Southern Idaho Follies Begin…

Our first stop was at the Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell. We were able to get a few days, but had to relocate to the Caldwell Elks Lodge for a few more days, then we returned to Ambassador for a little bit longer than a week. Thus is the lifestyle of those of us with no reservations and no plans set in stone! The Ambassador RV Resort was a nice RV park albeit small. The interior roads are paved, sites are gravel with FHU’s, nice concrete patios, and well kept grass strips between sites. There is a clubhouse, with small gym, game room, pool, sauna, spa, a nice fenced off dog area and the park is surrounded with a dog walk area. The Caldwell Elks Lodge is a bare bones parking area behind the Lodge with 8 RV sites, 30A power, no sewer hookups or dump site, and 4 water spigots for sharing between the 8 sites.

The clubhouse at Ambassador RV Resort.

What is this, some kinda Tiffin rally?

Our home at Ambassador RV Resort.

The Cement Pond.

Game room.

Small, but can still make one break a sweat…

Inside the clubhouse.

The Caldwell Elks Lodge.

Our home at the Elks.

Jeanne & I were able to catch up to a couple of my former co-workers from Sonoma County, Stacy and Jim Camara, who now live in the area. They played tour guides and took us into Boise to its famous Saturday Farmer’s Market. It was refreshing to attend a farmer’s market that did not revolve around the “hippy” culture and one that was not overrun with dope smoking paraphernalia for sale.

Sights from the Boise Farmer’s Market.

More market…

…and more market…

…and even MORE from the farmer’s market. Look at the size of some of those radishes…

Checking out Freak Alley with Jim and Stacy Camara (Stacy being the photographer here)

Freak Alley art.

More art.

Jeanne discovered a place called Leslie Gulch in the Jordan Valley area (actually back in Oregon, near Lake Owyhee). We took a Jeep ride out there and found Leslie Gulch to be a scenic dirt trail through volcanic rock formations. The 7 miles of trail through the rocks had views that evoked images of Death Valley and Flaming Gorge.

Welcome to Leslie Gulch.

Cruisin’ through the canyon.

Looks like SOMEBODY’S profile!

It’s amazing what volcanoes and water can create.

Not good to drive through canyons like these with tall mountain formations when one has recently undergone neck surgery!

Cool colors!

We also did some everyday living stuff while in the Caldwell area. Of course, we had to hit The Village, a fancy-schmancy outdoor mall in Meridian. I found Rolling H Cycles and got our bicycles tuned up and ready for, hopefully, some near future use. I did a couple of minor repairs and some maintenance on Rosie the bus. We got reservations set up for our next stop in Boise. And before we head that way, we checked out some local properties for sale, both undeveloped and several sub-divisions. We find the prices here are a bit steep and the locals complain of that, blaming it on those dang Californians coming up here in droves. California(n) are descriptors best left unsaid around here. Glad we are TEXANS!

The Village.

You can drive through the whole mall and actually park near the stores you like.

More of the mall.

An entertainment area in the middle of the restaurants at The Village.

That about catches me up here. Until next post…well, here’s a couple more gratuitous Opa and Oma pix. So sue me…

Hailey Marie Watkins.

Ellie Grace Watkins.

Maximus Charles Rodriguez.


Posted in Idaho, Oregon | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back on the Prowl

Well, I have to say it has been a bit rough for the past 10 months as far as second hand smoke goes. Since we arrived back in Moonbeam’s state last October (when the fires burned down our previous family home), we have pretty much been in constant smoke-filled skies with just a tiny bit of respite here and there. With all the California wildfires scattered statewide, we were unable to escape the smoke. We had very nice family visits and thoroughly enjoyed our kids and grandkids, as well as other family members. But now we’re back on the road. 


This is what we left behind on the central coast of California…


…and this little lady was waiting for me underneath my tire cover! I can only imagine Eric G. dancing around the campsite after seeing/encountering this…

We started out with an overnighter at the Merced Elks Lodge. They have a very nice RV lot at a satellite location to their main lodge. We got up the next day and promptly headed into Sacramento and to the Sacramento Truck Center (Freightliner) for the newest recall work on the bus. We overnighted there until our appointment, which took all of about 30 minutes to re-route some hose in the engine that was in jeapordy of burning up at it’s current, original location. Hose moved, we sped north, desperately trying to flee the smoke filled skies. We overnighted in the “hopping” town of Weed, CA, at Friendly RV Park. Smoke was still thick as we continued north on I-5 and into Oregon. We had 4 days to “burn” until our appointment for our new captain’s chairs at Countryside Interiors in Junction City, so we decided to settle in Junction City at Guaranty RV Park again, relax, get caught up on chores, and even give Rosie (the bus) a bath. Plus, we got a couple of days break from the smoke (but ONLY a couple of days!). We took the opportunity to check out Eugene’s Farmer’s Market. It was quite the hippy-fest. Lots of veggies, tie-dye, jewelry, art, otherwise typical stuff you find at a farmer’s market.


Our overnight home at the Merced Elks Lodge RV lot. Not bad…


And our new overnight stop at the Freightliner shop in Sacramento, the Sacramento Truck Center. We had to wait out at the curb until they closed up shop so we could move up to the building and a 30A hookup.


A lovely parting shot of Lake Shasta as we headed north on I-5. That is NOT fog, folks…


This is what I-5 looked like all the way into Oregon…


Friendly RV Park in Weed, CA.


Our overnight home at Friendly RV Park.


Back at Guaranty RV Park in Junction City, OR.


I know, terrible picture, shoot the photographer! But unpacking at Guaranty RV and I found the husband of the woman I squashed back at Cava Robles RV Resort in Paso Robles, CA. He was webbed out  between my tire covers and our white foldable table. Yuckeeeeeeeeee! This time, I even danced around the campsite, Eric!

The Eugene Farmer’s Market, in all it’s glory… very busy too!

This is the disclaimer for the dope smokers across the street…

The dope smoking contingent across the street, the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza…

See, I told you it was a hippy-fest!

It took all of less than an hour to swap out the captain’s chairs and onward we went. Next stop was Northwest Cummins in beautiful downtown Coburg, OR for the yearly service on Rosie. They have power and water for overnight stays in their lot, very convenient. They found a couple of extra things that needed attention ($2K total, ouch!), then it was road time again. Sisters, OR, was our choice of destination. The Deschutes Nat’l Forest contains an area on Harrington Loop Rd. just off Hwy. 20 south of town and behind the Bend/Sisters RV Resort. There are numerous boondock sites off this dirt road that are big rig friendly to get to and not too forested so as to interfere with our solar panels or satellite TV. We shared the area with about 3 others, scattered far away from each other.


Out with the old…

The boyz of Countryside Interiors hard at work…

…and in with the new!

The sun rises on a new day at the Northwest Cummins shop in Coburg, OR. At least it tries to!

Jeanne got her a couple of zip-loc bags full of beautiful blackberries that surrounded the area we were in at Cummins.

We got set up off of Harrington Loop Rd. in Sisters, OR, with a hint of blue skies, which we found out soon enough was to be short-lived.

