Saturday, September 27, 2014

Summer 2014 - Tahoe and Burning Man

It's been quite some time since I posted on our blog - since last May, to be precise. I tend not to blog much while in Tahoe as I'm home and busy doing the same stuff we do every summer in Tahoe. We did workamp again at Tahoe Valley Campground and our nomadic friends, Clarke and Elaine, of  the WhatsNewell blog, joined us for the summer. We reunited with our friends from year's past, at the campground and made some new ones, mainly Deb and John, who also full-time, but in a boat in Mexico, when they're not workamping during the summer.

Bill was training for a relay race around Lake Tahoe, with his Zummie (Air Force Academy) buddies, that he had run many times before, but not in the last 10 years. He was an ultra-runner, but after years of pounding his body into the ground the doctors said he could have a hip replacement sooner, or later, if he kept up the running. He chose to stop doing the distance and save his body. So he began his training very slowly and ended up finishing strong! It was a great race, very exciting - right up until the finish and they won their age bracket (under 70), woo hoo!

We spent a lot of time around the campfire with whomever dropped by - Billy, Daniel, our new hash friend, Brown, and Jen. We had a big welcome back happy hour that went until the wee hours of the morning and was graced by our home brewer friend, Ron & his pal Calee, and the brewery crowd - Bob, Jen, Marc, etc, etc, etc! We bought kayaks and a SUP for me and spent some time on the water, we had a hash, and our road besties Brian and Maria showed up in August, for a few weeks, before we all went to Burning Man.
Here's my man, Billy, at the Airport Bar, where we tracked him down!
RV Full-timing friends and co-workampers, Clarke & Elaine, join
my son and us at Steamers

Vegan Sushi at Sushi Pier with Daniel - Damian is THE MAN!

on the water with hash friend, Bloodweiser!

Suzanne, Joe, Jen and us celebrating at Lakeview's First Thurday night concert!

New hash friend, Brown aka Janalese moved to town and found us at the Beacon

Academy buddies got together in the Bay Area!
Daughter's In Arms - Marc, Jen & Robert at the Sky!

Kev came and joined us in Tahoe for a month!!

Steve and Julie - at the Daughter's in Arms concert at Divided Sky

Dinner at Brown's - ACTION SHOT!

Beach day with Cheek & Socs

new RVing friends John and Kristi found us at Tahoe Valley Campground

Maria and Brian hanging with us in Tahoe, again - always happy when we get to see these folks!!

Early entry at Burning Man - Bill taking care of our vents!
Burning Man this year was pretty epic for Bill and myself. We got the opportunity to come in early and help our friends, Sam and Tracy, build the perimeter art lighting around the "Man." What a wonderful experience that was - the community out there was really loving and chill, and totally set the stage for our visit "home." This year we camped with the "Hash Bike Repair Camp" - there were about 50 of us and we had great infrastructure - shower, 2 community chill spaces, gray water tank, fresh water and a kitchen. We were split up into different communal areas within our camp, each one with it's own shade and chill space, so there were lots of options to hunker down or go visiting within the camp.
Working on installing the lights around the man

Sammy! Hard at Work

Tracy and our co-workers

All dressed up for a day on the playa

Shenanigans with the crew

Our camp!

We were the first ones to arrive at our camp - but within a couple of days our early entry crew got in and began the set up. I truly felt as if I had come home - we did a lot of visiting friends and even bumped into people we knew on the playa. Except for a big rainstorm at the beginning, when they actually CLOSED Burning Man for a day to arrivals, the weather was awesome.

Big plans were in the works for us and we knew that our time on the playa would be some of the last days we spent in Bebe (our rv). After ten days on the playa, I began to get anxious about our future "plans," yes I said that dirty word! Our friends Brigid and Andy mentioned that they were leaving a day early to go visit Sierra Hot Springs (our most favorite chill space), and we decided we'd do the same. It was a fabulous idea and we spent two days there soaking in the hot springs and talking about our next adventure in detail.

