Tag Archives: Morgan Hill

Preparations for a Major Trip to Canada
May 16, 2015
Morgan Hill, CA, Walton & Sons Masonry, Homebase
Eight years in our bus.

The Loon Feather_smIn August 1969 while I was in the hospital after birthing my first son, Jeff Parry, I read “The Loon Feather” by Iola Fuller. I never forgot it. Last fall I looked it up and read it again. It is as marvelous as I remembered. The novel is about an Indian girl, daughter of the famous Shawnee hero, Tecumseh (1768-1813). Tecumseh opposed the US and became an ally of Britain in the War of 1812. His fictional wife and daughter are left stranded on Mackinac Island. After her mother’s death, Oneta, b. 1806, is taken into a French household. She represents the split between two alien cultures.

Fur trading dominated Macinac Island and I became curious about the history of the area. I read about John Astor’s American Fur Company, which had a post on Macinac Island. I read about Tecumsah and the Northwest Indian War and then the War of 1812. This led me to the earlier settlers around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the French Acadian settlers in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Soon I was reading about Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, Gov of Acadia and his Civil War in Acadia, 1635, followed by Baron de St. Castin, a French military officer and his Castine’s War, 1652, and Sebastien Rale, a Jesuit missionary and his Father Rale’s War, 1657.

The rivalry between France and Great Britain to expand fur trading territories in North America began to heat up in 1660. The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in Toronto in 1670. After that there were a continuous series of battles and wars from Queen Anne’s War, King William’s War, Father Le Loutre’s War, King George’s War and in 1754 the beginning of the Seven Year’s War. In 1710 there was the British Conquest of Acadia followed by the infamous “Great Expulsion” of the Acadians, 1755-1764, memorialized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his epic poem, “Evangelien; A Tale of Acadie.”

By January I found myself mapping out tours and destinations for a grand circle around the Great Lakes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2009 we did an all year “Eastern Seaboard” trip northward from Florida to Maine and back south along the spine of the Appalachian chain of mountains. In January I told Dennis I’d like to do a similar trip to see the Canadian Maritime Provinces as well as to circle all of the Great Lakes and see the midwest states south of the Great Lakes. Dennis was all for it and so I began to miles, driving times and specific destinations.


We want to see the Great Lakes and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. We’ve never visited any of this area. We plan to visit Montreal and Quebec and the St Lawrence Seaway and all of those territories so filled with French, English, Acadian, and Indian history. It’s an ambitious trip and we have no idea whether we can fit it all in or not.

Plans for trips such as these tend to get out of hand. If we’re going to Canada, why not first go into northwest Canada? Dennis wants to visit his father’s grave in Raymond, Alberta, Canada. How about visiting Glacier Nat’l Park again and then from Raymond, venture further north to Banff Nat’l Park, Lake Louise and even Jasper Nat’l Park? Hey, after that it’s only 2,500 miles from Raymond to Quebec!

The Atlantic Provinces have weather much like New England so it seemed likely that we would need to take advantage of the summer weather from early July to early September. I figured we should leave mid-April and slowly work our way north stopping in Yellowstone and Glacier, do the Canadian Rockies in May and then make our way to Minneapolis, MN by the beginning of June.

In Elsa at altar_sm

I pose in front of the altar before the ceremony at the Monarch Cove Inn, Capitola, CA.


There are always social distractions and we still dine out often with friends and relations. On a sunny day in early March, we took Dennis’s granddaughter, Meranda Walton and her boyfriend, Paul Harville, to Cinnabar Hills Restaurant for breakfast. Meranda is in college studying to be a Veterinarian and Paul is manufacturing and marketing a tool of his own invention plus managing a small construction business. It is so much fun to visit with them.

One of my best friends, Dale Dunlap, called to ask how long we would be in town and was I available for a marriage. I was thrilled and the wedding date for Dale and Marcel Moolenarr on March 21st was before our planned departure date. I wrote up an equinox ceremony that they loved. Dale and Marcel put us up for the weekend at the Monarch Cove Inn by the ocean in Capitola. We had a marvelous time and their wedding was beautiful.

In Tiffin 45' 2-sink bathroom_sm

A full bathroom with a two-sink counter is a wasted space stolen from the bedroom and kitchen. It’s a terrible idea. Also I don’t want to walk through a bathroom to get to my closet. Sorry.

We had issues with our Allegro Bus, now eight years old. Just out of curiosity, in late March we made a trip to Pomona to attend an FMCA rally and see the latest in Tiffin Motorhomes models. The Allegro Bus is now 45′ long with two floor plan choices that are very different from our 42′ Allegro Bus. Despite extra length I felt there was a great deal of wasted space. I didn’t like the floor plans and we came away happy with what we have.

However, at the rally Dennis stopped at a booth for RV sunshades. He’s been wanting to get new shades for years. After talking to Steve Smith of Tropic Shield Sunshades, we ended up making an appointment to have him install new shades. In mid-April we drove to San Diego where Steve installed new shades for all our windows on Friday and Saturday while we stayed at the Chula Vista RV Marina Resort. Now we have sunscreens and night blinds that easily pull down and run themselves up.

Having installed new shades, our motorized windshield shade that was installed in 2008 fell down on the driver side corner while we were jouncing on I-5 coming home from San Diego. (CA roads are all in dreadful condition.) It happened just before Castaic near the summit of the Grapevine where we stay at Valencia RV Park.  That night we tied it up with rope and drove home the next day.  In Morgan Hill, Dennis fabricated a new stainless steel hanger support to replace the aluminum one that broke and the shade was installed again on May 4th.


I was also busy handling issues for our dogs.  They needed recent well dog certificates and proof of rabies shots to cross the Canadian border.  I basically put together little passports for each of them.  I updated contact information with Home Again who has their chip numbers and I had new information tags made for their collars. Meanwhile Rudi needed to be treated with pills and eye ointment for allergies.


We just couldn’t seem to get out of Morgan Hill: Delays, delays. As we get older it seems to get more and more difficult to get away from doctor appointments. We delayed so Dennis could find out why he has hip pain. He was told that it is bursitis and he got a steroid shot that has relieved the pain — at least for now. I was developing spring allergies and worried about allergies in the northeast, so I waited for an allergy appointment.

