Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 14 - Wrapup and Contest Results

[Road Trip Wrapup] Well, it's over. Home safely.

Wilma did a great job! We really exercised her Nav system finding vets, restaurants, lodging, coffee, gas stations. It's such useful tool. Just can't imagine having a vehicle without one if you ever even leave your neighborhood. One thing learned was to NOT set the navigation to "Most Direct Route" unless you're willing to go over some really bad roads. We learned that at Canyon de Chelly. Besides the Nav system we found it very useful to have a road atlas on board. Linda keeps it in her lap turned to the appropriate page. It helps keep her entertained to see the big picture and, at times, provides some useful additional information to what Wilma tells us. The one we use is Mobile Travel Guide Road Atlas (large print, large scale, 30% larger maps than standard road atlases).

We also learned that it is not worth the space used to take the makings for homemade oatmeal. The breakfasts in motels these days are really more than adequate. And, it seems that fewer rooms are equipped with microwaves (because of the free breakfast?), yet more and more have small refrigerators. Linda decided that the space used to take her Neti pot and some salt WERE well worth it. She didn't have to use it even once - hooray for taking those sinuses to Arizona!

The winner of our first contest, "Name the Critter That Made This Sound" is Linda's sister, Gloria. In fact, hers was not only the first entry, but the only entry and she answered "Crow". While that answer is not technically correct (it was actually a Common Raven and there is a difference), it is close enough. Congratulations, Gloria, hope you enjoy your book on cacti! Gloria is usually a "first responder". John even thinks that she reads our postings before we even post them. Hmmmmmm!

We are thinking we might just dump the idea of having games and contests for you. As stated, Gloria was the ONLY one entering the "Name the Critter" contest and NO ONE even took a shot at our actual mileage. If only one person had done it, they would have won a really nice piece of petrified wood stolen from the Petrified Forest.... just kidding, we bought it at Jim Grey's Petrified Wood Company and, yes, we do have the receipt to prove that, Mr. or Ms. Park Ranger. For the record, our actual mileage was 2,373.7 miles. We have a nice place to display that piece of petrified wood!

So, please give us your feedback. Do you want us to keep having some games / contests on future adventures?

Haven't even started thinking of where to go next. Any more extravagent (more than 4-day) trips will be after John's Social Security benefits kick in. That will, indeed, be a Happy Birthday. Who says getting older stinks? We might figure out a short (two or three day) excursion between now and then. We love the coast and we love the mountains and we don't like snow. Now, there's a clue. And we have lots of places nearby we can explore for the 1st or 2nd time as Day Trips.

Less than a month until Christmas! We're looking forward to spending Christmas with our marvelous family, despite the fact than none of them, not even one, won a Nobel Prize, of any kind, during 2009. However, we think having boy/girl twins trumps anything the Nobel Committee can hand out.

Thanks for riding along with us. Hope what pictures we offered were to your liking and we hope you'll join us again on future road trips! Hasta la Vista Point Amigas and Amigos!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 13 - Lebec, CA to Morgan Hill, CA (Happy Thanksgiving)

[Lebec, CA to Morgan Hill, CA] Slept really well last night. That bed was about 40" off the floor. Very comfortable. Maggie got to sleep on the couch for fear she might fall off the bed!

We decided to get up at 7:00a.m. and set the alarm for same. That worked! Went for our complimentary breakfast. Cereal, bagel, danish, fruit, milk, orange juice, and Raw Bits Twang Twang. John missed his malted waffle, though.

It was nice that we left only about 240 miles for today. It made the drive "reasonable" and would let us get home at a reasonable time as well. We figured that since we had planned on going to a Hometown Buffet in San Diego for Thanksgiving dinner, we'd stop by the one in Gilroy on the way home and check it out. If it looked OK, we'd come back after delivering Maggie home.

The traffic was more than John expected. He thought everyone would have traveled the day before and already be at their Thanksgiving destination. The worst traffic was in the Starbucks in Buttonwillow. This was a necessary stop for John as he needed his caffine fix. It gave Linda a "needed" break as well. There was a long line in the drive-thru and a longer line inside. When John got to the counter and placed our order, the clerk asked for his name. Thinking there would be several "Johns" in the place, he said, "Igor". When our order was ready, the server said "Triple Venti Mocha" and that was all. John looked on the cup, and sure enough the order taker had written "Egor" and the server didn't have the wherewithall to call it. Try it some time, it's fun!

Two more sections of pretty bad traffic. One at a nice rest area (yes, it was open!) and one at an accident. Other than that, it was a really nice drive. It felt good when we finally turned off onto Hwy 152, even thought we still had over 50 miles to go.

Went by Costco to get to HomeTown Buffet. Costco was closed, but Wal-Mart was assuredly open. Nice that Costco gives their employees Thanksgiving Day off. Hometown Buffet parking lot wasn't packed. Linda went in and actually spoke with the general manager, Eddie Perez, and looked around. Her report was very positive. Off we went to Morgan Hill. Maggie was glad to see her back yard and crate. John was glad to see the ADA commodes (they are taller than normal ones... easier on old folks knees!) It felt good to be home, but we didn't unpack or unload much yet. We headed back to Gilroy for our Thanksgiving dinner.

OK, here's the report on HomeTown Buffet for Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious. Roast Turkey breast (moist, tender and succulent), ham and roast beef for meats. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, gravy, cranberry relish, broccoli, etc. for accompaniment and fresh rolls and cornbread. If you had room for dessert (we did) pumpkin pie, bread pudding, apple and peach cobbler, chocolate cobbler, ice cream and toppings. For $12.95 less senior discount, it was a great meal. Oh, and John's favorite beverage, milk, right from their refrigerated cow! We signed up for the 2010 Senior Plan where you get a good break on lunches between 1 and 3 p.m. during the week.

Rolled ourselves out of the place and stopped for some milk on the way home.

After letting the meal settle a while, we started unloading Wilma. No big rush as we're not going anywhere right away.

Road trips are great fun.... but it always feels good to come home. Linda thinks she must have been extra excited about coming home. Thursday was the only morning on the whole trip that she forgot to take her vitamins and prescriptions. She noticed when she was unpacking that Thursday's slot was still full o' pills.

Thanks for traveling along with us. We have heard from a few people who have been gluttons for our punishment. We both enjoy taking photos and find that it seems to sort of make one look at things in more depth. And we each have our preference for favorite types of subjects. John likes old things and odd angles while Linda gravitates towards quirky signs and series of objects. And both enjoy trying to capture beautiful scenery.

If you have any suggestions or feedback for us, we would love to hear from you.
Were the videos a good addition? Too many photos? Too much information? We won't be bothering you for a while. We haven't set a destination for our next road trip. There are so many places we have not been yet and we were really inspired by the recent PBS series about the National Parks and Monuments. But now it's time to hunker down and save some dollar$ and cent$ for a while. Build up the coffers for our next adventure, so to speak.

Results of the Mileage Madness Game in tomorrow's wrapup post.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 12 - Scottsdale, AZ to Lebec, CA

[Scottsdale AZ to Lebec, CA] We got up early to take Maggie Mae back to Dr. Rick who had suggested that he would like to see her on Wednesday if we could stick around a couple of extra days. He was please with her progress. Her wounds are still draining and he changed the antibiotic to a different dose and prescribed enough to get her through five more days.
We drove as far as Lebec where we landed in a very nice Ramada Inn Limited - really cute western decor and a nice room - even has a couch - a first for this trip. We ate at a Mexican restaurant that is right next door. The traffic was starting to get really heavy so (after 8 hours) we were glad be through driving for the day. Less than 4 hours to get home tomorrow. Yeah! We can sleep in and have our free breakfast and hit the road.
We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Enjoy Tom Turkey and All the Trimmings!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 11 - Scottsdale, AZ

[Scottsdale, AZ] Ah, Tuesday in Scottsdale with not much to do. What a great day just to relax and commune with the computer and the dog.

Linda went shopping today. Found a couple of cute blouses (both are mostly purple.... her color - Linda here: actually there were 3 but John must have lost interest after the first 2). Linda also wanted to take a look at a Crocs store since she had never been to a Crocs except online. While she was there she had the thought that that was the most ugly shoes she had ever seen in one place. She tried on some with the warm cozy insides but they weren't right for her so she escaped unscathed. John took naps with Maggie.

We had lunch in our room. Tasty and saves money. Linda had her leftover falafel from last night. Following our afternoon nap, we had dinner at a nearby family restaurant. They had a nice ground sirloin steak (you'll recall that's one of John's favorites) and a broiled salmon dish that Linda really enjoyed. An apple cinnamon muffin a'la mode came with John's dinner and we split it between us. Yummy! And then the server said "How about a free piece of pumpkin pie?" We thought that as a scientific experiment we should taste it (since we had never tasted their version) so she brought a little in a tiny cup. It was good.

Part of our discussion at dinner was about continuing our road trip through San Diego. The logic went like this. We'd drive to San Diego tomorrow (assuming the vet says it's OK). Next day is Thanksgiving. Not much to do but find a place for Thanksgiving dinner. Friday we'd attempt the zoo and we understand that is a massive undertaking. Couldn't take Maggie to the zoo and wouldn't want to leave her cooped up in the room all day long. Saturday, drive home.

So, after the vet visit tomorrow, we'll get our complimentary breakfast, load up, check out and head home, cutting this road trip a bit short. Remember, you have to be flexible if you're going to be a road tripper. And, speaking of that, this once again changes our itinerary. The new (and final) itinerary for the Mileage Madness Game has been posted and you can get it by clicking here. Don't forget, there's a real nice prize and you have until midnight November 27, 2009 to email your entry.

Don't know where we'll stop tomorrow evening, but we'll drive until we're ready to rest and then find a place. Many motels will likely be empty on Thanksgiving eve.

Rest well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 10 - Paradise Valley, AZ to Scottsdale, AZ

[Paradise Valley, AZ to Scottsdale, AZ] Well, today was supposed to have been from Paradise Valley to Gila Bend. Read on and you'll understand why the change.

As planned, we arose at 6:00a.m. (sharp). Grabbed some coffee and Linda had her Raw Bits Twang Twang. We finished loading Wilma and left before 6:45a.m. after saying our fond farewells.

