Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Baby Ruth

When my kids were young, I purchased a number of North American Bears for them.  We have Albert Einstein, Judy Bearland, Ted Norton, several Christmas bears, and Bearb Ruth.  I have scattered them throughout the house, wanting to give them away or sell them but not exactly knowing how.

Over Thanksgiving, Caleb was in his father's bedroom, and while there, he found Bearb Ruth.  Within minutes, he was carrying the bear around the house.  "Baby Ruth, Baby Ruth," he said.  "Baby Ruth, Baby Ruth."  Over and over again.

We would put the bear up, and the next time he would see it, "Baby Ruth, Baby Ruth," he would say. It was very cute, and something his grandparents in particular loved!

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Caleb Halloween

We had the privilege of spending Halloween with Melinda and Caleb, and what fun we had!

First, we had to cut the pumpkin.  Caleb helped pull out the seeds . . . and then he tried to put them back.  I wish I had had a camera to take a picture of Caleb when he saw the jack-o-lantern.  It was sheer unadulterated joy!

That evening, we put him in his pumpkin outfit - the same one Kenneth and Diana wore when they were little.  He even kept the lid on his head!  We went to five houses, and he was quite proficient at saying "Tick o Teat."  He also liked the candle inside the pumpkin - "Fiyo!  Hot."

Although he did not get any of the candy, we think he had a great time.  For sure we did!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


What is the world coming to?

Aunt Ruth drove her Meals-on-Wheels route on Tuesday, and afterwards, she came home to eat.  She drove into her garage, took her purse and went inside to eat.  She needed to go to the church to do some work, so she wasn't inside very long.  Grabbing her purse and keys, she went to the garage and discovered the door had been closed . . . and the garage was empty.  No car.

Turns out, the young man who lives across the street closed her garage door because he thought she had accidentally left it open since her car was not inside.  It didn't take them long to figure out that the young man's backpack had been stolen out of his father's car, and then the thief hot wired Aunt Ruth's car.  Within an hour, someone had racked up charges at five stores on Coors Rd. - a long way from Aunt Ruth's house.

Luckily, her insurance agent is my brother, so Bart picked her up, took her to the church, arranged for a rental car, and Jerri took her to pick it up.

All-in-all, it worked out about the best it could have.  The thief did not come into Aunt Ruth's house, which he easily could have done.  She was preparing to get rid of the car because it had been giving her trouble.  And they got a picture of the person using the credit card.  We hope they catch the creep . . . but in the meantime, we are glad Aunt Ruth was unhurt!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

West With the Night

Have you heard of Beryl Markham?  Neither had I.  But I have now, and after reading this, so will you!

When Diana and I were in Madrid, New Mexico last summer, a man in a textile store gave Diana the above mentioned book, West With the Night.  She didn't have time to read it, so it sat in the Jeep's door pocket for the entire year, traveling back and forth, waiting for someone to read it.  This last trip home, I was out of reading material, so I decided to try it.

On the back cover is an endorsement from Ernest Hemingway about the extraordinary writing of Ms. Markham, and although the identity of the real author is a little uncertain, it really doesn't matter.  What does matter is that this book is as beautifully written as the movie Out of Africa is filmed.  Beryl Markham was raised in Africa, trained horses, and then became a bush pilot - the first woman bush pilot.  She is the first woman to fly from Europe to the US - hence the title since to do so, one must follow the night across the ocean.

The book is set in the 1930's, so the descriptions of Africa are much different from what we now know.  Beryl Markham actually knew the Blixens, who were featured in Out of Africa, and the husband plays a significant role in Beryl's life.  And although she isn't as famous as Amelia Earhart, her life is equally as exciting.

Apparently this book was reissued in 1983 after someone located Ms. Markham living in poverty in Africa.  The sales from the book allowed her to live decently for the remainder of her life.  In 2005 it was still listed as one of the top adventure books available.  It was not exactly gripping . . . but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and if you are looking for an interesting read, this just might be the ticket.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall Has Arrived

On Sunday, September 30, Don and I took our friends, Claudia and Peter, to Elk Mountain.  The weather was sublime - bright blue skies, little wind, cool temperatures.  Perfection!

