Saturday, August 31, 2013

Checking in

I just thought I should check in.  Somehow this trio of goofballs trying to get across the country has attracted a few followers. And some of you actually start to worry about us if we have been quiet for too long. With good reason.

The Sausalito Arts Festival is in full swing, Scott and I have been staying in San Francisco in a beautiful apartment.  And we have added a newcomer the story, Rebecca.  "Becca" is David's daughter (our niece) and has been living in San Francisco for about three weeks now.  She is in a one room apartment not too far from us.  David, however, is staying in the motorhome with Mitzi, the pug. The motorhome is parked about an hour away from us in an area I'll call East Jesus.

East Jesus, in case you don't know, is a southern expression for some place far removed from civilization.  In this case East Jesus is apparently not far from San Quentin Prison. David and Becca discovered that due to a little operator error with the GPS.

David has rented a car while we are all here. It is a Chevy something or other, and is a little bit larger than a gnat. And this is where I really have to take my hat off to David. He has been driving the gnat into "the city" from East Jesus every morning to pick me up and deliver me to the show, take Scott to run errands, pick up Becca, and return to pick me up at the end of the day. Driving us all back across the Golden Gate Bridge just so he can turn around and drive back across the GGB to East Jesus again.

The switch from a 30 ft motorhome to a gnat was fairly significant, David had to demonstrate the "snappy" steering, on the highway. I only screamed out loud for a minute.  But that little car has been great to buzz up the hills of San Francisco in, even with all four of us in it. Becca has been his co-pilot, which means David ignores her and the GPS rather than ignoring me and the GPS.  A vast improvement.

We have one more day just like this, then on Monday it gets complicated again. Bringing the motorhome down to the show site to tear down and load it up with panels and artwork.  I am trying not to think about it actually. If you know any collectors in San Francisco, send them my way, each painting that finds a new home doesn't have to ride back to Georgia.

And that would be a very good thing.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Motorhomes can kill you.

Traveling in a motorhome with two family members is a whole lot funnier when you aren't actually there. I highly recommend it. 

Reading about the trip? Funny. Hearing about it on the telephone? Funny. 
Brushing your teeth in a bathroom marginally bigger than the ones available on an airplane? 
Not so funny. 

The good (?) thing about a rental motorhome is they point out all the obvious, and not so obvious dangers. Scott actually tested one of these possibilities as he and David were driving down the road. Walking in a moving motorhome is significantly more difficult than say, a ferry boat, or an airplane. My personal rule is, if you aren't actively hanging on to something while standing, you make sure your butt, or belly is leaning hard into whatever wall or ledge is available. 

Scott was walking to the back of the motorhome while David was driving, I'm not sure if there was a corner, or a little over correction, but *wham!*  in that split second, Scott lost his footing and slammed up against the motorhome door. The one that wasn't actually locked with the deadbolt. The door held, and Scott is sleeping quietly beside me right now. I can hear him breathing.   But holy snapping hoohaa's. This stuff ain't for sissies. 

There should probably be another warning label printed up. Something like...

Spending time in this aluminum box with people you don't share forks, beds, or occasionally a toothbrush with may be hazardous to your mental health. 

Or probably more to the point, 

Occupants of this traveling cracker box should undergo psychological evaluation before embarking on a journey of 50 miles or more. 

But I did wake up this morning right about here...

Which was pretty awesome. 

And tonight?  Tonight I just had a great dinner in the Castro section of San Francisco in a restaurant named after and frequented at one time by Harvey Milk. And I am sleeping in a sweet and incredibly stationary bed in a beautiful apartment. Thanks to some wonderful friends. 

The road rash is wearing off my sense of humor, the Sausalito Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow evening. And I am set up and ready to go. 

Bring it on San Francisco. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Highway speed

I've been everywhere man, in my underwear man.

Somehow that juvenile song has wedged itself into my brain today. But we have covered some territory.  Buzzing down US 101, the day began foggy and misty, but the sun finally broke through.  We saw spectacular beach after spectacular beach.  Cliffs, sand dunes, sea lion caves, before heading inland to Crater Lake. 

Crater Lake, in case you haven't heard, is essentially the crater left from a major volcanic eruption that occurred about 7,700 years ago. The lake is fed only by rainwater and snow runoff.  And just off center in the lake is the cone of a later forming volcano. 

And I'd love to show you photos. I have wads of photos. But I am in the middle of the land of zero cell phone service, and close to zero Internet service. In fact there are hardly any gas stations, which had us clenching our teeth just a bit this afternoon. 

