Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 19, May 26th, 2011

Day 19, May 26th, 2011

Wow, the last day!

 We made it home, so this is the final ship’s log entry for The Tour of California mission.

We got on the road from Grand Island, NE, about 8:00.  Most of the driving was uneventful.  We had some congestion around Omaha and Des Moines.  Enough to get Paula nervous.  Stopped at a rest stop north of Des Moines for lunch.  Weather was great so we got to sit at a picnic table and Buck could sniff around the area.  We pulled into St. Paul about 6:30 pm.  Worked on unloading for awhile and visiting with the neighbors.  James & Annie made a nice dinner for Paula.  (We crashed after that so I’m actually writing this on Day 20)

Some of the vital statistics.  We drove 4,812 miles. We fueled up 8 times, average 600 miles per tank. The lowest fuel price we paid was $4.03/gallon, in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Highest was $4.79/gallon, in Truckee, California (near Tahoe).  Lowest fuel miles per gallon was 8.5.  High was 11.3.  Overall average mpg was 9.8.  Fuel cost was $2,130.  Some readers might think 9.8 mpg is not good.  You’ve got to remember, we were driving a house.  And we cruise at 72-74 mph.  We didn’t have any airline tickets, rental cars, or hotel/motel costs.  We bought our food at the grocery store (except for the times we went out with friends).  We cruise down the highway in total comfort.  And we didn’t have to worry about bed bugs or who sat on that toilet seat last night. 

Going through Vail Pass we encountered wet dirty roads due to snow melt.  The rig looked like we had been off-roading with it.  Paula and I spent a few hours cleaning it up before putting it away.  The rig performed flawlessly. 

So, we had a wonderful time, got to get together with great old friends and meet great new friends.  We are so lucky for everything and everybody in our lives.  Thanks everybody for joining us. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 18, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We woke to many of the nights parked trucks and campers pulling out.  It was 6:00 and I was ready to roll.  Bob was a bit slower getting up but he’s the driver so if he’s not in a hurry, Bucky and I aren’t either.  I made orange juice since he said we would drive a bit and then stop at a rest stop for breakfast.  Orange juice holds Bob over pretty well ‘till we stop. 

Wow – Eric was right!  With the blue sky and sun shinning, a few patches of fog we set off into spectacular scenery.  The Colorado river out my side was really rushing.  The mountain tops still had snow cover and the rocky mountains, cliffs, ledges, hills whatever you call them, are beautiful. 

We pulled over into a rest stop after driving about an hour or so.  The rest stop had a bike path that continued on for quite a while that we had spotted earlier as we went through road construction at 40 mph.  The rest stop had access steps directly to the water so Bob let Buck take a look.  I made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.  I took Buck back out for more sniffing around while I read the information about the area.

Back on the road for more sights to behold. 

Bob here to finish up the ship’s log for today.  We put some major miles in today.  Made it from Cameo, CO, to Grand Island, NB.  The googler puts that at 630 miles.  The mountain driving was great fun.  Lots of ups and downs and turns.  The road was wet and dirty in Vail Pass due to snow melt.  And it even snowed a bit on us while going through there.  The truck is very dirty now.  What a mess.  Big cleaning needs to be done when we get home.  The truck pulls so great up the hills.  And going down with confidence of large brakes and a engine brake.  We got 9.8 mpg on this tank, and I’ve been driving 72-74 whenever we’re not winding around in the mountains.  Once we got east of Denver everything was boring.  Flat and straight.  Paula’s been reading Davis Phinney’s book, “The Happiness of Pursuit.”  She went through quite a few tissues.  I’m looking forward to reading it when we get home. 

We pulled into the truck stop in Grand Island, 745 miles on this tank.  Got 76 gallons and then found a nice parking spot amongst all the trucks.  I had seen how big the store is when I paid so I told Paula she’s got to come check it out.  It’s very nice.  Movie theatre, barber shop, massages, game room, a few different food options, huge store with all sorts of stuff.  Then Paula made pizza and smoothies while I kept my foot up since I can’t elevate it whilst driving.  We’ve been watching the Eddie Murphy bio on the tv while dining and logging. 

So, tomorrow should be easy, the googler says it should take 8 hrs. from here to St. Paul.  Time to take a shower and go to bed.  This trip has been tons of fun for us.  If anybody is reading this I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Thanks to all our friends and family that have made this trip so wonderful. 

Day 17, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We woke around 6:00 but had our first time change so really it was 7:00.  Bob took Buck outside and let him run wild chasing birds in the field next to our parking lot.  He retuned to fuel up while I cleaned up around here.  He decided he wasn’t hungry yet so we would get on the road.  I poured him a big glass of orange juice and I decided (is it really ever a question) that I was hungry and had my usual cereal.

We had called Suzie last night to give her an update on our travel time.  Suzie was off for the day and had a hair appointment at 11:00 so we thought we would arrive before she left for that.  We had to call her when we were circling the area but couldn’t find the street.  She said we were close – the street we were trying to locate was 27.  We were following the numbers 26, 26 ½ , 26 ¾, 1 !  apparently 27 was renamed to 1.  So with that information we found Suzie and Marshall,s house quite quickly.  Suzie looks well – like a fast runner.  And with some questioning, confessed yes she is training with guys and doing track workouts to help her speed in ½ marathons and 10k races.  She’s fast! 

Suzie’s sister, Linda, was visiting from Chicago and they had planned a day of shopping.   Linda is recovering from major surgery so was moving a bit slower than usual, so she was staying home and resting.   Suzie asked if I wanted to come with to her hair appointment and Bob was more than happy to hang-out in the RV, eat his breakfast and catch-up on facebook etc.  Buck was pretty, well really, really content to run around playing with their Brittany Spaniel, Jax in the big fenced in backyard.

We got home from the hair appointment and Suzie made lunch – grilled cheese and ham, watermelon and one of my favorites, wafer cookies.  Mary, Suzie’s youngest daughter was home from her freshman year of college so she joined us. 

Bob suggested I go shopping, so since he thought that was ok not to get back on the road right away I decided that would be fun to see the downtown area of Grand Junction.  Construction in the street area – a really nice upgrade of bricks and landscaping was well underway and it was beautiful what was already complete.  Linda said usually they have many more sculptures.  I was sorry I forgot the camera, because the ones that didn’t have to get moved during the construction were really fun.  One bronze stature was a young girl riding a bike.

