Bus Life/Travels Archives

January 20, 2008

On The Road, Again... Bus Conversion Style

Tim's idea of nirvana is to be at the helm of a powerful engine. Mine is to ride on that engine in first class. (Quit petting the cat - both hands on the wheel!)

We are officially on the road again. Headed to Crescent City, CA. Tim’s doing some locum tenens there. More on why in a future entry. For now:

Our first day out from Boulder provided a rather nostalgic look back at our meltdown cruise of June 2004 – our very first trip in our bus. This time, we actually did get an early start, as all our electronics were in working order, thanks to Frank at Eagle Sat. It also helped that it didn’t pour rain or hail. And, even better yet, the bus door didn’t fly open at 60 mph – three times – nearly sucking me out.

Passing by the Flying J in Rock Springs, WY (the highway still under construction, just as it had been the first day of that meltdown cruise. Since we went to the 49th state later on in our bus year, I just have to ask: How come it took less than eight months to complete the nearly fifteen-hundred-mile Alaska Highway, while this considerably less footage of interstate... ?) We saluted Western Wyoming Community College which gave us refuge that first, awful night. Fortunately, no pet peed in our bed out of terror (or anything else) this time.

West of Salt Lake City, we passed a motel where Tim pulled over on Day Two of our historic (or in my case, hysteric) meltdown cruise, when he let the brakes cool down after they nearly caught fire on the treacherous mountain passes. Today, more than three years later, he finally fessed up he hadn’t actually stopped back then because he wanted a donut. Blog%20entry%202.JPG

This cell tower was on the Salt Flats to the west of SLC. Tim said they were attempting to "disguise" it into a work of art. Us both being shrinks, we agreed it screams of sexual repression. Sometimes a cigar really isn't just a cigar.

January 26, 2008

Opposites Attract, But Why Should I Suffer?

My fabulous website designer, Steve Bennett of AuthorBytes forwarded this article to me. It's full of exclamation and other silly points about how, even if a couple consists of polar opposites (like Tim and me), they can still enjoy vacationing together at certain resorts with spas, cooking classes and wine for her, but golf, fishing and beer for him.

How lovely for these mythical couples. For us, on the other hand…

Queen: Honey, let’s go to Cabo! I can take a conch cooking lesson [yeah, I know, WTF? But it’s in that stupid article], picnic with tame iguanas [ditto] and you can go deep sea fishing and work on your golf swing!

Consort: I don’t like fishing and I don’t have a golf swing.

Q: Well, I don’t like cooking and I hate bugs.

C: Iguanas aren’t bugs.

Q: Close enough.

C: So, why should we go to Cabo?

Q: What else will we do on vacation?

C: Live on the bus.

Q: That’s why we should go to Cabo.

As an aside, this does remind me that when we were in Death Valley during our bus year, we actually saw a woman taking her iguana for a hike: death%20valley%20iguana%20%28Small%29%20border.JPG I stayed far away from that bug.

January 31, 2008

This Bus Is Trying To Kill Me, Again

Alfred E. Newman has nothing on me.

Today, I had to venture out of the bus (I know you're shocked, but Tim wasn't home) to get something from the bay (since it relates to cat pee, I'll spare you the details).

Understand that when you open the bay doors, they don't just open, but sort of extend upward and swing out. Contrary to what you may think, in spite of my royal status, over the years I've opened them many times (three constitutes "many," right?) So, why I was unprepared for this, I have no idea. Anyway, the door smacked me in the mouth - hard. Hard enough to chip my front tooth. In my designer duds and fetching new grin, this Princess looks like Eva Gabor must have felt on Green Acres. (Oh, great. In addition to looking really weird, I've now totally dated myself. So, why not go for the gusto and debase myself even more? Fine. I'm such a vidiot, I can even tell you the name of little hamlet their farm was in. Ready? Hooterville. Yup.)

I found a dentist, the fabulous Dr. Gerber, to see me right away and he filed it. (He didn't even charge me. I guess he was star struck having royalty in his chair and all.) It's actually not so bad. I can say that now that it's after 5 pm. While I absolutely adhere to "it's always 5 o'clock somewhere," it's just a little harder to justify while we're on the west coast - although not today. (Today though, it's purely medicinal, of course.)

I'm such a klutz. I always have bruises all over my body I have no recollection of getting. With all my black and blue, I'm afraid people will think I'm a battered woman.

I'm not paranoid. Really. I'm not. It's just that, after so many disasters in this bus, so many times of nearly getting killed, not to mention terribly inconvenienced and potentially humiliated (the nudist RV park comes to mind), I really can't be blamed for feeling this rig has it in for me. Maybe it wants Tim all for it - or her - self. After what he said to me after surveying the damage (to his precious bus, not me), she can have him:

"You know, after you chipped your tooth, you didn't actually shut the cargo door. Instead, you forced the latch back down, so now it's bent. Next time make sure the cargo bay door is actually closed before you close the latch." As I've said before about my psychiatrist husband, "He gave at the office." His current retort to that brilliant observation?

"Well, this bus has over 200,000 miles on it, yet it's only when you interacted with them that anything's happened to the bay doors."

Like I said.

Today did remind me, however, of something a bit more compassionate Tim said to me on our trip (this, during a hike in Death Valley, when I became hysterical at the sight of a bug* so disgusting, I still don't know how it can stand itself): "I always say you should get out more, but maybe that's not such a good idea."

I'll drink to that!

*I had originally "mistyped" "bus" instead of "bug." Ya don't need to be a shrink to figure that one out.

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 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 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.

March 9, 2008

My Double Ds

Written from a truck stop near Winslow, AZ (it’s not as romantic as the Eagles’ song would have you believe, believe me).

We had our last In ‘n’ Out yesterday. In ‘n’ Out (for those of you sadly ignorant of the boisterous burgers) is a west coast thing. We’ve been visiting our dear friends, Jim and Lisa in Prescott, AZ (rhymes with “biscuit” we’ve been told… and told… and told). Lisa doesn’t eat beef (I’d make a snide remark that this makes no sense, since her reasoning has to do with the way the animals are treated, yet she does eat chicken. However, since I don’t eat pork or shellfish, even though I haven’t been kosher for years, I don’t really have a snarky - or sensible - leg to stand on, here). So, Tim and I snuck out for a quick lunch.


(Also note I have my burgers with cheese on them. This is known in Jewish circles as a “double whammy.” If I added bacon, I’d call it a “triple whammy” – if I survived the lightning bolt.)

Our experience was marred.

Since I’ve been doing low carb, I don’t eat hamburger buns. That also means I don’t get a shake or fries (unlike my gee, how-much-good-fortune-does-one-man-really-deserve-he's-also-married-to-me-after-all, naturally thin husband). I ordered first.

“I’ll have [note: I said, “I’ll have”] two double-doubles, protein style, extra onions.” The young man behind the counter then asked, “Fries or a shake?” To which I replied, “No.” Then, he turned to Tim and asked, “Would you like fries or a shake?”

I guess he thought I couldn’t possibly eat two burgers. I guess he was wrong. I set him straight. (I know you know I did.)

Yet, there was to be another hitch in our last luscious lunch.

One of the guys who cleans up the customer tables was, shall we say, a bit talkative. You could hear him schmoozing from across the room. I don’t know about you, but when I’m eatin’ so fine, I want to concentrate on my food. Besides, he was so damn perky. (I’m kinda like Lou Grant in that respect.) So, as he made his way across the joint, pausing at each and every table to chat, Tim and I resolved not to make eye contact with the guy. Alas, the table next to us tried that. It didn’t work. So, just as he turned our way, what could I do but shoot Tim a distraught look and cry, “I can’t believe you’re breaking up with me!”

We ate the rest of our lunch in peace.

May 21, 2008

My Fabulous Book Group

Last night my very own, fabulous book group (the one I've been in for over a decade) did QUEEN OF THE ROAD off galley copies. Thanks, ladies!

Of course, they were very complimentary. (What else were they going to say? They knew my onion rings would have made great projectiles.) And, for once, everyone finished the book! (Ditto - well, at least they said they did.) But, I was particularly gratified that in addition to the humor, they also "got" the underlying themes:

Don't wait - live your dreams NOW.

Keep challenging and stretching yourself.

The most important thing is to spend time with the people you love.

So, without further ado, here's my fabulous book group:


(Photo taken by our knights in shining armour, Peter Gail and his friend Michael, who had a camera in his cell phone, and saved the day when my camera refused to work.)
Jane Ann Hebert, Dina Horwedel, Sheryl Allen, me, Robbie Barr, Susan Wientzen at the Dark Horse, whose sister restaurant, The Bum Steer is mentioned in QUEEN OF THE ROAD as the place Tim and I had our first date. (He tricked me into going - the name couldn't be more appropriate.)

A few of the women are mentioned in the book:

Jane Ann has worked with Tim. Last night, she had to answer the question: "Is he really as great as Doreen portrays him?" (Hmmm. Wait'll I do that next edition.) Answer: "Yes." (There's that whole onion ring thing, again.) But then, she added, "And, what's really great, is you can tell how much he loves Doreen." Made even my cold, shrivelled heart melt. Thanks, Jane Ann.

Susan got some ribbing because in the book, I call her, "the most gorgeous woman I know." So, of course, she had to point out that I've had PRK - twice. (Maybe that explains my blinking in the picture.)

Sheryl, I term my "insane" friend, because her dream is to hike the Appalachian trail - 'nough said.

Robbie is mentioned in the acknowledgements as one of my beta readers, because I very much appreciated her judgment. (She's a judge - get it?)

Dina, who has had a fascinating life, providing aid in destitute, war-torn areas around the globe, had been in our group years before, then left to do her good work. She came back only recently and we're selfishly thrilled to have her with us, again.

Acknowledged, but not present, are Eileen GIlday and Deborah Ramirez who couldn't be there last night. We missed you, ladies! See you next time! (Geez. I hope it's not something I wrote.)

