Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nevada Makes Me Sneeze

I sneezed my way across the state of Nevada today. I'm glad to be in Utah. I guess I'm in Mountain Time now, which means it's an hour later and I can go to bed without being too embarrassed. I'm pooped.

Things have been disappearing lately. I lost a second tow bar pin latch do hickey. It's a good thing I bought a spare. That's on top of the other tow bar pin and latch do hickey that I lost recently, a tee shirt (one of my favorites), and a gift from a special friend. Where do these things run off to?

Rylie's Notes:

Don't tell The Staff, but I gave the rottweiler puppy up the street the tow bar pin. He is teething and needed something cold and hard to chew on. The tee shirt went to the bichon frise a few miles back. Her skin was getting irritated from the old mat she had to lie on, and that special gift looked too interesting to pass up a thorough investigation by mouth. I buried the remains behind the dumpster.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Napa Valley Vineyards

My work in Napa is done, at least for now. I enjoyed my first week on the job and did pretty well. I think it will be a good way to make some traveling money. Today we left for Minnesota, so I'll be pounding the highway for awhile. I should have about a month in Minnesota before I move to an area where Air photo has more work for me.

I have enjoyed staying and working in Napa. I saw some really beautiful properties on my route, and I love driving the little lanes between the grapevines, like in the photo above. I think Rylie enjoyed Napa too. He made friends with some of the horses that lived next to our campground, and liked to stop and and hang out with them for awhile, eating grass. He kept trying to inch his way under the fence to get in there with them. He has never been around horses before, except for a couple of small ponies that live near my parents' house in Minnesota. He went nose to nose with one of those ponies. I think he likes horses.

I had lunch with some of my former co-workers at the Bingham law firm in San Francisco during the past week. I have included a photo below of the building at Three Embarcadero where I used to work, and also a photo of one of the homes I visited during work this past week (I was invited inside -- it's gorgeous!). Which work environment do you think I prefer?

Three Embarcadero, San Francisco

Napa Home

Rylie's Notes:

Horses are not a bad species. They need a lot of instruction, but not as much as sheep. If I could have gotten under that fence, I bet I could have rounded those horses up into a nice little bundle.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Traffic Signal

While we've been staying in Napa, Rylie and I have been taking our morning walks along a narrow road that winds between vineyards and farms, mansions and falling down barns. There is no shoulder on this road, and the traffic on it drives really fast. I have been pulling Rylie off to stop in the grass on the side of the road whenever a car approaches in our lane, since the road is so narrow.

Several times during the past few days, Rylie has stopped all of a sudden while we were walking and refused to budge. At first I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't move, until a few moments later when I heard a car coming over a hill or around a curve. I guess he could hear the car before I could, so he was making sure we stayed out of the way. I have my own personal traffic signal.

Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is really sensory deprived. Not only can she not smell anything unless it's right under her nose, but she doesn't hear very well either. I guess that's the plight of all humans, poor things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Too Tired to Post

The job is going well, but between work and traveling to San Francisco, Concord and Pleasanton to meet up with friends or go to appointments, I'm pooped! It also doesn't help that I was wide awake at 2:00 a.m. last night and couldn't go back to sleep until around 4:30. I'm off to bed early tonight, so I'll have to post later.

No Rylie's notes. He's already snoring.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Treasure Hunt

If you have to go to work, the Napa Valley is a pretty place to do it. I got to spend the day yesterday driving through vineyards, literally, trying to locate properties with only an aerial photograph and a helicopter flight path map to identify them. Since the flight path map has very little detail on it, I had to feel my way with the photos, and things look a bit different from the air than they do from the road. I got to see some really beautiful homes and wineries, so it was a bit like being on a treasure hunt. The people I met were really nice too. I had always thought it would be neat to live in the Napa Valley, and I saw more than one house that I was ready to move into. I've always been a sucker for craftsman-style homes, and I saw a real beauty yesterday.

