Home again

We met our friends Linda and Martin in Norco, CA on Monday and had a fine brunch at Polly’s Pies (yum) while recounting both of our journeys. They’d been on a different road trip to watch the eclipse from Rigby, Idaho.  We always enjoy them and we stayed longer than we planned because we were having too much fun talking.  🙂  I don’t think we hit the road till 2 PM or maybe later.  Saw lots of windmills along the way and hit 114 degrees on the outside of the car!

After a not-too-long drive, we spent the night in Phoenix but it was late and we didn’t have time to do anything fun or look around. We’ve been there once before but not for long that time either.  Sorry, Phoenix, I’m sure you’re lovely.

The next day we drove back to Texas, stopping at a rest stop in New Mexico that included a monument to the Jefferson Davis Highway, put up by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1955.  Honestly, it threw me!  Why was it there?  Rich and I had a big discussion about whether NM was involved in the Civil War at all, which led to some research online from the car.  Interestingly, NM was still a territory but both the Union and the Confederacy tried to claim it for their side.  A part of NM seceded but most remained with the Union; however, there were actually some skirmishes and battles in the territory. I had no idea (or I’ve forgotten if I learned it long ago).  Then I had to try to find out about the Jefferson Davis Highway, which led me to some information about the historical “auto trails” from the early part of the 20th century.  All very interesting.  Apparently in the early days of the automobile, different individuals and organizations would name portions of roadways to allow the first motorists to find their way more easily. The most famous of these is the Lincoln Highway but the Daughters of the Confederacy attempted to create a transnational roadway named after Jefferson Davis.  It sounds like it never really got completed and was a bit confusing because there were various branches in different states. When the federal government decided to create a public highway system, there was some conflict between the two organizations and the highway department really did not acknowledge the Davis Highway.  Still, the Daughters of the Confederacy put up markers in a variety of places throughout the US.  Also interestingly, the monument at the rest stop was placed in 1955, during the time that these sorts of statues and commemorations were put up to intimidate people of color.  So I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook which led to several comments on both sides about taking it down or “destroying history.”  Thankfully no one was ugly but I really can’t imagine how anyone thinks that there’s a good reason to keep these up.

Later, we stopped outside El Paso for a fine Mexican buffet dinner where the staff were super friendly and quite surprised that we were working our way home to Dallas. It was almost as if no one from out of town ever stopped at their place. 🙂  We decided to keep going to Van Horn for the night so we’d be a little closer to home the next day; after crossing two time zones, it was later in Van Horn than it felt to us but we were still pretty tired.

This morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then hit the road.  Once we hit Interstate 20, I was totally at home and knew all the little stops along the way, having traveled to Pecos and Monahans for a job, lived in Odessa many years ago, consulted in Colorado City, had friends from Big Spring, lived for a long time in Abilene.  In fact, when we got to Abilene, I almost felt like that should be the end of the road but we still had three hours to go.  We didn’t even stop to see our kids in Clyde, since we thought Susan and Corey would be at work and the grands at school. We just kinda slipped on by. Then Susan texted me, “Did you drive through Abilene today?”  We were about an hour out of town when she messaged.  Oops, busted!  Come to find out she was off work.  I felt bad but she did not seem to be annoyed about it.  I had messaged all the girls last night and told them we were going on to Dallas today so I feel like she could have said something about it then if she’d wanted to visit, right??!!  Anyway, we didn’t have much time to stop and were kinda anxious to get home.  It’s all good and we will visit them soon!

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Hello, Dallas! We didn’t hit a lot of traffic, thankfully, though we had a few slow downs. Got home a little after 6 and the kitties seemed happy to see us.  The plants are looking pretty good, thanks to our cat sitter.  We unloaded the car, went through the mail, and I have a load of laundry going. Now we are just chillin’ and will get some more work done tomorrow.  Glad to be home but it was an awesome road trip.  So glad we did it!

