Friday, September 15, 2006

What a great trip!

Life is a journey ... NOT a guided tour. So don't miss the ride and have a great time going around. You don't get a second shot at it.
(My friend Hilda sent this in an email.)

Traffic, traffic and more traffic
Thursday, Aug. 31
I don’t know how tourists manage the webs and layers of multi-lane freeways of the San Diego area. I was familiar with the area and knew where I was going – and driving a normal car, but it was still stressful. I left the RV park extra early for my 9 a.m. appointment about 30 miles away, trying to miss a lot of morning traffic.

Today I was poked, prodded and squished: I had appointments with my oncologist and dermatologist; had blood taken, my annual mammogram, and my annual field of vision exam. A full day – but I’m happy to report that all is well. It’s been nine years since my breast cancer diagnosis and therapy, and about that many years since my last basal cell skin cancer surgery.

Friday, Aug. 31 to Monday, Sept. 4
Today I had an appointment with my financial advisor, the hairdresser I’ve had for 25 years and lunch with a friend. By the time I got back to the campground, quite a few of my dancing/camping friends had arrived for the Labor Day Campout. Soon all 14 RVs had arrived, about half with folks I knew from my country/western dancing days.

The camping group is called Circle of Friends. This weekend we had three potluck breakfasts and two dinners. On Saturday many of the men went golfing, some of the women went shopping. The children had fun riding bicycles and enjoying the swimming pool. It is a good group of all ages.

Monday afternoon through Thursday night
Around noon on Monday, the camping group dispersed. I packed up and drove to Pat and Russ Vollman home in Escondido where I parked Jeremiah for the next three nights. Cat has been cooped up for a week, but with coyotes roaming the Vollman’s avocado orchard, I couldn’t risk letting her out.

Speaking of Cat, here’s a quote attributed to George Mikes:
“You can keep a dog, but it is the cat, who keeps people because cats find humans useful domestic animals.”

These few days were filled with seeing my son Rick and his family: wife Dianne, daughters Christine (21) and Danielle (17) and visiting with friends.

Thursday morning highlight was a tour of Basiltops facility where basil is hydroponically grown specifically for making pestos. The brains behind this operation is a 70-year-old Sicilian named Cynthia Bronte. The pesto packaging is European style (see photo)

After touring the greenhouses, my friend Pat and I enjoyed samples of many types of pestos, and were given several to take home. On my next San Diego trip (late January/early February 2007) I’ll take a tour of the pesto processing facility.

Soon after the basil tour and tasting, I unhooked Jeremiah and headed east. I spent Thursday night at Mayflower County Park on the Colorado River near Blythe, California. It is my favorite mid-way trip between San Diego and Phoenix.

Unlike my winter stays, Mayflower is pretty deserted during the hot summer months. While I was getting Jeremiah settled, Cat was happy to be outside. When the camp host stopped by, she cautioned me to keep a good eye on Cat. She said the resident owls favor small animals, and one had swooped down last week to carry off a small dog that was unattended.

Soon Cat and I were in for the evening, having dinner and reading before bedtime. I had barely fallen asleep before I was awakened by lightning, thunder and lots of rain.

Is Cat missing again?

In the morning I was careful to keep Cat inside while I unhooked and drove to the “dump station” to empty my waste tanks. Again I was careful about Cat – or at least I thought. With my dumping done, I was ready to drive. I quickly checked to see where Cat was – but no Cat could be found.

I quickly walked back to the area where I was parked for the night, no cat. I walked around the dump station area, no cat. One more check in Jeremiah. For some reason I checked in my closet, and there she was – sound asleep. Whew!

Friday, Sept. 8
I-10 is such a boring road. Fortunately I had tapes and radio to listen to. My destination today was Goodyear, Arizona, for a visit with my high school friend Rita – whom I had not seen in 50 years! In fact, before Friday evening was over, I had also visited with two other high school friends: Joe Cole and Sylvia Larsen Anderson.

Saturday and Sunday
These two nights were spent at the “Anderson RV park” in Tempe, Arizona – a nice long driveway at the home of my brother Ed and his wife Debby. These two days were devoted to visiting with Ed and two of my sisters, Margy and Alice, and Margy’s daughter Jenny.

Monday and Tuesday
Monday morning I drove to Prescott, and stayed at Point of Rocks RV Park. My final family days were with my two sisters who live in the Prescott area: Elaine and Susan. And I had a delightful visit with nephew KC, his wife Shari, and their nearly-two-years-old daughter Kalyssa. The highlight was the family dinner on Tuesday evening.

The weather guy says to expect scattered rain around northern Arizona today – so I head out with two Arizona destinations in mind: Fool Hollow State Park near Show Low and/or Lyman Lake State Park near St. Johns. I’ll decide as I go because both start out in the same direction.

As I was about to head east from I-17, the sky looked dark and stormy and I didn’t want to be traveling on mountainous back roads in bad weather. So, I quickly decided a new plan: I would continue north on I-17 and then go east on I-40. This route takes me past several towns, all of which have RV parks.

In spite of the multitude of 18-wheelers, the drive on this basically flat road was easy. And in spite of the 75-mph posted speed, I stuck to 60 mph. As I neared the last fairly large town, I decided to just keep on driving with the new plan of spending a couple of days at Bluewater Lake State Park just south of Grants, New Mexico. The change in plans made for a longer driving day, but in turn gave me an extra day at Bluewater.

I found a level-looking site at Bluewater - #11 – and backed in like a pro! I was eager to get electricity to cool Jeremiah down and to get my refrigerator running. I was hooked up, propane on, slide extended – and then I discovered that there were no water hookups. Fortunately I had nearly a half-tank of water. Otherwise, I would have had to unhook, drive to find a water source and fill my water tank, then re-park and hook up again. When I finally located a park map, I found that there are only 15 electric sites, and no sites have water.

On Thursday I met several campers, got some writing work done, started cleaning and organizing Jeremiah for the end-of-trip unloading. Cat was delighted to spend some time outside – until a friendly dog came over. Cat scurried inside, the dog made itself at home by taking a nap on my outside rug.

After a morning of writing work, I unhooked Jeremiah and drove the remaining 100 miles to home. Another successful trip: 3+ weeks and 2,000 miles.

Reflections on the trip during the drive home:
1. Wide variety of weather: 120-degrees at Picacho Peak, Arizona, 45-degree night at Bluewater Lake. Lots of sunshine, some cloudy days, and some rain.
2. It is great to see my son and his family. Rick and Dianne are super parents and interesting people. I’m always amazed at the home remodeling projects that they tackle and how nice they turn out. Their daughters are bright and level-headed.
3. I’m blessed to have family. Seven of the original eight Anderson kids are living, and I was able to visit with all but Linda (I spent time with her this past summer.)
4. I’m equally blessed with friends, and am sorry that my limited time in the San Diego area didn’t allow me to see them all. I’ll do better when I go back late January/early February 2007.
5. Jeremiah, my Winnebago, is one jewel of a motorhome. He has not given me one speck of trouble and is a good size for Cat and me.
6. Cat is a sweet traveling companion.
7. I am grateful.

24 character traits that make people thrive include
creativity, curiosity, bravery and kindness.
Heart strengths are gratitude, hope, zest and
the ability to love and be loved.
Spend time each night writing about what

had gone well that day.
--Dorothy Foltz-Gray, writer