Thursday, September 27, 2007

9/25 - 9/27/07 Columbia River Gorge & Waterfalls

Following Sarah’s seven day itinerary made using the Reader’s Digest “Travel Guide USA,” we traveled to Cascade Locks and stayed at a KOA campground. At first, we were all very excited since the place was filled with beautiful trees whose leaves were starting to change to fall colors. Except… we had no Direct TV reception (so no taped Mythbusters for Mel and Dave on the TIVO) and it was right next to a train crossing used by giant long (100 cars plus) trains with the trains whistles blowing night and day.

So while it was beautiful, it was certainly not restful. The first afternoon there Mel and Dave went outside to try to get Mythbusters on cable. Dave used the internet to show Mel other things on the Mythbuster website and talked to Mel for two hours. From inside, overhearing bits of their conversation, it was charming!

Sarah continued to insist on nightly Sequence games with Mel. We can’t be sure if she would have been so committed to the game is she wasn’t on her winning streak.

Per Sarah's itinerary the next day, we saw the Columbia River Gorge, the Wahkeena and Mutnomah (620’ feet) Waterfalls and the local Fishery with an active fish ladder for Chinook salmon and home of Herman the Sturgeon and his friends, the trout. The video of how fish are farmed, their spawning cycle (including their deaths upon return to the fishery after 4-5 years) and the beautiful Chinook salmon hurling themselves at the fish ladder entrance was too much for Sarah. She couldn’t eat tuna sandwiches that night and the next morning woke up as a full-fledged vegetarian.

At the end of that day we went to the Lookout Point called Vista House and marveled at its beautifully-done renovation and drank Italian ices. After a lovely nap back at the RV, Mel took me for a romantic dinner at the rustic restaurant at Multnomah Falls with a view of the falls at sunset from our table. Our waitress was a great resource for recommendations, so our meal was spectacular. It was special to be together without the kids.

The next day we took a paddlewheel riverboat on the Columbia River. The weather was perfect. The boat was authentic and it was easy to imagine life in earlier times from the pictures on the wall and at the steamboat museum at the dock. After lunch we closed up the RV and moved on to our next stop.

Monday, September 24, 2007

9/23/07 Charlie & Naomi Ralph in Portland

It was good to see Charlie and Naomi. Charlie had a small stroke the year before, but aside from a slight time delay in conversations, he has maintained his personality and sense of humor. Naomi seemed much healthier than in previous visits, happier and much more content, even though their future seems now limited to life in Oregon since they can’t drive their rig anymore. Their daughter has moved to Oregon and is doing a great job of reverse-parenting.

Charlie and Naomi have added a cat named Elizabeth to their family. She brings them a lot of joy and laughter. Elizabeth played with Sarah zooming and pouncing, it was great fun to watch the two of them. Naomi spoiled us with two homecooked meals. Since I was still feeling puny from my drug reaction, her cooking was a welcomed break.

Charlie took us on a Portland tour beginning with a bakery. Everything was so yummy looking that it was hard to choose. While we sat eating our treats and milk/coffee Sarah and I got a lesson on cake decorating using curling ribbon. There was a special cake shaped like a pirate’s treasure chest.

Then we went into Portland crossing over these beautiful bridges. Later I saw a t-shirt with Portland’s 6-8 bridges, but it didn’t come in Dave’s size. I put in my hopeful future career suggestion for being an infrastructure civil engineer. Time will tell what path Dave and Sarah will choose – maybe bridge designing!

We then went to Powell’s bookstore. We started our book-buying trip in this bizarre parking garage. Thank goodness Mel was driving. The bookstore, famous for it’s size, multiple levels over a city block, was amazing. If anything, it was too big, I’ve never felt overwhelmed by a bookstore before. I bought Sarah a Hannukah present, Dave a series called “The Bartimaeus Trilogy” for his birthday and “The Way West” to go along with our Lewis and Clark/Oregon Trail studies.

Afterwards we went back to the RV for Sarah and and I to rest and Mel, Dave and Charlie went to lunch. Naomi came over and played Scrabble then went back to her RV to make Dave a birthday dinner including a Pineapple-Upside-Down Cake. We wrapped Dave’s books in green Powell bookstore bags. We all went to bed early – Sarah’s morning meltdown and subsequent fragileness took a toll on the whole family. We decided to leave a day early to start the trip with a fresh start.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

9/23/07 Mel Arrives!