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Going to Cali

We left Oregon a couple of mornings ago.  A friend texted that she was also in the area and maybe we could meet for lunch in Bend, OR.  She used to live in Homer, AK and we were part of the AK Obama delegation to the national convention in 2008.  We have kept in touch though we have not seen each other since that time; now she is living in Portland but happened to be in the vicinity for the eclipse.  We made arrangements to meet at a coffeeshop in Bend, though I told her we had a long day of driving ahead of us and couldn’t stay for long.  Unfortunately she kept running into traffic delays so Rich and I got to the coffeeshop, waited a bit, ordered our food, ate our food, and waited some more and she was still not there.  I felt bad about it but finally texted her and said we had to move on.  She was understanding but I wish we had been able to connect.  😦

There was a LOT of smoke in Oregon, still quite a few fires burning.  I hope no lives were lost and no major property damage happened.

 

We drove 11 hours that day, which is a huge amount for us old folks who are pretty lazy when it comes to long trips!  But we wanted to make it to Sacramento to spend the night. As we crossed the border into California, all cars were directed to a check point to inspect for fruits and veggies.  Oops.  I wasn’t aware and Rich had forgotten that you can’t bring certain foods into California.  The ag inspector asked us if we had anything and we said yes, we had some cherries in the cooler.  Rich got out to open the cooler in the back seat and realized there were also three lemons sitting right on top.  The inspector confiscated all of it and threw it in the trash. He did thank us for being honest, though, so there’s that.  🙂

 

In Old Sacramento, we stayed over at the Delta King, an old riverboat that’s been made into a hotel.  It was pretty cool and we enjoyed our quiet night there, though we got in pretty late.  The next morning, we had a lovely complimentary breakfast in the restaurant and then made our way down the highway to Rich’s cousin Mary Ethel and her husband Roger’s place in El Dorado Hills. Rich’s sister Vesta had also driven up to meet us there,  and we met ME and Roger’s granddaughter Megan who has been living with them for the past two years attending community college.  It was great to see Mary Ethel and Roger, who are among our favorite people, so genuine and friendly and funny and welcoming.  Megan was delightful, seemingly not minding hanging out with the old folks.  And it was good to catch up with Vesta, of course.

 

The next morning, Mary Ethel and Roger went with Megan to move her into her apartment/dorm at Sacramento State, where she will finish her degree.  Her mom Lisa also came over and Rich had a good time reminiscing with her.  I had never met her but totally enjoyed her as well.  While they all went to Sacramento, Rich, Vesta and I stayed at the house, did some laundry, cleaned up, read, and talked.  Later Mary Ethel, Roger and Lisa returned and we all went out to dinner, talking, telling jokes and laughing some more.  All in all, such a fun visit!  We really do love these people.  🙂

 

Yesterday we drove to Sonora to see Rich’s stepdaughter Hannah who is attending community college there.  We took her to lunch and then to the grocery store to stock up on food for her apartment. We had not seen Hannah in a few years and were happy to have a little bit of time with her.  From there, we drove on to Kingsburg to spend the night with Rich’s sister Vesta, who had dinner cooked for us and we enjoyed another nice night of visiting.

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This morning we drove to Canoga Park, outside LA, to meet Rich’s nephew Jeffrey for lunch.  He’s another one we haven’t seen in awhile so it was really good to have some time with him.  Originally we decided to make a reservation for dinner at a place in LA called Osteria Motto, but to kill some time, we drove through a bit of Hollywood to the huge LA farmer’s market.  Yes, this is us: drive through Hollywood but only go to the farmer’s market.  🙂 It was pretty cool and we wandered around for awhile.  Eventually Rich said he wasn’t really up for dinner after all (we were still full from lunch and had to make a 5:15 reservation for dinner because the only other available times were 9:15 or 9:30).  So we had some flan for dessert at the farmer’s market, picked up some fruit for later, and cancelled our reservation.  Maybe another time, Osteria Motto.

