Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are facing the culmination of another year. Was it a happy one for you? It was for me. I met some really wonderful people and had some incredible experiences. I'm so grateful for the new friends that I have made, and for the old ones that still put up with me. I got to see places that I had wanted to see for years, and do things that turned out to be even better than I imagined. Some of my favorites: Baja, the Grand Canyon, the Utah national parks, Mesa Verde, Carlsbad Caverns, the New Mexico state parks, the UFO museum in Roswell, northern Minnesota, and seeing the whales and the dolphins. I feel very blessed, fortunate, and downright lucky. 2007 was definitely a good year for me. It was so good, I wish I could do it all over again!

I would like to thank all of you, my readers, for indulging the wanderings of my mind and imagination by reading this blog, and for your comments and emails. I hope that 2008 brings all of you much love, peace and joy. Happy New Year!

Rylie's Notes:

I've got big plans for New Year's Eve. I'm having a party with Max, Sparky, Mai Thai and Patty behind the dumpster, so I'm counting on The Staff pooping out before the stroke of midnight.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oh, So THAT'S My Problem

Sometimes I get so caught up in the task at hand, or the thoughts that I'm lost in, that I don't pay attention, even to my own body. Yesterday I was focused on driving to meet Julie and Bob. Since I stopped for the night in Bakersfield and they were visiting Bob's family in Van Nuys, we decided to meet for lunch in Palmdale. This would add about 90 miles to my trip, but I really wanted to see them. I got to Palmdale without a hitch and had a nice, although very short, visit with Julie and Bob. It was when I tried to leave Palmdale that I ran into trouble. Palmdale was trying to hold me captive, it seemed.

The traffic was really terrible and I had to sit through each traffic signal three or four times because of the long lines of cars. Although I was parked only a couple of blocks from the highway entrance, I could not seem to get there. When I finally got my turn going through the traffic signals, I couldn't get over to the correct lane in time to get on the highway. So then I had to go find a parking lot large enough for me to turn my big rig around in, and go back the other way. Well, it turned out they didn't have an entrance for the highway going the other direction, so I had to turn around yet again. All the while this meant sitting through traffic signals three or four times before I got my turn. It was one of those times when you want to either laugh, cry, or swear a blue streak. I'm ashamed to say that I chose the latter. It took me an extra half hour to get out of Palmdale.

But I wasn't done yet. I had to miss two more turns and do my little turn around dance before I could get back on track. What was my problem? Well, after I had to make an emergency stop, I figured it out. I was sick. I had felt a little sick after eating breakfast and felt really tired all morning, but hadn't paid much attention to it. Then I realized that my eye sockets were hurting, and that only happens when I'm sick.

So I made it to Barstow, but I wasn't home free yet. The campsite they gave me at the RV park wasn't long enough for me, so I had to turn around to go to another one. The guy who was guiding me to the new site told me to turn to the right, and against my better judgment, I did what he said. I barely made it, and only had an inch to spare before smashing my front bumper. But he got me to the new site where I fit just fine. But I still had to get hooked up, and by this time it was dark.

Using a flashlight, I got my surge protector on and the electrical cord hooked up, and then I started to connect my water hose, filter, and water pressure regulator. After numerous attempts, getting sprayed with cold water, and feeling sicker than a dog, I could not get everything connected without it leaking water. So I said "Screw it" and decided I had enough water in my tank and I could do without the water connection. So I got Rylie outside to relieve himself, dumped some food in his bowl and crawled into bed at 6:00 p.m. I slept for 13 hours. I'm surprised that Rylie let me sleep that long. He must have known I was sick.

It was only this morning that I realized that I had not flipped the switch on for the electric, so I had no electricity. Since I left the furnace on all night, although it was turned down, there is no telling how far I ran my batteries down. The blower on the furnace uses a lot of juice.

Sometimes you can use a little help, and yesterday was definitely one of those days for me. In my compromised state, I'm just lucky I didn't do anything dangerously stupid. Today I'll finish the journey to Pahrump in much better shape, although my stomach still hurts.

Rylie's Notes:

The poor Staff, she was a mess. I decided she needed a little time off to pull herself together.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bakersfield, Again?

Is Christmas really over already? Boy this past week just flew by, and here I am on my way back to Pahrump already. I wish I could have stayed in the Bay Area for New Year's, but my bank account is feeling a little thirsty, so I better get back to work. It wasn't quite as sad saying goodbye to Cammie this time, because I know that she and Brian are coming to visit me in Pahrump in a couple of weeks to celebrate my birthday. Yippee!

Here they are by their first little Christmas tree together, with Laila and Rylie.

I'm currently in Bakersfield again, breaking up the return trip. It's cold here today (for California, that is). I heard they were turning people away from the pass near Tehachapi on Highway 58 yesterday because of freezing rain, so I'm hoping I don't run into any of that nonsense tomorrow.

Rylie's Notes:

I would like to know why The Staff gave the pot roast leftovers to the Junior Staff. Was that really necessary? Will the Junior Staff appreciate those leftovers as much as I would have? I don't think so. I might have to put The Staff on probation for that stunt. She is in grave danger of losing her position.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

The above is the extent of the Christmas decorations in my motorhome, just a tiny little tree. Once I piled the presents by the tree, it pretty much disappeared.

I had a great Christmas Eve lunch with my friend Nancy, and Rylie and I had a really fun Christmas celebration with Cammie, Brian, and his family. Cammie spent the night with me on Christmas Eve, then the following morning we opened gifts and I cooked Cammie's requested meal of pot roast. Then we went bowling, played tennis, shot baskets, and played carnival games, all from the comfort of her living room on Brian's Wii system. That sure is fun, but I think my arm will be sore tomorrow.

Rylie had fun playing with his new toy, a little stuffed dog that barks "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." He sure plays rough with those stuffed toys, though.

Rylie's Notes:

I'm going to quiet that little barking dog if it's the last thing I do. Then I'm going to destroy the antlers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Back to California

I hit the road again today to drive back to the Bay Area for Christmas with Cammie. Last night we had a really strong wind and some hail, so I was a bit concerned about the wind giving me some trouble today. I don't like driving the motorhome in strong wind, and there was a wind advisory in place. This morning it was still really windy in Pahrump, but I decided to go for it anyway, since the weather report said it would be windy on Saturday too.

Apparently I was so focused on the wind that I didn't pay close attention to my launch preparations. I drove off with my TV antenna still up, but luckily some kind person at the Escapees park saw me and called the office, so they caught me on the way out. I also left the door to my DVD player and movies open, so they started raining down upon me as I hit the road. Pay attention, Heidi!

The wind turned out to be no problem at all. I got pushed around a bit near Pahrump and again on I-15, but that was it. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing. I stopped for the night in Bakersfield. Next stop, Pleasanton.

Can you believe it, I'm still not done with my Christmas shopping! Eeeeek!!!

Rylie's Notes:

The Junior Staff will be happy to see me, and the Little Squirt too. The Staff shouldn't worry about shopping. She has my present, so she needn't worry. I know, because I peeked.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Las Vegas

Well, I'm not much of a gambler. I have yet to stick a nickel in a slot machine since I've been here in Nevada. However, I do enjoy seeing shows, and I have seen a couple of shows in Las Vegas this time around. I saw The Producers with Tony Danza at the Paris Hotel, and Spamalot at the Wynn. Both were very funny and entertaining shows, although I think I liked The Producers a bit better. Show tickets are pricey, but you can get half price tickets to some shows to ease the pain a bit.

