Wednesday Wanderings: The Last of the Excellent Adventure Before the Pandemic

The last time I posted about the Excellent Adventure, I had no idea what was coming. I procrastinated posting because we were busy, then we went to Scotland (more about that soon!), then we came home to shelter in place, and the next thing I knew it was May!

So, I left off on Monday, February 17, 2020 in Portland. We had a great day at the Association of Nurseries, then met a friend for dinner.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

We drove to Tacoma, to our usual Holiday Inn. It’s right on I-5 and we love it for the huge parking lot, but hate it for the road noise. We’ve asked for various locations around the grounds and haven’t found the sweet spot yet. We’ll keep trying.

We had several days with no events, so we kept busy with work (me), working out (both of us), and trailer and truck maintenance (Dave).

We also took a day to be tourists. Tacoma is home to America’s Car Museum. We visited and enjoyed a great day there. It’s very well laid out with different exhibits showcasing things such as NASCAR, Route 66, racer and designer Steve Saleen, British cars, and so on, as well as collections and restored cars on loan from collectors. At the beginning of our wandering, an employee approached us, said it was a slow day and he’d be happy to give us a guided tour if we wanted. We accepted and got a VIP experience.

We tried a few local restaurants. Tacoma has a Bass Pro Shop, so we ate dinner one night at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill. There’s also a bowling alley right there, so the ambiance is a little odd, but the food was good. Right across the street from our hotel was a Korean taco place that was excellent, Takos Koreanos. Also, a teriyaki place we ate at a couple of times, Ichiban Teriyaki. We also visited a couple of chains, BJs, and Red Lobster, when we were in a hurry and/or starving and couldn’t find a more unique local place. Or wanted something that we knew what to expect.

Friday, February 21, 2020

We had a scheduled event at Pacific Lutheran University. They were hosting an opioid awareness summit for the county and we were going to exhibit. The only problem was there wasn’t enough room anywhere near the summit for the trailer. So we brought some props and set up at a table in the back of the room. It was fascinating to listen to the various presentations from professionals in the recovery … industry? business?profession? (that seems redundant), and recovering addicts.

It was a good day, and great to be inside instead of out in the chill and damp.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

We did the tourist thing again and drove into Seattle. We started at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. We were familiar with Dale Chihuly’s work, but had only seen a few pieces. To be surrounded by so much beauty, all in one place was overwhelming. I was choked up and verging on tears more than once.

What he accomplished with sand and heat and centrifugal force is amazing.

After a couple of hours in the museum and grounds, we moved next door to the Space Needle. We were able to go right up to the viewing level where we enjoyed a snack. I guess there used to be a restaurant up there, but now there’s just a cafe with light snacks and drinks. There’s the stationary viewing level with the cafe, then the rotating level. We spent a few minutes there, too.

From the Space Needle, we walked the mile to Pike Place Market. We’d found a good place to park the truck, just a block from the museum and Space Needle, so it was easier to walk and leave the truck where it was.

At the market, we browsed a bit. We tried some dried strawberries that were sweet as candy and David bought some. We watched the fishmongers throw some fish. We asked for restaurant recommendations. David wanted crab. We tried a couple of places, but they didn’t have whole crab on the menu. We walked past the original Starbucks, but the line was too long to stop in.

We ended up at Cutters Crabhouse, where David finally got his whole crab. Our meal was amazing. We had a table with a water view, an attentive waiter (from California!), and delicious food.

We walked to the truck and drove back to Tacoma. I was so glad we went on Saturday, because we had discussed going on Sunday and it rained all day Sunday. Saturday was amazing and couldn’t have been a better day.

Monday, February 24, 2020

We were due to come home February 27. Last summer we had booked a trip to Scotland for February 29 – March 9th. We didn’t know that we’d be working with the trailer again. And if it did happen, we didn’t think we’d be on the road again so early in the year. So we had lined up another couple to take over the trailer for us while we went to Scotland.

They arrived at SeaTac Monday evening and we picked them up and took them back to the hotel. We visited while Ron and Sylvie ate a late dinner. Dave and Ron are both retired from the CHP, and we all used to go to the same church, so we have many friends in common and much to catch up on.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ron and Sylvie had been studying transcripts and videos of the trailer tours, so we did a couple run throughs of both my and David’s tours. We practiced set up and tear down. We had lunch. Dave and Ron took the rig for a drive. Then we went and picked up a rental car. We had talked about going to the Waterfront area of Tacoma for dinner, but we’d had a late lunch with lots of leftovers (at the Ichiban Teriyaki across the street from the hotel), and we were all tired, so we didn’t have a fun last evening out in Tacoma. It was more of a reheated, walk on the treadmill, movie, early to bed evening.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

We had an event in Tukwila, outside of Seattle. Ron and Sylvie drove the truck and trailer and we took the rental car. It was at an Ironworkers Union. We gave tours to all the apprentices on their lunch hour.

What a great time we had! Everyone was interested and engaged. The apprentices, their journeymen instructors, and other staff. Ron and Sylvie gave most of the tours. David and I were there for moral support and to jump in if needed. I gave a couple of tours. One when we had a big group come through and we needed to divvy them up. And one later in the afternoon, for the mayor and city manager. I was still being the “official spokesperson.”

As soon as the event was over, we hugged Ron and Sylvie good-bye, jumped in the rental car and headed south on I-5. Our goal was Medford, about a seven hour drive. We arrived about 9 PM, tired and ready for bed.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Another long day on the road, but we got home in time to pick up my car at the house, then return the rental to the Fresno airport.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Errands, haircuts, lunch with my folks, laundry, packing.

