Saturday, August 28, 2010

Travels with Charley

What a fun day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. We hung out inside watching Eric Clapton's "Crossroads" from 2007, read a little, wrote a little and just relaxed. In the afternoon we ventured out and did a bit of shopping. Gold Beach has a wonderful little book store and art gallery, so you know we had to go there. What a priceless little gem to come across in a small, seaside town like this.

While there, James found Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley," a book some friends in Laguna Beach suggested, so we bought it. We then had lunch out, went to the store for dinner vittles and back to the RV to pick up Peanut and take him shopping! There is a wonderful store here called "Woof" that caters solely to dogs and since it is getting colder and colder the more north we go, I decided he needed a sweater. I'm grinning ear to ear because Peanut HATES to have any type of clothing on, but I swear, I think he is thankful for this. It is a green turtleneck with brown buttons and it suits him to a tee! I love it! I will post some photos on the Photo Journal so you can all see.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon taking turns reading aloud chapters from "Travels with Charley." What a great book! I had forgotten what an amazing author Steinbeck is and have truly enjoyed reading/listening to it. Friends suggested it because it is a tale of John traveling across the country, in a camper/truck with his dog, Charley. All of the details, conversations he had about his trip and the encounters he has had (so far...we aren't even half way through the book), strike a very familiar note to us! Even for those who haven't traveled in an RV/Camper, this book is worth reading. It is set in 1960...very interesting.

I then cooked a mean dinner, if I say so myself. Sorry...I love to cook and being in an RV in no way means I can't cook up some of our favorite meals like grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. Yummy! It has been another lovely day of relaxation and pure enjoyment.

We will be hitting Crater Lake tomorrow, leaving bright and early in the morning, but not yet sure if we will be spending the night or driving back. I guess we will determine that when we are there!

Prayers go out to my Mom and Ted, who are in Washington DC attending the Glenn Beck Rally, and to my friend Dawn and her family as they begin a new chapter in Texas. We love you all and wish everyone a wonderful weekend! God Bless!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Goodbye California...Hello Oregon where did I leave off last time? Oh, yes, the PERFECT day...and it was perfect, followed by a perfect evening. While enjoying another fire watching the sunset, we also watched the very thick fog move was wild! We woke up the next morning surrounded by fog...very pretty actually.

Well, to truly appreciate a perfect day, one must experience a day that isn't perfect and well, we did. It wasn't that bad, really...and it could have been a lot worse. Leaving Westport was pretty much uneventful even though the roads were very winding and steep, but no worse than we had already been on, so it was no big deal. We exit off the main highway (101) to jump on the Avenue of the Giants, which is a road that is tucked inside a forest of giant, amazing and beautiful Redwood trees. It was so nice that we decided to pull off the side of the road for a small picnic and that was very lovely as well. But, when we were finished and on our way...the RV wouldn't start. James knew immediate that it was the battery by the "clicking" me, it just sounded horrible! Thankfully, our wonderful Abram is equipped with an "Emergency Start" button that bypasses the main battery and starts the engine off the coach battery and away we go! We did stop in Eureka, California and purchased a new battery. So, no big deal.

We headed to Patrick Point State Park for the night, which is another beautiful state park, however, I have to complain a bit about California State Parks, so excuse me. Yes, they offer incredible views, but the price is outrageous, especially when they are all primitive (no electric, no water, no sewer); other RV parks are the same price, if not cheaper. And to make matters a bit worse (well, worse for me that is), last night around 9:00pm we had a knock on our door; it was the Camp Host telling us we had to turn off our generator (when primitive you run the "genny" so you can run things like the TV, AC [we didn't was freezing] and anything you have to plug in). So, we apologized and told the nice man we would turn it off immediately. He then informed us that we couldn't turn it back on until 10:00am the next morning. WHAT???? What am I going to do for coffee until 10:00am???

Yes, I will admit it here in front of all of you, I'm totally insane for my morning cup of might even say I'm addicted, both emotionally and physically, as I get horrid headaches if I don't have it (caffeine withdraw...lovely). So, starting about 4:00am this morning I wake up wondering how it is I'm going to get my coffee? This goes on every half hour or so until 7:00am, by which time time I'm fully awake and in a serious panic. I think James was amused. I was also annoyed...having paid $35 a night for a spot with no electric, no water, no sewer and no coffee?