Las Vegas really isn't my kind of place, but there certainly is a lot to see and the people watching is fun. On a previous visit a few years ago I saw Cirque de Soleil's show O, and it remains my all time favorite show. I thought it was pretty spectacular, and Cammie really liked it too.

I took the day off work yesterday to go to Las Vegas to do some Christmas shopping. There really isn't any good shopping in Pahrump. I'm really behind on my Christmas preparations. Normally by now I would have been long done with the shopping, the Christmas cards would be mailed, most of the gifts would be wrapped and the Christmas baking the only thing still to do. I used to really enjoy Christmas, but I think I have lost a bit of my enthusiasm for this hectic holiday. Maybe because I have been focusing on simplifying my life, and Christmas seems to have gotten more and more complicated as the years pass. I know that my motorhome has gotten really messy with all of the gifts, wrapping and whatnot all around. I still enjoy spending time with family and friends, but I just don't like all of the frenzied shoppers and tired, stressed out people. I also don't like being far away from my family, but soon I'll be scooting back to the Bay Area to spend Christmas with Cammie and friends. While I was driving to and from Vegas yesterday I listened to Christmas music, so that got me in the holiday spirit. My current favorite Christmas CD is Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong, but Bing Crosby is always good too.

It's raining tonight, so that means more cement boots for Rylie in the morning. I'm so glad I have that outside shower on the motorhome. I use it nearly every day, since he manages to find the mud from the sprinklers throughout the RV park, in spite of my best efforts to avoid it.

Rylie's Notes:

Obviously The Staff has forgotten how good it feels to walk through the mud and feel it squishing through her toes, or she would be taking off her shoes and joining me in the mud.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hoover Dam

I'm not usually a fan of cement structures, but the Hoover Dam is quite a feat of engineering. I couldn't explore the Las Vegas area and not see the Hoover Dam. They are building a new bridge near the dam, and boy is it impressive. It's a very high bridge. I noticed there are a huge number of electrical towers near Hoover Dam. It would really be a pretty area if it weren't for those spindly towers blemishing the hillsides.

No dogs are allowed on the top of the dam, so Rylie took a nap in the car. It's just as well, because it was extremely windy and cold on top of the dam. I never leave Rylie in the car when it's hot, and even when it's chilly out, I leave all of the windows cracked so he can get some fresh air. He always waits patiently, and never makes a fuss in the car. He's a good little traveler.

Looking Down the Dam

Rylie's Notes:

Of course I'm a good, little traveler. It's my life, what else am I going to do? Besides, Border Collies are good at just about everything, except tolerating loud noises.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Red Rock Canyon

Not far from Pahrump and Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon. Rylie and I had a great hike here, although there was quite a bit of climbing up and down for his short little legs. He needed a little boost now and then. You could see for miles at the top, but unfortunately that included the smog of Las Vegas. As you can see from Rylie's yawn in the photo below, the hike really wore him out. He slept really hard the next day and was probably a little bit sore. He's a good little hiker.

Rylie's Notes:
I wasn't tired and sore from the hike, I was just letting The Staff take it easy after the hike. I figured she was probably tired and sore. I could hike like that every day, no problem.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Death Valley

While I was in Death Valley I peeked into a couple of canyons, one of which was Marble Canyon. This is a beautiful hike squirreling through walls of polished marble. It was late afternoon when I came out of this canyon, and the setting sun was lighting up the mountains on the far side of the valley.

Rylie's Notes:

Did someone say squirrel?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Death Valley

Busy, busy, busy! I haven't even had a chance to do a blog post, sorry folks. I've been able to check out some of the nearby sights, and Death Valley is one of them. I had no idea there is so much interesting scenery to see in Death Valley. I need to go back there, because there are some hikes that I still want to do. But not in the summertime, thank you!

Death Valley Sand Dunes

Badwater Basin

Rylie's Notes:

I wasn't invited.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cement Boots

It rained all day yesterday, so no sales activity for me. I did drive around and locate homes so that work would be faster today. The only thing I don't like about this Escapees park is how muddy it gets when it rains, and it's the sticky kind of mud. When I walked Rylie it looked like he was wearing cement moon boots by the time we were done. The mud just kept building on his furry feet, and then it would collect gravel and twigs that got stuck between the pads of his feet. Naturally this didn't feel so good to walk on, so he didn't want to walk. I had to carry him the rest of the way home, and that guy is a bit porky to be carried. When we got to the motorhome I had to use the outside shower to wash his feet so he didn't drag all of that mud inside. I had to do that TWICE, because even a short potty break brought on another pair of cement boots. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

The rain was transformed into snow in the mountains, and it's cold today!

Rylie's Notes:

I'd like to see The Staff walk with rocks between her toes and under her feet. She would want to be carried too. I'm not porky, I'm stocky.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Isn't that a great name for a desert town? Instead of driving through Las Vegas, I took the back way to Pahrump along SR-127, passing sand dunes and mountains striped like Easter eggs. Pahrump has a little more happening than I was expecting (I wasn't expecting much). It has several casinos, of course, and the usual Super WalMart, but there is also a winery and a museum of brothel art. That's just what I noticed driving through town, so who knows what else might be hiding in Pahrump? The people I have met so far have been very nice and helpful.

The nice thing about Pahrump is that it has an Escapees RV park, and those are the best deal in town for Escapees members like me. Also, the people are very friendly at Escapees parks, and they have a lot of social activities going on all of the time. They aren't the fanciest place in town, but that's okay with me. I'm comfortable here. I'm having a couple of days of chores and errands to prepare for the work marathon coming up this month. I'll be working hard until Christmas.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is threatening to work a lot, so it looks like I'll have to round up some of the neighbor dogs for entertainment. No squirrels here, so I guess I'll be chasing rabbits or those funny looking roadrunners.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Shiny, New Penny

That's what my Dad used to say I was after I had a bath when I was a kid. Well today my motorhome is a shiny new penny. After I got my propane detector replaced at the Lazy Daze factory, I brought in the motorhome for a wash and wax. It takes three or four guys a couple of hours, so it's money well spent, I say. Then I drove to Riverside and spent the night at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park. I'm a Passport America member, so Rylie and I can stay there for $10 a night Monday through Thursday. Rylie likes it there because they give him treats, and I think he remembered it from last time because he looked like he was expecting one when we pulled in.

