Friday, December 28, 2007

12/28/07 Hello from Quartzsite. We drove here yesterday with Mike and Marilyn Harrison and are now set up on the desert where we are enjoying peace and quiet. After driving up to Phoenix on Christmas Day to be with their family, we didn't want to have to drive all the way back to Yuma to have New Year's with the Boomers at Mittrey Lake. Hopefully, most of the people there will be coming up here in a few weeks and we will get to see them then.
Christmas Eve we enjoyed a very nice dinner hosted by Elaine's cousin Tom, at El Conquistador Restaurant. Besides Elaine and I, the dinner was also attended by Penny, her sister, Aunt Marion, and quite a few of Tom's clients and neighbors. Then we had a gift exchange at Aunt Marion's. It capped off a three day visit with Aunt Marion. We were happy to have some good visiting time with her and also with Penny. The next day we drove up to Phoenix to be with Mike & Marilyn's family for Christmas Day dinner. It was quite enjoyable and we were happy to meet their relatives and friends. Unfortunately, I didn't take any good pictures to put here. We spent 2 nights camping on a street near their daughter's house and the second night the police showed up because someone in the neighborhood complained. They were nice about it and didn't push us out when we said we were leaving the next day. The next morning we drove to Beads Galore so Elaine and Marilyn could get some more supplies. It is one of the biggest places for this and they got lots of nice crystals, silver fasteners, etc. I suppose they will be making some nice jewelry pretty soon while we are camped out here.
Today we spent a little time collecting dry wood for campfires and building a nice fire pit. If you are in the area, stop by at Happy Hour for a campfire, a libation, and some conversation.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

12/16/07 Today I finally got our Christmas letter written and sent and a copy of it is below, in case you didn't get one sent to you. There are now 8 rigs of friends out here at Sidewinder Road and we have been having enjoyable social times. Usually we all meet and walk together every morning at 9:30 with some of us walking 2 miles and Elaine, Nancy Hurley and I walking 4 or 5 miles. This sounds like a lot but with all the group meals we have been having, we need to walk off the calories! Then we each do our own thing during the day and we meet again at 3:30 to go for another shorter walk. Happy Hour around the campfire, if there is no wind, or in someone's rig usually follows, if there is no group dinner planned. There have been several wonderful dinners for the whole gang, 2 put on by Jerry and Nancy Hurley, 2 by Mary & Elaine, one by Nancy and Bob, and the biggest one the other night (14 people) in Gretchen and Frank Knapp's rig. Most of the people here will be moving over to Mittrey Lake on the 22nd to take part in the Boomer Christmas gathering. We will be heading for Tucson to have Christmas with Elaine's sister, aunt, and cousins. Then on Christmas Day we will join Mike & Marilyn Harrison in Phoenix at their daughter Darcy's place for another Christmas celebration. Other friends in that area might also be seeing us in the following days.
One of the best parts of camping out here on the desert are the fabulous sunsets whenever there are any clouds. I am attaching a picture below, although we have quite an array of amazing ones that we took, because as we sit through the changes, the color changes and intensity changes are incredible.
Tomorrow we will be heading back to Algodones, the nearest Mexican town, to buy some good tequila. Jerry and Nancy Hurley have exposed us to a new one, which is very good especially when you drink it straight with some limon. Try to get some Herencia del Plata tequila (in the blue box) and you will see what we mean. When we compared it to Jose Cuervo, we realized how harsh the Cuervo is compared to the Herencia. Life is too short to drink cheap tequila!!

Dec. 2007

Once again it is the time of year when we start getting e-cards and letters from friends and family and we always say, “Where the heck has the last year gone??!!” I guess that means that we have been having a good time because that is when time really seems to fly away. Well, we love hearing from everyone and sure hope that the following missive from us will be of interest to you too.

Our year started with a new motorhome, which we acquired at the very end of 2006. It is a 2005 Seabreeze LX which is 34 feet long, and increase of 11 feet from our last one. And it has 2 slideouts, which make it even more spacious. It was offered on eBay and by driving all the way to Denton, TX to get it before the end of the year, we got a great deal. It only had 4058 miles on it and was like new. It has become our “party house” because we now have a larger rig than lots of our friends, so when the weather is windy or cold, the gang ends up in our rig. Fun. It also means we have to be really careful when we make tight turns or try to park it.