Pulled into the vet clinic just before 7:00a.m. and Linda went in to see if our CWF could be seen. She came back out and got us right away. The veterinary technician took Maggie's temperature, weighed her and checked her heart. She then went off to find Dr. Soltero, who happened to already be there. Dr. Soltero took a feel of the lump on Maggie's neck and pretty much immediately concluded there was an infection. It was interesting because he had a younger vet come in and he asked him this and that about Maggie and what he should do. John thinks there was a great teaching experience going on.

If you're queasy, skip this paragraph. Dr. Soltero had the other vet get a lance and they lanced the lump on Maggie's neck. Linda said we shouldn't write about all the puss and blood that flowed out, so we won't. Dr. Soltero kept working it and it kept coming out. Finally, he took a hypodermic syringe and filled it with hydrogen peroxide. He put a funny looking curved "needle" on it that wasn't sharp. He shoved it into the lance hole and filled that lump with hydrogen peroxide. It musta foamed for three minutes. He said that was probably one of the best things he could do for her. He had shaved some areas bare before doing the lancing. That made it much easier to see the actual puncture wounds.

He checked her other wounds and they seem to be doing OK. Dr. Soltero also changed antibiotics to a stronger anaerobic one. Now comes the part that shows you how you need to be flexible and roll with the punches when you road trip. We had told Dr. Soltero that we were headed for Gila Bend. He said he really would like to see Maggie again on Wednesday, if possible. Sooooo, we will be spending two days in Scottsdale and going back into the vet clinic on Wednesday for our appointment to see Dr. Rick. We are so pleased with the care Maggie has received at the Saguaro Veterinary Clinic.

Thus, we are foregoing our trip segments to Gila Bend (Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument) and Yuma. But that's OK. It's probably going to be around for the rest of this century, at least. And we have seen lots of cactus by now. We even saw a lot of organ pipe cactus at the Botanical Garden last Saturday. If Maggie's OK on Wednesday, we'll head directly to San Diego for that portion of the trip. For those of you participating in our Mileage Madness Game, the revised itinerary has been posted and is available as a pdf file by clicking here. If, for some reason, we have to further change the itinerary, we'll let you know in a posting and update the Mileage Madness Game itinerary once again. We have the prize for the winner and it is very nice. Here's another clue: The whole time we were in Paradise Valley going out for day trips, we went in Gloria's freebie Lexus (from a Catholic raffle) while Wilma lounged around in the driveway.

After our vet visit, we sat in the parking lot and used our mobile phones to cancel our lodging reservations in Gila Bend and Yuma. We then employed Wilma's marvelous navigation system to list all hotels beginning with the closest to where we were sitting. We were looking for something like a Comfort Inn or Quality Inn as we knew the prices would be good and they have a nice complimentary breakfast. We wanted one close to the vet clinic for Wednesday's appearance. We found one. Good rate. Complimentary breakfast. Nearby. Even though check-in wasn't until 3:00p.m., when I explained the situation, the desk clerk said they had rooms available and we could come over at any time.

John hadn't yet had breakfast, so we used the nav system again to search for nearby restaurants, sorted from closest to furthest. John scrolled down and found an IHOP about three miles away. He had been wanting a chance to go to one on our trip. This was it! Linda had eaten her raw bits, but took the opportunity to get a bowl of fruit, dekaf coffee and a glass of grapefruit juice. John got orange juice, two eggs with hashbrowns, 3 sausages, 3 bacon strips and two pecan pie pancakes. Yes, two pancakes with pecan syrup and glazed pecans on top. Oh, they were good.

After breakfast, we checked into our accomodations. A few minutes into our room and the phone rang. It was the front desk wanting to know if everything was satisfactory. Wonder of wonders, most of the good customer service in the world must have come here.

We worked on some travelogue things and decided to have lunch in our room. We needed some items from the grocery. We used Wilma's nav again to find the nearest Fry's Marketplace (less than three miles). John and Maggie waited while Linda shopped for doggie nurse supplies and a few food items. Went back to our room for a nice lunch. We'll go out this evening for dinner.

We're keeping an eye on Maggie and are expecting that today's vet visit and the new medication will get her on her way to getting well. Even though Misty didn't tear open enough of Maggie's flesh to require stitches, you can feel where she pulled some muscles loose under the skin. That's gotta hurt!

Even though it was not anyone's fault, everyone feels badly about the injury (especially Maggie.... maybe not so much Misty). This incident in no way detracted from our visit with Linda's sister which was an important purpose for the whole road trip.

Depending on how Maggie's doing tomorrow, we might go on a short local adventure. We certainly know one thing. Any vehicle we own in the future will have a navigation system at least as good as Wilma's. Her's is great and they'll only get better in the future.

Sorry, no picture gallery today. Hopefully, we can get out and about a bit tomorrow and take some interesting pictures for you.

Rest well and we'll keep you current on what we're doing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 9 - Paradise Valley, AZ

[Paradise Valley, AZ] Last night, while Linda and Gloria were off partying, John had some popcorn for dinner. Maggie was feeling good enough to try to catch popcorn thrown her way in the air. She caught several. This is a good sign.

Leisurely breakfast this morning and then worked on Botanical Garden photos and Gloria's software until about noon. The arrangement was that Bill would call after church and we would meet him at Pancho's Mexican Buffet. Gloria had never been before and the buzzards were good for another trip. So, off we went.

Got there about the same time as Bill and headed through the line. I think it was even better than when we arrived on Thursday. There are a couple of photos of us at Pancho's. Nothing much, but it does prove we were there. Bill is a former pastor, but we think he could have been a comedian. He currently volunteers two days a week at a local hospital and teaches a Sunday School class for people ready to meet Jesus. His students are in their 70's and 80's. We really enjoyed the time we spent with Bill. He took that long walk at the Botanical Gardens as good as John and John is a few years younger.

John took it easy the rest of the day and just had a chicken sandwich for dinner. John is becoming a fan of the Costco canned chicken. Makes great sandwiches, especially when shredded. Linda and Gloria went shopping. Linda wanted to go by Sally's Beauty Supply and purchase a "better" hair dryer using Gloria's discount. Smart shopping!

As we were getting ready for bed, Linda was checking over Maggie and noticed a pretty large lump on her neck at one place she had been bitten. Also, Maggie had a bad smell about her. Infection, or just gas?

Since we are leaving for Gila Bend in the morning, we decided to go ahead and load our stuff into the van tonight, get up at six and be back at the veterinarian's office before 7:00a.m. We want to get Maggie a "check up" before leaving town.

Just a few pictures in today's gallery which you can get to by clicking here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 8 - Paradise Valley, AZ and Phoenix Botanical Gardens

[Paradise Valley, AZ] This is our second full day (Day 8 on the road trip) at Gloria's (Linda's sister). Had a nice breakfast cooked by Gordon, Linda's nephew. Eggs, sausage and cheese grits. Gordon can be creative. He didn't have any cheddar cheese for the grits so he used some Cheezit's, potato chips and liquid in a blender. Actually, they came out pretty tasty.

Gloria recently became a member at the Botanical Garden in Phoenix. They just today opened a new exhibit on succulents with a special section on agave and aloe. Her membership got her some guest passes and she took us to see the new exhibit. What a wonderful treat this was. I had no idea there were oh so many different cacti. Linda and John took tons of photos which will be posted tomorrow as John is going to work on them tonight. Gloria's gentleman friend, Bill, accompanied us. After visiting the exhibit, Gloria treated us to lunch at Sweet Tomato's (think an upscale Fresh Choice on steroids).

He's doing that while Linda is off with Gloria to a birthday party of one of Gloria's friends. John won't be waiting up. You see, today he put 7,894 steps on his pedometer. The most he's done since he bought it. He's tired. Very tired.

You'll notice we've skipped a couple of days. We'll be backfilling if we actually have anything for those days. We'll let you know when we do.

Today you get a four minute video which we think you'll really like. Each day aroudn 9am and 4pm, Gloria or Gordon grab a bucket of wild bird feed and head for the corner of their backyard fence. Waiting for them are California Gambil Quail and doves. Hundreds of birds. THey throw the bird feed over the fence and chaos ensues. Once in a while an opportunistic hawk will fly over (or Gordon will make a loud noise) and dove fly off while the quail run under a tree. Then the quail scurry back (danger past) and the dove wing their way back. We think you'll enjoy this little video that Linda took this video with her Nikon P5100 point and shoot camera. She did a great job. Here it is...

Didn't write about it in Day 5, but that evening when we went out for Subway, we found a Liquor Barn on the way. Linda got some box wine and John got a bottle of Jack Daniels (on sale!). We've been enjoying a "toddy" before bedtime. Besides, John's doctor told him he would tell him to take a drink a day, but that it would be OK if he did. He usually doesn't but road trips lend themselves to that as you can get pretty tired.

Time to post this and notify all our family and friends. Rest well this evening and we'll have more for you tomorrow.

To visit the photo gallery of our visit to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 7 - Paradise Valley, AZ

[Paradise Valley, AZ] Wilma's navigation system got us to the vet very efficiently. The Saguaro Veterinary Clinic opens at 7:00a.m. and we were there by about 7:03a.m. The sign above the door says "By Appointment Only". Linda went to see if we could get Maggie some help. John and Maggie waited in the car. Linda came out and told us there might be a 20 minute wait. That was just wonderful. We agreed she would come get us when it was time. Maggie was still pretty traumatized and not moving around much.

Within 20 minutes, Linda came and fetched us. We were ushered into a surgery room where we met Dr. Rick Soltero, founder of the clinic. Dr. Soltero is tall and lanky and wears sandals to work. Our kind of guy! Fortunately, Maggie's wounds were puncture wounds on the back of her neck which wouldn't require any stitches. He said, "I can tell by the wounds that the other dog was definitely trying to kill her". The danger is infection. Dr. Soltero gave her a shot of antibiotics and some pills as well. He also assured us, from his personal experience (he especially remembers a doberman and a cat) that Maggie was in a lot of pain. So he gave her a pain shot (can you say "narcotics?") and some pain pills. He told Linda that he could tell she had been traumatized as well. (When Linda thought about it later she came up with a good example. Gloria had shown Linda that she had put out purple towels for her and brown towels for John. When John was headed to the shower Thursday night he asked Linda to get him a towel. She thought she grabbed the brown one but noticed later that the purple one was what she had given him.) John had been traumitized using a purple towel.

