Sunday, December 27, 2009

What a Horrible Sunday!

We said good-bye to Jan, Von and Harry Potter.

We had a great time visiting, but it was time to move on to see our youngest son in Southern CA.
The weather was fantastic. We only needed to travel 250 miles. We checked Google Maps and our GPS for the route. Both systems gave us the exact same route. Our travel time was to be about 4.5 hours. We left at 10:00 AM. We stopped for fuel after about 60 miles and for lunch after about 120 miles. We expected to be at out destination by about 3:00 pm even after our stops.

Boy were we wrong! Once we left I10 we slowed way down. Traveling through Indio, Palm Desert. La Quinta, and Indian Wells was slow, but the scenery was beautiful. However, once we were out of Indian Well we started the climb from under 1,000' to about 5,000' on an unbelievable twisty-windy road. Then, we descended to about 2,000' on an equally miserable road. We were continually pulling over to let a dozen or so cars pass.

Neither of us enjoyed the last 50 miles...we are lucky to still be speaking to each other!

So, we arrived at our destination at 4:15. It is a gated community that closes the entrance gate at 4:00 (and the office is closed on Sundays). Luckily, after a short stay at the gate, a good Samaritan let us in and showed us to the "boon-docking" area.

I am glad that this day is almost over!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We See AVATAR!!!!

We accompanied our friends Jan, Von and Dale on a 100 mile round trip to see Avatar in 3D at an IMAX theater. Unfortunately, none of us purchased advance tickets online. So, we arrived about at the AMC IMAX in Glendale AZ about noon and found that the next available IMAX Avatar show was at 4:30 PM. We all made the decision to wait over 4 hours to see the show.

We spent an hour or so having lunch at Margaritaville...nice atmosphere and over-priced food and drinks.

We then walked around the mall, took some photos, and spent some relaxing time in the lounge chairs provided by the mall. While Jan and Von enjoyed a drink at a local bar (Nancy had water), Dale and I took a great walk to the Cardinals Stadium. About 3:30 we walked to the theater and got in line for the 4:30 showing.

As far as I am concerned it was all worth it. The story was interesting and the special effects were fantastic. The fact that this was a "tree hugger" advertisement did not bother me at all. I had a great time!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

What great Christmas Day! Even though I was not with my children I was able to talk to each of them. I love cell phones!

The Sadleback RV Resort was having an "informal" Christmas Day potluck meal at 1:00 pm. I went shopping at the nearest Wal-Mart (about 25 miles) to get the ingredients for "Bonnie's Hot Broccoli Cheese Dip" and several pounds of assorted veggies for dipping.

Jan and Von volunteered in the kitchen.

The meal was great as were the friends we shared it with.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We are visiting RVing friends (and fellow Escapees) Jan and Von and Jan's brother Dale in Tonopah, AZ (near Phoenix). Our friends joined us for a BBQ this afternoon. Good friends, good conversation and good food was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
This will be my first Christmas away from Santa Barbara, my mother, my children and grandchildren in over 10 years (Iowa 1998). I am sure that Christmas will be great, but I will miss spending it with the rest of my family.

Early this evening I was sitting at my desk and looked up to see the tail end of a beautiful sunset over Sadleback Mountain. What is it about sunsets that are so mesmerizing? Our friend Von and several other performers put on a great Christmas show at the activity center. Von is an excellent singer. In a prior life (before RVing) Von was an exceptional Elvis impersonator. If you ever get a chance to hear him do karaoke you don't want to miss it!

After the perfromance we joined Von, Jan and her brother Dale in their RV for some snacks. We also enjoyed the company of their dog, Harry Potter.

Although I missed everyone back in SB, this was a really nice Christmas Eve.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

We Are Wedding Crashers

Not like in the movie, because I ended up back at the RV with Nancy, not Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams).

As usual, we parked The Bus at Ottumwa City Park directly across from the "shelter house". This is our preferred site because we have no neighbors, great satellite reception and a bucolic view of the park, trees and geese. Little did we know that we were in for a wedding crasher adventure. When we learned that a wedding was going to take place in the shelter we were sure that either the bride or groom was related to Nancy or related to a friend (after all, we are in IA!) We were right. It turns out that the groom is the nephew of Nancy's childhood friend, John (See photos, below). John was accompanied by his daughter Elizabeth who just graduated from high school(see photo).

Nancy and John Hunt Elizabeth (John's daughter) and Art What a fantastic wedding it was! We were concerned because the day started out with rain and some pretty serious winds. This was the wedding of Jamie Taylor and Jacob Vanderpool, a beautiful young couple. The ceremony started with the bride and groom arriving by horse driven carriage and ended with them departing the same way...what a delightful and memorable sight that was.