Our first foray was onto Hwy. 242 out of Sisters and up through the lava beds to the McKenzie Pass and eventually to Proxy Falls which has a moderate trail (1.5 miles roundtrip) to the upper and lower falls, and it is dog friendly. This is a fee area (5$) unless you have the N.P Annual Pass, Senior Pass, or Access Pass, whereas it is free. Woody had a fun jaunt along the trail, as did we.

The drive up Hwy. 242 to Proxy Falls. Oh boy…

One of the scenic vista points heading up to Proxy Falls, overlooking some of the lava beds and you can barely make out Mt. Washington through the smoke…

Woodrow Wilson chomping at the bit to hit that trail to Proxy Falls.

Heading up through more lava fields.

The lower falls of Proxy Falls.

Jeanne leading the charge…

The upper falls of Proxy Falls. Not as scenic as the lower falls were…

On our way back we stopped at the Dee Wright Observatory, a rock structure built overlooking the  lava beds and viewing all the mountains in the area like the 3 Sisters, Mt. Washington, Black Butte, and others. The only problem was the #&%$@*ing THICK smoke, we could barely see the peak of Mt. Washington.

The McKenzie Pass Summit marker, just across the street from the Dee Wright Observatory.

The Dee Wright Observatory.

A look out the window opening of the Observatory. Hard to see mountains through the smoke from here…

On top of the Observatory, a directional marker to nearby geological points.

Top view from the Observatory.

A peak at the inside.

In keeping with our past practices, we discovered the Bend, OR area hosts an “Ale Trail” which includes 16 breweries in the area. We picked up our Ale Trail passports and for the next couple of days we road tripped around Bend, Redmon, and Sisters hitting up all 16 breweries, tasting at some, eating at others, or just browsing gift shops. I have to say, sampling beers nationwide (the lower 48, anyway), and being a porter/stout fan, my favorite breweries thus far in no particular order are Founders Brewery, Evil Twin Brewery, Omnipollo (noa Pecan Mud), and Firestone Walker Brewing. I am always looking for new favorite breweries, so that hunt continues. Finishing the trail, we collected our prizes at the visitor’s center, 2 silicone pint-sized beer mugs and a couple of bottle openers. 4 days of boondocking in the dirt and trees and we were ready for civilized living and FHU’s.

Here I am, hot on the Bend Ale Trail, at the Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.

A couple of testers from Wild Ride Brew…

You just never know who you might run into…somebody at Wild Ride heard my loud mouth running and spoke up. Lo & behold, Steve Gossett, one of my former co-workers in Sonoma County, CA! Wow…

10 Barrel Brewing.

Sampling 10 Barrel fare…get a load of them coasters…

Monkless Belgian Ales.

Gotta do a little pizza to wash down some more of them Deschutes Brewery samples…

McMenamins Old St. Francis School Pub.

Silver Moon Brewery.

Riverbend Brewing Co.

Inside Boneyard Pub.

Some of the Boneyard’s offerings.

Good Life Brewing Co. Note the tiny hint in the lower right corner of a hops plant crawling up the twine.

Good Life Brewing was a happening place.

Crux Fermentation Project was also a very happening place. They have a large outdoor family area, K9 friendly, and yard games everywhere.

The front door to Crux…Oh looky, there’s more of them there hops plants growing off to the left…

Immersion Brewing offerings.

OK, twist my arm, I’ll try them!

I guess I should not have been surprised, seeing that hops, nettles, and cannabis are of the same plant family, and with weed legal all over the place, that I would drive down the highway and just happen to glance upon very large “seas of green” (aka: large cannabis gardens).

The fruits of our labor…

In the midst of trying to drown our livers in all that beer, we discovered the Smith Rock State Park just north of Redmond. We got up and headed over to the park to give Woody a real test of stamina. We loaded up hiking snacks and water and set out to tame the Misery Trail, about 4-5 miles with a killer uphill approach that circles around the top to Monkey Face then back down along the Crooked River and back to the start. The park is highly popular with mountain climbers and boasts a thousand climbing faces within the park. Monkey Face is the crowned jewel for mountaineers. We definitely were sucking wind on our ascent…But hey, all three of us survived none the worse for wear. I did suck down a Gatorade in record time when we got back to the Jeep.

Looking across the Crooked River at what we were about to embark on…

Scenic look through the valley.

Heading down into the canyon to battle the mountain…

Another view down along the river.

Jeanne taking a breather on the climb.

Woody did not hesitate to show his level of dissatisfaction with our choice of recreation this day…

A view from the top.

More views.

From the top view of the valley we could see many “fixer-up’ers” like this one. I hate to see people have to live like that…

Side view of Monkey Face with climbers all over it.

A little closer shot of Monkey Face.

And finally, back down and along the Crooked River.

We even got to see a few otters playing in the water.


So, “in a cloud of dust with a hearty ‘Hi ho, Silver’” we were off eastbound and down to Caldwell, Idaho. We had change of plans (#9,583) and decided to forgo a trip back to South Dakota and instead spend some time in the southern Idaho area, looking for a possible landing zone for when we decide to retire from full timing. We have been on the road for 6 years now, having completed the lower 48, and we still plan on an Alaska run next summer. But we also want to get a head start in searching for a landing zone, since we have the luxury and opportunity to do so.

So, as our time starts in Idaho, I bid you a fond farewell for now, stay tuned until next post…

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Time to Hit the Road Quickly Approaches…

This will be a short one, I’m under orders to keep the voluminous number of granddaughter pictures to a minimum to avoid boring the pants off you readers. Our satellite issues have resolved. Brian (the tech whose name escaped me from the last post) of Coast Satellite swapped out a Winegard Trav’ler for our original Winegard Roadtrip Mission. For Pete’s sake I don’t know why we did not have this done long ago. We have had multiple problems with the Mission since we got the rig. Having to plug and unplug, reboot, restart, and even going as far as popping the SIM card in and out just about every time we moved down the road was most annoying. Since the switch, Trav’ler works like a champ!

On our return stint at Cava Robles RV Resort, we got a nice corner lot near the top of the hill and the office. A quick re-con and we found the second clubhouse, pool, & spa finished, the area they call the Wellness Center. Soon they will be offering massages; now the small gym/fitness center is open for use.  There are now some 230 RV/cabin sites open, numerous others still under construction. Little Miss Hailey got to come stay with Oma and Opa quite a few times and spent many hours in the swimming pool learning to swim. The weekend before the 4th Jeanne’s mom came to visit us from Coarsegold (gateway to Yosemite and just east of Fresno). We had Chad’s family come out for the day to enjoy time with “Gigi”. 


Our corner lot at Cava Robles. Check out the new Winegard Trav’ler antenna! Lucky this oak tree is not due south…


The second pool at the Wellness Center. This one is geared more toward being a lap pool and less kid friendly (no wading area, no water fountains).


Work continues on the rest of the sites.


Pour them patio slabs, boys! It’s only 110 degrees!


A 4-generation photo, Jeanne, Gigi, Chad, Hailey, and Ellie.

Chad’s family returned for the 4th of July holiday and everybody got wet…the temperatures here in El Paso de Robles have been consistently between 100-110 degrees! We spent most of the day in the pool and ended it with a nice BBQ.


Getting ready for the 4th of July decorated golf cart parade at Cava Robles.


