Thursday, January 19, 2012

I am Turtle. Hear me sigh.

We drove to Buda today. Again. To pick up the Turtle. $578 later, we pulled away, sending my brother-in-law off on his own. "No need for us to follow you," I said, "because I've set Maggie for your house, and she will find it -- no problem."  Right. Except she didn't. Somewhere on Highway 35, she got horribly confused and wanted us to turn left, but there was no place to turn left. About the third time she went squirrely on me, I asked R to turn her off, because she was making me crazy.  Among the choices of road available to me, I saw Highway 183 North, and I knew that 183 would eventually take me to the 1431, which would take me where I wanted to go -- so I followed my nose and sure enough, after some tense moments (maybe ninety of them), we got to the 1431, and from there I knew my way home. We had turned Maggie back on  just before that. She had finally figured out where she was, so she just nodded her little electronic head and sighed a sigh of relief.

There was just one problem -- no. Make that two problems. 

#1 - When I still wasn't sure what to do, way back on 35, I pulled over to the shoulder, intending to call my sister and get her to tell us which way to go. I looked in my purse, looked some more, and then remembered that my phone was plugged into the wall at home -- no use at all. So we looked at the maps. I found the 183 and confirmed that it would take us where we wanted to go. 

#2 - I turned the key, and instead of the sprightly sound of an engine just rarin' to go, we heard the exhausted grinding sound of a starter motor struggling to start the truck and encountering an unfortunate lack of communication with the engine. After a moment or two, the truck did start, and from then on the trip home was uneventful, but when we got here, we had to call Truck Ford and set up an appointment to take the Turtle back. Again. On Monday.

I am thoroughly sick of driving to Buda and back.

At least we will have the weekend to play. My sister won't have to work, so we'll be able to hang out, and we'll get to visit the rest of the family, who have apparently gotten over the flu that hit them just before we arrived. And we're going to go see The Iron Lady tomorrow.

Oh, and I forgot to put sunscreen on, this morning, so I got a bit of a burn on my left arm during the drive. That alone is enough to cheer me up. I hear we've chosen a good time not to be in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Turtle is sick.

Poor Turtle. We suspect it's the starter motor that's causing the problem, since replacing the battery didn't help. At any rate, Gray, the service manager at the Truck Ford dealership in Buda, Texas, has The Turtle and promises to find out what's wrong and let us know. We drove down there yesterday, because that was the closest Ford service centre that had a bay big enough for a 24-foot motor home. I drove, because R was still pretty wiped out after his marathon drive to get here the night before. I had an address somewhere near the dealership programmed into Maggie, because she doesn't understand addresses that have the word Highway in them -- and I had notes that I had scribbled on scrap paper, some with instructions from Gray the Service Manager, some with instructions from my brother-in-law. And I had R in the seat beside me, but I had the impression that he was in a state of shock. On the other hand, I may have been projecting.

(I should explain that as we approached Austin, we didn't dare turn the engine off, lest it not start again, so although we usually switch drivers once an hour, R drove the last four (twisty-turny, dark) hours of the trip himself, while I sat in the passenger seat and felt guilty. It's our deal, you know. R drives at night. I don't. So, by the time we arrived at my sister Pam's place, R was pretty well toast.)

So anyway, I drove to Buda yesterday morning. It's only just the other side of Austin, but in terms of time, it was like driving from Nanaimo to Victoria. In terms of stress, it had the Nanaimo-Victoria trip beaten, hands down. I almost kissed the pavement when we finally got to Buda and parked at the dealership.

As for weather, it's cold at night here, but during the day it is warm and sunny and altogether delightful, so we've pretty well decided not to go any farther east on this trip. We plan to stay here for a week or so, then wander lazily back up the west coast. On the other hand, we heard something on the news this morning about two feet of snow in Washington and Oregon, so our trip north may be a lazy one indeed.

p.s. I was going to add a clever picture at the top, but when I went hunting, I found that searching the web is a bit more of an adventure than usual. A great blackness has descended over the interwebs. I really must check the news to find out what's going on.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Texas is really, really big, you know.

