Saturday, November 11, 2006

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Howdy from Salem, Oregon! Land of much beauty and much rain. Can't have one without the other.

We wanted to thank all of you who have taken the time to read this blog during our recent travels. We've enjoyed writing it and it gives us a good record of the trip. We will be posting to the blog whenever we have photos worth sharing, funny stories, or brilliant ideas (this doesn't happen often). Please check in once in a while to see what's new. Most likely there will be weekly postings from now on, possibly more often.

Although we will be doing more traveling in the future, especially here in the Northwest, the phrase "road trip" is currently not allowed in this house. We covered about 5,400 miles since leaving Charlotte in October, so it's time for a little staying put! That doesn't make for very interesting blogging material, but I'm sure we'll be able to stir up a little excitement now and then.

Now go get ready for Christmas!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yesterday's adventures

We are back in Willows, California this evening, on our way up to Oregon. Yesterday we took a short trip up into the San Gabriel mountains to a little town called Wrightwood. Beautiful scenery, great little gift shops.

April (realizing that at nearly 8,000 feet, we all should have brought jackets), Bob and Rusti. Unfortunately, sister Jill had to work so she missed all the fun.

Sorry, Bob..... I have to tell this story. We parked in Wrightwood and got out to walk around to the shops. Bob immediately realized he had locked his keys in the truck. He went off to call AAA while Rusti, April and I went shopping. AAA showed up amazingly quickly, considering where we were, and got the door of the truck opened without too much trouble. Big sigh of relief from all of us until Bob announced that he couldn't find his keys inside the truck. Another 10 minutes or so of searching the truck inside and out turned up nothing. (April, already cold, continued to get colder as the sun went down.) The keys were finally located. They had slipped off the center console into the back, into my bag that was on the floor - naturally the last place we would look for them. Of course Bob will never live this down. Every time we got out of the truck for the rest of the day, Bob was bombarded with three women asking him if he had his keys. Fortunately, Bob is a very patient man. Thanks for the fun day!!

We will be back home in Salem, Oregon sometime tomorrow afternoon and can continue getting settled in. We both miss Malcolm a lot!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Horsing around

Here are a few pictures from our visit to the stables this morning. Bob and Jill have a couple of horses and we had fun feeding them carrots and rubbing their heads.

Rusti, April and Jill. You can't tell that they're sisters, can you?

Jill and Rusti.

Kathy, with a little sliver of Bob on the right-hand side of the picture.

We're off sight-seeing this afternoon, so I should have more pictures to post later today.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

From Ventura to Palmdale

This used to be the courthouse in Ventura. I'm not sure what it's being used for now, but it's a neat building.

Rusti can't get used to the fact that the sun SETS, not rises, in the ocean out here.

One of the Ventura beaches. I'd like to say this photo was taken at an artistic angle, but I think Rusti just had her left foot in a big hole.

Main Street, Ventura California.

Rusti got to see her grand-niece Bentleigh Rose for the first time today.

Hi all,

This evening we are in Palmdale, California, which is the high desert of Antelope Valley. We will be visiting here until Tuesday morning, when we'll head back home towards Oregon. We are staying with Rusti's sister Jill's family (in a REAL house with HOME-COOKED food!). Rusti's sister April is also visiting here, so it's a mini-family reunion.

The San Andreas fault runs right through Palmdale. I hope I fall asleep before I have too much time to think about this. April assures me that it has been there a long time.

Rusti here:

I want to tell you all I had good reason to worry about the fog last night. I lived in San Francisco many years ago. One evening we went to a baseball game at Candlestick Park and coming back from the game the fog started to come in. Now fog in California is not like fog anywhere else. It's alive! It doesn't just kind of drift in, it crawls and creeps and insinuates its fingers into everything it passes. It's like the corpuscles in "Fantastic Voyage"! Well, we tried to beat it back to the city but didn't. We weren't able to see past the taillights of the car in front of us and ended up following it into a garage! We finally did get home (I'm here, aren't I?!) but I still don't like the fog!

Goodnight and sleep well.