Chad, Crissy, Hailey, and Ellie in the 4th of July spirit!


That’s one proud Oma and her granddaughters!

We did find some time to wander for ourselves. We loaded Woodrow Wilson up and took a roadtrip to Santa Barbara. Besides checking out the coast, I wanted to stop off and see the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge RV lot. It supposedly is one where you need reservations and, due to its small size, I can believe that. Unfortunately, the lot is tiny, would be rough maneuvering through in a 40’ bus, and the sites are packed tightly, side to side. I’m afraid I’ll pass on trying to spend any time there. We parked at the Shoreline Park and let Woody take us on a walk along the shore. It was a nice day, temperature-wise, and it would have been nice to be dog-less, so as to walk down by the downtown/pier area. But alas, Woody does not behave well in a crowded pedestrian setting.


Woody taking Jeanne down the path at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara


Oil rigs off in the distance.


The beach south of Shoreline Park.


Ahhhh, the life of a beach bum!

One work day we decided to meet Chad for lunch near his work at SLO Brew Rock, a local brewery. This brewpub gets it’s namesake from a large rock formation in it’s front yard. Hailey got to play some of the games in the yard and we had a nice lunch. They have an outstanding brisket but I must say I was not impressed with the beer.


Hailey playing a little corn hole at SLO Brew Rock.


Waiting on Chad…


Here’s the namesake “rock”…


Too much fun…

Well, another couple of weeks and we shall be northbound again. We’ll get a recall issue for the bus taken care of at Sacramento Freightliner, then up to the area of Junction City, OR again for our Captain’s chairs on the bus. On to Coburg, OR for our engine service at the Cummins shop there, then onward toward So. Dakota for a change of domicile again. 

I’m not much into following orders any more, so I might as well close out with…PICTURES OF GRANDDAUGHTERS!!! Until next post…


A little Father-Daughter clowning time…


Pool time, big time!


Learning to swim with Opa…


“Does it get any better? Camping at the camping bus with a bag of Grammy Bears?!?


“Ha, ha, hey Oma, pull my finger!”


Happy 4th of July everybody!


A little “customized” S’mores action at the camping bus…


OK, so this is a demented Opa version of the child’s tea party…


Block party, Hailey style!




The Gladiator may not be with us in person, but Grandson Max is definitely with us in our hearts! The Tooth Fairy must have had to mortgage the farm on this one…


Born for resort living!


Little Miss Ellie…


Just say “Good night, folks”…

Posted in Atascadero, California | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Babysitting and Bus Repairs


Little Miss Ellie Grace says, “Are you ready for this babysitting gig, Oma and Opa?”


Little Miss Hailey Marie says, “Catch me, if you can! Oh, and by the way, bring chocolate! Lots of chocolate!”

We started out with a week back at the Atascadero Elks Lodge RV lot. Our daughter-in-law Crissy was still off work due to her foot injury, and with doctor/PT appointments here and there we got plenty of opportunity to warm up with babysitting duty before she actually has to go back to work. One excursion we took Little Miss Hailey on was to Morro Bay. She got to play in Tidelands Park and we walked the main drag, checking out the shops and restaurants and general sights.


Welcome to Tidelands Park.


Since 16 week old babies basically eat, sleep, and, well, you know, Little Miss Hailey got the lion’s share of fun time. Here we are at Tidelands Park in Morro Bay, with Morro Rock in the backdrop…


Here’s a fixer-upper for you wannabe squiddies…


Hailey the rock climber.


She is certainly the Captain of her ship!


Having snacks with Opa…


Hailey and the octopus.


Now, we are gonna need kinda a higher tide to get this ship launched…


Hailey and her friend the seal…


Flipper giving Little Miss Hailey a ride…


Such a stern look…


“I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice-cream!”


Hailey taking Bert and Ernie on a little ride downtown Morro Bay.


“These anchor chains are really FUN!”


“Yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirate’s life for me!” Um, Hailey, that song would fit better if you did not have a pink/red bow in your hair…

When our week was up at the Elks Lodge, we had reservations for a 28-day stay at the brand-spankin’-new Cava Robles RV Resort, a member of the Sun RV Resorts family, located in Paso Robles. Upon arrival, the resort was about half open, the other half still under construction. But, wow, what a half it was! Judging by the part open for business now, after having been through all the lower 48 states, staying at all forms of RV parks/resorts/lots, this would be one of the top family “destination parks” in my humble opinion. The interior roads are easy to navigate and paved. Our site was a back-in, crushed rock with concrete patio, FHU’s (+cable), fire pit, picnic table, and clear skies for satellite reception. They have a nice dog run area, dog water bowls and clean up stations scattered around the park, playground for the kids, golf cart and bicycle rentals, and a beautiful clubhouse/pool area. The clubhouse has a beer and wine bar, bistro (open on weekends only for now), game room with billiard table, outdoor BBQ and tiled pizza oven (kinda like a wood fired pizza oven, I did not give it a closer look), outdoor games like oversized chess, corn hole, and oversized Jenga. The pool area had a large 3 1/2’ deep wading pool and water fountain play area, with outdoor showers and ample clean restrooms. The resort sponsors free wine tasting by local wineries on Fridays, and musical entertainment on the patio during the weekends. All in all, a very nice place to stay.  They have a 28 day stay limit, so we reserved this stay, we’ll return to the Elks Lodge for a week, then come back here for another 28 day stay. The rate worked out for this first stay at about $34 per night if I am doing my math right, I’m not sure what a normal nightly rate goes for and I never bothered to ask.


Overlooking the clubhouse and pool/BBQ area at Cava Robles.


The patio area at the clubhouse.


Some of the restrooms scattered around the park.


The pool.


BBQ or oven fired pizza, anyone?


The water fountain play area at the pool, putting green in the background…


Our home at Cava Robles.

With Little Miss Ellie Grace being only 16 weeks old, Little Miss Hailey Marie got the brunt of all the fun activities. She got to go “camping at the bus” and enjoy all the resort had to offer. She was disappointed one very hot day, unable to go swimming because one of the other “campers” went dookie in the pool and it got closed for the day while they did their haz-mat clean-up. Oh, joy…


Little Miss Hailey hard at play on the playground.


Hailey getting swim lessons from Oma.


“I’m on my way to the camp store to pick up my favorite thing to do while camping…”


“…which is…BUBBLES!”


Hailey riding her glider around the resort.


Hailey likes taking Woodrow Wilson for a walk in the park, too.”


Little Miss Hailey trying out the fountains.

Hailey got her first bicycle, a glider, and we spent time learning the ins-and-outs of gliding. She also helped her Opa paint rocks. Seems we got involved in a Facebook group, RVers rock!, where folks paint small rocks and hide them all over the country for others to find. A request to post pictures to the FB group is made with each rock, then the finder can either keep the rock or is encouraged to hide it somewhere else. I’ve been scattering rocks from ocean to ocean, however I do avoid hiding them in state or federal parks. The parks folks have complained that leaving painted rocks on park land is akin to vandalism, so they prefer we not do it. Most rocks have a location painted/marked on them so the finder can know how far the rock has traveled. The rocks I find & paint I mark with the city/state where I found them, plus the year. It’s kinda like a new-age treasure hunt. Anyway, Hailey had fun painting rocks with me, I think she got more paint on her than the rocks!

