Monday, May 30, 2005

Staring at a computer screen

That's how I spent yesterday. Staring at the computer screen. After a nice breakfast at the Country Deli Cafe in Ephrata, WA we came back to the rig where Denny turned on the Indy 500 and I settled in to work on my Geocities web site that I'm creating as practice in the hope that one day I'll switch over to a more professional site. Basically I'm just getting my feet wet to see how a page is created. I was distracted by watching young Danica Patrick come so close to winning the 500.

Once the race was over I returned my attention to the computer as I was attempting to recreate our early travels in 1999. I had kept computer journals of our travels, but between a computer crash and switching to a new computer and forgetting to copy floppies the years between 1998 and 2001 were lost. Major bummer. In the last few years I've started keeping (and dating) our campground brochures, so that I can not only jog my memory about any one particular campground, but I can retrace our route if need be by consulting the brochures. Of course, I didn't start doing that consistently until 2002, so I'm relying on my memory and Denny's to trace our travels in 1999. Not a good thing. We're starting to confuse which leg of which journey we were on which year. Between us, sometimes we come out with half a brain.

So on the floor I had our campground directories (Trailer Life, Escapees, Passport), the Rand McNally atlas, the few campground brochures I had kept, and golf course score cards we had kept (again, not consistently until a couple of years later) trying to remember where we were at any given month of the year in 1999. Thank goodness Denny was glued to the couch watching the races and playing computer games on the laptop or he might have killed himself trying to cross the floor. Add to the frustration that I accidentally deleted an entire page while trying to delete a word and you have one discombobulated woman! At 10 p.m. I finally shut the computer down. After checking the file manager, I have 9 MBs of file space left to use out of 15 and 7 years of travels to document. Hmm, the math doesn't work, does it?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Close up of "Ponies" sculpture along I-90 Posted by Hello

"Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies" sculpture along I-90 at exit 139 in Washington Posted by Hello

Salvaged Petroglyphs at Ginko Petrified Forest State Park, Vantage, WA Posted by Hello

View from the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park near Vantage, WA Posted by Hello

Ginko Petrified Forest State Park and more

Today we drove from Soap Lake to the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park near Vantage, WA. While we didn't explore the park itself (it's over 7,000 acres!) we did stop to explore the visitor center and its exhibits and watch the short film on the theory of how so many different varieties of trees were fossilized in lava. This area is unique in the number of varieties of trees found petrified as scientists have identified at least 30 types of trees in the area. There are seven areas of petrified forests in the US and Ginko Petrified Forest State Park has the greatest variety of trees of any of them. They have also salvaged some Native American petroglyphs from some of the basalt cliffs that were going to be lost when the river was dammed. Denny and I spent some time trying to create stories from the various images.

Heading south from Vantage we drove to the Wanapum Heritage Center at the Wanapum Dam. This is a small museum dedicated to the local Wanapum tribe that was displaced when a new power plant was built. To "honor" them, the new dam was named after the tribe. The museum itself is nicely done, with local costumes and clothing typical of those warn by tribal members, arrow heads, woven bags and implements, plus several video cassettes of the history of the tribe and the area. It was very informative and it appears the displays are carefully monitored for humidity and light to preserve this wonderful heritage of the Wanapum tribe. According to the videotape, there's only about a dozen members of this peace-loving tribe remaining in the area. It's the kind of place you have to look for, but it's well worth the search if you're interested local history and people.

Finally, we stopped at Vista View Point (exit 139 on I-90) to get a picture of the sculpture "Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies" by sculptor David Govedare. This line of horses outlined against the sky represents the first horses on the earth. You can see the sculpture easily from both sides of the highway but you have to be watching!

All in all, the perfect day. We learned a great deal about local geology and history and saw some great scenery, all without having to drive for hours.


Meander, n. an aimless wandering. Henceforth, whenever you see that heading, be forewarned that I'm in a stream-of-consciousness mode. Whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment is what will be on that morning's blog.

You will note the times on my blog entries; I am usually up and online by 5:45 every morning, although I don't create an entry until after I've checked out the morning news, a few Yahoo groups and our e-mails. I think the early morning awakening is still a holdover from working, it's just that now I can get up and do something a little more productive. Since Denny can sleep until 8 a.m., B.S. (before satellite) I would just lie quietly in bed waiting for him to wake up. I like this much better!

