Friday, February 28, 2014

Road Traveling 101

We're going. Come hell or high water ... and high water is more likely than hell, according to the weather forecast.  Being the non-future-tripper that I am, I won't bore you with all the Plan A, Plan B, Plan C's we have in mind.  We make plans, but we never plan the outcome. Ever.  Since we've been married, traveling has been the hugest joy in my life. I've written quite a few posts of the great adventures we've been on. This trip is going to be just another journey.

How do you pack for that, you ask.

Well, in the twelve years of traveling like this, I've learned a few tricks that have helped me keep from going over the deep endl. I (we) still experience a minute or two of downright bitchiness a few hours before departure but we've learned that this is part of our process, and we've learned to trust the process. Once we get in the car and snap in the seat belts, all is forgiven. Prior to that, it is a little chaotic but here are the tips I have to pass on if you are prone to pre-travel jitters.

  • STAGING AREA:  Make a central spot in your house where everything goes that's going with you. Nothing goes there except the items that are going on your trip.  As you think of stuff you wanna take, just put it there. Don't give it another thought until it's time to reel it all in and figure out how you're gonna load it in the car.
  • ODD STUFF: Try to remember the stuff you always forget and put it there first.  For us, it's binoculars. This may be the first trip ever where we have remembered them. We may never get them out once to use them, but we'll have them.
  • JAVA EQUIPMENT:  Take a coffee pot, a thermos and cups. This has saved us a little money and really just is a necessity for big coffee drinkers like us. We enjoy a cuppa joe in the comfort of our motel room while heating up the thermos for another pot to go in.  If you don't heat up your thermos before you put the coffee in, you should try it. Your coffee will stay steaming hot for at least 500 miles.  
  • LEGAL DOCS: Put your passports there too. You never know when you might be close the border and wouldn't you just hate to miss out on fish tacos or french fries with gravy, depending on which border you end up at?
  • CLOTHES:  Roll your clothes up when you pack them. They won't wrinkle and you can get more in. This trip, I'm taking the backpack I bought for Mexico City. Much easier in and out of the car than a suitcase. If you forget something or hate what you have in your bag, you can always buy something new. 
  • MEDICATION: This should really be at the top of the list. Over the years, we've discovered we can buy anything we need on the road but medications not so much. 
  • SUNGLASSES: I hope to always be going someplace sunny. I have the ones that turn dark but hubby has a separate pair and for him they are only second in importance to medications.
  • FAVORITE PILLOW: We always take my hubby's pillow cuz he sleeps better with it. I can sleep anywhere, on anything and make my coat into a pillow.
  • CASHOLA:  Try to hit the bank early in the week before your vaca. Saves time.
  • SNACKS: We try to take healthy snacks so we're not tempted to stop and buy chocolate and chips. Sometimes we fail, but we try. Bananas, apples, granola, pudding packs, etc. Don't forget spoons/forks and a knife for whatever reason.
  • GAS UP: Do this the night before. We are just so slap-happy to get on the road that filling up is a huge bummer first thing out of the gate. I just wanna goooooooo!
  • MAP: We have a gazillion of them but sometimes forget to include it. Not this time.
  • CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE AT THE DOOR:  Dude, you're on vacation. Be happy ... don't worry.  It's all good.
 Do you like road traveling?  What tips have I missed?  I'll be checking in with you from the road!  Leave me a comment so I'll know you're with me!

love, susan

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Whipper Snappers Unite

Throwback Thursdays has recently caused me to dig out my photo albums and take a look back.  There is a bit of dust on my picture books and quite frankly I've never been one to sit down and pour over my old photos too much. I suppose some therapist somewhere might have a $175/hour take on that. Whatever.

I'm here to tell you (and any armchair therapists out there) that I have the world by the tail and it is today that I'm living in.

Having said that, when I pulled out this photo, I was super thrilled that I had written the date on the back. July 1987.  Oh, how I wish I had written where it was taken and for what event I was lucky enough to be sittin' next to my grandma (aka "love with skin"). For the life of me, I cannot recall this setting. Could be the great little Chinese restaurant in McMinnville, OR where she loved to treat us for dinner when we visited.  Could have been Fairbanks. I can't remember.  When I did the math this morning, this picture was taken 24 years ago. Just yesterday, really.

I'm writing to suggest that you young whipper snappers (pun intended) be sure to document your photos. We are in an age of very fast technology and there doesn't seem to be much care given to documenting the photos we snap. This blog has been the best I can do to keep up since I've gone digital. 

Do you print your photos?  Do you have a blog?  24 years from now, will you know much about the photo you took today?  I am living proof that time flies when you are having fun.  Don't get caught with a photo in your hand like I did this morning, wishing you could remember just a little more detail.

love, susan

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Just In: Henry Ford May Have Been a Heathen

Do you ever go for a Sunday drive? We do fairly often. About the only obstacle between us and the road most Sundays is bad weather, thumb surgery or a heart attack.

