The dream began over a year ago, always in the back of my mind to do a trip and see nothing but friends and loved ones, and to squeeze in as many as I possibly could.
I completed my 10 day whirlwind trip last month from Thursday, April 18th to
Sunday, April 28th, 2013. There were to be nine to ten people I was
going to try and see and I was fortunate enough to get all but two in, not bad
for a trip with a lot of people involved.
Several components were involved in building this mini-adventure and I thank God for being able to have found several friends through the use of Classmates.com and Face Book. Without those two social media sites, I would not have been able to have visited old family friends or high school friends!
As usual, I like to begin packing about a week before trips, that way I don’t forget the little things like toothpaste or deodorant, although I did leave the toothpaste tube on the bathroom counter at home. I bought one on the road and it will now fill my pre-pak travel kit. By the time D-Day arrived I was pretty well set with clothes for all kinds of weather or events. You never know what kinds of things are going to pop up.
Finally, Thursday broke bright and sunshiny and I headed out of the driveway by
My son had made a CD and loaned it to me for the ride so I popped that in and the first tune belted out was Alicia Keys’ “This Girl is on Fire!” With all the windows rolled down I pointed my nose W/SW and merrily car-sang that tune several times until I hit the highway.
About two hours later I had crossed the Oregon/California border and kept
as my viewpoint
for quite awhile. A great first sight on
that clear, blue sky day. About two and
half hours later my Mt. Shasta GPS dashboard girl
friend brought me to the front door of my first stop; Bill and Connie Jensen in
. I knew Bill in high school forty one years
ago and met his wife Connie through our email letters. Bill and I connected through Face Book, Mark
Zuckerbergs’ famous online social gathering. Redding, California
Bill and Connie have been married 39 years and hearing about how they met and fell in love was cute and funny, great to see them still together and beating the odds of many of the rest of us.
Connie put together a delicious barbecue chicken dinner while Bill took me over to the
in Sun Dial Bridge —very cool
All three of us stayed up until about 10:30 just catching up on old times and friends, who we knew, who was gone and who we’d seen last. Connie had to go to work the next morning so we called it a night and headed off to bed.
Since I had a couple of hours to spare before heading out to the next destination, Bill loaded the kayaks into his truck around and we drove to
. By we were coffee’d
up, geared up and on the lake. Whiskey Town Lake
It was a bit breezy but not cold and once we got paddling we warmed up nicely. The wind died down shortly thereafter and we continued to enjoy the clear skies and serenity of the early morning. We saw quite a number of birds; bald eagles (at which Bill said he couldn’t recall seeing any in this area before), cormorants, a blue heron, ospreys and crows. During our easy paddling we watched a bald eagle swoop down and snag a fish with its claws. Pretty magical there.
The second leg of the trip was a stop in Folsom,
at Marsha and Kent
Harris’ house. Marsha and I were friends
in high school and a little bit afterwards.
One of our memories included a trip to Lake Tahoe together in my pretty
little yellow 1967 “Le Goat”—the front
end of which had GTO on the front grill and the rear end was marked “Le
Mans”. I don’t know how it got that way
but I loved that car… California
Marsha looks the same as she did in high school and the best part is, you can’t miss her beautiful and cheerful smile. Always sweet and kind and lots of fun and she is still that way. Marsha and Kent just bought a brand new home and were only in it for a week before my visit so it still had “new home” smell, certainly better than new car!
took the three of
us in for a quick stop at a local tavern so we could hoist a few margaritas and
salute old times. Afterwards we walked
the old town section of Folsom, wandering the short,
touristy street, stopping in at the huge corner candy store where we bought
some fudge and hard cinnamon candies. The next stop was dinner at Viscontis’, a
wonderful Italian restaurant where the owner cruises between tables, inquiring
about the meals in his beautiful Italian accent. Kent
Very soon the evening was closing and it was time to return home where Marsha and I put on our ‘comfies’ and sat on the couch, reminiscing about youth, old life and good friends.
