Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Excerpt from our Christmas Newsletter

February-our first annual Superbowl Cousins Weekend with Linda & Clif and Rhonda & David. No, we didn't attend the game but could see the stadium from Rhonda & David's beautiful home in Phoenix.

This summer, 6,904 round trip miles to Shipshewana, have warranty work done on our 5th wheel...of course we enjoyed the journey. ...Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Memphis, Oklahoma football stadiums (at times we had to "sneak" in!)...Betty photographs 19 more Carnegie Libraries, total now 58, lots to go! ...catfish dinner with 35 HSHS classmates at Grandpa's in Little Rock...picking peaches in Arkansas - in 100 degree heat...Gino meets us ...Churchill Downs (amazed that it is basically in the middle of town and not the rolling blue grass hills of Kentucky!) & the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville... had to have the truck towed in Memphis - the worst part is that we missed a meal! We were on our way to have dinner at Rendezvous and instead had to settle for pizza delivered! ...Santa Fe - ah! Southwestern food and the New Mexico feeling...visiting people dear to us along our way

Several trips to Tahoe. A first, Gary played in two Slot Tournaments and even won money in one! As for his other winnings/losses Betty doesn't even want to know! She just enjoys the great view from the rooms at Harvey's.

Visits throughout the year with the Fresno Five - Russ & Denise and watching 7 year old Stanley play baseball, playing dolls with 6 year old Mary, learning about dinosaurs from 5 year old William. Micki and Dylan's annual visit for the Historics Races. Dinners with Kelle & Joe. Gary & Vivian living close so we see them often.

In October, 2,016 miles wandering in California, including a week in Crescent City with Don & Lee. Since they no longer have a RV they stayed with us - we still get along! The Alabama Hills in eastern California where they made many of the old Western "B" movies. Friday night pizza with the Laguna volunteer group - if its Friday its pizza! PGHS football games, Fresno State football games (Gary, not Betty)

Thursday, December 11, 2008 snow but still wonderful

The view from our window at Harvey's

Good Morning from South Lake Tahoe. Enjoying a few days up in Tahoe --also so Gary could accept his invitation to play in the Slots 'O Candy slot Tournament yesterday--and he won fifth place - $200!

No, we haven't gotten any snow this trip (the locals are very anxious for snow which is expected this weekend.) but are still experiencing the "feeling" of winter--I even got to wear my beautiful black leather gloves!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin pie...can ya smell it?

I just took my pumpkin pie for tomorrow out of the oven. Is there a better smell than a warm pumpkin pie? Not too many in my opinion! Of course, the taste is not too bad either!

I have used the Spicy Pumpkin pie recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook we received as a wedding present for a very LONG time. See the electric burner marks on the cover? Not too long after we were married Gary & I moved to an all-electric apartment in Minot. I'd never used an electric stove before so struggled a bit but thought I was doing OK. Then one day I set Betty Crocker on a hot burner; it only took a minute or so for me to smell burning! OOPS! I was used to turning a gas stove off and it being off but electric burners stay hot! I never did enjoy cooking on an electric stove and have made sure that was my first and last.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday amaryllis, paperwhites and new wine

Yesterday, as in year's past, I planted holiday bulbs. I'm going to love the brilliant red of the Red Lion Amaryllis and the wonderful white Narcissus Paperwhites. This is how they look today...not impressive yet but they will be...hopefully just in time for Christmas!

The wine bottles? Yesterday was the 3rd Thursday of November --- the once yearly release of Beaujolais Nouveau. This French red wine, made from Gamay grapes, is the first wine of the new season. This year one of my selections, bottled by Bouchard Aine Fils, is in a plastic bottle...with a screw top!

Last year's paperwhites:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

TWO Dakotas - North and South!

Yesterday I was watching the 5 o'clock news and they were reporting about the big snow storm. Our local news anchor here in Monterey, California did not know that Bismarck was in NORTH Dakota! He said "oh, just call it Dakota!"

