Merry Christmas from Quartzsite

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December 25, 2008 — Merry Christmas!  

I am taking a break from Christmas this year.  

I’ve said for years that I’d appreciate the holiday more if it could happen every other year — or maybe even less frequently than that.  I know that would be FOREVER for a child. But for adults, especially as we get older and older and a year goes by faster and faster, I think it makes sense. Every other year would be soon enough.

I used to wonder about people who left their Seasonal decorations up all year, but that was back when a year lasted reasonably through four long  seasons. It had been coming on gradually over the years, but I think I was 45,  the first time I noticed time really shift. I was putting up my Xmas decorations and kept having this feeling that I had JUST done this. It was not deja vu — it was time warp. And then last year, I forgot to put up the decorations.  I didn’t miss Christmas — it was one of my best Christmas’ ever, since I spent lots of pre-Xmas day time with my family, plus it was the first Christmas after my sister’s accident and we were just all feeling very good about her being alive and home. Now that I think about the season felt unusually long. But, I forgot to put up my decorations. Floppy Santa never made it out of the box, the stockings never got tacked up.  The holiday placements and towels never saw the light of day. Please understand that this wasn’t something I was going to do but ran out of time. I totally forgot. And did not figure it out a couple days AFTER Christmas. Like, oops! I forgot to put up the decorations.

Up until Sunday, I thought I was going to send home presents to all the nieces and nephews.  But nothing seemed like the right gift.  I wanted to do something that reflected the southwest.  Gifts for the girls was not the problem — I could have bought each presents at least three times over.  It’s the boys that stumped me. And I have more boys than girls to buy for. So I procrastinated. My best idea would probably have gone over like a lead brick– or rock.  I was thinking of getting them each an interesting rock — Quartzsite is a gem and rock mecca and there are some real beauties here.  Again, the girls would probably love this gift. But would the boys, especially the teenage ones? But then I thought about the cost of sending rocks through the mail.  And, the reaction of the kids as they opened their presents.  While I was stuck on this idea, time jumped forward and the next thing I realized it was Sunday and if gifts were to arrive by Christmas, I’d had to buy them that day. But still, I wasn’t going out looking for rocks. What was wrong with me?

And then I got it.  For me, giving a gift is watching the person open it and getting the feedback that it is a good gift.  I like to know that that I guessed right. And, if I’m honest with myself, it is a chance to explain the gift if the initial feedback is more wonderment than appreciation.  So maybe, just maybe the gift will be remembered a month or two later. Or even the next Christmas.  Especially, if, say, I skip that Christmas.

So, somewhere Sunday afternoon, I decided that I absolutely would not do Christmas this year.  

No Holiday parties, either. 

No decorations (though I miss the lights).

I feel down right liberated.

I will call home and hopefully talk to everyone.

I will cook a nice dinner for Carl and I.

And I will stop feeling guilty that I didn’t get the kids a single thing this year.

Maybe.

It would be a lot easier if everyone skipped Christmas, wouldn’t it?

 

BTW – The photos on this page were taken while walking around the Holiday Palms RV Park where we are currently living. Fun, huh?

Comments (0) Dec 25 2008

12-14-08 Sunset in Quartzsite, AZ

Posted: under Arizona, Motorhome, Quartzsite.
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Sunset as seen from our RV site -- looking west around 5:30pm

Sunset as seen from our RV site -- looking west around 5:30pm

December 14, 2008 — Thought I’d share some photos that I took Friday evening (December 12th).  While every at home was dealing with the ice storm, we had a cloudy day with a few passing rain clouds.  The nice thing about clouds is that you get a better sunset.  Every night of late has been pretty but Friday night was the most vivid.  

 

 

 

 

Here you can see the front -- and a rain storm.

Here you can see the front -- and a rain storm.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but the weather here is a little cooler than I thought it would be.  The evenings are down to the low 40s and the days are in high 50s, low 60s.  Not bad compared to home, but certainly not summer clothes weather — which we have with us.  Our winter/fall clothes are in storage still.  I think I’ll have to break down and go shopping for a few things for us.  I mean, I do have one fleece jacket and Carl has a sweater, so we aren’t that desperate.  