Based upon the above, we had decided that we couldn't have Maggie and Misty together at all. It just wouldn't be safe. We could have stayed in a motel and gone to visit some, but we weren't going to leave Maggie cooped up in a motel room for hours on end. Especially after what she had gone through. Fortunately, Gloria and Gordon had decided they would board Misty for the weekend. That was very kind and generous of them. In fact, they had already started to find a place while we were at the clinic.

When we got back to Gloria's, Misty was still there, but was soon to leave. We just sat in the comfort of Wilma until Gordon pulled away. Now we could safely take Maggie back into the house. Except Maggie wasn't so sure it was safe. She kept crouched down very low to the ground and was looking around for Misty. That lasted for several hours. Fortunately, the previously aforementioned pain killer shot kept Maggie pretty dopey and drowsy for several hours. She slept a lot which is what the kind Dr. Rick had told us to expect.

For the rest of the morning, Gordon and John had been trying to "fix" the internet cable wireless router to make it secure. They fixed it so it wouldn't work at all. It was a Belkin N Wireless Router and John was convinced it had bit the sand (could have said dust, but there's so much sand in Arizona). Soooo, after a lengthy conversation in broken Hindi with Belkin technical support and going through all the same setup that we had gone through before, we finally got an RMA number to return the unit. John does not know when he has had to ask someone to repeat themselves so many times. Gloria and Gordon are to send the router back and Belkin will replace it. That's fine and dandy, but they need internet service. So, an afternoon trip to Fry's Electronics was in order. Fry's Electronics and Fry's Marketplace (grocery store) are both prolific in the Phoenix area. The logo name "Fry's" is exactly the same for both businesses. We're told this is so because they were started by two of the Fry brothers.

We had been hearing about Sweet Tomatoes, the terrific salad bar restaurant, so we went there for lunch. It was great. Huge selection of salad fixings, six or seven kinds of soup from which to choose, cornbread with kernals of corn in it, pizza, biscuits, and on and on. And, for dessert, fresh hot brownies and / or frozen yogurt. The "and / or" is because you can put the frozen yogurt on your fresh hot brownie and add chocolate syrup, caramel topping and soy nuts or granola mix. It's a killer. Of course, there can ba a problem of not having any room left for desert. Oh, well.

Off to Fry's Electronics. Found a nice D-Link N Router (N is the new wireless standard just coming out that is faster and "more reliable"). It is backward compatible with "G". We put the router in Gordon's cart. Gloria had been talking about needing a new computer. She knows what a geek John is, so she asked him to look at what they had and make a recommendation. Little did John know what was coming. We looked at all the desktops and found a nice HP model running the new Windows 7 Premium, 64 bit. Gloria wrote down the model number. Then, Gloria went ahead and bought the thing.

John was in geek heaven the rest of the day. First, installing the new D-Link wireless router and getting it going (after all, we have to be able to post to our travelogue). Then installing Gloria's new computer. Once it was up and playing, John got Gloria's business software installed along with some goodies like AccuWeather. Windows 7 no longer supports Outlook Express. Instead, you get to download Windows Live. There are several component parts to Window Live, one of which is Windows Mail. It takes the place of Outlook Express and seems quite nice. He also installed the Windows Live Photo Gallery, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Publisher,, 7-Zip (Free version of Win Zip), FortiClient (much better than Norton) and possibley some other applications. It all went well. And Gloria really did appreciate the geeky help. Neither Linda or her sister have EVER been described as Techie Chicks! When we were shopping at Fry's Linda had to explain to Gloria what a Propeller Head is when they passed by a display of propeller beanies.

That pretty much sums up Friday. Because of our concern for Maggie CWF (our child with fur) it was a bit of a terrifying day, but it turned out OK and we had lots of chance to visit.

No photos today, but tomorrow we're off to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 6 - Prescott, AZ to Paradise Valley, AZ

[Prescott, AZ to Paradise Valley, AZ] We just have to suppose that every single Comfort Inn in the country now comes with a complimentary breakfast that includes malted waffles! What a great idea....for the waffle maker / ingredient maker. Though, John claims they are really yummy. He brings his own peanut butter for them. Guess what Linda had for breakfast? No prize involved...

We checked out just after 9:13a.m. and headed off for Linda to attempt finding two Prescott letterboxes. One was on the town square with the old courthouse. It consisted of a series of four clues. John and Maggie parked and let Linda off (in front of a crepe restaurant that sold espresso drinks). While Linda went merrily on her search, John got himself a "pick-me-up" (large mocha with extra shot).

Twenty, or so, minutes later, Linda returned. She found the location but could not locate a letterbox in the prickly juniper. The clue said thigh high. OK, whose thigh? Not Linda's or anybody taller or shorter than her, that she could tell. John assured her that someone must have taken it, because if it was there, she would have found it! Linda still enjoyed the clues and was able to see an interesting sculpture of Bucky on his horse. Across the square we saw a coffee named after him.

The next letterbox was in the Native Pioneers Home Cemetary (supposedly) near the grave of Big Nose Kate. Kate was the sometime girlfriend of Doc Holliday (of OK Corral fame). Now this one was tough. First you had to find the grave of Big Nose Kate (Katherine Cummings). Then you had to do some compass work based on a tree stump across the road from the Civil War Memorial. Problem was neither John or Linda could see a stump. So, they just assumed where the stump should have been and did the compass work from there. Finally, Linda said, "I give up"! Off to Phoenix. But she still enjoyed seeing some interesting graves.

Now, when we say Phoenix, that is techincally incorrect. Linda's sister actually lives in Paradise Valley, AZ which is a town in the Phoenix area. However, Wilma's nav system was not set for Gloria's house. It was set for Pancho's Mexican Buffet. The Pancho's in Phoenix is the western-most of the restaurants. There are, sadly, none in California. Even more sadly, there are none in the vicinity of Morgan Hill. It is one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and we haven't been to one in thirty, count 'em, thirty long years! It is truly a buffet, but cafeteria style. You go through the line and tell them how many of what items you want. The variety is huge! Chile Relleno (with cheese sauce), green and red tamales, flautas, taquitos, chimichangas, red chile, green chile, Mexican vegetables, four different enchiladas (red, chicken, cheese, sour cream), beef and chicken tacos. On each table is a stand with a flagpole and small flag of Mexico. When you need a refill, you just raise the flag and a server takes your request and fetches more food or drink for you. When you are about done with your meal, the server offers you a basket of sopapillas (fried fluffly pillows) and a bottle of honey. The sopapillas are full of holes. So, you bite off a corner and fill the thing with honey. Then consume. All this for less than $8.00 a head. The trick is to not eat for a day before going to Pancho's!

After being wheelbarrowed back to our vehicle (did we mention how nice the servers are?) we drove to Gloria's. Time for Maggie to meet Misty, their Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. Misty is a rescue dog that they have had for about three months. We carefully planned to introduce them outside of the home so Misty wouldn't feel threatened or "put upon". It went pretty good at first. Misty likes to romp, Maggie doesn't. Misty doesn't like it if Gordon shows another dog any attention (which he was careful not to do). The real problem arose when Gloria and Linda went into the bedroom where we would be staying. This is the bedroom where Gordon usually sleeps and where Misty stays. Now, Maggie was tagging along with Linda and Misty was following behind. Misty jumped on the bed and Gloria made her get down. Within a few seconds, Misty attacked Maggie (what do you think you're doing in MY room? I'm going to kill you!) And, so she tried. Gloria got Misty off of Maggie as quickly as she could.

It wasn't until later that night that Linda noticed that Maggie was shaking more than she'd ever seen before. Upon examination, Linda found some puncture wounds. That night, Maggie hunkered in the back of her doggie crate with her face on her paws and didn't even touch the treats laid before her. We decided that first thing Friday morning we will take her to the vet, one recommended by friends of Gloria's who know him and have had animals cared for by him.

This was really no one's fault. It was just an unfortunate incident brought about by bringing two animals together. For the two old buzzards and Maggie, it is a road tripping life lesson.... don't stay where you have to live with other animals.

No pictures for today. But, future postings will have pictures of Pancho's Mexican Buffet fare. Just wait!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 5 - Off to Prescott, AZ

[Holbrook, AZ to Prescott, AZ] Greetings Earthlings! We had a lovely breakfast at Ramada Inn, Holbrook, AZ before blogging for a while. Had to get caught up with yesterday's activities. We did manage to comply with checkout time.Then we packed up and headed out of town.

On our way out we first stopped for gas at Williams gas station. This is now a no brand station, but is pretty unique. First of all, it's a pump before pay gas station. Second, they still use those old style pumps (one octane per pump) where you take out the nozzle, then move a lever across where the nozzle used to be. John keeps thinking how much fun it would be to watch a 17 year old teeny bopper pull into that station for the first time and try to pump gas. Linda observed a still operational Boraxo hand soap dispenser in the ladie's restroom.

At the Dairy Queen (DQ) next door to the gas station, they were kind enough to have named Linda as the Buzzard of the Month. We even have photographic evidence of this in today's gallery.

Next, we went past the dinosaurs and petrified rock store, turned right onto Bucket of Blood Street, made a turn or two more before finding the ruins of the Rancho Motel, built in 1888. After taking a few photos, with the help of Wilma's directional compass, we found the NW corner and Linda made her way to the Get Your Kicks on Route 66 letterbox. It was an excellent find - a good hiding place, an amazing hand-carved stamp in a well-camouflaged container with a very cute logbook. We have photos of all this in today's gallery. If you'd like to learn more about this strangly addicting hobby, click here. Once you come up with a trail name you can do searches for letterboxes in your area (or any areas). There are lots of letterboxes in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Linda's trail name is Purple Bicycle.

Our drive to Prescott was scenic and included coming upon a recently overturned semi-truck that had dumped bales of green hay for several hundred yards before coming to a stop. Now, we're going to start something we may wish we hadn't... here goes.... "My truck turned over and I dumped all of my hay onto the Interstate", Tom said balefully.

