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.
With the Grammys coming up on Sunday, I was reminded of something that happened last year - when we weren't living in the bus.
I went to my seamster (well, he's not a seamstress and alterer sounds like he does castrations). There was no parking except right out front in the "no parking" zone. I left my emergency lights blinking, because if I got towed, that's exactly what it would have been and ran in. There's only one try on room and it was occupied -- by a woman talking on her cell phone. And, she didn't seem to be having any emergency. No, she was talking about how she was getting her dress altered. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I waited... and waited... and waited. Finally, little Miss All Important comes out in a rather unimaginatve gown and settles herself in front of the mirror. Now we can get going here. Only... she doesn't know how long she wants the thing. She and the ever-patient Mr. Lai try out various lengths, but the poor dear just can't make up her mind. Finally, she turns to me.
"Do you have an opinion?" She asks. Do I ever. But, to my credit, I simply reply with my own query.
"That depends on what you're wearing it to."
"The Grammys" she informs me with a smirk.
You might think that was the last straw. In fact, it was only the penultimate one. The last straw occured a spit second later as I spied a tow truck lumbering down the lane toward my unsuspecting Saab. So, you'll understand that, as I ran out the door, I gave the only possible appropriate response under the circumstances: "You're wearing THAT to the Grammys?"
As a psychiatrist, I am possessed of keen powers of observation. For example, what do you notice about this guy walking on the beach in Crescent City?
I immediately noticed he’s a genius. What makes me so sure, you might ask. Look at him closely: In one hand, he has a chick-repellant, AKA metal detector. In the other, a super-duper mitigating agent, perhaps the most powerful chick-attractant of them all: kitten on leash.
Genius. Pure genius.
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.
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.
I hope all this flushing cures whatever's ailing it, although I'd sure hate to be down stream. (Couldn't it have tried a little Pepto Bismol first? Even a Tums, perhaps?) Gulf of California, you've been duly warned.
(Oh, what do you want from me?)
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.
After all my ranting about Modesto, I was a bit embarrassed when, during the first snow since our arrival back home, I had the fleeting thought, "What was so bad about Modesto, anyway?"
My newest BBFF, Katie Schwartz (she's a riot with a book coming soon. Check out her blog.) were commiserating that our particular tribe does not do well in the snow. Which made me recall...
We moved to Colorado from Tucson in 1993. I had instigated the move because I "missed the four seasons." (Watching needles fall off cacti every fall just wasn't doing it for me.) Our very first week here, we were on I-25 at night in January, during a WICKED snowstorm - cars were spinning out into the shoulder. Tim turned to me and said, "I hope you're enjoying your four seasons."
See? Even my lovely hubby is capable of some snark.
The fabulously wise and wonderful editors of Quick and Simple Magazine have decided to do a spread on QUEEN OF THE ROAD for one of their summer issues.
As such, Tim and I were each interviewed by phone, and a local photographer dispatched to take pictures of us in and around the bus. The plan was to drive it to nearby Red Rocks, for a simply gorgeous setting for the outdoors shots. Since this was to be for a summer issue, we were to wear summer clothes. After much rummaging through the Royal Wardrobe, I settled on a light top, light pants and sandals.
Joe Hancock of Hancock Studio and his assistant, John, were quite wonderful - and quick. We'd had magazine photo shoots before for my first book and the promised "three hours" inevitably turn into an all day affair. (Hey, Joe! Wonder why I insisted on meeting at 3 p.m.? I figured dusk would hold you to the three hour thing.) This was actually the very first shoot we've ever done which came in UNDER the promised time. Thus, we got our "quick." Unfortunately, "simple" was not to be had.
It started snowing. Did I mention I wore sandals?
Red Rocks would have been obliterated by white out, so we stayed at the warehouse where Tim stores the bus. Scenic, huh?
Joe and John stayed all nice and snuggly warm in their North Face parkas.
If I look like I'm freezing, I am. Then, there was the constant wind thing...
Poor Joe. I kept demanding, "Don't supermodels on swimsuit shoots in Antarctica get like $10,000 a day?" When he informed me that no one on this particular shoot would be getting anywhere near that amount, I countered with, "Fine. But, I doubt while those supermodels are freezing in their bikinis, the photographers are allowed to wear parkas." Joe kept quiet on that one, although it's not hard to imagine what he was thinking. (Something along the lines of, "Why didn't I listen to my mother and become an electrician? Oh, no. I had to be an artiste.")