It seems the 4 year curse is upon us, regarding “stuff” breaking down in the bus. As we have arrived in California’s central state area for the beginning of summer, temps are already starting to soar. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the first days of AC and we blow out the rear AC unit, it sounded like a pack of bikers revving them up on our roof and we got a smell of burning plastic. We lucked out, the resort recommended Art’s Mobile RV Repair, and we found them to be OUTSTANDING in customer service and repairs. Emily answered our phone calls and is just about the most pleasant person you will encounter this side of the Mississippi. John, our tech, showed up on time and also very pleasant, considering the job was an outdoor job in triple digit temps. He was quick as well, found the broken plastic piece of $h!+ blower fan wheel, and once the part was available he replaced it, AC back in business. If you are ever in the SLO/Paso Robles area and need a mobile RV service, we highly recommend Art’s Mobile RV Repair at (805) 712-2087.

But we can’t stop there. We’ve been having satellite reception issues for the past 3 months with the roof mounted Winegard  Roadtrip Mission antenna, the dang thing has not been picking up the normal 3 satellite signals, 110, 119, & 129. In fact, more commonly lately it has been zeroing in on satellite 61.5, which DISH tells me is an eastern satellite. So, the Winegard tech support people found Coast Satellite, (805) 461-1522, out of Atascadero for us to try to resolve our issue. Turns out, the antenna was kaput, sooooooo, let me see, where did I put my wallet? At least our extended warranty will cover part of the replacement. The only thing now, once the insurance people finish with the satellite people, we the people have decided to go with the Winegard Trav’ler antenna which Jeanne said gets good reviews and is definitely an upgrade to the Mission. This whole thing is still in the process, but however it goes, Ryan (the owner) has also been OUTSTANDING as far as customer service, just like our service tech (who I must apologize to as his name has slipped my feeble mind). Upon our initial call out, the tech determined the fault to be the antenna within about a half hour, but we were not charged for anything because, his words, “I didn’t fix anything.” To top it off, Ryan does not normally deal with extended warranty people (I don’t blame him, they can be a pain in the @$$ sometimes). When Jeanne did her “damsel-in-distress” thing requesting Ryan try to contact the warranty people, he agreed to try. As of post time we are pending final outcome of the satellite issue. 

Well, that should catch us up for now. Time to get ready for wine tasting by Sculpterra Winery, with some Marin-ite cheese plate snacks by Jeanne, and the “silky smooth sounds” of Andy Scott, all down at the clubhouse with Chad, Crissy, Little Miss Hailey, and Little Miss Ellie. Man, this “not-working-for-a-living” lifestyle is rough. Until next post…



Posted in Atascadero, California | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Clearing the Decks For Our Babysitting Gig

Memorial Weekend turned out to be a bit rough as far as finding an RV spot for the beast, we were running without reservations. So we did the next best thing – imposed ourselves upon kind-hearted relatives. We returned for some more mooch-docking at Jeanne’s brother Dwayne’s house in Cottonwood. For Memorial Day Jeanne’s other brother Dave joined us as we all went out to the area of Igo and the Northern California Veteran’s Cemetery to visit with Jeanne, Dwayne, & Dave’s stepfather, George. He was a WWII Navy veteran and is laid to rest there in Igo. 


Northern CA has these “terrible” views as you motor down I-5…Mt. Shasta did not get much snow this season.


Mooch-docking at Dwayne’s house.


Northern California Veterans Cemetery.


Makes normal humans want to stand in somber reverence…


Thank you, one and all.


Jeanne, Dwayne, and Dave’s stepfather, George.


The siblings, Dave, Jeanne, and Dwayne pose with George.


Tribute to the submarine veterans.


Tribute to the Air-Force veterans.


A Pearl Harbor memorial.


The Gettysburg Address.

We only spent 2 days at Dwayne’s, then it was time to continue on toward Sonoma County to clean up a couple of doctor appointments before our babysitting gig. We did a short hop and stopped off at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning to kill one day and get some laundry done, and of course donate to the local economy by way of a little Pai Gow Poker. For all you travelers along the I-5 corridor, this casino is a pretty good stopover spot. The RV lot is paved roads, gravel sites, FHU’s, and right next to the casino. They also have a travel center for laundry, showers, business center (fax, copies, etc.) and a small K9 kennel for doggy day care. $35 per night takes the sting out of having to pay for just overnighting it. The buffet inside the casino is better than most…


Our overnight home at Rolling Hills Casino.


Another look down the RV lot…

The next morning it was southbound and down, back to the Petaluma Elks Lodge for a 5 day stint. Some follow-up doctor appointments finished, it was time to have fun with the Gladiator (our grandson Maximus) and his mom Jenn. First order of business was the Rohnert Park Farmer’s Market. Not a large event, but we got to eat “Fair food”, Max got his face painted, and we listened to the “silky smooth” sounds of a band called “Choppin’ Broccoli”. I guess I’d call them kinda 80’s pop rock. 

IMG_0880 3

In case you forgot what the Petaluma Elks Lodge #901 RV lot looks like, here we are again…


The grass/weeds have overgrown at Shollenberger Park (Petaluma) since last we were here.


One lone soldier, sunnin’ hisself at Shollenberger Park.


Kinda low tide at the park.


Yup, I got “screwed”…


I guess I will not worry about getting any type of titanium deficiency ever again……Good news was NO MORE NECK BRACE! A plus was, no PT necessary, and I got the sawbones to OK my normal gout meds! Whoopppeeeeeeeee!


Jeanne and I anxiously awaiting the start of “Choppin’ Broccoli” at the Rohnert Park Farmer’s Market.


Welcome to the Friendly City!


Max getting all painted up…


Fun in the sun at the RP Farmer’s Market!


The King of the Rock.


Choppin’ Broccoli, in concert…


Hey, it got the young’uns dancing, anyway.

We got the opportunity to go to Max’s last Little League game and the ensuing end-of-the-year team party. The last time we were here, we got to see Max’s first game of the season and he has shown great improvement between the two games.


Joe Cool, warming up with the stick…


Max preparing to do his best Buster Posey imitation…


Now he’s doing his best Brandon Belt swing…


Always ready for the ball!


End of the season party at Legends on the Bennett Valley Golf Course.

Next stop was the Forestville Youth BBQ, a yearly carnival-like event. The band was called The Interpretations and they did a good job with some  60’s-70’s easy rock. Max ran amok around the rides and games and had a general really good time. The BBQ brisket was not too shabby either…


Sucking down some BBQ brisket, with Jenn and Max, at the Forestville Youth BBQ.


Winner winner chicken dinner!


Another Giants fan gets tattooed…


This is just more fun than any human can possibly stand!




Super slide!


A wannabe pilot in training, “Good afternoon, this is your pilot Captain Max!”


The Interpretations, at work.


Max even got invited into a hackey-sack round with a couple of the locals.

Fun time done, time to settle down in Atascadero and prepare for babysitting. Until next post…


Little Miss Ellie Grace Watkins, at your service!


