And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sick (Forgive this rant)

Winter’s hush has stolen across this land. For two days we’ve been in the slick deep-freeze of frozen fog at 17 degrees. After my feet just about went out from under me this morning with an ever-increasing layer of ice, I used my last bag of cat litter (sorry Tucker), scattering it across my RV steps and the entire porch, ramp and steps leading to my parent’s house.

Although beautiful in its way, this stuff is no joke. The entire RV has frozen again; as last night we ran out of propane at 3 a.m. Despite running some electric space heaters to try and evaporate the condensation literally dripping behind the bed which has left the mattress a sopping mess of mold at the head leaning against the slide sidewall, all our water pipes remain stubbornly frozen. Do you know what’s it like to try and live in a place with every cupboard, door and drawer wide open?

I’m feeling like the Scrooge who stole Christmas; in such a foul mood I don’t recognize myself. I am sick of this cold, sick of being in a town I don’t want to be in, sick of the damage we are encountering in our RV on a daily basis, sick of sliding around corners when I try and drive my non-4 wheel drive car with bald tires. And sick that my father is still in the hospital and not making a whole lot of progress. Ah…is this what is meant by “the winter of our discontent?”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Season's Greetings From the Pacific Northwest

Bend isn’t due to get a white Christmas this year but it sure is cold enough for one! On Christmas we will gather in mom’s kitchen with our kids here and hopefully, maybe Dad will be released from the hospital in time to join us. He is working hard in rehab but still having difficulty with much movement.

We’re settled into our RV spot (battling daily to maintain our water supply without it freezing) for an indefinite duration. Marc is working on repairing the Freightliner, the generator, the frozen broken parts in the RV, and even some things on the Dodge.

Wherever you are in your travels in life, Marc and I wish you a joyous holiday and time with your friends and families.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Even our cat was figuring some of the fresh crab should be his after cooking it today. Marc decided he wants to make a New Year’s Crab Cioppino so we hit the Crab Shack in Charleston and purchased three live crabs to cook and freeze to take with us. It kills us to have to pay for crab but with the boat under wraps and no ’09 crabbing licenses we decided to wait until after the New Years to do our own crabbing.

It’s been a seafood kinda week, with our friends Paul and Virginia having taken us to the Bandon waterfront one day for lunch at the Bandon Fish Market where the feature is fresh cod fish and chips served with clam chowder. You'll note we were the only ones in the parking lot the weather was so nasty. Leaving, I just had to grab some smoked salmon dip for crackers which I later found was to die for. We'll definitely be going back for more of that stuff! It was a day of pouring rain and blustery winds, causing the sea to become a murderous caldron but it was great to see friends and get caught up.

Being here has been a relaxing experience after the trauma of the past few weeks but we take off tomorrow for Bend to see what will become of my father and to enjoy a family Christmas. Hopefully by now, the RV is defrosted so we can live in it and Marc can start to get everything fixed on all the rolling stock.

Mission accomplished here: the park model is officially on the market with a Broker on locbox so it can be shown any time, so we’ll hope we see some play on that before March.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Why is it I always want to be where I’m not? Our recent cold temps have me pining for our lot in Yuma where I note it is going to be 68 degrees late this week. To add insult to injury, the low there will be the high here in Coos Bay. The guest on our lot tells me she is loving our place; a “wish you were here” from afar. I had another “wish you were here” moment this morning, transported by a loving husband to the times we spent in the islands—soft wind whistling through palms, large rum drinks, intense sun, and donning fins and snorkels to immerse ourselves for hours in bathtub water while we watched strange and colorful fish. Now how did I come up with those thoughts when it’s been months or years since I’ve thought of those vacations?

My mind lingering in the islands, we next pulled anchor on our sailboat and sailed off for another palm-tree laden idyllic bay to explore. God, I long to be there again. At least I was able to walk on a beach this afternoon as I listened to the Charleston waves gently roll up right at my feet under a chill winter sun. It was a calm day in the bay with few crabbers out and no raucous gulls calling. I felt I did the walk for my father, the Navy vet who will never see his beloved ocean again. He has told me many times recently he would just like to get to the coast “one more time”, that being here is almost bittersweet for me. I am left wondering if that’s the way it is as we face dying. Do we think of those favorite things we will miss forever, like a loving husband and a gently rocking sailboat beneath us, sipping rum drinks?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Deep Freeze--in Bend

I think we’re finally moving beyond our arctic temperatures; we started out with 11 degrees this morning instead of -10 of the past few days. The routine here in Bend remains much the same, revolving around the timing of the daily trips to the hospital. The latest prognosis on my father is that he could be in the hospital rehab unit for another three weeks and beyond that is still a mystery.

