Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two more wake-ups

That's how my kids always referred to the time left before we went on vacation or any other good thing such as birthdays, etc.  Tomorrow will be my last full day of getting it all together, and then I'll just have coffee and breakfast before hitting the road on Thursday.  I want to try to leave early, and am beginning to wonder if I should find an alternative route that doesn't take me directly through S. Lake Tahoe.  I didn't take into consideration that schools are out and many folks will be heading "up the hill".  I sure don't want to find gridlock on my first day.

I went to the post office this morning and filled out the card to have my mail forwarded to Jeannie's address.  The only reason I didn't do that to begin with is that in the past I've found that some businesses will permanently change my address and I'll have to undo all that when I get back.  I think it will work out better though, especially for Jeannie.

As I was standing in line at the post office a woman in back of me had two young children, who of course got a bit antsy when having to wait.  When it was my turn I motioned for her to go ahead of me, which she did.  The oldest of the two children held back and poked my arm, and said "She went in front of you."   I said "yes, I told her to.", and then everything seemed ok to the kid.  I thought it was just precious.

I'm getting some of the excitement I always feel at this stage of a trip, although I also have a bit of dread at the thought of the long drive ahead of me.

About two weeks ago I bought a pineapple at Costco that was not yet ripe enough to cut, and it's been sitting on my countertop.  Today was the day, and I cut it into chunks, about half of which I will take along in my cooler.  It is so delicious and sweet that I will have some for breakfast the next two mornings.

I'm not sure how often I will be able to post my blog during the first few days at least.  I used to rely on the Verizon jet pack which I don't use any more.  I love my AT&T wireless service but will miss access on the road.  If I ever even walk into a MacDonald's it is just to use the restroom, get a cup of coffee, and get out.  I don't even like the smell of their food and can't imagine sitting there long enough to use the wifi.  As I get further east I will probably stay at motels or at least campgrounds with wifi.  I'll blog and post photos when I get the chance.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Enthusiasm Picking Up!

I kind of thought I'd get back in my groove but was beginning to wonder.  I've made phone calls this morning to cancel services such as AT&T.  For all the problems I usually experience trying to get something done by telephone with a large corporation, I'll have to say the woman I spoke with at AT&T was delightful and took care of freezing my service while I'm gone.  The same thing with my gym membership, and next will be the mail hold.  I was told to write a letter since mail is usually only held for 30 days and I need it held for 90, and I want Jeannie to be able to pick it up at intervals.

I just cooked some chicken to make chicken salad for lunches on the trip, and have a pineapple to cut up tomorrow or Wednesday.  I also bought bottled water for the trip, and a lot of snacks for either the car or the backpacking trip.  My clothes are neatly stacked on one half of my bed but I will still have to select what I'll take.  I don't toss and turn too much during the night and nothing fell off the bed onto the floor last night.

I've set down the wider of the two back seats and threw a quilt and my sleeping bag on it in case it's too cold to stay in a tent at a campground.  I will alternate campgrounds and motels on my journey.   I'll have to roll or fold the sleeping bag while traveling, maybe setting some of the lighter-weight items on it as I can't afford to lose that much space when packing the car.  

I am definitely thinking of camping at Dinosaur Nat'l. Monument and at Badlands Nat'l. Park, weather permitting, as well as possibly somewhere along the way in Nevada.  I have an alternative motel selected in Nevada, but don't know about the national parks - I think you have to drive out of them and find a nearby town for lodging if not camping.  A little teardrop camper sure would be nice to have for this trip.  If I had something like that I'd never stop at a motel.

Now I need to go shopping for a dress I can wear to church for Joshua's First Communion.  I was shocked at how so many of my clothes no longer fit, and I didn't have much in the way of dressy clothes to begin with.

I'm going to go spray the weeds one final time, and then decide whether I want to drive to nearby Kohl's to look for a dress, or to tackle the traffic to Macy's at the mall.  The mall usually isn't crowded these days - online shopping has just about ruined it for those of us who like to try on something before buying, or just like browsing in a store - but the traffic on Sunrise Avenue to the mall is always heavy!  I don't see the large stores keeping their physical locations much longer.  What a shame that will be when they are gone.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Planning *UPDATE* Photo Added

I just about finished my route planning to New York, and I am surprised that I'm so unexcited about it.  That's the travel part that I'm dreading but I'm certainly excited to think of being there for several weeks.

Maybe it's the uncertainty of the weather or a physical cause such as allergies that are driving me crazy, but I don't look forward to the long drive, alone.  I do my route on MapQuest and set some sort of guidelines to follow, but in the end I always use the state maps to find off-interstate routes.  Mapquest is giving me trouble now because I want to drop a bit south to avoid going too close to Chicago, but Map Quest evidently doesn't want to do the smaller roads.  I can't imagine that being the case but I give up for now.  It isn't nearly as bad driving around the Toledo and Cleveland areas, but I'm also trying to avoid Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA.  That has always been a scary drive to me; the law calls about 35 or so miles a "Safety Zone" with a 50 mph limit.  Do you think anyone drives 50?  I have never driven through that zone without nervously rehearsing what I'm going to say to the cop who pulls me over, after catching sight of my out-of-state license plate.  The locals don't seem to fear the cop!

