At home... in Daphne AL

We left Van Nuys, CA on Sunday morning, Nov 27th - a clear, sunny day... with a headwind. Seems like we can't cut a break on headwinds! We overnighted in Tonopah AZ, Deming NM, Ozona TX, with a final stop in Beaumont TX at Hidden Lake, a very nice park (more than just a port in the proverbial storm; we plan to go there again). Other than a headwind all the way, we had fine weather; stayed ahead of a cold front blowing in from the west. Made it to my sister and BiL's house in Baton Rouge on Thursday afternoon and had a most welcome break from driving, along with a wonderful visit with them. My sister, Nannie, and I spent some quality time together, combined with shopping - that's a win/win! We took pictures, but none of them turned out to be of "posting" quality. My sister'd kill me if I included any of 'em!

To beat the approaching rain, we needed to leave, so we bade them goodbye last Sunday, Dec 4th, after draining a pot of coffee and reading the Sunday paper. Nobody in their right mind wants to unload and unpack in rain, right? (Bad enough in nice weather!) They promised to come see us after Christmas, and we'll look forward to that.

And unload we did - got most of it done before rain fell. But, what a job! It's like moving. All the stuff we unloaded had to be put away somewhere in the condo or in a storage warehouse we have a few miles away. Refrigerator turned on and filled, plus laundry, clothes put back in closets, plus sorting (out with the old/in with the new), and dust everywhere. Yeech! Well, today is Thursday and the condo is still a wreck because somehow we got involved in yanking books off bookshelves to donate to our library and that turned into an orgy of filling bags with books! Still doing laundry to get dust off afghans and quilts, and somewhere in the equation is Christmas! Next week are dentist and annual doctor appointments. I guess we'll stay busy (oh yeah).

Love being on the road. Over seven months this time; over 10,000 miles: Seeing new places, new faces, scenery so sublime that tears gather in our eyes, new experiences and adventures every day. These things make the packing up and unpacking worth the effort. But now that most of the work is done (well, getting there anyway), we'll hang around Daphne for a while, rest up a bit, spend time with local family and friends, and enjoy our days here. Kinda nice to be home, too. Probably won't blog much till we hit the road again.

Wish everyone Happy Holidays, and Good Wishes to all in the New Year. May Peace, Happiness and Prosperity follow you Always.


Let's all go to the Auto Show -- Sat, Nov 26th

(L) Jenny and me waiting for lunch at Yard House before the auto show. (R) Edsel Ford's 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster. (oh, it'd be fun to drive!)

(L) Held at enormous Los Angeles Convention Center, looky-loo's taking pictures mobbed the place... and I'm sure many were drooling. I took close to 100 photos of cars myself and some of 'em I'd never heard of! Jimmy is above holding red bag with Matt behind him by the white Prius. (R) Now isn't this a cute peacock Smart Car - I'd like one of these!

(L) How about taking this 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster "Hot Rod Woody" for a spin around the block? (R) It was dark when we left the auto show, but the big city lights of L.A. Live turned night into day. Adjacent to Staples Center, L.A. Live is a vibrant entertainment complex of apartments, ballrooms, bars, concert theaters, restaurants, movie theaters and a 54-story hotel and condominium tower on a 27-acre site. Me and Jimmy gawked like tourists!

Cars-cars-cars - holy mackerel, we saw every kind. It would take me an hour to list all the cars we looked at. The six of us (Matt & Jen, her parents Alice & Tom, and me & Jimmy) lost contact several times during the time we spent there, but cell phones saved us. Everybody had car favorites. We had a good time, all of us, all day.

So. This was it. Our last hurrah. Our two wks in Southern California near Matt & Jen are over. Tomorrow Jimmy and I pull out of Van Nuys and drive East. Our seven-month 2011 "vacation adventure" is nearly over. I don't know what to call our traveling, but vacation adventure seems apt. Nice long vacation! Now it's time to go home, see what's happening in Daphne AL, spend time with our loved ones there. Thanksgiving - the holiday celebrated - is past. Every day we're out and about, Jimmy and I give thanks for all we have no matter where we are. So be it. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Jimmy and I will be home within the week. Home for Christmas. It has been a very grand year! And it ain't over yet....


