Monthly Archives: January 2014

Day 37

I could just scream I am so happy!!!  It’s warm here and it’s January!  Still an out of body experience to be so warm at this time of year.  I’m in heaven.  I can see why people snowbird here.

We’re at the Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, AZ.  Kids are both “doing school” as we call it.  Nate only has 7 more lessons of math and he’s done for the year.  The curriculum is very well done; it’s just less make-work and homework, so he can power through it. Dan and I were quizzing him the other night on the work he had done because we were worried that he was going too fast and not retaining it.  He didn’t appreciate that we asked and also demonstrated that he got the concepts just fine, thank you.  Isn’t being a parent fun?

Worth every minute.

Eliza has been working on her math, today, too.  She’s a little frustrated that the geometry is covering exactly what Nate was learning.  She said most kids like the review, but it drives her crazy because she doesn’t need it.  We have a hard time keeping her challenged and don’t want her to lose her love of learning.  She’ll be done with her classes earlier than May 30th also, so she has to decide whether to go on in math for next year, or study other subjects. Right now she’s taking math, science, language arts and Spanish.

Both kids are enrolled through our old school district and it’s been fairly easy compared to when we homeschooled in 2nd and 4th grade.  We did the K-12 curriculum then and it was hard, 6-8 hours a day.  What they learned was amazing though and we wished every public school could be half as good.  The literature, spelling, math and history – all first rate.  This time around we went for a lighter load so they can actually enjoy the trip and learn about each place we are in.  They probably work 10 hours/week total and that seems about right.

The hardest part of the homeschooling has been the wi-fi access.  We’ve stayed at several RV parks just for the access, and it hasn’t worked in 3 of them.  For 2 weeks now we are at a state park outside Phoenix, so we either use our own wi-fi hotspot, or come in to a library like today.  Which isn’t all bad.  It gets us showered, dressed,  out of the RV and around other people.

When Dan and I did our trip in 1998, we visited tons of libraries and really enjoyed it.  Interesting to see the architecture,they usually have great reads, different newspapers,  and the people watching is excellent! Aspen was our favorite of that trip and I’m looking forward to seeing if anything can compare to it around the USA.

We also are frequent bookstore visitors, and we’ve been to more than our fair share on this trip already. In January, as part of Nate’s language arts class, he was given a list of 8 books to choose from.  He picked The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by R. Freedman.  We clicked on the screen, expecting to download the book. Didn’t work.  We contacted the teacher and she said we had to get a REAL book.  We didn’t even think of that, we are so accustomed to online reading.

We were in a campground outside San Francisco at the time, so we went online to check out bookstores in the city.  Called 7 – no luck.  We checked to see if we could get it online, no luck.   We moved to an RV park outside Sacramento.  Called 3 bookstores and visited 4 others.  No luck.  We then ordered it off Amazon, and it should have been to my cousin Jen’s within 7-10 days.  No such luck.   It got there after we left San Diego!  We called ALL the Phoenix bookstores, and again, no luck.  No one stocks this book.  It’s not a classic.   We can’t order it off Amazon again because our state campground won’t accept mail.  So funny!  My cousin Jen is sending it to my friend south of us this week. Somehow we are going to hook up with him and get the book… we think.  Nate doesn’t mind not doing language arts, and he’ll be able to catch up easily, but we still think it’s pretty funny to have to buy a REAL book for an online class.

Oops, must run.   Eliza has to use this computer because hers isn’t loading the school software.  So that’s school for today!





January 27, 2014

From Dan (I am using Sally’s port to publish since mine is not working). Here we are enjoying the sun in Phoenix AZ. It is about 75 degrees full sun. Very nice weather. The RV park is Usery Mountain Regional Park. It has to be one of the best campgrounds we have ever stayed at. It is beautiful and the sites are big. We had dinner with a high school friend of Sally’s on Saturday. John Byer and his wife Wilma and son Stephen. We ate at Arribas, a mexican restaurant. Very good food and it was great to see them. They invited us over for the Super Bowl next weekend. Looking forward to that.

