Liquid Gold

It’s no secret that I LOVE coffee.  When I was younger I tried it and thought it tasted awful, bitter and just not something I would ever have again.  One night, in my early 20’s , friends and I had spent the evening having dinner and visiting, when the host asked ” who would like some coffee”?  I guess my eye roll was evident that I was a non coffee drinker and the outcast of the evening.  Being the good host, my friend assured me that he made the best coffee and I should have some.  Reluctantly I agreed; he was right, and I was hooked.

After that night I found that a really good cup of coffee is an art. I proceeded to try new blends, grind my own beans, and experiment with different types of brewing styles.  I enjoyed my time learning all things coffee, and then life got busy. Getting married and having kids, the fancy coffee gave way to name brand, regular old run of the mill stuff. No longer having the luxury of time or money to fritter on lavish fanciness.

Over the years, I have consumed mass amounts of coffee.  The large cup as I headed out at 2 a.m. for a work related trouble. The first cup in the morning as I began the long day getting kids to school and me to work.  My favorite – the large gas station cup, too hot to drink at first, then after 5 miles down the road you take a sip and realize it’s the WORST coffee ever, but you have 300 miles to go and you drink it anyway.

Last summer, while on vacation, I was surprised by an old high school friend. We were spending time on the Oregon coast and he lives nearby. Not only did he take the time to come say hello, he brought coffee mugs that he made!  The most thoughtful gesture and so unexpected.

I use one of these mugs now every day. I love it. Funny thing is, it’s big!  The first time I poured coffee into it and returned the carafe to the coffee maker I thought I spilled it- it was about 1/3 empty.  I can read my paper, or a good book, and not worry about being interrupted because my cup is empty.

So, thank you Randy for one of the little things that bring a smile to me. The gift of your mug and the time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. img_3345

Flat Anthony

Funny thing about kids, they grow up. We have 2 sons that are growing into such fine young men, we  are so proud of both of them. For Mother’s day a few years ago,our oldest gave me a pillowcase with his picture on it. Seems kind of funny, but I love it. I bring it with us when we travel.

We have been an RV family for about 6 years, and in that time we have traveled thousands of miles around the country. We have been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, summer and winter. Some of our favorite memories happened because of a chance to buy an old RV..As a parent, it has been rewarding to know that we have been able to give the gift of travel and love for our country to our boys.

Our oldest son is now 22 and, as a young man starting out, no longer has the time to take off for weeks or months at a time. When we travel now, I feel a sadness that he isn’t able to continue to share in our adventures. Our remedy? We call it Flat Anthony- the pillow with his picture on it.

Flat Anthony comes along with us whenever we travel, and this last trip, well, let’s just say he had some adventures.  How could we not take him along?

We didn’t want him to miss beach combing, or climbing on the rocks, the dune buggy ride, whale watching, 4th of July or the evening campfire watching the ships on the river.

It clearly isn’t the same as having him along with us, and I sometimes feel guilty having fun without him. We are so proud of all his accomplishments, and maybe some day, when he is older with a family of his own, he will remember his youthful trips and want to do the same with his family.

For Love of Trains part 2

 

As we travel in our Rv, our trips always include some sort of train activity.  It is a given, a necessity for survival when your autistic son lives for all things train.  As we plan our trips we include train rides or visits to train museums to ensure  harmony along the way.  These plans give us locations to see, and something for our son to look forward to, as he puts up with activities he might not otherwise enjoy.

In the small Northern California town of Dunsmuir, there is a small Amtrak stop, and the Union Pacific yard.  We happened to be camping in the area and decided to go to Dunsmuir for lunch and to watch for whatever train might arrive. Andrew brought his small video camera so  he could film the trains.

We parked nearby and headed toward the Amtrak stop. Looking at the schedule, we found that we would not be seeing Amtrak – it makes its pass through town very early morning.  Andrew knew, however, that other trains travel this route all during the day so it was only a matter of time.  As he set up his video camera  we noticed some workers on the other side of the track.  We didn’t have long to wait before the horn of a train could be heard, and the shout from Andrew “here it comes!”