Four years plus, on the road, has brought us many new experiences, close friends and a lifestyle that really seems to suit our personalities, yet we are exhausted. We first set out on this adventure to try and find that perfect place to eventually move to, and plant some roots. What we found out was that there really is no "one" place. Our favorite spot is, and remains, South Lake Tahoe - everywhere we go gets compared to SLT. After our time in Baja this winter, Baja bumped Cedar Key into third place and that's where we decided we'd like to spend six months this fall and winter. Originally we were set on buying a palapa in one of the little palapa/rv parks on the water, but after much advise and deliberation, we concurred that it was better for us to rent for a season down there BEFORE we buy. The search began in earnest for a spot to rent - we were very late in the game for renting and I was running into one road block after another. Flight reservations were booked to go down and check out a few of the places I'd found, and to take another look at the palapas we had fallen in love with online. We began watching the weather the week preceding the flight and things were not looking good at all. One of the houses we were looking to rent was in Los Zacatitos where there was a 4 mile dirt road to get to the house. With the rain that was expected we quickly changed our compact rental car to a 4wd vehicle. Then we saw the storm brewing south of Baja that was reported to become hurricane strength. On the Friday before we were to leave we had grave doubts we were going to go - even if it was just raining. Looking at houses that were boarded up would not give us a better picture than the online photos. So, Saturday, we cancelled our Sunday flight; Sunday Southwest cancelled that flight and  the hurricane hit the Los Cabos airport right about the time we were to land! The peninsula has been devastated, but luckily Los Barilles seems to have fared better than most other areas.

After our travels down the Baja in Bebe last year, Bill had absolutely no desire to drive her down again. The roads were just too narrow for our big girl and caused Bill too much stress. We've also been out of control with our spending, because of the pace we have set for ourselves. It's a very manageable lifestyle if one doesn't traipse constantly across the country and out of it, visit every pub and vegan restaurant in town and generally live the good life! We needed to SLOW DOWN in many ways and the only way to accomplish all of these objectives was for us to sell Bebe, get out of our big loan on her and figure out a different way to do things. Just HOW we were going to do that remained to be seen. We had lots of options and the last few weeks we've started to narrow them down. Unfortunately mother nature has seen to complicate all of this with hurricane Odile down there.

First things first, we wanted to sell the Subaru. We LOVE our Subie, but are totally over driving a stick - which we bought because it was easy to tow. We also needed something bigger to haul our stuff down to Baja, or wherever else we wanted to go and possibly tow a little trailer.  We finally made it down to Carson City and Reno to begin our search and ended up with a 2009 Chevy Silverado LT, whom Bill has christened Baja Bessie. She's got lots of torque and storage. We had a kayak rack installed and some running boards (aka Nerf bars) so I can get in and out of her a little easier.
Bye, Bye BeBe

Bebe has been getting spruced up and ready to sell. RV Connection in Auburn, who specializes in big rigs is going to sell her for us and will spend about 50 hours detailing her.

Last days in Tahoe with the King Fire burning almost 100,000 acres to date.

Our options are vast, our needs small...stay tuned!

Monday, May 12, 2014

San Francisco Bay Area - Spring 2014

Bill had an uneventful solo drive up I-5 and into San Jose. We met up at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds RV Park around noon. Finding a spot to park a big rv, anywhere, in the bay area is a challenge. We've come many times to the east, north and south bay and always have an issue finding a good spot. In the north bay we stay with our hash friend, Burt, in the east bay we stay at the Alameda Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, but in the south bay the only places I'd seen were way south, like in Gilroy or Morgan Hill. We were meeting a bunch of friends for dinner and didn't want an hour drive home afterwards. Somehow I discovered that the Santa Clara Fairgrounds also had rv parking. There were no reviews or pictures anywhere, but I thought for a night or two at $30 per night, we'd chance it.

It's pretty bare-bones. No internet, and from Bill's report, the showers looked like they had leprosy. The bathrooms there are for the stadium so you can just use your imagination. I asked about the safety of the place and was told that there was 24-hour security. I never felt unsafe, there were mostly older rv's, and you can see how empty it was in October. We didn't stay any longer than necessary, but I would stay there again.

I met Bill at the RV park at noon, and after we got into the site I grabbed a quick bite, and drove an hour and a half to see my daughter at the West County Detention Center in Richmond. I had gone on the website that morning to see what the "rules" were and decided to not wear the leggings I had planned on, because it said no tight-fitting clothes. I wanted to give myself a lot of time to get there as I had a faint memory that my ex had said something about getting there early. Unfortunately, I did not remember that he said that you had to CHECK IN with the front desk thirty minutes before your visit. I got there forty-five minutes before my appointed time and sat in my car playing on my phone, whiling away the time. At 2:10 I thought I'd go in and see what's what...and what was what, was that I was late checking in and could not see my daughter!! I was so angry with myself for sitting in my car when I had gotten there in plenty of time to check-in appropriately! I was so upset that my daughter would think that I stood her up, and would be waiting there for me to show up...what a bad, bad mother. I cried myself all the way home, screaming and berating myself for my stupidity. This has to be the worst thing I've ever done, as a mother. I waited all afternoon for her to call me so I could apologize.