Well, don't worry folks, it all worked out! We loaded up the truck and we moved to off track. We loaded up the truck and headed up the road a bit to a lovely spot James found right on the ocean where we could turn our generator on, brew our coffee and enjoy it by the water side. Now, I do have to say SOME good things about Patrick Point State Park...and that is the amazing trails, rocks and views. Our campsite didn't have any view (we were surrounded by trees, which was nice), but we went exploring and it was truly beautiful. No, I didn't take my camera...don't ask me why. While we were on the trail I asked James, "Now, why in the world didn't I bring my camera?" And he responded, "Well, I guess this will just be for us." He is such a romantic. So, it was just for us. A memory of climbing the rocks, looking out over the water and just enjoying being alone in a very big world.

Oregon is everything I dreamed and more. And we have only seen 35 miles of it!! Gold Beach is awesome and the RV Park we found is right on the beach and offers FULL everything. Nice. I can have my coffee anytime I want it! OK...enough. One thing about this part of Oregon is that it is extremely windy. The photos I took on the beach I had to brace myself against the wind and the sand was brutal! James, the smart man that he is, stayed in the car (except for one area and even then he found shelter), while I faced the sand blaster and tried to get as many pictures of the fabulous rocks as I could before my skin peeled off. I loved every minute of it though.

We are going to drive to Crater Lake (a four to four and half hour drive from Gold Beach) either tomorrow or Sunday, we haven't decided. We wanted to spend the night there and bring The Nut along, however, every hotel I called was booked. So, it may be a serious marathon driving day when we go. We have heard great things about Crater Lake and can't wait to see it. We are in Gold Beach until Tuesday morning and then we hit the road again heading where? We aren't sure! Yeah! Love traveling like that!

Hope everyone reading this is doing well! Again, and I will never tire of saying it, we miss you all very much and love you! Check out the two new photo pages on the Photo Journal, "Primitive Westport" and "Welcome to Oregon!" GOD BLESS!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


After 59 days on the road, in my opinion we have had our first perfect day today. Not that any of the others days haven’t been magnificent and wonderful, but this day was the closest thing to perfection outside of heaven. We are in a State Park in a little town of Westport, California, population 60, but once held the title of the largest city on the west coast outside of San Francisco. It is a wonderfully quaint town and with incredibly odd and beautiful residents.

So what made this day so perfect? The fact that we did nothing at all. Well, nothing but sitting by the sea, whale watching, reading, writing…and now, at 5:00pm Pacific time, listening to some wonderful Jazz station out of Eureka, California. I’m telling you all…this is a day to be remembered by me for the rest of my life.

It is a bit difficult being “still and quiet” in the Lord, but that was our sole purpose for the day. We didn’t want to get in the car and do one of our marathon drive days, but just sit here and savor what was offered to us right before our eyes. This State Park is truly awesome. I am no more than 15 steps from a cliff that over looks the ocean…with black sand. It is called “black sand” but it is really more like a very dark gray or brown, but regardless, it is amazingly beautiful. We are probably 35 feet above the shore and beach below, with a large grassy area for Peanut to roam around and be comfortable (those who know Peanut know that the does not like the water…he really can’t see it). I look to my left and to my right and I see jagged coast line with crashing waves…the sun sparkling on the water and I can’t help myself but sing Incubus’ song “…blue diamonds strewn ‘cross a blue blanket.” It is so true.

Remember how excited I was to see the whales in Bodega Bay? Well, the whales make an appearance here on an hourly basis. Amazing is all I can say. If I could point to one place, one moment, in my life that I felt described Heaven, today…this place…would be pretty darn close to it.

We are completely “primitive” here in the sense we have no electrical outlet to plug into, no water to use, no sewer to dump our waters…but, we really don’t notice the difference, or we don’t care because of the true beauty surrounding us. We have to “live” a bit differently this way than when we are in a “full service “ RV Park in that we watch our water usage and don’t put on the lights or use electronic devices unless needed. I certainly do not feel deprived in any way, but free in a strange sense.

We have spent the entire day here at the edge of the ocean, with the exception of when we drove to into Westport for some sandwiches and soup. We ate outside at the Westport Inn (the proprietor made the soup…Clam Chowder) and enjoyed the wonderful company of Smokey, the resident cat. James, being a sucker for all animals, though he won’t admit it, gave Smokey a bit of his sandwich. Seriously, the town of Westport consists of maybe 3 commercial buildings and 30 houses, all lodged on the edge of the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After lunch, we headed back “home” and spent the rest of the day in our chairs, watching the whales, enjoying the waves and soaking in the moments as they passed by. See what I mean in it being a perfect day?

