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 Excellent Adventure: Portland Area

Friday, February 14, 2020

One of us was prepared with a Valentine’s Day card for the other, and one of us was not. And that’s all I’ll say about that!

We had some personal business to take care of in the morning, but by 1:00 we were on the road from Eugene to the Portland area. We had another uneventful drive to our hotel in Wilsonville, which was much appreciated. We won’t take those for granted again!

hf19l69hTO6j%+1lHVESswThe hotel is still undergoing renovations, but the lobby is done now. David checked out the restaurant in the hotel and they were having a Valentine’s Special so he made a dinner reservation. We ended up having a lovely evening, when I thought we’d be having Trader Joe’s snacks in our room. We had an amuse bouche of a grilled curried shrimp, then a grilled Caesar salad, then a salmon filet topped (they called it “stuffed” but it just had a little mound on top) with crab and seafood, with a wild rice pilaf and asparagus. The food was all delicious! Much better than you’d expect from a Holiday Inn. Dessert was warm chocolate fondue with fruit and cheesecake and truffle bites for dipping. All together most unexpected and delightful!

There was a DJ playing some music. No one danced, until we finally got up and did one dance in our bumbling-tripping-arguing-over-who’s-going-to-lead style. So maybe we broke the ice. We called it a night, took our leftovers, and headed upstairs.

Saturday, February, 15, 2020

Our first event of the year in Oregon was at the Divisional Wrestling Championships at Canby High School. The rain poured and it was cold, but spirits were high and we had a great day.

We started the day off with two Clackamas County Commissioners and two Grange members taking the tour. They were very engaged and interested and we had an excellent time. They were barely out the door and a Canby Police officer arrived. Dave gave him the tour. We also had some parents and coaches come through. Toward the end of the day, I had a female coach come through and she shared that a friend of her daughter’s was experimenting with drugs. She asked how much longer we were going to be there, because she was calling the girl’s mother to come over right away. We had less than an hour, but I told her where we were scheduled to be on Monday.

We had a discussion with our consultant about Monday’s venue. There was a small parking lot that would accommodate the trailer, barely. But not the trailer and truck. And backing the trailer in would be difficult if there were other cars in the parking lot. Rebecca apologized profusely, but given the short notice and the fact that Monday’s a holiday, we had to work with what we had. I asked if it would be possible to park the trailer there Sunday afternoon (when, presumably, there would be fewer cars in the lot to work around), and leave it overnight. Rebecca checked, got a thumbs-up, and we had a plan.

We were in kind of an awkward space at the high school, and another car and trailer had pulled in next to us. They were inside the (nice and dry and warm) gym selling T-shirts and other merchandise. They came out and said they were going to get some food and would return soon. Well, we got packed up and were ready to go, and they weren’t back yet. But Dave did some amazing pulling forward, and backing up and swinging wide and he got the trailer out of there just fine. I’m sure when the guys came back they were scratching their heads, wondering how the heck that happened?

Back at the hotel, we walked/biked in the workout room, had a bite in the restaurant, then Dave hit a wall. He was snoring by 9:00. I read for a while and then called it a night, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

We slept till 8:00 am (late for us, but still tired by the long day yesterday), hurried to breakfast, then back to our room to watch our churchEBOOQKtGSCm08lv2MnP6JA service online at 8:45. I worked for a couple of hours doing my mid-month reports, then we took the trailer to Monday’s venue. It did take some backing and maneuvering, but Dave got it in and it looked like the trailer was made for that spot.


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We ran a couple of errands in the Portland area (Duluth Trading Company!), then met my cousin and her husband for dinner at Oswego Grill. We had stayed with them several days the last time we were in the area and they graciously offered again, but given that our two events were on the east side of town, it just seemed to make sense to stay closer to our venues, so we’d thanked them and asked if we could go to dinner. It turned out we went out on Lisa’s birthday, so we got an extra dessert from the restaurant! We’d been there once before, the last time we visited Portland, and the food was delicious. David got salmon and I had baby-back ribs with a wonderful coleslaw. I’m not always a coleslaw fan, because it can be heavy and drowning in too-sweet dressing, but this one was just right–not too sweet, not overly dressed, still crunchy. Too soon, we said good-bye again, and headed back to the hotel.