Saturday, February, 29, 2020

We left for Scotland! Stay tuned for posts about Scotland. Thanks for reading!!

The latest on the trailer: We arrived home from Scotland March 9. We planned to fly to Boise, Idaho March 11, to take over the trailer again from Ron and Sylvie for an event in Boise on March 12. We got notice March 10 that the event on the 12th was canceled. We canceled our flight and decided to fly to Boise a few days later. Before that happened, all events were canceled and the trailer program placed on hiatus. The trailer is being stored near Boise while we shelter in place at home in Madera. When the program starts again, we’ll decide if we’ll fly to Boise and start from there, or bring the trailer home.

 

The Great Adventure: Part 2

Yes, we’re getting ready to head out on the road again. The groups sponsoring the Code 3/RALICares/PhRMA trailer decided to do another season and offered us the opportunity to continue with the trailer. We accepted. We loved the job last year and are looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2020.

We’ve had a lovely two+ months at home. Well, mostly lovely. We spent a good part of the first six weeks sick, but once we got past that, it’s been lovely. We’ve gotten to love on our grandkids and spend time with family and friends. We’ve worked a lot around the house and on other projects.

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The trailer stayed at our house for the winter. We did two local events in Fresno while we were home. One at the local Code 3 Ministries/JARON Ministries, and one at a 5K run for a local treatment/recovery program.

At the first event, at Code 3, we had about a dozen people come, most of them friends who wanted to see exactly what we’ve been doing. It was so fun to show them the trailer and give the tour. We had a great time! Dave even stayed and hung out with his buddies for a while after the event was officially over.

The second event was last Saturday. We induced Taryn to come and help us. She took the IMG_4477place of a RALI Cares consultant and passed out tote bags for us. She was a huge help! Everyone at the 5K was interested in what we had as they were impacted by drug use in one way or another, either as an addict or a family member.

We arrived at 7 AM to be set up by 8. I gave my first tour at 7:45 to an eager group. But they weren’t quite sure what to expect and as I showed the signs of drug use that I pulled from the trash, one man left suddenly, taking two other men with him. That happens occasionally. Someone may get a phone call, or they see something that reminds them of a loved one they lost. I didn’t think much of it, just continued on. He came by later to tell me that he runs a recovery program and the two men with him were new in the program and he realized that they may see items that would be triggers and he decided he needed to get them out and get them out quickly.

We gave 30 tours in just two hours. We were hopping the whole morning. But it was great. We were home by 10:30.

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Then we left again Sunday morning, headed to watch the Super Bowl at my brother’s home near Sacramento. We stopped for gas and David took the driveway at an awkward angle, a little too fast, and … we had to change a tire on the trailer. It didn’t take long and we were soon on our way again. We’ve spent a few days in the Sacramento area after watching the 49ers lose.

We have an event at the Capitol this afternoon, then we’ll drive home tonight. We’ll be heading back to Oregon and Washington next week sometime. We were told our first event is near Portland on the 15th, but I got an email this morning that it may be as early as the 12th, so who knows? I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon –> Washington –> Home!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We needed to be in Tacoma by the end of the day, and it’s less than a three-hour drive from Hillsboro, Oregon. Our next event was in Olympia the next day. Since it was our last day in Oregon and our (okay, my) last chance to do some tax-free shopping, I took some time this morning to start my Christmas shopping. I worked for a couple of hours, then Ubered to a shopping center, to Barnes & Noble. By the time I got back, David had done our laundry. A win/win for me!

We had a quick lunch, then checked out, loaded up, and headed north. We stopped for gas again at our casino/gas station and continued on our way. When we made the reservation at Tacoma, since this was our third time at this hotel, we knew the layout. We’d been on the freeway side each time and been bothered by the traffic noise, so I’d emailed and asked for a room away from the freeway. I stressed that we wanted a quiet room.

As we checked in, we reiterated, “Away from the freeway, we want quiet. We need quiet. We’re old. We’re working hard and long days. We need our sleep. Not to mention, we’re half-deaf, so if the traffic is waking us up, it must be really, really loud.”

We were assured our room was quiet and we were being “upgraded” to a suite. That all sounds nice, and the suite was … nice, but it was still on the freeway side. Argh. Of course, this hotel is surrounded by either freeway, an exit ramp, or busy commercial streets. So there’s not a truly “quiet” side, but still, we were specific: away from the freeway.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant. There was a young girl at a table nearby, with books, coloring books, games, and puzzles spread out. Her father would pop out of the kitchen every so often to check on her. We found out her name is Asia and David struck up a conversation with her. Pretty soon we were playing Tic Tac Toe and Go Fish, to the amusement of the other guests. Asia is quite the young card shark and very good at Tic Tac Toe. I think all of our games except one ended in a tie. (I won that one. 🙂 ) After about fifteen minutes, Asia’s caregiver (she was quick to say she was not Asia’s mother) came and picked her up.

We said goodbye to Asia, thanked her for playing with us and letting us get a pseudo-grandchild visit, then headed back to our suite. 😉

Thursday, November 21, 2019

IMG_4002The next morning, we needed to make an early start for our half hour drive to Olympia and the state Capitol. But David took a few minutes to ask the front desk staff what we could do to ensure a quiet room next time. I usually book a room with one king bed. He learned that the rooms away from the freeway are doubles. Although our upgraded suite had two doubles and was on the freeway side. So ?? But anyway, they said book a double and after making the reservation through the app, call the hotel directly and talk to someone. So we’ll try that next time.