After a commercial break he returned, having had a geography lesson, with further information that school had been canceled, not due to snow, but due to the start of hunting season. Someone at the station talked to a ranger in Turtle Lake who said that the snow could make for a better hunting season. They were having a heyday with it!

Those of us who are from/or still live in North Dakota are very accustomed to people saying "you're from Dakota, (no north or south designation) aren't you?"

This is a fun quiz for testing state's location:

Saturday, November 01, 2008

From our window...2000 miles of California in 24 days

Gary likes to see the world at 55 - miles per hour so I have learned to take a LOT of pictures through the front windshield of our GMC truck. And our fifth wheel has a great and very large rear window so I often have great photo opportunities just looking out that window. Here are some of my "From our window" shots taken in October while we wandered California for 24 days. (We did cross the border into Oregon to have fish and chips in Brookings and then just barely into Nevada to stay three nights in Lake Tahoe.)

First night out -what a sunset in Half Moon Bay!

Manzanita in a rest area. Love the rich red color of the trunk and branches.

One of our favorite places, Crescent City, CA. This is Battery Point Lighthouse from our window. Last year while Lee was a volunteer docent at the lighthouse (and Don tagged along) we were honored to actually stay several nights there! Lee was so jealous because I actually felt the essence of a ghost in my room! This trip we stayed a week in Crescent City. A bit of history about Crescent City: in 1964 it was hit by a huge tsunami!

We made a couple of side trips during our stay near Mt Lassen. The first was to Burney Falls where we actually did a little hike! Yes, we actually walked 1.3 miles and are alive to tell the story! We are such outdoorsmen - NOT!

The next day we drove the opposite direction up to Mt Lassen. The power of a volcanic eruption, this one in 1915, is evident in the HUGE boulders which were flung miles away! Mother Nature at its peak!
After leaving Tahoe after a very comfy three-night stay in Harvey's (Gary just may have taken some of their $$$ with him?!?) very nice accommodations we traveled Hwy 395 south. We decided to stay overnight in LeeVining and noticed a Visitor Center for Mono Lake. Neither of us knew anything about it except that it was there. Thought it was just one of those drying up lakes. Well, it was drying up because Los Angeles worked a deal back in the 40's to take the water! (Can you guess that LA is not a popular city here?) We were fascinated by formations called tufas in the lake - calcification's which grow up out of the water. This is a small example:

We've several times seen Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous states, from the lowest point in Death Valley but this is the view from the Owens Valley community of Lone Pine. OK, I'm going to say it again, high on the list of our favorite places (we do have many favorites!) The view of Mt Whitney, the Movie Museum and the Alabama Hills make it a worthwhile destination. You may not know it but many of the old cowboy movies were filmed in the Alabama Hills. Imagine Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, John Wayne, Gene Autry riding their horses! And Tremors (Kevin Bacon I think) was also filmed there.

I've been watching Discovery Green Planet channel lately so here's a photo of the wind machines near Tehachapi, CA. This a just a sample, there are hundreds of them in this area.

Highway 58 continues from the Tehachapi's through Bakersfield and then on to the coast. We hadn't ever taken it on this route so got adventuresome and were awed by the wide-sweeping geography of the Corrizo Plains and the beautiful Los Padres National Forest through the area. (So awed, in fact, that I forgot to take any pictures!)

Last stop in this 24 day journey: Morro Bay. Yes, another on our "Favorite Places" list. We stay at Morro Dunes RV Park which is right next to Morro Rock. This trip we didn't see much of the rock - it was foggy all three days! Finally got this shot while we were hooking up to leave. For dinner one night we took a couple of dungeness crabs from Giovanni's big steam pot home. Butter for dipping and crusty French bread along with a glass of wine - yummy!

