Saturday, August 30, 2008

Truth or Consequences

If you like turquoise, peach and orange, this is the town for you. Even the trailer houses are brightly painted. It looks like a town from the 50's along route 66, except it's not on route 66, but about a third of the buildings have been colorized in the ochre pallete, or tiled, or mosaic'd, or all of the above. T or C must have been a queen in its heyday, but most of the retail shops are second hand treasure outlets now. The town still has about 6 hot springs establishments, and we have been to two, both wonderful.

Firewater Lodge has private tubs. You turn on the spigot and out comes a burst of hot mineral water. Daisy hated it. She was welcome to be in every part of the establishment, including hotel rooms with private tubs, but she thought all that hot stuff was less than special. I, on the other hand, loved it. Crawled out of the tub, lay down on the couch to cool off, and did it again. $5. Rooms come with unlimited soaks. A piece of heaven.

So is Happy Belly Deli, where we had humus and palenta sandwiches prepared by the husband wife team from Cleveland and Chicago. Sports fans in the desert, they are closed on Sundays to watch their NFL TV channel. She said everyone here waves, whether they know you or not. If you don't wave back, it's an insult. I experienced this in my one day here. I've been called out to by strangers who just want to be sure I have a great time, know where to mail my letter, suggest I go to the swimming pool, and tell me I can take my dog on the patio of the Happy Belly Deli.

We moved to Riverbend Hotsprings and Lodging, where we had our RV reservation for the night, complete with unlimited soaks in their several pools cascading down to the Rio Grande and looking at Elephant Butte (which looks like, you got it, an elephant). The hottest tubs are called the Hot Minnow Bath, and they do indeed look like those tanks where you net a mess of bait minnows. The cooler tubs are a level below. You can finish off in the Rio Grande if you like, or under a cold shower with a Gecko mosaic.

Later we had a private pool booked for an hour....$10 a person. It was paradise. A hot pool you could dip in and come out of several times, chaise lounges to cool off on, blue twinkly lights, on the edge of the Rio Grande, with misters overhead if you got too hot. No was raining slightly. Next time maybe there will be stars, or the moon, or not, if the weather prefers otherwise. I'm happy either way.

That makes three soaks today. I think I am detoxed. Just in case, I am finishing the night off with detox peach tea...can't leave anything to chance. Carl has put detox pads on his feet. That might be overkill.....but why risk it? I'll do it too.

Carl has been here 24 hours now, and he's catching up on deferred maintenance. A bulb I couldn't figure out how to remove, the 12 volt plug that we destroyed by pulling it out of the wall, the fraying electric plug for the main unit, and the fuse for the computer 12 volt charger. It's funny to watch him systematically go down the list.

It's not all work. We had a great visit with his buddy John Rebstock last night, and today he got a massage at Firewater. Life's pretty wonderful.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on the gulf coast. I don't want to wish it on others, but I sure hope it misses my hometown.

PS Even better than a three soak day is soaking the next morning, watching the mist rise over the river. I also met the establishment cat, named Minnow. Hmmm. Minnow sought higher ground when she saw Daisy. Smart cat.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

A day with the Rebstocks

What a morning! We attended the Dog Swarm down in the park, ran the neighborhood to catch Daisy, met Carla from Texas who is saving Barton Springs, and watched Rebstock move 4 vehicles to get the model A hauled off....again. Meanwhile Deb was laying down the law for the contractors who still have not finished the bathroom, and Anna was packing Rosabella off to school. It's not even 9 oclock yet! Whew!

More later....Carl's landing any minute and we start the NM to Texas adventure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ahh Spa Day

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Life is good. Today was one of those days you dream about if you win the lottery, but it was so cheap you don't have to win the lottery.

First, last night, we had showers and laundry and a hot tub for $30. We even had a babbling brook outside. We took our first shower in several days; at 7200 feet in Pagosa Springs, it took my breath away. I was weak in the knees.