 

 

Standing at the door, looking right, which is north.

Standing at the door, looking right, which is north.

At night we run our heaters (propane built in and one electric radiator).  I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have these since the RV is not insulated.  We can’t even think about going further north until it warms up! Having chosen to live on our RV means absolutely no more winters!

Standing in front of RV, looking south

Standing in front of RV, looking south

 

 

And about eight minutes later...

And about six minutes later... the sky is all red.

Comments (0) Dec 14 2008

12-07-08 Holiday Palms in Quartzsite, AZ

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Leaving Tucson -- take from the Prius.

Leaving Tucson — taken from the Prius while following.

 

Our Fleetwood has 2 slideouts which increase the inside space.

Our Fleetwood has 2 slideouts, which increase the inside space. This photo taken at Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, AZ.

December 7, 2008-  So, we made it to Quartzsite!  276 miles from Tucson to here — our maiden voyage in our motorhome.  All went well, except a little slower than normal.  The Fleetwood does not like to go over 65 miles per hour; in fact 55 miles is more comfortable for it.  I followed Carl in the Prius — and at this speed I got the best mileage ever.  I averaged 64 mph when Carl was driving at 55 mph — when he started to go 65 mph, I dropped to 60 mph.  

 

 

This side as a built in canopy.

This side has a built in canopy. This photo taken at Voyager RV Resort in Tucson AZ.

It was a great ride without any problems.  Our plan was to stop at every rest area.  I wanted to see how well all our stuff was fairing — you know, did drawers open, did stuff tumble around in the cupboards, etc.  Plus, it gave Carl a chance to stretch his legs.  He was fairly nervous. Even though we had already signed the “as is” paperwork, actually driving away from Tucson felt as if we were cutting our umbilical cord.  I learned that unlike a sailboat, stuff travels very well in the RV.  Only adjustment I made enroute was to wrap the silverware in moleskin so that it wouldn’t jingle so much, which I later found out wasn’t the problem.  We have some noisy springs in our easy chair (that rocks).  The RV interior looks great, but it drives like a bucket of nuts — so Carl thinks we need new shocks.  

The livingroom; Carl is in the lounger chair watching TV.

The livingroom; Carl is in the lounger chair watching TV.

Our route was to take 10 out of Tucson, then turnoff on 8 to avoid Phoenix, then at Gila Bend take 85N which puts us back on 10. This route is about 30 miles longer than going directly through Phoenix but a lot saner. The first rest area was on 10 just before the road for 8.  It had no facilities — so I got to experience how nice it is to have your own traveling toilet!  

 

 

The livingroom slideout area.

The livingroom slideout area.

We left Voyager Resort at 9:10 — but had to get gas — so we probably got on the road closer to 9:30.  Whereas I was worried about backing into our Quartzsite RV site, Carl was more worried about getting gas.  Like how do you know you are at the pump and if the pump will reach — nevermind, will we fit and can we drive out without a lot of sharp turns or having to back up.  We solved a lot of these mysteries by locating the gas station the previous day. We solved the problem of knowing where to stop for the gas pump by having me park the Prius and act as guide.  All went smooth, of course.  Our first bill for gas came to $67 for 39 gallons.  We are a bit lucky that the gas prices are back down for a while.

The kitchen

The kitchen- it is hard to take photos because of tight space and the number of mirrors that reflect light. This view looks into the bathroom and the bedroom beyond that.

At one of our rest stops, we made lunch. I like this idea of a fridge and cupboards.  So much easier than trying to make a sandwich on a picnic table — especially when the wind blows!

 

When we arrived in Quartzsite, we filled the tank to see how many MPG that we actually get — and it works out to be slightly over 10 MPG.  I don’t know how much that will change when we tow a car. So the RV used 26 gallons and the Prius used 4.5 gallons. Too bad the Prius can’t tow the motorhome.

