Countdown to Alaska Launch

We left SoCal and headed back up to the central coast for a couple of days more with Little Miss Hailey and Little Miss Ellie (& their mommy and daddy, of course), before making our way back to Sonoma County for hopefully my final bout with the surgeon’s knife. The whole family loaded up and we headed to Montana de Oro beach on a nice sunny day. We found a nice little protected cove/beach where Little Miss Hailey could romp at the water’s edge and even explore a small cave that can only be accessed by a lower tide. 

The days seem to fly right on by. After a couple of days visit it was northbound for us, back to the Petaluma Elks Lodge. In the middle of doctor appointments & procedures, we got to go watch Maximus the Gladiator play in his basketball league. That certainly provides welcome relief from the medical stuff, none of which I consider Earth shattering. The first procedure was to have some benign skin growths whacked off my back, stung like a #%$&@#*! 

We kinda split our stay due to the spread out nature of appointments, so after a week we relocated to the Napa Elks Lodge for about 10 days stay. Being former longtime Sonoma County residents, it is surprising how much “local flavor” we never really took in while there. We wandered around all over Napa and discovered little gems here and there. We found and dined at the Stone Brewery, maker of the Arrogant Bastard Ale. It is a little stone building perched above the Napa River with pretty good pub fare.  Just around the corner we found the Oxbow Public Market. That is an indoor marketplace with all kinds of offerings, including the Fieldworks Brewing Co. I just couldn’t help myself, had to try their Black Ships Imperial Coffee Stout, a 9.7% ABV nectar of the gods! We wandered the market, tasting olive oils, watching the folks wolf down oysters at the oyster bar, all high and dry whilst the rain did come down in sheets outside. Actually while we were in the area this time around the local rivers flooded, including the Russian River which would seriously flood in another couple of weeks, cutting the Russian River Communities off from the outside world yet once again. I worked my share of rescues during Russian River floods over the past 37 years, I felt for the current crews doing as much. We were graced with a visit by Jenn and Max and we took them on a stroll through the historic downtown area. Jenn got a big kick out of olive oil tasting at the Napa Valley Olive Oil Co. at the visitor’s center.

Jelly Belly jelly bean company has their factory over in Fairfield, about 15 miles from Napa. With Max and Jenn in tow, we did another rainy day trip over to the factory and took the self guided tour. That is quite the outfit, if you are ever in the area it is worth a visit. President Reagan put it on the map due to his affinity for the sweet snack. They actually provided his White House with jelly beans & jars with the Presidential seal so he could gift them out to dignitaries.


Finished in Napa, we headed back to Petaluma Elks Lodge for my grand finale surgery. I’ve had a hiatal hernia for quite a long time that we decided to take care of with something called a Robotic Nissen Fundoplication. Fancy words for an octopus robot going in and tying part of my upper stomach around my esophogus and suturing in place. I came out looking like I was on the losing end of a knife fight. It was just an overnighter, and afterwards we decided to take Max out to the Epi Center, a local indoor soccer venue and arcade. Life is good.

Well, we are winding down this visit, preparing for another run up to Redding where I have an appointment to finally get a supplemental brake system installed for the bus/Jeep tandem. I’m sure I have been running less than legal in several states without it for the past 5 years, but hey, better late than never. Besides, the Jeep is over 4,000 lbs. and in Canada that puts the brake system in the “required” category. So, until next post…

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1/25/2019 A Stint in SoCal

We left Coarsegold and headed back toward the ocean. Our first stop was at the Oceano Elks Lodge. The Elks are located basically at the gate to the Pismo/Oceano Dunes. We could not have asked for a better location, having the ability to access the beach either by Jeep or by foot. We were able to let Woody take us on a long beach walk, as well as Jeanne getting her opportunity to stretch her 4-wheelin’ wings at the Dunes. We also enjoyed a couple Kentucky Mules while taking in one of Kalifornia’s classic sunsets. After a quick couple of days it was southbound and down.

A mere 3 hours drive south brought us to the Simi Valley Elks Lodge for a few more days stay while we visited Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library. That puts us down to 4 more libraries left for us to visit; Herbert Hoover, FDR, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower’s. So far, in our humble opinion, Reagan’s library is the nicest we’ve been to. Unfortunately, they do not allow flash photography inside the facility, so most of my pix turned out to be crap.

