The Last Dance #feetdontfailmenow

Day 407 (JK)

So after our luxury night in beautiful Barstow (hotel with walls thick enough to block wind sounds), we headed for a final night in an RV park in Manteca. The plan was to get in fairly early and do some of the cleaning and prep necessary before taking the fifth wheel to B&B repair. That was the plan.

Around 4:00 Mike announced that he wasn’t tired and why didn’t we drive all the way home? Okay. Somehow we missed most of the Sacramento traffic–all the fender benders were in the south- bound lanes and no wind or rain slowed us down. Yes, the gods of RV travel were with us.

Until two miles from home. When at a stoplight a young woman in the car next to us signaled that Mike should roll his window down. Then she told us that the spare tire had fallen off the fifth wheel during our last turn. We circled back and found the slightly banged up tire leaning against a tree where a good soul had rolled it off the road. It was a night for good Samaritans as just when Mike was contemplating the weight of the tire and the height of the truck bed, a man approached and asked him for 40 cents. I know, weird amount. Anyway, the man hoisted the tire into the truck bed and Mike gave him $5. Smiles all around.

In the morning light we could see how the bolt holding the tire clasp thingy (don’t want to get too technical here) had worked its way through the hole. It says something about this trip and its effect on us that we weren’t upset, just grateful the tire hadn’t escaped on a freeway and caused an accident. The rest of that day we unloaded, cleaned, put stuff away and readied the trailer for its cosmetic overhaul. Which will not happen until June because getting new skirting from the factory doesn’t happen fast. And let’s be honest, this is a 2017 fifth wheel and spare skirting isn’t exactly piling up at the factory.

But it’s all good. We made it home, we didn’t kill anyone with our tire, and the little dog was able to increase mastery over her people.




Note to be former students: I KNOW I am writing fragments and run-on sentences. That’s called literary license. You’re welcome.

Keep on Driving #isthereanotheroption

I never thought I would long for a night in a campground, even in our fancy fifth wheel, but a night spent in a sleazy freeway motel in Flagstaff changed that. We decided to stay in a motel so that we could get an early start and not have to deal with freezing temperatures. Our choices are limited because we need a place that will provide RV parking and tolerate the little dog. Yesterday we found one motel–let’s call it a Super 7.

It probably wasn’t a great idea to read the Trip Advisor reviews, but I’m a loyal reviewer and reader. In fact, if I write one more review I may move into the top 10% of reviewers…in Redding.  But I digress. The reviews were not encouraging; remarks like “you get what you pay for” and “I was afraid of the bedspreads” did not inspire confidence. For my part, I ripped those bedspreads right off the beds as soon as I walked into the room.

The three of us have “go bags”–just the necessities for a night out of the RV. My bag has enough clothes so that I have a choice the next day, toiletries, jewelry, extra shoes– not that much. Fiona’s bag has her blue blanket, food, bowls, a brush, toys, and a change of harness. Mike put underwear, socks and toiletries in my bag when I wasn’t looking. Leaving the high maintenance dog out of the equation, I think the difference between Mike’s and my go bags is telling.

Let’s start with this: Mike found the Super 7 perfectly acceptable. It had a tv, a bed for him and the little dog and another bed for me. And as a bonus, there was a Cracker Barrel next door. Once I’d removed the bedspreads, I was okay with the beds. And frankly, I enjoy the occasional nights when Mike is the sole recipient of Fiona’s quirks. (All I’m saying is never touch her tail while she’s sleeping.) Besides the scarred bathtub and interesting carpet, not to mention the scarily skinny guy at the front desk, I considered the presence of the Cracker Barrel to be a minus. However, we are mature and experienced married people.

Mike happily took himself off to CB for a comfort food dinner, which I’m sure involved mashed potatoes. Meanwhile I ate artisan cheeses from the Santa Fe farmers market with apple slices, crackers, and an unpretentious and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. 😏 The best part is that Mike felt sorry for me.

Today we left our altitude headaches behind in Flagstaff and drove through the good, the bad, and the ugly of Arizona. I was hoping to see some desert bloom; mostly I saw a parched landscape and occasional bursts of cactus flower color. And of course there was the wind, the wind that has plagued us since Michigan. We started calling Barstow RV parks but all were full. Of course that raises the question, why the hell are all these people camping in Barstow? Around that time, the ever present wind picked up, 29 mph of head wind. We were tired and talked ourselves into another night in a hotel.