I wish I had taken a movie of Carl backing into the RV site.  We had an escort, Bill,  help us — Bill brought Carl out to look at the site on his golf cart, then they came back and Carl followed Bill back over in the RV (I jumped in for the ride).  Bill reviewed with Carl what he needed to do.  And I learned why Carl was not nervous about this part of the day — he backed in absolutely perfectly.  Not an inch off.  Bill was impressed – I’m sure he didn’t believe that was Carl’s first time backing into a site.  I should have remembered this about Carl.  When we were living on the sailboat, he could pull off the most perfect docking.  If I had a movie I could really brag!

 

Bedroom

Bedroom -- Can you please there are 24 lights in our RV? Nearly half are in the bedroom. Nice reading lights above the bed. To the left is a window with the special RV shade.

So, our neighborhood seems pretty nice. Well, except for one cigarette smoker.  Always has to be one.  The sites seem a little bigger here — and there are palm trees, fruit trees, cactii, and pretty rocks everywhere.  Some very creative uses of property  — people know how to make the most of their area.  I’ll take photos one day and show you.  Lots of Xmas decorations, too.  Night is very nice — all lit up but everyone is inside.  It does get cool at night.  We are using our heaters (we have built in propane heaters, with two thermostats, one in front and one for the back; plus we bought a radiator electric heater).  

 

 

Bedroom -- lots of mirrors -- I'm glad I can't see when I take off my glasses.

Bedroom -- lots of mirrors -- I'm glad I can't see when I take off my glasses. At the bottom right of the picture is a desk area with a window.

Carl and I drove around Saturday morning to find the hardware/RV stores and the General Store for groceries.  Then in the afternoon I walked to the vegetable stand and walked around some of the booths.  Quartzsite is a makeshift town.  It has 3 or 4 different “show” areas in which people set up tents and sell stuff.  I walked around for hours and did not even come close to covering what’s to be seen.  Though I admit that I spent about an hour talking to a pottery maker who also happens to run one of the show sites.  I’m an idiot because I didn’t think to ask if he knew of work.  Need to get into the habit.

 

 

I can not believe I have such a color coordinated home!

I can not believe I have such a color coordinated home! More mirrors above the bed. You can see our built in TV in the middle mirror.

Today was cloudy, so after doing some chores, I worked on MostlyFiction.com.  Tonight it rained for about 5 minutes.  We got to hear the pitter patter on the roof.  Then it stopped. You can see why the desert plants are designed to take advantage of any water they can get — it comes and goes rather fast.

 

So, we are here for the winter.  Traveling was fun and I can’t wait to do it again. But the last few weeks of soul searching and decision making have been stressful. It is wonderful to just sit back and relax for a bit. No decisions about “where are we going?” and “what are we doing?”

 

Sunset view from our doorway.

Sunset view from our doorway.

By the way, we left Nashua September 12th, which means on Thursday we will have been gone 3 months! And I will have been out of work 4 months. Feels like much longer.

Comments (0) Dec 07 2008

12-4-08 RV Livin’

Posted: under Arizona.
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December 4, 2008 —

Petersen Clark Expedition buys a mobile home!

Petersen Clark Expedition buys a mobile home!

Last Friday, we bought a 2000 36′ Fleetwood Southwind Motorhome and have been living in it and shaking out the bugs since then.  We have been staying in Tucson, near the RV dealer, for this exercise.

 

Tomorrow (Friday) we drive to Quartzsite, Arizona for the winter.  Carl will drive the RV and I’ll follow in the Prius.  

So what do we think?  WE LOVE IT!

I’ll have photos posted soon.

Sorry that I’ve been negligent on this travel blog… While we were making so many decisions it was too difficult to write — we were so all over the shop in the past few weeks, we would have come off truly crazy if I had shared what everything that we were thinking.

Also, I had a weak Internet connection in the hotel that we stayed at, which made it impossible to get a lot done.  This week I bought the Verizon Wireless so now I have no more excuses — unless I exceed my allocated bandwidth…

More soon….

