Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park

I spent the first peaceful night on the road at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant just west of Phoenix.  At 7 AM a nice policeman knocked on the RV window and told me that I had to move.  
When I informed him that this restaurant was okay with overnight campers, the policeman informed me that I still could not sleep there as the town had an ordinance against it.  Wow! Rousted!  
When I answered, "Yes, Sir, I'll be out of here in ten minutes."  He followed that up with the question I hear all the time, "Why didn't you stay in the Best Western across the street?  You would be so much more comfortable there."
It is a rare person that understands that my little abode is more comfortable by far than a hotel room.  I have my clothes, books, computer, food, music, cat, and,  if the neighbors get noisy or stuffy city rules insist, I can just start the engine and move on down the road.

So I moved on down the road to Joshua Tree... 

...a National Park that I have circled on one road or another many times over the last 30 years without actually venturing inside.

It is all desert with great vistas...

...and lots of cacti.

This is not a Joshua Tree but an agave plant.

This is not an agave plant, but it is a Joshua Tree.

And this was my campsite.  I love my Golden Agers Pass that got me a 1/2 price fee of $7.50.  

It was blissfully quiet and I had no worry of being asked to 'move along'.

Sigh Me was even happy to be traveling again.

It is hard to imagine the existence of large bodies of water anywhere in this parched landscape, but exist they did.   


Here in the Pinto Basin evidence of old shorelines lends proof to a cooler, wetter period when a shallow river coursed the basin.

The river attracted life, which explains the fossil bones of extinct camel, horse, llama, sheep, tortoise and rabbit found here.  It also explains the discovery of a distinct human culture that camped along the riverbanks.


Between 1931 and 1935, self-taught archeologists Elizabeth and William Campbell searched up and down this valley.  They followed the ancient riverbank for miles, discovering many small campsites and collecting stone tools, leaf-shaped points, scrapers and choppers.  When the artifacts were radiocarbon tested years later, they registered more than 9,000 years old and confirmed the existence of a vanished people--the Pinto Culture. The Campbell's collection is preserved today by the Park Service in Joshua Tree National Park.

Ocotillo plant that produces green leaves when it rains.  

These nice rocks are called Gneiss (pronounced Nice).


And up on the side of that mountain is a mine that produced gold, silver and copper over 40 years. (I cannot imagine living and working in this high desert for 40 years--no matter how much gold I might find)

I do marvel at the perseverance of life, no matter how harsh the environment, as evidenced by the small bushes growing on the face of this rock.

So on to Santa Barbara where son, Ron, will marry Loretta in just a few days.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hello, again....

"My name is Toni, and I'm an addict!"
I am not kidding.  Traveling is the most soul satisfying, inspirational, mind-opening addiction I can attest to.   Even the hot, noisy, bumper-to-bumper, exhaust-smelling gridlock as I crawled through Phoenix yesterday afternoon did not dampen the absolute thrill I felt to be back on the road.  Could be that what I was leaving behind had something to do with my feeling of euphoria.
Returning to my house after 4 months in steamy hot Texas was not the pleasure it should have been, although getting a chance to spend some time with good friends helped a lot.
Leaving the house in the care of the real estate company may not have been the best idea.  Upon departing the house in June I turned off the water to the toilets and emptied the tanks.  Surely, no one would use toilets that were devoid of water--wrong!
 I also emptied the refrigerator, filled it with crumpled newspapers and baking soda, left the door slightly ajar, and turned the motor off.  It was probably some thoughtful looky-lou who closed the door.  It took two weeks of daily scrubbing to finally rid the fridge of the mold and smell.
And finally, I returned to find the yard overgrown to the point of 'jungle'--isn't this the desert?  An unusual amount of rain during the summer made the cacti and mosquitoes multiply to biblical proportions.  For the last three weeks, when I wasn't cleaning the fridge, or scrubbing a toilet, I was taking a break and pulling weeds.
So, today, I am sitting in my little Halcyon II, in a Cracker Barrel parking lot,  at 5 am, having a cup of coffee, and luxuriating at the sense of freedom this whole silly lifestyle gives me.  In a few minutes I will dress, start the engine, and head west to Santa Barbara for Ron and Loretta's wedding.  I expect it to take about 4 days for me to drive the 600 miles--there is a lot to see along the way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Want to buy a Pez Collection?

When do collections become obsessions?  Once we start collecting--stamps, coins, salt shakers, refrigerator magnets--how do we stop?  When is it 'enough already'?
How terrific when family and friends catch on to that obsession--they help to add to it.  It is so convenient not to have to think about a birthday or christmas gift; just look for another teddy bear, or a rare political button.  How about a baseball card? Special baseball cap? Clocks?  Old 78 albums? Rare books? I even know someone who collects cat whiskers! (Don't ask.)