Note:  I don't use Microsoft Streets and Trips because I have a Mac.  It doesn't matter much what I use because it's just an exercise to give me an idea of mileage, potential routes, etc.  I never follow the plan, which I revise as I go along.

I think I'm worrying too much and I have so much to do to get everything organized and ready to pack in the car.  I am nowhere near organized yet and I can't rustle up some excitement.  Dang, I have to get a dog when I get back and then I'll have a traveling companion.  Sometimes I want one but most times I don't, so that is why I'm still pet-free.  I miss Lady though.

We had fun at the brewery last night.  Joe & Sarah, Donald & Jeannie, and I spent about 2-1/2 hrs there and then went to Joe's to continue our party.  I'm tired today but I'm trying to catch up on laundry so I can pack the things I want to take with me.

I look terrible in the pictures that include me, so I'm withholding them.  

Ok, so a couple of hours later I decided I would crop one of the photos I'm in, and here it is:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My granddaughter, the actress!

I know we were all nervous before Arianna's kindergarten play last night, but I'm sure no one was more nervous than Jeannie.  Some pictures of before we left for the school:  (The photos are a bit out of order.)

Here are some that Jeannie took.  

We went to Applebee's afterward, and by the time dinner was placed on our table both girls were sleeping!

Jeannie had washed Arianna's hair the night before the play and braided it wet, so when she took out the braids the next afternoon her hair was all wavy.  Jeanne also put a bit of make-up and lipstick on her, and she told Donald, "Dad, I look so beautiful!"

I was horrified when getting ready to go to the play - I tried on several items of clothes and nothing fit!  I ended up wearing khakis and a blouse from years ago that were too big for me when I lost weight.  I have to get some new clothes soon.  I didn't realize as I usually wear sweat pants and stretchy shirts because I never get dressed up for most occasions. 

I have to stop and get ready for an early evening at American River Brewery - they are open on Saturdays only from early afternoon until 7:00 pm, so we're planning to go around 4:00.  I'll try to get pictures.  Sorry I can't do much with my hair - I'll just let it grow a bit until it gets back to similar to what I had before.  It feels good not having hair on my neck though.  When it was really long I should have thought about braiding it wet; my mom made me wear my hair in braids until I was about 10 or 11, and I HATED it!  I loved how wavy the braids made it, so I started taking out the braids when I got to school, and every afternoon I told my mom the rubber-bands broke.  She got the message and finally cut my hair.   (I often feel sorry for her having me for a daughter.)  

Friday, March 27, 2015

So much done but more left to do!

I don't yet have a photo of my new haircut, and to tell the truth I don't like it the way it is now.  I'm going to granddaughter Arianna's school play this evening, and I'll take my camers and maybe get in a picture or two.

This play is going to be so much fun.  Arianna is 5 yrs old and in kindergarten.  She is exceptionally shy except with family, and she keeps everyone laughing with some of the funny things she says.  Miss Personality.  But it's only lately that she has been talking at school - in fact one of the boys overheard her say something and shouted, "Hey, you can talk!".  The fact that she is willing to go onstage is remarkable, and I just hope everything goes well for her.   Her teacher is so patient and encourages her, and the children in her class don't harass her about not talking.  Oh, and for several months she would cry when her mom or dad left her at school.  Now and then one of the little girls would come up and pat her on the back.  Kindergarten is such a sweet age.

I checked a couple of things off my list this morning - car wash:  Done; write blank checks for next 3 months' rent: Done.   Now I'm going to eat lunch and then mix up some non-toxic weed killer and spray one last time before I leave.  Yesterday I used a commercial weed killer (not Roundup) and today I'll try the vinegar-salt-dishwashing soap thing.

I have a question for those who live in or are very familiar with Southern California.  I'm thinking of driving back from NY in June/July and dropping down to the south and across to Huntington Beach, CA.  Then I would be going north to Sacramento a day or so later.   Anyone who reads my blog knows I detest interstates and freeways!  Whenever possible I'll take a U.S  or even a State Route.  But I don't drive at all in Southern Cal, the last time I did was when I brought my 5th wheel to CA for Christmas and had to go south to I-10 to miss ice storms along the way.  This was my "maiden voyage" pulling the 5'ver and I had few problems until I tried to drive around to connect with I-5N.   Why I didn't just go north from Blythe to Needles and then over to I-5 I'll never know - I guess I was listening to the GPS!

I can see Huntington Beach on the map and it looks to be in a ferociously busy area; I don't mind so much driving out of my way to avoid freeways,  and wonder about Route 74 from Coachella to San Juan Capistrano, and then north to H.B.   if anyone can give me some tips on accomplishing this I would greatly appreciate it.  The CA maps I have aren't very well detailed in that area except for the freeways and major roads.  Also what is the best time-of-day/day-of-week to attempt it.   I won't need to worry about this until July, which will probably be a frantic time in this area.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Catching up on odds and ends

I got my hair cut short(er) this morning, and now I wish I had asked the hairdresser to cut it even shorter.  I want something that looks nice with little care, but I'm not sure this is it.  I'll live with it, as I will not be entering any beauty contests for the next few months!

