Monday, December 15, 2014

No Wedding Pictures

Yesterday, December 14, was our 39th wedding anniversary. I posted that fact on my Facebook "Wall." along with a picture taken nine years ago when Richard and I renewed our vows on our 30th anniversary with most of our close family there. There were no guests and no pictures of our actual wedding, or the entire week of our wedding for that matter.
Married 30 years when we renewed our vows 9 years ago.
It was an unusual affair, our original wedding, and it followed an unusual courtship. We had each experienced the unexpected end of a marriage and were deeply wounded and basically in shock. We had known one another all our lives and were already good friends, but going through so much pain at about the same time brought us even closer. I had nine children who were also going through the trauma of divorce, and Richard hung out with us a lot... he was good for the children, too. 
Our son Norman's Wedding picture near the time we were married.
Of course, we ultimately fell in love in a romantic way, but marriage is scary when you've been recently hurt, so our relationship was on again - off again. It didn't seem we really had a future together, so I moved from Utah to California to be near family. My brother lives there and we were always close. Being near him brought comfort, but there was still an empty spot in my heart. I missed Richard. Finally, we made tentative plans to marry, and I packed up my precious brood and headed back to Utah.

After getting a house and a job lined up, I felt I was ready to take the big step. The kids loved Richard and were all for him becoming part of the family. They even helped prepare our clothes and Richard and I, who were both driving truck at that time for C. R. England, asked dispatch to put us on the same rig and send us west. We couldn't afford time off to meet Utah's marriage license waiting period and we certainly could not afford two households for very long, so we "eloped," sort of.

I pulled the rig up along the curb near the courthouse in Reno, NV at about 4:00 AM, and we both slept until things opened later that morning. Dressed in jeans and boots, we went inside and got the wedding license. We had already decided not to use one of the commercial wedding "chapels" available in Reno, so asked about getting married at the court house. Yes, that was a regular event there, we were told. Good.
After about 20 years of marriage, still happy together.
Still, we stood around in the big ante room of the court house discussing whether we really wanted to do this or not. Someone had left the Sunday Funnies on a window sill, and we leaned against the wall most of the day, reading comics, saying we should go change into our "wedding clothes" but still not sure what to do. Every so often, we took a little walk, going out to feed all the meters where we were parked. Amazingly, we didn't get a ticket.
We share fun together; he makes me laugh.
It was close to closing time when a clerk came out to tell us that if we wanted to get married, we needed to come in the office and do it because they were leaving in a few minutes. We hurriedly, albeit nervously followed her inside, and ten minutes later, we were out on the curb, still in our jeans and boots, a married couple... Wow!
And when life brings sorrow, we share that, too.
There was no time for a honeymoon. We had a load to deliver and another to pickup and haul back to Utah. That ten minutes in the courthouse, where we pledged to love and stand by one another no matter what life might bring, changed my life completely, and even with all the indecision leading up to it, that commitment and love have grown ever stronger with each passing year for us both.
We are blessed with warmth and trust and love... we fit, we're comfortable together.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving in the Campground

Too excited about life?
Did you ever read a book where the author jumped all over the place in time? Flash backs and leaps forward until you cannot make any sense of it? Well, that's what this blog has become. The reason is I let time race away and leave me behind, and there is so much I want to share with you that I throw it in even before I have posted older stuff I want to give. It's the sign of a disorganized mind and that I find life so exciting, I want to tell it all at once, sort of like a four-year old. I'm working on controlling that and on convincing myself that I can work in smaller time slots, then piece it together later. We'll see; meanwhile... Thanksgiving!!!
From Left: Jim, Mark, Ila, Susan, Richard and me (Iona). Linda shot the picture.
There are seven volunteers here at Ocean Pond Campground, all thankful to be here, all happy to share life and duties with one another. So, we planned to give thanks together and share a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, camping style.
Jim watching over the turkey.
Mark tending the camp fire foods.
We each contributed something, and the main elements were prepared outdoors, for example, Jim did the turkey in a fire ring. It was moist and wonderful, probably the best turkey I've ever eaten! Susan baked yams in a fire ring also, and you'll see her camp fire cooking in several of the pictures below.
Jim, Ila, Mark and Susan at Susan's camp fire.
Jim presenting the turkey.

I said a blessing in English and an ancient Hebrew blessing, too. Later, Jim said the Hebrew blessing touched him deeply. I was so blessed by his candor.

