5 1/2 Months – Week 7

The Saturday morning drive from Luke and Amber’s home in Santa Cruz to David and Gretchen’s home in Santa Rosa was, unexpectedly, traffic heavy over the Bay Bridge and most of the way up Highway 101.

Our old neighbors from Compton Heights David, Gretchen, Oliver and Vivie.  

David and Gretchen were totally prepared for our visit. Upon arrival at 12:45 pm, lunch was served. And, WOW what a lunch it was. We started with a Guinnes beer toast. Our lunch was Portillo’s  Italian Beef shipped directly to their home from Chicago.  After a great afternoon walk and hanging with the family we had NY PI Pizza for dinner.

Our private guest room and bath was located above the garage and away from the family so everyone could get a good nights sleep.

Sunday morning Gretchen prepared a delicious breakfast– egg quiche, scones, and fresh fruit. David made his special French Press dark roast coffee with foam cream on top. It was sooooo good.

We really hated to leave Santa Rosa so early Sunday. It was great to see David and Gretchen and it was so cool to see how they included Oliver and Vivie in everything we did. As we got ready to depart Oliver entertained us with an awesome Kung Fu  demonstration.

The Sunday drive through the wine country on Highway 128, then on to Highway 101, then on to the Fort Brag Highway 20 was amazingly beautiful. We ended up driving all the way up through Redwood forest to Eureka, CA to spend the night.

The Monday drive may have been the most beautiful of the entire trip. We stayed on Highway 101 hugging the California Northwestern coast except for when the road veers off for some winding mountain type roads through on the Redwood Highway.

We stopped frequently for photo opportunities- far too many to include in the blog. At Trinidad Bay we spent an hour r more walking up a small rocky hill that jets out into the ocean. We have been hoping to see Blue or Gray Wales but so far no luck. Our view from the rocks edge was spectacular but we haven’t seen any sea life. We did see three Elk in the wild yesterday but that’s about all we can report from our car window.

Today, we have ended our drive in Gold Beach, Oregon. We are staying at a rustic place with an ocean view. Headed out to dinner now and then early to bed.

Tuesday we traveled a short distance up the coast to Newport, Oregon. As I climbed the mountain foothills through the Redwoods I was reminded of the days when I would be driving in the fast lane passing everyone as soon as I could. Today, I drive the slow lanes, far to the right, driving the speed limit or slower trying to notice the running water in the creeks, the large lakes down below in a valley, or peeks at the ocean as we drive by. Cruising along the highway at slow speed with no particular destination is liberating.

We have traveled more than 4500 miles and have not yet seen a Cooling Concepts refrigerated trailer. Somebody, tell my brother Tim he has lots more work to do.

We arrived in Portland in time to do some laundry and visit with Fisher. After a quick snack at Fisher’s favorite Blue Star donuts we had dinner with Jen and Fisher. We all know how much Fisher loves to have his picture taken.

Thursday we showed up at Scott and Emily’s old house in Renton, WA. Ooops my mistake! We were supposed to be at their new house in New Castle, WA.

They have a spectacular new home customized to their taste and they have made it awesome. After a quick walk through the house we headed out to lunch. In downtown Bellevue they took us to Din Tai Fung for one of the best Asian meals we have ever had…..we ordered Taiwanese Soup Dumplings and green beans. Fabulous!!! The pork loin dinner and salad Emily prepared was equally fantastic.

We were entertained by the two boys, Coleson and Teddy, until they went to bed. Thanks to Scott and Emily for moving out of their Master Suite to make room for us. I’m not sure Scott got a good nights sleep but Emily insisted we get the Master and they got the guest room. Scott and Emily are gracious hosts and very good friends.

 

We finally arrived in Anacortes, Washington. After a brief visit with Kris and Kerry we arrived at Kelly and Mark’s home in time to drive them to LaConner to pick up their boat where it had been getting some electronics updates and engine repair.

Hopefully, all goes well with the boat repair because the whole family will be in it tomorrow as we do some Island hopping on our way to Orca Island for dinner and an overnight stay.

Mark, Kelly, Rumi, Teo, Kerry, Kris, Sienna, Seba, Brian, Emily, Amaya, Sandy and myself all headed for a fun weekend together on Mark’s 36 footer.

HAPPY EASTER to all.

 

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5 1/2 – Week 6

Dinner at Tom Hans Lighthouse overlooking San Diego Bay

Randy and Chris live in Liberty Station which was established in 1923 as a Navy Training Center. The entire area is alive with parks, walk able neighborhoods, great indoor-outdoor restaurants, lots to do. Randy and Chris live the good life in San Diego. We had a great time eating awesome meals and then walking it off. Saturday we walked 7 miles round trip to downtown San Diego with a view of the bay. Plus, I spent a little time, maybe one mile, on a rental bike. The rental was from Lime Bike, an appropriate choice for St. Patrick’s Day. The bike ride actually hurt my aching knees more than the long walk.