Hell, since we were in the heart of the beast, we just HAD to cruise over to Santa Monica and the Pier. We let Woody take us on a walk along the boardwalk down to Venice Beach and back to the pier, viewing all the freakazoids on parade. 

Our last big outing we left Woodrow Wilson in charge of the bus and we went to Malibu to cruise that pier. On our way back we just HAD to inspect a couple of the local breweries; Figueroa Mountain Brewery and Ladyface Alehouse Companie. At Figueroa I tried their Stagecoach Stout and their 8th Anniversary Barleywine, both OK but not outstanding. At Ladyface they had Picture City Porter, Trois Filles Tripel (Belgian Tripel), and Dreamer-9th Anniversary Ale (a Barleywine). The porter was again, OK, but none were outstanding.

In all of our walking around and driving around Simi Valley, I never knew the area to be big time involved in the movie studio business, but found out it is. And the Elks Lodge is located just a few miles from the old Spahn Ranch, former home/hideout of Charles Manson and his gang of miscreants. Spahn Movie Ranch has been absorbed by the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, and its website said it was shut down for damage clean up and whatnot. Cest la vie…

Well, this is the way I like my posts, short and sweet. We’re back on the road again tomorrow…Until next post…

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Babysitting Done, Time to Get Ready to Travel

Editor’s note: (Hah! Yeah, like I’m some big shot, highly educated writer) I am not sure how much longer I can tolerate “updates”/”improvements”/or any other euphamism for making something supposed to be simple and user friendly to more confusing, difficult, and very NOT user friendly. The rocket scientists at WordPress continue to “update” their product; those updates making user life miserable for us who are admittedly technologically challenged. I am going to keep fumbling along as long as I can handle it, but just be aware the end may be nigh, thanks to WordPress. This current post is my first with their last change in format. It took me over 4 hours to get it done, most of the problem being with manipulating the media (photos) inserts. The new “block” format is clumsy at best for incompetents like myself. I hope none of my photos turn out sideways and my one panoramic photo turns out. So, here goes…

We left Sonoma County and decided to ditch the usual route through the East Bay/Oakland/San Jose area. Instead, we headed east to Lodi, then chose to stay at the Lodi Elks Lodge for a few days. We scouted out the Lodi area, checked out the Lodi Beer Co. brewery, then ventured into Folsom for some shopping and an obligatory stop for lunch and “sodas” at Out of Bounds Brewing Co. Call me goofy, but I am starting to take a liking to barleywine style beers. OB had one called  Hurly Burly, a port wine barrel-aged barleywine (12.6% ABV whewwwww!).

Next stop was back to Atascadero for the month of December to do some grandbaby-sitting. We started off with our allotted week’s worth of time at the Atascadero Elks Lodge, but needed to find something longer term. The Sun Resorts triad of parks in Paso Robles are all very nice to stay at, but like most Sun Resorts are very pricy. We have stayed at all 3, The Vines RV Resort, Wine Country RV Resort, and one of the crown jewels and newest of the whole Sun Resorts system – Cava Robles RV Resort. We just did not want to pay $65 to over $100 per night depending on resort and site type. We had seen the Paso Robles RV Ranch in visits past just off Hwy. 101 and Jeanne gave them a call. We were surprised they maintained reasonable rates so we got hooked up for a month’s stay ($900 which worked out to $29 per night). Once we got to “the ranch”, it turned out to be a really nice park, even with the long term residents present.

Then, it was time to settle in with Little Miss Hailey and Little Miss Ellie.  “Christmas For Atascadero” is a yearly event in downtown Atascadero. The town brings in loads of “snow” and sets up a couple of areas, one for the older kids to sled down and one for the wee ones to frolick in and toss snowballs. They have food booths, vendors of “stuff”, and bounce houses for the kids. Chad & Crissy loaded up Hailey and Ellie and we accompanied them to the event. Ellie is a bit too young to be able to enjoy the full effect of the celebration, but Hailey certainly had fun in the snow and the bounce houses.

