Year 2 Days 315 to 331 Where Does The Time Go?

OMG!  It has been over two weeks since I posted our last blog.  This is the first time in over 11 years that I have let the blog go for so long.  Sheesh!  I do have a lot of excuses to justify this slippage but they are all just excuses.  We have been very busy during these last two weeks with spending time with Heather and Victoria in San Francisco and Dave, Allison and Molly in San Ramon.  Plus, Thanksgiving somehow crept up on us, along with the disastrous Michigan/Ohio State football game.  Also, I think that I am realizing that in a couple of months we will be ending our adventurous days and returning to the normal lifestyle of living in a home and establishing roots.  At that time, the blogging days will be officially over.

 

Added to all of the above, is the fact that when we are in our RV while here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we do not have cell or Internet access since our campground is located down in a deep valley.  I have to drive up to the mountain ridge high above our campsite to get Internet.  When I am up on the ridge, I am having to spend my time on the Internet dealing with the closing process affiliated with buying a house.  Plus, we are having to buy furniture so that when we move into the house, we at least have the bare necessities.  Our real estate agent, Kathy, is helping us tremendously on that issue.  She is helping a number of people in Blaine sell their houses and move.  The result is that she comes across furniture which she thinks we may like.  Since we are moving into an “upscale” neighborhood, much of the furniture is very nice.  She takes pictures of the various pieces, gets a price from the seller and emails it to us.  Mary Margaret and I then decide on what pieces we like and then buy those pieces.  Kathy will be moving the furniture we are buying into our new home before we arrive.  How wonderful it that!

 

Needless to say, by the time I am done with the Internet, perched up high on the mountain ridge, my computer’s battery is dead and there is no time left to post pictures or the blog.  Sigh.

 

Today, we are at Heather and Victoria’s condo in San Francisco.  I am attempting to squeeze some time in our busy schedule to write this blog and post a few photos while I have unlimited access to electricity and Internet.  It seems to be such a luxury!

 

One of the big events we recently experienced was Molly taking her first really big steps.  She had been working on taking baby steps but the other night she really got in the groove and walked and walked and walked.  It was a really fun sight to see!  I took some videos of the big event and here is one of them.

 

I am also posting a number of random pictures that I took during these last two weeks to share with you some of the things we have seen and done.  I hope you enjoy them!

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Year 2 Days 311 to 314 Welcome Victoria!

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As the final days to our RVing adventure rapidly dwindle down, we took a pause to participate in and celebrate a very special event.  For almost two years, our daughter, Heather, has been a foster mother to Victoria.  Victoria came into her home when Victoria was 8 days old, toward the end of December, 2016.  The hope since then was to adopt Victoria and after almost two, very long years, we are so happy to share with you that it is now official!  Whoo Hoo! Heather has a daughter and we have another granddaughter.  Her name is Victoria Annabelle-Marie Leu

During National Adoption Month and on National Adoption day, we gathered at the San Francisco Family Court House to participate in Heather’s adoption of Victoria.  It was a gathering of family, friends, social workers, attorneys and judges.  Prior to the formal court hearing, Family Services held a party and luncheon to celebrate the special occasion, for nine children who were being adopted that day.

Our tribe included our son, David Paul, his wife, Allison, their 1 year-old daughter Molly, 20181109_124131

Heather, Victoria, Grandma and Grandpa, along with a large group of close friends; Bree, Lisa, Mason, Randy, and Kelsey,  who helped support Heather and Victoria during these last couple of years; and Victoria’s lawyer- Trish, and her social worker, Brandi.

After the luncheon, speeches were made, pictures were taken and hugs, kisses, handshakes and pats on the back were shared.  Smiles and happiness was everywhere.

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Heather and Victoria were first on the Court’s afternoon docket and soon after wiping the crumbs off our faces, we all bustled into the courtroom and sat in the gallery behind the Bar.  Heather and Victoria were seated in front of the Bar, facing the Judge.  A court reporter was present to transcribe and record this special event.  Victoria’s lawyer, who for almost the last two years had guided Heather and Victoria through this tangled legal process, was seated next to them.

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Instead of a tense “Perry Mason” moment, the entire time was filled with love and excitement as a new family was legally created.  Everyone had smiles as a mix of formal legalese and informal comments transpired.  The Judge made her pronouncements, Heather, aided by Victoria, signed papers, the legal reporter captured the moment and soon it was all done.  Well…, the legal process was over but now the human process started.  The legal reporter got up and offered to take pictures and we all moved in front of the Bar and gathered with the Judge.  It was a wonderful and happy moment.

