Liebster Blog Award

liebster-blog-award

Thank you Janet at Seize the Day RV Adventure – for honoring me with this award! “Seize the Day” is a great principle to adopt. Visit Janet and Kevin on their blog of travel, RVing, birding, Jeeping (I made up that word!), eating and more.

The Liebster Blog Award is described as; “ An award to spread blog love and draw attention to blogs with fewer followers”. Many thanks, Janet!

The criteria for accepting this award – numbers are flexible:

  • Acknowledge the person who nominated you
  • Answer a number of questions
  • List some bloggers with fewer than 200 (or so) followers who you really feel deserve a little blogging love! (If I’ve got your numbers wrong, sorree! I have a few more than that as well.)
  • Let all the bloggers know you have nominated them. You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you!
  • Post questions for the blogger you have nominated to answerHere are some very tricky things I’ve been asked to tell about myself:

1. Favorite author?

I could not possibly name just one. I have a list and here are a few: Peter Mayle, Bill Bryson, Sebastian Faulks, John Steinbeck, Diane Ackerman, Joanne Harris, Clare Francis, Lauren Belfer, Sue Grafton. Look them up! Enjoy!

2. Why did you start blogging?

I had already written dozens of stories. I just wanted to put them “out there.” I hope when you read them you don’t think I’m “out there.”

3. What’s your favorite TV Show?

Doc Martin, about an unusual country doctor practicing in my favorite English county – Cornwall.

4. What is your favorite season of the year?

A prefect English summer -whenever that might happen.

5.  If you have some spare time, what do you do?

Read or write! That’s predictable isn’t it?

6. What is your favorite type of music?

Not much of a music doyen, but I don’t like jazz and rap.

7. What do you do to keep fit?

Yoga, swimming and walking from one room to another and back again because I forget why I’m there.

8. Tea or Coffee?

If I really have to choose – tea. But I’ll have a cup of coffee when you’re not looking.

9.What is your favorite kind of animal? Dog? Cat? Fish? Deer? etc

Cat. But maybe dog if it’s a Labrador.

10. Favorite place you have traveled?

UNFAIR! Absolutely cannot answer this. Somewhere (or everywhere) in America or Europe.

Here are some blogs I would like to nominate for the Liebster Award. Read! Enjoy!

http://discoveringwithdaisy.com/

http://vanessaspostcards.wordpress.com/

http://beartracksblog.wordpress.com/

http://thecrazycrone.org/

http://twotrailsoneroad.wordpress.com/

http://theripestpics.com/

http://mosblissfulbouquets.com/

http://theprestemons.wordpress.com/

http://motormommy.wordpress.com/

http://midlifeonwheels.wordpress.com/

Should you decide to accept this award – and there is no pressure to accept – here are some questions for you to answer:

  1. What was (is) the favorite year of your life?
  2. Who is your favorite person in history?
  3. Can you do better than me and name just one favorite author?
  4. With money as an object what is top of your bucket list?
  5. If money were no object what would be top of your bucket list?
  6. What one word best describes you?
  7. What is your favorite post on your blog? Please share the link.
  8. What five (endless supply of) foods would you have on a desert island?
  9. What is your favorite color?
  10. If you had to choose between traveling the world with endless funds but with no home OR having an extravagantly fabulous home anywhere - what would you do? Why?

If you can’t be bothered with all those questions, and I wouldn’t blame you, please just answer the last one. I really would like to hear what you have to say!!! Anyone reading this is welcome to jump in with an opinion. :-D

 

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Wonderful Team Member Readership Award

Dear friends, faithful followers, drop-ins and countrymen and women of various countries,

I have been honored over the last few weeks with several awards which I have ungraciously put in my back pocket favorites file until I had some more time.

How some of you work full time, organize families, exercise and run a household as well as blog is beyond me. I guess you don’t sleep. Or am I lazy?

Anyway, I have finally answered questions, perused my followers file and put these awards in an orderly queue to dole out over the next few days.

If I have missed you out, awarded you twice or failed to read your side bar/awards page to note that you don’t accept awards – huge appa-logies!

Many thanks to all of you who have felt that I am worthy. I appreciate enormously your visits, likes and comments. Awards are icing.