Today is a study day at the library. I bought a 30 day internet pass for $5, so I am using a library computer. Did some more trip planning. Will come back again in the next couple of days to finish up.

I can see why folks snow bird down here. The weather is outstanding, but man there is no way I would live here in the summer. The sun just feels hotter here. 70 degrees in the sun feels very warm. I did a bike ride up the Salt River the other day. I am doing about 20 miles a day.

We have been grocery shopping at Winco. Great store, great selection and good prices. I am sleeping well at night. Not getting up till at 7 am. It is great not having to go to work. I am on facebook, but not doing a good job of keeping up on that.

Al Crouse is here next week. We are going to hook up with him. I hope all is well for our followers at home. Miss you. Take care

By all of us

We  agreed that this blog would be by all of us… and so far, not so much.  It’s Wednesday evening, January 22nd and we’ve just had the best lasagna dinner, everyone’s in a good mood, so here we go…

From Nate:

The best part of the trip is sleeping in and seeing all the new places.  My favorite was Alcatraz.  I liked it because i liked to see the cells that were in the movies.  We had to ride a boat to get there.

From Eliza:

So far, my favorite part of the trip has been San Diego. I love the warm weather and going to the beach was so much fun! I’ve never been to a beach in January yet alone be able to get in the water. On the contrary, the least enjoyable part was leaving home, which included quitting gym and not being able to see my friends. It has been a rough transition and still is, but I’m looking forward to Arizona 🙂

From Sally:

I am loving every minute.  It’s pure joy to be living our dream after all our hard work.  My favorite part has been the continual family time.   Instead of chauffeuring the kids to school, gym, football, church and friend’s houses, we are  spending time together.  The first 14 years of parenting have gone by so quickly, I am going to savor every minute I have left with Eliza and Nate.

And Dan!  We took another great bike ride today, up a beautiful gorge cut between huge cliffs, and it was heaven.  It reminded me of all the rides we took when we did our trip like this in 1998.   We rode everywhere because we didn’t have a tow vehicle.  We found forts, rivers, historical markers, cities, Superman’s museum, trails and snacks all on our two wheelers.  This time we’re finding time to ourselves!

From Dan:

Been away for a month now. To be honest, I have not thought a whole bunch about Bend and even less about the work I retired from. I have been thinking about my friends though. We headed to the coast at Lincoln City to spend a week with Sally’s family for Christmas. It was great. It only rained the first two days, then sunny.  That is the only rain we have had this entire first month. We drove over 300 miles. Long day. From there, one night at Sunset Bay to see the Christmas lights at Shore Acres. Beautiful. Not too cold about 39. One night at Harris Beach. Nice. We had a campfire in December!! This is a beautiful park. One of our favorites at $20. Then off to California. Bye bye Oregon for sometime to come. We will miss you. Spent the first night in a Walmart parking lot in Ukiah. Got kind of cold that night, but we had the furnace on. Off early the next day to Olema Campground next to Point Reyes National Seashore. Nice RV park. We spent the next few days visiting San Francisco and the park. The highlight was seeing the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, and Coit Tower. San Francisco is a cool town to visit. One week  there then off to Vineyard RV park outside of Vacaville CA. The highlight was seeing Sally’s Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean and the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. We ate too much. The kid’s started home schooling this week. Sally and I did some bike rides. We took our RV to DeMartini RV in Grass Valley to get it fixed. They did a great job. The RV has been working well since. I love that part of California, Hwy 49 in the foothills. It is so nice. I worked in Auburn CA for a few months. This was a nice RV park. Off to southern California. We stopped at Lost Hills RV park and then finally at Pyramid Lake RV Resort. Pyramid Lake RV park was a huge disappointment. Too nice of a picture on the web and $50 to just park over night really. So I took a “$10” shower to make up for it. The next day drove right thru Los Angeles. The traffic was not too bad. Hot. Almost 90 degrees that day. Nice to just drive through. The park we are at is Santee Lakes County Park. This is really nice.