Actually my teeth were clenched for much of the afternoon, two lane roads, highway speeds, a rattling motorhome, and once we got to Crater Lake, a complete lack of guard rails was a bit of a stretch for my central nervous system. I spent some of that time on the back bunk with my head under the pillows. On several occasions my body became completely airborne. Add a little sideways motion, and I didn't even necessarily land in the same spot I launched from.

But that seemed better than looking out the windows.

I did however discover the perfect antidote. Did you know you can drink an icy cold vodka and tonic in a warm shower?  Better than therapy.

Until the smoke alarm went off while I was cooking dinner, there is no antidote for that.

Tomorrow morning I need to find my big girl panties and see how all my artwork is faring in the storage compartments. (Also in the back of the motorhome.)  If you see a mushroom cloud in the West, it didn't go well.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day One

Somehow it happened, Scott and David found me in Portland, and my loot from the trip north was transferred into the motorhome in the roomy expanse of an Ikea parking lot. My loot, by the way includes my grandparent's 150 year old grandfather clock.  So now the passenger list includes two full sized men, me, a pug, a grandfather clock, and and entire art show.  

Stepping into the motorhome, I came across Scott and David's solution for crap rolling off table tops etc.
Below are two photos.  Two un retouched, un staged photos. 

In case you can't really see what is going on here, the solution is masking tape. Note pads, pens, pill bottles, etc have been taped to the table tops. I am sure that faint sound I hear is my Dad, the lifelong camper, laughing his ass off. 

Today was relatively uneventful, we only got turned around a couple times.  The weather turned rainy and blowy, hardly unheard of on the Oregon Coast. I practiced my excellent sleeping in motion skills and curled up on a bunk while David drove, and Scott told David to slow down, and keep between those lines they paint on the road.   We did stop a couple of times to see beautiful places like this.  Cannon Beach, the wind was almost enough to blow you over, but well worth it. 

I understand that last night's dinner was something like ice cream and wine. Apparently the boys went to a grocery store and bought a frozen pizza. Which was a perfect solution, if you have an oven. But, this motorhome doesn't actually have one of those. It has a microwave, not a recommended cooking method for frozen pizza. 

I was told early on that my job was going to be cooking and blogging. Here's the blog, and here's dinner. Not quite "gourmet" but a good step above ice cream and wine. 

We will be continuing down the coast tomorrow, David is an early riser, so that's it for now. We will see what tomorrow brings. Feel free to send more masking tape. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Hey!  I'm back, sorry about the delay. With one of us north of the border, and the other in Yellowstone National Park, communications have been pretty spotty.  Yes, the boys have been in Yellowstone. And so far it's been the highlight of the trip. They drove through the park, seeing all kinds of geysers, including Old Faithful. Wildlife sightings include bear, (I'm not sure if that was singular, or plural), a mama elk and two babies, buffalo, and "wild" cows. I have never heard of feral cows, but it sounds like a good name for a band.

They were also driving across an 11,000 ft high pass, and witnessed a hail storm while seeing a wildfire in the distance. Sounds pretty dramatic to me.

Speaking of dramatic, they also secured one of the last spots in a campground the other night. It was probably still available because it had a bit of a slope to it. Our slightly more seasoned travelers didn't have anything to level up the motorhome with, so they just made due. Scott said he woke up several times in the night after sliding halfway off the end of the bed. That slick leatherette mattress cover wasn't helping. He said he just got up, pushed all the bedding back on to the bed and tried again, and again.

I, on the other hand have been bombing around Vancouver Island trying to catch all the sights and squish in short visits with family. I am currently sitting in a ferry line up waiting for the next boat to Vancouver, because even though I got here over an hour and a half before the sailing, I missed it by three cars. Three. And the next sailing is two hours away.

Son-of-a-bitch. That's the nicest thing I can think to say.

The good news though, is Scott and David seem to have a good working knowledge of all involved in dumping the holding tank in the motorhome. A very good thing.

I meet them on Monday, that's the plan anyway. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The boys are somewhere. Of this I am sure. They just drove past the KOA campground they were heading for last night. It became pretty clear they weren't going to be able to get as far as they had hoped, and they actually stepped back a bit and rethought their plans.   They had a good night wherever they were, both getting into long discussions with fellow campers.  I understand that Mt. Rushmore, or the Badlands are on today's itinerary.  I'll let you know where they end up.

Scott's favorite story from yesterday was Mitzi's latest trick. She sits in David's lap while he is driving and fiddles with the power windows and locks. Up and down, occasionally punctuated with a good honk of the horn. I don't know exactly how she honks the horn, but she barks every time she does. I feel like I should apologize to anyone in their path at this point. Being honked at by a barking pug has got to be annoying.