We had much to be thankful for... of course, the food and fellowship, our families and friends, our health, America, the life style we all live as volunteers. We live away from the cities in the great outdoors, the forests and the deserts, the mountains and the plains. I doubt any of us would go back to the sticks and bricks lives we left for life on the road, at least as long as we can live it this way.

Jim and Linda keeping warm.
The day was brisk, a chill in the air, but we enjoyed warmth and camaraderie.  We ate a lot and laughed a lot. All the foods were yummy and there were plenty of left overs... even pie. 

Our menu was complete with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams (or sweet potatoes?), green bean casseroles (2), rolls and pie! Hope I didn't forget anything.

Richard and I were in charge of pie. I am not so great in the kitchen and our small oven is a joke, so we bought four nice pies, pecan, apple and two traditional pumpkin plus lots of whipped cream. Seems all of us like pie, especially ME!!!
Mark and Ila don't look a bit cold.

Our campground was nearly full. This is Florida and folks camp year round, especially on holidays. We were intrigued with the many ways campers celebrated Thanksgiving and prepared their foods. Quite a few spent the morning fishing and the afternoon cooking up a fish feast with all the trimmings.

We volunteered to take Thanksgiving duty when our work schedules were made up. The volunteers arrange duty schedules among ourselves, and the others have been very gracious about our need to have the Sabbath day (Saturday) as well as our other holy days off , so we gladly take duty on any other holidays.
Richard and I getting ready to make our rounds among the 67 sites at Ocean Pond.
VERY soon, We'll return to the beach to sail away on daydreams about our recent cruise. See you there... if I don't get side-tracked again, eep!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dothan and Beyond

Rhonda, Richard, Me and Pastor Ralph Sigler, 2004
Naomi Sigler, 2014
We left the Ford shop in the late afternoon and determined to drive pretty much straight through so we could visit our sweet friends Sunday morning at Harvest Church in Dothan, Alabama. 

When we moved from there ten years ago, they threw us a wonderful open house party at a rented store front (the church was under construction). My, we have changed a bunch since 2004, no so Ralph and Rhonda.

After church, we met with friends for coffee; among them was Pastor Ralph's sweet mother, our dear friend, Naomi Sigler. In her eighties, she can still light up a room with her smile. 

Philip Wilson, a Special Friend, 2014
We spent the afternoon and evening with my best friend and soul mate Carol Skipper and her son and hubby. The rest of her clan were away. Carol fed us a meal fit for royalty and the next day, the Siglers took us to a delicious lunch before we headed on south. We didn't see everyone we hoped to connect with at church, but we did hunt down one special guy at Wal-Mart.

One of the perks of life on the road is getting to visit loved ones all across the country, but on the other hand, one of the downers is having to leave precious people as you break away and head off to the next camp site.

The car ran fine and we made it to Ocean Pond Campground with no further troubles. We got unloaded and set up, then took a day to unwind... at the beach. Once again, we were at the Atlantic coastline, sitting in the sun reviewing all that had gone by since we left the shores of the Pacific.
Sunbathers enjoying the Atlantic on a balmy Florida afternoon in October
Next post, we'll meet on the beach once more and I'll wander back on memory lane and bring you up to date on the rest of our trip from Nevada to Vermont, our stay at the Hapgood Pond Camp Ground and the preparations to come here. See you then.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Our Rig in a Used Car Lineup

I interrupt telling you about our trek from Nevada to Vermont and fast forward to our present journey from Vermont to Florida with a planned stopover in Dothan, Alabama.
Our motorhome in the used car lineup at a PA Ford dealership
 As I type this, our rig is in a used car lineup at a Hallstead, PA Ford dealership. It all started Wednesday morning, Oct. 15...

All we had to do was unhook our water, sewer and electric, hook up our car to the tow bars and head south. We had gotten everything else ready by Tuesday night so we could get an early start... but that didn't happen.

First, we could not find the fat hookup rods that attach to the car... after unproductively searching a while, we finally had sense enough to pray. Duh! Almost immediately, I had a mental picture if the rods in our special Hanukah box, a place I would NEVER have put them, but we have walked with G-d a long while, so we opened the compartment where the box is and began emptying sleeping bags, leveling blocks, hoses, etc. and voila! There they were, on the floor beside the Hannuka box. Baruch HaShem (Praise G-d)!

Next, the car was all hooked up to the Blue Ox towbars. We put the car in reverse and backed slightly to stretch out the blue Ox and lock the arms in place. This keeps the car from crashing into the RV when slowing. We took off, but in just a mile, the towbar was slack on one side and we had to stop to reset it. Again, it failed right away. We spent more time tinkering, then went to fuel. 

