2018-12-31 – New Years Eve – Emerald Desert RV Resort, Palm Desert, CA

We are off to new adventures today!  It’s been a busy Christmas Season and we are ready to head out to ring in the new year.

As a bit of a recap:

Christmas Eve was spent with extended family on my mother’s side… More than forty people – several cousins, more second cousins, and many more third cousins.  We took the opportunity to get one photo of all of my mother’s direct descendants present:


Notice the boys’ feet… It must be something genetic… This is me at their age in 1954:

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Christmas day was spent with the grandchildren in Burbank:


Roisin was quite pleased with the art supplies she received…


After Christmas comes our son John’s birthday, celebrated, as usual, by several visits by friends and family to various fine dining establishments…

So today is New Year’s Eve, and we are heading to Palm Desert in The Villa.  We checked into Emerald Desert RV Resort, and spent the afternoon getting in our walking time…


As I’ve reported in the past, Emerald Desert is a beautiful place and we always enjoy our time here.  We watched some football, and at 5:00 pm we headed out to visit like minded friends for the evening.

We enjoyed hors d’ouevres that included shrimp cocktail, caviar, and various chips and dips.  Dinner started with crab cakes (with Justin sauvignon blanc), Caesar salad (with Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay), and roast lamb with a dried cherry sauce (with 2000 Ridge Montebello cabernet sauvignon).  Dessert was a blackberry and raspberry pie.  I found it particularly interesting, because I love the taste of boysenberry, which, as you know, is a cross between raspberry and blackberry.  Thank you Mr. Boysen and Walter Knott…!

We rang in the new year with a special cocktail provided by our hosts, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-11-09 – Paso Robles – Day 9

We awoke to a VERY cold morning.  It was 48 degrees inside the Airstream, and well under 30 degrees outside.  I turned on the furnace as soon as the sun was hitting the solar panels.  When it was warm enough to get dressed I went out and fired up the generators; fireplace was lit, TV was showing the morning news, coffee was soon ready, and the avocado toast was delicious!

We took a walk in the vineyards and enjoyed the views.  We were here in July and the vines were lush and green.  Now they are lying fallow and turning various shades of brown…


We drove off about 11:00 am to visit a vineyard and winery recommended by friends.  Again the drive was lovely…


We soon arrived at Nadeau Family Vintners…


And this happened!


Again we went to lunch in Paso Robles, this time at Park Avenue Grill…


After lunch we again walked around the town for a while, then we returned to Record.

I took a nap to make sure I could stay awake for the late evening festivities;  at 6:30 we joined the other campers (there are about 25 RVs parked around the vineyards…) to watch the bbq pit get lit, grill some hot dogs, and share a bottle of wine that each camper contributed… Although it was cold, we did have a nice time meeting a few new people and just hanging out together.  Finally we were too cold, so we returned to the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-29 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 42 – Gallup, New Mexico…

Another quiet day on the caravan.  We began by visiting an Indian Trading post and learning about Pawn.  Among the Indians, Pawn is nothing like the typical pawn shop where folks down on their luck borrow a few dollars on something semi-valuable that they own.  For the Indians, Pawn is a combination bank and safe deposit box.  Since there is little private ownership of land, and semi-communal living is common, there is no place secure for the Indians to store their valuables.  So they bring them to the Pawn and Trading Post; the trading post will store the valuables and give a token “loan” to the owner.  The owner then comes in every 2-3-4 months and pays a fee to keep the items in pawn.  When they need their possession back, they pay back the “loan” and claim their goods.

This trading post has over 1,800 saddles in Pawn.  I doubt there are even 1,800 horses in this part of the reservation… There are also guns, ceremonial head dresses and boots, lots of jewelry, and many other things the Indians deem valuable…

The saddles…


After listening to the Pawn explanation we saw an artist demonstrate his craft.  He showed us how he sketches and etches his design (in this case a silver bracelet) into a piece of soft stone.  This makes a mold, into which he pours the molten silver.  Out comes the rough bracelet, which he then polishes and finishes into a fine piece of jewelry…


Most caravaners then proceeded to spend lots of money…

We returned to the Villa.  We enjoyed a Saturday afternoon watching college football.  While the internet service is terrible here in New Mexico, the satellite TV is great!

We had many Happy Hours with our Airstream neighbors, then watched football again well into the night…

And again we have a short day, so here I present Erin and George expressing their feelings about spending all day Saturday watching T-Ball…

img_9071And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-07-03 – WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan – Day 2 – Russian River Valley

Today is our first day of tasting, and what a day it is!  If you know anything about wine, you know that the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast are synonymous with great Pinot Noir!  Today we visited three great wineries and then had dinner in the “capitol” of Russian River Valley, Healdsburg.