So this morning I'm listening to all the happy birds outside, as the watering system is on already and the birds are taking advantage of the easy access to worms and having a wonderful time splashing around in puddles taking makeshift baths. Here in Washington we've noted they water lawns and crops almost daily, including corn fields. Being from Ohio, seeing a corn field being watered is strange as the farmers in Ohio leave the success of the crop up to the vagaries of the weather. If it rains, good, if it doesn't it's a bad year for crops. We were told the people of Washington have to water a lot due to the clay base beneath the soil. That's what Ohio has, too, but the folks there don't dedicate as much time and energy and money to irrigation systems and lawn maintenance. And yet Washington still claims to be under drought conditions. Go figure. But I must admit, we're enjoying the lush green fields and gardens thick with bearded irises and peonies and roses. And we're hoping before we leave the state that some of the fruit crops will be in so we can take advantage of the local fresh fruits, especially peaches. We'll won't be here for apples, unfortunately, as we love fresh apple cider (not the pasteurized kind) and it's so difficult to find now. Plus Denny makes a mean Dutch apple pie.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Woman from Mundania (with apologies to Piers Anthony)

Yesterday was routine maintenance day. I buzz-cut Denny's hair and while he vacuumed afterward, I swept and mopped the tile floors. Teamwork. Then it was my turn as I had to re-balance the gel overlays on my nails. Once that was done, I went outside for a little sun. Hey, the powers that be now say the Vitamin D prevents cancer!

In the past, when we meet people and tell them of our lifestyle they ask us "where have you been this week?" and they seem disappointed if we haven't gone out every day to locate some new natural wonder. We explain to them that we're not on vacation and therefore we're not out every day "doing" something. Folks on vacation have to take full advantage of a limited amount of time and keep busy every minute, while we are simply retired, which means we have chores and routines to follow like all homeowners and days where we simply stay at home and do nothing. Quite frankly, sometimes we end up in places where there's not a whole lot to see or do, but we've gone there because one of our membership campgrounds is there, or a golf course is near that's part of our Golf Card network so we can play for greatly reduced or halved fees.

I guess that explains why after eight years on the road we're just getting around to visiting the Northwest! We're in Washington for the first time and have yet to explore Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. In the East, we've missed Vermont, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and West Virginia. Whew! We've got a lot of traveling left to do! But then again, that's why we're out here, right?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another reason to play golf

Yesterday we played golf at the Quincy Golf Club in Quincy, WA. The course's condition is a little rough, but they seem to be working on it and Wednesday is 2 for 1 day so we couldn't resist going back for another round. While our golf games were a little off, on hole number ten Denny chipped in a shot from about 50 yards for a birdie. Not only was that a great shot, but it was from behind a tree and he had a penalty shot for hitting the ball into the pond just prior to that shot, so he would have had an eagle otherwise! Strangely enough, he usually manages to chip in a shot at least every other time we play. It's an art!

Sometimes when we go to a new golf course I take my camera if the surrounding area is scenic, just to get some shots to remember the course. Since the area surrounding Quincy is basically farmland I left the camera behind and regretted it; across the road from the golf course was a mother and very young foal and while approaching one of my tee boxes a brace of pheasants took off just in front of me. It's rare to see pheasants these days, so that was a thrill. As we were approaching the next tee box a baby killdeer ran in front of us and stopped for us to admire him; he had all the markings of a killdeer but with a lot of baby fluff still in his feathers. He looked like a miniature, slightly out-of-focus adult killdeer and was the cutest thing we've seen in a long time. Even cuter was Denny sitting there talking to him; my 6'5" man is a softy when it comes to animals! A warm, sunny day on the golf course communing with nature with my best friend; it just doesn't get any better than this!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sun Lake State Park, Coulee City, WA Posted by Hello

Dry Falls State Park, Coulee City, WA Posted by Hello

Summer Falls State Park, Coulee City, WA Posted by Hello

A short drive from Soap Lake

Yesterday we headed out to explore a few back roads. We took State Route 28 east to Pinto Ridge Road to see the waterfall in Summer Falls State Park. You have to really watch closely once you're on Pinto Ridge Rd., as there are no signs indicating any turns into the park. The only sign is set back about 100 feet on the gravel road leading into the park. However, that road will lead you to a beautiful spot for an afternoon picnic! Summer Falls is created by water coming from Banks Lakes and falls 165 feet over the basalt cliff into Billy Clapp Lake. The state park itself consists of a few picnic tables and a rest room and the only sounds you'll hear are birds chirping and the sound of the waterfall itself. There are no hiking trails, no interpretive centers, just sun and grass and water to enjoy in peace.

