Aftermath of Katrina~New Orleans

November 1, 2007

I'm still on the road with my sis. We just left Florida (visited family & friends there). Headed for California now and stopped in New Orleans. Deanie has never been here....only here for a day and spent 4 hours on a post-Katrina tour. Glad we did that....very informative. The pictures were taken from the tour bus and some are pretty lop-sided....but much of the town is that way as you may not be able to tell. Included in the photos are levees, trailers in front yards, Deanie with the excellent tour guide (a native), me, Botanical Gardens.

When we returned from the tour we had some great New Orlean's food.....and continued heading west.

Vermont Fall 2007 traveling with my sister

October 2007

When my sis and I were traveling in the fall of 2007, I didn't have much time to blog. I will post some of the pictures of a few of the beautiful northeastern spots where we spent time.

'kickin' it with my sis'

October 12, 2007, 4:41 pm

After picking up my sis and spending some quality time in and around Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, 
Jamestown, Yorktown, and visiting friends in Richmond, we are now in Massachusetts. Tomorrow we will take a ferry to Martha's Vineyard, then head to New Hampshire (to hook-up with more friends) then on to Maine for more "leaf-peeking".
The ferry to Martha's Vineyard.

We were in Boston has cooled down....lots.....high 50's....low 60's. Just perfect for this California gal.

It's a bit crowded in "Phoebe McGee" (my RV) but we're making it just fine.

Doing laundry now ($4.00 a load) ouch!

More later......Gypsy Mama

Kansas City to Virginia

September 24, 2007, 10:38 pm

I'm now in Richmond, VA on my way to Virginia Beach.  My sister is flying out to meet me on Tuesday and we will then tour the New England States for the spectacular fall colors......then slowly head back south on the coast stopping wherever we please.  Our brother and his family are in Florida....after visiting them and a friend in Naples, we will head back cross country to Santa Cruz, CA.  I will spend the holidays at home, then head out again.

I now have my new 20" TV in "Phoebe McGee" and it's really nice.  After it was replaced in Minot, N. D., I headed for Kansas City to visit with friends and former neighbors in CA. Arn & Rosemary in KC.

From museums to movies to blues festivals to restaurants to cooking to football was an incredible experience.  Kansas City is a beautiful city..

When I left them, I was spontaneous the entire time....ending up in charming Hannibal~Mark Twain~country...seeing his boyhood home, the museum, the Becky Thatcher House, and I stayed at an RV park by the cave where Tom and Becky got lost in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".

A few more caves in Kentucky, then on to Cincinnati, OH to visit a high school friend and his wife for a few days. Mick & Brenn It's so much fun visiting friends interspersed with "prairies, cowboys, rivers, lakes, buffalo"....just the right balance.

I loved West Virginia (the only "northern state" during the Civil War).  Spent a few days around Lewisburg in the Allegheny Mountains.  The Victorian architecture and art centers and luxury resorts and the look of contentment on the faces of the tourist and the small town inhabitants say it is featured in National Geographic's Guide to Small Town Escapes and the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.

I also stayed in the small community of Charlottesville, VA .... small but 'oh, so large in history'.....considered by some 'the best place to live in America'.....some name drops include....Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, James Monroe, James home to authors John Grisham, Anne Bettie, Rita Mae Brown and of course, The University of Virginia.

Edgar Allen Poe Museum
                                                  While in Richmond I will have a few days to explore some nearby attractions, i.e., Edgar Allen Poe Museum and many other museums and the Pamunkey Indian Reservation.....and then head for Virginia Beach to meet my sis......

gypsy mama~

....There Are Those Days......

August 31, 2007, 9:05 pm

Some of you may believe that everyday I see wonderful scenery (Sedona)
and all is just amazing & astonishing, because of the blogs I write!.....NOT! 

So I'm going to share some drab~dreary~dull~ humdrum~ tedious~ wearisome~ and silly I sit here at a KOA park somewhere in Iowa, or is it Nebraska? Or is it in New Orleans post Katrina?
There are those days....