My first day on the job with Air Photo was interesting. I'm selling aerial photographs of vineyard properties, wineries, hobby farms, and miscellaneous businesses. I can do this part-time while I travel, so it might be just the ticket for me. I've only had one day on the job so it's too early to tell how lucrative it will be, but I think it might be kind of fun. I like exploring, seeing new places and meeting new people, and especially the freedom of setting my own schedule. I'll just have to watch my workaholic tendencies, but I think I've pretty much nipped that in the bud this past year of leisure. Another nice thing about this job is that I can break during the middle of the day to walk Rylie. That keeps him happy.

Rylie's Notes:

It's important that we all have our work to do -- we need to feel productive. I have lots of work to do. Not only do I have to water the trees and bushes every day, but I have to remind The Staff when it's time for her walk and when to fill my bowl. I also have to do 24 hour guard duty, the morning wake up call if she's lagging in bed, and I have to vacuum up any bits of food that fall on the floor. I've got a lot of responsibility. I deserve a raise. I would be satisfied with another dried chicken strip.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Plan C

Well, that's one of the beautiful things about this lifestyle: Plans are always changing. If you can be flexible, there are some nice surprises hiding behind unexpected corners. It turns out I will be staying in California a bit longer. I'm going to do a trial run on a part-time sales job before I head to Minnesota. If I like it and do well, this could turn out to be a nice solution to my upcoming need to make some money while I tool around the country. I start Saturday, and imagine I will be working for about a week or so. I'll be moving to a campground near Napa, which is the area where I'll be working. Not a bad place to work. The nice thing about this job is that I can take time off when I want to and set my own hours. Sounds perfect for me! I'll fill you in on the details after I see how it goes.

Because of my delayed departure, I won't be able to stop in Yellowstone on my way to Minnesota. I need to get to Minnesota before Cammie flies in on August 4th. It might be too late in the season to see Yellowstone when I'm ready to leave Minnesota, but we'll see. It may have to wait for next summer. But then there's Alaska...

Rylie's Notes:

Good, I'm ready for a change of scenery. I've checked out pretty much all of the bushes and trees around here. Time to move on. There's always more territory to be marked.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mr. Right

Shortly after we arrived at our campground in Pleasanton, Rylie and I were out scouting for a nice place to do our long morning walks. We were not far from the campground when Rylie decided to take a left, while I was planning to continue walking straight. I decided to indulge him, and we went left.

It turned out there was a very nice walking/biking trail that meandered along a creek bed with a canopy of lovely oaks and other trees. We followed the trail and eventually looped back to the campground. It makes for a nice walk that takes about an hour or slightly less, if Rylie is doing sprints, as he sometimes likes to do. So Rylie discovered a great morning walk for us. I guess I need to remember that sometimes Rylie is right.

Rylie's Trail

I kind of like downtown Pleasanton. It reminds me of how Walnut Creek used to be before it got rich and famous. Yesterday Cammie and I had breakfast at Dean's Cafe, which has the largest omelette menu I've ever seen. It's one of those hole-in-the-wall places that doesn't look like much but had a big line of people waiting, so you know it's good. And it was.

Dean's Cafe

(If the title of this post fooled you into thinking I was going to write about some wonderful new guy I've met, I'm sorry to disappoint you.)

Rylie's Notes:

SOMETIMES I'm right?? Oh please. The Staff should have named me Rightlie. But I guess Mr. Right has a nice ring to it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Old Friends and New

Bill and Doreen

I have been having a great time catching up with old friends while I've been in the Bay Area, and I've also been having fun making new ones. At the RV park in Rio Vista, I met Bill and Doreen, who are the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet. Rylie and I would often meet up with Doreen and her cockapoos, Cody and Sadie, when we were out walking. Bill helped me out when I was having my electrical power difficulties, and watched out for me by shutting one of my storage compartments when I left it open one day. (That wasn't the first time, I've forgotten to shut a compartment.) Bill was originally from Canada, just over the border from International Falls, Minnesota. Doreen is from California.

Doreen and Bill have traveled extensively, including Baja, and were a lot of fun to talk to. They had me over for a delicious dinner one night, and then took me to dinner at Lucy's Cafe in Rio Vista my last night there. I recommend Lucy's. The food was delicious. Bill and Doreen are an excellent example of the sort of friendly, helpful people you meet when you're traveling. Hopefully we'll run into each other again some day.