When Linda comes to town Suzie and Linda go shopping for clothes and home décor.  Linda owned her own business making draperies.  She helped design Suzie’s remodel of the kitchen and entry area.  She reminds me of Nanc, they are just good at knowing what would really look nice and they know how to figure it out. 

Shopping was fun!  Small, upscale shops, not too overwhelming.  We found everything from fun shoes, purses, jewelry and clothes.  They even tried on dresses.  We didn’t have much luck in the home décor area but we were ready to get back to the house.  I knew shopping would be fun with those two, they remind me of my sisters!  And with Linda slowed down I knew it wouldn’t be an all day affair – lucky for me!

Back at the house we visited in their beautiful back yard.  Linda designed the landscaping and Suzie did the block retaining wall building and planting.  Her Iris, roses, and lilac bushes were all blooming and the air smelt wonderful!  

We decided we should probably get on the road so said our goodbyes and started up the RV for it’s usual engine warm-up.  Once I learned early on I had at least 10 minutes once the engine was started I was much more in tune with our pull-out schedule.  While we were warming the rig, Suzie came running out to ask if we could stay for dinner.  Marshall had been working all day and only come home around lunch-time long enough to change for a run, check out Bob’s foot, confirm it was broken, and go back to work.  He was going to come home for a little while around dinner time, but then had to leave for a work dinner.  He and his partners were meeting with a prospective new doctor-partner and his wife.   We would be able to have a cocktail before he had to leave.  So as usual Bob asked me what I thought – excuse me, did I mention Suzie was making Shrimp Scampi for dinner?  We stayed. I said I’d make dessert if Mary could drive me to a grocery store to get the ingredients for the easy cheese cake.  Mary said sure since her spinach artichoke dip would be just about ready to come out of the oven when we got back. 

Marshall came home, beverages and ice in hand, as the cheese cake was coming out of the oven so he made the drinks, Marguerites for Suzie and I.  We had great conversations and laughter learning about the time they rented an RV and tried to find a spot to park in San Francisco.  Marshall had to leave so Suzie and I got started on dinner.  Dinner was fabulous – Bob enjoyed the noodles and dessert.  We said our goodbyes for the second time, more hugs and well wishes for our safe travel, Linda’s complete recovery and Marshall and Suzie’s fun time in the Memorial 10k they were running with 40,000 other runners.

We left in the dark and rain.  Eric had called Bob earlier in the night and said we have to drive in daylight to see the spectacular sights, and said we had missed magnificent scenery driving in dark last night.  So I suggested we pull into a truck stop, and I found one on the trucking map that was only about 15 miles from Suzie’s.  The road running along the Colorado River was very windy, and I was glad we pulled over to sleep for the night – not driving in the rain was a good idea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 16, May 23, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today we woke to sunshine!  We didn’t get on the road as quickly as our fellow RV’s, but we didn’t have a schedule to keep and Buck was sleeping in also – he seems to be doing a lot of that today!

We got on the road by 8:00, driving toward Las Vegas.  Eric called to give us his racing weekend up date and when we told him where we were he said we have to stop in Vegas – he knew where we should park the rig -  Bob took pictures of a few hotels as we drove on by.  We (still only Bob at the wheel but I navigated to our lunch stop at the Walmart in Cedar City, Utah) stopped at Walmart to return the rug we had purchased on our trip out and to stock up on a few other things.  We made grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and decided to take a nap – because we could!    Not such a great parking spot this time.  We always park on the outer area of the lot but we hadn’t noticed until we were parked and shut down that the Rent – A – Center was only about 150 feet from us.  They had  large stereo speakers on display outside the store – turned on so we could get the full effect.  Oh well.   

Back on the road heading toward Grand Junction, Co hopefully to stop in at Suzie Steel’s, an old college pal from the cross country and track team.  Suzie had won the WI state cross country race  the year I won MN.  She was a spit-fire that went on to win lots of races, and become a pharmacist like her dad.  She married Marshal and he is a practicing dr, in Grand Junction.  I plan to get the scoop on what’s new with the family, since you can only say so much on a Christmas card, we have a lot of catching up to do!

We stopped for the night in Green River, UT in the towns big truck stop.  The winding up and down hills on the days travels were fun for Bob.  He said we’re still winning the race because not a single RV has passed us on this trip.  He just loves that power!

We had left over pasta dinner, turned on the generator to try to catch some world news but settle for “Smarter than a 5th Grader”.  Decided to hit the hay for the night.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 15, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final day of the race.  The plan for the day was to ride our bikes with Shawn to see the finish. 
Sam & Micah were going to a friend’s house.  Mary Ann had left for work by the time we got up.  Bob walked Buck and then joined Shawn and the boys for Micah’s birthday breakfast.  Shawn made pancakes and bacon.  I finished up the log for yesterday and then went in to say hello.  Micah and I went out front to test some of Micah’s birthday gifts, a styro plane and another type of plane that is small and air is pumped into it with a mini type of bike pump.  The little air pumped plane flew pretty good, and with the help of some masking tape from Bob to hold the tail wing in place it really went sailing.  Next the boys, Buck and I went for a walk.  We walked around their school which has a very impressive playground which the boys told me all about – the different courts, backboards and what grade got to play on what section.  Soon it was time for Shawn to drop the boys off at their friends.

When Shawn returned we were ready for our 15 mile, easy rolling hills, mostly flat ride to the race.  I don’t know why we believed him!  After all, Shawn’s idea of an easy ride is 100 miles in the mountains!  Well off we went with plenty of warm clothes and rain gear in my back-pack, Buck in Bob’s back-pack, and our tennis shoes in Shawn’s back-pack with his spare clothes.  It was cloudy, cool and rain had been predicted.

Mileage update:  Bob said we’ve gone 2800 miles thus far in the trip.   (Right now Bob is driving – it’s about 8:30 pm and we are trying to get out of this crazy LA traffic).