Since all the rest areas are closed we stopped at a Vista Point to take some photos. We were the only ones there, so Linda decided to get even with the State of Arizona and water their plants at the Vista Point. Just before rising from behind the shrub to pull up her accouterments, two other vehicles pulled into the parking area. That was probably not the "vista" they were expecting.

We stopped at Camp Verde for lunch and frequented another Denny's. Linda had Chicken Noodle Soup and John had BFL (breakfast for lunch), a meat lover's omlette. While at Denny's, we learned that the lovely low clouds or fog John photographed was actually smoke from a fire. We could smell it in the air when we left Camp Verde.

Upon coming into Prescott we discovered that the Comfort Inn where we had reservations was in the midst of lots of Ponderosa pines, some distance out of town, but not enough to be inconvenient.

And just how do we entertain ourselves and each other during these long drives? Well, you can only say so much about the beautiful scenery before you start repeating yourself. But, sometimes, things bear repeating. Especially if you have photos to prove it.

And, here's something to try. If you have Google Earth on your computer, fire it up and go to Chinle, AZ. You can get some dazzling views of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto.

Tomorrow morning after breakfast, we'll spend some time sightseeing in Prescott (probably a lot downtown as they have very nice square). Then we'll be off to visit Linda's sister, Gloria and her son Gordon. We'll do some sightseeing there, but fair warning that it could get a bit slim for a few days. For certain not 155 photos. By the way, only sixteen today, and those include all three of the panoramas that John has taken so far.

To view today's photo gallery, click here.

Sleep well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 4 - Painted Desert - Hubbell Trading Post - Canyon de Chelly

[Continuation of Day Three - Painted Desert] The road that goes through the PFNP also goes through the Painted Desert National Park (PDNP). The visitor center at PDNP is near I-40, that's why we went to PFNP first.

Most of the PDNP is designated a wilderness area. Unless you want to get a permit and backpack in, you don't go out into the PDNP itself, you view it from the many nice lookout points. That's what most of us old, retired folk do. The really nice thing is that we were there mid-afternoon and the sun was starting to work some nice lighting on much of the desert. To learn more about the Painted Desert National Park, you can visit their website by clicking here. Since the PDNP is part of the PFNP, you get to go back to the PFNP site when you click.

Once we got back into Holbrook, we went to the Wigwam Motel as mentioned before. While Linda did her letterboxing thing, John took some pictures of the grounds and inside the office. It's a very quaint, nostalgic place. They have old cars and trucks placed around the sixteen motel units. When you drive up, it just takes you back in time. Hope you enjoy the photos of the Wigwam Motel. Some of the old cars were used as inspiration for the animated cars in the movie CARS. So, out of all the seven Wigwam motels there are still 3 in operation: this one, one somewhere in CA and the original one which is somewhere in the south (Kentucky or Tennessee, I think).

We told you about Day Three's dinner in yesterday's post. Not yet sure what we're going to do tomorrow, but we'll find something. Count on it!

Good night!

[Holbrook - Hubbell Trading Post - Canyon de Chelly] Good morning on Day Four of our road trip! A balmy 22 deg, but no wind! Another complimentary breakfast and this time with pictures!

After breakfast, John got on the internet and started looking around for today's excitement. He stumbled (does that a lot nowadays) across a woman's description of her trip into the Navajo Indian Reservation to Ganado and Chinle. She described it as a day trip. Try a ten hour day! We whipped out the atlas and looked at the route. The pictures we saw on the internet made the trip seem worthwhile. It was!

Now, this is important information for those of you playing our Mileage Madness game. If you're currently uninformed about this game, you can see the rules by clicking here. This "day trip" would add miles onto our overall road trip. We took I-40 east to Hwy 191 at Chambers. North on Hwy 191 to Ganado. Continue north on Hwy 191 to Chinle, location of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Inside the park we drove 42 miles and the return trip to Holbrook is identical. EXCEPT: We made a navigational error on the way and went an extra 52 miles. The good news is that we were on a scenic route and got a few photos. We also got a feeling for how many Indians live with a beautiful view but obviously in very stark housing. The bad news is that we saw that scenic route twice after we discovered our error.

We left Holbrook at about 9:17a.m. First thing you need to know about driving on an Indian Reservation is that they have an open range grazing policy. Horses, sheep and cattle may be grazing right along side the highway. Can you say "roadkill"? (But we didn't see any today.) It was also a little different to see so many dogs roaming free. On the reservation, they ranch and farm a little. Not much to graze livestock on in a 6,000 ft. desert. Although it was a very calm day, there were signs along Hwy 191 saying "Blowing Dust Next 15 Miles". We never saw any blowing dust. Lucky us to get such nice weather. Dwellings are scattered all along the route. Many are traditional Najavo hogans, which are hexagonal. Guess that's so you can't ever get cornered in your house. We also saw two coyotes and some bunnies along the road. Yes, they were alive.

Our first stop was the Hubbell Trading Post (a National Historic Site) at Ganado, AZ. John Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878. The Indians developed a trust in Mr. Hubbell and his trading business grew and grew. It is the longest continuously operating trading post in the U.S. You might want to visit their website by clicking here. We saw a Navajo woman weaving a blanket in the visitor center. We saw blankets for sale in the trading post with prices like $4,600.00 and $8,000.00. Admittedly, they were very beautiful. Just a bit pricey. But, after watching that lady weaving a blanket, you definitely realize that it is a time consuming task that takes a great deal of skill.

They have livestock at the trading post as well. Sheep, goats and alpacas. The Navajo use their wool for the blankets. (Oops, Linda called it a llama when she was labeling the photos and can't change it now.)

We have some nice photos both inside and outside the trading post.

Next stop, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de Shay"). There's a story here. The Navajo name of the canyon is Tseyi, which mean "canyon" or "in the rock". And, is pronounced something close to "shay". Over time, the Spanish and English mispronunciation resulted in Canyon de Chelly. There are actually two canyons here, Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto (you can figure out this one). We only had time to visit Canyon de Chelly. These two canyons split off of another canyon called The Chinle Wash, sort of like a "Y". The land on which the park exists belongs to the Navajo Nation. In 1925 the Navajo Tribal Council unanimously voted in favor of establishing this national monument. Congress passed a bill in 1931 officially establishing the canyons as a national monument.

Since the park is on tribal land, the Navajo are allowed to sell artwork and trinkets at the lookout points. Also, they farm and raise livestock (and live) on lands in the bottom of the canyon. You can see some of their farms in the photos. And, if you want to go down into the bottom of the canyon, you can hire a Navajo guide for $15/hour and rent a jeep, or drive your own. Lunch today was just the same as lunch yesterday. Nuts, a banana, apples, a granola bar and some fruit and nut medley.

This is a beautiful, out-of-the-way place. In that regard it reminds us of Big Bend National Park. It's not some place you just happen to drive by. You have to be going there as a destination. We want to take a non-scientific poll: Send us an email stating whether or not you have ever been to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Just click here to send the email. Our photos can't really capture the grand scope of its beauty and we think more people should visit there.

We have many, many beautiful pictures of Canyon de Chelly in today's gallery. And, you can visit the National Park Service site for Canyon de Chelly by clicking here.

The sun went down on us between Ganado and Chambers on our way back to Holbrook. We got a pretty nice shot of the sunset with some trees and rock formations silhouetted.

We didn't arrive back in Holbrook until about 6:30p.m. Dropped Maggie off at the motel and went looking for dinner. We had a card for 10% off at the Butterfield Stage Steakhouse. We went there (no one else there) looked at the very pricey menu and decided to go back to Jerry's which is just down the street from our motel. Jerry's is like a Cindy's, but not a chain. The glassware claims they've been there since 1966 and they were right on Rte 66. Linda had their salmon special. John was tempted by their ground sirloin steak. But, since he had that the night before, he opted for a chef salad. Both meals were just marvelous.

We're off to Prescott tomorrow (we've been told by one of you that it's pronounced like "press - kit" and just for fun have confirmed that on the internet). When we arrive, we'll ask a local "What's the name of this town"? Then we'll know. It reminds us of the Cambria pronunciation duality (the people who live there pronunce it differently that most of their tourists).

So long, for now. More tomorrow.

You can view today's photo gallery at by clicking here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 3 - Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park

[Holbrook, AZ - Petrified Forest] We slept in a bit. Bathed and showered, then had our complimentary breakfast at the Ramada Inn. John had one of his favorite malted waffles, some raisin bran, orange juice, milk and coffee. Linda had some Raisin Bran mixed in with her Raw Bits Twang Twang and some milk. It was nice and saves quite a bit of money over a fifteen day road trip!

We had been watching the weather forecast for Holbrook over the last couple of weeks on AccuWeather. It had been predicting 30 deg. lows and 50 deg. highs and winds gusting to 30mph. That was a bogus forecast. A cold front had come through. Last night it went down to 17 deg. and during today it hit about 48 deg. The important, and wonderful thing, is that there was almost no wind. Just an occasional breeze. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Great for sightseeing. Linda wasn't taking any chances on being cold. She dressed in lots and lots of layers (3 shirts, 2 jackets, jeans and sweats over the jeans). She was nice and cozy all day! As usual, John wore shorts and his T-shirt, but took a jacket just in case.

We headed out for the Petrified Forest about 10:03a.m. On our way out of town, we saw another antique shop. Do you see the pattern developing here? But, Linda was still unable to fine a gift that was older than her sis. Oh my!

On our way to the park on Hwy 180 we passed a huge establishment, Tom Grey's Petrified Wood Company. It was just on the outskirts of Holbrook. We figured right then that Tom's would be the place to get our petrified wood samples and that we would do it later in the day or tomorrow.

Hwy 180 goes right to the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP). There are a couple of "museums" at the turn off into the actual park, but they are privately owned. We dropped into one of them and looked around. Linda found a Rte 66 sew-on patch. They wanted six bucks for it. No deal.

We entered the PFNP for free as John had previously acquired a National Parks Senior Pass. That saved $10. We were given a park map for both the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert National Park. Did you know that both of these are actually part of the large area of land designated as the Painted Desert? Oh, we were also given a "snitch" card. This was for use in case we saw someone picking up petrified wood and putting it in their car / pocket, etc. It had a place for the date and time, vehicle make, color, state and license plate. You could just fill it out and send it in. By the way, the minimum fine for pilfering petrified wood is $325.

