Thursday, June 14, 2018

Quiet Time at the Lake

It has been awhile since we last posted.  Seems like not a lot happening in our lives.  We have had a lot of short (50 mile each way) trips into Duluth for laundry, medical, and social activities.  Both Bob and Joyce have had quite a few medical appointments until this week, when we have had none at all.  We had a quick trip to Elk River to pick up our Grand-dog for her “summer camp” while Brett and family are on a vacation out west.  Anna planned the trip for them, because she wanted to see the Seattle area.  They will return prior to the Fourth of July because the girls like to be here for that holiday.

After experiencing this area’s last snowfall of the season, we have had cool, quiet weather.  The reservoir is about as full as it can be and the dam is wide open in anticipation of a lot of rain this weekend.  We have had a lot of east winds (on shore to us) that have become tiring.  On the other side of the peninsula, Steve and Dianna are getting a new deck and landscaping, so we have been checking the contractor’s progress each evening.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Off the Road for Awhile

We have finally made it to the cabin for the summer, but it was quite a journey. 

When we last posted, we were in Salt Lake City, waiting out the weather.  We left the next day but only made it until lunch-time.  As we pulled into a rest area for lunch, a fellow traveler pointed out a noise coming from our truck.  Paige made a few loops of the rest area while Bob listened and confirmed a strange rattling coming from the underside, like the 4 wheel drive’s transfer case.  The smartphone found a GM dealer about an hour up the highway so we pulled in there for an examination.  They confirmed that a cover was gone and some type of “keeper” was loose on the front driveshaft.  They didn’t have the needed parts in stock, but thought they could get them overnight.  We “boondocked” in their parking lot, counting on our batteries and generator while waiting for the parts to come in the next morning.

The parts did not arrive.  Rather than have us wait another full day, the service writer suggested that he pull the front drive shaft off so that we had either 2 wheel drive or neutral.  That plan worked for us so we left about noon, loosing one day of travel time.  We went down the highway about an hour or two when “low coolant” and “check engine” icons came on in the motorhome.  Another check of the smartphone helped us find a diesel service outfit on our way.  This stop only cost us about 2 hours (and $200) where they checked the on-board diagnostics, reset the fault codes, and added a gallon of coolant. We were once again on our way.  Having proven that we could spend the night without full hookups, we decided to do it again by spending Thursday night in a WalMart parking lot in Casper Wyoming. 

Bob’s cousins had planned a family reunion for mid-day on Saturday and we figured we could make it if we could get at least halfway across South Dakota on Friday.  With an early start on Friday, we planned a big driving day.  A highlight of the day was when a herd of 30 to 40 antelope decided to cross the highway in front of us.  Zoom In to see them better:


We got cell phone service late morning as we came into South Dakota and got near Rapid City.  Most of South Dakota was hard hit by a snowstorm last week and we soon found that the RV parks around Mitchel and Sioux Falls are not yet open, so we planned on boondocking once again.  Sioux Falls has 3 WalMarts to choose from, but none of them allow overnight parking due to a city ordinance.  Worthington Minnesota is less than an hour further east, and on our way, so that became our target destination.  We first planned on parking at a restaurant on the edge of town, but it was too full of idling trucks and mud, so we backtracked into town and found their WalMart, which allowed overnighters.  Three nights in a row off-the-grid!!  Wow, that wasn’t planned at all, and neither was 650-mile day in a motorhome.

On the bright side, we had only 100 miles to cover on Saturday morning, and we could make it to the reunion, where we had a good time seeing most (11 of 16) of Bob’s cousins and siblings.  After that gathering broke up, we had another 100 miles to Brett’s place, where we had a 20-amp electrical connection waiting for us.  We spent 2 nights there, catching up on the activities of his family, touching base with Dave, and getting a spring-time motorcycle ride in.


We needed to get to Duluth on Monday morning for a number of medical appointments, both for us and Paige’s mother.  We parked for 3 nights outside Paige’s cousin’s house while all these appointments were taken care of.  On Thursday, we re-parked the motorhome at the cabin.  It was a fine spring day for settling in and unloading the motorhome.  The lake is still frozen, but most of the snow is gone.

We had a number of social activities back in the metro area for the weekend, so we only had a one-night stay at the lake.  Friday morning we awoke to the pitter/patter of droplets on the roof, which quickly transitioned to large, wet snowflakes.  By the time we left for Minneapolis there was a fresh inch or two of slippery snow on the ground.
This in late April??.....only in Minnesota!

We had a great weekend in the Twin Cities, with Anna’s History Day competition at the University, and Olivia’s soccer game at St Johns, plus breakfast with David, LaJoy, and Kaylen while Brayden had to work.  We got back to the cabin in time to join Steve and Deanna for turkey burger supper.  It was good to get back to the lake for a few days of quiet time before another round of medical appointments later this week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stopped Again

After waiting out the high winds in Arizona on Thursday, we left Paula and Tom’s place on Friday on our way toward Las Vegas.  US93 north of I-40 gave us a different view of Arizona, with quite dramatic hills.  We had originally planned to stop just short of the Nevada border, but the campground we had in mind was full.  After calling a couple of others, we crossed into Nevada and stopped for the night near downtown Las Vegas.