Our first stop was at Williams Selyem Winery.  Burt Williams and Ed Selyem started their winery in very simple circumstances in the 1980s and quickly amassed a cult following by producing outstanding wines that were in a style that goes great with, and enhances, food.  When I first read about them, I tried to buy their wines, only to be told that they are sold exclusively to members of the wine allocation list; I was welcome to sign up on the waiting list to get on the allocation list!.  Five years later, around 1995, I was “allocated” (allowed to buy) two bottles.  Over the years my allocation has been increased, and now I cannot afford to buy all the wine they will let me.  Burt and Ed retired many years ago, but their wines still retain their quality.

We began our tasting at their Tasting Salon:


They had a table set for us and a full line-up of wines to taste:


After a few wines were tasted, there was a brief tour of the facilities:


Then we moved outside to learn about the vineyards:


We returned inside the building, bought  a few bottles, and moved on…

Next stop is MacRostie;  someone told us this was a nice place and we agree;  there was a beautiful building, a greeter with sparking wine to share, and a table set for us:


Wine was really good, service was great and leisurely, and the views are hard to top!

Finally we moved on to our final tasting for the day:  Rochioli… the Rochioli family has been farming this land, growing grapes, and making great wine for over 80 years…

Again we were greeted, shown to a table under a bright orange umbrella, overlooking the vineyards below.  Wines were presented, comments exchanged, and questions asked…


It was a grueling day.  Now, all we needed was some dinner; we drove to the town of Healdsburg – dripping with wine country charm. We had some time to kill before dinner; some of our group looked for a place to have a beer, others shopped.  I took a nap on a park bench…

Our dinner was at Bravas, a Spanish tapas/small plates place.  We had a lovely table on the patio in the “back yard”.  We shared many courses: toast with olive oil, garlic, and sea salt; Duck meatballs; Long cooked pork cheeks; Croquetas with creamy chicken, ham, and Gruyere cheese; Chicken thighs with candied garlic; Octopus with smoked paprika and olives… All this was accompanied by bottles of William Selyem and Rochioli wines…


And that concludes the first day of wine tasting.  An enjoyable time was had by all…


































2017-12-29 to 2018-01-02 New Years Weekend in Palm Desert

It’s been a long time since I have written our Blog, and there has been a lot of water over the bridge since you last heard from us.  Over the next few Blogs I will try to get us caught up on how our year has been going…

We packed up the truck and picked up the Villa from its storage space and set out for Palm Desert.  Emerald Desert RV Resort is one of our favorite places to camp and, this trip, it didn’t disappoint.  We were assigned to a nice grassy site with a clean concrete pad.  First order of the day was to get the Villa a bath – after sitting for a month with dry, dusty air and Santa Ana winds blowing it was filthy!Indian Wells RV Detailing told us they could wash the Villa the next day.


We spent a lot of time walking around the park, to get our daily exercises in…


We spent a lovely weekend with our friends, Doug and Lorraine Wilson, visiting most days in their condo in Palm Desert. We also met up with Rob, our favorite Palm Springs Realtor, for a quick lunch…


We even had time for a picture of ourselves!

It was a fun, relaxing weekend and a great way to begin the year – good friends, football, wine, and warm sunny weather – just what New Years Day is all about!

An enjoyable time was had by all…
























2017-12-01 to 04 WBCCI South Coast Unit Holiday Party and Officer Installation, San Clemente…

It is our custom in the South Coast Unit to hold a Holiday Party and to install the new officers on the first Sunday of December.  Several years ago we decided that it would be fun to camp near the event, so now we, along with a few others, spend the weekend at San Clemente State Beach, one of our favorite camping spots.  The party and the installation are held nearby at the Clubhouse in Cypress Shores, adjacent to the State Park.  Before the festivities began we went into the adjacent greenbelt and took a group picture:


We began the weekend by picking up The Villa at C&G in Bellflower, who had finally repaired the damage to the Airstream that occurred last May and June.  It all looks great now!

We arrived at San Clemente and checked into our site.  Our friend, Rob, was already there, and we were joined by the Bangerts later on in the afternoon.   We spent the afternoon relaxing and reorganizing various things inside; we are still recovering from moving out after our long trip over the summer and we are readjusting as we go.


We did have some time to walk to overlook the beach and remember why we like this place.  We have not been here since last April – I think that is the longest we have been away for many years…


(PS:  the house in the background surrounded by trees is “Casa Pacifica”, President Nixon’s “Western White House”.  When we were camping here while teenagers, and he was in residence, we would walk along the beach and chat with the Secret Service agents who blocked off the beach to prevent us from walking closer to the house.  Several years later, when we bought our first house nearby in Laguna Niguel, our next door neighbor was a Secret Service agent who drove to San Clemente everyday to help guard the now-former president…)

Friday evening was the PAC12 football championship football game between Stanfurd and U$C, two of our favorite teams to root against; so we were OK with whichever team lost… (Stanfurd lost…)

Saturday morning we once again walked along the beach trail to the pier and had breakfast and coffee at Bear Coast Coffee.  This is my favorite view from our sidewalk table:


Saturday was another lazy day of watching football; there were 4 games, all of which helped decide the final four teams who will play in the playoffs:


The last games were not over until well past my bedtime.  It was a tough day, but someone had to do it.

