Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Good Day

The sun is shining and it warm with the sun shining through the windshield of the motor home.  We have left Bowling Green, Ohio and are happily traveling south on Interstate 75 to Cincinnati, OH.  for a rest day.  Then we point the nose toward home to prepare for The Fiber Event in Greencastle Indiana.  It is only 2 weeks away and I have a lot of work to do to have a good inventory for this event. 

Sales at the Black Swamp Spinners and Weavers Market Day were good and best of all, I met more nice people.  Good sales equals more work and I am eager to get back to this kind of work.  I love having my hands in all things fiber. 

It was a huge shock going from the warm days in Tennessee to the downright cold of northern Ohio.  But, that's March for you.  The weather keeps changing and makes you appreciate warm days.  Even more, It makes me appreciate California weather!  It seems that we have fallen in love with southern California. The mountains and the desert have so much character!  I haven taken manuy photos and plan to use some as inspiration for my fiber watercolor painting. 

As for now, I'll enjoy the sunshine here.  Stay tuned.  N

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountain Fiber Art Festival is over.  We have made many great, new friends.  My classes were fun to teach and students have returned home with their scarves, purses and felting materials.  Oliver joined the class for a while and eagerly helped the students as you can see on one of the photos.  Felting is not an art for the weak.  It takes tremendous energy.  What I love about teaching is seeing the creativity of each student.  You can see their personalities come out in their work.  The students give me energy and gives me the desire to return to my studio and continue with my experiments with color, fiber and design. 

Again, the knit lights were a huge success along with the hand thrown pottery knitting bowls by John Todd of Paw Paw Pottery.  I am amazed with the colors that I regularly have great sales.  It seems that black is hard to find and, of course, I have it.  Choral is the new color for 2011 and is running a close race with black for top sales.  The student that chose to make a choral purse, of course, had to leave early and I didn't get a photo of her finished product. 

Thank goodness it is time to rest.  Three days of sales and two of teaching can make a person weary.  Now we are parked next to the Little River in Townsend Tennessee and letting the sound of the rapids sooth us.  John is planning on getting his fishing rod out and I may even join him.  Last night, he saw fish jumping and it totally excited about finally getting to fish.  In seven weeks of travel, he was unable, or unwilling to pay the high price of an out of state fishing license to fish a day or two to fish. 

We will leave for home Tuesday.  John has physician appointments Tuesday and Wednesday, then we are off to Bowling Green, Ohio, for the Black Swamp Spinners Guild Market Day.  I hope to see some of you there!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival

We have just finished our second day in the company of a great committee that has planned a great festival.  This morning's class was terrific.  I had 4 super students and they did a marvelous job following directions.  They completed some attractive scarves. 

This student's daughter in law is an actress in Hollywood and a member of Screen Actors Guild...My daughter is a shrink contracted with SAG!  What a coincidence!   But that's not all!  Hang on there!
This student's daughter is a set designer for TV and Movies in Hollywood!  Now how many times would 3 strangers from 3 locations have family all in the same place and in the same industry?  Go figure! 

This is the lay out that was fine and very delicate.  I should have taken a photo that was much closer to show the detail....

Here in the Smokey Mountains is so different than out west.  What a contrast.  When the show is over tomorrow night, we will take Sunday and Monday to explore and you will hear more of the RV/motorhome side. 

Tomorrow brings another class day.  I will be teaching a class in handbags / purses.  Sooo looking forward to working with these students.

In the meantime, God Bless and stay safe everyone! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Two Days @ Home and Back on the Road!

We have spent the last two days preparing for the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival and are now back on the road.  We are only forty minutes from home and I feel the tension draining from me.  Before we left for our long journey out west, we had two choices; to pack for the festival and take everything with us or to come home and repack.  Well, we made a mistake.  We should have just gone from California to Tennessee.  We are using more gas and the last two days have been hard on both of us, unpacking, cleaning and repacking the motor home.  Lesson learned. 

