Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Awk! Enough!

I can't continue saying great, beautiful, fantastic, fun, fabulous, awesome, or glorious!    I'm pretty sick of walking on the beach, playing with Benton, or loving the ocean, sentences too.  You get the point.   I'm sparing you! and me!   I'm going wordless.  

"Damn sweet!"


"The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech."

~ Clifton Fadiman

Tree House on Wheels.

At the Humboldt State Park Visitor Center we were enthralled with this 1917 camper van, the world's first RV, carved out of a 22 foot section of a fallen redwood.  The van, named Travel Log, was conceived of and built by, Charles Kellogg, a redwood preservation enthusiast and life member of the Save the Redwoods League. 

Save the Redwoods League is still hard at work saving these majestic trees.   Back in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods the redwoods covered much of the world's northern hemisphere.  Fossils have been found in Alaska, Siberia and Greenland.  Redwoods are among the oldest living things on earth, known to live over 2000 years, reaching 350' or more in height with 20 foot diameters at the base.  Interestingly, they have shallow roots, only about 6 feet  deep, but with 100 feet, or more, spread.  The roots tangle and bond with one another making one very close knit family.


 “ …. At the present rate of destruction there will not be a single stand of redwood in the whole state [of California] within 100 years.” 

 ~ Charles Kellogg, 1910

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Playing on the Dunes


Life is a song - sing it.  Life is a game - play it.  Life is a challenge - meet it.
Life is a dream - realize it.  Life is a sacrifice - offer it.  Life is love - enjoy it.

~ Sai Baba

Great California Oak

California has too much growth, too much sprawl, too many people, too many cars, too many budget problems, too many wild fires, and their politics are too weird, but love is alive with

a landscape
 and an oak tree
 rock outcroppings
and whiffs of clouds in a blue, blue sky
 tawny grasses on rolling hills
warm  air
and dry summer fragrances


"Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence."

~ Hal Borland, Countryman: A Summary of Belief

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tales of Travel

It is amazing what can be found when one goes digging.  My topic of late is adventure, and look at what I just found.  A couple of articles about The Zapps 2011 and The Zapps 2013 and their car, Grandpa.  Grandpa has a more formal name, but Grandpa makes me smile so it's the one I will use.  Grandpa is a 1928 Graham-Paige vintage car and he has taken this family of six to 40 countries in 13 years.  The adventure began with two but now there are six.  Four children were born on the road, each  in a different country -- U.S., Argentina, Canada, and Australia.  

Latest word from the Zapps:   no stopping yet.

Adventure, defined as a major life undertaking, certainly fits the Zapp family.   As Ed and I prepare for our own adventure we are wildly curious about other adventure travelers and can't seem to get enough of their tales of travel.  We are grasping the knack of how to design our own adventure from following theirs.

We have learned that nothing can stop us if we stay devoted to our dream.  We've also learned that we must trust and value the people who believe in us, staying motivated by telling everyone about what we're planning to do and banish all nay-sayers.  From my experience, I'd say we must especially banish the nay-sayers.  There are so many concerns for us.  "Where will you get your mail?"  "You're not going to leave your beautiful home, are you?"  "How will you pay your bills?"  "Won't you miss your family and friends?" "You're kinda old for this."  "What if you have health problems?"  and on and on…

Yep, all of these questions are issues, some could even become insurmountable, but  right now they aren't.   We might break down and have a horrible experience waiting for repairs.  Or we might break down and meet charming folks who help us through the ordeal, sealing a new friendship.  As far as being too old, yep, we're getting up there but next year we'll be even older.  This can't wait.  We will miss our family and friends, naturally! but we'll  be in close touch.  It is the age of the computer.  On Facebook you won't know if we're down the street or in another country.

Our wandering vagabond life has been set in motion.  Awk, I just noticed another definition for vagabond is leading an unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable life.  Hum, I guess there is reason for worry.


"The only question in life is whether or not you are going to answer a hearty 'YES!' to your adventure."

~ Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coup de grace

We want to own our things rather than have them own us.   Through the years we've been relentless in throwing out, recycling or giving away things we no longer want or use  We intentionally set goals to stay on course.   Thistle, a Class B van, 18.5 feet long, will become our full-time home and a metaphor for our lives.   Thistle will provide the conduit for staying true to our values.  Too many things will interfere with our lives.

With that in mind, our galley 's tools became critical as we wanted to eat well but with ease.  Our biggest coup de grace was tossing the microwave.  Off with it's head!  Filling the empty space is a Vitamix allowing us daily smoothies.  Some of our friends and family looked askance at our action, but we stood our ground, and on this first trial run we were overjoyed with our decision.

Fran with smoothie at Cooks Chasm


Ed with smoothie at Cooks Chasm


"He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing."


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cat by the Tail

Sometimes you meet an adventure that simply knocks your socks off.  Here we are setting out in a van, with many of the comforts of home, to see North American,  and we call it an adventure.  Then we come upon Gunther, Christine and Otto's adventure, a trip to see the world.

Christine, Gunther & Otto

Their Mercedes G-wagen, built like a tank and just as tough, is a pretty simple travel vehicle when it comes to accommodations.  Head, I don't think so.  Galley, no.  Cabinets, nope.  Compared to our fancy Mercedes Westfalia, their G-wagen is rugged as an mule, but missing the luxury of space or home comforts.  
"We did all the travel successfully and peacefully because you must imagine that you live 24 hours like conjoined twins -- there is no way that my wife could say, 'Well I will stay in the kitchen for the next hour,' or that I could say, 'I will be in the garden out there reading a book.'  You know you are bound to stay together, and that's 24 hours, seven days a week and 30 days a month."   ~ Gunther Holtorf 

No hotels or restaurants.  All cooking and sleeping aboard.

These four young people are having an adventure too. With bicycles and panniers they left Saskatchewan and are headed for the southern tip of Baja.  We met up with them in Northern Oregon so they have a lot of pedaling left to do.  But, even after a night of rain, they were cheerful and ready to roll another day.

Cape Lookout State Park, OR

Naturally I can't write about adventures without mentioning our son, Brad, who in late 2011 set out to hike the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand to be followed by the Pacific Crest Trail in the U.S.   What he added, but hadn't planned, because after so many steps he wanted to reach the 5,000 mile mark,  was the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.  No wheels, just a pack, one year, 5000 miles and lots and lots of determination.  

"Another day of wet feet on the Te Araroa Trail."  ~ Brad Hankins
Te Araroa Trail, NZ

I admire the people who engage in these grit-filled adventures.  In our own way, it's what Ed and I plan to do in Thistle.  We'll find our own trials and tribulations and we'll find our own delights and pleasures.   Our mode of transportation is luxurious compared to biking or back packing or driving the G-wagen, but it's not without its challenges.  Having just finished almost four weeks of travel, we understand better some of the trials, such as living 24 hours like conjoined twins or another day of wet feet, and we prepare ourselves, as best we can,  for the good, the bad and the ugly.  


"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

~ Mark Twain

Monday, October 20, 2014

Travel Discoveries

After leaving the tall majestic redwoods of Northern Californria the scenery changed dramatically as we headed southeast to Clear Lake.  In a shunpiking adventure we failed in our search to find a remote camp ground in the Mendocino National Forest.  Defeated, with darkness approaching, we headed for Clear Lake State Park.  The late hour and ugliness of Clear Lake's sprawl was making us grumpy, but finally, after a bewilderment of blinking lights,  construction signs, wrong turns and frustrating mixups, we found the park.  Did I mention poor signage?

We awoke the next morning in a stunningly beautiful spot that we'd only had hints of  the night before. A spot equal in beauty to the redwoods but with such a contrast it was difficult to comprehend.  This camp was an oak savanna where the trees excelled in breadth rather than height.  Our mood, in complete opposite from the previous night, was now one of delight.  Our morning was spent walking and exploring in an almost empty camp ground.  The weather was perfect, as were our moods, as we broke camp and set out for Bullard's Bar near Orville.

