Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Love the Smell of Duct Tape in the Morning

Actually, I should say I love the sound of duct tape in the morning. You know the sound I’m talking about as you rip a long piece from the roll. The thin walls of our little vintage travel trailer, did nothing to shield me from the tch...tch....tch of strips of tape being ripped from the fat, sticky roll. My first thought was, oh no, what’s he doing. My second thought being, the storage door in the back, already having been repaired once in Salt Lake City, when it fell off in Shawn’s hands, has fallen off again.

But no, it seems that the wear of the roads, constantly under construction, had shaken loose the entire lower panel on right side of the trailer. This particular panel is a piece that is in the plan for replacement, as we restore our little Shasta, but we didn’t plan for it to fall off before we get back home.

Consider the diverse imagery of one man and his RV, a pretty new one at that, full of bells and whistles, this fellow whistling and spit shining the front of his toy, while the other man, mine, muttering under his breath, rips shiny new pieces from his roll of duct tape in an attempt to “keep it all together until we get home”. It’s all about these small moments.

When You’re Happy to See a Broken Egg on the Carpet

While I’ve had great fun writing about Shawn’s antics, and he does give me so much with which to work, I have had my moments as well. I know, you’re thinking, “Surely it isn’t possible” but it’s true, it’s just so much more fun to tell tales on Shawn. Well, this one is on me...

My job, in the setting up camp and tearing down camp, is to stow all of the inside stuff, close all the windows so they won’t be ripped off riding down the highway, close the roof vents, and lock the refrigerator door. I’m also in charge of double checking the hitch, and checking the light signals on the back of the trailer as we leave camp. Shawn does all the outside stuff - electricity, dump hose, water hose, cable (when we have that luxury), and jacks. We talk about making a check list. All of the books tell you to make a check list. It really wouldn’t take too long to make a check list. We haven’t made a check list. Instead, we spend the first hour on the road asking and re-asking each other, “Did you shut off the gas?”, “Did you close the sink window?” and so on.

The morning we left Santa Fe, I was a little distracted. I found myself really drawn to the area, and wishing we could spend a little more time there. It would be fun to come for a couple of weeks and have time to set up and paint. I was daydreamy, I’ll admit it. We did our jobs, checked the light signals and got on the road, the really curvy, bumpy road that let us out of the canyon camp site. About an hour into the early morning drive, I remembered that I hadn’t locked the refrigerator. Surprisingly, Shawn was pretty calm and said, “No point in worrying now, I’ll pull over as soon as there’s a good spot”. I didn’t point out to him that, in that refrigerator, we had three-quarters of a Marie Callender’s Chocolate Cream Pie perched on the top shelf and a quivering slab of Spam sitting precariously in a snap-top plastic container and it was not Tupperware, so the seal on the cover could be broken by the slightest jiggle and...Speaking of Spam, I was informed by my husband, who dearly loves that gelatinous mass of meat, that we must eat Spam on our trip as it is the definitive trailer food. It is also NOT, a food that he gets to eat, very often, at home. What seemed like hours later, we pulled the car and trailer into a rest area. I practically ran to unlock and open the door, wanting to get there first and maybe soften the blow of what would most certainly be a chocolatety, greasy mess. I had pictured the walls covered in soda-can-spray, with bits of soft chocolate brown, accentuated with rosy, meat flavored bits. If you know me, you know I have an active imagination.

When we stepped in, Shawn noticed the refrigerator door was closed. I noticed that the walls were clean. On the carpet, there was an egg box, upside down, with only one broken egg. There were several soda cans rolling around, one with a tiny pin hole puncture that was just starting to spurt, and an unopened, plastic, squeeze-jelly container laying beside the eggs. We looked at each other and laughed at how lucky we were. I didn’t even mind cleaning up the egg on the carpet, and just to be safe, we threw the pie away.

We still haven’t made a check list.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Santa Fe

Back on the road and leaving the woodsy area of Arizona, we decided that since we had to go through Albuquerque New Mexico, we may as well take a day or two and visit Santa Fe. We’d always wanted to go there. Well, I’d always wanted to go there and it seemed too close to not go. Shawn agreed.

It was hot. No, it was HOT! With one arm and neck already the color of our Maine lobsters, we crept along Rt. 40 like a slow, hot, black Suburban without air-conditioning. It is becoming clear that when we travel, the car in which we travel, must always lose it’s air. After our trip to Florida for the National convention two years ago, when our caravan decided to stay hot, we agreed that since our parents could travel without air, so too, could we. We’re as tough as they were! Well, I’ve had it with being tough. I want air! We have been on a roller coaster of climate change. Heat, freezing, monsoon, freezing and now hot, hot, hot. The funny thing is that here in Santa Fe, the locals think it’s cold. We’re melting by day and freezing by night. Seriously though, I’m holding on to these hot days as long as I can. It’s a long and cold winter in Maine.

