannah, Georgia

Charleston, South Carolina

Port Aransas, Texas

Memphis, Tennessee

Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies

California in general

North Dakota, especially Minot – my home state and where my roots are planted

The more I travel the more places I find to love…we’ll keep going!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Diners Drive Ins & Dives-Yes but Food Trucks?

I’m a “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” diner.  Show me a squeaky screen door, some retro décor, dollar bills stapled over the entire place, once even a bait shop in the front or maybe devoid of any “décor” and I’m in my food zone.  But food trucks, no way!

Until a few days ago when we actually ate at one!! A BIG FIRST because I’ve always been a bit, well more than a bit, leery of them.  I remember when they were parked almost exclusively at construction sites, referred to as “roach coaches” and, to me, that just didn’t sound or look like appetizing or safe places to eat!

roach coach

In recent years they have gone upscale and are everywhere but I just couldn’t get past the old “roach coach” idea until the other day when I bit the bullet! GET and I were out shopping and wanted a quick lunch.  “How about that taco truck we saw over on St. Francis?  There are always lots of people eating at the tables.”  It turned out to be The Bonsai Asian Taco truck!  Not only had I never eaten at a food truck I’d never eaten an Asian taco!  We shared an order of shrimp tempura tacos which consisted of three tacos loaded with tempura shrimp, Asian slaw, a generous plunk of guacamole and a nice spicy aioli sauce! 

Nothing to be leery of and a meal which changed my attitude toward food trucks forever!  I’m in!

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Now I’m thinking of the food trucks we have by-passed in our full time RVing travels.  The Monterey Street Food Truck Fest a couple of years ago when we visited and then left to have lunch elsewhere.  Oh, the possibilities! What were they serving at the Voodoo Van?  What in the world is Omininjasj?  I love Lumpia and missed it!

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And in Portland…

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Then this week, just as I’ve gone through this great food truck awakening, there was an article in the Pasatiempo section of the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper: “Trailer-made:  Food Truck Parks.”  Food truck parks everywhere!!

I really must go now…have to try the Trinity Kitchen or Santa Famous Street Eats or Bang Bite Filling Station or….

In a few days we will be back on the road.  I wonder what we will find in Carlsbad, San Antonio, Galveston and places between and beyond?

Another thought:  maybe food trucks can be classified in the diners, drive-ins and definitely dives genre?  Umm?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

RVing…Where were we & When were we there?

So, I admit I don’t have a really good memory!  Then, take into account that we have been fulltime RVing for over 22 years and have been to all 50 states several times, how in the world do I keep track of our life and travels?  Journals and a timeline do the trick!

The idea to do journals of our travels wasn’t exactly original.   Of course, like many of my age, when I was a girl I had a little five-year diary.   And, over the years, I had done sporadic journals of our family vacation travels.  This is my first, from the 80’s, of family travels in our motorhomes. It was really just a small calendar notebook.

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In 1990 while on a cross-country trip in our Corvette I kept a journal of our adventure in one of those cute bound Journal books.

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One of my special inspirations was my Aunt Freda who kept journals during her entire married life!  She and Uncle John’s thirteen children used her journals as reference when there was a disagreement about when a family event had occurred.  She compiled entries from these into a priceless handmade typed book.

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I use 5x8-1/2 loose leaf binders for my journals.  At times I have tried writing them on my laptop but like the personal feel of cursive writing with one of my fountain pens.

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Each year I design a cover which is slipped into front of the binder.  Sometimes it takes several weeks after the turn of the year to come up with an idea which seems to fit the coming year. These are samples. Then I make a handmade bookmarker; this year its a tassel but other years I’ve used shells, buttons or beads.

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After a few years on the road and a bunch of journals we found it hard to remember where we had been and/or when we had been there so I made a timeline.  Now, we can go to the timeline for specifics and then go to the appropriate journal to settle the “argument” about when we last visited the Corvette Museum! (Correct answer: 2004)

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I like the idea of documenting and keeping track of things so this serves me well.  Let’s see now, what was the name of that group we saw in Branson?  Give me a minute, I’ll check…

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

RVing. . .an office in a small space?

You don’t have to be running a business in your RV to need/want office space. GET and I don’t have a business but do have our own laptops and ”need” our individual space.  (Another example of full time RVing together successfully. ALSO, he is an only child and you know how they are at sharing!)  In each of our full timing RVs, there have been six, we have carved out personal office space. Here are a few of our arrangements.

In our Travel Supreme we removed the dining table and chairs, found a computer desk that fit the space perfectly and added a wicker stand for the printer.MVC-704S gary at computer

The HitchhikerII LS had a built-in desk. Pretty small but it did the job. (An aside, don’t buy a rear kitchen 5th wheel no matter what the salesperson says, YES, IT DOES BOUNCE!  AND YES, DISHES WILL GET BROKEN---AND THEY DID!)HPIM0188 Hitchhiker interiorHPIM0095

I loved the office space we made in our Escalade.  Before we made the office space I used the dining table pushed forward against the sofa.  The printer sat on the stand behind my chair where it worked out ok.  Then I came up with a better idea!DSCN0193

As in the Travel Supreme we removed the dining table. (We eat on our pop-up coffee table.)  We bought upper kitchen cabinets at Home Depot and fastened them against the slider wall for stability. Upper cabinets are more narrow than bottom, thus making them more suitable as RV cabinets.  Fortunately we were able to match the natural maple of our 5th wheel.  The cabinets provided a generous amount of storage.20140324_132432

Next step was the top and workspace area for my laptop. I used a piece of cardboard to design a pattern for a cantilever shelf.   I didn’t want to be bumping into a leg.  After several adjustments it was ready to go to the cabinetmaker.

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Took my cardboard pattern along with the cabinet top dimensions to a cabinet shop where I chose a beautiful piece of light maple.  They cut the top from one piece of 4’X8’ and edged it to match. Bought the finished top home and it fit perfectly!

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The cantilevered work top needed support and the entire top had to be installed permanently so GET got busy doing the finish work.DSCN0215

An there we have it—workspace and computer desk!  Absolutely loved it!DSCN0341

And then, what did we do?  We bought a new 5th wheel!  And left this wonderful desk! 

This is my desk in our Landmark 5th wheel on an ordinary day.  It is a built-in dining table so customizing it will be a bigger challenge. DSCN9758

The outdoor TV casing protrudes into the inside cabinet.  (We have never used this TV!)DSCN9763

I do have nice storage space although some of it is taken by the steel casing of the outdoor TV.DSCN9760DSCN9761

We replaced two huge dark brown leather recliners that came with the 5th wheel with a smaller leather Lazy Boy making space for the credenza which serves as office space.  I chose the printer almost totally based on space available in the credenza.DSCN9764

I’m still contemplating ideas on how to make this a more efficient workspace. Until that brilliant idea hits me I’ll be content with my present arrangement.

P.S.  We are excited. . . back on the road this month!