Thursday, January 4, 2018

To A Vagabond

Go where you will for the earth is wide,
Past sand and sea and mountainside,
Among the clouds where wild birds fly,
Who need no map to travel by!

Go where you will for the wind is free,
Sweet is the taste of liberty,
Follow your dreams beyond the rim,
Of time it takes to gather them!

Feel the rain upon your face,
Travel light and match your pace
                                                       To blazing comets shooting fire...
Learn of hunger and desire!

But mark your trail for you will learn
...That even Vagabonds...return!

                   - Grace E. Easley -

"So long... and thanks for all the fish!!"
(Look it up...)

Leaving Santa Cruz today. Our next post will be from the road!

 A big "Thank You" to all who helped us to make this adventure a reality; without you it would still be just a dream. Be Blessed, my friends, and stay tuned for Life as she happens.

XXXOOO!! - Lynn and Joe

Sunday, December 31, 2017

   My late and much loved Mother used to enjoy telling the story of my mis-colored pumpkin. It seems as how in my kindergarten year, everyone in my grade was given a mimeographed (if you remember those, you're old too!!) outline of a pumpkin to color as a Halloween jack-o-lantern. These were all displayed gallery style on the main hallway wall at the first parents' night that year, which was right around Halloween. As my Mom and Dad strolled down the row of scary and cute orange faces, reading the signatures and looking for mine, my mother noticed something odd down towards the end of the hall. She tried not to stare, she really did, but the further along they went, the more she began to have that feeling. You know the one I mean, where you know that something is just not quite right, and it has to do with your kid! Sure enough; in an endless sea of orange faces, right there above my scrawled name, was a beautiful red and green face leering at my parents. Initially,  Mother was mortified; how
could her baby girl not color her jack-o-lantern orange like all the others? Everyone knew pumpkins were orange! Gradually, of course, she made peace with the fact that I was just going to be a little different. Eventually I think she secretly began to enjoy it, as she told that story for the rest of her long life. So while I often say that I never really learned to color inside the lines, the truth is that I can color inside the lines and often do, but don't be surprised to find that I don't always use the colors you are expecting!

   I was incredibly lucky to find a soul-mate (in that same kindergarten class, I might add) who also likes to live a tad bit outside the box. Joe and I both have a sense of adventure and an incurable case of wanderlust, and so we have chosen to leave our comfort zone to wander in search of flavors other than vanilla. We don't really know what this New Year holds for us, but we know it won't be the same old thing. It will be new and exciting, interesting and terrifying, challenging and spectacular. This year will have a life of it's own in a completely different way than new year's usually do; it will be a defining experience for both of us ...and our little cats, too (add Oz-ish witchy cackling, stage-left)!   

 While we truly look forward to the adventure, there is a part of me that is loathe to leave my little cocoon here at home. Although I wasn't born here in Santa Cruz, CA, it is the only home I remember. I loved growing up here in this beautiful area. We rode our bikes around the
quiet streets and through the open fields throughout the neighborhoods until called in at dusk. We walked to school without fear and were watched over by friends and neighbors as well as our parents. That's not to say we weren't fully versed in being wary of strangers, but back then it was safe to run to a neighbor's door if something or someone scared you. Parents didn't feel the need to be in constant phone contact with their kids (not that it was an option then, anyhow) and in fact enjoyed "getting them out of the house" during the day. It wasn't a Mayberry world by any means, but for us kids it was darned close! So yes, I feel some sense of loss at leaving, but the truth is...that world is long gone anyway. The town I grew up in slowly dissolved over the years as the population grew and the associated problems grew all out of proportion to that growth. I once again live in the house I grew up in and we still have awesome neighbors, but the traffic is hideous and the junkies have taken over. I can't drive more than a couple of blocks without seeing someone living in a box on the sidewalk, and no-one seems to do anything about it. The powers-that-be think enabling is the same thing as compassion, and I don't see any signs that it will get better. Yes, I could volunteer and continue to believe that will help somehow, but the truth is I just don't believe that. I fully support those who do volunteer their time and energy; they are absolute angels. For ourselves, we choose to move on in search of our own future elsewhere, at least for now. Santa Cruz will continue to be home base for us and we will return for doctors appointments and visits, of course. We will miss our friends and family here, but staying in touch is so much easier in this modern communication age than it used to be. When my aunts and uncles did this years ago, we wouldn't know exactly where they were for months at a time. Now we can send e-mails any time we have internet connectivity, and everyone can follow us on Facebook and this blog as well (both at LnJ Photo Nomads).