We got to the race an hour and ½ later.  There were hills – many down- many up – never flat!  It was a nice ride. We had to stop and take off some of our outer gear shortly after starting, since the temperature was rising. Bob’s foot gave him a bit of trouble – he had to really work to get it in his cycling shoe – seems his foot now looks like perhaps two toes are broken and swollen across the top- so sitting while pedaling was better than standing.  

As we were deciding where to park our bikes close to the race action, I spotted the Nissan tent and we headed straight to it.  At the stage in Salvang, Alfred & Chipper told us about it.  I had asked Chipper where he bought his shirt since we had been checking the vendors to buy it and we hadn’t spotted it.  He said Nissan was giving them away if you signed up to win a car.  Well, this morning we hit the jackpot!  What timing – they must have decided to give away all the stuff they had left since it was the last day. The boys were giving out copious amounts of t-shirts, hat and water bottles.   . 
Now, on to finding something to eat and get a beer. 

The race finish was in Thousand Oaks.  It finished in the downtown and it was beautiful.  There were restaurants with outdoor seating, a grassy area in the middle with a water pond and the jumbo tron.  I was busy scoping out where to eat while Bob & Shawn lounged in the grass.  I forgot to ask Bob to take some pictures – drats.  Well I found a place where we could hook Bucky up just on the outside of the seating area, went to tell Bob and Shawn and they told me the riders were coming soon – no time to eat, we didn’t want to miss the action.  It was 2:00 and they had predicted the riders would arrive around 3:00. 

Bob’s radar found the spot to end all!  We could see the riders pass us and look to our left and see them again making a turn to go uphill.  It was a five mile circuit that they repeated about 5 times.  While we were cheering on the boys Elli Ochowicz walked by carrying her Italian Greyhound, Bella.  What a great surprise – I had just spoken to Sheila in the morning and she said she didn’t think Elli would be there since she watched yesterday’s stage end in Mt. Baldy.  Shortly after seeing Elli I noticed team support showing up in our area with muscette bags and water bottles.  Not knowing how many laps and the distance I didn’t want to say I think this is a feed zone.   Well we didn’t wait long before the riders and the team cars came by.  I spotted Och riding shot-gun in the team car so I yelled hello.  He turned in his seat and waved.  Next lap Och jumps out of the car and a friend of Elli’s jumps in.  So we get the scoop from Och.  Yep, 5 mile laps and repeat at least 5-7 times, I didn’t catch that part, and this was a feed zone. 

Now the exciting part – the BMC team car would come into view, Och would stick up his arm like he was hailing a cab, the car would pull over, and they’d do a co-pilot switch.  Och asked ahead of time who wanted to go so the person would be ready.  I whispered to Elli Bob would love to go –then when no one was speaking up, I said Och Bob would like to go if no one else wants to.  He said ok get ready – and it may be the last passenger, if there is a crash or something they won’t stop again. (Shawn & I said to each other that would not be something we’d like to do – surprised I feel that way aren’t you)?

So Bob hopped in, with the camera and off they went.  Bob gave me a recap of how he heard and saw the action from the car.  I asked him if he introduced himself to the driver and mechanic in the back seat riding with all the wheels.  He said no – the driver was concentrating so he didn’t want to interrupt.  Duh!  All the cars were equipped with two-way radios and a woman was giving play by play action. For instance, she’d say team United Health care come up, your rider has his right arm up.  Or she’d say there is a breakaway with 40 seconds on the two riders chasing.  And so it went.  The car came through and Och waved it on so Bob would ride the last lap also.   

I forgot to mention Shawn’s sister, Stacy, drove her car, parked her car and then rode her mountain bike to the finish area so we had met up with Stacy before we walked over to our spot to cheer from.  Stacy and her husband only live a block from Shawn and Mary Ann.

When the race finished we made our way back to our bikes to wait for Bob.  Shawn asked Stacy if she wanted to ride back home with us and then we could come pick her car up.  Shawn was realizing he needed to get back to pickup the kids and so he would “hammer” back and Stacy could ride with us at a more normal pace.

Great plan.    We decided we would stop at the first gas station we saw and get some energy bars and drinks, otherwise I would bonk.  We made our stop and headed up the long hill out of town.  Got to the top and had to ditch more clothes and switch to my new t-shirt.  We enjoyed the ride, Stacy pointed out different wild flowers by name as we went up hills.  We were about 10 minutes away from home and on a pretty busy road where the cars were coming pretty close.  So close in fact that Bob couldn’t move out to avoid the road grate and followed Stacy over it.  Stacy’s mountain bike tires made it but not Bob’s.  His back wheel dropped down between the grates and flatted.  He yelled a warning to me and pulled over.  There was a sidewalk we stepped up onto to change the flat and let Bucky out to stretch and cool off.  Bucky has been such a trooper – this was the longest he has ridden in the backpack.  Sometimes now I even catch him resting his head on Bob’s back and taking a little nap!   It wasn’t long before we were back on the road and soon arrived home.

Bob showered quickly and then borrowed Shawn’s car to drive Stacy to pickup her car.  Sam road along with.  Shawn worked on getting dinner ready, I did a quick couple loads of laundry and Micah played with Buck.  While I iced my foot, Micah did his school presentation for me.  He would be doing his presentation tomorrow for his family history assignment.  It was all about his great grandma, and boy was she interesting! 

Everyone was now ready for dinner so we ate Shawn’s great America dinner of hamburgers, fries, fruit salad, green salad and vegetable dish.  It hit the spot!  After dinner, we turned on 60 minutes to watch the story about Tyler Hamilton, Olympic cycling gold medal winner – Postal team Tour De France rider.  Tyler was found guilty of doping with performance enhancement drugs.  So now he wanted to tell the story regarding Lance Armstrong using drugs as well as many other riders.

Well – that was that - and so we gave our hugs goodbye and hit the road homeward bound via Colorado.  Bob drove until about 10:00 and then we pulled into a Flying J at Barstow to fuel up and sleep in the designated RV lot. 

What a great Amgen Tour of California it was!!!! 