I spent a back-breaking 45 minutes pulling weeds and spraying what I couldn't easily pull out of the ground.  I will talk it over with Joe and Steve when I return later in the summer, and see if they have any ideas about controlling the grass and weeds.  I will have to decide whether to try to find someone to give this place to, or else I'll have to spend some money revitalizing it.  I sure hate to spend $$ on the outside when so many things need replacing and fixing indoors.

It is 81 degrees at about 4 pm and very uncomfortable.  I don't want to bother with the swamp cooler or opening all the windows when I'll just have to shut down and close up in less than a week.

My car still needs to go to the car wash - maybe tomorrow morning.  I keep putting it off, but if I get it done now it will be yellow with pollen in a day or so anyway.  Now it is super dirty AND covered with pollen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Checking my list - twice!

This morning I took my car to be checked out and serviced, and it's ready to roll when I have it washed and packed up.  While waiting for the car to be finished I read over the route I worked out in MapQuest that covers approximately the first third of the journey, although I will need to check weather reports early next week to make sure I'm not going to run into severe weather.

I have a couple of photos taken last night at Jeannie's house before we sat down to our Cincinnati Chili.  Autumn and Arianna both wanted to take a picture, so there are two of them taken with Jeannie's cell phone.

When Donald handed me my plate I would have sworn I'd never be able to finish it all, but I ate every bite!   It doesn't seem like it's been so long since Bill died, but it was in 2007 - 8 yrs. ago.

At 6:30 p.m. it is getting quite warm in my house.  I have the front door on the screen, and a few windows open just slightly.  They are such old windows and it's hard to crank them open and shut, so I have just opened some of them slightly and leave them that way 24/7.  It gets pretty chilly at night however.

I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow, and I think I'm going to go short this time.  I'm sick of having hair on my neck and the dumb way part of it curls up while some of it doesn't. 

The thermometer says 76, but with the sun shining in the front door it sure feels 10 or more degrees warmer. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Doctors, dear ex'es, and dogs

My visit to the doctor went well - it was a follow up to determine whether or not I have high BP.  I had monitored it and kept a chart for several weeks, and it has been great.  I had the most satisfaction telling him that I was taking no Rx medications, just a few supplements such as fish oil, probiotics, etc., and that I haven't felt this good in years.  Of course the allergy season is upon us and it is not going to let me off the hook, but I'm going to try natural remedies if it gets to that point.

Today is the anniversary of the death of my ex-husband (and father of my four kids).  Jeannie and Donald invited me over this evening - first we will go to the gym and then come back for a supper of Cincinnati Chili, which was Bill's favorite.  Of course we'll have to raise a glass to the old man as well.   Joe and Steve are invited also, but it might be a little late for Joe's kids since they have school in the morning; Jeannie's kids have school too but they can just roll into bed when everyone leaves.

I just read a blog post that leaves tears running down my face and love in my heart, and it's about the dog.  I know a lot of dog lovers read my blog, and I would encourage you to take a look at this post.


I think I'll go clean out the back of my car.  I'm having it serviced tomorrow and think I will just go from there to the car wash, if I have enough money left to pay for a wash.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The GPS Works, I think!

I used the GPS to get to the gym this morning - couldn't go too wrong being only a mile away, if that far.  It seems to work fine but Garmin made little modifications in how things work - like what you have to do to find the addresses you use a lot.  How Garmin has changed the way you do things doesn't seem to add one bit of ease to using the device - they should leave things alone that work, but as with most companies, they have to give their developers work to do, so each one comes up with a "fix" to something that is great the way it is.  It makes no sense at all and I wish I didn't have to put up with it.  

I hang the GPS on the upper part of the driver's side window where I can glance easily at it and it's close enough for me to read with no trouble.  It means the cord hangs from there across the steering wheel or my lap to the cigarette lighter plug-in, but I've learned to deal with it.  I will put in my route when I begin my trip, but I'm going to try to not rely on it except for when it helps me around congested areas.

I've decided I'm going to visit a chiropractor when I get back from NY.  I don't have time to go into it before I leave, but I realize the mild case of scoliosis I've always had is getting worse, or at least I'm noticing it more.  I wish I could go to Huntington Beach, CA and see Dr. John Bergman.  Have any readers seen this doctor, or have experience with another chiropractor?  If so I'd love comments or even private emails (my email address is right below the header picture above.  I looked at the 2015 Medicare guide and find they even cover some of the charges, and I'm sure my Blue Cross will pick up the rest, but that is if a doctor accepts Medicare in the first place.

I have an appointment with my regular doctor tomorrow morning, but I expect that to go smoothly.  For one thing I'm not taking any prescription medicines at all now and with the regular exercise I'm doing better than I would have believed.  I don't intend to have any medical tests or see any specialists.  That's not to say I don't have problems, the scoliosis being one of them, but I want someone to fix the problems and not prescribe drugs to mask them.

I haven't really started to pack, but I have gathered items I will want to pack and they are sitting in clumps around my living room and bedroom.  When did I lose my organizational skills?  It seems I still had them a couple of years ago, but they've disappeared lately.  I will need to empty out my car tomorrow because I'm having it serviced on Wednesday, and then I want to get a good car wash, after which I can start packing in earnest.  I think the kids and I will go to American River Brewery on Friday evening to raise a glass or two to my successful trip.  The tasting room is only open from about 4 to 7pm - maybe 8 on Friday nights - so we will only be there about 3 hrs.  You can bring food in, and I would like to take an appetizer tray or something like that.  Maybe I will coordinate with Donald.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

New GPS & Update

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday as I spent several hours with Autumn & Arianna while Jeannie & Donald went to a movie.  When they came back from the movie we went to the bike trail where Jeannie & I walked and the others rode their bikes.  We covered about 5 miles and I was really tired by the time I got home.  I don't think I even ate much - a sandwich was about all I could manage, and went to bed early!

