Friday, December 31, 2010

Eastward Ho! Texas, here we come!

Hi all, Dianne here.  We left Malibu, California Sunday morning for our long trek to Texas.  We planned our departure on Sunday morning because we knew we'd have to drive the motor home all the way through Los Angeles, from west to east, on I-10.  The city is so huge that it took us two and a half hours just to get to the eastern edge of town, with no traffic delays at all.  I've read where if traffic is bad it can take five hours just to cross the city!

We had smooth sailing and drove as far as Quartzsite, Arizona for our first stop.  We could have driven farther, but wanted to see for ourselves just what Quartzsite is all about.  For my non-rving friends, RVs full of snowbirds and fulltimers flock to Quartzsite every January and park in the desert (free for 14 days).  There are vendors, shows, and lots of gatherings.  It would be fun to do in a group where you could gather around a campfire every evening for happy hour.  People are just starting to arrive in Quartzsite, so it is still pretty empty and we had no problem finding a parking spot for our free overnight.

Roger took a picture of a saguaro cactus, since I'd never seen one before.  Unfortunately, this one had no arms.  We saw plenty of prettier ones as we drove east through Arizona's deserts.   

Traffic was very light all the way across I-10.  New Mexico has very welcoming rest areas.  Here's a very cool sculpture of a huge road runner at one rest area.  Immediately after taking this photo, a real roadrunner right in front of me hopped down off a rock and out of my sight.  My attention had been on the sculpture, so unfortunately no photo of the real thing. 

 Second night was spent in Deming, NM at a Wal-Mart.  We drove far too long that day, and got there just after dark, tired and cranky.  We should know better!  We needed groceries in a big way, though, so we wanted a Super Wal-Mart.

Third day we entered into Texas, at El Paso.  Not far beyond that, we crossed through a border patrol crossing.  I guess we didn't look very suspicious, because they waved us right on through.  

I've read where the drive across I-10 in West Texas is long and boring, and we were about to find out for ourselves.  I guess I'm easily impressed -- having grown up in flat cornfield-land -- but we thought West Texas was really pretty! 

 Here are several shots I took through the windshield as we drove along, including the photo at the very top of the blog.

We stopped the third night in Fort Stockton, Texas.  For you non-informed, you might think we were almost home at that point.  

Texas is so huge that at that point we still had a day and a half of driving to get to Mission!  

Another night of boondocking at a Wal-Mart in Alice, TX got us almost home, but even Alice is still a couple of hours away from Mission.  Another photo for you uninitiated:  

If you ever go to a Wal-Mart early in the morning and are surprised to see a flotilla of RV's in the parking lot, it's a very common thing.  Some areas are more RV-friendly than others, and Texas is very RV-friendly.  We pulled in and the friendly security guard drove up to welcome us, direct the parking arrangement, and assure us that they'd be patrolling all night long.  By the time I got around to taking this photo it was too dark, but there were 14 other RV's in the Alice Wal-Mart parking lot that night!  I went in, did some shopping, and even got my hair cut on the way out.  (Before you scoff at my $14 hair cut, she did a good job and I really needed one.)  

We woke up early Thursday, excited to finally see our new rv home in Mission, so we were on the road before dawn.  To our Indiana friends:  Guess what this photo is?  

They are constructing I-69!  Ironically, we lived only a mile from I-69 in our stix and brix house in Pendleton, Indiana, and when it's finished, I-69 will go all the way to our new home in the south tip of Texas!

 Check back soon for photos of our new digs!  Here's a teaser photo, taken of part of our new landscaping.  Best part is, we didn't have to lift a finger.  Must say I heartily approve of their choices!

Our whippet photo of the day shows Jasper one chilly morning riding along on my lap as we drove through the desert.  He doesn't know he's too bony and big to be a lap dog, and I'm not about to tell him!  Note to Robyn: Notice the warm, comfy slippers that I'm wearing!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Getty Museum, The Grove (Mall), and Christmas with Robyn


Roger here...  Our daughter Robyn was with us for most of our last three days in California.  On Thursday we made plans to spend a few hours at the Getty Museum, but before we could go, we helped Robyn with the last stages of cleaning her apartment in anticipation of the arrival of her new roommate, Amy (sp?), and her mother. 

Dianne took a couple pictures of the flowers in the gated courtyard and her huge lemon tree.  She then stole one of the lemons.  

The Getty Center is an amazing place, like no other museum we have visited, and it's free!  (Except for the $15 parking fee :-(.  After parking we needed to choose our mode of transportation to the top of the hill where the museum sat.  Our choices were a half-hour walk, or a comfy tram.  We chose the tram.  It really was chilly that day.  The views from the top of the hill and all the outdoor areas were amazing.  Our pictures do not do it justice.  We will need to return at another time (on a warm day)                              just to wander through the gardens.  We ate a quick lunch and then on to the exhibits.

