Friday, March 27, 2015

 Getting Ready For Adventure Down Under
Today is our last day at Park Sierra since we start our travels to Australia tomorrow.  We have been busy organizing, packing, and socializing, so I have been neglecting this blog - again.  Also, we haven't been doing anything exciting, as far as travels go.
     This has been a beautiful time to be here on our lot at Park Sierra.  Here are a few pictures of our rig and our lot:

The weather has been warm and sunny and everything is green, as the trees leaf out again.  This is the view out our side window:
The wildflowers are popping out all over the place.

     Since St. Patrick's Day occurred while we were here, we attended the dinner at the park clubhouse.  It was great to see a lot of our old friends, and sit with some of them at our table.  Here is Elaine with Lorna Dunham, Betty Prange, and Elleen Deck:
 The other side of the table is where I sat with Curt & Viv Rogers, and Carol Rodely (our neighbor):
     One of our dear friends, Betty Prange, finally decided to get a lot here and has been a member now for about 5 months.  She had us over for a delicious dinner of Moroccan lemon chicken with couscous:
She is also going to drive us to Fresno tomorrow to catch the Amtrak train to Richmond.  The Richmond station also has a BART station, so we can change there to BART to go to the San Francisco airport.  Our plane doesn't leave until 10:15PM.
     Tuesday we had a small Happy Hour event on our lot because some friends had just arrived back in the park, and other friends were leaving (including us).  Here is Judy Farrow and Lou Stoetzer, who have been here while Lou had some medical procedures:
The neighbors who live across the street, Brenda & Dave Neil, are just back from wintering down in Yuma:
And the rest of the gang sat around and caught up on each others news:
We are lucky that we have such great friends here at the park, and also on the cruise ships!
     I don't know when I will be able to update this blog again, because we land in Sydney on the 30th and board the Radiance of the Seas the next day.  I'm sure there will be some jet lag.  We have not received any notifications from Royal Caribbean that our cruise ports have changed, which surprises us, since 4 of the stops are supposed to be in Vanuatu.  That is an island group of about 80 islands, of which about 15 are inhabited.  But the category 5 cyclone that hit there a couple of weeks ago caused quite a bit of devastation. So we are calling this the "mystery cruise", and we will have to go along with whatever happens.  I'm sure it will be interesting, wherever we go.

Monday, March 09, 2015

February and Early March Travels

Dear Blog Readers,
    Sorry for the long delay in posting this.  We have been traveling fast, stopping to visit friends, and also did 2 weeks of cruising with friends from Galveston.  As I write this, we are now back on our lot at Park Sierra, where we arrived last Thursday evening, and we have been enjoying beautiful Spring weather.
     Our last post ended with us at the SKP headquarters in Livingston, TX.  We had a nice time there, catching up on chores and getting ready for our cruises out of Galveston.  The afternoon before our cruise, we drove to Houston to visit our friends, Duane & Dorothy McCarthy.

They have a lovely home and we have stayed with them before - their hospitality is unsurpassed.  As always, we had a delightful Happy Hour and dinner with them, and their friend, Mary.

     The next day we drove to Galveston and boarded the Navigator of the Seas for 2 weeks.  Our good friends, David & Diane Wilson, were on board with us and we had a delightful time.  Usually on formal nights we all ate at Giovanni's, the Italian specialty restaurant. 

Most days Elaine and I worked on our fitness by walking a lot on the deck and going to the gym.  Sometimes at the ports, we also got off to explore, but we had been to most of them before.  Here is Elaine and Diane with our ship on Roatan, Honduras.

     One nice thing that happened on this ship was that we met some people in the lounge who are going to be with us on some of our upcoming cruises.  This is Tom & Sandy Wills,

and Mark Alberthal ,

who will be with us on the Rhapsody out of Australia.  Of course, we also reconnected with other cruise friends in the lounge, but I won't put all the pictures here.  One of the new experiences we had was dining at Sabor, the Mexican restaurant on the ship, with David & Diane. 

It was good, but not as good as Mexican food is in California.
     Once we got off the ship, on Feb. 22, we drove directly back to Livingston, picked up our RV and hit the road, because we wanted to be on the other side of Houston before the morning rush hour.  Also, we had heard that a big cold front was heading there.  Unfortunately, it caught us the next day.  As we were driving across west Texas on highway 10, we had to continually stop to de-ice our windshield.  This is a picture of Elaine scraping it with one of our kitchen spatulas. 