Sunday we started the day with brunch at the Broken Yolk and then headed to Pacific Beach and Mission Beach for an interesting 5 mile walk along and among the bikers, hikers, skaters, scooters, baby carriages and runners. This is a great place for sight seeing—the ocean, the beach, the volley ball games, beach soccer games and other things people do on a beach.

Monday morning we started the day with my first ever electric bike ride. We had a short ride in the park and then climbed a hill with ease. Randy installed battery packs on his and Chris’s bike. You can tell which bike I rode from the photo. We need to get e-bikes for rides through Forest Park.

Having a great time with our hosts, Dennis and Brenda at thier beautiful home in San Marcos. 

Dennis and I got in 36 holes at the St. Mark’s Executive course. This par 3 course is challenging. Shot a 76 the first day and a 75 on day two. If I could putt I would be dangerous.

We enjoyed the day trip to the top of Double Peak where you can see Catalina Island and San Clemente and more. We had time and energy that day for a fun pontoon boat ride around San Marcos Lake enjoying good conversation and an occasional beer.

Sandy and Brenda were at the top of their game making fantastic home cooked meals each night we were there. Brenda prepared Jimmy Dean’s home made gravy one morning. So good it is worth bragging about. The bar-b-q pork chops one night and ham and bean soup the other was awesome! Good times-good friends.

Drive from San Marcos to Dana Point on Hyway 5 was easy…arrived in time to take Donna (Sandy’s cousin) to lunch at Proud Mary’s.

Donna, Chris and their 15 year-old son, Kevin were perfect hosts. Kevin is an excellent volleyball player. We got a chance to see him play as his high school team at Dana Point High defeated their opponent two matches to one.

Chris and Donna prepared a scrumptous tri-point beef dinner with green beans. Then, we spent the evening enjoying the most fantastic backyard I have ever seen. The pictures including hot-tub do not do it justice.

We really had an awesome time even though it was a short visit.

Early the next morning we were back on Hyway 5 for a very long drive around Los Angeles. Heavy traffic. Not much fun.

We arrived in Santa Cruz by 4pm just in time to greet Amber when she got home from work. We spent some time visiting with Luke, Amber and Leo then headed for the beach.

The Santa Cruz Warf dinner including ice cream at Leo’s favorite place was great. The walk along the beach and through the Monarch Butterfly park, led by Leo’s full explanation of what were seeing was a delight. He is such a cute kid.

Early Saturday morning we headed north to Santa Rosa. We have so much to share about that visit that we will save it for next week’s blog. Peace-out. Love to all.

 

 

5 1/2 Months – Week 5

We got out of Bangor just in time!!! There is another, BIGGER, snowfall due Monday. We departed Bangor Airport  at 7:45am Sunday morning, arrived St, Louis at 2pm. After lunch and nice visit with Brent we were in the car at 4:15pm and on the road. Thanks to Mary for storing some of our winter clothes until we get back in town.

By Monday night, with the help of Paul Simon, Paul McCarthy, Tony Bennett, Lada Gaga, Jerry Garcia, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra, we traveled nearly 600 miles to Shamrock, Texas.

We passed the Big EGG (?) three times on the Hyway and then the egg driver truck happened to stop for the night where we did. He said he was not allowed to tell us what he was carting but it was traveling from NY to LA and we’ll see it on National TV soon.  Let us know if you figure out this mysterious package or if you see it on television.

We had a great steak dinner at an authentic Texas steak house– BIG VERN’S

Long drive today from Shamrock, Texas  to Flagstaff, Arizona. We had one interesting stop in Winslow, Arizona. Have you ever hear of the Harvey Girls? We stopped by to see La Posada, the last Great Railroad Hotel built by Fred Harvey. Never heard of Fred Harvey? Neither did we. Apparently, Fred Harvey was quite the entrepreneur in the 1930-40’s. He built luxury hotels along the railroad routes. Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper were among the many celebrity guests at the La Posada.

The drive from Kingman, Arizona to Las Vegas through the Kaibab National Forest was awesome. We stopped briefly at the Hoover Dam. It is an amazing building accomplishment but not worth the stop, in my opinion, because of the tourist traffic is horrific.