PS - Mom. I know you're going to be royally P.O.'d as only a Queen Mother can, that all these ladies have read the book and you have not. But, I wanted you to read the real book (you know, not a typo-filled, mistake-ridden, no blurbs yet galley copy) and I only got those last week. Yes, I know, I haven't sent you one of those, either. And, yes, I know in desperation, you ended up ordering one on Amazon.

I'll be happy to sign it for you.

May 26, 2008

Don't Put Off Your Dreams

In anticipation of QUEEN OF THE ROAD being published in one (GULP!) week, I thought I would post some excerpts with lessons learned.

When my long-dreaded thirtieth birthday arrived, I really wasn't as upset as I imagined I'd be, for I had achieved a much more important milestone: my sartorial centennial. I owned one hundred pairs of shoes. Then, at age forty-four, I found myself trying to cram a mere half that number into a living space of 340 square feet.

The whole thing was Tim's fault.

When he announced he wanted to travel around the country in a converted bus for a year, I gave this profound and potentially life-altering notion all the thoughtful consideration it deserved.

"Why can't you be like a normal husband with a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?" I demanded, adding, "I will never, ever, EVER, not in a million years, live on a bus."

Something less than a million years later, as we prepared to roll down the road in our fully outfitted, luxury bus, it occurred to me that Tim had already owned a Corvette, long ago when he was far too young for a midlife crisis. While I pondered who he might be seeing on the side (and whether his having an affair might prove less taxing than living in a metallic phallus on wheels), I wedged and stuffed – and, oh my GOD! bent – the cutest little Prada mules you've ever seen into my "closet," which was really not a closet at all, but much more resembled the cubbyhole I'd been assigned many pre-shoe-obsession years ago at Camp Cejwin. How had I let myself go from "never ever" to..this? Both Tim and I are shrinks, but he's obviously the better one. It took him five years, yet he whittled down my resolve, no doubt with some fancy, newfangled brainwashing technique ripped out of one of our medical journals before I could get to it.

So, here is the first and one of the most important lessons we learned from "the bus thing": Don't put off your dreams. Tim finally convinced me by explaining, "This is just something I really want to do – while we're young and can still enjoy it. I've done everything right all my life, the way I was supposed to do it. Now I want something for me. And I want it with you."

I realized even then that he had a point. Like many people, until we reached our late thirties, Tim and I had gone through life feeling rather invincible. Not only was it inconceivable that something bad could ever happen to us, even our very mortality seemed suspect. When we hit our forties, this changed, as our contemporaries experienced sudden, unexpected tragedies: A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. A colleague died of a heart attack in his sleep. Both of us, for the first time, could feel creaks and aches in bones we hadn't thought about since anatomy class. Over the years, we each had treated people in our practices who had looked forward to all they planned to do in retirement, but when the time came, were too ill to travel or too devastated by the death of a spouse to live out their dreams.

Those lessons started hitting home as we officially breached middle age. We knew we were fortunate in that we would always have jobs; neurosis is a growth industry, after all. We could afford to do this now and go back to work later. For most people, it takes some terrible catalyst to change their lives. We're living proof that it doesn't have to be that way. We don't have to wait. We can change our lives NOW. And, it doesn't have to be something as drastic as taking an entire year off. That happened to work for us, but the bus is a really a metaphor; everyone can find their own "inner bus" whether it's taking an adult education class in something they've always wanted to learn about, volunteering in their communities, or rekindling an old interest that went by the wayside years ago.

What would your inner bus be?

Next, another important thing we learned: Don't let the spark die.

(This is from the first chapter of QUEEN OF THE ROAD: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus With a Will of Its Own, that's going to be published June 3rd by Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House. You can read the full chapter, see pictures from our trip, videos, podcasts and a lot of other fun stuff on my jam-packed website,

May 29, 2008

Don't Let The Spark Die

The Nudist RV Park

Although I protested as long as I could, my husband and I did eventually hit the road in our bus with our two querulous cats, sixty-pound dog - and no agenda. So, another important thing we learned on our year-long adventure was: Don't let the spark die. It's crucial to keep challenging and stretching oneself. My pre-bus life had been so comfortable - too comfortable, in fact. It had become rote and routine. During our bus year, we actually became grateful not only for the adventures, but the disasters, as well (fire, flood, armed robbery, my developing a bus phobia and finding ourselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few) because they helped rekindle that spark. We are afforded amazing opportunities in our country, and we all work very hard to achieve our goals, yet often we get there and feel like there’s something missing. If you're asking yourself, "Is this all there is?" Maybe you need to get on that bus - in whatever form it takes.

June 1, 2008

Spend Time With The People You Love

(First, a pause for another video: The Meltdown Cruise.

It, along with the Nudist RV park, are on my website, More videos to come.)

Another important lesson we learned is that all that really matters is spending time with the people you love. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? And, while it's true that in traveling around the country through 47 states (including Alaska), we met incredibly diverse and unique people, we also found that we all had one thing in common: Wanting to love and be loved. Yet, that's not what most spend their time doing. We had been guilty of that, as well.

On the bus, we learned how crucial it is to downsize and simplify our lives so that we don't end up supporting a lifestyle filled with things instead of people and experiences. Although Tim and I are polar opposites, I think that's partly why we have so much fun together - even if it's doing something that might not turn out as planned.

By now, you know that the out-of-doors is not exactly my thing. Well, after meeting a remarkable man of the bush in tiny Wrangell, Alaska, I decided that if he could live for days in a tree in the rain along the river hunting moose, the least I could do was try hiking, again. Tim was thrilled . . . until we hiked. For it was on Sitka's Harbor Mountain that we took what I would come to term The Alaskan Death March. Although even I had to admit the scenery was spectacular (ocean, islands, distant peaks, yada yada) the lack of an escalator on the steep climb nearly did me in. And why should I suffer alone?

So I devised the Five Stages of Getting Grief from Hiking with Doreen: Denial ("We're not going all the way up there, are we?"); Anger ("I can't believe I let you take me on this stupid hike!"); Bargaining ("If we stop now, I'll have the energy to do another hike tomorrow. Really, I promise!"); Despair ("Oh, why did I ever let you talk me into anything over three miles?"); Acceptance ("Fine. But this is absolutely, positively, the last hike I will ever go on for the rest of my life!") Recalling a disappointing hike through a rainforest we had taken two weeks before, I felt compelled to add a sixth stage, one which only occurs in extreme circumstances, at a perfect storm of elevation gain, accumulated mileage, mud and bugs: Confabulation ("Look at the dog! You're killing him!"). Finally, when I nagged enough to make even Tim agree to quit, I clutched the poodle to celebrate, beaming as I attempted to reinforce the wisdom of my husband's capitulation.

"I'm so glad you didn't make me continue to the top. This way, I could actually enjoy how beautiful it was. I'd even do it again."

"Really?" Tim retorted. "I wouldn't."

I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about our extraordinary journey. It you want to learn more (or just have some laughs) please visit for pictures of our trip, more videos and podcasts, book tour appearances and events, as well as the entire first chapter. If you do stop by my website, please be sure to click on the "Share a Thought" link. I'd love to hear from you.

June 12, 2008

Love At A Nudist RV Park

Now I have your attention! But, that really is the title of my Huffington Post article which ran today.

And, if you want to see my video of this incident (now, I REALLY have your attention), please go to my website, and click on the (yes, we're nude) picture of me and Tim in front of our bus on the left on the homepage.

June 26, 2008

Sir Celestial's Ultra-Fabulous Contest!

Living in Boulder, you kind of have to believe in Karma. It's in our city charter. And, since I refuse to do yoga - also in the charter (what's the point in putting that much effort into doing something just to think about nothing, when I'm already so adept at thinking about nothing without making any effort at all? I mean, if my mind were any clearer, I'd be dead.) I sort of have to go along with the Karma thing: Boulder's not likely to let that slide, too. (At the farmer’s market, Tim swears he once saw the result of what occurs when Boulder’s penchant for political correctness collides with its extremist attitude toward health: eggs labeled “vegetarian fed, cage free and voluntary.”)

When Tim and I were in wintering in "lovely" Modesto late last year, Karma intervened (no, not when we got stuck in the mud. What I'm talking about was a good thing that happened. Geez.) Since I thought we'd only be gone twelve weeks (yes, wishful thinking on my part) and I really and truly (really and truly) drink gallons of Celestial Seasonings various delectible flavors of Green Teas at home, I thought I'd brought enough with me. Not so much for five months away. Since we don't live far from their store in Boulder, I usually go there about twice a year (roughly equivalent to how often I'd leave the house) to buy the teas in bulk. When I ran out of tea in Modesto, I went on the Celestial Seasonings website for the first time and discovered... they have a book club! In partnership with my publisher! Well... what else could I do but ask if they would consider a local author. The rest is queenly history.

But, Celestial Seasonings has done so much more than simply select QUEEN OF THE ROAD for its Adventure At Every Turn Book Club, which would certainly have been wonderful in and of itself. However, Celestial is doing some incredibly additional things for this local author of theirs:

Wednesday, July 2nd, Celestial Seasonings is having me over in the a.m. (and you know how I must feel about them to get up so early) to discuss and sign copies of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for their employees. (Obviously, this is a company that treats its employees well.) Then, between 2-:3:30 pm, I'll be in their ultra-fabulous gift shop in Boulder (it really is. I love going there, not just for the wonderful teas and smells, but the creams, lotions, apparel, treats and books - and I don't even mean mine - gifts, etc) to sign copies of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for customers. Sir Tim shall park the Bus (With a Will of Its Own) in Celestial's parking lot to give tours of the Royal Rig to anyone who would like one. (I think next to actually driving it, that's his favorite thing in the world to do.)

But, wait! There's more: Since every chapter of QUEEN OF THE ROAD begins with an original martini recipe commemorating one the many disasters on our trip, Celestial Seasonings, in its infinite wisdom, asked me to come up with a tea-tini recipe which they are promoting on their website and through their book clubs! I had a lot of fun concocting it - what I remember of the process, at least (peach schnapps was involved). Furthermore, forthwith and foresure, Celestial Seasonings has also launched a contest for anyone to develop his or her own QUEEN OF THE ROAD iced-tea drink recipe for fabulous prizes. (Grand prize is a $500 American Express gift card, a signed copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD and a $100 gift basket straight from the Celestial Seasonings shop!) I wonder if I can enter? But more importantly, can I knight an entire company? I'll have to do some research on that and get back to you.

