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February 2008 Archives

February 1, 2008

MONTHLY CONTEST - First installation!

Hey, Queen of the Roadies,

So, this is it. The very first QUEEN OF THE ROAD monthly contest! For the rules, check out the contest page of my website. You have to enter on that page, as well.

This month's contest topic: What would YOU do if you could take a year off?

The prize? A signed galley of QUEEN OF THE ROAD, of course. (That, or a signed actual book, when it comes out, will always be the monthly prize.) This month's extra special additional prize is.... a poopin' moose key chain, all the way from Ketchikan, Alaska! (This was my absolute favorite bit of kitch from our entire the trip.) PM%20head.JPGPM%20side.JPG

Isn't it... cute? Just squeeze and voila! (Anyone who knows me could have figured out the first prize would involve poop. I'm very predictable that way.)

Good luck to all. I very much look forward to reading your entries.

February 5, 2008

RV Tow Vehicle as Getaway Car

The funny and wise Bella Stander sent me this Denver Post article about a Denver bank robbing couple who hitched their getaway car to their RV.

Lesson: If you're traveling by RV and planning a crime spree, maybe you should consider renting a car?

February 7, 2008

The Biggest Little City aka Reno 911

This is Morty's new favorite spot while we're moving - ie, snoozing on the "dog bed" up front, right between the driver's and buddy seats. (I wonder why Tim always exclaims, "Another cat picture! Oh, good! We just don't have enough of those.")

On our way to California, we stopped in Reno, NV, where Tim grew up, to visit his family. (Any Reno 911 fans out there? Tim loves his home city. I don’t think he really gets how the show makes fun of it. Or, maybe he’s just in denial. It’s been known to happen.) Since Tim was about to go to the Big House, we treated ourselves to a fabulous steak dinner at Harrah’s Steak House. We were chatting with our waiter, Tony, and discovered that (a ahem certain number of years later) he took over Tim’s boyhood paper route at the Reno Gazette.

I got treated to tons of uproarious biggest little city humor. You know, the kind that’s just so darn cute. (Fortunately, Harrah’s has quite the extensive wine cellar.)

“Didn’t you love trying to hit Mr. Krakowski’s cat when you threw the Sunday edition?” OK. Not really, but that might have been a wee bit more interesting, at least.

It sure is a small, small bus world, though.

Reno provided one more opportunity for nostalgia. On our way out of town, we stopped for gas at Baldini’s, the very same place during the start of our bus year, where the door finally jammed for good (after opening three times at 60 mph our very first day on the road, nearly sucking me out each time) and we had to call a locksmith to open it and save our pets from the sweltering 100 degree heat. He was supposed to stop by our RV park the next day to provide us with a more permanent fix, but never did show up. When I finally called his store, I was told that he had quit.

I guess seeing a grown psychiatrist cry was too much for any man. DSCN0049%20%28Small%29.JPG

February 8, 2008

Grammy Fashion Faux Pas

With the Grammys coming up on Sunday, I was reminded of something that happened last year - when we weren't living in the bus.

I went to my seamster (well, he's not a seamstress and alterer sounds like he does castrations). There was no parking except right out front in the "no parking" zone. I left my emergency lights blinking, because if I got towed, that's exactly what it would have been and ran in. There's only one try on room and it was occupied -- by a woman talking on her cell phone. And, she didn't seem to be having any emergency. No, she was talking about how she was getting her dress altered. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I waited... and waited... and waited. Finally, little Miss All Important comes out in a rather unimaginatve gown and settles herself in front of the mirror. Now we can get going here. Only... she doesn't know how long she wants the thing. She and the ever-patient Mr. Lai try out various lengths, but the poor dear just can't make up her mind. Finally, she turns to me.

"Do you have an opinion?" She asks. Do I ever. But, to my credit, I simply reply with my own query.

"That depends on what you're wearing it to."

"The Grammys" she informs me with a smirk.

You might think that was the last straw. In fact, it was only the penultimate one. The last straw occured a spit second later as I spied a tow truck lumbering down the lane toward my unsuspecting Saab. So, you'll understand that, as I ran out the door, I gave the only possible appropriate response under the circumstances: "You're wearing THAT to the Grammys?"

February 10, 2008

The Big House

After Reno, we headed to Crescent City, CA so Tim could do some temporary work at the maximum security, Pelican Bay State Prison which houses some of California's most dangerous inmates.

My best friend from our residency in Tucson, Alene, was recently promoted to Chief of Psychiatry at Pelican Bay. She told me there is such a psychiatrist shortage (as there is all over the country, both in and out of prisons) that the state pays really, really well for temporary assignments. She said, "Doreen, you must come here and work for me!" I replied, "Alene, I don't care if you pay me a million dollars: I will never, ever work at Pelican Bay." Then, she told me what they do pay and I quickly responded, "Tim'll do it."

Tim, aka Project Nerd, Domestic Superhero, had been busy fixing up our house so we could sell it in a couple of years and live full time in the bus. A little extra cash would certainly help. Still, I didn't actually think he'd agree to this (and I'm sure, part of the draw was getting to live in the bus again), but he did and there we went.

