7/28/15 - And the times, they are a-changing. |
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This is a long one...
Our last posting was pictures of our motorhome to help sell it. After 12 years of “full timing” the time has come to hang up the keys. We are grateful and for the years we played “gypsies”
We have so many wonderful memories. And are so lucky to have traveled so far and wide. Once we sell our Foretravel we hope to use our car or train or plane to keep moving when we feel the urge.
Since we last posted (these days we post more as a “diary” for us as well as sharing with friends ;o) there are memories we want to catch and record before they slip from our mind.
Our last post was about a short visit to Yosemite NP. Big Bend is our all time favorite NP, but Yosemite is more like family. Many a Sunday (when the kids were still young) we'd take off to spend a few hours in Yosemite Valley.
We sort of reenacted that little trick last summer when we took grandson Parker from Sonora (where we parked our Foretravel) to Yosemite.
Not content with that, we drove him over Tioga Pass (another favorite route), down to the Whoa Nellie Dellie (one of our all-time favorite places to eat in the Mobile gas station on Hwy 120 right before CA 395) and then up CA-395 and over Sonora Pass and back to Sonora. It was a day Parker recalls with amazement. Lots of car time for him but great sights to see.
We call it the "Full Treatment" ;o)
Last February we started 3 months in one of the most beautiful RV parks in the US: Park of the Sierras (SKP Park), just South of Coarsegold, CA on US-41
We left Coarsegold and headed back to the Bay Area (and the campground in Pleasanton, CA) to support our son Paul and daughter-in law Miriam care for Miriam's mother We've stayed at the Fairgrounds several times in the past, and were pleased at the improvements.
We've been friends with Miriam’s parents for over 40 years. Before we went to Coarsegold, we'd spent several afternoons a week with Bill and Louise. We believe Louise was comfortable with our presence, and we were happy to help.
Louise’s health went up and down, and we had some nice conversations with her during the time we spent with her. But slowly, slowly, her condition began to deteriorate, and we were told that her time here was drawing to a close. She was a good patient, and she seemed to appreciate all the back rubs, foot massages and our little acts of solace for her. Miriam and Paul were her mainstays, although Miriam’s brother Joe came often during dinnertime and Joe was able to induce Louise to eat something. Another “son” visited nearly on a daily basis, and we knew JohnJohn was a visitor we were all happy to see. He was a foster child of Louise and Bill’s about 20 years ago, and there was a special bond between JohnJohn and the family, so we all feel and appreciate that familial role he plays in our family.
Then Paul learned that his only brother had a stroke and was in a rehabilitation house, not doing well. Paul flew to Ohio the next day and spent a few days with Ed and his wife, Jan.
Ed was glad to see Paul and did get better - slowly, day by day. Jan was able to get Ed home, and Ed continues to make progress slowly. Paul was glad he was able to spend time with his brother and sister-in-law.
One morning early, a phone call from Miriam who got us all moving quickly. Time was running out, and son Paul drove (flew?) us to the hospital in no time flat so we’d all be there for Louise.
As a little girl Kathleen remembers part of our prayers was a petition for a “happy death.” I’m not sure why that prayer was part of our Morning Prayer ritual at school, but it was.
Kathleen was privileged to be present at a real “happy death” that morning. Louise knew we were all there. Bill was next to his wife of 51 years, and Miriam and Paul Jr, Joe and John John were all close by. Louise’s grandchildren, Paul III, his girlfriend, Amanda and Juliana and her boyfriend, Georgie encircled her bed – so that we sort of formed a loving circle surrounding her bed.
We watched the life slowly go out of her eyes, and with gentle and loving words, she was escorted into another world. It happened softly and sweetly, all of us mentally lifting her up to begin her new journey into eternity. It was truly a scene of a “happy death.” Louise died at 10:21 on May 29.
The family was grateful for Wisconsin relatives who flew to the Bay Area to be present for Mass of Resurrection celebrated at Corpus Christi church. The liturgy, during which her many friends bade her goodbye, was held early in the evening. The Mass was followed by a time for visitors to enjoy and chat with one another in the parish hall, where we renewed friendship with many of the friends we shared over the years with Bill and Louise. A few days later the family met again to break bread together at a lovely meal.
Slade and Marla chat together
Paul Jr, Paul III, Amanda & PaPa working on meal preparation
Etienne and his girl friend join the family and are greeted by Juliana and Michelle
Here’s Kathy Ann, Gregg and Bill enjoying the delicious meal.
PaPa, Becky (on Christina’s lap), Miriam, Michelle and Kathy Ann enjoy themselves too.