Because we were coming back from Texas, we missed the New Year’s gathering with the Boomers at Sidewinder Road near Yuma. But we did have many other happy times camping with the Boomers and the RoVing Rods (our fishing group) in Arizona through February and March and later in the year. The annual gathering at Quartzsite in January was a highlight because it is a chance to reconnect with so many of our RVing friends.

This has been an unusual year for us, as we did not spend very much time traveling outside the United States. Our only foreign trip was a trans-Atlantic cruise from Galveston, TX to Barcelona, Spain in mid-April. We have taken this cruise before, so the appeal of it was not the ports of call but just the cruising experience, which was greatly enhanced by the friends who were cruising with us. Daily Happy Hours in someone’s stateroom and gourmet dinners every night pretty much sabotaged our good intentions to stay slim and trim, but Hey, there is time for all that later, right? After arriving in Spain, we flew to Seville where Elaine’s nephew picked us up and we had a nice visit with his family at Maron Air Force Base where he was a squadron commander. It is always enjoyable to have warm weather, a different and interesting culture, and family or friends with whom to share it.

It was a good thing we weren’t lingering in Europe this year because we got an unexpected 30 day notice from our tenants in the Santa Clara house and we had to deal with that immediately upon our return. Although the house selling market is in the toilet just about everywhere, luckily for us the rental market is still strong and we had no trouble re-renting it after some painting and cleanup. Every time we fix up a place like this, we say we are getting too darn old to be working this hard but, after all is said and done, rentals are our only retirement income!

Then we had to hightail it up to Washington, as we had accepted a job at a Forest Service campground called Lake Kachess. The goal of working at all was to get one more quarter of Social Security credit for me so I could qualify for Medicare eventually, because at $7.93/hour, we weren’t exactly getting rich working at this job! Happily, we had a convivial relationship with all of our fellow workers there and the campground was in a heavily wooded area right on a big and beautiful lake, just east of Snoqualmie Pass. We managed 2 of the loops, which encompassed 50 campsites. Supposedly we were being paid for 30 hours per week, but in actuality, we probably worked 60. It wasn’t hard or nasty work but the hard part for us was just that we had to be in the same place for 3 months. In 13 years of being full time RVers, we had never stayed anywhere longer than a month before. Our on-site managers were delightful, but the area managers managed to stress out the entire staff every time they visited. That was an on-going problem, and we also had some unexpected incidents. The worst incident was when a freak wind swept across the lake and toppled more than a dozen old growth hemlock trees right in a couple of the camping loops. It was very lucky that people weren’t injured or killed, as several of these huge trees landed directly on a tent trailer, a tent, and a car, and blocked a lot of the roads needed to evacuate people. One of the best parts of being at Lake Kachess for nearly 3 months was that our family and friends knew where we were going to be for a while. There was a pretty steady stream of visitors, which we greatly enjoyed.

Eventually a few of the confrontations between our staff and the area managers got to us and we quit the job in mid-August. The RoVing Rods were fishing for salmon at Sekiu, on the Olympic Peninsula, and Elaine was itching to join them. It was wonderful to be with our friends in the group and also to be catching, smoking, and canning salmon to be enjoyed for months to come. This event was followed by the crabbing gathering at Winchester Bay, OR. Good thing it is a beautiful area to stay in and the social part of the event is so enjoyable because this year the actual crabbing and salmon fishing there was dismal. It didn’t help when 2 of our traps were stolen the very first time we put them out! The weather was fairly good this year all through the gathering. We were going to stay for another week but then rain and cold came in right after it was over. Our tenants in Roseville also surprised us with a 30 day notice, so we started heading south.

Boomer friends have a home on Agency Lake, near Klamath Falls, and we stopped to visit them. Crater Lake is only about 35 miles from their home so we all drove up there on an excursion. There was fresh snow everywhere (and not just a “dusting”), and it was beautiful to be up there, but quite a surprise as it was only Oct. 2 when we were there.

After visiting my daughter and granddaughters in the Reno area, and checking on the Roseville house, we proceeded to the Bay Area. Besides checking on the other rentals, we wanted to see Elaine’s daughter Tarra, who lives in Fremont, and my son, Thomas, who lives in San Francisco. While we were there, Tarra was fine the first day and then got sick. We returned to our lot at Park Sierra but then in a few days returned to Fremont as Tarra was so sick she had to be hospitalized. Tests showed that she had bacterial spinal meningitis, a staph infection, and an e. coli infection. They put her on massive doses of antibiotics, which continued when she was released after 9 days. Luckily, she is doing fine now because this was a very serious situation.