We decided to just drive the car. What choice did we really have, right? Again, we were ready to go... 

No, we could not go. The battery on the motorhome was dead. We jumped it and headed out. We made one stop for lunch in our cozy, well stocked RV, jump started again and used our GPS to find a Wal-Mart Supercenter where we had the battery tested to confirm our suspicions that it was on its deathbed. Two hours later, equipped with a new battery Richard had installed in the pouring rain, we headed out. We drove until about 7:00 that evening and spent the night at the PA Welcome Center on the PA-NY line on I-81.

Thursday morning, the rain had stopped and we looked forward to a trouble free travel day. The rig fired right up, but the car would not start. We tightened the cables and also found our tow harness light bundle of wires dragging down below the motor with the end that connects to the motorhome torn off. It doesn't interface with the car's electrical system, though.

The car finally started, and Richard drove off in the RV, and I headed out after him... except I was stuck at 10 miles an hour. The car would not shift out of first gear. I tried several times and was on the onramp to I-81. I called Richard and he was a few miles up the road. He got turned around and headed back, then turned around again to head toward where I was.

Meanwhile, we both were praying and I was looking on my GPS for car dealerships near the car. A Ford dealer popped up just 2.4 miles away! I looked on the map. The town was TINY, but what else was there, nothing nearby, that's for sure.

As we inched along in first gear, off the freeway into a very small town, down a rural road, I was convinced there was a mistake... then I saw it. A large dealership and expanding, remodeling, even. 

They were super busy and could not get to us until today. We all thought it was the transmission problem typical of the Fiesta, but today, they found that the towing harness had wrapped around the axle and also messed up the "shifting box" which is exterior to the transmission? Whatever, but that means it is not warrantee work. Big oopsie!

But back to why our rig is in the used car lineup. When we came in they had us back the rig in just off the pavement of their lot. Then yesterday afternoon, they began moving used cars over here. We had gone to dinner in a loaner car and when we came back it looked as if our rig was for sale!

So, we don't know when we'll be out of here, but the people have been so friendly and nice, we still feel blessed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Denver Delays, Delightful

$10,000 damages to motorhome
On our way to volunteer in Vermont, we stopped to sleep at a truck stop halfway across Wyoming. In the morning, Richard drove up to the pumps and fueled. It was tight pulling out, and our motorhome has a long back overhang, as most of them do. The back corner of our rig barely snagged the concrete piling near the pumps. There was a ghastly wrenching sound as the fiberglass tore. He stopped immediately, but the damage was already done. Frankly, it didn't look too bad. We called it in to Progressive, our insurance company, and were told where to take it for repairs in Denver. Ten days later, the repair was done and was $10,000. Progressive took care of us so very well, paid our lodging, provided an agent to work with us and Diversified Body and Paint Shop... and the repair is better than new!

Miriah, Danny and their son Aiden
Daughter Athena and Richard
We had a great time at Miriah and Danny's wedding held in a ski resort just after it closed for the season. The wedding provided the only guests in any of the rooms, and it was amazing! Enjoy a few wedding pics.
Daughter Crystal and Ronnie
Grandkids Jared, Jordan, Jacob
Four of our daughters with their handsome men... Eye glow is a mystery.

Great grandson Aiden was not impressed.
Danny and Miriah
 After the wedding, we headed down the mountain from ski country. There was a storm warning and indeed, snow was falling. It was cold most of our time in Denver, but we had great visits with friends and family and discovered how hard it is to find a sit down Pizza Hut in Denver. Most of them were carry out of delivery. We drove 17 miles to find a Pizza Hut with seating and when we arrived at 9:30 in the evening, we were the only patrons. Sad.

The repair shop had to wait for parts, then do the work on the rear end cap, so they let our motorhome sit in front of their place part of the time and ran out an electric extension cord. Most of the time we stayed in a motel because it was too cold in the motorhome. Our grandkids took care of our pets, and it was hard for them to part when it was time for us to leave.

I'll cut this short now and repost in a few days telling of our trek to the mountains of Vermont.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On the Road to Vermont

Actually, we are leaving Vermont in the morning... on the road to Florida, but since it has been so long since I posted, this is a flashback...