Little Miss Ellie Grace could only watch from her “easy chair”…

Atascadero surely comes alive during the holidays. The Charles Paddock Zoo puts on a seasonal event called, go figure, “Zoo Holiday Magic”. Hailey & Ellie got to enjoy a Christmas themed visit to the zoo and a visit with Santa himself.

For Christmas, Jenn and Max traveled to Atascadero from Santa Rosa to join in the family festivities at her brother Chad’s house. We had a very enjoyable family Christmas, we hope you all had the same.

Jeanne & I took a bit of time for ourselves and revisited Bishop’s Peak. It is a fairly steep 2 hour hike (with Woody our dog trailblazing the way) to the top, with a good view all the way out to the ocean on a clear day. It was fairly clear for us, we could see ocean.

Jeanne wanted to give Hailey some “special time” and found the Pismo State Beach Butterfly Grove. We took Hailey and Woody to the grove and besides the Monarch butterflies, Hailey got to see her first coyote up close. Then we chowed down at Hoagies Grill in Pismo Beach, from the size of the crowd an apparent locals favorite.

Our duties completed, it was time to say bye-bye and head for our next stop, Coarsegold, for Jeanne’s mom Yvonne’s birthday. We spent quite a few days there, celebrating by going into town (Fresno) and putzing around, taking a country drive to Mariposa on Hwy. 49, and generally just having a nice visit with Yvonne and Fred. We started out mooch-docking at Fred’s daughter’s vacation home (as we did before), but have since moved over to the SKP park here in Coarsegold—Park Sierrra. There we had FHU’s for badly needed laundry duties and a 50A power supply to be able to run heaters without the generator (it’s been in the 30’s at night). Thankfully, it’s only cold here, no snow…yet.

That catches us up for now. Until next post…maybe…

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Well, Smoky Skies is the New Norm, I Guess…

Work finished on Rosie, it was back on the road to visit the kids and grandkids in Kalifornia and get some medical visits out of the way. Our first stop  was in the megalopolis of Sutherlin, OR. We made a return trip to the Escapee park there, the Timber Valley SKP Park for a couple of days. This is a fairly nice park as far as Escapee RV Club parks goes; spacious sites, nice dry-camping sites also available, lots of wild critters to see, and what I call “SKP Reasonable” as far as nightly rates go ($22 per night). I don’t know how I managed to do it but I found my cousin Mike and his wife Cherie, whom we have not seen in over 30 YEARS(!) or so. We got to have a very enjoyable “catch up” visit with them during our stop here.

One of the “residents” of the Timber Valley SKP Park. Thanksgiving is getting pretty close, you better run, little buddy!

Home, at Timber Valley SKP Park.

Some of the boondocks sites at the park.

Jeanne’s brother Dwayne and his wife Shelly have been on “piglet watch” of late, their pet pig Penelope about ready to pop. So our next stop was a 4 day layover at the Red Bluff (CA) Elks Lodge in the hopes we could be there for their “blessed event”. But alas, it was not to be during our stay. We still had nice visits with Jeanne’s brothers, Dwayne and David & families.

Home, at the Red Bluff Elks Lodge.

Red Bluff Elks Lodge

A very pregnant Penelope…

Then there’s Wilbur, taking a pig’s version of a cold shower…

One of Dwayne’s turkens…

Penelope “popped” after we had already left. Here the little ones use her for a pillow.


Our trek continued southbound, our next destination Coarsegold, CA and a visit with Jeanne’s mom Yvonne and her boyfriend, Fred. Fred was generous to allow us to once again mooch-dock at his daughter’s vacation home just across the street from his house. Besides being a nice visit, we managed to turn Yvonne onto the TV series “Suits” (I think it was a USA network series) through Amazon Prime. Now she is addicted… (It is a great show, once you start, it is hard not to binge watch…).

One of Fred’s two turtles.

Yup, October is tarantula time on the local roadways…

Jeanne got a kick out of feeding the turtles.

Then it was back to Atascadero to see our son Chad, wife Crissy and our granddaughters Little Miss Hailey and Little Miss Ellie. We split our time there between the Atascadero Elks Lodge (1 week limit per month) and the Vines RV Resort up north in Paso Robles. As is one of my favorite things (NOT!) about Kalifornia, the prices of everything continue to climb beyond rediculous. Not only the $4 +/- per gallon for diesel fuel ($3.75 +/- per gallon for unleaded), but the Vines RV Resort (a SUN Resorts affiliate) upped their cheap sites to $65 per night and the Atascadero Elks is up to $35 per night for a dirt lot with hookups. And don’t get me started on the prices of groceries!