We ordered breakfast, but a collegiate girls’ volleyball team beat us to the ordering counter and we ended up having to take ours to go.

We got to Olympia a few minutes late, but found our appointed spot without a problem, and got set up. This time we were able to keep the truck hooked up which helped with staying warm. Because it was really cold. In fact, after we set up, David got an Uber to a nearby Target and bought some hand and foot warmers for us. They helped …

We were a bit off the beaten track at the Capitol, so we didn’t get any legislators come through. The video team and photographers were at a loss and wanted to make sure the company got their moneys worth, so I gave them the tour multiple times so they could get different angled shots of the props and me and/or my hands pointing or holding things.

A couple of PhRMA lobbyists came through whom we had met in Chicago. That was fun! They remembered us and the trailer and were excited to have us in their home state. IMG_4003They did send a few coworkers by. And two people came through who are employed by a large pharmaceutical company. They both took the tour, but declined to be on camera, furthering the video team’s dilemma. A member of the state police came through and the video team did get to spend some time with her, giving me a chance to warm up in the truck, walk to the Capitol for the restroom, and pop into the gift shop there for postcards.

We had permission to leave the truck and trailer for a few hours after the event, which was wonderful, because we got to have dinner with longtime friends Kurt and Anna who live in Olympia. They came and picked up us and drove us to dinner.

IMG_4020We went to Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill. Anthony’s is a local chain, and the Hearthfire Grill is on the sound. I’m sure the views are amazing, but we didn’t have the right weather (or daylight) to properly enjoy them. We had their dinner specials, which were delicious! Four courses for a flat price. We had shrimp cocktails and Caesar salads. I had prawns for my main course, and they were fabulous, with enough leftover for another meal. Then “Burnt Cream” (Creme Brulee) for dessert.

We hadn’t seen Kurt and Anna in probably 25 years. Maybe more. We keep in touch with Christmas cards and Facebook, so we picked up like we’d chatted last month. It was so wonderful to catch up and hear about their kids and their lives. That has been one of the biggest blessings of this adventure: the opportunity to visit family and friends across the country that we’d otherwise not be seeing.

After dinner, Kurt and Anna drove us back to the trailer and truck. We said goodbye and hopes that we don’t go another 25 years (yikes! We’d be reallllly old by then!), and headed back to Tacoma and our freeway-side hotel room.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Our event is right in Tacoma, at the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington. We had a bit of a sticky situation getting in position. We were told space numbers in a parking lot, so we pulled into the long and narrow lot only to discover that our spaces were on the street in front of the lot. If we’d known that coming in, that would have helped. At one point, I was in the driver’s seat while David was directing me to turn and back up, until the trailer was situated to where he could pull it out of the lot.

It was another cold day, but we still had hand and foot warmers. Our day was scheduled to be from 9 AM to 4 PM. It was Orientation Day for the next semester’s incoming students. We had a fair amount of foot traffic and did a surprising number of tours, over 30.

The campus is really beautiful, considering it’s essentially in downtown Tacoma. At least I think it is. It’s definitely in urban Tacoma. It’s full of old brick buildings that were once commercially used and many of them still have their old, original names on them.

 

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David walked to a nearby restaurant and brought back hot dogs from Hot Rod Dog for lunch for us and Ana, our local consultant. They were good, with a very crisp snap to them.

By about 3:15 we were frozen and Ana said we were done. Foot traffic had dwindled. So we loaded up. But of course … earlier, two teachers had come by. They were very interested in a tour, but were on their way to a meeting. They said they’d be back. So just as we were almost all loaded up, they arrived. David gave them a brief tour with some highlights, while Ana and I finished the outside tear down. Then we walked around and huddled near the generator, trying to stay warm. Once the final final tour of 2019 was done, we finished loading up, said goodbye to Ana, and headed back to our hotel, all of 15 minutes away, which was a lovely change of pace.

At the hotel, we had our leftovers from Anthony’s Hearthfire in Olympia, enjoyed a brief soak in the hotel spa, and began packing, ready for an early departure tomorrow.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

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We are headed home! Our first stop is Yreka tonight. We want to get there in time for dinner at the Mexican restaurant we ate at the first time we came through, coming home from the Alaska cruise with my folks, Casa Ramos.

We have an uneventful day, and have a delicious dinner. We Facetime with Taryn’s family and get a good night’s sleep.

 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Home is the goal today! It’s a beautiful clear, crisp morning in Yreka. IMG_4035We skip church in favor of hitting the road and getting by 4 PM. Friends Lee and Karie bring over dinner, a delicious stew and rolls.

It’s been a long five and half months. A lot has happened. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and each other. About our country. About traveling. About people.

In the next few weeks, I plan to share some of the lessons we learned.

The trailer received funding for another year. We’ve been offered our jobs again and we’ve accepted. We’re tentatively planning to leave around January 15, 2020. I’ll keep you posted about that, too.

Thank you so much for reading! I know these last posts have been looooong. I’ll try to stay more current in 2020.

Oregon –> California –> Oregon

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our event this day is at the Oregon State High School Cross Country Championships at a community college in Eugene. We had to be there at 8 AM, to set up by 9. We met our Oregon consultants, Rebecca and Sophie, for the first time. It was really, really cold out that day.