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Afterwards, we all gathered at Heather’s favorite restaurant near her condo in San Francisco, called Piccolo Forno.  Champaign was broken out, great Italian pasta dishes were served, and the meal and the day was made complete with lots of laughter and love.

Being a bit selfish, we can now brag that we have 5 grandchildren, yes count them: Isaac, Stella, Wyatt, Molly and Victoria.  Whoo Hoo!  How great is that!

 

 

Year 2 Days 307 to 310 Getting Ready For The Adoption

We arrived at Del Valle Recreational Area on Saturday and set LeuC up in our campsite here. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, just east of Livermore, California. It is tucked into the steep hills that dominant the east side of the bay. We do not have Internet since our campground is deep in a valley and no cell towers reach down into our depths.

We were here last year during the Christmas holidays and have returned this time for the month of November. It is one of the few campgrounds in California that can hold an RV that is as long as LeuC.20181106_145546

Being somewhat remote, it has lots of neat wildlife which call it home. In fact, we had a large flock of large, plump wild turkeys casually strolling by, feeding off of the green grass in the campground. Once they leisurely walked by, gobbling us a welcome, they were followed by a family of black-tailed deer. One of our neighbors came over and shared with us that last evening they even saw foxes and had a small skunk under their rig. I was not excited to hear about the skunk but what can you do?20181106_15081620181106_14560420181106_14483520181106_14483220181106_144806

Sunday, we drove into San Francisco to spend Sunday and Monday with Heather and her foster child, Victoria. She has had Victoria since Victoria was only 7 days old. After almost two years, the adoption process will be coming to an end this coming Friday. At that time, we will all be at the courthouse for the adoption to be formalized by the court and Victoria will officially be a Leu and Heather will be able to call Victoria her daughter and we will be able to called her our granddaughter. Whoo Hoo!

At that time, I will be able to share with you pictures of Victoria and you her see for yourself how cute she is. Up until then, it has not been possible for me to show you pictures of Victoria which show her face. The court frowns of facial pictures posted to social media of foster children.

Heather is planning on a party following the adoption with friends, family and even Victoria’s new Godmother flying in from Atlantic, Georgia. It will be a great celebration!

Year 2 Days 304 t0 306 California Here We Come!

A couple of days ago we bundled up LeuC and started heading over the Klamath Mountains. I don’t believe these mountains are part of either the Cascades which dominate Oregon and Washington nor are they part of the Sierras which dominate the eastern border of California. Instead, they connect Cascades and Sierras to the coastal ranges that run up the Pacific coast starting in Mexico and which dominates the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. The Klamath Mountains are the last geological barrier you need to cross before you drop down into the Sacramento Valley. Thus, our first part of our journey was filled with mountain passes and valleys; sharp, steep curves and lots of trucks carrying their cargoes down south. The drive was not as stressful as our last drive because it was not raining and the road was dry.

We passed through the Siskiyou National Forest and its wide swath of burned out forests. Last year’s a massive forest fire ran up and down this part of the mountains leaving the evergreen trees bare and black. So very sad.

We drove around the mighty Shasta Mountain with its peak poking high up into the clouds. Since we are nearing the end of the long California dry season, its slopes were bare of the deep snows that we remember seeing that would cover it flanks. We also passed by the massive Lake Shasta Reservoir, which was significantly lowered, thirsting for the winter rains to come and refill it.

As we dropped down into the Sacramento Valley, we knew we had returned to California with the warm temperatures and clear blue skies. The hills and valley were golden brown. We drove past Redding, the northern most significant city in the Sacramento Valley and continued on to the town of Red Bluff. Here, we turned off the freeway and drove a short distance along the massive Sacramento River to our campground: Sycamore Grove Campground, within the Mendocino National Forest.

As we searched for our campsite, we were surprised by how empty it was and how beautiful it was. This would be our last campsite until we arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday.20181102_11312920181102_113135

When we got out of LeuC to unhook our cute, little Fiat, we were caressed by the warm air with its temperature of 85 degrees and low humidity. It felt soooo good. We lived in California from 1984 until 2007, when we started our nomadic lives by moving onto our sailboat. I love this state because of its remarkable, beautiful weather, its amazing mountains and forests and its spectacular coasts. However, these features, along with its robust and diverse economy, has attracted so many people that we knew when we sold our house in Dana Point, that it would be difficult to afford a house of the same type that we had become used to. It is a very expensive state to live in.