So the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero puts on a yearly event called “Zoo Boo” at Halloween time. The whole family loaded up and took Hailey and Ellie to see Zoo Boo. Hailey had fun playing the games that were scattered around the zoo for non-edible “treats”.

Jeanne & I with our two “little bugs” at the Zoo Boo.

Welcome to the Charles Paddock Zoo.

Little Miss Ellie Grace was excited…

Some of the resident Lemurs at the zoo…

Little Miss Hailey Marie doing a little ring toss…

Hailey showing off her bowling skills…

And she’s never even heard of Elton John!

Hello, Mr. Anteater.

That’s about a lizard and a half!

Now where was that haunted house?

We got the chance to babysit a few days and take Hailey and Ellie to the new playground just installed at Atascadero Lake Park. We also got some adult time in and visited the Barrel House Brewing Co. and Santa Maria Brewing Co. for snacks and tastings. BHBC has live entertainment in their yard where we got to see a guy named Patrick Contreras wail away on a fiddle (OK, v-i-o-l-i-n) while enjoying the best fish tacos I have ever had from Ruddell’s Smokehouse food truck.

Wheeeeeeeee! Hailey loves the slides!

She also loves the bouncy bounce footbridge.

OK, OK, OK. There’s just about NOTHING Hailey doesn’t like on the playground.

“These twisty slides are ‘da bomb!”

Airborn sisters!

Patrick Contreras on stage at BHBC.

The best fish tacos, ever!

That Contreras kid was some fiddle player…

Welcome, to Santa Maria Brewing Co. in El Paso de Robles, CA.

Sampling the wares at Santa Maria Brewing Co.

The last couple of days we were here turned out to be the beginning of another Kalifornia inferno. The Camp Fire erupted up near Butte County, about 360 miles north of Atascadero. The smoke quickly filled the air as the fire was growing uncontrollably. And if that was not enough, the area of Ventura County to our south also began to burn out of control. These fires raged as we relocated north to Sonoma County for our medical chores and a visit with daughter Jenn, husband Gus, and grandson, Maximus the Gladiator. The smoke filled skies were horrendous, and some news outlets were claiming these skies were the most unhealthy, worldwide. Burning eyes, frequent hacking and sneeze-fests, I believe it! Our home in Sonoma County was the Petaluma Elks Lodge.

Breathe deep!

A typical nightly sunset in Petaluma these days.

While back in this area, we wanted to go by and see the progress on restoration of the Coffey Park area, where our former lifelong home burned down in the big fire of October, 2017. It’s been over a year, but houses are starting to rise from the devastation. 

This is what our former home looked like last October, 2017…

…and this is what it looks like a year later.

We were happy to see our former neighbors almost up and running again.

One of our other former neighbors also almost up and running…

This used to be wall to wall houses.

In between visits and medical appointments, we again found adult time to visit a couple of the local breweries, Russian River Brewing Co. (Windsor) and Henhouse Brewing (Petaluma). Russian River built a huge brewery in Windsor.

Welcome to Russian River Brewery

Now THAT’S what you call a flight!

RRBC has a pretty big new campus in Windsor, CA.

Inside Henhouse Brewing.

Not too bad as IPA’s & double IPA’s go, the porter was not spectacular. Hollow Earth was worth the effort…

Their still building on the Henhouse Brewing Co. in Petaluma.

Well, that about catches us up to the present. Stay tuned, until the next post…

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

Back In The Saddle, All Systems Go.

From Hi Valley RV Park it was W/B Hwy. 26 to our next chosen stop at Clyde Holliday State Park between Mt. Vernon and John Day, OR. This was a very nice state park albeit out in the middle of nowhere. The park was very green, lots of color-changing trees, grass, and spacious W/E sites with dump station on site and nice hedges separating the sites. They had a nice little trail along the John Day River that led to a small fishing pond/lake at a day use area.