This morning I went to Costco and bought a new GPS.  Yes, I just jumped through hoops getting an update to my old one to work, but it never did.  I would get a quick glimpse when I turned it on, then the screen would go blank and I might hear something from "The Voice", but then it would all go blank and quiet with a green stripe going across the bottom of the screen and a notice that maps were being loaded.  That went on over and over again.

I have the new one ready to try out and will do that in a few minutes.  It's irritating to think that I have to add all the saved addresses again.  I dislike touch screens to begin with and it will take me forever to just get my kids entered in the "Favorites".  This is my last attempt with Garmin, and I have the feeling I should have just gone straight to Magellen ($$$).

I was debating with myself on going without a GPS, but thinking of the long drive ahead of me I just don't want to be without it.  I could never get around any large and unfamiliar cities without help.  At one time I could and then I noticed that by the time I read the signs overhead I've passed the turn!  I always try to bypass the cities anyway, but there is no way to get through the midwest without driving through or around a large metropolitan area.

Half an hour ago I was ready to cry, but now I'm ready to curse!  I plug the damn thing into the cigarette lighter and the screen is so dim I can't read it.  I strained my eyes to find they wanted me to select a language.  While scrolling through the languages I must have inadvertently let my finger touch "Slovenian" and from then on everything was in Slovenian on a dimly lit display, not that I could understand a word of it.

I came inside and connected to my computer but couldn't find any help.  I called Customer Service but they don't give help on Sunday.  I went back out to the car to try again.  Glory be!  I'm seeing English here, but it's so damn dim that I can't read half of it.  Of course these things come with no instructions - just a diagram of a blue stick man to show you how to get started,  and I think I will now have to download the entire Manual (no doubt in sixteen languages) to get an answer.  I am so frustrated with technology and wonder why Garmin can't spring for a small several-page instruction on basic operation of the device, adjusting display, etc. 

At least my AAA maps are in English, and I may have to rely on them after all!  

My son, Joe, came by with his two girls, and he listened to me rant and rave about the GPS.  A little later when the girls were occupied with something else, he asked "So what is with your new GPS?"   He sat in the car and turned it on, found the Settings option and lightened the display, and also made some other changes that I wanted.  I guess the screen was so dim and my limited vision couldn't even see the Settings option or I could have changed it myself.  Thanks to Joe!  I don't know what I would do without my 4 kids who continually help me out with one thing or another.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Class B's, Teardrop Campers, Weeds, etc.

I have received several comments suggesting that I might be happy with a Class B RV.  I think I would definitely enjoy traveling in one except for the cost.  I have always thought that they are outrageously priced for what you get.  Having lived and traveled in a 5th wheel I am aware of all the things that go wrong with the appliances, which are way overpriced to begin with - the fridge for example - and there isn't much you can do but pay, and pay, and keep on paying for repairs that probably won't fix the problem for long.  So if you buy a Class B, you are getting a pretty nice van with the overpriced appliances, running the total cost way up to outrageous, and you will probably always have trouble with one appliance or system after another.  

I think that is why I would like to travel with a teardrop camper - a place to sleep comfortably, and a rear hatch that opens up to kitchen equipment such as a propane stove, cooler, even a sink if you want to be bothered with one.  There is an upgrade for just about every feature on the camper, so if you want a fridge rather than a cooler, you can have one.  For full-time living I prefer the luxury of appliances, but for camping I don't mind actually "camping" without the amenities associated with home.

But what does it matter, as I will no doubt do the same as I've been doing, although traveling in April makes me wish I had a little more options than a tent  for sleeping.  I've set up my tent in snow many times, but then I was in my mid-50's.

Joe came by with the girls yesterday afternoon, and they found snacks to eat that weren't even in my "kids' snack cabinet"!  They are so sweet and while Joe and I sat outside and talked, they ran in and out and stopped by every now and then to give me a hug and say "I love you, Grandma".  Pure heaven!

Joe removed the covering on the swamp cooler but it's doubtful I'll need it until I return from NY - which will bring me into Sacramento in unbearably warm weather.

He also helped me set up my backpacking tent, and then measured and cut the tyvek ground cover.  I'm glad he did it because he is much more careful and precise than I am now.  I used to be careful and precise, but now I've turned into my mother and the way she did such aggravating things as she aged are now the way I do them.  Just do it and get it over with! 

I just came in from spending about an hour pulling weeds and spraying those that don't pull up easily.  I've found that no matter what solution I use to get rid of the weeds, they come back before I can barely blink an eye.  Yesterday Joe suggested I order a big load of rocks and have them dumped in the driveway, and that he, Steve, and Donald can spread them over the yard.  Steve and Donald probably don't know this yet!  I think I'll do it when I get back.  