This morning, Dodie drove for an hour before anybody else got out of their PJ's. By then, we were in Chama, a nice high desert area of New Mexico. From there we drove by Ghost Ranch and looked at George O'Keefe's favorite mountain, and then turned east. Our goal: Ojo Caliente. We turned on the spa music on Sirus radio. Ojo Caliente is a little hot springs resort north of Sante Fe. Just a little touch of California. There's arsenic pools, iron pools, soda pools, combo pools, all aimed at healing arthritis, digestion and skin. After you soak in seven pools, you coat your body with mud and let it dry. Wow. Did I feel good after that~ There were an international incident in the mud area though. I wasn't sure what the problem was, but two guys, one American and one German, were having words where each insulted the other's country. I was ready to get dried up and out before the mud slinging started.

Then we got a hot wrap. After you get your core good and hot in the pool of your choice, you lay down in a quiet room and let the attendant wrap you up good and tight and put a wool blanket over you and go nite nite for 30 minutes. An hour later we woke up thinking it was a little warm. They forgot about us. Oh well. It was two fer Tuesday at the spa, $8.25 each. What a little piece of paradise.

Then we motored down to Sante Fe. Enroute we decided that Dodie was going to stay still another day. So here we are in a city parking lot at the cathedral, dry camping next to a security shack for an archeological dig. The guard said it didn't bother him, and we figure the historic La Fonda Hotel is just a block away if we need something. If La Posada would just have a little stronger internet signal, we would be in tall cotton.

So tomorrow we are going to do art on the city square, walk Daisy, maybe go to a Museum, look at art. Then Dodie is really going home, and I am going to visit friends in Albuquerque till Carl comes Friday morning. Boy is he going to be surprised to see Rosabella!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I haven't gone off a cliff yet

The purple bear Rosabella has been doing all the blogging and I'm lying down on the job. You can visit her link on the left, or just type in

to get to her site.

Our pictures are numerous....see them on Teregram's trip photos, from the link on the right.

I hope to post my movies soon. I found my Flip Video camera in the RV recently; thought I had lost it. Now I have to learn to edit my incredible cinemaphotography. Oh boy, bet you can't wait!

Riders on the Storm

The Grand Staircase Escalante Movie

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Onward with the blog...and a new face

The chick trip continues, with college friend Dodie joining me Sunday morning in Merced. We are off to the east, on a national park quest, first stop Yosemite.

We have been joined by a new author, Rosabella Violet Plum, who has her own blog, and will probably be telling you about the next week or two as we head toward Texas. Rosabella lives in a third grade classroom in Merced when she is not traveling. So far, Rosabella has proved to be a trooper.

So visit the link on the right to hear all about our National Park adventures.

Friday, August 8, 2008

River Time

How to summarize 5 days and 4 nights on the Rogue River? A little piece of heaven. Serendipity. Spontaneity. Laughter. Danger without consequence. Stargazing. Sun worshipping. Playing in God's water park. Ahhhhhh!

This being Avery's coming of age trip, the center of attention was on her, and she was up to the limelight. Funny, adventuresome, conversational, charming, engaging. Avery's quite the photographer, and some of the photos in the trip album were taken by her.

The village that accompanied her included:

Aunt Laura, the wittiest and most intuitive woman I have ever met in my life. What a keeper. Aunt Laura knows the words to every broadway musical, childhood song, and popular song ever written. She can quote entire poems, and her story of the day she helped her dog get inseminated and her subsequent lesson on the birds and bees when she was ten was a real howler.

Mary, aka Mom, mylifelong friend, who laughed more than any of us, particularly when decked by Uncle Rich as he got up to swim to the bears. Afflicted with a penchant for collecting, her bags grew heavier as the trip went on.

Miss Terry, forever young, athletic, an outdoorswoman extraordinaire. My buddy girl scout leader, and Avery's too. Miss Terry took the first river swim, in the first rapid, cause she was brave enough to start the trip in a kayak.

Jack, who has been on three trips with me now, a great rafter, kayaker, camper, helper, philosopher, and humarist. Jack read three books on the trip, while I drank three bottles of wine. Jack hiked, I sat on the rocks.

Uncle Rich, the kayaking eagle scout who paddled his ducky through every rapid without once taking a swim and was convinced that he could swim across the river to get a closer look at the bears. Perhaps a bit too much of the grapes talking. Richard shared his "breaks pipeline" philosophy: think of breaks in life as an endless pipeline, that never gets empty, and when someone else gets a break, there's still plenty for you.