Our home at Clyde Holliday State Park.

Colors changing all around us.

The park had 2 large tepees they rent out for the adventurous sorts…

The trail follows the John Day River.

The small pond/lake at the day use area.

We found several of these scattered about the area, looks like Osprey nests.

Woody got to play in the falling leaves…

We loaded up Woody and ventured out from the campground to visit the  John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We hit the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center (kinda the main visitor’s center) and watched an 18 minute video of the area’s history, then Woody led us on a hike combining the Blue Basin Overlook Trail & the Island in Time Trail. Woody (and his humans) got a heck of a workout! The scenery was well worth the effort. The only glitch was when we got to the top of the Blue Basin Trail. Now, my standard practice when hiking such trails is to carry a Roscoe in my back pack/camel back (it’s a Mustang .380, more effective as a noise maker than a bear-stopper). When we got to the top of the trail, I spied a good-sized coyote kinda paralleling our travels up the hill about 200-300 yards from us. It was just close enough that I transitioned Roscoe from my pack to my pocket. We kept Woody moving and continued on the trail to the downhill side until it appeared we had “lost our tail”. Whew! Near the bottom of the trail it intersected with the Island in Time trail and we took that one to it’s end. The park folks did a nice job of placing re-creations of fossil finds throughout the trail, with signs describing a little history about “the history”.

Jeanne heading up the Blue Basin Overlook Trail.

Some of the views.

Looking down upon the heart of Blue Basin

Pretty gnarly mountains.

Looking down toward the valley.

This was the sole shaded rest area along the 3 hour trail, not that we needed it on this overcast day. Jeanne and Woody took advantage of the breather anyway…

They call it Blue Basin, I have no idea why. Everything is green, even the water…

The sun hit the mountain just right

Again looking down on the heart of Blue Basin.

On the Island in Time Trail.

Doesn’t look blue to me…

One of the re-creations of a fossil find, with a little info about it.

Here’s the re-creation…

The Island in Time Trail had a whole bunch of metal bridges over the green creek, Woody took them like a champ.

Another of the fossil Re-creations.

A replica of a fossilized oreodont. Don’t I sound like a highly edyoumicated skolar?!

Another sight to see in the area was the Kam Wah Chung Heritage House in John Day. This is touted as a living time capsule originally built in the 1870’s when Chinese Immigration to the area was “booming”. In 1887 Ing Hay (a prominent herbalist and pulsologist) and Lung On (a big time businessman) bought the building and set up shop. They stayed, even after the Chinese immigrants took off for bigger cities. Lung On developed some medical issues that caused the two to lock up the building and set out to obtain medical attention for Lung On. They never returned to the building, Lung On died in 1940 and Ing Hay never returned, himself passing away in 1952. His wish was that the building be deeded to the city of John Day, to be maintained as a museum. After some clean up and restoration years later, here it was. The free, ranger guided tour of the building was interesting for all you history buffs out there.

Doc Hay’s herbal stash.

One of the bedrooms inside the business.

The stores of the Store.

Here’s their entertainment. Terry Kelly, you might have an interest in this, I understand you like old radios…

They may have run a bit of a cathouse business back then, as well as an opium den.

Desk area in a bunk room.

Some of these old labels are not far different from those of today.

The kitchen area.

Welcome to Kam Wah Chung & Co.

We had planned to make one other stop on our way to Harrisburg, that was a boondock site near Painted Hills to check them out. Well, my luck ran out many moons ago, it seems. We found the small boondock area off of Burnt Ranch Rd. Pulling off the pavement into the dirt road area and through an open gate, I caught a rut pretty good which kicked up and nailed the front corner of my front cap. The cap being made of fiberglass, you can imagine which surface won between the solid earth and flexible fiberglass. It ticked me off just enough to cancel the stop altogether. So, off we were all the way into Harrisburg. It was a quick 1 hour job at Elite to get some aluminum plating installed at the base of the slide-out, over the 4 rollers, then on to RV Corral in Ugly Gene (more commonly known as Eugene, OR). They include Tiffin products in their sales and service and are, in fact, the dealer we bought Rosie the bus from. The bummer of the whole deal is the extra 2 days wait for the paint to settle down for the Diamond Shield guy to come and do his thing. But, hey, they let you stay on the lot with power hook-ups, so I can’t complain much. Besides, the folks at RV Corral are great to work with and they give a discount to military and first responders, even broken down old ones who roam the country aimlessly in an RV. 