Before going out to pull weeds I spent a lot of time looking online at used Class B RV's.  They are larger than I should be driving, and not quite large enough to try to live in.  I could have lived in one full time several years ago, but not now.  I'm not even going to think any more about it, but will keep my eye open for a teardrop when the time is right for me to buy one.

What the hell is going on with Google now?  This is not the font I selected and I can't get it to change.  I wish there was a blog program that is as easy to use as blogger, but provided by a smaller company than Google.  I definitely don't think blogs are their priority,    

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Taking it easier today

I'm just not my usual get-up-and-go self this morning, so I skipped the 25 min. stretch routine I've been doing lately, which usually makes me feel terrific.  I'll still do my regular walk, but right now I'm taking it easy.

The Tyvek that I'm going to use for a ground sheet under my tent arrived this morning.  When I opened it up and saw the texture of the Tyvek I thought "Oh crap, this isn't going to work and I have 3 yds of the stuff!"   An internet search led me to an article from Backpacker magazine that recommended NOT using the house-wrap weight of tyvek for a  ground sheet, but instead the lighter and softer material used in kite making.  

Along with the tyvek came a small catalog of kite-making materials, and I didn't know this was such a big thing.  When I was a kid they were made with paper and lightweight wood strips, and your mom gave you old material scraps to make the tail.  I never really thought it was that much fun to fly a kite so I probably watched my little brothers fly theirs.

This stuff looks like woven fabric but when I tried to tear it at the corner it wouldn't budge.  Evidently it is very strong and ultra lightweight, a backpacker's dream.   I will give it some thought before I start measuring and cutting.  I hope it's waterproof, and I will test it with a scrap of leftover fabric after I cut the big piece for the tent.

The first photo shows the small pkg. the fabric came in (with my shoe next to it for size comparison), and then I opened it up part way in the next photo.  It is sort of crinkly and I hope it won't be too bad when it's laid in a single layer under the tent.  I'm not going to throw it in the washing machine to soften it up, although I may eventually have to do that.  Click on a photo to enlarge it, although there really isn't any detail in either picture worth doing a close-up!  By the way, the ground sheet is used to keep small sticks and rocks from damaging the tent bottom, as well as to prevent moisture on the bottom of the tent.

 After doing my walk at the gym and then congratulating myself by having a blueberry protein shake, I am diving into cleaning up my living room, which I've let get into a total mess!  Worst of all is the octagonal end table next to my recliner.  Some things I just have to have nearby, i.e., supply of pencils, pens, etc., but for the most part I can throw away a lot of junk that is on it.  

I came across some flash drives containing photos and was amazed at the old pictures of my 5th wheel.  It was beautiful and spacious, and really a nice living space.  I would have kept it if I had been able to do even routine maintenance, but I don't want to do it and I can't do it.  It got to the point that paying to have everything done was getting out of hand.  Also I think I was ready to expand a bit and have more "stuff" available to me.  Now that I have room for more "stuff", of course I keep things way too long and they add up to junk piles!

Would I ever go back into an RV?  I suppose if it was in good shape and affordable, and I could find a decent place to park it when I'm in Sacramento, I might do it.  But I rather doubt that all the stars will ever come together at just the right time for that to happen.  Sometimes we just have to accept the present and just move with it.  Also, I would never want to tow anything that large, and that goes for driving a Class A or even a large Class C. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trouble with Blogger

I had some trouble with the font I always use for my blog, and it still doesn't look right.  What is so difficult that Blogger messes up the font so frequently.  You can't imagine what I have to do to write this thing and keep the font consistent.  Personally I feel that Google is just too big to handle all their many programs, email, etc. 

I'm tired today and I didn't stay up all that late last night.  We had a great dinner - corned beef and cabbage of course - and Donald brought some dynamite cupcakes that I think may have had a touch of Guinness in the recipe.  Joe and Sarah showed us plans for the new pool they are having installed in a few weeks.  They also have planned the landscaping around the back yard, the grill that will be built in, etc.  It will be a gorgeous area for relaxing and entertaining.

I did my walk, went to the grocery for a few items, came home and ate lunch, and then hit the couch for a nap.  I've done a little more trip planning but it seems that I'm no where near ready, and I don't know what to do next.  I can't really start packing anything in the car until after I have the servicing done, and then I'm taking it to a good car wash.   I noticed it is covered with a light film of pollen today, which may explain why I'm coughing and sneezing.  With my front door open, I hear folks going by throughout the day doing the same coughing and sneezing and I know allergies will be getting worse by the day.

My tyvek is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so I will need to carefully measure it to the tent bottom - measure a bunch of times and cut once!  If I screw it up there is always duct tape.

Thanks to NightSky for the encouraging news that I might be able to visit the SD Badlands in April after all.  If the weather permits I would definitely like to do it, and I'll just make alternate plans in case I can't see the Badlands on the way to NY.  

I need to try to salvage something of today but it's difficult to get the motivation to do anything.   I'll try though.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Feeling ridiculous!

I drove to the library this morning, and then stopped by the gym on my way back.  I was in the gym for about half an hour and when I returned to my car I saw something leaking.  I was only half a city block from Jesse's Neighborhood Garage, probably the best and most honest mechanic there is.  

It turned out that water was leaking - condensation from the a/c.  I had left the a/c on the lowest setting and hadn't even thought about it.  I made an appointment for next Wednesday to get the vehicle checked over thoroughly for my trip.