Once again we were able to fix up our vacant rental and get new tenants quickly. This allowed us to pack up our RV for winter and head for the Arizona deserts where we are currently camped with Boomer friends. Thanksgiving found us enjoying a delicious feast and socializing with the RoVing Rods at Mittry Lake near Yuma. For Christmas we will drive over to Tucson to be with Elaine’s sister Penny, Aunt Marion, and cousins Tom & Lucienne. Christmas Day we will drive to Phoenix to be with Mike & Marilyn Harrison and their daughter, Darcy.

As always, we are looking forward to new places to explore in the coming year. In late February we will be flying to Johannesburg, South Africa where we will pick up a 25 day safari tour ending in Capetown. After a month there, we will take another safari tour through Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, ending at Victoria Falls in Livingstone. Then we just have to get ourselves back to the USA in mid-May. This is a trip I have wanted to do my entire life and I have high hopes for lots of animal viewing. If you are interested in reading travel reports from this trip, or in fact just checking on our whereabouts at any time, please access our blog:

As we travel the highways and byways in the next year, we are hoping that our paths will cross with many of you receiving this letter. Please e-mail us with your own news as we are always interested in your happenings. We are wishing you the happiest of Christmases and a wonderful year in 2008.

Love, Mary & Elaine

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

12/4/07 Hello from Sidewinder Road. This is a desert boondocking spot on a gravel road off Ogilby Road west of Yuma, AZ. We have been having generally sunny and warm weather with only occasion windy days. When we first arrived, our friends Ed & Jolene Northup were the only ones here.

They joined us on some walks, we had Happy Hours together, and Saturday we all went to the Arizona Marketplace flea market together. Friday, Nancy and Jerry Hurley arrived to camp with us, just in time for the big rainstorm that went through this area. We had a wine tasting Happy Hour in our rig and it was raining so hard that no one wanted to go back to their own rigs. Finally the party broke up at 8:30 and it was still pouring! The next day when we went out for our walk, the road looked like a river bottom, it was so torn up and littered with branches and debris. Our friends Bob & Nancy Colbert were supposed to come that day and we were concerned that they would get stuck on the road. But by the time they arrived, the work crews had been through here and graded the road. There are now about 4 soft spots but Bob and Nancy made it in Saturday afternoon with no problem. They are now parked next to us and we are happy to be with them again.
We have been to Algodones (the nearest Mexican town) twice; once to make a dental appointment for Elaine and the next time for the actual work. She had a chip that needed to be repaired last year in Cairo, and now it needed to be done again. It cost $42 in Cairo and $35 in Mexico - both prices far below what it would have cost in the US. The lines getting through customs to get back to the USA which were long and slow last year, are much better this year. Although, the customs guys are being tight about what you can bring back. Yesterday Nancy and Jerry met a couple that were turned back for trying to cross with 4 pairs of sunglasses!!
It seems that often Elaine and I are trying to find time to catch up on paperwork, computer stuff, RV fixup, etc. and this is our chance to do those things. Each morning we go for a walk and each afternoon there is a convivial Happy Hour but those are the only demands on our time.

One thing we were trying to find time to do was plan a trip to South Africa and now we have done that. We have booked a 25 day safari/tour from Pretoria to Capetown, starting March 2. Once in Capetown, we will stay with friends for a short while in order to find an apartment to rent until April 22. Then we leave on our second safari/tour which will be 21 days, going through Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, and ending in Livingstone where Victoria Falls are located. After that we will have to get ourselves back to Johannesburg for the flight home. We haven't booked our airfare yet but we will be working on that soon.
Other Boomer friends will be showing up soon no doubt, because lots of people are planning to be at the Christmas/New Year’s gathering which will be held at Mittry Lake this year but which won’t start until about the 22nd. There is a good chance that we will be driving to Tucson again for Christmas, to be with Elaine’s Aunt Marion, her son Tom and her daughter Lucienne, and Elaine’s sister, Penny. More on this next time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