Oliver and Noah did enjoy the freedom of being home.  When we first walked into the house, Oliver ran from room to room.  He was jumping over furniture and tearing through the house skidding on the new hardwood floors.  Thank Goodness he only weighs eight pounds and his toe nails do no harm.  He then played in his yard as if he'd never had a place to run and play.  He chased leaves, birds and his ball around the yard.  Then there's Noah.  He just had to see how many times we would let him in and out of the house.  Neither complained when it was time to get back in the motor home this morning, so I guess they had their fun time and were ready to hit the road. 

I am looking forward to this weekend.  We have not been with our fiber friends since the end of October and are looking forward to catching up on everyone's travel and fiber activities.  In addition to chatting, I look forward to teaching and just having my hands in fiber again.  In one of my classes, we will be dyeing our spring  scarves prior to nuno felting. 

Well, as John drives, I just may shut my eyes and catch a few zzzzzzsss. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

From 80's to 30's.....Brrrrrr

Back home again in Indiana where it's wet and cold.  We have had to make a quick return in order to unpack, repack and head to the Smokey Mountain Fiberarts Festival.  We have 2 days to take care of our business.  We have gone from snow and ice, to sunny and warm/hot California and not back to cool, but not as cold as when we left 7 weeks ago. 

Our trip was outstanding.  It was so great to be with DD#2.  She was a great hostess, guide and trip adviser.  We are already planning our visit next year.  We are going to have a longer time next year since our time on the road was cut short by the misadventures of parts suppliers who either sent the wrong parts or parts that did not work to Edmundson RV. 

In many ways, we were not impressed with the southern route I 10 then I-8 through southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas.  The "northern" route through Oklahoma, the TX panhandle, Flagstaff and Albuquerque was a better trip for us. 

As soon as I get my laptop up and running, I will add photos to supplement my comments.  For 2 days, you will have peace and quiet since we will be busily preparking for the next leg of traveling....'nite all

I Wonder if She is a Blonde...

I've copied this from another blog.  I just had to share this with my friends! 

Please tell me it isn’t true.

Sometimes you read the most amazing things! This one is just too hard to believe:
This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot  Winnebago motor home.. On her first trip home, from an OU football game,  having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down?
  $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their
manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A State of Energy

Gas wells, Oil Rigs, Wind turbines, as far as the eyes can see......all energy producing products.  That is the state of Texas but not limited to Texas!  The wind turbines stand out like white toothpicks on the far horizon.  As we get closer, they tower over us in their slow, graceful ballet all moving in unison as if they were listening to the beat of the music.  In the same view, are the rigs drilling for gas and as we drive through the area, the acrid odor takes your breath away.  Not in a good sort of way, and the odor is nasty.  We see the lovely and we smell the unlovely.  All are necessary for the energy that we all take for granted.  How can a world leader have so much energy, depend on foreign oil?  I'd love for someone to explain that. 

On the Road Again

Returning home is not as exciting as heading out on a trip.  But Everything has a cycle and this is just part of it.  We have started our list of what we missed this trip and hope to make the things on our list our plan of "attack" next year.  We plan to start earlier in order to have more time on the road.  Since my show season begins with the Smokey Mountain Fiberart Festival, I will always have to be home for that event.  The next week end is the Black Swamp Market Day in Bowling Green, Ohio.  I sure am going into these events rested and totally relaxed.  That won't last long since the push is on for the Hoosier Hills Fiberarts Festival the first full weekend of June, located in Franklin, Indiana - Just south of Indianapolis. I will be teaching wet felting classes at two of these shows.

As we have driven through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, I  have seen so many abandoned homes, farms, businesses.  Some appear to be ghost towns along the side of the road.  Here in Texas, many are in the  oil and gas fields.  This coupled with the dry grass, some pumps not in operation tells a story of hopes and dreams of the future.  It is a history lesson of families who gave it their best, some had success and some failed.  But failing at one thing, most pushed on to find success in another realm.  That's life, isn't it.  We don't give up with a failure, we push on, an on until we reach our goals. 