The road is always a little rocky, and it did not disappoint.  The trees were not quite perfect, but they were close.

Every year, I take pictures of the beautiful aspens . . . and I never tire of them.

We discovered that Nelson is not particularly fond of bumpy roads, and he was in our lap most of the time.  I felt sorry for him . . . he was shaking a bit and pacing when he could.  Every time the car stopped, he was ready to exit!

Peter is an earth-science professor, and going to Elk Mountain with him to tell us about some of the geology was really fun.  We stopped at one fossiliferous area, and he found many cool fossils.  Don took a picture of one of the best rocks they found.  It has many critinoids in it . . . really exciting for those of us who love rocks, fossils, and geology.

The trip to Elk Mountain lasted the greater part of the day, which was time well-spent.

Movie Making

In September I was contacted by a movie-making firm, asking if they could park their star trailers and canteen on some property I own in the Pecos.  Since I had been forewarned, I was able to do some homework so that when they gave me a "low-ball" offer I was able to counter with a more reasonable one.  That worked well!

They had set up their tents and put all of the star trailers on the land by the time we arrived.  We were invited for lunch, and what a lunch we had!  Besides the best pork chop ever, garibaldi fish, chicken, and beef, they had a large table of salads, another of drinks (including a large jug of almond milk), desserts by the case, and appetizers.  Actors eat well!

The full group of star trailers (left) and canteen
Don thinks he needs this for our tailgates!
As suddenly as they appeared, they pulled out . . . only to need to return.  They came back with an abbreviated crew, and once again, we went to lunch with them.  While there, the actor Jeff Daniels walked in.  We did not speak to him, but it was fun seeing him fairly close up.

The name of the series is "Godless," and it will be on Netflix sometime next year.  About a cowardly sheriff who arrives to help a town filled with women, I was told it was about a "bunch of women who can kick a**."  Sounds like it could be a fun western to watch!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

14,000 Miles

14,000 miles.  Yep.  That's how many miles we drove this summer to the cabin and back.  Seven trips at about 1000 miles each, including trips to Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque.  And I couldn't get enough of the cabin.

It amazes me how happy I am when I am at the cabin.  The minute I get out of the car, a peace settles over me like nowhere else.  Whether it is the lack of a strict schedule, a smaller house with less "stuff," the wonderfully fresh air, or the childhood memories, I don't know, but when I am at the cabin I am just happy.

This most recent trip was especially satisfying, since the aspens were turning.  We went to the top of Elk Mountain, we spent a lot of time at our lot on Grass Mountain, and when we went to Angel Fire to see Bart and Katie, we were able to take in the colors from another vantage point.

I don't know if our cars can manage 14,000 miles every year, but every single mile was worth it!

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

I purchased this book for Diana a number of years ago.  Oprah highly recommended it, and I thought she would like it.  But I was always afraid to read it.  I knew it was about a boy and his dogs, which for me is a recipe for a hearty cry.  So I decided not to read it.

Fast forward to this year, and I decided I needed to read it.  Diana said it was poignant . . . I say it is a true tearjerker.  About a young boy who was born mute but not deaf, it is the description of how he connects with a certain kind of (fictional) breed - the Sawtelle dog - and how he deals with his father's death.

The thing is, as good as the book was, and yes, as sad as it was, I felt the ending was totally wrong.  Because I don't want to spoil the book, I can't divulge what I thought should have been different, but I would love to discuss the ending.  I have read several reviews, and others have felt the same way.  It was as if the author just wanted to end the book - and he did.

Although I would have changed the ending, I thought the author's descriptions of a boy and his dogs was spot on . . . and the fact that I still tear up thinking of certain scenes tells how well he did.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Baby is 30!

Amidst the craziness of the summer, my baby turned 30.  I recall 30+ years ago, when Christy Scott turned 30, her mother said, "I never dreamed I would be old enough to have a 30-year-old child."  And now here I have two of them.  The years seemed to have morphed into memories - wonderful memories - and I can't wait to see what is next.