Left on Sunday 9/23 to met up with Mel in Tualatin near Portland. The kids were their usual fantastic selves about getting the RV ready to go. Sarah started cleaning getting ready for Mel’s visit and she inspired us all. The drive was uneventful; it was a straight five hours up the 5 freeway. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant halfway.

It was great to see Mel! The kids were very glad to see him, especially Dave. Mayim almost melted into a puddle of happiness at getting to see her private masseuse who knows all the perfect places to rub and scratch her. I was as happy as all three of them!

Sarah and I snuck out in the Maxx while Mel and Dave set up the RV and got giant diet cokes and ice creams from MacDonald’s. When we got back, Mel and Dave had made several attempts to get the RV parked in a position to get Direct TV. (Dave couldn’t wait to share “Mythbusters” with Mel. He’d saved a show where Jamie and Adam tested the myth about a small airplane that got cut up by a propeller.) To get the dome clear of the trees, they’d moved the RV to be parked face in and face out – however, they had to drive through the park to resituate.

Apparently, Mel “cut some corners” with the RV back end driving over some grass edges aggravating the park manager. The manager came over and met up with Naomi. She took him on and then he came to give the RV driver (Mel) a hard time… only, when he poked his head in the RV he saw me sitting in the driver’s seat. I’ve never seen anyone back peddle so quickly – after all if a woman was driving – what could you expect! He quickly added that if I needed help parking the RV I could ask for help at the office. After he left, our family laughed and laughed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

9/22/07 Kol Nidre With A Heavy Heart

Saturday was spent at the Urgent Care Center understanding the drug reaction, switching to new medications and marshalling my limited energy for that evening’s services in Ashland for Kol Nidre. I really wanted to attend but didn’t feel up to meeting anyone new.

We set near the back and watched the Ashland congregation get seated and greet one another, admire growing children and greeting friends. I felt lonely – I could only miss my friends at CBI. In my weakened state I needed their support, hugs and love. My heart was weeping as I missed my community. I used the last of my strength to stand for Kol Nidre. Without Mel to support me, rub my lower back, and give me strength, I felt drained of my resolve. I missed Marcia’s pacing of Kol Nidre and her beautiful voice.

We left at the Amidah … and didn’t go back the next day. Ironically, going to Ashland had been to worship for Kol Nidre/Yom Kippur. Dave fasted from Friday night sundown through lunch – his first fasting. I didn’t – I just rested and hoped I’d be better enough to drive to Portland the next day.

Then, just like a switch flipped, I turned the corner. The bright red rash started to diminish and the whites of my eyes changed back from their scary red color. I started to count the hours till I could see Mel and the excitement of “being with Dad” permeated the RV. It would be a long drive, 286 miles, but at it’s end, we knew Mel would be waiting.

9/19 - 9/22/07 Desperately Ill and Scared -- Dark Times

Early on in Medford, I came down with a terrible, painful bladder infection so I went to an Urgent Care and got great treatment. One small detail – it didn’t appear from the test that I had a bladder infection. Had to explain about the recent gall bladder surgery 6 weeks previously; closing down the Orange house and living fulltime in the RV; and the nightmare cold aggravated by the lush green ferns and redwood trees. (I left out the Maccabi games opening ceremonies for 12,000 people.) Saying it out loud, it sounded a little over-the-top even to me!

Eventually, I left with five drugs: inhaler for the lingering Cough, antibiotics for possible giardia, cream for a yeast infection, pills that turn my urine orange to limit the bladder pain and antibiotics to clear up the bladder infection – Septra.

Two days later I was back. I was covered with a rash from head to toe. I felt like crap. I had been desperately sick the night before – I was achy, queasy and miserable. I felt so poorly that I wanted to check into a hotel.

Now there’s an unusual thought – at 1:00 in the morning how could I possibly believe a hotel would be more comforting than an RV? It was my second night awake at odd hours.

I spent my time in the scary dark reworking my life, analyzing my mistakes – and yes, concluding that the road trip was a stupid idea. I let in all the fear gremlins about the children getting hurt or dying, different critical parts breaking down on the RV, perhaps destroying my relationship with Mel by leaving him behind in OC 70% of the time and the unexpected death of those I care about. Even the dog made her way onto the worry list – what if she got lost?