11/24/07 It has been a busy time since our last post. Right after leaving Park Sierra, we spent 3 nights in San Diego, staying at the Poway Elks club. There are only 3 RV sites there and the parking was very tight, but the people are very helpful and friendly. Elaine's son, Darran, came over for dinner with his new girlfriend, Marielle. He is very happy and she is cute and likeable. He says he is serious about her, so perhaps soon there will be a big announcement. Unfortunately, right after they left, I got sick with an intestinal bug and had it for the next few days. That put a damper on our visit the next day with old friends Sally and Kathy. They had free passes for all of us so we went to the San Diego Zoo. Elaine and I had not been there since we had Tarra and Darran there when they were small and they broke out in chicken pox while we were on top of the tram. Taking the tram all around the zoo and then doing a short walk to see just a few animals really wiped me out, so it was a short day there. Kathy and Sally fixed a nice dinner and we had a great visit.
Then we drove over to Yuma, and out to Mittry Lake where the RoVing Rods were gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. There were about 8 rigs here when we arrived on Tuesday evening. A few more came the next day and some folks drove out in their cars just for Thanksgiving day and the delicious dinner. Since everyone contributes, the dinner prep isn't too hard on anyone. Bruce and Bunny prepared a trash can turkey (see the steps in the pictures below), and Ron Bonham smoked a turkey and a ham. Stan Lindner prepared several Canada geese that he had shot up in Alberta. Surprisingly, the cooked meat tastes kind of like beef tri-tip. We made a big salad, and fixed 2 big pans of yams and some broccoli. Of course, there were many other side dishes and lots of different pies. Luckily, it was a sunny and beautiful day, with no wind, and we were happy to be outside. Ed Broz brought out his button box (or squeeze box) and entertained us before dinner. Dinner left us all stuffed, so I took a walk with Doc and Billie while Elaine rested. By now she had the same illness that I had in San Diego, but she wasn't as sick. She was even able to eat on Thanksgiving Day. There was so much food leftover that we had another group dinner the next night. This time, Ed Bonham arrived and so did the members of his "band", so they set up their equipment and performed a 2 hour concert for all of us last evening. We all sat around roaring fires and listened intently. How lucky we are to be in groups where there are such talented people!
Last summer when we were campground hosts at Lake Kachess, another camp host named Frank became our very good friend. He lives here in Yuma with his partner, Andy (see picture below). So he drove out yesterday and we had a happy reunion with him. He invited us to a breakfast today, with about 8 of his friends, after which we all went for a hike out in the foothills. Frank has gotten obsessed with geocaching and that was the goal of the hike, to find some of these sites. We were happy to just go along and have some visiting time with all of Frank's friends, whom we had met last summer too.
Another couple of guys, Fred and Marty, whom we met on a beach in Baja about 6 years ago had e-mailed us that they were going to be here at Mittry Lake for Thanksgiving. So we drove up to the canal area and there they were. We had a very nice visit with them, and were happy to see how well they are doing. They are returning to Baja in January and trying to convince us to go too!
We are trying to use part of our time here to do some research for our next international trip. I am pushing for us to go to South Africa for March, April and May, but we haven't made any definite arrangements yet. In the meantime, we will be staying down here in Arizona where we are hoping for warmth. We are hoping to go out to the Sidewinder Road area where the Boomers have gathered in past years, but no one was out there over Thanksgiving. Perhaps if we go out there, more will show up!

Friday, November 16, 2007

11/16/07 This will be our last night at Park Sierra, as we have decided to join the RoVing Rods for Thanksgiving down at Mittrey Lake near Yuma, AZ. We have had a nice time here at the park, mainly because there are such nice people here and also the weather has been great too. Some chores we always put off have been done, such as washing and waxing the car and RV, we have had some medical tests, and done a bit of reorganizing. Tomorrow we leave for San Diego, where we will get to meet Darran's new girlfriend and (hooray) return about 6 boxes worth of stuff to him, which we have been storing in our shed for years! Then, after a visit with friends Kathy and Sally, we will be off to Yuma. Hopefully, we will be able to reconnect with other friends down there as well. The plan is that we will start to do some travel research and decide on a place to go for our next international trip, and start making definite arrangements.
Today we had a very enjoyable Happy Hour here at the park and were delighted that so many great people showed up and stayed quite a while to talk. The last time we sponsored one we had to bail out at the last minute because of Tarra's illness. She is doing quite well, having finished her course of antibiotics at home.
At the end of this report, there is a picture of a red shouldered hawk which sat on a branch right in front of Ken & Carolyn's rig and didn't seem the least upset by the fact that 4 of us (and a dog) were within 10 feet! Today while we were packing the RV, an adolescent deer with small horns went running right down the path near our rig. It is great to have a lot in a place where there are still such animals roaming around.
Please contact us if you will be in the Yuma area so we can try to get together.