I am not an art expert by any stretch of the imagination, but my favorite was the Iris painting by Van Gogh.

Christmas eve morning started with a beautiful sunrise over the water.   After the morning coffee, dog walks, etc., we picked up Robyn and headed to the mall.   I would normally groan at this point, but this mall (The Grove) was really fun.  

It is an outdoor mall that is adjacent to the Los Angeles Farmer's Market.  We started with a Starbucks and then wandered down the streets.  The Christmas displays were fun (glad not to be in the Santa line).  Dianne, with some urging from Robyn, had a great time modeling clothing that she would never wear. 

 Dianne here:  the only shopping I did was at the Three Dog Bakery:

There were even double-decker buses to shuttle shoppers from store to store.  We ended our mall-time by seeing a movie, The Little Fockers.  I love to laugh and this movie fit the bill.

  Robyn spent the night with us at the motor home on Christmas Eve.  Christmas day was a quiet day of watching the ocean and of course eating.  Robyn was busy with a project most of the time, which was great.  It reminded us of the many wonderful years we had with her.  (Dianne here:  It truly was just like when she lived at home; she always had a project of some type.)

The Whippet Picture(s) of the Day are a series of pictures portraying our three sons (including Big Chuck - the cat), enjoying the "presents" that Dianne bought for them at the Three Dog Bakery at the mall.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Malibu Christmas

Roger here....   Well, we moved from the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains to sunny (hah!)  Malibu.  The Malibu Beach RV Park sits on a bluff overlooking the Dan Blocker Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway, a walk away from Cher's house.  Our stay here is our  (Dianne and my) Christmas gifts to each other.  This is a high-end place -- highlighted by the spectacular views.  When you can see them.

We arrived on Sunday, a windy, wet day.  The first of many.   Our site is on a bluff with a direct view of the beach.  Sweet.  The Pacific Coast Highway is directly below us, but because we are on a cliff we cannot see it.  We had the option of backing in or pulling in so that we could see the ocean from the front. 

 Obviously, we pulled in.  It was a pain to run the hookups diagonally under the motor home to the hook-up station, but the view was worth it --  gray though it was.   

The view looked a little more festive after dark, but note the wet drops on the windshield.  They did not disappear for days.  (The Merry Christmas scroll was my Mom's -- good memories).

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, RAIN....  If you followed the news this week, you know that it rained constantly here.  When they closed the Pacific Coast Highway just north of us (still closed) due to a mudslide over the roadway, we were a little concerned about our motor home -- and us.  Remember we are on a vertical bluff directly over the highway.  Being from the flatlands, we really did not understand the mudslide thing.  Now we do.  We took a couple of pics of the dirt bluffs south of us along the Pacific Coast Highway (where it's still open), to show how scary it could be.

Watching the ocean, what we could see of it, was fascinating for us, but after a while the gloomy view forced us to find something else to do.  I read a novel on my Kindle.  Dianne became domestic, preparing to cook some of our daughter, Robyn's, favorite foods for Christmas day.  

(Dianne here:  Robyn has been performing on cruise ships the past two years, so this is the first holiday we've been able to spend with her since Thanksgiving 2007.   We had a fun evening at El Torito's last night, and I wanted to take a photo of her with her ever-present iPhone.  She kept making faces at me at the last minute, and after ten tries, I finally got one.  By that time I was laughing and giggling so hard it was difficult to hold the camera still.
Wednesday morning....   Look!  Is that a bright area under the dark gray clouds?  I think it is.  We have not seen a bright spot in the sky for who knows when.  

Notice the line in the ocean that separates the dark water from the brown water?  The brown water is obviously run-off from a nearby canyon.  Interesting for a former science teacher.  Glad that we and our motor home are not part of the run-off!

The dog-walk area here is probably the most scenic of any we have experienced, even though Chaplin is not always inspired to pee.  He's been known to stubbornly go two days without peeing if the conditions aren't to his liking.  Probably too pretty!?

After our walk, we were finally able to enjoy the view from our picnic table in front of the motor home.
I can see CLEARLY now the rain is gone!  Dianne (not me) took some beautiful sunset pictures.

Soon to come...  Three days with our daughter, Robyn:  the Getty art museum, shopping and a movie, and a quiet Christmas day looking at the beach and eating Dianne's delicious food.  The only way to make it more perfect would be to have our other daughter, Amanda, and our granddaughter, Kaia, with us as well.  Maybe.... some time in the future?

The Whippet Picture of the Day....  Chaplin -- having a nightmare of five days of rain making it difficult for his gentle bladder to pee on command.