Little Miss Hailey Marie Watkins, mischievous imp!

Posted in Atascadero, California, Santa Rosa, CA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finishing Up in Oregon  (Sort of)


OK, so I JUST HAD to start out this post with this sign in one of the shop windows in Weed, CA! I thought it was appropriate, seeing that we have been in Cannabis country for quite a while now, California and Oregon being overrun with Reefer Madness!

So, to kill a week before heading back to Harrisburg, we decided not to forge ahead into Idaho but to stop short in Salem, OR. The Salem Elks Lodge was our home for a week. The lodge is situated next to the Walter L. Wirth Lake and city park area. We were lucky to find space in the 38 site Elks RV lot, it seems most of the spaces are taken up by permanent residents. And it was further disheartening to discover the magnitude of the homeless population in these parts of Oregon, every corner occupied by homeless with signs trying to tug at the public’s heart strings. The park and lake area we were at contained beat up, broken down RV’s and vehicles parked everywhere, even in the tree lines. It was so unpleasant that Jeanne said she would not take the dog for a walk alone through the area. And as we checked in at the Lodge, we were quickly briefed on the need to keep all our stuff locked up, not exactly what a traveler wants to hear. But we dared fate…


Our first site at the Elks was a back-in here along the backside of the lot, a disc golf area behind us and next to the lake.


Go Ducks! Just checking out our park job…


Then we moved to a pull through on the end, a little more space…


Heading over to the park and Walter L. Wirth Lake. Guess what state we are in. Go Ducks!


Walter L. Wirth Lake seemed like a nice little fishing lake.


But then you see this stuff, not much of it moving any time soon.


They were even tucked into the trees. What a shame…


Welcome to Marijuana Mania!

Silver Falls State Park seemed to be calling our names. We learned the big trail did not allow K-9’s, so Woodrow Wilson had to stay back at the bus. The park is a busy one, but for $5 parking (no separate entry fee) it was well worth the effort. We took the Trail of 10 Falls, about an 8 mile trek, and off we went. It was a moderate hike, winding amongst and behind numerous waterfalls, very scenic. In these photos I will try to keep the names of the falls accurate, as best I can.


Welcome to the Trail of Ten Falls!


They did a great job on the trails here at Silver Falls SP. Here is a cutie I encountered on the trail…


South Falls. From the frontside…


South Falls. From the backside…


The Spanish Moss grows a bit different here on the left coast than from that of the deep south and right coast.


Lower South Falls.


Jeanne preparing to cross under Lower South Falls.


Lower North Falls.


Double Falls.


Drake Falls.


Middle North Falls.


Twin Falls. Hard angle to see, but you can see the whitewater from the 2nd waterfall on the right side of the big rock.


North Falls. This was pretty loud, the water crashing at the bottom had some good PSI’s.


North Falls from under the cliff and kinda behind…


North Falls from a distance…

The Stayton-Jordan covered bridge was close by so we just had to do a drive-by. It was a bridge that burnt down and was re-built in the 90’s.


The Stayton-Jordan Covered Bridge.


A little history lesson for the bridge…


These covered bridges always attract the cute chicks…


Nice view off the bridge. Hey, looky, another bridge!


More history…

While in Salem we checked out the Santiam Brewery for lunch and a taste of the local brewfare. A couple of gyros for lunch and wash down with a flight of samplers was just the ticket. They have a Pirate Stout, rum barrel aged with a hint of coconut, and a Russian Imperial Stout named Impersky, bourbon barrel aged, both very tasty!

Next stop was a walkabout with Woody at the Salem Riverfront Park. It was a beautiful day and we tripped for about 2 +/- miles with Woodrow leading the way. 

Time up in Salem, it was a return trip to Harrisburg and Elite Renovations and Repairs. They were able to replace some slide toppers that they had to order in a couple hours, then we hit the road southbound and down. In the blink of an eye we found ourselves back in California, in the area ALL of the locals wish to call the State of Jefferson. They’ve had a movement to try to split away from California and become their own state for several years now. I don’t know if there is much chance of that happening, but I wish them all good luck. Seeing we were on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, moving along without reservations for where we were going to stay, we found space at the Waiiaka RV Park in Yreka, CA. Actually, for a small town, this park was not bad at all, and very quiet. We’ll see how that lasts tonight, they have what I call the Round-e-Rounds (that would be dirt track racing) across the street from the park. But the plus was the folks here at Waiiaka gave us free passes to said Round-e-Rounds, so we may be able to experience them firsthand, we’ll see.


The Waiiaka RV Park in Yreka, CA.


Another view of the park.


Our home, at Waiiaka RV Park. Convenient being next to the dog run…

Checking out the downtown area of the huge city of Yreka, we stumbled upon the Etna Brewing Co. Well twist my arm, will ya? We tried their sampler flight, but I think this was the first brewery that we have encountered nationwide where I did not care much for any of their offerings. However, among the samples, they did include a sample of their non-alcoholic root beer. Holy Cow! That was the best root beer I have ever had!


Etna Brewing Co., downtown Yreka.



Some of the Etna Brewing Co. fare.


OK, so we had JUST a taste…I guess it was not polite to wear a shirt from another brewery while doing so…


A look down through downtown Yreka.


Across the street from Etna.

Next up for us, we had to stop in and explore the big town of Weed, about a 30 mile drive south of Yreka. With all the legalization going on in this part of the country, I figured I could find a cannabis themed shirt or two. I was not disappointed. You will have to keep checking up on this blog if you want to see the shirt designs, I will make sure to post a pic or two. And keeping with my lifestyle of trying to exacerbate my gout at every turn of the screw, we found the Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. in Weed. A stop off there, some short samples of their brews, and I found 2 to my liking, the Shastafarian Porter, and my favorite the Stout of Jefferson. I had to get a growler to go of the Stout of Jefferson so I can tantalize my son Chad’s taste buds when we arrive back in Atascadero in a little over a week. Along the lines of a non-porter or non-stout, they also have a Jalapeno Weed Ale. It was different, I’ll say that. Nice spice, the heat is not bad but does build as time elapses.


Driving to Weed, now I know I thought I saw Mt. Shasta in there somewhere!


Inside Mt. Shasta Brewing Co.


All things weed…


I wonder if they do deliveries in this truck?


Welcome to Weed, CA.



Ahhhh, signs of weed!


More signs of weed…

Well, we are about ready to head over to Jeanne’s niece’s (Justine) house here in Yreka for a visit, then it will be moving day tomorrow, back to southbound and down. Until next post, thank you to ALL who gave some, and to SOME who gave all, for your service and sacrifice so that we can live in our free society, the United States of America! God Bless America! 

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Taking Care of Business in Oregon

Finished with a short stint in Atascadero, it was time to hit the road, northbound and down. We have a month to burn before we get to return for babysitting duties again, so we planned to head into Oregon for some minor repairs to be done on the motorhome. 


Saying good-bye in style. If you’ve never partaken of this nectar of the gods, you’re missing out. KBS Barrel-Aged Stout by Founders Brewing. Wow!


Woody had been chasing these guys all over Chad’s backyard the whole time we were here.


Little Miss Hailey Marie, looking rather stylish! “We’ll see you on the flip side, kid!”