Saturday’s drive was also very scenic, up the Virgin River valley, back into the corner of Arizona, and into Utah.  I-15 is in a wide valley.  Years ago we had been in the next valley to the east on a motorcycle trip, so now we got the see the “other side of the mountains.”  We stopped at Beaver Utah, which gave us a shorter day into Salt Lake City on Sunday morning.  It was a gorgeous day and we got to see the mountains both east and west of us. 

Sunday afternoon we spent with family: Bob’s sister-in-law Dianne is in town, spending time with her granddaughter while Bob’s niece, Becky, is out of the country with a grad school group.  We had a very nice afternoon, just visiting, and a pleasant dinner.  Eden had made some fresh brownies for dessert.

While Eden was in school on Monday, Dianne led us on a tour of the area: Great Salt Lake State Park, Antelope Island, and Temple Square downtown. 
We really appreciate her help because we wouldn’t have seen all of these on our own.  Monday was a good day for sightseeing and not traveling because a new front was coming into the area with high winds, again.  This time they were over 50 mph, so the motorhome stayed parked.  As the front came through on Monday night, we got some of the snow that was forecasted. 

We changed our plans, staying in Salt lake City on Tuesday to wait out the weather again.  Not the wind today, or even the snow.  Some freezing temperatures came with the front and they are lower to the east, where we are going.  Another day and the temperatures will be a little more acceptable.  Tuesday was spent doing laundry, buying Comey’s new book, and sightseeing in Park City. 

Tomorrow will be a warmer travel day into Wyoming.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Anxious to Roll Once Again

Our work projects are done, our RV repairs are done, all “stuff” has been repacked and loaded.  We are ready to hit the road; but we are sitting still for another day.   Why?  Mother Nature.  This time of year Northern Arizona often has high wind warnings and we are traveling in a “high profile vehicle” so we tend to watch out for these warnings.  We are planning to return north to the Midwest by way of Salt Lake City (because we haven’t been there before).  It is out of the way, compared to the shortest distance, but not by much.  Here is part of a warning from the local forecast:

* TIMING...Beginning 11 AM this morning continuing to 7 PM this
* WINDS...Westerly winds of 20 to 30 mph gusting up to 45 mph.

We will put up with gust to about 30 mph or so, but these predictions are a little too much, so we will sit it out for another day and leave Phoenix tomorrow.

Since there is also a good sized snow storm now moving from South Dakota into Minnesota and Wisconsin, we have another reason not to hurry.  We will give it time to melt before getting there.

Apparently much of the country has experienced a delay in getting their normal spring weather.  We follow a daily blog by Nick Russell and his “Thought for the Day” hits the spot:

            Mother Nature apologizes for the lateness of Spring, but Father Time
             was driving and refused to stop and ask for directions!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Quiet Once Again

We have had a busy few weeks here in southern California: first a 3-week work project at LaVerne that we described earlier, followed by another 3-week work project at San Dimas, followed by a 5-day visit from Jen&Brett’s 3 girls that just ended this morning.  During all of that we also met with Jamie and Jeff and their 2 daughters and got some resolution on Bob’s medical issues.

Between the work periods, we met with Jamie, Jeff and their 2 girls at the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (with all of their peacocks).  It was so good to see how the girls are growing up!

The following week, Bob had his prostate inspected by a ‘scope where the condition was defined as BPH and a surgery is recommended, but it will wait until we are parked for the spring and summer in Duluth.  A 4th catheter was inserted and will stay in place for the next month.

The San Dimas project went well.  We worked on the parsonage’s garage and lawn as well as a number of items at the church itself (including some painting, some ceiling fans, a small shingled roof overhang, some interior drywall and plaster repairs).   As a group, we had a number of meals together, including comfort food, sushi, and Italian, plus lots of lunches and snacks from the congregation.  A good time was had by all.  It all came to an end last Thursday and our leaders left that evening to meet with family.  Another couple left Friday morning.  Bill and Ogie stayed until Ogie left on Easter Sunday for an early flight to Korea.  She is visiting her family for 2 months and will meet Bill in Hawaii before coming back to their motorhome.

On Friday afternoon we met Brett’s 3 girls at LAX where they were traveling as “unaccompanied minors”.  The pickup process went smoothly, but we found this morning that Delta Airlines’ personnel did not finish their part the correct way which caused a slow process for their return flight this morning.  While they here we took them to the Venice canals:

plus Venice Beach, the LA County Museum of Art:
a Twentieth Century Fox Studio tour,
as well as the Getty Museum:

  Mixed in with those were a tour of the USC campus, a drive-by near UCLA, plus a walk along the Avenue of Stars in Hollywood.  We all got to see a lot of Los Angeles.

