I NEED A CO-PILOT

GPS is no co-pilot.  Especially, the system in my 2010 Prius, which Toyota no longer supports.  Several weeks ago, I ended up in a neighborhood instead of a general aviation airport where my friends Tim and Liz had landed.  Yesterday, the QUICK option from NJ to Long Island took a short-cut through Flushing, Highland Park and Flatbush!  Exiting from the Long Island Expressway onto surface streets.  What was my GPS thinking?  There was a moment on the first block sitting at a red light, I thought turn around, go back!  Instead of QUICK this route should have been called SCENIC.

I love maps.  Maps show where you are in context.  You can see the big picture.  GPS displays a route.

Driving through Brooklyn on a cool summer Saturday evening is a wonderful view of New York diversity.  The exit took me right into Koreatown, then the neighborhood changed to Hasidic Jews, and with each block more multi-cultural people on the stoops, Black, Hispanic, Muslim, young and old.  On a day where the news media was full of covering the sad events in Charlottesville, VA. Where hate and racism is on display.  New York City, Brooklyn and Queens are uplifting because people of all nations are living together and enjoying a beautiful summer evening together.

While it took me an extra hour to get back onto Route 27 and my temporary home in Westhampton, my GPS was reminding me about what is right in this country, not what is terribly wrong.

Montauk vs. Indian Island

There is nothing better than a public course with a great view.  Indian Island Country Club Golf Course, Riverhead, NY is one of my favorites.  Only 20 minutes from my sister’s house in Westhampton, NY.  Don’t let Country Club in the name fool you, this is a public course.  Suffolk County residents get a great rate with a Green Key Card, $26 resident and $44 non-resident.  The front 9 runs along Peconic River offering beautiful water views of boats and swans.  Indian Island is a great course to walk.  Forward tees are 5445, slope71.3, and rating 118.  The Outer Banks Restaurant has some of the very best bar food in the area, including a great hamburger.  On Tuesdays you get a free draft beer with purchase of a burger.  Yum!

Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course is certainly more famous as Long Island public courses go, but the price isn’t worth the drive.  $91 plus $20 for cart, I just don’t think it is worth the price.  The course is not exceptional, and certainly not worth the money.  It is a long course for woman 5797 yardage, slope 132 and rating 74.2.  The Regulation yardage is 6289, slope 130, rating 71.2.

I’ll stick with playing Indian Island.  I love the walk spoiled.

I Admire You

“I admire you” the grandmother said to me while drying my hair in the bathroom of the KOA San Luis Obispo, CA.  As a single woman in a RV, I get some attention in campgrounds.   The Airstream helps.  Certainly, there are more men than woman out there enjoying the road, but I am not alone as a single woman.  And there are hundreds of websites, YouTube videos and blogs for full-time RVers.   I told the grandmother, I couldn’t wait around to find a man to do it with me, not for lack of trying.

My favorite site is of course AllStays, which lists all campgrounds, Walmart’s, propane stations and dump sites.  DoItYourselfRV offers tips on how-to, and other interesting stories of RVers.  Today there was a list of celebrates that own RVs.  Matthew McConaughey has a vintage Airstream in Malibu, and Jeff Daniels drives a Gulf Stream Tour Master in Upper Michigan in the winter.  According to Daniels, “You aren’t a real American if you have never been behind the wheel of an RV”.

When asked where I live, and I say an Airstream, the most often response is, “that is my dream”. 

 “Baby boomers” retiring, moving into RVs and seeing the country.  We were the first generation to travel in trailers, so going back to camping in retirement seems the perfect way to complete the circle of life.

3 tips: 1) You don’t need all that stuff – clutter doesn’t work in an RV; 2) It takes longer than you planned – stuff happens that you weren’t expecting; and, 3) Don’t drive more than 200 miles in a day – driving is exhausting when you are towing a trailer.   The fear of a flat tire or even worse a blow out, not to mention crazy or inconsiderate drivers.  Merge is a foreign concept.

What is the hardest thing, or the thing I hadn’t expected?  Loneliness – although expected.  My solidarity nature is a benefit.  Also, I prefer urban life to wilderness.  My idea of a hike is walking 18 holes of golf.  So, finding a nice coffee shop or sidewalk cafe to watch people and write or read, is a regular activity and provides social interaction to ward off loneliness.  But hanging out in a campground under trees or on a beach is a wonderful way to enjoy the day.  People in campgrounds are exceedingly friendly and helpful.  Especially when backing into a campsite.

Another interesting blog is Workers on Wheels, where jobs are posted in campgrounds.  This month there is an ad for workers to come to Wyoming RV park for short-term help — a couple of weeks — to help with their solar eclipse events in mid-August.  Someday I might work as a campground host when I want to stay put for several months.