We slept in Arizona last night, didn't we? Well, we crossed New Mexico in short order (just a little corner of it, really). We came into Texas at around two o'clock this afternoon, I think. I have to rely on R for that information, as he was driving and I was having a nap. He drove through El Paso, then woke me up for my shift. We looked at the map, thought maybe we could get as far as Fort Stockton, then thought better of it as the day wore on. We've stopped at the Eagle's Nest RV Park in Van Horn, Texas. I haven't seen any eagles, but then again, I've been busy making dinner, eating, and getting set up for the night.

According to Maggie the GPS, we are about 462 miles from our destination. I say "about" because Maggie was made before my sister's neighbourhood was, so I've had to approximate. One of these days, I really must get around to buying the latest software! I don't know where we got the idea that we could make this trip in a week to ten days -- wishful thinking, I guess. Today is day 10, and we still have a full day ahead of us. If we leave early tomorrow morning, we should be pulling up at my sister's place by about five o'clock in the evening.

We sincerely hope that, somewhere between here and Austin, we will get down below four thousand feet elevation and STAY THERE. We got all excited, earlier today, when we found ourselves at 3,800 feet, but the next thing we knew, we were climbing again, and here in Van Horn we are at 4,112 feet. It's just not fair. But it will pass, right? Meanwhile, I can console myself with a little Texas music.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

And then came Saturday the Fourteenth!

Actually, it was a good day. Nothing went horribly wrong, and some things went amazingly right.

We made our escape from Horspitality Ranch without being attacked by wild pigs. That was a great start. R was worried about my driving without my glasses, so he took the first shift, even though it was my turn. I did appreciate that, because I discovered that driving with the emergency glasses on made me sick to my stomach, and driving without them made it difficult to read the road signs before they had gone by. (By the way, I am not legally required to wear glasses to drive. I think my eyes have just gotten spoiled.)

We drove the thirty miles or so to Wal-Mart in Surprise, Arizona, which someone had suggested would be the place to get my glasses replaced. I had my doubts, but I went in there anyway, taking along my broken glasses, just in case they turned out to be repairable (fat chance -- they've been on borrowed time since England).  I walked into the Vision Care area and approached a friendly lady whose name I never got -- and that's too bad. I would like to send a letter to her boss. I explained my dilemma. She took my broken glasses from me, declared them beyond repair, and then said "I could probably find a set of frames to fit your lenses." She walked over to one of the three walls full of frames, took a set off the wall, and popped a lens out. Then she popped one of my lenses out and transferred it to the new frame. It fit perfectly. We wasted a few minutes looking at other, lighter-coloured frames, but none of them fit. She had managed to find the one and only perfect fit, on the first try. So she put my other lens in the new frame, I paid for it, and we were done. I donated my old frames to her garbage can.

I can see again, and I'm not sick to my stomach. In the immortal words of Martha Stewart, "That's a Good Thing."

We stopped in at Starbucks, then headed on down the road. Traffic around Phoenix was horrible. Arizona highways are a free-for-all. People pass on the left and on the right, according to their whims, then pull in front of you as soon as they've gone by, so that you have to brake to keep from rear-ending them, and generally behave like fourteen-year-olds stealing daddy's car. Even the truck drivers, who have been very pleasant to drive with on the rest of the trip, have been infected with this bad driving bug. That was really the only unpleasant part of today's trip. Tucson's traffic wasn't as bad as Phoenix's, and after Tucson the traffic thinned out a lot and driving became downright easy.

We've stopped for the night at Fort Willcox RV Park near Willcox, Arizona. We're a couple of hours from Deming, New Mexico, and about four hours from El Paso, Texas, so by tomorrow night we should be in the state we're aiming for, though still a long way from Austin.