We will tonight, as we did last night, enjoy a wonderful fire by and watch the sunset and moon rise. At first, the silence is almost eerie, but then it grows on you like a warm blanket fresh from the dyer on a cool day. We sat outside by the fire until 10:00pm or so and then turned in. The cool, very cool, air made for perfect sleeping conditions with the windows open…plus the sound of crashing waves. We look forward to the same tonight. We do have a few neighbors…one neighbor in particular we have gotten to know…they are Al and Marie, a couple well into their 70’s who live about an hour away and love to visit this park…we now know why. Last night, Al had his guitar out and was singing and playing…it was wonderful.

Thank you all for your payers for safe travels…the roads were curvy and winding, but James did not find them daunting at all and provided us with an incredible drive up the coast. We look for more of the same as we journey Northward to Oregon and Washington. Wow…just typing those words amaze me. I never dreamed I would see these places! I can’t wait!!!

We continue to lift you all up in prayer and thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement and love. We can’t wait to be reunited with each of you! May God bless you all!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bodega Bay

Before our trip, I had never heard of Bodega Bay, California. It is a small coastal town about 70 miles north of San Francisco with a population of 950. I love Bodega Bay. You feel completely cut off from the rest of the world and it has provided some of the most magnificent views we have seen since being on the road.

Our first day here we jumped in the car and took a little road trip, well, if you consider 150 miles little, but again, that's how we roll. We took Hwy. 1 south and passed through an a little town called Tomales, known for their oysters. Tomales Bay, apparently, is perfect for harvesting cold water oysters, which we tried. They are smaller than the ones we get back East, but they are tasty. From there we drove all along the coast until we reached the northern part of San Fran. We stopped at Murr Beach, which was used during WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor and there are still bunkers in the side of the mountain where the military posted up to defend our country. It was very interesting. The road hugged dangerously close to the edge of the cliff and proved to be a bit nerve racking for me at times, but the view was incredible.

Yesterday we decided to hang around Bodega Bay instead of driving around a lot...this was a wonderful choice. Early in the morning as we were sitting outside enjoying our coffee, our RV neighbor came over and told us that there is a pod of whales off Bodega Head and the sightings were amazing. Well, enough said! We hopped into the car, stopped at a very small and quaint coffee shop for Lattes and Sticky Buns then down to the harbor to see some whales. Ahhh. It was perfect. What an amazing thing to witness. I could have sat there all day long, and some do with their chairs, coolers, cameras and binoculars. We then walked around Bodega Head and just enjoyed the scenery and sounds. The ocean here is very loud, yet so soothing. We kept hearing seals, so we continued to walk until we reached the area where we saw a small island in the bay that housed many, many loud seals. They are so funny! Very loud and opinionated. It was great.

Our RV Park has a trail that goes through an adjacent State Park called Bodega Dunes and then leads to the beach, so we decided to try that out. Along the way we came upon a memorial called "The Children's Bell Tower." It is a metal tower that has probably 100 bells hanging from it, with a large one in the middle. The story is that in 1994 a family from Bodega Bay traveled to Italy and while there, they were caught in the middle of a highway robbery where their 7 year old son was shot and killed. The parents graciously donated his organs to seven Italians, which, saved their lives. The people of the town where the shooting took place, were so touched, they made bells, the largest one being blessed by Pope John Paul II and sent them to the family in Bodega Bay, where this memorial was erected. It is pretty powerful.

Off we continued to the beach. It was about a mile walk but the beach was really something to behold. Tons of drift wood, wide beach and crashing waves. We walked a bit with me taking tons of photos of everything and then found a spot to rest and enjoy the views. We found a long log and used that as a head rest and I immediately fell asleep. Not long, about 10 minutes, but it was great. The warm sun combined with the warm sand under me, made for perfect sleeping conditions with the cool breeze and lulling sound of the waves.

We then headed back to the RV to relax a bit. I did laundry (exciting, eh?) and then we were off to watch the sun set. Last night was also full moon, so we were blessed to see both the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. We drove up the road a bit and found a great spot to park on a cliff overlooking the ocean and behind us were those wonderful soft hills. As the sun was setting, James turned around JUST in time to notice the moon peaking over one of the hills. Man, I just couldn't believe it! So beautiful! What an amazing way to spend our last night in Bodega Bay. We will return to this wonderful little town by the sea, that is for sure.

