Another Bump in the Road

The very best plans are made to change.  Here I am still in Washington, D.C. waiting for parts from Jackson Center, OH.  Apparently Airstream manufactures many parts as needed, not stored in a warehouse.  I am told it will take 4-6 weeks for the parts to be made.  So, I will travel on Tuesday to Chapel Hill, NC for Thanksgiving with family, and return to Virginia when the parts have been received.  Not what I had initially planned but the joy of retirement is no schedule.  Fortunately, good friend Sylvia will ride along, we call it our Thelma and Louise road trip.

Here is more about the history America’s iconic travel trailer, the Airstream. 

Airstream’s creator was Wally Byam a graduate of Stanford and avid traveler, Wally began building his own trailers in his backyard. Wally’s dream was to build a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car, and create first-class accommodations anywhere. During World War II, Wally suspended building trailers, and worked at Curtiss-Wright aircraft manufacturer and learned about factory production and aircraft design.  Over the next 80 years putting experience plus millions of miles on roads the Airstream continues to evolve built with aerodynamic design and with no planned obsolescence. 

The Torpedo Car Cruiser, was the first factory-produced trailer designed to towed by a car.  In the early 50’s, Airstream moved its operation from California, to Jackson Center, Ohio with the help of  Wally’s lifetime friend and financier Neil Vanderbilt, who served on Airstream’s board of directors.   Wally died in 1962, but the production of Airstreams continues to this day.  In 2006, 65% of the Airstreams built since Wally Byam’s first trailer were still on the road.  The newest model is the Basecamp, which looks like Wally’s original small trailer.  
Airstream produces a limited number of trailers each year, and they hold their value.  
An Airstream is an investment.  At least that is what I am hoping for.

We’ll Follow the Sun

It has turned cold in Washington, D.C. and I am so very ready to head south for the winter. There are more leaves on the ground then on the branches.  Hopefully, Scout II will have the necessary repairs done this coming week, so Maggie and I can hit the road.   I have very little in the way of winter clothing, and I certainly don’t want to buy turtle necks and sweaters. 

Our delayed departure and colder temperatures are making changes to our travel plans.   After Thanksgiving we will head south to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or farther south.   I hope the weather in early December allows me to play some golf.  Our goal is not to be in weather below 55 degrees anywhere this winter.

The beauty of an RV is you can adjust your travels to follow the sun, and avoid rain and cold (regardless of a very nice heater in the Airstream).  That’s exactly what we will be doing this winter, following the sun. 

Counter top and drawers!

All the while getting comfortable with new Scout, more space and new features of a solar panel on the roof, and a backup camera on the rear.

I also need to install a truck bed cover for the new Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, so I can hide my golf clubs and pull cart, which will give Maggie more room in her new back seat.

The solar panel offers longer battery power.  However, we try to stay in places with electric and water hook-up.  I enjoy the comradery of a campground, rather than the isolation of “boondocking”, which is the term for camping out in the boonies; on public lands in the middle of nowhere, without water or electric, and no port-a-potty in sight. 

I did lot’s of remote camping in Alaska.

Nellie Martin US Forest Service Cabin

Beach at Patton Bay, Alask

Years ago, I spent an August week alone on Montague Island in Prince William Sound, walking the 2 miles of beach and catching silver salmon on a fly rod.  Flying from Anchorage in my stepfather’s Cessna 172 and landing on the beach.  My pals Barbara and Howard were suppose to come with me, but Howard broke his ankle playing softball the week before.  It was an amazing week of sunshine and unusually warm weather.  At week’s end I looked like I had spent a week in Hawaii, and not on a beach in Alaska.

Later I cooked at a fishing lodge on the Yetna River for the month of July during the king salmon run.  It was an unusual vacation waking at 5 a.m. to cook breakfast and get the fishermen out on the river, making lunches for the guides to take along, and cooking dinner at 10 p.m. after the fishing had closed.  I was alone at the lodge with 3 dogs during the day and enjoyed the solitude.   I was never armed with any guns.  While I saw bears in the distance, I was fortunate to never have a close encounter on Montague or the Ketna.

Needless to say I gave up tent camping after my 20’s.  I prefer a cabin, lodge and now an Airstream.



