TWO DAYS IN HEAVEN

The very best two days of 2019, spent on a ranch outside of Austin, TX.

I am so fortunate to have met Beth in Washington D.C., and now call her a friend.  We were colleagues, but never socialized.   We saw each other in across the room in meetings.  Occasionally, on Sunday afternoons I would see Beth walking out of a movie matinee, as I was walking in.  So, I knew Beth and I were kindred spirits, we loved movies on the big screen.  Two plus hours of escape in a dark theater, where there might be a happy ending.

A few years later, I learned Beth also loved horses and enjoyed riding in her spare time.  I asked her husband Allan (also a colleague) once about the horse, Allan said, “yes, she loves the horse more than me”.

Beth announced her retirement in November 2015, I was jealous.  But, Beth gave me the kick in the ass I was looking for.  In her retirement speech Beth said, “she was done”, aka “TOAST”.  I also felt burned to a crisp.   Beth told our assembled colleagues, she had grown up on a ranch outside of Austin, TX.  She and her brother had worked hard, got good grades to get away from the ranch.  Now all she wanted was to go back to that ranch.  And, she did.

Beth was an amazing advocate for workers.  Tireless, dedicated, professional and passionate.  Now retired she is living on her family ranch herding goats and cows instead of Members of Congress.   Much more satisfying.  

I am so grateful in retirement to spend time with Beth, and her horses Hazel and Hope.  Hope is a very special horse, sweet and gentle, a wonderful riding horse.

I had the best two days of 2019, riding Hope, swimming/floating in the crispy clear river with Beth.  Drinking wine and watching the sunset, listening to the goats.

Next time, I promise to join Beth cutting brush with a chain saw.  Brush, goats, horses etc., all better and more satisfying than herding Members of Congress.  Cheers! In retirement, my friend Beth. 

THANK YOU!  Looking forward to our next visit.

ALL THE WAY WITH LBJ

I was fortunate to see Brian Cranston play LBJ on Boardway in All The Way, also an HBO movie you can watch on Amazon.  President Johnson signed more than 1,000 pieces of legislation in his Presidential term.  He was the Master of the Senate, as profiled in Robert Carro’s multi-volume biography.  Today I visited the LBJ Ranch in Fredricksburg, TX a lovely village of German origins 74 miles west of Austin.  West Texas is beautiful, especially this year with amazing wildflowers due to a wet winter.  I think LBJ would be startled by the burgeoning grape vineyards and wineries sprouting everywhere.  The wineries are breeding new economy and life into a region where LBJ grew up in poverty.

After graduation from college LBJ taught school in a majority latino area, which instilled in him a deep appreciation of poverty, education and race discrimination.  If not for the Vietnam War, LBJ would have been a President to achieve more in reshaping domestic policy for decades to come.  

The ranch is breathtaking.  It was 90 degrees so our walk around was not as long as it could have been.  The “Texas White House” is closed for repairs.

As always the National Park Service staff were incredible, telling visitors again and again the same information.  I did learn there is a winter volunteer program for RVers, so I will be exploring that for future travels.  

I can’t believe I like Texas this much, but only Austin and Fredricksburg.  I had hoped to go to Big Bend and Marfa, but that will have to wait.  We depart tomorrow for the Moten Ranch and then north.  I will be posting about our travels east.  Thanks for staying tuned.

For more about Fredricksbrug, read this informative blog: https://supersizelife.com/adventures-in-fredericksburg-country-schoolhouses-and-the-story-of-one-outhouse

Rest in Peace LBJ and Lady Bird.

EASTWARD HO!

Wednesday we will depart Tucson for points east.  Using RV Wizard, I have plotted a course of less than 300 miles per day, with extended stays of 2-3 nights for visits:

Las Cruces, NM (miles 253)

Stockton, TX (287)

Fredericksburg, TX (268) Looking forward to visiting the LBJ Ranch, a National Monument.

Moten Ranch, TX  (84)  Visiting friend Beth and riding Hope the horse

Dallas, TX (217)

Little Rock, AR (280) — Visiting former colleague and pal Sarah, and the Clinton Library.

Memphis, TN (140)   Visiting what else?  Elvis and eating ribs!

Nashville, (225)

Ashville, NC (282)

Cary, NC (231)

Arriving Emerald Island, NC (155) — Rachel & Adam’s wedding, on June 9.   Back to Cary, for sister Becky and Chuck’s wedding June 16.  The adventure continues.

Driving in the comfort of air conditioning with music, Audible and Podcasts to pass the time I visualize pioneers walking alongside covered wagons.  How did they walk through the desert in long skirts through cactus?  Especially Jumping Cholla, little balls of needles that attach to you if you walk too close and require needle nose pliers to pull out of your skin, and Maggie’s feet.

The desert is in full bloom and is amazing.  So many cactus.  Who knew! My pictures don’t do the flowers justice. 

Goodbye desert, it’s been a wonderful winter full of friends, golf, sunsets and cactus!   We’ll be glad to be east where there is lush green grass and “the Pond”.

Eastward Ho!

 

MAGGIE WANTS TO KNOW, WHERE IS THE DOG PARK?

Maggie’s favorite place in the whole world is the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on the edge of Capitol Hill.  The cemetery is also a dog park.  Dogs can pee near J. Edgar Hoover, run and play in 32 fenced acres of grass, trees and headstones.  When we lived in D.C. Maggie enjoyed her daily run around the cemetery, chasing and being chased, and cooling off in the pond with BFF Lola.