We drove by our motel, where we had been assured there was ample RV parking in the large lot. And we kept on driving. Maybe it was the 6 spaces at the front and no visible parking on the sides. Maybe it was the post bombing look of the concrete building or the tiny, dirty door to the lobby. For me it was that this motel looked worse than the Super 7 from last night.

We drove on and Mike pulled into a large empty lot that happened to be in front of a nice hotel. I didn’t think we had a chance but they let us park and bring our dog and go bags into the clean and pleasant room I am currently writing in. Yes we lost the fee for the other place. I made a half-hearted attempt to reach the service who had booked us into a hellhole. When I finally worked my way through the labyrinthine automated choices to an actual person, the call started cutting out. Suspicious since I wasn’t moving at the time. But I’m not complaining: I’m warm, I can’t hear the wind, and there’s not a Cracker Barrel in sight.


A Nice Day #stopworryingabout us

Today was nice: no one was injured, not even the fifth wheel; the wind stopped and the sun shone, and we made it to Santa Fe an hour before the Farmer’s Market closed. Getting up and out of the RV and on the road is harder than it should be. There’s something about a cozy space that slows down movement and requires extra cups of coffee. Still, we drove the rental car up (literally) highway 25 and it was a relief to be in a Camry instead of a Laramie. Unlike yesterday when everything was difficult and time-consuming, today just flowed.

As I write this, I’m eating part of a delicious cardamom/cinnamon roll from the farmer’s market, drinking an adequate rosé (purchased in Nashville) and trying to ignore the game. The Ducks are beating the Jayhawks, which will wipe me off the face of the family March Madness list. Is it petty that I do not care that the Ducks haven’t won the NCAA championship in 80 years? Perhaps.

Today I was able to do all the shopping my little consumer heart could desire. I like to shop but I really don’t want any more stuff so I tend to buy gifts and then save them for birthdays, weddings, etc. Mike and I bought spices, jams, pastries, soaps, hand balms, bath salts, and a few pieces of handmade pottery. We tend to give people consumable gifts; seems like most of us have enough tchotchkes already. Mike often buys a mug when we travel and he bought a gorgeous one today. The little dog came along and was a catalyst for several chats with folks on the plaza. One of the vendors whipped out her phone and showed us pictures of her Yorkie, including one that showed her dog having a bad hair day, which looked a lot like Fiona. A young woman from a shop brought us a bag of dog treats. So it’s pretty clear Fiona was in her element and added a few points to the plus side of her scorecard.

Then we went to lunch at the Cowgirl Cafe, mainly because it has an outdoor patio that welcomes well-behaved dogs. We took Fiona anyway. Besides having some great food (an eclectic lunch of arugula/beet/ goat cheese salad, and a combination barbecue plate), we were entertained by a bluesy combo that was tearing it up on the crowded patio. So fun.

After lunch we headed back to Albuquerque stopping in Old Town to pick up souvenirs for the grands and a t-shirt for Max. I usually get my son a t-shirt when I travel and he has an extensive collection mainly because he never throws anything away. I wanted to get him a shirt from the Cowgirl but Mike thought he might not appreciate the girly logo on the back.

All day the weather was perfect–sunny, mild, calm. As we drove into the RV park, the wind picked up and it’s currently beating against the flimsy fifth wheel walls and I’m once again fantasizing about tornadoes. I hope you’ve noticed that my blog posts where all goes well aren’t nearly as amusing as the disaster laden episodes. Never fear, we still have 1200 miles to go before we reach home and hand over the fifth wheel to the folks at B&B RV Repair who already know not to laugh at us.


Neither wind nor snow…. #cautionary tales

In order to explain the various incidents that have led to our current immobilized, hitched status, I need to first confess that we were warned….

Several of our RV experienced friends strongly recommended that we stay in MI after picking up the new fifth wheel–just to make sure everything works. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But a couple of things got in the way. First of all, it was cold. All the way across country we had enjoyed great weather and the arctic chill coming off Lake Michigan didn’t inspire us to stick around. Besides we added 20 days to our trip and I was in a hurry to get to Maryland to see my family.