.....of nothing but driving...& all travel is not equally spectacularly beautiful...just to keep awake, I have to pull over at every rest area..... 

.....when my diesel tank is less than half filled and I think I can wait til the next town for a fill-up.  The next town is 250 miles away and it's only a "gas" station....

.....I'm not tired when I see an RV Park and it's 6 or 7 PM....."I'll just wait for the next one" and keep guessed more signs for RV's dark....I don't drive at night....I don't even see at night .......... but ....... sometimes I must.....until I find a WalMart ... could be midnight or 1 areas at night waaay too scary.....

.......when my GPS (George Percival Stansfield) tells me to turn right and I'm on a bridge over the Mississippi River.....I know I won't turn but it's a sensation of an order from someone named George Percival Stansfield that gives me simultaneous hot flashes and cold chills.....would it help for me to change his name?....

.....when my RV needs service....I schedule an appointment way in advance ... and service changes it and rarely lets you know ...... or even why.... so you wait..... oh .... if you're under warranty, you may have to drive days to get to an authorized dealer.....

.......when an 18-wheeler misses hitting you by less than an inch....sometimes it can be 4-5 -  18 one day.....

.......and the worst.....there are those months when I have a dollar left and Social Security is 3-4 days late depositing my check.......

Most days are just like you see in my pictures and blogs.....beautiful scenery, spectacular historical sites, mysterious caves and meeting up with good tomorrow in Kansas.  I lived across the street from Rosemary & Arn for about 15-16 years in Santa Cruz.  I even introduced them.  Several years ago they moved to Kansas (to be close to Arn's ageing parents) and I'm so excited to see them.....especially over Labor Day weekend.  They are great cooks!

See you down the road....

Gypsy Mama aka Patty

ps....I have a new TV...Leisure Travel Van replaced my 17" with a 20" with a flat screen and a new "arm" to hold it.  I had to drive to North Dakota to get it and it was just installed yesterday....10 days later than it was scheduled....not bad!  I am grateful.  And I'm watching TV tonight for the first time in 8 weeks.

Peaceful Easy Feeling

August 28, 2007, 6:04 pm

I'm kind-of-on-the-road......

Waiting in Minot, North Dakota....still...for my TV to be replaced.  That was supposed to happen a week ago Monday (8/20).  If it hasn't happened by this Thursday, I will start all over with the process in Kansas.  That's where I am going to see dear friends & neighbors (of 14-15 years) over the Labor Day weekend.  Like everything .....this wait 'is what it is' ....& most of you know what it's like dealing with service people.  I'll just leave it there!

Meanwhile....I've been busy here in this land of vast prairies where the buffalo still roam (lots of them),
and a badlands area where Theodore Roosevelt once roamed.  His presence is still quite alive.  I understand more now why this part of the country is referred to as the Heartland.  It's not only the middle of our nation, its people embody solid middle America values....just down-home-down-to-earth-work hard-helpful and friendly people....

Bismark (the capital) has been rated as number one in the country for its quality of life and the "Least stressful city in America."  I also can see why roam and roaming are used a lot for this area.  There's so much room to roam!  Sometimes I think I'm the only person on the road...sometimes I am.  There is a good balance of attractions, historical sites and cultural activities abound.

Everywhere, of course, is Lewis & Clark & Sakakawea, the legendary "bird woman" who accompanied L & C on their way west. 

Next door to Bismark, with the Missouri River in the middle, is Mandan, also steeped in history.  It's a very attractive (touristy) town with art galleries, museums, ballet & symphony...things that attract visitors.

Close by is Theodore Roosevelt National Park where I had time to leisurely see it all.  I spent 2 glorious nights in the Juniper primitive camp site ... the weather was perfect for late evening walking with TaZzi and greeting other friendly campers & their dogs...some in pop ups, some in tents...few in RV's.  See many of my posted pictures of this area.....