My brain was filled with things so dark that I finally gave up and took a sleeping pill to stop myself scaring myself further. It was no surprise when I woke up to have this extreme red rash – even the whites of my eyes were red! All-in-all it was just a drug reaction – three days later I was back to my old self.

Friday, September 21, 2007

9/20 & 9/21/07 Theater in Ashland

There were all kinds of choices for different theater in Ashland. It was hard to just choose two events. Ashland is famous for it’s theater.

One evening we went to the Caberet in Ashland. “I love you, you’re perfect, now change.” We had a fantastic time. Our little table for three was upstairs so we had a terrific view of the stage. We had soft drinks (multiples since refills were free) and white wine from Oregon (darn – refills weren’t free), plus they kept refilling the water carage. Needless to say, we all learned where the bathrooms were!

The play was about relationships, dating, choosing a spouse, marriage (and a great spoof about a bridesmaid in a hideous dress), aging, divorce and old age (including dating at a funeral parlor). Dave’s dessert stole the show. We even tried to order a second one.

We bought tickets for “The Tempest.” (It brought back memories from reading the play in San Luis Obispo in my teen years when I was active with the high school’s thespian group. We performed “As You Like It” and I was the “business manager” in charge of tickets and front of house issues.)

I bought a copy of “The Tempest” from Barnes & Noble that had Shakespeare on one side and an easy-to-read translation on the other side. Sarah didn’t understand why Dave and I “needed the translation. We can’t understand why she didn’t. I have plans to make a fun quiz using of the vocabulary of Shakespeare’s day.

It was finally the evening we’d been waiting for. I was feeling awful (the full rash was to arrive in the middle of that night and the wide-awake nightmare), but off we went. Our first moment of concern was in the parking structure – people were carrying blankets and pillows. It was finally the people in parkas that made me stop and ask someone. Apparently, the theater is OUTSIDE! Dave went back to our car for extra jackets and the small black car blanket. (Later, Mel told me that "of course the theater was outside – it’s one of the special things that makes seeing Shakespeare so wonderful in Ashland.")

Our seats were fantastic and the evening was magical. The playhouse was a dream. When the marvelous actors took the stage they transformed the stage with a minimum of props and costumes. Dave purchased Sarah and I hot tea and a treat for himself – as always oblivious to the cold – a blueberry icee. As each scene of the play unfolded, we were dazzled by the difference between Shakespeare on the page and performed in real life. At the same time I became sicker and sicker. When intermission came, I begged the kids to leave. We had gotten a taste of Shakespeare and knew we’d be back for more.

We went back to the RV for a night filled nightmare-quality hallucinations -- one of my darkest nights -- made all the harder because Mel was so far away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

9/19/07 Harry and David's

While running errands, I passed “Harry and David National Headquarters.” My brain began to explode with possibilities. What if there was a tour? …a company store? There was! I signed us up!!! We met at the company store and went in tour buses to the facility. Our tour guide Kay was wonderful. On our bus was a 90 yo man who had picked pears for H&D in the 1930’s. In his honor Kay gave us a double dose of cookies and chocolate.

We watched them pop special popcorn for their “moose crunch.” They made candy, Yule logs and decorated raspberry cheesecakes. (Sarah doubted she’d be employed for long as a pear sorter – she’d wrap all the pears in the special gold foil instead of one per box.) It was fun catching the eye of a worker and having them wave. We were in awe of the forklift drivers zooming around.

Watching the line workers pack the Towers and the gift baskets make us look forward to our December’s haul of gifts from H&D. We wondered how we would get “our share” of the pears and treats while we are in the RV.

At the end, we shopped at the H&D store buying flavored teas (pear, apple cider and strawberry), a new wheat grass plant, beautiful fruit and special soup mixes. Sarah made a delicious corn and potato chowder.

It was a terrific tour and a magical day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

9/17/07 Phoenix/Medford, Oregon

Moving from Trinidad to Medford/Phoenix was one of our easiest transfers. Sarah continues to be the star of getting the RV ready to go! Dave has taken on all the heavy dirty work. It’s becoming easier.