Today marks the beginning of the primitive part of our stay, as I mentioned in the earlier post. We ask you all to pray for safe travels and sturdy equipment (RV and car), as the roads will be quite curvy, steep and narrow. We have spoken with other RVer's who have made this drive and they all say it can be done, but we have to go slow, slow, slow. That is easy, we are in no hurry! Our first stop is about 120 miles north of here in a state park that offers spaces on the shore, but again, we aren't sure if we will have cell/internet service, so please don't worry too much if you don't hear from us for a few days.

So, until then...stay safe, be happy and know we love and miss you all so very much!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still California Dreaming...

I am faced with two daunting tasks; one, trying to encapsulate all the events of the last six days into a blog that won't take up seven pages and two, coming up with some other adjectives to describe the beauty we are constantly experiencing on a daily basis. I will try, though, as it is all the more special to share with all of you.

Lake Tahoe is spectacular. It is the world's third deepest Lake (over 1,600 feet) and the water is crystal clear, warmer than the Pacific and almost as blue as the waters in the Bahamas. We had an amazing time with our dear friend, Michael, aka "Sunny" and I will say that his was the best "RV Park" yet! :o) We have missed him since he moved from Islamorada, so it was really a special time catching up and creating new memories.

Napa Valley. Ah, Napa Valley. Yes, the "roughing" it of the parks is great and I really love it, but every once in a while, I do love the finer touches of places like Napa Valley. The park, Skyline Wilderness Park, was perfect and only 3 miles from downtown Napa, and only a mile from the "loop" of the Valley. The loop consists of Hwy 29 and Hwy 112; they loop around, a total of 50+ miles and encircles some of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen...well, these were my first, but I bet money they are better than any other in this country! Our first Winery was "Franciscan" and boy oh boy, I love wine tasting! We sampled four wines and one port. We bought two bottles of wine and one of the port! Great people, amazing grounds and delicious wine. A treasured memory for my first Winery. After that we hit the most "tourist" spot in Napa called "Castello di Amorosa." It isn't an ancient castle in that construction began in 1993 and finished in 2007, however, every single brick and stone used to build the castle are all from Italy, Austria, etc. and are at least 300 years old. It is pretty amazing, as the photos will show. The Castle is even complete with a Torture Chamber! I actually saw a real Iron Maiden! Yikes! The wine...well, it is just so-so. But, the tour and the castle were worth it all.

Those were the only two vineyards we visited our first day; mind you, we tasted over 20 wines, so there isn't a lot of hoping from vineyard to vineyard for us! That night we really had an amazing time...we went downtown Napa and saw "Taming of the Shrew" put on by the local College at an outdoor park. We took a picnic of wine (Franciscan bought that day), cheese, apples and bread. What a great thing to do! And let me tell you what, I will not be the least bit surprised to see any of these young actors on the big screen some day soon...they were very talented and the play was hysterical! It was cold, though. That was the only downer.

Saturday, we went to another vineyard that boasted of an art gallery, called Mumm Vineyards. They specialize in sparkling wines, so we did a bit of tasting, but not a lot. We then went to the art gallery and enjoyed some wonderful photography and sculptures. Not wanting to spend the day wine tasting again, we decided to hit the road and drive to Sonoma. As far as the towns themselves, I far prefer Sonoma with its quaint square, wonderful park, outdoor music and incredible shops! Napa is more like a city...but, very nice, I just like Sonoma better. We did not visit any of the vineyards in Sonoma, but plan on doing so when we visit this part of the country again. I did all the driving Saturday so that James could enjoy the view and I could enjoy the winding mountain roads. What fun!! James laughs because when I'm driving those roads, I'm sitting straight up in the sit, both hands on the wheel, intensely watching the road, driving at speeds around 25 mph! Hey, those roads are steep and curvy...but, oh so fun!

The plan (hahahaha) was to stay in Napa for one more day and leave Monday morning, however, this morning we decided to head to Bodega Bay. This is where I'm truly at a loss for words. I know I have said that at least six other times before, but really, I'm speechless. On one side of the road you have soft, slopping, rolling hills spotted with cows, horses, sheep and marvelous farms, and right across the street you have the Pacific Ocean's raging waves, sandy beaches and jagged rocks jutting from the water like giants. Then to top it all off, you have amazing wild I have never seen...painting both sides of the roads. It is truly like something out of a fairy tale.