On our way into Harrisburg, we found this shoe tree off Hwy. 26.

Oops! #%&$*@!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had these aluminum plates installed over the rollers for the slide out at Elite RV Renovations and Repairs.

Another day and a half and we should be S/B and down, headed back to see family and do medical appointments in Kalifornia, hoping for clear, non-smoky skies. We’re back in the saddle, all systems go, until next post…

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Idaho Interrupted

Well, we seem to have hit that “4-year jinx” with Rosie the bus. Lots of little knick-nacky things breaking down or going wrong. We had a terrible issue with gray tank odors permeating the interior, especially when we drive down the road with anything in the tank. We already addressed the vent caps as far as sealing the threads, but to no avail. So, we spun the wheel and took our chances, guessing that maybe it was the Hepvo trap under the kitchen sink. One quick order through Amazon and, bingo, one new trap. After the swap out it appears we have no more issue with odors. The old trap was pretty beat up, the rubber bladder inside looked mangled. A $30 fix to save us another couple hundred dollars in Mobil RV service calls. Next, we picked up a leak under the kitchen sink. Trying to access the pipes there is an interesting endeavor, with all the hoses zip tied and then having to dismantle drawers & cabinets. But I overcame my “handyman incompetence” and located a small hole pinched into the flex drain hose. A $10 fix which again saved me several hundred dollars in mobile RV service calls, whew! But the capper to all was the reason we had to change plans for the 7,492th time and terminate our Idaho stay a bit early. I found the outside skin of one of our big slides was getting chewed up by contact with the 3 rollers upon which the slide operates. Crap! Since we are nearing our time to return to CA for medical appointments and family holiday times, we decided to head back to Elite RV Repairs in Harrisburg, OR. I called Eric there and he put me at ease in that the fix would not cost me an arm & a leg, nor would take much time to remedy. So Oregon, here we come, again!

The white piece is the Hepvo trap. Gotta be a contortionist to get your arm and hand in there to remove and replace…

The skin damage under my slide.

More skin damage…

My water leak was underneath the white flex drain pipe, had to find it by braille, after removing the frame for the drawer…

Our stay in ID was a tad more than 5 weeks. In keeping with our past practices, we found Boise sponsors a Boise Ale Trail. Well, son of a gun, don’t mind if we do! 20 breweries participating and after sampling some of their offerings, my favorite was an Oatmeal Carmelita Stout by Barbarian Brewing. Jeanne preferred the Mexican Lager by White Dog Brewing. As usual, the Boise Ale Trail gave us the opportunity to get a self-guided tour of the Treasure Valley area.

Some of Payette Brewing Co.’s offerings. Goes with my personal motto…If you can see through the beer, it is not worth your time or taste buds…

Words to live by…

Working on my admission to the Twelve Step Program at RAM Brewery.

Boise Brewing Co. offerings. Can you guess which 3 Jeanne will be tasting and which 3 will be mine?!?

Logo sign for Sockeye Grill & Brewery.

My top pick for the Boise Ale Trail. Barbarian Brewing’s Oatmeal Carmelita Stout.

White Dog Brewing Co. offerings, Jeanne’s fave was the Mexican Lager.

At Western Collective, purveyor of Guns & Oil American Lager, I seem to have made a friend. It only took throwing the tennis ball once…

Table Rock is a local sight to see, overlooking the downtown area of Boise with a sweeping view of the Treasure Valley. The only “bad” was that visitors to Table Rock have a tendency to leave a  donation of their personal graffiti, such a shame for an otherwise scenic rock formation.

Jeanne feeling a little adventurous. Don’t forget, Jeanne. There are old adventurers, and there are bold adventurers. But there are NO old, bold adventurers!

The cross on top of Table Rock, overlooking the valley.

Downtown Boise, from Table Rock.

“There I was, deep in the cavern…” Sad to see graffiti…

We still have been getting some of this smoke, it is starting to get old.

Jeanne clowning around amongst the graffiti covered rocks.