I can see I have to interject another explanation about how Mike and I travel. We talk over our plans and I have a pretty clear idea of the route and time involved. In this case, I “knew” we would leave MI and head back home, the route depending on weather. But we would be back about the 13th of March. Mike, however, never limits himself to one set of plans and usually has several scenarios rolling around in his mind. When he suggested that we go see my Dad since we were already so close, that sounded good to me. It was warm in MD and the cherry blossoms were supposed to be spectacular the week we arrived. Besides I was sick of being cold and we figured the fifth wheel was fine. It had been checked at the factory in Indiana and the mechanic in Muskegon showed us how everything worked. We even spent a few hours on the lot loading up the supplies I had brought for 6 days in the fifth wheel. Six Days, not 20+ days.

Flash forward to Ohio on March 8, approximately 5 hours after we drove out of Muskegon. The trip was grueling because MI and Ohio were experiencing the worst winds since 1897. We had some exciting moments like when the semi passed us and then ran off the road. Or the time we were stopped for 20 minutes while ambulances and cop cars raced by. A semi was overturned on the median, knocked off the road by the wind. As soon as we could, we pulled off, planning to wait out the worst of the winds in a service plaza. It was a full service facility and even had an area for RVs that was marked off with bright yellow posts about 4 feet tall. Except that one post, the short one that leaped out and sidled up to the fifth wheel with a terrifying crunch. Mike and I looked at each other, I said it didn’t sound bad; Mike, looking in the side view mirror told me the truth, “It’s bad.” Not only was it bad, it was dangerous because the parts that were sticking out might’ve caught one of the 60 mph gusts and who knows what carnage would have resulted.

At this point MIke got out of the truck to see just how bad the damage was. Fiona and I huddled like cowards in the cab and besides it was really windy. When Mike returned his hair was standing straight up–wind-blown or stunned–I wasn’t sure. And here is a clear example of why I love my husband. It took him about 2 minutes to get over it and start figuring out solutions. Without beating himself up or indulging in a well-deserved freak out, Mike said, “Well, it’s a good thing we insured it this morning.” It was a little ironic that we chose the plan that would reduce our deductible by 25% every year we didn’t have a claim. A nice young guy with a mobile auto repair service came, ripped off the skirting, and bent down the trim. At that point we decided to stay in a nearby motel and wait for the next, less windy day to finish this leg of the trip. We didn’t even unhook.

When we arrived in MD, it was in the seventies and my brother, another Mike, and his wife Peggy came over with wine, snacks and daffodils for us to enjoy outside. After that the temperature dropped, the cherry blossoms froze, and four days later it snowed. It was 16 degrees the night before we left and about 30 when we hitched up and pulled out. It won’t surprise you to learn that RV-ing in the cold was a new experience for us. We had the right clothes and enough blankets but learned what happens when the water hose is left out at night (it freezes). I stocked up with groceries, which turned out to be more important then we could’ve imagined. That night we stayed in a motel in Blacksburg, VA, and the next day we drove to Nashville. We’ve been to Nashville before and we’re looking forward to country music, delicious southern cooking, and strolling down Broadway listening to the music from the honky tanks. So it was disconcerting when we unhitched at Jellystone RV Park and our capture plate fell off. The capture plate is on the kingpin (on the front of the fifth wheel) and is a necessary piece because it slides into the hitch and keeps the truck and fifth wheel traveling together.

Luckily we had a warranty covering everything mechanical and factory installed. Except the plate wasn’t installed at the factory, and the mobile RV repair man “wasn’t sure when he could come out to the park.” So the 3 days in Nashville were focused on making our RV towable and not going to the Grand Ol Opry that was literally across the street from the park. It was also about taking Fiona to a “You Wash Your Own Dog” place as she had rolled in something pungent and (blessedly) unidentifiable. Other than that we waited around and the guy finally came and welded on a new catch plate. Yay! We’re were good to go and go we went–to Little Rock, AK. Where we couldn’t get the trailer unhitched. And haven’t been able to unhitch it since.

Let’s review what this means. Since Little Rock we have not been able to shop or leave the campsite until we pull out the next day. And the RV parks have little in the way of fine or even okay food–previously frozen buffalo wings and previously cardboard pizza being the best options. I know, boo hoo. But actually exploring the areas we stay in and enjoying local cuisine is a big part of our travels. And we have not been able to find grocery stores on our way to the parks. This dilemma became critical in Amarillo. I had been making frozen pot pies, soup, and sandwiches from the groceries I had purchased in Maryland. There had also been a few cereal meals and eggs cooked every way possible. And I won’t mention the non-nutritious quality of truck stop food we ate for lunch daily. Okay, it was fried everything and old coffee.