From Summer Falls we headed north on Pinto Ridge into Coulee City, as Denny thought there was a casino there. It turns out the casino is in Grand Coulee, so we simply turned south on Rt. 17 and stopped at Dry Falls State Park. Dry Falls State Park consists of the interpretive center and a magnificent view of the huge coulee. According to the information provided at the park, Dry Falls was created thousands of years ago when a glacial lake overflowed its ice dam and the draining waters flooded the area. This occurred over and over, gradually eroding the canyon and creating the Dry Falls area. On the picture I've provided you'll see a tiny speck in the water near the bottom of the frame; that's a man fishing in a little double-kayak boat. I've never seen a fishing boat like that before.

Leaving Dry Falls State Park we turned south again and disovered Sun Lakes State Park on our left. Unlike tiny Summer Falls and Dry Falls, this is a 3,710 acre state park that has a nine-hole golf course, a campground, a riding stable, beaches and more. They are instituting a $5 "parking fee" for simply being in the park, but we didn't drive far enough into the park to reach a ranger station. We stopped at the pro shop to check out the golf fees and the young lady there was very knowledgeable about the Coulee City area and volunteered a lot of information about things to do and see while we are here. The people of Washington are very friendly!

Driving back to Soap Lake on Rt. 17 there are a lot of basalt cliffs on either side of the roadway while Lake Lenore runs the length of the roadway on our right. It's a very pretty drive and would be very striking at sunrise or sunset.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blue Jobs and Pink Jobs

Yesterday's post about Denny removing the mouse from the house got me thinking about our "blue jobs and pink jobs". These, of course, are the chores that we have both taken over for our day to day living and for our "breaking camp" routine. For that, Denny does almost all of the exterior chores related to hitching up while I do the interior ones. And it works perfectly well for us. However, we both made sure a long time ago that we each could do the other's jobs in case of injury or illness. In addition, I have driven the rig a few times and backed it into a site once or twice, simply to be able to know that I can do it in an emergency. We have met many, many wives on the road who have admitted there is no way they would attempt to drive their rig, be it a motorhome or fifth wheel or Class C. Neither of us can understand that, as we both know that anything can happen and each spouse needs to be prepared to take over the full range of tasks necessary to pack up and move on in times of trouble.

Following that train of thought, have you ever watched an RVer back into a site while his wife sits in the passenger seat either looking around or just staring straight ahead? My first thought as a wife is that "oh boy, the last time she helped him back into the site he hit something and he reamed her out and she told him she'll never help him back up again!" Been there, done that, even if just for a moment. Usually the man will get the rig in pretty well and then the wife will hop out, often with a dog in tow, and go right inside the rig or walk off to "water" said dog. Perhaps that is their version of blue jobs and pink jobs.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Of Mice and men

Normally, I'm a live and let live person when it comes to critters; if there's a moth or fly in the house my preferred method of removal is to "shoo" it out the door or a window. But when we discovered a mouse skittering about in our ceiling vent system two years ago, we purchased a mouse trap and got rid of him as quickly as we could, fearing he would eat through the wiring causing possible expensive repairs. Denny, of course, was the one to remove the remains. When this spring we again discovered a mouse in the front storage bin , which is where I keep my sunflower seeds for birds, it was Denny who had to set the trap and get rid of the mouse afterwards. At that time, he once again set the trap in case there were other mice but we forgot about it until yesterday when he discovered a mouse in the trap. And I started thinking, why was I making him do the dirty work? Why do men always have to do the nasty jobs like that and be strong about it? I have a tendency to be a feminist about so many things, but I'll gladly let Denny be the one to deal with mouse corpses. Shame on me, because he's just as tender hearted as I am when it comes to animals. So Denny, the next one's on me.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Setting up in Soap Lake

Our move this week was huge; 33 miles from Moses Lake to Soap Lake! Normally we travel anywhere between 100 and 250 miles per move, but since we've never been to Washington we're stopping at a lot of our member parks to explore the area and enjoy the scenery. I see in the tourist brochures that Soap Lake has contracted to buy an enormous lava lamp that had been a display on Times Square in NY and now they are soliciting donations to be able to permanently position it somewhere in town. Too bad we're here too soon to see that! Shades of the early 70s! I guess the lure of "healthy" waters and mudbaths aren't as alluring as they were in the early 1900s so they have come up with the lava lamp as a "hook".