So, we have done a lot this first month. I am just finishing up or trip itinerary for the next 180 days. That has been quite a bit of work. Not as easy as I thought. Finally, I am starting to get into this trip of a lifetime!! There for a while, I was feeling down. I guess after having worked in my job for 11 years and setting up a family routine, it was hard to change. But ya know what?? It is going to be well worth it. Sally and I rationalized this trip over and over. There for a while I was questioning our rationalization for doing the trip. But not now. They were all spot on. I miss my friends at work. I miss my usually routines, but I will get new ones. I have all that I need right here in this small little box of a a home: Sally, Eliza, and Nate. It has been awesome getting to spend more time with Sally. We have been walking the dogs together, bike riding, trip planning, and just hanging out. We have been a good, solid team with all of the things that have been going on. She is great.

I promise to do a better job of blogging so all of you can track us and keep up with our great family adventure.

Day 31

We made it a month ! It’s been a wild ride . I’ve lost track of the days – until I write in my journal . That’s good – it means it’s easier . Definitely into the rhythm of the road .

Lunches have been a blast . We had a picnic today that I will remember because Eliza didn’t eat , we were in Old Town San Diego , and the boys had root beer floats . Just a nice, casual picnic in a historic spot – plus the sun ! 78 blissful degrees today .

A few days ago we had a picnic lunch with my cousin Jen and 2 of her girls on the most beautiful beach on Coronado. We thought the sky was more blue and the water too – more than we’d ever seen . We laughed and played with their dog Marvin until we were all tuckered out . So fun to spend time with them .

A week ago we had lunch with an old friend from our banking days in Sacramento . We had plans to meet him in Old Town , but when we walked in , conversation stopped , and out we went . The saloon was full of bikers in black leather , long greasy grey hair , and loud voices . So much for our favorite old haunt!

We went to a restaurant called Fat City instead . Great atmosphere , solid menu , and wonderful conversation . We caught up on the last 20 years , and before Scott could tell the kids about the fun we’d had pre-kids , lunch was over . I had looked forward to seeing Scott again , and was so grateful he had time for us in his busy schedule .

Lunches in the rig are just as good . Something about sitting down as a family and knowing that we don’t HAVE to be anywhere or do anything after lunch has us laughing more than usual . It helps that Dan and I are more awake then , too!

31 days of memories already . Can’t wait to make more .


Day 25

We’re in California and one can’t help but think of water . The lack of it . Where we might find some that tastes decent . How every river we’ve seen looks extremely low .

I just took a long bike ride near Pyramid Lake . About an hour north of LA , it’s formed by a small dam. Even for winter , the water flow looked weak . When I went flying by the entrance fee shack , the attendant came running out and when I circled around to say I was just riding through , I had a nice conversation with her about water .

She said they had snow February of 2012, a little rain February of 2013, and since then, nothing . Their water comes via an aqueduct , so they still have a flow , but it’s minimal . People still camp and boat and fish, but they don’t have the crowds like before .

We just left the Sacramento area , where local officials are asking people not to water outside at all , and to cut indoor consumption by half . Can you imagine ? We conserved when we were at home , and definitely do while in the rig , but at the core , we’re Oregonians; we know there will always be more water . And I’m happy about that .

Day 20

Another beautiful day in California!  Sunny and high 60’s. Still stuns us that it’s warm in January!

Today was a “home home” day – just sticking around the rig to get a handle on the homeschooling, relax, journal, read, exercise, make a good dinner.   We started homeschooling Monday and it’s a little different than our experience years ago, so it will take a couple weeks to get into it.  We are SO glad we have two computers now and if anyone is thinking of doing this, you have to have a computer for each kid.  We shared at home and were happy to do so because we wanted them to learn to share, but bought a new Mac before we left because we know this old laptop is about to croak.  It turns out to be a good idea to have both.  Lucky us.

Talked to yet another kind person today who said, “oh, I want to do that” and of course, I  encouraged her to do so.  Now!   Before you cannot get up the RV steps!  Before everything else in life seems more important than living your dream.  Now that we’re on day 20 and it’s getting easier, I am even more glad we took this crazy step.