In Elsa finishing Harvonitreatment_sm

I document a milestone: After six months I’m down to my last three Harvoni tablets.

Our departure also had to fit in with my monthly lab schedule.  In 1997 my doctor detected elevated liver enzymes and I was diagnosed as having Hepatitis C.  Hep C is a thirty-year chronic disease so I must have been infected in the seventies during the Vietnam era.  Interferon and Ribaviron did not work for me and over the years the viral load has greatly damaged my liver.  At last Gilead developed and put Harvoni on the market.  I was thrilled when my gastroenterologist, Dr. Chan, called to say, “This is the drug for you.”  I began a six month program to eradicate the Hep C  virus and took my first tablet on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014.  Harvoni is a miracle drug with few side effects. After the first two weeks the virus has remained undetectable. I was scheduled to take my last tablet, my 175th, after Mother’s Day on  Thursday, May 14th.  Then I would do the scheduled blood work the following day. Originally I had arranged to go to a lab on the road but since we were so close to that date, I decided to avoid hassle.  I got it done as usual at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

In Jeff & Chris Parry_sm

My sons, Jeff and Chris Parry, help me celebrate Mother’s Day in the Crow’s Nest bar at the Santa Cruz Harbor.

With each delay, Mother’s Day was getting closer. My sons were asking if I would still be in town. I didn’t want to miss Mother’s Day, so why not delay a little more? We got together for a mid-afternoon dinner at the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz Harbor on Sunday, May 10th. We had a wonderful time and I’m so glad I was able to spend the day with my boys.

After doing labs on Friday, you’d think we would have been prepared to leave the following day on Saturday.  But I still had many last minute preparations and I felt very tired. I was very happy to agree when Dennis suggested we wait a day. I was able to do my remaining errands and final organization on the bus.  I crossed off the last items on my To-Do list.

Now, at last, we are ready to leave tomorrow on May seventeenth.  This is a very propitious date it seems to me. Today we celebrate eight years of living full time in our ’07 Allegro Bus. We’ve been “fulltimers” for eight years! It seems hard to believe. And here we are setting out eight years later on a new adventure.

Life in Morgan Hill
April 19, 2010
March-April.  We get settled in Morgan Hill.
This oak shade corner has a history plaque. In the background is Starbucks where we drop in for a latte once in a while.

This oak shade corner has a history plaque. In the background is Starbucks where we drop in for a latte once in a while.

We are getting settled in Morgan Hill. We live a mile from Tennant Station, now a shopping center located on Monterey Rd. and Tennant Ave. A plaque in the corner (California Historical Landmark # 259) commemorates the history of Tennant Station.

“This famous Tavern and Stage stop was located 21 miles from San Jose on the road to Monterey. The 21-Mile House was built in 1852 by William Host. Beneath a spreading oak that later was called the Vasquez Tree, the house was sold to William Tennant in November 1852. Now destroyed, this stopping station was a place where horses could be changed, fed, and stabled, and where tired and hungry passengers could refresh themselves.”

Almost no one has driven south to visit us in Morgan Hill.  My old joke, “I never go south of Mountain View” has turned around to bite me.  Apparently my attitude is not unusual.  My friends look blank when I suggest they drive down to visit us at our RV park and go out to lunch in Morgan Hill.  They also have no clue as to where Morgan Hill is located and the thought of driving on those freeways with the chance of getting hung up in rush hour traffic — oh no.

I give my sister, Sally, credit.  She came down on her day off to visit us in Morgan Hill.

Oddly, although they live in San Francisco, James and Lilia visit us often and we go out for brunch or an early dinner.  And even odder, Karen who lives four hours north in Clearlake, came down to visit me after an early tax preparation appointment in Campbell.  I took her to Rosy’s for their famous fish tacos.  I suppose those who are used to driving long distances are the most flexible and mobile.

I drove up to Fremont to see my old friend Carlene, and she took me out for a marvelous lunch at the Afghan Village. And each month I drive 67 miles north to go to my Women’s Group in Berkeley. I’m so glad to be back in the area where I can attend Group on a regular basis.

Walton & Sons Masonry has settled into their new quarters.  The unfinished offices are finished with trim, carpets and door handles with locks.  The yard is sorted and organized and equipment is tucked away leaving empty space where we will compact the ground — if it ever dries out and stops raining.

The weather has been unbelievably wet and rainy.  We’ve never seen so much rain in California.  By April the dry season should be here.  But it continues to rain.  We are all amazed.  Is it El Nino?

Rain or no, I drive fifty minutes back and forth to my home turf not only for sales and storage reasons but to meet friends for lunch.  I often combine socializing with various appointments such as acupuncture, dental, annual medical visits, beauty salon, and the like.

Tuesday, March 16.  Our Honda CR-V gets bashed in a parking lot.

The cars are having an inappropriate relationship.

The cars are having an inappropriate relationship.

I’m always wary about being in a traffic accident but it never occurred to me that my car would be attacked in the parking lot at Dinah’s while I had lunch with friends.  But that’s what happened.  I came up to Palo Alto for a 1:30 pm dental hygiene appointment at Foothill College.  I arranged to meet Dona and Joann for lunch at Dinah’s at 11:00 am.  It was our first warm day and the first day we’d been able to sit at an outdoor table.  We enjoyed our sense of springtime while we caught up on our news over lunch.

At 12:30 pm when we walked out to our cars, I found the front of my Honda demolished.  I was pulled up facing the sidewalk that borders the Trader Vic Restaurant at it’s eastern exposure.  Parked on the corner next to an end cap island I had the protection of a huge cedar tree planted in the island.  How could anyone hit the front of my car?  The cars parked in my row face west.

Parking spaces on the other side of the island face north and are on a 90° angle to the spaces where I was parked.  They also pull up to the sidewalk that borders Trader Vic at its southern exposure.

A woman entered the parking lot traveling east and she intended to make a 90° left turn to park.  She missed.  She pulled in on an obtuse angle headed straight towards the front of my car.  She hopped the curb so that her front wheels were up on the sidewalk when she hit high on the front hood of the Honda, well above the fender.  (No, it wasn’t a Toyota.  She was driving a Ford Taurus.)