Speaking of treats, I think I might need to do an intervention soon with Rylie. He has gotten quite addicted to his Kong. Kongs are those rubber things that you stuff with treats and give to dogs to keep them entertained for awhile -- or a few seconds, if you happen to be Rylie. He makes fast work of those things. Sometimes he tries to skip his breakfast and try to talk me into stuffing the Kong, but I don't let him get away with that. He has become quite a Kong junkie. Pretty soon he'll be pawning my belongings to buy Kong treats.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff likes to exaggerate. I do not have a problem. I can quit the Kong any time I want to. I just don't want to. Besides, I would never pawn her belongings to get money to buy treats. I would just steal them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I wasn't ready to leave the Bay Area, but I hit the road today for Pahrump, Nevada anyway. I had to leave a bit earlier than expected to try to nab one of the last campsites in Pahrump so that I can do some Air Photo work. Why is everyone staying in Pahrump? According to what I've heard, there is nothing there, although I've never been there. It didn't even occur to me that the campgrounds in Pahrump could fill up at this time of year, but I guess they do. The traffic on I-5 was really terrible, every square inch of the way. I was planning to stay near the Lazy Daze factory "mother ship" in Montclair tonight, but I couldn't make it. I had to stop at a Wally World for the night because it was dark, I was tired, and that was enough time on the road already. Get me off the freeway before I scream!

I'm hoping that the folks at Lazy Daze will take pity on me tomorrow and squeeze me in, because they promised to replace my shrieking propane detector. It got overly sensitive from being in the humidity awhile back, so the manufacturer of the detector sent me a replacement, free of charge. Apparently this happens. The installation requires some wire splicing and I'm not comfortable doing that, so Lazy Daze said they would take care of it for me. They are a good company, I must say. They have taken very good care of me and my Magic Carpet.

Every time I drive along I-580 east of Livermore among all of the wind turbines in the hills, I am reminded of how spooky they look. There is something so Edward Scissorhands about them. Today they were all eerily still. I don't think I've ever seen them all completely motionless like that.

I had a nice day yesterday. I got a haircut, had a picnic with Cammie, Brian and the dogs at the Lafayette Reservoir (forgot my camera), and then Brian had to go to work so Cammie and I had a bite to eat and then went to a movie. We saw August Rush. It was a little corny at times, but we both enjoyed the music. We had one of those good mother-daughter talks that you luck upon now and then. I'm sad to leave my little chickadee, but I'll be back at Christmas.

Rylie's Notes:

There was a serious infringement on my napping time yesterday. First a long trot with The Staff in the morning, then a spin around my old neighborhood park in Concord, then more exploring at the Lafayette Reservoir. It was fun, but humans just don't understand the value and importance of a good afternoon nap. Einstein was a champion napper, you know, and look what he accomplished. Luckily, today was a long driving day, so my napping is all caught up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Did We All Get Stuffed?

Thanksgiving Dinner

I know that I did, but what a delicious meal! It was a fun day with Cammie and Brian's family. What a nice bunch they are. I guess a lot of people were out today trying to undo the damage from yesterday, because I saw a lot of people out exercising on the trail this morning.

Today I got the oil changed on my car and then make a trip to Camping World to replace the water pressure regulator I left on some campground faucet not long ago, plus the door mat that I left in a puddle somewhere, and got some more holding tank chemical. I avoided that whole Black Friday shopping mess.

I'm including a picture of Rylie in the dog run at Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa. They have one of the largest and nicest dog runs I've seen at a campground.

Rylie's Notes:

Where are the leftovers?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Olympic Bed-Making

I don't know how many of you readers are RV owners, but have you noticed how difficult it is to make the beds they put in those RV's? Whether it is an over-the-cab bed or one like mine, a queen bed that they squashed between two closets with barely an inch to spare on either side, those suckers are hard to make! It takes a surprising amount of strength and flexibility to put the clean sheets and blankets on those beds, especially if you have the thick, fluffy comforters like I have. And then there is the wrestling match with the fitted sheet -- I think it should be an Olympic competition event.

Nothing is more frustrating than working up a sweat battling the fitted sheet into the microscopic space between the wall and the closet at the top of the bed on either side, only to discover that I have the sheet on the wrong way. That's like giving your all in the perfect gymnastic floor exercise only to step off the mat on the final landing. Grrrrr. And those poor folks with the over-the-cab beds have it even worse. That's like doing the balance beam routine inside a Smart Car.
And then there is Rylie. He seems to like jumping onto the bed when I'm making it and plopping his body down right on top of the comforter I'm wrestling with, maybe hoping I'll wrestle with him instead. So then I have to chase him off the bed and go back to my wrestling. I guess it's a chase and wrestle event.

While we're on the subject, there is something I've noticed since I've been sleeping in this bed. Every morning I wake up with eggbeater hair. This has only been happening since I've been sleeping in the motorhome, but every morning I wake up and it looks like someone took an eggbeater to my hair while I was sleeping. I'm not talking about artfully messy here, or playfully out of place, but full-fledged EGGBEATER HAIR. A hairdo that elicits a gasp or small shriek when looking in the mirror for the first time that day. Does anyone else experience this? Could this be a phenomenon of the air and space molecules in the RV that create some sort of Bermuda Triangle effect on the head? It's a mystery. Maybe I have too many pillows.

Rylie's Notes:

Olympic bed-making? What's the point? How about Olympic bed-messing? Now THAT's an event in which I would excel. What The Staff doesn't know is that after she falls asleep, I move from my position near her feet to the top of the pillows.
All that it takes is a few dog dreams with four, scrabbling, twitchy feet and the job is done. Voila! Eggbeater hair!

Monday, November 19, 2007

See You Later, Napagator

Well, my work in Napa is done. I'm sorry to leave, but it's time to move back down near Cammie for a few days before heading to my next work assignment. That is, provided I can get a campsite. I haven't called yet to see if they have a site available this week. Whoops! Hopefully the fact that this is a holiday week won't mean that the campground is full. If so, I guess I'll be staying in Napa a little longer. I'm really not ready to leave Cammie and my friends yet, but my checkbook says I have to be a work slave for awhile.

I have seen some more incredible homes while working here. A few have been perched at the top of a canyon and have had really spectacular views of the Napa Valley. I think if I lived in some of those places I would spend all day just drinking in the view and never get anything done.

After work last night I watched Ocean's Thirteen. Any movie that has George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon together is worth watching, I say.

Rylie's Notes:

Something interesting has been getting into the trash bins at the campground. I bet the lucky bugger got the last of those leftover meatballs that The Staff threw out the other day. I really wanted those meatballs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


That's what my vision is in both eyes, apparently. In patients with my prescription pre-surgery (very near-sighted), apparently this under-correction with Lasik happens 6 to 7% of the time. So now I have a choice of whether to have a further procedure in one or both eyes, or I could get glasses if I want better vision. Glasses would be more expensive, though. The reason my near vision is so good is because I am under-corrected. I have eight months to have the procedure done, so I'll sleep on it a bit.

I went to Bodega Bay yesterday to meet up with the other women in my small caravan to Baja last winter; Lorna, Pat and Doris. God that was fun! We had a good catch-up session with non-stop yakking. Too bad the weather wasn't so great, it was foggy, cold and misty, so I don't have any photos.

Have you guys seen Michael Moore's movie "Sicko" about the U.S. health care system? It's good! It really gets you fired up to do something about the big mess we have with our health care system, though. What can we do? I'm open to suggestions. I'm not opposed to writing letters to senators, congress representatives, and even presidents. I've done it all in the past.

I really like the Napa area. It's really beautiful when the grapevines are in color. It's a shame it's so darn expensive.

Rylie has really, really, really been wanting to chase squirrels lately. He used to do that all day long when we lived in our house in Concord. They really liked my fruit trees, so he would chase them from the orange tree to the loquat tree, to the plum tree. They have been running around the campground here during our morning walks, and he desperately wants to chase them. I wish I could let him off leash for a good chase.