Finally, just after 2PM, we stopped at an RV park to get an electrical hookup, because it was so cold and we didn't want our tanks to freeze.  Also, it was too dangerous on the road and we had already passed 2 big rigs and 2 smaller vehicles which had spun out and crashed either in the divider or on the roadside.  Here is what the side of the road looked like. 

We finally made it past the ugly weather and arrived in Las Cruces, where we had a happy reunion with our friend, Pene, and her new partner, Lofie.

  They have a lovely new home together, and after a glass of wine there, they drove us out into the countryside to an authentic Mexican restaurant run by his cousins, where we had a delicious dinner.
     The next stop was in Tucson, where we stayed 2 nights on the property of Elaine's Aunt Marion.  Penny, Elaine's sister, came over each day.  The first night we fed everyone in our rig.

  The next night Aun Marion had us over for snacks and drinks and included her new daughter-in-law, Sandi

It was fun meeting her, since she had recently married Elaine's cousin, Tom.
     Proceeding west, the next stop was in Yuma.  Our good friends, Ron & Carol Leonard,

 always welcome us warmly and have a big lot for us to park.  The first night, our friends Lee & Susie Blattner joined us for Happy Hour.

  Jack & Susie, good friends of Ron & Carol's who have a nearby lot, also joined us.

 The next day we visited Elileen and Neil, and had a good time with them. 

We met her in 1995 in Alaska!!  That evening we had quite a good crowd at Ron & Carol's, because other RV friends had heard that we were in town, and leaving the next day, so they came over 1 day early.  This is Jim & Diane FisherBaker,

and Sue & Bill Abbott.

  It was a happy reunion for all of us, and the weather was nice too.
    We continued west to San Diego.  Just as we pulled off the freeway to get to Darran's house, Elaine noticed that our car had swung way out when she turned.  So she immediately pulled over and this is what we saw:

  Our tow bar arm on the driver's side had snapped in half.  Luckily we had no damage to the car or the RV.  We took the tow bar to the dealer in San Diego the next day and Blue Ox, the manufacturer, authorized them to give us a new towbar (an updated version), free of charge!
     The visit with Darran, Marielle, and Evie was joyous.  Here is Darran with his daughter:

 And here are the happy parents:

  One of the delights was watching Evie enjoy her jumping chair:

  And of course, the Grammas enjoyed holding her:

She is a very happy baby: 

   Marielle's parents came over both nights for dinner, and we enjoy them very much, but I didn't get any good pictures of them this time.  They have recently moved to San Diego from New York, and are getting settled in their new condo.
     The next day we drove to the SKP park outside of Temecula, called Jojoba.  Our good friends, Carole & Dick Schneider, and Terry and Vicky Webb, and George and Diana Ruelens, have lots there and we enjoyed a nice Happy Hour at Carole's with them.  Unfortunately, I was enjoying the time so much that I forgot to take pictures, and all I got was this lovely sunset, as we left:

     My youngest brother, Jerry, and his wife, Diann, moved from Auburn to Palm Desert about 3 months ago.  Leaving our rig at Jojoba, we drove over the mountain in the car for a visit with them.  What a beautiful new home they have in the Del Webb community there!  Here is their picture:

 and this is their pool and backyard, which is right on the golf course:

We also needed and brother-sister picture:

 I am 7 years older than he is, but he has more grey hair than I do!!!
     The next day we drove our rig back to Park Sierra, where we were happy to be back after 8 1/2 months on the road (or on a cruise ship).  In my next post I will post some pictures of what it is like here because the weather has been fabulous, and we have enjoyed walking around, catching up with park friends, and making a stab at catching up on mail, and getting chores done.
     The main chore while we are here is to get ready to leave again.  On March 28 we fly from San Francisco to Sydney, arriving on March 30.  The next day we board the Radiance of the Seas for a 12 day cruise in the South Pacific, visiting these islands: New Caledonia, Loyalty Island, and 4 stops in Vanuatu.  Then we will have 5 days in Sydney in an apartment (airbnb).  On April 17 we board the Rhapsody of the Seas for 56 days, going from Sydney to Singapore, then to Dubai, then through the Suez Canal to Istanbul, then through the Greek Islands and back to Istanbul.  On June 12 we will fly back to San Francisco.  This is a unique itinerary, with great ports, and quite a few cruise friends will be on board, so we are really excited about this cruise.  We will try to post about it if we have some decent internet access.