(And, in case you're wondering - the shoot could not be rescheduled due to the magazine's deadline.)
***Special thanks to John Frank of Vanture Coach Manufacturing (our bus converters) for taking the photos of the photo shoot. (I figure I'll get as many favors out of them as I can before they read about themselves in the book - I kid! I kid!)
Oh, and ladies (as well as 10% of the gentlemen amongst you): DO check out this picture on my book group page, taken just as we took off at the very start of our bus year - The Men of Vanture Coach. They're quite ready for their own close ups, no?
Ah, the "great" outdoors.
Tim took me on a hike today. Well, that's what happens when you get older, you forget stuff, ya know? Like what happened the last time he took me on a hike (which would have been on Sitka, AK during our bus year. Suffice it to say, that expedition shall forever be known as The Great Alaskan Death March.)
(Miles and me on Sitka. We're beaming because my whining just induced Tim to agree to turn back. I know what you're all thinking: "But, you've never looked so happy!" Well, yeah. I said this was taken at the precise moment we stopped. And, by the way: my editor agreed with you, because that's my author photo.)
As Tim gets even older, I suppose he'll be immune to my pleas, what with being able to turn off his hearing aide and all. If a princess whines in the wilderness and her consort can't hear her... did she even agree to go on the damn hike in the first place?
In this royal's case, not so much.
What did possess me to go? I do try to grace Tim with my presence on these things at least once a year just to remind us both why I don't go more often. And, truth be told, I did make the mistake of complaining that I was getting bored with my usual workout; daily treadmill in front of TV. Yes, I do "interval training" where I jack up the speed every few minutes just to fool my body into thinking I'm actually exerting myself. But, still. Ugly Betty has been on hiatus, The Bachelor's current crop of contestants are the most vapid in years (vapid's usually highly entertaining, but this season proves even vapidity has its limits). And, American Idol, well, don't get me started. Oh, all right. I think it's a measure of the show's lack of impact this season that it was only when I watched it yesterday while working out I discovered Carly'd been booted off. Where is Rock Star when you need it?
So, I agreed to the hike. After clearing out the cobwebs from my hiking boots, figuring out the best outfit (D: But, you said to layer! T - I didn't mean a sweater set) we were off.
Well, not quite. This particular hike usually takes Tim an hour when he's solo, so he never bothers to bring anything. For this auspicious occasion, he found it necessary to inform me (with considerable glee I might add) what he was carrying in his pack: Moleskin ("in case you blister your feet"), a space blanket ("in case you injure yourself and I have to keep you warm so you don't go into shock"), waterproof matches ("in case I have to build a signal fire for the rescuers to find you when I have to go get help when you injure yourself ").
You get the idea.
He continued his helpful commentary on the first steep slope.
"Wow. You're doing much better than I thought you would." I informed him that I should hope so, since part of my treadmill routine included 10 minutes of 3.5 mph walking on the steepest incline. He was impressed, if a tad disappointed, as in, "Gee. I thought this was going to be more entertaining." Then, a couple ambled toward us with Styrofoam coffee cups in their hands. Tim couldn't resist stopping them to ask, "Hey! How far is it to the Starbucks at the top?" The couple laughed uproariously. I didn't get the joke. There's a Starbucks everywhere, isn't there? You don't suppose...
It was just then I remembered actually doing this very hike with him some years ago with Miles. I still recalled how I balked when I saw that very steep incline, as Tim raced ahead with the poodle. After a few steps, Miles turned around and waited for me. I reminded Tim of this, saying, "He and I were looking at each other like, 'Are you going? I'm not going if you're not going. Let's just wait for the crazy man, here.'" Tim had a slightly different take on the incident.
"Miles assumed you'd come up lame and wanted to stay with you."
What does my husband want from me, anyway?
When we did reach the top (no establishments for refreshment of any kind, I might add), several cars were parked at the overlook. Tim pointed out a woman sitting in the passenger seat of one of them, while her husband ventured out for a peek.
"Look! She likes interacting with the outdoors the same way you do."