Pulling in to the station was a Union Pacific train.  The train pulled in slowly and stopped at the small station.  As we watched, the 2 workers we had seen on the other side of the track  picked up their bags and headed to the cab. At the same time, the 2 workers that had just arrived on the train, grabbed their bags and climbed out. This  was a simple crew change,  exchange in a normal workday of some train employees. We didn’t speak to the workers but what came next was so kind- an act of generosity that  reminds me there are great people out there.

The new crew climbed in the cab and suddenly one of them leaned out of the cab and called to Andrew to come closer. Andrew walked  closer, and the employee  opened the side cab door and leaned out, handed him a  lantern!  As he handed it to Andrew, he claimed he didn’t need it anymore.   Just like that, this man gave a boy something he always wanted. As quickly as he came out of the cab he went back in, told Andrew to cover his ears, blew the train horn and they were off. Andrew calling for them to drive safely.

We watched as the train disappeared down the track, another day in the life of a train lover..

 

 

 

 

For Love of Trains part 1

Andrew LOVES trains. That is a fact that is obvious the moment you meet him, almost as obvious as the fact that he is autistic. For us, this love affair is part of our family experience, it is a daily staple. It is woven in our conversation,our travels and yes our home decor. The love he has for trains however, has brought opportunities and has brought out the kindness of people that is so incredibly heartwarming. Two recent incidents, with regard to trains, have touched our family in such a warm way.

We travel in our RV as often as we can, summer being the longest trips for obvious reasons. This year we had a few trips already so our summer trip was not as far or long. It was however, one of the best we have had.

Part of our trip took us back to Portland and the Oregon Rail Historic Foundation (http://www.orhf.org/), home of Andrew’s favorite train, the 4449.  Visiting this museum and seeing his favorite train, was all he talked about for most of our trip. The day came to visit the train and you would have thought it was Christmas.  We had been to the museum before so Andrew knew just what he wanted to see. As he walked around, you could see the excitement in his eyes, his love for these big machines just radiating from his every pore.

While speaking with the gentleman in charge that day, I commented about Andrew being autistic- he said he knew- has a son on the spectrum as well.  We finished our conversation and then he looked at Andrew and told him to follow him. They walked over to the 4449 train and he told Andrew to go ahead and climb up in the cab, ignoring the please keep off sign, then he called over one of the workers to climb up with him.  Here was a sudden kindness to a young boy from a man who could see the thrill this small act provided.  The thrill that he was IN the cab of his favorite train, the thrill to “drive” that train-if only for a moment even if it never actually moved. We can’t thank him enough.

 

 

 

 

Summer 2016

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to take our summer RV trips. We have had some incredibly memorable times traveling around the country, seeing such wondrous sites.  It can be a challenge, planning just the right trip, with time and money constraints and the desire to see everything.  Somehow we manage to have just the right trip for us, at that moment.

Because we had already had a couple trips this year, our summer trip was not as long as some of our others have been.  We packed up the RV- a feat in itself- and headed out, just as the temperature in town heated up. We headed  to the Oregon coast, and to a climate I am more suited for.

We took our time heading north, and our first stop was a rest area in Canyonville Oregon. Nice big spot to stop for a night.IMG_2527

Next day, we continued to our destination of Seal Rock Oregon. We had the best spot- looking over the cove for great beach walking, tide pool searching, looking for shells and just an overall great week.

With Seal Rock as our base for the week, we had time to explore the coast.

I will say, I would certainly spend more time on the Oregon coast.  There is so much to see and do, all within an easy drive. More than anything, I found that being on the coast made me feel so refreshed.

Gold Spike NHS

 

 

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While planning our trip, it was always understood that we would go to Salt Lake City area to see Gold Spike National Historic Site.  With Andrews love of trains, and his desire for over a year to see this, it was automatic.

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The drive there, as previously noted, was rather uneventful, if not boring.  To be honest, Nevada and Utah on highway 80 are not exciting at all, but we  muddled through and reached our destination.  The first night was just set up in the campground and rest. The next morning—-THE PARK

I don’t think I have ever seen such an excited boy, as Andrew was, to finally see his dream spot. We no sooner pulled into the parking spot and he was out the door, heading to the entrance, knowing his two favorite trains waited for him just on the other side.