We joined Di and Daniel on her birthday night for dinner and ice cream at Phil and Amy's, and godmother Kathy and hubby Walt joined us.  Then Friday, the packing to go to Spain began.  While Don and Walt took load after load to the thrift shop, Kathy and I packed boxes, I was a go-fer, and by the end of the day, we had gotten lots done!  Then Saturday, Walt and Don loaded boxes into the two cars, Daniel, Hai (the subletter), Walt, Don, and I moved furniture up and downstairs until everyone was set.  Don and I stayed in a hotel that night, but poor Di had to sleep on the couch because the dogs couldn't join us at the hotel :(

On Friday, Di also made a red velvet cake with beets and goat cheese/cream cheese icing.  

Can you say delicious?  It was our entire dinner on Friday night.  I love dessert for supper!  She used the star-saped cake pans that I used when she was a child.  When I asked her about them, she said, "More surface area for frosting."  Like mother, like daughter.

Thursday night, Kathy gave Di a gift. It was a gorgeous quilt, one specially made to help with tactile sensations.  Di is especially sensitive to different textures, and she has found that if she can touch different textures, she is less likely to pull her hair.  Kathy makes these kinds of quilts, mostly for Alzheimers patients - but also for Di.  The first thing I noticed was how soft the backing was . . . then I noticed how many textures Kathy had incorporated into the quilt.  It also won a prize at one of the quilt shows into which Kathy had entered it . . . and it definitely found a spot in Diana's suitcase for the trip to Spain.

Then Sunday morning it was time to bid Di bon voyage for her next great adventure. She was headed to Spain to finish her dissertation and to participate in the Fulbright program - a great feather in the cap of one polished young woman who is destined to make a great mark in this world.  Di, we are so proud of you and the woman you have become.  Happy 30th birthday.

Anna Karenina

When I saw our summer read for Book Club was Anna Karenina, I nearly threw up.  I thought, "You've got to be kidding me!"  I had no desire to read something so long, and I had heard so much about it, the huge number of characters, and the complexity of the plot that I had no interest.  But, since it was assigned, I had to read it.

Within a chapter, I was hooked.  Now maybe I just had an easy translation of it, but I found it delightful (until the last four chapters that became a philosophical mess rather than a novel - somewhat like John Galt's 63-page speech but shorter, and I skipped that, too).  And the numbers of characters, though very large, was not daunting at all, since many of them just slipped into the story and then slipped out, much like people in our lives.  

Anna Karenina seemed more like  a soap opera than anything.  Each chapter could be a 30-minute show during the day, and it could last for several years, I am sure.  There is adequate drama, plenty of philandering, and enough intrigue to keep a person interested throughout the whole book.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the book . . . and at Book Club I will have the opportunity to hear Judy Goodpasture tell me what I missed during the read!

Friday, July 29, 2016

An Intriguing Study

For Christmas, Don gave me a National Geographic DNA kit.  We had heard about the study from the Gaskills, and Don decided to check it out.  I followed the instructions, and several months ago, I received the results.  I found out some interesting facts.

I discovered that my mom's family was one of the first to leave Africa over 60,000 years ago.  Once people left Africa, sometime they met up with Neanderthals in Europe (I thought Neanderthals lived in Africa . . . so much for what I know).  The average amount of Neanderthal contained in DNA appears to be about 2.1%.  I have 1.2%.  Hm.  Ultimately, the study shows that my DNA most closely resembles that of the Dutch and then the French, which is surprising since we thought we had a lot of Irish.  But that is from my dad, which I do not show because I do not have the Y Chromosome.  Hence, we asked Bart to check his DNA.

Bart's maternal side is the same as mine - no mystery.  His neanderthal percentage is 1.3% - so my dad must have had a little more.  Bart, too, appears to be Dutch and French, but he only has two major groups represented in his DNA - 77% Western European and 23% Irish.  Ah ha . . . that explains the Irish part.

Since then, I had my uncle tested, which gave us his father's DNA.  His is much more interesting than Bart's . . . and much rarer.  They do not have many people who have sent in DNA from those blood lines, which means they will continue to update it.  I have also done testing on my Aunt Ruth to get my dad's mother's side, and next up will be Don and his dad.  From them we will get Don's grandmother, his mother, and their Y chromosome.