Comments (0) Dec 04 2008

11-8-08 Tucson, again

Posted: under Arizona, Tucson.
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From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful

From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful!

November 8, 2008 — We came back to Tucson yesterday. We gave up on Yuma after I called and confirmed that the Microtel rate had increased (as the books said it would after November 1), thus it wasn’t really worth going back.  So, we decided to come back to Tucson and take a room at the more expensive Extended Stay hotel (that $199 for the week price was great last time, but we just couldn’t go bear that stinky room again).  

 

 

Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus -this is a very versatile plant

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Quail Cafe one more breakfast.  Different cook this time, the home fries were not near as good!  But, that’s o.k. I’m supposed to be on a diet.  I forgot to mention that we had dinner at this same cafe the night before.  Told you, it was  very comfortable place.  We stuck with with specials — lasagna (for Carl) and chicken parmesan (form me).  Just like home cooking — well not my home cooking, but somebody’s.

 

 

Another view from our desert drive

Another view from our desert drive

The ride back to Tucson was enjoyable, especially since we took a road that brought us from 10 down to 8 and thus avoided going through Phoenix.  We got to the new Extended Stay Hotel somewhere around 2:00 pm.  We ended up with the last King size bed, which turns out to be a corner unit, handicap room, ground floor.  All afternoon we felt very lucky to have this oversize unit — it feels like an apartment.  Except that because it is a corner unit, the WiFi is weak (can’t upload photos to the blog; but I could update MostlyFiction.com).  And then the woman who is staying in the unit next door came home from work.  The only positive thing that I can say is that she did turn off the (freakin’ loud) music at 11:05. One more minute and Carl was ready to go to the front office.  So this morning I tried to change rooms, but we have to wait until Sunday — the hotel is booked for the weekend. 

 

 

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

We went looking for an RC airfield this morning out in the Saguaro National Park that we last visited a month ago on October 7th.  This drive was just a beautiful as the first time, though it has cooled down to a reasonable 80 degrees or so.  We love the Saguaro cactus — they make us laugh with their funny “poses.” I am pleased that I haven’t forgotten the names of the Sonoran Desert plants in the time that we’ve been gone.

 

We never did find the airfield, but we got the Prius plenty dirty trying since we ended up going down an interesting dirt road. So, we stopped at the Ina Road Car Spa that we visited last time (and lived next door to when we stayed at the cheap extended stay place). But first we went to a brand, spanking new Starbucks that just opened yesterday for a cup a coffee to sip while waiting for “Miss Pris” to get pampered at her spa.  I love sitting outdoors here — so, so pleasant to do mundane chores. So much better than last weekend’s weather up in in Portland, Oregon.  (Can you believe that was only a week ago? No wonder we are exhausted!)  

 

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

We came back to our room and relaxed. Carl is now researching trailers (the kind pulled by a truck).  Can you imagine us driving a truck?  Yup!  That’s what we are considering now.  (Sorry Devon, we might have to sell “your” Prius.)  Anyway, we are long way off from deciding, but you can’t say that we aren’t looking at all options. (If you are wondering if we are considering a “fifth-wheel” rig, we did but we have crossed that off the list because it requires a super truck — the whole thing is more than we want to pay.)  

 

 

Judi working on blog...

Judi working on blog...

I took the afternoon to read (THE DART LEAGUE KING) , nap (! I never do this!), and call my sister Lori.  Of course staying in a handicap room does all kinds of things to my psyche but most of all makes me miss my little sis.  She’s at Spaulding Rehab for two weeks.  Her rehab was cut short last year when she got the bed sore and thus this is a chance to catch up. But as she told me this afternoon, she’s had to start from scratch and there is no way to fit a 2 month program into 2 weeks. She’s not interested in being away from home for that long so she’s just getting what she can from her quick stay.  I’m glad that she’s trying it, anyway. I’m just happy that she sounds happy. (Miss you kiddo!)

 

 

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

Anyway, we are slated to stay here at least a week but have not ruled out longer.  We actually signed up for a month but that’s because it’s a better rate this way.  If you sign up weekly and end up staying a month, you get stuck with the higher rate.   

