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: Farmers, Family, Friends

Friday, November 15, 2019

We had all day to drive from Eugene to the Portland area. We had planned to stay in the same hotel as we had earlier, in Wilsonville. But that one had been undergoing renovations and the parking lot wasn’t as trailer-friendly as we’d hoped, so I found another hotel in Hillsboro, Oregon.

We had an event Saturday (tomorrow) in Beaverton, near Hillsboro and Portland, and an event in Salem on Tuesday. Salem is about an hour south, but we decided to stay in Hillsboro and drive that hour down and back on Tuesday instead of checking out and staying in Salem. Because after Salem, we’d be heading north to Washington. That’s another thing we’re learning on this trip: what is really an “inconvenience.” Is an hour’s drive lesser than, greater than, or equal to the hassle of packing, loading, checking out, checking in, unloading, unpacking? In this case, the drive was less than, because we’d have to backtrack that hour the next day, anyway.

So, we took our time driving from Eugene to Hillsboro. It was only a two hour trip, so we got to town before check-in time. We unhitched, and went looking for lunch. We found a place nearby and settled in. Copper River reminded me a bit of Lazy Dog. I had a green chili chicken enchilada that was delicious.

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After lunch, we decided to find a couple of wineries for some tasting. There were two near each other, and about fifteen minutes away, so we headed first to Blizzard. The gal pouring was very nice, but we thought the wines were just okay. We didn’t buy anything there. Next up was Oak Knoll. We enjoyed these a bit more and bought a couple of bottles, including a pinot rose.

By now we could check-in, so we drove back to Hillsboro and the hotel. We made some phone calls and talked with friends for a bit, then I had a conference call with two of my critique partners. We had lunch leftovers for dinner and then sat in the hotel’s spa for a few minutes before bed.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Today’s event is at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market. We got there plenty early to get situated on the street. We talked to the market “Marshal,” and learned that in the summer, this farmer’s market gets 15,000 visitors on a Saturday! They expected only about 4,000 today.

We were near a couple of food trucks that were starting to make breakfast wraps. Rebecca and Sophie, our Oregon consultants, soon arrived and we got all set up.

This was a really fun event, for lots of reasons.

1) Our long-time friends, Tom and Nancy, have a very good friend who lives in the area.IMG_1251 copy I’d texted Robin and she came by! We’d heard a lot about Robin, had prayed for her and her family, but had never met her until today. It was wonderful to finally meet her in person and she’s just as lovely as I knew she would be. Having Tom and Nancy (not to mention the Lord) in common, enabled us to chat like we’d been friends for years, not meeting for the first time.

2) The people who came through for tours were really interested in the trailer and in what they learned.

3) I learned some things. A recovering addict took a tour with me. She did meth, she said, not heroin. In my spiel, I talk about a myth from the 1960s and 70s, when heroin users would pull liquid heroin into a syringe through cotton, thinking it filtered out impurities in the heroin. It doesn’t. They were just picking up bits of cotton fiber. They’d reuse the cotton and, over time, bacteria builds up and then they’d be injecting themselves with heroin, cotton fiber and bacteria, and getting sick with respiratory infections. This recovering meth addict told me, “Yeah, it’s cotton fever.” So I learned that factoid! Also, several parents of addicts came through and were grateful for the education we’re doing. They talked about signs they’d missed, about how well their kids are doing now (or not). 

4) We got to buy some delicious food, too. David bought some pears and some salmon spread that we had for dinner with crackers and cheese that night. He also bought us some tacos from one of the food trucks for lunch that were fabulous!

At about 2:00 the market officially closed and we packed up and had to get out quickly because there was a funeral scheduled at the church we were parked in front of.

We dropped off the trailer at the hotel and then went shopping. Because there’s no sales tax in Oregon, we had offered to pick up some things for family members. We bought some shot gun shells for a hunter and a birthday present for a grandson.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We watched our home church service online, then I did my mid-month work. We called and video-chatted with one daughter and grand-daughter, then we went to dinner and a IMG_9751 copymovie. We saw Midway, which was very good, and we talked about what was accurate and what was embellished by Hollywood.

At Stanford’s, we shared one of their specials, salmon with a beurre rouge sauce that was to die for.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Another quiet day. I worked until about 2 PM, then we went to Cooper Mountain winery for a tasting and had a great time. The tasting room manager, Alicia, is from California and had worked in Napa. She and David talked quite a bit about their Napa IMG_9726 copyfavorites. A sweet, but young and rambunctious dog, Webster, was on hand too. We bought some wine for Thanksgiving dinner, then went back to town. We shared a snack in the truck then watched another movie. This time we saw Ford vs Ferrari, another chance to read and see what was accurate and really happened and what was Hollywood taking liberties with in the story.