Alene said she'd give us a shoe tour.

“Does it have a kitten heel?” I wanted to know. She explained that the SHU – or Secure Housing Unit – is where the most dangerous of the dangerous inmates are housed. The tour was fascinating. We not only got to go into "the hole" or solitary confinment, but even into an inmate's cell when he was in the yard.

The most bizarre part was the group therapy rooms. If you think about it, you certainly wouldn't want these violent offenders loose with each other in a room - or the therapist. Instead, they each stand in their own, individual telephone booth-like contraptions with bars and plexiglass over the front. They're then lined up in a semi-circle and that's how the therapist conducts the group.

Tim's position lasted about five weeks. Although he couldn't tell me too much about the specifics of his work, he did relate the time one of the inmates commented, "I'm really not a bad guy." At the look Tim gave him, the inmate responded, "Well... there was that one night."

Slash-Proof Tim

February 11, 2008

Psychiatry in Action

As a psychiatrist, I am possessed of keen powers of observation. For example, what do you notice about this guy walking on the beach in Crescent City?


I immediately noticed he’s a genius. What makes me so sure, you might ask. Look at him closely: In one hand, he has a chick-repellant, AKA metal detector. In the other, a super-duper mitigating agent, perhaps the most powerful chick-attractant of them all: kitten on leash.

Genius. Pure genius.

February 13, 2008

Beware Falling Moose

When Tim and I traveled the Seward Highway south of Anchorage (to get to the Kenai Peninsula) during our bus year, we were struck by the moose warning signs. It seemed to us shrinks a rather perverse twist on the notion of constructive criticism, since rather than merely warning, they also announced how many of the beasts had been hit on Alaskan roads thus far in the year.

Fortunately, we were also not struck by a moose, as this Alaska State Trooper nearly was when one fell off a cliff.

This was actually the only moose we saw on Kenai - a cow and her baby.

(And, speaking of moose, see my Feb 1 entry to win a poopin' moose - and a copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD, of course.)

February 15, 2008

This Woman Driver (Sort Of)

Litpark posted a wonderfully funny blog entry about her basically (sorry Lit) being a lousy driver. I can relate, because well... I assume I am, too. I say "assume" since I always thought I was a decent enough driver. But since we live in a democracy, I suppose I have to go with the majority opinion here and I've not only heard from my husband often enough how bad I am behind the wheel, but an awful lot of strangers, as well. OK. They don't actually tell me so much as yell it at me. That's why I never have driven our bus. Oh, no. Instead, I'm the navagator (or, as Tim likes to call me, "Nagavator") which frankly, is almost as insane as having me drive.

I have no sense of direction and I can't read a map. So why does the Captain have me consult Rand on a regular basis? (Rand’s a little anal for my tastes, anyway. Reading all those little numbers along all the superfluous squiggly lines can be blinding.) Instead, once when he wanted me to figure out how far we were from a campground, I found the distance scale. Fifteen miles was about the size of a knuckle. Five knuckles later, I offered, quite satisfied with myself, “OK. Five times fifteen is seventy-five. But it’s really a little less than a knuckle length, so . . . we could be anywhere from forty to seventy-five miles away.” Tim rolled his eyes. Just then I spotted the “Mileage Between Cities” chart at the top of the page. Why hadn’t Rand made this more obvious? Like I was supposed to figure out that buried in all this map stuff was actual useful information. (Sometimes I think Rand is just showing off. No one likes a braggart, buster!)

“Oops!” I chuckled.

“How much more is it?” the Captain sighed.

“Actually, we’re only twenty-two miles away. Guess knuckles aren’t the best way to measure.”

“Apparently not yours.”

February 19, 2008

Meet a Wonderful Bookseller - Karen West at Book Passage (I Did!)

Yesterday, one of my incredible publicists, Kim Dower, set me up to meet several booksellers in the Bay Area. Yes, I know my last post was about what a lousy driver I am, and how I have no sense of direction. So how in the world would even Queenly I presume to get to San Francisco and back from Modesto, nearly 100 miles away?

This Queen has her own driver, of course.

Sir Tim very nobly agreed to chauffer me on his day off (perhaps less due to his being one heck of guy, than his fear that if allowed to go by myself he’d be getting my late night, frantic call – from Portland).

I met with a few booksellers, and Karen West at Book Passage in Corte Madera, was the very first.

Book Passage, for any of you who don’t know (living under a rock, perchance?) is an ultra-fabulous book store in Marin that also hosts writers workshops, conferences and classes complete with very illustrious faculty. Indeed, the biggest names in publishing make sure to stop by for readings and signings, including Isabel Allende, Bill Bryson, Tim Cahill, Amy Tan, Michael Chabon, Anne Lamott, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Madeline Albright to name drop just a few. (Check out their website for all the wonderful upcoming events at "BPU." Even if you don't live near San Francisco, Book Passage hosts writing workshops spanning several days. What could be better than learning from the masters and spending time in the greatest city in the world?)

I had lunch with Karen, Director of Events & Conferences outside in the California sunshine (we’ll be heading back to Boulder in a couple of weeks, so this was even more of a treat), as we ate salads and sandwiches provided by Book Passage's very own, in store café. (How neat is that?)