Getting easier in every aspect – sleep, food, dogs – but the funniest one for Nate and I has been hitting our heads, arms and knees on everything.  We didn’t have a slider in the last rig, and you get used to stepping over the dogs, around each other, waiting for people to pass.  No big deal, again, to us, it’s called sharing.

So I didn’t even consider that this rig would take getting used to space-wise because it’s so much bigger.  But we bump our heads, bump into things, leave a door open and whack it.  Nate started out hitting his head in his bunk about 5 times a day.  I still have bruises from my first hits.  Nice that they are happening less each day as we get used to the space.

Took a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory yesterday with my Dad’s brother Bob and his wife Jean.  We tried to do the tour with them 8 years ago, but the kids were sick.  Yesterday was great.  Huge factory, nice tour, yummy jelly belly samples throughout.  Neat to see how they are made.  They make 35,000 every minute!  We wanted to know who is eating all of them?!  The only downside was the hats they make you wear while you tour – dorky.  Of course I saved mine.  Holler if you want to borrow it.

After the tour, we went to Bob and Jean’s for dinner.  They built a gorgeous house a few years ago and the sunset was priceless.  The dinner was even better.  We gorged on edamame’s sauteed in garlic and butter, a divine beet salad and the most incredible manicotti I’ve ever had.  Nate and I are going to learn to make it because he had several helpings.  So fun to spend time with them and almost surreal to hear Bob talk and see his mannerisms that are exactly like my Dad.  Really fun evening and I’m sure it will go down in trip history as one of our favorite meals.

So we’re settling in to life on the road, the total freedom, and the joy of the fulfillment of our dream.  That’s a good day.


Day 18

Today is one of those days that you dread and yet when it’s over , my list of Thank You’s to God will be long …

We were up really early in order to take the rig to an RV dealership in Grass Valley , CA almost 2 hours away from our RV park . Neither of us slept well because we didn’t know if they would be able to fix our problem .

We bought this RV new so we wouldn’t have problems , but it has been a pain since the day we bought it . The first day ! We put the slides out at home and took a chunk out of the floor . They told us later that the factory installed batteries weren’t large enough to carry the weight. Do you think someone at the factory might have figured that out before selling the model ?!

So it’s been one thing after another and if I explained it all , you’d be as surprised as we are that we still own this coach . We’re not complete morons , but each time we have a problem , no service tech is surprised . Happens all the time . It would be a money pit on wheels if we didn’t have the warranty . Whew !

So this morning we went in search of someone who knows Monaco’s and could get our black tank working . We spent yesterday trying to fix it ourselves . (Ooh, the royal WE, should read Dan !). Went to an RV place that we just should have backed out of , but Dan and the tech tried . No luck .

I found DeMartini RV online , called , and they said they’d work us in if we could be there early . Contrast that with the phone call to Camping World where the service guy thought it sounded like a real problem , they’d have to take out the tank , and could we leave it for a week , in a week ? Not !

We pulled into DeMartini and I knew we’d be fine . They took care of everything we’ve had problems with , gave us a conference room and free wi-if for homeschooling , and told us more about our rig than we’d ever heard before .

Thank you God ! IF we ever buy another RV , we’re driving to DeMartni. Wow . Great people , excellent service.

We know we’ll have more problems in the future, but this will get us further down the road and with a little more confidence about getting assistance . We learned our lesson – just find a Monaco dealer . And be grateful when you find a good one .

We are now heading back to our RV park. Dans driving, of course . Eliza and Nate are sharing the couch , reading. Lady is to my left , little Jessica to my right . The sun is shining , it’s 67, and all is right with our world . Thank you God !

Day 13 – A Perfect Day!

Wohoo, what a perfect day!  I’ve been smiling since 7.

We got up late – both dogs slept in so we did, too.  Heaven, unusual and wonderful.  A little warmer than home to walk them but Dan and I were still  bundled up in our heavy gear.  38 degrees is not enough! Fun to walk together.  Dan’s been joining me since he stopped working at the rock pile and it’s a nice time of day to connect – no kids, no distractions, and we both love being outside whatever the weather.