Jesse and his wife are Vietnamese, and the thing I really like in addition to them doing excellent work, is that she is obviously an equal partner in the business.  She runs the business side but is also knowledgeable about the mechanical side, and they look at each other with obvious love and respect.  It's nice to see.

I'm still looking at the US Map to get an idea how I want to proceed from my (hopeful) stop at Dinosaur National Monument.  I would love to cross over into Canada for a little ways, but realize I will be carrying food - food for my car trip as well as a few days' backpacking food for 3 people!

Yes, there will be three of us - a reunion of the three girls who have done much traveling together, in the U.S.  as well as in Ireland.  Jeannie is flying to Philly about the middle of May to see Ara, and she will join us for a few days on the Appalachian Trail.   I am going to have such a good time - no matter how many or how few miles we cover, no matter what the weather, crowds or no crowds, etc.

Back to the trip, I think I would love to see the SD Badlands, but the weather may not cooperate in April.  I could possibly see this area on the way back, except I need to plan a route that doesn't cover too many extra miles.  I'll do the coming-back planning when it's time to come back!

I'm celebrating Patrick's Day at son Joe's house tonight.  That is what they call it in Ireland - "Patrick's Day" and certainly not "St. Patty's Day" which makes me cringe every time I see it spelled that way.  Patty is an American nickname for Patricia.  Paddy is the Irish nickname for Patrick.  If there is a St. Patricia's Day (or St. Patty's Day) then it's certainly not celebrated on March 17!

Monday, March 16, 2015


.....and all the day you'll have good luck!

I picked up a penny coming out of the gym today and of course so far today I've had good luck.  

I'm trying to get things together for my trip, so at least I'm working on it.

I pulled weeds from the back yard again today, barely making a dent in the total weed population!  Tomorrow I'm going to Home Depot and talk to someone in the garden department about what is the strongest weed killer they have.  I have always been an environmentalist, but I can't deal with the weeds that continue to grow, especially since the Park insists there can't be any weeds in the entire yard.  

I'm having a tug of war between my rational self who sees that the cost of living here and includes all utilities is way less than an apartment rental, and my indignent  and independent self who resents being treated like a child and told to do things on my individual property.  I will have to make a decision and do something soon.

I drove to Steve & Meg's house yesterday where Steve has a regular camping store in his garage.  He had set out several items I will need to take with me on my trip.  When he demonstrated hooking up and using the water filter, I said "I'll get Ara to do it".   Same thing for the tiny little backpacker's stove (that I used in all my previous backpacking with no trouble at all).  I'll get Ara to do it.  

Meg fixed a delicious dinner salad and I went back for seconds.  I also sampled some of Steve's home brew - an ale that I liked very much.  He sent me home with six 22-oz bottles and I just love opening my fridge and surveying all the craft  beer plus a supply of non-alcoholic beer.  

Liam is growing so fast and he showed me how he is learning to read (he won't be 5 until the end of August).  Their dog, Sammy - a boxer/pitbull mix has pretty much grown to his full size, and he is a really nice dog - calm, friendly, and listens very well.   He is so gentle with Liam, and often gets the worst end of their playing.  Meg takes him to the dogpark and says he gets along well with all the dogs and joins in the play easily.

The drive over to their house, while completely across and south of Sacramento, went fairly well, but there was less traffic when I returned home.  I used to drive to work in downtown Sacramento following most of that route, and had no trouble with it.  Now it just seems like another big city with freeways, exit and on ramps everywhere, and traffic switching lanes constantly.  I can't do that any more, and I know that even if I decide to take I-80 part of the way I must drive way around Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Chicago.  The weather will have the final word.

What really has me frustrated is that after all the trouble and hours I spent loading updates to my GPS, I can get it to turn on, accept where I want to go, and then the voice continues giving directions but the screen is blank.  I never could get it to work properly and think it is probably not worth any more effort.  I'm faced with the decision of getting a new GPS or just doing without.  When you get used to driving all over the country with one, it is a little scary to do without it.

Time to fix my dinner - baked wild caught Pacific salmon and vegetables.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Short post (Updated)

When I think I'll just write a short post it sometimes turns into a long epistle.   How about the title "Gypsy's Letter to the North Americans (bloggers, that is)".  Also to the New Zealanders and whomever else my blog reaches.

For some reason I've been tired today, so I'm cat napping in my recliner until it's time to go take my laundry down from the line.  I switched today to my summer sheets, folded up and put away the blanket, and exchanged the down comforter to the lighter weight one.  I even opened the bedroom window a bit.   I'll be lucky if we're not hit with a polar freeze!

I'm skipping the exercise today, except for maybe stretching a bit in the a.m. and p.m.  Can't let my joints get old and creaky.  I think I'll enjoy having a beer this evening.  It's been over a week since I've had anything but a non-alcoholic one, and it sounds like the perfect before-bed relaxation technique. 

UPDATE:  I meant to say thanks to those who gave me hints on finding a  ground sheet for my tent.  I ended up going to Amazon and ordering 3 yards of Tyvek.   I may need to use a little duct tape to get it the correct size and shape.  The tent floor is a little oddly shaped - not a perfect rectangle, and the ground sheet must be cut or folded under so that none is exposed.  Otherwise, rain could get between it and the tent bottom.  Thanks again for the suggestions and coments.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Is it Pi Day yet?

