Day 4-U.S. Space & Rocket Center 

Huntsville, Alabama is also known as Rocket City. This official NASA Visitor Center is a must see if you are visiting Huntsville. We had no idea when we decided to check out the used RV that we would have the added bonus of this incredible museum. Michael is actually returning for the 3rd time because we had a leaky valve in a back tire and had to have it fixed today. There won’t be time to hit the road today, so we are spending one more night at the RV Park next door. You can actually walk over to the museum from where we are parked.

Everyone is so friendly here. I am very fond of “ya all take care now,” it sounds so beautiful to me here in the south. They don’t understand me very well and politely ask to hear it again, and I sure have to ask everyone to repeat themselves too. I am very impressed with the manners and overall attitude everyone has for strangers. Even in Kelly’s Tire Center, the employees went beyond what was necessary.

I am posting quite a lot of photographs of the museum. The scale of the space shuttle and Saturn V are so large that it was hard to get decent photographs. I spent 3 hours there and it was quite enough for me because I felt brain dead from all the scientific brilliance on display.

It is raining hard right now and I am in the RV and it is cozy and comfortable, and  it is the perfect environment for writing and reading. I feel very fortunate. I hope Miss Callie is doing OK and making the best of her situation. This RV setup will be so much fun for her once we get on the road with her. It was necessary for us to check the RV out to make sure it would be acceptable for her majesty. I think she will enjoy it very much. She will be able to rest on the back of the sofa and peer out the window. Not sure how the hell she is going to sleep with us in the bed above the driver’s seat. It is pretty small and when I roll over, my nose is practically hitting the ceiling. She would have no where to go if I rolled over on top of her. I will let her decide what is best.

Heading towards New Oreleans early tomorrow morning. I am very excited about that! We are hoping to stay at Pelican Ridge RV Park. Will call in the morning for availability….

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Day 3 – 1/16 There is a lot to learn..

What a day! We had a lovely continental breakfast at La Quinta Hotel and Vivian picked us up at 9am sharp. She pulled up in a gorgeous, sleek, black, Mercedes van and drove us to Bankston RV to check out our new/used RV. It did not disappoint us! Actually, the experience was better than we expected. We met Mr Bankston, who is still working long after he could retire, but only because he loves what he does. Vivian has been top sales rep for over 5 years and I can see why. She has an answer for every question asked and is easy to be around. We ended up shooting a video for UTube and Facebook because we were so appreciative and wanted to give back to the company. We met a lovely woman, Tanya who was responsible for that end of sales and advertisement and really hit it off with her. The whole experience was very positive for us. We spent the whole morning there and felt very comfortable when we drove the RV off the lot. But before we headed out, a gentleman by the name of Mike introduced himself and  was responsible for showing us around the RV and taught us all that we needed to know. We left feeling well prepared and headed for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center RV Park, but only after we went to Target to pick up groceries and bedding and managed to do that and still get along. When we got to the RV park and checked into our spot we had to figure out how to hook up power, level the RV, make sure refrigeration was doing its job, put all the groceries away and make up the bed. What a day…Of course, we forgot everything we were taught but managed to pull it off somehow!  We then ran over to the Space Museum to check it out before it closed at 5. We are going back again tomorrow. We are now tucked safely into the RV for the night after running over to the showers and cleaning up before bedtime. I am exhausted and happy that today went so well…. there was a lot to learn!

Day 2- Sunday 1/15/17

Today is actually my second day of travel, but leaving San Diego by airplane is more exciting than yesterday and dropping Callie off at Holiday Pet Hotel. She turned her back on me in her carrier and was not pleased about being left, but she was a good sport and the staff treat her very well.

Michael and I made it to San Diego Airport in plenty of time and sat around for an hour and a half before early boarding was starting. Right as we headed to the front of the line because of Michael’s  hand in a splint, we heard Michael’s name over the intercom to return to the check in counter (he had left something there). He disappeared around the corner while I watched our early boarding advantage evaporate. I waited anxiously for his return as the entire plane boarded but us. When he finally came limping back to the terminal, we were literally the very last people to get on the airplane. Michael had misplaced his boarding pass after he was handed his debit card; we had left it in the kiosk… and he had to go through the whole process all over again. He was hot and exhausted when we finally settled into our seats, but we were happy to have made it on the plane before it took off.