Bob here.  Thanks a bunch for sticking with us.  Now you can read about our wagon train journey home if you want. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

California RV trip, Day 14

Day 14, May 22, 2011

We woke early to get the RV ready for the road again.  That means flushing out the black tank, empting the grey and refilling fresh water.  If you don’t know what the black tank is –lets’ just say I wasn’t all that thrilled to have to hold the large hose in the ground hole because we didn’t have the right fitting.  I was in charge of making sure we didn’t shoot the shit anywhere but down the hole.  I always have visions of Robin Williams’ movie “RV” – yuk!  I have to say Bob is thorough with the cleaning- we run a hose up through the window and he uses a high pressure sprayer to clean out the toilet bowl – thus I am in charge of turning on the hose and making sure all systems are go from outside.  OK, this is the one drawback in owning an RV – maybe the rich folk have their people do this sort of thing.  After walking Buck and having a bowl of cereal and juice we were ready to hit the road for stage 7.  Stage 7 ends on Mt. Baldy which according to all we read is a huge climb that you had to get there very early if you wanted to park and watch.  We decided to try to watch the start instead.  It was about a 2 ½ hours away.  Well we didn’t make it, and had to abandon that plan.  The highway was under construction so it went from 5 lanes down to two.  A four mile stretch took over an hour.

But not all was lost, in fact it turned out terrific.  Bob’s quick thinking got us on the computer and searching for a part of the race that has a hill climb, and the information said it had a lot of parking.  So we decided to scope it out.  Jack pot!  The town of Glendora was easy to get to, and had signs directing us where to go (not all the towns did such a good job with the signage).  We parked the rig, I made sandwiches and Bob took care of getting the bikes off the back.  The exciting part of finding this spot was that it was a feed zone.  We hadn’t yet experienced a feed zone so we were excited to see how this all worked.  The sign posted said 1 km to feed zone, which meant just a few blocks to bike.  We got to the sign “Feed start” where there were two large parking lots for an equestrian park.  So Bob decided to ride back to the RV to move it to this spot.  We parked again and headed up the hill not really knowing how long the feed zone was but looking for the team support vehicles.  It’s always fun to watch in a feed zone because the riders are not attacking and you can get a good look at them. 

We found the BMC car and chatted with Trudy about how things were going and when she thought they might be coming.  The report was there was a small break-away group and estimated time of arrival about 2:00 – 2:30.  It was now about 1:00 and we had gotten there about noon.   You might think that’s a long time to wait but there is people watching and chatting to do for entertainment. People love to pet Buck and comment on our accent.  What the heck – I thought we sounded the same as everyone else in Ca.  The Europeans ok, that’s an accent if they are even speaking in English.  So the police motorcycles started arriving around 2:00 to say riders coming and clear the road.  Then the police tried to confuse the crowd by telling us to all go to one side of the street but then the next law man said no time to cross so we stayed where we were which was on the hand-up side of the road.  Before the riders come through they have a commentary car in which the gentleman announces over a loud speaker what is happening in the race.  Bob and I had our BMC hats on and were standing behind the guard rail in between the Kenda hand-up girl and the Jelly Belly hand-up guy. When the announcer came by he said there was a breakaway group of nine – no one from Kenda or Jelly Belly but BMC had George Hincapie!  Of course we cheered and rang the cow bell!  We had a nice visit with our new friends from Glendora, Mark and Veronica.  It was obvious Mark was a rider, his legs were tan, shaved and full of crash scars.  Mark had stories about going to the Tour De France to spectate.  The riders came thru looking a bit tired but Mark said if they don’t know what’s up ahead as far as the climbing they were in for a big surprise.

We walked back down the hill, stopping to take a picture of “the tire babies” as Bob named them.  Three guys wearing underwear made out of inner-tubes!  They had a good time chasing the riders up the hill and they were still lingering in their glory when we walked by.

We got on the road heading to Shawn and Mary Ann’s house in Woodland Hills about 30 miles from where we were.  Geez the traffic!  And we were going in the direction that was moving.  Did you really think we could drive across the country without me commenting on the traffic!  I’m amazed really at how everyone drives without loosing their cool.  Of course this was no problem for Bob, he just started taking on a bat man type of voice, when someone would either merge without looking, or change lanes and we had to suddenly break, he’s just say “Bastard” and that was that.  No crazy trying to drive next to them and give them the horn – except one time and then the girl really did deserve the air horns, which she followed with the finger in her rear view.   But mostly Bob thinks it’s a challenge and I try not to look, except when there is great scenery.  Like this morning.  The drive along the coast was beautiful.  Not much traffic at that point, hazy sun, lots of beach camping to see and we blared the CD from “Animal House”.  Life doesn’t get much better!  Bob said we’ll have to come back for the beach camping. 

We arrived at Shawn and Mary Ann’s to catch the last hour of their son Micah’s 8 year old birthday party.  Over the top!  Dunk tank, jumping house, hot dog stand, air hockey and games with prizes we missed before we got there.  Cupcakes were being consumed and then the candy lei necklaces given out to the 21 guests as they departed.  Mary Ann was exhausted!  We, as in Bob & I, Shawn and his dad watched the final 15 minutes of the tour.  We came back out to watch the equipment being taken down and sit and chat with their friends and family.  We decided to walk back to our RV, parked down the block by their school, to have some Mac & Cheese while Micah and his family opened all his gifts.

We came back to sit for a bit and catch-up, talk about how their kids loved having Eric’s big semi cab in their driveway, besides his Corvette for a month. 

Mary Ann announced to Shawn that she needed to go get a massage before she went to work tomorrow.  Mary Ann is a nurse at UCLA hospital.  She asked if I wanted to go also.  My first reaction was now!  She said it’s the greatest.  It’s right around the corner, the massages are done by Chinese who speak very limited English and for an hour it’s only $25.  It’s in one big room.  I said sure, why not and asked Bob if he wanted to come.  So she called and all 3 of us got 9:00 pm appointments.

I have to admit it felt great.  I even heard Bob comment to the woman doing his massage how strong she was.  It probably would have felt a bit more relaxing if I didn’t have sun burn on my shoulders and arms but it was still great.  They used some knee walking technique up the back and at that point my I thought I might not be able to breath into the hole in the table but all was good.  Oh, of course Bob could only have one foot massaged but he said his girl was really nice about getting him an extra pillow for the broken toe foot.

We got back to head to bed so this writing is now being finished up Sunday morning – end of week 2. 