   Strangely,I find that the people I will miss the most are the ones I see only occasionally and won't keep in touch with; the clerk at an often visited store, the former customers I bump into everywhere (it's still a small town in that way), the folks I don't know but see walking their dogs regularly. Have you ever had that happen, where you pass the same jogger on the way to work every day? Over time you start to nod to each other, then eventually wave and smile, and then one day they are not there; you don't see them again. Did they move, change their schedule, pass away, or just give up jogging? You never really know; they just disappear out of your life, and although you never really knew them it still leaves a hole. That is a little bit how I feel beginning this new adventure.

   I'm sure a few tears will flow as we pull away from the curb, but then the siren song of the open road will drown out any doubts and that giddy feeling of unbridled adventure will kick in and it will all be fine. Each day will be new and exciting again, just like it was for that little girl I used to be. Why did I make a red and green pumpkin, you ask? Probably because I was over anxious for Christmas to arrive, but I prefer to think that even back then my undeveloped child's mind understood that it was my world and I was free to color it any way I chose. We still have that same freedom today, my friends, so choose the bright and exciting colors!

   Happy New Year, My Friends!!          -Lynn, Joe, Amy, Milton and Rose

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
May all your holiday wishes come true!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

  Ghost town aficionados say Ludlow is a town that has died twice, and yet still clings tenaciously to life beside Interstate 40 in the southern California desert. Like many other Mojave Desert communities, the town refuses to lie down and be buried.

Rail lines near Ludlow, CA
 c. Lynn D Steed
   First established in 1882 as a water stop on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the town (like so many others in the harsher climates throughout the U.S.) really began to boom when a rich gold deposit was uncovered in the nearby Bagdad-Chase mine in 1900. Ironically, the original ore discovery was made during a search for a local water source. Since there was not enough water available nearby to supply a mill, the Ludlow and Southern Railway was established in 1903 to haul unprocessed ore from the mine to the Atlantic and Pacific (a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) tracks that ran through Ludlow. The ore
was then shipped to Barstow, CA for processing  at a mill owned by the mining company. Later, after the discovery of borax in the area, the Tonopah and Tidewater Railway ran tracks through Ludlow as well, thus bringing a third rail line to the small desert town. All water was hauled in by train from Newberry Springs, over thirty miles away, then transferred to stationary tank cars located in town. Nearby Stedman, a rigid company town located at the mine site, was also a dry town, in more ways than one; not only was water scarce, but no women or liquor were allowed in the town either. Not surprisingly, this made nearby communities very popular on paydays. The two options for weekend entertainment were Ludlow and Ragtown. Only three miles away, Ragtown had saloons and women in plentiful supply but it was only accessible by foot; downhill on the way there, but uphill on the way home at the end of a long night! While farther away, Ludlow was reachable by train; a passenger car was available for paying passengers and flatbed cars for those who had gambled their week's pay away overnight. The travel time was the same, but the lack of physical effort involved made Ludlow the favored destination for off duty miners and railroad men. The train became so crowded on payday that it earned the nickname "The Whiskey Express".

   While most of the town of Ludlow was owned by the Murphy brothers, Thomas and Mike, by far the most colorful and well known business owner was Ma Preston, the legendary "Queen of the Desert". Ma, also known as "Mother" Preston, was born Mathilde Pascaline Vigneron in Oise, France in 1850. She married Gustave Jacques Masquelier (despite the fact that he was reportedly already married) after which they moved to London and then to the United States. The marriage seems to have been less than successful, as Mathilde soon moved to a mining camp and became known as a widow while Gustave referred to himself as a widower.

