Thursday, January 8, 2015

2 Holidays, 2850 miles,167 gallons of fuel...and lots of fun

We're back in Oregon!

I had hoped to get some photos or videos processed to make a good complete blog about our Holiday activities, but we have been busy ever since our return to Port Orford Tuesday afternoon.  Also, after miles and miles of travel and visits with family and friends, we needed a little rest.

Well, the photos didn't get done, but I figured I could tell you about the past two weeks and put up images later...something to look forward to...right?

We secured our rolling home in Oregon and drove off to the south early on the 23rd for a previously planned four day visit to family members in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Despite a couple of detours due to storm damage just before our journey began, we had an easy 480 mile  drive along the Coast Highway to our California destination.  Except for occasional fog in low areas, the weather was fantastic.

The highway between Port Orford and the SF Area provides some of the most stunning scenery in the West.  We always enjoy seeing these familiar sights.  Just south of the Oregon/California state line we spotted several very large herds of elk.  Each herd consisted of dozens of cow elk carefully monitored by a huge bull.  A couple of these herds were grazing right alongside the highway, but our usually alert hounds missed them all.

We checked into our hotel in Dublin, CA too late to visit our daughter, Amy, and her family that evening and just fell into bed after a quick and somewhat unsatisfying meal.

The hounds got us up bright and early to do their business outside and for morning feeding and we were soon on our way to visit old neighborhood friends in Castro Valley.   I spent some time with Tom and Vicky a couple of years ago, but it has been a good number of years since Juanita has been able to visit with these good folks.

After visiting our old neighbors we headed over to see our daughter, Amy, her husband, Mike, and the grandkids, Olivia and Michael.  The two teenagers were full of energy as usual, although Michael had broken an arm during a recent soccer game.  We ate far too much good food, watched some fun movies on TV, had a lot of good conversation and laughs and had to end our visit far too soon.

On Christmas day and back with the family, we were joined by our son, Nic, who was able to spend a little time with us before heading off for visits with his friends.  He is a busy guy.

On Friday we traveled to nearby Alameda to see Juanita's 93 year old Mom...she is also a Juanita!  We visited for a couple of hours until Alan, one of Juanita's two brothers, arrived.  Because Friday was our last day in the SF Area, we didn't stay much longer and made our way back to the kid's house for a nice quiet evening.

During our visit to California I noticed that diesel fuel prices were about the same as when we began our full time travel experience in early 2006.  Never being a person to miss an opportunity, I made contact with our friends Steve and Karen, who have a nice large home in Mesa, Arizona.  When asked if they would like a couple of visitors for a few days, they advised that a guest room would be available.  I know they are always eager to see Juanita and our two Beagles, but as for me, meh!  OK, I'm just kidding...I hope!

So, on Saturday the 27th we continued the drive south.  We're nothing if not flexible.  We encountered very heavy traffic along Interstate 5, which is sometimes well maintained, but otherwise full of suspension destroying holes, cracks and ridges.  I sometimes think that California government officials want to mangle every vehicle on the road in order to save the planet.  Good luck with that.

We arrived late in the day at our next hotel destination in San Bernardino and again fell onto mattresses after another lousy road trip meal.  We still haven't figured out how to get a decent quick evening meal when tired and dusty from a long day on the road.

Our departure from San Bernardino began well before daylight until we encountered direct in the windshield sun.  Even my great aviator sunglasses were challenged by the bright light.  In this instance a sunny day of travel didn't rise to our usual delight.

After a very easy transit of Phoenix, we arrived at our Mesa destination in early afternoon.  We received a wild greeting.  No, not from Steve and Karen, but from their two Beagles, Callie and Maddie.  Joined by our two crazy hounds, the house was instantly swirling with flying furry bodies and loud barks and howls.  Wow, what a show.

The several days we expected to stay in Arizona expanded to seven, and we had a fine old time visiting with Steve and Karen and their furry buddies.  While in the area, we also met up with full time travel friends of many years, Barb and Dave, in their new to them park model in Mesa.  We also visited with San Tan Valley winter visitors Phyllis and Jim.

One of Juanita's favorite activities during our three winters in Arizona was thrift store shopping with Karen.  Well, she did that...and more.  She managed to pick up a good load of nearly new clothing for next to nothing...the whole purpose of the activity.

While Juanita and Karen were playing around at local stores, Steve and I managed to watch just about every bowl game on TV.  The only one we missed was the Kohler/American Standard/Eljer Toilet Bowl game.  Oh wait, I don't think that one exists yet.  Well, give it time.  Along with all of our friends in Oregon, I was happy to see the University of Oregon team reach the championship game next week.

The only rain storm of our two week trip passed through the Phoenix area quickly and caused us no problems whatsoever.  The Superstition Mountains were completely snow covered right after the cold storm, providing a rare and brief desert sight.

By the end of the week we began to miss Oregon coast green.  Our journey back to the north began on Sunday the 4th with hotel stops in Tehachapi and Redding, California before arriving back in Port Orford on Tuesday.  The trip was (mostly) uneventful, except for a brief moment of inattention on my part.

When loading and unloading the truck at hotels or while stopping in rest areas, we NEVER leave the vehicle completely unattended.  Well...almost never.  While packing our bags for departure from the last overnight stop in Redding, I went back to the room very briefly to pick up a few more bags.  Well, a few minutes was enough.

We continued on to Port Orford completely oblivious to the fact that three of our bags had been removed from the truck at the hotel parking lot in Redding.  The happiness of home return was soon dashed by the realization that we had lost all of our toiletries, a lot of clothing and a small bag of high end dog food and medication for Luna.

Although the dollar amount of the loss was not high, the sense of violation was extreme.  We shopped at Amazon on Tuesday night to replace shirts, socks and other clothing items and made a quick run to the nearest Walmart in North Bend to pick up other necessary replacement items on Wednesday.  We are still remembering lost items that will have to be replaced in time.

Despite the end of journey issue, we had a fine time with family and friends.  Travel weather was perfect, fuel prices were acceptable, our furry friends behaved themselves, the four LaQuinta Inns were comfortable and we have gotten the itch to head out onto the highway in early spring...this time with our fifth wheel trailer in tow.  We'll let you know about our plans as soon as we decide on a destination...or two.

Juanita will soon post photos of her beautiful quilts that were given as gifts and I will get some photos and maybe a video together as well.

We'll be back soon........................................


  1. I hope you don't get washed away; better rain than the snow in other parts of the state. I hope you and Juanita had a very happy Christmas, and wish you the best for 2015.

  2. Hey guys! Watching the Barrett-Jackson auction marathon in Riverton, would be fun to see it again in person. Decided to head back down to San Tan Valley at the end of this month. We'll be there for almost 2 months straight, already had enough winter around here.
    Read your trip account and a bad deal concerning the loss of your belongings, hope you two and your beagles are doing well, otherwise. Enjoy the remainder of your winter on the coast. Take care.

    1. Mick...I have also been watching the Barrett-Jackson and was astounded at a 1967 Z28 going for $180K. Wow!

      All is well back in Oregon and I will find something to post soon I'm sure. We have had a lot of rain during the past couple of days, but the wet stuff doesn't cause much of an issue around here...not like snow and cold up your way.

      We enjoyed a short visit with a couple of San Tan Valley friends when down in AZ but haven't made any plans for next winter yet. It looks like we might spend a couple of months in McCall, Idaho during late spring and early summer however.

      We certainly hope to see you again sooner or later. Enjoy your time in AZ and take care..........