Yeah, there were nice views. But I think doing this more than every couple of weeks would get even more boring than my treadmill routine.
At least I can change the channel.
Seriously, for the outdoors inclined amongst you, can anyone explain to me? What's so "great" about the "great outdoors"?
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, www.QueenOfTheRoadTheBook.com and click on the (yes, we're nude) picture of me and Tim in front of our bus on the left on the homepage.
First, excerpts from the review (then the backstory) in the August issue (which just came out while I was in New York):
"Beneath its fun and frothy exterior, you'll find in this wild ride across America's highways and byways a lovely portrait of a marriage that treats its ups and downs with humor and grace."
"Orion regales us with Americana of all sorts as she chronicles her journey with laugh-out-loud-funny tales of the many bus mishaps and unusual situations she and her husband encounter in their year on the road. Best of all, though, is watching her transformation from a materialistic couch potato into someone who learns to appreciate experiencing life to its fullest."
Back in April, when my publisher told me that QUEEN OF THE ROAD had been selected by the book editor of Elle Magazine as as a Readers’ Jury pick for the month of August, I thought it was a big deal. I mean, why wouldn't one?
Indeed. Unless, of course, the "one" were my husband. When I informed the Royal Consort about this honor being bestowed upon his Sovereign and Wife, he screwed up his face and asked, "L Magazine? What is that, a lesbian thing?"
The dear man had never heard of Elle. Well. We, of course, promptly set him, er... straight on that score. And, We could not resist adding, "My publicist is still pitching the lesbian magazines. But, they're slow and like to take their time."
As I do more and more book groups for QUEEN OF THE ROAD (I'll post about them later this week), a common theme seems to be emerging: The women are in love with Tim. Really. (I mean, really?) This is not something I have to use my keen powers of shrinky observation to discern. Nope. They tell me this straight out. One even went so far as to warn me to be wary (of her? other throngs of bookish women?) Oh, please. My husband isn't a normal man with normal desires (the occasional nudist RV park notwithstanding). To wit: I fear his next hare-brained scheme is that we live on a boat. (Yeah, it sounds romantic, but we know nothing about boats.) What's my proof? I've recently caught him surfing sailboat sites on the net. Why, oh why can't I have a normal husband who just surfs for porn?
Not enough for ya? OK, ladies. Let's see whatcha think of Mr. Perfect, now:
Last night, Tim and I had some bites at one of our favorite spots. He ordered lobster and because he's so perfect, offered some to me, even though he knows I won't eat it. (Although I gave up keeping kosher long ago, I still can't do the lobster thing - I just don't see the appeal of having my dinner stare at me while I dismember it.) Usually, that's the end of the interaction, but for some reason, last night he queried further.
"So, what exactly is gefilte fish?" He asked. We've been together nearly 20 years, have gone to almost that number of Passover Sedars, and now he's asking? I explained it's fish ground with eggs and flour or matzoh, molded into oblong shapes, usually served in a jellied broth. (At least the way my family buys 'em.)
"Really?" He asked, dipping that other white meat into a luscious turine of warm butter. "And you call yourselves the 'Chosen People'"?
Fine. He's perfect - and funny.
Thanks so much for your support.
I'm 49 today. (Really.) Big Whoop.
Actually, that's what I'm sure Tim thinks, as my poor Royal Consort has to put up with much more than just my birthday: I use my queenly powers (self)-bestowed at birth to declare an entire Royal Birthday Week. Watch and learn, Ladies-In-Waiting....
Especially since this year, as my birthday falls on a Sunday, We wondered just when the week should begin. Sunday you say? Silly commoners. Shant We celebrate prior in Royal Anticipation? Ah, but if We start the Sunday before, what about the post celebratory festivities? Quite correct. This year (and every year when Our - and by "Our," We mean mine and only mine - not to include Sir Tim) birthday falls on a Sunday, We hath hereby decreed a Birthday Fortnight. Herewith, some highlights:
Last week, had hair done with Tonya Auville, the Royal Coiffer at Salon Bellissimo. Tonya is also known as the Curl Whisperer. She had me over to her book group a few weeks back to discuss... me:
Saw Willie Nelson (and his biodiesel bus) at Red Rocks.