According to Wikipeida, "the use of the automobile for the Sunday drive began in the 1920s and 1930s. The idea was that the automobile was not used for commuting or errands, but for pleasure. There would be no rush to reach any particular destination. The practice became increasingly popular throughout the 20th century."

Further, "traveling on Sunday by automobile is questioned by some (emphasis added) Christians, due to observing Sunday Sabbath. While these parties consider the activity "leisure", they do not count it as "rest". Stricter Sabbatarians consider leisure activities to be Sabbath breaking, because excluded from the three permitted categories of works of piety, mercy, and necessity. Less strict Sabbath-keepers consider leisure to be "calling Sabbath a delight". This reflects Jewish tradition, in which delighting in the day, spending freely on food, and traveling leisurely (i.e., more aimlessly and unhurriedly, and for shorter distances than one would during the week) were widely considered appropriate for Shabbat. In many Jewish traditions, driving on Shabbat is prohibited or severely restricted.

Henry Ford was an advocate of the Sunday drive. He promoted Sunday as a day of activity rather than rest because it led to the sale of automobiles."

Therefore, Henry Ford may have been a fellow heathen. And, I think he'd get a huge kick out of the fact the above-pictured Chevrolet was left to die in the middle of Nowhere, Washington. 
Today we headed out for a short drive, ending up in Yakima and drove the back-way home. It was uneventful except for the few pics I got out of the warm car to shoot. It's still cold here.

Do you go for Sunday drives?
Do you know where you are going?
Do you eat when you get there?
Do you take a thermos of hot coffee?

Leave me a comment if you feel inclined. I'd love to hear from you!

love, susan

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Best Things This Week

Photo taken from the car :-)
I was looking back at my blog post from February 2013 to see if I could find any ideas for writing this morning. February can be a slow month for road travelers like us. I forgot we took a trip to Newport, Oregon last year until I looked back to that blog post. It was rather sunny and I remember now it really brightened my spirits ... just as much as our recent trip.
The best things this week haven't really been things ... it has been more about trudging through another winter and trying to not isolate too much.
If I try, I can always find the best in things:
  • It didn't snow
  • The sun was out for a while
  • A co-worker celebrated her 30th birthday
  • My daughter-in-law also celebrated her 30th birthday
  • We went out for pizza with friends last night
  • I have a great weekend lined up including fondue tomorrow night with good friends
Did you have a great week? If you feel inclined, please leave me a comment and tell me about the BEST THINGS from your week.
love, susan

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Never Mind the Rain

We took a road trip to the coast this weekend. It was adventure from the get-go. First, I must thank my co-worker who mentioned that I-84 was closed near Hood River due to a big rock slide. We drove to Biggs Junction and crossed over the Columbia River to Hwy 14. I personally love going up the Washington side, especially in the fall. Crossing at Biggs is a perfect place because the little towns provide a lot to look at. We stopped in Lyle at the Country CafĂ© for breakfast. Our server was a cute little waitress wearing a knitted beanie with the pippy-long-stocking braids hanging from it along with her rhinestone-on-the-butt jeans. Much cuteness. 
Back on the road, we hit major traffic that was heading the opposite way that had slowed down to a near stop for miles. Seems there was a little mud slide ahead but they had it cleared by the time we passed by. We passed thru early in the day and learned there was a fatal head-on in the afternoon. People in too big of a hurry, no doubt.
We spent Saturday just hanging out with the grand kids and had a great surprise visit with family who arrived for a home-cooked meal of lasagna, salad, and the best-ever homemade cookies. The very best part was the non-stop laughter. Our grand kids are truly wonderful people and have highly developed senses of humor. They kept us all in stitches.  I needed that. 
Early Sunday morning I called the park ranger at Cape Lookout to get the lowdown on the weather. The newscasters were reporting 45 mph winds with gusts up to 75 mph along with risk of flooding. To my surprise, the park ranger said "you should just come on out, this is normal weather and people come here just to watch the storms come in". Music to my ears! So we loaded up and headed to the beach.
When we arrived, it was very calm and dry. We got into our rented yurt ($38) early and the camp host assured us the storm really would be coming. A short walk down to the beach confirmed that. The kids pretended to be weather reporters and we recorded several "interviews" with them. In one clip on my phone, the youngest is talking while a gust sneaks up on him and all of a sudden he is no longer in the picture. Funny!
We have never camped in a yurt and I have to say it's really the way to go. It has electricity and heat. The beds are surprisingly comfy. My step-daughter planned accordingly by bringing a George Foreman grill and a very long extension cord, as cooking is not allowed inside the yurt. It could not have been more perfect. We wondered if using a coffee pot was considered cooking, and decided brewing is not cooking. We had hamburgers & chips after a lively game of Payday. Snuggling in by about 10pm, we got very little sleep as the storm worsened by the hour.  I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of it!
We left the beach early yesterday morning as we knew it would be a 7+ hour drive home. Driving along Hwy 14, we decided to cross over the river at The Dalles. Our favorite Thai place was closed so we went to Plan B which is always the Safeway deli. We shared a 2-entree dinner. As I was waiting for him to wash up I noticed a well-dressed old man picking through the sandwiches in a deli case. I couldn't take my eyes off of him as he shuffled three sandwiches around obviously trying to figure out which one to buy. I have no idea what his circumstances were but I instantly felt like the luckiest girl on earth for having such great people in my life and a pang of heartache for the old man.
I think I'm going to make it through another long winter. This long weekend provided a much needed escape and enough adventure to last me until the next road trip.
P.S. I got to use my new camera a little in between the pouring rain and wind. 
love, susan