Aunt Louise has many collections but her most extensive must be dolls....

Those boxes all contain dolls, hundreds of dolls.

Some are just darling...

But some are very creepy!

I now have a yardstick for measuring when it is time to stop collecting...

If most of the collection is stored away in the attic because there is no more room;

or if it is beyond the point of being able to dust, 

or even to see.

If it gives you pause...

Or just plain nightmares...It's time for a garage sale!

So I have begun to question my own habits.  Do I really need all those political buttons?  They have always been stashed away in a box and never displayed anywhere.  So what is the point?  I have an extensive 'tin can' collection and I use the colorful printed cans to store food.  (I like the look in my cupboard) However, do I need so many?  

When my last kid escaped the nest, he left behind a couple of those little candy Pez's.  Did I throw them away?  No!  I proceeded to search out more, until today, stashed away in a box somewhere, are many dozens of those cute candy dispensers.  And the candy is terrible!  It tastes like chalk!
Anybody looking for a Pez Collection?  Just call me, I'll make you a deal.

A Family update....

     On October 1st I said a tearful 'Goodbye' to Aunt Louise, her friends...

and neighbors....

and headed back to Tucson.  I will only be home a few weeks before heading to California for Ron and Loretta's wedding.

Mary, Jim and Hawaii update:The lava flow is still advancing, very slowly, toward the town of Pahoa.  Jim is back on the Island but Mary is in Italy for the pottery class she missed out on a year ago when she fell off the ladder and broke her knee.  The stress of watching the lava inch slowly toward her community was definitely taking a toll on Mary's nerves so this respite in Italy was good therapy for her.  She will be back home in a few weeks when they will have to decide what to do about their home and belongings.  The blog, Hattie's Web, is still providing the best information on what is happening on the Island.

Sigh Me:  She is fine, but disoriented in so much space.  If she loses sight of me, she will yowl until I answer.  She is looking older and still has not gained back the weight she lost when she was so sick.  So I hug her more often and appreciate that I still have her around even if the yowling gets annoying at times.

Finally, I took the house off the market and will wait a while before deciding to try and sell it again.  That means I will not be traveling as much as I would like but I have a lot of things to catch up on--starting with a garage sale.  Now, where is that Pez collection?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sisters--Part One

It was a year ago this month that Aunt Louise and I flew to Hawaii to visit sister, Mary, and brother-in-law, Jim.  Their home in  Hawaiian Paradise Park just a short way from the town of Pahoa on the big island is not (at present) in the line of the lava flow.

However, that could easily change, as the flow is going to keep coming until it reaches the ocean and their house is along a possible trajectory.  

The nearby town of Pahoa is almost 100% assured to be destroyed, along with many homes, plus the only road into or out of this area.  The flow could continue for years (!) and the fumes from the lava are noxious and potentially deadly.  

Their yard sits above a long abandoned lava tube so they have always been aware that their little piece of this paradise was tenuous at best.

They have rented a container to store their belongings and will be leaving this lovely home that Jim built.  However, they don't know where they will go, or for how long.

They are stowing away their keepsakes, her new kiln, all her pottery supplies, Jim's tools, his coffee-growing hobby,  and all the while trying to stay optimistic. It is a nerve-wracking vigil to be watching the lava move slowly, by inches, ever closer, destroying everything in its path.

There are a number of good websites that are following the lava flow.  The easiest way to find info is to go into Google and type in "Hawaii lava flow".  There are dozens of government and media sites that show maps and give daily progress.  My favorite site is "Hattie's Web" and the link is on this page on the right. She lives in Hilo and is a very good friend of Mary and Jim. She is keeping close tabs on them and has a remarkable vantage point from the balcony of her house as well.

I have done two postings at once so please read the next one as well....

Sisters--Part Two

Sister, Jo, left yesterday after a whirlwind 3 weeks in Ft. Worth.  Fires keep raging in Northern Calif. but it is nice not to be worrying about her living up in those mountains.  A year ago she sold her aerie of an isolated home, that was surrounded by the most volatile forest of crispy dry firewood, and moved down into Redding to live next door to her sister, Caroline. 
Her visit with Aunt Louise provided a break in the otherwise intense pressure being felt by the 93-year -old who was trying to adjust to a new abode and a new lifestyle.

During Jo's stay we paid a visit to my favorite grocery store in Ft Worth--Central Market.

Friday and Saturday nights they have bands playing outside in their patio, and families sit around eating and occasionally dancing.  It is a relaxing and very pleasant way to end a day.