After the movie, we got to video chat with our other daughter and grandchildren, which is always the highlight of our weeks.

We finished with another soak in the spa and then bed. Tomorrow would be our long day in Salem.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We left Hillsboro at 7 AM, to get to Salem at 8. Of course, there was traffic, delaying us a bit, but we got there and were set up in front of the Capitol by 9. The truck couldn’t be attached to the trailer in front of the building all day, per the Capitol police, so David unhooked and parked off site, then came back.

This day was definitely focused on getting legislators to come through the trailer and take the tour. I had a woman from the Grange, and a few staffers and one or two legislators. So, overall, I think it was a good day. It was very cold. Definitely a day we’d have enjoyed being able to get in the truck for a few minutes to thaw out, if it had been available.

Walking back from parking, David had passed a sandwich shop, so he backtracked to get us some lunch, which we ate in shifts at the back of the trailer. Eating, drinking, and bathroom use are practicalities that we always have to think about on the job. We have to stay hydrated, so we both always carry a water bottle. But some days bathroom facilities aren’t nearby. But also sometimes the weather is such that no matter how much I drink, it’s fine, I don’t need a bathroom. It’s crazy. And it’s true of cold days, just as much as warm days. I didn’t use the bathroom at all, this day in Salem. In spite of two cups of coffee and two bottles of water. At the Iowa State Fair, when it was super hot and humid, I’d drink 5-6 bottles of water and not need the bathroom until 4:00 in the afternoon. Is that TMI?

Anyway, back to our day.

I have recently reconnected with a high school friend from Castro Valley, California. Heidi now lives in Salem and we had made plans to meet for dinner at 5:00. Because of the cold and because we had no one come by after 3:00, we started packing up at 3:30.

We got permission to leave the trailer in front of the Capitol for a few hours, which was perfect. We’d chosen a restaurant, a local Oregon chain, that we’d started to go to in Eugene, before our Uber driver convinced us to go somewhere else. We still wanted to try the original destination and there was one in Salem. So we’d chosen that place, thinking we could park the trailer there. But since we had permission to leave it, that seemed the better option. And good thing, because the lot at the Ram was not trailer-friendly, at all.

IMG_4352 copyWe got there a good half hour early. I texted Heidi that we were early and she hurried over. I didn’t want her to rush, but I also didn’t want her to think we were bored and waiting for her. We were happy to have a few minutes to decompress and warm up while we waited. I had the blackened chicken mac and cheese and had plenty of leftovers to take home for lunch.

Heidi and I hadn’t seen each other in probably forty years, maybe more. We had a lot to catch up on! She’s still an animal lover and a wonderfully kind person.

After dinner, a panhandler waited outside the restaurant. We don’t often give money, but will usually buy someone a meal. David offered to go back in and buy the man something to eat. He refused, saying he just wanted a beer. To my shock, David gave him $5. David said later, “Yeah, I never do that, but he was upfront about what he wanted, so I figured why not?” As David walked Heidi to her car, the man disappeared into the restaurant. I guess $5 + what he had was enough for his beer. 

We went back to the Capitol, hitched up, and drove the hour back to Hillsboro, our spa, and our bed.

Tomorrow: Off to Washington!

 

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.

 

Nevada -> California

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

We were able to sleep in a little, but because our bodies were still on east coast time, it wasn’t too late when we got up. We were just planning to spend one day in town.

We texted some friends who’d moved to Las Vegas during the summer to see if they were free for lunch. We also wanted to visit the Mob Museum and see a show. I’d been to Vegas back in March with some girlfriends and we’d done the museum and seen the Cirque du Soleil show Love, based on Beatles’ music. It was really good, and I knew David would enjoy it, so I booked the tickets.

IMG_0849I worked for a couple of hours and then we took an Uber to meet Larry and Bertha for lunch. We didn’t want to hassle with parking and the lunch place was walking distance to the Mob Museum. We had a great lunch and a great time catching up with friends. Dave and I shared the Smashed Cubano sandwich at the Smashed Pig GastroPub. I keep a list in my phone of interesting restaurants I hear about, either on TV shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, or in the AAA Via Magazine. I often forget to consult those notes, but that’s a different matter. Occasionally, I find when I go back and read them, that I accidentally visited a place and that’s what happened with the Smashed Pig. A few days later, I opened the Restaurant Notes to add something, glanced through the Vegas list and there was the Smashed Pig! I’m glad someone had recommended it and even gladder Larry suggested it!