Now none of this matters, but I do think it is interesting.  I did have to appeal to Ellie Quillen, a student from TIS who was in Kenneth's class and has a PhD in genetics, to figure it all out, but now it is making a lot of sense.  It doesn't give any specific bloodlines, but it is a fascinating study!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Caleb at the Cabin

I decided that this is a post that could narrate itself.  So here goes!

Eating a lemon!

Our little bear


Swimming in the hot mountains

Reading with Papa
Visiting outside the cabin
Learning about Pooh Sticks!
Making friends with Liam
Kilroy is here!
Our morning coffee!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fourth of July, 2016

Our Fourth of July weekend was a very special one.  Kenneth, Melinda, Caleb and Diana all joined us for a few days at the cabin.  Caleb was introduced to hummingbirds, running streams, rocks, pinecones . . . all of the things that make the cabin special.  He adapted well to the sleep schedule, he loved walks up the Canyon, and he enjoyed time with his Aunt Di.

We attended the Fourth of July party at the Noel's cabin - a yearly tradition - and Kenneth was the honored speaker.  We didn't really know about what he would talk - there was plenty of material, if he wanted to get political - but he didn't think that was necessary.  Instead, he gave this short (8 minute) speech.  It seemed to strike everyone with just the right tone!


We spent the remainder of the days taking walks and enjoying Caleb playing on the porch.  On Wednesday, we met Aunt Ruth and my cousin Mabel at Bart's so they could both meet Caleb.  Bart and Jerri also had an opportunity to see him walk, which he was not doing the last time they met.

We had a marvelous time . . . too bad it had to end.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Getting Old is Interesting

Sometimes I think our memory plays tricks on us just because it can.  But usually if one of us forgets something, the other one remembers.  Not this time!

When we were packing for our Nevada, California trip, we had to pack all of the boxes for the cabin.  They were all packed in the basement with clean sheets, towels, and the things we always bring home:  scrapbooks, the satellite radio base, the game camera, binoculars - all things we don't want stolen if we were to be burglarized during the winter.  I brought the boxes upstairs for Don to pack.

At one point, Don repacked a few items, and I put the game camera and something else on the table.  They were all packed and we left.  At one point we thought about setting up the game camera in a campground but we decided not to. When we arrived at the cabin, we brought the boxes from the RV and unpacked them.  No game camera.  I insisted that Don go back to the RV to check . . . nope, no game camera.

I searched the cabin - once, twice, thrice.  No game camera.  We called Katie to make sure we hadn't misplaced it in her RV.  Oh . . . and the birthday cards he brought for my birthday were also missing.  We could not find them anywhere.

I told Don I knew I had put the camera on the dining room table, so when we arrived home, the first thing I did was look on the table.  No camera.  Nothing.  I looked downstairs.  Nope.  We searched the RV again - every cabinet, nook and cranny.  No game camera.  But I did find the cards - Don had tucked them in the cabinet above the driver's seat.

About five days after we had gotten home, I told Don I had remember that we had discussed leaving the game camera at the cabin, and maybe we did.  "No, I don't think so.  I remember it in the box and on the table."  I did, too, but I decided to look when we came back to the cabin.

The first thing I did last Sunday upon arriving back at the cabin was check in the closet I thought I had put thecamera in..  Nope.  No camera.  Huh.  Well, I was out of ideas, so I guess we will buy a new one in Santa Fe on Tuesday.

For some reason, however, I decided to dig down to the bottom of a bin in which I keep rugs and some other items.  And buried deeply in the bottom was . . . the game camera.

The scary part about all of this is the certainty that both Don and I had about seeing the camera on the dining room table, in the plastic tub . . . I guess it is just years of doing the same thing and the inability for our brains to adjust!  I don't know but getting old certainly adds dimension to our lives!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Home for the Boys

Well, as much as Don and I were somewhat sad to be coming home, the boys were not.  The minute we walked into the house, they went to the back door, anxious to get to their backyard.  They raced outside, and ran.  They ran and ran some more.  And after a drink of water, they ran more.  Once they came inside they ran downstairs, grabbed a toy, raced upstairs and played keepaway until I made them go back outside.  Two hours later they wound down! A week later, normalcy has resumed.  Finally.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


As we were returning from Santa Fe on Monday, we saw that Longmire was being filmed on some private land in the canyon.  Don thought he saw Robert Taylor, the man who plays Walt Longmire, driving a car back to Santa Fe.  That's cool, we thought.