On the way to the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo, we looked for a grocery store, finally stopping at a convenience store which yielded two bananas, a quart of milk, Ritz crackers, and American cheese slices. I asked where we could find a grocery store and a lady directed us to the Dollar General 4 miles back up the highway. This did not appeal so we made our way to the park where I made a delicious meal of microwaved baked potatoes with almost melted American cheese and canned chili. Our side salad consisted of the charmingly slices bananas sprinkled with dried blueberries. At this point Mike was more than willing to agree to a 3 day stay in Albuquerque with a car rental to allow us to restock and drive to Santa Fe for the day.

Except the wind was so bad that we spent several hours sitting out dust storms and arrived here too late last night to rent a car. The wind howled all night; I lay awake wondering if NM ever had tornadoes. (The park in OKC had a bunker that would hold up to 200 people in case of tornadoes–not that reassuring really.) This morning we got a car (they picked us up) and I battled the wind to do some laundry and walk the little dog. At last we were able to go out for some excellent Mexican food, to the Verizon store to replace Mike’s phone that flew out of his hand, and finally to the grocery store. Sine we won’t be unhitched get until we reach home and professional intervention, I bought enough food to get us through another week although we’re supposed to be home by Thursday. At this point I’m not counting on anything. Except Santa Fe–tomorrow–unless it snows.

Travels w/Fiona #somepeopleneverlearn

On March 7th my husband Mike and I picked up a brand new fifth wheel, conveniently located in Muskegon, MI. Today, a mere three weeks later, we are camping (stuck) in windy Amarillo in a trailer that has suffered exterior renovation, three visits from mobile auto/RV repair professionals, and what I like to call “hitch hostage.” But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

A couple of months ago Mike casually mentioned that Cougar had come out with a really nice, light weight fifth wheel with a double slide. I said “Uh, huh” and apparently that was enough. You would think that after more than 20 years of marriage I would have developed a radar or at least an inkling about Mike’s casual remarks. The next thing I knew Mike had called every Cougar dealer in the country and found a great deal in MI (2200 miles away from our home). Initially I was unenthused but then I surrendered to the unstoppable force that is my husband. And why not? Unlike my situation during the last two trailer purchases, I am retired and might actually enjoy this relaxed mode of travel. Uh, huh.

We left March 1st and were in Michigan by March 6th. Let me be clear: we drove our truck an average of 500 miles a day. On the way east we stayed in pet friendly motels; some more friendly than others. Usually we arrived late in the afternoon, tired and hungry. Since the princess was with us, we were limited to carry out or delivery food and we had some great and some horrible meals.

It’s time to re-introduce the eponymous star of this blog, which originally detailed travels without her. For the first time, we embarked on a lengthy trip with Fiona. Luckily for us, Fiona loves riding in the truck, usually perched on the console between us. Along the way she has learned, or rather taught us, how to meet her needs. When she wants water, she pokes whatever drinks we have in the cup holders and I quickly pour water in a small bowl I keep in the door pocket. (She isn’t patient.) When she’s hungry she paws the console, licks her lips and stares at me meaningfully. So she’s a little high maintenance. On the plus side, she has learned to pee quickly and on any surface. When she’s had enough of our company, she lounges in her car seat. On the not plus side, every time we stop for gas she barks hysterically, her special ear-splitting yaps.

It would’ve been a good idea to approach this travelogue chronologically and to take pictures of RV parks along the way. I’m afraid that an organized approach isn’t in my wheelhouse. So on Day 21 of our trip, here is the first blog. I could’ve started three weeks ago but I didn’t feel like it. Besides three weeks ago we hadn’t remodeled the Cougar’s exterior with the help of a friendly post.

Back with a Blog

Has FB and social media in general become a platform for our worst selves? Back in the day, when mean girls wrote in “slam books,” there was always the scary or thrilling possibility of confrontation. With FB even the meanest comments have a protective distance that was never afforded to the average 6th grader on a school playground. If, for example, you feel moved to react to a comment that a stranger (to you) has made about a post, you can safely attack a person you know nothing about, using all the eloquent invective at your command. Or you can be nice and understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, however stupid or uninformed. The old aphorism about not saying anything if you can’t say something nice seems to have gone by the wayside along with other archaic courtesies.

