Friday, January 31, 2014


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Despite a bad news day, we woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise and it behooves us to remind ourselves that the sun is always shining somewhere.
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I told Jim I was hungry to see some green but we left early for Los Algodones for Jim’s eye appointment and I caught a group harvesting kale as we drove by. That isn’t enough green for me. I’m remembering when we stayed here for two months in 2008. I need to make up for our brown winter in Murphys.
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We ran the gauntlet of hawkers trying to get you to use their eye doctors or their dentist. Every few minutes someone sticks a card in your face. Algodones was practically empty from what we saw two years ago. The town has five hundred dental offices with two to three dentists in each one. The biggest concentration, so we are told, in the world.
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The streets and alleys are like one big bazaar, with goods hanging everywhere for sale, to bargain.
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Much of it stuff you don’t need but talk about colorful and fun.  I did buy a scarf.
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The economy in Algodones is affected by the drug cartel mess and less people making the trip. We were amazed at the five-minute wait to get back across the border instead of the 40 minutes it normally takes.  So people here are suffering for business as well. This courtyard at one time held a fountain and a lot of sales goods. Now it holds tables for strolling musicians and multiple restaurants in a circle to choose from.
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We walked around town for a an hour or so waiting for Jim’s glasses to be finished and we visited my dentist to have a new mouth guard made. His prices went up from thirty dollars last time to eighty dollars this time. I probably won’t go back to him. San Luis is cheaper, about 25 miles down the road. There is the back part of town not so pretty. A lot of places closed and for sale.
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This cute little dog was irresistible and not for sale, of course.
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We always eat at the same place, Birrias, where they sell you a whole chicken or fish and shrimp tacos for lunch with a beer for seven dollars. I usually order the chicken but talked to an American woman who said the tacos were as good as the chicken. And, they were.
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They give you gobs of condiments as well. Yum.
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Birriras doesn’t have musicians but we listened to musicians at another restaurant. We had my Little Siamese clock fixed and and picked it up before we got back to the motor home. Jim found out he has cataracts, which is also fixable, but not in Algodones. Mexican border towns are not dangerous during the day time. It is at night you don’t want to cross over. We did border crossings in January of last year when a local cop told us, don’t worry about drug activity during the day. Go, enjoy your dinner, and we did. Algodones has not had any drug violence like other places, anyway. So if you are worried, don’t be.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


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My sister, Dawn, died yesterday after struggling with cancer. This is her high school graduation picture. img005Dawn%27s%20first%20Communion%20at%20Hardwood. (Copy)

Her first communion. Families mostly took pictures on special occasions.
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Dawn, the oldest, Bill, the first son, and myself, the baby.
img526Dawn%2CMaryRuth%2CBill%2CDan%20inside%20car. (Copy)Then, another brother, Dan, peeking out of the car.
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In her Air Force Uniform.  I idolized my sister when we were growing up.
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We didn’t have a family picture taken until Dawn was married and had four children of her own.  In front is Norman, Mark, on Dad’s lap, Clark on Mom’s lap, and Dan.
Mark died at age 50 in 2005. Dan died at age 59 in 2002. It is hard to lose siblings. But, I’ve discovered that those we lose are never gone. They stay with us always. I am thankful for remembrance of the times we shared.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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It was a long slog from Murphys to the Sacramento Airport to fly to Yuma. I got stalled in commuter traffic and worried that I'd make my flight in time even though I allowed an extra hour. Something new called Pre-security where I didn't have to take off my shoes, or put anything out in trays?  Fast and easy, I liked it. And, Finally able to relax, I had just enough time to enjoy a big bowl of Thai chicken soup for my breakfast. It was very good; plentiful and full of chicken.
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My flight was so full on both legs, they were removing carry-on bags and putting them in checked baggage. Three flights leaving at one gate within minutes of each other made for crowded conditions and a few snafus. An older man and his wife asked us to vacate our seats. They had the same number as myself and my seat mate. It turned out they were on the wrong plane. But, I arrived in Yuma, met Jim and we headed for a Mexican restaurant.
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As we crossed the bridge over the Southern Crossing of the Colorado River, I was reminded of our previous stay in Yuma in 2008 and my conversation with my seat mate on the plane. A young business woman, she asked me what there is to see and do in Yuma? I told her about the historically important southern crossing, the Yuma territorial prison, the vast green fields of produce grown here and watered by canals. Growers ship 20,000 container trucks of produce all over the United States from here during the winter months by train. Up to a hundred containers a day stacked two high leave Yuma.  With a brown winter in Murphys, I'm hungry for that green. Today, I want to drive by green fields.
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At La Fonda, I enjoyed a wonderful tasting tortilla soup.
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Jim had a sumptuous chicken tostada.  Ahhh! Mex and Thai in the same day. Sweet!
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We are boondocking at the Quechen Casino. There are probably 100 rigs in the parking lot. Jim laughed at my surprise and told me that last week there were about 12 rigs parked here.
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On our evening walk, we found one rig that looked like a derelict from the Slabs, where we will visit soon. I love the Slabs. Can't wait to see the changes from 2008.