The force of the blow pushed the front of my Honda on an angle that caused it to hit the Volvo parked to my right.  A lot of sickly yellow fluid was bleeding out of the Honda and running down the pavement.  Apparently this had just happened because two women, the driver, Cheryl, and her companion, Kelly, were standing there staring at the mess.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I couldn’t absorb how it could happen that my car would be on an angle pushed up against the Volvo (as if I hadn’t parked correctly in my stall).  And I couldn’t comprehend how the Ford could be up on the sidewalk in a face-to-face confrontation with my Honda.

The lady who owned the Volvo came out from lunch with her female companion.  Suddenly, three older matrons were all busy trying to exchange vital statistics.  We kept misplacing purses, insurance papers, pens, notepapers, and keys.  I felt completely confused.  “Now where did I put my head?”  We were all shocked.  I needed to take down information but I also needed to find the number for the dental department at Foothill.  Clearly I was going to miss my appointment.  However, everything was very civilized and amicable — a Palo Alto tea party.

The hotel concierge called the police and AAA —as of course, all three of us are members.  He and an officer kibitzed because the officer couldn’t make an accident report on private property.  It took some doing for AAA to separate the Honda from the Ford Taurus.  Because of the height on the sidewalk the Taurus slightly lifted up the front wheel of the Honda.  The two cars were enmeshed.   AAA tried pulling the Taurus backwards, which didn’t work.  He tried pulling the Honda backwards.  Finally he elevated the back end of the Honda and was able to break the two cars apart.

A small curious crowd gathered.  A very handsome young man was taking photos.  He approached me and in a strong accent German accent asked me what happened.  It struck me as a silly question.  I didn’t know what had happened either.  I looked into his lovely blue eyes and said, “These two cars are having an inappropriate relationship.  We can’t get them separated.”

“Really?” he said, very polite but full of doubt.  Perhaps translation failed him….

Cheryl tries to explain what happened to the watching officer.

Cheryl tries to explain what happened to the watching officer.

Anita owned the Volvo.  She was in a hurry but couldn’t pull out until my Honda could be separated from the Ford.  She whispered to me, “That woman should never drive again.”  Once she could get out we saw that damage was negligible.  She only had a small nick on the driver’s door.  Days later my favorite waiter at Dinah’s told me that she had said to him, “If you’d brought my bill sooner, this (accident) wouldn’t have happened” (to her).  Juan felt terrible!

Cheryl, the woman at fault was very embarrassed and felt terrible.  I talked to her and she said, “What we all need now is a donut!”  I couldn’t help but like her.  She was with a friend whom I recognized.  Kelly used to own The Palo Alto Baking Co. on California Ave. where I bought many pastries and loaves of bread.  I was actually thrilled to see her.  She sold the business and the bakery has never been the same since.  We all chatted while we watched AAA try to separate the cars.

When the cars were all free another watcher asked me if I planned to drive the Honda.  I looked at her in horror.  What?  With the front end crumpled up and liquid on the ground?  I don’t think so.  I had every intention of having AAA tow it to an auto repair place.

Eventually Cheryl and Anita drove away with their companions and even the Taurus had little damage.  My car had to be loaded onto the AAA flatbed.  Dona had stuck around for a while and offered to take me somewhere but I told her to go and I would call her if I needed her.  It was 2:30 pm before we were ready to leave.  The AAA driver dropped me a few blocks away at Enterprise.

The entire time I was back and forth on my cell phone with Dennis.  I tried to explain the accident but I couldn’t clearly describe such a bizarre incident.  I need one of those new phones that take photos and can send them.

At Enterprise I rented a black four-door sedan, a Pontiac G6.  I had to sign a contract that included “no pets”.  Ha, ha.  I often take Rudi with me and I’m not going to stop.  I drove out of Enterprise and caught myself feeling guilty about the accident. In my head I cautioned myself to drive carefully because I had just wrecked the Honda. Our brains play strange tricks on us.

After stopping at my favorite German butcher to buy corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day, I went to the AAA storage yard to retrieve a few things out of the Honda.  By 3:30 pm I was driving home in a strange car during heavy rush hour traffic.  I got home safely at 4:30 pm and lay down with a big headache!

Later I called Cheryl to be sure I’d given her the correct information.  She said she was sitting in front of her fireplace eating popcorn.  She said she needed to have a good cry.  She’s never had an accident before and didn’t know what had happened.  I’d like to get to see Kelly again so I suggested that the three of us should get together at Dinah’s when this is all over.  Cheryl cheered up and said she certainly owes me a lunch so we agreed to it.

Cheryl’s insurance, California Casualty, accepted full liability for both cars and is paying for everything.  They’ve been great.  Repairs will be about 10K+ in addition to car rental fees.  The Pontiac is fine although I miss the GPS in my Honda.

Monday, March 22.  We rediscover San Juan Bautista.

Dennis walks by a very old structure, Casa Juan de Anza, built in 1799. The inset shows the sign on the wall ahead of Dennis.

Dennis walks by a very old structure, Casa Juan de Anza, built in 1799. The inset shows the sign on the wall ahead of Dennis.

It was a sunny day when James drove down to visit us so we decided to take a scenic drive south. We found ourselves passing Hollister and heading to San Juan Bautista. We’ve visited this cute small town many times before. We like to tour the Mission and look at the antique stores on Main street. On this occasion we simply renewed our fond acquaintance with Dona Esther’s Restaurant. They serve terrific Mexican food.

Tuesday, April 6.  We take a hike with the dogs along Coyote Creek Walk.

Sunny days have been rare so when a clear day arrived we grabbed the dogs and drove twenty minutes north to a small parking lot by Coyote Creek, north of Bailey Ave. We hadn’t hiked there yet. From the parking lot we walked south along a wide waterway parallel to Monterey Rd.

We were surprised to see a speedboat go by with a waterskier. We discovered that a club has rights to use that section. We crossed a canal on a bridge and then crossed Metcalf Rd. to follow the creek south. We walked about five miles round trip. It was a pleasure to see the big oaks and the green meadows. The pink Scottish Thistles are blooming. I know they are lethal but I love the look of the flowers.