While in Boise we took a walk around the downtown area and the capitol building. It was nearly abandoned, their house is out of session until January. The marble interior is beautiful and the exterior is consistent architectural-wise with most domed capitols that we have seen. We stumbled upon The STIL, a unique downtown ice-cream shop. They also sell beer & wine and offer “flights” of both ice-cream and adult beverage of choice for simultaneous tastings. It’s gotta be the goofiest pairings I ever tried, we did 4 beers & 4 ice-cream flavors. And to top that off, they had several ice-creams that were infused with alcoholic beverages. I will admit, I was not impressed, ice-cream and beer do not mix well for me. That even ruined my tasting of a whiskey barrel aged Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Yucky yucky yucky!

Sights of downtown Boise.

More downtown, looking toward the Capitol.

Still more downtown.

P.F. Chang’s two horses…

The Capitol building in Boise, ID.

A look up the front porch.

Profile shot of the dome.

Fancy marble interior.

Looking up the dome…

A Sea Coast Gun, 42 pounder used during the Civil War at Vicksburg and donated to the state of ID in 1910. It now stands guard on the front lawn…

Lower level marble.

Cool old mailbox inside the Capitol.

Welcome to The STIL.

“What’ll it be?”

Beer and ice-cream. Goes together like fire and water!

Pick a flavor.

Close to our home at Hi Valley RV Park we found the Ada County Bike Park. This was a mountain with numerous downhill bike runs and a BMX course at the base of the mountain. The park is popular with hikers as well, with a trail across the peak of the mountain which gives more sweeping views of Treasure Valley. We used this park several times to give Woody a little exercise. 

A cutie walking up the trail to the top of the mountain at the Ada County Bike Park.

Looking down into the Treasure Valley. The BMX track is at the base of the mountain.

They did a good job of marking all the different bike runs, kinda like a ski mountain.

Several days we had to put up with yet again more smoke. Here’s the smoke covered valley from the top of the mountain.

A lot of the locals suggested we see the town of McCall, so we loaded up Woodrow Wilson and did a day trip. It is about 100 miles north of Boise on Hwy. 55, a little state highway that travels along a good portion of the Payette River. The scenery was very nice and when we got to McCall, it reminded us of a small scale Tahoe. McCall is a little ski resort town on Payette Lake. When we got there they just happened to be having their local Farmer’s Market going on. That had to be the s-m-a-l-l-e-s-t farmer’s market I ever saw! We did a walkabout, had lunch at a local pizzeria, and sampled the fare at a couple of the local breweries. The McCall Brewing Co. had a Wobbly Man Smoked Scotch that was a tasty ale, as was their Devious Intent Imperial Stout. The Salmon River Brewery was unimpressive as far as their beer goes, but the view was nice.

On the road to McCall, along the Payette River.

More Payette River

Rough rapids on the Payette River.

McCall’s Farmer’s Market.

Yak meat for sale!

This was pretty much the bulk of the market.

A view across Payette Lake at one of the ski mountains.

Another look at the lake.

Imagine all this snow covered. Brrrrrrrrr!

Welcome to the Salmon River Brewery.

Nice light inside the restaurant/bar.

Our view from our table at Salmon River Brewery.

Welcome to the McCall Brewing Co.

McCall’s offerings.

We’re gonna taste us some brews.

McCalls did have a tasty Devious Intent Imperial Stout!

Jim & Stacy Camara had turned us on to the Big City Coffee shop in downtown Boise, so we made one last return trip for breakfast. The place is truly a “hole in the wall”, and seating can be a problem when busy. But man oh man bring your appetite with you! The breakfasts are gigantic, as are the baked goodies! I think this was the first time we ever had to box up the left overs from a breakfast!

Lot’s of baked goodies at Big City!

Welcome to Big City Coffee.

Rustic interior, wouldn’t you say?!

The Cowboy breakfast, a Veggie Wrap, and one massive cinnamon roll.