Tuesday morning, when we arrived at the four-way stop in Pecos, a police car blocked the road because they were filming a scene at the old Adelo's store.  Now that is cool!  Once they finished the scene, we pulled into Frankie's for breakfast and watched some of the filming.

Right across the street from Frankies, Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert Taylor sat in their chairs waiting for the scenes to get set.  We saw Vic, Ferg, and Malachi in various stages of acting, and we even saw "the dead guy!"  

"Action!"  "Set!"  It was fun watching how they film a scene, and even the boys enjoyed it!

We had a forty-five minute meeting just up the street, and by the time we were finished, we saw these cars on the side of the road.  Henry's green truck was there, too, but I didn't get a picture. And when we arrived at Adelo's a block away, the film crew was totally gone!

Their next stop was at the former Glorieta Baptist Assembly site, and it didn't take them long to clean up at Adelo's and go.  It is an interesting process.

Mother's Day

Don couldn't get the furnace running Saturday, so we knew it would be cold this morning.  Indeed it was.  The outdoor temp was 30 degrees, cold enough to freeze the hummingbird food.

It was 50 indoors.  Cold enough to want to have a fire.  We got lucky.  Chris called early to check on us, and when Don told him he couldn't get the furnace going, Chris suggested he tap on the gas valve.  Sure enough.  That's all it took.  The furnace was on its way, and the cabin was going to be cozy before we knew it.

What would a Sunday at the cabin be like without breakfast at Frankie's?  We did not know they were having a Mother's Day brunch, but that was ok.  The food was delicious and quite varied - beans, eggs with or without chile, blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce, ham, sausage, enchiladas, eggs benedict, fruit, potatoes, and toast.  I didn't have all of that, nor did Don, but we saw some people with  some pretty stacked plates of food!

The rest of the day was rather calm - Facetiming with Caleb, Kenneth, and Melinda; talking to Di; visiting with the Leys; and strolling up the canyon.  What could be better?

The Cabin

One of the best birthday presents is to spend the day at the cabin.  And although we didn't arrive until after noon, that was all right.

We had to load a lot of food and clothing into the car before we could leave the RV at Huie's, and then we came straight to the cabin.  It seemed extraordinarily dry for as much rain as we thought they had been getting, but the stream was running well (though the Pecos River was running much faster) and the hills were turning green.  

The cabin itself was very clean.  We honestly thought maybe Chris had swept the porch or cleaned it a bit, but he didn't.  We were able to quickly make some hummingbird food, since we could hear them in the hills, and I filled the bird feeders, hoping the grosbeaks were already around.  Both hummers and grossbeaks had found their food by Sunday morning.

The miracle of the day was my cleaning efforts.  Since the cabin was very clean considering it had sat all winter, it didn't take very long to get it in shape.  So I got a wild hair and decided to clean the three shelves on which my mother displayed all of the bottles she had found in various dumps above the cabin.  I don't know that the shelves and bottles have ever been cleaned, but I can now say the date can be etched in stone:  May 7, 2016.  Bottles and shelves thoroughly cleaned.  

We were able to spend some time with Sherry, Huie, Richard, Brandi, Jaz, and Liam, which was a lot of fun.  Those two twins are so cute - two months older than Caleb and doing about the same things Caleb is, except they are walking up a storm.  Fun to watch them.

Just before we left the Ley household, the swallows appeared.  Apparently this is the first day Sherry and Huie have seen them.  We aren't sure whether they are Cliff Swallows or Rough-winged Swallows, so we are taking our book and binoculars to see what they are!

Windy, Windy, Windy

We suspected we would encounter plenty of wind as we headed back toward Kansas, but we were hoping to be wrong.  Not long after we met the Kings to pick up some tamales, we made our way through the traffic and headed east.  We did stop for some fresh strawberries and blueberries, but the rest of the day was driving, driving, driving.  As Don says, he was wrestling with the Willie to keep it on track.

We had planned to go by Hoover Dam, but there was no way that would work and allow us enough time at the cabin (though there is never enough time at the cabin).   We were surprised that the temperature in the  desert was between 71 and 82 degrees - amazing!