Once the awards have all been rolled out I’ll be publishing a harrowing tale of air travel titled, “Airport Gestapo.”

But first . . . . . 

***********************

wonderful-readership-award2

Which Way Now 101 has been nominated for the “Wonderful Team Readership Award” by Coach Muller. I highly recommend that you visit his site, Good Time Stories to read his inspiring and heartwarming stories.

Thanks Coach for including me on your team!

What is a Team?

A team comprises a group of people linked in a common purpose. Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent sub-tasks.

Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses. Team members learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.

A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.

It is now my privilege to announce my nominations for this awesome award. Before I do, please allow me to show you the rules for this award.

1) The nominee of the “Wonderful Team Readership Award” shall display the logo on their blog.

2) The nominee shall nominate 14 other bloggers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once, or little by little, linking to their blogs and telling them about it at their blogs.

So here is my list of nominations for the “Wonderful Team Readership Award.”

http://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/

http://walk-and-bike-in-france.com/

http://bigsheepcommunications.wordpress.com/

http://jadedapothecary.wordpress.com/

http://cravesadventure.wordpress.com/

http://gusgus64.wordpress.com/

http://earthquakeboy.wordpress.com/

http://thegreatamericanlandscape.wordpress.com/

http://prideinphotos.com/

http://coveredinbeer.com/

If you are counting, there are only 10 blogs listed. More to come!

House or Divorce?

We both need a good mental slap to make a decision as Option 1, Do Nothing on our New List of options for settling down seems to be our default setting.

We made a zig zag passage across the United States from Washington State to Florida and along the south and up the west of the country to Washington. We missed many states on our first launch into The United States so picked up the northern and eastern states and navigated around again to Washington. We saw a little or a lot of 47 states and drove a total of 20,000 miles on our helter skelter journey.

Our nearly complete journey depicted on our dirty trailer!
Our nearly complete journey depicted on our dirty trailer! Are you seeing double?

We’ve been cooped up in close quarters for close to 10 years now and have never once resorted to physical violence towards each other. That’s something of an accomplishment in itself but testing our relationship was not the purpose of our travels.

This whole shebang needs to move on to a Stage 2 – test the weather, the economy and the friendliness of the natives in one place! for a year – of the Grand Plan.

Stage 1 is so over for us. Stage 3 is to live in a house.

The fact remains – and it is a fact, himself will attest to that – if our trailer were a little bit bigger, our seating a little less like sitting on a plank, our bathroom a little less like a phone booth (albeit with a toilet instead of a puddle of piddle on the floor) he’d be happy to carry on traveling.

I’m wondering if he’ll ever settle. I’m wondering which brother will take me in if he doesn’t.

An old people’s magazine I read recently listed ways to stave off Alzheimer’s. “Listen to this. It says here that you can exercise your brain by shopping in a new market. When you shop in the same store all the time and know where everything is the brain doesn’t have to work. It’s too easy.”

I snorted with derision at the idea but figured my brain and body should be well set up for a good few years with all the rummaging around wrong aisles and extra miles walked in unfamiliar grocery stores.

It was a privilege to see so many natural wonders in this country. An added benefit was making my sluggish brain work finding our way from one to the next.

It was a worry that we’d run out of stimulating reading material without a library nearby. Being too cheap to buy paperbacks that we could read in two days and then have to throw out we discovered most campsites have book and magazine swaps so a constant flow of literature from F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck to the trashy magazines that I would normally only read while standing at the supermarket checkout is weighing down the trailer.

When in a library I tease Jimmy with, “Did you notice they’ve got used paperbacks for sale at 50 cents?”

“I’m not going to look. We’ve got enough books. We haven’t got any place else to put them until we get rid of some.” Invariably he would exit the library with two paperbacks in his hand. “Look! A Harlan Coben and a Michael Connelly. I haven’t read these!”

I often get accused of not listening to him. He doesn’t even listen to himself any more.

So we have plenty to read.

I’ll miss traveling if we stop and settle. I will especially miss it if we sell the trailer and burn our traveling bridges.

We both experienced these conflicting feelings after a year-and-a-half of traveling in Europe. The caravan (quaint English word for trailer) was too small. Moved to Washington State where a two bedroomed apartment seemed huge. Got cabin fever and itchy feet. Missed the caravan and traveling. Bought a trailer.