In the meantime we had to get ready for the Silicon Valley Agnews Hash. Our friend, Bloodweiser, was haring and I really wanted to show up and surprise him. Bloodweiser came down to Borrego Springs this winter to celebrate new year's with us in the desert. It was a Dr. Seuss theme hash and I only realized this about 3 minutes before we were supposed to leave....this is the best costume I could come up with in that time.  

Right before the hash started, Lauryn called and although she sounded very disappointed, she tried to make me feel better. She was able to get me another time to see her on Saturday morning.

We went hashing and I ended up having a really good time. There were some cute person had a shirt that read "One Fish," another with "Two Fish" and then there were the red and blue fish costumes!!
Hashers love to dress up in costumes!!
The next day we were going to meet up with Tom and Schelby to see Tom's band, "Gina & The Tonics" play at a school benefit. I was looking forward to hearing his band for the first time. The venue was a little bizarre for us, with a trillion grammar school kids running around, but it was nice to sit in the sun and just chill.

While we were there a guy came up to Bill from behind and low and behold it was Rich Parmentier, a classmate of Bill's from the Air Force Academy! They spent the rest of our time there "catching up." The last time they had seen each other was thirty years ago!!

A bunch of our other hash friends showed up and when the school started doing their "program" during the band's break it was time for us to get out of there and get over to the restaurant where 20 of us were going to meet for dinner.

Thanks to everyone that showed up - it was great seeing you all!!

Saturday was my visit with my daughter. I got there plenty early, turned in my form and ID and waited in the room for 45 minutes until my appointed time. We had to go through a metal detector and all we could bring in with us was one ID and one key. There were a bunch of long tables and a glass partition with the inmate on the other side. They were scattered about the room and there was no telephone, like you see on tv, just a little grate that you speak through. I guess when it's crowded in there it's pretty hard to hear, but we were lucky and there were only about 10 of us there at that time. Lauryn looked great - we just really wanted to hug each other! We had a wonderful visit and I will see her again in a couple of weeks when she gets out.

This is PoopaTrooper - we liked the sign!!

Sunday was Mother's Day and the East Bay Hash. The east bay was were I first started hashing, so it is called my Mother Hash. My friend Becca pointed out that it was quite appropriate that I was coming to hash at my mother hash on Mother's Day!! I love the east bay hash - they run trails, long, hilly beautiful trails and this was one of them. It was the annual James Brown Hash that Zydeco and Early to Bed hare every year. We haven't hashed with the east bay in about 5 or 6 years, so we were both looking forward to this hash and hoping a bunch of our old friends would be there. They set a walkers trail, a turkey trail and an eagle trail. I did the turkey trail which was about 7 miles!! Bill did the eagle trail which wasn't that much longer, but the extra part on the eagle was a super steep climb and descentd right at the end of the was brutal, or so I heard.

It's been an awesome visit so far and we still have a few dinners and lunches with friends today and tomorrow, then we're off to Sacramento....getting closer and closer to Tahoe!

The kind of world I want to live in...

We decided to bale on our stop at the Deanza Springs nudist park as the temps in Jacumba were dropping into the low 60's and that just didn't sound like weather I'd want to run around nekkid in!! So we moved onto sunny San Diego where the temps were in the low 90's. We were still hoping to hear word of Ariadne - Ari, our friend Laurie's dog, who got lost in Rosarita Beach on their way home to the states. Sunday, Bill had a dream-filled night where we had traveled back into Mexico to find the dog. I awoke early and went to a 7:30 yoga class - at 9am when I got out there was a message from Bill that someone had found the dog! Laurie's friend Iyan, who lives in San Diego, has a pass that allows him easy border crossing and offered to drive down and get her and bring her to us, since she was familiar with us; having just spent several weeks in our company. I was positively overwhelmed with happiness and the dog went from being terribly frightened to big smiles and wagging tales when they arrived.