Rylie's Notes:

Normally I'm so busy with all of my responsibilities that I don't have time to play with the young ones. But that Sadie is one youngster that I would like to romp with. She's a cute little blonde, and I do tend to go for the blondes.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Can See!

I woke up the morning of my Lasik surgery feeling excited and a little bit nervous. Well okay, judging by the number of times I had to restrain myself from asking when I would be given the Valium, maybe I was more than just a little bit nervous. But it turned out that there was no reason to be nervous. The procedure was very quick and essentially painless. It was only for a few hours after the surgery that I felt discomfort, and that disappeared after I took a nap. My eyes were really sensitive to light and were tearing quite a bit, but after that there was only some mild irritation. It felt similar to how it had been feeling after wearing my contacts all day. Kind of scratchy and irritated. I do have some red bruises on my eyes, but I'm told that's common and they should disappear within a few weeks.

What was really amazing was how quickly I could see, especially close up. I was expecting that I would need reading glasses right away, but I can read just fine. I did have some blurriness and halos yesterday, but it is much better today.

Before the surgery the vision in my left eye could not be corrected to 20/20, even with contacts. But after not wearing contacts for two weeks, they tested me again right before the surgery and found they could correct my vision to 20/20 in my left eye. Today I went in for a follow up appointment and they said my vision is 20/20 in the right eye and 20/25 in the left eye, but it could still improve. I'm excited about the prospect of seeing even better than I did with contacts.

Cammie took the day off work to drive me home from surgery and took very good care of me. Even Rylie seemed to know what was going on. When I was resting in bed he wanted to lay right next to my head, something he never does.

Rylie's Notes:

I didn't sign up to be a seeing eye dog, so it's a good thing The Staff is seeing better today. I was afraid I would have to start wearing one of those special vests and a harness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tow Bar Pins, Oil Change, and Harry Potter

I was all packed up and ready to roll this morning, for the move to my new campground in Pleasanton. I pulled the motorhome out of my site to hook up the car, pulled the car up behind the motorhome, and discovered that one of my tow bar pins and clips was missing. Now how in the world could that disappear when it's pretty much locked onto the baseplate with the clip?

Some time ago I had decided that it would be a good idea to have some spare parts on hand for the tow bar, so I had picked up a few things at an RV supply store. Unfortunately, they didn't have any tow bar pins, so that was not one of the items in my tool box. I had to drive all the way to Lodi to get a replacement. And yes, I did buy two, so now I have a spare.

I stopped and got the oil changed on the motorhome on the way to Pleasanton, since it was time. Rylie and I hit the park for a bit while we were waiting, and then we got settled into the campground. Now I'm much closer to Cammie and just a few minutes from the eye doctor's office. Tomorrow is the big day! I'm getting excited for my new eyes.

This evening I went with Cammie and Brian to see the new Harry Potter movie that came out today. We saw it in 3D, although only the last 20 minutes was 3D. It was good, and we all enjoyed it.

I better go get my beauty sleep. It will be a busy morning. By noon I'll have my new eyes. Wish me luck!

Rylie's Notes:

The new campground seems all right. Not many cats, and plenty of trees and grass. Maybe I can even let The Staff off leash here. There's a nice big area to romp in, so she can't get into too much trouble.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bike and Rack: Check

I finally have a rack to put my bike on. Someone gave me their old bike when I was at Jojoba Hills, but I just now got a rack for my car. My previous bike died a long time ago, and I didn't have a rack. I have been trying to decide what to do about the bike and rack situation since before I hit the road, but I just didn't feel like I wanted to spend the money to get the good ones. This bike is a junker, but the price was right (free). I just had to buy a seat for it. This will help me decide if it's worth investing in a better bike and rack later on.