Now we have a night of quiet TV and packing before returning to Arizona tomorrow.  We have some repair work scheduled on the motorhome and will see Paige’s sisters before taking a roundabout way north for the spring.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sad, Tired, and Angry: A Prayer in the face of gun violence

Today is the day students nationwide have protested the school shootings in Florida with a school walkout.  Out of respect for them, one of our Nomads provided this message in their morning devotion; a prayer created by James Martin, a Jesuit priest.  It was so well written, we want to share it:

Almighty God,

I come before you, once again, after another shooting.

I am sad, God.

So I ask you:

            To receive into your loving care the souls of those who were killed,

            To care for those who were wounded or hurt in any way,

            To console the family members and friends of those who died or were wounded,

            To strengthen the hands of the rescue workers, medical professionals and caregivers.

 I pray, too, for the shooter, as I must as a Christian.

All this makes me inexpressibly sad, God

But I know the sadness I feel is your sadness. 
It is the same sadness your son expressed when he wept over the death of his friend Lazarus.  I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.

I am tired, God.

I am tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue.

I am tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change.

I am tired of those who say that gun violence can’t be reduced.

All this makes me tired.

But I know that the tiredness I feel is your tiredness.

It’s the same tiredness that Jesus felt after his own struggles against injustice that led him to fall asleep on the boat with his disciples.

I am angry, God.

I’m angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.

I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change.

I’m angry that these shootings happen at all.

But I know that this anger is your anger.

It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple, angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way.

Help me see in these feelings as the way that you move me to act.

Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change.

Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.

Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Because I know this is the way you move people to action.

And I know that you desire action.

For Jesus did not stand by while people were being hurt.

He plunged into their lives.

So, help me to answer these questions:

            How can I help?

            How can I fight against gun violence?

            How can I urge my political leaders to enact change?

            How can I help people understand that this is an issue about life?

I am sad over the loss of life,

tired of excuses for the loss of life,

and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.


Turn my sadness into compassion.

Turn my tiredness into advocacy.

Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Help me to be compassionate, to advocate, and to act, as your son did.

Almighty God

We will close with a big Thank You to those students, who are showing their elders what a miserable job we, their parents and grandparents, have done on their behalf.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

California Dreaming

Nearly another month has passed already since our last posting.  Time flies, so we must be having fun.  We have heard from a couple of readers this month, so we will keep the postings coming, on an irregular schedule like always.

We are in the Los Angeles suburbs, where we were 2 years ago.  On days with good traffic (seldom) we learned that we are about an hour’s drive from downtown.  On our first weekend here, we went sightseeing and found that estimate was right: about an hour to Griffith Park, but it took 3 hours to get back.

We have just finished a 3-week project at the LaVerne United Methodist Church (which was a location used near the end of the film “The Graduate”, starring Dustin Hoffman).  This is our 3rd time working at this church.  We always enjoy our time here, which is made better by the fact that they make wonderful lunches for us every work day.  There is a large Filipino presence here and these people cook GREAT meals!  Our Nomads group was made up of 3 couples that had worked together previously and one new couple.  It didn’t take long for everyone to meld together to work hard and laugh much.

Since we’ve been here we have had 2 trips to the emergency room.  Bob has been suffering with some health issues.  What we’ve learned is that health is very tenuous, family is so important for support, and Nomads are a wonderful support for us also.  Our Nomads group stepped up to the plate and helped to move our RV for us, take up some of the responsibilities we had as leaders, and make sure that we had our priorities set on Bob’s issues as well as prayers for us. 

Here are a couple of photos of our work group: first the official group photo when we were cleaned up


A big part of our labor was to rebuild an outdoor pergola which has the same shape as the sanctuary roof and the sign above

Last Thursday was International Womens’ Day, so the guys had an audience for our final assembly.  The ladies had a chance to touch up our final paint job right after this photo was taken

 We finished in time for a wedding this weekend, with outdoor photos taken under the pergola.

Our four RVs have been parked nearby at the back lot of David and Margaret Youth and Family Services, also in LaVerne.  Two of the rigs left this weekend, allowing room for two more to join us.  Four couples will be working at the sanctuary and the parsonage of Sam Dimas United Methodist Church in nearby San Dimas, about 1-1/2 miles away.  We don’t often work back-to-back projects, but these two are so close to each other, and have nice people to work for. 

After we finish at San Dimas, we have permission to stay here at David and Margaret’s for another week when Brett’s girls will be coming for Spring Break.  We should have a lot of fun showing them around the touristy places of Los Angeles.  Our niece, Tomie, has arranged a tour of Fox Studios for them.  We are anxious to see them and show them around LA!