For photos of the entire trip, visit my photo website by following the link in the right column. I will try to add more details on the trip to this blog soon!

Monday, August 4, 2008

What happens on the river, gets put on the blog

Richard and Laura are a hoot. She's witty, he's the practical boy scout, and they are both cool parents. They had been through the wine country on their way to Grants Pass, and mostly they brought us champagne, a bottle for every evening bathing in the river. Those evenings were the occasion of much deep wisdom. One evening five bears crossed the hillside across the river from camp. Richard became obsessed with swimming across to them. Laura knew he had a low tolerance for wine, so she continually sat him back down. "I know I can swim across there...I want to see them close up" he would repeat. Finally, he staggered to his feet, and fell right down, taking Mary smack onto the sand beach with him. They wallowed in the river, laughing too hard to get up, for 15 minutes, after which it was clear that nobody was swimming across that river than night.
Richard's taste in wine is toward the sweet. He says he can buy great beer and great scotch, but not necessarily wine. He was in charge of refreshments for a work meeting. The guys wandered in, admiring the selection of beers and scotch. Then they noticed the box of white zinfandel. Immediately the box was opened and the bladder became the object of a game of catch. On the river, though, Richard, all wine is exquisite. Not to worry.

Laura was usually the first one in camp for coffee in the mornings. I would wander in blindly looking for the pot, and she would greet me with a one liner, like "did you know there is a ring around uranus?" Her humor about folks was always genuinely funny, not biting or sharp. I think I might be in love with you, Laura!

Terry and Avery waged an ongoing river battle, trying to tip each other out of boats and usually ending up in a mutually agreeable swim. Avery accused Terry of peeing upriver on many occasions, and Terry had a list of river experiences Avery must have before the end of the trip. Once Terry tried to get Avery's bottoms off, but without much luck. Both of them became experienced kayakers, although Terry got baptized in the first rapid of the trip and drowned her camera.

Both of them are camera buffs, and some of the river photos in my album are courtesy of them taking my camera for a walk. Of particular interest are the newt closeups. It's a good thing I got them to stop fighting over my camera, or there wouldn't have been any photos. At one point, I was going to take it away from those kids.

Jack looks like the most unlikely kayaker, but he is the most experienced and unflappable. As Richard pointed out, when Richard hit a rapid, he was paddling with a frenzy, while Jack just slowly cruised through, making only minor corrections in his course. He never went out of the duckie once, not even when surfing the waves. Evenings and lunches, he was reading his book, oblivious to the world until the wine or champagne came out. Then we got to hear his wisdom. Easy to be with, that's Jack. Seems like he was always there when I needed a hand. He gave Avery the gift of self assessment when it was his turn to hand out advice.

Avery mingled with everyone, moving from group to group with the greatest of ease. That's my girl, Avery! She got a lot of sound advice from all of us, like Try new things, believe in the breaks pipeline, be strong and don't take any guff off of guys. Since this was like her quincienera, she can now get married. She has a distorted view of the river, though, since she wore blue blocker glasses the entire trip.
Mary's got rocks. And more rocks. My RV has a river bag full of them now. Avery stated emphatically that if Mary collected rocks, Avery was not carrying her bag for her. She was right...I am! Mary's a pretty irrepresible collector of things. Rocks, twigs, leaves, found art. The one collection that I really liked was berries, until they turned liquid anyway.
Laura said Mary looked like the woman soothsayer in the beginning of the lion king. She had her colorful pareo tied around her waist and walked with a big stick that Dave found for her when she left her Komperdels in my RV. You know, Laura's right. I can hear the music. But mostly, Mary laughed a lot, a infectuous cackle reminiscent of the Burnsides. It's a good sound.

And me, I just came to laugh and cause trouble. I deemed myself a self appointed rescuer of swimmers. There was just one problem with my technique. The rescued always ended up lying on top of me in the boat, somewhere below my waist. Oh well. I suppose I could refine my techniques. Once there were more than enough paddlers, and I became Bow maiden. Terry asked me to spread my feet so she could photo down river. Right at that moment, we hit a wave, and smack! came the cold water, right where my torso ends and my legs begin. This bow maiden stuff is not for sissies. I only went out of the boat once to swim a rapid. I thought I was going to die. Every second under water is like a minute, and when I finally sputtered to the top, I was done with swimming rapids for the trip. Casie did teach me to dive ungracefully off the front of her boat. She said we had more lessons to go. I think maybe more than she has counted on.