However, tonight was a “super moon”  I did step outside long enough to catch a shot over the Airstream:


Fortunately, Sunday was an easy day.  We walked once more to Bear Coast Coffee, then I recovered from a busy Saturday:


Finally it was time for the big event:  We got all dressed up and headed to the party:




We were able to see the sunset:


We returned to the Villa for a good night’s sleep; Monday we returned home and picked up our three grandchildren for a fun 4 day, 3 night sleepover, whilst their parents enjoy a quick vacation away…


And an enjoyable time was had by all…


































2017-10-14 Westbound; WBCCI Region 12 Rally, Day 5…

It is Saturday, so we watched a lot of football!  There were many big, highly ranked teams that were upset, and we always like that.  As usual, the PAC 12 ate its own…

But we did venture out to drive through the beautiful countryside:

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We drove to Placerville to visit an old college friend, Harley Frazee.  He moved to Placerville about 2 1/2 years ago and lives on a sprawling property tended by sheep and enjoyed by his highly skilled agility dogs.  We had a nice chat and a tour of the property.  (Sorry – no pictures…)

We returned to the Villa, took many walks around the park, and watched more football.  Happy Hour ensued, then dinner with the Club, then the evening entertainment in the tent:

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We were able to catch up on South Coast Airstream happenings with our Unit President, Bob Kirkpatrick and his wife Karen:

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We returned to the Villa and enjoyed more football.  And an enjoyable time was had by all.














2017-07-29 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – New Brunswick – Cape Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of Fundy

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The Bay of Fundy  is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine.

The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world. Rivaled by Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, King Sound in Western Australia, Gulf of Khambhat in India, and the Severn Estuary in the UK, it has one of the highest vertical tidal ranges in the world. Finally, The Guinness Book of World Records (1975) declared that, indeed, the Bay of Fundy, at Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia, has the highest tides in the world. It averages about 50 vertical feet…

As the tide goes out, mud flats appear:

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Today the caravan convoys to the Hopewell Rocks to see the effects of the tides.  We arrived about 2 hours before low tide to give us a chance to walk on the ocean floor. The main “beach” was about 1 mile long – an easy walk from one end to the other. Along the way were amazing rock outcroppings, arches, towers, and “flower pots”.

After checking out the Visitors Center we walked through the woods to the bluffs overlooking the bay below:

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At the first overlook we get a glimpse of what we will be experiencing:

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We descended this staircase to reach the ocean floor. At high tide this entire structure is mostly under water:

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These are the “Flower Pots”; these trees grow out of virtually solid rock:

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At low tide the “beach”, which is actually the ocean floor, is quite muddy:

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A rare photo of the two of us:

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And some of our other intrepid caravanners:

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Just about at low tide the ranger came down and gave his talk. We walked, again, from one end to the other as he explained the rocks, the birds, the towers, and the flower pots.

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Once the tide starts to come in the rangers will place themselves at either end of the “beach” and herd the tourists back to the stairs up. The tides will rise at the rate of about 5 vertical feet per minute, so once the floor is covered, you’re under water quickly.

After all this excitement we needed lunch. We drove south to the tiny town of Alma for some fish and chips…

By the time we returned to The Villa we were exhausted… But I have things to do…

Since internet service in Canada is mostly non-existent, I went to the local Starbucks to catch up on writing and finances. It was nice to be able to work on the computer like it is supposed to be. Next, I went to the local New Brunswick Provincial Liquor store.  I restocked the larder, so to speak, and called it a day.

Happy hours ensued, and an enjoyable time was had by all.

2017-07-27 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Campobello Island – FDR and Eleanor…

We began our day in the rain.  It was very overcast and foggy.  We drove to the lighthouse:

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The lighthouse is on the northernmost tip of the island, and it is only accessible at low tide; at high tide it becomes its own island. Tides here are about 18′-20′, this being within the Bay of Fundy. (More on that in a few days…)

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First you have to climb down steep steps to the “beach”, which, at high tide, is the ocean floor…) Then you have to walk across the rocks and seaweed and climb up steep steps on the opposite side to access the lighthouse.

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We’ve seen lighthouses before, and several people had already slipped and fallen by the time we arrived, so we stayed on the safe upper path…

After enjoying the view of the lighthouse we drove through the rest of the northern part of the island. This area is very sparsely populated, and the scenery was beautiful.