Friday, May 20, 2011

California RV trip, day 13

Ship’s log, day 13, May 20, 2011

Bob here.  I was going to type up the ship’s log entry for today.  But I’m in way too much pain here.  I’m practically dying here.  Ooooohhhhh, the agony of it all.  Handing the ship’s log portable entry device over to Paula now.

Well today’s weather was magnificent!  We woke to a slight fog.  But that was at 7:00 so by the time we got the waffles made and the days agenda planned it was 10:30, sunny and 70.  Shorts and running tops, I was hoping for some sun on this pale MN skin.  Bob wore his five-fingers as usual and I had my running shoes on.  The plan was to run the 3 miles to the town of Solvang, where the race, the time trial, started and finished, run back and then jump on our bikes to go watch.  We figured Buck would like a run and it would be fun to see all the bike racers and vehicles heading up early.  We had a nice easy pace going so I could sight see the wineries and horse ranches.  Even saw a farm raising Ostriches and Emu.  There were a lot of them!  The last ½ mile was up hill into the town and the road was now getting packed with cars and the sidewalk full of people.  As we approached a busy intersection that was closed off and police were re-directing cars, we needed to decide: sidewalk with the people or the street, around a temporary road sign that was made of wooden 2x4s and held in place with sand bags.  I took the sidewalk, Bob took the street, went airborne, then rolling and to splat stop.  I am not kidding!  I watched him first jam his foot into the base of the sign, pretty much scream ough many times as he was doing a shoulder roll, grabbing his foot and then just momentarily laying there saying “I’m ok” as these women passing by on the sidewalk asked if he was ok.  (In my mind I’m saying to my self – geez do you have to be so dramatic – and then oh no – he better be ok to drive the RV). I know, not very compassionate of me but, I saw the sign and thought, he really just didn’t smash his toe into it, did he?

When he got up he hobbled over to some grass saying he needed shade and then said ok, now we have to walk back.  I think he was in pain, “shock” he says.  He insisted on taking off his 5-fingers to check for blood.  I’m thinking he’s going to konk-out if he sees blood and then what? When we saw his pinky toe splayed out to the side we knew it was broken.  I saw the purple color and said “get the shoe back on right now or it won’t be going on again anytime soon.  I knew from experience the swelling wasn’t looking good!  Gosh if only Anne D. was here, she probably would have called 911 for us!  I said we’re not walking back, and said I would check on the shuttle service we had heard about.  I took about 20 minutes of asking corner marshalls and finally a corner marshall asking a state trooper, who then phoned someone who would check and call her back to find out the shuttle left from the school.  So I jogged back to Bob and Buck who were in the same spot I had left them, Bob lying on his back with his foot up in the air against a tree.  We made our way over to the school area to wait for the shuttle.  I decided when he met a few people also waiting for the shuttle, he would be ok to take it back down into town with Buck and I would run back down like we had originally planned.  Buck could probably have come with me but since we hadn’t found water for him I decided he would be good company for Bob.  Turns out where they got left off from the shuttle it was a few blocks to hobble to the camp grounds.  Oh well.

So – we bought ice and Bob lounged in his recliner chair as he iced and Bucky chased the ice cubes I gave him.  I put my foot in an ice bath just so Bob knew I felt his pain!

Bob decided he would tape his pinky toe to his 4th toe with electrical tape seeing that we left all the athletic tape at home, and he though duct tape would be too thick.  He put on his running shoes and said we could bike to the shuttle pick-up area.  After we waited over an hour with a group of people, Bob said he was ok to bike the 3 miles up to the race.  So off we went. The road by this time wasn’t so crowded since the race was well under way.  We were hungry and Bob couldn’t do too much walking around so we found a cute restaurant with outdoor seating and it was right next to the race course final turn with 200 meters to the finish.  There was even the big screen TV right there so if we caught the number we could check the name from our list.  With the large crowds of people ,it didn’t allow us to see the riders as they finished.  We invited two guys, Alfred and Chipper, to join us since they were looking for a table and we had room.  It was fun talking to them as we ate and watched the screen amongst the screaming, cowbell ringing crowd.  

Following the race we went to “The Loft” bookstore to say hello and goodbye of Davis Phinney and Connie.

Davis was signing his book, “The Happiness of Pursuit   A Father’s Courage, a Son’s Love, and Life’s Steepest Climb” 

We walked back to our bikes to ride back down the hill to our camping grounds.  The cars were in a bit of a traffic jam so we sailed right by!  Back at our RV we got the bikes put on the rack and locked up.  While we were taking care of the bikes, our neighbors across the road came and introduced themselves, Eric and Kelly.  They were celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary and were here to watch the race also.  The camping area is filled with bike fans.  In fact the HDT team bus pulled in for the night while we were chatting.  Bob said his foot was throbbing so could we bring our chairs and his ice bag over to their camp site to continue chatting.  So we grabbed the computer, ice, my beer and went to have happy hour at their site.  Eric is a dentist who likes to bike and his wife Kelly said they have been to this town many times for winery tours, so when Eric suggested celebrating here and they couldn’t get a hotel room when they checked months ago because of the race, they decided to bring their camper.  They were going out for a fancy dinner tonight but we sat and talked for awhile before they had to leave. 

We went back to our RV to make dinner and get Bob’s foot up.  I tried my hand at getting the new oven lit and had to ask Bob to show me once more.  We were having the Artichoke, spinach little pastry shells like we had last night, and Lobster Rangoon with fruit smoothies.  (Bob went shopping before we left home and he purchased both of the appetizers – I couldn’t believe it)! 