That’s about as caught up as I can be for now. Until next post…

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A Birthday, a Bicycle Ride, and a Ghost Town

Moving day led us to the Hi Valley RV Park, kinda in between Eagle and Boise. Hi Valley is part of the G7 Resorts group here in Potatoville (aka: Idaho), as was Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, from whence we came. Hi Valley had some 194 sites, with clubhouse, pool, spa, and a nice dog park and dog run. We wanted to try to score a month-to-month there, but to our dismay they only allow so many month-to-months and there are already many sites taken up by full time residents. We are finding more and more RV parks with full time residents living in them which takes away opportunities for the traveling RVers. So we had to settle for week-to-week. Oh well…

Looking across the dog park to the pool area behind the office.

Sites lined up, row after row…

The pool and spa area…

The clubhouse at Hi Valley.

A little exercise never hurt anyone!

Kitchen area inside the clubhouse.

Our home at Hi Valley RV Park.

Moving day just so happened to fall upon Jeanne’s birthday. Our friends Jim & Stacy Camara joined us for the celebratory feast at a very nice Boise dining establishment, Barbacoa’s. That place is very upscale and was PACKED! We yakked away the night and had a very nice time, culminating in a little birthday treat for Jeanne and Jim turning me on to Banana’s Foster. 

They actually torched Stacy’s lamb chops at the table! I contemplated yelling ,”Fire!”, but the place was packed and I didn’t want to get arrested…

Jeanne prepares to enjoy her birthday treat, some cotton candy spun around a small piece of birthday cake with a lit candle, kinda like a lantern only it wasn’t dark yet.

Jim and the Bananas Foster, just after THAT fire went out! I’m starting to sense a theme here, as they torch everything they serve, well, it seems like anyway!

The next day Jeanne & I got a chance to try out our newly-tuned bicycles on the Boise Greenbelt trail. It was close to 30 miles round trip as the trail ran along the Boise River through the downtown areas of Garden City and Boise. It was about a four and a half hour ride, my butt would tell you it was 130 miles total, OUCH!

Near the beginning of our Greenbelt trail ride we passed through some housing sub-divisions that had some TERRIBLE backyard areas!

More of those terrible backyards.

The Greenbelt trail actually runs along both sides of the Boise River, with several bridges that crisscross and connect both sides of the trail.

Jeanne mugs for the camera…

One bridge crossed the river at the Boise Whitewater Park. The river is partially dammed up with small openings to create rapids where local surfers and kayakers come down to work their relative skills.

“Surf’s up, Dude!”

A closer view of the surfer dudes…

Welcome to the Boise Whitewater Park!

Yup, the trail took us along some horrible views…

Low bridge!

Of several parks along the Greenbelt, we found the Fireman’s Memorial with a special tribute to the 9/11 hero/victims.

The Fireman’s Memorial

The 9/11 Fireman’s Memorial has the names etched on the wall and  a piece of the I-beam from the wreckage…

Closer up.

We even passed a zoo and got spied on by a giraffe…

Our return trip at the Whitewater Park we found a kayaker working the waters…

He was having fun.

The trail also goes right through the Boise St. campus.

Between running around checking the area out, Jeanne found out about a nearby ghost town, Silver City. We met the Camaras, packed lunches, loaded up their dogs and Woody, and we all headed out to do a little Jeepin’ on the dirt road to Silver City. It took us close to 2 hours to get there, the road was an easy Jeep road with minor washboarding and a few rocky areas to jar one’s eye teeth. As far as ghost towns go, I was a little disappointed with Silver City. There are a bunch of full time residents who live there in some of the historical buildings, and not the most friendly I have encountered. We walked around “town” and checked out the “cemetary” (sic), ate lunch, then headed back to civilization, where the Camaras invited us over to dinner at their place and we capped the day with a nice dinner and non-stop yakking about all things, including the RV life (they have an Allegro Bus that they are preparing to hit the road, albeit for a short trip).

Silver City, ghost town.

The house here at this intersection is one of the private residences in town.

The old drug store.

The town hotel behind Jeanne.

Inside the hotel lobby area.

Hotel lobby

And yet more hotel lobby.

Masonic Lodge.


Kinda ruins the ambience when you see solar panels on buildings of a ghost town…

The church on the hill.

Welcome to the “cemetary”…

Jeanne paying her respects to the dear departed…

Somehow I don’t think he was THAT Thomas Jefferson…

That catches us up to date. Until next post…

The town music maker…

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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”…

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