And so, we traveled 2,017 miles in 24 days. Itchy Hitch at bay, for awhile at least.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe

I've always known about the Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe in Bemidji, Minnesota (left photo) and have been "visiting" them since I was a little girl growing up in Minot, ND. My Finnish grandparents, Charlie and Lempi, lived in Minnesota so we often stopped in Bemidji while going to visit them nearly every summer. Since Gary and I have been fulltime RVing we've stopped several times during our travels, the last time in 2004.
Well...imagine my surprise last week when Gary and I were driving along on Highway 101. Low and behold, at Mystic Trees near the Klamath River in California we see ANOTHER Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe! I quickly snapped a photo! (right photo)
They appear to be approximately the same size and are even dressed in a similar fashion. And, of course, Babe is a nice shade of blue in both locations.
I wonder if there are more?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

From the road...Tamales and Taco Salad

As you may know, food is one of the reasons we love full time rving! Shingletown, CA I had the best Taco Salad I've had in a VERY LONG time...maybe EVER!
We left Crescent City after having spent a most relaxing week with Don and Lee and are meandering east on Highway 299 through northern California.
One of our favorite stops was a brief one on the beach at Orick. (That's me with our 5th wheel in the background.) We used to be able to overnight there but it has been changed to a day-use only area. (Why, we can't figure out!")
Stayed the night in Weaverville at Sidney Gulch RV Park (no Wi-Fi, which is quite unusual nowadays) and then continued on. Driving through Northern California in the Autumn is quite spectacular --sunny blue skies, the bright green of the pines trees contrasting with other trees turning golden yellow, red and brown...Trinity Lake was gorgeous even with the smoke of a planned burn in the background. the best part of the day! We're hungry for lunch when we reach Shingletown. When you're traveling in a truck towing a 36' fifth wheel probably the most important item in chosing a restaurant is "is there parking space?" We spotted the yellow Cafe sign before even noticing the Shingle Shack Restaurant sign, scanned for parking and walla, all was in order to eat lunch at the little shack.
I ordered a beef taco salad and Gary tamales. The order was a little slow in arriving but when it did and after we had eaten, we could understand why! SO GOOD! Ramon, the owner with his wife Kathy, explained that they make everything to order...the beans, the tamales, the beef, the tortilla shell was freshly made. (We heard a local man ordering sopas and wished we could stay and eat again!)
If you are in Shingletown or just passing through be sure to eat there! (Don and Lee, you'd have loved it :-)
More about our travels later...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Under our deck lives a wild cat which we have named "Inky." He is pure black with a little kink near the end of his tail. He was a very young cat when we first noticed him about nine months ago...perhaps someone dumped him off here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. At first we would see just a quick black flash but lately he lays in waiting for us to come home (or get up in the morning!) He gives us a meow to let us know he is here and waiting to eat. I am now buying cat food to feed him and he also gets scraps. (Gary loves Costco rotisserie chicken so Inky is the recipient of chicken scraps very often.) He isn't nearly as wild as he used to be but still doesn't let us get close enough to touch him.
How Inky got his name: the first few years we hosted at Rancheros de Santa Fe Camping Park in Santa Fe (our second favorite place in our beautiful country) there was a pure black cat named Inky. Inky was king of the campground and a tent camper was quite often startled when he awoke to find a very black cat sleeping with him! One day we found Inky on Old Las Vegas Highway where Rancheros is located. Gary and Don buried him beside the road. Our "new" Inky reminds us very much of our Santa Fe Inky.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A beautiful day in at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Haven't seen my cousin Dennys for a LONG time! He and Karen are following his son Jeff and his friend as they cycle Highway 1 from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco to Los Angeles. They had planned to be here for dinner last night but one of the cyclists had a blowout and were delayed in Santa Cruz getting it fixed. And we were going to Schooners at the Monterey Plaza Hotel to enjoy dinner out on the deck!

So, instead Jim, Gary, Jorden and I had pizza at Angelina's in Toro Park before Gary and Jorden left for Fresno. Jorden is attending football camp at Fresno State University this weekend and Gary will be visiting with the Fresno Five.

