Thursday, July 31, 2014

O Canada!

The exploration has begun and the first trip is into Canada with an overnight in Regina, Saskatchewan. We drove straight north out of Tioga and crossed the border without issue. Everyone had their passports.  There were lots of farms and fewer oil wells as we drove on.

The road was good and we aimed the car for Moose Jaw. Yes that is the name. I don't know how you put that into a school cheer and it looked really strange printed on buildings and signs.  It seemed fake to me whenever I saw it. We were ready for lunch so a drive down main street led us to the annoying discovery that all the streets, even side streets had parking meters.

Hello! No Canadian coins on any of us.

Chuck said he wanted to head back to a restaurant he saw called "Original Joe's" and so we found it, pulled in and parked. It was actually fairly warm, low 80's but we dined alfresco. The food was great and not too expensive. 

We decided to go to the Western Development Museum just down Main Street. We parked and walked up to the entrance and just as I was wondering out loud, "I wonder if they charge?" I saw a sign that said $10 a person! What?? Thirty dollars for the three of us to walk through a museum about the development of transportation! The Smithsonian in Washington DC is free!

No thanks.

So back in the car and on to Regina. After a short trip we arrived at our hotel. And here we sit. There is a casino next door so that sounds like a fun night out. Tomorrow we will do a bit of sightseeing in downtown and head back to Tioga. 

Oh and one more thing, cell phones. Costs $$ for roaming, data, etc., so no texting unless necessary. We had to use an old fashioned map to find out way here, but we did it!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A visitor!

Today Melissa arrives for a week long stay.

It will be the start of a very busy week. Today we take Cooper to the groomer in Minot and once he is finished we will take him to board while Melissa is here. We will be traveling so much that it would be better for him to be in one place for the duration. After we drop him off we will head back to Minot and wait for her plane.

Tomorrow morning we will head to Canada. Our destination is Regina, Saskatchewan to explore and stay over night. Side trips will include Moose Jaw and Estevan. I am looking forward to it.

Back to Tioga for two nights and then to South Dakota to visit the history of that state. Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and so on. 

On our way back we will go by Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.

It will be busy but fun. I just hope it doesn't go too fast.  More too come with photographs!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends

Chuck is working three hours away. I am home alone gleefully watching "Daddy Long Legs" on Netflix and happened to glance at the weather radar on my phone to see a long storm system reaching from South Dakota to Canada bearing down on Tioga. This big guy was showing hail, strong winds and super heavy rains with lightning. It was one long, solid band of nasty weather beast.  This was about 6:30pm. I started talking to God about it, a lot.

I went to get the weather radio to find it was left on and the batteries were dead. But I live with Chuck Vaughn and we always have batteries! I put them in and turned on the radio to hear the guy saying a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect in Williams County. I am in Williams County! As he spoke he was saying something about damaging winds in excess of 60mph and quarter sized hail and for people to take cover.

Ok God.

I live in an RV and have no covered parking for my brand new car.

I looked at the radar again and there were spots where the storm was breaking apart. This could be good if it broke up by the lake and went south of me, that happens. It was now after seven pm and the guy was still talking about taking cover and the hail would do major damage to cars and windows. I sat in a chair near by my big window facing west, the storm was still 40-50 miles away but you could see that is was getting darker. Remember the sun doesn't set until 9:30pm here. However there was, low on the horizon an area that looked a bit lighter. Will it pass me?

Then the guy on the radio says there is a tornado watch for Billings County, North Dakota. I looked at my phone radar and there it was.  A red lined area west of Dickenson were my husband is working! Turn out the lights the party's over. I grabbed the stuff that Chuck and I had planned to take for just such a situation and decided I was not going to sit in the RV and wait for hail to wreck my car and  strong winds blow over my trailer with me and Cooper sitting there.

I loaded the car, Cooper hopped in and I started to drive.

Nearby is a big truck stop with covered bays so that would be my destination when the hail came-but first I wanted to look at the storm myself. A quick radar glance showed the breaking up at the lake had happened but one large cell looked like it was headed for Tioga. I called my sister Mary while I drove around the town trying to get a vantage point for the storm. There was light on both sides of what looked like a really wide rain band. Mary was on her computer looking up the different radars to see if she could tell what it might be doing. Just her calm voice and information slowed my crazy heartbeat and cleared my scattered mind. She was doing just what I needed and I was getting myself under control. She was being my Chuck, the voice of reason and calm.

We talked non-stop for about twenty minutes. She told me it looked like it was breaking up and clearing some and would probably move just north of Tioga. By this time it was getting really dark, but there was lightning flashing brilliantly and rain starting fall so I told her I was going home and thanked her for her comfort. She had no idea how much I needed her. By the time I got back it was raining really good, no hail was falling, the winds were very light and Cooper and I settled down.

It is past us now, to the north. The air is cool and smells fresh. Thank you God for watching over it all.