We really had to fight to find a spot through the trees to get our satellite system set up so we'd have Internet access. I like trees for the ambiance and shade, while Denny hates them due to the difficulty they cause in pointing both satellite dishes (TV and Internet) as well as having to worry about whether tree branches are going to interfere with the slide outs on the fifth wheel or scrape the rubber roof. Normally it takes us about 15-20 minutes to set up the equipment and get online; this time it took 2 1/2 hours. We needed a Happy Hour after that!

Mom apparently is suffering no further effects of her knock on the head as she writes that she's back working on her sale and finding more and more "stuff" in all the nooks and crannies of the house. Which is good as the more she sells, the more commission she earns. Darby, our son, may stop by to see her this weekend, so I'm sure I'll hear from him how bad her face looks. I think Denny and I know deep inside that when we stop our RVing lifestyle, it will be because I have to return to Ohio to care for Mom and not because we have tired of the life.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Long distance concerns

My mother and I e-mail each other daily. It was a promise I made to her when we started our full time lifestyle. I also told her that if I don't receive an e-mail from her two days running I'll call her to check on her. It's not that she's aged or infirm, as she's only 72 years old- it's just that she has a tendency to take care of everyone else before she takes care of herself.

The point of all this is that sometimes those e-mails are a two-edged sword. She e-mailed me yesterday to tell me about her newest estate sale, which is a business she developed to supplement her SS. It seems that while untying a trundle bed frame the spring-operated leg swung out suddenly and smacked her in the face causing a huge lump on her forehead and cracking sharply into her cheekbone. She wrote that it hit so hard that it felt like it broke something. So does my darling mother stop and go to Urgent Care or the emergency room? No indeed! Instead she opts for an ice pack and continues working. And here I sit, unable to do anything other than ask that she seriously consider going to a doctor to have herself checked out and knowing she'll do no such thing. The distance between Ohio and Washington never seemed longer.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A note about the maps

Our first year of full time travel started mid-September of 1998 and we immediately headed for Myrtle Beach, SC to unwind at the beach and ended up staying put for three solid months. Selling the house and quitting a job I loved and leaving all our friends and family proved a lot more traumatic than I expected. So three months of walking the shoreline and writing lots of letters and e-mails allowed me to start adjusting to our new lifestyle. While we had given notice at work based on when the house sold, our actual timetable turned out to be 1) the house sold and the new owners took possession in thirty days 2) we had our last big garage sale in that period 3) I quit my job three days before the owners took possession 4) we were to leave the next day but my husband backed the car into the side of the garage causing need for repairs to the garage door frame and the car, so our departure date was delayed for a week. Not an auspicious beginning and certainly a very rushed one! So there wasn't a lot of moving around those final three months of 1998.

I decided the 1998 map was too "busy", so located one more suitable. Then upon Denny's suggestion I tried consolidating three years of travel on one map, but I think that's too confusing. Our routes are circuitous enough!

And finally, you will note a lot of what appears to be backtracking and circling in the states of Arizona, California and Nevada. Well, in 2003 and 2004 we joined a couple of private membership campground organizations and made full use of them. In 2003 and 2004 almost all our stops were at either the member parks or affiliates and as you can see, they have many in the Arizona/southern California area.

2004 Travels Posted by Hello

2003 Travel Route Posted by Hello

2000, 2001 and 2002 Travel Routes

2001, 2002 and 2003 Travel Routes Posted by Hello

1999 Travel Route Posted by Hello

1998 Travel route Posted by Hello

Now where do I go?

Okay, I've created a blog and now I don't know where I want to go with it. I may end up creating a web page on a free site like Yahoo or something similar, where I can post information in groups instead of random musings. This was just a whim. I do have a tendency to leap before I look. Sigh.
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