I got out of busy Folsom just fine and was eventually directed onto a six lane highway on Saturday afternoon. At I was trapped in full-blown bumper-to-bumper-doing-10-miles-per-hour traffic. Saturday?? Just WHERE was everyone going? The other six lanes of traffic heading south were virtually empty. You would have thought it was on a Friday. The scary part was people simply pull right in front of you if there’s a one inch space between your front bumper and the rear bumper of the car ahead. Just push right in. And then the flowing mass of metal would speed up to 25 and slow down again. I soon caught on that this was due to two merging lanes at a time, about every mile for, well, forever it seemed, but in reality it was probably about six miles. Most of this crammed-in, metal blob lasted for the entire forty miles it took to get on the highway that pointed me to the east. It took an hour to drive that freeway in the flat, dry and hazy
area. My knuckles relaxed off the steering wheel
and Sacramento GPS gave the rest of
her directions in that soft, soothing voice of hers without incident.
I arrived at Pat and Cathie’s that Saturday, relieved and tired and so warmly welcomed on that late, sunny afternoon. Cathy had put a stew on earlier and the whole house was enveloped in that wonderful, meaty aroma. I put my things in the spare room, we got something cool to drink and planted ourselves on the back patio for some catch-up talk. It’s almost always breezy in Rio Vista, being in the delta area, so when it reaches 85 degrees it is still comfortable.
Oh, and I forgot about Chica! Last year Pat and Cathie got a new little dog, a miniature pincher. She may be teeny but she has big attitude and now she knows she runs the house. That little rascal can fly from one room to another, a little black blur with big eyes!
I had planned to stay with Pat and Cathie for that Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A chance to just visit, talk, eat and catch up on family news events and to relax and enjoy each others’ company. I did just that!
Sunday we drove over to the
(the last time I
was there was when Michael and Sara were 6 and 7 years old! We were there with
my dad and step-mom). Rio Vista Railroad Museum
There was the museum itself with books and postcards and various other items you could purchase, along with the posted times and costs of the train rides. There were different excursions that day; a short 5 minute tour on one of the smaller cars and another one on the larger train that took you on a 7 mile loop. The three of us hopped on the mini-tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, the smells of the wood and leather, listening to the wheels clickity-clacking over the rails. Above our heads were advertisements of the day (1930’s) and for fresh air you could raise up the wooden window, “Just don’t stick your arms or heads out because the windows have been known to slam down”, the conductor told us.
This museum is all-volunteer run, these guys do it because they love being around these trains. You can feel the love and you know they really enjoy wearing their conductor uniforms.
When the mini-tour was over, Pat and Cathie and I went over to the snack shop and got a hot dog and Coke while Cathie got a really intense chocolate ice cream. We sat down at a picnic table and enjoyed the slight breeze, the sunshine, our snacks and watching jack rabbits play around the huge landscaped lawn area.
Soon we heard the train a’comin’, we were excited to get on board the big one, feel the rocking and rolling of the cars and check out the scenery as we rolled along.
The conductor gave us a short story about how and what these trains were used for “back in the day” and that many of the messages to be passed on to other trains and conductors were either left in a mail bag hanging on posts or that certain bags were in a particular place-which meant that a train was either coming and they should be headed to another track or whether it was safe to proceed. Sometimes they stopped the train so that these mail bags could be retrieved and sometimes the conductor simply leaned out and yanked them off the poles as the train slowed down to do so.
On one of these particular passes we actually LOST our conductor! There were two conductors, one ‘rail worker’ and about ten passengers on the train and as we were rocking along, a young girl about 8 years old and in the car in front of us, yelled out that someone fell off the train! A male passenger in our car then yelled out, “Man down! Man down! Stop the train, someone has fallen off the train!” Of course there was a bit of confusion as to whom it was that fell off the train but within seconds it was determined that it was one of the conductors.