We're told that the temperature will go down to 28F tonight, so we've decided not to try using our water hose. We have plenty of water on board. My only concern with this park is that after we had booked in, I saw a sign describing the park as "Ft. Lewis Seniors' Community." Nobody even questioned my right to be here, and that's just insulting.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wickenburg, Arizona

Of all places. We weren't planning to stop quite this soon (we've been here for three or four hours now), but my glasses disintegrated this afternoon, so we decided to look for a One Hour Two For One Optician -- no luck there. Meanwhile, R spotted a Ford dealer, and he's been wanting to get an oil change, so we stopped in there, but they don't have an appointment available until next Wednesday, and we have no intention of staying that long. And -- we noticed earlier today that when we ran the water pump, it kept pumping after we had turned the water off. Were we out of water? Surely not. R figured out that the little valve at the point where we connect the water hose to the RV to fill up the tank had broken, so every time we turned on the water pump, we were spurting water out the side of the RV. We stopped at an RV parts/repair place somewhere along the line, but they didn't have a part for us.  Oh, and we stopped at a place that sold propane, to fill up that tank, but they didn't have any propane.

However, ACE Hardware in Wickenburg had a cunning little device that R has attached to the input/output thingy, so now we don't spurt water anymore. Cool.

We have had our dinner, and the dishes are cleaned up, and I've spent the last eight hours --- okay, it just seems like eight hours --- fighting with R's computer, which has picked up a virus so bad that he can't do anything at all. Windows said the virus was in his Avast anti-virus programme, so I uninstalled and reinstalled Avast, but now Vista won't let me do anything at all (including run Avast) except buy the damned programme that Vista wants to sell me (him). I've told R to take the computer to a geek in Austin and have Windows uninstalled and reinstalled. Maybe they can sell him something besides Vista, which I swear is the spawn of Satan.

And that is how we came to be sitting in an overflow spot at the Horspitality RV Resort and Boarding Stable in Wickenburg, Arizona. (And yes, that's how it's spelled. Horspitality.) The lady at the desk warned us that we should be careful if we went for a walk after dark down in the dog walking area. "Dog poop?" I asked. She was a little offended. No, there shouldn't be any of that. People are supposed to clean up after their dogs. "Pigs," she said. "There are some pigs that wander through here."  Okay. Fine. No walk tonight.

p.s.  I forgot to mention the highlight of today's trip (Yes, there was a highlight!). I was sleepy, so I lay down for a nap while R drove. The landscape was pretty naked, not particularly photogenic. But when I woke up, we were in the middle of a Joshua forest. I felt like Dorothy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What happens in Vegas...
...turns up at the Turtle that very night. I had a great day. My friend Peggy Richardson dropped by for a chat with R about his WIP, then took me out for what I thought was going to be a quick sandwich. It turned into a delightful, full afternoon. First, we went grocery shopping. Then we went to New York, New York for lunch.
Then we went to Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where we spent the afternoon communing with all manner of predatory sea life. (My apologies for the blurry photo -- These fellows are faster than they look!) Around five o'clock, I realized suddenly that I had promised R that I would go to the movies with him, so we made our way back to the Turtle -- with a quick stop to take a photo at the iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign -- and said our good-byes. I grabbed a quick dinner, and then R and I walked over to Sam's Town, where we watched "War Horse" in a large theatre. There were only four other people in the audience. Nonetheless, when it came time to leave, we managed to create a traffic jam in the aisle. That took some doing.

It made all the difference in the world to see Las Vegas with a friend who knew where she was going and what was worth seeing. Thank you, Peggy!

Tomorrow, we'll head for Arizona -- We'd like to get to Tucson, but that's quite a bit of driving - 500 miles -- so I'm afraid we'll have to settle for something a bit closer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turtle All the Way Down...

I'm glad we spent the night in Death Valley, even though we didn't get to do any stargazing. Even the RV park was quiet, and in the morning, instead of going out the way we came in, we drove all the way to the south end of the valley. Neither of us had ever been down there before, and we were both awestruck by the beauty we found. We passed the entrance to something called Artist Way, but decided not to try driving it, because a sign warned us that vehicles more than 25 feet long were prohibited, and we would just barely have made the cut -- too much stress for a holiday.  Even without taking the side road, we could see some of the multi-coloured cliffs. I tried to take pictures, but my little camera wasn't up to the job. I guess you had to be there.