If Teddy were here today, he would feel very much at home and have lots of buffalo to shoot.  Wrong...don't think he could do that today in his park.  The park is in 2 units....the South Unit and the North Unit.  I first did the South Unit which is above another little town called Medora (also a bit touristy, but not bad).  You have to drive another 50+ miles to get to the North Unit

Oh, BTW....I'm actually lucky to be back in the U.S.  For a while, I didn't think they were going to let me back in from Canada.  Going through customs from US to Canada was just a few questions and the relinquishing of my pepper spray...they didn't come inside and search.  Different story getting back in.  Two customs very serious men got in "Phoebe McGee" and went through all my stuff...don't think they missed anything...glove box, refrigerator, under the sofa, closet, shelves, drawers.......and went through all my books.....especially the one lying on the sofa I'm presently reading.....called "The Afghan".  Guess it helped that I had some other more appropriate reading material around as well; like the Bible and John Steinbeck....

TaZzi had a nice birthday last I didn't bake her a cake but I gave her special treats all day and some roast beef mixed with her dog food for dinner.  She knew something was special! 

I'll probably blog from Kansas next... til then have....

.......peaceful easy feelings....   

Life on the Road ... a daring adventure!

a short story written on the road in August 07......

When that blast of thunder woke me, I found myself licking my lips.  More jolting than the thunder was what was making my lips taste so good?  Then I remembered ..... the peanut butter & jelly sandwich I'd had just before I dozed off. The peanut butter was Skippy (no nuts.)  The jelly was raspberry & rhubarb.  I bought it from the Amish woman in Harmony, Minnesota weeks before (just after I had passed over the Mississippi River and the bridge that just fell in the Twin Cities.)  I also bought  bread and butter pickles from the Amish woman.  They lasted 2 days.  They tasted just like my grannies.  I used to help her make them.

Where am I?  I looked out the window of Phoebe McGee and saw a gas station.  They had diesel.  Phoebe drinks diesel.  I also saw that three quarters of the sky was so black I couldn't see the mountains.  More thunder!  Then I remembered why and where I was ..... I had to sleep! 

That morning I had a date at RV America at 8.   My TV had fallen off the arm that held it and it no longer worked.  I was about an hour from the RV place staying at a KOA Park.  The park was right on the highway and on a train route.  Sleep wasn't in my near future.  I remembered a hypnotic tape about sleeping I'd once been given at an upscale hotel.  That had to be before I began full-timing in my beautiful Phoebe McGee, my RV.  By the time I found the tape I was wide awake.  Just about the time I had fallen into a sleep, my dog, TaZzi was snoring louder than ever!  The tape really worked on her!

I may have slept 2 hours and I did make it to the RV place in plenty of time.  Time enough to find out that I drove from western Colorado (Telluride) missing a jazz festival, to eastern Colorado (Denver) I'd already been there, only to find out the entire arm had to be replaced and it would take 2 weeks to get it to Denver from Canada. 

My heart had already moved further west and "my wheels were itchin".....for Jackson Hole, Glacier National Park, then Canada.  Surprisingly, I haven't missed watching TV.  I'm catching up on my reading and am writing more.  Now I have to go to North Dakota to get the TV fixed.  That's where the next authorized dealer is and fortunately it's still under warranty.  I've never been to North Dakota .... something new! on the road is kind of at the home.....something breaks, it gets fixed...or not....and so on.  I can hardly remember what having a real home was like.  It's only been 8 months since I've been Rving full-time; after selling my home and giving everything away and experiencing the kind of freedom I never thought possible. 

Now, my home is on wheels and its backyard changes all the is often near water....a lake, a river, a stream, a forest in a state or national park, a Wal-Mart parking lot.   I have all I need with me all the time.  I never have to worry that I've forgotten something and never have to dress in layers.

In my very first blog, I quoted one of John Steinbeck's many quotes:  "A Journey is Like a Marriage.....the certain way to be wrong is to think you control it."  And So It Is!  This adventure is about the journey, not the destination, and all about "allowing it to happen!".

From Desert Hot Springs in California, to Sedona in Arizona,  Santa Fe & Albuquerque,  music festivals in Austin, running from tornadoes from Texas to Oklahoma, visiting friends in Oklahoma, New Orleans Jazz Festival,  being amist post-Katrina sadness, Biloxi,  to Alabama .... it's all been an adventure!  