It was only a matter of minutes before the car was slowed down and we were in back-up mode, we hadn’t gone far from the above telephone post where we saw the crumpled heap of black and white laying motionless against the pole. He was face down in the dirt and he was not moving when the car stopped. Another passenger volunteered that she knew CPR and sprang out of her seat to help. Several people got off the train to help, not all of us so that there would be plenty of room for action. They said they could hear his raspy breathing but that he wasn’t moving. His head was bleeding profusely, someone peeked in the door and asked for a scarf or spare shirt to wrap around his head, I offered the one Pat and I had stashed in my purse earlier, “In case I get cold”, Pat said. The rest of us sat in our seats, silently praying that he would be okay since everyone’s first thought was that he was dead. None of us thought he could have survived that fall out the open door at 25 to 30 miles an hour.
Since we were in a narrow stretch of the run, two people were out on the high ground calling 911 for help, they were able to reach emergency services and within a ten minute period, an ambulance truck and fire engine had been dispatched and arrived, straddling the tracks as they drove to our position.
It was soon decided that we passengers would disembark the big train and reload on the small one we’d been on earlier and return to the main passenger loading zone. We were all quiet and concerned about the status of our pleasant and knowledgeable conductor, Cliff.
Approaching the main gate, the second train conductor offered to call anyone who was interested in knowing Cliff’s condition if they would leave a business card or piece of paper with a name and phone number.
We all returned solemn about the event that just occurred when the remaining conductor said, “We are very sorry that your train ride has been ruined” and I replied, “The only way this would be ruined is if Cliff is NOT okay, this is no fault of yours and hey, things happen!”
Later on after dinner as we were sitting out on the back patio, Cathy received a call from #2 Conductor and he related to us that Cliff was doing okay! “No broken bones but quite a few bruises and contusions, but all good considering and they’re keeping him overnight for observation”. That was the icing on the cake for that day. Pat, Cathy and I were so happy to hear that he was going to be fine. Whew!
Monday came and we decided to just lay low, take it easy, talk and talk and share memories of mom and dad, older brother Rick and various other family things that came to mind. Cathy went and picked up Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner and while she was gone, Pat played his guitar for me. I loved it. I remember when he came home from the Army (1970?), teaching himself how to play…
Monday arrived all sunshiny and beautiful, we had a lovely breakfast and then Pat and Cathy decided to wash my car! That was so nice of them to do that, I was going to and simply ran out of time when I was getting ready for the trip.
Tuesday came and I was pointed towards
to spend a day and
night with my step-mom whom I hadn’t seen since my dad died in October of
2013. Wow, hard to believe he’s been
gone that long. Walnut Creek
But, I got to mom’s house and when she opened the door, I thought she looked great, just great! She’s a busy woman, she exercises and walks and helps out her neighbors with personal care or small chores. Their isn’t a whole lot of sit-down time with her, I see mom going for quite a long time.
It was kind of strange being in the house and dad not there, although mom seemed to switch from past-tense to present when she was talking about dad.
Sadly, the pictures I took of mom on my phone I ended up losing, don’t know what happened to them, maybe I can get her to send me one or two.
It was great to see her, mom’s in great shape and it was hard to go, too. I am so glad she was a part of this journey.
I was able to get two people in this stop; mom and my
childhood friend, Debbie Wiley. We’ve
been through some times together, that girl and I. We met in first or second grade, can’t
remember which and don’t think it matters a whole lot. Her mother and my mother shared Room Mother
duties way back then. Debbie
and I shared a lot of recesses together and an event that happened in our 6th
grade teachers’ class (Mr. Last) will forever be etched in my math memory. I’ll just let that stay in the memory books. Walnut
We had Girl Scout times, some shared friend’s times, even went and stayed at her parents’ cabin in Soda Springs (by
Truckee) once. I remember getting homesick and I remember we
had a “snipe hunt”; we all grabbed pillows and went out into the woods after
dark supposedly trying to catch a snipe.