Before catching up with their cyclists this morning Dennys and Karen stopped by Laguna Seca to visit and see the track. I am working this weekend doing decibel testing for Skip Barber Mazda MX5 Race Weekend. We had a great visit and I was able to tour them around during my off time. Also got to show them our latest fifth wheel which they hadn't seen. (This is our 5th during our 14 years of full time RVing.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

From a Starbucks cup

I don't drink coffee and seldom frequent Starbucks but picked up a Chai Tea Latte at Harveys in Tahoe while we were checking out. (Gary won't drink "designer" coffee so refuses to get coffee at Starbucks!) My peeve about Starbucks is the size names they use - for heavens sake why don't they just name them small, medium and large! That's what they are!

Anyway, I digress. On my cup I find a very nice thought. Here it is:

All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop.
Moms, dad, grannies and grandpas, aunts, uncles - someone to hold them, read to them, teach them.
Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals and knowledge of a hundred previous generations.
Loved ones who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.
--General Colin L. Powell

My four grandchildren...they have human laptops:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lempi, my Finnish grandmother

I was just organizing my books (bought too many more at Goodwill yesterday!) I have my Mom's copy of The Kalevala in the back of my book cabinet and was flipping through it when, back in the appendix, "Lempi" jumped out! I had flipped past and had to go back and find it. Well, this is what Lempi means "... this name, today a woman's name but until recently a man's name, occurs in Poems 40, 42, 43, and means 'pet, love, favorite'." Is that cool or what, my Finnish Grandma's name!?

And. . . upon further investigation in another appendix, C., Reference List of Finnish Names Lempi has a name-day in the official Finnish calendar of personal names according to Kustaa Vilkuma. (Nov 24)

Back to my organizing,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Journeyin' - 14 years and counting

Full time RVing is living and traveling full time in a recreational vehicle.

When Gary and I started full time RVing we didn't know if we would do it for six months or ???. Here it is, 14 years later, we absolutely love the lifestyle and have no intention of stopping. The thought of living in a home we can't move is scary!

Our "home" is a 2007 36' Escalade fifth wheel. Check it out: We love it, love it, love it!

People have said to us: "Oh, I couldn't live like that - I couldn't do without my . . ." We have everything we ever had in a large home only it is a bit smaller and space efficient! We have two satellite tv's, (very important for the survival of a marriage - Gary is a football/sports fan, Bj is not!) each of us has a laptop computer, an all-in-one printer, my sewing machine and craft area, Gary has his tool area in the exterior hatches and in the truck toolbox. We have it all!

Of course, living in a small space involves living VERY close to your partner. Neither of us requres a large personal space. In fact, when we visit our kids' homes we feel a bit lost in their larger spaces!

We have traveled to all 50 states (but you know we didn't take the fifth wheel to Hawaii) and are making it around again. Where is our favorite place? Monterey, CA. Our second favorite? Santa Fe, NM. Having said that, there is almost no place that we didn't like - our's is a wonderful country.

Think this is enough going on for today. Off to the races!
Gary at his studies.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"The Little Red Buckets" inscription

While we were thrift store shopping awhile ago Lee (my sister-in-law/friend/fellow fulltime RVer) found a nice sweet little book "The Little Red Buckets." It was a quick read and I enjoyed it, but it is handwritten inscription inside that is wonderful. It is signed Love Always, Lyn but that's the only clue as to why, etc! Is it a published poem? I don't know (I Googled it but found no matches) but here it is:

To my special angel

Day in day out

Month in month out

Year in year out

You laugh with me

You cry with me

You pray for me

You listen to me

But most of all

You love me


Day in - day out

Month in - month out

Year in - year out

I say a prayer of thanksgiving

for having you as my

Special friend -- my special Angel!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kildeer bird nest

We have a bird nesting down in the storage area off B Road at Laguna Seca Recreation Area. As you can see its nest is in the open! When the nest is approached it acts as if it is injured and flops away! Jackie, Jim, Gary and I have been watching it for several days. This morning I went down and took some photos to see if I could identify it. I did...I think...its a kildeer?! Do you like Jackie's sign?