Direct TV joke: Our pull through site has one little tree – of course, it stopped us from getting coverage. The next day we repositioned ourselves in the space and everything worked perfectly. This campground “Holiday RV” has everything – laundry, free WIFI, Direct TV access, easy shopping, meals to walk to for Dave, etc.

The first night we went for Mexican food. We’re not sure if it was that good of a meal because we were so wowed by the two baskets of chips. (Maybe my two margaritas helped.) This was to be “our getting things managed” time.

We did 10 loads of laundry! We were down to our last of everything. Dave was our willing laundry sitter over two days. Sarah folded towers of laundry.

Dave and I dropped off the two bikes and had them tuned up. He surprised me with his strength and ability to fit the bikes in the Maxx.

Sarah's hair cutting skills keep getting better. Dave was willing to let her cut his hair with her new scissors from Audrey. She did a fantastic job. Dave was very pleased. Sarah is thinking that when she comes back she might go to Beauty College so that she can work doing hair as a part-time job to put herself through college.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

9/14/07 Lindi Caywood's in Eureka

After the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana services, we went off to get Subway sandwiches to take to Lindi Caywood’s house who now lives in the house where my mother and her husband George Caywood lived before they died. I made many visits to their home in Eureka and lived there for a month when Sarah was 6 months old when my mother lapsed into a coma and George was hospitalized with a staff infection.

It was comforting to see that George's sister Lindi hadn’t changed the blue paint outside, nor the blue carpet and decorating inside. She even kept many of the books and videos just like George had left the. Lindi redid the kitchen with to blue corian countertops which looked lovely.

We had a pleasant visit. Not much is going smoothly for Lindi these days – her father is in a nursing home after a stroke and an old injury to her thumbs has stopped her from doing many of the things she loves like pottery, knitting, spinning, etc. Lately she has been learning about making jam from the blackberries and raspberries from her yard. She let us pick colanders full of both types of berries. It was good to see her again. We left to head home to let Mayim out sooner than we would have liked.

I dropped the kids back at the campout and came back to let Mayim out and get our dinner plates. The teens requested “anything chocolate,” so I went to the general store to get s’more fixings with Hershey bars.

Our new RV neighbors with a Fleetwood Discovery were very friendly. They offered a tour of their RV. Wow – what a lot of great storage tips! She made most of them with foam core and a glue gun. I can’t wait for Sarah to see her work. It will inspire us on our cleaning and organizing extravaganza planned for Ashland.

9/10 - 9/15/07 Patrick's Point & Matzah Balls

The campout at Patrick’s Point was far grander than I could have imagined. The state park was like fairy heaven and each view was lovelier than the last. The kids hiked back and forth throughout the park, to vistas and to the beach. Sarah collected white pebbles with her friends and Dave stumbled across a harbor seal five feet away on on his walks.

The campers at the HSC annual event were a real treat. I made many new friends and the kids were welcomed into their midst. There were about 150 people, 50 parents and 100 kids. Of those, 40 were teenagers. Sarah met many teens that she knew from the Sacramento conference. Almost all were unschoolers and their easy, relaxed manner and wonderful enjoyable teens gave me many examples of good parenting.

This miserable cold has lingered. I finally got a squeaky voice back, but the cold moist air hasn’t done me any good. I stayed mostly at the RV during the day or ran errands to the grocery store or shipping Dave’s disabled computer back home.

In the evening I met back up with the group for their unbelievable potluck dinners. Each one of the meals, cooked from coolers on coleman stoves or in cast iron pots in the coals of the campfire, many vegetarian or vegan, were delicious.

Before the get together, I emailed the HSC Camping group and offered to make a special addition to the evening potluck in honor of Rosh Hashanah. I planned on serving matzah balls and chicken soup, round braided sweet challahs, honeyed carrots, apples and honey. Before the campout I didn't have a feeling for the number of people who would be attending and the difficulties in cooking in my RV kitchen.

The matzah ball soup project was a learning lesson. I gratefully found eight boxes of Streight’s mix in Morgan Hill and boxes of chicken broth. I got advice from Demi and pulled out my biggest pots. They were perfect. I learned some good techniques the first day as I made 75 matzah balls. I was confused on how to store them and called Demi for more advice. Yikes - they have to be stored in liquid!