After we were set up and ready, I gave Rebecca and a campus security officer a tour while David went in search of coffee. This turned out to be a fairly slow day. The parents, grandparents, and spectators were there to watch their runners and not really to chat or take tours. The campus security team was very interested though, and I think all their officers on duty that day came through at one time or another.

This was the first day that we took turns sitting in the truck for a few minutes to warm up. I also got a bit of an upset stomach (too much coffee, I think, trying to get warm) and had to find the restroom. It was off a student lounge area, so I took a few extra minutes there.

The RALI consultants had a hard time giving away the tote bags and water bottles. People just didn’t want to stop and chat. It was cold and they had a place to be and things to do and people to watch.

We packed up just before the last race of the day. We know when we’re beat.

RALI usually sends a photographer to each event and today’s photographer gave us some restaurant suggestions for dinner. I also looked around online and found a place that had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, that was known for its seafood.

We were planning/hoping to leave the trailer at our Eugene hotel for the next five days, so we unhooked at the hotel and drove ourselves to dinner instead of using Uber. The Fisherman’s Market is indeed a dive, but what a dive! As we walked up, an employee was boiling crab out front. David stopped to talk to him and asked if those would be available to order inside. The answer was an unequivocal, “Maybe.” David also asked how to tell if crab is fresh. The last couple of years, the crab we’ve gotten locally just hasn’t been that good. We had great crab in Alaska and he’d had really good crab in Monterey. I don’t know if he got a clear answer or not, (I think it came down to smell and appearance), but we headed inside and ordered at the counter. The cashier also didn’t know if the crab cooking outside would be available, but the cook stuck his head in and said, yes, David could order one, it would be ready soon. I looked at their specialties and what Guy Fieri had eaten on DDD and I ordered the Cajun Crawdad pie. It was like a chicken pot pie, but with miniature shrimp/crawdads. It was really good, although very rich. I took more than half of it to-go, and ate it for another two meals.

Sunday, November 10 – Thursday, November 14, 2019

We had a week off with no events, so we’d decided to park the trailer and drive to Crescent City, California to visit longtime friends who’d recently moved there. Great plan, but the hotel refused to let us leave the trailer there. We’d never had a problem before, but for some reason … Anyway, we found another hotel in town that had a huge lot, so we canceled our reservation for when we would return to Eugene Thursday, made a new reservation, hooked up again, and drove three miles north.

After unhooking, we headed south again. It’s about a four-hour drive to Crescent City. From Grants Pass, we headed south and west through some beautiful country.

We met up with Steve and Abbie and had dinner at the Good Harvest Cafe. I thought it was good, although Abbie said she’d had better there.

We’d never been to Crescent City before, but since Abbie grew up there, we’d heard a lot about it. How it was always gray and rainy. And far away from shopping and entertainment options.

Well. Monday morning was gorgeous, sunny and clear and bright. In fact, it wasn’t until IMG_2977 copyWednesday that we got a taste of the “normal,” overcast and gray Crescent City weather.

We had a great few days there. Steve and Abbie gave us a tour of IMG_9347 copythe area, including their new home and the area where Abbie grew up. We saw the coastal redwoods, and even got an impromptu tour of the local lighthouse.

 

We walked out to the lighthouse as two men on Gator/golf cart vehicles were moving sacks of concrete up to the lighthouse. The posted “Open” hours for tours were over, so we knew we were just there to look around the outside of the building and read the markers. David stopped to chat and started helping them unload the sacks. I wasthisclose to hollering at him to 1) Stay out of their way, 2) Not IMG_0561 copyinjure himself helping strangers, and 3) Come look at these amazing views. But of course, he (and God) had other plans. After a few minutes talking to the two men, he learned they are both volunteer lighthouse keepers. One was stationed there that month with his wife. Well, sure enough, the keeper invited us in. We got a history of the lighthouse, its lens, its decommissioning and its current status as county property, maintained by volunteers. We also got to climb into the lens “house” at the top. It was a lovely serendipity. We learned that the lighthouse (and its keepers) are cut off from the mainland by the tides for a large portion of every day. Some volunteers find that too isolating and don’t want to return after their first rotation. The keeper that month and his wife don’t mind it, and the tides that day were late enough that they were planning dinner in town and they’d be able to be back to the lighthouse before the tide came back in. It was all fascinating. 

IMG_9493 copyAlso, while in town those few days, we got to meet Abbie’s sister and see her sister’s home and see their brother and his family again. We did some shopping in some really fun and unique gift shops.

We ate in some great restaurants, both in Crescent City and in Brookings, Oregon. The Chart Room had the best fish & chips. Seaquake Brewing had lots of delicious food, including fried cheese curds, burgers, and thick, creamy clam chowder. In Brookings, we had surf and turf at O’Hollerans Steakhouse. And our last evening, we had amazing food at Oxenfre, also in Brookings.

Thursday morning we headed back to Eugene, but we decided to take the more scenic coastal route.