We spent two nights in Las Vegas and took advantage of the O”Rourke’s new swimming pool and hot tub. The picture, taken by Nettie, is of my lifelong friend Terry and his wife Jo, Sandy and me. Terry and I have been friends since kindergarten. He and Jo, their dog Stella and Jo’s mom Nettie live in a beautiful Mountain View home. Jo had prepared our bedroom and bath like it was a high-end hotel. We enjoyed prime rib dinner at the South Point Casino and then we played a few games of chance at the Silverton Casino. I lost $35 and Sandy won $6 at the penny machine. We left the O’Rourke’s hospitality and friendship Friday morning for the drive to San Diego. The six hour trip through  the Mohave Desert, Death Valley, was highlighted by a lunch stop at Peggy Sue’s Diner located off Ghost Town Road in Yermo, California.    

5 1/2 Months- Week 4

Nancy Dunn, my sister-in-law, gave us a really nice practical gift. It’s a National Geographic Book- Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. The book lists “the best 275 drives in the U.S.” Most of these byways are off the beaten track. They are literally the roads less traveled. And, although Sandy and I have been to all 50 States I could not count more than 40 of these “best” scenic drives that we have traveled.

Yesterday and today were special days. We left the main roads and traveled bumpy, pot-holed backroads of Maine to discover heaven. Monday we drove up through Ellsworth to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor to find the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain and the Jordan Pond were closed for winter. In fact, most of the restaurants and shops are closed too. So, we skipped the downtown walk along the beach for a scenic drive to Schoodic Point. Schoodic Point is a 2,266 acre reserve with a six mile drive along the windswept granite shores of the Schoodic Peninsula.  Awesome drive and amazing scenery—the pictures will not do it justice.

Tuesday was an equally fun day of driving and stopping for photo opps. We made the Deer Isle Drive. Departing Blue Hill on Hyway 15 we headed straight for Stonington which is a very small old fishing harbor town. There was little to see and not many stores open but luckily the main café was open. Crab soup, coffee and water is all we needed to sustain ourselves until dinner.

For the next few hours we rambled around the Penobscot Bay, Deer Isle area finding one quaint town after the next. The best find for sure was the Tinder Hearth Bakery located somewhere near Brooksville. We bought a round loaf of Maine whole wheat bread and a cookie for my afternoon pick-me-upper. This place must survive on the tourist season because it offers pizza only on Tuesday night if you call ahead to place an order and then come in to pick it up. There is no seating area for the Bakery….you walk in the door and there is the fired up hearth and all of the goodies for purchase. No one takes your money. You pay cash in a tin box and take change if you need it.

Oh, another highlight, we had a huge bald eagle circle in front of us at the tips of the trees as we started our drive south. This a clear sign from heaven that today is going to be a good day. And, it was!!!

I’m writing this from the Blue Hill Library. This afternoon Bangor is supposed to get hit with 10-18 inches of snow. We are looking forward to our first nor’easter since our days in Boston. Flights all up and down the coast are cancelled including our March flight connecting in Philadelphia. We feel like little kids. This will be FUN!

We got 15 inches. Snowed in. Our flights – 4 of them on March 8, were  cancelled. We can’t get out of Bangor until Sunday, March 11. So, we get more beautiful drives and more beautiful photo’s opportunities in Blue Hill, Bar Harbor, and Ellsworth. Today, we took advantage of this inconvenience by traveling to North Harbor, Maine which is located on Mountain Desert Island. We are now back to the Blue Hill Library because it is the most convenient place to get WiFi and have an opportunity to get all of our messages.

5 1/2 Month – Week 3


Blue Hill, Maine-morning view 2/28/18

At three-thirty this morning Sandy brings me a cup of coffee to begin the day. By 4PM, Karl arrives to take us to the airport. The American Eagle flight arrives via DC in Bangor Maine by 12:15 pm. Samantha picks us up and then we head to Mark’s Subaru dealership to pick up a new Outback for our week stay.

We dropped by to see Samantha and Chloe and spent time walking through their newly remodeled home, including the new Barn/Apartment for visitors. This is a beautiful place with a magnificent view of Blue Hill Bay. Mark, my nephew, bought a brand new John Deere tracker and gave it to his wife, Sam, for Valentines Day. He is some romantic guy. Funny thing is there is no need for a tractor here, but, Mark wanted it. That’s the way the Politte’s do things. It’s a hand-me-down family trait.

Wednesday–Sandy and I had a lovely scenic drive up to Belfast, Maine. Belfast is a small little town with an interesting ship making history. Now, it survives,somehow, on Tourist season revenue.

We just learned that our friends, Gerry and Sue, who were supposed to arrive in Bangor today had to cancel their trip due to the nor’easter hitting Philadelphia with 60 mile p/h winds. What a bummer! They were to spend four days with us in Maine. We had planned all kinds of side trips. Sandy has made two crock pot dinners for four. Now, we will have to endure this fantastic place without them.

We are headed to the LL Bean store in Ellsworth. Sunday, we will head to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. We’ve been to these places previously but you cannot get tired of visiting Acadia, Cadillac Mountain.