Learning curve moment – the shelves of my refrigerator don’t come out. Decided to store them in a 3-gallon ziplock bag. Mistake! The bag leaked and the drawer below the fridge filled with chicken broth which thankfully stopped the RV carpet from being flooded. It was quite easy to clean the broth out of the drawer.

The next day spent a leisurely day making real chicken soup, finishing another 85 matzah balls and packing to take the final prep stage to the campsite. The teens prepared the apples and sliced the ten round challahs I’d ordered from a bakery in Arcada. Another mom made the honeyed-orange juice carrots. I heated three giant pots of soup and matzah balls. Two were chicken and one was vegetarian. (There is a large percentage of vegetarians and vegans, many cars sporting “biodiesel” bumper stickers and an amazing lack of paper plates and water bottles.)

Everything went perfectly! It felt wonderful to have pulled off soup and matzah balls for 150 people.

Afterwards the teens passed out leftover glow necklaces and bracelets from Sarah's bat mitzvah. As it got dark, it was perfect since there was also a talent show in the evening. Dave was involved in a Magic tournament so he was chatting with boys his age and dueling. Sarah was having a blast but had a very stuffy nose.

On Friday night we had another potluck evening dinner at the campground – it was the last night that the largest part of the group would be there. Most start to head home on Saturday. At the very end of the night, Dave made a joke about Sarah about something personal in front of her friends. While the joke was essential “true,” Sarah was mortified and furious at Dave. Furious might be too light of a word – maybe livid, enraged and incensed might be more descriptive – or all of them.

On Saturday, Sarah worked things out with her friends and Dave stayed back at the RV. There were lots of hugs goodby and promises to come back next year. It was a remarkable group of parents and the teens were charming.

I’m starting to plan for the next leg of our journey to Medford tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a more convenient urban life. We have big cleaning plans and I need to get the bicycles, Direct TV, Verizon cell phone repairs all managed. We need supplies like toilet paper for an RV and some storage boxes for underneath.

I’ll be glad to go – there has been so much emotion here – but I think in retrospect, the lessons of matzah ball making and high holidays amidst the redwoods, the nature of speaking the “truth”, and accepting one’s true self will stick with us always.

Friday, September 14, 2007

9/13 - 9/14/07 Rosh Hashanah

After the fun evening at the campout making matzah balls and soup for 150 people and the talent show late in the evening, the next morning was a push. Sarah felt terrible and really didn’t want to go to Rosh Hashanah services.

Because she is usually reluctant to go to synagogue, I overlooked her physical health and made her go. If she was well enough to hang with her Patrick Point friends hiking around in the dark, she was fit enough to go to services.

We arrived at the shul in Eureka and were about two hours into the service when Sarah decided that she was sick enough to forego both shul and the campout for that day. She experienced a swelling, almost to bursting, of emotion on the way home. She felt so badly she slept the afternoon away and slept soundly that night till 5:30 am. We read books together at dawn, both of us with our runny noses and coughing till it was time to get ready to head back to Eureka.

The second day’s services were fascinating. The experience was billed as a “contemplative service” and it was completely new for us. It started in a circle with introductions. The opening chant was led by the rabbi using a musical instrument like a mini piano with an accordion baffle while she sitting cross-legged on the bimah. Then there was 15 minutes of silent meditation. Apparently, I have not learned to sit quietly with an idea for two minutes, let alone fifteen. People stretched out on the floor, sat under their prayer shawls, sat yoga-like on cushions and meditated for 15 minutes. Then we learned a round that had sign language – our favorite part was the arm-waving motion for Hallelujah.

The group all went up on the bimah to make an alliyah and to watch a congregant read Torah. Then we discussed the portion and there was a great interpretation offered regarding the donkey Abraham saddled in the “Sacrifice of Isaac.” One scholar thinks that it is all the same donkey through the bible; another reference suggests that a donkey was the ten equivalent to an expensive car; we discussed Abraham trying to negotiate his way out of selecting Isaac… “but I have two sons.”

The service ended with announcements. They asked who wanted to take home flowers. Sarah offered to help the woman and was rewarded with a beautiful bouquet and lots of sunflowers.