We drove north along the Oregon coast, stopping for lunch in Coos Bay, at the Blue Heron Cafe. The website said they offered “Classic German Cuisine,” and the menu looked interesting. Somehow we both ended up ordering oysters. David got them breaded and pan-fried with mashed potatoes and coleslaw, while I ordered the bacon and oyster sandwich. We’ve never been big oyster fans, so I don’t know why or how we ended up ordering this way. I guess we thought we were in oyster and seafood country and that’s what you should order when you’re there. I’m sure they were good, but it did reinforce that we just don’t really care for oysters that much. Unless they’re small and broiled with lots of cheese. 🙂

From Coos Bay, we continued north to Florence, then turned east to Eugene. We stopped at Sarver Winery for a tasting. The wines were good, the views vast and they even had small plates available, so we didn’t need dinner that night. As we chatted with the young woman pouring the tastes, the winemaker was nearby. David expressed his opinion about California pinot noirs (that they’re too fruit-forward and most wine drinkers think that’s how they’re supposed to be and don’t appreciate the more delicate and true pinot characteristics). The winemaker, also named David, slapped his hand on the bar and exclaimed, “Thank you!” So of course they were off and running. Winemaker David had an accent and it took me a few minutes to place it, but I finally figured out he was a Kiwi from New Zealand. While the two Davids discussed wine, I wandered over to enjoy the views and our snack. It was too damp and chilly to be outside, but it was still a gorgeous vista.

In Eugene, we found our new hotel where we’d left the trailer, and avoided an accident when someone decided to stop in the middle of the street and turn around right in front of us. It was a narrow street and they had to make a nine-point turn. Fun times!

Tomorrow, we head back to the Portland area. Thanks for reading!

 

Oregon, Ho!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Since we’d had a couple of long days, and we had another 5 hour drive to Wilsonville, near Portland, we decided to take our time checking out from our hotel in Yreka. We had breakfast, watched our church service online, and then packed up.

The trip to Wilsonville was just the way we like it: uneventful. We found our hotel fine. When I make reservations, I always look at the parking lot via a satellite view to be sure there’s room to maneuver the trailer in and out. This particular hotel had a big enough parking lot, but they were undergoing renovations and a lot of the parking lot was taken up with storage containers and construction vehicles. Checking in took quite a while, too.

Once settled, we called up an Uber for a ride to dinner at the Oswego Grill. We shared the Cabernet Tenderloin Tips and they were fabulous!

Monday, November 4, 2019

My cousin, Lisa, had graciously invited us to stay her a few days while we were in town. I knew she and her husband had recently moved and when she invited us, I assumed they had moved and were settled. Well, they had moved all right. A week before we arrived! Lisa was amazing, hosting us while still getting settled and finding her belongings and unpacking. We ended up spending two nights with Lisa and Tom and had a great time.

Monday we relaxed at their beautiful new home, then went to a great winery for some IMG_5375 copytasting. Domaine Divio‘s motto is Oregon wine by essence, Burgundian wine by style. They have some fabulous Pinot Noirs. Then we headed to a local restaurant for dinner. Rosmarino is authentic and delicious Italian fare. I had the All’Amatriciana pasta (tomato sauce enhanced with homemade pancetta, onions & rosemary). It was so good! I can see why it’s one of Lisa and Tom’s favorites.

After dinner, we went across the street to the coffee/gelato/bookstore where I found some books that I had to have. Since we were driving only on this section of the tour, I didn’t have to worry about space or weight in my suitcase.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A great day in Hillsboro! I worked while David and Tom and Lisa did things around the house and Lisa also had some work to take care of and an appointment. David and Tom made a great dinner for us.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

We left Lisa and Tom and Oregon and headed north to Seattle. Well, Tacoma was our actual destination, about three and half hours away. We found a great gas station in Washington, next to a casino. But it has lots of room for us and we stopped there several times over the next two weeks as we moved between events in Oregon and Washington.

Both the hotel in Yreka and this hotel in Tacoma, we’d stayed at before when we drove home after our Alaska cruise. So we were familiar with the parking lots and the layouts. We checked in and this hotel has a restaurant, so we had dinner there.

We had a call time of 9:30 AM in downtown Seattle the next morning. Google Maps said to allow two hours and the front desk clerks agreed. So it was an early evening and then an early morning for us.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Our event today was in downtown Seattle at a park/plaza where there were food trucks gathered.

This was a very different sort of event for us. The park was full of homeless people and addicts. Yet as lunchtime approached and the food trucks opened for business, the place filled with business people. Many of them stopped to ask about the trailer, and even started a tour, but since they were on their lunch hour, they didn’t want to take time for the full tour.

After I explained the premise of the trailer to one woman, she expressed support for our overall aim, but said she didn’t think the park was an appropriate venue, since “we’re trying to make it a family-friendly place.” Well … a quick glance at the addicts standing around told me how well that was working out.

As the lines thinned down after lunch, I was able to get us lunch from one of the food trucks. The Fork and Fin Food Truck featured Alaskan Pollock. We shared a salad with the pollock and it was amazing! The fish was fresh and delicious and it had a spicy crema dressing that was zippy without being too hot.

We were supposed to be there until 4:00 but by 2:00, everyone was packed up and gone and the only people left in the park were the homeless and the addicts. So we also called it a day and loaded up the trailer. We’d had to unhook the truck and park it off site, so we hiked back to the parking lot.

Which brought out something interesting. For some reason, David completely lost his bearings in downtown Seattle. In the morning, we’d unhooked and driven to the lot, then walked the three blocks back to the park. I sometimes can’t tell you which direction is west or north, but I can usually retrace my route. As we left the lot to walk back to the plaza, we had an immediate disagreement about which direction to go, so I had open Google Maps to navigate. And when we returned to the lot to pick up the truck, we made it there just fine, but when we pulled out of the lot to drive to plaza, David thought I was sending him the wrong way. I had to insist he follow my instructions, and sure enough, we went right to the park. 🙂

Before we got to Seattle, we’d talked about what we’d like to do in town, if we had time. The two things we settled on were visiting Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum/display. As it turned out, we didn’t make it to either, but as I navigated us out of the city, we did drive right by Pike Place Market. So I got to see it, at least.