Well, we now know the smoke detectors in the bedroom and family room both work!  We had dinner as I typed this, watched the end of the hockey game and then today’s tour coverage.  It’s off to bed and maybe if Bob feels ok in the morning we might head out for a bike ride with Eric to ride the race course from today.  The time trial was only a 15 mile course so the ride would only be around 21 miles.  We’ll see how Bob feels in the morning. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

California trip day 11 & 12

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wow, what a day at the races it was!  We got up early knowing Sheila would be leaving early and wanted to touch base regarding the day’s agenda.  She was out the door before we got out ours so I watched her drive away and gave her cell a call.  The day’s plan was to pick her up from her school at 11:15 to drive together to the finish line in San Jose on the hill top.  Bob & I wanted to pick up a few things at the grocery store and maybe find a hardware store that would carry light bulbs for two recessed cans over the sink that had just burned out last night.  Also, wanted to have Bucky’s toe nails clipped if we could find a pet store or groomer in the area.  Hardware store located a block from the grocery store but no luck in having what we needed.  Grocery store – big score, just wanted raspberries for the cheese cake I made last night that we had a bit more than half left and low on raspberries.  I wanted to give it to the BMC support crew.  The raspberries looked great and it was 2-for-1 if you had the Safeway store card, which Bob remembered signing up for sometime ago, and even had it in his murse (his man purse). We didn’t see any pet type stores so we just started driving down the street and stopped the first dog walker we spotted.  Knew it was a gamble since the dog at the end of the leash was a golden retriever – not known for grooming so much!  The dog walker gave us directions, complicated, and far away, with the “oh I just clip his nails at home”.  So off we went to look for a smaller breed.  Within a few blocks we spotted a little mutt of some sort, and sure enough the woman gave us directions for a pet shop just down the road.  So, turned around, found the pet shop – walked in, asked the gal working if they clip nails.  She said depends on the dog, as she was eyeing up Buck.  Bob assured her he is real good – we just didn’t remember the clipper, ( truth be, neither of us really likes to do it).   Anyway, I held Buck and within a minute she was done - $10 later – but I didn’t want Buck riding in Och’s car with long nails.  So we headed home to go on a quick run to tire Buck out before heading to the race.  We always say, A tired dog is a good dog!  Besides I thought running on a bit of pavement would buff the toes from the new clipping.  Ran – not jogged – around the park across the street from Sheila’s.  The only old dog getting tired was me!  Buck and I ran a bit faster than Bob and it was a very small loop around, so when we would get close I would let go of the lease and let Buck sprint to Bob.

About know you might be wondering when I’ll get to the race info.  Well, right now Bob is driving in traffic and I am a much better navigator, when I’m on break – because we are on a 95 mile stretch before we need to exit – so I type and don’t look up unless he tells me to look.  Like just now he said look – and just out my window was beautiful shore line, palm trees for Pismo beach. So all this typing is just a diversion for me so I don’t get “nervous”  oh, my palms are still not exactly dry, but my nerves are not as rattled!  

So yesterday’s stage ended on a hill top that you could either walk, run, bike, or shuttle up.  No cars allowed.  Well it was a no-brainer – the free shuttle was the choice for mode of transport up the very steep 4.2 mile climb.  We got the back seats on the bus and I promptly took out last nights left over pasta salad for Sheila & I to share – Bob passed on it – onions!  He of course pointed out the “No Food” sign so I told Sheila we had to eat all the evidence by the time we got to the top.  No problem, it took over a half hour to get up there because of bikers trying to bike it and the road was narrow!  We got to the top and immediately went to check out the VIP tent.  Oh, did I forget to mention Och got us 4 VIP tickets – Buck got one too!  We walked in the snow fenced in area were we showed our passes only to be told “No dogs allowed”.  So Bob asked the “security” guy is he suppose to now walk back down the hill?  All the security guy said those were his orders.  Well, really this would not be a problem.  Bob left the area walked around behind the tented area to where a few bikers were leaving their bikes, tucked Buck into the backpack, zipped it shut and handed it to me over the fence.  Buck didn’t mind it a bit.  He rides in the backpack when we bike, just not zipped shut.  But since it was very cold out he was snug as a bug in a rug!  And that’s where he stayed most of the day with an occasional zip open for a check.  The VIP tent had food, beverages of which I told Sheila may help keep us warm!  No hot chocolate for Bob – big bummer.  But there was plenty of cheese and meat for sandwiches.  The big screen TVs kept us informed and then there was the hand shake and picture of Bob with TV commentator Bob Roll.  Of course Sheila is friends with Bob R. because he used to ride for 7-11.  We got a glimpse of Paul Sherwin and Phil Ligget – Bob & I were not with Sheila when she said hello to them!  When the helicopter started getting close Sheila said we should get into position to see the finish – and try to be seen on TV!  We got right next to the fence and about 20 meters from the finish.  The sun finally came out to warm us up as we rang cow bells and cheered them in.  Chris Horner from Radio Shack won going away but 2-4 was a sprint.  The field was pretty spread out – in fact half of the field didn’t make it in within the allotted time but that was okay because the organizers decided they weren’t going to throw out half the riders. 

Okay, we got to our destination so this is now Bob typing since Paula needs to let her hands dry off (I drove top speed to get here).

We watched the boys all finish and then got on the shuttle bus to the bottom.  Back to Sheila’s where we had a nice visit and dinner and relaxed.  Buck figured Och must have come home for the night to see him.  He was all over it.  Och went to bed before the Tour coverage came on since they delayed it for the hockey game to finish.  We tried to watch the Tour but all three of us kept nodding off. 

This morning we said “good bye” to Sheila since we were heading on to follow the race.  Fired up the truck, and took off.  We found a parking spot in a nearby neighborhood close to the action and rode our bikes over.  We made it to the start line in Seaside about an hour before the boys mounted up.  Walked around and got some good pictures of the bikes.  Chatted a moment with Och.  Then we walked up the road several hundred meters to stake out a spot on the curb.  Paula needs a wide open area to bang her cowbell you know.  I got some video of the roll out, and Paula’s cowbelling (man I love that bell, “I’ve got a fever”). 