We walked into the little town of Olema and grabbed the  local rag called Positive News.  Their tagline reads “Why Positive News?  to Nurture Hope.  to Exemplify Solutions. to Inspire Action.  We envision a world in which people treat each other with respect and kindness, where we consider the Earth to be our home to care for and to enjoy. And we see that this world is in the process of emerging!”  I knew it was going to be a good read.

After a great breakfast and an inspiring devotional, I settled in to read and here’s what I found:

Great articles about the bike superhighways in Denmark, (yeah), the sculpture in San Rafael that accepts cigarette butts and in turn donates money to St. Vincent de Paul, (I forgot that people still smoked; great sculpture, creative idea), Chloe’s birthday bash in Berkeley where she gave away chocolate chip cookies to people (ooh, remember that for next year), the New Era Colorado group in Boulder, CO which is attempting to create a clean, publicly owned power company (it’s Boulder, they’ll succeed), and my favorite, an article about “the dangerous things you should let your kid do” so they’ll grow up taking risks (we do all of them already!).  It was 20 pages of ideas and advertisements for things I’ve never heard of, ideas I wouldn’t be able to read anywhere else.  Loved it.

It even had a half page by Robert Fulghum.  Remember him?  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten:  Share everything.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  Play fair.  Put things back where you found them. Don’t hit people. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Take a nap every afternoon.  Warm cookies and milk are good for you.  When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.  Wash your hands before you eat.  Be aware of wonder.

That says it all!

Got the kids up, had a healthy breakfast, and jumped on our bikes to ride to the visitor center in Point Reyes National Seashore. We are camped nearby, so it wasn’t a long ride.  You would have thought Nate had to ride a marathon though, for all the grousing he did before we left.  Then he gets on his bike and takes off!  He was off road, he was on the road, he was standing, he was sitting – he was having a ball.  So great to see.  Eliza rode ahead of me and did it with her usual grace while attempting to ignore her crazy brother.  I brought up the caboose and laughed the whole time watching them.  Dan stuck his arm out to turn left and Nate mimicked him in a little-girly wave and I thought I was going to fall off my bike it was so funny.

The Bear Valley visitor center is in an old barn and when we stopped by briefly yesterday, Dan said, “I think we’ve been here, I know we have, back in 1993 when we lived in Sacramento.”  Now, I’ve been jonesing to see this park, have 5 articles cut out about it that I’ve hauled around for years, and have just been so excited to experience it.  What?  We’ve already been here?!  How could I forget?  I’m already at the age where I’ve forgotten big stuff?!  Oh well, if everything is new again, it’ll be even more fun!

The center was small, a little lame in terms of interactive learning, but it is well done. They don’t charge an entrance fee for this national park, so we’re not sure what keeps it afloat if CA has it’s own financial problems.  We read the info boards, watched the video and headed outside.

We had seen the sign for a  .6 mile loop that takes you over the San Andreas fault and details the 1906 earthquake and the devastation to San Francisco.  It was a great stroll!  Informational boards every few feet, gorgeous trees, and 67 degrees and sunny.  When we got to the spot where the fence jumped 16 feet, we couldn’t believe it.  The earth moved 16 feet!  Scientists are still studying the plates and faults here and expect another big earthquake “in the next 100 years or so.”  Not planning to be here.

Rode our bikes back to the rig and had one of my favorite lunches – everyone makes their own burritos and then we all cleaned up – perfect!

Too nice of a day to be inside, so Dan and I headed out on our bikes again.  The kids are old enough to stay on their own and that in itself is a gift.  If they don’t want to ride, they don’t have to every time.  Well, almost, but not today!  They were exercising, happy and not killing each other, so we left.

We did a 10 mile ride to the little town of Inverness, along Tomales Bay.  It was beautiful and the cool breeze off the bay made the ride even easier.  No bikes lanes, but there were many signs that said “share the road”, and we didn’t get run off the side, so that was nice.  Dan did a detour up a 20% grade, while I waited at the bottom and read about the $2.55 million dollar home for sale.  (Do I want to live here?!  No, too many places to see yet!)

Back to the rig, the happy kids, the sweet dogs and now my husband is making dinner = perfect!