Since we were two hours from our Tacoma hotel, we knew it was going to be another long day. And it was. And as I said, we’d stayed at the Tacoma hotel before. Our room faced I-5 and there was quite a bit of traffic noise. We were coming back in a week, and when I made the next reservation, I added a note that we wanted a room away from the freeway, and that we wanted a quiet room above all else.

We got to Tacoma, had another dinner at the hotel and went to bed. Tomorrow, back to Oregon.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Our next event was tomorrow, Saturday, in Eugene, Oregon, about a four hour drive. So we took some time this morning to drive to Silverdale, Washington to visit some IMG_3613 copytransplanted Fresno friends. They also opened a trampoline park, like the one we’d visited in North Carolina. It’s such a fun place and we had a great, though brief, time catching up.

We’d left the trailer at the Tacoma hotel, so after our visit, we drove back to Tacoma. I’d had some Amazon purchases sent to the hotel and one of them hadn’t shown up. I’d realized I’d put in the wrong address for the hotel, and unfortunately, the address I put in didn’t exist. But the closest numbers were across the street from us and down a block at a strip mall. So we made a quick stop and I canvassed those stores, popping in and asking if a package addressed to Carrie Padgett had been delivered. I visited a laundromat, a Goodwill store, a cannabis store, and a Hollywood Hustler.

The cannabis store was quite interesting. Inside was a doorman, checking IDs before letting customers enter. I never made it past him, because a) I wasn’t a customer, b) I didn’t have my ID, and c) I didn’t want to buy anything. But because I’m a writer and I believe everything might make an interesting addition to a story, I freely looked around, taking mental snapshots and sniffing. There’s a definite smell to the place. Not strictly like marijuana, but also not unpleasant. Distinctive. The customers were a cross-section. There was a biker in black leather. There was a student with a backpack. While I was waiting for the manager to look in the office for my package, two women came in. Both braless, one was toothless. But one struck a pose and declared, “Officially cancer-free! We’re going to celebrate now!”

The Hollywood Hustler store was also interesting. One section had a sign: 18 and over only. ID required to enter. Ummm … okay. (As noted above, I had no ID on me. David had dropped me off to check the stores and then gone to fill up the truck’s gas tank.) The clerk working the front counter was helping someone exchanging a product that … well, I’m not sure what it was. It was plastic, green, and shaped like a marijuana leaf.

We learned that marijuana is huge in Oregon. And they like it that way! That story will come up in the next post.

None of the stores had my package, so we returned to our hotel, hooked up the trailer and headed to Eugene. My satellite view of the hotel had shown a large vacant lot next to the hotel, with visible tire tracks. So we expected to be able to park there, if the lot itself was too small. We called the hotel on our way, to confirm they had room to accommodate the trailer. When we mentioned the vacant lot, the receptionist said, “There’s a creek in the middle, so no. And there’s construction next door.”

Well. The vacant lot we were referring to was now the construction site of a new hotel. It was a close fit, but we did get the trailer in. Our event the next day was the state cross country championships at a local community college in Eugene. There were several teams staying at our hotel and the parking lot was full of vans.

After checking in, we looked at restaurants, called an Uber and headed out. We’d settled on the Ram, a local chain. But as we talked with the Uber driver, we said we were looking for good barbecue and had considered another place, Bill and Ted’s BBQ. He said it was much better than where we were headed, so we changed our destination. Bill and Ted’s was great! We shared ribs and some sides. David had said he wanted dry ribs, not drowning in sauce. And he got his wish. They were tender and the meat fell off the bone.

After dinner, out next Uber driver took us back to the hotel. We had a good chat with him. His day job is with the local blood bank. Meeting so many people for short times, hearing a portion of their stories … it’s part of why we love this job.

 

 

The Adventure in California

Where I left off … we were in Bakersfield, CA, on our way from Las Vegas to Monterey …

Thursday, October 24, 2019

At breakfast, as I checked email, we got a message that our event in Monterey for tomorrow had fallen through. Which gave us a dilemma … to be continued.

Now we had a week off with no events booked. But our company had purchased some metal ramps and handrails to replace the wooden steps we’d been using to get into the trailer. And the packages were being shipped to our hotel in Monterey. So we had to go to Monterey. I know, tough gig. 🙂 But the prospect of dragging the trailer across the state wasn’t exactly appealing. We decided to detour home, drop the trailer off at our house, then go on to Monterey.

Which we did. We got to town in time to have dinner at a great restaurant I’d saved to my list of prospective restaurants. Hula’s Tiki Grill was outstanding! Dave had the Chimichurri barramundi and I had the Hilo Sliders. One of the two packages was waiting for us at our hotel.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The next day, we met up with long time friends who were passing through town and had lunch at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. Dave had crab and I had fish and chips. IMG_7155 copyAfter a great visit with Jo and Kevin, we walked on the beach for a bit. Monterey was in the midst of a heat wave and it was really quite warm.

IMG_2423 copyFor dinner, Dave wanted more crab so we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Old Fisherman’s Grotto restaurant. Dave got his crab and I had clam chowder. It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Monterey Bay and the wharf. I bought some postcards to send to the grandkids. I try to buy postcards for the grandkids and refrigerator magnets for their families at our various stops.

