Letters From a Bus
March 2008: Busy March
1st entry for March

Too Busy to Leave

Mountain View, CA, Day 81 at Walton & Sons Masonry, Site: 1

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 — Ten Months

We said we would leave towards the end of January. But somehow new commitments kept coming up and the departure dates kept sliding backwards on the calendar. "Do we have time to see you? When are you leaving?" friends would ask.

"Oh, yes, there's time," we'd answer. "We have to stay another week for—" and there was always something that had to be done.

My nephew was due to come home in mid-February for a brief vacation from his new job in Bahrain — of all places! The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island country in the Persian Gulf located near Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Naturally we were curious to see Sev and hear all about his new experiences. He works for Ross Perot's old company, EDS (Electronic Data Systms), a global business and technology services company. EDS Gulf States provides IT services in the energy, financial and public sectors for the region.

On February 19th Sally and her son, Sev Perez, dropped by so Sev could see our new bus. He told us about his apartment in Bahrain and his plans to travel, using Bahrain as a central base for exploring that part of the world. His mom is proud of him but I know she wishes he were closer to home.

Sunday, February 24th was Academy Awards day. Some years we've planned little parties but this year we didn't. It was a rainy day and I felt restless. So Dennis took me for a little drive. He headed up into the coastal hills and we drove all the way up Page Mill Rd. to the Skyline Open Space Preserve. On the way we stopped at Foothill Park to look at all the familiar views of the bay area. I spent so many years hiking and picnicking in this park. It is all dear to me. Finally we ended up at Alice's Restaurant where we had breakfast. The restaurant is at a crossroads between Woodside and La Honda on the road going to the coast and the ridge road, Skyline, that runs from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. As Dinah's is my hangout, so this is James's hangout. I wished we had thought to tell him to meet us, but it was not a planned destination.

View from the top of Foothill Park looking towards Palo Alto and the bottom (southern part) of the bay. 2/24/08 View of the hills inside Foothill Park. It is a 1400 acre preserve with over 15 miles of trails. 2/24/08
Lake Laganitas in Foothill Park is small but the wind and rain were whipping up big waves on the surface. 2/24/08 We had breakfast on the deck at Alice's Restaurant. It gives us the benefit of enjoying nature while staying warm and dry! The rain is pouring down. 2/24/08
Finally! The dogs went for a grooming appointment on Feb. 22nd. They were a mess and it took days to comb, wash and comb before they were ready to face Tasha at Beaugay's in Los Altos. She pronounced them to be in good shape and did her trimming magic. It was good to see my little warehouse dogs looking clean and civilized. I did my best to keep them that way until Becca's visit on Monday the 25th.

Becca was one of our Coton Club members when we use to meet in the backyard of our Los Altos home for Coton de Tulear playdates. We all miss those days. With her Coton, Murphy, she drove an hour from Castro Valley to visit us. We sat outside in the sun in our little dog playpen. Rudi and Margot were overjoyed to see Murphy. This is a very sociable breed. They love to play in a pack, chasing and boxing and wrestling. After they settled down we left them in the bus and Becca and I went to lunch at Dinahs and caught up on news.

Margot (pink kerchief) and Rudi both look sober as they pose on the couch in the bus after an unreasonable amount of time has been spent combing, washing, combing, trimming and brushing. It's just too much to be borne. 2/22/08
Becca Karliner sits in our enclosure outside the bus in the masonry yard holding her beautiful, big, Coton, Murphy. She brings treats and all the dogs stand tall and beg for their share. Murphy is on the left, Margot in front and Rudi on the right. 2/25/08
Monday night on the 25th we drove the bus forty-five minutes south to Camping World in Morgan Hill. We slept in their parking lot and were ready for our appointment first thing in the morning.

Dennis had two big improvements installed. First, the dual tires make it difficult to test the air on the inside tires so he had extenders put on the tires so he can add air easily when needed. It's called a valve dual tire inflater kit. Second, he had a unit installed called a Clean Dump, a self priming macerator. It uses one tube that is always hooked up and it macerates the contents of the black tank so it comes out like water. It is fast and easy and Dennis is very pleased with it.

While Camping World worked on the bus we took the Honda and went out for breakfast. It was a beautiful spring day and we found ourselves driving on CA-152 through the beautiful green east hills to Casa de Fruta. It has probably been thirty years since I've stopped here for breakfast or lunch. Casa de Fruta is sort of like Harris Ranch but their speciality is fruits and nuts instead of beef. The coffee shop is famous and they have expanded tremendously over the years. I was amazed. Now they have separate buildings that offer chocolates, wines and apparel. They even have an RV park and they sponsor events like the Northern California Renaissance Faire.