Yesterday, and again today, I had the feeling that because I was seeing the earth without its trappings, without buildings or people or other animals, for the most part without even the vegetation that carpets so much of it -- that I was seeing the bottom of it all, the essence of the planet. And I know that sounds overly dramatic, but that's how I felt -- as if the curtain had been pulled back and I had been granted a glimpse of something truly wonderful.

Then we got to Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the United States, and my feeling of awe grew even stronger. We stopped for lunch. First, though, we decided to take a walk. We parked the Turtle in the lot and set off along a path that led across what looked like an ice-covered lake.  It was actually a crust of salt covering a sea of mud. (As we approached on the road, I could see people out there, walking, and they reminded me of skaters on the Rideau Canal.) On the wide path on which we walked, the surface salt was soft and crumbly. It looked to me like snow -- but warm. Both of us noticed how incredibly easy it was to walk there -- and to breathe there. I don't think I've breathed that well in years.

On the cliff across the road from the basin, there was a sign -- high above our heads -- that read "Sea Level". You might just make it out on the photo at the right.

Fortunately, we were hungry, or we might just have walked right across the basin. As it was, we returned to the Turtle, and I made lunch while R washed the salt off our shoes. After lunch we continued down the road. Our next stop -- actually, our last stop in the valley -- was at the Ashford Mill Ruins -- which date back to 1914. This was apparently where gold was processed before it was shipped to the smelter. A sign mentioned the "legend" that has grown up around the fate of the mill. Wow. I thought it took longer than 98 years to grow a legend! I think I'd have used the word "rumour" instead. Nonetheless, I had fun peeking out the windows and shooting a few pictures before we finally, and reluctantly, made our way up to the rim of the valley and on to Las Vegas, where we are now. We will be here for two nights.

Death Valley seems a million miles away.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Listen to the silence.

We spent last night at the Mineral Hot Springs RV Park in Beatty, Nevada at about 3,300 feet elevation. Silly me, I just went looking for a website, but it isn't the sort of place that has a website. The park office is a run-down RV, and the sites are pretty basic -- electricity and water. The mineral baths themselves are enclosed in three buildings that are barely more than sheds. Residents are free to use the baths. You just go up to the office, pick up a key for the bath you want to use (#2 is the hottest, then #1, then #3) and go on up. Once you have the key, nobody else can get in, so you have your own private mineral bath. There isn't really room to swim around (each pool is about the size of a comfortable living room, floored with gravel), but you can paddle a bit, then just sit or float in peace until you're warm right through.

It turned out that there was wi-fi after all. I discovered that on the way to the bath house, so on the way back I stood and memorized (I thought) the 14-digit WEP key, then tried to get online when I got back to the RV. I found out this morning that I had reversed two of the digits, and that was why I couldn't get on. Note to self: Always carry a pen and notebook, even when you're going to take a bath, because you never know.

We amused ourselves by playing cards last night, then went for another bath this morning before we left. We decided that we really needed a break from all the driving, so instead of moving on, we just drove down into Death Valley, and we're spending the night here, at the Furnace Creek Ranch's RV park. At the rim of the valley, we were up over 4,300 feet. Then we drove downhill for thirteen miles. I think we're just about 190 feet below sea level right here at the campground.

As soon as we got into the valley, we drove to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, where we ate lunch and then went for a walk (trudge, climb, clamber) for half an hour out, fifteen minutes back. That was because we did it the hard way on the outward hike.

Climbing the dune pictured above at the right was a matter of taking a stride forward (up), then sliding about 2/3 of a stride backward (down) -- over and over and over again. We did make it to the top, though, and there we rested. There were a lot more people around today than on our last visit, so we watched other people running up the dunes (they were much younger) and taking each other's pictures. For the most part, though, people were quiet. The dunes do that. They have their own song, and when you're among them, you want to listen.