Saturday October 26 – Thursday October 31, 2019

We drove home on Saturday and spent the next few days doing laundry, letting the cat get reacquainted with us, and taking care of some household chores and maintenance.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Our first and only California event was at a football game in Hollister Friday night, November 1. We planned to leave our home about 11 AM, to arrive and set up at San Benito High around 2 and be ready by the time the Junior Varsity game started at 3. Great plan, and all was going well until we discovered the trailer didn’t have lights.

Remember when we hooked up the trailer to the truck back in Las Vegas, the plug had been dragged along the road and was all eroded on one side? Well, even though our colleague had assured us that the lights still worked, something else had failed or broken since them and we had no lights. David did what he could and tried several fixes but nothing worked. Since it was daylight, we decided to leave and try to repair the issue once we were in Hollister. But it would have to be fixed because our hotel for the night was in Morgan Hill, and we’d be traveling there after the football game, well into the night.

While we were on the road, I posted to Facebook that we were headed to Hollister but we had no lights and were praying for an easy fix. A friend saw my post and tagged her IMG_1114 copybrother Jeremy who lives not far from Hollister. We’ve known their family for years, Jeremy and his siblings grew up with our daughters. Once we got to Hollister and got set up, David looked at the plug more closely and knew he needed help.

Well, Jeremy to the rescue! This amazing young man drove from his home on a Friday evening, looked at the issue, drove to a store, bought supplies, and did enough of a repair job that we could drive to our hotel. We are so grateful! It’s very hard for David to ask others for help and even harder for him to accept it. So we truly did need help that night and God sent Jeremy to us. (Jeremy also happens to be a CHP officer. 😉 )

The event itself in Hollister was quite interesting. Co-sponsored by two California politicians, they both made appearances at the event, which doesn’t always happen. State Senator Anna Caballero and Assemblymember Robert Rivas were very interested in the trailer and the education we’re doing. We also had some educators and administrators from both schools playing in the football game come through, as well as parents and grandparents. Local television news also came by to do stories. There have been several overdoses on the Central Coast in the past few months, so lots of people expressed how needed the education is.

The evening was quite cold and David turned on the heaters in the trailer but after five minutes of blowing cold air, he turned them off again. After the game, we loaded up, told our consultants good-bye, and headed for Morgan Hill. We had to make most of the drive with the emergency flashers going, but at least we had flashers that lit up!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

We had a five and half hour drive planned today, from Morgan Hill to Yreka, on our way to the Portland area.

Dave got up early and drove to the local Camping World store. A mechanic there helped him diagnose the problem (blown fuses), still existing after Josh’s work last night. Dave then went to the auto parts store, picked me up at the hotel since we couldn’t get a late check-out. (Well, they said they’d give us until noon, since check-out was 11. Except everything I had said check-out was noon.)

Anyway, it took three trips to Camping World, two trips to the auto parts store (the mechanic failed to mention that he’d dropped a fuse and couldn’t find it, so we had to go back to replace it) and to the local Ford dealership, because some of the fuses are Ford specific. It was after 3:00 by the time we were on the road.

One thing we did that I’m glad about, even though it added to the length of the day: we took time for a real lunch at Noah’s. It was a great find and if we’re ever back in Morgan Hill, we’ll visit again.

We finally rolled into Yreka about 9:30 PM, ate our lunch leftovers, and dropped into bed.

 

Illinois –> Indiana –> Ohio –> Kentucky

When we arrived in Illinois, we thought we’d have some events in Kentucky and West Virginia, then we’d end up in Florida and fly home. Well, we’re learning to be flexible. No events had materialized in Kentucky or West Virginia. The first Florida event wasn’t for a couple of weeks. Then we were asked if we’d be okay with flying west and taking over the other trailer in Las Vegas and doing events in California, Oregon, and Washington. Sure! We had a about a week to get the east coast trailer to Florida, where we’d leave it, and then fly to Nevada.

So we plotted out a route that enabled us to see friends and family and visit a tourist site that Dave had wanted to see the last time we were in Indiana.

Saturday, Oct 12 — Our beautiful granddaughter, Ellinor, turned a year old!

We left Sparta and our smoked pork steak and headed for Evansville, Indiana, our stop for the night.  Next to our hotel was a gas station with a very nice gift shop/tourist souvenirs. I bought socks for all the grandkids there. USC was playing Notre Dame, so our goal was to get checked in, in time to watch the game. We made it, but were unable to root USC on to victory. Dave talked to some of the other hotel guests. There were hunters with teams of dogs they kept outside in trailers. And truck drivers driving modified Midget racing cars to races.

We called Ellinor to tell her happy birthday, but she was asleep and her mommy was sick. She woke up later and they called us back, so we did get to see her on her birthday.

Evansville is also where we began requesting rooms on high floors. I think some of the hunters were right above us and they clomped around getting ready to leave at 4:30 AM. We heard every step, every door slam, until they left.

Sunday, Oct. 13 — We left Evansville and Indiana and headed for Cincinnati. We were IMG_0124actually staying in Bellevue, Kentucky, but were meeting a writer friend of mine, Kimberly Duffy, and her family in Cincinnati at Graeter’s, a local place deservedly famous for their hand-crafted, French-style, ice-cream.

Kimberly and I had a great time catching up, since we’d last seen each in Charleston in May, and the men enjoyed talking about food and drink. The Duffys gave us some suggestions for dinner, but also mentioned a local market we should check out. Jungle Jims.