Monday, November 05, 2007

11/5/07 Happily, we can now report that Elaine's daughter, Tarra, is doing much better. She spent 9 days in the hospital, and will be on IV antibiotics for about another 10 days. The lab tests finally revealed that she had bacterial spinal meningitis, an e. coli infection, and a staph infection. The doctor said that if she hadn't gone in for help and waited another 24 hours, the infection would have gone into her brain and she would have had about a 5% chance of survival. They are still treating 3 other people for the same thing in the same hospital and none of them are responding nearly as well to the drugs as Tarra did. So we are feeling very lucky right now that we still have her!
We are also very glad that we have finished fixing up our rental house in Roseville and have turned it over to the new tenants. The outside was badly in need of painting, which we did, and after 4 days of painting eaves, we both have stiff necks!! The old tenants did a great job of cleanup, so all we had to do was paint the walls on the inside and touch up the trim. Now we hope the new tenants stay in there for a LONG time.
The last few days we have enjoyed some social times with old friends and family in the area, and that has been a treat. Since my brain was fuzzy from breathing paint fumes, I never thought of taking pictures, so there are none following this report. But we did have a delicious Italian dinner with Jan & Bill Vecchio on Friday, followed by a nice lunch out on Saturday with Roberta & Odette, old friends from Cool. Saturday evening we shared drinks and food with Carol & Ron Leonard, the SKP couple whose land we were parked on during our stay in Sacramento. Then we enjoyed a fabulous Asian meal on Sunday with high school friend Lois Cissell and her brother, Richard. Lois had recently been in the hospital with a slight stroke, so we were very happy to see that she is doing so well, with hardly any residual effects. Today we met my youngest brother, Jerry, and his wife, Diann at Chili's in Roseville, and had another delicious lunch. They are both looking fabulous and enjoying their retirement immensely. So you can see that if we did manage to work off a few ounces or pounds with all the hard work on the rental, we put it back on and more with all these food events!!
Currently we are driving back to Fremont, for another quick visit with Tarra. Then we have to return to Park Sierra because I have jury duty on Thursday and we have bone density tests on Friday. Our car is also in need of some repairs and we have to take care of that before heading south. Our plans are often made in jello, and are subject to change at any time, but it is looking like we will head south to Arizona for a while until we get a chance to do some travel research and make some definite plans for international destinations.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

10/24/07 Again I have been negligent in updating this blog and I apologize. As usual, life has been very busy. Thanks for your patience.
We are currently at our lot at Park Sierra near Coarsegold, CA. Luckily, this is not anywhere near the fires in Southern California. Although, several weeks ago there was a fire here which came within just a few yards of some of the RV's in this park. It was fortunate that there were several other fires burning in the area so some fire fighting equipment and personnel were in the area and they put our fire out in short order. It was also a darn good thing that the volunteers in our park keep all the grass and brush cut back so that there was not a lot of fuel on the ground to enable the fire to sweep through the park.
Elaine's son, Darran, lives in San Diego and has reported that where he lives, on the beach, there is no fire danger but the sand is getting covered with soot. He is a manager for UPS and he says the drivers are returning from their routes all covered in soot, as well. Apparently not too many businesses are functioning except UPS and the hospitals. He was taking care of the cats of some friends of his who are on vacation in Cancun and when he went over there to rescue the cats from the fire, the police wouldn't let him in because the area was being evacuated. He still doesn't know if their house is destroyed or not. Other friends of ours down there are in an area that hasn't been evacuated but they are ready to go if the alarm is raised. They have already taken in their daughter-in-law whose apartment building burned on one of the first days. I'm sure there will be many sad stories for a long time to come.
The main reason that we came here at this time was to have some checkups at Kaiser and we are done with those now. We will have to leave here on Saturday, to attend the memorial service in Madera for a good friend of ours, Ray Cooper. From there we will stop in Fremont for another quick visit with Elaine's daughter, Tarra. We visited her last week but she was pretty sick most of the time we were there. This was a really a shame as Saturday was her 32nd birthday. When she was still very ill on Monday, Elaine urged her to go to the doctor and when she did, he sent her to the hospital where she has been ever since. He thought she might have spinal meningitis but they haven't confirmed that, and they have yet to determine why she is so ill and in so much pain. Hopefully, she will be starting to recover soon.
On our way back here, from Oregon, we stopped in Sparks for a visit with my daughter, Laura, who had her 35th birthday while we were there. Of course, we also got to spend a bit of time with my granddaughters, Paige (17) and Michaela (12). The next weekend, they had a swim meet in Roseville, so we got to see them again there. We were there checking out our rental house, which is due to become vacant at the end of this month. Happily, the tenants have kept it looking nice and agreed to show it to interested parties, so we have already agreed to re-rent it to another nice couple whom we have yet to meet. That will happen this coming Sunday when we are back up there to start painting the outside. Once the tenants have left and we get the inside cleaned and painted, we can turn over the keys to the new couple - by Nov. 4, we hope. Then we can start heading south for the winter.
In the Sacramento area we stayed on the property of some SKP friends of Jim and Diane FisherBaker, and they were there too, so it was a fun social time. Then, Bob and Nancy Colbert arrived, having driven all the way from Massachusetts in order to take a job in Pleasanton with John and Betsy Crawford managing a Christmas tree lot. They stayed with us for 2 nights in Sacramento and it was so great to be with them again after 2 years. They then traveled with us down to the Fremont area where we stayed at the Elks Club.
While we were in the Bay Area, we were able to visit John and Cathy Robnik, who are running a pumpkin patch in Saratoga. They have a petting zoo to take care of as well as selling LOTS of pumpkins, so they are putting in long days. It was a happy reunion with them, since we haven't seen them since last winter. The next day, Bob and Nancy, Elaine and I took BART to San Francisco so that we could have lunch with my son, Thomas, and his partner, Robert. They live in the Castro district and we found a very good Thai restaurant there. Then we all walked up a few blocks to the street that Laura and Gordon Bornkamp live on and there they were, with Diane and Jim FisherBaker, waiting to greet us on the corner. Laura and Gordon's house is old and unique and has a fabulous view over a lot of the city. Next time we go there we will no doubt take them up on their offer to stay overnight. This time, we spent the afternoon with all of them and then took the train back to Fremont. It was an absolutely beautiful day there and a fun time with old friends.
I am tacking on a few pictures so you can see what some of these people look like, in case you don't know them. Also, there have been a few questions about the last posting concerning the Nanaimo Bar recipe. The picture was of a double batch of bars. Also, custard powder is just the dry powder from a box of custard mix which you can purchase in the pudding and jello section of the supermarket. Bon appetit...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