If you felt defensive or insulted when you read the previous paragraph, I’d like to point out that it is just my opinion, which is all anything is on FB, Twitter, or so-called mainstream news. There hasn’t been real news since Watergate when the media figured out they could market outrage and turn it into ratings. Think about it. Is anything on cable or networks really news? No, it isn’t–it’s opinion. And we tune into the bias we embrace so it feels like news because it supports our bias. My husband, the news junkie, is an historian by training. So he has a broader perspective which does not, however, stop him from talking back to the commentators he disagrees with. To his credit, he watches all the big media ….. — cnn, fox, msnbc, you get the idea. I don’t know if that’s because he’s broad minded or if it’s the 21st century equivalent of “mortification of the flesh.” If you went to St. Bernadette’s, you know what I mean. Looking back on it, it seems the nuns had a little too much delight in scaring the hell out of us with tales of saints beating themselves and then donning hair shirts. Basically the hair shirts constantly irritated the self inflicted wounds. Maybe that’s how Sister Frances Mary felt about teaching 45 terrified third graders.

Anyway back to FB, which is what I think this blog is about, sort of. I haven’t looked at my FB page since since September when bile overwhelmed curiosity. So I’ve missed seeing vacation/ travel photos and pictures of family; I haven’t kept up with the adventures of former students or cried over trending pictures of abused cats and dogs. Mike forces me to watch cute animal videos (not at gunpoint) so I’ve seen those. I haven’t missed political commentary as access to that was ubiquitous. No conscious American was spared the appalling spectacle of the presidential election.

If you’re on FB 24/7, thrilling to every pinged notification, taking every quiz, religiously following the activities of your 403 friends, good for you. I mean that. My curiosity doesn’t rise to that level and I’m sure I miss a lot because of that. But I’ve always been that person who doesn’t know what happened at the party, who hears about things way after everyone else, who is surprised that so and so did such and such. Not saying that’s a good thing but it does shed light on my lack of commitment to the trivial nature of some FB posts. It’s not that I have a negative opinion about someone’s constant posts (coffee with friends, picking up my mail, etc.). It’s just that I’m exhausted by so much information. Do I wish that people would limit their posts to pictures, incredible insights, truly hilarious or inspirational videos, and rare instances of pithy commentary? Sure–don’t you?

For some of us, FB is a diary, for others it’s a confessional. For me, it’s reading and there’s so many other things I would rather read. So I didn’t really miss my FB hiatus beyond the occasional twinge of social guilt (” Didn’t you see the pictures of the wedding, hear about a new job, move or baby?). And I’m back to skim, read, select,  and ignore, and hopefully get a few more readers of my own. 😏

The Desert Trip: Intermission

“And I Love Him”

If you are one of my 8 faithful readers, you may recall that I’ve mentioned Paul McCartney in a previous blog (“The Rock(y) Road to Country Music”) and alluded to my devotion to the Beatles, especially Paul. Let me say right now that I know this was (is) a shallow crush, based on physical attributes. In my defense, I offer this argument: What baby boomer woman of a certain age doesn’t have the Beatles in the soundtrack of her life?

It started when I was eleven watching the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show”—standing in front of a black and white television in the basement of my parents’ home. The rest of the family was upstairs watching on the newer TV. I was alone because I was in trouble (nothing new) and because I didn’t want those people spoiling it for me. I was still in my St. Bernadette’s uniform—blue jumper and white short sleeved blouse with a Peter Pan collar. (It wasn’t a good look for anyone.) The first time the camera zoomed in on the regular features of the cutest Beatle, I was a goner. Throughout my life (so far) I have been drawn to the Irish-Anglo look, brown hair, and a face that shows warmth and self-deprecating humor. Not having dated Paul, I can’t attest to his sense of humor, but my first real boyfriend had a great sense of humor and his first name was James, which is Paul’s first name. Bet you didn’t know that. Anyway, my Jimi (yes, that’s how he spelled it) was also a brown-haired charmer, who thoroughly broke my heart when I was 15.