Oh. my.

Imagine a combination Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/World Market, the size of one and a half Costcos. And it greets you in the parking lot with jungle noises, like Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride. Inside are restaurants (we had gyros for dinner), and the groceries are arranged by country of origin. So if you were making a Moroccan dish, you’d head to the Morocco aisle. We saw products in the Ireland and England aisles that we hadn’t seen outside of those countries. There’s an olive bar. The cheese department is as big as the Ranchos Market back home. Yes, the cheese department is as big as the whole Ranchos Market store. We spent two hours there and didn’t see it all. The cigar humidor had a sign that read No shopping carts inside, which impressed Dave with both its size and prices. No California tobacco taxes.

Who knew foodie heaven was in Cincinnati?

Monday, Oct. 14

We left the trailer at our hotel and drove half an hour south in Kentucky to the Ark Encounter. It’s a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark, built to the dimensions and details given in the Bible. It’s quite amazing and well worth seeing. It’s huge and visiting it really makes the immensity of Noah’s task come alive. Which is the purpose of the whole encounter.

It’s very well done, if a bit “Disney-esque.” The designers put a lot of thought into crowd control and movement. The displays are well done. They’re upfront about what is true, taken from Scripture, and what they’ve taken license with (clothing, what Noah and his

family looked like), and what they believe is correct even though it’s not found in the Bible (how feeding and watering the animals was handled, as well as dealing with their waste).

IMG_1870 2Wherever you fall on the faith spectrum and on the creation vs. evolution debate, the Ark Encounter is worth a visit. They have their definite views and they aren’t shy about promoting it (or dismissing those who disagree or have a differing view). I’m one who doesn’t share their views on everything, but I still found the experience valuable. I’d take my kids and grandkids, but we’d have lots of discussions before, during, and after our visit.

Five and a half hours (and a buffet lunch) later, we headed the half hour back to our hotel and a quiet evening in with Monday Night Football.

Tuesday, Oct. 15

This was a long day of travel. We wanted to spend a couple of days in North Carolina visiting friends there. In order to make that and the Ark Encounter happen, and get to Orlando on time, we had an eight and half hour drive, according to Google Maps. Which would be closer to ten in reality with the trailer. Maybe longer if we ran into weather. So we got an early start. It was a beautiful drive through Kentucky and West Virginia and Virginia. We stopped for an hour in Beckley, WV for lunch and Dave called his usual Tuesday cigar/accountability friends and they did their thing remotely for a while.

The wind was indeed a factor and it was indeed a long day of driving by the time we pulled into Hillsborough, outside of Raleigh. We were too tired to even go find dinner. I had a bag of microwave popcorn in my suitcase from one of our previous hotels, so I called that dinner, with a few other snacks Dave keeps in his backpack for him.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

I spent a couple of hours working, then we checked out and made our way to our friends’, the Carpenters, home. We had permission to leave the trailer at the hotel which made life much easier for the next couple of days. The weather was gray and rainy and chilly, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time.

IMG_1538 2Dave went to high school with both Mike and Vicky and we went to church with them for years in Fresno, until they moved to North Carolina, in 2011. We had a great time seeing their home and business, having lunch, and catching up. They haven’t changed a bit and we picked up like we’d seen them last week.

After saying goodbye to Mike and Vicky, we made our way to Durham and to Bill and Sheana’s home. We went to church with Bill and Sheana in Southern California back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We’ve known them since our girls were little and before they had kids. This was also a great visit! They’ve recently moved into a new home that they designed and the thought and care they put into it is very obvious. They fed us a delicious dinner of authentic Carolina barbecue and we played CatchPhrase after, guys against the gals. We started out strong, but they made an impressive comeback and we ended up tied.

Thursday Oct. 17

After the rain yesterday, today was clear and sunny. We decided to visit the gardens at Duke University and the chapel. The gardens are amazing and lovely. Parts of them reminded me of the gardens at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, in their layout and beauty.

The chapel is gothic in design, but was built in the early 20th century, even though it appears much older. Inside, it’s lined with stained glass windows depicting Biblical vignettes. We happened to arrive in time to listen to an organist rehearse for a few minutes. Dave talked to the chapel’s … doorkeeper? docent? (he wasn’t giving tours, although there was a tour going on …). Anyway, Dave said playing the organ is turning into a lost art, since churches are moving away organs. He said actually, the manufacturers and tuners are very busy, because there’s a huge demand for organs in stadiums! Which makes sense. They like something loud, to get the crowd energized.

After the visit and the walk, we were ready for lunch. We headed to a local Mediterranean spot Bill and Sheana like. It was absolutely delicious, and we’re kind of picky about our Mediterranean/Armenian food, coming from an area where much of it is excellent and readily available and it’s not uncommon for our Armenian friends to argue about which place makes the better fatoush or pilaf or lahmajun.

Back at the house, Bill and Dave transplanted a few trees, while I did some work and Sheana played the piano. Then we fixed dinner, fish tacos. Sheana asked me what we wanted for a side dish, black beans or corn on the cob. I said beans, and she asked if Dave was okay with beans, given his dietary restrictions. I said yes. What I didn’t say is that beans are more okay than corn. He can never have corn, but he does have beans occasionally. Of course, when we passed the beans at the table, he said, “No, thanks, those will tear me up!” Sigh.

The next morning we had to hit the road early. We had a trailer to pick up and a niece and her family to visit in South Carolina.

To be continued…

Thanks, as always for reading!