Despite the fact that Gustave didn't die until 1919, Mathilde married and took the name of a Calico miner, Thomas "T.J." Preston, in 1888. They moved to Ludlow around the turn of the century. At this time, Mathilde was commonly known as "Big Mary", a reference to both her size and personality; she was described in print as "a physical giant", and was known to swipe railroad ties from storage piles and carry them home over her shoulder (seriously folks, you can't make up stuff this good!). While her personality was notoriously bold she was apparently quite camera shy, thus the only verified photo of her is the one attached to her husband's 1920 passport application. It was the first time he had ever been photographed and he chose to do it with his wife at his side (obviously, the rules were looser back then!).

   Some time after their arrival in Ludlow, Big Mary became known as Mother (or "Ma) Preston. While husband TJ ran a small delivery service, Ma's saloon was the couple's real moneymaker; rumors say that Ma Preston had owned a brothel somewhere (thus the "Queen" appellation), but this is hotly contested by several historians. Either way, there is no evidence that she ever ran one in this booming desert community; she did own a saloon, pool room, store, hotel, boarding house, cafe and several houses, all deeded in her name alone. She generously loaned money to those who asked, but did not balk at foreclosing on those who failed to make payments, which is how she acquired the Ludlow Mercantile Company.

   Things went along smoothly for the larger than life Ma Preston until the arrival of the aforementioned Murphy brothers. The colorful Queen of the Desert, who reportedly wore oversize dresses, wide brimmed men's hats, swore like a sailor and was known to pick up unruly revelers by their collar and pants and toss them out the saloon door unassisted, was not a fan of the two newcomers who set up shop next door. She viewed their competing store as a direct affront. They, in turn, wholeheartedly disliked the loud and abrasive force of nature who was firmly established as the reigning monarch of the town of nearly 1000 people. By this time, Ma Preston was also the wealthiest person in town (during WWI she would spend a vast amount of her money purchasing war bonds to support her adopted country) and her word carried a lot of weight.

   The first salvo in a long war was allegedly fired by the Irish brothers. It seems that Ma Preston enjoyed bathing in a water filled barrel in her yard, and one evening a group of exuberant youths tipped the barrel over; out spilled Ma, naked as a jay-bird, to the raucous enjoyment of all within view. Ma immediately placed the blame on the Murphy boys and went to their establishment to call them every vile
name she knew, and I suspect she had quite a versatile vocabulary! History does not record whether she took a moment to run inside and dress; I'll leave that to your imagination. According to the lawsuit later filed by the outraged woman, Mike Murphy lost control of his Irish temper and whipped her with a length of hose in a sensitive area. She was only too happy to further her legal cause by lifting her dress to display the evidence to anyone in town, and since she didn't wear bloomers in summer, her case was evidently quite compelling! She sued for $10,000 but received only a small percentage of that. Some time later, upon hearing that someone had jumped a claim she owned outside of town, the cantankerous entrepreneur vaulted onto a horse and charged out to said claim to confront the interloper. She found a tent with a single occupant inside. Although she later claimed it was an accident and she had tripped over a guy wire, the result was that she landed full bore on top of the man within who (you guessed it) turned out to be Thomas Murphy! His response, according to Ma was to beat her about the head and body with a piece of mining equipment. Once again, Ma filed a lawsuit with the courts; this time for $20,000 to include $10,000 for what she claimed was a permanent injury to her foot. The case appears to have been settled out of court, with unknown results. Since the claimant was in her mid-sixties and Mr. Murphy less than half her age, I would hazard a guess that the result was probably similar to the previous case against brother Mike.