Little Miss Ellie Grace. “What are you up to, missy?! That look says, ‘I am fully prepared to embark on some new adventures in babysitting!'”

We shot over to catch I-5 out of Kettleman City, then it was settle in and head north. Being one who does not enjoy really long days on the road, we took our time and our first break/stop was an overnight at the Modesto Elks Lodge. The town of Modesto is pretty much an armpit, but the Elks Lodge there is nice, on the outskirts of town, and they have a few RV sites in the back with W/E. 


Our overnight home at the Modesto Elks Lodge.

Up and at ‘em the next morning it was onward to Cottonwood, just south of Redding. Jeanne has two brothers living in the area, Dwayne and David. Dwayne owns a large piece of property there with tons of room for us to mooch-dock. A plus was, he has W/E hookups for an RV and, if necessary, access to his septic system. Woody the wonder dog had fun at Dwayne’s, rubbing elbows with his herd of chickens and two pet pigs. We spent a few days visiting with the family (Dave, his son Alex, Dwayne, his son Dwayne Jr., and his daughter Sairah. Unfortunately, we missed out visiting with Dwayne’s fiancee, Shelly, as she had previously made plans out of the area). 

Continuing north on I-5, our next stop was the Guaranty RV Park in Junction City, OR. Guaranty is a very large RV organization in that area. They have a service center, various RV sales lots, car sales lots, RV parts store, the fairly new RV Park, and an on site cafe. The RV sites were concrete pads, FHU’s, paved interior roads, and nicely kept grass areas between sites. We had a pull through site long enough to keep the toad attached. The problem keeping the toad attached, the utilities are toward the rear of the sites, so I needed 3 sewer hose sections to reach the sewer drain. I ended up disconnecting, then backing the beast up to the rear of the site so as to only need one section of sewer hose.  We had made an appointment  months ago to get some minor repairs done on our motorhome at Elite Renovations & Repairs in nearby Harrisburg, and we still had a week to kill before said appointment. Jeanne found Guaranty RV Park on line and like the commercial goes, “bada-bing-bada-boom”. We also ran into one of my fellow co-workers from Sonoma County, CA, Steve Satterwhite, who was at the RV Park to take care of some business of his own. We had a nice, albeit very short visit and exchanged a few RV tales. During our stay at Guaranty we ate a few meals at the cafe, which was pretty good food & beer, and very inexpensive.


Our home at Guaranty RV Park…


Flyers for things to do in the area, we found this one for any cannabinoid who wants to rub elbows with fellow cannabinoids. To use some of the infamous vernacular I am still trying to decipher, SMH…

Repairs appointment at hand, we drove on down the road all of about 5-6 miles to Harrisburg and Elite Renovations & Repairs. Jeanne found Elite through one of her blogosphere peeps, Nina of, and she recommended them for repair work. As it turned out, we were here as our tires “timed out” (5 years from their date of birth). Since they had some very minor cracking/blemishes on the sidewalls (I usually cover the tires for stays of over 2 days), Nina also recommended Superior Tire Service (Eugene) for tires (through Family Motor Coach Association, FMCA). And so the dance began. Besides the minor coach repairs (involving a claim with our extended warranty), we incurred some brain fart damage that would be run through our RV insurance under Comprehensive Damage. We had the passenger Captain’s chair just a touch too far back when we pulled in the passenger side slide. The slide caught the chair, ripping part of the slide trim to shreds and tweeking the passenger chair. The fun part was trying to deal with 2 insurance processes and scheduling everything in some form of orderly fashion. Both insurance companies (ProTrek, through Warranty Warehouse, for the extended warranty; Nationwide for the RV insurance) arranged for local contract assistants to meet us for photos of damage and repair items. The problem was, they all no-showed on the dates arranged. 

We ended up wasting (4) days because of the no-shows, waiting in the Elite front lot area. We used that time to run over to Countryside Interiors in Junction City to deal with the passenger chair replacement. Countryside was recommended to us by the folks at Elite as specializing in Flexsteel RV furniture. Flexsteel, in all their infinite wisdom, put their captain’s chairs together not in varying steps nor with different modular components. So if you damage, say the base plate (like we did), you cannot simply replace the base plate; the WHOLE ENCHILADA gets to be replaced! Oh joy! Steven at Countryside was very knowledgeable, patient, and helpful as we arranged for the chair(s) (this is a work in progress, more details to follow in another post).

During our down time we hit up Superior Tire Service (STS) for new shoes on the rig. They were extremely accommodating with regards to our “hurry up and wait” schedule. We got in on a moment’s notice and they promptly swapped out (6) new Michelin 16-ply 275/80R22.5’s to the tune of about $3800 & change, out the door in about 2 hours. What was even better was they said these new tires date out in about (7) years instead of (5) years. Cool beans!


The folks at Elite Renovations & Repairs (Erik, Mark, and Marty) were also very accommodating, patient, and quick to diagnose issues. This whole experience was a pain in what Forest Gump would call “the butt-ocks”. And that would all be due to having to deal with 2 insurance companies. But, after the dust mostly settled, we would recommend Elite to anyone needing work done on their motorhome. I most certainly prefer these guys over driving all the way back to Red Bay Alabama! Now, getting the passenger chair replaced by Countryside Interiors is the only thorn left in my side. They will not get delivery for 8-10 weeks, so we will have to return after our babysitting gig is completed in mid-August.

On Mother’s Day I took Jeanne and Woody over to Florence on the coast. Woody took us for a walk downtown (it’s a very small coastal town on the Siuslaw River), then I took Jeanne to Mo’s Restaurant on the river for Mother’s Day fish tacos and an adult beverage, “Some people say t-o-m-a-t-o, I say Bloody Mary!”


Gotta do the obligatory selfie, overlooking the Siuslaw River in lovely downtown Florence, OR.


Nice view from Mo’s Restaurant…We got to watch a seal or sea lion play around just off the dock…


Upriver from the town wharf.


Jeanne and Woody strolling the town’s wharf.


Here we are, in Florence. No wait, which way to Florence?


Looking down river at the Hwy. 101 bridge.


They definitely have some dang smart wildlife here in Florence. How do these birds know which numbered apartment is theirs?!?

With our attempt at making plans failing at every turn, we are not quite sure of our destination from here, what with having to come back in a little over a week for ordered parts and then having to return to Sonoma County for medical appointments at the first of the month. So you are just gonna HAVE to wait until next post to find out…


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Winding Down Our Sonoma County (CA) Stay

Our time back in our former home county fast approaching an end for this time around, we remained camped out in the back of the Petaluma Elks Lodge. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and consideration during my surgery process. I had a few P/T sessions to attend for post-surgery, which were pretty normal as far as surgical P/T goes (aka: a waste of my time). We also got to attend the Gladiator’s (6 year old grandson, Maximus) first Little League Baseball game of the season. Lots of picture taking…


Showing up for gameday, battle face ready…


A little pre-game fielding practice. “I got it!”


Pre-game BP, crushed it!