We had dinner at Nick's Cove, known for their oysters, and well, "when in Rome..." we had oysters. Neither one of us are big fans, but they were pretty good. I honestly don't think we will order them A LOT while we are here, but they were good and we are glad we tried them. The ambiance was amazing (we ate outside on the dock) and got to see the sun set over the water and then the moon rise over the hills. Wow. Just keeps getting better and better.

We are here until Tuesday...then we are hitting the "primitive" park of our journey where we will be staying along the coast...NOT in RV parks. We have about three days worth of water/fuel/tank storage before having to refill/refuel, so we plan on using every bit of it. Parks are great and offer wonderful amenities, but we are truly looking forward to being "disconnected" and living off the beaten path. Not sure when/if we will have cell phones or internet, so if you don't hear from us for a bit, you will know why.

Oh yeah, yesterday marked 2 months (eight weeks or 56 days) on the road. Half way. Time flies and homesickness lingers. Tomorrow is Pop's birthday (James' father...he will be turning 82) and we are sad that we aren't there to celebrate with him. It is times like this we both miss being home. I truly love getting texts, emails and phone messages from my family and warms my heart and often makes me cry; not of sadness so much, but of appreciation for such wonderful people in my life. Thank you all!!!

Peanut continues to enjoy life on the road. He is such a good travel dog and we are so blessed he hasn't gotten sick, bitten or worse. That holds true for James and I as well. We are in good health and I have bitten James in weeks!. Hahahahaha!!!

We love you all! May God bless you all!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


This will be a long one…so grab a seat, make yourself comfortable, and, hopefully, enjoy!

I have to tell you of our epic drive from Sequoia to Yosemite. My phone has GPS in it and so, as I do with every new destination, I plug in the address to the new park in Yosemite and get directions. However, the GPS is giving me directions straight through Yosemite National Park and I just don’t think this is right, so I devise an alternate route. Silly me. I decide we will take Hwy 41 to Hwy 49 to Hwy 120 into the park. Get your map out…seems pretty harmless. NOT. I have included some images from (in one of the Yosemite Albums on the Photo Journal) to give you an idea of what the roads were like…now imagine doing that in a 30’ rig towing a car! The one saving grace was the route was incredibly beautiful and since we had no choice but to drive 20 miles an hour, we had time to really take it all in. James is the Master of Driving RV’s…that is all I have to say. He was exhausted at the end of it and when we told people the route we took, their jaws nearly hit the ground. But, hey, WE MADE IT! And that is how we roll!

Yosemite National Park is a must see for every single person living in this country. It is, by far, my favorite park to date. It offers everything…incredible trees, magnificent trails, raging waterfalls, delightful wildflowers and so much more. I will say though, if you plan on visiting the park, plan at least 10 days…three just wasn’t enough. There are five entrances to the park; three on the west side, one south and the best of all…the one on the east, which, unfortunately, we only got to experience by driving through. What a shame! It is jaw-dropping gorgeous every single turn. I think I took 100 photos FROM THE CAR. I simply could not believe that it just got better and better, but it did.

Our first full day in Yosemite we did what all the other visitors do and that is drive to Yosemite Valley and pick one of the wonderful trails offered in the valley that go up to the mountains, into waterfalls or just meandering through the meadows. We choose the Mist Trail and so did about a million other people, but regardless of the crowds, it is breath taking. And very strenuous. The trail we did to the Top of the Vernal Falls was only 1.6 miles one way, but it ascended 1,000 feet in that distance, so it was a serious cardio and stair-master hike to be sure! I will let the pictures speak for the beauty experienced, but I will tell of the magnificence we felt being surrounded by El Capitan, Half Dome and waterfalls that just blew the mind. Let me state that I have written three poem in my entire life…one you have already read about trees and one I wrote a long time ago that needs to stay in the drawer, and the third being the one at the end of this Blog entitled “Yosemite Inspired” because it truly was. I’m not a poet. I’m not a writer. But, there comes a time when I’m so moved and inspired by what surrounds me that the words flow out of me as if someone is inside my mind reciting them. That is what happened in Yosemite. I can’t explain it any other way. It was a very spiritual experience…I loved every moment of it and was very sad to leave.