Monday, January 27, 2014


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Incline Village, Nevada sits on the north side of Lake Tahoe. Living in the Sierra Nevadas we have a choice of what route to take over the passes. Laurie drove Ken, Doug and I up over Highway 88, which she considers the most scenic. Normally at this time of year, snow covered 88 would require chains and could have closures. Lakes were covered with thin ice, and dabs of snow looked painted on the mountain fissures.
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Kris came up from Las Vegas. Virginia and Cedric took Highway 80 which is a fast four lane thoroughfare and serves the bigger populations from the Bay Area.
Highway 4 and 108 are my other two favs, but 88 is prettiest.
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The first night, we played and noshed.
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A little wine, games, and plenty of snacks.DSC02589 (Copy)

Kris made the observation that Ken has lived at one time or another with all of his siblings. He is currently sharing an apartment with his youngest sister. Both are away from their respective homes for their jobs. Ken is extremely neat and Virginia likes to leave dishes in the sink and clothes hanging over the backs of chairs-til later.  Hmmm!
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Virginia taught us this loud, raucous game she learned from her Italian brother-in-law. Fast moving, arms waving, card auctioning, gambling card game, a matter of luck, so the kids of any age have an equal chance of winning one of four pots. Everyone could put in a dollar, two dollars, a per-determined equal amount.  Kris, Theo, Myself, and Austin each won a pot. But the laughter was wonderful.
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Laurie brought a pot of chili from home so we had and easy dinner and lots of time to catch up with each other. This was our family Christmas since we couldn't all get together this past December.
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On Saturday morning, everyone geared up for skiing, except Doug, Kristanne, Laurie and I. Kristanne is "Lodge Fluff." I'm the photographer and Doug and Laurie stayed behind and played cards and rested. Ken hadn't skiied in 13 years and all but Virginia and Ced had lesson packages that give a price break for skiing.
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Laurie and I were thinking we might  do cross country, or maybe snowshoe since neither of us like downhill. There really wasn't enough snow.
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Owen gets fitted for his boots.
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Virginia, Cedric, Theo and Owen all go at their own pace on different runs. Owen is boarding. Theo is skiing. Skis are shorter and rounder than any I'd ever seen.
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Austin, who had never skiied wanted to snowboard because he likes his skate boarding.
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The kids lessons were at station one. That bit about falling?
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The instructor just came up to him and knocked him over numerous times. Taught him HOW to fall so he wouldn't put his hands out and break a wrist. He had a two-hour morning lesson and a one hour afternoon private lesson. The instructor said Austin was the best student he ever worked with at that age. Kudos!
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The "bunny hill" of station one has a tramway up the hill where everyone, kids and adults can practice their newly learned skills.
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Ken decided he didn't want to go back to work with a broken anything and Virginia went with him on the bunny slope.DSC02618 (Copy)

She coached him for a few runs on cutting and stopping and turning before they headed for the lifts.
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We all met around lunch time and then everyone went all out on the slopes. Kris and I kept track of spare gear as everyone shed jackets or pants, or whatever. Virginia referred to us as the "mules."  The weather was amazingly warm.
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Back at our rental condo, which sleeps 16 people, Cedric made the pies.
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Laurie made a beautiful salad. She said she was always salad queen as a child at home.
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Ken made kabobs. (He wanted to steal the barbeque pit but it wouldn't fit in the car.

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I roasted a turkey breast and we toasted our good fortune and grand gathering.
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Kris surprised Doug with a basket of goodies, as in Ben Gay, Anti Diarrheal meds, vitamin container, gas relief, all that over-the-hill stuff because his next birthday will be his 50th.

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And we all decided Cedric should give up his science PHD and become a pie chef. I didn't get a picture of his apple pie. Life is not only good but delicious.

Friday, January 24, 2014


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Normally, if I'm a member of an organization, I like to contribute  by attending meetings, taking on a job and helping out. Because of my traveling lifestyle, I make it to two or three meetings a year. I enjoy that Len, a club stalwart, is always there to play music while others chat and visit. He learned to play accordion as a child and transferred that to piano and organ. He played When The Saints Come Marching In for me.
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Club members are a fun bunch and my dinner partner, Earl Randall, worked in Judge Connit's court, Alameda County,  and knew practically everyone in the Sheriff's Department that I knew, including having met my husband and his best friend Jack Baugh. It is such a small world. The Elks Club Dinner was Wednesday night.
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Last night, Suzy and Ron Hayes, invited Karen and I to have dinner with them before I leave today. I could not ask for better neighbors and I treasure them.
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Ron and I share similar philosophies of life and we like to rail against our ineffective politicians as in fire them all and start over. I always tease Suzy that I'm going to marry him when she's done with him.
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Karen and I usually have one dinner together. I try to see all of my friends when I get home. I managed pretty well this time despite unexpected issues to take care of.  Karen often cooks dinner and brings me a plate to share. She took me out for tacos at Sidewinder, but as close as we are, living in the same house, we didn't manage a sit down dinner together until we got to Suzys.

Today, I leave for Incline Village to have a belated Christmas with my family since not everyone could make it to Calaveras County in December. We've rented a condo and almost everyone skis. Ahh! The card games and cooking together, the loud banter, just seeing everyone under one roof is very precious to me.  Then, transitioning to my rambling life with Jim and leaving the busy chaos of home behind for a while. I'm grateful to have such plenteous choices and two distinct lifestyles.