Located in the Pacheco Valley, the first orchards were planted by the Zanger's, an immigrant Italian family, in 1908. In the 1940's George, Joseph and Eugene Zanger, teenagers at the time, opened a cherry stand on the Pacheco Pass Highway. It expanded into the giant Casa de Fruta business that exists today. It is still operated by Joseph and Eugene together with their families. http://www.casadefruta.com/ABT_history.aspx

After breakfast we walked the dogs all around the grounds. Because of the dogs, we didn't stop to look into any of the gift shops. The path along the creek is lined with old farm equipment. There is an enclosure for animals although we only saw one deer and a peacock. The RV park is a large expanse of old, cracked asphalt. It has fallen behind the times and does not offer 50 amp. The prices for this old park were rediculously high. No wonder it was mostly empty.

Casa de Fruta from the parking lot in front of the coffeeshop looking north towards the exit from CA-152. Next to the old coffeeshop are new buildings offering new giftshop items of chocolate and wine.
We walked east through the property that stretches along the highway and crossed a bridge over a branch of Pacheco Creek.
Dennis is always fascinated with old farm equipment. He used some of these machines on his father's fruit farm in Pleasant View, Ogden, Utah.
The peacock minded his own business but the deer was looking for trouble. The dogs stared at him but were good and didn't bark until he ran up to the fence where he pawed the ground and scraped the fence with his impressive antlers. He actually galloped along the fence beside us as we walked. He's spoiling for a good fight but he's all alone in his enclosure and has no one to challenge.
The RV park was peaceful and bucolic but not impressive in terms of amenities. That would be fine with us but for what they had to offer, the prices were outrageous.
I am always thrilled to see green hills in the springtime. Soon enough they will be brown again.
After our walk around Casa de Fruta we drove back to Camping World and did some shopping. Finally we bought a BBQ. We chose the Coleman Roadtripper with a stand. While we were there Dennis had a long extension line hooked up to the propane on the bus. The propane is located on the business side of the bus but we use the grill on the social side where the front door is located.

The following weekend, Dennis and his son fixed the extension so it runs through the basement but the attachment is ourside the bus where there will be no leaks or a chance of an accident. Then we cooked an old fashioned steak dinner and had our first outdoor grilled dinner. Notice we also bought two folding end tables so we can sit and eat without a picnic table. With our new green lawn and the enclosure to contain the dogs, we are really set!

Dennis and Brent figure out the best way to hook the grill to the propane on the bus and then Dennis grills our first BBQ dinner. We enjoyed a terrific evening in our masonry campground.
My old high school friend, Larry George, and his wife, Elin, finally made it over from their home in Livermore to see our bus on Thursday, March 6th. I told him about the Green Elephant Gourmet so after a show-and-tell of our RV we adjourned to my favorite Burmese restaurant. This place is really beautiful. I'm getting addicted to their tea leaf salad and seafood pumpkin soup. http://www.greenelephantgourmet.com/mall/c106/s26117/default.asp

On Wednesday, March 12th we also managed to find a time to see Myrna and Roger. They introduced us to a new restaurant in Sunnyvale and we loved it. DishDash offers Middle Eastern food and the place was very popular with delicious food. I tried Mansaf, a Nomadic dish of tender chunks of lamb cooked in aged yogurt and served with rice topped with roasted almonds. It was supurb. http://www.dishdash.net/