One night in camp, we watched a "movie" of some campers in their tents at the next site. So on the last night of our camp, at the request of my buddies, I starred in my own tent movie. It was x rated. What can I say?

The river is a wonderful thing, nature, water, sky, stars. The stars at night are brilliant. Once I woke up and saw a pulsing cluster of stars in the milky way. My kidney twin Terry was up too. She saw it and confirmed I was not crazy. Later in the trip, at the McDonald observatory, I saw a video on nebulas. That has to be what it was, stars being born in a storm of dust and gas right there over the Rogue River. The Rogue Wilderness has no light pollution and very little human pollution.
All in all, a great trip, another river under my belt, and one I would gladly return to. Awesome.

Guides and other guest stories

Gina is a beast. She is 32 and stronger than any two men I know. I watched her cover 50 yards with 5 strokes and one arm Terry out of the river into her duckie. I saw her one arm Burnside into the raft. Richard was impressed. Watch out for Gina. She's tough but motherly. She is shaping Casie into her image. Casie is only 21, and Gina has shown her waterproof mascara along with tough love. We met Gina's dad on the river, and I could see where her upper body strength came from. He was coaching duckies surfing the wave and running with a group called the Orange Torpedos. When they came out of the duckies, the guides instructions were "get back in your boat." No soft stuff with that outfit.

Cassie is a love. She's a former baseball jock, and loves her new job on the river. We didn't know till the end, but we were her first human freight. She'd spent her time rowing equipment and supply boats to earn her stripes. The first night we started exchanging information, and Gina said, "No, Casie, not till the end. You're too used to those day trips." Casie's instructions to the crew are similar to a pilates instructor. "Gimme two forward" "Now Back" "okay, relax." I was proud to be part of her crew going through the picket fences of Sunshine Rapid that have terrorized the river with deaths this summer. We did great! Okay, relax.

Brent is as hairy as he is brawny. He rowed the overweight equipment boat and set up the kitchen every night ahead of the group. He started off giving me grief, but I had him on the ropes myself a few times. Just the very idea that he might be the boy toy of a 58 year old matron made him speechless. What can a river guide say to his paying guest? Poor thing. During the off season, Brent is a football coach, making enough to break even on his gas. Someday he'll get lassoed by the right lass and have his own football team.

Dave is 55 and teaches middle school. He keeps on rowing because if he stops, he might not be able to do it any more. He had a teacher buddy on another trip who played guitar and sang and came to our camp one night. Dave had advertised that we would sing along, but the buddy's songs were five years too young and quite complicated. Do you know more than 4 words of any Neil Young song? Laura did the best of the group, being 5 years younger than most of us. Laura also has a photographic memory when it comes to song lyrics.

Don't know much about Tom. He was on vacation with his girlfriend for the most part, and he left with the first group of guests off the boat. We had some folks on a three day, some on a four day, and us, the five day group, which meant we rested in camp a whole day, a long blessed day.

At night the guides would feed us and then leave us alone. They had their own thing going. Only Avery entered into their inner sanctum. As Gina said, they had bet money that Avery would stay up late and hang with them. Once we got used to the idea that we were on our own in the evenings, it was fine with us. We did, after all, have our own group entertainment, wine to drink, baths to take, and stories to tell.

One night we did skits at the request of Cyric, the 10 year old boy who was both entertainment and irritation. His skits were pretty funny, especially the one about earthquake, tornado and fire. Cyric could be bribed to blow up air mattresses. Avery got hers done with two pieces of gum. When I got a double bed from Brent, it cost me $2 to have Cyric pump it up. Well worth it. For nothing, he would wake people who were being sleepyheads. He would deliver tea to Mary every morning without fee. He also sneaked up and tickled Terry with a piece of grass. It took her a long time to figure out what was crawling on her. I was laughing so loud the whole canyon echoed.