The Dead Tell the Best Stories

When traveling many people enjoy visiting local museums, we on the other hand visit local dog parks.  Dog parks are the first place we look for when arriving at a new destination. There is an app for everything, and BringFido is great for locating dog friendly places, including restaurants and hotels, in addition to dog parks.

In Washington, D.C. our favorite dog park is Congressional Cemetery, located at E Street and Potomac Ave, SE. The Cemetery is 35 fenced acres for dogs to run off leash and visit the over 67,000 residents.  The first burial was  in 1807.  Notable residents are J. Edgar Hoover, John Philip Sousa, the 21 bodies of woman who perished at the Arsenal Gate Ammunition explosion of 1864.  Former Mayor Marion Berry took up residence a few years ago, and burials continue to this day.

Neighbors who had been bringing their dogs to the cemetery for years formed the K-9 Corps in 2007 with a board of directors andmembership fees. The revenue from the K-9 Corps brings in a third of the overall budget for the Cemetery, and dog owners are encouraged to volunteer at the many dog and non-dog events throughout the year.  I volunteered at the annual Day of the Dog, and in 2015 was a ticket taker for the goats that came to eat the poison oak and other invasive brush on the other side of the fence.  You wouldn’t believe the crowds of parents and kids that came to see the kid goats.  The cemetery goats got great press from the Washington Post, CNN and NPR.  

Summer months the cemetery offers free tours on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.  Liz Ruskin has created an amazing walking tour, so bring your headphones and take the IZI tour, The Dead Tell the Best Stories.

Maggie, BBF Lola, and I love the cemetery.  We try to go everyday when we are visiting our former home, Washington, D.C.  I hope you visit when you come to D.C., even if you don’t have a dog.

Washington, D.C.

Today it was 70 degrees and felt like summer.  I arrived in Washington, D.C. in the spring on 1999, and fell in love.  This is a beautiful city.  The neighborhoods, the trees, the monuments.  The very best thing is walking.  I had hoped to live here for the rest of my life, certainly in retirement.  But that didn’t work out.  So, it is ironic that I now find myself driving an Airstream, rather than spending my days walking.  In D.C. cars are a pain, and unnecessary.  There is METRO, Smart Cars, City Bikes, Taxis, UBER and your feet.

New METRO cars are clean and have digital displays.

I am here visiting friends while new Scout is getting repaired.  On our maiden voyage, we had a little run-in with a yellow post.  I only hit inanimate objects, parking garage posts, and cement posts protecting gas pumps.  I drove thousands of miles without hitting anything, but my first trip in Scout II, I cut a corner too short and hit a yellow gas station post.  I didn’t even need to buy gas!  I feel stupid, stupid, stupid.  Oh Well.

Best to have a collision as soon as you buy a new car, or in my case Airstream, get the pain and embarrassment over with.  I owned 2 Ford Explorers, and both experienced an encounter with a parking garage post in the first month of ownership.  My sister Robin backed into a stone wall the first weekend she had her new car, we were talking and not paying attention to the back-up camera or beeping.

But that is history.  I have quit kicking myself at my own stupidity, and I am going to enjoy my visit.   Daily trips to Congressional Cemetery with Maggie and Lola, lunches, dinner and drinks with friends.  Hanging out with Liz and Lola, while Tim is attending flight training in New Hampshire.

But, I am anxious to get on the road south.  I want to return to warm weather and sandy beaches.  My winter travel plans are to hang out in North Carolina until Thanksgiving.  Then south to Florida.  I had hoped to go to the Florida Keys, but hurricanes altered that plan.  I will travel to Stuart, follow along with Michelle and Duane as they cruise the inland water way to the Gulf of Mexico and then stay along the Gulf until April.

Alaskan friends are joining me for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival the last weekend in April.   Anyone else planning on Jazz Fest in 2018?