As soon as we get to a new place and set up Scout in our designated campsite, our second activity is finding a dog park.  BringFido is a favorite very helpful app that tells us where to find dog friendly hotels, restaurants and most important dog parks.  I have written about BringFido before, but thought I would share our recent use while visiting with former Alaskan friend Esther in Casa Grande, AZ.  Esther had hip replacement surgery at age 90 shortly after moving to an assisted living facility.  She had lived in Eloy, AZ with her husband Dale way out in the sticks.  After Dale’s passing a few years ago, she no longer returned to Alaska in the summer.  Most of her neighbors fled the AZ summer heat, so I was happy when Esther announced her move where she will be surrounded year round with people.   

Our family met Esther, Dale and their two kids at the Turnagain Methodist Church in Anchorage the summer of 1968.  They had moved from Billings, MT and were a farm family, we had come from Altadena, CA.  We had nothing in common, but Mom and Esther became great friends.  As my father sank into alcoholism, Esther and Dale were friends we could count on.  Several years after Dad’s death, we celebrated Mom and Erv’s 1978 wedding on the deck of Esther and Dale’s Turnagain home overlooking the Cook Inlet.   

I stayed with Esther last week while she was recuperating, she is making amazing progress and has no pain! Spending time with Esther has been special catching up and reminiscing Alaska tales.  Maggie got lots of attention from the staff and residents at Garnet Senior Living, but she was not enjoying being cooped up inside, she prefers to sit outside her Airstream home during the day and watch for rabbits and squirrels, and sleeping at the foot of our bed.  Scout stayed parked in Tucson at Cactus Country RV Resort, while we were at Casa Grande.  BringFIdo found the Maricopa Dog Park Alliance, a huge dog park with grass!  Grass is hard to find in the southwest, visiting a fenced gravel and dirt park is not our idea of fun.  Driving 20 miles to this park was worth it, and made our stay in Casa Grande more enjoyable, at least for Maggie.

Esther tells me Maricopa use to be a wide spot in the road, but the advent of an Indian Casino and entertainment venue has increased the population.   Maricopa has a negative connotation for me,  because of Sheriff Joe.   

I have enjoyed my time in the desert, but I am ready to go east and see the Atlantic.  I miss bodies of water, especially oceans, even if it is only the “pond”, the Pacific is the real Ocean.  Thanks to BringFido, Maggie and I will continue to visit new dog parks along our adventure.  We are especially looking forward to visiting Congressional Cemetery in July with Lola, Tim and Liz. 

For more information on helpful apps for RVers, go to my Apps Page [click here].

 

 

ONLY 1,945 MILES TO GO

I hope to never fly commercial again.  The brilliance of RV life is I can change plans and drive in a different direction on a moment’s notice.

I really hate the driving and try to do only 200 miles on any given day.  I was fortunate to be within 260 miles of Bakersfield and got there in time to say goodbye to my favorite Uncle Jim. 

It was strange to turn south and drive back through Palm Springs on my way to Casa Grande, AZ.  I had just spent two months in Palm Spring.  I thought about stopping and playing one last round of golf with Alaska pals David and Susan.  Instead, I drove on to Tucson, AZ, 580 miles with one overnight stop at a San Bernardino county campground in Yucaipa.  That allowed me to break-up the 7-hour drive.

I love having my home behind me.  I was never a good packer for weekends or vacations.  I always brought too much and never had what I really needed.    Everything I own and need is with me in Scout – my 20-foot Airstream.

I will spend a month in Tucson, because I have a ticket to hear the Tedeshcki Truck Band on May 14.  I really have to quit buying tickets.  Because plans change.  Cousin Karen and I were going to spend a week enjoying desert flowers, but Uncle Jim’s life was coming to an end.  It was more important to see and say goodbye to my beloved Uncle Jim. 

I am glad to be back in Tucson for a month of golf, before the cross-country trip to Rachel’s wedding on June 8 at Emerald Island, NC.  Sister Becky (Rachel’s Mother) will marry Chuck the following weekend in Cary, NC.   

Alaska friend Esther at 90 is undergoing hip surgery on Monday, so I will help her in her recovery.  Thankfully Esther has moved into a retirement home in Casa Grande and is no longer living alone out in the boondocks of Arizona, aka Arizona City.  American’s dream of retiring and living in the country, is not one I share.  After the Airstream, I hope to live in a city where I can walk or take public transportation to grocery stores, movie theaters and restaurants.  Not being dependent on a car.

Only 1,945 miles to Emerald Island, NC from Tucson, divided by 200 miles a day I could do it in 10 days, but I plan an extended stay in Austin, TX visiting Ruth, and a couple of days at the Moten Ranch with former colleague Beth and riding my favorite horse Hope. Beth contributed to my decision to retire early.  At a meeting in late November 2015, Beth announced her retirement saying, “she was done”.  I felt the same, I was also done with beating my head against a wall.  Work was no longer fun or satisfying.  Beth told us she and her brother grew-up on a ranch outside of Austin.  She said, they had worked hard to get good grades so they could get away from that ranch.  Now all she and her brother wanted was “go back to the ranch”.  I loved this story and thought to myself, I didn’t have a ranch, but I have a dream of an Airstream.  Visiting Beth has special significance for me.  

Stay tuned for travel log cross-country: golf, campgrounds, horses and best of all dear friends.