Sometimes I feel old

Yesterday morning I decided I was going to ride my bike for the first time since we brought our bikes up here in May. It was proving to be a beautiful morning with fluffy white clouds and a light breeze. Altogether a splendid morning. 

I took my bike out and looked it over. I tested the tires and they seemed to be a little low, so another search and I found the hand pump. It took me a couple of tries to get it secured to the stem and then I started pumping.  The pressure gauge is hard to read, years of being in the sun had clouded it over but it looked like I had enough pressure in the tires. I tried the tires again and they still seemed a little low so I decided to give them a quick test run around the park.

I must add that in looking for the pump I found the bag with my helmet in it. That's all, I found it.

Putting my purse in the basket (an old lady thing-the purse and the basket,) I had brought it outside with me and didn't want to carry it back inside, I started off. Glancing quickly at the tires they seemed to be holding my weight pretty well so I decided to head to the post office since I had a letter to mail.  What the heck, I was cruising in the cool air.

I must insert that the post office is about a mile or mile and a half from my trailer.

As I rode I was thinking of Japan and how I rode my bike everywhere, it was freedom and joy for me. The trip was flying by and as I started across the railroad tracks an SUV passed carrying two cute young men and they waved and smiled at me. I smiled back and felt a little young myself! I came to the road in front of the post office and pulled onto the sidewalk. I stopped at the front door and started to get off the bike when my shoe caught on the cross bar and I fell. I remember thinking "Oh crap I'm falling!" and felt my bum hit and then my head smacked the pavement. All of this felt like a slow motion scene even though it was seconds.

I got up quickly and looked around to see if anyone was nearby and saw me, and I was thankful I was alone on the street. The back of my head was burning and I felt a big lump immediately. I grabbed my purse and went into the post office, dropped off my letter and checked my mail.  I wasn't dizzy, or lightheaded but I felt a sense of anger at myself for not wearing the helmet, embarrassed and just plain old shaken up.

I came out and got on the bike and rode back home just as easily although the bump on my head was aching. I was careful once I was home to have a hand hold when I got off the bike. I applied cold packs to my head and sat and calmed myself, resting as much as I could. I never did have any concussion symptoms which proved the point that I am very hard headed!

This morning as I woke, a thunderstorm was passing with lots of lightning and thunder and heavy rain. I was so happy that God woke me with his special alarm. I felt the bump and it had gone down considerably though still tender, then I stretched and Yikes!!!! I had sore muscles all over my neck, back, bum, knee and wrist. Well another day of taking it a bit easier. My sister, Lisa suggested hot moist towels which work really well and I want to take a walk later. My sore butt will keep me off the bike for a few more days but I will ride again, with a helmet, and not give in to any fears.

This old girl will push through!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is this what it would be like?

I had a strange and rather distressing time this morning.

I took off to run some errands and do a bit of shopping and while I was driving between stops it occurred to me that this week with Chuck gone until Monday I was experiencing what it would be like if he weren't here.

As I shopped for myself only I realized that my cupboards are more bare and the refrigerator is much less full. I packed him off with the stuff he would need to make his meals and snacks for the lunch box. It cleared out so much that I realized how different it would be with him gone.

As I paid the rent, picked up the mail and went to the store I was not as motivated or excited the way I am when I am doing those things to take care of him and make his work days easier. I came back and Cooper greeted me cheerfully but it only took a few moments to put everything away. I won't need to do laundry for a while which is very different since I do laundry every two or three days with him here. He always has work socks and t-shirts that need washing.

I started to consider what I would have to do if I lost him. It would be a very different life. Thank goodness he is healthy and will be back to Tioga every two weeks for two weeks.

I bought new sheets and towels for Melissa's stay. It will be so wonderful to have her with us and Chuck is excited to show her the new work site and his free housing. Before he left we talked about all of the places to show her and things to see.

It is 2pm and the temperature is 77. Just thought I would share. Adios!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Another transition

Today Chuck starts a transfer to a new site, with the same company. He will be doing essentially the same thing, but the crew and his prospects are in his favor and I pray that he will be blessed with promotion and increase. It was a situation that was hovering in the background for a while and within a week he was contacted and it was scheduled.

He is now enroute to the Fairfield site which is near Dickinson, ND. It is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours driving, but I am not as emotional this time as I was when he departed Tucson.  He IS only that short drive versus an airline flight or 25 hours of driving time.

I will be on my own for two weeks at a time and then he will be here for two weeks. I am comforted that it is essentially a short distance and we can Skype and call as before. One surprising thing that has emerged is that Dickinson is on Mountain time while Tioga is on Central time! The Missouri River marks a time zone boundary west of Bismarck and running along the south side of the river.   He will gain an hour tonight.

Now I will have to remember what time it is in North Dakota along with California, Arizona and Oklahoma although the last is easier since it is the same as me!