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These small “islands” are actually salmon farms:

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We then headed to the main attraction of the day: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s “cottage” here on the island…

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Franklin Roosevelt spent many enjoyable vacations at his summer home on Campobello Island in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy.

FDR’s “cottage” has been preserved, and is almost exactly as it was in 1920, the summer before Franklin was stricken with polio. We were able to tour the first and second floors of the 34-room memorabilia filled cottage. Guides were stationed throughout the home to offer interpretation and answer questions about the house, its historic furnishings, and the family.  Interestingly, a ramp installed a few years ago provides easy access to the first floor, although FDR never added a ramp to accommodate his wheelchair… (But, then again, he had “people”…)

The “cottage” was built in 1897 for Mrs. Hartman Kuhn, of Boston.  It is next door to the cottage of FDR’s parents, where he summered as a child.  Mrs. Kuhn developed a fondness for Eleanor when Franklin and Eleanor summered at his mother’s cottage next door. A provision in Mrs. Kuhn’s will offered her cottage to FDR’s mother, Sara, for $5,000.00.  Sara purchased the furnished cottage and 5 acres of land in 1909, and gave the cottage to Franklin and Eleanor.  The growing family spent summers in the cottage from 1909 to 1921.  FDR altered the design of the house in 1915, when he added a new wing to provide additional space for his growing family.

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FDR’s cottage exhibits design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, and also elements of early Dutch-American Colonial architecture.  Considerations in the design of summer homes of the era were comfort, orientation to a scenic view and to the sun, and a “picturesque charm” so valued by the Arts and Crafts Movement.

I’m told that the cottage contains 34 rooms, 18 of which are bedrooms and 6 of which are bathrooms, although I didn’t count them.  The third floor, which we didn’t see, contained guest rooms and servants’ rooms, and, I assume, 3 bathrooms… There was even a bedroom on the second floor for Louis Howe, FDR’s political adviser…

The Kitchen:

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The Servants Dining, in the Kitchen:

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The Laundry:

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The Master Bedroom:

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The cottage was considered quite modern for its time, but had neither electricity nor telephone.  Kerosene lamps and candles provided light.  Seven fireplaces and kitchen coal and wood-fired stoves provided heat.  It even had hot and cold running water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning.  (Many cottages on the island had neither kerosene lamps nor running water… these people prided themselves as being “rustic”, but they also had servants to feed the fireplaces, light the candles, cook the meals, haul the water, and empty the chamber pots…)    The water came from storage tanks on the third floor of the cottage.  The storage tanks were fed by gravity from a tank atop a nearby windmill. Drinking water came in large bottles by horse and cart, from a spring called Barrel Well.

Every summer, the Roosevelts brought a nurse and a governess to tutor and instruct the children, and several servants to run the cottage.  Campobello residents were hired to help with the daily chores.

The rear of the house (note the screened porch):

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The view from the house:

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The rear of the house from the water’s edge, at the dock:


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Lynda standing on the dock:

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In addition to the Roosevelt cottage we were able to see the Hubbard Cottage… It sits adjacent to FDR’s cottage, on the other side of where FDR’s mother cottage was:

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(They are working on replacing some siding; thus, the cherry-picker…)

Only the first floor was available to tour, but there were grand rooms to see:

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And a grand porch:

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The rear of the house:

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We spent the middle of the day at Josie’s porch, a local coffee-house and general community hang-out.  But they had good internet access, so we spent some quality time catching up on important things…

Later that afternoon we had “Tea with Eleanor”. We assembled at the Wells-Shober house; we were led into parlors and dining room where the 49 of us sat and enjoyed tea and cookies. Two docents spoke for about 45 minutes on the life and times of Eleanor Roosevelt.  She had a tough life growing up, losing her parents at an early age and attending boarding schools in England and other parts of Europe.  It was interesting to hear all this; she never sought the limelight, and hated politics, but she did what she knew was right. After FDR was struck down by polio, it was she who went out and gave speeches to keep FDR in the public eye. After FDR’s death she continued to champion women’s rights and civil rights. During WWII she traveled the world, meeting military personnel in hospitals. She wrote personal letters to the families of everyone she met; sometimes she wrote 12-14 hours per day for months on end to give these families some sense of comfort.

She last returned to Campobello Island in 1962 for the dedication of the FDR bridge from Maine onto the island.

The Wells-Shober Cottage:

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Waiting to be taken in:

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Hilarity ensues as we try to find our places:

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The docents, telling their stories:  (The short one is a 10th generation islander…)

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After the tea, the ladies of the caravan assembled for a group picture, as is the caravan’s tradition…

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After tea we returned to the campground and readied ourselves for another travel day. We had a “Drivers’ Meeting” to discuss timing and routing.  We met in the campground recreation room; apparently they’ve been having good times, based on this sign…

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As always, an enjoyable time was had by all…


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