It was another early-to-bed night.

Monday, February 17, 2020

We arrived at our venue, the offices of the Oregon Association of Nurseries at 9:03. Our consultants were waiting for us. It took only a few minutes to get the trailer all set up and ready to go.

We had a U.S. Congressman scheduled to arrive at 10 AM, and I was to give him the tour. He had a hard departure time of 10:30, which meant the tour would be somewhat abbreviated, so he would have time for questions and answers and chatting with other people.

He arrived promptly and we got right to it. He was thoroughly engaged and we had a delightful time. Our consultant told me after, my tour was, “Perfect.” I hit the highlights, and the timing was just right. The congressman was interested and stood around for several minutes afterward, asking more questions. He asked what he could do to help the project. He really was fabulous to engage with.

8yUSSGuvTSWB1%nYTcMZlAAfter my time with him, he filmed some more questions and answers, then departed pretty close to on schedule. The rest of the day was fairly steady. This event had been well publicized and I had a couple come because they’d heard about it on the radio (she was a school nurse and familiar with vaping and where that paraphernalia is hidden and what it looks like), and wanted to learn more about opioids. Other mothers came because they’d seen a newspaper ad. Dave took two moms on tours whose kids are already experimenting with drugs, especially marijuana, and wanted to be better informed.

Oh, and the mom that coach on Saturday said she was going to call? Yep, she came. I got to give her my last tour of the day on Monday. She was definitely intrigued by what she learned and said she’d be giving her daughter’s room a thorough search. She arrived in denial, but I like to think that maybe she left with opened eyes.

One of Dave’s tour mom’s commented that her son had recently begun collecting “soda cans.” Dave showed her the Coke can personal safe. And the Monster Energy personal safe and encouraged her to go home and take a closer look at some of those “soda cans.” She promised to do that.

Monday was definitely one of our most encouraging events so far. Everyone was so welcoming and eager to take the tour and blown away by what they learned. Everyone from a US Congressman to moms and dads trying to keep their kids safe and healthy.

Tuesday we’re headed to Tacoma for a couple of events in Washington. I’ll be back soon to catch up. Thanks for reading!

The Excellent Adventure: Back on the Road

Today we left home for the first extended portion of our Season 2 with the drug IMG_4516education trailer. We’re headed to Portland for two events this weekend. We planned to leave at 9 am and we were only about 30 minutes behind schedule this morning. We should have been either on time or a few minutes later.

After about an hour an a half, everything was going well. I was working on my laptop. (Since we knew where we were going, I didn’t need to navigate.) Suddenly David said, “Hold on!”

I looked up to see a truck/trailer stopping in front of us. David was braking but we were not stopping quickly enough. Sure enough, we hit them. Not hard. No airbags deployed. The other vehicle immediately pulled to the shoulder and we followed. Dave and the other driver exchanged information. Traffic had just slowed and he stopped quickly. More quickly than we could.

Everyone is fine, so that’s a blessing. The back doors of the other trailer will need to be replaced. Our truck front bumper has a couple of dimples and the license plate is slightly bent. This truck is a beast.

We were back on the road after about twenty minutes. Dave called the boss and told him. We continued on and pulled into our stop for tonight. Whenever we head to Oregon and Washington, we like to spend a night in Yreka. It’s a long day to or from home, but then IMG_4528it’s a shorter day to an Oregon destination. We have our favorite restaurant, so we got to town in time for dinner, checked in, and walked on the treadmill in the workout room.

David is now writing up all the accident information to send to the insurance company and our boss.

Since this trip started with a (literal) bang, we’re hoping and praying the rest of it will be smooth!

IMG_4527 It was a beautiful day for driving and we had gorgeous scenery to help pass the time.

Thanks for reading! I plan to stay mostly caught up as we travel this year.

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.