We left Las Vegas a month before we needed to report to our next post in Vermont. One of the best things about life on the road is seeing loved ones all along the way. When we first headed out from Florida in May, 2012, we stopped to spend time visiting all across the country, but once arriving in the West, we roved around there until April, 2014 when we headed east again.  
Norman and Taunya
Our first stop was in Utah where our oldest son lives as do  his five children and eight grandchildren... yes, we are great grandparents. We didn't get pictures of everyone because I am a terrible photographer (note the flowers growing out of Norman's head).

Above are Norman and Taunya. Norman is a truck driver, as are all three of our sons.  Richard and I drove truck for years in addition to our work as educators and time spent at other jobs. My father had trucks for a time, and Richard's brothers all drove truck, so it's sort of a family tradition.

Now, a peek at Norman's family. Drew is the oldest and the father of one daughter, Alejandra.

Trudy and Daisy
Trudy and her children, Connor and Lana
Trudy is the next in age and then Daisy. Here's a photo of them from a previous trip... the ones I took this trip are a trip, a bad trip. Trudy is pictured again below with her adorable children Connor and Lana. I didn't a picture of her hubby Chi, though.  

But Daisy's man Lewis is below and their two munchkins, Lydia and Dillon.  
Lewis, Daisy's hubby
Darel, Norman's son
Baylee, Candy and Olivia

Darel (above right) is the father of Baylee who is in Candy's lap along with Candy's dark haired daughter Olivia. Candy and her man Sean also have a wee son Victor.

Our son David (below) lives in Utah, and our daughter Stephanie lived there at the time, and her daughter Rio who was out of town. So, you see, we have a treasure trove of relatives in Utah.

Victor, our youngest great grandchild

Our son David
We didn't stay many days in Utah because our granddaughter was having a wedding in Colorado. She was already married, but work and school precluded a big wedding at the time. But now, a "small," elegant wedding was planned with our big family and a few friends gathering to celebrate the young couple's joyful marriage.

So, we headed off across Wyoming stopping to sleep in a truck stop about half way to Denver. That is where the unexpected reared its ugly head and changed our plans big time...   And that's where I'll leave us until I post the next blog in a day or two.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

On The Road Again... Almost

Friends come in all ages...
My last blog post was almost eight months ago, and we were getting ready to leave northern California to return to Lake Meade where we would once again volunteer for the Nat'l Recreation Area there and I would have my back surgery. It had been hard to leave dear friends, and I was looking forward to a joyous reunion with them and family on our return to Las Vegas.
Our beloved cowboy Rabbi Shmuel Oppenheim

These dear ones always took special care of me

Just as we were heading south, the government shutdown took effect, closing national parks and access to public lands. The workers were to stand down and so too the volunteers. We were so blessed, however, that people knew us and told us we could come on in and park, but not work, until the shutdown was over. Meanwhile, I began the medical tests and preps for my back surgery, and we were wrapped once more in the love of welcoming family and friends.

Some folks wonder about the loneliness and lack of roots for people living like we do, but as you can see, we are abundantly loved and we sink roots all along the way. The key? Loving others, being vulnerable and open and interested... simply giving of yourself and being willing to receive others as they are.

Larry Berk in the gym doing Physical Therapy
My surgery experience was not the best in spite of the fact that my doctor was perhaps the best back surgeon in the country, if not the world... I say that in all seriousness. But the surgery was extensive and recovery has been tortuous. Even so, I was mentored, encouraged, led, educated, blessed and prayed over by my precious friend Larry Berk from our synagog who had undergone similar surgeries and much more. He always knew when I was in pain, and knowing he understood meant more than I can comprehend.

Under the new health care laws, I was forced to leave the hospital (at midnight!) and sent by ambulance to a convalescent home after only three days. I had not been bathed at the hospital, and no one had tried to mitigate the rat's nest my long hair had become. Movement, for me, was almost impossible and the pain was intense since they could not give IV meds or shots at the convalescent home. 

My Angel of Mercy and I on the day I went home
Then a sweet young aide came to my rescue during her lunch breaks. I wasn't even her patient, but she came in to help me every day, patiently working all the tangles out and braiding my hair, helping me bathe and just giving me hope.  

Therapists worked wonders for me
The physical and occupational therapists were amazing, training me to work around two spinal fusions (one lumbar and the other thoracic) and an extracted rib, also a large herniated area in my left abdomen.

Curtis and Richard the day we left Lake Meade
Richard worked in the campground four hours a day except when he was taking me to medical appointments or visiting me at the hospitals. Our supervisor at the park was so very kind, a gentle, caring man who genuinely loved us.
 I will stop here and continue the saga in a day or so, bringing you up to date as we head for Vermont...