Wait a minute. I'm Queen of the Road. I can do whatever the heck I please.

Celestial Seasonings, I dub thee... Sir Celestial! You have the eternal and undying thanks of this Sovereign. (Cheers and thanks to my royal publisher, House of Random, as well!)

September 18, 2008

Sex in RV Parks

(I was going to call this post, "Dear Abby Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout RVs," but realized I wanted people to read it.)

One of my dear readers (yes, I actually have some of those - OK, one. Geez.), send me this recent Dear Abby column:

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our early 50s and starting to spend a lot of time traveling in our RV and staying in RV parks and campgrounds.

My question is about sex. With everyone so close, how do folks handle this? -- TWO FOR THE ROAD

DEAR T FOR THE R: I searched frantically for my manual on sex etiquette in RV communities, but seem to have misplaced it. However, to the best of my recollection, the way to "handle it" would be to find a spot to park your RV some distance away from the other vehicles, keep the windows shut and try to keep your voices down.

Maybe my next book should be a manual on sex etiquette in RV communities, because Abby, you got it wrong. You've obviously never been in an RV park. You usually can't just "find a spot." You're assigned one. Even if you pick the one you want, "some distance away from the other vehicles" is rarely an option - that's what everyone wants. So, even if you manage to ah... score such a sweet spot... someone else is likely to park close by before long.

And, I hope you didn't mean that T FOR THE R should just pull up stakes whenever the moment feels right in order to find an out-of-the-way cement pad. Real romantic, Abby. Besides, you gotta (OK, Tim gotta) unhook the water, electric and sewer (Ooooh! Bottle and sell that aphrodesiac potential), turn on the engine and go. That's all far noisier than any motorhome moaning (for most of us, anyway - and if you're the exception, could I interview you for that RV sex ettiquette book?). Frankly, I've stayed in some dive motels with shared walls thinner than an RVs - and I guarentee you our neighbors could not have cared less about the noise they made.

On a related note, during one of the first radio interviews I did for QUEEN OF THE ROAD, the host asked, "How do you have sex in an RV?" (It was an LA radio station, natch.) I told him we had a queen-sized bed and countertops in the kitchen, just like we do at home. Can you say, "moron"? Good. I bet he can't.

So, what would be my advice for T FOR THE R? It's a little snarkier than some others' might be (What do you want from me?): Relax, hon. When most people are cocooned in their rigs for the night, they've got the TV on. And, even if they figure out what's going on in yours, I doubt they'd be shocked - unless you arrive at the campground in a nun's habit. And even then....

For everyone else in the RV park, just remember: if it's rockin', don't bother knockin'.

September 24, 2008

Tim's Demented Aunt and Jim's Unit

Tim was gone most of last week, visiting his buddy Jim at some God-forsaken cabin Jim's sister and her husband are building in Westcliff, Colorado. It's not even actually in Westcliff. That would probably be too civilized for them.

Linda and Joe are truly off-the-grind kinda people. They work when they have to (as engineers at a major tech firm), just so they don't have to work - like, terribly much. That's why they're building this thing (and I do mean they are building it) as a summer home in that God-forsaken place.

When Jim first invited Tim down for a visit, I called his wife, Lisa, who happens to be a close friend of mine, as well.

"Lisa! Let's also meet there. It'll be great to see you!" I exclaimed.

"Uh... Doreen," she stammered. "I-I don't think you realize what this place is like." She went on to explain that it's beyond rustic. So much so, that she's never even been there. Like, they just got indoor plumbing. They use solar power, so essentially freeze at night - well, there is the wood-burning stove for the entire thing. They're so far from anywhere, in fact, they only go to the supermarket once a month.

"OK, Lisa. I really want to see you - but not that much," I conceded.

"Me, too."

Jim takes his RV to the cabin when he drives from their home in Prescott, Arizona to visit Linda and Joe. He calls his rig his "unit."


He and Tim slept in it.


This is why they didn't sleep in the cabin:




The morning Tim left me at home, he said good-bye with a concerned look on his face.

"OK, Sweetie. I did the laundry, so you should have clean underwear. The dishes in the dishwasher are also clean - I just ran it last night. I gassed up your car, so you've got a full tank. There's - "

"You know, it's not like you're leaving your demented aunt alone for the week." He shot me a dubious look.

"Fine." I continued. "So how come you didn't hire a sitter?" His face lit up.

"You think there's still time?"


When Tim got home, the first thing he noticed was that the electric blanket was on the bed.

"You used the electric blanket?" You would think he knows me well enough after nearly 20 years not be incredulous about my inability to maintain any modicum of body heat - even while it was still officially summer.

"The bed just wouldn't warm up without you in it." He shook his head and gave me a look of despair.

"That's because you have no soul."

Very nice.

The second thing he noticed is that I was in my PJs. It was 4 pm. (Those of you who know me know it was most definitely not because I had gotten ready for bed early.)

But, something was amiss.

“Sweetie, is your nightgown inside out?” I looked down.

“Yeah. I guess it is,” I shrugged.

“Sweetie, PLEASE take it off and turn it right. It’s bad enough if people see you in it all day, but if it’s inside out, they’ll start offering to help me toilet and feed you.”

Very, very nice.

Finally, that night, we saw on TV it was something called "National Stay at Home Week." They pay someone to think up this stuff? I proudly proclaimed, "See? I'm ahead of my time." Tim, recalling that the gas gauge on my car still indicated, "full" upon his return, rolled his eyes.

''Only a week? Amateurs."

October 11, 2008

On the Road Again (Again)

Ah, the romance of the road:

Spending the night before we leave in the warehouse where the bus is stored, so we can get one of our patented "early starts." Right. (Well, it always sounds like a good plan.) It's also where Tim has an office. (Anyone know any other shrinks that office in a warehouse? Wonder why anyone would go see him there? There's a psychiatrist shortage, people. Well, OK. He's also really, really good.)


Filling up at the scenic diesel station:


Making sure the glasses in the wine rack don't break. (Yes, those are socks. And yes, if Tim doesn't give me enough time to break out clean sock condoms, I grab them from the laundry bin in the cabinet right across the aisle, thus giving new meaning to the term, "dirty martini." What do you want from me?)


Trying to get WiFi in the campground in the morning after our first day on the road. The office wasn't open yet and it was sunny (and, yes, the sign does say, "West Wendover" - don't ask)...


Yet another scenic spot: Battle Mountain, NV, designated the Armpit of America by the Washington Post. (When you have a few minutes, click on that link to read the article. You'll thank me - it's hysterical.)


And for those of you who can make out the "BM" in this photo, I'm not sayin' Tim's a doo-doo head. Geez.


More on our rather quick, get-out-of-town departure, later. But, what "romance of the road" have you experienced?

October 13, 2008

More Romance of the Road

We did manage to get a fairly early start (like 8 am) out of Reno. This was largely accomplished by Tim getting up at the crack of 6:30, leaving me snoozing in the bedroom, coming back in at 7:55 am and announcing, "We're leaving in 5 minutes." Well, he knows I hate it when he wakes me by starting up the engine. Can you blame me? It's directly under our bed.

Since I had 5 minutes to get ready, I can assure you it was not going to be spent getting dressed. It's not like I was going anywhere... sort of.

And, yes, even though Tim likes to frequently inform me that, "Decent people get dressed in the morning," my response is that decent people must be idiots. I just don't see why that is considered "normal," but apparently, it is. Like the time Tim was working on another house and the plumber he hired came to our house by mistake at 1 pm. I answered the door (I think I was in my pink, flannel, poodle PJs) and gave him the correct address, thinking nothing more of it. The plumber fell over himself apologizing when he did show up, saying, “I’m so, so sorry to have bothered your wife, seeing how she was sick and all.” Tim said he wanted to make the poor man feel better by assuring him I was not ill, but that would have been too mortifying for my long-suffering husband. His problem, no?

When we stopped for diesel hours later outside Medford, I sat up front while Tim filled up - still in my nightgown. It’s just a grey flannel Eddie Bauer and I couldn’t understand why several truckers were grinning as they looked through our windshield. Had they really been on the road so long they thought grey flannel was sexy?

“You’re quite a sight,” Tim clarified.

I see.

Since pumping diesel into a 179 gallon tank can take a while, I opened my laptop to see if there was any free WiFi to be had. There was. Obviously, one of the truck stop's neighbors did not appreciate having his WiFi purloined all the time. He named his connection, "I'M WATCHING GAY PORNO." Works for me.

Later, Tim stopped for lunch on a highway turnout. He said it would be warmer outside and he wanted to eat sitting in the forest. My husband, the environmentalist. So, I layered:


Note the grey, flannel nightgown, which I hastily threw pink velour sweat pants under (those pine needles are pointy!), my fuzzy, anti-slip socks (our bus has laminate floors), which I even mnore hastily threw slippers over to go outside. All this spiffily topped off by yet another Eddie Bauer accoutrement - a flannel vest I got at a used clothing store. Look, it's gauche mixing designers.

“I’ve seen homeless better dressed than you.” Tim clarified, again. But, this time, I wasn't asking, was I?

All was not lost in terms of road romance, as we got a glimpse Mt. Shasta:


But, then, we hit the dreaded Hwy 199. I had forgotten how - well, here is what I wrote in QUEEN OF THE ROAD about it:

The hairpin turns up Highway 199 from California almost did me in. On the plus side, the drive substantially enhanced my clinical skills as it made me understand why psychotics engage in what therapists term “self-quieting behavior” (rocking, word repetition, twirling hair, etc.). This psychiatrist’s mantra as we twisted over Highway 199 became the rather unimaginative but still evocative, “Kill me kill me kill me kill me.” The words somehow making their way to my lips before I was even aware they’d formed in my brain.