Then there was the time after graduation that we borrowed her brothers’ big
ol’ flesh colored bus-truck and drove up the cabin area, we were going to go
camping! Just us girls. We drove onto a dirt road and were going to
camp there but for some reason we left, I don’t remember if we were run out of
there or got scared and I think we went to the cabin, can’t remember all the
Anyway, I waited at mom’s and finally Debbie called me at on Wednesday evening, she’d just gotten home from her work as librarian in
. She says her commute isn’t bad, better than
if she were going the other way. Fairfield
I hurried on over and as I got there, Deb was fixing hamburgers. It was just wonderful to see my good friend of 52 years. We sat and reminisced about funny things, our parents and our families, some good and some bad. And of course, never enough time.
Two kind of funny things happened while I was there; as Debbie and I were sitting at the table (the one above) we both heard a very strange sound that came from the kitchen; it was a cross between a moan and the sound a smoke alarm makes when the battery is dyeing. Neither the dog nor the cats reacted to this noise and her back door was open, no ‘critters’ were trying to get in. I thought it might have been a raccoon but since the dog was outside and he didn’t behave differently, that thought kind of went out the window. Ultimately, we never did figure out what that strange noise was.
Since Debbie had to get up and go to work the next morning, I asked her to go ahead and wake me; she said she got up about 7 or so.
We both hit the pillows around , wishing we could stay up more but alas, work schedules rule. I went to sleep quickly in a huge, soft bed, made me feel like a princess it was so big!
About or I heard a knock on the door and then it opened—I said, “Debbie? Are you up?” and there was no reply. I got up and looked around into the kitchen, I saw no lights and heard no sounds so I went back to bed pondering this new event. The door that led to my room was not a light door, rather solid and stout so it shouldn’t have just ‘eased’ open. I mentioned it to Debbie when she did get up and she was just as surprised as I was. There have been no new noises since my visit…
The next stop on my vacation was down in
, about 2 and a
half to 3 hours away, depending on the time of day one leaves and hit the
traffic on the freeways. I left about
and had no problems with excessive traffic, no slowdowns and plenty of room on
the road. Campbell, California
I programmed my little
GPS friend and she got
me on the freeway headed south, made all the right exits and lane changes and
did just great all the way to Hal and Joanne Carroll’s’ house---well,
almost. This was the first time that I
was short-changed by one block. Their
address is 1395 and Miss GPS kept telling me I
was at their door when I was really at 1295.
I am not going to complain, after all, I wasn’t headed down a snowy road
out in the wilderness as some people have been led.
There was the Carroll homestead, little white fence out front; yard full of orange and lemon trees, rose bushes lined the front porch and a signature statue-fountain under the living room window. I pulled up into the driveway and gave a little honk to warn my friends I had arrived. Within seconds Hal came out the door with welcoming arms and Joanne was close behind. I have known Hal since high school and Joanne in just the last few years. Hal has always been and still is one of those rare people who are genuinely full of love and care for all kinds of animals and people. Always a respectful young man and generous in his friendship and kindness, it is nice to see he hasn’t lost any of those qualities as he has matured. Joanne is busy and bright with a quick sense of humor and makes you feel as if you have always known her. They are a remarkable couple to have as friends. If you look closely you will see a picture of me and Sara on their “Friends Wall”, we are the second one down and second to the right, Hal and Joanne’s’ is the 3rd picture down and on the left. Kevin and I are the second picture down from the top red picture, second to the right.
I may get my meals mixed up since I spent three days there but it doesn’t matter, they treated me so wonderful while I was there, I hope to be able to reciprocate the same kind of hospitality to any of my friends should they be able to stop in at our house on a future trip.
I believe the day I arrived we went downtown for dinner and I had some ribs. Our next day was a lunch downtown where we shared two different kinds of pizza while dined at sidewalk tables and listened to the busy sounds of town life.