Of course the dogs had a great time. The stickers that adhere to their paws and hair are not out yet so they can be comfortable as they run to investigate along the path.

Sunday, April 4.  We have Easter Brunch at the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz.

Dennis and I drove on the Watsonville Rd. across Mt. Madonna to Capitola to celebrate the Equinox on a sunny 21st of March. It was such a nice day we were able to sit on the patio at the Crow’s Nest — with a little help from the wind protection of windows and the heat lamps overhead! The Crow’s Nest is a marvelous restaurant by the Santa Cruz marina and the beach. We had a great time and I enjoyed a wonderful dish of eggs benedict served over crab cakes. Oh my! It was delicious.

After brunch we dropped Chris at home and followed Jeff to a surfing store where we bought a boogie board as a belated birthday present for Sara’s son, Camron. We found Sara and the kids at Cowell’s Beach by Cliff Dr. and Manor Ave. We walked down the steep wood stairs to the narrow sand beach and found it crowded with Equinox sunbathers and swimmers. It is a perfect beach for children who can play in shallow pools or wade and swim in shallow water. Beginning surfers like Sara can swim out farther and get a good ride.

We enjoyed ourselves so much at the Crow’s Nest that we decided to return for Easter Brunch. This time we were joined by my sister, Sally, and Jeff’s friend, Sara. Easter was cold and windy so this time we did not sit outside. We had our same waitress, Rachael, and she took our group photos for us. We had a good time talking to her also.

Monday, April 19.  We stay busy with errands, appointments, and social dates.

From under our table umbrella, this is my view of flowers at the patio entrance. The gardens at Dinah's Hotel are so beautiful.

From under our table umbrella, this is my view of flowers at the patio entrance. The gardens at Dinah’s Hotel are so beautiful.

I continue to make runs up to Palo Alto two or three times a week. On Wednesday, April 7th I visited my acupuncturist, Catherine Burns, at Real Health in Los Altos and then met Becky for lunch at Dinah’s. On Friday, I had an early Dermatology appointment and afterwards I did some errands at Stanford Shopping Center before resting up with lunch at Dinah’s and my latest Kindle novel, “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel.

(I’m becoming an overnight expert on Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Chief Minister in 1532. He was a brilliant lawyer, parliamentarian, humanitarian, and religious reformer. Too bad I know it will all come to a bad end in 1540. Henry VIII was an ungrateful cuss. Wolf Hall, I’ve learned was the birth place of Jane Seymour and Cromwell’s daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Seymour, the Queen’s sister.)

Tuesday, April 13th was a very hectic day.

Dennis and I drove together to Palo Alto to keep his 10:30 ophthamology appointment. After breakfast at Dinah’s. Dennis dropped me at Foothill College for my 1:30 pm dental hygiene appointment (the one I’d missed on 3/13 when my car was damaged). We did this because I would not be finished until after five and with two of us, it would be faster to get home during rush hour if we could carpool.

Oddly, when we were in Palo Alto, Magnuson Auto Shop called to say our Honda was ready to pick up. While my wonderful student dental hygienist, Karen, worked on my teeth, Dennis picked up the Honda, transferred stuff from the Pontiac and let Enterprise know that we would be returning it. After Dennis picked me up, we drove both cars to Enterprise to turn in the Pontiac. Then we sped home in the diamond lane. After 28 days I’m so glad to have the Honda back. The Pontiac is low and it is hard to climb out of it. The Honda is higher and I feel I have better visibility. The repairs cost something over 7K — less than estimated.

The next day I drove the Honda to Los Altos at Sally’s request to help her help the children on a decoupage project for their mother’s birthday. They had painted flowers and people on heavy paper so I had them cut out their paintings and arrange them on a tray Sally had prepared. Then we glued and glued. It was lots of fun for all of us. Afterwards the children rested while Sally and I sat outside in the sun to enjoy her delicious pork roast sandwiches served with her marvelous strong coffee and cream.

Not a good day to go out, it was pouring rain on Sunday, April 11th when we drove to San Jose to meet James and Lilia at the Saint Claire Hotel on Market and San Carlos for brunch at Il Fornaio. We got a window seat and enjoyed watching people hurrying by with umbrellas. James and Lilia haven’t seen Avatar yet so I wanted to go next door to the Tech Museum to see it again — this time on the IMAX screen. But no one else in our party was interested. What old fogies!

On Thursday Chris Soden drove down from San Jose to visit us. In the late 80s, Chris made Dennis a grandpa with two beautiful daughters, Denise and Jenny. She divorced Dave but she is still a daughter to us. We showed her our motor home and where the masonry is located and then walked around downtown Morgan Hill before having lunch at Rosy’s by the Beach.

I’ve rented a smaller storage unit in Morgan Hill and now I must get busy moving things from our Mountain View storage or getting them sold. On Wednesday I will show four trunks of “vintage clothes” from the late fifties/early sixties to Katherine (Trappings of Time), a vintage clothes store buyer. She will take them on consignment. And I must get ready for my May Day flea market sale. I’m sharing a double stall with my friend, Becky at the next De Anza Flea Market. Busy, busy, busy.

Betwixt and Between
March 8, 2010
Morgan Hill, CA, Maple Leaf RV Park — 1 month
Monday, March 8, 2010 — Fulltimers 2 Years & 10 Months
Sunday, December 12, 2009. A Surprise 70th Birthday Party surprises me.

Ten years ago my sister, Sally, gave me a beautiful, intimate 60th birthday party at her apartment.  A few of my best friends were there and thanks to Sally, it was a really special evening.  I wanted to be home with my family and friends to celebrate my 70th in a similar fashion.  Sally and I planned a small dinner party at her apartment.

I must say that by the time we arrived in Mountain View on December 7th, I was feeling tired, stressed and depressed.  There was the pressure of finding a new place for the masonry and for our RV.  Due to financial worries I decided to let my hair go back to my natural brunette and find out how much gray I have.  But Sally would have none of it.  She had big plans.