Our second day in Yosemite we decided since we had such a major workout the day before hiking Mist Falls, we would drive the Northern Yosemite Highway and take in the sites. If I thought the Valley was amazing (and I did), then the Northern Highway was beyond words. We did hike though…sigh…my legs were NOT happy, but we found this wonderful trail that lead to May Lake and was 1.2 miles one way and we were told that the Lake was truly something to behold, so off we went. It was a very easy hike compared to the day before and the payoff, the Lake, was worth every deep breath, throbbing leg muscle and cramping foot. Again, I will let the pictures tell the story.

So, today, we take off for Reno, Nevada. We get to drive through the Park once again to hit highway 395 that leads directly into Reno and what a wonderful surprise this drive was! Just when I think things can’t get any better, God smacks me upside the head with vistas I experienced today! This was the part where we drove through the park from the West to the East side and learned that the East side was something straight out of a fairy tale! And then, once we left the park and hit 395 heading north, we were faced once again with views of mountains with snow on them surrounded by green, lush meadows. At one point I looked at James and said, “I feel like I’m on top of the world!” And it did feel that way! Lee Vining and Ridgeport California are two of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

So, now, we are in Reno, Nevada…another amazing and beautiful place, staying with our good friend, Sunny. We will be here for 4 days getting the RV and car checked out and resting, relaxing and visiting with great friends! Peanut and Mousse, Sunny’s dog, are getting along…well, that is as long as Peanut isn’t on the couch and Mousse doesn’t come up to him…then Peanut barks and bites. Small Dog Complex! Photos coming soon!

There are three new pages on the Photo Journal; “Beginning of Yosemite,” "Part 2 Yosemite" and “Yosemite and Beyond.” I hope you enjoy them.

Now, if you will humor me…”Yosemite Inspired”:

Along the trail, we weave our tale
Of wonders seen and dreams redeemed.
Majesty felt, like spring’s first melt
All creation sings, “He is King of kings.”
Mountains stand bold, telling stories never told
And waterfalls flow to streams far below.
Can you hear it? The language of the trees
Whispering upon the sojourning breeze.
The flowers, they too, sing hymns old and new
While birds in their flight proclaim His awesome might.
Splendor and glory dance in this story
As told by one saved, undeserving, from the grave.

As always, we love and miss you all very much!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

That's how we roll.

Hello! First I need to say what a fantastic time we had at the Bennett house in Ojai! Great talks, great food, great people. Thank you, Roy and Norma for opening your home and hearts to us.

Now onto the parks. What can one say when faced with the true magnificence of God's creation? Really? It was overwhelming. The Sequoia Trees are by far the most amazing trees I have ever seen in my life. They are not only huge, but gorgeous in color, shape and stature. As you can see from the photos (which don't even come close to portraying their true elegance and beauty), we were seriously dwarfed by them and I was in utter awe every time I saw one. I was under the wrong impression (by MY doing solely) that there would be tons and tons of Sequoia trees all in a big forest, but that isn't the case. There are a lot, but not like the Redwoods or any other forest of a specific tree. I can see why...they are go gigantic that there simply would be no room for anything else. You all know by now that I love trees...I truly feel they are majestic and wonderful. At the end of this Blog I am posting a poem I wrote two years ago while sitting in our backyard in Delray Beach admiring our neighbors tree, however, it now takes on a completely new meaning for me now.

Kings Canyon...Kings Canyon...Wow. As much as I loved Sequoia, Kings Canyon BLEW ME AWAY! James and I both agree this is our favorite park of the two. Actually, and specifically, 90% of the road that leads into Kings Canyon is in Sequoia National FOREST (not Park), so I guess we love the Forest. Kings Canyon has everything...trees, rugged mountains, a flowing and awesome river. Awe inspiring it was/is. I had never heard of it before this trip, so I encourage anyone thinking of seeing Sequoia, please make sure you visit Kings Canyon. I promise you won't be sorry.

We drove down the craziest road in the nation yesterday. It is California Highway 245. It is only 48 miles long, but 31 miles consists of NOTHING but hairpin turns. I'm not saying curves...I'm talking all out, white-knuckle hairpin turns...for 31 miles. You simply can't do more than 20 miles an hour, which means it takes over 2 hours to go 48 miles, without burning out your breaks, blowing a tire or dumping your transmission. Actually, we even had a small problem with Sarai on that road. Of course, when we first got on the road, with James behind the wheel, I was like, "FASTER...MAKE THE TIRES SQUEAL," to which James happily responded by pressing his foot on the pedal. Well, needless to say, about 5 miles in Sarai starting making a very disturbing noise. Mind you, the cat converter (catalytic for you non-mechanics) has been out/on the way out since we owned the car, so when we starting hearing this knocking and clanking about under the driver seat, we figured that we must of knocked something loose.