 Getting beyond Kingman was not possible, as Don was pretty tired.  We checked into the KOA there and found it to be surprisingly nice.  The dogs were ready to play in the dog run, which they did, and on our way back, I found this:

Even propane companies have a sense of humor.

We left early the next day, hoping to beat some of the wind, and although it was light, it only continued to strengthen.  I missed several pictures of windsocks standing straight out, and sometimes Don would hit a gust that would nearly blow him into the other lane.  But we managed to arrive at Bart and Jerri's safely.  Dinner at the Native American Cultural Center was delicious, and we were ready to sleep!  I don't understand how I can be so tired, when Don has been doing all the driving . . . 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Santa Barbara Mission

We have visited several missions along the California Coast, but the one in Santa Barbara really struck our fancy.  Its position in Santa Barbara and its towers announce its presence on the hill, and since it is still used by the Franciscan friars, it is in great shape.

I had no idea that the woman in the book The Island of the Blue Dolphins really existed, and although the  story is fictionalized, she really lived.  She was rescued off the island after about 18 years and she came to live in the Santa Barbara mission.  Unfortunately she only lived about 8 weeks before passing away, but the story is fascinating.  That will be a new read this summer.

I particularly liked the sanctuary.  The colors, though renovated, are said to emulate the colors used when the Mission was built.  And although the mission burned and fell in earthquakes, it is still in amazing shape.

One aspect of the mission system that I had not remembered is that no mistreatment of the native people was allowed. I am sure it happened but probably with less frequency than when the conquerors arrived.

This is a mission well worth visiting!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Foods of Santa Barbara

As we drove into California, the fruit stands were out in force.  We knew we would be able to eat the freshest of the fresh and we were greatly looking forward to it.

Our first meal was an outdoor restaurant right on the beach.  It reminded us of a casual Marine Room. Don had fish and chips, and I had a BLT&A (avocado).  Both were fresh and delicious . . . and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold.  We even saw some dolphins in the ocean. After that we visited the Biltmore - WOW - and drove a little around Santa Barbara, just to acquaint ourselve with the area.

That night we had freshly made tamales, guacamole, and Spanish rice at the Kings.  They have a friend who makes the tamales, and they were as good as any I have ever had.

The next morning we hit the East Beach Cafe.  It is a quaint little cafe right on the beach in downtown Santa Barbara.  Although the wind was a bit brisk off the water, it didn't matter.  Because it was a weekday, the cafe was not crowded, and we ate our omelets/eggs/oatmeal/pancakes, etc. slowly just enjoying the beautiful setting.  And the chai tea latte I ordered?  Superb!!!

The Natural for lunch uses organic, freshly sourced food.  My Local Favorite - a vegetarian sandwich with avocado, cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, and tomato fresh wheat bread - reminded me of a sandwich I used to eat at Dr. Redbird's in Wichita.  I loved it then . . . and I loved it now!  

Then for the evening we went to La Cumbre Country Club for a Cinco de Mayo party.  The view from the mezzanine over to the ocean was worth the price of admission, the mariachi band played many of my favorites, and again, the food was out of this world!  What a great way to end our eat-a-thon!

Santa Barbara

So what drew us to Santa Barbara?  Friends from Texas who have a cabin across from our in New Mexico who currently live in Santa Barbara.  We were so close we just had to see their residence, their daughter's school, and all of the other things Santa Barbara had to offer.

We had a marvelous time.  To be back near the ocean soothed my soul, and Steve and Carol are such fun and so interesting, it was non-stop talk.  Marvelous food, lovely sights, great company - what more can one ask.

One thing struck both Don and me.  The landscaping in Santa Barbara is beyond beautiful.  It seems every home was well-kept on the exterior, and since so many flowers were in bloom, the city was a blaze of color.  One of our favorite trees was the Jacaronda:

Its purple flowers were a deep, Kansas State color.  We loved them, but in reading about them, the common thought about them is that they are lovely as long as they are in a neighbor's yard.  Ha - I guess they make a mess.

The Kings have a lovely English garden in their front yard, and a mandarin tree, a lemon tree, and another fruit tree around the outside.  Jordy and Nelson loved the English Garden - the maze of boxwood hedge in the front was perfect for them to hid around.  I wish I had taken a video.  Nelson standing up on two legs to look over the edge of the boxwoods was priceless.