On Thursday Sally invited me to lunch.  She is a full time nanny to three kids for two working attorneys.  I met her at the new home of Nancy and Joe in Los Altos.  Sally is so happy and she looks great.  She showed me around and then we went in her car to pick up the two little girls at Kindergarten and at Pre-school in the church opposite the shopping center where I used to live.  It made me feel very nostalgic.  I read “Humphrey the Lost Whale” to them while Sally fixed their lunch and they ate.  Then they went to their room to rest and we had lunch.  She fixed shredded chicken mixed with leftover egg salad on open face sandwiches with lettuce and served with coffee.  It was delicious.

I told her I had an appointment to get a haircut Friday morning but Sally wanted my hair dyed to cover the gray.  Unbeknownst to me she called her stylist, Lisa, and got an appointment for me at 3:15 pm that very day.  She told me to be there and said it was her birthday treat.  There was no taking No for an answer so I accepted.  Of course, Sally had an ulterior purpose.  I didn’t know that she was planning to stage a big surprise party in this very house.

Lisa and I decided to do a Chestnut color to cover the gray and go back to more of my original color.  We figured the gray wouldn’t show as much when my hair grows out.  She gave me a good cut and when I left I felt happy that I would look semi-decent for my seventieth birthday.

On Friday Sally called to ask if we would stop at Nancy and Joe’s first before going to her house for my birthday dinner.  She said they wanted to see us and that we could visit for an hour and then go to her house for dinner at 7:30.  It seemed odd but I agreed.

Saturday I woke early.  It was a depressing rainy day.  We did some errands and I figured out what to wear.  I chose my new low hip jeans, a long sleeve REI undershirt for warmth and my silk floral blouse to look festive.  I felt like I was starting to get sick and I knew I looked tired.

Of course, Dennis and everyone but me knew about the surprise party at Nancy and Joe’s.  I didn’t have a clue.  We turned onto their street and I saw a lot of cars parked and I said to Dennis, “Someone on the block is having a party.”  We parked in the driveway and when I got out of the car I heard talk in the house and I said to Dennis, “I thought it was just us dropping in to say “hi” but maybe they are throwing a big party.”

I rang the bell.  We had a bottle of wine and a peppermint candle as housegifts.  Nancy opened the door and as we greeted her I saw my son, Jeff, standing behind her.  Then I saw a few others in the background but I still didn’t understand.  I said to Jeff, “I thought you were going to meet us at Sally’s apartment.”  Sally greeted me in the hall and pulled me into the living room.  There, twenty-some people were gathered and shouted “Happy Birthday!”  I was stunned.

I had such a mix of emotions.  I didn’t believe my eyes.  I thought, no, this doesn’t happen to me, and I felt confused at the sight of all those familiar faces grouped together at one time.  Then I was overwhelmed with happiness.  I’ve been so lonesome and here were all my friends at one time.  So I just started greeting and hugging people individually and the party started.

Sally threw a marvelous party.  She had it catered and Mexican food was delivered.  There was a big rectangle cake with two boxes of candles.  Jeff’s steady girl friend has three children so I asked them to help me blow out the candles.

There were various dining tables scattered around the living room and recreation room.  I just floated and caught up with all my friends.  It was a terrific party and I think everyone had a good time.  I was a bit “out of it”.  There was a table of presents but I never noticed it.  After everyone left I saw the gift table.  But I’m glad I didn’t open them during the party as there was so little time to visit with each friend.  (I sent thank you cards to some and then got distracted with moving. If I didn’t thank you allow me to do so now….)

So I had a fabulous seventieth birthday.  As it happens I’ve always had terrific Something-Oh Birthdays.  When I turned forty I met all my friends at Bourbon Street in the Old Mill and we danced all night.  We had such a great time.  When I was fifty Dennis took me to Hawaii for a two week vacation.  When I was sixty, Sally gave me a beautiful little party.  And now, a big surprise party for my seventieth.  My sincere thanks to Joe and Nancy for lending us their beautiful home. You all really did pull off a big big surprise party.

Monday, February 1, 2010.  Between times at Coyote Valley RV Resort in Morgan Hill.

We spent the rest of December packing up the masonry and moving the business to Morgan Hill.  I spent the month sorting and moving boxes out of our warehouse storage room into public storage in Mountain View as well as a large room in our new office building in Morgan Hill.  On January 4th we drove to our new “home” at Coyote Valley RV Resort. (See Previous, my letter #200 “A Moving Saga”.)

January was a very tough month for both of us.  Our new location in a very nice RV park was pretty and pleasant but very expensive compared to our free digs in the Mountain View masonry yard. Coyote Valley RV Resort was also inconvenient.  We were in a rural area seven miles north of Morgan Hill.  We had pretty farm country surrounding us with views of the green hills and the trails

of Coyote Creek Park within walking distance.  Although our location put us twelve miles closer to Mountain View, we were also twelve miles north of the new masonry office in Morgan Hill.  The divider on the Monterey Highway prevented a left turn to go south.  If you forgot your cell phone, you had to make two U-turns and drive four miles to come back for it.  Groceries and errands were in shopping centers five north or ten miles south.

Of course we share our one car and normally we go out together to explore a new town.  Here, in a semi-permanent situation we each needed the car to go our separate ways.  Dennis wanted to spend some time at the masonry but not all day.  I wanted to drive to Mountain View to work on selling the things I’d placed in public storage.  I was also catching up on medical appointments in Palo Alto and I wanted to re-connect with my friends.  Dennis and I were at cross-purposes.  I think we were both in shock after a month of very hard work and we both felt aggrieved and very cross.  Other than our two-month winter holidays sojourn in Mission, TX a year ago, we’ve never stayed in one place for very long.

I felt dreadfully homesick, lonesome and completely cut off.  After a year and nine months of travel I was finally home.  But I wasn’t home.  I was in a brand new situation forty miles south of my hometown area.  A great big traffic blob called San Jose, obstructed my path between Morgan Hill and Mountain View.  We are on the wrong side of rush hour, so I have to be mindful to drive north after 9:30 am and return south before 3:00 pm.  Getting caught in rush hour traffic can add an extra hour to my fifty-minute drive.

I’ve lived in the South Bay since 1973, but the entire city area south of Sunnyvale and Cupertino or Campbell was foreign to me.  I knew how to navigate into San Jose if necessary but that was rare.  I never had any reason to venture into the shopping centers of Blossom Hill in the southern portion of San Jose.  And I never drove further south to take advantage of the gigantic shopping centers and the outlet malls in Gilroy.  Morgan Hill is a little town between San Jose and Gilroy.  Frankly, I’d never heard of it much less seen it.