 I love all these goofy pumpkins, squash and gourds that come out at this time of the year.

We do like to frequent restaurants that offer the added benefit of relaxation--such as Cracker Barrel.  

Here at Aunt Louise's house, where I have been parked and living in my RV for these last four months, the internet reception comes only in small spurts.  I have typed endless tidbits of relevant news only to discover I cannot return to the web to save it.  So today I am trying again and as soon as I complete this posting I will dash the 7 miles into Aledo to the library and use their WiFi to post. 

BTW, this road runner  has become a good friend.  I can get within a few yards now before he goes "Beep Beep", stretches out in a near straight line and dashes off into the brush with his legs moving so fast you can barely see them.  

Jo got a chance to re-unite with cousin, Jerry, and meet his family.  Jo and Jerry were pre-teen pals and it has been about 55 years since they've seen each other.  

Jerry's wife, Kathy; daughter, Chelsea; and son-in-law, Blake, got to hear all the goofy "Remember When" stories over our Mexican lunch.

Sigh Me prefers to be left alone, and thinks there is too much sun in Texas.

But I think there is too much humidity....

These were my morning pills & supplements.  I have never seen them do this before.  I have also discovered that towels do not dry and laundry has to be done every 4 days to keep the mildew from happening.  Ugh!  

Yesterday, I drove Jo, in her cute little sleeveless sundress, to the airport and said, "farewell".  It was an hour later that I discovered she had left her jacket behind and I feared she would get cold on the plane but it was too late to get the jacket to her.  When she arrived home she called me and I asked her if she got cold.  "Nope," was her reply.  And in pure 'Jo-fashion' she explained that when she dressed that morning, in the last minute, she stuffed her housecoat into her carry-on bag.  She simply donned it over her sundress and proudly wore it all the way home.  All she was missing were a few curlers in her hair and a little cold cream on her nose.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It is called 'Survival of the Fittest'

Aunt Louise and I went to lunch yesterday and parked right next to this 'relic'.

I was particularly captivated by the handicapped placard in the window (did that apply to the driver or the car?) and the....

decoration on the front grill.

We never had a chance to see this wonder car in action, and I was skeptical that it had even arrived under its own capacity.  But, lo and behold, it was mysteriously gone when we returned after lunch.

You know you are in Texas by the decorations on the restaurant walls, and the...

inevitable 'Roadkill Menu' on display.

Now for a 'Mary update':  Her electricity is back on after almost two weeks.  Life got a little hairy in paradise but it is somewhat back to normal now.  It seems the occasional resident became aggressive when ice was distributed and there was not enough to go around to everyone.  Imagine, if you will, what the 'Open Carry' law might produce in such a circumstance.  I remember the Cuban-missile crisis when every grocery store in Houston ran out of bread and water, the gasoline lines in the late 70's, the search for batteries and tape during a hurricane watch in New Orleans.  There were many fights as people jockeyed for a place in line for some essential or another.  I guess we all lose patience when we feel that need to survive,  no matter how civilized we think we have become.
Mary continues to communicate through a variety of friends, tom-toms and smoke signals as her phones (landline and cell) and computer are still out.
Her kitchen flooring survived the thawed out and melted assortment of fruits, vegetables and meat drippings from the freezer, but her closet did not fare so well from the cat drippings.  Her cat found refuge in the closet for more than just a place to sleep,  plus he was unable to get outside for several days.  It seems the house-sitter forgot such a small thing as a litter box.  So Mary has had to wash all the clothes--several times--discard shoes and clothes that would not lose that wonderful aroma, and finally, tear up the floor boards to scrub the underfloor.  Hmm, Looks like Jim is not going to escape entirely from this event and will have some work to do when he returns from his Colorado hunting trip.

Aunt Louise update:  She continues to adjust to her new 'digs',  meeting new friends and deciding it is 'Okay' to downsize.
She has officially put the river-front property in Glen Rose up for sale and there have been two calls on it so that looks promising.
She has also agreed to allow her two storage units full of collectibles to be put into an estate sale in September.  So, slowly, she is finding the courage to 'let go' of things that have been an integral part of her life for the last 50 years.

My sister, Jo, is arriving this Saturday from Redding, Ca and will be here for three weeks.  Needless to say,  I am looking forward to spending some time with her.

The weather has been hot and mostly dry with an occasional, insufferably hot and muggy,  day.  The chiggers have left me alone for almost a week now, I haven't seen a snake or a scorpion in that same length of time.  I no longer crave barbecue or chicken fried steak  and still love sleeping in the RV at night--all curled up with Sigh Me.  I'm planning to head back to Tucson on October 1st.