We met the leader of the music – Marge Eiseman – who has the online radio station “Jewish Waves” from Baltimore. She is on a life journey too, having recently left her marriage following getting her twins off to college and the loss of her 12 yo a year and a half ago. She leaves her now 12 yo son behind with her husband, so her heart is still with him there. She is looking to find a way to support herself on-the-road. We agreed to meet up next week in Ashland.

Leaving the synagogue, we were all hungry and thirsty, but pleased with our morning of Jewish experience.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

9/9/07 Trinidad

The ride from Russian River to Trinidad went smoothly. While I was at the grocery store, the kids closed up the RV – doing an excellent job. I was weary from the severe cold – I’d completely lost my voice the day before and worried about driving while coughing.

We stopped for fuel after a few hours. At the gas pump I met a tall, beautiful woman who shared her dream of having an RV like ours and living on-the-road. She was the perfect tonic for my cold and her enthusiasm for life OTR with her “sweety” gave me the energy to keep driving.

I found out that the speed markers “windy road ahead,” “35,” “45,” mean to go two miles below the posted marker. The RV handles fine a little faster, but then we experienced the cupboards popping open and things sliding around making for a very exciting drive.

When we got to “Redwood Trails” in Trinidad, I was relieved. Just like the picture on the website, the school house was easy to spot from the road. Imagine our surprise to have the compound filled with majestic elk! They were everywhere, all around the RV, while we were setting up. Their male leader had eight points on each side. He was quite bossy moving his 40+ females from pasture to pasture. It was great fun to watch him “convince” the stragglers to follow his lead.

I found a giant banana slug to startle Sarah with. Instead it was love at first sight.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

9/8/07 Russian River/Cloverdale

Travelling from Morgan Hill to Russian River/Cloverdale was uneventful.

It was blissfully simple compared to the last drive in August starting in Oakland at 6:30 PM From Golden Gate Truck Center and accidentally going though downtown San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge.

This time we went on the right freeways, over the San Rafael Bridge ($8.50), arrived in the daylight, dumped and backed into our space with no worries. Much nicer!

No sleep last night, I had to sleep sitting up due to the coughing. Took this morning at a slow pace, then went out to find apple farms. We started with a nice lunch in Healdsburg which included garlic, parmesan, and rosemary French fries and ended up in Sebastopol with 50 Gravenstein organic apples, two large containers of honey – orange and blackberry – and cranberry orange jelly. The fresh cider didn’t last through the evening.

Sarah and I took a long walk ending at the Russian River. Both she and Mayim had fun wading. She is teaching me how to be a ninja! J Tomorrow we go to Trinidad.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

9/6/07 John Steinbeck Museum and San Juan Bautista Mission

The last few days have been a blur. I’ve got the worst cold ever, I’m finally starting to feel better and I’ve lost my voice.

While we were still at Morgan Hill we finished going through all the clothes. We’ve got a locker for cold weather and one for extras. The clothes fit nicely in the closet and drawers. We have an assortment of clothes for Mel and will keep the dirty clothes in a basket in the shower.

We went to the John Steinbeck museum in Salinas. Wow! It was organized by the different books. It was so fun to see “The Red Pony” and film clips; “Grapes of Wrath;” “Cannery Row” complete with pictures of the real “Doc” and the pipe with the curtains. The most special exhibit was seeing John Steinbeck’s camper and pictures of Charley, the dog he travelled with US with. Sarah and I had great fun doing the light up crossword puzzle. She was really a sport considering how sick she was with her runny nose.

The next day we drug our sick selves to San Juan Bautista Mission. (Dave has stayed healthy. Luckily, Kathleen game him a new video game for his play station, “Final Fantasy,” so he’s been outside away from our germs and Kleenex.) The mission itself is still a practicing Catholic church complete with holy water, icons and rosary beeds. We also enjoyed the antique hotel – in the ladies’ parlor they were set up to play … dominos!

We ate at a fun restaurant outside on the patio. It was a limited menu with rolls and a jam bar on top of an antique grand piano – we bought some of the spice apple jelly to bring home.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

9/4/07 Morgan Hill (near Salinas and Gilroy)

Travel Day: I never sleep well the night before, but because I’d done so much middle-of-the night planning, I felt peaceful.