Rylie's Notes:

It's not that I want to chase the squirrels, it's that they are inviting me to chase them. They want to be chased. They swish their tails, do that little squirrel chuckle, run and pause and wait for me to catch up. It's rude not to give them what they want. Let me off!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Playing Hookey

I'm only working an hour or two per day these past few days because I've been doing chores and going to the East Bay to goof off. I've spent time with Cammie and some friends, and it has been fun. The weather has been gorgeous the past couple of days too. Since sales have not been so great this time in Napa, I don't feel too badly about working part-time this week. That's one of the things I love about this job, I can decide when I want to work hard and when I want to slack off a bit. Sometimes conditions are just right for goofing off.

Today I go to Pleasanton for my Lasik eye doctor follow up. I should find out whether or not I need to have another procedure to fine tune my vision. It has fluctuated quite a bit in the past few months, as they told me it could. I don't feel like my distance vision is as clear as it was right after the surgery, so I'm wondering if I will need a tune up. My near vision has been much better than I thought it would be after the surgery -- I thought I might need reading glasses right away. But the distance vision could be a bit better, I think. I really hope I don't need another procedure, but I'll keep you posted.

Rylie's Notes:

Sure, The Staff is goofing off when she could be out trying to earn some money to buy me more dried chicken strips and freeze dried liver treats. She needs to keep me in the style to which I've become accustomed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is The Party Over?

I'm beginning to think that the income and work with Air Photo might not be steady enough, and I might need to start thinking about what I'm going to do for W-O-R-K for the long term. This is a dreadful thought. I was really hoping I could carry on indefinitely with this Air Photo work and still travel around so that I could maintain my freedom. I really love my freedom. Maybe it will still work out with Air Photo, but I think I better have a Plan B just in case.

Have you ever noticed that many people seem to have recurring themes in their lives, the same problem that keeps popping up over and over again in different forms? For some people it's never finding the right love or relationship, for some it's money troubles, for others it's health problems,
and some seem to keep losing their loved ones to death or disaster. Although I have experienced most of those things, for me, the issue has been finding work that has some form of meaning or enjoyment and doesn't end up feeling like being in prison. I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. This issue keeps popping up over and over again in my life as I try different things but never really find something that clicks with me. I guess if I had to pick a recurring problem, this one is better than some. But that's why this past year of travel without work was so much fun and I felt so happy. I didn't have to think about work for an entire year, and it was such a pleasure. But I guess the party is over, and it's time to figure out what I'm going to do and where I want to do it. Boo hoo.

Anyway, enough of this depressing work talk. Here are some photos of Napa grapevines I took the other day.

Rylie's Notes:

My party is never over.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Yesterday I brought Rylie down to Cammie's place in Pleasant Hill so that he could see Laila again and hang out there with her critters while Cammie and I went to see a movie. We saw Fred Clause because Cammie needed a comedy. It was predictable but cute, and Cammie enjoyed it so I was happy. Cammie has a new pet at her place, a young snake that her boyfriend Brian got. Rylie was pretty curious about it. He was also curious about the little mouse they got to feed it. I could never have a snake. I would be in tears every time I had to sacrifice some cute little mouse for dinner.

Today I set my alarm -- which is against my religion -- to start work early and as soon as I got into my car, it started raining. I can't present photos in the rain, so instead I drove around locating all of the homes so that I know exactly where I'm going once the rain stops. This was the first big rain of the season here, which always means lots of accidents. I saw four car wrecks on my way to and from Cammie's place today. Slow down, people, it's slippery out there!

Poor Rylie is a little stir crazy today. We only had short walks because of the rain, so he is needing some exercise. It's weird how quickly the weather changes. When we arrived a week ago it was summer weather, and now it's winter.

Rylie's Notes:

The Junior Staff has some interesting additions to The Management at her place. That lucky squirt Laila gets all of the fun. Not only does she have two turtles to watch, but now she has a snake and frequent mouse visitors. I need some diversions around here now that The Staff is working so much. I might need to take the bike out for another joy ride.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I'm a bit of a slacker this week. I've been spending time with Cammie and friends and going to appointments, so there hasn't been much time for work. Sure, I made some feeble attempts to locate some of the homes in my stack of photos, but they are proving difficult to find. I've been driving up and down a beautiful canyon that winds through old forest and it's a really pretty drive, but most of the homes can't be seen from the road and are up or down steep driveways, many with security gates. Now I can see why some of these homes would have security gates, they are beautiful mansions and vineyards. Not like the double wide mobile homes in Arizona with gates.

What makes it worse is that now that we've had the time change, it gets dark so early. Not only can I not find homes in the dark, but I don't like to knock on doors after dark even if I know where they are. I think it makes people suspicious, and that's not a good way to start. So my work hours have gotten shorter.

I might not be very productive this week, but I'm having a good time. I had a 3-1/2 hour lunch with my friend Nancy today. It always surprises me how quickly the time goes by when we are together. There is never a shortage of things to talk about when we meet. We strolled around the Town Center area of downtown Napa, which is a nice collection of shops and restaurants near the river. Napa really is a nice place to spend some time.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff returned from her gab fest and feast with a doggie bag, but did I see any of its contents? No! I had the usual boring presentation of dry cereal, although I will give her some credit, she did throw a few dried chicken chips on top. That was something, at least.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Today was a day for maintenance. I dropped the motorhome off to get my 20,000 mile service done. Can you believe I have traveled 20,000 miles already? That's a lot of gas! No wonder I'm having to work again. While our home was in the shop, Rylie and I took the car and went to our old neighborhood park in Concord. He started whining as soon as we got about eight blocks away, and when we were a few blocks away, his tail started wagging. Unfortunately, none of his dog pals that hang out there were present, but he enjoyed walking and sniffing around. I didn't drive by my old house, though. I've been missing it a bit lately, so I didn't want to make it worse.

When the motorhome was ready we drove up to Napa and got settled into our new campsite. I got the car washed to get ready for work and then it was time for Rylie's teeth and nails. I have been remiss in keeping up with the nail clipping and teeth brushing. That's because he doesn't like either activity, so it's more of a chore trying to keep him still enough to get them done.

It's nice to be in Napa again. It sure is pretty up here with the grapevines in color. I'll have to see if I can get some photos.

Rylie's Notes:

It's just not natural for a dog to get his teeth brushed and nails clipped. You don't see wolves or coyotes getting their teeth brushed and nails clipped.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Living Small

I'll admit it, sometimes living in the motorhome can feel a bit restrictive. Like when I'm trying to prepare a big meal with multiple pots and more counter space is needed. Washing large pans in that small sink can be tricky sometimes too, or trying to fit lots of leftovers in the fridge. Dinner parties for more than just a few guests are out, although I have managed to squeeze seven people in here for dinner at one time. It was very tight, though. Then there is that small oven. I don't like it at all. It doesn't bake things evenly.

Doing a workout can be difficult, since I don't have slide-outs. Especially yoga. It gets challenging trying to find places to put things, since all of the cupboards and drawers are pretty much full by now. But I must say that I'm happy that I don't have as many things to take care of and clean. I have little interest in shopping, because then I have to figure out where to put what I've bought.