My southern orientation was west of San Jose in Los Gatos or across the Santa Cruz Mountains in Santa Cruz.  My westward orientation was west of Palo Alto across the coastal mountains to Half Moon Bay.  I rarely found any reason to drive east across the Dunbarton Bridge to Fremont or any of the East Bay towns.

I lived in Palo Alto for 27 years and I lived in neighboring Los Altos for seven years.  When I needed to shop I drove north into the famous garden mall of Stanford Shopping Center.  If anything, I was northward oriented.  I was comfortable driving to San Carlos or San Mateo.  In terms of cities I thought of San Francisco, not San Jose.  So, in short, I was home but not home.  I found myself on the moon, in a completely foreign environment and cut off from my home base by distance and an impenetrable thicket of traffic.

Finally, I sat down and made this map.  I made it to try to get myself situated with a mental picture.  I felt disoriented.  Where was I relative to Mountain View?  What cities lay in-between?  Exactly where were they?  What paths would work best to get me over the mountain, so to speak?  Did any shortcuts exist?  In terms of mountains, what was the shortest distance to visit my sons in Santa Cruz?  I used to be north of the Santa Cruz Mountains and I took CA-17 through Los Gatos to cross these mountains.  Now I was due east of the mountains and I needed to learn about CA-152 and the mountain pass to Watsonville, a coastal agricultural town south of Santa Cruz.

To my big surprise I discovered that the great bowl of Santa Clara Valley narrows down and extends southward all the way to Gilroy.  Known as South Valley, it is part of Santa Clara County. After I outlined the territory I decided it looked like a bending tulip.  I-101 is the bending stem.  I-880 and I-680 define the east side of the blossom while CA-85 and I-280 define the west side.  The yellow tulip blossom comprises the major part of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley.  The pink fill area from Cupertino to Mountain View to Palo Alto and Stanford to Los Altos represents my home turf for more than 34 years.

During the month of January when I drove around the streets of my home turf I found myself weeping.  Every corner, every building, every park brought back memories. I think this homesick feeling was a delayed reaction.  We were so busy packing and selling in 2007 when we left our Los Altos home and drove to Alabama to pick up our new motorhome.  There was no time to say goodbye and to grieve over our departure from my hometown.  Since then we’ve been home for very brief periods.  For almost three years we’ve had the distraction of travel and new sights.  Now, I found my sense of loss was overwhelming.  It would have been easier if we were still parked in the masonry in Mountain View and I could easily drive around to re-visit my favorite spots.  Instead we were almost an hour away. During that first month in Morgan Hill I felt as if I just got my home back and then lost it again.

Thursday, February 4.   We move to Maple Leaf RV Park in Morgan Hill.

We only spent one month at Coyote Valley RV Resort.  The Monterey Highway and the train tracks were extremely noisy and the location was too inconvenient for us.  On February 4th we moved ten miles south to Maple Leaf RV Park, also located on the Monterey Highway.  The park is just south of Morgan Hill and a mile away from two big shopping centers.  Immediately across the street (with a crossing traffic light to make it easy) is the masonry offices and yard.  It is easy walking distance.  Also Maple Leaf is set back from the highway and the train.  It is quiet.

Although the park is nowhere near as nice and yet nearly as expensive as Coyote Valley RV Resort, we find that we like it.  Sites are tight but it is quiet.  This park has many permanent residents who work in the area.  Often no one

is parked in the sites on either side of us and we have a sense of space.  Our bedroom frames a nice view of the small mountain, Morgan Hill, which sits by the town of the same name.  There is a huge lawn in front of the park near the highway.  This is a good place to walk the dogs.  It is lined along the highway by decorative cherry trees.  We enjoyed watching the pink blossoms emerge and then fall.

Now if I need to take the car to Mountain View, Dennis can easily walk across the street to his masonry office.  In terms of sharing the car, peace reigns.

Sunday, February 28.  We take a scenic drive up to Henry Coe State Park.

We finally got a semi-decent sunny day so we decided to go explore.  Dennis kept mentioning Henry Coe to me.  He was there long ago and I thought I might have been once.  It’s very conveniently located from Morgan Hill.  We take walks nearby along Coyote Creek just below Anderson Dam located on the east side of I-101.

Above Anderson Dam, Coyote Creek provides the water for the 7.8 miles along Anderson Reservoir which, sits (ominously) just above Morgan Hill.  It is the largest man-made lake in Santa Clara County.  (A major quake centered near the 240 foot high earthen dam could cause it to fail which would send a wall of water 35 feet high into downtown Morgan Hill within 14 minutes.)

Coyote Creek in the Diablo range to the east drops down from the 86,000-acre watershed in Henry W. Coe State

Wilderness.  It is the second largest park in California.  Coe Park, as locals call it, consists of a series of high ridges separated by steep canyons, with occasional level valley bottoms and distinct peaks.  Most of the ridges run around two to three thousand feet in elevation.  Canyon bottoms are generally a thousand to fifteen hundred feet above sea level.

The area encompasses parts of three major watersheds: Coyote Creek, Orestimba Creek, and Pacheco Creek.  Coyote Creek flows into Coyote Lake and Anderson Lake, and then north through San Jose into the San Francisco Bay.  The park protects part of the California interior chaparral and woodlands ecoregion.  Large parts of the park are covered in chaparral  and oak woodlands. Most visitors at Coe Park hike or mountain bike or backpack on the numerous trails within the park. There are about 200 miles of dirt roads and trails in the park. Park headquarters is less than a one hour drive from San Jose and yet this vast park is not well known to San Francisco Bay Area residents.  I think this is because most of it can only be seen by hiking.  Only a few roads available for motorized vehicles.

Love is in the Air
On our way back down we saw this amazing sight and stopped quickly. Opening the doors quietly we felt we might be looking at a fake. It looked like a totem pole. The vultures at the top of the telephone pole were so still they seemed like sculptures. However, they were real and they maintained their postures and concentration for many minutes while I snapped photos. Eventually they both flew away — perhaps to another rondezvous….