We had one moment of panic when Jeff, the other driver/tour guide we’d taken over from called David because the hotel had called him to say, “Hey, you checked out, but your trailer is still here. What’s up?” Long story short, Jeff and Katia had reserved our room. When we checked in, we thought they’d reserved two nights for us, but they hadn’t. And when I called the hotel to say we needed a second night, the clerk said they were full and couldn’t accommodate us. I really did panic. We were twenty minutes away, by Uber. We weren’t packed. I’d left my laptop out. But the clerk was implacable. I asked to speak to someone else. He said they’d tell us the same thing. There was nothing he could do, they were overbooked, and we had to leave. Finally, he put me on hold and someone else picked up. I explained the situation and this guy was all, “Sure, no problem. Yeah, we’re overbooked, but there will be no shows.” Whew! After my heart rate returned to normal, we resumed our lovely visit and lunch.

After lunch, we walked the few blocks to the museum. We spent several hours and didn’t IMG_0681see it all. They have many fascinating displays, starting with a lineup you can go into. There’s a timeline of organized crime in this country, beginning with immigrants who brought it (and feuds) from their countries of origin. The picture to the right is from a flow chart/mind mapping kind of display showing all the “industries” organized crime touches and in what ways. I took this picture of the section showing drugs, since that’s what we’re interested in just now. By 4:45, we knew we’d have to make a second visit some other day to see the rest of the museum.

We took an Uber back to our hotel, had a quick bite at their free Happy Hour of drinks and snacks, then Ubered to the Mirage for our show. It was as great as I remembered, except for the woman sitting to my right. She kept taking her phone out and texting. The light was distracting me and I kept having to put a hand up to my face to block her. Other than that, we had a great time. We Ubered back to the hotel and were able to get to sleep at a decent hour.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

California, here we come! We weren’t in a huge hurry to leave since we were only headed to Bakersfield, about four and a half hours away. We had an event scheduled in Monterey for Friday, so we planned to take two days to get there.

At breakfast at the hotel, there was a women’s sports team also there. Given their ages, and uniforms, I deduced they were the Air Force Academy Women’s Tennis team. Since one of our granddaughters has expressed an interest in attending there, I asked some of the young women if they had any advice I could pass on. They said just to be a well-rounded student. There’s a summer program she can apply to for the summer of her junior year. They were very nice and encouraging.

Then we packed up and prepared to hit the road. As we hooked everything up, David noticed that the plug from the trailer to the truck that connects the lights was all worn away on one side. It had fallen out of the truck and been dragged on the roadway. But he got it to fit back into the receptacle, so we headed out.

Two of the random things we saw: A limo with suitcases bulging from its trunk on the freeway in Vegas and goats in the back of a pick-up, just inside California.

Getting out of Las Vegas itself turned out to be a bit tricky. The streets would merge without warning and we’d find ourself in the wrong lane. We can’t exactly sneak into a small space between cars. At a red light, we were waiting a ways back in our (wrong) lane, with the turning indicator on, when a very sweet woman in a white SUV in the lane next to us motioned us to come ahead. We did and rolled down the window. She said the roads were really confusing and she’d wait for us to go in front of her. Thank God for her, because in another block, she pulled up on the other side, rolled her window down and said if we were wanting the freeway, we’d need to be in the other lane in one more block and she’d hang back for us again. She was a definite answer to a prayer we didn’t know we needed to pray.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. Although it was no fun when we made our first California stop for gas! Ouch!

We made it to Bakersfield at about 5:00. I’d arranged, through the kindness of our niece (picking up the accumulated mail at our house) and Taryn (driving it to Bakersfield) to get our mail and as a bonus we got to see our daughter and granddaughter. We went to dinner at In ‘n Out, had a good visit, and then swapped bags. I took the thirty pounds of mail and gave her the ten pounds of various papers, souvenirs, magnets, and stuff that I didn’t want to cart around the west coast.

All in all, a good day!

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.

 

North Carolina -> South Carolina-> Georgia -> Florida -> Nevada

Friday, Oct. 18, 2019

We got up early and told Sheana goodbye in Durham, then drove to the hotel in Hillsborough, NC, where we’d left the trailer. We had lunch plans in Columbia, South Carolina. Our niece, Betsy, lives there with her husband and their four children. Betsy serves in the US Army and is stationed in Columbia. We hadn’t met her two youngest children, and since Columbia wasn’t too far out of our way to Florida, we were able to meet up.

 

It was wonderful to see Betsy and her family, even if it was only for a short time. Her two older children have grown up a lot since we last saw them, although they said they remembered us.