A Bodacious Happy Thanksgiving!

I think these four photos are self-explanatory! The day before Thanksgiving, the six of us drove to Santa Monica's farmer's market to buy produce. It's the biggest street market I've ever seen. Wonderful produce. Afterwards Matt and I chopped till we dropped! This is the first time Matt used the turkey fryer Alice & Tom gave him. He suited up. The rest of us stepped waaay back as he lowered the turkey into the oil, mostly goofing around, but it also seemed kinda prudent. The turkey turned out moist and flavorful. Matt outdid himself in his tiny kitchen... besides the turkey, he prepared two different dressings, garlic-mashed taters, fresh cranberry sauce, fresh green bean casserole, a creole corn dish (spicy!), mac 'n cheese, and giblet gravy -- all made from scratch. Wow! Alice brought scalloped potatoes. Matt told me not to bring anything but me and Jimmy! This is the first time we've been able to spend Thanksgiving in California with Matt and Jen and he wanted to cook for us. We were honored - what could be nicer? The six of us (and three dogs: Maggie, Sophie and Charlie) had a wonderful day. With all his efforts, it's no wonder Matt was pooped after the meal.

Thank you, son, for a beautiful, bountiful Thanksgiving. We're proud of you. Love you!


Mystery hike in the hills on Nov 22nd - guess where?

Check out this guy at the Bronson "Batman" Caves - filming going on in Gotham City!

Up we go, on and on. Matt's doggies - Maggie & Sophie - were getting tired, but they didn't quit. Hot and tired, neither did we.

The views were something else from up here.

We made it! Click here if you'd like to know where we were and be sure to arrow all the way down to see the (yeow!) route we hiked.


Some people go to Rodeo Drive; others play in the "Valley"

You've heard the song, "It never rains in California/But girl, don't they warn ya/It pours, man it pours." Tis true. We moved our motor home to Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday - in the rain. We did all right and even shopped for groceries afterwards - in the rain.

The next day (Monday) was one of those after-the-rain, crisp and clear and cool fall days, which we deemed perfect for a bike ride. The RV Park where we're staying for the week is close to the huge Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, home to bike trails, golf courses, Lake Balboa, a nature reserve, Japanese Garden (closed) and so on. Great for riding.

Yes, SoCal does, indeed, sport pretty fall colors! Jimmy and I hardly ever eat at fast food joints, but here in California, we will occasionally pig out at In-N-Out Burger. As you can see, we enjoyed a fine repast today... calories we'll burn off on the rest of the bike ride. (we hope)

After riding all around the rec area (even saw a coyote trotting down a path in the nature reserve), we rode to the north end of Van Nuys Airport to see the old WWII fighter planes of the Condor Squadron that our RV host had told us about. It wasn't hard to find the airport, but it wasn't easy to find the entrance. We made a couple of wrong turns and eventually discovered we had to ride all the way down to the south end. Only dumb luck and perseverance brought us to the right place with the locked gate ajar and a couple of guys inside who said, (in response to my opening line: "We've ridden all over Hell's Half Acre to see these planes,") -- "Well, here they are. Have at it!"

We were given a personalized tour and even met 87-yr-old Rudy at his plane "Miss Constance 1944" seen in above photo. Rudy named the plane for his wife whom he married in 1944. A very gracious and energetic man who still flies the plane, he seemed genuinely pleased that we'd ridden our bikes to see the planes (and he loved my Biker Chick shirt). This man served in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam and I can promise you, he could tell some stories! I also wanted a picture of Jimmy because of the 1944 significance. (think birthdays)

So, after about 20 miles of pedaling around "The Valley," we rode back to Tergel, happy as pigs in mud about our day's choice. Never mind about Rodeo Drive, we had a blast.


Saturday, the 19th - Lunch in Laguna Beach...