Settling in, we were separated by an interesting gentleman who was watching Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev on his cell phone and reading the actual orchestral score while his hands were playing an imaginary piano. How often does one get to sit next to someone doing that!? Both Michael and I started up a quick conversation with him and found out he was a pianist but had never learned to read music. He could play anything by ear, classical, jazz, you name it, but couldn’t read musical notation. He said you could get the gist of what was going on with the cartoon by holding the score in front of you and watching the animation unfold on the screen. I thought that was worthy of a story right then and there. Maybe I should be one of those writers that keep pencil and paper on hand for jotting down thoughts and enlightenments as they come to me. I can’t do that though because my handwriting has deteriorated so much from injuries. I am just going to have to remember what happenes until the end of the day and then tap it out on the phone. This is the modern day version of paper and pencil… Such amazing technology….

We arrived at Huntsville at 5:30 pm and are settled into our hotel room and ready to go out for a light dinner. Meeting with Vivian, the RV sales rep tomorrow at 9. What an interesting day of day 2 of our adventure.

Are You Asleep-Or Are Your Eyes Just Shut Tight?

We are doing it! We are flying to Huntsville, Alabama to check out our 2009 Icon Class C on Sunday. We need to first drive to Encinitas, California to drop Callie off at Holiday Pet Hotel, (and I am sure she is going to be thrilled about that) have lunch with friends, and then continue on to San Diego to stay at the Vagabond Motel for one night. Sunday morning we head to Huntsville via United Airlines and arrive at 5:30 pm. We won’t be able to check out the RV until Monday. If all goes well and the RV passes inspection, we will load up and head for California. I have never driven an RV before, but I am a quick learner, and if by chance any of my readers are out on Interstate 40, and I am within your line of vision, give me plenty of room. I will keep my fingers crossed for a safe passage. Michael and I are going to try and take turns with the driving and put in 15 hour days. It is a 1,980 mile drive and we hope to do it in 4 days….

It has been a cold and rainy day in the desert, but I love rainy days. Callie is resting up on her round bed on the hutch in the master bedroom. I have been playing with her on the tile floor with a catnip mouse, and when she is lying down and shredding it to bits, biting the tail off, and sinking her teeth into its cute little skull, I grab her by the back legs and twirl her. She refuses to let go of the mouse and gets quite the ride as she goes spinning round and round on the smooth, slick floor. I bet it makes her just a tad bit dizzy! She needs to be treated rough and tumble every day in order to rest properly, and take long naps. I must have really worn her out this morning because she is still sleeping and it is past noon.

So today is a day to pack and prepare for our journey. I won’t get out the suitcases until later because it breaks my heart to see her ill at ease. But it is also kind of fun to think of it as pay back for all the middle of the night pats I receive, to find out if I am asleep, or if my eyes are just shut tight!?

Hope Springs Eternal

I may be somewhat premature in this post, but hope springs eternal and I will keeep my fingers crossed and my positive outlook high. We put an offer on a 2009 RV and if all goes well, we will be flying to Huntsville, Alabama to pick it up and drive it back to California. This will be the vehicle with which we start our,”Travels with Callie” blog. I have already decided that the litter box will go in the shower and that Death Valley will be our first destination. I am so excited and can’t wait to hit the road. Callie is one of those cats that needs to be constantly stimulated by her surroundings. She is not a slouch potato and loves adventure. Soon she will have it…

How to get a Cat to Sleep at Night

It has been cold and windy in the desert and when the weather is not conducive to playing outdoors, Callie is forced to stay inside and she becomes restless. When this happens, I have to get creative and come up with activities that will engage her so she doesn’t keep me up all night. Going on a car ride around De Anza Desert Golf Course is just what the doctor ordered, so we loaded her up and off we went at a blazing speed of 10 miles per hour. She was able to hang out the window the entire ride and loved every minute of it. There was no one around and no cars behind us so we never sped up and she got the ride of a lifetime. Callie loves to sit in my lap and stand up on occasion and drop both front paws over the window. I hold onto the leash and harness and she puts her weight on one leg and then the other in a cute little happy dance of joy. I love driving in the car with her because she is so enthralled with the sights and sounds that pass her by and it makes you feel happy for her. Michael is kind enough to be our chauffeur and indulges both Callie and me so that I can take photographs of her. It took us 40 minutes to drive around the entire course and she was very tired when we got home. She has been sleeping ever since… 