I can never remember whether Pi Day is on 3-13 or 3-14, which is probably an indication that I didn't do very well in math back in the day.  Pi has something to do with the ratio of the radius to the circumference of a circle, and is one of the basic principles of mathematics, even known back in antiquity.

I went to Costco this morning and restrained myself pretty well - I wanted to get a USB to back up some things on my computer.   I'm not very diligent about doing that - probably because I can access the internet, blogs, and emails from any computer.  But I have lots of photos which I periodically (every year or so) back up to a USB drive, plus my genealogy database.  Now if I lost that I'd be finished with genealogy.  So I got a high capacity device and have my iPhotos, iTunes, and genealogy files backed up to March 13, 2015!   My computer sometimes makes a lot of noise, and sometimes it is very quiet, and I just don't know how long it will last.  I don't feel like going back over to the Apple Store with all the sitting around and waiting for someone to tell me what's wrong with it.   

Don't ask me where I am going to store them, but I bought a 28 piece set of Glad plastic storage dishes and lids, of varying sizes.   I don't know what happens to refrigerator dishes as they keep disappearing one by one, until I'm covering bowls with saran or foil wraps.  That would probably be the best bet, but I came of age during the Tupperware boom - in fact I still have a piece or two of T'ware.   It was the best  ever made in my opinion.  I remember having a Tupperware party and invited my neighbors - one woman told me in no uncertain whining terms that she could use an empty margarine container and it was just as good.  A real Tupperware user knows better, and Glad storage containers are almost down in the category of margarine tubs.   My daughter is more classy than I am and she has glass storage bowls with airtight plastic lids rather than all plastic.  In fact, I have a couple of nice glass bowls in my cabinet that I don't know where they came from.  I should return them to her one of these days now that I have such a supply of containers on hand.

I walked the length of Home Depot looking for Tyvek (the crinkly papery-looking product they wrap a house in before finishing the outside walls.  I just want to buy a scrap to fit under my tent; it is so lightweight and makes the perfect groundsheet although some people wash it to get rid of the crinkly sound.  Personally, I go to sleep the minute I hit the sleeping bag, and have never heard a crinkly sound from the Tyvek.   I used it when backpacking the Appalachian Trail in 1997.   Maybe I should look on Craigslist, although they have given C/L a new look and I don't like it nearly as much as I did the old look.   When you get used to something, and I assume I'm not the only one that was used to it, what is the point of changing the colors, location of options to click on, etc, etc.

I have an appointment to see my Dr. on the 24th, and he had asked me to monitor my blood pressure and write it all down to bring it to the appointment.  Of course my B/P has been darned near perfect since then, and I'm really getting tired of using the B/P monitor - I'll be glad to never look at the thing again.  I realize that it is my impatience that made the pressure look so high - I find it difficult to sit down and relax a minute or two before taking it.  Makes a big difference!  (I wonder if I should mention it to the Dr. or let him diagnose that I'm OK!)

I continue to feel great - better than I have for years - at least most of the time.  It's kind of scary when things go so well for an extended time - you begin to wonder when the ball is going to drop and hit you on the head!  I think I can say exactly why it is that I am feeling better each day - exercise!   Any exercise is better for you than sitting in a chair.  I don't work out with the intensity I did to begin with, and I'm slowing my walk back down to 3.5 mph; I've added some stretching to my routine, and can see a big difference.  Now if I could find a chiropractor who can help me lessen the effects of scoliosis I'll be flying high!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Computer Fix?

I finally found the Apple Store this morning by the time of my appointment.  They had moved downstairs to the first level and then over a few sections.  I finally asked one of the cleaning personnel and found the right place.

I waited and waited, and after what seemed to be a long time, but really wasn't, a tech took my computer to the back room.  When he brought it back and powered it up he said they ran several diagnostic tests which didn't show a problem with the fan among other things, so they did a different kind of re-boot of the system and it seemed to work.

When I arrived home I powered it up and heard the noises for a minute or so, and now they've stopped.  I just hope the computer holds out until I get to NY and maybe get some advice from Mike.  I can't afford a new Macbook right now and the thought of going back to a Microsoft operating system is not to my liking at all.

Here is a nice picture of an old geezer dog - notice the hat.  (Click on photo to enlarge it.)

I am no closer to the planning stage for my trip than I was a week ago, well, maybe a tiny bit closer but not much and nothing in the past few days.   I'm stressing over having to pull the weeds before I leave (Park Police start inspections on or about April 1, and this time they are starting with the high numbers and working their way downward.  I'm at the lower 1/4, which means they will probably inspect my lot in May or June, and of course the weeds will have grown back, and to say nothing of the wind blowing dust, leaves and all kinds of crap right into my driveway.   I seem to get the worst of the "wind tunnel" effect, and can't keep my windows clean or anything in the driveway.   

I'm not deciding anything for sure now, but I believe I will try to get rid of this place when I get back.  It's a shame because I feel totally private and safe here even though I have people all around me, and even though I never know what is over the back fence.  It's a shame because this is a perfect location for me at this stage of my life - close to everything I need and want.  There is just no good answer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So tired today

I may have overdone the exercise routine yesterday and I feel l've been beaten with a stick!  Or maybe it's the time change.   Setting my clock ahead this year hasn't been so bad since my internal clock was already messed up due to travel to the Midwest.