Carol, Joyce and Lisa FAREWELL

Saturday we said goodbye to Carol Golubock, a tenacious, beautiful fighter, wife and mother.  Carol died too soon.  I met Carol shortly after going to work at SEIU in 1999.  SEIU was working to pass needle-stick legislation, and Carol was working with my colleague Madeleine Golde.  Nurses and other health care workers were dying because they were contracting AIDS and other deadly diseases, because of accidentally needle sticks.  Only the cost of a postage stamp, hospitals didn’t want to spend the extra money or be mandated use safe sharps.  They would rather risk the lives of their workers.

Carol was brilliant because she would find a way to use existing law, regulations, ordinances or codes to organize and gain collective bargaining for low wage workers, or ensure worker protection, as in the case of needle stick.  Madeleine and I loved working with Carol.

Carol also was an architect of creating public agencies for home health care aides so SEIU and other unions could negotiate better wages for low wage workers.  Carol changed the lives of thousands, possibly millions of workers. A few years later she designed models to organize childcare workers, again to raise their wages and improve their lives.  Those workers never knew or even heard of Carol, but she knew them.  She spent her work life fighting for invisible workers (home care workers, childcare workers, healthcare) who care for our parents, children and disabled individuals, but made less than minimum wages, have no healthcare insurance, or their own or retirement.  Carol climbed mountains, and rode her bike to work everyday regardless of weather.  She was a super woman in spandex.

Home care workers, the individuals who help the elderly and disabled live in their own homes, can work around the clock.  There is no 8-hour day, no overtime, no worker’s compensation should they hurt themselves; they worked for pennies.

But they had Carol Golubock on their side.  She never sought the lime light or even took credit for all her amazing work.  You had to love Carol for her commitment, compassion, and infectious smile.  She always made time to chat, and help work through problems.  I am not a lawyer, but have worked with many.  Carol was the very best kind of lawyer, because she loved to bend and shape the law, to help workers both union members and non-members.

So, when Carol retired to sail with her loving husband Arthur we all cheered her well-deserved retirement.  But it was short.  Carol suffered some weakness and dizziness and was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She fought like hell to survive and see her daughters Beccah and Sarah married and begin their own adult lives, but Carol lost her battle this month.

We gathered at SEIU and told stories, gave tribute and celebrated Carol’s life.  Only the good die young.

This past year Joyce Moscato  also lost her battle to ovarian cancer.  Joyce worked at SEIU organizing health care workers.  Joyce dedicated her life to improving the lives of workers.  Her obituary read, “ Joyce Moscato, an innovative strategist who pioneered new ways for working Americans to organize and advocate for better jobs and stronger communities, died on January 17, 2017 in Herndon, VA. She was 60″.

But her own life was not easy.  After a longtime relationship with a colleague, he dumped her after cheating with another younger co-worker.  Joyce was devastated and questioned her ability (or sanity) to keep working at SEIU.  We spent a sunny afternoon on a Dupont Circle park bench talking about career options.  Joyce stayed at SEIU, and would later fall in love with a good man.  Fortunately, Captain Dave was not in the labor movement.  He wasn’t one of the many union men who slept with their co-workers or even worse union members.  Joyce and Dave sailed off into the sunset together.   But Joyce was diagnosed with cancer and lost her battle.  Again, I loving woman’s life cut too short.

Lisa Codispoti also worked at SEIU and we became friends.  Lisa and her husband Shawn visited me at sister Robin’s Long Island house one August.  Lisa and I walked door-to-door on political campaigns and our offices were directly across from each other on the 8th floor.  We were often the last people on the floor after 7 p.m.  The night Lisa cleaned out her office to leave SEIU for a better job at the National Women’s Law Center, I listened to her sobbing as she packed her boxes.  Lisa loved SEIU.  Not the craziness.  But the workers, we all loved the members, because we were making a difference in people’s lives.  Lisa suffered from a chronic auto-immune disease, although you would never have known by looking at her.  Bright and beautiful, with a fantastic sense of humor.  Lisa died suddenly, and I miss her and think of her often, especially when I am on Long Island where Lisa grew up.

So my friends Carol, Joyce and Lisa, I am thinking of you when I sing:

May the works I’ve done speak for me.
May the works I’ve done speak for me.
When I’m resting in my grave,
There’s nothing more to be said;
May the works I’ve done
Let it speak for me.

These amazing woman are with me in my travels, and remind me everyday live, love and laugh.