We then rode back to the truck and sped off to get a spot to watch the finish in Paso Robles.  We stopped at a Pilot for fuel and a cb mic (mine broke I guess).  Huge crowd of trucks fuelling up.  They must have figured there was a sale or something.  I had to do some trickie driving to get out too. We happened to be driving south on Hwy 101 and the peloton was on the frontage road!  I got to blare the air horns and Paula hung out the window banging that cowbell.  I think the boys rode faster hearing her cowbell.  It was very cool timing to get to drive along next to them like that.  Lots of people were pulling over or driving along the shoulder watching.  We made it to Paso Robles, had a snack, and rode our bikes a mile to the finish area.  Huge crowds there.  And the boys showed up too soon so we didn’t get to see much riding.  We still had Paula’s home-made cheese cake to get to the BMC crew so we rode around looking for their bus.  Couldn’t find them but then we spotted two of the team cars coming into town so we gave chase.  Buck kept telling me to ride faster, he was loving the wind in his face.  Paula had a backpack and cooler and we’re lucky she didn’t crash.  She even had to ride down some curbs without dismounting.  Very courageous of her.  We caught the cars and they said go down the street to the hotel, that’s where they were set up.  We got the cheesecake to the crew and said, “hi” to Och.  It was perfect warm weather too so we got to wear shorts and no jackets.  First time for that on the trip.  Yee haw.  Then we rode back to the truck and did some on-line searching for a plan.  We found a campground right near the time trial coarse for tomorrow so I called them and got a site.  High speed run down 101 since I was now paying for a site I wasn’t parked in yet.  We came over a hill and there was the ocean, Pismo Beach.  Nice.  Paula did a wonderful job navigating on the computer while I was passing mere regular campers like they were standing still.  I love this truck.  The campground is very nice.  Lots of nice campers.  We took Buck for a walk and visited with some other rustic campers like us (a group of guys are here to follow the rest of the race, this is their first stage, and they all left their wives at home, dopes).  We’re now having great smoothies and pizza that Paula made in our new oven (first baking in it).  We’re going to watch some of the t.t. tomorrow and then either run or go for a bike ride.  We’re going to stay here tomorrow night too and then head to the 7th stage Saturday morning. 

Gotta eat and drink now, thanks a bunch for joining us on our Tour trip! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 10, Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Day 10, Tuesday, May 17th

Okay, we’ve had quite the day.  Paula just finished up with the ship’s log from yesterday so we posted that.  And I told her I’d take care of the ship’s log entry for today. 

We got up early and joined Sheila for breakfast in the house.  Then we did some grocery shopping and getting some food ready for tonight’s dinner.  Sheila told us we would be dining with Connie Carpenter Finney and her husband, Davis Finney.  Connie of course is an Olympic gold medalist cyclist.  Davis’ cycling history is legendary also.  You simply can go to the wiki’s and see.  I used to be a recreational bike racer in the early/mid ‘80’s and these two were hero’s of mine.  More later.

We borrowed Sheila’s BMW (convertible 325i, too cold to put the top down though) and drove up to Modesto to watch the finish of stage 3.  We found a good parking spot and then walked around a bit to get the lay of the finish area.  We spotted a great place to watch.  At 400 meters from the finish there was a square brick thing in front of the library where people can drop their books off.  It was right at the curb line.  About 4-5’ high.  We climbed up on it and sat there on our own little viewing platform.  A gal had spotted it at the same time as us so all three of us shared it.  We fended off a few others that thought they might be able to squish up with us.  Buck wasn’t too sure about it.  We spent about an hour visiting with Joyce.  I called Eric and he pulled up the Tour on the tv and told us they were 10miles out.  What a great finish.  Bunch sprint. 

We headed back to Sheila’s and the girls got dinner whipped up.  Davis and Connie arrived shortly after 7:00 pm.  Davis has Parkinson’s (check out ) disease and had a meeting with his doctors at Stanford.  I introduced myself and I had a hard time trying to be all cool and stuff without making a fool of myself.  We had dinner and then sat down to watch the tv coverage of today’s stage.  Their son, Taylor Phinney, rides on Och’s team.  Yesterday he got 8th.  He’s a good sprinter (duh, with those parents) so we were figuring to see him at the line in good position.  He got 8th again today.  Davis spotted him a bit before the end and said he was just in a bad spot and couldn’t get a good lead out.  Oh well.  He’s only 20 yrs. old.  Davis found Buck a very willing ball player and gave him a good workout fetching the tennis ball.  Connie told us about his book, The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father's Courage, a Son's Love and Life'sSteepest Climb.  It was just released.  I pulled up my laptop and bought it for my Nook right there.  This was just the secret to getting my picture with them.  I told them since he can’t autograph a e-book, would he mind taking a picture with me?  Yee Haw!  Got the shot.  They are very nice down to earth type people. 

We finished cleaning up, made our game plan for tomorrow (Och got us VIP tickets to the finish line at the top of the climb above San Jose, we’re big shots you know).  We said “good night” and headed out to our rv.  Buck fell asleep while Paula was finishing yesterday’s log entry.  Good thing, we’ve got another big day planned for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading along.  Good night.  Here’s our picture album so far:

Day 9, Monday, May 16th

May 16, 2011 (continued from morning)

Bob’s pretty much grinning from ear to ear!  We just watched the finish of the race – the 4 lap finish was great.  We decided when we got to the race course area we would walk around to find the team busses.  We had parked the RV within walking distance, about a mile, and Bucky thought that was better for sniffing than riding in the back-back via bike mode anyway.  It didn’t take us long to find the BMC bus and support vehicles.  One of the BMC staff (Paula) directed us to just knock on the door of the bus, telling us Trudy was just relaxing inside.  Trudy came out and we did some quick catching up before she had to get ready for the finish.  Trudy went to Iowa State and ran with my sister, Annette – so that’s the connection.  Yesterday, Sheila had called Trudy and she told us to look for her at the team bus.  We took some pictures and said we’d catch her later.  We scoped out a good spot on the corner and got ready to cheer.  While we were waiting I saw Eric Heiden by one of BMC cars.  He is the team doctor for BMC. We walked over to say hello.  I introduced Bob and yep – you guessed it – took a picture.   After the race Bob spotted Och (Jim Ochowicz – Sheila’s hubby and one of BMC’s owners) so he made a b-line over to say hello.  Och was in the thick of team riders but he assured us we could chat.  We told him we were thinking of driving to his house to spend the night with Sheila so he told us the best way to get there.  While chatting – mostly me telling him about our weekend with Mary and Sheila, George Hincapie, many time Tour de France rider (google him) BMC rider came walking by us so Och says “George meet my friends, Bob & Paula”  at the same time Trudy came running over to give Bob a BMC hat.  Geez, I’m trying to not drop Brucky and right-o – take a picture!  I think I better find a store by Sheila’s to buy a bunch of batteries for the next photo op!    