The first night Joanne and I went together to her carving class, now I have been to this class with her before but this time I was able to participate by practicing with a burning tool. She gave me a little sheet of wood and began some simple instructions on different ways to make feathers, dots, and lines that look like fur or hair on a carved piece. It was fun to try this and I brought my practice piece home where Kevin inserted a marble; when I hang it in the sunlight the marble will be a light director! I got this idea from an internet site where someone had inserted marbles all along a wooden fence and when the sun hit those marbles just right, it was quite a light show.
Joanne has a friend she walks with in the mornings so I was invited to come along, get some of the kinks out of my legs from driving and sitting. I’m not used to walking city blocks so it was interesting to see man-made landscaping again, the various plants that grow down in
The ending to this beautiful day? We celebrated with Hal’s homemade macaroni salad and barbecued ribs out in the backyard on the patio, surrounded by flowering greenery and singing birds.
The weather was beautiful; warm and welcoming, not too hot for this ol’ gal from
. I had mentioned to Hal and Joanne, during
this visit, something about “a full monty”, and not really knowing what it
meant. “Well Janie, you’re in luck
because we HAVE that movie! I think we
should watch it so you’ll know what “a FULL MONTY means”. And we did…it was hilarious. I had heard this silly comment before but
didn’t REALLY know what it meant, what a great comedic end to the day, indeed. Oregon
Next morning we were treated to homemade Belgian waffles with some of that jam that Joanne is famous for making (some of which I helped make on this visit)
I didn’t climb any mountains or rescue any people, I didn’t create a miracle or cure a disease, what I did do was have a magical and wonderfully peaceful and loving vacation. Never quite had one like this, enjoying so many friends and seeing family. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event.
My three days of visiting the Carroll’s Camp was over, packing again and getting ready to leave at the next day and headed towards
I hadn’t driven the expressways and freeways of
in a long time so
hitting the road early on a Sunday morning was great and as the sun was coming
up over the rolling green and fog-shrouded hills, I breathed in a sigh of
satisfaction. It was beautiful but
short-lived. The fog dissipated quickly
and the air had a strange, sort of industrial aroma to it. California
as a destination point in my GPS, I felt
fairly confident I wasn’t going to get led too far astray. I was able to take some lovely winding back
roads through the gold country, places I hadn’t been in years, through South
Lake Tahoe where my parents
and I used to visit old family friends.
Oak trees, old barns, and 1940’s trucks rusting out behind old gas
stations—I loved it. Jackson
It wasn’t long before I was gaining elevation and climbing the hills of the southern edge of
When I hit town, I called Terri and we met up in a parking lot across from a Subway sandwich shop (after missing several connecting points because this town had two of a few of the same things). We headed over to the Subway and bought some sandwiches and a drink, then headed to a nice little beach where Terri and I sat and started to catch up on life. We had not seen each other in 40 years, where do you start “in a nutshell” was able to spend two hours with her, it was so sweet to see her, hear about her life and know she is doing well. She is still a funny, sweet and beautiful woman; she was the cherry on top of the cupcake of my trip. Thank you for sharing this with me, Dear Friend!
Of course our visit wasn’t long enough but you take what you can get and I loved every minute of it! Time to hit the road again, the time was about in the early afternoon. According to the GPS, I would arrive home between seven and eight hours of driving—if you don’t stop.
I tend to enjoy the scenery but one person did slow me down a bit. I was winding through the hills on the downside of Tahoe, around when I came up behind a man in a bright red Mustang convertible. He was cruising, and I mean cruuuu-sing along, enjoying the wind in his hair, the sunshine on his head and stunning scenery of the valley off to our right. At 50 miles per hour.
I followed him at this speed for several miles since the option to pass wasn’t a viable choice. Finally, with a little bit of a stretch ahead of us, I went on past and as I did so, this white-sleeved hand gently stretched up over his head, waving parade-like as I went by. Oh, to have that much time….
I had about five more hours to recap in my mind all the wonderful (and scary!) moments of this unique trip. How many people said they wished they could do the same thing and how fun it seemed to be? All the reconnects of family and people I hadn’t seen in so long. It was truly my most magical trip.