Gold Spike NHS is the spot where the transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met in 1869, uniting the country by rail.

We spent four separate days visiting this Historic site. Each day Andrew was as excited as the first

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We were able to get up close to the two trains- the Jupiter and the 119, exploring and asking questions of the park rangers. We were fortunate to also watch a reenactment of the meeting of the 2 trains.

The park staff were so pleasant and made us all feel like friends. After seeing us each day for 4 days, they never got tired of our questions and were always pleasant

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For being about 30 minutes from our campground, Gold Spike NHS is an interesting site, and a must see for anyone interested in the history of trains, and how they united our country.

Before we left the area we stopped in Brigham city, and the Brigham city train depot. This is a small depot/ museum. There are many artifacts of the late 1800’s. As Andrew spent time on the telegraph machine, the proprietor commented how enthralled Andrew was with the machine. I told him how Andrew had asked me for a telegraph system not long ago. With that, he looked at his wife and asked if they still had that “old one” well they did, and he presented it to Andrew, who was beyond thrilled.

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It has been those little things on this trip that have made me smile. Gold Spike NHS and the person involved in the reenactment helping Andrew drive the spike in. The folks running the train depot museum giving him a telegraph. Each small act of kindness has made our trip special.

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We Have Become “Those People”!

When we bought our first rv, we were excited to discover a new way of travel, and another way to see this beautiful country

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Granted, our rv was not new, in fact it was pretty old, but we loved it and it served us well for 5 years.  We made several cross-country trips, and some short ones, each one had its unique experience or adventure. This was all new to us, but we embraced the journey and  enjoyed all the experiences we encountered.

I recall, driving down the road in our old rv on our first long journey, seeing the large rv’s pulling the matching vehicle behind.  We marveled at how big they were and that their pulled vehicle sometimes was a Hummer!. We could not imagine how much it cost to drive all that. We rattled on down the road in our little rv happy to join the other travelers.

Pulling in to a campground one evening, we plugged in and hooked up the water, ready to enjoy ourselves, when I looked a few spaces over and saw ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE! There it was, big with matching car- a Jeep, I think,  and matching lawn chairs and ground mat, a satellite dish and all things fancy.  I felt like we didn’t belong, maybe we were in the wrong park, we didn’t have the “right” rv.  I looked around and saw everything from the basic tent to pop up trailers to rvs like ours and the big guys with the matching everything.  I went back inside our little rig and commented to my husband about what I saw. I loved his response; ” they may have all that stuff, but we are all at the same park enjoying the same sights”

The next evening was July 4th, the park was in an ideal spot to see the towns firework show.   That evening, as all the campers brought their lawn chairs out to the grassy spot, I watched as everyone enjoyed a really great firework show. At the end, the group wandered back to their spots, happy with the evenings show. What I noticed then, was that most people went back to the fire pits to roast marshmallow’s and enjoy the rest of the evening, except for “those people”.  I noticed that those people had retreated back to their fancy rigs to watch tv or whatever they had in there.  We chose to join the group and spend the rest of the evening with conversation and meeting other people.

As time went on, and many of our trips concluded, it was time to sell our little rv.  For  a couple of years  after, we found that we really missed it and decided to buy another one.  After lots of saving and planning and searching we found one!  Funny thing was though, we have become ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!  We bought the BIG rig. We don’t have the matching car but we have some of the “stuff”

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I didn’t really realize we became those people until the first night in the campground with our new rig. We pulled in, hooked up and I l looked around at the few other campers already there. We were the biggest. I still didn’t feel like those people, we  are happy to talk with others, we like the campfire and meeting people from other places.  I kept noticing, people would walk by and we would get that sideways glance- like they were afraid to approach us.  Would we judge them because they were there in a tent? Absolutely not. We are nice, really.

After a little while  some people approached us and began chatting. How big is that? What kind of gas mileage do you get? Mind if we take a look, we’ve never seen one like that.  We are always happy to invite people in, we love to talk and share stories.  We may look like Those People, but we are here, just like everyone else to enjoy the beautiful country we live in.

For all you travelers out there, enjoy the countryside, but hang out at the fire pit, roast a marshmallow, share a story.