March/May 2003


Been There, Done That

Texas, New Mexico, California

Or… On the road Again, Part II; Tales of a Mouse, Part III; and Just How Useless can 8 Little Paws be, anyway??? An ongoing saga.

Well, when last we wrote we were in Texas, readying ourselves for the trip west back to California to settle our affairs and sell our home in Paso Robles.  The deed has been done, and we are back on the road.  But it has certainly been a busy two months since we left eastern Texas.  

Eastern Texas in March is quite lovely.  The red bud, dogwood and bluebonnets are all in bloom; the trees are leafing out and all is fresh and pretty.  By the way, bluebonnets look a whole bunch like our blue lupine; they must be a pretty close relative.  The rolling hills were full of them, much as you see them in North County along 101.  Reminded us of home.  Along the roadside we bought honey and pecans, the last of the prior year’s crop.  The stand we chose was run by a woman in her 50’s who was glad for company.  Said she’d had the stand open 7 days a week for 11 years, and then finally this year decided to close for the football playoffs; said she was tired of missing them year after year.  Texans are a crazy bunch!  She also had a bridal registry at her stand – says something about the part of the country we were in…  But she was delightful and her jam was scrumptious.

Not telling you anything, but as you move west through Texas the land loses its charm about the same time it loses its rolling hills and trees.  Then it’s pretty much a slog to the New Mexico border.  (Although we had some pretty fine coconut pie in Hico, Texas, home of Billy the Kid.)  While still in Texas we spent a night at Fort Griffin State Park, along the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.  I do enjoy the way saying the names of these rivers just rolls right out, all that history tied up in a river.  We had a charming night there; they have a resident group of longhorns to be seen up close and personal.  And there was a group of college kids canoeing down the river who joined us for the night.  They were waaay too tired to make any noise, and were gone pretty much at first light, trekking on down the river, but it was fun to watch.  Fort Griffin is an historic area as a frontier stopping point and Indian-fighting area, and there are things to see at the visitor center. But the definite highlight of our stopover was Mr. Mouse.  He appeared, disappeared, and appeared again, chased, as always, by our two useless cats.  Agnes got into the act a little better this time, but they are worthless as mousers.  Rick finally gave up on the cats, got out a plastic container, trapped the little guy, talked gently to the feller to calm him down, and turned him loose outside.  He scampered away to join the little bunny rabbits that were running around, and we settled down for the night.

The problem with finally getting to the New Mexico border is that it still looks like west Texas.  Slog, slog.  Oil fields, cotton, sleepy little towns and lots of flat, barren ground.  We spent a night in the Carlsbad area and then proceeded to skirt Roswell (carefully) before heading into the mountains west of there.  This was interesting country with good history; Billy the Kid was captured in this area.  We saw antelope on the hillsides and the roads were quite scenic.  We passed the Smokey the Bear monument (which I would have assumed would have been in the Dakotas, oh well) and headed toward Socorro.  Ended up spending a night there, due to some motorhome trouble.  Home of the New Mexico School of Mines, but not much else.  But the mechanics were delightful and took good care of us; never had spent the night next to a junk yard before…..

Don’t mistake matters, New Mexico has many lovely areas; but not really where we were.  We were glad at that point to reach Arizona and spend a few days with Rick’s mother in Sun City.  We had more solar panels added to our roof and more and better batteries.  Then on to California, where we wended our way up towards Paso Robles by way of Big Bear Lake (a sister), Monrovia (a son, a daughter, 3 grandchildren, a sister and a niece), and a few days staying with friends in Los Osos while we waited for our tenants to leave our Paso Robles home.  It was a beautiful time to be in southern California, surprisingly enough.  April by now, and the wildflowers are abloom, the hills are (still) green, the air is clear!  Wow, makes you want to live here; we had never seen the Los Angeles basin so clear.  At Big Bear, over 8500 feet, there was snow on the ground but the hills were greening up.  A lovely sight.  

And then we came home.  Preparing to put our home on the market required us to bring all our belongings back up from storage underneath the house so we could move back in and start to sell everything.  Five weeks and many sore backs later, it’s all gone and so are we.  The house is listed for sale, although not moving as quickly as we had hoped/expected.  Knowing that “the house around the corner sold in two days” doesn’t get yours into escrow.  There’s plenty of housing available for purchase, and although we have a lovely home with a beautiful deck and landscaping, it will, as always, have to wait for the right person to come along.  