Once we settled in at the RV park, R went for a bike ride and I went for a walk. Now, at 7 p.m., the two of us are struggling to stay awake.  Two mineral baths and some unaccustomed exercise have taken their toll! We both want to do some stargazing tonight, but that may not be possible. There's a bit of (high cirrus) cloud cover that is getting in the way. We will keep checking, every few minutes, until either the clouds wander off or we fall asleep.

Tomorrow we'll be driving again, on our way to Las Vegas.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sandra Proposes...

This is what I saw when I went for my little walk last night -- a beautiful California sunset.

When I woke  up this morning, I thought I had slept in, because the sun was up already -- but no, it was  7:30. It's just that we had come far enough south to make at least a half hour's difference in the sun's rising time.

The plan was to go to Corning, visit the Olive Pit (one of my favourite places), then proceed to  Bakersfield, where we would make up our minds what route to take from there.

So much for plans. We spent five minutes in the Olive Pit at Corning -- long enough for me to snap a couple of photos and buy pepperoncini, olives stuffed with garlic, almonds, and pistachios.

(Oh, and by the way, I had been reading about pepperoncini on Facebook, but I had never tasted them until today.)

Oh, pepperoncini, where have you been all my life? 

Then we went to the next rest stop, where we ate brunch and changed plans completely. We didn't go to Bakersfield. We took the next exit from the I-5 and drove along Hwy 20 and Hwy 63, which took us to I-80, over the Donner Pass (7.200 feet +) and on to Reno, where we are currently sitting, not hooking our water hose up -- because the warm weather we enjoyed last night is but a distant memory.

On the other hand, the wi-fi connection is infinitely better -- hence the photos, which I'm able to upload in seconds instead of hours.

We're at something called Sparks Marina RV Park, which we found after driving right across Reno on the highway. We were beginning to think we were going to spend the night out in the desert.  Fortunately, Sparks Marina turned out to be neat and clean, if not particularly interesting -- and quite affordable.

R assures me that it is all downhill from here, and that we will soon have our warm weather back. Tomorrow, we will head to Beatty, Nevada, where there is a very unassuming RV park with a hot spring on the property. We do enjoy staying there, swimming in the hot water. The following day, we plan to take a side trip into Death Valley, which we both love. Then we will go out the south end of the valley and proceed toward Texas. At least, that's the plan right now.

And the reason I'm telling you about the next couple of days is that I don't remember having wi-fi in Beatty, so there probably won't be a post tomorrow night -- which is a shame, because I'm kinda gettin' into this! Or -- maybe Beatty has grown since we were there last, and they'll have wi-fi. You never know.

Now, I've sat here for a while, wondering what music I could add that would fit today's post, and I can't come up with a thing -- so I'll just post something I like. No. Something I love.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

California Dreamin'

We are safely over the passes, which were clear and dry. The worst we encountered was a patch of dense fog. Then it was over, and we were in California. It took a few minutes for me to realize that I was grinning, and a moment more to realize why I was grinning -- the sun was shining! R opened his window and declared the weather mild. A moment later, we pulled off the road at a viewpoint, so that I could snap photos of the landscape, which I will post if the connection here ever improves.

When I'm at home in Canada, or somewhere else in the world, I tend to forget the hold that California has on me. As we drove along, I looked at the hillsides and I knew how the soil and the vegetation would smell if I were out walking there, knew how the sun would feel on my head, knew enough to watch out for snakes. I do love this place.

Shortly after we crossed the border, we came to the dreaded Agricultural Inspection Station. Oh, no. I had gotten rid of our vegetables before we crossed the U.S. border (except for the tomatoes), then gone hog wild in a supermarket in Washington. We pulled up to a booth, where we were greeted by a young woman in uniform. I rolled down the window. "Are you carrying any fruits or vegetables?"

I decided that there was no sense in beating around the bush. I was about to lose my vegetables again. "You know," I said, "I think you might as well come in and look around. I forgot all about this inspection, and I've got a fridge full of vegetables." I started to get out of the driver's seat.

"Okay," said the officer. "Do you have any corn that's still in the husk?"