Our day exploring Santa Fe was one of our best days ever. After a morning spent at The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, we lunched at a Paris sidewalk cafe while a man played an accordion. It was enchanting. Just as we both had agreed that this was one of our best days ever, the accordion player began “Lara’s Theme”, the song we chose for our wedding. I teared up and Shawn held my hand, not knowing, I think, what else he could do.

The afternoon was spent drifting in and out of galleries on Canyon Road. If you should ever need to get inspired, go here. I loved the galleries, museum, and the adobe style houses with their brightly colored doorways. Santa Fe is color, and it’s all about color!

Grand Canyon

In a moment of weakness or maybe just total abandonment to reality, we decided to take a little detour and go see the Grand Canyon. I mean, who wouldn’t, and we hadn’t, so we decided we had to go. It would only add a couple of days to our journey home. So we made our way to Williams Arizona, enjoying the sun, the landscape and Route 66. The plan was to make camp, stay the night, get up early and drive to the Grand Canyon National Park, see it all, get back to camp, have a good night’s sleep and leave.

Oh, yeah, we also needed to do laundry. Now, while most camp grounds have a laundry, and this one did as well, they closed and locked it at 5:00 pm. We grabbed our dirty duds, sheets and towels and took them with us into town, thinking we might have dinner and then go to a laundromat and get our chores taken care of.

We had a very nice steak dinner at Rod’s Steak House on Route 66. It’s been there for 50+ years and will stay around for many more as the food was great. The problem was that it was so hot in there that Shawn and I both were having hot flashes and had to hurry the meal along. We couldn’t wait to get outside into the clear, cool air. Our laundromat was waiting, so refreshed and full of steak, we carried in our bags of laundry, including the plastic bag with the soggy slippers. (See the previous story if you want to read about the slippers.)

We found 3 laundromats along a very small stretch of this route 66. We could take our pick, but we picked poorly and Shawn’s inner alarm went off. I always know when this is happening because he starts looking around with only his eyes and his head doesn’t move. If you think that this is funny looking, I can only agree and have told him when he does this secretive look, that he’s the one who looks fishy. I looked around openly, and spotted a Mom with 3 little children, a man helping her fold her clothes and a thin 30 something man with a brown bagged bottle who talked to himself. He left after checking a washing machine and Shawn whispered to me that while he was at the little store next door getting change for the machines, the man was at the counter acting weird, and now he was in our Laundromat. You know the feeling I’m talking about. If we were in the car, the locks would have snapped shut.

We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After the family left and we were alone with the man, who would leave and then come back, we weighted our options and decided that with a phone handy, a broken chair to swing as a weapon and the doorway at our back, we would manage to finish drying and folding our laundry. With a little bleach in the hot water in which we were washing our towels, I tossed in the L. L. Bean slippers. I have a pair which I’ve washed plenty of times, and they have always been fine, but I didn’t think about how hot the dryers are and how pretty and light yellow my towels were. So, hurrying along, we snatched the load of towels out of the hot dryer, only to find them covered with streaks of brown. The slippers had done their damage to every single one of our yellow towels. With fresh, brown streaked but clean towels in arms, we hurried to the door, dropping the damn slippers in the trash on the way out.

On a different and more to the point note, the Grand Canyon was AWESOME!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Trouble with Slippers.

After leaving the remnants of the typhoon that left California’s Santa Cruz area soggy and wet, we slogged our way through our muddy site, packed up, and headed east. Still in California come evening, we camped in the Mojave Desert. It was beautiful. The stars were amazing. Since we got in late, Shawn decided we didn’t really need to hook up the “dump hose”. I held the flashlight as he plugged in the electricity and the water hose. Huge spiders were holding court at the hook-up sites and we wanted to leave them be. All along our trip, we’d been discussing flora and fauna and how we didn’t know what was poisonous and what wasn’t. I know Shawn wanted to put a little fear into me as I am often picking and pressing plants for my herbarium when we travel. Not so fond of spiders and snakes though.

Now, in order for this story to unfold with the proper amount of anticipation on your part, you’ll need to know that in our 1972 Shasta, the holding tank for gray water was optional. Gray water, for those of you not versed in camping or plumbing, is the term used for the water that goes down the sink drain. It isn’t pure water from the drain, but it isn’t all that bad either, mostly it was hand-washing water. Oh, and some tooth-brushing water also. You’ll remember that because of the late hour and the spiders holding court at the hook-up, Shawn had decided not to hook up the dump hose and you’re asking yourself where was the gray water going?
Was it just dribbling out onto the ground? No, but it just sits in a pipe until the pipe is full and then....