Our RV remains totally frozen inside so Marc hasn’t deployed the slides or even parked it in its spot. Despite running the two Olympic catalytic heaters non-stop, none of the water or drain lines have yet unthawed enough to really live in the thing. We’re hoping it unthaws this coming week with rising temps since we leave tomorrow for Coos Bay. It’s imperative we attend to some things there; plus even the coast got down as low as 20 degrees and we want to make sure there was no damage to the park model. This trip we only intend to be in Coos Bay for about a week since my mother continues to depend upon us to help out. Once back here, Marc needs to work on fixing the generator and the Freightliner yet again. It blew a gasket just before his trip back from Washington so he limped it in covered in spewn oil. What a messy sight.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Have Been Remiss...

in updating all my readers on my father’s condition. It has been a very trying week for all involved as he was finally moved from three days in intensive care to a regular room. He is making slow improvements but because of his broken shoulder, his ability to use a walker and try and get his hip moving has not been successful. He is being evaluated for the possibility of entering the hospital rehab unit on Monday but after another unsuccessful attempt to move his leg and take a step today, even he is wondering how he will do in a program which may prove way too vigorous for him.

Dealing with everyone’s emotions and the physical task of driving my mother to the hospital every day, and then many times sitting there for hours and hours with them both, has taken its toll on me. I am awash with uncertainty over what may come next and how this will impact the entire family. My mother seems to outwardly maintain but seems moments from the ragged edge of a complete breakdown. I probably appear that way myself, trying to juggle thoughts of a winter in Bend and helping them and the absolutely crushing burden of the fact that we soon must get jobs or go under financially. How can one be forced to make such a decision?

Sunday, November 29, 2009


At dawn on Saturday, my birthday as it happened, we got the bad news that my 87 year old father had fallen and broken both his shoulder and his hip. He was being prepped for surgery, which turned out to take place just before we arrived at the hospital in our emergency drive from Washington. The news wasn’t good as we met with all the family in the lobby—my father has several health issues—and his blood pressure was falling dangerously low. That forced a quick surgery which only allowed the doctor enough time to complete the hip and not the shoulder. His shoulder will remain broken to heal on its own.

This morning as I write this, he is still in the Intensive Care Unit but seems to be doing better than he was late last evening. He is able to receive visitors and we take turns seeing him.

Due to some issues with pay, we did not get the duplex completed last week as we thought we would so we left the RV behind in Washington. Marc will return with my daughter to finalize that whole situation and get the RV towed back to Bend. I will remain with my mom.

This will be a waiting game now, to see how well he can do. Somehow, with this year having been so bad for us, this doesn’t greatly surprise us but we sure wish it would end and that things will turn out OK for my father.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Marc was successful in fixing the Freightliner’s fuel injector problem on his own. After checking in with the CAT garage and getting an ungodly estimate of around $1000 for the fix, he took the bull by the horns and ordered an online injector through the very helpful Oregon Fuel Injectors out of Eugene. In a go for broke move that involved fashioning special tools out of some throw-away wrenches he carries along just for such occasions, he wrestled and wrestled with getting the fuel injector out of its slot in his makeshift “garage”. Finally, it broke loose, allowing the new one to be installed without mishap. The truck is idling much smoother and now acts like its ready to roll. Total savings: about $800!

Speaking of rolling, we’ve been doing lots of that recently in Buckley’s high winds. We’re closing in on a week’s worth of high winds and rain and woke one morning to find our stuff, including a heavy milk crate strewn about the lawn area feet from the rig. Believe me; we’re not normally this messy of a camper! Marc snuck in a picture on our one day of sunshine in the last two weeks so we can prove that occasionally Washington does get sun in winter. I was still too sick to get out and enjoy it.