Minutes went by before I even realized what I was saying. The error was immediately apparent. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of dying like this. My newest new mantra then became, “Kill me, but not like this . . . kill me, but not like this . . .”

The sign for 199 said, "Crescent City
Ocean Beaches"

I asked Tim, "Why not something really useful like, 'Horribly windey road – better tranquilize wife'" But, as always, he had his own suggestion, "Or, better yet, 'Stuff a Rag In Her Mouth.'"

What a guy.

The two-lane road is so windy, he really could not take his eyes off it. And, even with his careful driving, we were nearly creamed by some idiot who just HAD TO pass us on a tight turn, causing Tim to hit the brakes (remember, this is a 40,000 lb bus, towing a car, people), so none of us would collide with an oncoming car.

Tim is fond of saying I'm concrete as a sidewalk. I don't disagree, especially after what happened next: Due to his now really not wanting to take his eyes off the road, he asked me to look on the dashboard and "press the light bulb."

What do you think I did?


If you guessed, "She's concrete as a sidewalk. She must have pressed the actual bulb on the right, not the light bulb insignia on the left that actually does something," we have a winner!

What do you want from me?

October 26, 2008

Tim's in the Big House! (Again)

I had Tim sent to prison. He hates when I say that. So...

Tim's in prison!
Tim's in prison!
Tim's in prison!

Just like last year.

Alene called up, said she had a job opening for at least two months and within a week, we hit the road. Our goal when we get back is to do a final push (fine - for Tim to do a final push), get the house on the market by spring and sell that sucker so we can full time in the bus.

Yes, I know our timing couldn't be better with the way housing prices are, but hey - diesel prices are definitely declining (for now).

Since Alene doesn't do much internet, I'll repeat here what I said about her in QUEEN OF THE ROAD:

Alene is one of my best friends from residency. We’re about as different as friends can be: She was never interested in private practice. She had no patience for patients with “issues.” She wanted to go where the need was greatest, to treat the sickest of the sick, so she became the first female psychiatrist to work on San Quentin’s death row. Now she’s chief of psychiatry at Pelican Bay State Prison, which houses some of California’s most dangerous inmates. And we’re still about as different as friends can be: I wear designer duds. She wears a slash-proof vest. I go to Mr. Lai for tailoring. She gets her fittings at the armory. When I’m interviewed for a new contract, it’s on the phone in the safety and comfort of my own home. When she interviews for a job, she must first sign a waiver acknowledging the “no hostage policy” (and this after passing the sign helpfully informing all comers “NO WARNING SHOTS FIRED.”) She always laughed at me for my sheltered life. I always told her, “Thank God for sheltered.” After the bus thing, I bet she thinks my life is less sheltered. Then again, maybe not.

We spent an afternoon with Alene and her partner, Debra, at their lovely home near San Luis Obispo. As a dog person (who is also allergic to cats, but has acclimated to ours over the years), Tim could not understand their living with eight felines (they also had one very understanding terrier). I promptly informed him that if I were living alone, I’d probably have twice that number. He wasn’t so much impressed as horrified. Debra, ever the caring hostess, laid out towels for us and offered that we use their shower and other indoor plumbing, thinking that surely living in a bus for a year meant we’d been roughing it. As I said, it’s Alene and I who have been close.

We're staying at the same RV Park as last year - the exact same spot, as a matter-of-fact (let's just say they're not real busy during what's supposed to be the rainy season), right on the beach:


Although, it can get crowded at times:


The guy would be certifiable, if I could catch him to do the evaluation. Not that I tried - or would want to. It's probably best to keep one's distance from a guy who's idea of a good time is to fly sitting in a glorified lawn chair with a leaf blower attached to the back. Just 'cause he's a bit off, why should I suffer?

Finally... just a quick word about It's a free and utterly fabulous site for book lovers. I've been a "subscriber" (remember, it's free) for years. You can sign up for books in any genre, then every week, Monday through Friday, Suzanne Beecher sends you an email with an excerpt. By Friday, you've read the entire first chapter. It's a great way to be exposed to a lot of books so you can decide what you then want to buy or check out of a library. I'm mentioning it now, because QUEEN OF THE ROAD is going to be the nonfiction selection for the week of November 3rd. We're also including an author chat, so I encourage you all to sign up and head on over.

You and your democracies. Return to the monarchy, subjects - all is forgiven!

October 28, 2008

I Felt the Earth... Move... Under My Bus

I was minding my own business, wide awake in bed the other night at 2:30 am (don't ask) when I felt our bus shake. We haven't moved from that large campground in Crescent City, and are still right on the ocean. I knew there was no wind. I got up and peered out all the windows into the dark, to see if there was a prowler/prankster/town drunk/giant pelican.


The next day, I got this email from someone who has read QUEEN OF THE ROAD (obviously, a woman of impeccable taste) and now keeps up with our travels: Heard there was an earthquake south of Eureka...did the queen get shaken out of her berth?

Thing is, Annette's traveling in Cambodia (and you think I move around, alot), yet she knew there was a 5.1 at 2:30 am and I didn't.

I think I have to start reading the local papers, or something. Isn't there some kind of election next week? You and your silly democracies. Come back to the monarchy, subjects! All is forgiven!

November 12, 2008

Livin' Just Enough, Just Enough for the Cit-ay!

That's Crescent City, California, folks! And, even more accurately (sorry Stevie), let's substitute "surviving" for "living." We'll get most accurate at the end of the next paragraph.

How could I have neglected to tell you anything about the place we're parked for the next couple of months while Tim does his time? Well, if you were here, you'd know. Perhaps our nickname for the place will give you a clue, "Crescent Shitty." Or, when we're feeling particularly affectionate toward our home away from home, simply, "The Shitty."

Why in the world, then, should you keep reading about this place? Look at it this way: The more you learn, the less likely you'll ever feel the need to come here yourselves. That's a good thing. Trust me.

Granted, the beaches are gorgeous. If you simply stared out at the ocean all day, you might forget you're actually "in the shitty." But, you've got to turn around, not to mention actually go to town, sometime. Poor you. Or us, as the case may be.

Herewith, some Shitty highlights (or lowlights - you decide):

Since there's a harbor with, you know, boats and everything, I had been looking forward to eating loads of fresh fish. Thing is, you can't buy fresh fish at any store in town - not even the (two) grocery stores. The only way to get fresh fish is right from the fishermen themselves, but they won't filet it for you. Believe me - I asked. The grocery stores are another issue - the nicest one in town is 23 miles up the coast in Brookings, Oregon.

Ah, the harbor. The lighthouse's fog horn sounds every 7 seconds. Every 7 seconds. All day, every day. 7 seconds. It's like Chinese water torture.

As the subtitle of my books says, I have approximately 200 pairs of shoes, although I regularly wear maybe four. I like admiring the rest on my shelf - like works of art - but I haven’t bought new shoes in ages. I thought I’d been “cured” of that particular obsession while living on the bus. But, in Crescent City, I bought my first pair in a very long time: Waders. At Wal-mart. Oh, Queen of the Road, how far hast thou fallen?

Last year while we were here, I saw this Elephant Seal on the beach by our rig:


She seemed to be in distress (even more so than one would expect simply being in The Shitty), so I went to the RV park's office. They said not to worry, "she's just molting." Hmm. This Queen has always believed one should molt behind closed doors but, oh, well. Kids these days. The marine center said she’d come all the way from Alaska, and was headed to the Faulkland Islands to… hook up. I turned to the seal and gave her some free psychiatrist advice (which, as with everything in life, you get what you pay for), "Honey, there are perfectly nice seals next door in the harbor. But, if you insist, I hope he’s worth it." (Clearly, this seal has no sense if she stopped here to pick up a new coat. She should have gone just a little ways down the coast to the Nordstrom in San Francisco. Good luck finding anything nice here in The Shitty.)

It has been way too long since I got my hair done in Boulder - including weeks of ungodly humidity. As I observed when we were in Arkansas - which looks positively cosmopolitan compared to this place - think Hindenberg disaster - “Oh the humidity!” Tim wasn't crazy about my new look either, but as I always say, why did he marry a Jewish woman if not to be disappointed every day of his miserable life? I found this salon (notice it’s conveniently located on the fishing harbor). I think I’ll just wait until we get home.


No Scissors 'R' Us for this royal. What do you want from me?

One plus is that in nice weather (so, every few weeks), Tim and I walk on the beach. I love watching the pelicans skim the water (Pelican Bay has pelicans! Who knew?), but some kind of seagull flock recently got to town. They are decidedly less enchanting. Prior to our last walk, I had just washed my hair. The seagulls kept flying overhead.

"You better not poop on my hair" I called, more than once, eyeing the sky warily.

"Keep looking up and it won't be your hair you get it in," Tim snickered. Told you he's evil.

Unfortunately, the pelicans are soon migrating south, so we'll only be left with the seagulls. Tim lamented that fact, saying, "Even a bird-brain knows to get out of The Shitty for the winter."

On the plus side, we can walk to Turf Club (although do we really want to?):


Tim thought maybe we should give it a try. Feeling scatalogical (what else is new?), I commented they should change the "f" to a "d".

Tim said, "I don't think anyone will notice." He has a point.

Anyone have a nomination for Worst Shitty?

November 15, 2008

Field Trip!

We just had to get out of The Shitty.

And, look: I don't mean to insult anyone - this time - but one of Tim's prison coworkers tells us he and his wife refer to The Shitty as "Oklahoma By The Sea."

So... FIELD TRIP! But, since it was raining (what else is new? Let's just assume that's the default position in these here parts. I'll send out a bulletin and alert the news media when there's some sun) where else could we decide to head but... caves. The Oregon Caves, to be exact.

I (well, OK, Tim) dug out my hiking boots from the bay. Then, he shook them out for me. I figured there might be spiders inside - the cobwebs were a good clue. When I didn't put them on, but instead, wore my slip on sneakers for the car ride, he started to ask why, but then figured it out for himself. I hate wearing shoes, so always take them off in the car. Or, as Tim so eloquently put it, "You're too lazy to lace up your shoes more than once today."