10/6/07 Thanks for your patience, blog readers - we are back with an update. Currently we are parked in front of Mike and Marilyn Harrison's house on Agency Lake, just north of Klamath Falls, OR. The past few days have been very pleasant here, due to the company - not the weather. It has been COLD. Luckily, we have an electrical hookup and can have our forced air heater on at night or it would be freezing in here. They have a lovely home and we have been enjoying good food and lots of great travel talk, since they are not only RV friends, but also world travelers too. They were on the last transAtlantic cruise with us in May.
You might be asking what we are doing here so early when we weren't scheduled to leave Winchester Bay until the 8th. Unexpectedly, we received a 30 day notice from our tenants in Roseville and we decided to head south right away to check the place out ASAP. This will help us learn what fix up will be needed at the end of the month, and also whether we can start listing it for re-rent while our tenants are still in it. That would help us get it rented again sooner because everyone who looks at it has to give their current landlord a 30 day notice too, and then we have a problem. Of course, we still wanted to see a few friends and family on our way south, thus the stop here. Tomorrow will find us on the road again, heading for Reno where we will have the instrument cluster on our RV replaced (yes, again!), and have a few days to visit my daughter and granddaughters, who live in Sparks. Then we will push on to Roseville for the rental assessment.
As we left Winchester Bay, and drove on highway 138 over the Cascades, the road ran along the upper Umpqua River and it was one of the prettiest drives we have ever taken. The trees are starting to change color, so there was red, yellow, gold and green foliage all along, with the river having some rapids and falls, and sheer cliffs and rocks periodically rising on the other side. As we neared the summit, the weather changed from mostly cloudy with occasion sunny periods, to all cloudy and rainy with occasion snow showers!! This hurried us along as we certainly didn't want to get trapped up there overnight. Mike and Marilyn weren't due back until the next day, so we stayed at the small casino near their place, called Kla-Mo-Ya. It has a large and flat parking area, perfect for RV's with the only bummer being 18 wheel trucks pull in there too and some of those idiots still leave their engines run all night. I can't understand why they do that, since fuel is so expensive these days.
Yesterday we explored their small town of Chiloquin, which took very little time, and then we hit a rummage sale. We also made a double batch of Nanaimo Bars, which are pictured below. I made them for one of the RoVing Rods potlucks and they were a big hit. So I am including the recipe at the end of this posting. It is a Canadian recipe which Mike and Marilyn love, and which Laraine, our manager at Lake Kachess, gave to us. It is quite a decadent treat, but well worth the extra calories, if you can prevent yourself from eating the entire batch!
Today Mike and Marilyn took us to a barn sale and a yard sale, and then we drove up to Crater Lake, which is only about 30 miles from their house. Being prepared for all the snow we encountered up there helped us enjoy the beautiful views across the lake. The snow still gathered on the tree branches was also quite scenic and made it feel like December instead of early October!! After a short hike around part of the lake, to take pictures, we made a dash for the cafeteria and a welcome cup of hot chocolate. Elaine and I hate cold weather and make sure that we are never in areas where snow might be present. Seeing Crater Lake in this condition was an unexpected treat, however. We didn't dally up there too long, and were happy to return to lower elevations and warmer temps.
Here is the recipe for Nanaimo Bars:
Bottom Layer
Butter or hard margarine 1/2 cup
granuated sugar 1/4 cup
cocoa 1/3 cup
Melt in top of double boiler or in heavy saucepan.
Beat a large egg and add to above, stirring to cook and thicken. Remove from heat.
Stir in the following:
graham cracker crumbs 1 and 3/4 cups
fine or medium coconut 3/4 cup
walnuts, finely chopped 1/2 cup
After stirring all of this together, press firmly into an ungreased 9x9 inch pan. Chill while you whip up the next layer.