A big part of my hesitation has been because of Rylie. I like it when we can get our exercise together, since we both need it or we get a little stir crazy. He has never been trained to run alongside a bike, and when I walk him, he's all over the map. He is not a heeler, but I guess you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

I also didn't know if there would be enough opportunities to ride it in my travels, since most of the fulltimers I've talked to have told me they don't ride their bikes much. I didn't know if it would be worth the expense of a nice bike and a hitch rack. This will be a good way to find out.

Rylie's Notes:

It might be kind of fun to herd a bike.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rylie's Favorite Park

Rylie and I have been spending some time at our old neighborhood park in Concord. Baldwin Park is not an official off-leash park, but there is quite a bit of off-leash activity, especially when the dog group is there. (Shhhh, don't tell.)

It has all of the components that make for a great park in Rylie's book:

1. Lots of trees;
2. Lots of bushes;
3. Lots of grass;
4. Lots of friends; and
5. Lots of squirrels.

Once when Rylie was younger and a few pounds lighter, he got so involved with chasing a squirrel there that he ran about seven feet up the trunk of a slightly leaning tree before gravity set in.

Rylie's Notes:

Just a few more feet and I could have had that squirrel. Pups, don't try that at home.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Going for It

I'm still in the Bay Area, and that's because I decided to go for it. I'm getting Lasik on Thursday, even though I'm a little afraid. That's because of all of the scary stories I've been reading on the internet. The stories are from a very small percentage of people that had complications, which I know can happen with any surgery. However, everyone that I have talked to that has had Lasik says that they wish they had done it sooner.

I like my eye surgeon. After my initial exam he called me the next evening to answer the many, many questions I had that he didn't have time to answer during my office visit, and we were on the phone for about 45 minutes. Not many doctors will take that much time with their patients, so I was impressed. I've checked him out with the Medical Board and on the internet, and he seems to have a good reputation. (It doesn't hurt that he's nice to look at too.)

This Wednesday I'll be moving to a different campground that is closer to Cammie and really close to where I'm getting the Lasik done. I'll be glad when I don't have to drive back and forth to Rio Vista.
I'll have to hang around town for my one week follow up appointment after the surgery, but then I'll hit the road.

Rylie's Notes:

I'm ready to hit the road right now. I'm done with these cats.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One of Those Days

Even in the wonderful world of freedom, you still sometimes have One of Those Days. I had one today. It was very hot here today -- over 100 degrees -- and my power kept going out. This meant that the air conditioning went out, not a good thing on a 100+ temperature day. However, I learned something new from this experience, and that is this: Don't park your RV at the end of the line. It turns out they have electrical problems at this RV park, and everyone else was getting their power before I was, causing my power to drop. Luckily, I have a surge protector, otherwise it could have ruined my air conditioner, according to my neighbor the electrician.

Rylie and I were getting pretty hot and bothered by the time we got moved to a different site that is closer to the main transformer. But that wasn't all that happened today. I also dropped my cell phone in water, causing that to go kerflooey. It still isn't working. To make matters worse, I had to cancel my dinner plans with friends whom I was really looking forward to seeing.

Time for a cool shower, a glass of wine, some soothing music, and reflecting on the good feelings of yesterday.

Rylie's Notes:

Now that we're in our new spot, I have cats on both sides. I can look out the windows and see them laying there, hurling insults my way. One of these days The Staff won't be paying attention and I might get close enough to catch one.

Independence Day

As I went about my Fourth of July celebration activities yesterday, I thought about independence and freedom. Specifically, my independence and freedom. I am the most free and independent I have ever been in my life, and boy does it feel good. For the past ten months, I have been free of debt for the first time since Cammie was born. Even better, I have been free from the indentured servitude of a fulltime, permanent job. Being debt and job free has increased my choices exponentially, and when we have a bouquet of choices, we feel really free. The frosting on the cake has been having my little home on wheels, so that I can travel wherever and whenever I please, and stop and linger if I feel like it. Talk about freedom!

Our American culture raises us to be a society of consumers, believing we need to have the finest houses, cars, gadgets, and all of the other trimmings. But we don't realize how this unquenchable thirst for things enslaves us, and eliminates our choices. I discovered how freeing it was to give up my house and most of my possessions, and how much lighter I feel now. I realize this lifestyle is not for everyone, but it sure suits me. Maybe that will change some day and I'll be ready to stay put for awhile, but I'm not ready yet. I am really loving my life, and I feel grateful every day that I get to experience this. I wish that all of the people who have told me that I'm living their dream could do it too. Sometimes you just have to feel the fear, and then do it anyway.