... with my dear friend of 34 years, Karen, and her husband, Welton. Between talking over "good old times" and discussing what's going on today, she served a delicious lunch, even including a little birthday "cake" for Jimmy and me. Thanks, Karen & Welton. We had a great time visiting and playing catch-up from last year. Ain't it grand to have long-time friends!

(L) Pretty table! And a birthday "cake" - pumpkin pie with (lite) whipped cream. (R) Jimmy, me, Karen & Welton in front of the fireplace.

This is our last day in Orange County. Tomorrow we move Tergel and Smartie north to Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley (above Los Angeles) for a week. And we're looking forward to next Thursday when Jimmy and I will join Matt and Jen at their place - along with Jen's parents - for a big turkey feast blow-out presented by Chef Matt. Oh joy - Matt cooks for Mom!

When the Wilkinsons Come Back to Capistrano...

... the swallows will be gone! We finally made it back to Mission San Juan Capistrano on Nov 17th (it was closed on our last attempt). Of course, the swallows had already migrated south. That's okay, we didn't come to see the birds. We enjoy the history: This Spanish mission, called the "Jewel of the Missions," was founded on All Saint's Day, Nov 1st, 1776 by Fr. Junipero Serra. The Capistrano Mission is an early chapter in Southern California history and today it's the pride of Orange County (along with Disneyland, but that's a whole different chapter). The song, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," was composed by Leon Rene in 1939. It became a big hit and it really put the Mission on the map. If you'd care to read more about the Mission, click here. It's a lovely and serene place to spend an afternoon; blooming flowers flourish amid old stands of cactus and palm trees and feathery pepper trees.

One "period" museum room. Sitting in the Plaza by a lily & koi pond, blinded by the sun!

A courtyard next to the Great Stone Church. The Bell Wall - the bells originally hung in the bell tower of the Great Stone Church until the earthquake of 1812.

(L) Love this arched walkway. (R) The Great Stone Church, begun in 1797 and finished in 1806, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. Walls crumbled and domes caved in, killing 42 Indian worshippers. The church was never rebuilt, tho a stabilization project was completed in 2004. Amazing how big this church was, esp for the time. Can you see Jimmy sitting by the wall? He was awestruck by the whole mission. Wonderful day!


And in between, we went for a bike ride...

... on the smooth, paved Huntington Beach path. From Sunset Beach to Balboa Island, this path hugs the shoreline. We put in a 16-miler R/T on the 16th, esp enjoyed the going (with the wind) part to Balboa, and were ready for the ride to be finished on the return as the strong offshore wind in our faces got tiresome. Ah well, we enjoy riding and just keep pedaling when we get tired. Besides, we liked looking at all the neat homes fronting the bike trail on the beach. We critiqued many of them, but allowed as how we'd take any of 'em if someone gave it to us. Hey, it wouldn't be too tough to have a home on the beach!

Newport Beach pier, with surfers waiting for the big one. There's a surfer on his way to the water behind Jimmy!

We ate our sandwiches at the Balboa Pier park. The rattle of sandwich bags is a definite bird magnet. Jimmy managed to get his down w/o a problem. Slowpoke me showed the last bit of my sandwich to a pigeon and within 20 seconds I had a flock surround me, walking on me and trying to peck bites of bread. See the gull on the grass (far right) in the first photo? While I was trying to shoo the pigeons, that gull flew in under the radar using its stealth mode and stole the whole thing! Next photo shows the pigeons scratching their heads, so to speak, over the sandwich disappearance. Duh, where'd it go? Too funny. They were real beggars. Made you think they hadn't eaten in a week, when we saw someone across the way feeding the flock moments before. Ha ha. We escaped on our bikes!

Oh boy - Disneyland three times in one week!

Jimmy wore his Hawaii shirt the first day. Did this cactus grow ears on its own or did Disney sculpt those ears?

Woody is made completely of Lego's. Ferris wheel lights... doubled!