February – March. I occupy my time selling things on Craigs List.

I actually enjoy my current pastime of selling things on Craigs List. These are the items that never sold from our estate and yard sales in 2007.  We stored them in the masonry warehouse in Mountain View and then I had to put them in public storage when we moved the masonry to Morgan Hill.

Our 10 x 30 unit at Peninsula Storage Center costs $320 per month so my goal was to empty that unit and eliminate the cost of public storage ASAP.  I developed a routine.  I would drive to Mountain View to sort and organize and select certain items.  Those had to be measured and I took sales photos.  At home I would write up descriptions of these items, which usually meant doing some research and coming up with a price.  After posting my descriptions with selected photos, I had to keep track of calls, text messages and e-mail.  Things that didn’t sell had to be re-posted in seven days.  With prospective buyers I made appointments and then drove to Mountain View to meet interested buyers with hopefully several people lined up on one day.  The money received really wasn’t worth the time and effort.  But I got some satisfaction out of the process and the extra cash has been very handy. Also I’ve more than paid for the expense of public storage.

I’ve tried to concentrate on large objects but I’ve sold an odd assortment of large and medium size items.  My huge L-Shaped Corner Computer desk cleared out a lot of space.  I sold the Combi-Cycle and our portable massage table.  I sold my mothers fifties Wegner-style twine wrapped folding chairs.  I sold ten folding metal pet fences that I used to keep our dogs out of the flowerbeds.  I sold two beautiful old antique trunks.  Now that springtime is here I finally sold our gigantic and heavy cedar arc hammock set.  I sold inexpensive little items like a pet crate and expensive little items like our tow car Brake Buddy system.  My big coup was the sale of our Borega Spa for $2500.  It was covered and stored on a pallet in the masonry yard at Morgan Hill.  A lucky couple up in the Santa Cruz Mountains got it.  Recently I sold my stylish Bamboo Chaise to an art dealer in Santa Cruz.

I got sidetracked for a week when I started to look at my two Erector Sets.  My father gave me a large red wooden box on my 8th or 9th birthday.  It was his 1929 No 8 Trail Blazing Zeppelin made by Gilbert Erector.  I’m sure it had the gondola and was in beautiful shape at the time.  For his sake I tried to show some interest in it but I don’t recall building anything with it.  Some time later it was given to my cousins as young boys and now it is a mish-mash of parts.  I also inherited a red metal box that holds 1949/50 No 6 1/2 The Electric Engine.  In it are three engines and a bunch of parts to build the White truck.

After much investigation online I discovered a number of Gilbert Erector set fanatics who collect, restore and reassemble the original set boxes. I found collector, Bill Bean of Dayton, OH, with his very complete website,  http://www.erectorset.net/index.html  and I drew excellent information from him.  I discovered a fascinating guy who combines news about a Lindy Hop dancing group with information on A. C. Gilbert Co.  At his website http://www.jitterbuzz.com/erector.html I gained a lot of excellent information about my two Erector sets.  I admire these two collectors who have put together such helpful and complete websites.

I discovered Big Al who sells original and reproduction Erector parts on e-Bay and I found a restored, fairly complete No. 8 Zeppelin Set selling on E-Bay starting at $895.

At http://www.acghs.org/ there is an A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society.  Did you know that “The Man Who Saved Christmas” is A. C. Gilbert?  They made a TV movie about him that aired on CBS on 12/15/02.  It starred Jason Alexander and Ed Asner and Bill Bean helped make the props.  For $11.49 you can buy the Blu-ray DVD on Amazon.com.

Next thing I knew, I was considering reassembling my inherited Erector sets and I located inventory parts lists for both of them.  Now I have to compare what I have to the inventory lists and then we shall see if would be worth it to try to put these sets back into something like their original shape.  It would be an interesting project although I still have no interest in doing the actually assembly of a zeppelin or a White truck.  So I have set these fascinating boxes aside for the moment.

Saturday, March 6. We schlep stuff to the DeAnza Flea Market Sale.

My sale plan also called for doing a big flea market sale. With my friend, Becky’s help and advice, I signed up for a double stall sale (four parking spaces) on February 6th at the De Anza Flea Market held once a month in Cupertino in the parking lot of De Anza College. Naturally it rained all week and I had to cancel our plans, losing my $60 deposit.

We tried again for March 6th and once again we had clouds and a 20% chance of rain.  Becky and our friend, Myrna, both volunteered to help.  (Dennis had no choice but to help.) We all voted to take the chance so we turned out at 5:30 am, met in Cupertino at 6:00 and were inside setting up before the 7:00 opening.  Wow, it was a lot of work but also lots of fun.  We had perfect weather, neither too hot nor too cold and a big crowd turned out.

I sold a lot of small household-type items.  I took four lockers filled with fabric remnants of all kinds and sizes, plus old patterns and a great deal of trims and other notions.  There were lots of craft/hobby items.  We took back about a quarter of what we brought and sent some of that to GoodWill.  I made almost $600 so it was well worth the effort.  I am sharing a double stall with Becky on May Day so I have a second shot at selling fabrics plus perhaps some books and other small items.

Over the months I have emptied half of our unit and we recently found one in Morgan Hill that is half the size, 10 x 15, for less than half the price, $152.  Everything will be moved to Morgan Hill by April 30th and some items will be left on the truck for my second De Anza Flea Market sale on May Day.  Some of the objects in the Morgan Hill storage unit I will keep. Things left over to sell will be small in size.  Eventually I think I can get our stuff down to a 10 x 10 unit.  I think it is acceptable to have everything we own on a -400 sq. ft. bus or in a small storage unit, don’t you?

A Moving Saga
February 3, 2010
Morgan Hill, CA, Coyote Creek RV Resort, Site 10 — 30 days
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 — Fulltimers 2 Years & 9 Months
Wednesday, February 3.  A Moving Saga; in which we shift a masonry company and our personal storage in two weeks.
Approaching Boron, CA in the Mohave Desert.

Approaching Boron, CA in the Mohave Desert.

Our seven-year contract for our masonry location in Mountain View, CA expired at the end of the year.  We thought we could extend until April and we thought we would have plenty of time to find new quarters.  But the owners had found a buyer (Blockbuster) and wanted us out. We needed to find a new location — fast.  We learned about this situation in November 2009 when we were still in Florida.  We knew our time was limited so after our doctor’s appointments we drove home as quickly as possible.