We boondocked or as they say in California, drydocked in another Wal Mart at El Paso, TX.  This one had a security guard that pointed the spot for us to use.  Now that's service!  We did some shopping, returned to the motor home for dinner and played more Nabbit.  John won both games last night.  I'll get him tonight. 

The border patrol is and has been out in force.  We passed 2 inspection sites in California, one in Arizona, and two in T.  We could have had a motor home full of Mexicans as they looked in the driver's side window,  asked how many were traveling in here and if we were citizens. 

Well, we are heading to Dallas, Fort Worth.  See you on the road! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Joshua Tree & Borrego Springs CA, Tuscon, AZ

It still amazes me how the scenery can change in a matter of a few miles.  In Twenty-Nine Palms, it was flat and there were, of course, many palms.  We had planned to stay at the RV park there, but when we arrived the girl at the counter said they no longer accepted Passport America discount cards.   Then as my disappointment showed, she says, well, if you will stay two nights, we will honor your Passport America for one night and charge you full rate the second.  Sounded like a scam to us, so we left and went on in to Joshua Tree National Park. 

We were fortunate enough to find the Jumbo Rocks camping area. The camp sites were arranged in, out and around huge, huge "jumbo" rocks of granite.  This was a nice change from campsites that we in the desert sand.  The granite does not track into the motor home like sand.  It is a mecca for rock climbers and photographers and a bargain for $6.00 a night.  Finally, I was able to work with my circular sock machine.  I was also able to show another camper how much fun it is to knit socks on the antique. John and I enjoyed ourselves at Jumbo Rocks  for2 days then moved on down to  the other end of the park to the Cottonwood campground.  We were to meet Nancy Jo and Cathie there for the week end.  Jojo was to take part in a photography seminar with famed photographer, Ralph Nordstrum on Friday Saturday and Sunday.  We had the evenings to sit around the campfire and do more catching up.  Sunday, Jojo was smooth enough to talk her  dad into staying another night.  Yeah!!!!!! 

It was a blessing that we did stay Sunday night.  The National Park Ranger came around to warn us that we were have a wind storm (another one) with winds gusting to 60 and 70 mph.  He said that the Interstate 10 has been closed around Palm Springs, which was nearby.  This time, we were parked into the wind and did not feel as much motion as we did during the windstorm in Ridgecrest, CA.

The extra time allowed us to hike to the Cottonwood Desert Oasis.  I had seen an oasis in a movie and on TV, but to experience this in the middle of the desert was way cool.  Yes the oasis was named Cottonwood because there are actually Cottonwood trees there.  Another thing we saw was a rock the Indian women used when grinding grain.  It has been used for so many years by the Indians that the round hole(mortar) in the rock was about 12 inches deep.  Their "pestle" would be another rock or a sturdy trunk or limb of a tree. 

Monday morning came and we had to say our good bys. I fixed  breakfast for all and John prayed for safe travels for all of us and thanked God for such a wonderful time with loved ones.   It was so hard,  I would have stayed if I could.  I will have to be content planning next year's trip.  And to be sure, it will be longer! 
We were off to Anza Borrego Desert and Jojo was off to work.  This commute was a 3 hour commute for her compared to a 30 minute one she would have had if she had gone home Sunday night.  We all had wind during our travels.  Jojo said it was pretty frightening for her and we experienced a dust storm that cut the visibility to about 50 yards. 

Arriving at Borrego Springs, we went directly to the state park to register for a camping site.  Oops! they were booked until May!  It is time for the wild flowers to bloom in the Anza Borrego desert.  We did find great camping at the Borrego Springs RV and Hotel Resort.  We splurged a bit and went to a nice Mexican Restaurant that also had a Mexican Grocery.  More tacos for me!  After dinner, we drove around a bit then went back to the RV and played one of our favorite word games NABBIT.    Shortly after dark, we went to bed, continuing the habit of up with the sun and to sleep with the sunset. 