Had lunch with good bud, Susan. Suffice it to say, we had a delish dish (thinking of you, Katie). I mentioned in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, that Susan was my most gorgeous friend. (She tried to get me to go to a yoga class, and I figured, if it works for her... Unfortunately, didn't do much for me.) She's the type of woman who just gets even more gorgeous with age. I'm going to have to rethink our friendship.
Had my memoir called, "Brilliant" by Jerry Wexler on his blog and he didn't even know it's my birthday fortnight.
Last night, my lovely neighbor and friend, Lauren, had her former book group, the "Bad Girls" of Longmont (only "former" since Lauren moved to Boulder) over for a fabulous Queenly party to discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD and just have fun. She didn't know it's my birthday, either. (Well, at least beforehand.) This was the second book group Lauren arranged for this QUEEN. The first was one we went to in nearby Firestone, hosted by one of her clients, Tara:
Aren't we all resplendent in our tiaras? That's Tara in front and Lauren behind me in the pink scarf. (Looks like there are several friendships I'm going to have to rethink.) Unbeknowest to me, this club read both QUEEN OF THE ROAD as well as my first book, I KNOW YOU REALLY LOVE ME. Since IKYRLM was published 11 years ago, I felt rather court jester-ish, as it was far easier to answer questions about QotR. I mean, I am 49, people.
Lauren is an ultra-fabulous hair stylist in her own right (nearly all of the dozen or so women last night get coiffed by her) as well as an amazing photographer. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures last night for you to judge the former, but as for the latter, take a gander at these she did for my website.
Today, the Big Day itself, I slept in (that's what the rest of the world calls staying in bed until 10:30 am, right?) And, finally (well, only finally for this blog post, not my birthday fortnight), Sir Tim and I strode down (where's the liveried help when you need them?) to the Boulder Creek Hometown Fair...
... where we had Royal box (as in crated) seats for the Zucchini Races:
Attended a Royal Joust:
as well as The Theatre:
Sir Tim is now resting up in the Royal Chambers prior to resuming his driverly duties to take Us to dinner tonight.
To all who have already wished me a happy birthday: Thank you! To all who have not... yeah, yeah. What do I want from you?
On the Actual Day (Sunday), we headed to Prospect for dinner (not in our bus, but in my convertable Saab, which Tim is ashamed to be seen in, let alone drive - isn't Our Royal Birthday fabulous?) Prospect, just outside of Longmont (yeah, I know that clarifies it for you), is billed as Colorado's first New Urbanist community. Whatever. I thought it was kinda cute in a Prisoner-meets-Deadwood kinda way. (Ah, dating myself with the former - how apropos during my bday fortnight.) We half-expected to see a giant white ball bouncing down the streets before it was deflated by a shotgun blast. (Patrick McGoohan, are you taking notes? If not, "Be seeing you." Oh, don't say it. I'm pathetic.)
What do you think?
Now, here's a street I could live on:
After dinner, we returned to the castle, where We changed into Our usual attire...
Other Royally celebratory activities this week include:
As if they haven't already done enough for this Royal, Celestial Seasonings has posted the QUEEN OF THE ROAD webcast We did at their fabulous tour center a few weeks ago. Even if you don't want to see it, go on over to get the winning entries to their QUEEN OF THE ROAD tea-tini contest. (They look quite delectable - can't wait for Sir Tim to make them.) This is what it looked like when we recorded it:
That's Bob Kennedy with the camera.
Do check out and sign up for the Celestial Seasonings Adventure At Every Turn Book Club. Obviously, they take great care in their selections!
Finally, Jerry WAXLER (sorry, Sir Jer), posted yet another glowing tribute (is there any other kind?) to Your Queen's missive on his blog.
The Queen Father (is that what they're called?) also had a birthday this week, as will the Queen Cousin (now, I know something's wrong in this case with that one), Doug, in 2 weeks. So, happy birthday Dad and happy birthday-to-be Doug! Enjoy these 19 days a year in which we are the exact same age. You're turning 50, right? Meow.
(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'.
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.
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."
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."
Not that We require the endorsement of mere elected officials - sniff - but... holy crap!