We knew we didn’t have a holding tank for gray water, it’s just that you get brain sedated sometimes when you’re tired, hungry, sleepy. It could happen to anybody, but it usually happens to Shawn. It appears that when you run water in the sink, too often and too long, the pipe fills up and then backs up into the shower stall which is also where you’ll find the toilet. Before you get too grossed out, let me assure you that it is ONLY gray water. I know this part by heart because I had to keep reassuring Shawn about it being ONLY gray water, in the middle of the night. This, after a mid-night trip to the “bathroom” wearing his sheepskin slippers from L. L. Bean. Same slippers, I might add, that caused his trip and dive into the corner of our kitchen cabinets last winter - splitting his lip, loosening his lower teeth and giving cause to add two more crowns to his already growing collection of precious and semiprecious tooth coverings.

Would it be anti-climatic to say that he stepped directly into the shower/toilet room - both feet, in the dark, so he wouldn’t wake me?

The next scene involves a disgusted man, shrieking like he has acid on his feet, running outside to hook up the hose, disregarding the spiders holding court, and waking up the sleeping wife who has no idea what is going on. I caught up really, really fast and did my wifely thing, disinfecting the shower (ONLY gray water, that emptied in one big whoosh after the pipe was connected), instructing the husband to put his slippers outside, and adding that he could wash his feet before coming back to bed. Also, every once in a while, repeating “It’s ONLY gray water”, to the shivering lump laying beside me.

The morning came early, and warm already, we made quick work of packing up. We put the slippers in a plastic bag and took them with us. More on the soaked in gray water, L.L. Bean sheepskin slippers later.....

Can he Can-can?

It’s been a long time between internet connections and we’ve traveled far and seen so many wonderful things. I’ve got some catching up to do. But before I go too far, I want to show you some pictures of our “ladies” dancing for us - the entertainment for the Saturday night banquet.
Yes, it’s Shawn, Andy, Jeff, Bruce and Clark doing their rendition of a Can-can dance. Thankfully for them, it was over quickly, but we sure all were enjoying it, couldn’t hear the music over the laughter and squeals from the audience. I hear it can be found on utube, but I don’t have the link yet.

The entertainment was the brain-child of Cat Wingler with costuming by Debbie Love. How will they ever manage to top this?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From There to Here

My last blog entry left us about two weeks ago, in Wyoming. Today we are in California, hunkered down in the San Jose area, waiting out a big rain and wind storm. I finally managed to sew the safety pinned curtains, while Shawn hammered his way through e-mails and bookkeeping chores. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll get back on the road on our southerly route home.

I can FINALLY let the cat out of the bag and tell you about the big project that we've been working on for the past two YEARS! We were souvenir artists for the Small Scales Salt Lake City Houseparty. Our project was a quarter inch scale Paris cafe called Poulbot. Our family is SO, SO, SO, sick of hearing about Poulbot. Songs have been written about it. (Our family is weird like that!)

It is a big undertaking, but very fulfilling. I think it's all right though, to say that I'm glad they're finished and in the hands of the houseparty goers. Lots of new projects on the horizon for next year. But let me get back to the trip.....Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.....

The snow chased us through Wyoming. We were about 12 hours ahead of a big front that was coming through and we didn't want to encounter snow in an area where roads get closed and chains are required on tires, so we moved along as quickly as we were able and made our way into Salt Lake City. As we were setting up "camp" the temperature was pushing 90 degrees and kids were swimming in the pool. Then the temperature started to drop and drop and drop. When we woke up the mountains were covered in snow and it was still falling. We had to drive to Park City, home of the Olympics a few years ago, to pick up a print of Poulbot. Just a little side bar here - four years ago when we were at the last Salt Lake show, we took a trip up to Park City, ate buffalo burgers, strolled around the shops and galleries and discovered a wonderful gallery of photographic art. One of the subjects was of a cafe in Paris called Poulbot. I bought a post card of it and it was the inspiration for our miniature project. We wanted to give a print for a houseparty helper, so the trip to Park City was underway! It was still snowing in the mountains and Park City was in the mountains. It was a quick trip up and a quick trip back to S L C. What happened to summer or at least fall? It is our intention to evade the snow and cold on this trip so on our way home we are heading south.

The miniature show was fabulous! The group that worked on this houseparty did a great job and a good time was had by all. The weekend went by too fast and soon it was time to head westward for the show in San Jose. Oh, I almost forgot about my workshop on Monday. A group of friends had gathered to learn about assemblage and the form we were making was an altered dress. Everyone did a great job trying a new medium, and if our Liquid Nails would have dried, we might have finished. That's the dance of doing a class or a workshop. Sometimes everything falls in place and sometimes the glue doesn't dry properly. The evening was spent with friends, hamburgers and wine. What more could one want? Salt Lake City is a beautiful place.