Of course, we talked about QUEEN OF THE ROAD, but we also had an interesting discussion about the issues it raises for us baby boomers who hit their 40s and ask, “Is this all there is?” Karen expressed, oh so well, that even though many readers can’t drop everything and travel for a year, hopefully, by reading QUEEN OF THE ROAD they can learn an important life-lesson or two. (Very wise woman, this Karen.)

I had always envied booksellers. I mean, getting paid (in part) to read? But, Karen pointed out that she actually reads fewer books than she would like because she also has to read periodicals and newsletters about books and publishing. So, I’m a little less envious than I was. A little.

Here’s a picture of the two of us standing at the very same podium as all those amazing writers, movers and shakers. Karen was kind enough to suggest we pose there, saying, “So you’ll have a picture of where you’ll be speaking!”


More on my other meetings at other fabulous bookstores to come…

February 22, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse Or Pass the Joystick

There was a total lunar eclipse two nights ago - outside, in real time and everything. It'll be the last one until 2010.

Tim and I watched it from the trailer park we're staying in. We also watched as all the other adults stared up at the sky along with us, while their kids stayed inside watching TV or playing video games. (It's easy to tell what people are up to in their homes if you live in a trailer park. Too easy in many cases. Don't ask.)

Yes, I know I tend to be a shut-in (or as we shut-ins prefer, the more politically correct term, "hermit"), and I will usually do just about anything to avoid the outdoors (I had once after all, when tired of craning my neck to view a meteor shower, announced, "I'm going inside to watch it on CNN"), but eclipses are kinda cool.

Only in an old fashioned, I'm-a-relic kinda way, I guess.

February 24, 2008

Bye Bye, Modesto! (Don't think this hasn't been fun.)

We're sprung from this hell hole!

We're leaving today after being parked for nearly three months while Tim worked in psych hospital. (Our longest ever in one spot and it had to be here? He couldn't find a nice little assignment in San Francisco? As even a local commented when I complained about the dearth of RV parks in this area, "Well, why would anyone want to visit Modesto?" Even Tim's coworkers at the hospital kept wondering, "You came to... Modesto?")

Lest you think I exaggerate, Forbes recently decreed Modesto "One Of the Top Ten Most Miserable Cities in America."

Of course, before leaving any place (even a miserable one), we must have some drama...


Our internet satellite (the thingy with an arm on top of our bus that points to the planet of the alien race plotting to take over the Earth, but is kind of enough to provide me with internet in the meantime) can be deployed as long as the wind is less than 70 mph. Last night, we were supposed to get gusts up to that much, so I reeled it in. (Sounds impressive? It is. I assure you I know which button to push without breaking a nail.) The park manager told me they’ve had trailers tip over in the past in these high winds and suggested we might want to move to a different, less exposed spot. Tim said no – he was in the middle of cooking dinner and it would take him an hour to unhook, rehook and get us settled. He explained we're extremely bottom heavy (don't worry, he'll be suitably punished for that - he has to sleep sometime) and besides, he just cranked the engine to recharge the bus battery, so our air bags were full. Air bags??? We’re going to rely on airbags???

We did survive the night upright, but I was quite cold. What else is new? I’m always cold (unless it's summer; then I’m too warm). Tim, on the other hand, seems to have no trouble whatsoever maintaining his body heat year-round. He can’t believe how I squander mine. (He says I'm lazy down to a cellular level.) Adding insult to injury, as I’m getting older, I almost never stay in bed all night. Gotta get up to have me a royal pee. Last night, Tim had to as well. Being the gentleman he is, he let me go first. I repaid his generosity by leaping back into bed, honing in on his heat signature like a glutton-guided missile. I giggled in delight, reveling in the warmth he'd so foolishly left behind for me to suck up. When he got back into bed, he insisted on retaking his spot.

“But, I don’t have heat on my side,” I protested. He replied, “I doubt you have a soul, either.”

Well, I guess we're not quite sprung, yet. As always, we planned to get an early start. And, as always, some disaster (other than my need for beauty sleep) got in the way. We hadn't quite figured in all the rain this area has gotten in the last three months. Our bus is stuck in the mud. We're waiting for the "wrecker" to get us out.

If someone had told me back when I was a perfectly content little Princess From The Island of Long that my coronation to Queen of the Long Narrow Aisle would involve "wreckers," "mud," "trailer parks," or for that matter, (oh, god) buses, I would have said, "Honey, you can keep the crown. I'll take the Crown Plaza, instead."

Here he comes. No internet in motion - I'll post from our next stop, Morro Bay.

If our bus makes it.

February 27, 2008

E-Tow Me

I noted in a previous post, "Psychiatry In Action," how "kitten on leash" is a time-tested chick attractant. Well, here's a time-tested guy one: "Tow truck." (Although, to be fair, they were a captive audience, since the entire operation blocked the only entrance/exit to the trailer park.)


Note Tim's role. He was oh so proud that Chad (of E-Towing) asked him to "mind my tow cable."

Ohhhhh. So that's what they're calling it these days.

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About February 2008

This page contains all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in February 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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