Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

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

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?