Then Kathleen’s sister Barbara and her husband Bill drove from Nashville, TN to Sacramento, bringing the household effects of a good friend from TN to CA. We met them at the friend’s house then drove over to the hospital where their good friend, Bob, was recuperating.
The following morning Bill, Barbara and the two of us paid a visit to the famous Train Museum located in “Old Town” Sacramento. We enjoy visiting the museum and they did, too. This is a mural of he arduous work done on digging tunnels by the Chinese laborers. What a gigantic job they did!
After a quick go around at the museum we drove Bill to the airport for his return to TN. We were sorry to say goodbye to our brother-in-law. However, we were fortunate to have Barbara stick around for a few days.
Sisters, Kathleen and Barbara
Not many days later the two of us made a big decision. We'd planned to move into one of our apartments. However, we'd not made any serious plans at changing our life style so quickly or so dramatically. “Let’s drive down to Nacogdoches, Texas where we can get a few things done to the motor home and maybe even sell it.” Sez Mr Smith.
“OK” replies Kathleen, andin a very few days we packed up what we can use once we move into the apartment, keep what we feel we will need for the trip to Texas and back, and off we were! I am talking about 6 days travel California to Nacogdoches, Texas! Each time we pass the windmills along the Altamont Pass, it seems the windmill population keeps growing!
Driving down I-5 is always an experience – lots of trucks and cars keep driver and “co-pilot” awake and sometimes nervous! But the day was amazing the day we began! No one who's traveled on I-5 will believe this, but it was like an old fashioned Sunday drive! Few trucks and fewer cars. Can we say it was a “piece of cake?” It was!
We actually enjoyed the drive all the way to CA 223 where we turned east and went through the charming town of Arvin and on to the connection to CA-58 that took us all the way to Barstow where, after 354 miles, we spent the night at the Shady Lane RV Park. We've stopped there before, and enjoy the banter with the owners (two brothers)
The following morning we headed east again. We tried to follow the map given us by Shady Lane owners, but misread it, and realized we were going the wrong way! Paul was able to make a legal U-Turn, and in short order we were through Barstow and flying down CA-247 to Lucerne Valley and eventually Yucca Valley. Route 247 is usually a fairly quiet road, and one we’ve taken many times. We noticed a few more trucks on the road, but it was still a pleasant trip to Yucca Valley where we picked up CA-62 down to the Palm Springs area and I-10. For anyone who loves hills, the ride on CA-62 between Yucca Valley and Palm Springs is a series of hair-raising thrills! This writer is always grateful to descend this road safely. It is a ride not to be missed.
I-10 is always a road race – so many cars and trucks. Today was not an exception, but we stayed in the right lane and were okay with the traffic. We did miss the sign to the Flying J (where we purchase our diesel) but we think there was only a Flying J sign that read, “stop now” --- and there was no off ramp, so we did not “stop now.” We knew we’d come up to many more stations before we grew too low on fuel, so we continued east…through Blythe and on past Quartzsite (where we'd spent many good times camping with Foretravel friends.)
We crossed into Arizona and decided to go to Benson (our old camping ground for several years.) There are several campgrounds in Benson where we stayed in past trips. However, we elected to spend our time in Benson at the Escapee RV Park. We visited this nice park several times in the past but never stayed overnight. Since our last visit to the park, much has been done by way of improvements. Such wide roads and more park models that we remember from 5 years ago! On this final trip driving the motor home, we thought that stopping at an Escapee Park was in order. Lucky for us, they had one pull through long enough for a 40-footer!
I was feeling I needed a shower, and the building where we believed the showers were, was close to our parked motorhome. So off I went to the Club House – only to learn on arrival there, that the showers were down at the office. It was still light out and the office didn’t seem too far away. Had I turned in the right direction, I would have reached the showers in 5 minutes or so. Instead I turned the wrong way and ended up walking almost the entire perimeter of the park! Once I found it, I wondered if Paul was wondering why I was gone so long, but, I reasoned, he’s probably napping! So without further ado, I enjoyed a wonderful shower. As I left the office area and began walking in the correct direction, a golf cart with 3 people in it drove up and offered to give me a “lift.” They'd seen my wandering along on the side of the park not close to the office. They suspected I was new and lost. I accepted their gracious invitation and was told they had seen me earlier and figured I was lost. How friendly and helpful they were! (That’s one reason why we love the Escapee Family – friendly and helpful people!) They deposited me at our motor home and wished us well. We have belonged to the SKP (Escapee) organization since 2003 and have much affection for all Escapee members and have visited and stayed at most all of the SKP parks in the US.
One of the true boasts of the folks at this SKP Park is that one can almost always enjoy a great sunset. Here’s the shot I took with my little camera…. It was a beautiful sunset though!