Took package for Mel to Fed Ex – he forgot his razor. Drove by 301 N. 6th for old times sake; later took the kids back to see my old Lompoc home with Dad and Scott.

Stopped after a few hours in Atascadero and had a giant lunch at Appleby’s. Dave’s lunch was comp’ed because there was a potato stem in his mashed potatoes. It was nice of the manager especially considering he ate every bite of the steak meal. Dessert was a Triple Chocolate Meltdown which Dave and Sarah finished in 14 seconds.

Got safely to Morgan Hill area, but overshot the road to the Thousand Trails. Argh! Drove into a winery, couldn’t find a pull through, so had to disconnect the Maxx and flip around.

Morgan Hill Thousand Trails is nice. We found an easy site and got set up. Sarah set the table using branches as a centerpiece and Dave made hamburgers. Sarah started coming down with Mel’s cold. I felt sorry for her since I’ve had it for two days. Let’s hope Dave doesn’t get it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

9/3/07 Lompoc

Woke up early and worked more on unpacking. Later in the day came back to RV and finished everything but the clothes.

Went with Kat, Tim & Sienna to Cajun Kitchen for breakfast. We all scarfed down our great meals. Dave walked home to Kat’s – he’s been walking all over Lompoc and exploring, but no Sushi places have been open…

Kat and I taught Sarah blackjack table etiquette and played for quarters. Then we played more dominos with trains.

Sarah and Sienna played peek-a-boo and other games for hours. Sarah would have attacked and destroyed Sienna’s annoying talking Elmo chair, but she showed great self control. Kit found a friend and lap with Dave.

Kathleen made the best tuna casserole ever. Then we watched a very funny movie called “Office Spaces.” Mayim and Sienna had fun playing feed-the-doggie-grapes and playing with Mayim’s blanket.

It was the perfect visit and a good way for me to catch my breath after the exhausting effort involved with closing down the house and getting on the road.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

9/2/07 Lompoc at my Sister's -- Goodby to Mel

Bittersweet – taking Mel to the new train stop in Lompoc overlooking the coastal views of VAFB from my childhood. Train was on time – I held it together till Mel got on the train. Seeing his face crunch up into tears is a memory I’ll always have. I lost it walking to the car. I saw Lompoc murals that I’d never seen before – but through tears.

Couldn’t go back to sleep; worked to find the “lost” keys. Ironically, no keys had been lost, they had all been put away and were in their correct locations. Even Mel’s keys had been found in his travel kit. I must have been operating on unpacking overload in my exhaustion yesterday.

Went to Kathleen’s. Tim took two days off from the “crush” and Don and Karen were still there. Sorted and labeled my jewelry – a project long overdue. The parents will take it back to Mel for the safe deposit box.

Learned how to play dominos with “trains.” Great fun! Learned about the wine making process from Tim and his strategy for the “Trivia” class that he leads in Santa Barbara – I agree with Kathleen, he should be on a game show – he knows the most amazing stuff!

Sarah and Sienna had a great day. Sarah felt so comfortable that she stayed overnight.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

9/1/07 Leaving Orange County

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday were hottest days of year. (Remember how hot it was for the Villa Park move? How do I manage to pack during heat waves?) Today, Saturday morning is noticeably cooler.

Remember how I told people we were leaving between 10:30-11:30? What optimism! Dawn arrived on a partially packed RV. 65% of the outside was finished – 10% of the inside. However, the work in the not-quite-dark driveway the night before paid off. I was able to fly through the remaining boxes. Dedicating a compartment in the RV to sports equipment was genius!

It was wonderful to see Nancy. What a trooper, she’s as tired as I am – plus she brought coffees!

Laundry at the Laundromat – everything worked perfectly except Dave’s understanding of dryers. I picked him and the laundry up, went up the hill to find bags full of wet clothes. We went back and luckily found plenty of empty dryers. Then Sharman and Susan showed up help us speed fold everything. Susan gave me a human zapper as a going away present with a funny card.

Thank God for Mel offering to drive to Lompoc. To get out of Orange, I finished packing the outside and stacked the boxes in the bedroom. We drove away around 2:00 pm finding mostly light traffic for a holiday weekend. There was a space for us at the Elks and Kathleen, Don and Karen were waiting dinner and champagne for us!