   Sometime in 1920, Ma Preston suddenly announced that she and her husband were going to France to visit relatives. Since she was known to lock TJ in the chicken shed out back if he disagreed with her, her vote carried the day. Ma sold all her holdings for $18,000 (a huge sum back then) and off they went to Europe. In an interesting plot twist, the buyer was her arch rival Thomas Murphy! While Mr. Preston was expecting a limited stay (his passport application requested only one year) he was to be disappointed once again as his indomitable mate overruled him, bought a tobacconist shop and settled in. The couple ran the shop together until TJ's death in 1926. A few months later, at the age of 76, the seemingly invincible Mathilde passed away from heart disease at the American
Hospital in Paris. Her $70,000 legacy was divided among several nieces and nephews. Mathilde had always claimed she would die without her beloved TJ, and while the official cause of death was myocardial infarction, the more romantic among us would say she simply died of a broken heart.

   While Ludlow was prosperous during this era, the good times were destined to end soon. By 1916 the Bagdad-Chase Mine was unable to continue operating at a profit; it closed the operation, taking the Ludlow and Southern Railway down with it. The equipment was parked, but the tracks were maintained to provide a roadbed for the mine caretaker to be able to commute to town by motor-car. After a fire in 1932 destroyed many rail cars, the surviving rolling stock was shipped to the Phillipines in 1935 and sold for use on a sugar plantation there. When General Douglas MacArthur made his famous return to the Islands during WWII, former L&S engine No. 1 was found to be still in operation there.

   During the period of 1927-28 the Borax operation began closing down. Since the 169 mile long Tonopah and Tidewater Railway between Ludlow and Beatty, NV had been established solely for the purpose of shipping borax, in 1933 it too ceased service. By 1943 the tracks had been torn up completely, leaving only one active set of rail lines through the already shrinking community. With the loss of mining and rail income, combined with the Great Depression, people made use of the remaining railroad to leave Ludlow by the hundreds. Saloons, bordellos, restaurants and stores require customers, so shuttered windows and doors became common throughout the small community.

  The advent of Route 66 (completed in 1926 and fully paved by 1938) provided a brief revival of
The leftovers of the mid-century Ludlow Cafe
c. Lynn D Steed
fortunes for Ludlow, and a garage, gas station, cafe and  motor court quickly sprang up to take advantage of the increased automotive traffic. Once again, the town's future looked bright. Sadly, the respite was short lived. Interstate 40, completed in 1973, bypassed Ludlow. Unlike the the National Trails Highway and later the legendary Route 66, the new I-40 was designed for speed and convenience and did not closely follow the railroad tracks. Modern cars could go farther without needing to fill up. Travelers could now drive from Barstow to Needles in two hours, and new towns were born nearby to supply their needs. Many of the old towns along Rt. 66 just faded away, and sadly, Ludlow was one of them.

   The last time we visited this awesome little town, there was a gas station on either side of the highway, a cafe and motel, and a tire shop that may or may not have still been in business; it was closed when we were there, but it was late in the day. Some of the more interesting building remains are located a little ways off of Rt 66, although most are within sight and easily accessible. The thing to keep in mind when exploring Ludlow is that this is all privately owned property, and only available to us because of the kindness of the small band of hardy residents who still live here. Please be respectful when you visit; do not move or remove anything or cause any kind of damage. If asked to leave, please do so...this is not a park or museum. We have never had any issues with quietly roaming around among the deserted buildings.

   While her mortal life ended long ago in the country of her birth, Ma Preston's legend lives on in the crumbling remains of the Ludlow Mercantile building. While the structure itself is merely a skeleton of what it once was, it is still a powerful draw to the 6000 plus people who daily leave I-40 here in search of gas, food or lodging, and find instead a dusty little town full of larger-than-life ghosts.