Before we got on the road again, I was having more than my share of apprehension about getting over the mountains to California. This was new territory for me as all of our previous trips to California or places west had been on an airplane and although I could see the mountains, I didn't have any worries about hauling a little vintage trailer up and around those hills. It didn't help that when I mentioned it to friends, you know who you are, they told me about the pioneer Donner party who got stranded up in the hills and that we had to go through Donner’s Pass. “Lions, and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!”

We made our way through Utah and into Nevada. My mountain fear was growing but the evening was on it’s way so we settled into a campsite in Winnemucka, yes, that’s the real name of a real town. It was so cold that night! Shawn was worried about our pipes freezing. We just didn’t know what to do. We looked in all our RV for dummies books and the only thing I could find was that if you leave your hose connected it could turn into a popsicle, so I talked Shawn into disconnecting the hose. Turns out, you’re supposed to leave it on and leave your water trickling in the sink. So, guess what? The pipes froze, BUT, they didn’t break, so after thawing them with my hair dryer, we got on the road heading for the big, bad mountains again. I’d like to say it was anti-climatic and as my nephew says about flying - “Any flight that you can walk away from, is a good flight!”, so I will say that except for the claw marks in the passenger’s side of the car, it was a good flight. We made it over Donner’s Pass and through the twisty windy California roads on our way to Jeff Packard and Debbie Young’s home. Whew! Made it! And then we had the best time...until we had to leave for San Jose and one more miniature show. More mountains? No we were OK now and so we arrived at our RV Park which was not really in San Jose but about 20 minutes away. I’m not going to say the name of the town because I’m going to slam the park. It's supposed to be a very nice park with very good ratings. So, here’s the slam....after making a reservation, then arriving and paying for five nights. After welcoming us and telling us about the nice place they were going to put us, a conversation ensued about Shasta trailers and that there was another one in the park, we mentioned ours was a vintage trailer. You would have thought that we we displaying naked women (or men) on the bumper to account for the reaction that followed. They do not allow trailers or RV’s older than 10 years. And they also told us that we would find that true in lots of parks. We’ll see...I don’t believe so. Out of the goodness of their hearts they would honor our reservation, but they would have to put us in the back where we wouldn’t be seen. I was so furious, steam was coming out of my ears, but we were between a rock and a hard place and Shawn ushered me out of the office as fast as he could. Turns out that the spot “in the back” was very nice and away from the highway noise. We had geese, hummingbirds and little bats for neighbors as well as two giant RVs on either side of us. Today I’m especially thankful for those RVs as they kept the wind from knocking us all around. Another observation about this snooty park - they haven’t cleaned the showers the entire time we’ve been here. The same clump of hair is still sitting in the same spot in the same shower. Yuck!!
I’ll take the little homey park any day....or night.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’m #1 at #2

You may be thinking, at this point, that this blog contains an awful lot of bodily function references. You’d be right, and I expect that it will contain more as the one thing we all have in common is our body and it’s functions.
Driving along a highway somewhere, I don’t remember, but it made us laugh, we saw a sign for a septic company that said, “We’re #1 at #2”.I thought this would be a great time to show you a photo of Shawn, with his extra large yellow Playtex gloves, hooking up ‘the dump hose”, (I am not making that up) to the trailer and the dump. I try to assist in all the setting up and packing up chores but he took on the “connections” part of things, so I’m not taking that away from him. Anyway...he, all of a sudden, remembered the road sign and held up his finger saying, “I’m number one at number two”. I ran for the camera.


No visit to Wyoming is complete without a trip to see Devil’s Tower. Shawn and I are both movie fans or maybe fanatics is more descriptive. I thought we were normal, but as I get older, I’m understanding that not everyone has the same love for the big screen.
Richard Dryfus sculpting Devil’s Tower from mashed potatoes is, in our opinion, a classic film scene. To see this national monument in real life, was so much fun. We were both humming the Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind, little ditty that was, of course, the international galactic theme song from the 70’s. (I think it was the 70’s) I was reminded that our grandchildren would like this movie if we can find a DVD of it.
So on through Wyoming on our way to Salt Lake City. The landscape is rugged and soft all at the same time. I find it fascinating. Way in the distance we see mountains and on either side of the highway as far as the eye can see, are hundreds of tiny deer. I need to find out what kind of deer they are. Their heads are long and skinny and their bums and chests are white with bodies of soft colored fawn. Maybe I can take a good picture.....
(Note: we have found out they are not deer. They are Antelope and there are hundreds of them along the road.)

We are now in Salt Lake City and will be here until next Tuesday. When we arrived in Salt Lake it was 90 degrees. That night it dropped to the low 40’s and snowed. What a country!!

We are attending the Name Small Scales show and then teaching a altered art dress class to some of the attendees.
We have been having a few email issues so, if you have written us, thank you for your patience and we will reply as soon as we can.