"Any citrus fruit?"


"Any papayas or mangoes?"


"Okay, that's fine. You can go."

That was when my jaw hit the floor. I closed my mouth and drove away. I felt like that woman in the Ikea ad -- the one that keeps yelling "START THE CAR! START THE CAR!"

We intended to get to Corning today, but we stopped at a supermarket in Redding. (I bought only one vegetable!) When we came out, we decided that there was no reason why we had to keep driving, so we got back on the I-5, drove just until we saw a sign advertising an RV park, and stopped. This place is called JGW RV Park. It's right on the Sacramento River, and it's quieter than it ought to be, given its proximity to the I-5. We did ask for a site near the back of the park. Before dinner, R went for a little bike ride, and I took a walk around the park, both of us without coats -- the first exercise either of us has had on the trip.

Tomorrow, we will stop at Corning, but just to buy olives. (Corning is the Olive Capital of the World!)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Serendipity, or (and?): John Hayes has found his musical home in Portland

There we were, rolling down the I-5 toward Portland just before noon today, listening to a radio station  -- 90.7 FM, I believe, or something close to that. I was looking for NPR, and I never did decide whether I had found it. At any rate, they were interviewing a musician and playing a whole lot of bluegrass. I didn't hear the name of the musician or the interviewer, but I did manage to catch the relevant website. Its name, I'm afraid, is, and as I listened to the music and the interview, I thought "I must tell John Hayes about this!"

It seems there's going to be a music festival in Portland next week -- no, not a festival. A Gathering.

We were supposed to be stopping to have coffee with John in Portland, but our timing was off. Friday is a bad day to try to see him -- so I just called him, caught him on the way into some sort of appointment, and gabbled furiously at him for a couple of minutes, trying to tell him about the Gathering. Finally, I just said "I'll tell you later." and let the poor man go. So here, John, is what I was trying to tell you. The Gathering will be held January 14-15 at the Scottish Rite Center on SW Morrison. It sounds like a lot of fun. And -- There Will Be Banjos.

I waved in John's general direction as we drove through the city. We'll be sure to arrive on a Not Friday on the way back!

On our journey today, there were also: a cold and nasty wind; flocks of geese and ducks flying overhead; and a tow truck carrying a burned out tractor whose wheels had essentially melted. Unfortunately, I was driving when the tow truck passed us, so I couldn't take a picture. The tractor looked like something Dali might have imagined.

We arrived at our Destination du Jour -- Sutherlin, Oregon -- at about 4:15 this afternoon, and checked into Hi-Way Haven, where we have stayed several times before. We love this place. The RV park is built on the site of an old drive-in, and Saturday night is movie night -- starting NEXT week, of course. You sit in your RV, tune your radio to a certain station, and watch a big screen film in complete comfort. (Next week's film is The Bourne Identity, so I don't really feel bad about missing it. Not my kind of film, that.) At any rate, film or no film, the park is attractive, clean, and well organized -- and about $10 less expensive than the big gravel parking lot where we slept last night!

When we had settled in, I came online and clicked on Robert Frost's Banjo, John's blog. I was delighted to see that his latest entry was all about the banjo -- Serendipity! So, John -- I hope you can make it to the Gathering and tell me all about it. I'll be in Texas by then, with any luck.

Tomorrow is The Day of the Passes. We'll check the Oregon State Webcams soon, to see whether the roads are bare, in which case we can actually go over the passes, or whether we'll have to brave Highway 1 (the coast road) again.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Cities are too big.

That's all there is to it. Vancouver -- Greater Vancouver -- is w-a-y too big, and so is Seattle. We were talking tonight about how the first day of driving is always the hardest, and we weren't sure whether it was just that on the first day, we are adjusting to our change in lifestyle, or the fact that the first part of our journey is always a matter of fighting our way through the madding crowd. I think it's the crowds, the traffic - oh my god the traffic - and the fact that no matter how tired or stressed out you are, you just have to keep going, because if you stop, someone will surely run over you.