In 1965 I saw Paul, and the other three, in person when the Beatles performed at D.C. Stadium. In those days, I could name (and sing) every Beatles’ song in three chords. I had the order of the songs on the albums memorized because I had played them so often on my pink and white record player. Seeing the Beatles, even from a distance as was inevitable in a stadium, was so thrilling that I can’t remember it. I mean that the experience was so huge I was just in the middle of it and had no room for storing memories. So while I can’t recall specific moments, I’ll never forget the feeling. I was twelve then and no other concert has ever surpassed the sheer thrill of that one. I wonder sometimes if our iPhones have pushed us back from experiences. I mean it takes you away from the moment to take a picture, tweet a comment, or post your status. You lose the connection and immediacy or at least I do. Over 50 years ago I watched those tiny gods of music on an unadorned wooden stage without big screens or pyrotechnics and listened to probably marginal amplification. But I was there, present, completely overtaken by the sound, the sight, and the wonder.  I’ll never forget it.

For a few years, I flirted with devoting my personal Beatlemania to John, the smart and tortured (but not as tortured as George) Beatle. My cousin Sandy and I would cut out and save pictures of our favorite Beatles from teen magazines. She would give me the Johns and I would give her the Ringos. But at home, I had a secret stash of every adorable expression that crossed Paul’s face. Before this gets sickening let me mention that I had a real life, too. I went to college, got married, had a career, got married, had a son, got married. But I always kept my eye on Paul. I liked his post-Beatle music, his nearly 30 year marriage to Linda, his devotion to his children, and his obvious grief at Linda’s passing. He and I lost our spouses in the 90’s—that was a bond. I like that Paul was and is the marrying kind. I especially like that Paul usually marries women who are friends and in an acceptable age group (no twenty year olds, thank you very much).

Flash forward to 2005, when my husband and I saw Paul perform in Sacramento. It was an amazing concert, just as the concert on October 8th was amazing (more on that in the next blog). At one point I took my eyes off the stage and looked at Mike, my self-deprecating and generous husband, with his Irish-Scottish DNA, brown hair (no mullet, thank God), and sometimes brown and sometimes hazel eyes. Yes, the resemblance is definitely there. I’ve come full circle.





The Desert Trip: Part Two

Reflections on the Desert Trip: October 7, 2016

(This adventure is not for the weak….)

There’s a big difference between being 18 and being 60-something. And that difference became abundantly clear the first day of the concerts. The friends who traveled with us in their motor home (let’s call them Randy and Sue) had the campsite next to us in the lovely Emerald Desert RV Park. Sue and I decided to walk a couple of miles in the morning and then exercise in the pool for about 40 minutes. Big mistake. Our husbands hung around the sites and arranged to have the vehicles washed and waxed. All of this was before we knew what lay ahead.

Turns out that the shuttle (a full size bus that played the same music during every trip) let us off at the edge of the polo fields—a mile and a half from our seats. (The concerts were held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA—the second largest in the country.) This amble across a long field, down a dirt road and next to endless parking happened in blazing heat (over 95 every day) We could have gone later as the concerts didn’t start before 6:30. However, Sue wanted to get there before 4:00 and managed, using a variety of techniques such as horror stories from other campers who left on a later bus, to beat us into submission. So we arrived every day in the apex of the heat to find that all the couches and most of the shade had been grabbed up by people even crazier than we are.

Still there were many amenities designed to please everyone but especially the baby boomers. These included air-conditioned restrooms with private cubicles and flush toilets, many, many food choices including a culinary experience complete with servers, gourmet food and a big price tag (a mere $179 per day and a bargain at $499 for all 3 days), an air-conditioned craft beer lounge and a shaded dome tent complete with wine for the connoisseur (or snob)—Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon, a mere $29 a glass. The first day the volunteers were a little lax and you could wander around the whole venue; that gave us an opportunity to see just how far our seats were from the stage. I hate to admit how much we paid for this once-in-a-lifetime experience in Section F-2, but it was a lot and it was worth it, even if the performers could only be seen through binoculars. There were huge jumbotrons so we had a good view of what was happening on stage…most of the time.

The first act was Bob Dylan. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of Dylan’s voice and I was subjected to it frequently in my early years by my older brother who thought Dylan was a genius. I guess the Nobel Prize Committee agreed since they awarded him the prize for literature a few days after this concert. During his first five songs, Dylan was projected onto one of the three screens behind the stage. The other screens showed powerful and mainly depressing black and white photography. After those songs, all the screens showed photos—the same photos we had already seen. Several times. Dylan didn’t greet the audience, comment on the venue or say good-bye. Basically he acted like he was alone and playing for himself, which I understand from his more rabid fans is his modus operandi and anybody who expects something different is naïve, uninformed, and basically unworthy. The three Californians I was traveling with could not get over Dylan’s disinterest in his audience. “I can’t believe he didn’t even say hello.” I heard this several times. Maybe it’s because I grew up on the East Coast but I didn’t care about that or that we didn’t get to see him after 5 songs. What I objected to was his singing. While he is a brilliant lyricist/poet who has vividly chronicled the American experience for more than 50 years, his voice is shot. And I have to admit I felt vindicated when music reviewers basically said the same thing. I could tell he was winding down (e.g., hitting even fewer notes) so I took myself off to the bathroom and the closest bar and when I returned it was time for the next act.