So, what does a Royal wear when gracing the caves with Her presence? For some reason, Tim thought this outfit was noteworthy. I really don't get why, especially as I can attest to the fact he was the only one laughing.


The cave tour took about an hour-and-a-half. Half-way through, they pointed out an entryway that was used when the caves were first explored by tourists early in the last century. Since they didn't have the clear path we did, getting to the point we had would have taken them hours. Besides, our helpful Park Ranger said, the best, most beautiful, interesting part of the cave was yet to come!

Well, good, 'cause it hadn't been any of that up until then. Really, why couldn't we have lopped off the uninteresting part of the tour and just started right there? Tim anticipated this excellent question by clamping a hand over my mouth. Geez.

Here. Judge for yourself:


Oh, OK. I'll judge for you: Nice, sure. But for an hour-and-a-half?

Of course, Tim was entranced with the whole thing. I was more entranced by the idiocy of one of our intrepid little band. When the ranger asked, "So, how do you think the first explorers made sure they could find their way out of this maze?" A young man I would guess to be about twenty, answered, "Cookies." I kid you not. He thought they left trails of cookies. Tim had to clamp his hand over my mouth, again.

Tim, of course, knew the answer and called out, "String." Smarty Pants. Later in the tour, the Ranger asked some other, utterly factoidinating question of the group. This time, perhaps so as not to repeat the cookie debacle, no one answered. I hissed to Tim, "I suppose you know the answer to that one, too." The Ranger reminded us to not whisper, as it might disturb the bats.

I ducked.

The final question was posed when we entered one "room". Mr. Ranger-who-has-been-at-this-job-for-over-a-decade-but-still-apparently-knows-so-little-he-has-to-posit-questions-to-Cookie-Man, asked, "So what fruit do you think this room is named for?" Cookie Man answered, "Carrots." Ranger guy retorted (and none too gently, to his credit), "I said, 'fruit.'" (If anyone cares, it looked like bananas. But, really, why would you? It's not like bananas are so exotic you can't see real ones any time you like, so who gives a crap about seeing imitation ones you have to be prompted to know what you're looking at, anyway.)

Obviously, I don't get why everyone oohed and ahhed over this stuff. Especially for an hour-and-a-half. Really. Five minutes would have been enough. For all you nature lovers who disagree, explain this to me: Why is it, if nature is so wonderful, that you always feel the need to anthropomorphize it into decidedly unnatural, more familiar things? For example, the Ranger delighted (and everyone, especially Cookie Man, which should tell you something) loved the formations that looked like a wedding cake, and another, a Freddie Kruger mask.


I don't have to tell you what this one looks like, do I? We're not talkin' Rorschach, here.

Why is something "natural" so much more intriguing when it looks like something man-made? If you want to see a wedding cake, go to a bakery.

And send me some cookies while you're at it, in case I get lost in a cave.

At least I had the consolation of wine tasting afterwards:


We happened upon Foris winery and Minerva was kind enough to profer samples. Apparently, the Wall Street Journal did a story on one of their wines, recently, and they've been innundated with orders. (Hint: They ship.) Try the port and semi-sparkling. Trust me. You know you should.

(And, if you're wondering why my hair looks as wild as the wild river, see my previous post - and, deal with it! I have to. And, why should I suffer alone?)

November 23, 2008

Signs of the Times

We were in Brookings, OR yesterday, to go to the only good grocery story in town (not the one we're in, of course) and saw this sign:


Henry's kinda kiny, huh? Any guesses on what he does with that oil can? On second thought, not sure I want to know.

So, I thought I would post a couple of other... interesting signs... from our travels, this from a truck stop in west Texas:


And this, from Front Royal, Virginia:


And, even more from those crazy Virginians, this one from Walnut Hills Campground, in Staunton:


And, finally, this from Savannah, GA (think about it, folks):


December 18, 2008

Mentor Me A Book Club

OK, I'm not sure what that title means, either. I really suck at titles. One day, I'll do a blog post about the title I suggested for QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Suffice it to say, my editor found it so... innappropriate (to put it mildly) that she immediately phoned (not even emailed) my agent to see if she could talk some sense into me. It certainly would have had people picking the book up from the shelves (that's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it).

Anyway, a little while ago I did a fabulous book club in Mentor, OH. (Get it now?) Holly was the one who contacted me about phoning in by speakerphone, saying I was the first author to "attend" their group and she planned to surprise the rest of the gals. I think we did! (Hopefully, their surprise wasn't caused by my calling immediately after one of them said, "That was the worst book I ever read. Holly, how could you suggest such trash?")

Holly also mentioned that having been to Graceland herself, she could really relate to what I wrote about it:

We went to Memphis specifically to see Graceland, something we’d both always wanted to do. We’re not the only ones; it’s the second most visited residence in the U.S. (The White House is number one.) The fourteen-acre, 17,000-square-foot estate turned out to be a colossal disappointment. I thought it would be far more grand. Maybe it’s just that, as a museum left exactly as it had been when the King died, it can’t help being a fashion victim of the ’70s. But, really. One of the richest men in the country, a cultural icon no less, and he had Formica countertops?

Anyway, the group asked about our time in Ohio and I was able to reminisce about the gorgeous Ohio State Campground

from whence we headed over to Cedar Point Amusement Park. There, we were treated to (some might say, "endured") several of the craziest "amusements" in the States.

I'm usually game for any ride (look, I live on a bus, people) but one of the seventeen (yes, that's 17) coasters in the park had me begging Tim not to make me do it. He did anyway, saying, "If I'm going, you're going." Nice.

I think the most terrifying part of the entire experience was the anticipation, waiting in an hour-long line for the Top Thrill Dragster, of which the park boasts, "Reaching a stratospheric 420 feet tall and topping out at an unheard of speed of 120 mph, this new steel screamer helped Cedar Point reclaim the title of owning the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the universe." On second thought, I'm not so sure if this is a boast so much as a disclaimer.

Anyway, it's set up like a dragstrip, complete with bleechers and view stands. While we sat watching, trying to figure a face-saving way out of yet another mess Tim had gotten us into, each car paused, strategically situated so that the unfortunates it carried could very clearly see the horrors awaiting them. The adults among them burst into tears. (The youngsters were just too ignorant to know any better, methinks.) Despite our advanced degrees, neither Tim nor I could formulate a reasonable escape plan. But oh, I assure you, we tried.

So, with Holly's lovely book group, I got to, as therapists say, "Re-experience the trauma."


(standing from right) Jan, Margaret, Holly, (sitting from right) Laura, Susan, Debbie, Kathy, and Kim

December 24, 2008

Holiday Spirit - Finally

I can't believe how many of you have asked about our holiday bus decorations. Do I really come across as such a grinch? I shall grudgingly admit, since those of you who have asked have read the book, that the answer is.... What do you want from me?

I guess with a passage like this (from when we were in Key West):

Throughout our travels thus far, we’d scoffed at rigs, RVs and buses alike, for sporting various kitsch, from oh-too-cutesy stuffed animals clinging to the ladder in back, to lawn gnomes perched precariously on the steps, to custom wooden signs in the windshield announcing the owner’s name and hometown, usually with some little logo signifying a favorite pastime, like a fishing pole, golf club, or bowling pin. Once, in a weak moment, undoubtedly after some disaster that reinforced how alone and vulnerable I felt, I made the mistake of wondering aloud if, as a token of our solidarity with other motor-homers, we should get one, too. But Tim said no, since depicting my favorite pastimes would entail a logo of a bed and a credit card and result in our imminent arrest for solicitation.

We had promised ourselves, therefore, that we would never stoop to such tacky displays, but then, like Ebenezer Scrooge forced to see the ghost of buses past, we had a change of heart on Christmas Eve. As we strolled in the dark amongst rigs lit up with holiday cheer from two-story, blow-up, glowing Santas, to palm trees strung with colored lights, to life-sized, nodding, fluorescent flamingos, we could not help but smile and laugh at the whimsy of it all. Then we hit upon a rig that had nothing – not even a lone blinking white light – and exclaimed in unison, “What a grinch!” Then, upon closer inspection, “Hey! That’s our bus!”

So, here's a picture of our very first bus decorations!


Now, for all of you who feel it's rather... minimalist, let me just explain: It's pouring here in The Shitty, so nothing outside would do. And, as for the inside, Tim and I agreed we wanted to start small and add a little bit here, a little bit there, every year - to build our own holiday bus tradition. The ornament we started with (that you can't see) is, of course, the poopin' moose.

And, because Tim is simply the best husband, like... evah (and reads this blog) - he braved the pouring rain to take these from outside the bus:



Chappy Challah-Days, everyone!

Speaking of holiday traditions, I was relieved to figure out that I'm not the only Jew in Crescent City. How do I know? The best Chinese restaurant in town is open on Xmas. We'll be enjoying takeout tomorrow night.

December 29, 2008

The Pyramid of Poop or Why I'll Never RV Without My Husband

Tim had put off emptying the "black water" tank (for all my non-RVing readers, I'd explain this, but do you really want to know?), as the weather has been (what else) horrible for a week. When he finally opened the valve, instead of hearing the expected (and welcome) sound of rushing water, he was met with a most ominous silence: The solids had apparently settled out, as they are wont to do. (Again, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, just be thankful I'm granting a Royal Reprieve and allowing you to remain ignorant.) Tim knew he was facing that most dreaded of RV mishaps (yes, even worse than finding oneself in a nudist RV park) - the "black water shower." (Sorry. Now, you most certainly understand. Maybe I should have warned you not to read this around meal time.)

By total coincidence, I had just been on an RV forum and read an article about the Pyramid of Poop (thinking, "Thank goodness that's never happened to us!") which advised (now, I'm really sorry. Really.) stirring through the toilet drain to loosen the plug. After attempting this with the crank from our awning (as suggested in the article), Tim discovered that, unfortunately, our drain is L-shaped and therefore did not provide for a straight shot.

There would be no stirring solution. Obviously, this was a job for Project Nerd: Domestic Superhero.