We watched a nice video at the information center and purchased a "bonus pack" with colorful and informative books about both parks, and an extended version of the video. No, we won't be posting the video. Also, Linda found her Rte 66 patch for $3.85 (a savings of $2.15 over the "other place"). When you retire, you become a bit more frugal. Plus, when you buy at the National Park store the profit goes back into the park (we think).

When we got to the Painted Desert visitor center we got our Passport book (it's for all national parks and monuments) stamped.

The PFNP is really unique and started being formed in the Trassic Period. If you want more info on the park, you can go to their website by clicking here.  There are lots of other fossils and petroglyphs in the park as well as the petrified wood. And, for your fun and entertainment, we have another contest. Play the sound clip below and see if you can identify which PFNP inhabitant makes that sound.

The first person emailing the correct answer to us at the Buzzard's Roost (click here to mail) will receive recognition and a small prize.

You had a reprieve on the previous two days with only a total of 28 photos in the galleries. Today, you get 91 photos, so get to work!

At lunchtime, we had some Kirkland Fruit and Nut Medley and some mixed nuts. Enough to tide us over until dinner (and, of course, the price was right). We left the PFNP in mid-afternoon so Linda could get back to the Wigwam Motel on old Rte 66. Gotta get in her letterboxing, you know. She was successful in finding two letterboxes there. John spoke with the owner. There were only seven Wigwam Motels built, and they were scattered all over the country (Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky, Arizona, etc). Just so happens his father built all seven of them as a contractor. There are still 3 left today. More about that and photos of the Wigwam Motel tomorrow.

There was some time left in the day, so we went to the Petrified Wood Company. We found some pieces of petrified wood for souveniers and a package of petrified wood pieces for grandson Isaac. But, John thinks he has the best find of the day. A slab of Coprolite about 8" wide by 5" tall by 1/2" thick on a nice stand. Some of you might ask, "So, what is Coprolite that makes it such a find"? To sum it up in three words "fossilized dinosaur poop". Now every time he flushes, he's thinking, "Billions of years from now, that's going to be worth a lot of money!"

Dinner was taken at Joe and Aggie's Restaurant. It's an old establishment on the old Rte 66. Kinda dumpy (did we mention it's old.... like us?) Linda had a tostada and sopapilla. She reports that it was the best sopapilla she has had since Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1950s. John had a hamburger steak (he gets a craving for them once in a while) with grilled onions and brown gravy. Instead of mashed potatoes, he selected french fries (with the same brown gravy, of course). It was a good meal and we had good service. There's a steak house in town that we might try tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow's weather forecast is a near repeat of today's, but it is supposed to be a bit warmer. Still no wind in the forecast! After being outdoors all day, we expect to sleep well.

You can view today's photo gallery at by clicking here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 2 - Barstow, CA to Holbrook, AZ

[Barstow, CA to Holbrook, AZ] John is so sorry he complained about the I-5 drive being boring. We spent 10 hours on I-40 today in the Mojave Desert. Can you say "No Services Next 79 Miles"? That was really boring! On a brighter note, we have stumbled across an idea for a future road trip. More on that later in this posting.

We shoved off from Barstow at somewhere near 7:30a.m. having had our complimentary hot breakfast at the motel. It was actually pretty good. John had bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee. Linda had fruit and her Raw Bits Twang Twang.

Also, we are pleased to report that all of the bathrooms in the Arizona Rest Stops along the interstate are much cleaner than those in California. That's because they are never used. All the Rest Areas along I-40 were closed! That's right, over 300 miles in Arizona and not one lousy Rest Area was open. Guess they're broke like California.

I should mention, that when we crossed from California into Arizona, Wilma automatically moved her clock (the one in the van) forward one hour. Pretty smart girl!

John was pining for his high potency coffee this morning. We stopped in Needles, CA looking for a Starbucks or equivalent. We stopped at a gas station and inquired. The attendant said, "They serve coffee at Denny's". Duh! So, we have renamed Needles, CA to "Needless, CA".

As we were approaching Kingman, AZ, we used the navigation system to look for coffee places along our route. Sure enough, there was a single Starbucks in Kingman. And, there were no other coffee places listed within 118 miles. Didn't need to get gas in Kingman, but it was $2.51. After we bought our beverages at the Starbucks drive-thru, we parked in a nearby parking lot and broke out some fruit and snacks for a quick lunch. Temperature was 43 deg. and the wind was blowing pretty good. It felt good inside the van.

We saw a sign along the highway saying that at the next exit there was access to historic route 66. It is now known as The Old National Trail Highway. We exited I-40, got on Rte 66 and took some photographs. Back on the interstate. Later, we came to Yucca, AZ. We got off I-40, roamed over to Rte 66 and took some more photographs. While we're here in Holbrook, in addition to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, we are going to explore more of Rte 66. This is the seed now planted for a potential future road trip. We'll need to do some research about what portions of the original Rte 66 are still "travelable" and see where that leads us. One thing about it. It is historic.

We stopped in Williams, AZ for gas. The stations by the exit were peddling it for $3.07. We drove to downtown Williams and found gas for $2.71. Probably comes off the same truck, too. At Williams we also found another antique shop. Alas, the same problem. Nothing quite old enough.

Pulled in to Holbrook at 5:30p.m. Temperature was a "comfortable" 37 deg. Forecast for tommorow and Tuesday is much warmer (50's and 60's) with almost no wind.

The clerk at the Ramada Inn recommended Denny's when we asked about dinner. Ordinarily we are not Denny fans but after taking a drive up and down the area decided to give it a try. Linda had Ranchero Talapia and John had BFD (breakfast for dinner) and was amazed to find grits on the menu. When Linda asked what Ranchero potatoes were that came with the talapia the waitress said, "They're new but so far no one has had anything good to say about them". How nice to have such honesty. Linda substituted cole slaw.

Oh, and an update. we're glad we emailed our son about his lost Blackberry. We had left a message on his work voice mail, not realizing that it was Saturday and he wouldn't get the message until Monday (it's like that when you're retired!). We received an email reply from him today. He was relieved and had recovered his Blackberry. In fact, he sent the email from his Blackberry. Ain't technology grand?

It's 9:30p.m. here now and we're both sort of dragging. I'm sure we'll sleep good tonight.

You can view today's photo gallery at by clicking here

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 1 - Morgan Hill, CA to Barstow, CA

[Morgan Hill, CA to Barstow, CA] We left home at something near 6:41 a.m. on November 14, 2009. We made our traditional breakfast stop at the Daily Bagel Cafe in Tennant Station, then we hit the road. Check out the short video below which sort of documents our departure. (A helpful suggestion: Start the video, then pause it. It will continue to download while you read the rest of today's posting. Then scroll back up to the video and play it.)

John said that driving on I-5 is "boring". Linda didn't think so, but then again, she wasn't driving! (except from the back seat). Something over 120 miles of 'straight as an arrow' road, and our "flat broke" state can't afford to keep the Rest Areas open. We reported this on our Washington State road trip.

Nonetheless, as we passed Coalinga, John began making up a song about being kidnapped and buried in Coalinga on your school bus. Linda piped up, "Honey, I think that was in Chowchilla". A $1 wager was laid on the outcome and John paid off later that evening. Along the way, Linda had noticed some bright yellow signs in the many empty areas interspersed with orchards along the interstate. Each one read, "Congress Created Dust Bowl". We must have seen at least 50 of them.

We did jump off I-5 at Kettleman City for a rest. There is so little along I-5 that there were lots of gas stations and food places at Kettleman City. After "resting", John bought a Snickers bar and we left. On our way out, we found another couple of signs in the same vein as the yellow ones. Here is the message: Congress is in the pocket of the wealthy in Southern California. Never mind the Central Valley being the bread basket of our country. Just go ahead and send the water they need for the bread basket to those down south who are lining your pockets! Can we have an "Amen"?
About 30 miles later, we took off going east on CA46 toward Wasco. Now, it got exciting! Immediately after exiting the interstate and turning east, We were overtaken by a fire truck running code 3 (red lights and siren). A few short miles further and we came upon the accident. It appeared to be a one car accident where the car left the road and rolled down a steep shoulder embankment into a ditch. The top was crushed and the windshield was caved in. The firemen were just unloading a backboard to take down to the vehicle. About five miles further toward Wasco, we met an ambulance coming code 3, obviously headed for the crash scene.

Shortly after passing through the burg of Wasco, we hit Hwy 99 and went south to Bakersfield where we picked up CA58 going east to Barstow and beyond. We went through the Tehachapi Mountains and actually took another rest stop in the town of Tehachapi at a friendly Jack-in-the-Box. John felt guilty about our using their restroom, so he got an Extreme Sausage Sandwich for lunch.

Once you come down from the Tehachapi Mountains, you know you are in the Mojave Desert! We passed Edward AFB and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. We went past the town of Boron and right by the Borax site where they mine that stuff for Twenty-Mule-Team Borax. It reminded John of Ronald Reagan hosting "Death Valley Days" on TV with Boraxo as the sponsor. After John shot his photos of the Joshua Tree Cactus (another name we bet on) and the Borax Site he returned to the car. He no sooner sat down, than his cell phone rang. Wow, were we puzzled and curious. It was Tim, from Trader Joe's in Petaluma. Someone had found our son's Blackberry in the parking lot and turned it in. Tim found Johns's cell number in the Blackberry and called it. John then called Jay at work and left him a voice mail telling him we knew he lost his phone and if he would call him back, John would tell him where to find it. Haven't heard from him yet. Thing is, we can't call him at home because his home phone is his cell phone! But we did send him an email with all the information he needs to get his phone.

In the Mojave Desert, there is certainly a lot of nothing. Lots of dirt roads running off the main road. You just know there must be hundreds of bodies buried out there.

Our last stop before getting into Barstow, was Kramer Junction. It's an intersection of two two-lane highways: Hwy 58 E-W and Hwy 395 N-S. One traffic light. Tons of traffic and loads of trucks. We did stop at an antique store there for Linda to look for a birthday present for her sister, whom we are visiting later in the coming week. Sadly, she said she wasn't able to find anything older than her sister. Perhaps she'll have better luck tomorrow!