A cast of weather reporters

loving the green

Luck was on our side this weekend

Captured the rain drops thru the sunshine!

Not anymore!

Happy campers


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just Shoot Me Now

Thank goodness I have some animated subjects to practice shooting with my new camera.  Although I've grown quite bored with the cat pics, Mr. Kitty is so photogenic that I can't resist taking one more image of him. 
I was surprised by how much my dogs loved playing in the snow today. Wishing I had thought to go out with them sooner, before the light got iffy. Truth is, I couldn't stand the thought of getting cold. All I could think about today was how I could convince hubby to move us back to Arizona. Seriously. I go through this every February.
So, we got a bit of snow over the last three days. Our car has not moved since I parked it Thursday night. To say I'm suffering from cabin fever would be an understatement.
  • I took a bubble bath.
  • I watched Olympic cross country skiing ... zzzzzz.
  • I cooked a pot of ham & beans, corn bread and zucchini cake.
  • I read half a book.
  • I cleaned my oven. You say what? Please, somebody, just shoot me.
  • I finally got around to watching the short video Nikon sent with my new camera. Not all that helpful but it took up 10 minutes of my otherwise boring life today.
  • I wrote this post.
Speaking of taking up time, I saw an interview of Brian Botano, the ice skater who took a gold medal 26 years ago. "Twenty six years ago", I yelled out loud to the tv.  My husband, who is nine years my senior, laughed at me.  "It goes fast, don't it?" Thank goodness he is blazing the trail of oldness for me. Everything I'm feeling today? He's already been there, done that.
This may have been the catalyst for the tears that came a little later this afternoon while lazing in my lazy-girl chair, feeling sorry myself. 
Yeah, it goes fast and I feel like I pissed it away today. If I had a do-over, I may have skipped cleaning the oven.
Luckily, I have very few days like this. I usually have all kinds of things lined up to do and not enough weekend. Fun things, that is. Next week we are heading to the beach. And the weekend after that, I've got friends coming over for fondue. And the weekend after that we are going on vacation.
Tough weekend. I'm actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow.
How about you? Ever wish somebody would just shoot you?
love, susan

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I heard from my cousin this week that her mom is actively dying.  It has been a long year for her. And, a long life.
I don't know how old my aunt is today. She has lived at least seven decades, closer to eight and definitely a few years longer than my mom, who died suddenly in her sleep just short of her 65th birthday.
Nobody really wants to think about dying. Least of all me. I love living. I hope I feel like this all the way up to my very last day.
I sat at my desk yesterday, unable to focus very well as sadness welled up in waves. I'm a realist and usually news of someone's (imminent) death doesn't shake me so much. Don't judge. I'm not a cold-hearted woman. I know dying is part of the deal we get when we arrive in the world. If you think about it very long, we are all headed that way every single day. My wish is that I always find a good reason to get up in the morning and treasure the day that hasn't been promised. Squeeze every little bit of good and fun from it. Know what I mean?
I'm half-way through my fifth decade and the years simply fly by. This news has been a wake-up call for me this week. I've been hibernating and in survival mode for more than  a few days. The cold and dark has taken its annual, seasonal toll on me. I've texted a few friends who know me well, who say just the right things that help keep my chin up until the light and warmth, especially the light, come back.
Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment. I actually got on the treadmill this morning for an entire 30 minutes. I can't stand the thought of him asking me if I'm exercising. With a straight face, I'll say sometimes.
Do you think much about death?  Do you ever talk about it with your loved ones?
What I really wanna know ... do you exercise?
love, susan


Things I'd Do If I Had An Endless Bucket of Time: Part 1

I have a good friend who works in the trades which means she works when there is work and she sits it out when there isn't work. I thin...