But, what's a Project Nerd to do? Why, go outside to hover in the vicinity of the tankful of poop for inspiration, of course. And, inspiration struck, indeed! PN realized he could pull the end of the sewer hose out of its drain, then hold it above his head (there's that physics for majors thing, again), thus backfilling the entire system with a column of water. With admirable PN alacrity, he replaced the hose back into the drain. The water cascading out of the hose created suction, pulling the clog through the pipe and draining the tank.

The dreaded Pyramid of Poop was thusly avoided.

Anyone out there think that was a useful nugget? Groan.

January 2, 2009

Thanks for the (Sh*tty) Memories

We leave The Shitty first thing in the morning.

Tim was so excited, he couldn't sleep last night. Well, OK. Maybe it wasn't just that we're leaving. Maybe it was the howling rain and gusts of wind rocking the bus. No, I think it's because he's so excited to get out of here. Me, too.

Although, sometimes, I have to admit, even the The Shitty isn't too shitty:



Especially when spending time with friends:


As in when Jim and Lisa visited. Even though Jim, upon learning I'd taken this photo, was heard to say, "F*ck that. I don't want to be in your f*ucking blog." Nice.

But... the vast majority of the time it is (shitty).

I had to go to the customer service desk (don't ask) at the local grocery store tonight. (Actually, it's one of two shitty grocery stores in The Shitty, which are right next door to each other. How shitty is that?) There's no one around (natch). So, I ring the handy little bell on the counter. Still no one. An idiotic teenage boy-clerk, in an apparent effort to rustle up someone for me, yelled across the store, "Hey! Someone's stealing from the safe!"

What a comedian!

Isn't that sort of tantamount to "joking" about bombs in an airport? Where's a Federal Marshall when you need one?

Then, earlier in the week, I went to an "office supply store". First, that there are even offices in this place amazes me, but not when you see their supply store. Anyway. They had a small, decorated Xmas tree in one of the aisles. Yes, I said, "in." Of course, while I was waiting on line just a few feet away, some poor woman brushed by it and CRASH. It had a horsy theme and all the little clay horses scattered about on the floor. The manager came by and told the woman not to worry, that she herself had brushed by it and nearly knocked it down three times that very day! (So, why in the world was it still in the same spot? That's the Shitty for ya.) I spied one of the horses with a broken off foreleg. You know me: I could not help picking it up and offering it to the idiot-manager, saying, "I think he needs to be put down." Nary a snicker. What do these people want from me? My Shittiest material?

I did finally find a place to do my hair. No, not this one:


Nor, this one:


Yes, it's also a place that cuts hair:


And, in fact, Tim did go - twice and proclaimed it not bad. As we all know, he is far more forgiving than I.

The place I went to (and thank you so much to the dear reader, Mary, who sent me the web site listing hair salons. You meant well. It is not your fault I cannot show my picture in this entry) was recommended as "the" place to go. (There's a "the" place in The Shitty?) Well... my haircut wasn't bad. Wasn't good, but wasn't bad. What was horrible was the rest of it. Yes, we gals want a great cut, but we also want to feel pampered when we go to a salon.

The stylist is a huge bear of a guy. Fine. However, he treats his customers (at least this one) as if we were Stephen Colbert dipped in the sweetest honey. I was pawed - and not in a good way. When he towel-dried my hair, I thought I was going to be decapitated. When he wanted to come at me from another angle, he didn't just turn my chair - oh, no. He slammed into it with his hips. Ask me to turn my head? Why would he do that? Nope, he grabbed my chin in his mitts and yanked my noggin around. Finally, there was a funky smell. I didn't say anything, as I just wanted outta there. But soon, one of his other stylists could not help but notice.

"I think the bean dip's gone bad." I'll say. My guy, who is the owner of the place, couldn't smell it. They kept bantering back and forth. Such gems from her as, "I'm going to puke" while actually holding a towel to her mouth. After he wondered aloud if it might be some dead rat in the back, he finally asked me if I smelled it, too. I admitted I did. Big mistake. He went off in search of. I'm not sure if he ever found anything, but I was left in the chair with wet (yes, rat-like) hair until his return.

I shall not (return, that is).

Best Restaurant in Crescent City: Bistro Gardens. (We would frequent it, anywhere.)

2nd Place - none.

Worst Restaurant - too numerous to mention.

January 4, 2009

A "Pleasant" Interlude

We're headed to Southern California, so needed to find a place to land for a night along the way. How to decide... how to decide. Well, turns out there's not much at about the half-way point (south of the Bay Area) - especially when one of the criteria is that there's an In 'N' Out nearby. (You all know how I feel about my Double Ds.)

Although this was our (OK, my) idea all along, it was only reinforced by one of the "new" (ie to us) restaurants we tried in Crescent City (and I'm not naming the place, which should tell you something) just before we left. Tim asked the waiter how the hamburgers were. He replied, "Well, they're not In 'N' Out." Unfortunately, great customer service is no substitute for good food. 'Nough said.

So, we're staying in an RV park at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds for the night. Didn't see much of the town. The In 'N' Out, however, was superb.

And, guess what awaited me in my inbox? This fabulous (and much needed after a long day of driving - not that I drove, of course), pick-me-up from Angel, who I sent autographed Queenly bookplates to (so she could, as she wrote, "give a special gift this holiday season….the gift of laughter.") - her lovely family with their gifts:


(That's Angel's dad, Pete, then clockwise: her mom, Barbara, her aunt, Rose, her sister, Ann Marie. Sitting down on the chair is her grandmother, Ann, and that's Angel, herself, kneeling in front.)

I was so touched she got them all an autographed copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for Christmas, but then I realized: You do actually like your family, right, Angel?

January 11, 2009

A Woman of Impeccable Taste

We were in Mira Loma for a couple of days (more on why, later). Two days (count 'em - two) before we left to come here, I was friended on Facebook by a woman who loved my book and just happened to have started working at…(cue karmic music)... the Mira Loma Borders. She said she loved QUEEN OF THE ROAD so much, she even picked it as a book club pick at her previous Borders in Riverdale (where, everyone else loved it to. I'm just sayin'...) As you know, I hadn’t posted anything about coming to Mira Loma on this blog or Facebook, or anywhere. I guess as Tim and I are getting closer to Boulder, we can't escape The People's Republic and its ugga bugga charms.

Of course, we had to stop at the Mira Loma Borders to meet this woman of impeccable taste. (She was just as lovely in person as online.) And, here she is:


Borders, take note: Leslie Johnston Perdue is going places!

January 13, 2009

A Resort Fit For A Queen

About a month ago, I got an email from a lovely man who wrote that he was enjoying my book and, "We also drive a Prevost and so do 20-30 of our close friends. I just ordered 20 books from Amazon to give my Prevost buddies."


As I responded, "My own mother didn't buy 20 books." (If the Queen Mother is reading this, of course I appreciate everything you do do for me - although 20 books would have been nice, too.) Since he said he lived in one of three "motorcoach resorts" in Indio, California, I, of course, asked if there might be a clubhouse and any interest in one of my patented book readings/signings/royal shticks. One thing led to another and...

OK. Here, I'm fessing up: I wish I had a picture of the lovely crowd, but I don't. With all the excitment of the day, I completely forgot to take one. But, trust me that a lovely crowd of about 75 people came out to see the Queen. Many had already read the book and were extremely kind (OK, fine - to my face, anyway).

Thusly, many, many royal thanks to Dwayne and Carol Herman. And, many, many royal thanks to Tom and Pat Sims who arranged the clubhouse, extensively spread the word and even had us over to their casita beforehand.

What's a casita, you ask? I had no idea these places existed, either. Again, I wish I had a picture, but (oh, wait. I'm a writer. Let's see how good I am... )

So, it's like a whole community, see? It's gated, see? Instead of townhomes, you got a very small house (casitas - get it?), with a kitchen and great room that has a Murphy bed. There's a garage and driveway. In all the driveways, are the rigs. Some people sleep on their Murphy beds, some in their rigs at night. The weather's always nice (it's near Palm Springs, after all), so going outside to sleep is no biggie. That's why each casita has a small pool and hot tub, too.

Fine. You have no idea what I'm talking about. Here's the website for Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort.

(And yes, next time I really will get to what we were doing in Mira Loma. And, I do have pictures of that!)

January 18, 2009

We Get Lubed

Since we were in the neighborhood, we figured we'd head out to Mira Loma (near San Bernardino), to get our bus serviced. We needed it lubed and oiled and just generally checkout out. Mira Loma is one of five cities in the country that has a Prevost repair shop. We visited several of them (don't ask) on our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip. While some other repair places make you move out of your rig for days while you're being serviced, Prevost not only lets you stay in your rig, but even in their lot.

It's a huge place with tons of buses, most of them belonging to touring companies (ie, "seated coaches"), but occasionally, we'll have a brush with a celebrity bus (Whoopi - call me!). In the midst of all those buses parked for various lengths of time (they also sell some on their lot), is a row of hook-ups next to a grassy patch (Prevost is not only thoughtful of their customers, but of their customers' dogs) where people like us can stay a few days. There's even an In 'n' Out nearby, and you know how I feel about my In 'n' Out. Which reminds me: Really, In 'n' Out, I have to question your customer service, since our prior experience appears to be no anomaly. Now, whenever I order my "two double-doubles, protein-style" at any location, your cashier looks at both Tim and me and asks, "Do you want fries with that?" Listen up! I'm a real woman with a real appetite and Tim hasn't ordered yet! What do you want from me?

Sorry (you know how I feel about my In 'n' Out), back to Prevost. Here are two of the gals that always make us feel welcome:


Nicole Wilson and Delene Tawater, the Service Coordinator.

We had a 2 pm appointment, but that got changed a couple of days before and we were told we had to be there by 8:30 am. You know how I hate to get up early. (Imagine how much Tim hates it when I have to get up early.) But, we made it (and, believe me, I take no credit on that count).

Once our bus was in the service bay, Tim asked, "They're putting the bus up on the hydraulic lift. Do you want to stay inside or come to the customer lounge?"