Second Layer
butter or hard margarine (softened) 1/2 cup
milk 3 Tbsp
vanilla custard powder 2 Tbsp
powdered sugar 2 cups
Cream butter, milk, custard powder and powdered sugar together and beat until light. Spread evenly over bottom layer in pan. Chill.

Top Layer
Semisweet chocolate chips 1 or 1 and 1/3 cups
Butter or hard margarine 3 or 4 Tbsp
(The amounts are up to you but we like more chocolate on the top so we do the larger amounts)
Melt together over low heat. Cool slightly. When cool but still runny, spread over second layer. Chill in refrigerator.
Cut into small squares and enjoy!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

9/24/07 Well, the crabbing is still very SLOW here at Winchester Bay - darn it! The RoVing Rods Crabfest has officially started and there are lots of great people here. We are having fun social times with lots of good food, despite the lack of crab. There have been several potlucks already, with a Mexican potluck scheduled for tomorrow night, and a crab potluck for Thursday. I have a feeling there will be lots of non-crab dishes at that one! Saturday night there will be a steak dinner at the Eagles Club, with music and dancing afterwards. So, tons of fun, even without the presence of the desired crustaceans!
The weather has been beautifully sunny, but that also means frequent windy days. A few times the wind has been so bad that we closed our slide-out. That also means that we don't put our crab pots out on the river, where we probably would catch more crab, because we can't get out there to check them in our little boat. The people who have bigger boats can get their pots over to Half Moon Bay, nearest to the ocean, and they are catching the most crab.
Unfortunately, the thieves have been coming around some more and have stolen two of Ken & Janice Ryder's traps, and one of Jack Vincent's. John Primmer had some expensive knives stolen from his boat, and someone we don't know had their truck broken into overnight. We have also had several instances when our traps were emptied of crab by someone too. We can tell because they throw them back in the water with the side wide open. It would be nice if these kinds of people would just stay away from here.
Elaine and I have paid for a month here, and that is up on October 8. We will probably be heading to southern Oregon to visit a few friends on our way back to California. More details later. A few pictures from our experience here are below.

Friday, September 14, 2007


This update is from Winchester Bay, Oregon, where we are parked at Salmon Harbor Marina near the crabbing dock. There are about 8 rigs of RoVing Rods here so we have been having good social times with old friends. Unfortunately, the crabbing has been pretty slow, and the few crabs we have been catching are fairly soft, so they aren’t full of meat. The salmon fishing has also been dismal, although yesterday when we walked around the point, the fishermen there said that 8 chinooks had been caught. We saw one of them and it was HUGE. The weather has been changing a lot. The first day we were here it was so windy we could hardly have Happy Hour. The next day was so sunny, everyone was wearing tee shirts. Since then it has been mostly overcast, but fairly calm. Today was an absolutely beautiful day with sunshine and no wind – hooray!