Jimmy is depressed at the thought of being tied to just one place.

As I search for suitable affordable houses, he is googling big trucks and bigger RVs. . . . . . still!

Motorhome on BayLUG layout
Do you think he’d be satisfied with this one? (Photo credit: Bill Ward’s Brickpile)
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New List!

It has occurred to me that Jimmy and I may not be thinking along the same plane or are even on the same planet. We rarely do are should our Quest be any different?

“The List” of requirements for the perfect place to live, which we had agreed on, has been thrown out as being ridiculously unattainable so now we’re drifting aimlessly, mentally and geographically. We each speak longingly of our nirvanas but these potential home bases may be more pie in the sky than pie on our plate and his is probably apple and mine is pear.

When I say Let’s live in California he says I don’t think we can afford it. When he says Let’s live in Florida I say I don’t know if you can stand it. And that’s the end of the discussion. If you can call that a discussion.

As we’re not the best at communicating, at least in any constructive way, it seems appropriate at this point to put into writing our options. Perhaps the unspeakable possibilities will spur us into taking action about settling down. These are our realistic and unrealistic prospects:

  1. Do nothing. We are fed, clothed, warm, mostly dry and have beds, in fact have everything we need all in the one small room.

    Teardrop trailer (Columbia River, Washington S...
    OK. So our space is a bit bigger than this! (Columbia River, Washington State) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  2. Move into an apartment once again with a view to buying a house at some point.
  3. Move into a single wide and keep the travel trailer for a means to escape bad weather.
  4. Spend a little time with family in Washington State and Florida then tow back to California to look seriously at different areas, cost of living and apartments.
  5. Research cost of living in California thoroughly online before wasting a few months realizing we can’t afford to live in Malibu.
  6. Pack up our meager collection of furniture and belongings stored in the U.S. into a U-Haul and travel in tandem back to Florida where we know we can find a nice apartment and the cost of living is affordable but we don’t know if our 50°N latitude bodies are ready for 25°N latitude heat and bugs.
  7. Keep traveling in our shoebox and looking for an unconditionally perfect place to live.
  8. Return to the UK.
  9. Live in France.
  10. Check out Hawaii.
  11. Sink our house fund into a new big shiny RV and new car. DO NOT TELL HIMSELF I EVEN SAID THAT.
  12. Give up all our worldly goods and join a religious commune.

There. That should focus our minds. There are some pretty scary prospects there.

Commune d'Esch-sur-Alzette
On second thought, this doesn’t look too bad! Commune d’Esch-sur-Alzette (Photo credit: nunor)

Even more worrying is that it is only No. 12 that we would both find completely alarming.

I’ll get back to you when we’ve had a proper grown up discussion about it.

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Poppies Are Red

 

Roses are red.

Poppies are too.

If you’re unsure,

Here are photos for you!

Poppies in Languedoc Roussillon France Poppies in Languedoc Roussillon France Poppies in Languedoc Roussillon France

The next verse must be read with an American accent for it to rhyme:

Languedoc Roussillon

A region of France

Has red poppies galore

And here’s some for Nanc!

Sorry, Nancy. Couldn’t resist!

Heyjude has shared with me that they are Papaver rhoeas, commonly known as corn poppies or field poppies. They are found throughout Europe in late spring. Thanks, Jude. 

And here are some totally unrelated photos for those of you in the frozen north – some Mediterranean beach scenes from France. I “stumbled” on them in the same photo folder after the poppies. Hold your hands up to the screen and feel the warmth.

French Mediterranean beach French Mediterranean beach French Mediterranean beach French Mediterranean beach  

Roll on spring and warm weather!

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Poppy Pathos

I went hiking for some poppies,

Looking for the perfect shot.

I trekked and trekked and trekked some more,

And this is what I got.

The marigolds were perky.

The lupines were sublime.

But as for scrumptious poppy shots

It was a waste of time.

 

Was I looking far too early?

Did I get there much too late?

On my calendar from last year,

This was the perfect date.poppies

Should I go again tomorrow?

Was it the wrong time of day?

They bloom in March and April

But not as late as May.poppies and Chevy Silverado

Did javelinas eat them?

Did coyotes dig them out?

Did tarantulas eat all the seeds?