Checked in to our lodging (Quality Inn) at 2:30pm, unloaded and began working on the video to upload and our blog posting. John asked Linda to see if she could find a Long John Silver's. She found one and dutifully wrote down the address. When it was time to leave for dinner (5:00 - they're seniors, remember?) John just as dutifully entered the address into Wilma's GPS. At the end of the motel parking lot, Wilma set up the route which was showed that Long John Silver's was 900 feet away! Hilarious! We could have walked there! And, wonder of wonders, Long John now has quite a few menu items that are broiled instead of being fried. Aarg! Linda had a broiled salmon platter that was quite tasty.

Tomorrow we have a long 400+ mile 6-hour drive to Holbrook, AZ. Wish us luck! Sleep well.

You can view today's photo gallery at by clicking here

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Video of the Twins

A couple of weeks ago, while performing a Nana Help visit with Jennifer and the grandkids, Linda took the new tiny video camera and shot some footage. John grabbed a few clips, did a quick edit, pasted them together and added some titles and music. It was just a practice run, but many of our friends have not seen the twins "in action" yet. Well, here they are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Musical Message from the Road Trippin' Buzzards

Allow time for the download... when the player console appears, start the song...

We're busy preparing for our upcoming road trip. It's becoming easier as we do more trips. You tend to develop a "process" to get ready. John got his prescription meds ready this morning.

In addition to adding some video, we'll have an audio clip on a couple of the blog posts. They may, or may not, be hooked into a video. Only time will tell.

Maggie, Linda and John are all looking forward to being on the road again!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Yard Full of Changes

Today the landscapers finished making parts of our yard require less water and work for maintenance. Watch the video below, then read on.....

What got taken out was the small area of lawn in the front yard and an irregular piece of lawn in the back yard. The only lawn area left to water and mow is one area in the back yard that is about 20 feet by 18 feet. That area had been larger by about 6 feet by 18 feet. The lawn area that was replaced now has weed block with shredded redwood bark on top of it. The plants are on a new drip system and get watered 5 minutes a day. Once the winter rains start that can be turned off. The other big change is that the very large liquidamber tree in the front yard has been removed. It had gotten way too big for where it was. A pine (front yard) and 2 volunteer mimosas (back yard) were also taken out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christening Time

Here's our new grandchildren, Amber and Isaac, at their christening
today at Saint Christopher's in Willow Glen. It was a very nice
ceremony. Big Bro Isaac and godparents and grandparents and uncles and
aunts and friends were in attendance. And their mom and dad were there
too, of course.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Video test for our next road trip....

Well, our next road trip is fully planned. We'll be going to the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Pipe Organ Cactus National Monument, Yuma, the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Botanical Gardens and places in between, including a visit with Linda's sister and nephew in Phoenix.

We've ordered a "miniature" 1080p HD video camera and will be taking some video on this trip as well as shooting our our photographs. We'll be posting both. We've learned how to post the videos on our YouTube account and embed them into our blog.

The following video is part of one we did a couple of years ago and put on you tube. You might enjoy it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 10 - Lakehead, CA to Morgan Hill, CA

[Monday, Lakehead, CA to Morgan Hill, CA] We can report today that one cannot get anything they want at Allyson's Restaurant in Lakehead, CA. In fact, one couldn't get anything at all since the restaurant was closed. However, a quick swivel of the head to the left and we found what could best be described as a sportsman's bar and grill, the Basshole. It was open!!

We entered and found one patron playing with himself. Pool, that is. He was winning. And losing. Our waitress invited us to set anywhere we wanted. Linda checked out the specials. She got fish tacos (talapia) and John ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. His mistake was to get the full order. Leftover spaghetti, anyone? The food was good and we had a nice chat with our waitress while waiting for it. Found out her daughter is attending Humboldt State University where Jay went to school.

Got a good night's rest and went to breakfast back at the Shasta Camp Coffee Company where John had grabbed a Mocha the day before. These are the folks from Watsonville. After Allyson let us down the night before, she didn't deserve us! John had eggs, bacon, orange juice, hash browns and biscuits. Linda had an English muffin and orange juice. Her Raw Bits were all packed up already for the trip home.

Back to Lakehead Lodge to pack and load. Left about 9:37a.m. and stopped back by the Shasta Camp Coffee Company to get John a Mocha for the road.

Wilma's navigation system reported that we had 288 miles to go to get home. We attempted to make a pit stop at a Rest Area.... closed! California government is certainly outdone by Oregon in the rest stop area! We finally stopped at Corning, CA and visited the Olive Pit for a pit stop! How appropriate. Got some gifts for our neighbors who have been gathering our mail.

Further down the road, at Williams, Linda took over the driving. She drove to Danville. We stopped at a Carl's Junior in Fremont for another "rest" and some lunch. Burger for John. Salad for Linda. Then on to Morgan Hill.

All in all, the traffic was very light. The weather was overcast, so no bright sun to deal with. We made a quick stop at Nob Hill for milk and bread then pulled in the driveway at somewhere near 3:09p.m. after a trip of 1,289.8 miles. We unloaded Wilma. It will take a day or so to recover and unpack. Please, no sympathy cards are necessary (or expected).

We did follow through on our commitment... no TV in the motel room and no radio on the highway. It's very peaceful and relaxing and, of all things, we get to talk.

It was a wonderful trip. Over 520 photographs and lots of memories.

We're planning our next road trip for mid-November. Part of that trip will be to visit Linda's sister, Gloria, and her nephew, Gordon, in Phoenix. Weather permitting, we'll visit the Petrified Forest, Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, San Diego Zoo and other things along the way. John has to phone in the weekend before November 2nd for jury duty. Hopefully, it won't conflict with mid-November.

See you then!

We hope you enjoyed going along with us.

Here's the Raw Bits Twang Twang recipe for those who are interested: 2 T ground flax seed, 3/4 cup wheat bran, 1/3 cup powdered milk, 1/4 cup chopped dried fruits. Add 1 cup water 10 to 20 minutes before eating. You can add sliced banana too if available. Enjoy! Wheat bran is available in the food bins at Nob Hill and at some fruit stands. John says, "If you eat this for breakfast every day, you will no longer be unique. You'll just be a regular guy or gal!"

No photo gallery for day 10.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 9 - Lakehead, CA

[Sunday, Lakehead, CA] Slept in until about 7:33a.m. this morning. Well, Linda slept in a bit longer, but she deserves it! John had PB on toast and a banana this morning. Linda had her Raw Bits Twang Twang. Due to the overwhelming curiosity as to what RBTTs consist of, if you stay tuned for our last posting from this road trip, Linda just might be persuaded to give out her special secret recipe.

A note about the first two pictures in today's photo gallery. Our cabin has a cute kitchenette. We think it's a Buddhist kitchenette. The sink and the stove are at one with each other. Does save room. Second picture is of what used to be a gas station next door that also did brake inspections. Gone with the wind.

Linda did something unusual (for her). She took a shower. Linda hates showers but had no choice unless she filled up a wading pool down by the grassy knoll. She decided to use the complimentary shampoo/conditioner which was in an economical reusable packet (let's call it ERP for short). It was impossible for her to open aforementioned ERP at the "tear here" area or anywhere else (thus the ERP aspect). She even tried using her teeth as tools (like she always preached NOT to do to the kids). Then she remembered her Grandmother Angie's method while on a road trip in New Mexico. She said "Here Honey, use this bar of soap. It will work just as good as shampoo". Weird feeling to rub a bar of soap on your head but it did work OK. And my hair is standing on end without even having to use any moose or reindeer or elk (can you tell I'm not sure how to spell mousse?). PS If anyone out there in blogland hates baths you can donate Linda all your foofy bath salts, etc.

We left about 9:00a.m. to go to a restaurant we saw on our "lake tour" yesterday They serve espresso drinks so John was able to get some "real" coffee (4 shots in a large Mocha). He's still vibrating! The couple that owns the restaurant just moved here about six months ago from Watsonville. As we were arriving 2 ladies were peering out the front window in fascination - not at us but at a cluster of birds around 2 feeders (one for hummers, the other for several kinds tiny colorful birds that like millet). The restaurant is very cute. They bought the whole building about 3 years ago and have been revamping it. There is a beauty shop down at the end and some other forgettable (at least we forgot it) business in the middle. The restaurant is decorated with a woodsy decor. That's where we were photographed with the buffalo. There's also a totem pole and a wooden Indian. Linda asked the lady (owner) if she was loving it here and she said that she is but that it was taking her a while to get used to being in such a small town (population about 312).

After leaving there, we decided to go back to Pollard Flat and visit the river. There were two other cars in the parking lot. The path down to the river is really nice. The US Forest Service used railroad ties (and hopefully convict labor) to make stairs down the steepest part, then they poured concrete over the rocks and left it rough to make a solid path the rest of the way down. The other cars in the parking lot were those of three fly fishermen who were all out in the middle of the river (not that deep, we suppose, or perhaps they can walk on water!) flycasting away. There are so many flies (the kind that like to hang around your head and eyes and stay with you even if you are running and waving your arms at them) down by the river that the "fly" fisherman should have caught their limit! Though we never did see them catch any fish. But the one we talked to was optimistic, at least. When Linda asked if he had caught anything he said, "Not yet" (in a cheerful/hopeful way). Maggie enjoyed the walk down and seemed to really like the river. Didn't stay too long, but took some nice photos. We think.

Having decided to "explore" on the way back to Lakehead, we took the Le Moine exit. Le Moine, you know, is French for "Lemon". The exit sign clearly stated "No Services". Perhaps it should have stated "No Services. Not Much of a Road." We wound around and crossed a creek a couple of times. We met a young man in overalls on an ATV with his dog riding on the back. He (the man) was grinning from ear-to-ear. Couldn't tell if the dog was grinning. At any moment we thought we might hear strains of "Dueling Banjos" coming from this place that appears to belong in North Georgia (sorry Jerry) or Tennessee. No, John can't squeal like a pig! Yet, but Linda's working on it. Took some "interesting" photos. One of them was of an old dilapidated couch on the front porch of an even more dilapidated (and unoccupied) house. Why would we take a picture of that, one might ask? Because we had a couch with that exact same fabric (until just a few years ago). And, for some reason, we keep seeing it (strangely neither of our children wanted it when we were ready to release it). It is the exact same fabric as Frazier's father's beloved recliner. Ah, memories!

