Visiting Friends Along the Way

Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
Trip End Sep 22, 2009

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The Johnson's

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 8, 2009 (Tuesday) – Madera, CA (310 miles)

Oh, my goodness, what a drive. I thought I'd been teleported to West Texas but instead of oil rigs, all we saw today was one grove of trees after another.  But, honestly now, don’t you think there should be a law that farmers have to put up signs along the freeway to tell you what they are?  We suspect they were almond trees, but as slight as our arbor skills are, you could tell us just about anything and get away with it.

We spent Monday night in a very nice park in Redding – JGW RV Park.  The name doesn’t do anything to describe the place but it’s along the banks of the Sacramento River.  For an extra $10, we could have had a river view but just for one night, we decided to pass.  The park was very well arranged, with concrete pads and beautiful landscaping.  Of course, it came with a lot of rules, especially in relation to pets but we managed just fine. 

The difference between last night’s park and the one pulled into today is like daylight and dark.  I won’t even bother to describe the place; it’s way too bleak and dismal.  The only thing pretty was the sunset.  Again, it’s just for one night, and I’m sure if we lock our doors we’ll be all right.

September 12, 2009 (Saturday) – Mission Viejo, CA (280 miles)

Actually, we survived the Madera visit without mishap and traveled Hwy 99 to Fresno before cutting back to I-5 on Hwy 41.  Along the interior of Oregon and, now, also in California we were seeing complete devastation of the area as a result of drought.  There was NO green to be found in anything except the trees and many of them looked a bit troubled.  We passed several signs along the way saying, "Congress Created Dust Bowl Area" and still don’t know what that’s about.  One side of the road had fields watered from the irrigation ditch while the other side was absolutely barren. I’m sure it has something to do with the California Aqueduct but I haven’t investigated the situation.  The dryness continued all the way to the Los Angeles area but the city didn’t look as bad as the outer areas.   Commercialization has its advantages, and many areas utilize sprinkler systems. 

Our friends in Mission Viejo, the Johnson’s, had invited us to park our RV in front of their home and use their spare bedroom.  They assured us Nitchie was also welcome.  Jim had investigated and found it was permissible to park an RV on the street up to 3 days if it was 25 feet or less.  When we told him that ours was 33 feet, he called a friend of his (a judge) and learned the fine was $38.  It was decided that $38 for 3 days wasn’t such a bad deal and our unit exactly fit between their home and the neighbors.  We were fortunate enough to meet several of the neighbors right as we pulled in and everyone assured us we wouldn’t be in their way.

Our visit with Jim and Nancy Johnson was super.  They told us to use their home as a base to come and go as we pleased.  The first night they took us to dinner at Oami Sushi.  Wendell sort of fibbed and told Jim, “Sure Donna likes sushi.”  Well, that wasn’t exactly true, as I had eaten VERY little Sushi before, long ago, but it turned out it was not a lie.  We allowed Jim to do the ordering and I really did enjoy the light, delicate flavors of the dishes.  Later, when we met their daughter and two granddaughters, I asked the youngest one, Annie, her favorite sushi dish…crunchy roll with unagi (eel).  Okay, if a 10 year old girl can eat something like that, then I can become a little more adventurous the next time I’m at the sushi bar.

Thursday evening, Gene & Irene Kellner, came to the Johnson’s to take us to dinner…..and also brought dinner.  Gene has taken an interest in gardening since his retirement from Lockheed and loaded our fridge with peppers and tomatoes.  Not only that, they brought stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls….already prepared.  Looks like I won’t have to cook for awhile.  We went to a German restaurant, The Phoenix, in Anaheim.  The Kellner’s daughter, Nancy, and her husband, Peter, joined us.  Peter and Nancy were married in the same wedding chapel and by the same minister that performed our ceremony…Chapel in the Wildwoods in Upland, California. Anyway, we had a grand old time and clapped and stomped our feet to the wonderful Um-pah music.  And, yes, the schnitzel and spatzle was melt in your mouth good.

Friday morning, we took the Johnson’s at their word, leaving them to babysit Nitchie, while Wendell and I drove to our old homestead in Rancho Cucamonga.  I had not been back since we left in 1989 and was curious to see the area.  First off, I was highly impressed by the display of banners hanging from each light standard as we drove north on Haven Boulevard, honoring local men and women in the military.  Each banner had a photo, rank and branch of service.  What a wonderful idea!  We first stopped to visit our dear friend and financial advisor, Patrick Pardue, at his Morgan Stanley office.  We became clients of Patrick’s sister, Kathy Nelson, in the late 80’s and when Patrick joined the firm, he started handling our affairs.  Although we had never met him in person, we’ve exchanged several family photos and our visit was just an extension of the many long phone conversations we’ve had over the years.  Kathy was in the office and we dredged up old memories of our first contact and meeting with her.  A friend had given Kathy our name and she called.  When I found out she was originally from Port Arthur, TX, I knew she could be trusted.  Of course, we didn’t have any money….Wendell was still in the military. Kathy acted like that was not a problem and we made plans to start investing.  Wendell and I have to give a great deal of credit to both Patrick and Kathy for their part in our present circumstances.  Without them, I’m not sure what we’d be doing but with them, here we are running around all over the place.  Patrick couldn’t join us for lunch, but Wendell and I drove to our favorite restaurant…Felipe’s Taqueria…on Foothill at Archibald in Cucamonga.  We were disappointed to learn that Felipe had sold the restaurant in 2005, shortly after Wendell’s last visit there.  However, the new owner kept the same menu and cook, so the food was the same….delicious.  From there, we drove around the neighborhood, found our old house and Jessica’s pre-school, and took photos.  Sadly, the 105 year old home has not held up as well as we would have hoped…and the big orange tree had been cut down.  Those oranges made the sweetest fresh-squeezed orange juice you ever tasted.  We notice other trees missing, as well as the ivy that once covered the patio between the house and the outdoor kitchen.  At one time, the area was covered in tree groves and the outdoor kitchen was likely used for canning.  The building behind the kitchen had a full wall of shelves which I am sure stored the bounty of their work.  Oh well, time marches on……