"Are you insane? I'm going back to bed." And, I did. In the bus. (I doubted Prevost wanted me to take the word, "lounge," too literally. Besides, although they have a TV, wash-dryer and internet connection there, I didn't see a bed.) We have a white-noise machine in out bedroom, so I was able to sleep undisturbed while the bus was worked on and PN followed the mechanic around, asking questions and adding to his already impressive and excruciatingly detailed knowledge of bus guts. I'm sure you know how sorry I was to miss that.

I awoke upon feeling the engine start, and then the bus move. Assuming Tim was driving us to our hook-ups on the lot, I made my way up front. Unfortunately, I hadn't counted on Prevost being quite as full service as it is, because in fact, Tony, the technician who had worked on our rig, was parking us in our space. Our bus is configured in such a way that I really couldn't tell it was Tony until I was almost upon him and a "Hey, honey!" had escaped from my lips. Of course, I was still in my PJs, but I guess Tony has seen it all, as he was not only unfrazzled, but didn't even retch or anything. I mean, come on: A middle-aged, married woman in her flannels at one o'clock in the afternoon - oops! I hadn't mentioned it was one o'clock, had I? - apparently coming on to you. That is just so BLECH on so many levels. (For all I know, Tony's already filed his Workman's Comp claim. Sorry, Prevost!)

Here's the view we had from our bus of the rest of the lot:


Sadly, we were told most of those buses are for sale (such a deal you could get!), due to many of these touring companies going under. We actually found our bus this way, in 2003, on a Volvo (they own Prevost) repo lot in TN.

If ya see anything ya like, I'm sure Delene will hook you up. Anyone want to caravan with us?

February 5, 2009

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Continuing with the theme of "meeting" (and in the following case, meeting) online friends:

Before leaving California, we got a chance to really meet someone I had previously only "met" online.

I met Ray on the Prevost Owners Group Forum (I like to refer to its members, myself included, as "POG People.")

He happened to email me, wondering if we would be in Los Angeles during our sojourn home. I told him we were considering it, since we were thinking of swinging by Disneyland. His response, "Well, if you go to Disney, I'll sign you in."

Say what?

I didn't know that Ray works for Pixar, and so can sign anyone into Disney he likes. (And, he likes us! He really likes us!) Actually, it was his lovely wife, Kathy, who did the signing in (picking us up at our RV park, no less). Then, we all met for dinner afterwards with another fabulous POGy couple.


That's Kathy and Ray Davis, Janet and Ken Zittrer, and of course, me and Tim.

I've "met" so many wonderful people online since QUEEN OF THE ROAD came out, and I cherish all those relationships. But, after getting signed into Disney, I must ask the rest of you, "Nu? What have you done for me lately?"

For any who have read the book, we also had dinner in Redondo Beach with John Rainey, screenwriter and screenplay critiquer extraordinaire.


We met him at his bachelor pad first, so got to see "Rainy Central" - where all that screenwriting magic, as well as the crushing of dreams (of certain clients, never yours truly - I hope) occurs.

He lives across the way from one of the stars of that surfing reality show that took place on Hawaii a few years back. (It only lasted one season and the name escapes me - anyone know?) When John mentioned that, he was rather surprised I had seen it.

Oh, John. How little you do know me.

February 9, 2009

The Short Way Home

'Twas time to make Our way home. We did. With alacrity. Even choosing to take the potentially treacherous Vail Pass, cutting a day off our trip.

But first things first:

Lest any in the Kingdom think We exaggerate when describing Our slothful and PJ-loving nature:

After a full day's drive, we (small "w," since in reality, We mean "Tim") pulled into an RV park at 4 pm. As usual, We would be the one checking Us in at the office while Tim unhooked the tow vehicle. However, as he turned off the engine, he turned to Us and had the temerity to command your Sovereign, "Can you please get dressed?" We were shocked (at the need to get dressed, or at the realization that, verily, We had been in PJs all day, We shall leave to your imagination).

We sojourned in Grand Junction, Colorado for a mere overnight, as the weather report from a different government agency (ie different than Our Kingdom), the Colorado Department of Transportation informed Us that Vail Pass was, indeed, passable. And, truly, that is the state We found Vail Pass to be in - passable - and no more. No honors, cum laudes, etc., here. Merely Passable. This, due to some harrowing moments.

You be the judge:




I must say, I took it all with aplomb:


And, the vistas in my adopted state do much to soothe:



Tim insists I point out, in the above photo, how "clever" it was that the engineers put the opposing lanes of traffic on top of each other, rathen than side-by-side, to minimize the impact on the mountain.

Then, the Eisenhower Tunnel. (Yes, I know it says, "Johnson Tunnel". It says, "Eisenhower" in the opposite direction. I have no idea why, nor why everyone refers to it as "Eisenhower.")


This was potentially, the worst (ie iciest) road of the trip. I thought I was doing pretty well until Tim, helpful as ever, exclaimed, "Come to the light!"


March 16, 2009

A Wonderful Vintner and an Even More Wonderful Guy

I was recently contacted by relatives of one of the most memorable people we met on our year-long trip, David Menaker from Haines, Alaska. They wanted to let me know that David passed away last spring. As his daughter, Natasha, said, "He was such a wonderful man. I am glad you had a chance to know him."

Here's an excerpt from QUEEN OF THE ROAD about David when we met him in July 2004:

David Menaker at his Great Land Wines, Haines, AK

On July 5, almost three weeks after we’d boarded our first ferry in Prince Rupert, Canada, we arrived at our final stop on the Marine Highway, Haines. There we spent a delightful few hours gabbing and tasting wine at Great Land Wines, Ltd. The vintner, Dave Menaker, has lived in Haines for fifty years, and greets guests in a heavy pullover work shirt, jeans, and work boots. He also operates a sawmill out back, hopefully not running both businesses at the same time.

Dave’s establishment proved a stark contrast to the wine tastings we did in Napa only a couple of months before, which were complete with waitstaff in formal attire attending to the hordes of tourists. Here, we were the only ones in the joint and the generous samples flowed free and wild – onion, potato, blueberry, raisin, rose petal, and dandelion wines were just a few of the selections, with Triscuits proffered for palate cleansing.

David's ex-sister-in-law, Phyllis (David's mother was also Phyllis' first grade teacher. As she says, "Haines is a small place"), told me, "He was the same up to the end. Wonderful person, and we are all better people for knowing David," ending with, "Take care and don’t forget to enjoy life."

Amen to that.

July 25, 2009

The South vs. The North (Or Just vs. Me)

We’re in Van Buren, AK this week visiting Tim’s father, Bob, and Bob’s wife, Frances. I’ve been sleeping in. A lot. Meaning: everyday as well as for several hours every day. That's what I do - especially on vacation.

Our bedroom is right next to the living room, so this morning, as soon as I turned off my noise machine (which I brought from home. Have you ever heard the crickets in these parts?) Tim bounded in with his usual cheery demeanor. I hate cheery, especially in the morning. And, most especially from my husband. He knows this. He sat on the bed and smiled at me.

Now, you might think this was a nice thing to do, but it wasn’t a “how was your night?” smile, or even a “so glad to see you, honey” smile, nor was it even a come-hither-type smile. No, it was clearly a smile of mockery.

“What do you want from me?” I croaked. I'll admit: morning-voice is not a pretty thing.

Tim convulsed with laughter (I’m not exaggerating. Where does he get this kind of energy in the morning? I really don’t know. And believe me, even if I did, I’m not buyin’.)

“It’s 10 o’clock. We been drinkin’ coffee and eatin’ cereal and visitin’ for 3 hours!” (After a few days "visitin'" he starts talkin' like this.)

“Well, I’ve been emulating Southern culture.” I informed him, regaining my voice. “People are genteel. They go at a slower pace down here,” I explained. He countered, cackling, “Yeah. They’re easy-goin’, not bedridden.”

Still think he's such a saint, y'all?

When we get home next week, I’ll post some pictures of the cows and horses, Cousin JT, Tim doin’ chores (manly ones on the tractor… and not so manly ones with Frances’ pink screwdriver) as well as the sight across the river that caused me to ask, all excited, “Are they building an amusement park?” I can already see that’s gonna be a teller around these here parts for years.

August 20, 2009

I Went to Arkansas and All You Get Is This Lousy (and Late) Blog Post

During our layover in Dallas, dear, sweet Tim, never one to miss an opportunity to egg on my airplane phobia (now that my bus phobia is largely cured) made a big point of saying, "Did you see the plane we're flying into Ft. Smith?"

This is what he made me look at:


Tim, of course, immediately got into full Project Nerd, Domestic Superhero mode when we landed. Here he is doing some important something or other on Bob's tractor:


What IS it about men and tractors? I don't mean what men see in tractors, I mean what women see in men in tractors. I mean, I was almost ready to move to a farm. Almost.

The manliness could not last, however, as here he is fixing a toilet - with Frances' screwdriver:


Isn't it cute? I'd want one if I'd ever use it.

Still, Tim somehow managed to take time out to make (yet another) mockery of me, by making me feed the horses. Note the difference in how I do it:


vs. how he does it (also note Frances' giant, some might say "mutant," zucchini):


They seem not to like me. The feeling appears to be mutual:


Can you say, "Ewwwww!" (I've really never seen the appeal of riding one of these things. I mean, giving a very large, very dumb beast complete control over my Royal Personage? No thanks!)

Apparently, a lot of things need feeding on farms. Here we are at the catfish pond (note I am completely covered to the waist - no chiggers are gonna git me this trip!):



See the mouth in the lower right? It gave me nightmares (as I'm sure my mouth, ie "Ewwww," again, gave it).

Hey, Tim! If I'm such a bad driver, home come you let me drive Bob and Frances, huh???


Fortunately, it was eventually time for the rest of us to be fed, and even more fortunately, I wasn't the one doing the feeding:


That's me, Cousin JT, his friend, Mary, Bob and Frances.

After dinner, I noticed this across the Arkansas River from the restaurant and asked, "Oh, are they building an amusement park?" Much splitting of sides and slapping of knees, ensued.