Well, I have now earned the name "Car Whisperer" since I have a way of diagnosing strange and unusual behaviors in the car that most self respecting mechanics would simply laugh at...yet, they all turn out to be right. We had been driving on some pretty rough and rocky roads so I said that a rock must of gotten up inside the cat SOMEHOW and that is what we were hearing and that maybe it will work itself out. James (God love him) bites his lip trying not to laugh in my face. Well, we pull over just to check under the hood to make sure there isn't something rattling around in there, and I take the opportunity to jump behind the wheel because you know I have to drive this road!! We take off and klink-klank, rattle-tattle it goes...sounds horrible! After about 5 minutes of my driving...silence. The noise has stopped. For good. Nothing. Nada. Now, it was running a bit sluggish so I decided it might be best for James to drive it again, and after a while, it was fine. She is a bit slow to start, but once she does, she runs like a charm and now klinking or klanking to be heard. I think God finds it totally amusing to use me, someone basically clueless about cars, to bestow His revelations too when it comes to our little car. I think it is down right hilarious! James...not so much.

The sound you were hearing wasn't a rock and it hasn't gone away. It's just not as bad. The problem, as your husband suggested, is in the guts of the cat-converter. -- God

We decided we needed to hike in a very serious way since both of us has gained some extra weight, so we picked a trail in Sequoia called Buena Vista was described as being a fairly easy, 2 mile loop trail with no significant elevation changes and provided the most spectacular view atop a peak...PERFECT! We set out to do that today. Of course, it took us nearly all day to find it, but once we did at 4:00pm, we hit the trail. Well, leave it to us to wonder off the trail and come to what we believe is THE trail, yet consisted of rock climbing straight up for about 100 yards. Yep. We did it. I have never rock climbed before and let me tell you, I'm not sure I will again. It was steep...steeeeeep...but honestly, oh so fun! We made it up with no sprained ankles, bruised body parts, bloody knees...we were injury free. Again, I think our Guardian Angel went out for a double after that one! But, boy was it worth it. We had lunch...or dinner...wait, LINNER on top of the peak enjoying the view and admiring our accomplishment. We did, thankfully, find the correct trail for the hike down because there is no way this girl would have made it going DOWN the way we went up!

Tomorrow we head to Yosemite National Park. Thanks to our new, and wonderful, friend, Dar Frye, we have a couple of excellent trails to hike. Neither of us have been to Yosemite, so it will be a new and exciting adventure for both of us. I hope to drive more because I SO LOVE driving and I really, really love giving James a chance to take in the scenery. It is a beautiful country we live it and I don't want him to miss it all because he is driving.

Did I tell you we are driving fools? I'm serious. Even when we aren't driving Abram from one location to another, we are putting at LEAST 150-200 miles on Sarai a day/trip. I think when we are all done with this trip, we will have racked up over 20,000 miles with both cars. Crazy. But, as James says, "That's how we roll."

God bless you all! We love you and miss you! A very special shout out to my amazing Great Nephew, Ryder Alan, who turned 2 years old today! We love you Little Man!!! Your emails, posts and comments are, as always, so very appreciated!

Poem on Trees (Jennifer Johnson 2008)

It seems to me that trees could be
In constant prayer and praise to Thee.

Their trunks so strong, growing heaven bound
To where their Creator and Maker is found.

Their leaves whisper and sing as they dance in the wind,
Their branches sway and flow, hold firm or bend.

With their quiet strength and sturdy might,
They give You honor and glory to Your delight.

What an example these trees are to us all,
Who have lost our way in midst of the fall.

So when I feel lost and distant, apart from Thee
I look at a tree and witness what true worship be.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Has it been nearly a week??

Wow! I can't believe it has been so long since our last Blog. Time sure does fly when you are having fun, and we are having a blast!

We left Anaheim/Laguna Beach area yesterday a bit sad having to say goodbye to so many wonderful friends (both old and new), yet excited to see what lies ahead. Our nine days in the area were amazing and I am truly blessed to have met a lot of James' college friends, as well as reconnecting with my dear friend, Dawn. I was shocked how much I loved that part of California and as always, awed at what God put before us both in scenery and situations. It was a time of growth and celebration for sure.