 

We are meeting some friends for lunch tomorrow near I-10, which will be our route home.  Tonight we are spending the night at a hotel nearby so we don’t have to drive far to see them tomorrow.  We’re still not hungry so we brought in our fruit and snacks from the car and Rich made us a margarita. We are chillin’ in the room, lamenting the fact that the hotel does not have HBO so we can’t watch Game of Thrones. 🙂

Tomorrow after lunch with our friends, we will start our trek home.  It’s been such a great trip–we have completely enjoyed every bit of it.  Meanwhile we’ve been watching the news about Hurricane Harvey in Texas. It sounds like it is really bad at the coast.  Thankfully none of our family live close enough to be affected, but we are thinking about those who are suffering through it.  I hope everyone is safe, though I know there are going to be some tragedies and that breaks my heart.

Detroit Lake, OR, and The Total Eclipse of the Sun

We got up early to hit the road out of Idaho. We’d been watching for weeks and then days and then hours about all of the expected traffic delays, lack of services, and warnings about emergencies as tons of people descended upon Oregon for the eclipse.

Rich kept saying he had a feeling it was going to be like all of the Y2K hype when everyone was on high alert for all sorts of problems that never materialized.  Well, at least from our standpoint, he was right.  We had minimal traffic along the way.  I think we had one slow down at a bridge where there was construction and we all had to merge into one lane, but that would have happened regardless.  Here are a couple of pix I took on our route.

 

See, no worries!

Rich’s nephew and girlfriend live in Portland and we originally planned to stop over for the night but found out that they were going to somewhere near Salem for the eclipse and wouldn’t be home anyway.  Plus, by this time, all of the hotels and VRBOs and campsites were sold out or had exorbitant prices due to the big event.  Rich talked with his nephew and we were going to try to meet near Salem on the way but then we were worried about traffic (before the fact) so decided that they might be willing to drive to Detroit and meet us.  Anyway, after much back and forth and changing of plans, we never did get to see them.  Another time!

We had a pleasant drive to Detroit, including many miles of very narrow one lane roads through the forest which scared me a few times when cars came barreling around the corner from the opposite direction. Wowie, you’d think people would be more cautious or maybe it’s just me!

It was mid afternoon when we arrived at our rental house and our friends were out in the yard waiting for us and waving us in.  They’d all been here since Friday, again concerned about the traffic and other issues that never materialized.  We met Judy & Dennis and Linda & Ed on our big Australian cruise a few years ago, which also included a total eclipse seen from onboard ship–quite an experience. We’ve stayed in touch with several people from that cruise and actually ended up on a cruise to Italy with Dennis and Judy a few years ago (quite coincidentally) so we got reacquainted a bit then.  Linda and Ed met us once when we were in Seattle and we spent the day together, so we felt pretty comfortable signing on to rent this house together when it came up.  Judy and Dennis live in CA and Linda and Ed in WA and they are all of the liberal persuasion, which makes talking politics a whole lot easier!  🙂

The first night we enjoyed sitting outside and catching up, had a cookout, and chatted the night away.  Monday was the big eclipse which we were fortunate to be able to view from our own backyard.  Many people have seen a partial eclipse of the sun but as Rich keeps saying, the difference between a partial eclipse and a total eclipse is “night and day.”  It’s really quite amazing to see the sun totally blotted out by the moon, with a huge ring of sunlight shining behind it.  If you ever have a chance to see one, don’t miss it.  In fact, the next total eclipse in the US will take place on April 8, 2024 and Dallas is right in the path of totality.   Party at our house!

 

In the last couple of days, we’ve taken several walks around this tiny little town, visited two marinas and a state park nearby, and Rich cooked dinner last night (fresh halibut with risotto, asparagus and tomatoes) followed by bananas foster for dessert. We were all stuffed.  Mostly we’ve just enjoyed the downtime and the company.  Thankfully we have all had a lot of fun and there haven’t been any issues sharing a house with two other couples we didn’t know ALL that well.  We’ve had lots of great conversations and it’s nice to be with people who are not superficial and can intelligently discuss many topics.  Here’s to friends!

Tomorrow morning we leave for California.