A lovely and insightful reader of excellent taste emailed to let Us know that she is a huge fan of Jen Lancaster's books (Bitter is the New Black, Such a Pretty Fat, and Bright Lights, Big Ass Sigh. You have to click that link, if only to see her subtitles. I am clearly an amateur) and thought I might like them, as well. We have obviously been holed up in Our throne room for too long (where most people do read, but as We certainly no longer have to remind you: We are not "most people") as even though she is a New York Times Bestselling author, We had never heard of her (have no fear - heads will roll!) So, We checked out her blog and quickly realized We and she (note the small "s," although Governor of Jennsylvania: Land of the Free, Home of the Bitter is, indeed, a laudable title), were likely twins separated at birth. We promptly emailed the Governor herself (large "G", although alas for Jen, small "h"), and although she is hugely popular (and thus, a shoe-in for re-election on Tuesday), she actually emailed right back!
In a true ugga-bugga coincidence (that's Boulder-speak for "like, um, freaky psychic-karmic-convergance, dude!" But, even more ugga-bugga, mere days after her email, during a reading/signing and royal schtik in Denver, I was placed directly across from a shelf full of her books) she said she was totally mad at me (thank goodness, Governors don't run the guillotines) because instead of finishing her current manuscript (which she was on deadline for), she stayed up late all week reading Queen of the Road. She also said she was about to do a blog post on her favorite recent reads and Queen of the Road was at the top of her list!
Because she is so popular, I promptly got thousands of hits to my own website from hers and am eternally grateful for her support. Here's what she said:
Queen of the Road is basically what would happen if you took me, gave me a modicum of maturity and a better education, and then tricked me into living on a (very nice) bus with my husband and pets for a year. I loved this book and I love this author.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: I'm going to be on KCLU-FM, that's Ventura's (88.3 FM) NPR station and Santa Barbara's (102.3 FM) NPR station, tomorrow, for their very popular (until tomorrow), "Emotional Fitness" show with Dr. Barton (ya think?) Goldsmith. Fortunately, the media is too preoccupied with some silly election (Monarchies rule, people! When will you all wise up?) to bother with the impending ruination of NPR.
Consider thouselves duly warned.
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?
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.
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?)
First Methodist Church in Hurst, TX has a book group! Who knew? And, despite a few of the... shall We say... questionable words in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, these ladies of impeccable taste, decided to discuss it, anyway.
I think this group has the right idea: Meet at a fabulous restaurant first (no wonder they call themselves, "Food for Thought") then return to a church meeting room to discuss the book. When the food is Tai and the book is QUEEN OF THE ROAD, how could they go wrong?
Some of the ladies apparently thought the food a bit spicy. As the book group leader said, "I should have told them about your website!"
So, thank you, Clara, Lorraine, Nancy, Sarah, Phyllis, Carrie, Nancy, Roseann, Bobbie, Barbara, Clarita and Peggy (and especially to Nancy Nelson for setting this up) for your thoughtful questions.
Next time I'm in Hurst, Tai is on me, ladies!
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.
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.
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."
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.
'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!"
I finally found it.
Always wanted to be a backup dancer, but thought it was just too, too much work. Then, I saw David Byrne on Colbert this week performing his new, Life is Long:
He's coming to Denver this summer. Tim was thinking we should go. Then, we saw this and I started railing at the TV. Nothing too clever (Colbert's on waaaay too late for clever), not even an "Oy, it's the song that's long." Mainly just groans. This prompted Tim to exclaim, "And that's exactly why we're not going!"
"Because it sucks?" I asked.
"No, because of your reaction," he replied. "I like it." He would.
Anyway, notice the backup dancers. They SIT. The ENTIRE TIME! I mean, really. I could do that!
You know I could. And, frighteningly well. I've been auditioning for it my entire life.
We have a garden that we do nothing to/with/for/about. Absolutely nothing. There's an irrigation system that waters it, but that's it. Still, we haven't managed to kill anything since we moved in 5 years ago.
Miraculously, some new flowers bloomed today, undoubtedly in honor of Our Royal Birthday. Unfortunately for them, nothing pisses me off like flowers. They attract bees. I hate bees. Thus, I was inspired to create this poem for the bothersome buds (just in case they already haven't gotten the hint):
Violets (or whatever the hell these are) are blue.
Roses are red.
If either required effort,
They'd all be dead.
This page contains an archive of all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in the Royally Snarky category. They are listed from oldest to newest.
Readers is the previous category.
Shoes is the next category.