On the way back out of Le Moine, we found a gravel side road that crossed an old bridge that crossed a creek. Had to cross the bridge and take pictures of it and the creek. Le Moine was photographically worth exploring. Wouldn't particularly want to move there. Like the highway exit sign says: "No Services".

Next exit south was Dog Creek Road. It was a narrow, all gravel road and not too well maintained. You knew you were headed for the creek because it was all downhill. Crossed a couple of old picturesque bridges. The road seemed to be getting more narrow and bumpy and we were getting a little concerned about finding a place to turn around. Met an oncoming pickup truck and negotiated safe passage so we decided there must be a turnaround somewhere ahead. Then we came to a Railroad Crossing Ahead sign so we relaxed a bit. At the bottom of the road just after you crossed the railroad tracks, was an old steel and wood bridge with a sign, "Warning Bridge Under Repair. Load Limit 3 Tons". Linda didn't want to drive across the bridge (even if John got out!). The phrase "under repair" completely spooked her for some reason. So, we found a nice place to park and walked onto the bridge to photograph the bridge, Dog Creek, the railroad crossing and tracks. John walked all the way across the bridge to photograph it. It held up! On the other side he found a sign "2 Miles to Shasta Wilderness". From the location at the bottom of Dog Creek Road you can also take a picture of the old Hwy 99 bridge that crossed the creek. Of course, it's no longer in use. As we were leaving, John stopped at one of the old bridges and was able to photograph the I-5 bridge from underneath as well. Linda's treasure was an old rusty railroad spike. It will find a place in her garden, no doubt. On our way back to a real road we saw a real estate sign offering 3,000 acres of land. John commented that they probably don't mention in their media advertisements that it is mostly vertical. The Two Old Buzzards agreed that they would much rather photograph it than own it.

Next exit south was Lakehead. So we returned to the lodge and had a light lunch in our cozy cabin. John had grapes, cheese, crackers, peanut butter, milk and a Milky Way Midnight he bought last night. Linda had a sandwich with Larrupin' Mustard Dill Sauce on grainy bread with sliced apple, lettuce, jack cheese, smoked provelone and smoked ham. Maggie had a biscuit from Black Bear Diner. Plans are to go to Allyson's Restaurant for dinner this evening. Rumor is that "You can get anything you want at Allyson's Restaurant". It's across I-5 on Lakeshore Drive, just down from where John got his coffee this morning. We will take pictures this evening and include them tomorrow when we let you know how it is. And, if you can really get anything you want...

Link to Day 9 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 8 - Medford, OR to Lakehead, CA

[Saturday, Medford, OR to Lakehead, CA] Left our comfortable Quality Inn room near 9:22a.m. after John had his waffle, cereal, coffee, orange juice, milk and a banana. Now prepare yourself for some earthshattering news. Linda did NOT have Raw Bits Twang Twang for breakfast and the world did not come to a crashing halt (yet). She forgot to bring her RB packet to the breakfast room so she made do with a boiled egg, toasted Os and raisin bran with banana and some good news/bad news yogurt. It was peach Yami yogurt (click here to visit Yami Yogurt) with probiotic and live cultures made in the Pacific Northwest from fresh, wholesome Grade A milk that contains no antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. I swear to you that it was the MOST yummy yogert I have ever tasted. That's the good news. Bad news is that the tiny 4 oz container contained 130 calories. Oh, well, it was yummy Yami!

We mostly just drove the 120 miles or so to Lakehead, CA. Tried to call a friend of ours who lives in Dunsmuir (right on our way). An interesting lady named Angelique who was staying in Morgan Hill for a month or so in the early summer and was a volunteer at the Senior Cafe in the senior center. John had met her in the swimming pool at the Centennial Recreation Center. Linda and Angelique traded phone messages. By the time we got her message we were already in Lakehead. She wasn't going to be available today anyway, so it just didn't work out.

We made a brief stop at Pollard Flat. John had found a restaurant there in his online search for accomodations in the area. It is in conjunction with an Exxon station. Been voted best truck stop in America. The restaurant is called USA Restaurant. You'll see why later. If you ever make your way to the USA Restaurant in Pollard Flat be sure to visit the restroom. You won't forget it!

Our cabin at Lakehead is very comfy. Lakehead Lodge is owned by a young couple. Jim, our host, was very nice and very helpful. He's in the process of repainting and refurbishing the units. Great WiFi! It's very slow around Lakehead now because Lake Shasta is very, very low. More on that later. As you will see in the photo gallery, he is painting the units a very bright yellow. It's really eye catching and looks nice. You can visit their website by clicking here.

After sandwiches and other lunch goodies in our cabin, we went took a ride on Lakeshore Drive which mostly does follow the lake's shoreline. Very depressing. So many boat docks just left high and dry laying on the side of the hole in the ground that used to be the lake. We've been told that the main body of the lake at the Pitt River bridge down by Redding is low, but still commercially viable. If you're interested in investing in a depressed area in this bad economy, Burgies Restaurant on Lakeshore Drive here in Lakehead is for sale. Nice looking place. Been closed for about six months. Asking price is $349,000. Bet you can get a better deal!

Went back to our room. Worked on the travelogue (as opposed to Kellog's "travel log"). John took a nap from 4:00p.m. until just after 5:00p.m. Linda and Maggie went down to a nice grassy area at the lodge. Linda dozed off in a high-backed Adirondack chair while reading Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. All this relaxing has just worn us both out. Life is good! Retired life is better!!

Left for dinner about 5:15p.m. When we had stopped in Pollard Flat earlier to check out the restaurant, we noticed a River Access sign. We went back and explored that before going to the USA Restaurant for dinner. The road down to the river access parking area is steep and has lots of switchbacks. But, the parking area is nice and there are steps and a long trail leading down to the river. Light was poor for photographing, we we decided we'll go back when the sun is higher in the sky (the river's sort of in a canyon) so we can take some pictures.

Back to the USA Restaurant. It's chock full of antiques and memorabilia. Lots of cute signs. Our first clue came when our waitress, we'll call her "Grandma" noticed that the Glen Beck show had just started on Fox News. She said, "Oh, good, I really like him!" (Actually, so does John). Glen's talking about how the citizens need to take back the country and Grandma is feedin' the fire with her grandhildren, who happen to be in the restaurant with her. Then, she takes off doing a little denigration of President Obama for the benefit of, you guessed it, her grandchildren, who according to all appearances seem to be at least 1/2 African American. John did notice the NRA sticker on one of the cabinets and he purchased a copy of "The Citizen's Handbook" (on display at EVERY table) for $1.75 before we left. In addition to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it has, among much more, a complete section on Juror's Rights. Guess who has a jury summons for November 2nd.

The food was good. Linda had split pea soup (she said as good a Split Pea Anderson's) and grapefruit juice. John had a cup of split pea soup and, at long last, a hamburger steak with grilled onions, mashed potatoes and gravy! These folks were very nice and hospitable (if you weren't from the government), but there was some interesting indoctrination of the children going on there. Will Pollard Flat be the home of the next Timothy McVey?

John's chocolate bug raised it's head and we went by a market on the way back to Lakehead Lodge to get some kind of dark chocolate candy bar. Maybe it was a dark Snickers. And, maybe there was a Milky Way Midnight in the bag as well. Wait, what's this White Reese's doing here?

Sweet, sweet dreams!

Link to Day 8 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 7 - Arcata, CA to Medford, OR

[Friday, Arcata, CA to Medford, OR] Left our comfortable Comfort Inn room near 9:27a.m. after John had his waffle, cereal, coffee, orange juice, milk and a banana. Linda had Raw Bits Twang Twang.

Don't mean to backpeddle, but we did receive a prompt comment from Kevin Hoover, editor and publisher of the Arcata Eye. We have published his comment on the blog. He was sorry to have missed Linda's visit. And, the two old buzzards wish to retract their statement that the Arcata Eye's credo is "The moderately objectionable weekly newspaper", and are pleased to correct it to "The mildly objectionable weekly newspaper". Be sure to visit this newpaper's website by clicking here.

Out on Hwy 1 can you say "FOGGY"? We capitalize it because it was really foggy. You saw our escapades with the winding, narrow roads before. Call this the same.

We finally went above the clouds when we got near Crescent City. John got one photograph of some clouds, sitting on the ocean below us, but only a short distance out from the coatline. Then you could see the ocean. It's an interesting view. And, John was able to take a picture of Crescent City from the same vantage point.

Didn't know if we'd have enough gas to get to Oregon (where gas is less expensive) so John bought 3.5 gallons in Crescent City before getting back on the trail.

Along the way we went through the Jedediah Smith National Forest. Very pretty. More redwoods. Their information center was closed, but the restrooms were open and they had some nice picnic tables. That spelled lunchtime for the Tarvins.

After lunch and back on the road, the highway kept following and crossing the Middle Fork of the Smith River. Finally, we rushed upon a sign that said "River Access". John went pretty hard on the brakes but assured Linda he had checked in the rearview mirror to make sure it would be safe. We drove down to the river and found one camper at the access point. Got our cameras and strolled down the foot path to the river where we found two ladies sun bathing by the river side. Yes, they were in bathing suits. We took pictures of the river there (not the sun bathers) and the water was just crystal clear. Later we joked that we should have started taking their pictures and yelled "paparazzi".

One odd thing that happened right after we entered Oregon was that we came upon road work so extensive that they had installed stop lights at either end to control the traffic flow. Fortunately, for us, our light turned green pretty shortly after we got to it.

A second thing is that there seem to be Dairy Queens only in Oregon and Washington. Haven't seen one in California. We like to get a "brown derby" which is what their double dipped soft serve cones used to be called 50 years or so ago. This was the first time we had tried one with chocolate soft-serve instead of vanilla on the inside. John decided he prefers vanilla. Linda sees no downside to chocolate covered chocolate.

And, a third thing is that we filled up our gas tank. Gas was $3.33 in Crescent City and $2.78 in Oregon. And, in Oregon they pump it AND clean your windshield. Almost reason enough to move there.

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. Checked into the Quality Inn in Medford around 3:00p.m. It was laundry time and, lucky us, the Quality Inn has a laundry room for guests. It's $0.75 per load and for the dryer, and it's really handy and nice. And, the laundry soap was free (because Linda stole it).