 

More time with friends

Rich and Paul went grocery shopping while I stayed home and visited with Grace.  She has had a very interesting life and it was good to chat with her. Then we all went to lunch in downtown Coeur d’Alene at a place called Rustic, which another friend had recommended.  It was great and I had a big piece of NY style pizza, yum!

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Later Paul, Rich and I drove over to Silver Mountain Resort where Rich’s former cook Chris works.  He nicely comped us some tickets to the BrewsFest that was going on at the top of the mountain. We took “the country’s longest gondola ride”–close to 20 minutes (!!) to the peak and joined in the festivities.  I am not a beer drinker at all but I was happy to try ONE and carry it around.  Actually, I dumped most of that one out and tried a different one, which I think Rich finished off for me.  Anyhooooo, we got to visit with Chris, which was really why we went in the first place. He seems to be doing great, running several aspects of the resort, and it was good to catch up with him.

That night we just snacked for dinner, chatted and packed up for traveling on the next day.  It was a nice visit all around and I’m glad we got to stop in.

Next up, on to Oregon and the total eclipse of the sun!

 

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

This morning we had a relatively short drive to Coeur d’Alene.  There must be some wildfires burning in Montana, though, because it was smoky and hazy a large part of the trip, so much so that my eyes were burning even sitting in the car.  Hopefully the fires are under control and not causing any major damage.  We saw a couple of staging points for firefighters and their equipment over the past two days, and signs outside some homes thanking the firefighters.  It must be scary to live in a place where you know that your home is in danger of burning to the ground.

We stopped once to get gas and use the bathroom, and it just so happened there was a small casino attached to the store so we took that opportunity to lose $20 at video poker.  🙂

Around 12:30 we pulled up at our friend’s home in Coeur d’Alene.  Rich’s former boss, Laurie, owns the place but she is still in AK and her mom lives in the house.  Along with her mom, Rich’s former cook Paul is staying in the basement apartment and helping out.  I had not met Laurie’s mom before but she is very sweet and welcoming.  It was good to see Paul, who has a heart of gold and is one of the most thoughtful people you’ll meet.  He had some food laid out for us for lunch, which was really nice after the drive. We sat around and chatted most of the afternoon, reminiscing about our days in Unalaska and catching up on news.  I took a little nap after I felt the days of travel getting the best of me.  Later we all went out to eat at a great Greek restaurant, where we had way too much food AND the obligatory desserts of rice pudding and baklava even though we were stuffed.

I’m doing laundry while everyone else is snoozing; guess that nap did me good!  We are staying over again tomorrow; need to do some grocery shopping to take to our rental house in Oregon and we’re going to have lunch at a spot recommended by a friend.  Later tomorrow we will see Chris, another former cook of Rich’s who is now a chef nearby.  He’s running a beer festival and offered to get us tickets so we will go to that for a little while and hopefully get to visit with him if he’s not too busy.

 

Going to the Sun Road

We got up early this morning and drove to Glacier National Park. Although this was by far our shortest day of driving, we were both worn out by the end!  Maybe our road trip is catching up with us.  We had a lot of slow driving today,  little country roads under fire alerts and reduced speeds, some construction, and a good bit of traffic.  Eventually we made it to the park and set out to drive the Going to the Sun Road, something Rich has wanted to do for a long time.

The road spans 50 miles and crosses the Continental Divide, all the while winding around the mountains in a tight space with a ravine on one side and a huge jagged rock wall on the other.  It’s pretty spectacular!  To add to the fun today, there’s work being done on the road so we had a couple of instances of waiting in line to drive on a single lane.  All in all, we had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  We took a ton of photos with two cameras and our phones but haven’t had a chance to download and edit them, so here are a few from my phone for now.

 

When we finished at the park, we stopped in Hungry Horse, MT for dinner at a place called the Huckleberry Patch, topped off with huckleberry pie and vanilla ice cream.  Yum.  We learned that huckleberries still grow wild and there is basically no such thing as a huckleberry farm.  Who knew?!

 

We are spending the night in Kalispell, MT and will head for Coeur d Alene, ID tomorrow to meet up with some friends we knew in Alaska.