Because of the slow crabbing, we took our time getting our inflatable boat set up and our crab traps out. We had 5 traps and we put them out 2 days ago. Yesterday we went out in the morning to check them and two of them had been stolen!! Boy, we were pissed!! The sad thing is that it seems that these incidents are becoming more common up here. Chuck has had his crab traps stripped several times, but at least they didn’t steal them. Cotton and Betty never leave their traps out unattended. They take their boat out and set their traps, then wait a while and pull them a few times, then bring them in. John and Vi bought a new trap yesterday and it cost $28. He already had a rope , bait box, and a buoy for it, so that would have added to the cost if he didn’t have them. You can see that when a trap is stolen, it costs about $40 to replace everything. This year a license costs $16.50, and there is the daily cost of bait, gas for the boat, etc. So crabbing can be a fairly expensive proposition. Of course, compared to the cost of buying crab, it isn’t. Plus it is fun.

Because we weren’t spending a lot of time crabbing when we first got here, we decided to can some tuna. We have to buy this because we can’t take our boat out on the ocean to catch it ourselves. Often they have to go out over 100 miles to get them. This year tuna costs $1.85 a pound for a whole fish, which means once it is filleted, you get about half waste and half fish, making it $3.70 a pound. We brine it and smoke it before canning it and it is delicious. We are also hoping to can some crab, as we have in past years, but if things don’t pick up on the crab catching, we won’t have enough to do this.

Pictures will be added to this blog in a few days.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

9/8/07 Hello from Oregon. Yesterday we arrived in Salem to visit Elaine's niece, Suzanne, and her family, which includes her husband, Tom, Nathan age 3, and Erin age 8 months. They have relocated here from Arizona. We had a very nice dinner with them last night because we brought them some silver salmon fillets which we prepared on the BBQ. It was great to see their cute little house in the older, more stately part of Salem. The governor lives just 3 blocks from them, and Suzanne's Mom, Penny (Elaine's sister), might soon be living just one block from them too.
Below there are more pictures from our time with the RoVing Rods at Sekiu. The salmon runs were getting smaller and the boats were going to be pulled out by the owners, so we decided to leave and head for the next activity - crabbing. First we returned to the SKP park at Chimicum, where we again had an enjoyable social time with David, Ann, Laurie & Odel. Then we went to Tacoma where we got a new instrument cluster installed in our RV, which was covered by warranty, thank goodness. The LCD screen was so bad that Elaine couldn't even read it and couldn't tell what gear she was in, what the odometer reading was, etc. Now that it is installed, she has noticed that the tachometer readings are wacky. Perhaps another visit to a Chevy dealer will be in our future plans.
I have put some pictures below showing the process for obtaining canned smoked salmon, from the catching to the canning. It is a lot of work but well worth it. If we get an invitation for Happy Hour, or dinner, we are likely to bring some - hint, hint.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Hello Again Blog Readers,

Happily, this report is being posted from Sekiu, WA, out on the Olympic Peninsula, where the RoVing Rods are having their annual salmon fishing event. We were able to join them on Friday afternoon. On the way here, we had our RV recall work done in Tacoma, and spent the night at the Escapees park in Chimicum. Some RV friends of ours, Ann Howells and David Brown, rent a lot nearby in Port Hadlock and we had a delightful Happy Hour and wine tasting there with them. Laurie Brown and Odel King were also there and we had an enjoyable time on a sunny and glorious day, made even more awesome by the views over the water. David and Ann rent a house near Capetown, South Africa every winter, and we were happy to get some travel information from them in the hope that we can still travel there this coming winter.

Friday we drove from Chimicum to Sekiu and joined the RoVing Rods at Olsen’s Resort and RV Park. It was great to see everyone again and hear that they had been catching quite a few salmon. Elaine went out the next morning with Doc and Ron and they caught 7 salmon. We brined them after they were filleted, and smoked them and canned them today. Unfortunately, today when they went out fishing, it was pretty rough on the water, with big swells, and they only caught 2 fish. Hopefully, things will pick up tomorrow. We have been having delicious potluck meals and Happy Hours too.

We are finding that we have a great appreciation for our freedom, now that we have quit our job. The job requirements weren’t that bad, and the people we worked with were very nice, but the hard part was just that we had to stay there all the time. Generally the campers were pretty nice, and the campground itself was very beautiful, with tall trees and a large, beautiful lake. Too bad the weather wasn’t better this summer. It was hardly ever warm enough to wear shorts or even think about going out on the lake. We only got out kayaking a few times, and even though we eventually got our inflatable boat set up, we never did get it out on the lake because of the cold and rainy weather.

I am going to put a few pictures below that I haven’t been able to post until now because of the lousy air card signal we had before. Now we have a good one; same with our cell phone. So call if you want to and this time you will actually reach us.