Yesterday, we spent the day golf and gambling. Mary Margaret loves to play the slots and she usually walks away with money stuffed in her pockets. Yesterday was no exception as the casino was $60 lighter when she was through.

I enjoyed a wonderful golf course called The Links At Rolling Hills. It was in perfect condition with beautiful greens, ponds that were filled with waterfowl making their way south, and narrow and challenging fairways. My front nine score was super with my achieving a birdie on a par 5 hole. I was very pleased with my 46. My back nine was another story as the wheels started falling off my game. I did card a 50 for a finally score of 96, so I was pleased overall. However, it really demonstrated to me that I need to exercise more as I just got too tired during the back nine to play my best. Sigh!

Today, we just rested at our campsite. This respite gave me the opportunity to walk around a bit and capture how nice our campground is. The pictures I post below with show you.

Year 2 Day 303 The Last Campfire And New Friends

Today was a rest day and with the sun out and a nice view in front of me, I just had to have a campfire. As I was getting the firewood out from our storage area from the bottom level of our bus, I realized that this was going to be the last campfire I would have during our RVing days. While we won’t be selling LeuC for another couple of months, this will be the last day where we will be able to have a campfire.

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Tomorrow, we continue our southern route into California. Because it is fall and the wet, winter season has not yet started in that state, campfires throughout the state are banned. There is just too great of a risk of starting another major forest fire.

We will be in California for about 6 weeks and then move on to Tucson, AZ, where we will sell LeuC in January. Once in AZ, we will be staying on the property of our boondocker friend, Richard. We have stayed on his property twice before and love it. He lives in the desert just north of Tucson with a backyard that is an oasis paradise with green grass, shady palm trees, a beautiful large pool and a waterfall. However, there really isn’t a place for a campfire. Thus, this being our last day in a place that allows campfires, I just had to grab the opportunity and have one.

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Usually, when I have a campfire, it is for about an hour or so. This time, I spent three hours, burning the last of the wood we had. It was great. It gave me a chance to reflect on our RVing days and remember the highlights of our journey around the US.

We have driven through and explored 30 states, traveling about 16,000 miles to do so. We have had a chance to visit with friends and relatives that we have not seen in years, explore cities and towns that we had never seen before and spend so many nights in wonderful national, state and local parks.

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As my campfire was slowly burning down, a beautiful 40-foot Tiffin Phaeton RV drove past our site and then stopped. A couple got out to unhook the car they were towing so they could back their RV into their site which was a bit further up the lane.

While the man was finishing his work, the woman came over and we started chatting. I learned that they had started RVing this last April and were heading down to Arizona to visit family. They have bought some property near Friday Harbor, up on San Juan Island in Washington’s Puget Sound. They will start building their new home in early 2019 and may be selling their RV once it is built. They also have a 50-foot power boat that they keep in a marina near their Friday Harbor property.

After their car was all set to drive to their campsite, the man came over and the three of us continued talking. Before we were done, we agreed that they should come over to meet Mary Margaret and compare notes on RVing.

Late in the afternoon, David and Dana came over and we spent a few hours getting to know each other. As it turns out, David also sailed the South Pacific in 1999 and 2000 making it as far as Australia before returning to New Zealand, where he sold his boat. We shared a number of sailing stories that bring back such found memories.

Demonstrating what a small world it is, we also discovered that Dana knew and worked with my dad before he died. During his tenure as Dean of Education at Portland State University in the late 1980s, she worked with him in selecting the President to the Portland Community College system. My dad was renown in the US for the process he used in working with community colleges to help determine what they wanted in the person to help manage their schools and then selecting the best person who fit their needs. My dad’s focus was on matching the needs of the school system to the special skills of potential candidates.

Dana was highly complimentary of what my dad did in helping them select the right person. Her statements were a testimony of what my dad took great pride in doing and it was so nice to hear this so many years after his passing. What a thrill it was to know that my dad’s work was still appreciated and remembered after all of this time.

Since we will be living relatively near to each other (about 90 miles via road and ferry), once we both move into our new houses next year, we agreed that we should get together again once the dust settles after our respective moves. We will be looking forward to that and having the opportunity of becoming closer friends. How great is that!