 

We are located on the eastern side of Tucson this time.  It’s closer to the older original section.  It is a large city but since it is laid out on a grid, it is easy to figure out. Our new neighborhood offers a Trader’s Joes a few (large) blocks down and we have gone there last night and tonight to pick up dinner.  And now that we have a kitchenette, we can make our own breakfast (Trader Joe’s Organic Raison Bran cereal).  This is not to say that there aren’t hundreds of places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But we are on a diet and budget…

 

So, here we are in Tucson. we just enjoyed an 81 degree day and 68 degree evening.     Ahhhh!

Comments (0) Nov 08 2008

11-06-08 Quartzsite, again

Posted: under Arizona, Quartzsite.
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Hi Jolly Monument

Hi Jolly Monument in Quartzsite, AZ

 

November 6, 2008 — After checking out of the Super 8 (and a horrible sleep for me — mattress was too soft), we went for breakfast at the Quail Cafe.  Lucky for us, they had Eggs Benedict for a special.  These days, most hotels offer a decent breakfast and we tend to eat in the hotels but after 7 weeks, it does get old.  We know what to expect in each chain and we know how to make the most of it, but still.  The Super 8 is the least of the breakfast offerings but even if it was the equal of the Holiday Express, I think we would skip it.  We were really ready for a sit down breakfast with an egg that wasn’t made about three hours earlier.  

 

 

So, we meandered on the Quail Cafe and were rewarded with some of the best home fries I’ve ever had — made with onions, peppers, and lots of garlic.  Although not the best hollandaise sauce, it was better than the Swiss Knorr package kind that I make. The personality of the cafe probably added to the enjoyment as much as anything.  You just felt good here — it was like we always felt in the Keys.  Even though we didn’t know these people, we could see how easy it would be to become part of this community.

 

 

Hi Jolly Sign

Hi Jolly Sign

As we payed for the breakfast, we studied the For Sale information on the wall next to the register. And that dictated the rest of our day. Actually, we went out to the car, started to leave and then I went back in to the the telephone # and addresses off the flyers.  They were for mobile homes in the park behind the restaurant.  While writing this information, I talked to the woman at the register and said we were on a quest to find our new home, and that we were considering RV living. Of course, she filled me in on her experience and called a man over to ask him if he knew of an RVs for sale in town. In gave me directions for the other side of town for a “diesel pusher” that a friend of his might be selling.  

 

 

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863 -- things can last forever in the desert!

Loaded with this information, we begin driving around Quartzsite to see if there was an answer to our quest.  We looked at a newish “double-wide” on a lot that only cost about $1500 for the year.  We had been told that he wanted $58,000 for it, which actually didn’t sound to bad to us.  On the same street, there were four others for sale but this was the only “double-wide.”  One of the older ones was only $22,000 and same $1500 lot fee — we turned this one around a bit since it would be such a CHEAP way to live.  

 

 

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetery

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetary

We found the diesel-pusher.  I had to laugh that part of the directions was to “go over the wash and then take a left.”  Living back in NH, I don’t think I’d ever would have heard a direction such as this — but out here in the desert, “washes” are everywhere — these are places that fill with water when it rains — but make good riding for off-road vehicles when its dry.  Anyway, we did find it but decided it was older than we wanted.  But this led us to a new neighborhood and as we explored, we found more and more neighborhoods.  Understand, when I say neighborhood, I am speaking of lots with either RVs (full motor homes, Fifth-wheels, trailers, and home made variations from school buses) as well as mobile homes. Rarely is there an actual house, but where there is, it often made of adobe and really, really cute.  

 

 

Quartzsite living...

Quartzsite living...

Mexican brick fences are very common here.  In fact, there were many lots that were outlined with these bricks fences that were for sale.  I had picked up some real estate sheets at the chamber of commerce and we learned that these often went for $100,000.  A bit more than we would be interested in or we could believe it would be worth.   