All of them? Surely not.

 

A few poppies danced in the wind

And gave some kicks and flicks

But disappointment brought me home

To look at last year’s pics.

California poppies

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Nightmares Before Bedtime, Again

Our life has been a little hectic lately and is about to become hecticker (my spelling, my grammar, my blog). Watch this space.

For quickness, as a cheat or out of laziness – take your pick – I have reblogged a post from November 2012. It’s one of my favorites. You may think that reminiscing about pain would mean I’m a bit touched. You may be right.

We’ve two queen sized beds on our RV. That might seem a little extravagant when you don’t know our nightly drill. “Keep still!” “I can’t!”  “Wellgetintheotherbed!!”  One bed is just kind of there at one end of the trailer and the other one is in a big drawer – a slide-out – at the other end. Once parked, you pull it out and prop it up and sleep suspended in mid-air.

It’s quite cozy with the curtains drawn, reminiscent of a sleeping compartment on a train. The nightmares come before bedtime with gasps and groans, broken fingernails and much bad language as the sheets are wrestled onto the mattresses which cling tightly to the walls on three sides.

To get the idea, try it yourself. Make the exercise authentic by first pushing your bare mattress into the corner of your bedroom flush against the wall on two sides. Ideally, it should be flush against the wall on three sides but your bedroom is probably not that small. Next, flick a fitted sheet out across the mattress and quickly rap your knuckles smartly against a doorframe or other suitable unyielding surface. This will introduce an appropriate level of pain early in the process.

Fling yourself belly down, appendages splayed, in an imitation of Spiderman on top of the rumpled sheet and attempt to tuck all four corners neatly and tightly under the mattress whilst you are weighing it down.

Once you’ve made a poor job of that, rip a fingernail off and repeat the above process with the top sheet. If you can’t bear to rip the fingernail right off then at least bend it backwards until it hurts.

At any point, if you feel the need for a break to catch your breath, you may stop and stuff the pillows into the pillowcases.

Now imagine there is a bunk bed 18 inches above the bed you’ve been fighting with so when you finish with the pillowcases crack the back of your head on the conveniently placed previously used doorframe to disorient yourself before continuing any further.

Next, shake a blanket out over the mess you’ve made so far and smack a knuckle on the other hand (not the one that is already throbbing) on a sharpish object, like the edge of a door, drawing just enough blood to leave a tell tale victory trail on your blanket when you tuck it under the bottom edge of the mattress. You may not be as fortunate as us to have ivory colored blankets to give a good contrast to the blood which will display your pluck.

If you are tempted to cheat and just shake the layers of bedding out, each smoothly on top of the other without tucking and battering of head and hands, you will wake up mummified at some point between 2 am and 5 am when bed making is even less appealing than when you first attempted it.

Seems difficult to imagine that the process could be any less appealing when you are already gasping, sweating, hurting, bleeding and swearing but it is actually true.

The mess we sleep in!
The mess we sleep in!

 

 

 

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Surviving in a Small Box

A (very small) room with a view.
A (very small) room with a view.

Our tolerance levels are tested when we’re cooped up in our shoebox RV. Bad vibes bounce right back to the perpetrator and can ricochet between us with increasing ferocity. Some days I bite back caustic remarks in a bid for peace in the box. Some days I don’t. Some days I try to couch accusations as innocuous statements so as not to be seen to be blaming him.

“The water should be nice and hot. I turned the water heater off when I got up for a wee at 3:00.”

“Was it on all night?” himself asked, his voice raising in alarm as our water heater can be temperamental and hot water spews down the outside of the trailer in its own campaign to escape the box.

“Not all night. Just half the night.” I valiantly left it at that. He knew he had turned it on and left it on. If he thought I’d done it, he’d have let me know. If he thought I’d accused him of doing it, he’d have let me know that too.

The merits of sarcasm, nagging, letting rip and knowing when to shut up often “debated.”

"Don't jump! I didn't mean it!"
“Don’t jump! I didn’t mean it!” Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Unexpected weather in Asheville, North Carolina
Unexpected weather keeping us cooped up in Asheville, North Carolina
"I've had enough! I'm off and I'm not coming back!" Canyonlands National Park, Utah
“I’ve had enough! I’m off and I’m not coming back!” Canyonlands National Park, Utah
A shadow of our former selves in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
A shadow of our former selves in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Some alone time with just his dog for company. Monument Valley, Utah
Some alone time with just his dog for company. Monument Valley, Utah
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Still Snowing?