David has been promising me "really bad photos" to entertain you all with. He was going  to email them last night. I received this email instead...

I can't figure out how to send them! How unusual is that?


But the news is, I'm on my way. Blogging from Dallas /Ft. Worth. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news. But it is news. I kissed Freda and the kitties goodbye this morning. And left before the sun came up. Kisses to CC for the ride.   I'll land in Portland tonight, and start heading North to visit my family, before I turn around again to head South to meet the boys. 

Between pet sitters, house sitters, and delightful neighbors, I have am sure all will be fine back at the ranch until I get home, whenever that may be. And if you have less than honorable intentions, you may want to notice that little white car in the drive. I have two words for you, Ex Marine. No shit.

Now if you have a burning desire to cut my grass, we can talk.

And if you really think I'm going to be able to save the day when I meet those two, you may be disappointed. My toothbrush is sitting in the holder at home.  Where else would it be?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just another day.

Yesterday's plan of arriving at camp before dark, and before the office closed was foiled yet again.  I called at about 9:30 to see if they were set up for the night.  They had just pulled in, it was dark, there was no one in the office, and they were looking for the wine glasses.  Not those wine glasses, the big ones.  The BIG ones!

Speaking of wine, sometime yesterday afternoon Scott decided it was time for a glass of wine.  He went to the fridge, poured the wine, and carried it back to the cab.  (This may be incriminating evidence here, shhhh.)  David was driving and flapping his arms and pointing, and carrying on as only David can do.  Of course he hit the glass of wine out of Scott's hand, anyone could see that coming.  Scott said, no one said a thing.  Wine flew all over the cab, and both of them, Scott picked up the glass, and went and got more wine.

Please baby jesus, don't let these two get pulled over.

Other things that may involve the not refunding the damage deposit include the first use of duct tape.  Duct tape now holds a window screen in.  Apparently, if you drive down the interstate with the windows open, the screens will blow in.  And whatever was holding them in before has ceased to function.  Hence duct tape.  I just hope that motorhome doesn't look like some creepy wrinkly version of an airstream when they have the whole thing covered in duct tape.

Yesterday's trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's house was a success, they both enjoyed the tour.  Today they are heading towards the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Here is the link.  David sent me the driving directions from where they slept last night.  Which was Great River Bluffs State Park in Minnesota.  662 miles, 9 hours and 45 minutes. 

I know I heard the words, taking it easy, no driving after dark, set up camp in the afternoon, when the original spark of a thought was whirling around David's head.  After all, this was his idea.

On a positive note, eggs were boiled this morning.  On the gas stove.  No one caught on fire.  But they are currently looking for a restaurant, for breakfast.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Had me worried for a minute.

Things have been fairly quiet this weekend.  Scott has been staying put, working on his commission, doing laundry, y'know, the glamorous stuff.  David has been taking the train up to Chicago, seeing a Cubs game in Wrigley Field, and as he put it "roaming the streets."

The motorhome has been parked.  So even though I had been calling and checking in, my source of comedic material seemed to be drying up.  I almost started to worry.  But really all it takes with those two is a little motion, and gravity.

Many of you reading this blog are actually fans of the two stars involved, Scott and David.  You may not have even met me.  So here is a little background.  My family were campers.  Regular, constant, serial campers.  There are photos of me in front of the trailers my Dad built,  and the motorhome my Dad and Grandfather built.  I grew up among chemical toilets, outhouses, showers you put quarters into, kitchen sinks that had water that gushed into them only when you pumped a lever.

There is a certain rhythm to camping, and life on the road.  Something so ingrained in those that do it, that it becomes second nature.  Or perhaps you could call it common sense.  Things like packing up before you head down the road.

This morning, the plan was to leave at 5 am.  I think this is the only planned before dawn departure.  When I called Scott, they had arrived at their destination for the morning.  They were on time.

I was worried, it was all going so well.

So I asked, "Please tell me you remembered to unplug everything before you pulled out."  Oh, yes, they had put a big note on the steering wheel, "Unplug shit!" So David could not get into the driver's seat and leave dragging an extension cord.  David started to drive around 5, Scott thought he could snooze in the back bunk for a few hours.

Without actually being there to witness, it went something like this.  The motorhome starts to head down the road, Scott is in the bed, and quickly realizes there is no sleeping in.  As the back of the motorhome is a little like a bucking bronco.  Add the fact that the mattress in the back has some strange faux leather, plastic kind of covering.  Apparently to make it possible to wipe down between rentals.  Scott is bouncing up and down, and sorta sliding off the bed.