Memphis is where I was when my air conditioning went out.... 99 degrees outside.  The thermostat inside said 99 also but it only goes to 99.  I was parked in the Elvis Presley RV Park

right behind the Heartbreak Hotel, getting ready to walk over to see the mansion.  I was leaving for a 10 am tour, TaZzi was staying in the RV...when I noticed at 9:45 it was already 92 degrees.  TaZzi is very fortunate I didn't continue with my plans.  So am I.   RV service people laughed at me when I said I need it fixed now....they could put me on a wait list for cancellations for 2-3 weeks down the road.

It didn't get fixed til I got to Michigan (not even on my itinerary).  That's where I lived before moving to California  37 years ago.  From Memphis to Nashville to Louisville, no one could fix I just kept on driving...too hot to stop.  The cab's a/c worked just fine.  Stayed in Michigan about 6 weeks, visiting lots of friends and relatives.....then traveled on to Wisconsin home of the Dells, Apostle Islands, (not just beer and cheese & the Packers), Minnesota (where I met the Amish people), loved Mount Rushmore and other South Dakota treats. Colorado is where I met friends from Oklahoma at an ATV ranch and got crazy.  What a blast those 4-wheelers are!. 

At this writing (August 07),  I'm in Montana with the fires, heading to Glacier National Park, then to North Dakota to get my TV fixed, then Canada.  Just left Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.   I'm suddenly feeling like Johnny Cash, singing, posthumously, about all those places he's been in that hotel commercial......"I've been everywhere......"

I've never gotten lonely or afraid (thanks to my wonderful black pug, named TaZzi).  She's my partner, my heartbeat, my companion...this is not puppy love!  I also keep in touch with my friends not only from Santa Cruz but friends from grade school, junior and high school, and college.  We communicate via email, of course.  They are interspersed throughout the much of my traveling is about seeing old friends.

RVers are very friendly people and very social.  I can be alone or with others on a whim.  My journey has been crammed with growth, learning, adventure, knocking out stereotypes, celebrations, conversations, observations, music festivals, looking for wi-if & diesel for under 3 bucks, eating, cooking, and ........ praying that the Social Security office will deposit my check in my bank .... while I still have a dollar.

I close with this from Helen Keller...."Life is either a daring adventure......or nothing."

Loving my life.....the daring adventure it is!

'drinkin from the saucer cuz my cup has overflowed'

written sometime in August 07....

I'm Drinkin from the Saucer cuz my Cup has Overflowed!

I think the title of my blog is a song title .... I recently heard it on the radio and it feels quite apropros at this time in my life.

I'm in Calgary now;

having just left Canada's National treasures...the national parks of....Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho...the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site encompasses 20 585 kilometers-one of the largest protected areas in the world.

I was going to stay an extra day but ''''how much discovery and beauty can a person take!'''' Also it's pretty expensive!

Prior to coming to Canada, I spent wonderful time in the Flathead Valley of Montana.  My
RV friends, John and lovely Bea and I (old hippies)

had a "groovey" time cooking for each other, glorious chatting, seeing Glacier National Park and surrounding areas of Kalispell (where they live).

Bigfork is a small village situated at the mouth of the Swan River on Flathead Lake. It is busy with galleries, shops, and great restaurants.

Whitefish is also a small pine-clad village that sits on the shore of its own personal lake. "It is an island of culture in an ocean of mountain recreation", so says the local chamber of commerce.

Cultural activities rule all 3 of these cities and each, although close together, has its own community arts center. Oh! These 3 mountain-rimmed towns (pretty smoky now from the fires) have been recognized in John Villani's book, "The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America"....And Bigfork is featured in David Vokac's "The Great Towns of America". He described it as "one of the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains."

So you can see I need a new the saucer is also overflowing....with all the beauty in the world. I love it all....even as I go to North Dakoto to an authorized dealer to fix my TV that has been broken for a month. It fell off the arm holding it. I haven't missed the TV but it takes up an entire chair.....and I need all my space in this tiny RV I call "Phoebe McGee".

