Friday, March 11, 2016

Wow....Ten Whole Years!

Photo by Mike Mills
Ten years!!!!

So, ten years ago we pulled up our roots, retired and began our journey into the great unknown.  Although we had extensively researched the lifestyle before departure, we left without a solid plan beyond traveling to Texas to establish our new home base.

Unlike many others starting out as fulltimers in an RV, we didn't set up specific goals, such as visiting every state (except Hawaii of course), seeing every state capitol, climbing every high spot in each state, visiting all the presidential libraries and so on.  Although these are certainly worthy goals, we tended to be a little less structured and decided to travel wherever the wind blew us...sometimes literally.

I remember more than one occasion we would spend the evening looking at a map of the US and come up with the next days travel direction over dessert.  Other than our  wonderful journey to Alaska in 2008, most of our plans were drawn in pencil and subject to spontaneous changes.

Examples of this are many, but several come to mind.  After meeting a vacationing Wisconsin couple at a camp in Montana and hearing them speak of their favorite pizza parlor in Grand Marias, MN, we adjusted our travel map eastward and paid a visit to Sven & Ole's Pizza located on the western shoreline of Lake Superior.  Of course there was much more to be seen during that journey, but setting up a singular goal opened up a new world to us and we were excited by all of our discoveries.

On a fall day just north of Salt Lake City and while watching a travel program about countrywide festivals, we saw a show about the Emma Crawford coffin races to be held the following weekend in Manitou Springs, CO.  Only 500 miles down the road, that was certainly in our range for a special event.  Again, we saw some beautiful places, found some wonderful new camping locations and got a chance to experience something very different.

When planning our Alaskan journey, I read about the experiences of many RVers that had proceeded us and decided not to take the long alternate route known as the Top Of the World Highway.  I read about the hundreds of miles of dirt/gravel roads, steep grades, narrow passages along cliffs with no guardrails, dust, dirt, mud and miles and miles of nothing but trees and and tundra.

That decision worked out in our favor as it turned out.  While staying at our last Alaskan location in Valdez, I had the opportunity to get the opinion of Alaskan residents, who, without exception, told me not to miss the Top Of the World in the fall when the road is pretty much dry, there is little or no opposing traffic  and the fall colors are exploding from horizon to horizon.  

We changed directions and found what we had been looking for the entire journey...a pristine landscape that took the Alaskan trip to a new level.  And we found the ultimate gold rush town that I envisioned from the writings of Jack London in Dawson City in the Yukon.

Our ten years of travel have taken us to all the western states with the exception of Nebraska.  We have covered most of the midwest but didn't make it east of Indiana or to any of the states in the southeast of the country.  Although we don't have plans at this point to travel to the Atlantic shore, we never say never and might someday put the eastern states on our travel map.

Along the way we have found stunning scenery, had experiences we never imagined and met some of the finest people around.  Many have become lifelong friends who stay in touch and sometimes cross our path.  There is nothing better in life than this.

As for now, our travels have slowed and we spend most of our time parked at one of our favorite places in the country, Port Orford, Oregon.  We still find occasions to travel in the west and hope to do so in the future.  We have no plans at this point to hang up our keys and might very well move on as the spirit moves us and our health allows.

Juanita just returned home after spending four days at a quilters retreat in Gold Beach.  I will let her follow with her experiences and a few photos of the event.  Otherwise, I will return soon with a blog update about the rainy weather and current activities.

See you soon........................................

Hi,  Juanita here. I have 15 photos to post here so I won't get too wordy about it. Suffice it to say I had a blast. All day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was quilting, quilting and more quilting. Tuesday was a class on the technique called Dresden Plate, which consists of a series of wedge shape pieces put together to make circles or fans.  Or, in the case of this class, butterfly wings.

This gal, I think her name is Ruth, completed hers. Some of these ladies are speedy. 

Sheri here (hidden by the quilt) had some quilt squares made up before coming to the Retreat and put this whole quilt together in 2-1/2 days. 

This version is more my speed.

This one is mine. I'm taking it slow, but its going to be really pretty. I only worked on it on Tuesday, because Wednesday, I started a second class.  This one is kind of interesting. Check out this Elephant.

Isn't he adorable? I worked on mine all day Wednesday and most of Thursday and this is how far I got.  This is maybe a little more than half way through the process. 

Here is another one like mine but with very different fabrics.

We also had the option of doing a Giraffe:

Or an Orca Whale:

Or a Hippo:

The following four photos will give you a general idea of what a quilt retreat is like. 


That smiling person there is Chris, a former employee of the quilt store (now happily retired) and a master quilter.  When I need advice on something she is my go to source.

More happy quilters.


This is the balloon gift wall.  When your name gets called up, you pop a balloon which has a number in it, find the gift with that number on it and its yours.
Fun stuff.

One last photo.  My roommate, Janice, put this quilt on her bed.  It is a work-in-progress. It is all hand-pieced, and there are hundreds of individual star pieces in there. It is awesome.  And she has only been working on it for 10 years. 

I will be back next year, assuming we're still in Oregon that is.  We'll see.