Meanwhile, this thing called gravity is starting to take over.  No one thought to clean the counters or tables off before departure.  I don't have a clear account of all that hit the floor, but did hear, "There was shit everywhere."  So Scott is up, in a motorhome bouncing down the road.  (I didn't ask what he was wearing, I really should have.  But if it was more than a pair of tightie whities I would be surprised.)  Picking up all the debris that had hit the floor and was rolling around, under tables, and yelling.

The yelling seemed to be focused on who's job it was to put everything away, the driver's, or the sleeping (?) passenger's. 

But they have arrived at today's destination, a Frank Lloyd Wright house.  The perfect spot for an artist and a builder to visit.  You can see it here.  After that, they only have one goal.  To be in a campsite before dark, before it's closed, so they can actually see what they are doing when they try to plug in.  And maybe even sit outside for a minute or two. 

It seems like such a reasonable goal.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chilling in Big Rock

Things have fortunately settled down a bit for our two adventurers.  Some of the new challenges included the complex dance of pulling into toll booth after toll booth on I-65.  The dance involved not whacking the motorhome mirrors off when they pull into the toll booth, paying the toll booth cashier while Mitzi is biting the money, and the air, and whatever is between her and the toll booth cashier.  Some of the cashiers were apparently crazy enough to reach out and pet her.  As far as I can tell no one was harmed.

Scott and David arrived late last night in the metropolis of Big Rock, Illinois.  And Scott had a vodka and tonic in his hand within moments of arrival.  The motorhome will stay parked at the fire station/ home/ studio of ceramic artist Michael Barnes for a couple of days.  (Click on Michael's name to go to his web site and see his beautiful work.)  David will be hopping on a train to head into Chicago this afternoon.  Scott has decided to stay back at the ranch, and get a little work done on a commission.  Hopefully they will both go in tomorrow as David has tickets for the Comedy Club and other cool things.

As far as creature comforts, the motorhome has been connected to water and electricity, and I've heard rumors of hot and cold running water.  Scott was just about to get in the shower when we last talked.  He seems happy to be settled for the afternoon, saying, "I think I'll go out and shoot holes in all the tires, just so we can't go anywhere, I'll come home when it gets cold."

Some have asked for a photo of Mitzi, just for reference...

This is Mitzi

This is not Mitzi.  But I think she would appreciate the additions to her wardrobe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I don't think they have enough wine.

No photos with today's blog, you'll just have to close your eyes and imagine this all in Technicolor.

Yesterday's official departure was scheduled to be around 5 am, the boys did get out of Atlanta just shortly after 9, so it was close.  I checked in again when they we having lunch somewhere in TN, all sounded calm.  Scott says the motorhome drives a lot like our van.  Cool.

I heard from them again around 7, they were lost, but knew they were close to the campground.  They just knew it.  It was exactly the same scenario as the last time those two were travelling together with a specific destination in mind.  The MapQuest vs Garmin debate was on. 

Jennifer gave Scott and me a GPS, aka the Garmin, aka, asshole for Christmas three years ago.  (Note on asshole, I had to change the voice from female to male, because during moments of frequent recalculating, I felt guilty telling the bitch to shut up, so now it's asshole.  Don't ask me why, but it just feels better.)  So in the past three years, the Garmin has had us drive off the end of a road that didn't exist, once.  Dumped us in the 'hood in Gary, Indiana once.  And tried to get us to drive through a locked cemetery gate once.  Other than that, I'd say the other couple or three hundred destinations that we have arrived at have been pretty much as planned, or close enough.

But David had this trip all planned out via MapQuest, pages and pages of MapQuest maps, in addition to travel guides, paper maps, and Scott has one of our big Canada/US map books.  But the Garmin was telling them to head in a different direction.  So for what seems to be 2 hours, they refused to listen to the Garmin, and followed the original plan.  Turns out someone had the wrong address in the MapQuest.  They pulled into the first night's camping spot as the lights were being flipped off in the "Office."  Just after 9 pm.  But they got in.

So I was talking to them both around 10 last night, I can talk to them both because one cell phone in one motorhome with two yelling men is really all you need.  NASA should look into this.  In the 5 or so minutes I was on the phone they bumped into each other at least twice, Scott fell off the upper ledge (just a 6 inch drop) from the bedroom.  David was trying feverishly to get into a box of wine, and Mitzi (the pug) had taken to growling at David pretty much constantly.