It's actually a "sand and gravel operation" according to Tim:


And finally, my favorite line (which occured our last night, while I inspected Tim's ankles for chiggers):

Tim (bragging): "I was out all day, every day in the grass and never got one chigger! I'm immune to chiggers!"

Me (yawning): "One of your superpowers, eh?"

September 3, 2009

Your Queen Turns 50

'Tis what We just did, indeed.

No need to congratulate Us. It's not like We had any other viable options.


Tim made the mistake of asking me, months ago, "What do you want to do for your 50th birthday?" So, I told him.

"I want to go to Santa Fe."

We've been to Santa Fe many times, both driving from Tucson (when we used to live there) and Boulder. But, we hadn't gone for five years and it was time.

One of our favorite things to do in the New Mexican capital is attend the Santa Fe Opera. So, when I saw it was doing La Traviata with Natalie Dessay as Violetta - and on my bday weekend, to boot - well, how could I resist?

Tim, of course, was thrilled. (As I'm sure most husbands would be.)

But, even he had to admit, it was quite fabulous.

The opera itself is up on a hill, open air and stunning. Unfortunately, this is the best I can do to show you (it's a side view from our seats) because I haven't managed to find some four year-old to show me how to use this camera:


Tim insisted on taking this picture of Your Queen in front of the fountain at the opera house:


The other thing we love doing in Santa Fe is going to a flamenco performance. For years, we were treated to Maria Benitez and her troup, but this was the first year in many they were not going to perform, so instead, we saw Juan Siddi. 'Twas quite good, but the man is really into his props. Now, before you feel too sorry for my long suffering husband, know this: The first time I said I wanted to see flamenco in Santa Fe, he rolled his eyes at the thought of having to suffer through a dance performance. But, being the good sport he is (look, he's married to me), he went. The next time we went to Santa Fe, he was the one who asked, "Can we go to flamenco?"

It's manly stuff.

If you ever go, however, let me make a suggestion (something we learned the hard way one year): Don't sit near the front. When the men do their quick turns, their hair (which always seems to be long and worn loose) flings torrents of sweat. 'Nough said.

Obviously, we love driving trips, so this time, we did a drive we'd never done before, The High Road to Taos. It winds through several small towns and gorgeous scenery, to wit: "The weaving village of Chimayo" as I'd read it's called. Now, there are two ways you can read that description (oh, yes there are - who's the royal, here?). I'm not really craft-oriented, so I figured "the weaving village" meant the road through it weaves - you know, twists and turns and such. Uh... no. Tim found this highly amusing, and took great pleasure in announcing, "Entering Chimayo. Prepare to steady yourself." Hey, it's my birthday, bub.

I had also read that we shouldn't "whiz by" the town of Cordova. I'll spare you how concrete-as-a-sidewalk me interpreted that one.

Although I didn't have my camera for that lovely drive (sorry - but, what do you want from me?), don't say I wasn't thinking of you when I took this picture the next day of Camel Rock:


You can thank me later.

Here's some more scenery - this time, outside Los Alamos (yeah, the nukes place). Who knew it was so gorgeous there? (Fine. You did. I'm so proud.) I mean, why didn't they put all that dangerous stuff in Battle Mountain?


We took another drive to Albuquerque (along Route 6) and were delighted to see a style of architecture that can only be described as "Southwest Art Deco."




What do you think?

North of town, we headed to Petroglyph National Monument. This is the sign that greeted us:


This is how we were shod:


Guess which one of us was the better prepared.

This is the trail that awaited us:


To my credit, I went anyway. (And didn't whine too, too much. Really. No matter what Tim says.)

So, is it any wonder that when my cell phone (which was loosely hooked to my belt loop and on "vibrate") went off, I heard the BZZZZZZZZZ and screamed, thinking it was a rattler. Tim delighted in taking this picture of my humiliation afterwards:


So that we can all forget this particular incident, here are some petroglyph pictures I took especially for you:


(While that's a cat, there were, alas, no poodle petroglyphs.)


Finally, here's a puzzle for ya: At home, we sleep on a "California King" bed (it's narrower and longer). In Sanfa Fe, the hotel had "Eastern King" beds (wider and shorter - Tim's legs stick out). So... why does Colorado, which is closer to California than Santa Fe, have California Kings and Santa Fe, Eastern Kings?

This is the kind of stuff I think about - well, at least I did when I was still 49. We'll have to see what the next half-century holds.

September 28, 2009

My Man's Annual

We women have ours, why shouldn't they have theirs? In this case, my man's annual is his camping trip with buddy Jim.

I think I'll stick with my gynecological exam, thank you very much.

Once again, Tim met Jim at Jim's sister's terribly rustic cabin in Westcliffe, CO. After a couple of days there, the two friends took Jim's "unit" (oh, stop! That's what he calls his RV)


and went off to camp in some God-forsaken place in Gunnison, near the Continnental Divide.

As I mentioned in my post last year about this trip, Jim's sister and brother-in-law are not normal. They built the cabin themselves, she chops wood, etc. They live there completely off the grid (I'm talkin' solar panels and batteries). When they built the thing over a summer, they spent 12 hour days 6 days a week doing it, while camping (and I mean camping, like a tent and stuff). Once a week, they'd make the long trek into town for a proper shower. Need I say more? Told ya: Not normal.

Here's Tim with Jim's dogs and Linda's dogs:

(Actually, the one thing I was jealous about re his trip was that he got to be around so many pets. That's Roberto the DILF facing Tim.)


Tim says, "What defines the Continnental Divide is that rivers that start on the east side of it flow to the eastern US and rivers that start on the west of it flow to the western US." Is he pulling my leg? Then again, I just found out that the thing about toilets in Australia flushing the opposite way is true. Who knew? (Fine, you did. What do you want from me?)


Linda and her husband (I guess Jim knows me well enough by now) asked Tim what I was going to do at home, by myself, while he was away. He told me that after he answered, "She's going to go to her favorite take-out place and get enough food to last while I'm gone so she doesn't have to leave the house, again," much hilarity ensued.

He says they didn't believe him.

One thing I did do while Tim was gone was watch all the chick flicks I'd Tivo'd that I know Tim would never want to see. As you can imagine, I hate going out to movies, although you may be surprised to learn, the least of it is the going out part. I don't like being around people talking, coughing, etc. while I'm trying to hear what's going on. I like to eat my own snacks. Most of all, at my age, I like to be able to pause to go to the bathroom. What really did it was the last movie I saw.

It was Munich. In 2005. (Told you I hate going to movies.) I loved that movie, but at 3.5 hours, there was no way I could hold it that long, so missed a few minutes going to the bathroom. It wasn't just me: I went with a friend who is about 20 years younger than me, and her bladder also couldn't last that long. There's a reason Gone With The Wind included an intermission. So, we took turns and filled each other in. But, still.

Here's what I saw while Tim was gone (and I enjoyed all of them): Something New, Dreamgirls (yes, I only just saw it. Told ya), and Friends With Money.

Here's what I ate.

And, finally: Here's what I looked like after Tim's return.

(Ah... nevermind.)

October 12, 2009

A Princess Returns as Queen

Last week, Tim and I went to New York to visit the Queen Mother and her consort, King Henry.

We did a couple of walking tours in various parts of Brooklyn. Here's my fave: Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (we then walked around Brooklyn Heights - great architecture).


As soon as we got off the bridge into Brooklyn Heights, a group of college kids stopped us and asked ME where Grimaldi’s was. You must understand that only a few weeks ago, as Tim and I were walking near our home in Boulder, a car stopped to ask directions. I had never heard of the park the driver wanted to go and said so. Tim immediately informed the guy it was only a few blocks away. Let's just say this kind of thing isn't exactly a rare occurrence.

So now, asked for directions in the borough of my birth, Tim started laughing and was about to say, “Boy did you ask the wrong person, and besides, we're not from around here."


I had just researched the walking tour, so happened to know not only what Grimaldi's was (a famous pizza joint) but where it was.

"It's at 19 Old Fulton St., between Front and Water," I proclaimed.

The look on Tim's face was the best part of the entire trip.

January 23, 2011

Hotel Death Ray

Could you guess? Yep, we were recently in Las Vegas.

We'd been wanting to go for a quick getaway, then saw that one of our fave bands - The Scissor Sisters was playing at The Palm, so off we went.

If you've never heard of them, I'm not surprised. They're an American band, but huge in Europe. I really have no idea why they haven't seemed to have caught on here. (If you want a notch up with the youngin's, tell 'em you like Scissor Sisters. The "kids" who work at our stores were very impressed.)

We first heard one of their albums when we were on Captain Dave's boat in Lake Minnetonka on our Queenly trip. He was blarring it over the stereo while we cruised.

The Vegas concert was utterly fabulous. The Palm, however, was another story.

We had taken a very early flight from Denver, so I wanted to nap in the afternoon, as I knew we'd be up late for the concert. (Oy. I guess it's come to that.) I specifically asked for a quiet room. They put us on the 14th floor. I figured that would be fine and it was, until we entered the room and the walls and furniture started pounding - along with my head.

I guess it's considered "fun" to hang out by the pool with a DJ, soaking in those melanoma rays and becoming deaf. Really. If we could hear it on the 14th floor, I don't even want to know what it was like poolside. (Oy. It really has come to that. What do I want from me?)

And so, we left for the Vdara the next day. We found out later it has a death ray.

Fortunately, we never went to the pool so didn't... you know, disintegrate. Other than that, we loved the Vdara (it's a nonsmoking, non casino hotel. What could be bad?) and will definitely be back. I'm sure we can get an even cheaper deal now that this death ray thing is all over the news.

When we got back to our car at the Denver airport, I noticed a thin film of schmutz all over the inside, on the windshield and all the windows. I asked Tim, "What in the world is that? We left all the windows closed."

I should really know by now that Project Nerd is not going to take these types of questions as the retorical ones they are intended. His response?

"Off gases from the upholstry."

Is this really common knowledge? What have I been missing?

Not much, apparently.

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