The Ludlow Mercantile Company building was further
damaged by an earthquake in 2006.
 c. Lynn D Steed

    Make every day an adventure, my friends!                                                         -Lynn

Sunday, December 10, 2017

   My apologies for the long delay between posts, but we have been busy welcoming the newest member of our little band of nomads...Dolly! She is a 1996 National Dolphin 533 Class A wide-body motorhome. Although we loved Alice, our classic GMC motorhome, we sadly made the decision that she just wasn't the best home-on-wheels for us at this point in time. While the GMC Classic is without a doubt the coolest moho ever created, it is just a little too small for the two of us and three insanely active cats, so we sold her to a nice couple just beginning their rv travels and immediately began the process of finding something more appropriate to our current needs. What a whirlwind process that turned out to be!
   We sold Alice within a week of advertising her and headed to So-Cal the next day to look at several prospects we had lined up down there. As it turned out, none of those were quite the right fit and none of the other folks we called while down there even bothered to return our calls, so we headed back home after three days to re-group. Even though it was an unsuccessful trip, it was good to be back on the road again!
   Once home, we contacted a few more people in the southern part of the state (we were trying to primarily go south to avoid the
ghastly fires then burning in the Napa/Sonoma area), but then my brother saw a listing for a nice Dolphin up north in Susanville,CA. We had been trying to avoid the wide-body models due to their 8.5' width, but this one was in such good shape we decided to scrap our previous plans and head north instead. One of the things that attracted us to this coach was the fact that the man selling it was a retired rv service technician who had done several
upgrades and maintained it beautifully. From the moment I first saw the ad I started thinking of her as "Dolly", an obvious but nonetheless fitting name. I was hooked.
   And so, with one eye on the incoming storm and the other on future possibilities, we headed north. The storm was predicted to pass through before we would arrive in Susanville, so we weren't too worried about that. Our main worry was that we would drive 400+ miles and the rig would not be as represented, a problem we had on our southern trip earlier in the week. You wouldn't believe the junk people will try to pass off as "ready to camp in" or "I'd drive this anywhere tomorrow", both of which seem to translate to "Please buy this, as I can't afford to have it towed away!". Buying motorized vehicles can stretch your faith in humanity to the limit if you let it!
   The weather prediction for Susanville turned out to be quite accurate, but no one mentioned the high (6000'+) passes along Hwy 36 in the weather reports; we were blindly hoping for the best. There were the usual (and some unusual) delays the morning we left and the requisite wrong turn delay later in the day, so it was already mid-afternoon when we started up and around the southern base of Mt. Lassen. The sky was getting darker and the windshield wetter as we climbed ever upward, and then it happened; falling snow! Just what we flatlanders needed to make the journey complete (deep sigh and quiet grumbling). Fortunately Joe has driven in snow before, having lived part of a winter in Stowe, VT
    At first it was kind of cool to see the tiny snowflakes drift down, but then the snow started building up on the road where the sun never gets below the canopy of the trees...and then we hit the ice and slush! I wish we hadn't been in such a hurry (and perhaps had snow chains on board, or mud and snow tires on the mini-van) because the one spot we stopped "on the mountain" was absolutely lovely. The snow fell in complete silence; no birds, no animals, no cars anywhere around (because who else would be dumb enough to drive over a mountain in a snow storm except us coastal types?). Everything had a powdery softness to it; even the rocks and highway appeared to blend seamlessly into the landscape. There were no hard edges anywhere. Having had very little experience with falling snow, I was enchanted with the Christmas card scene around me and could have stood there all day, or at least until my fingers and nose turned a cool shade of blue.
   Being as how we needed to be on our way before the "polite" snow storm turned into a full-on blizzard, we didn't linger long in the velvety white wonderland, but moved on to slowly pull out from under the leading edge of the flurries. We stopped in the gorgeous little valley between the passes to make a pit stop at the local restaurant/lodge and the storm caught up to us again, so we zipped back onto the highway and outran it a second time. The scenery along this part of the highway was beautiful, even under cloudy skies and threat of snow. The small town of Chester looked just the way you would expect, with gift shops and diners, A-frame real estate offices and motels with mountainy sounding names like Timberlodge. You know...the road trip towns of our childhood!
   We arrived in Susanville and checked into our motel in the early evening, which left us just enough time to jet up to Dolly's location at Eagle Lake before dark. Of course, the road we chose to take along the west side of the lake was more closely related to a goat trail up and over a ridge, and was of course covered in slushy snow that was already beginning to ice up as the air temperature dropped like a rock and darkness began to descend. Finally we found the right house (after getting completely lost; stupid GPS system) and looked her over. As it was late and we weren't really looking forward to the return trip in the dark, we arranged to come back in the morning for a test drive.