The box of wine was finally breached, I did hear the suggestion that a knife would be faster.  But it was red wine that had been in the fridge all day, and white wine that had not.  Food, as far as I can tell has been pretty much fried chicken and pimento cheese sandwiches  since yesterday afternoon.

They did go to bed sometime.  Scott woke up freezing.  "I thought I was in a meat locker, I was sorta hoping I was in a meat locker."  The air conditioning was blasting, they still haven't figured out how to turn in down, or even off.  A trip to buy more bedding seems to be on the list.  But in any case, Scott woke, and had to use the bathroom.  Which means leaving the motorhome, because they haven't yet figured out how to get the toilet working.  David was in a deep sleep, hears Scott moving around and wakes up screaming.  Which scares Mitzi.  Who proceeds to pee on David's bed.

11 days until I join them on this trip.  11 days.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Epic Journey

So, what exactly is my brother in law's idea?
Here is the backstory.  New Year's Eve, or there about, Scott and I were with David in Florida.  We were doing what we usually do at the beach house, sleeping, drinking Mimosas, that sort of thing.  Somewhere mid Mimosa I was on the computer, checking my Zapplication account, and considering shows to apply for in 2013.
And there was the Sausalito Arts Festival.  I applied last year, and didn't get in.  No biggie, it's a prestigious show, it's waaaay far away, and it's (gulp) expensive.  I was apparently making enough noise in the kitchen in front of the computer to attract David's attention.  He asked what I was doing and I told him about the show.  I applied last year, and didn't get in, but I didn't think I was going to apply this year.  Remember, expensive, and far away.
David said, and those of you who know David, "said" usually means yelled out loud.  David's volume adjustment is pretty much stuck at 11.  Anyway David said. "Apply!  If you get in, I'll rent a motorhome, and we'll all drive across the country!
I applied, I was accepted.
That's how we got to this point.
Now I could tell you all the plans that have been made to get to this point, but really, all that matters is I drove to Atlanta yesterday afternoon, and this is what I see.

Parked the wrong way on the street.  David sticks his head out and says, "This thing sure does have a lot of flex, you drive it down the road, it sways back and forth, and before you know it you're in someone else's lane!"  Add that to all the other David driving stories, "Hey, did I tell you about the time I almost flipped the dump truck, lost the trailer, went through that red light..." and you have the backstory.
David was just getting started loading display panels, art, and other assorted stuff.  Preparing the mothership as it were.  I pitched in, and I think we did pretty well.
There is also a huge storage space in the back of the rig accessible from the outside.  It is crammed full of artwork, so are some of the kitchen cupboards.  Frankly I'm just glad I wasn't stacking paintings in the shower, and that there is a shower.
You may be wondering where Scott is at this point.  Scott is on the sofa in the living room with the fourth member of the crew.  Mitzi.  Mitzi is a pug, who eats refrigerated dog food, and baby carrots.  Scott is on the sofa, mostly because his freshly radiated leg hurts like a bitch.  No other way of putting it.  Skin cancer sometimes goes beyond the little dabs of stuff that makes it fall off, and Scott's did.  The good news is the doctor is pretty sure there is healthy skin under all that charred blistered swollen mess.  Fingers crossed. Remember your sunscreen boys and girls.
So, motorhome loading resumes, we can see the priorities in these two shots...

The food to wine ratio does seem to be a little off for the next couple of weeks, I'll update you on that later.
Liftoff was originally scheduled for yesterday afternoon, it was postponed until early this morning.  Somebody said, let's just get up really early, like 4am, we can leave by 5, and it will be an easy drive to Dayton.  For those of you with a map, you'll know Dayton, OH isn't really on the way to Sausalito, CA from Atlanta, GA.  But that's for another time. 
My phone rang at 9:15 am.  They are on their way.  "Are you in Chattanooga yet?"
I was hedging my bets, that's only a couple hours from Atlanta, if they left on time, they should be well past Chattanooga.  "No, we are on I-75, but we are still in the perimeter.  Of Atlanta.
But they were both laughing.
Now where am I?  This is my show, my work, (not my idea.) We'll get to that, maybe tomorrow.  Until then, here is a pic of the happy crew, that day before liftoff.
Wondering what kind of artwork is riding around in the back of the motorhome?  Check out my blog


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

So, this is my brother-in-law David

If you are reading this blog this early in the game, there is a pretty good chance you know my brother-in-law David.  But if you don't, I'll do my best to introduce you.

David in Atlanta, GA.

David at the beach.
And this whole thing was his idea.