This week should bring some of the final tasks necessary for the completion of one side of the duplex. The flooring was completed and looks fantastic given what was in there before. Some new replacement doors will arrive Tuesday and after Marc gets them hung I should be able to complete my final clean. It will be nice to put this one to bed and be on our way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Waning Days of Fall

The days meld one into the other as we continue to get ever closer to wrapping up things on the duplex. The roofers finished their job; Marc got the torn out laundry room reframed, sheetrocked, taped and textured and then we draped the entire place and got the interior painted. Lowe’s will be laying new vinyl throughout on Monday, new carpet on Tuesday and then I will have my final hours of the overall cleanup to finish off the inside. Marc however, will still need to do some things on the outside and also some minor repair to the other occupied unit before the job is entirely finished.

Just today, I will finish up the last of the painting--all the closet shelves and a good thing too as I am coming down with a cold that Marc has fought for the past week. I’m sure within a day or two I won’t even feel like working; I already feel my energy ebbing.

We had hoped to be able to spend Thanksgiving in Oregon with family but fate isn’t going to allow that since the Freightliner is still broken down and we’re waiting on parts. At least we hope to be able to spend it with Rachael. We’ve already got the big bird just waiting in our freezer!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bucket Lists--Phooey!

I forget actually when I did it, I’m thinking now probably in the early 2000’s; I made a “bucket list” for our RV travels (which I posted). Despite dutiful searching of my hard drive and website I can no longer find it (multiple computer and web crashes since) but I remember some of the things. We have accomplished some, albeit maybe not in the places I imagined. For example, I imagined seeing New England’s fall foliage from a curvy back road on a motorcycle—we didn’t exactly make New England but we had a good glimmer in Wisconsin in the fall of 2006. I also remember wanting to canoe the swamps of South Carolina, see the mansions of Charleston and Savannah on a humid day in summer, and eat lobster on a rocky Maine coast. Nope: didn’t get to those.

With a major birthday looming in November I have been dwelling of late on bucket lists. At 60 it dawns on you (if not before) that you aren’t going to live forever and in fact, statistically, quite a few people actually don’t make it out of this decade into the next. So I’ve been pondering: is my bucket list the same now as then? What does it all really come down to? What if I only have a few years left to live? How do I want them?

There was a good analogy done on video by a famous RV guru, Gaylord Maxwell. He was in his 70’s and giving a seminar when he unveiled a standard tape measure for a demonstration. He measured out an inch for every year he had lived. The tape looked long. Then he held that measurement and measured out a standard life expectancy for a man his age and then held his age and the expectancy between two fingers. It looked woefully small. Then he asked: “What are you going to do with what’s left on your time line” Gaylord died of a heart attack unexpectedly less than two years later; not making his "expected" time line.

Today, would my bucket list look the same? I would have to answer “I don’t think so.” I guess with expanding age, my horizons seem to have shortened. The brutal truth of what an awful recession has wreaked on our finances and our abilities to be employed has been “enlightening” to say the least. Life no longer seems “out in front, but behind”. When did I suddenly turn THAT corner? There’s nothing like no one wanting to employ you that will bring home the fact that you are now among the unwanted; that you are worn out; that you are old; indeed , as if you ever had doubt when looking into the mirror each morning.

My beautiful husband still tells me how he finds me desirable. But it breaks my heart to see him realize, at five years younger than I, that he is now recognizing all of the above when before he felt himself bulletproof. After all—he was at the top of his game—a lifetime of knowledge and skill gleaned from years and years of hard work and application and just the drudge of plain showing up for the grind year after year. A lifetime of experience: it’s as if it now means nothing. He watches inept people who are working and says “They have a job. Why don’t I?”

I’m trying to start a new bucket list. I guess such is always tied to dreams, isn’t it--but the list is much shorter than the one I did before. I find it’s a mix of practicalities and wild exaggeration and I wonder in my 60 year old heart, which will win out? Dare we live out the life we wish we could? One thing I have come to understand: bucket lists cost money. The great unknowable: I would spend it all on attaining that canoe trip in South Carolina or eating that lobster on Maine's rocky shore if I knew I wouldn’t make it out of my sixties alive. Thoughts of old age and not enough money haunt me; I am greatly saddened by the thought my bucket list will likely never be attained, even as I shorten it by leaps and bounds daily. Is it thoughts like this which lead to creating the bitterness we find in old people, full of regrets? But given finite resources and grandiose dreams, how to meld the two into something I can age and live with? Woe the child who is born a dreamer….life eventually crushes it out of the best of us. No wonder so many believe in Heaven; ever striving for what won’t be attainable on Earth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


About two weeks ago Marc was driving back from working on the duplex when he noticed smoke pouring out of the back of the Freightliner. Pulling over to check, he found the ground wiring to the generator and all the wiring to the auxiliary fuel tank entirely melted together from fire. No, the generator was not running at the time and this followed upon us having just used it for a hundred hours dry camping at Ft. Lewis. Since the generator weighs about 800 pounds, there is no sure way to tell if the fire burnt up the motor until we arrive back in Bend to the use the shop hoist. Needless to say right now; no boondocking in our future if this turkey (Onan) is burnt up. At eight grand it’s not something we will be able to replace.