   After a belated anniversary dinner at the mexican restaurant next to our hotel and a well deserved sleep, we headed to the bank and then back up to the lake via Hwy 139 on the east side of the lake, which we had discovered the previous evening (at our host's recommendation) to be a much better route of travel; wider, sunnier and just generally more pleasant. This road still had to climb a long way from the valley floor, but the slope was much more gradual than the first route. Also much more appropriate for bringing a motorhome back on, which we did a few hours later. That's right folks, we couldn't resist adding Dolly to the family. Of course, the long grade was all downhill on the way back to town, but the new rig handled it just fine. Joe declared her much easier to drive than her predecessor despite her larger size. In all fairness to Alice, she did have a missing shock and a broken leveler for most of our trip last July, so the comparison was probably unfair.
   We debated the idea of heading home then but it was already late afternoon and it was predicted to be cold that night, which roughly translates to "watch out for ice on roadway". We knew there would be a long construction delay on Hwy 36 as Cal-Trans was hard at work on pasting the highway back on the side of the mountain near the tiny town of Mineral. This is a long one-way stretch of controlled traffic which has yet to be fully repaved, and has not had the cliff side guard rails re-installed yet. Not a drive we wanted to make with night coming on; it was spooky enough in broad daylight in a mini-van the previous day. So we went to the local Wallmart to buy sheets and paper plates, plastic forks, etc. for dinner later. We briefly debated the idea of overnighting in the parking lot there as several other rigs were doing, but decided against it as we were not really set up for boondocking yet and had not filled the water tank. Joe found Susanville RV Park about a block away and we went there instead. We had to figure out a few things on the rig while it was still light, as it had already been winterized by the previous owner. We ended up being unable to hook up to water, so had to use the case of bottled water in the mini-van for cooking, etc. Because of that and our lack of any pots or pans, we just ran to the store and bought microwavable food for dinner that night (swiss steak in gravy with mashed spuds and veggies... not too bad for a desperation meal). During our years on the road as motorsport photographers there were many times we would have been happy to have a meal this good; we once had to select dinner from the only convenience store in town still open at three a.m.!
   The trip home the following day was long but generally uneventful. It was incredibly foggy going over the first pass on Hwy 36, but having grown up along the coast it didn't bother us too much. The only worrisome part was knowing there were deer unseen in the fog just off the highway on both sides of the road. Following the motorhome in the mini-van, I kept dropping back further and further in case Joe had to hit the brakes suddenly, so it wasn't a big surprise when a young doe sprang across in front of me about halfway between the two vehicles! We even lucked out at the construction site, having just long enough of a wait to use the onboard facilities and then we were off again on the homeward journey. After a brief stop in Red Bluff for burgers we hit the road again on I-5. It was smooth sailing until we hit the usual Bay Area traffic, where an 8.5' wide motorhome became much more of a challenge. At least the roads up there have a lot of lanes to work with, unlike...Hwy 17!
   I think I can safely guarantee that we will never again drive Dolly over Hwy 17, no matter what direction we are headed. Too many drivers want to share your lane with you, despite the fact that you need all of it. Joe was having to hug the right side line because all the speeding idiots were coming into his lane. Apparently most drivers in this area feel the dividing line is merely a suggestion for their consideration! When you combine right line hugging with the natural tilt of a motorhome in turns and add in really tight walls of rock, it is likely to cause the person following you ( for instance, ME ) to come close to having a coronary about 57 times in 20 minutes! I was really expecting to see a puff of rock dust followed by an explosion of fiberglass fragments and mirrors to hit my windshield at any moment. Fortunately Joe has a lot of experience driving large motorhomes and trucks because of his years running his transportation company in Hollywood, so we made it home unscathed.
   And so, a new adventure begins. We are currently in the process of installing solar, and
a new tv antenna. We are modifying an area for the ever difficult process of hiding a kitty litter box in plain sight (if you travel with cats you can feel my pain), and figuring out where to put all the stuff that was specifically purchased to fit the GMC. While this coach has far more storage, it isn't necessarily as perfect a fit for what we currently have. We have already installed new tires, as the old ones were in pretty good shape but past their use by date. We also resealed the roof, but we'll discuss that in detail in a later post.
   Before we can leave we will have to acclimate the cats to their new home, which should be interesting. It seems like most of the travelling cats out there adjusted pretty readily to the changes asked of them so I'm hopeful that we will be as lucky. Then, in early January, we hit the road for good!
Stay tuned for further updates and be blessed, my friends!   -Lynn