We got a late start today. I think it was about noon when we left Burnaby. We followed my daughter-in-law's excellent directions and had no trouble finding our way to the Peace Arch. I took a photo while we were there -- but not of the Peace Arch.  It was the oddest thing -- a gigantic -- but somehow ethereal --  leafless vine surrounding a large, empty rectangle high in the air. We think that there used to be some sort of sign (billboard?) there that has now been removed, leaving the perfectly formed rectangle. Unfortunately, I took the photo with my phone, not my camera, and remembered only later that I don't have a data roaming package -- I bought some extra North American minutes, but not data, so I don't dare post the photo until I get to my sister's place, or someplace else where I can use the wi-fi. I'll try to remember to do that.

The border guard got our tomatoes, as usual. We managed to eat all the fruit we had on board and call it lunch, but we missed the tomatoes, so we lost them. We figure that at the end of the day, all the border guards get together for a big potluck supper and compete to see who brings the best goodies. Once across the border, we headed straight down the I-5 in search of a Safeway. I was secretly hoping for a Whole Foods, but we didn't find either one until it was nearly dark and we were in Tacoma. We stocked up on fruit and vegetables and drove on into the darkness, looking for a place to sleep. I was beginning to feel a little panicky by the time I spotted a sign reading "Majestic RV Park -- next exit."  Off we went, and we managed to find the park in spite of the gloom and the fact that once we were off the freeway, the signs evaporated. We are hooked up now, we've had dinner and cleaned up, and I have beaten R at rummy, so all is well. We still have no idea what the place looks like. We may wake up in the morning and find ourselves in the middle of a toxic waste dump, but we're really too tired to care. Several trains have gone by since we got here, and I've enjoyed that. I love the sound of a train in the distance -- but doesn't everybody?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Start as you mean to go on.

That's the rule, isn't it? I've promised myself that I won't let the fiasco that was my non-communication from England be repeated on this southward voyage of the Turtle.  I shall record the journey, first of all to let friends and family know that we are okay, but also, importantly, to help me (and R, who complains bitterly when I fail to blog, because I am the official rememberer) keep track of who and where we are and what we've been up to. Already, I've forgotten to do the one thing I resolved to do -- really notice one thing every day this month and write about it -- Okay. I will be starting that tomorrow. I even have a lovely little notebook for the purpose. Meanwhile,  this is our adventure so far.

We left home at about 2:15 this afternoon and made our way to the Departure Bay ferry terminal for the 3:00 p.m. sailing. We were directed to lane 31, where we found ourselves waiting in the line-up right beside a full cattle car. The cattle were lowing, the stench was stinky, and I was full of foreboding. When we boarded the ferry, the cattle ended up a little bit ahead of us, but I could still hear them. R went up onto the passenger deck, but I stayed in the Turtle to read and scrounge for something to eat. I ended up talking to my daughter on the phone for a while, until I felt too ill to do so. It was not a pleasant crossing. There was rain and there was wind, and there were waves. The cattle were frightened (and maybe seasick, too. Who knows?); they kept losing their balance and bellowing. I sympathized. Every few seconds there would be a great THUMP! as the ferry fell off a wave and landed in a trough. At least I hope that's what was happening. It was awfully loud.

Finally, we arrived at Horseshoe Bay and made our way to Burnaby via Highway 1. There was rain and there was wind, and apparently there had been an accident on the highway beyond our exit. We traveled the last two kilometres or so before the exit at narrowboat speed (3-4 miles an hour). We felt nostalgic for the narrowboat. Also hungry.

When we arrived in Burnaby, the grandchildren greeted us at the door and their parents presented us with pizza for dinner, after which we all watched a movie about sentient cars with agendas and love lives. It was all very strange -- the movie, I mean. Not the pizza. That was good.

So here I am, bleary-eyed but determined. If there is wi-fi, I will write every night. Really I will. Tomorrow, I hope to be writing from somewhere in southern Washington.  Have I mentioned that we are on our way to Texas? That's the plan. First Texas, then -- I don't know. Wherever we like, for the next two months.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams.

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