Valley of Fire-The Movie

I have had so much fun with the photographs I took while visiting Las Vegas and Valley of Fire. This is a movie trailer that is created through the use of iMovie. The Durrant family visited Valley of Fire on December 31, 2016. It was a beautiful day after a major storm had blown through the state park.  There was evidence of flash flooding and the clouds were very dramatic with backlit sunlight pouring through. It was cold in the shade when the sun slid behind the clouds, but once the sun came out, it cast a wonderful warmth and glow on everything it touched. We enjoyed a picnic of Subway sandwiches and appreciated the sunshine. Callie loved exploring with her leash dragging behind her and we checked out Seven Sisters, Mouse Tank Trail and Arches Rock. Bighorn Sheep were grazing on the hill heading to Arches Rock and you couldn’t have asked for a better day for photography. 

Valley of Fire State Park 12/31/2016

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Tit for Tat!

I have to give Callie credit for being a pain in the ass when it comes to her bed. As soon as I think I have it figured out, she changes the dynamics. And you have to admit that she is pretty darn smart about it and has opinions all her own. For instance, I have a lovely fleece blanket that Callie won’t step foot on. Her lip will curl and she will leap off of the blanket if you dare to place her feet on top of it. The look that crosses her face is an expression of, “who skinned a cat and made a blanket out of it?” She can’t stand to have her paws so much as touch it! If I have any luck with her at all, it is because I turn the blanket inside out. And as for her very expensive, upgraded, Kong bed………. she will not spend more than a couple of nights inside this luscious, comfortable, homey, bed that comes equipped with a lookout window, front door and an adorable feather toy dangling from the entranceway. Recently, I moved her bed away from the master bedroom hutch to the grand piano in the living room. This made her happy for awhile because she could watch us watching TV and be a part of the action. She would climb into her comfy bed and peer out at us in a blissful state of sleepiness. But now, she takes one long look at the bed, gets up on top of the roof and flattens it down and then makes herself at home by resting in a not very comfortable looking position. It seems crazy to me, but to Callie, the satisfaction of doing this obviously outways the comfort of being inside resting on a luxurious, super fluffy, pure white, downy mattress. I have even gone so far as to sprinkled catnip on the mattress. She will go inside just long enough to search out the catnip, and when she is finished getting high, she climbs back up on top of the roof and plops herself down in a heap. I spent a lot of money on this bed! It doesn’t look good flattened out like a pancake. So when Callie isn’t looking, I sneak back over and push the roof back up so that she is forced to flatten the roof back down all over again. At least I have the satisfaction of making it a little more difficult for her in return for her rejection of my luxury bed. Tit for Tat is what works for us. We must have more in common than we realize. She takes pleasure in flattening the roof down and I take an equal amount of pleasure in straightening it back up!

The Gentle Art of Origami- A Tribute to Debra, Diane and Tracey

When my daughter Lara visited over the Christmas holiday, and when we weren’t chasing Pokémon “items” all over town, she chose to spend some quiet time creating origami cranes. “Traditionally, it was believed that if one folded 1000 origami cranes, one’s wish would come true.” It is also the symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. I lost a dear friend to an automobile accident several weeks ago. Diane D’Aoust was the life partner to Debra Anne Roberts and a memorial service is being held this Saturday. I would like to dedicate these 4 cranes that Lara created to Tracy, the daughter, and to Debra, Diane’s life partner. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering they must be going through, but I can reach out to comfort them and offer them hope and healing during a very challenging time.

When you work with paper products, and especially when tape or plastic are involved, you can bet your bottom dollar that Callie will be right by your side investigating what you are doing and trying to get in on the action. You practically have to push her nosey little self out of the way because she is just so damn curious. If she hears the sound of tape ripping, she goes bananas. It has made painting a difficult process for me because I either have to lock her out of the studio, or lock myself in the studio and listen to her howls of anguish. I have turned to photography and writing to find a way to create that doesn’t grab her attention. I can quietly work on my iPad and she is, and I am, no worse for the wear. But Lara had to endure her bossiness while trying to create the cranes and it was so comical to watch. There wasn’t an artistic fold of paper that didn’t go unnoticed, and Lara had to put up with Callie’s unwanted participation. 

I will place these cranes in a lovely box and present them to two beautiful women when I see them at the memorial service. Debra and Tracy, I Look forward to shedding some light and levity to an otherwise unbearable situation. Thinking of you both and sending you my love…..