After lunch, we were back on the road to Savannah, our stop for the night on our way to Orlando, where we’d leave the truck and trailer and fly to Las Vegas.

It about killed me to be in Savannah and not see any of the historic sites there. We didn’t go to any Civil War landmarks. We didn’t visit any architectural buildings of note. We didn’t see any museums. So I was determined that we would at least eat a great dinner. But after a long day of driving, I also knew IMG_0711 2 copyDave wouldn’t be up for going downtown and dealing with traffic in the big Ford truck, and an Uber from our location in the ‘burbs wasn’t feasible. So I found a restaurant on a river, with good reviews, about fifteen minutes from our hotel. We found it fairly easily (only one wrong turn!). Then we were seated at a table without much of a view. We asked to move, telling the waitress we were only there for the one night, we’d likely never be back. She seemed a little put out at the loss of a tip, but said, “Sure.” So we got the last table on the lower level and were able to enjoy the river view and sunset. This was a true low country menu. We shared fried pickles and gator bites for appetizers, then we also shared a low country boil dinner. It had sausage, shrimp, corn, potatoes, and hushpuppies. The seasoning was spicy, but not overwhelming. We had plenty of everything left over for more meals over the next couple of days.

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Even though we didn’t even get a glimpse of historic Savannah, the taste we got makes us want to go back.

Saturday, October 20

Tropical Storm Nestor had come across the south, and lucky us, we got to follow his tail down Georgia and into Florida. It poured on us for the first couple hours of the trip. That along with the strong winds, made for a stressful morning. It rained all the way to IMG_0983 copyJacksonville.

Our destination was Orlando, which we made around 4 pm. Our first stop was a Jiffy Lube. Dave had been tasked with getting the oil changed in both the truck and the generator we use to power the trailer’s lights and air conditioning units.

I’d found two Jiffy Lubes that looked not too far from our hotel. One of them, from the satellite view, we could tell, no way would it accommodate the trailer, so I plugged in the address of the other one. Except, sigh, somehow, I mixed them up, and we arrived at the place with no room to enter or turn around. Which we realized as we approached, so we didn’t bother trying to turn in. All we lost was some time. I don’t make navigating mistakes often, considering I’m plugging in multiple venues and figuring routes all day long.

We made our way to the other location and were able to pull in. But they couldn’t change the oil in the generator. Something about not being able to account for the disposing of it, I think. So we unhooked, they changed the oil in the truck, we hooked back up, and drove to our hotel. Which was fully booked with a couple of conferences for the weekend. We ended up parking along the side of the parking lot, with an assurance from the manager that most of the cars would be gone in the morning and we’d be able to park in front of the office and even be able to leave the truck and trailer there after we left. Our coworkers could fly down and pick it up for the Florida events. Nice! It had been a long day and we were glad to check-in and have our nightly glass of wine before bed.

Sunday, October 21

We had essentially a day and a half in Orlando. My suitcase was literally falling apart. The zippers were no longer … well, let’s say I didn’t feel confident all my belongings wouldn’t be scattered across the runway. So one of our tasks in Orlando was to buy a new suitcase.

We mapped out a route around town and set out. First to a car wash to leave a bright and shiny truck for the next driver/guides. Then to Home Depot for, of course, more trailer and truck supplies. I don’t even know what he bought this time. Then to Target for a suitcase.

We ended up having a quiet afternoon at the hotel. Dave’s stomach was bothering him, so I ordered Door Dash from Cracker Barrel and just got him a baked potato for dinner.

Monday, October 22

We had a mid-afternoon flight, never a good thing, from Orlando to Vegas. The later in the day, the more likely to be delayed. And sure enough, we were. The Orlando airport was wild and loud and crazy with families heading home from the Orlando amusement parks. And we learned we probably won’t fly on Frontier again. The seats were too uncomfortable for Dave and his long legs. And I’m sorry, but paying for water is just wrong.

It turned out to be about a two and a half to three hour delay. At least we were going east to west so even though it would be a long day for us, it would still be fairly early in Nevada. We were supposed to get in at 5 pm. We ended up landing around 8 pm. The couple we were taking the trailer over from had an event until 8, so they got to the hotel before we did.

We had a short debrief meeting with them, then said good-night. This is Jeff and Katia, the couple we trained in Colorado and left there. We took over that same trailer.

And finally, we were in the same time zone as our kids and grandkids and the rest of the family!

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Swans in the lobby of our hotel in Las Vegas. Because, why  not? They were named Elvis and Priscilla.

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