Mostly I am looking forward to hearing Diane and John’s experience driving Scout across country for me in September, and returning to my road to reinvention.  

Until then, I am madly sewing Scout’s new decor, pillows, quilt, curtains and cushions.   And, dreaming of the day my friends and family who keep talking about RVing will join me.

HYDRANGEAS ARE IN FULL BLOOM

There is nothing more beautiful than blue hydrangeas, and Long Island has an abundance of hydrangeas in July.  I want to stop and take pictures every-time I see a bush, I could be a traffic hazard.  Summer humidity and cool breezes, golf and going to the beach.  It did not seem fair to see sister Robin go back to work while I enjoy her Westhampton home.  What a gift.

The other night I enjoyed watching The Hero at the Westhampton Performing Arts Theater in the village. I recommend the film.  Written and directed by Brett Haley, The Hero is a very sweet movie about aging and dying.  Haley wrote the film for Sam Shepard, who at 72 is still the world’s most sexy man, except for Morgan Freeman.  Best of all is Shepard’s wife Katharine Ross (The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) plays his ex-wife in the film.  I wouldn’t have recognized her.  Haley also wrote and directed I’ll See You in My Dreams, starring Blythe Danner and Sam Shepard.  I look forward to more films by Haley.  Maybe with Morgan Freeman.  I love independent movies, not so much summer block-busters.

As for golf, my game isn’t where I want it…  A work in progress.  But playing with my Alaska pal Bruce Dougherty at Montauk Downs was fun.  Bruce and I met when he worked at the Anchorage Pioneer Home, one of my work sites representing state workers for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in the early 1990s.  Bruce was a shop steward and we became friends.   Alaskan friends are for a lifetime.  How ironic that Bruce grew up on Long Island, and my sister bought a house here.  Our golf game at Montauk has become an annual summer event. 

Long Island is aptly named, it is really LONG!  The 52-mile drive takes at least 2 hours, driving home last night took 2 and a half.   Highway 27 becomes single lane shortly after leaving Westhampton and winds through the villages of Southampton, Bridgehampton, Amagansett and Montauk.  Accidents cause at a minimum 30 minute delays.  The rich people living in the Hamptons must take the private helicopters or shop with drones?

For those of you who watched the HBO series The Affair, the Lobster Roll really exists and is dog friendly.  Dominic West (The Wire) and Ruth Wilson (Luther) both English actors playing Americans.  Wilson plays Alison in The Affairs, spelled correctly with one L. 

Maggie and I will go eat there another day.  The hydrangeas along the road make the drive worth it.

Summer in the Hamptons

Taking a break from my road to reinvention and Scout (aka the Airstream), no better place to do it then Long Island, NY.  Cool breezes, cute villages, beaches and golf courses.  My sister Robin’s house is vacant due to her full-time employment with Disney in Los Angeles, so here we are.  Thank goodness for successful sister Robin’s 2 houses, one on each coast.  We spent the end of March in Robin’s Los Angeles house while she vacationed in the Galapagos Islands.

I plan to put my time to good use.  I bought a Kenmore sewing machine on Ebay for $75, and working on Scout’s new interior color scheme: curtains, pillows, quilt and cushions.  It is very satisfying to sew again. 

I don’t remember when this was taken but it is my favorite picture of Mom and I.

My mother taught all of us (my three sister and I) to sew.  We would visit Maxine’s Fabric on Saturday mornings on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena.  The store was in the basement and had tables of remnants, pieces of fabric in various lengths.  We all made most our own clothes growing up and through high school.  I remember one day walking down the halls of West Anchorage High School only to see a blouse I recognized.  My sister had borrowed (without asking) from my closet.  When you make your own clothes, they are distinctive.  You enjoy the benefits or mistakes of your work immediately.  Not like most of the work I was paid to do in my professional life. 

Years later when I was a “Director”, the young women on my staff were amazed that I could help alter bride maid dresses or other random sewing needs.  Sewing isn’t as popular as it use to be, especially when you can buy cheap clothes from China.  I also helped my dear friend Liz fix her off the rack wedding dress.  Michelle and I recovered her dining room chairs.  Again, sewing is very satisfying, and quilting is very additive.

Diane and John have been here for a quick visit, wine tasting, and preparing for their journey driving Scout cross-country for me in September.   Maggie and I will return to our road2reinvetion in October and head south for the winter.  
So, a summer in West Hampton will be productive, working on my golf game and making cushions, pillow, curtains and quilts.  Come visit!