The next morning we took her to Dunk-N-Dogs wash where they spent many hours getting rid of her fleas and tics and bringing her coat back to it's fabulous shine. I stayed with her the entire time. Wednesday night was the San Diego hariettes hash and the start was just a few miles from where we were parked in the Mission Bay RV Park. I wasn't sure she could do a hash because she didn't appear to have that much energy when we walked her, but as soon as we arrived she knew she was at a hash and got very excited. We ran into D-Cup, who we knew in the East Bay, and Maui Wowie, whom we had met years before and who knew Laurie (aka Panty Free) and her dog, and had been following the saga on Facebook.
XS sporting his new vodka socks from Cheek (hash names!)
 I couldn't believe how much energy she had. As soon as the pack took off, she pulled me into a trot and off we went. XS took off with the runners and I hung back with the walkers. But every now and then we would take off and do a little running. This was the hare's "virgin lay" - it's a hares and hounds game, where the hare sets the trail with flour and chalk and everyone tries to find the true trail and snag the hare (check out the HASH!) Anyway, it ended up being a SUPER long trail, about 6 miles, and both Ari and I were fading...everyone else, except the walkers, were at the end already and since we were so close to the car (and there were no dogs allowed at the "on in" (end)) I thought I'd take Ari to the car and drive over there. Well, finding the car was another fiasco and then once I got Ari in the car, somehow I performed the miracle of locking both my key fob and my phone in the car WITH the dog! OY VEY!! The restaurant down the street was closing in a few minutes but in the meantime let me use their phone to call AAA who came out in 15 minutes...boy do I love AAA!! Anyway, it was a great night with beautiful weather, we all got some exercise and slept great!

Ari will never get lost again!
You never know where you're going
to end up on trail!

She was a little concerned!
We spent a few more days in San Diego picking up our plants from Jeanette's dad's house in Dulzura and a bunch of stuff from Sini & Bob's son.
We saw Bill's good friends Scott and Jean for beers and dinner.
We'll being seeing them again in June, when they come up for the Tahoe relays.
They're putting together a reunion team as they've run this relay many times over the years!

It was time to go brave the 100 degree temps in Palm Desert to see my parents, pick up more stuff we had left behind before we went to Mexico, and I had a couple of doctor appointments. I had a feeling my parents were going to fall completely in love with Ari, as I had, because our family dog was a dark colored golden retriever who looked very much like Ari did. And I was right! She is such a love, all she wants is for you to hug and pet and love her. I left her a couple of times with my parents and she just stood in front of my dad, for hours, as he pet her.

We parked at the Thousand Trails campground there, where we are members. We get the first 30 days of camping free, and after that it's only $3/day - that's the good part, the bad part is that it is an incredibly sandy, dirty park. Ari loves to lay under our rig so Bill laid out a big mat underneath for her to lay on, but as you can see in the pic below she liked the part 2" off the mat, in the dirt!

We spent about 4 days in the 100 degree temps and then drove into Riverside to take Bebe into the Ford dealer to see why the engine overheating light kept coming on. They needed to order parts so we stayed the night at our friends, Clarke & Elaines favorite campground, Rancho Jurupa. They've workamped here a couple of times and it is a beautiful park with GRASS!

I had an appointment to visit my daughter on Thursday afternoon and since we didn't know how early the rv repairs would be done, I made the decision to drive up to the bay area separately, take the dog the final leg home, spend the night and have no problem making my 2:30 appointment, or so I thought...

We had an uneventful drive home - Ari wouldn't eat, drink or pee - just the best little passenger - every once in a while she'd come up for a pet or a scratch...but other than that, you wouldn't have even known she was in the car.
and then there was the homecoming...

Ari, didn't miss a beat, although she was sticking pretty close to Laurie, every once in a while she'd come up and just lean up next to me and give me a couple of kisses. She knew I brought her home...and we are both just thrilled we were able to do so.

I was lounging in Laurie's luxurious bed the next morning and ruminating on the last two weeks of Ari's adventures. Before Iyan went to pick up Ari in Mexico, he asked Laurie if she wanted to give the couple who had found Ari something for their troubles. Laurie said that in their culture it would be insulting to do something like that. How different from our culture is that? Here, everyone expects something for "their troubles," but there it's just what you do...something good with no expectation, nor desire for compensation....that's the kind of world I want to live in...