Most of the time though, I feel pretty happy in my little nest. I have what I need, and if I feel cooped up, I can always go outside.

Rylie was so excited to see Cammie yesterday, and her dog Laila too. The dogs do get jealous of each other, though. Neither one likes it if the other is getting too much of our attention.

Rylie's Notes:

The Junior Staff was happy to see me yesterday, and her little squirt too. The little squirt gets a bit annoying sometimes, always grabbing the attention. Kid sisters are a pain.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


As pretty as those rugged, desert mountains can be, I was happy when I coasted down those mountains and entered the orange groves, vineyards, and green farming fields of California. I wasn't too keen on the brown cloud of pollution I encountered as I made my way along the back roads near Bakersfield, however. I didn't want to inhale when I saw that yucky stuff, but it's pretty hard to hold your breath for 150 miles. Even Cammie, the former synchronized swimmer, can't hold her breath that long. I saw some burned areas in Southern California, but that could have been from controlled burns, I don't know.

I had dinner with Cammie and her guy Brian as soon as I got in, so that was good. This morning Rylie and I had a nice long walk along our favorite trail here, and I can see the tree-covered hills from my windows. It's nice to be back. Rylie is going to be so excited when he sees Cammie today. I could tell that he could smell her on my sweater (from hugging her, no doubt) when I got home from dinner, because he was sniffing my sleeve like crazy and his tail was doing circles, like it does when he gets really happy.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is happy to be back on home turf and The Junior Staff is nearby. The spoiling should be good here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My Misguided Compass

I don't have a GPS system, so I bought a little compass to stick on the dash so that I could see which direction I was headed. The funny thing is, according to my compass, I am always heading north. Even if I'm going directly south, or making a turn, it never varies more than slightly northwest or northeast. What does this mean? Should I be heading north, is north my destiny? Or am I hopelessly lost and driving in circles? I don't know, I guess I should just join the rest of the modern world and get a GPS system. But then, where is the mystery? Don't we need a little mystery to keep life interesting?

I am back in California, heading to my old stomping grounds. I hope to catch up with all of the people that I didn't get to see the last time I was in the Bay Area, as well as some that I did.

Rylie's Notes:

Thank goodness Halloween is done for another year. You know, border collies can navigate by the stars. In daylight, we navigate by smell. Dogs really are superior to humans. Humans like to brag about the whole opposable thumbs thing, but we have superior senses. Would you rather have the capability to hitchhike or detect cancer by smell?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloweeny!

Well he wasn't too keen on dressing up at first, but once I got the camera out, he was striking his best pose. He did all of his trick-or-treating at home, but for him, it's trick-and-treating. I think he kind of liked wearing the scarf. He does seem to enjoy wearing women's clothing.

I had a pretty good day of sales, and I'm done with my second roll of photos. It looks like I'll be leaving here Friday or Saturday to head to the Bay Area. Good, I'm ready for some fun!

Rylie's Notes:

Is this what the Hollywood dogs wear when they are riding in convertibles?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Roller Coaster

Things change quickly in the world of sales. After my good work day Saturday, Sunday was a bit disappointing. Only two sales, one indecent proposal, plus I had to work on really dusty roads all day. Lots of sneezing and nose-blowing, plus now I have to wash my car before I can head out again today. I'm too embarrassed to drive that dust bucket the way it looks now. Oh well, some days are like that, and I'm sure another good day is just around the corner.

The weather has been just about perfect here in Chino Valley. High 70's during the day, although it does get a bit chilly as soon as the sun goes down, when it eventually gets into the low 40's. I haven't seen any wildlife other than rabbits and roadrunners.

Rylie's Notes:

Roadrunners don't have the faintest idea how to be herded. When I charge them they just run back and forth like they can't make up their minds which way to go. Not at all like the crafty roadrunner that Wile E. Coyote deals with. They aren't worth the bother, really.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dog Training

I had my best sales day yet, work-wise, in spite of the security gates. I think the people in Arizona have even more dogs than the people in Texas. A couple of my customers had seven dogs, and many had three or four. Yesterday one of my customers invited me in to see his three litters of puppies. He had greyhounds, chijuajas (how the heck do you spell that, anyway?), and pomeranians. One litter of puppies was only two days old, and the other two litters were about two weeks old. Awwwww, how cute!

When I was still in the ratrace and working in San Francisco, I used to give Rylie a treat when I was leaving to go to work for the day. I wanted him to have a positive association with me leaving, instead of getting depressed, giving me those sad puppy dog eyes, and making me feel guilty for leaving him home all day. I figured I didn't need to give him a treat when I came home, because he was always excited to see me when I returned. Well, it worked. Now he seems to watch me closely as I'm preparing to leave for work, and even seems a bit anxious for me to go. I guess I don't have to feel guilty about leaving him home alone to face a long, boring day.

Rylie's Notes:

I can't wait until The Staff leaves for the day. As soon as she is out the door and down the road, I unlock the door and the gang starts filtering in. We make a dog tower and open up the refrigerator and cupboards, and everyone has at it. The funny thing is, The Staff is always muttering about how much she spends on groceries and how fast the food disappears, but she never suspects what's really going on. She must think we're just a bunch of dumb dogs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Full Moon

I know the moon isn't officially full until tomorrow night, but it looked full tonight when I snapped this picture on my way home from work. I like the sunsets in Arizona, they are very pink, when they aren't red.

I started my second roll of photos today, and spent the day wandering aimlessly along the back dirt roads, trying to locate the homes. It turns out that the geographical map that the photographer marks with the roads the helicopter pilot followed in order to shoot the photos was hopelessly inaccurate. I drove around in circles trying to make sense of it, and encountering just as many security gates as I did on my previous roll of photos.

Why are we so security conscious? Are we a nation living in fear? One of my customers yesterday told me that I should be armed as I go about my work. I have been told this before, and quite a few people seem concerned for my safety. Is it really so dangerous out there, or is that just what we have been trained to believe by our "if it bleeds it leads" news media? I have never had a situation that made me feel nervous or uncomfortable, and most of the people that I meet are very nice.

Speaking of the news media, I am sick to death of the paparazzi hounding celebrities. Those guys are going to be the death of poor Britney Spears -- or the cause of her insanity. I don't care for Britney Spears, but I hate what they do to her and other celebrities. I don't think what Britney, or Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan do should be breaking news. It's totally ridiculous, and I hate it when I turn on the supposed "news" and I get rubbish about what those types are up to. I don't buy any of those celebrity magazines, and hopefully you don't either. Let's put those stalkers out of business. They are the ones that are dangerous.

Yesterday I drove to Prescott and bought myself some new books. That's always a special treat for me. I used to collect books, and had around 700 of them before I sold my house. I used to love being surrounded by my books, and they were the most difficult thing to give up when I was getting rid of my possessions. I didn't get rid of all of them, though. I saved the valuable ones, and the special ones, and the ones that I got signed when I went to book signings. Those are in storage until I have room for them again.