 

We finally exhausted ourselves and felt we had covered every single park and neighborhood in Quartzsite and decided to end our day with a trip to the Hi Jolly monument and cemetery to find out why all the references to camels in this town.  After that, it was just too late to drive to Yuma, so we went back to the Super 8 — and paid $10 extra to get a better room.

My main regret for the day is that I didn’t take photos of the places that we looked at — nor did I get a photo of the family of quails that crossed in front of us.  They were so cute! I think it is one of the things we will laugh about for a long time. I do have photos, though, to share with you, but the current Internet connection isn’t strong enough to post them.

Comments (0) Nov 06 2008

11-5-08 From Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ

Posted: under Arizona, Quartzsite.
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Back in Arizona!

Back in Arizona!

November 5, 2008 — It took us all day to go from Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ.  That’s right.  I know if you look at the map, you’ll find that these two places are only 30 minutes apart.  So, why all day?

 

Well, if you read about our adventures yesterday, you’ll remember that the GPS went on the blitz post L.A. So we decided to go to Phoenix to get a new DVD — the one we had was suspect, anyway.  This would then eliminate or highlight the DVD player as the problem. Then we were hoping that the this would be covered under our warranty.  Since our plan was to head for Tucson, this all made sense.  

Instead of just passing by Quartzsite on the highway, we decided to drive through and see how much more it had filled up since our last visit.  We noticed that there were more RVs for sale, solar panels and even information on setting up a Montana LLC (a way to register the RV when you don’t have a permanent address).  So we left and continued on to Phoenix.  While we were driving we started talking about maybe Quartzsite as a place for us to spend some time.  It was the first time that we noticed that there was a Super 8 Motel.

We found a new Toyota dealer in Avondale (outside of Phoenix) and stopped here, rather than driving all the way into Phoenix.  Turns out that we must wait a week to get the DVD. We ordered it anyway. (Staying in this area for a week is not a problem.) Over lunch we decided to head back to Quartzsite, so we drove the 100 or so miles back.  So here we are for tonight.  Though I think we might go to Yuma tomorrow since the Microtel hotel down there is less expensive than this Super 8 and far better.

Comments (0) Nov 06 2008

11-4-08 Corning to Blythe, CA

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Snow on Mountain Caps -- Golden Californian fields

Snow on Mountain Caps -- Golden Californian fields

November 4, 2008 — Long driving day today — we don’t like to drive after dark mostly because we miss the scenery, but we seemed to have no choice tonight.  We either had to stop at 3 in the afternoon or we could stick with it and get through Los Angeles and stop on the other side.  I don’t think either one of us expected it to take so long to get through L.A. and then once we did, we couldn’t find a hotel.  Basically, there are no exit numbers on that section of I-10 in California, so when there was a billboard with upcoming hotel information, it would give the exit name/not number with driving directions.  Right, we could remember those after a long day of driving. Right about this time, our GPS went on the blitz.  Double whammy.  And, in the dark I couldn’t read the map, which when I finally looked at it at a rest area, showed that the road ahead was going to be very dark — we would be passing the Joshua Tree National Park. See this is why we don’t like to drive at night — you can’t see anything! So we ended up driving all the way to Blythe on the border of California/Arizona before we found a place for the night.  It was 9:30.

Migrating birds.

Migrating birds.

I was so tired when I went into the hotel lobby to get the room.  But, I was instantly awake and jumping around the lobby in minutes.  Barack Obama was giving his acceptance speech — the American people elected him as our next president.  Wow!  I can’t ever say that I’ve been this emotional over an election.

O.K. I’ll back up to earlier in the day.

We woke up in Corning, California.  The hotel we stayed at actually was set up as voting booth. Pretty cool.  The sky was blue and the air was a bit warmer.  We learned that it was snowing in the mountains — though we had a terrible day driving through in the rain, it was far better than snow.  So it was a good thing we left the Portland area yesterday and didn’t wait. Anyway, this confirmed that we really did see some snowflakes when we passed Mount Shasta.