We returned to the Johnson’s by late afternoon and Nancy prepared a Mexican food dinner of enchiladas and tamales.  Some of you might think, “Mexican food for lunch and again at dinner!”  Well, everyone that knows Wendell also knows that is not a problem.  He can eat Mexican food every meal of the day, every day of the week.  When he was flying, I’m sure his crews sometimes got a little tired of his Mexican fare, but most of the time they went along.  Every now and then, some junior officer would rebel and squawk for Chinese or Italian, but Wendell usually won out.  Whenever he takes me out to dinner, he always asks, “which Mexican food restaurant do you want to go to?”  Thanks, dear.

Today, after a hearty breakfast prepared by our hostess, we hooked up the trailer and set out for our next destination.  Nitchie was extremely reluctant to leave and kept trying to go back in the Johnson’s front door.  She had quickly become attached to “Popi and Nani Johnson” and would have been content to stay and let us go ahead without her.  Nitchie enjoyed the walks on the trails above the house, even spotting rabbits and birds to chase.  Nancy reported in her email tonight that she and Jim had to walk “alone” and with Nitchie gone, Nancy had to chase the rabbit.

With our GPS, we easily maneuvered out of the LA area and headed east to the desert.  The truck thermometer was soon registering 109⁰ and just outside Indio, we had a flat tire on the trailer.  Ouch!  There was just enough room to ease onto the shoulder of the road and we were clearly visible from a long distance, so we felt safe enough to tough it out until a service truck could come change the tire.  USAA Roadside Assistance to the rescue! It took a little over an hour for them to arrive and about 30 minutes to put on the spare.  The entire time, we were able to sit in the truck with the air conditioner running.  Thank God for tinted windows, AC, and USAA.  When we reached Blythe, CA we got a new tire balanced and mounted at Jessie’s Tire Shop and were back on the road in less than an hour.  By the time we arrived at our park destination just west of Phoenix, it was dark and the temperature was down to 97⁰.  Wendell and I sat outside in the dark while the trailer cooled off inside.  It had grown quite warm in there during our travels.  We’re staying at the Leaf Verde RV Park in Buckeye, AZ and the only “verde” you can see is on the palm fronds.  The park is large, nice, and even has a pool….but who wants to swim in hot water?

September 13, 2009 (Sunday) – Buckeye, AZ (315 miles)

We had full intentions of sleeping in this morning but the sun warming our bedroom caused us to debunk before 7 AM.  The combination yesterday’s long ride and the heat left me feeling almost hung over but by the time I’d consumed a few cups of coffee and had my cereal, I was feeling “normal” again.  Wendell called his old Southern Air Transportation buddy and made arrangements to visit in the afternoon.  We arrived at the Martin’s home where Nitchie was met with gleeful “yips” from their two dogs, Prudy and Lilly.  All three of them bounded out the back door and got acquainted although Nitchie was a little stand-offish.  Harold’s wife, Kay, and their granddaughter had gone to Georgia to visit a cousin so while the guys rehashed old times and talked about every air crew member they could remember, I amused myself on the computer and thumbing through Kay’s magazines.  Later, we put Nitchie in the backyard and drove to the airport so Harold could show Wendell his planes.  He has two Mooney’s, but one is a partnership.  One is a ’63 and the other an ’81.  Of course, Wendell was impressed and asked all kinds of questions.  My comment was, “nice paint job”.  Sorry, Hal.  From the airport, Harold took us to a neat spot, the Q Bar & Grill, for all you can eat fish.  It’s a very popular spot on the weekends and often there’s a line to get in but by the time we arrived, the place was not crowded.  The fish was excellent but I couldn’t finish all they gave me on the 1st serving, so the dogs welcomed me with open mouths as I came through the door carrying my doggy bag.  Even Nitchie forgave me for leaving her all alone in a strange yard. 

We topped off the gas tank and are all set to leave tomorrow for our next destination – Wilcox, Arizona.  We’ll be having one night stopovers until we reach my mom’s in Greenville, TX.  Pray there will be no further tire problems……or any other kind, for that matter.
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dlpool on

Re: Nice Visit
Reading your 'confession' put a smile on my face and I couldn't help but wish you two lived next door instead of so far away. Both of you need to be writing books! Nancy does her weekly epistle but you need to be keeping a journal of your own. We love you!

Scott Mitchell on

I am not a regular reader but was googling legality of rv parking in Laguna Niguel where we are heading next week to visit our daughter. Your bit about the Congress created dust bowl is referring to the fact that the farmers had their water allotments cut back by a huge amount. If you use to farm 400 acres, now you might only have water for 200, so huge amounts of farmland now lay fallow. It was pretty sad to see whole orchards being bulldozed and pushed into huge piles. Keep up the work! scott

dlpool on

Thanks for the post, Scott. When we visited our friends in Mission Viejo, they filled us in on the situation. I was totally appalled at the circumstances and am completely sympathetic with the farming industry. Politics has eaten away at the bread basket on our country.

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