After laundering, we went to the local Black Bear Diner for dinner. John had his usual Black Bear fare, the Hungry Bear Breakfast with Chicken Fried Steak & gravy, eggs, hash browns and biscuits. Linda had grilled salmon and mixed veggies. When John was Googling the restaurant to get the address, he noticed it had about 15 reviews but only averaged two stars. We are very happy to report that the service and food were quite good and that neither one of us saw any rats in the restrooms. But then, neither of us went to the restroom. Why risk spoiling a perfectly nice evening?

Back to the room, work on the travelogue and then a good night's rest. See you tomorrow.

Link to Day 7 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 6 - Arcata, CA

[Thursday, Arcata] The Comfort Inn in Arcata offers a nice complimentary breakfast. Cereal, fruit, malted waffles, bagels, orange juice, coffee, pastries, etc. etc. The waffles you cook yourself and they are very fluffy and tasty. The management puts out the batter in Styrofoam(tm) cups in just the right amount so you don't overflow onto the counter. Linda had Raw Bits Twang Twang.

Although gold prompted Arcata's settlement, it was the area's timber resources which sustained its development. Situated on the hillside overlooking Arcata, Humboldt State University (founded in 1913) is one of the oldest colleges in the California State University system. Arcata is home to the first community owned forest in the United States. They also established the first rural recycling center. And, Arcata is home to the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the US and hosts the country's oldest collegiate summer baseball team (the Humboldt Crabs).

Somewhere around 10:03a.m. we left our digs to go downtown. First project for the day was to take Linda to place a letterbox at, or near, the Arcata Eye, a moderately objectionable weekly newspaper (their motto). Our son discovered it when he was attending Humboldt State and, knowing how kinky his mom is, gave Linda a subscription. One of the more humorous parts of the paper is the local police report (view them online by clicking here.). Being a weekly paper, Linda found their offices closed. Thursday must be a slow news day. Now, Arcata is one of the few towns in America that still has a town square. Arcata's town square is a very nice park. On the corner of the square across the street from the Jacoby building (home to the Arcata Eye) is a memorial plaque about the Jacoby Building (built in the 1850s during the Gold Rush). In the photos for today you will see the plaque and a fancy elevator door if they make the cut. I was able to find a great place to stash the letterbox (whose theme is The Arcata Eye). The Plaza has a large statue of William McKinley which dates back to 1906.

After that, we found the Jiggly Bean Coffee Shop across the street from another corner of the town square. John got his Mocha fix for the day and Linda had a Tea N Tea.

Linda had come across a brochure about Arcata which listed a couple of dozen buildings of architectural significance (to someone). All were pretty old as most were originally designed and built in the 1800s. Some had been resotred. And some of the stories about the owners and occupants were pretty interesting. One building was even a sanitarium. Linda wanted to leave John there. There are several pictures of some of the beautiful, but old, structures in today's gallery.

Jay had tipped us off to a cafe in Arcata (and Eureka) called Los Bagels. Yes, bagels are their specialty. He had made recommendations. Linda had a vegetarian bagel with hummus on a jalapeno bagel. John had an onion bagel with cream cheese, salmon and capers. Both were delicious. Jay had also asked us to pick up some special sauce from there.... Larrupin' Mustard Dill sauce. He'll be happy to know that two jars of said sauce will be in Morgan Hill awaiting his next visit. Unless, of course, we run out of the jar we bought for ourselves. Then all bets are off!

We went back to the comfort of our Comfort Inn and rested a couple of hours before heading for Trinidad Beach, about 11 miles north of Arcata at the little town of Trinidad. We heard that the ocean view there was very nice for photographers. We were also considering the possibility of dinner in Trinidad.

Arriving in Trinidad about 5:00p.m. we found lots of fog. It actually made for some interesting shots at the coast, even before sunset. There was a bright horizontal band of light between the ocean and the fog (low clouds). We drove around and decided that the beach close to the wharf (and a seafood restaurant) was very picturesque for our needs. Since we had loads of time before sunset, we thought we'd check out the menu at the seafood restaurant. John had sticker shock. Average price for a seafood entre was about $25.00. We both agreed that we could go back to our motel after shooting the sunset and make sandwiches. We'd save the $60-$70 (including drinks and tip) to spend on an extra day on our next road trip!

Photographing at that beach was nice, though it was a bit windy and cold. A couple of surfers showed up and John took some shots of them, though they didn't get up on, or stay up on, their boards for very long. Can you say splash? Just about the time the sun was going down, John was clicking away with HDR shots. And, along came what must have been the sun worshippers. One was standing on the beach (but not in John's line of fire, so to speak) waving her palm frond and chanting her mantra. Another strolled out to the edge of the water (in John's line of fire). He tried a couple of shots with her in it, and then repositioned the camera to exclude her. He hasn't processed those pictures yet, so we don't know how they will be. When they are done, we'll put them in a photo gallery if they are worthy.

Once the sun had gone down, it was back to the Comfort Inn and our sandwich dinner. Tomorrow will be a rather "ho hum" day (unless we drive off a cliff) getting to Medford, OR where we will do laundry and have dinner at the Black Bear restaurant (yep, they have one here!!).

That's all for now. Lights out!

Link to Day 6 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 5 - Ft. Bragg to Arcata

[Wednesday, Ft. Bragg, CA] Time to get up and move on to Arcata! Alarm goes off at 6:30a.m. John was going to cook eggs to have with the leftover Linguica. Not wanting to have to wash more dishes, he opted for nuking the Linguica in the nice, big microwave (Whirlpool) and having it with a piece of toast and some coffee. Linda had her usual...Raw Bits, Twang, Twang.

Just a small correction to the photo gallery from yesterday. Houston, we had a communications problem. Some of the flower photos got labeled with the wrong name. For those who care, where it says azaleas it should say dahlias.

Somewhere around 7:47a.m., we hit the road. But, not before Linda took a photo of the cute doggie curtains in our doggie cottage. First stop, shoot a picture of the Botanical Gardens sign. Second stop, get gas (Oh, yes, only $2.89 per gallon!). Third stop, local espresso stand. The third stop was a disappointment. six cars lined up. Not moving very much. After an impatient five minute wait of just sitting there, John (Type A) pulled out of line and we headed for the Starbucks drive through which was on our way out of town. That didn't take very long at all. Linda (Type B) was daintily sipping her large cup of mocha (coffee plus choco milk mix) from the large pot of complimentary (my, you're looking especially fetching today) she had brewed in the room before leaving.

As we were driving north on Hwy 1, the ocean was, naturally, on our left. And, so were the pull offs and "vista points". The road was pretty winding at this point, but fearless John continually crossed the oncoming lane to get to the views. There are some nice shots of the coast in today's photo gallery. The view of the coast through the Pampas grass was taken at a place with a very picturesque name, "Blue Slide Gulch". The last 22 miles on Hwy 1 before you reach Hwy 101 is very, very winding and very hilly. John even included a shot of our GPS that shows just how winding the road is.

Aside from our goal of reaching Arcata, we had two objectives in mind. First, find the Humboldt Redwood State Park visitor center to see the Charles Kellog "Travel Log". Second, to visit the show room of the C. Crane Company in Fortuna, CA.

Oh, by the way, when Hwy 1 hits Hwy 101, Hwy 101 is also a two lane highway. We stayed on Hwy 101 until we reached the turn off for the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 32 mile road that parallels Hwy 101 and takes you through small communities and through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The first little burg was Phillipsville. The Avenue of the Giants mostly runs along the Eel River. There were beautiful groves of huge redwoods and lots of woodland plants, especially ferns. Some nice pictures in today's photo gallery. The visitor center we were looking for was at the north end of the park. John went in and asked where we could find "Chuck's RV", meaning Charles Kellogg's "Travel Log". The poor park employee's face sort of glazed over. Then John explained. She said, "I've never heard it called that before." John said, "You've never met me before!"

Charles Kellogg actually lived a lot of his life in Morgan Hill. Kellogg would tour with his Vaudeville bird singing show (this was around the 1920s, long before American Idol) for 3 or 4 months and spend the rest of the year in good ole Morgan Hill. He sold World War 1 Liberty Bonds until peacetime and after that he promoted the preservation of the great groves of California redwoods. He was a friend of John Muir and other naturalists. Kim Moreno, who grew up in Morgan Hill is working on a musical about Kellogg. It's named after the unique home he built in Morgan Hill, something along the lines of Ever Ever After. You can hear Charles's bird calls and learn more about him by visiting this link.. His bird songs were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company. You can also go to this link for a description of the world's oldest RV, the "travel log" and Charles Kellogg's unique talents.

After leaving the park, we headed north toward Arcata. Fortuna was our next stop and it's right on Hwy 101. We got there shortly before 12:56p.m. and stopped at the Redwood Cafe for lunch. Linda had a Fiesta (not fiesty) Chicken salad and John had the Chef's salad. Both were very good.

Following lunch, we made our way to the C. Crane Company (CCC from now on) showroom. CCC sells what could be described as high-tech applicances. Things like radios, flashlight (LED, of course), LED Lamps and light bulbs, and a world of other cool stuff. Many years ago John bought their CCRadio+ and it has performed very well. He even bought the solar power panel that will run the radio. You can learn more about them by clicking here. John had been waiting for this trip to see if a couple of gift ideas he had for Linda's birthday (back in September) would be to her liking. They were. One thing we found was that the staff there really knows their products and was able to demonstrate them very effectively.

Purchases made, we got back on the road and made it to the Comfort Inn in Arcata just before 3:11p.m. Checked in and found a very nice room with excellent WiFi. Don't know if the TV works. We don't turn TV's on when we're on a road trip. Nor to we listen to the car radio.

Since we had a nice big lunch, we decided to go by Ray's Market and get some seedless red grapes to have with our smoked provolone and asiago cheese, peanut butter and crackers. The grapes were $2.92/lb. but they are soooo sweet.

Tomorrow we look for a place for Linda to put a letterbox. We may, or may not, do a sunset shot tomorrow. The good news is, if we do, we know better what time we need to get there! Good night for now. Sweet dreams from Arcata, CA.

Link to Day 5 Photo Gallery The gallery will open in its own window. When finished viewing, close that window to return here.