The opening chords of “Start Me Up” signaled the frenetic pace that carried the Rolling Stones through 2 hours of serious rock up to midnight. Mick Jagger was indefatigable; he’s as thin as ever (think Twiggy but skinnier) and his face belongs on Mt. Rushmore. I’m talking craggy. Mick went through at least 7 changes of clothing (mostly jackets) that I think happened during guitar and drum solos. In my untutored opinion, these guys are still making great music. And they know how to talk to a crowd. The end came with fireworks and “Satisfaction” lighting up the audience and the sky (literally). The energy surging through us kept us high (on music) and rocking all the way back to the shuttle bus. It also kept me awake for quite a while after our return to camp at 1:30. All of this would’ve been irrelevant had not the waxing and buffing of our fifth wheel started at 7:15. In the morning. After 3-4 hours of sleep. At my age. Also Sue’s Fitbit indicated we had walked 6 miles, not counting our insane exercising in the morning. Still the next day would bring my favorite musicians Neil Young and Sir Paul.


The shuttle schedule


— Mandatory wrist bands


F-2 is behind the pink section







The Desert Trip: Part One

IMG_7040 (Edited)

Reflections on the Desert Trip: October 6, 2016

Most, if not all, of the articles I’ve read about the first weekend of the Desert Trip share a preoccupation with nostalgia and a snarky need to mention everyone’s age.  I think the 70,000 people who showed up for three nights know how old they are and whether they were around 50+ years ago when Mick and Paul started redefining music.  And some of us actually got to see them way back when.  I saw the Beatles during their second and last American tour (1965) and the Rolling Stones when I was in college (sometime in 1975 or 1976–it’s a blur). One article made the point that the music of the 1960’s and 70’s is really current music because young people are listening to it today.  Uh, no.  It’s our music and by that I mean the music of the people known as the baby boomers.  And the reason our music is still around is because it’s better than anything that followed.  And we have the hearing loss to prove it.

I read today that media is calling the Desert Trip “Oldchella.” Well here’s a message for you, young media know-it-all: you’re going to be older one day, with physical and maybe mental challenges, and that’s if you’re lucky. BTW, ICYMI, we’re the generation that made “F” an all-purpose word. One could say that your f’ing attitude shows how f’ed you are; you’re kind of an f”er. (adjective, adverb, noun). So verb you, Buddy. LOL.


Next blog–the first night, the heat, the merchandise, the food, glamping….

Breaking up is hard to do

I would like to end it with FB.

I can tell I lack the requisite skills and motivation to sustain our relationship. I’m a fair weather friend posting primarily when traveling because a) I have time and b) I might actually have a picture or comment that’s marginally interesting to you. But probably not.

I’ve thought about this a lot– not just what my participation in canned communication means but what a phenomenon like FB says about culture and society.  And I’ve concluded that I don’t have a theory, nothing that sounds plausible or even opinionated.  Technology based communication is … fill in your favorite dire prediction. After all it wasn’t the telephone that caused the fall of the Roman Empire.

There are so many things I like and loathe about Facebook.

List 1: the joys

Heartwarming:  the children and grandchildren of my siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends dance down the news feed, growing up before my eyes.  Lovely to enjoy old family photos that poke the embers of long forgotten memories.  And, of course, the rare but hilarious video that makes you actually laugh out loud and force other people to watch it by immediately sharing it or hunting down your husband in the family room and making him mute the tv, watch the video, and assure you that it is truly hysterical.

Sometimes FB is magical.  Someone posts a picture of your mother that you’ve never seen.  A person you loved and lost along the way finds you.  A piece of history moves you to tears. You follow a link and discover a wonderful writer.