The following morning we bade farewell to Saguaro Co-Op. This was our final visit at an SKP Park, and we were glad it was this one.
Still on I-10 we marveled again at the light traffic. We drove along sights at which, in earlier times, we had stopped and enjoyed ourselves. What a nostalgic feeling! As we neared Deming, NM and headed out of New Mexico and into Texas, we discussed whether we wanted to take the “mountain route” that goes around El Paso (but takes longer) or, with the light traffic, ought we to keep on I-10?
We opted for going the shorter way – on I-10. Ha! Well actually, it wasn’t “Ha” at all. It was a ‘Zoo” – it was a “race track” – it was going through a nightmarish area of “road construction”
Our idea turned out to be a poor choice, but it was too late to turn around and try the mountain pass --- reasoning that it too, was probably full of traffic trying to evade I-10 around El Paso! So we drove on. No, Paul drove on. I prayed, worried, and grew 2 years older during that trip through El Paso! What a relief to be on the outskirts of the city where we began to see less and less traffic. We still drove along with more cars and truck than we did earlier in the day, and were ever so grateful that the horror of El Paso was past!
We had several destinations in mind for today’s adventure, and ended up going driving the farthest than we had envisioned! Paul managed to go 600 miles before stopping at Pecos, TX. Here we found a most unusual RV park. It was not easy to find the Park, but we finally did, and to our surprise, we found it was an SKP park! Neither of us has ever heard about this place, and to be honest, it doesn’t look like a typical SKP park. It is both a commercial park and an Escapee Park. The owners were in the office when we arrived and it must be said that they were Escapees! We were warmly welcomed and given all the information they had. We found our site (a pull through suitable for our 40’ motor home and Honda!) Looking around the park, it was clear that many of the residents had trucks on which we saw heavy tools and equipment. We didn’t have an opportunity to meet anyone. Paul was “dead” from his long drive, and I had more packing and cleaning to do. I suspect some SKPers, who are used to SKP members “only” at their parks. However, the owners of this park have been members since 1998 and when they first began, I suppose it was more like an SKP park. As the needs, in this area, for more and larger parks developed, and the owners were able to add acreage to the park, then it changed. However, for us, receiving the traditional warm hug from the owners along with their gracious welcome, we felt lucky to find this rare and unique SKP Park!
The following morning we were up and out on the way! Someone on the Foretravel Forum had posted the route they took from the west to Nacogdoches. Paul thinks it was the “fastest” route. So we took it. Yes, on our final log to Nacogdoches, we took the fastest route. And guess what? El Paso was a kid’s game to going through Dallas (IMHO.) I was not the “brave” one this time. I moved out of the passenger seat and sat behind the driver until my conscience got the better of me, and I sat on the passenger side in the passenger seat (to my horror …lost another two years of my life, and maybe more.) By the time we reached 259, that took us to Henderson, the traffic had lessened. We both set our phone’s navigation systems to see how much they agree or disagree. Today they disagreed. My phone directed us to stay on 259 and continue south onto 59 (a straight shot) and right to Xtreme Paints where we would spend a week and a day. Paul’s navigation directed us to take the circumferential west and south around the town and then go east a bit to where 59 take motorists north to Xtreme! We saved time by going my phone’s way! And indeed, what a relief it was to see the much-respected plant. The owners had a spot reserved for us so we were able to have electricity right away!
Several years ago, when we owned a 36’ Foretravel, we had Xtreme do a full body paint job. What a fantastic job they did and we felt and looked as though we were driving a new Foretravel. Others made many comments on what a beautiful rig we had. Why did we sell it? Well, that’s another story...
Our reason for stopping at Xtreme this year was to have some minor repair done to the back and side of the rig and to have the rear ladder fixed/replaced. Here’s a picture of the side of the rig being made to look like new.
See the new ladder!
And here’s the finished rig. Looking great!
We surely appreciated the hospitality offered by Jennifer and James Stallings.
Once the rig was finished at Xtreme, we drove it over to Bernd's place where new air conditioner units were installed and a few minor adjustments were completed.
Bernd has very generously offered to allow us to park our motor home on his business property. There’s a “For Sale” sign in the front window and we hope that folks will stop to see the rig. She is road ready and looking for a new owner.
Paul has a cystoscopy waiting for him in the Bay Area, so we need to “get on the road” with our little Honda. What a difference in crossing the country sans the motor home. We will miss her, having been “full timers” for 12 years. We look back on those years with much appreciation and fondness. It’s been a great ride, but we know other vistas will open and new adventures await!
(written on July 3rd – posted on July 28!)