We must return to Santa Barbara. What a lovely, lovely area!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rancho Oso RV Park

There is nothing like not knowing where you are going.  Even with GPS, we had our hands full trying to find our RV Park.  Although it was only 12 miles away from our friends' house, it was going to take a long time to get there.

When we turned off the main highway, which in and of itself was not an easy highway due to its up and down hills, was a winding, curvy, narrow road through the National Forest.  We passed through a summer home tract similar to the Holy Ghost, but the cabins were clapboard, one-story homes.  As we neared the turn-off, the GPS told us to go another 1/4 mile and our destination was on the left.  The large sign saying Rancho Oso told us otherwise.  We did not follow the GPS, and it is a good thing.  When we returned, we took the Jeep where the GPS told us to go and this is what we found:

We had no idea how deep the creek is (I suspect it is dry sometimes), but if we had gotten this far with the RV, it would have been a mess!

We began driving up the road to Rancho Oso.  It was even more narrow than the other road, and even more twisting. There were two curves that were so blind, mirrors had been installed:

About a mile down the road we came to the RV park.  It is in the middle of a horse farm, and it is primarily for people who like to ride horses.  Unfortunately, due to the drought, it was more like camping in the desert.  The tree next to us was lovely, however.  I don't know what kind it is, though I have written to ask.  Prairie dogs were everywhere, and we even heard turkeys.  We were not there long enough to really appreciate the place, but we were relieved to actually find it and get checked in.

Highway 1

As we were planning this trip, Don was determined to do one thing:  drive Highway 1 down the Pacific Coast.  I recall our family driving it when I was about 17, but I remember little about it.  Sometimes I think travel is wasted on the young!  I do recall certain parts of the trip, but not what we drove today.

We have been on some harrowing roads this trip:  the Moki-Dugway; the snowy passes between Ely and Reno, Nevada; and today Highway 1.  We would call this road the Moki-Dugway for RVs.  Don thought that parts of Highway 1 were narrower than the Moki Dugway, and the turns were no less sharp.  

When we drove the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado on our way to Alaska, I was eating frozen blueberries to keep my mind off the cliff to my side.  Today I didn't have any frozen blueberries.  I needed them.  There were places that I thought were as steep as those on the Million Dollar Highway, and they did not have guardrails, either.  I have become accustomed to "riding the white line" on the right side of the road, and today was no exception.  I wasn't really that nervous . . . 

All of that being said, the drive was exquisite.  We saw crashing waves, beautiful forests, grass fires, grazing cattle and elephant seals.  It took us nearly the whole day to get to San Luis Obispo, but that was all right.  The drive was every bit as billed!

This picture does not do justice to the size of the elephant seals.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Short Drive on the Beach

Kenneth had told us about the sand dunes south of Pismo Beach, and we decided to go check the out.  When we drove up to the attendant's gate, we saw the fee was $5.  For what?  To drive on the beach.

I thought that sounded fun!  I was ready to shell out the $5, and I probably would have if I were driving. But Don said no.  I asked him why not.  He is usually more adventurous than that . . . and after all, we had a Jeep with four-wheel drive.  But he insisted we did not have the right tires.

We came down to the next attendant shack and I asked Don to park so we could go look at the dunes.  There was a small parking lot, and when we got out of the car, we saw this:

Uh oh.  Two cars that didn't have Don to reason with their drivers.  They were both stuck in the sand . . . and the tide was coming in.  We asked the attendant what would happen.  She said they would call a tow truck to pull them out, but would it be in time?  The tide was coming in fast.

We do not know the outcome, but after seeing this, I was really glad Don didn't listen to me . . . or that I did listen to him!  We make a good team.

Meeting the Seals

Jordy and Nelson had been locked up most of Monday because we went to the Hearst Castle, and then we stopped at the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill for lunch.  I had a delicious (and huge) B,L,T, and avocado sandwich, along with delicious onion rings!  Don had fish tacos that were equally good.  We sat outside in the cool warmth, right on the edge where the ocean was.  Highly recommended!