Harder for us was selling the furniture and our belongings.  Not emotionally more difficult; we had already prepared ourselves for that.  Physically more demanding; furniture is heavy, boxes are hard on your back, all the things you already know.  The kids showed up to help us get the heavy stuff out from under the house, and that was a real pleasure.  And we had gotten rid of a lot of stuff when we first left town in 2001.  but boy there was still a lot to do.  We ran ads in the paper for things, Rick had adventures on the internet selling certain things (he doesn’t want to talk about it—it was a tremendous amount of work but pretty successful); toward the end we had a huge garage sale; and then Goodwill came and got most of what was left.  We couldn’t have done it without the help of good friends who loaned us trucks for hauling things, provided a place to store our company records for the next several years, etc.  When all was said and done, we ended up with about a dozen boxes of things we decided we really did not want to part with, and we shipped them to Arizona for Rick’s mom to store.  Then we beat feet out of town before someone started looking for us!  

Our main goal when leaving was to get some peace and quiet.  For the first time in a long while, we had been faced with constantly ringing phones and deadlines and goals and too much stuff to do (sounds like work, huh!), and we wanted to go someplace and just sit down.  But first we wanted to visit friends and the rest of the family, in northern California.  So we stopped in San Jose, and then went into the Bay Area where we had a wonderful reunion with Kathy’s father and two sons (along with a fiancé and a grandson), and a not-seen-for-many-years delightful niece.  We were able to get some four generation photographs that are always very special.  

And then we went up into the Napa Valley and on into the redwoods.  And achieved nirvana:  total peace and quiet.  No, not in Napa Valley, although it was very quiet for that area, and quite beautiful.  Spring is wonderful everywhere, of course.  Tons of wildflowers and green hills; the grapes have new growth after being dormant for the winter; the California buckeye is in bloom.  The Napa Valley looks like a grown up SLO County, much more sophisticated than we are, and more high-end, of course.  I like SLO County; more rustic and quieter.  But “the real thing” sure has a lot to offer.  We very much enjoyed driving through, and then on over to Ukiah.  Ah, yes, Mendocino County, where tie-dye and marijuana are alive and well.  It was fun.  Then to the redwoods, where we stayed for a few days in Richardson’s Grove in total silence and alone-ness.  The park was virtually deserted.  But we were told we had to be out of there by noon on Friday, because that was the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and the park was totally booked.  So on we went (preferring to get away from all those crowds anyway) and followed the South Fork of the Eel River to Eureka and then moved up the coast to the Klamath River, just south of the Oregon border.  It is quiet and lovely here, just as it always has been.  Cattle on the hillsides along the way, Queen Anne’s lace and mustard in bloom beside the road. Oh yes, and while still in Mendocino County, we were greeted by one of those volunteer road cleaning signs saying the area was maintained by HAPN, the Humboldt Area Pagan Network.  Yes, pagan.  Maybe far northern California should be its own state after all.

We visited the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Grove just south of here; it’s a redwood grove filled with enormous trees, ferns, very wet, tiny little forest flowers; a real treat, and recommended to any of you coming to this area.  It was dedicated in 1969 and is beautifully maintained in its natural state.  

From here we plan to head north into Oregon and Washington until mid-July, then into Idaho, Montana and begin our move eastward.  We have plans for a folk music festival in Thunder Bay, Ontario Province in early August, and then on Cape Cod in September.  And one son is getting married in Reno also in September, so we will be flying in for that weekend, and then back to the East Coast.  So it may be some time before we get back to California.  We tried to see as many of you as possible while we were in town, although we were so very busy we had few opportunities for visiting.  If we missed you, please do not think for one moment that we wouldn’t have wanted the pleasure, but the chance just didn’t present itself.  Our newsletters will keep you close, we hope, and if you are headed in our direction we DEMAND you let us know so we can try to hook up with you!

Hugs and best wishes,

Rick and Kathy 

 See more photos from the US & Canada in 2001 to 2003

© Rick & Kathy Howe 2001-2018