List 2: the not so much joy

Sad pictures of animals bum me out, but I think it’s good for me to be reminded.  (I offer it up for the poor souls.  If you’re Catholic you’ll know what that means.  If you’re not, it’s just another obnoxious inside joke like all the ones I don’t get on FB.) That’s the price I pay for having compassionate friends involved in animal rescue.  Serves me right for not friending jerks.

Oversharing.  I do like to know what friends and acquaintances are up to, but maybe not everything.  Still I can’t tell you where that line is.  Is detailed information about your latest project, obsession, resolution too much?  Sometimes.  Is pontificating okay?  Hardly ever.  During presidential election years I’m tempted to unfollow most everyone.  This year is an exception because in the wind-up before the 2016 election, most of my friends, or at least the ones who comment, are in agreement about the Donald. And my friends span the political spectrum.  So that shows …what?  Either Mr. Trump is universally deplorable or I have discerning friends. Or I already unfollowed you and forgot.

Sidebar: I suspect that my sudden, periodic flurry of posts and photos are pretty tiresome.  If I do decide to comment, share, post, change pictures, etc. I do about 5 things in 10 minutes so you are inundated with information about moi. (And since I went to France in 2013 you also have to put up with the occasional bon mot.) C’est la vie.

List 3: Keeping score, sort of

It’s not nice but I can’t help noticing the people who selectively “like” (BTW, Mr. Zuckerberg, you’ve basically ruined the word “like” for eternity).  So are the occasional likers people who rarely go on FB or are they sending a message?  I mean how hard is it to touch that damn thumb?

Have you ever suddenly realized that someone has disappeared from your news feed?  Deep thinkers such as myself have to wonder if this friend has eschewed the seductive addiction of social media and signed off FB forever … or just unfriended me?  Of course a quick trip to your friends list will tell you if you’re being paranoid or you’ve been dumped.  Being inexplicably (to you at least) unfriended leads the thoughtful to question their worth and may damage their precious self-esteem.  Hardly.  At least I hope no one cares that much.  Still, what do you do when you come face to face with an unfriending friend?  Would you demand a public unfriending?  My imagination goes this way:

The unfriender greets you cordially and there you are on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. You could snidely murmur. “Oh, I didn’t know you spoke to your un-friends.” More likely you would respond politely as if graciously ignoring a fart.  (Time for another shout out to Mark Z for giving us so many ways to abuse the word friend.)

List 3: Coping

There are ways to deal with your FB obligations, even for the sporadic participant.  I probably miss a lot on the newsfeed because days go by and my page has to soldier on without me.  So when I do indulge, I do a lot of liking.  Because I sincerely like my friends and am interested in their lives.  I also skip a lot of videos because they load slowly or I don’t have time or it’s another cat video. Also my husband Mike shares EVERY animal video with me.  Every single one.  Who knew he was such a softy? And when did lions get so cuddly?

Back in the early days of my ambivalent relationship with FB I read all the notifications.  Now I skim and ignore the posts by people I don’t know.  For example I found myself reading comments by Mike’s former students about the good old days that were somehow attached to a picture of my friend and I making biscotti that his wife posted and then tagged Mike for reasons best known to her.

Sometimes I write comments that I don’t  post.  After checking for spelling errors I ask myself if anyone would want to read my comment.  The answer is frequently no.

I blow by pictures of food pretty quickly.  As well as anything that’s out of focus, overtly preachy, or patently offensive.  We all have our own ideas about what is offensive; for me it comes down to meanness, which can be in the message or the motivation beneath the message.  People, especially portraits, those darned puppies and kittens, beautiful scenery, and pithy sayings get my attention and, naturally, a like.

So why would I even consider breaking up with FB?  Mainly because sometimes, not always and not even that often, it feels like a colossal waste of time–mine, yours, and even the sneaky advertisers.

Still FB is a seductive, addictive fantasy; every newsfeed holding promise and possibility. Once in awhile I read or see something on FB that takes me back, way back.  And when that happens I remember how real the fantasy could be.  Maybe it was Paul McCartney and you were 11 and watching him on the black and white tv in the basement.  Maybe.  And maybe you bought every teen magazine and cut out his pictures and pasted them in a spiral notebook even though you knew you would never meet him much less marry him and make him spaghetti.

Here’s the deal: in life, we all hang on for possibilities.  The chance to feel something we’ve lost or forgotten, the need to connect meaningfully, or surrender to a  joy or sorrow. FB, usually mundane, sometimes inconsequential, is just people expressing themselves and who’s to say what’s shallow and what’s deep.