We are now in Ojai, California, which is just north of Ventura. Again, California sure is one beautiful state! Ojai is considered "horse country" and it is inland, so no ocean, but plenty of mountains. Roy and Norma Bennett live here and are friends of James from his Seminary days at RTS in Orlando. Wonderful people with two amazing daughters. I'm sure some photos will be appearing on Facebook later that involve a Huka, but rest assured, no illegal activity was involved. I was so incredibly intrigued by the entire thing that I had to try it myself and sure enough, it was simply flavored whacky weed. Hahaha!

Tomorrow we will be attending Roy's church where he has been the Senior Pastor for 10 years and we are very much looking forward to worshiping with them. After that, dinner with the congregation and more visiting.

Monday morning we head to Sequoia National Park! I'm so excited to see this wonderful park. I have heard so many things about it and can hardly believe I will be there soon. This will be a time of much needed relaxation and reflection. Visiting people and meeting new friends can be exhausting so we plan on getting back in the groove of the laid back life we grew accustomed too early on in the trip. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade the past 2 weeks for anything, but the thought of being with James and Peanut, reconnecting, reading, rejuvenating and rejoicing in it all is very appealing to me right now.

I have to admit that the past couple of days have brought feelings of being home sick, but I knew this would happen. I am not sure if it has been the time away (six weeks today) or being around great friends that make me miss our great friends and family back home, but it has been strong and I do miss so very much all of our family and friends back in Florida. You all know who you are and it means the world to me to speak with you on the phone or read your comments on Facebook or the Blog. Thank you for that.

Peanut is doing wonderfully. He enjoyed our trip today to Santa Barbara and then down to Malibu. He is a fantastic travel dog. However, he did get himself into a bit of trouble yesterday at the Bennett house. We were all sitting around chatting with a plate of wonderfully home grown tomatoes and basil with cheese on a platter sitting on a coffee table when Peanut decided that no one was looking and jumped up onto the platter! I was mortified!! I couldn't believe he did it. Paw prints in the balsamic drippings and peanut with a look of "What??" when I gasped in horror at him. Thankfully, Roy grabbed him before any food could be devoured. Just one paw in the platter...the other three on the table. Geeze Louise! You would think we starve this dog! Everyone thought it was hysterical...well, everyone except sweet Norma who is not a fan of animals, to which she admitted to me right before Peanut plowed the platter. It figures.

By the way, Malibu is amazing. Stunning. Beautiful. Sigh...I could have stayed there all day. We ate at a Subway there...eating outside under the California sun when who walks by, but Billy Bob Thornton. I can't SWEAR it was him, but I'm a big fan, so I'm pretty sure it was. Was really hoping to run into Sting, but apparently he didn't get the memo.

OK...that's enough for now. Off to have dinner with the Bennett's and enjoy another fabulous evening under the stars canopying the mountains. Yes, life is good. God is great. We love you all! Blessings to everyone.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Laguna Beach

The blessing of friendships, both old and new, continues to amaze me. We have spent the last two days with a group of incredible people that James has known since his years at Wheaton. To be honest, I was a bit nervous to finally meet the people I had only heard stories about through James, but that nervousness was instantly relieved once in the presence of these wonderful individuals who welcomed me as if part of the gang...part of the history that they all share. I see now why James has maintained each and every friendship over the past 20+ years.

Not only are the people amazing, but Laguna Beach itself is a beautiful spot. It dawned on me yesterday why I love it so reminds me of our hometowns, Delray Beach and Islamorada; laid back, wonderful restaurants, great shops, beautiful galleries and all right on the water. PLUS, Laguna Beach offers mountains (us Floridian's call them mountains anyway), which provide vistas from nearly every balcony in every home. Not to mention the weather which seems never to reach over 90 degrees or under that is my kind of environment.

Grace runs downhill here and overflows in every aspect of their lives. It is a special gift to be surrounded by such generosity of love and spirit. I will steal Cathy's quote and say, "We love recklessly," and she is right. It has been, and continues to be, a blessing to be here.

And what a small world it is we live in! In speaking with One of the Dave's, I learned that his mother, who lives in Detroit, is very good friends with one of James' cousins, who also lives in Detroit. Both women do amazing ministries in the streets of Detroit with homeless women struggling with drug addiction. I love seeing the interconnection God weaves through each of our lives.

Not exactly sure what the next week looks like for us, but we will be in this area visiting more and meeting new/old friends, so stay tuned! I pray everyone has a great day filled with love, peace and happiness! We miss you all and love you very much!