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument NM
White Sands National Monument NM
Just like being at the beach but without the sea!
Just like being at the beach but without the sea!
I think the water is this way!
I think the water is this way!
The mist rolling in! We must be nearly there!
The mist rolling in! We must be nearly there!

White Sands National Monument is part of 275 square miles of white sand dune made of gypsum crystals, the largest dune of its type in the world – just 750 miles from the Pacific ocean!

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The Second Time Around

Like daft tourists, not seasoned travelers, we associated Santa Fe with warmth and sun, but discovered that we had strayed far enough north to be almost in ski country in late winter.

Santa Fe NM, Oldest House in the USA
Santa Fe NM, Oldest House in the USA

Duh. Hadn’t we learned our lesson on our first circuit of the United States the year before  at the Grand Canyon where we were frozen to the ground in 5°F weather? Apparently not.

Hey! Don't leave me down here!
Hey! Don’t leave me down here!

The endless summer we had planned – summer in the north, high summer on the east coast, late summer and snowbird’s winter retreat in the south – never happened. Gales, sweaty heat and freezing temperatures made the circuit with us.

Southern Arizona was at least a comfortable temperature until the sun went down. A “nation” of saguaro cactus “people” with their funny arms held up in greeting had welcomed us to Tucson and given at least the impression of a hot landscape.

The dry air, calming buff colors, and peacefulness of the Arizona desert were most appreciated after so much lousy weather and soothed our need for warmth, but our winter sojourn had been meant to entail leisurely swimming and sunbathing, beach combing and sitting in the balmy shade of our awning for the margarita hour.

I risked a couple of “heated” swimming pools, one in Sarasota and one in Tucson. Getting into the cold water (heated means not icy) was a shock. Getting out into the cold air was agony.

Sunbathing hadn’t happened at all and our skin thanks us for that. Beachcombing on the Gulf coast was done in winter jackets while powering ahead. To stand still was to risk windburn and then hypothermia.

Only one madman in the water!
Only one madman in the water!

For our margarita hour, we substituted red wine “indoors.”

Neither comfortably cooped up inside nor drenched in perspiration or shivering outside was the relaxed experience we had anticipated.

Tucson in March was our first destination since leaving Washington State the previous July (picture a clockwise trip on the edge of the States from Washington all the way around to Arizona) where we could sit comfortably outside or stroll languidly in t-shirts and shorts, particularly galling as Washington had had their best summer in years after we left.

Coyotes yipping in the distance setting off the distinctive yips of several packs of their chums at 3 a.m. the night before had added a thrilling ripple of fear to the spell the desert had cast. Quite unused to this particular wildlife encounter, we exchanged notes the next morning.

Coyote, Saguaro National Park
“Yeah, it was me who woke you up. What are you going to do about it?”

“Did you hear the coyotes in the night?” he asked.

“Oh, yes. I went back to sleep and then wondered if I’d dreamt it.”

“They ran right under us. I could hear them pounding back and forth and panting!”

That growth on the back of our trailer is our bed-in-a-drawer, suspended about coyote height.
That growth on the back of our trailer is our bed-in-a-drawer, suspended about coyote height.

Camped for the night under stately and beautiful but dripping giant redwoods in Crescent City, Jimmy had googled the weather where we were headed. “Do you want to hear the forecast for Olympia?” Giant redwoods, Crescent City campground

“Go-o-o o-o-n-n,” I groaned, expecting the worst.

“Rain today. Showers tomorrow. Scattered showers the next day. Wait. Let’s look at the 10 day forecast.” Spare me. “It’s going to rain for the next 10 days.”

The only thing worse than the predicted 10 days of rain was the thought of 10 days of rain cooped up in an RV.

We’d have permanently cold damp towels to look forward to. Clean clothes that have languished in a locker for a few days feel damp when they’re fresh on. There’s nowhere to put soggy coats. Muddy shoes end up kicking around our very small floor space just as we will be kicking around our very small floor space.

How do we cope? Badly.

How do you (would you) cope?