TaZzi says hi....she will be 2 years old on 8/21!

GypsyMama aka Pat

Perpetual Motion

August 6, 2007, 8:40 pm

Had a great time in Colorado in the Gunnison -Buena Vista area (Holt's Guest Ranch-Taylor Lake) is where I was with my Oklahoma friends for 8-9 days.  Very relaxing (that could be the wrong adjective here).  Very adventureous for me.....some firsts!  I had never been I have.  I didn't have my own and everyone else did.  That's OK!  So, I rode in the back of others when I went.  There were about 25-30 of them from the ages 3 to 66 (both my friend Pat & I were the 66 year old grannies).  We called ourselves "Grand Dames"!  We were hot!

No one would tear themselves away to go White Water Rafting but......I'll be in the west for a few more weeks and hopefully will do that "first",  as well.

Jackson Hole/Star Valley (Butch Cassidy's old residence) is where I am now, and not surprisingly, I'm loving the ranges, the valleys, the peaks, the breath-taking views at 8,000 ft.

Tomorrow I head north to Glacier National Park.  Along the way, I will take many less traveled roads so it may take a while to get there.  Actually I may not find too many of roads less traveled in this well traveled & popular wild west.             

I continue to know how lucky I am that I'm able to do this.  A very good friend of mine back in Santa Cruz, CA and a co-worker for 25 years (a picture of health) a runner/avid tennis player/ eats everything right) just found out she has breast cancer.  We just never know, do we?!

Til next time......happy traveling.....who may be kindred spirits!

my Amish country visit

July, 07

The Amish/the Norwegians(Englishers) of Harmony, Minnesota

A place where the past comes to Harmony! was 1974 when several Ohio Amish families began moving to Harmony. The Ohio community of the Amish was getting overly populated. In the late 60's I visited that Ohio community in Wayne County and was introduced to some of their way of life....and was impressed by what I saw in their clothing, the craftsmanship of furniture and their food. I remember especially, the lemon pie I had. The best!

I renewed those impressions a few days ago when I took a 2-1/2 hour tour of Amish country in Harmony. We were able to visit one of the homes and talk with the woman living there and see the kitchen and living area. She had items for sale...beautiful quilts...some homemade pastries, pickels, jams, baskets, etc. She was very open and exhibited a sense of humor. Her dogs were very friendly.

We also saw many other homes from the outside and they all had items for sale....beautiful furniture, rugs (I bought a small one for my RV). The colors are beautiful, the design of birds, rainbow, and flowers.

It was fun passing the buggies and wagons pulled by the sprite horses along the road.....I guess I say fun as it is what I imagine my ancestors doing years ago ..... moving through the countryside in the same manner.

The community now consists of over 100 families and most have many children. Pictures of the people are not allowed but I did get some of the homes, some animals, their workshops, the clothes hanging on their lines, their one room school houses.....there is such a peaceful quality of the farmland and the will not see any lines of electricity around their homes...only clotheslines.

The children are educated until the 8th grade and only the 4 R's are taught....Reading. Riting, Rithmetic, & Respect! What a concept!

The "Englishers" and the Amish are able to combine tourism in this small town to the advantage of both. It is a double-edged sword for the Amish ....."living in the world but not being of the world."

They justify it in a meaningful way.....they are careful in the ways their crafts are marketed .... unadvertised....only persons interested in buying are encouraged to stop. Curiosity seekers are a disruption. They are constantly busy....tending to crops, gardens, chores, building. They don't want tourism to become an entrapment.

If any of you know more about the Amish and have personal experiences, I would like to talk with you. I've always loved learning about other cultures......and this is no exception.

see ya down the road.....til then...gypsymama

.the faces..the places..of the Badlands, S.D.

/July 17, 2007

I spent about 4-5 days in the Badlands and that wasn't long enough. Posted below are shots of Custer State Park, Badlands, Corn Palace (building made of corn), the faces (Mt. Rushmore), Wall Drug Store (a must and silly visit), the 5 star RV Resort where I stayed in Rapid City. Pictures are in no particular order.