I woke up to what sounded like rain this morning, but thought nah, that isn't happening.  Well it was, and we had a light rain all morning.  The streets are dry now but the skies will be cloudy all day.  I'm cold and wrapped up in a fleece throw.

I can't think straight this afternoon, so I will leave you with something I read that you may (or may not) enjoy:

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

I hope I have more to say tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My computer

In the last week I have noticed that I hear a fast clicking sound when I turn on my computer, so I called the Apple Store to make an appointment.  Except that like every other thing you want to do, you can't talk to a live person - you do it online.  Thursday morning I will be taking my Mac in to the store and hope it is an easy and inexpensive fix.  If it is a costly one, then I may just do without a laptop until I save the money for a new Macbook Pro.  At home I can always use my I-Mac except it is so tedious to get the cursor across the entire screen which is about 23" diagonally.

I added the updates that are available (except for the new Yosemite operating system).  I looked at the details of the new system and the screen turned me off right away, so forget that.  A page of available games appeared on my screen and I know any readers who are farmers would be amused - there is one called "Farming Simulation", which I guess is a way to be a farmer without having to get up before dawn, or go out in the cold, or ride a tractor, or doctor sick animals, or worry about rain or shine or yields.  I'm not a farmer myself, but have spent time on my grandparents' farm as a kid, and while I loved it I really didn't have to do any of the dirty work!

I did get up before dawn though to help with the milking.  They gave me my own cow to milk and more milk ended up on my legs than in the pail.  Of course this was before machines did the work, and I think if I had a milk cow today I would do it the old-fashioned way!

I figured out a good possible route to Dinosaur National Monument, taking me on a route past some free BLM campgrounds.  If they aren't to my satisfaction or if the weather is bad, there are motels not too far in case I have to stay at one.

I've printed out some good info for the first part of the trip, and as they say, it's written in jello.  I have so many things to do before I even start to pack.  I'm writing them down as I think of them, but unfortunately I don't have the list handy when something else comes to mind, so I write it on a new piece of paper, and thus I have 4 or 5 lists floating around!

Can I get organized in the next 2 or 3 weeks?   I'm not sure. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Below par today

I don't know if I've picked up a bug somewhere but I'm not feeling so well today.  It didn't stop me from my walk at the gym, but I was sure glad when I got to the end of it and headed home.  Now I'm not sure whether to eat lunch or not!

I've started looking at maps, but this time I think I won't try to plan the whole thing out in advance, especially since most plans are tossed aside for spontaneous travel routes.   I want to see Dinosaur National Monument which is located in Utah-Colorado.  The website says Utah for looking at fossils, and Colorado for spectacular scenery.  I'm going for the dinosaurs and if I see some great scenery that will be even better.

Depending on the weather at the time, I'd prefer to take US-50 (the loneliest road in America) rather than I-80, but I'm ok with either one - I just don't want to have to drive through Reno.   

I'm also considering buying a few rolls of film for picture taking, at least in some places.  When I look over my photos for the past few decades I think the ones taken with film are by far the best, especially for color and composition.  I don't have the patience to fool with enhancements, etc., so what you see is what you get.  I'll still have two digital cameras with me though.  Now to find a place that sells film!  I'll fit right in at Dinosaur National Monument, won't I.  

I went shopping at Costco and Target yesterday with Jeannie & family.  It's always a pleasant trip and I miss it when I'm away.  I think Jeannie and I both got away with a lot less than either one of us normally spends at Costco.

I notice I have a lot of programs that I recorded when I was in Milwaukee, plus a few from earlier that I never got around to watching.  I need to either watch them or delete them in the next couple of weeks so I have space for the series I record.  I rarely watch entertainment shows but I do like some of the science and history programs - some, but not all.  I've about had it with WW II documentaries.  Every time I see the face of Hitler I want to gag.

I heard something amusing on the radio as I was leaving the gym today.  I didn't catch the name of the woman they were talking about, but said she has "one million friends on Facebook".  What would it be like to have one million "friends", I wonder.  You would spend weeks or maybe even months just reading a list of their names!   I didn't think it would ever get to the point that people would actually take it seriously.   Something is missing in life when it matters how many friends you have on F.B.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another "Donald" cake

While I was in Milwaukee my son, Steve, turned 40.  Donald made the cake which depicts a mountain with the big events and mileposts on the way up the mountain.

Donald explained what each of the signs indicated, but of course I've forgotten.  (Click to enlarge the pictures.)

I went out today wearing a light jacket, but now at 75 degrees it is warm and I have my front door open.

While I was in Milwaukee my son, Mike, turned 44.  I took two birthday presents so each of his sons could open one.  

No more of my kids' birthdays now until November, but of course I have quite a few grandkids along the way so there is always a birthday celebration coming up.

I had no trouble getting up with the DST this morning - I'm still waffling between Central and Pacific time anyway.  

Thanks to Becki who suggested I find a website that gives info on farmers' markets along my travel route.  Great idea!

I've rambled on enough for today - hope to be back tomorrow!