Three days ago as Marc was on his way to Lowe’s for parts and I was still working in the duplex, he called to say he was back at the RV and the Freightliner wouldn’t run. It had suddenly started running on five cylinders and then stopped running completely. Since Marc uses the Freightliner not only as a pickup for the large and heavy items like sheet rock and doors for this duplex repair, its use is obviously crucial to the job to say nothing of having to haul the rig over to the sewer dump every ten days. He changed out the fuel filter but it was still running terribly rough. He made one last run for the heavy stuff he needed from Lowe’s and has now parked it. Despite the fact that what he really wants to do is shoot it and put it out of its misery, the only thing for us to do is chase down an unknown Caterpillar dealer for a service shop and likely pay thousands of dollars to delve into what is wrong with it at this point. It is very obvious we will never make it out of Washington and over the mountain passes with the rig with it operating on five cylinders and barely running.

So much for any profit from this job…If it weren’t for bad luck, we would have no luck at all.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Or should I say: happy Hallo-moon...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does This Look Cold?

It didn’t seem that long ago that I was sitting in my lawn chair in the dry camping parking lot at Ft. Lewis soaking up the warm 80 degree sunshine and marveling that we had enjoyed such nice weather in Washington. Now look at it! Overnight temps are frequently in the mid 30’s and we have come to expect rain on three days out of four. It has slowed work on the duplex tremendously but Marc is finally tackling the roof. Fall is showing her last vestiges.

I have taken to walking a country lane just down the road from the Eagles Lodge. It’s quiet with no traffic but I did spot an interesting piece of property for sale so checked on it. It’s 4.5 acres listed for $63,000 which seemed reasonable until I checked the property tax rate, which was a whopping $3950. Given this piece is undeveloped with any utilities or improvements, not even a fence, I was quite amazed. Maybe we don’t want Washington property. Just down from this piece is a very nice field (at least 20 acres) with an old barn. I can only imagine what taxes must be like on that! I remember owning homes where the mortgage payment wasn’t as much as what many properties tax bill now runs a month. In fact, there’s just something downright wrong with that equation isn’t there?

Monday, October 26, 2009

This and That

Buckley, WA where we are now located, sits below the towering volcano, supposedly below the snow line and above the fog. Somehow that hasn’t seemed to impact the rain however. This town of only 4500 is strung out along Highway 410; a highway which continues its way into Mt. Rainier National Park and on over the pass east to the Yakima Valley. That portion of the highway is closed right now however due to a massive landslide.

Buckley is a heritage town, meaning it was formed in territorial days, 1888, with the primary enterprises of a railroad siding and timber. Once timber was depleted, the area became heavily agricultural which seems to be the main business today as well. The compact downtown two blocks are filled with a few formerly resplendent buildings and small shops, three of which surprisingly happen to be photographers. Who would have thought there would be such a need for photographers in such a small town? Upon exploration I came across one of those treasures you sometimes find, a combination thrift/antique store filled to the rafters with some great finds if only I had a house.

There is only a distance of four miles between Buckley and Enumclaw. Enumclaw is larger at 11,500 and the downtown has more of a presence and vibrancy to it. Its history is similar to Buckley’s from the same era, the mid 1880’s but always veered more towards the agricultural. A little known fact is that today the surrounding area serves as one of the largest thoroughbred horse-breeding and boarding areas in the United States.

Fall is a glorious time to enjoy the area. There is a marvelous walking pathway being developed called Rails to Trails which uses old railway beds for pathways. A walk around town brings me face to face with the most famous reason for Enumclaw’s existence—Mutual of Enumclaw. Who hasn’t heard of this insurance giant, housed in a rather drab smallish headquarters’ building on a side street? Despite the busy traffic, the downtown definitely reeks of small town America. It’s hard to keep a smile from my face as I walk around it with all the others, enjoying fall.