Disney's awesome World of Color in California Adventure - 30 minutes of water, color and sound.

Jimmy, me, and Matt in front of Disney's giant Christmas tree. Me and Matt with our woodsy friends: Chip 'n Dale.

We left our Ventura buddies and drove Tergel south on the Ventura Freeway (101) and the Santa Ana Freeway (5) to "camp" at an RV park in Anaheim from Sunday the 13th to Sunday the 20th. First thing we did after getting set up was enjoy a wonderful dinner with friends, Lyn & Alan at their home in Santa Ana. The persimmons on her tree were ripe, so she saved me a "few" - ok, well how about a dozen or more? Thanks, Lynnie! Hope your trip to FL is smooth.

Then, of course, we planned to visit Disneyland, which we did three days; Matt joined us the last time (Friday). We rode as many rides as we could, screamed like girls on the thrill rides, and ate at Rain Forest Cafe, House of Blues and Tortilla Joe's on three different nites in Downtown Disney. Jimmy and I stayed to watch the new World of Color presentation Tuesday evening, and it was well worth our staying late. Quite a coordinated display of water effects, light and sound - 30 minutes worth, which went by in a flash! Friday's weather was cloudy and cool and we were happy to wear our jackets. We put some miles on our shoes, esp on Friday and the three of us were glad to get off our feet when we got back to the RV at 7 pm/ish.

And every evening, about 7:30 during the week and 8:30 on weekends, we get to HEAR and see the fireworks from our RV. Beautiful fireworks, the best we've seen. Lucky us!

Ventura CA 11/9 - 11/13

Looking down at Ventura from the park where the restored Mission San Buenaventura cross is.

Really nice goods at Ventura's Saturday Farmer's Mkt, and posing on the Pier.

I guess Ventura CA is about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, and Ventura is where Tergel lived for two wks while Jimmy and I cruised to Hawaii. Upon our return, we spent several nice days there, visiting with the Jordan's: Fishing Friend Fred (love the alliteration!), Donna & Danny, and Hoyle & Ellie. We ate well, too -- one night Fred grilled trout he'd caught and frozen in Livingston (still so delicious) and the next night Danny grilled yummy quail and chicken. Jimmy & I, Fred, Donna & Danny all camp for a month at Rock Canyon RV Park in Livingston MT and fish on the Yellowstone River. We reminisced about the big ones that we caught and those that got away, laughed a lot, and had a great time.

On Friday the five of us piled into Danny's truck and drove to picturesque Ojai for a look-see, where we slurped coffee in a cute cafe... dodging raindrops as we left. On a cloudy Saturday, D & D gave Jimmy and me the scenic tour around Ventura and Santa Barbara... bought fresh veggies at the farmer's mkt and enjoyed chowder on the Santa Barbara Pier - what a fun day. Donna and I even had an up-close encounter with a resident pelican. Our RV was parked at Fred's and he was kind enough to let us use his home, his space and his washer/dryer! Thank you, Fred! He was even generous enough to share his property's ants!!! (uh... hey Fred - want 'em back? Please!)


Time to wrap it up ... last days aboard the Golden Princess

11/04 Friday --- At Sea. Enjoyed a room-service breakfast... and our balcony – watching flying fish skedaddle from the ship waves… and still seeing rainbows! Lazy day; watched part of movie “Hawaii” on TV! No walking today; wind is Force 7 (near gale) and ship is “on the move.” Water temp is down to 77° and rain showers dot the horizon. Simple lunch at poolside. Jimmy read inside on the Sky Deck and I finished my book outside in sun. No swimming today either. We napped. Got all tidied up again for another formal night. After dinner we enjoyed the production show “Caliente” in the Princess Theater. Guess we’re playing catch-up from four days of constant activity and are winding down. We were in bed 10ish and slept soundly till 7 the next morning.

Desserts, that's what I'm talking about!!