Rylie's Notes:

You know what's weird about the rabbits around here? They don't run. I've given a couple of false charges to some rabbits and they barely budged. I bet if I didn't have The Staff on leash I could make them run.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


There are some terrible fires going on in Southern California right now, so I called my pal Tami to make sure she was okay. You might recall that we were both working at the Jojoba Hills RV park near Temecula before I had to leave in June because Rylie couldn't stand the explosions in the vineyard next door. It turns out that they were evacuated on Sunday because the fire entered the RV park. Luckily, no one was hurt, but they did have some damage from those Santa Ana winds. It burned the area where I used to meet my boyfriend Chip, as well as the back part of the park where Rylie and I used to walk in the morning. They were able to return Monday afternoon, but there is another fire coming from the Palomar Mountain area, so hopefully they will not be evacuated again.

Last night I had a glass of wine with my co-workers, Steve and Gerri. Can you believe it, Gerri had ten kids in her first marriage -- ten! And yet she seems perfectly sane. Not only that, but she looks young for her age. I'm in awe.

Rylie's Notes:

Ten is a nice sized herd. I could get ten rugrats rounded up in a bundle faster than sheep. Have you noticed that sheep are not the brightest crayons in the box?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Prescott, Arizona

Prescott is nice. It has one of those downtown squares that I'm especially fond of, I don't know why. I guess it's a bit of nostalgia for simpler times.

I really like tree-lined sidewalks and streets, so I had to snap a photo of that too.

I have been pretty focused on work here so far, but I did take a little time to check out Prescott. Chino Valley, where I'm staying, is nothing to write home about, but sales have been all right so far. The people are really nice, too. I met another couple who works for Air Photo, so it has been fun talking with them. Steve and Gerri started working with the company about four months before I did, so they have had some good stories to share. The weather is fine, high 70's during the day, and high 30's or low 40's at night. I'll probably be here another week or two before I head to California for a visit.

Rylie's Notes:

Guess who I've got staying right next to me? Tami Lynn! She looks like a movie star. I wonder if she knows Lassie?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bagel Crisis Narrowly Averted

Whew, that was a close one! I was running scared, knowing that I had eaten the last of my favorite kind of bagels this morning, and none of the grocery stores I've been to lately have carried the ones I like. I'm fond of the Thomas' whole grain bagels (8 grams of fiber per bagel!), and they are sometimes hard to find, so when I find them, I buy an extra package and put it in the freezer. I like to eat them for breakfast with low fat cream cheese or an egg and cheese, and they even make them in a square shape in addition to the round ones if you want to make a sandwich. I was getting nervous, but luckily when I went to the Safeway store this evening in Chino Valley, Arizona, they had them. I can sleep peacefully tonight.

For the past two days I have been battling the wind. I felt like I was driving all day making a left hand turn through scampering tumbleweed. Driving in the wind is tiring for me, so I am very happy to have reached my destination. Today I drove through Flagstaff, Arizona, which I have always wanted to see. I thought it was really beautiful, with slowly sloping mountains, many-colored mesas and plenty of pine trees. I would like to spend some time there, although maybe not in the winter, since they must get a lot of snow there. Chino Valley is at a much lower elevation and not nearly as pretty, but it's definitely warmer than Flagstaff was. It's still at a pretty high elevation though, so it's cooler than it was in Texas. I went from summer weather to fall weather in a hurry.

I thought it was strange that Rylie has not eaten his breakfast for the past two days, because he is usually such a chow hound. I'm not alarmed, because he did eventually eat it for dinner, and he can stand to loose a few lb's anyway.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff has been so tired from driving the past few days that she has been going to bed early. On the other hand, I have been sleeping all day while she was driving, so when bedtime came, I was raring to go. So the other night I gathered up some of the other dogs in the RV park and we played a game of strip poker. This was a high stakes poker game. Besides the stripping, we had a jackpot of only chicken breast strips and freeze dried liver. No Milk Bones in this jackpot, so I was determined to win. I thought my strategy was pretty good. Whenever I lost a hand, I took off my ID tags one at a time, instead of removing my entire collar. Poor Max only had a bandana on, so he was out early.
Daisy came scantily clad in only a collar, so I knocked her out pretty fast. Sadie had me nervous for a bit, because her staff treats her like a Barbie doll and she had every accessory you could imagine: bows in her hair, rhinestone collar, even a sweater. Luckily, she is a terrible poker player, so I made quick work of her wardrobe. That left me still wearing my collar, so I hustled the rest of them out of there and began my feast. I felt pretty bloated the next morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amarillo, Texas

I got a really late start yesterday. There was a big storm this morning, and I wasn't about to break camp and hit the road in thunder, lightning and pouring rain. The thunder had poor Rylie shaking, panting, and trying to hide, but the storm passed eventually. I had to unhook and pack away the various cords, hoses and leveling blocks in the mud, and hook up the car. At first I thought one of my wheel chocks was missing, but I found it under the motorhome. I have no idea how it got there. At the end of the day I realized that I forgot my water pressure regulator on the faucet. I was probably in too much of a hurry to get out of the mud. It was one of those times that I wish I had a human travel partner to make sure I didn't forget anything. Or better yet, help!

I finally made it to
Amarillo, and I feel better. Maybe the energy in Weatherford just didn't agree with me. Hopefully I'll get an earlier start tomorrow, because it will be another long day of driving.

Rylie's Notes:

Yeah, about the wheel chock. Bruno, the St. Bernard down the street, has an enormous head and mouth. I bet him three dog biscuits that he couldn't fit the wheel chock in his mouth, so of course he had to go for it. Unfortunately, the chock was just a bit too big and got stuck. Bruno started to panic so I had to jump on him and whack the back of his head to jar it loose. It shot out under the motorhome and Bruno decided to head home -- after collecting his biscuits. That was the end of my fun that day.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

So Long, Texas

It's time to hit the road again. I think I can rule out north Texas as my future residence. Although I did meet some nice people, overall I did not find the Texans to be all that friendly or nice. That surprised me, because for some reason I thought Texans were friendly people. There are other areas of Texas that I would like to explore, perhaps some other time.

I did see a few interesting things, like the beautiful horses I mentioned earlier. I also saw some Texas longhorns, although as you can see in the photo below, the tips of their horns were cut off. I know nothing about this. Is this something that is done to keep them from poking each other's eyes out?

Texas Longhorns - Abbreviated

I also got to talk to some real cowboys. One of them even was wearing spurs. I didn't know cowboys still wore spurs. I got to see an armadillo too, although it was flat on its back with its feet in the air -- quite dead, unfortunately.

Next I'm headed to Arizona, although I'll take a few days to get there.

Rylie's Notes:

I'm ready to hit the road. Hopefully the next place will have more room to roam away from the traffic and noise. Too bad I can't bring my new friend Shorty. He liked to squeeze under the fence and trot with me when I was walking The Staff.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Took a Spill

Rylie and I were having a little bit of a jog on our morning walk today when he got spooked by the loud noise of a passing truck and ran right under my feet. My feet objected to running with dog in front of them, so down I went on the pavement. I scraped myself up a bit and will most likely have some bruises, but luckily I didn't break anything. Rylie was very apologetic and seems to be fine. He managed to remain standing. I'm just glad that the weather has been a bit cooler in the morning because instead of wearing my usual shorts and tee shirt, I was wearing long pants and long sleeves. The scrapes would have been much worse, I'm sure. As it is the worst scrapes are on my right hand and arm, which should make work interesting today. It's a good thing my work is almost done here.