July 30th Melissa is coming to see us and I am so excited. Her visit could have been a deal breaker for the transfer if they hadn't agreed to let Chuck be off for her visit. He told his boss that she was coming to see him (this is true) and that he had to be able to spend more than two or three days with her. That they agreed was a hopeful sign that his contributions are valued to them.  Melissa did tell people she was coming to see her dad since it had been Christmas 2012 since they had seen each other.

One year and seven months I expect is too long for a daughter to miss her dad, especially when they are in complete agreement in the way they think and so much alike.

Just got a call from Chuck and he is driving into a tornado watch!!! Ok, worry meter just spiked. Where he is heading there is a severe thunderstorm warning with the tornado watch. Now I will just wait to hear he has arrived safely.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Job hunt and night shift

I've decided I want to get a job up here to help fund our future plans and expedite the process. Even though we are doing okay there are some things that need a few more dollars to put it in motion. I have leads on two jobs, one with the post office in Tioga and one at the same place Chuck works.

I'm thinking that which ever one comes through first (if either) then that is the course I will follow. We have been talking about what our next steps are and if we will hold onto the house in Catalina. There have been lots of back and forth about how things need to be done and what is first, etc. Lots of prayers and talking have been going on. Looking to know what God's will is and to be in it.

Chuck starts his two week nightshift Monday so we have been trying to get him back into being awake at night and sleeping days-man am I so out of whack with my sleeping and eating.

One of the best things about this two weeks is at the end of it Melissa will be visiting us! We have been looking for cool things to show her. Lot's of history around here which might be interesting to a history teacher. In our driving around the north eastern part of the state there is such gorgeous country that is so different from Arizona. Besides how vivid the green hills and valleys are there is water everywhere. Lakes, ponds, huge rivers and meandering creeks. I am so enjoying the explorations.

I have to admit I miss having my things with me. My furniture and dishes, photographs and books, and my nice roomy kitchen. I am not stir crazy but there are times I think about them. My yard and the gardens and trees and the space of the acre I bring up in my mind. I would rather they were here than in Catalina though.

We will see.


Traveling and losing my cat

For the last week Chuck and I have been doing some sightseeing in North Dakota. We've gone as far east as Minot, as far north as Power's Lake, as far west as Fort Union (you actually cross into Montana about a 100 yards and back into ND) and then south to Theodore Roosevelt National Park North. Lots of driving, listening to music and talking as we cruise over the northern plains. It has been very eye opening, there is true beauty here.

The Explorer is a very comfortable ride and we actually were about 30 feet from two huge bison lumbering down the middle of the road holding up traffic! However in that park I dropped my cell phone - the battery went one way, the back went another and the phone landed face down shattering it. Now no contacts, no call logs, and no bison photos!

I received a message a few days ago from my neighbor in Catalina saying that her husband saw that Sasha was dead in the yard. This saddened me so because I had felt guilty about leaving her behind even though our reasons we felt were good.  She was getting older and a little lazier. She had never known anywhere else but our neighborhood in Catalina. She was actually born a block away from our house and came to live with us when she was 8 weeks old. She knew how to protect herself, when to hide and was a great rodent population controller. When we were last there in May she seemed slower and a bit haggard. I took this to think that we should leave her there in my nephews care and not shock her with a relocation. Kris had tried to take her to his house but she found her way back home and didn't want to leave. He made sure she was fed and had water. Poor sweet Sasha. He buried her in the back yard.

Much discussion is going on about our future and plans are in the works but I don't have anything to reveal yet so be patient.  Loving the weather and I don't mind the humidity.

Cooper, well he is still simple Cooper.


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Ghosts of Ford's Theatre

It must have been an evening full of relief and pleasure when President Lincoln and his wife entered Ford's Theater for an night of comedy. When I entered it I felt an overwhelming sense of adventure into another time.

 When you see the pistol that was used to kill him and the suit he was wearing at the time it is brought home that history is preserved in this place.

When we arrived there was already a crowd gathering to enter. It was rather interesting as we came into the foyer people became more hushed and observant, as if even the younger people knew instinctively this was a reverent atmosphere.

Across the street in the small building next to the white Lincoln Museum is the place that Lincoln died. He was carried across the street and placed in the bed that he was to die in. Very strange but the historical imprint on this location was profound.

You can see the line waiting to enter this place.


Yes it is me and John Wilkes Booth. He never flinched when I elbowed him.  He was a famous local actor so when he came into the theatre that night there was no one who would question his actions. He walked right up to the door of the box and was welcomed into the room.

 I have always thought that Abe was the best president our country ever had and to immerse myself in his life and thoughts. We know so much about him and yet he always kept something to himself. Below are some pics from the Theatre.

I could have spent much more time there.

He was shot here

He died here

Then it was time to leave and my the view out the window of the airplane as I left Minneapolis for Minot was this
Washington DC more than fulfilled my expectations and I know that I want to go back.