That searing look of concentration…


Trying out the catcher’s position…

We managed to fall into a fairly good-weathered Sunday. We took Max and his mom Jenn back to the Point Reyes Lighthouse area so we could go see the Elephant Seals. It was just a short hike near the Chimney Rock trail and we could view a large colony of the critters just across the water. But we hiked to the rescue boat house and found a small group of juvenile Elephant Seals sunnin’ themselves just a matter of feet from where we were standing. Max got a kick out of that. Lots of picture taking…


Looking down at the colony just across the water.


OK, let’s zoom in…


Opa, the Gladiator, and his mama Jenn, getting photo bombed by the sunbathers.


Jeanne and I mugging for the camera. Nice weather, even though we are in sweatshirts and windbreakers…


Jeanne, Jenn, and Max with the bay behind them.


Some of the babies sunnin’ out behind the boathouse.




The Lifeboat Station.


The Elephant Seals could care less about the humans gawking down at them…


“Do you mind, buddy? I’m trying to get some shuteye here!”

For the last 4 days of our stay in Petaluma, we moved over to the Petaluma KOA. Our son, Chad, had 4 days of training in nearby Napa, so he brought our 2 year old granddaughter, Miss Hailey Marie, with him and we picked her up for the duration of his training. Hailey had a blast “camping” at the KOA. But that is as expected; the Petaluma KOA is one of the best KOA’s nationwide, hands down. There is a ton of activity for the young’uns to keep busy. And Miss Hailey went absolutely wild on the bounce pillow, jumping on her short little legs for an hour straight! She wore Opa out just watching her! While Hailey was staying with us, we had Max and Jenn come visit as well. The two kids had a blast. Lots of picture taking…

So it was back to Atascadero, CA, for us as we returned Miss Hailey to her parents, Chad and Crissy. Crissy was still somewhat infirmed, healing up from a recent auto accident she was involved in which broke no bones but did mess up her foot and mobility quite a bit. So we did another week of granddaughter tending (x2) for Miss Hailey and 7 week old Miss Ellie Grace. And the Atascadero Elks Lodge came to our rescue again, allowing us another week at their RV lot (we were a little premature per the local city regulations, but we won’t tell if you don’t). So far, being a new Elks member, I have to say, the Elks people are just plain quality folks and we thank one and all for all their patience and assistance during this whole medical fiasco stay.


Definitely a huge negative for the once great state of CA, now fast becoming intolerable.


More of the lovely traffic of northern CA, which sadly has become the norm these days…


Little Miss Hailey visiting “the Elk” at the Atascadero Elks Lodge.


Little Miss Ellie Grace, coughing some zees…

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Oma, Hailey, and Ellie.


Chad and his new 7 week old daughter, Ellie Grace.


We had Hailey do a belated Easter egg hunt in the backyard, with Daddy looking on…


Chad, Jeanne, and Crissy supervising Hailey Marie on her egg hunt.

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Hailey not only wore herself out, she did Opa in as well!

Oh, yeah, I gotta catch you up on the case of Gout from Hell. So I finished the first 5-day round of Prednisone. From the first night of meds I got immediate, but not complete, relief from the excruciating pain in both feet. Just a twinge of pain remained and it stayed that way for about 20 days past the last of the Prednisone. But that 21st day it exploded back in a big way. The doc scripted another round of Prednisone, this one the diminishing dosage type for 9 days. I am on the 9th day now, and absolutely no sign of gout pain! Holy moly, I hope this holds out this time…

I think this must be the shortest post I have done so far. This catches us up to date for now, until next post…

Posted in Atascadero, California, Petaluma, CA, Santa Rosa, CA | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post Surgery Life

Well, after the epidural injection did not work, surgery was in my near future. I have about had it with doctor office staff. It seems whenever I am in dire straits, the staffers seem to “only” have appointments way far off in the distance. My surgeon could only get me on the table on 2/28, so I had a whole month of intense pain to endure in the meantime. I did get a scrip for muscle relaxants and pain (Percocet!) to hold me over to surgery. For the uninitiated, Percocet is a heavy opioid that leads you to Wonderland in a big way. I took half doses to keep from going to Zombieland and that worked pretty well, left me somewhat functional.

To kill some of the wait time I got an appointment with Freightliner in Sacramento to try to resolve my Gremlins problem in my dashboard emergency warning lights and buzzers. They were good to get me in and out, but again they were not sure of the cause. This time they changed out the whole warning gauges module and said that should do it. I got to drive the bus back to Atascadero and by golly no issues for that 200+ mile drive.

We spent another week with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, Chad, Crissy, and Miss Hailey while staying at the Atascadero Elks Lodge. It is so much nicer being able to stay in Atascadero than to do the daily driving from Paso Robles in to visit.


Miss Hailey playing with her stickers we picked up for her at Mrs. Grossman’s in Petaluma. Haily loves her stickers.


Hailey and Oma playing in Hailey’s play room.


Gotta teach them kids early…babies go in the car seat when driving to the grocery store.


More tragedy. Chad’s family pet Lucy had some serious spastic episodes while we were there. To the vet’s, they thought maybe a brain tumor, not good prognosis. Lucy returned home and March 15 Chad informed us he had to have her euthanized that morning. More crappy news for a generally crappy month. RIP Lucy!

We got hit with terribly sad news while in Atascadero – a very close family friend and one of my former co-workers/partners at the Sheriff’s Dept., Jon Watson, lost his battle with throat cancer and passed on to a much better life. We were heartbroken  that we were unable to attend his memorial service, it was just after I got released post surgery. Rest in peace, my friend!


Jon Watson, with his partner “Koogan”. RIP, my friend.


Jon and Koogan, doing what they did best!

So we returned to Petaluma counting down until surgery. Murphy, again, reared his ugly head with his screwed up list of “laws”. The day of my pre-surgery appointment with the sawbones (about 6 days out), I got the pleasure of developing a case of gout, something that I tend to do from time to time. Usually, past practice I would pop a Colchecine for 2-3 days and bingo, no more gout. Unfortunately, sawbones said I cannot take any anti-inflammatories or blood thinners this close to surgery and in any case not for about 6 months after surgery. He said it interferes with the fusion process. Great. So, back to full strength Percocet. He also gave me the good news – this surgery tends to exacerbate gout kinda big time. Great. Surgery day came and Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa actually did a good job for me. Dr. Athanassious from Santa Rosa Orthopedics (aka: The Bone Palace) also did an excellent job as my sawbones. Once I came out of Wonderland I noticed relief from the neck pain right away. But Mr. Gout was still with me. He was not just “with” me, he decided he needed to invite the whole Gout family with him. Normally I only get it in one foot or the other. Now, out of my cloud of anesthesia, I could feel gout in both feet. Doc was right, I felt the exacerbation almost immediately. Great.

It was just an overnighter for me at the hospital, thankfully. Problem was after I returned to the motorhome, the double-barreled gout intensified to the point I absolutely could not stand, walk, or even allow a simple bedsheet to rest on either foot. I’ve seen a lot of pain in varying degrees in my 58 years and was pretty proud of the amount I could take. But holy cow! This round broke me down to a sniveling simp. No neck/spine pain, oh, OK, I guess these Percocets will handle the gout. Yippee, oh boy, flying without an FAA license! (Made me pretty useless for a few weeks, anyway.) My savior was an appointment to establish a primary care physician here in Santa Rosa. She scripted me with a 5 day Prednisone regiment and AAAAAAAAHHH! Immediate relief! I just finished my 5th day and time will now tell if it will take. Now to cross fingers and hope no gout for the next 6 months. To top it all off, Miss Hailey received Little Sister Ellie Grace a little earlier than expected, on the very day of my surgery. Chad and Crissy now the proud parents of two daughters!