Yesterday, Tuesday, we were up and off to find wildflowers and Big Horn Sheep.  The wild flowers, but no luck finding the Big Horn.  The park ranger said we probably would not because this has been such a wet winter and the sheep are not coming as close to civilization as they usually do in search of water. 

This morning we were up and on our way towards home.  Our stop tonight will be in Tuscon.  We are not going to  be able to stop much on our return trip due to the Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival in Townsend, Tennessee where I am vending and teaching wet felting classes. .

Well, we are approaching Tuscon.  Until save and blessings to all

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Death Valley, Amboy Crater and Joshua Tree National Parks

Not having internet and phone service can be a God send or a curse.  For us, it was both.  We have had no email since leaving Ridgecrest, CA. but for a small window of time in Baker, Ca.  Now, I can bring this blog up to date.  Prepare yourself for a long one!

When we left Ridgecrest we were flanked by a Naval Base on one side and land containing minerals.  There in this land, every mineral in the periodic table can be found.  That astounded me!  Mineral harvesting companys  lined the road for a few miles.  Then we were back out in the desert with borax covering the desert floor.  Looks to me like a bit of a snow storm and I'm sure the photos will give that appearance.  As we continued on CA 178, civilization decreased and we were able to enjoy the ever changing desert and the mountains.  Suddenly 178 stops!  Okay, what do we do?  We continued following the road and assumed the road would lead us to Death Valley, which it did eventually.

But first, we found a sign to a ghost town.  Down an unpaved, washboard road we went.  For three and a half miles some of the things in the motor home rattled as well as out teeth!  Finally, we entered the town and saw what is left of a California ghost town.  An empty building, partial shells of other buildings, foundations and one lone building is all that is left.  Someone build a tiny cabin with an outhouse behind - for overnight "guests".  One startling discovery was the pick up truck used by Charles Manson and his followers as they hid out in the desert.  A mighty ominous feeling seeing that truck.  We retraced our washboard drive back to the main road and on to Death Valley.

Ahead of us appeared what looked to be different weather systems.  It looked like one storm was being trapped between two mountain ranges.  To the left was another weather system with the third off to our right.  I wondered if we were going to drive into danger with this dark cloud, or would the mountain wind us around to one of the lesser systems.  Of course, we ended up in the dark storm system.  As the altitude increased the rain started, and higher altitudes brought snow and sleet.  You name it, it happened.  We have heard that driving on snow / ice covered roads is hard with the motor homes, and this was becoming a nail biter.  At 4000 feet, we were in an all out blizzard.  The road began to go down the mountain and at three thousand feet the storm was much better.  By the time we arrived at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, all the snow had melted and the windshield was dry and it was HOT!  The only reminder of the trip in the mountain was ice on the back mud flaps on the back of the motor home.

We settled in at the RV park across from the welcome center and were thrilled with the $6.00 / fee (no hook ups).  The park afforded us with a place to lite at night as we did our sight seeing.  The first stop was the Borax Museum.  Behind the museum was a large collection of mining, logging, road building and means of travel.  We spotted a road grader that was propelled by mules.  I especially enjoyed seeing the stage coaches and buckboards that I saw on Saturday mornings as I watched the westerns on TV.  Across the street, in the general store, I indulged in an ice cream sandwich.  Oh my,  how can something so ordinary taste so good in the desert?  I had to have one again the next day.  Of course I had to share with Oliver.  And while enjoying all this, a coyote drifted within 10 yards of Oliver and I....only in the west.

Monday, we headed out to Golden Canyon where we hiked up Zabriskie Point.  Here you could see a breathtaking view of the mountains and canyons.  More adventurous, and strong people hiked into the canyon and up the mountains.  After a hike up to the point, we felt that we had done our share.  Actually, we tacked to both get up and get down.  Tacking, walking diagonally rather than straight up or down is a maneuver we learned in our cycling days. It is serving us well every day!  From Zabriskie Point we headed to the Natural Bridge.  Of course that entailed another mile hike.