Black cloud hanging over farmhouse

Black cloud hanging over farmhouse

Anyway, blue skies and a nice drive ahead of us — and a new day of views.  We took I-5 down through the central valley corridor where all the farming is done in California. We saw orange groves, and other groves, fields and fields of hay, a llama herding a flock of sheeps, lots of goats, fields of green, rice paddies, vineyards that went on for miles, bee hives, oil pumps, elaborate irrigations systems, lots of lumber on trucks and much more… It was one thing to see America’s heartland with all it’s corn and soy fields, but this offered much more diversity.

Rice paddy -- there were miles of these but difficult to get a good photo in a moving car.

Rice paddy -- there were miles of these but difficult to get a good photo in a moving car.

Basically the whole day’s drive was flat — no ups and downs, no curves, just one long straight road.  Until we reached the start of the Los Angeles valley — quite obviously to get into the valley means that one has to go over a mountain pass, right? Can’t say that I had thought about this until I saw the mountains ahead of us.  Awesome!  Love these mountain passes. Only difference with this one is the SPEED at which the drivers go.

Driving over pass to reach the L.A. valley.

Driving over pass to reach the L.A. valley.

Driving with hands on 10-2 position on steering wheel at 80 miles per out.

Driving with hands on 10-2 position on steering wheel at 80 miles per hour.

Comments (0) Nov 04 2008

11-3-08 Driving South on I-5 in the rain

Posted: under Driving Out.
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Leaves in rain.

Leaves in rain.

November 3, 2008 — We got up this rainy, cool morning, had breakfast, packed the car and drove south down I-5.  

 

It pretty much rained the whole day — sometimes heavier than others.  Thus, we really didn’t really see what we should have seen. Still, Oregon is a very pretty state, even in the rain.  And, most of what we saw on I-5 in Oregon, we had just seen days before when we drove up to the Portland area. 

We did see more accidents than normal today — one accident happened in the time that we left I-5 to get a cup of coffee and some stuff for lunch for later in the day.  We came back to I-5 and there were firemen lighting torches to guide people away from the accident.  This was a bit unsettling to the propane tank driver in front of us — he was hugging the edge of the highway, keeping away from the flames. Carl decided to hang back a bit from him.  The car that had the accident was very badly damaged, but the driver seemed o.k.

Later, a blue Prius looked to have rolled several times. That was disconcerting.  As I say, it was very rainy.

Oh, one funny thing.  As I mentioned, we picked up lunch earlier but saved it to eat later in the day.  When we crossed into California, we realized there was a chance that our lunch might be confiscated by the California Border Control Fruit Fly inspector.  So we pulled over to turnout just miles from the inspection station, and ate everything in our cooler — fruit flys and all. (just kidding)

It always amazes us when we cross a border and the state looks different. Oregon is all green.  California is gold. And you can see this when you drive down I-5. I wish it was a better day for photographs.

We are going to have to do this trip again. We really could not see much of  Mount Shasta –just the base, still, that was impressive. We were a bit over 4,000 feet up when we were passing Mt. Shasta (a 14,000ft  volcanic mountain) — the rain hinted at being snow for a fleeting second.  

We couldn’t see much of Shasta Lake either, but we could see how beautiful it would be on a nice day. Actually it looked a bit low, so it was good it was raining.

We are staying in Corning, California tonight and will get up and keep going south on I-5 tomorrow.  We want to get back to Arizona.

Comments (0) Nov 03 2008

11-2-08 Trip to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon

Posted: under Oregon, Portland.
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Powells Bookstore

Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon

November 2, 2008 — We went into Portland today, finally.  We chose Powell’s Bookstore as our first destination for the GPS — we took the longer route so that we would see more.