Newlyweds - Jamie and Jacob Vanderpol Following the ceremony there was plenty of food and dancing. I thought that the cake was particularly moist and tasty.

Victor and Teresa Vanderpol - Parents of Groom

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Colorado National Monument

The Colorado National Monument at Fruita, CO (near Grand Junction) is a favorite stopping point as we head east. We stay at the Monument RV Park or the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park (they are accross the road from eachother and both have excellent amenities). We are passing through Fruita quickly this year, so some of the posted photos are from prior years.

Inside the State Park there is a bike/walking trail that runs parallel to the Colorado River.

Nancy on a Bike Ride Along the Colorado River We enjoy walking and bike riding along the river (it's relaxing to listen to the sound of flowing water and local birds). We also bike into town and up the hill to the monument entrance.

Fruita, CO is also "famous" for Miracle Mike aka Mike the Headless Chicken.

Art with Miracle Mike - Fruita, CO
Do you recoginize the couple with Nancy (below)?

Graham Kerr, Nancy and Treena - Fruita, CO

That is Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet and his wife Treena. We had a marvelous time with them at Fruita and again Datota Ridge in Golden, CO during 2005.

Our campsite at Monument RV Park

Two years ago I biked to the top of the monument... it was gruelling.!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Santa Barbara on Fire

My hometown is Santa Barbara. I spent my entire childhood and most of my adult life there. Santa Barbara has a problem with fires!

My first memory of a large scale wildfire was the Coyote Fire in September of 1964. We lived on Mountain Drive, the main battle zone for this fire. When the destructive wall of fire approached our home we quickly evacuated. As we were driving away we heard a large explosion and saw flames shooting over 100' into the night sky. It was not until we were allowed to return several days later that we learned that our house had not been consumed by the fire. It was our eucalyptus trees that had caused the explosion and flames. The houses to the West and South of us both burned. The Coyote Fire burned about 67,000 acres and destroyed or damaged about 150 buildings during a 10 day period.

Between 1964 and 1972 there were several other wildfires of note, but I was away (military service and college). The Sycamore wildfire was the next conflagration that is vivid in my memory. Late July of 1977 was unbearably hot (94 degrees the afternoon of the fire). We were in the middle of a drought and everything was kindling-like dry. Those conditions and a box kite shorting out power lines lead to the 5th worst fire ($26 million dollar damage) in California history (at the time). The firestorm (pushed by winds exceeding 70 mph) took a severe toll in just 7 hours. 195 homes were destroyed in that one night. Many of the people who lost their homes were childhood friends and neighbors. I will never forget the sights, sounds and odor of that night.

Although the Wheeler Fire of 1985 was the next major wildfire in the area, I don't really have much of a memory of it. However, I vividly remember the Painted Cave Fire of June-July of 1990. The end of June was unseasonably hot and dry for Santa Barbara. We had 3 consecutive days that hit over 100 degrees. Again, conditions were perfect for a devastating fire. Even though this fire started high in the Santa Ynez Mountains behind Santa Barbara (at the intersection of Hwy 154 and Painted Cave Road), in just 27 minutes the fire involved the "Trout Club" and was enveloping Santa Barbara homes. Although this wildfire lasted 7 days, in the first 4 hours this inferno razed over 500 homes and destroyed over $250 million dollars of property! It had traveled 5 miles downhill cutting a swath between Goleta and Santa Barbara setting afire entire neighborhoods in it's path. The fire jumped the combination of our 6 lane freeway and the two side roads, Calle Real and Hollister and continued burning down stores, restaurants, businesses, apartment buildings, and more houses on the other side. It appeared nothing but the Pacific Ocean itself was going to stop this fire. I was living in the Samarkand area at the time. Even though we were in no immediate danger, we had to evacuate (in our RV) because the volume of smoke and ash made it impossible to stay. We had the luxury of sitting in our RV 20 miles away watching the fire and it's blazing 150'-200' flames on our TV. Many of my friends and clients were not so lucky! Because the fire moved so quickly, people were happy to just get out alive...there was no time to remove photos and other valuable/precious possessions.

For the last 5 years we have generally traveled in our RV from early May through December, so we missed the devastating Zaca Fire of 2007. The Zaca Fire, the largest fire in Santa Barbara's history and the second largest in the state, burned for months. The Zaca Fire burned about 375 square miles of the Los Padres National Forest. This wildfire did limited damage to man-made structures but wreaked havoc in the National Forest. The months of smoke and ash made breathing difficult and almost impossible for residents with asthma. While we were gone the ash from this fire engulfed the exterior of our "Trailer" and managed to infiltrate and leave ash in every nook and cranny inside.