Cyric was with his grandma, two months younger than me, but I wouldn't believe it if I were you. I look much younger. Jan had been a teacher for 25 years, and she was full of well meaning correction, like, "it was funny the first time" and big words of the day. Histrionics was the word of the day when Cyric went crazy about yellow jackets buzzing about him while he was eating. He should talk to Jack, who swells up and can't breath if he gets stung. Apparently the secret to getting good behavior out of Cyric was chips; denial of chips at lunch was worse than death. All that said, Cyric was pretty smart. He did a series of old camera and old movie camera pantomymes with me that cracked me up.

There were two grandparents, Mike and Marilyn, with their 14 year old granddaughters on their annual summer trip. 14 is a tough age for girls. They were mostly silent. Avery opened Danica up toward the end, and Danica also showed me a bracelet weaving stitch. Both Danica and Desiree went out of the duckies in a tough rapid, and after that, they shared a duckie. Good for them for getting back in.

And then there was Amy, Oakland girl, free spirit, about the size of a 10 year old but 36 and counting. She was, of course, vegetarian, and lactose intolerant (not latex intolerant, as I once said). Poor thing. Hard to eat on the river with those two caveats. She was so little, she wore a wet suit the whole trip and still shivered for an hour after a swim or a duckie. After she leaves this trip, she's going north to backpack in the Olympic National Forest, alone. What a role model of independence. She's gone back to school, going to do it right this time, and is studying ecology.

Altogether, a great group to join our forces. Can't say I've had better luck on any river trip.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Moving down the coast at 20 mph

Sometimes life gives you lemons. Two hours after I left Julia and Jack, Julia slipped and fractured her ankle. No rafting trip for her. She decided to come for the two days camping down the coast prior to the rafting; what a trooper! She had our admiration for the spirit with which she handled the bad luck. She had a lot of pain, swelling and bruising.

I picked up Mary and Avery in Portland, right on schedule. Mary arrived without her luggage. At 5 am next morning, SWA made a delivery to our first campsite, Stubb Stewart State Park in Oregon. Now we had the RV overstuffed beyond its comfort level. Stuff everywhere! RV'ing with 3 is a challenge in Teregram. Good thing Julia had the extra car for Jack and her. Our first night camping, we feasted on fresh salmon and southwest brownies, created by me accidentally purchasing southwest omelet eggbeaters. I've had worse deserts, but not lately. Had a distinct chile taste.

Julia and her boot, Mary and her luggage, Jack, Avery and I began our coastal adventure through wonderful Yamhill Valley. We are considering moving there. Avery and Julia spotted a 5 bedroom, 5 bath house for us. Yamhill has to be the prettiest agricultural region I have seen. See my photo album for August 1 to enjoy wheat fields blending with orchards and fruit stands and hills and babbling brooks....just a piece of heaven.

Julia, Jack and Avery proceeded at normal speed ahead of the lumbering RV to the Oregon dunes to try ATV tours, while Mary and I sped down the coast at 20 mph toward our next campsite, Tugman State Park. Along the way we saw a whale in the Pacific. Our 2 pm arrival stretched to 6:30, but the campsite was worth it. We had a yurt plus the RV. Daisy went bush diving for stale bread, andJack made us steak on the grill. The highlight was fresh corn. Apres dinner we retired to the yurt to laugh into the night, exchange philosophies and enlighten the world and each other.

Early the next day, Avery and Jack departed after hot chocolate to buggy the dunes, while the intrepid threesome of Rice Girls motored toward Grants Pass. Jack and Avery quickly caught up with the torpedo RV and made Grants Pass well ahead of us.

Miss Daisy had a date with the Pet Spa, where she checked in for a week of boarding and a grooming. She seemed unconcerned with my departure, but I felt like a total failure of a mom. How can I be separated from her for five days? My other arm was gone. First Carl, now Daisy.

We were joined at the hotel by Terry, who spent the night in the Portland airport with a 2 am vacuuming nazi, and Laura and Rich. We all enjoyed dinner with a waiter with marbles in his mouth, followed by stuffing our river bags and settling in for the night. Tomorrow we are to arrive at the outfitters at the crack of 8 am. I myself hardly slept a wink. No Miss Daisy, and my first bed in two and 1/2 months. It felt very unnatural and I did not adapt. Will I sleep in the RV forever, if I ever get home? Will I ever transition?