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Six months ago I would never have believed I would be typing this, but our beloved Alice has moved on to her next phase of life; she has new owners. We regretfully made the decision that she is just a little bit too small for the two of us to be dodging twelve hairy paws as our three "fur children" cavort around the coach under our feet. We kept thinking that, at eight years of age, our cats would begin to settle down. They had seemed to when Joe and I set out on our three week maiden voyage in our 26' GMC motorhome, and we were delighted with how she performed for just the two of us. We returned home to make a couple of quick repairs and install new air bags and a screen door, eagerly anticipating a re-launch with the kitties in a couple of weeks. By the time we unpacked our bags, the furry little critters had entered their second childhood and showed no sign of slowing down any time soon. They still don't. It's true that they sleep for hours at a time, but then they spend hours running full bore from one end of the house to the other, banking off the backs of the living room recliners, making scrabbling and sliding turns on the kitchen linoleum. Then they repeat it going the other direction. Endlessly. For hours. I just didn't see that working out in Alice, especially since the only chair backs available would be our captains chairs in the cab area. Having a cat with three hundred or so extended claws hit the back of your head while driving could be construed as a distraction by some. Especially some wearing uniforms with wide-brimmed hats, if you follow me.
   So, with much regret and a few silent tears, we listed Alice for sale. She was purchased within a week by a really great couple who appreciate  vintage coaches like we do, and I think the three of them will very happily make many wonderful memories together. Now the hard part begins. We have to find another motorhome that will make us as happy as Alice did (most of the time anyhow...she could be a bit of a diva occasionally). 

 We set out for southern California with high hopes last weekend to look at a beautiful Holiday Rambler at a dealer in Lebec (on the Grapevine). While we loved almost everything about the coach, especially the high build quality found in the HR's, the setup of the dash just didn't work for Joe. Since he does most of the driving, he needs to be able to have better vision from the cockpit. It wasn't that anything was wrong with the coach, it just didn't work for us. We looked at a Fleetwood Bounder there as well, and may return this weekend to look at it again. We looked at several in L.A. as well, but nothing was quite what we were looking for. We tried to look at a bunch more between SoCal and Santa Cruz, but it is amazing how many sellers don't return calls or e-mails. I guess they aren't all that anxious to make money. I certainly would be.
While we were disappointed to return without our next rolling home, we plan to go again tomorrow to look at some coaches that people want to sell enough to actually answer their phones, as well as the previously mentioned Bounder. We still lean strongly in the direction of the Holiday Rambler but nothing is ruled out (yet) at this time. Their are so many flakes selling mis-represented rigs out there (we were briefly sucked in by one yesterday) that it can be a slow process sometimes. We are anxious to hit the road again and it can be an extremely frustrating process, but we are confident that our next perfect home-on-wheels is already waiting for us out there somewhere, and since the journey is what it is really all about...onward we go, with tails held high (a fur-child reference; fur-parents will understand)!

If you happen to see Alice somewhere out there on the highway, blow her a kiss for us. More updates soon...

 Have a wonderful day everyone!     -Lynn