11/05 Saturday --- At Sea. Coffee in the room is the way to go! We’re on the windward side now and it’s cooler. @ 10, I went to hear Rachel speak about whales and rays. Sky is P/C and the wind is up. Can’t walk all the way around the deck – too windy forward – so I walked ¾ of Sky Deck and then doubled back. (Jimmy didn’t want to walk today.) Played Yahtzee for a while in the sheltered part of Lido Deck till time for Jimmy to watch the LSU/Alabama game on the big screen. Arranged to meet w/ Diane and Tim for dinner at the Bernini restaurant, and the Maitre d’hotel got us a great table for four – spent three hours eating and visiting! Very nice. Watched the Source Code on TV in the room. Water temp down to 74.3. Too windy on our balcony to sit out or leave the balcony door open at night, but we can still hear the waves. Again: Set clock forward one hour before sleeping! Last time change this trip!

11/06 Sunday --- At Sea, and the days are flying past! Losing another hour is tough. Breakfast in the room, followed by our usual windy walk around the Promenade (7) deck. Rachel had her last talk @ 10 am. Jimmy read. Lunch was fish and chips in the Crown Grill. Watching the wave action in the pools is entertaining – like seeing tsunami’s! No pool time anymore. More "killer" Yahtzee on the Lido deck. After dinner we went to the Princess Theater for comedian and impressionist Jason Neistadt, who was hilarious. Seas are “moderate” today and winds vary from “strong breeze” to “near gale” – and the port side where our cabin is, is really windy. Walking on decks today was, uh, interesting, as in everyone moved like drunken sailors! Makes for fun sleeping…!

11/07 Monday --- At Sea. Life is good: Woke up to see a rainbow outside the balcony! Another relaxing day at sea; breakfast in the room, followed by our usual windy walk on the Promenade deck. Caught the cooking show@ 10:30 and bought a book; naturalist Rachel had a trivia quiz and video @ 11:15. Amazing how many steps we take daily, how many up and down the stairs… from Deck 5 to Deck 15. Lunch today was Panini and chicken and Waldorf salad at International CafĂ©. Jimmy read after and I worked on the computer, followed by another Yahtzee get-together in a sheltered cove. Seas are down to “slight” again and winds “strong breeze,” but we’re still rockin’ and rollin’ on board! Got all gussied up for our last formal dinner. Tonite’s menu: All the lobster you can eat… best we could do was one each (sigh!). Delicious. Baked Alaska (on parade!) for dessert. We retired to watch “The Help” on our room TV. Nice day. We’re in jeans and jackets now. Water temp down to 69.3.

11/08 - Tuesday --- At Sea. Another relaxing and oh-so-nice day. Sunny. Saw our first ship on the horizon off to the north, and sea gulls shortly thereafter, so land can't be too far. Spotted the Mexican coast shortly after lunch. The ship docked at Ensenada, Mexico (below) @ 4 pm for a few hours and some people disembarked, but not us. Listening to the sea lions barking was kinda entertaining! We packed up our stuff as we have to leave this marvelous cruise early tomorrow morning (boo-hoo!). After dinner, the ship set sail for Los Angeles, while we watched a fantastical production show, "British Invasion," in the Princess Theater. Peaceful waters now, light wind, big fat moon shining thru the window....

Back in the warm sun!

This cute li'l bird flew in from somewhere, landed on our balcony railing, and rested there for a few minutes.

11/09 - Wednesday --- Los Angeles! We awoke at 5 am to see the moon set and watch our entrance to the harbor - a pretty scene. We disembarked our Golden Princess at 7:30 am and took the Super Shuttle to Matt's. No problems, which was nice. Had a bite to eat with him and then we drove Smartie to Ventura where we we'll hook up with our Tergel again... and we'll stay there for a few days.

Gorgeous moon setting as we entered Los Angeles Harbor on Nov. 9th.

We traveled round trip 5,007 Nautical Miles (5,785 Statue Miles) on our Hawaiian trip! On a scale of one to ten, we'd rate this 14-day cruise to Hawaii as a... well, about as good as it could get. A GREAT BIG TEN!
And, we put down a deposit for a future cruise!