Year 2 Days 301 and 302 Continuing South

After resting up yesterday we returned to the road today as we continued heading south toward the San Francisco Bay Area.  Today’s drive was just another short jaunt of only 3 hours.

While being a relative short drive of under 200 miles, as well as being all on a freeway, it was actually one of the more stressful drives we have had.  It was stressful because it rained almost the whole way and we were traversing the Cascade Mountain Range.  There were many sharp curves as we went up and down various grades and the truck traffic kept us on our toes.  The trucks would slow way down going up the steep grades and speed way up going down the grades.  Thus, we repeatedly passed many of the same trucks going up the grades and then they would pass us going down.  Many times, the passing was on sharp curves which added to the stress.  This was true even though the speed limit around some of the curves was reduced to 50 and sometimes even 45 MPH.  While I stayed within the speed limit, many of the trucks did not.  Apparently, they felt they had to make up the lost time of going up the grades by speeding while going down the grade.  A number of times I watched them in my side mirror crossing the line demarking our respective lanes as they passed us going around the curves.  Yikes!!

Big, bulky, speeding trucks; steep grades; sharp curves; rain hitting the windshield; and wet, slick roads.  Yep, it was a recipe for high stress.

Fortunately, we made the mountain crossing safe and sound and as we approached Medford, Oregon, the sun came out.  Yea!  We continued a few miles further south to Ashland, Oregon.  Ashland is the home of the annual Shakespeare Festival and is famous.  Since it founding in 1935, over 20 million people have attended.  All 37 of Shakespeare’s plays have been performed over 300 times.  The festival also sprinkles in plays by other playwrights such that over 30,000 performances have been presented.

We got off the freeway at Ashland and drove east into the Emigrant Lake Recreational Area, where our campground is located.  When we arrived, we were shocked at how low the reservoir was.  These pictures give you an idea as to how low it was.

However, even with such a low water level, our site and views are very nice and we believe we will enjoy the two days we will be here.

 

 

Year 2 Day 299 and 300 California Bound

Yesterday, we turned south and started our long trip down to California. We will be spending the Thanksgiving holidays with two of our three kids, and their respective families and then will drive down to Southern California to see friends where we used to live in Dana Point. By the time we make our way over to Tucson, Arizona, to spend Christmas with our third child and her family, we will have traveled from the border of Canada (since Blaine is nestled up against the Canadian border) to near the border of Mexico (since our route to Tucson will take us to San Diego, which is just north of the Mexican border).

Yesterday’s trip was a long 6-hour drive with its highlight being fighting Seattle traffic in the rain. A front moved into the Pacific Northwest the other day and for the next few days we will be slogging through the rain. Seattle is one of the worst cities we have experienced regarding traffic. The city has grown so much over the last 50 years and there are only two freeways that you can take that go north and south. Thus, you can image way the traffic can be like.

Actually, we were fortunate as we squeaked by before the horrible Friday afternoon traffic rush started and only struggled with the afternoon traffic as we scooted by Washington’s capital, Olympia, just to the south of the Seattle/Tacoma sprawl.

As we made our way south, Mary Margaret had a big smile on her face. She was so happy that we were in the peak of the color change and we were driving past forests of hardwood trees that were showing their colors. It was spectacularly beautiful, especially between the rain showers when the sun would come out and make the trees glow.

We stopped for the night at a city park in Port of St. Helens, just across the Columbia river, in Oregon. I felt that I had returned to my roots since I was born in Vancouver, Washington, just up the Columbia river from where this park is located. It is a little ironic that I was born in Washington but only lived there for three months. Now, 68 years later, I will be moving back to Washington to live. Go figure! Actually, I guess it is not too surprising since my dad was born and raised in the Seattle area and all of my surviving relatives from my dad’s side of the family still live there. It will be a real treat for me to be able to see them more often from now on!

This morning, we kept to our southern route and drove three hours to a county park in Curtin, Oregon. It is just south of the Willamette Valley and is where the hills and mountains that separate northern and southern Oregon are located. It is in the middle of nowhere but is a convenient rest spot for us for the next two days.

We are rather tired from the hectic time we spent in Blaine and the stress of looking for and buying a house. Follow that up with driving a big, 25-ton bus for 9 hours during the last 24 hours and I believe you know what I mean.

In two days, we will leisurely drive another three hours to the Ashland, Oregon area. It is just north of the California border and it the location of another county park where we will be spending a couple of restful days before entering the great state of California.