Early on in my attack of gout. I was lucky I could stand then…


Yeah, I survived the knife!


This is what a few Percocets can do for you…


Proud Daddy Chad with Little Miss Ellie. We were with you in spirit, son…


New momma Crissy with their second bundle of joy, Miss Ellie.


This is what relief from gout can look like. See, I can even put socks on the affected feet…


I no longer have a titanium deficiency!

While convalescing and with the gout relief, we eased back into a little more normal activity. We had the opportunity to meet up with my cousin Cheryl, whom I have not seen in, ahem, 40-some years. We had a very nice time catching up and telling stories. Luckily, she was only evacuated from her home near Annadel Park in Santa Rosa during this past fire storm in October. Her home survived the fires.


Thanks for the visit, cousin Cheryl. We enjoyed the catch up!

During the recovery period the weather has been less than optimal here in Petaluma. Lots of rain and cold. But we did find a clear day to load Jenn and Max up and head out to check out the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The day was beautiful, but cool and windy. And we all survived the daunting 330 steps (one-way) to the lighthouse. They call it the equivalent of a 30 story building. A plus was we got to see several of the whales spouting on their yearly tour north up the coast after birthing down south.


Jenn taking a selfie with Jeanne and I, trying not to get blown over by the wind.


The Point Reyes Lighthouse.


The Point Reyes Lighthouse from a closer vantage point.


After climbing down those 330 steps, it is time for a rest with snacks.


Maximus the Gladiator doing a coast watch. “Hey, Max, the whales are out in the ocean, look that way!”


With the heavy wind, critters like the red tailed hawks could remain stationary in the air while in their “attack mode” looking for Hawk snacks.


There were lots of coastal deer, chowing down on grass while whale watching with the humans. The problem was I could not be fast enough to catch the small whale spouts on camera, so hence, no photos. Sorry…


The Gladiator, tree bound.


A shot north toward South Beach and Drake’s Beach. It was a beautiful day on the Marin County coast.


Max thinking we are crazy to embark on this descent.

That about catches us up. We still have a bit of California time to burn to finish up medical issues, babysitting issues, and maybe take in a couple of the Gladiator’s Little League games, then look to head north for a change of scenery. Until next post…

Posted in California, Petaluma, CA, Santa Rosa, CA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Stalled in Wait Mode in CA

So, here we sit, hanging out in northern CA, waiting to find out whether or not I am going under the knife for what they call an Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion. My surgeon decided to try one last ditch effort to avoid surgery by having me get an epidural injection into the area causing the numbness in my hand, the area from C7 to T1 vertebrae. Currently, it has been almost a week since the needle. The first couple of days were beautifully pain-free and numb-free. But since then, something is not right and it is a process filled with excruciating pain just to get in and out of the bed, any chairs, or the Jeep. 2 more follow-up appointments prior to the scheduled surgery are in order to make the final determination. Oh boy…

The Petaluma Elks Lodge #901 has been a life saver for us during this long, drawn out process, most graciously allowing our extended stay for the medical treatment and various doctor’s appointments. It is in a nice location on the south end of town, with Shollenberger Park just across the street. Our time here was plagued with that particularly nasty version of the flu, putting both Jeanne and I down, bedridden, for about 4 days straight. The bummer about that was it coincided with the Elk’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner, so we missed out on the festivities.

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Looking down the parking lot at the RV area behind the Petaluma Elks Lodge #901.

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Our home at the Petaluma Elks while we wait out the medical issues.


Paved and full hook-ups, what more could we need? Oh yeah, did I mention the cocktail lounge inside the clubhouse?!?!?


Max leading us on a walkabout on the trails at Shollenberger Park.


Max checking out the small pier on the Petaluma River.


Turtles and ducks. Ducks and turtles. After all, Shollenberger Park is a sort of wildlife refuge.


These wild looking guys were all over the place. Red winged Blackbirds…

We did manage to spend some quality time with the Gladiator (Maximus) and his family. New Year’s Eve was a start, with a yuppy trip to Stinson Beach where we noshed on cheese, crackers, and fruit. We frolicked on the beach in the near frigid weather and hunted for sand dollars.

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Here we are at Stinson Beach, pretending to be yuppie Marin-ites and dining on fruit, cheese, and crackers…

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Kinda reminded us of a fine summer day in the San Francisco Bay area…


Heading down to the beach… Stinson Beach.


Jeanne, Jenn, and Max clowning for the camera.

On a much warmer and clearer day we took Max and his mother up to Lake Sonoma to wander around the fish hatchery. We were a little early for any steelhead/salmon runs up the fish ladder, but Max got to feed some of them in the holding ponds. We also drove up to the lookout and got some nice views of the lake. To finish off the nice day at the lake we hit Old Chicago Pizza in Petaluma for one of their awesome deep-dish pies.


Inside the Visitor’s Center at Lake Sonoma.


Jeanne and the Gladiator checking out the swag in the gift shop at Lake Sonoma.


Heading over to the hatchery facilities.


We were just a tad bit early in the season for the salmon/steelhead run up the fish ladder…


…but the holding tanks were full and the fish were hungry!


The holding ponds at Lake Sonoma.


Lake Sonoma, view from the lookout tower.


Max, the budding ornithologist!

Petaluma is home to Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory. I never heard of it before, but according to Jeanne and Jenn it is a world famous printer of all manner of stickers. They also print wine labels for many wineries. We took Max on a tour of the factory where he scored sheets of stickers, an integral part of the tour, and got to play with all the stickers he wanted in the craft room.


Max, mom, and Mah browsing in Mrs. Grossman’s gift shop/craft room.


Getting ready for the factory tour.


Max standing in front of the chronological display of Mrs. Grossman’s stickers.


Mrs. Grossman’s keeps about a 3 month supply of all of their stickers on hand in their warehouse.

Max has short days at school on Wednesdays, so on one of those such days we picked him up and took him to the Scandia Family Fun center in Rohnert Park. It was rainy, so we kept it to the indoor arcade area. We let Max demonstrate his skills such as skeeball, basketball, pinball, air hockey, and motorcycle racing. We also made another trip to Scandia on a clear day and got Max started in the batting cages, preparing for the upcoming little league season.


Puttin’ a little English on that Skeeball toss…


Motorcycle Madness by Mad Max…


Cruisin’ in the Batmobile…


Max beating the britches off his Opa in air hockey.


Ahhhhh, the smell of pine tar is in the air!

Well, today is Superbowl Sunday. We will be going to Max’s house and stuffing our faces with the usual fare, rooting for Green Bay to win next year,  and otherwise still kicking back, firmly entrenched in this hurry-up-and-wait period. Sorry for the lack of excitement in this post, family visits aside, this waiting on medical “stuff” is just not a lot of fun.

Until next post…

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