Again, we were traveling during most of 2008. This time we missed two destructive firestorms, the Gap Fire and the Tea Fire. The Gap fire started July 1, 2008 and continued to burned for over a month, involving about 10,000 acres. No homes were destroyed, but the amount of devastation in the foothills of the mountains was serious. The fire season for Santa Barbara is generally June-September, so we were shocked to learn of the Tea Fire that started on November 13th. This 4-day conflagration, fanned by "sundowner winds" up to 90 mph burned about 2,000 acres, destroyed 210 homes and cost over $6 million dollars to fight. It was not until we returned to Santa Barbara in late December that I learned that my childhood home (saved during the Coyote Fire) was totally destroyed in the Tea Fire (I know the current owners). I have 2 clients and friends that lost thre homes in this holocost. The fire was named after the "Tea Gardens", a popular hangout in the foothills for over 50 years. I spent a lot of time there as a teenager.

Santa Barbara was off to an early summer season for 2009. In early May the temperatures were high and the humidity low. From our winter home we could see the foothills changing color from green to brown. However, we had no inkling of what was about to unfurl. On the afternoon of Tuesday May 5th a wildfire was ignited near the Jesusita Trail in the Santa Barbara foothills. Fueled by high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds, the fire quickly moved to inhabitated areas. By Thursday evening the inferno had consumed thousands of acres (final toll was over 8,700 acres) and destroyed 80 homes. Thursday night we loaded photos into the truck (just in case). By early Friday morning we in the mandatory evacuation area. Once again, our home was spared. Not so lucky was a friend that had 20 minutes warning and lost his home and most possessions. Santa Barbara has a fire problem!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Santa Barbara I Madonnari

It has been years since we have been in Santa Barbara for Memorial Day weekend. Each Memorial Day weekend since 1987 the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival has been held at the Old Mission. The plaza of the Old Mission is transformed with 200 colorful, large-scale street paintings created by 400 artists and young people. The artists (madonnari) begin working on Saturday morning of the Memorial Day weekend and continue drawing throughout the three-day festival or until their street paintings are completed. For 25,000 annual visitors, the festival also features live music on the Mission lawn and free evening concerts in the church, authentic Italian cuisine, and a special street painting area for children.

Since we were in town we decided to take an evening stroll among the artwork (some still in progress). It was a beautiful evening and the artworks were beautifully vibrant and vairied in theme.

Here is a Link to my 2009 Santa Barbara I Madonnari album on Picassa.

Here is a Link to a gallery of photos (not mine) from last years festival.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting Old Sucks!

A year ago we all celebrated my mom's 90th birthday.(See Below)

At age 90 she was able to walk a little and get pretty much anywhere with a walker .

For her 91st birthday we took her to the Beachside Restaurant (See Below).

Now, just a few months later she is unable to do anything by herself. It really sucks! She has always been a very strong independent, woman and now she is totally dependent. It makes me sad.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Tried Face Book

The last few months everything on the TV or the radio seems to have mentioned Facebook or Twitter. A few days ago Nancy joined both and has been spending hours every day on her accounts. I got curious and jealous and decided to take the plunge. I setup my Facebook account this morning. What a nightmare! Within 10 minutes I had way too many "friends", instant messages, and all kinds of "stuff" on my wall. I was definitely in information overload. I have always called Nancy the "Great Communicator", a title she well deserves. I am not sure whether to continue with my Facebook account or leave such communications with Nancy and just live vicariously through her experiences.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Late Start for 2009

We are getting a late start on our 2009 RV Travels. We had planned to leave our winter home on April 30 and head for the Escapade in Sedalia Missouri (May 24-29) follolwed by a trip to South Dakota to walk out on the arm of Chief Crazy Horse (a once a year Volksmarch during the first weekend in June).

We are currently in Temecula, CA visiting our youngest son and helping him shop for a home. He is a first time home-buyer and the whole process is new and exciting for him, his girlfriend Summer and us.

Nancy, Brian, Summer and I saw "Angels and Demons" yesterday. Even though it was 2.5 hours, we all enjoyed the movie.
We all (including Summer's parents...Bruce & Mary)

went to dinner at Lucile's Smokehouse BBQ. The baby back ribs were good, but I have had much better. We all tried the fried dill pickles and they received a grade of A+ from the entire table.

We will return to SB tomorrow to get packed and leave on our annual trip about 5/22.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

About Us

We are Art & Nancy from RV LIFESTYLE.
This is our first attempt at “blogging”, so we will learn as we go

We currently “winter” in “The Trailer”.

We live here from the end of December through April.

When "Tax Season" ends we take up residence in “The Bus”.

We travel about the US and Canada in The Bus until we return to The Trailer in December.

While traveling we enjoy bicycle riding, hiking, cooking, playing with the Internet, and visiting with friends.
Please join us on our travels by visiting our “blog” frequently. Feel free to leave comments.