I wish I knew what happened to him when he was a puppy that makes him so afraid of loud noises. I know that he had a very rough start. His litter was abandoned and ended up at the pound. Border Collie Rescue got him out of there, but he was really sick and terrified. He had mange, his coat was really dry and brittle from malnourishment, he had worms and few other ailments. He was also terrified of everyone and everything. I adopted him from Border Collie Rescue, but had to wait a bit to take him home until he got a little healthier. He has come a long way since then, but is still terrified of the loud noises. I guess I'll be doing my jogging without him.

Rylie's Notes:

I don't want to talk about it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Horses and Dogs

When I'm working, I meet a lot of dogs and see many horses. Many of the ranches and farms that I visit have a lot of both. It is not uncommon to have a welcoming committee of three or four dogs and cat or two, with cows, goats, and even llamas standing guard. Dogs usually like me and are friendly, although there was one rottweiler recently that acted like it wanted to tear me apart. Luckily it was chained up and couldn't quite reach me. Most of the ranch and farm dogs just run around loose. At the end of the day Rylie is always interested to sniff my legs and feet to see who has been jumping up on me, rubbing against me, or licking my toes. (I'm talking about dogs here.)

Being the big softie that I am when it comes to animals, it is sometimes heart-breaking for me to see how some of these dogs are treated. Some of them are kept in kennels that are much too small, or they are left outside in the heat with no fresh water in sight. I've seen some with bad-looking wounds that needed attention, or that cowered when I went to pet them. Those ones have obviously been hit. Some of them just seem starved for attention. It's all I can do to walk away from some of them.

The horses I've been seeing lately are really gorgeous. There have been quite a few breeding ranches in my work territory. Today I saw something that made me smile. I visited a ranch that breeds Arabians and Arabian pintos, and I saw the most beautiful Arabian pinto. He was feeling quite frisky and was kicking up his heels and racing around his pasture, trying to get the horse in the next pasture to race around too, which it was. I had to stop and just watch them for awhile. It really made me feel happy to see such a beautiful animal in motion. Simple pleasures are the best, I guess.

Rylie's Notes:

I wish I could race around in a pasture. This place is getting smaller by the minute.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Finally, a cool breeze swept in last night. I saw the leaves showering from the trees as I was driving home from work last night and figured we finally had some relief from the heat. The temperatures are now in a much more tolerable 80's range, and the humidity has dropped. Whew! I was starting to get a bit grumpy, and that's not a good thing when you have a job that requires that you're always cheerful, smiling, and nice. I had to quit a bit early last night because I got the hiccups and they would not go away. I didn't want my customers thinking I was drinking on the job.

There sure are a lot of beautiful horses around here. It's just too bad that the people are so fond of their security gates. It makes it difficult for me to peddle my photos. One nice thing about the homes in Texas: they are not all the same. In California all of the homes seem to look alike, but here they have variety.

Rylie's Notes:

I'm getting bored. I could use a good squirrel chase. I'm done chasing the fly that was in the motorhome. I won.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Leaky Tire

I got all packed up, dumped the tanks, and hauled my home up to Weatherford, where I'm all settled in at my new RV park. It's still a little crowded for my taste, but at least it's not on a noisy highway and there is more grass and open space, plus a better place to walk.

One of the tires on my car has been leaking air, so I got that repaired today. The folks at Discount Tire were nice enough fix it for free. It turned out I had a nail in it. It was just six months ago that I had a screw in a motorhome tire. People, keep your screws and nails off the highways, please!

A funny thing: I noticed when I was putting my bike in the bike carrier that it was all muddy. Now how did it get all muddy just sitting under a tree all week?

Rylie's Notes:

Yeah, about the bike. It gets pretty boring while The Staff is working, so me, Buddy and Trixie took the bike for a little joy ride. Buddy has the longest legs, so he worked the pedals. I sat on the handlebars and steered, and Trixie sat in the water bottle holder and just squealed. She's just a tiny little thing. We got going pretty fast, and it was almost as good as riding in the car and sticking your head out the window. But then we decided to go through a puddle in a ditch and Buddy got distracted by the long legs and long hair of an Irish setter and forgot to peddle. We hit the upside slope of the ditch and our joy ride came to an end. Trixie had the good sense to bail out early and landed safely. I got spanked by a handlebar as I scooted out of the way, but poor Buddy got his leg caught under the bike and he's going to be limping for a few days. There's $100 in the vet's pocket for another mystery malady.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Granbury, Texas

I'll tell you one thing, Texas is hot! It was 95 degrees today, and that's with humidity. It has been like this all week, but I guess that's about ten degrees above normal for this time of year. Because I've been busy working, I haven't had much time for taking in the sights, but I did take a few pictures of the downtown area of Granbury. It has one of those historic downtowns that are arranged around a square, which I really like. It also has a really pretty lake, but unfortunately I do not have any pictures of that. There are some very cool Victorian homes, too.

Hood County Courthouse

Granbury Home

On The Downtown Square

Next stop, Weatherford, and more work.

Rylie's Notes:

You know what else is interesting about Texas? Frogs, and lots of them! I get a kick out of the way they jump. Today I had a stare down with a sassy cow. I had to give her a little bark to remind her of who was in charge.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


After two days of driving I made it to Granbury, Texas. I could only find one RV park or campground in the area, so this small RV park will be home for about a week while I work my next roll of photos. This RV park is the type I normally don't like to stay in, with small, crowded campsites where you fell like you are right on top of your neighbors. It's also expensive for what you get, even with a weekly rate. I think what bothers me the most is that there is no good place to walk. It is right on a two lane highway with a 70 mile per hour speed limit, which makes for noisy and dangerous walking. There is a very short farm road -- a court actually - where we can do a brief walk among the livestock, but it's not enough exercise for me or Rylie. The town of Granbury is nice, though. More on that later.

I'll be working hard for the rest of this week, then will move to another area with a more comfortable RV park.

Rylie's Notes:

Texas is hot and humid, which are not the best conditions when you are wearing a furry tuxedo. There is some interesting scenery, however. Cows, horses, sheep and goats. I like how all of the sheep and goats run away when I run down the road. They know the boss when they see him.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lake Manawa State Park

Lake Manawa

While I was working in Council Bluffs, Iowa I stayed at the Lake Manawa State Park campground. This was a pretty area to stay, although the campsites were not as spacious and secluded as the ones at the Rice Creek campground that I stayed at before this. Still, some of the campsites were on the lake and they had lots of bicycle trails that Rylie and I used for our morning walks.

There were quite a few deer scampering about, but of course I never had my camera with me when we saw them. Every time I brought my camera along, we didn't see a one. Isn't that the way it goes? We also saw some wild turkeys, which really caught Rylie's attention. Rylie usually notified me first when there was wildlife about. He would stick his nose in the air and smell hard. Sometimes he couldn't see the deer because the grass was much taller than him, but he knew they were there. One day we saw a mother deer with what looked like three yearlings. I picked up Rylie so that he could see what he was smelling, and we watched the deer and the deer watched us for a few minutes.