We left the race area as all the team riders were hopping on their bikes to ride back to the hotels.  We got on the road, Bob as driver, me as co-pilot navigator.  Having the “googles” so I can choose the route via address is really something.  And I am improving on a daily basis on my finger control so we don’t jump from directions to outer-space!  I figure at the learning rate I’m at I should be pretty efficient at this by the time we hit St. Paul.   We arrived at Sheila & Och’s in about 1½ hours.  We didn’t have any traffic jams but the traffic going the opposite direction looked like they’d be sitting for quite some time after the semi truck had to be towed back onto the highway.  We were lucky!  Sheila had dinner waiting when we arrived which was so nice not to think about making something.  We watched the tour coverage and headed out to the RV for bed.  Of course Sheila said we should stay in the house but we actually missed being in our own bed, so we convinced her it was quite all right.  Sheila and Och live on a very well kept, quiet street and we parked in the street, not the driveway, so Bob turned on the flashing corner light he had installed just in case someone came down the block not paying attention, driving too close to us.  We set the alarm for 6:00 so we could get a run down on the day’s activities before Sheila headed out to her teaching job.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 7-8 of our trip.

Monday, May 16, 2011 

Day 9, California Trip

Right now I am sitting in the RV tucked under a highway in Sacramento, CA.  We have just arrived having left Mary’s around 9:30 this morning.  It was an easy 3 hour – no wrong turns kind of drive.  A little rain off and on mixed with sun.  Bob decided on a downtown exit that was a great call!  We knew this 2nd stage of the race finished downtown by the capital.  We parked at a 2 hr spot, took the bikes off the rack, got Bucky into the backpack and pedaled toward the capital.  Within a few blocks of parking Bob spotted some of Sacramento’s finest, stopped introduced himself and started chatting.  Seeing that I was hungry I wanted to find out first if our parking spot was going to be ok, since we were going to be more than 2 hours.  They quickly informed us that the parking enforcement division didn’t give any breaks – even ticketing unmarked squads!  So lucky we asked.  And what a nice group of guys.  After giving us a brochure about the race they directed us to the nearby train station RV/bus parking.  Bob expertly backed it into two level spots and went to get the parking sticker.

The race should be ending at the capital around 3:00 pm with a 4 lap finish. 

Now backing up to Saturday, May 14  - day 7 (since Bob failed to compose the ships log for the last two days).  We woke to grey skies so unable to get a sunrise picture again.  I  missed getting a picture of the sun rise yesterday because the camera was in the RV and we weren’t.    Mary put breakfast foods out early – so we could be ready at 9:00 when the farmers market opened.  We drove into town and with exceptionally good timing we met Sheila Ochowicz who was just arriving.  We stopped at a few shops, Fideaux, a dog store, to buy Bucky a new Kong since we forgot his at home and he loves to have that thing with peanut butter as a treat to work on when we leave him alone.  We went on to Farmers market for a bit and then we decided it was time to think about eating.  I just love vacations with girls – we are always thinking about food!  Mary decided on a cute place in the town of Geyserville.  The lunch was great!  I split pizza with Sheila and we each had wonderful soup.  Bob had Mary’s fried egg on my bread and he was happy as always!  We finished lunch and drove back to Mary’s.   Sheila, Bob and I got ready for a bike ride.  Mary gave us directions for an 11 mile loop.  We put the bikes in her pickup truck since it’s pretty dangerous to ride down into town with the winding narrow roads and fast cars.  We parked, took a picture and off we went.  What a beautiful ride!  Saw lots of bike riders, vineyards and lots of rose bushes.  We added a few miles and ended after 20 miles to go back and jump in the pool and hot tub. (Bob is taking over the log spot now since Paula is making the smoothies, more about that later) Paula and Sheila made a fab dinner, Erin Schneeman’s mustard chicken pasta. 

Sunday, May 15th, we decided to stay at Mary’s and have fun and then watch the television coverage of the 1st stage of the race.  We went for an early hike at Sonoma Lake Park.  Buck again thought he was in heaven.  He could run free of the leash and sniff everything.  Then lunch at Mary’s (finally I can get a grilled cheese).  We curled up with blankets to watch the tour coverage at 2:00.  Phil and Paul came on the screen with snow coming down and told us they cancelled the 1st stage due to snow and ice.  Good thing we hadn’t driven up to Tahoe to see that.  So, we got to do my favorite thing.  Relax.  And snack.  Paula, Sheila, and I went for a nice woods hike around Mary’s property, more heaven for Buck. We got done with the hike and  Insert - Paula here again - Bob forgot I got to do some lap swimming in Mary's salt water pool.  Bucky has been barking at us when we've been swimming - he didn't want to join us in the pool, he just didn't want us in there.  So this morning I told Bob I really wanted to swim without Bucky bugging me so could he please hold onto him if he was going to be at the pool with me.  It was the greatest!!  Mary asked me why I liked it so much.  I mentioned my new googles, wearing the swim cap so hair wasn't in my eyes - it's a bright yellow Alcatraz swim cap James gave me a few years ago.  James has done the Alcatraz triathalon numerous times, and lately gets up to swim at the St. Kate's pool up the block from our house.  Finally I get to use it - and it couldn't have been at a better pool ever! - and I got the whole pool to myself - didn't matter if I swam like a wiggle worm I wouldn't be in anyone's way.  And if I got a really bad charlie-horse due to the fact I haven't really swam laps since I was pregnant with Eric, Sheila could jump in and save me.  I'm sure 
Bob would throw me a towel and say grab on!  But the really best thing about swimming in Mary's clorine free pool is the scenery.  Because I don't have proper form with the whole turning the neck and keeping the mouth only slightly out of the water to get air - I turn my head and my shoulders sort of follow, so I could see the roof top of the house.  The other direction I could see the green lucious grass!  I swam for about 40 minutes before I took a nice hot outdoor shower.  Then we had another nice dinner that Mary made and of course nice wine, more relaxing - no check Bucky for tics since we spotted one on the floor, then Sheila left to drive back home and shortly after we went off to bed. 

That’s it for our weekend with Mary.  We had a great time and now have wonderful memories and pictures.  The next log entry you read will be the 1st bike race coverage.  Hope you enjoy.