Bullard's Bar, a lake where we once spent a weekend with my mom on a patio boat, despite her being confined to a wheel chair, seemed like a good destination not far off our route to Auburn.  Once there it felt strange to be back now that mom's no longer alive.  She and my stepdad, Martin, selected this remote and isolated place to live after my mom became sick.  It was hard to understand why they'd made the move at the time.  Now, without seeing my mom struggle in her isolation and pain, I could finally see the beauty and understand why they'd chosen this spot.

We camped at Schoolhouse Camp Ground, not far from Bullard's Bar, and walked the Schoolhouse Trail the next morning to the lake.  We are beginning to develop a travel schedule of sorts.  One of the routines settling in is a long walk each morning to see the sights.  

The draught in California is evident everywhere.   This lake, as with most California lakes, is showing almost more dirt at the edges than water.

Bullard's Bar - CA draught

Bullard's Bar
Moorage behind the Bullard's Bar dam feels like it's down  a mine shaft.
 With the water level so low the boat ramp was totally unusable. 

We met a delightful woman on our walk this morning.  She had relocated to this area from the Oregon Coast.  Benton romped with her dog and we had a engaging conversation, tiptoeing into a political conversation to discover we were like-minded.  Very conservative politics dominates much of rural California making this encounter unusual and gratifying.

Later today we will arrive in Auburn where we will stay for several days to attend my 55th class reunion.  I'm loving the anticipation.  It's strange traveling back in time and thinking about the choices made.  The what if's and thank goodness not that's, are flowing through my head.  A number of classmates have died and the whereabout of others unknown.  Some are ill and will not make it to this reunion, or the next.  What a strange time of life, having the end so close at hand, yet, concurrently,  having such enthusiasm for yet another adventure and perhaps another and another.  Thistle will carry us to unfamiliar places to meet new people, see new sights and uncover new thoughts.  We will venture out to discover… What?  Ourselves?


"Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection."

~Lawrence Durrell

Beach Joy!

Ed and I have driven along the coast from Washington, through Oregon, and as far south as San Francisco numerous times over the years, but we always crave more.  So many beaches to walk, so many trails to hike, so many views to see, so many huge trees to exclaim over, so many sand dunes to explore.

Late September, we left Whidbey Island by way of Pt. Townsend, taking our time, stopping here-and-there, and then, after not many miles, camping at Seal Rock National Park on Hood Canal.  A sweet little camp with only a hand full of campers, perhaps because of the heavy rain.  Morning brought sunshsine that stayed with us most of the way down the coast. 

Poking down the coast we spent three nights in Oregon -- Nehalen Bay, South Beach and Harris Beach State Parks, before dropping into California. One of my dreams for years has been to walk the Oregon Coast from one end to the other.  It is still a dream, but somehow it now seems even more possible. An entire summer in Oregon hiking and biking the coast sound pretty grand!

We have had terrific weather except for rain our first night on Hood Canal and a second day we'd planned spending on the sand dunes.  It was windy and rainy and completely unsuitable for walking in the dunes.  We kept driving.

Walking the sandy beaches in Oregon delights us all, but especially Benton.  He swirls with happiness, running, running, running with joy radiating from his entire body.

Tonight we are staying at a state park in the Humboldt Redwoods.  Believe me, seeing one redwood is not seeing them all.  The majesty of these trees takes one's breath away.


"A tree is a tree.  How many more do you have to look at?"

~Ronald Reagon

Friday, October 10, 2014

Down and out bumfuzzled!

I have been unable to figure out how to download photographs from my iPad to my blog, even with my niece's help.   The photos have been loaded onto Google+, thinking it is the new Picasa, but there is more to it than that, and it's beyond me at this point.  Or, perhaps it's beyond Google+.  Who knows.  As a result I'm not posting until I get home and have the use of a "real" computer. 


" A TV can insult your intelligence, but nothing rubs it in like a computer."

- Author unknown