When we got home, the dogs were amped!  They were ready to go, but Don needed a nap.  You see how that went over.

We decided to take them to the beach.  We stopped at several places hoping for access but all we got was cliffs.  We finally ended up at Pismo State Park, which is a lovely, lovely beach, especially on a cool April afternoon during the week.  I suspect the weekends are wild, however.  We didn't have much more success with Jordy and Nelson getting into the water, but they did enjoy the smells.

We then came back to Avila Beach and took them out on the pier.  On a working dock off the pier were a bunch of seals relaxing.  They were pretty noisy, so we were hoping they would get the attention of the dogs.

The pups are being introduced to many new sights and sounds.  I think they will be glad to get back to something familiar!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Hearst Castle Grounds

The grounds of the castle are as spectacular as the house.  The buildings are fashioned after various Mediterranean buildings, La Casa Grande being inspired by the cathedral in Ronda, Spain.  Fountains, Egyptian sculpture, and Mediterranean tile all create the illusion of a grand Italian or Spanish estate

The landscaping included orange and lemon trees, flowers, and large oak trees - some imported, some not.  The flowers were particularly amazing, since many are currently blooming.  These bleeding heart or fuchsia plants were thought were gorgeous.

There were also two pools - one a huge Neptune pool that had been enlarged three times to hold nearly 400,000 gallons of water.  He also built an indoor Roman pool.  I could swim in that one any time!

The detail and vision of this estate show that William Randolph Hearst was a man who lived in two worlds - the present and the future.  He installed electricity before it was widely available, he hadunderground  electric lines, he had a telephone in nearly every room available with a 24-hour switchboard.  He was also an egalitarian soul, hiring numerous women to lead his various divisions, including his workers in the movie nights, and ultimately providing his gorgeous estate for all to see.

Hearst Castle

The day began as I remember so many California mornings - foggy, gray, cool, quiet.  The mist drifted across the tops of the trees, obscuring not only the plants but also the mountaintops.  It subdued the sounds of highway 101 and even the birds seemed quieter.  A mysterious, beautiful California morning.

About 9:30 we locked the dogs up and drove Highway 1 to the Hearst Castle outside of San Simeon.  We had no idea what to expect, but after seeing Neuschwanstein in Austria, we suspected it would be interesting.  Rich people who build grand estates for themselves usually do not disappoint.

In the late 50's, after William Randolph Hearst had passed away, the Hearst Corporation donated the majority of his estate to the California State Parks.  The house was included in the deal, and the Parks Department has since turned it into a tourist attraction.  We were very impressed with the "new" visitor center, and even the port-a-potties they have now installed (due to the water shortage) were clean.  When we were leaving, a young woman with Downs Syndrome and her boss were cleaning the outsides of every one, sanitizing as they went.

Anyway, we took a bus to the top of the hill where the "castle" was constructed, a nearly five-mile trip.  We learned that Mr. Hearst had built a zoo complete with tigers, polar bears, oryxes, zebras, and wild sheep.  There are still sheep and zebras on the ranch!

When we disembarked, a guide met us and told us all about the grounds, which were built to emulate a Mediterranean mansion.  Mr. Hearst purchased art work from around the world - Flemish tapestries, Greek statues, a copy of Donatello's David, wooden ceilings, Moorish ceilings from Spain, and fireplaces.  He installed the art throughout his home for all to enjoy.

Mr. Hearst loved his compound that had three huge guest cottages.  He would invite up to 20 people - many of Hollywood's most famous - to spend some time with him.  They could arrive by car or in his private plane on his private airstrip.  In the evening they would meet at La Casa Grande for a drink.  Only one drink, because Mr. Hearst did not want the drinking to overshadow the pleasure of the evening.  After dinner, he would treat his guests to movies in his theater.  The movies began at 11:00, which meant a late night for all.  That's why breakfast was served until noon.  Everyone had to make their way to La Casa Grande for all of their meals, and they were served in the dining room, which was a mixture of very formal and very informal.  Nice china, but no linens, ketchup and mustard bottles on the table! (Notice the tapestries on the wall and the choir seats that were used as wainscoating!)

Although we only went to four rooms inside the mansion, we could easily imagine the life led at this estate.  One only money can buy!