Badwater was our next stop.  Badwater is 282 feet below sea level.  It is the deepest place in North America, but not in the world.  The name was derived from an old prospector who was leading his mule through the desert.  He cam to a bit of water and was startled that his mule refused to drink the water....until he tasted the water himself.  On his map, we made the notation "Badwater" and thus we have the name of the area.  The water may be bad, but the air is good.  There are more oxygen molecules there than at sea level.  Altitude offers less oxygen Badwater offers the most.

These areas are crowded with foreign tourists, coming by private car and tour buses.  English was the least spoken language!  We noticed that those tourists would come to the site, glance at it, snap a picture with then at the sign identifying the site and moving on.  All this was done in a matter of seconds.  But at each place, we could have stayed for hours and not been able to see all.  This gives us the excuse to come back next year.

As we traveled though Jubilee Pass, we were greeted white, purple and yellow flowers.  Next year, we will come with a wildflower identification book.  There were silver, bushes that had bright orange blossoms.   After Jubilee Pass came Solsbury Pass with mountainsides that looked like layers of a cake.

Leaving Death Valley make me sad.  What a beautiful place!  Of course, this is late winter and not summer when the day temperatures reach 124 degrees and the cooler temperatures "fall" to 100.  We have found though, that when leaving one place opens the gate to more beautiful sights.  At first, the San Bernardino foothills and mountains did not offer the dramatic scenery for which Death Valley is prized.  Ahhh,  now we were in the Mojave Desert headed to Joshua Tree National Park.

First we stopped in Amboy to boondock for the night.  At first we didn't think we would be able to sleep with a train passing about every 4 minutes and bombing exercises taking place a few miles problem!  We were asleep in the wink of the eye and was awake to discover Roy's Diner and Motel a few steps from our motor home.    Located on the old Route 66, they have been a fixture for longer than I'm old.   The Amboy Crater was just down Route 66 and we turned off to do a little hiking.  A little??? How about three miles in the desert and forgetting to take water with us.  Not too smart, I'd say!  We hiked to the crater and up a bit.  John did not think he could make the entire climb, so we rested and made our way down.  The way up was so curvy that I decided that going down, I'd try to make more of a straight shot to the motor home.  All was well until I slipped on some of the lava and fell on my bumm and scraped my leg.  What's a little blood anyway?    Our walk treated us with Iguana, lizards, desert rats and mice, and NO rattlers.

Approaching Twenty Nine Palm, and one entrance to Joshua Tree, I has hit with a taco attack!  My "informants" had told me that the best tacos are in southern California and Mexico and I had to discover that for myself.  Yep, they are right.  Now, I crave tacos, the good ones! 

I will follow up with our Joshua Tree experience and bring this blog up to date later.  For now, we are on the hunt for a grocery store and Long Horn Sheep!

See ya later!  


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Internet for 4 Days!

We are boondocking in Amboy, California tonight.  We are near railroad tracks and a train has passed approximately every 4 minutes.  This should provide an interesting night of sleep.  But we are tired from hiking over two miles (up and down, never flat) so we've just parked and are trusting that we will not hear a thing once we get to sleep.  The computer only has ab out 40% power, so I will do as much as possible to bring you all up to date.   The rest will come as soon as I get this thing charged.  I'm just thankful for even fourty percent!

We have had no internet and no phone service for the last 4 days while we were in Death Valley National Park. Not having computer access has been hard.  I have had so much to share about this leg of the trip. What can  I say about Death Valley???  Words cannot express the beauty and tranquility of Death Valley National Park.  One can sit in the same space for 24 hours and the scenery will change!  This actually ranks higher than the Grand Canyon.  Can  you believe that?

OK, I'm running out of power and want to post something.....

to be continued...................