 

 

The entrance to Powells -- Im so excited I embarrass Carl with my camera flash

The entrance to Powell's -- I'm so excited I embarrass Carl with my camera flash

No doubt, Portland is an excellent city.  It is a big city, but it didn’t feel like one as we drove in. Not like Phoenix, or even Tucson. I’m not a city person, but I could live in this one (right next to Powell’s and Whole Foods would suit me perfectly).  To me, it felt like an oversize Portsmouth, NH, with the river running through it and the multiple bridges and a unquantifiable “hip” feeling to it.  Carl thought it felt like a large Cambridge, Massachusetts — which is probably a more appropriate description.  Mind you, we didn’t spend a lot time here.  It was drizzling raining and colder than we have been used to.  And no sun. But, still, this is a place we could most definitely live. 

 

 

Sci-fi authors autographs

Sci-fi authors autographs

For me, I’d move to Portland just to have access to Powell’s.  This is no doubt the best bookstore that I have ever been in. But then again, I have never been in one that took up a whole city block before.  You navigate the store by color group — and there is large directory that tells you in which color that you find what you are looking for.  For example, Science Fiction is in the “Gold Room, which was up a set a stairs.  As we entered the Gold Room, there is a graffiti column in which different sci-fi authors have signed their names.  Right off, I noticed William Gibson and Neil Gaiman, amongst others.  Of course, the store is no dummy, the signatures are protected behind a plastic shield.

Bookshelves at Powells, notice how they slant so that you can see all the book titles?

Bookshelves at Powells, notice how they slant so that you can see all the book titles?

 

 

 

There are a lot of books in each section.  I mean a LOT.  I think they carry the complete bibliography of most every author — and they can do this because they mix the used books with the new books, paperbacks with hardcovers.  (They also have posters that advocate buying used to save trees.) The other interesting thing is the way they have built the bookshelves — rather than being straight up and down, they curve out so that it is easier to see all titles.  The shelves are tall with overstocks on the upper areas.  Also, the shelves are made out of rough wood, and are not uniform looking.  You get the impression that the books are what’s important here…

Like any bookstore, they use the “cap end” to promote recommended books. But unlike most bookstores, they didn’t worry about publication dates. Although some books are newly published, but many were not — a lot of the “top picks” are ones that we recommend at MostlyFiction.com as well.

They seem to have every book that I have ever owned.  It was so comforting to see books that I never thought I’d see again — it takes away the pain of having to “let go” my thousands of books just before we started this trip. This is better than a library.

 Because they keep books by author — mixing hard covers with paperbacks with new and out-of-prints — it was fun to see the different cover arts for multiple printings.  It was like visiting a book museum.

One more comment — Carl and I agreed to meet in the cafe.  Of course, he wasn’t there when I finally broke away from perusing a city block’s worth of books.  What struck me as unique about this cafe was that almost everyone was looking down, reading.  (Carl stuck to the scifi section, so he was easy to find.)

 

The Dart League King by Keith Lee Morris

The Dart League King by Keith Lee Morris

So what did I end up buying?  I decided to buy THE DART LEAGUE KING by Keith Lee Morris because Poornima and Sudheer really liked it and feel that the author needs more recognition. So I “voted” by buying it.  (BTW, I couldn’t remember the name of the book or author, but because Powell’s wifi works for free, I was able to bring up MostlyFiction.com on my iPod and find the book title and author.  When I went to check out, I noticed the Powell’s flyer  featured a Q&A with Keith Lee Morris — and he will be reading at the bookstore on November 10th!

 

 

We did not miss autumn, afterall -- look at these trees -- and a peak of blue sky.

We did not miss autumn, afterall -- look at these trees -- and a peak of blue sky.

After we left Powell’s we drove around the city plugging in different addresses, such as Earth Mail — the company that is managing our mail while we are “homeless.”  Unfortunately, they don’t have the means for customers to pick up mail at the facility, so we still don’t have our mail.  We drove around both within the city and outside (driving up into Washington state and back down).  Our impression of Portland and Oregon is extremely positive and we still plan to come back to live here — but not right now —  we want warmth.

 

The fortress of a building where Earth Class Mail operates.

The fortress of a building where Earth Class Mail operates. We were not successful in getting our mail which we knew before we came here, but it gave us an excuse to drive to Beaverton.

Comments (0) Nov 02 2008