Larry and Elin George came over to visit us. Roger and Myrna Pettengill met us at DishDash.
While we are in one spot we have developed a kind of daily routine. We decided to get serious about taking a daily thirty minute walk. As we are very close to the baylands, we began to drive over to the Mountain View Shoreline Park to take brisk walks in a loop around one side of the lake and then over to the Charleston Slough by the Palo Alto side of the baylands. It's been three months since I fell and twisted my ankle — the amount of time they said it would take to heal torn ligaments. Well, yes and no. I wear sturdy jogging shoes and I make sure to stay on level ground. After forty minutes my ankle starts to ache. It is still swollen and if I do too much it swells up bigger. I still elevate it at night when I lie down to watch TV. I am wondering if it will ever get back to normal.
Hundreds of Coots hang out on the lawns by the lake. A traditional fishing barge now serves as a kid's playground in the park. 3/5/08
Looking across the lake towards downtown Mountain View. 3/5/08 Looking across the lake towards Palo Alto. 3/5/08
Looking at the Palo Alto Baylands trail. This is Charleston Slough with the tide out. 3/11/08 When the tide is out you can see the channels where the water flows. 3/11/08
Looking across the lake towards Mountain View. 3/16/08 Charleston Slough at high tide. 3/16/08
The park has open fields between the artificial lake and Charleston Slough. Lots of geese hang out here. 3/16/08 Walking towards the lake. There's those coots by the water. That's me in a windbreaker. It's chilly. 3/16/08
Looking across the lake towards Palo Alto. 3/16/08 No dogs allowed at Shoreline so Rudi has to find his own methods of exercise.
Rudi loves to push and pull a big ball around — but he breaks the fragile ones. So Brent gave Rudi his 15 lb. "medicine ball". It's a tough job but Rudi is up for it. He makes a funny quacking sound while he bosses it around: Rudi, the herding dog. Margot doesn't care about the ball. She just wants to mess with Rudi. I told her she can't.
My warehouse dogs got very dirty again. I wanted them to look nice for Easter. So Brent and I took them to Country Dog Wash on Miramonte in Mountain View. With tubs and warm water this is a back saver. Brent washed Rudi and I washed Margot. (Above I've used the blow dryer on Margot. She's about half dry.) 3/22/08
Sally and I stand outside the California Cafe at the Stanford Barn for brunch Easter morning. 3/23/08 My son, Jeff, came over from Pescadero to meet us for Easter brunch. He showed us his new Apple phone. What a marvel!
March 23rd (the earliest Easter we will ever see) was a very busy day! In the morning Dennis and I met my sister, Sally, and my son, Jeff, for a delicious brunch at the California Cafe. They always do a great job for the holidays.

In the afternoon Dennis and I drove an hour north to Castro Valley to Ron and Becca Karliner's home. Becca did a wonderful Easter dinner. In the later afternoon we sat on under their pergola and colored Easter eggs. Who knew? This group takes their egg coloring job very seriously. Becca provided the eggs, colors and paraphanalia such as rubber bands and strips of lace for a tie-dye effect as well as wax crayons and decals. Over wine and snacks, we had a very creative afternoon. Debbie and Dan Bardon were there also. Becca and Debbie were in the Coton Club. So Rudi and Margot got to have a reunion with Becca's Murphy and Debbie's Phoebe. Becca's sister, Kim and her husband were there also as well as Becca's daughter and her boyfriend.

Kim Kelly came early so that she and I could get together and talk about computer slide shows. Dee Downs in Lake Havasu got me excited about doing slideshows with my photos. But she has a PC and I couldn't use her software on my Mac. Kim advised me to buy iLife 08 and an instruction book. On Sunday, she used her laptop to show me how to use iPhoto and iMovies and iDVD to put together slideshows. Kim is very creative. She just uploaded her first slideshow to YouTube. About her black lab, it's called, "Bodie, Our Happy Boy." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvIecTz-KFA
She debuted another one later in the evening about her 50th birthday party. It was terrific.

Now I am anxious to get started on my own slide shows.

Becca Karliner takes time away from her hostess duties to hold her beloved Coton, Murphy. 3/23/08 Debbie Bardon visits with Dennis. Her dog, Phoebe, is probably right nearby. 3/23/08
Dan Bardon and Kim Kelly are very creative. Dan's egg character is sporting a lacy chapeau. 3/23/08 The table has everything needed to color eggs. I worked on them also. 3/23/08

We had a marvelous time at Becca's on Easter. She served a wonderful dinner with both lamb and salmon with a killer asparagus salad. Thank's for including us Becca and thank you Kim for getting me started with iLife 08.

After Easter we got serious and began to pack and get ready to leave. We feel the need to save money and it would be convenient to stay in Mountain View where we have no RV fees and no fuel costs. But the bus has an LLC with a Montana license plate. During the first year of ownership, California says we must be out of state for six months and one day. We are shy about three weeks and our first year of ownership will be up on May 16th. So we need to get out of California and go roaming for awhile.

On Wednesday, March 26th we took Brent to the Fish Market for his 43rd birthday. It had been a rainy day and on the way home we saw a marvelous rainbow. It seems like a good luck sign to me. Tomorrow we plan to depart from Mountain View.

On El Camino at Charleston Rd. looking north. 6:45 PM 3/26/08
Elsa Walton, Walton Masonry, Mountain View, CA, Wednesday, March 26, 2008
More Cherry blossoms — I can't resist them. 3/21/08 in Palo Alto and 3/1/08 in Capitola.