Lake Manawa Campsite

Bicycle Trail

After I finished up my work it was time to hit the road again. I stayed one night in Kansas, and then arrived in Granbury, Texas, which is southwest of Fort Worth. I'm looking forward to seeing a little bit of Texas. I've only been in the state twice before, both times for sales conferences, so I didn't get to see much. One was in San Antonio, and the other was in Paradise, near Dallas. Maybe I'll see some cowboys.

Rylie's Notes:

I liked Iowa. There was lots of room to roam and interesting animal smells. The only bad thing was the noisy thunderstorms. I haven't decided about Texas yet. Last night we went for our first walk in the new campground and although there is interesting livestock nearby, I ran into my old nemesis, the goathead. Grrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Too Many Heads

I know, I know, I have not been good about blogging lately, but that's because I've been busy working. I have spent the past week peddling my aerial photos in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is just across the river from Omaha. It has been quite hot and very humid most of the time I've been here, but things have cooled down considerably today. Last night we had a spectacular thunder and lightning storm that went on for a long time. I laid in my bed and watched the lightning fissures crack the shell of the sky through the window that's at the head of my bed.

That's one feature that I really enjoy on my motorhome, the window at the head of the bed. I've been able to watch lightning shows crackle and pop, enjoy hot air balloons as they float past, follow the birds as they make their rounds above a lake, and just gaze at the stars, all from the comfort of my bed. It's a really nice feature.

I just had to comment on something I saw in the home of one of my customers the other day. A couple decided to purchase an aerial photo, and invited me into their living room to complete the transaction. We had a nice conversation while I completed the paperwork and the wife wrote out her check, and then she invited me to see the view from their deck. Since their house was situated high atop a hill and no doubt had a great view, I said I would like to and followed her out to the deck. Their view was indeed spectacular, and I'm sure they enjoy many beautiful sunsets from their very large deck.

When we returned to the living room I was nearly stopped dead in my tracks by what I saw on the living room wall. My back had been to this wall when I was in the living room previously, so I didn't know what was behind me. Mounted on the wall were 25 to 30 animal heads including moose, deer and God knows what else. It was the most gross display of testosterone overload that I've ever seen. I couldn't bear to look at it and so I hurried out of there. All I could think of was how much pleasure I get from seeing animals like that in the wild -- alive -- and wonder how anyone could want to kill so many of them. I also thought about how much I wanted to see a moose when I was in Minnesota. I don't understand how it could give someone pleasure to destroy all of those beautiful animals. I guess I will never understand killing for sport. I know that you hunters out there are going to have something to say about this, but I still will never understand it. I was sorry that I sold them a photo.

Rylie's Notes:

It's too bad I wasn't with The Staff when she visited that customer. I would have peed on his leg.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Old Friends and New

Not only did I have a great time visiting with my family in Minnesota, but I had a blast getting together with old friends that I had not seen in years, as well as with some new ones. Unfortunately, I did not remember to take pictures of everyone that I got together with. Too busy having fun, I guess. Here are a few that I did remember to take.

Amy, Barb and John

We ate dinner at The Pickwick one night, which is an old restaurant in Duluth that has been around forever, and which has really neat decor inside. There are some old frescoes and lots of rich wood on the walls, and the food is very good.

Tom and Amy Being Friendly

Me and Nola

I also got to help my friend Nola celebrate her birthday. Nola and I met when I was 17 years old and we were both waitresses at The Country Kitchen in Duluth. We became best friends and roommates later on, and had many, many fun times together. We hadn't seen each other for six years, so it was really good to catch up with her.

I also had a great time catching up with Kim one afternoon. Our mothers have been best friends since they were kids, and we spent a lot of Saturdays shopping and having lunch with our moms when we were little. When Kim and I were sophomores at different high schools, we went on a Know Your Government tour with a busload of kids to see the Eastern U.S. Fun trip!

Wendy was a good friend of mine when I was in junior high school. We spent a lot of time at the local ice skating rink. When she and I got together for dinner, my face hurt at the end of the night from laughing so much. What a funny lady she is.

It was fun hanging out with the gang at Grandma's, which is a well-known restaurant/bar in Duluth's Canal Park that long ago was a bordello. I also really enjoyed a boat ride in the bay from the Wisconsin side, which I had never done from that side before.

I think Duluth is more appealing to me now than it was when I was younger, but of course I wasn't there in the winter time. It does have a lot of great qualities, and it's in a pretty setting. It's just too bad about those winters.

It was really difficult to say goodbye to everyone in Minnesota, and especially to my family. Of course I know I will be back, but it seems to get more difficult to part now that we are all getting older. That's the one thing I don't like about this traveling lifestyle: the many goodbyes. The nice thing is that now that my schedule is flexible, I can see people more than I used to, so that helps.

Rylie's Notes:

Dogs don't get sad about saying goodbye, because we know there are exciting sights and smells down the road. Besides, we know we will see all of our friends again, either here or in the big, back yard on the other side.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lino Lakes, Minnesota

Minnesota has some really nice campgrounds, and one of them is the Rice Lake Chain of Lakes campground in Lino Lakes, which is north of St. Paul. This campground has very large, wooded, and secluded campsites, and it was really quiet. I had the campground virtually to myself until the weekend. It is sandwiched between two lakes in a chain of five lakes, and there were deer in the campground.

Geese in Centerville Lake

My Campsite

The only drawback to this campground was the mosquitoes. There were a bunch of them, and they made quite a feast of my left foot and ankle. Why just the left foot, I wonder? Is it tastier than my right foot? Anyway, I learned something new from this experience. I took a break from work one afternoon and came back to the motorhome to walk Rylie. I decided I better protect my calves and feet with insect repellent first, so I sprayed them well, put on my sandals and we took our walk. When we returned to the motorhome I removed my sandals, and discovered that the black die had been removed from the leather and transferred to my feet. It has taken quite a bit of scrubbing to get the black die off my feet. If that stuff can remove the die from leather, what does it do to our skin? Scary. I guess I'll be shopping for some new sandals.

I'll be moving to the Omaha area next, where I'll be doing some more work for Air Photo. Hopefully it will be warmer than it has been in Minnesota this past week. It's like winter in California here, with temperatures getting down into the 30's at night. Brrrrrr.

Rylie's Notes:

Mosquitoes don't bother me, because I have a nice, thick coat to protect me. If humans didn't have such bald bodies, they wouldn't have to worry about mosquitoes. Poor humans. They have bald bodies, they can't smell, they don't hear well, and they have to be walked on leashes. They are like newborns, really. It's a good thing they have dogs to look after them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Depot

The Depot

If you go to Duluth, one of the places you should visit is The Depot. This is the old train depot downtown which has been restored and converted to a museum. It currently houses a train museum, The Duluth Children's Museum, and the Historical Society, among other things. Since my Mom has been a volunteer for years at the Children's Museum and works part-time for the Historical Society, Julie and I had a personal tour with Mom one day.

There are some really nifty old trains

and a re-creation of some of the store fronts from days gone by.

If you have kids, you really should take them to the Children's Museum. It has a lot of fun things for the kids to play in and with. The play exhibits change from time to time, but some of them include a castle, a tree they can climb around in, and a camping exhibit complete with tent, canoe, and fake campfire to play with. They have all sorts of fun activities there too.

Mom at the Children's Museum

Rylie's Notes:

Trains are pretty fast. I wonder if I could herd a train?