I had a fun time yesterday with Cammie and friends. There was a great band playing in the park in Concord, we had a traditional July 4th meal, and then topped it off with perfect fireworks. The fireworks were perfect because they could be seen down the river from my campground, but not heard.
Rylie did not have to suffer through the noise, although I had given him some Benadryl just in case. It was a beautiful, warm night and for once there was no wind in Rio Vista. It was one of those nights that makes you wish summer would never end.

Rylie's Notes:

This was the best Fourth of July yet. No noise! It wasn't quite perfect though: when I was walking The Staff this morning we heard a firecracker nearby, so I had to hustle her back to the motorhome.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Rylie's Notes:

The Staff is finally letting me write about matters that I think are important. The number one item on my agenda is cats. The Staff is constantly telling me not to chase cats, but cats WANT to be chased. If they didn't want to be chased, why would they always taunt me with their insults like "leash lover," "low jumper," "Alpo eater," and "butt sniffer?" I have never eaten Alpo a day in my life! There are lots of cats here at the RV park in Rio Vista, and they all want me to chase them. They just seem to lay around all day doing nothing. They don't get any education or even know any tricks. What are they good for, if not chasing? They certainly aren't good herders. I think they make great herdees, though.

Notes From The Staff:

I'm still not letting you chase cats.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Me and Bill Gates

For those of you that were wondering how it's going with the Google AdSense ads, here is my first report. So far there have been TWO CLICKS on the ads, which means that I have made a whopping $1.43! I'll be rubbing elbows with Bill Gates in no time.

Okay, so maybe Bill and I will not be sharing financial advisors any time soon. That's okay, that kind of money just seems to attract trouble anyway. Then you have to worry about security systems, paparazzi, kidnappings, and finding a really, really big mattress to hide all of that money under. I'll be happy with a few extra dollars to keep me rolling down the road. I think it's a good idea to have multiple revenue streams, which is what I'm shooting for. I'll keep you updated on my AdSense progress. I know there are people out there who make thousands of dollars every month with their AdSense ads, but they have way more traffic on their sites than I do. However, I do have people that I don't know who are reading my blog now, so that's nice to see. I'm not sure how they found out about it, but let's hope more people do.

Rylie's Notes:

If The Staff would give me more than a few lines on her posts, she would have TONS of readers.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Farewell to Bodie

When I lived in Concord and from the time Rylie was just a pup, we would walk nearly every day to nearby Baldwin Park. There we would meet up with an ever-changing group of people that I have referred to throughout the years as the dog group. Besides meeting in the park to bring our dogs together to play, we branched out into other activities such as holiday parties, poker parties, swimming parties and farewell parties. (We were always looking for an excuse to have a party.) Dogs were not always invited. Farewell parties were arranged when someone was moving away (like me) or on the very sad occasion when a dog passed away.

Today I attended a farewell champagne brunch in the park for Bodie. Bodie and his people, Mac and Wendy, were some of the original members of the dog group. Bodie was a beautiful golden retriever with a gentle and wise spirit. He got along very well with Breezy, a female yellow lab who was the belle of the ball and who had all of the boys after her -- including Rylie In fact, Bodie was the only dog that Breezy would roll around and actually play with. Bodie was 13 years old, and a few days ago, his body said it was time to go. He was such a great dog, and I know that Mac and Wendy will miss him dearly. For many of us, losing a dog is like losing a family member. We will miss you, Bodie.

Here are some pictures from the farewell party:

Greg, Steve, Mac and Dogs

The Dogs Get Fed Too

Wendy, Abby, Rick and Dogs

Lots of Food, and Dogs!

Rylie's Notes:

Bodie was admired and respected by all of us. We will miss him, but we know that his job was done and it was time to move on to the best dog park of them all. Happy Trails, Bodie.