We pulled into the masonry yard on Saturday, December fifth.  On Monday, Dennis rallied his real estate agent and began looking for cheaper masonry rentals.  We had 2,000 sq. ft of offices, a 13,000 sq. ft. warehouse and a 30,000 sq. ft yard and we paid 15K per month.  Our location near US-101 and CA-85 was ideal.  Most of our custom residential work is in the Bay Area so Dennis wanted to stay near Mountain View and match what we had as much as possible.  But he wanted to reduce our rent to 5K.  Of course this was impossible.  He looked at many places over the next two weeks but found nothing suitable.

On Friday, 12/18 we still had not secured a new place.  By then we had seventeen days to get out — and that included the non-work days of Christmas and New Years.  Our deadline was Monday January 4.  The weekend was a work loss so we actually had twelve working days to accomplish a moving miracle.

The staff offices are finished and very pleasant with interior and exterior windows to give an open feeling with plenty of light

The staff offices are finished and very pleasant with interior and exterior windows to give an open feeling with plenty of light

We had seen a property in Morgan Hill that was available immediately.  The price was right — $3,120 / mo.  The offices were very pretty and larger with 3,200 sq. ft.  However it had no warehouse and at 15,000 sq. ft., the unpaved yard was much smaller.  Our Operations Mgr. lives in Morgan Hill so on Saturday Steve went to see the owner.  They struck a deal but the owner wanted to meet Dennis so we drove down on Sunday.  We gave Perry a deposit and asked to start moving on Monday.  He was surprised that we were in such a hurry but he agreed.  His yard was not yet compacted and he hadn’t put up a fence.  Half the offices were being renovated and not finished but half were ready for us to move in.

Monday, 12/21, Dennis scheduled every man available to report to the masonry.  He went into high gear and stayed that way until our last day.  The yard and warehouse were crawling with more than two-dozen men, half a dozen trucks and several forklifts and bobcats.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Dennis rented a 62’ flatbed and driver and a second flatbed half as long.  They took one or two loads a day to our new location 40 miles south.  By New Year’s Eve all but a few items were gone.  He accomplished the entire move in ten working days.  We left the property “broom clean” as agreed.

This is how much equipment had to be moved:  11 semi loads (the rented flatbeds) plus about 110 loads in four masonry trucks of various sizes from a 650 down to a 350.  The yard all around our Bus was filled with covered pallets and equipment.  It was chaos.

In early 2007 when we ordered our Bus we staged many yard and estate sales.  What was left over was stored at the masonry in a 510 sq. ft room that Dennis built inside the warehouse.  It had a pull-up garage door and another big door opened into the larger warehouse.  We’ve never been back here long enough to deal with this left over storage.  So that was (and is) my New Year’s job.  While Dennis directed the masonry move, I worked very hard in our personal storage area to make decisions about what to keep, sell, give away or throw out.  There was no time to sort.  I had to rent public storage near the masonry and I put my sale items in a 10 x 30 unit.  These were things that never sold including some large pieces of furniture.  I didn’t have time to sort boxes so I threw stuff out and if it was questionable I sent it to be placed in a 15 x 15 office room in Morgan Hill.  I put in nine solid days of work.

Oh my gosh! Steve did his best but there is not enough space. It looks like a bomb hit. We've had lots of rain and our new "yard" is a muddy quagmire. There's not a speck of free ground left and barely room enough to drive to the office building.

Oh my gosh! Steve did his best but there is not enough space. It looks like a bomb hit. We’ve had lots of rain and our new “yard” is a muddy quagmire. There’s not a speck of free ground left and barely room enough to drive to the office building.

On January fourth, we moved to Morgan Hill.  Dennis managed the packing in Mountain View and Steve Montez managed the receiving in Morgan Hill, so we hadn’t seen the new offices since we rented them on December 20th.  What a mess!  Office materials were mashed into the finished side of the offices.  Outside, materials and equipment and rain-covered pallets were everywhere.  The yard was muddy because of rain and it can’t be compacted until it dries out.  There was no room to park.  Rudy was directing a boom forklift and bobcats.  Over the next week he somehow managed to stash things off to the side and out of the way.  Right now the yard looks like Sanford & Sons.  We still don’t have a fence.

Coyote Valley RV Resort on the Monterey Highway.  It is ten miles north of the new masonry and thirty miles south of the old masonry.  With an extra wide space and with a clubhouse, fitness room, pool, and dog-run available, it is luxurious but expensive.  We pay about a thousand a month as opposed to zero in the old masonry yard.  It is nice but isolated in a setting between farm fields.

We are on the east side of the highway, which has a barrier so when you exit you must turn right and drive a mile north before you can make a U-turn to go south. If you forget your cell phone, the round trip with two U-turns (at lights) is four miles! We are six-plus miles north of the town and shopping malls and supermarkets, so it is not a convenient location.

Our site is fairly near the highway, which is extremely noisy — especially during rush hour or when the streets are wet. Other sites at the back of the park get the constant hum of traffic from the freeway, US-101 which runs parallel to the foothills about a mile away. So in terms of traffic noise it’s six to one; half a dozen to the other. However, the kicker is the the railroad track that runs parallel to the highway on the west side. Passenger and freight trains run frequently all day and night. Whistles are blown for long or short lengths of time depending on the engineer. At night, the engine sounds like it is about to roar straight through our bedroom. It breaks up our sleep and is most disconcerting.

On the plus side, we are near Coyote Creek Park so we are a half-mile walk from a pedestrian/bicycle path that runs north and south for 26 miles.  The trail crosses through open fields dotted with oak trees. The hills are green and covered with mustard blooms. I’d love to take more advantage but this is a very wet year and every day we have gray cloud cover with periods of rain. There is also a lot of tully fog.

Now my job is to drive to Mountain View to sell stuff and get rid of our public storage bill.  So I am still under the gun to hurry.  I sell on Craigs List and I’ve reserved space for a Flea Market sale on February sixth.  Next I must sort the stuff piled up in the office.  At least the time frame for that is not so pressing.