The too-small house in Ventura

Some of you, especially BLAKE, have asked to see a photo of the house in Ventura that turned out to be too small for us, so here it is:


Friday, November 03, 2006

Southern California revisited

It was a day of many trucks, huge pistachio orchards, cotton fields (neither of us realized they grew cotton in California), giant salad bars on both sides of the freeway, and my favorite: eucalyptus trees. We arrived in Ventura about 4:30 this afternoon and it was warm and sunny, but the fog was just beginning to creep ashore from the ocean. Rusti was scared because she'd recently watched "The Fog", but I think she's going to be OK.

We had a nice Mexican dinner with my aunt, then re-addressed all our boxes to ship via UPS tomorrow. We'll be heading on to Palmdale as soon as we get our shipping done.

Our motel room tonight is near the railroad tracks, which is exciting every hour or so. But at least it takes Rusti's mind off the fog for a couple of minutes.

I hope tomorrow will be better for taking pictures. Today we didn't see any sunshine until we were within about 100 miles of Ventura. I hope you all enjoy today's exciting photo of Interstate 5.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the road again....

Tonight finds us in Willows, California, on our way back to Ventura to pick up (or ship) all the STUFF we originally shipped there from North Carolina. Despite the fact that we sold, gave away, or threw out almost everything we owned prior to the move, we still ended up shipping many boxes to California, and now we need to get them up to Oregon. We're going to combine this "business" with a short visit to Rusti's other sister, Jill, and her family in Palmdale.

Malcolm decided to stay in Salem rather than accompany us on this trip, and we missed him during the drive today. Somehow it just doesn't seem right stopping at a motel for the night without a cat box.

Things are about halfway settled in Salem, and when we return from this trip we plan to stay put there for a few months. Probably. Maybe. Rusti likes the new digs because she just got a new 57" high-definition TV (man, those football players are BIG!) as well as a very comfortable couch and recliner. (Rusti's title in retirement is C.P.A. - Couch Potato Ace). I'm happy with the new digs because I have a fast internet connection and a nice office. I'm sure there's something wrong with both of our priorities, but I'm not going to worry about it at the moment. Anyway, everything is working out well, even if not as expected.

Both Rusti and I have much personal emailing to do, but that probably won't happen until after this trip is over. For those of you who have written to us, we have not forgotten you - we're just a little overwhelmed at the moment. At least that's our excuse and we're sticking to it.

Below are a few pictures from our previous trip from California to Oregon, the route we are now traveling in reverse. Well, actually we're going forward, not in reverse. That would take too long.

Malcolm on his way to Oregon.
Mt. Shasta didn't have much snow on it when we first drove up to Salem. (Now it does, but we have no pictures to prove it.)
The forest primeval. The northwest really is beautiful. It smells great too.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The only thing certain is change.....

Hi all,

No, we didn't fall into the Grand Canyon, we've just been offline for awhile. Quite a bit has changed since we last posted and this will just be a quick update.

Dusty is Rusti again and I am Kathy, not Kate. Malcolm is hiding in the closet. California was not to be for us, but fortunately everything is working out very well. The house in Ventura turned out to be quite a bit smaller than we'd been led to believe, plus it's loaded with antiques, art, and a certain amount of junk. There simply wasn't room for us. We'd had a Plan B all along, and it quickly became Plan A. We are now living in Salem, Oregon.

We will post more details and photos as we get better organized. All is well with us. Although we didn't end up where we expected, we are very happy with the end result.

You can still email us at

Friday, October 20, 2006

Night 7: Las Vegas NV

Hi Folks,

We had a wonderful day in Las Vegas, visiting with people and touring the city. Whew, this place has really grown since the last time I was here! Of course that was in 1926.

We’re off to Ventura tomorrow morning for the last leg of this journey. It should be about a 6-1/2 to 7 hour drive, much of it through the desert. We’ve already planned another trip though. After spending a few days in Ventura (you can avoid doing laundry for just so long, then steps have to be taken) we’re going to drive up to Salem, Oregon to spend a week or so with my mother. Then we’ll head back to Ventura and stay put for a while…..probably. This being retired is pretty cool!

Here are a few more pictures from the Grand Canyon, taken yesterday, and some shots from today in Vegas.

Remember this next time you let the water drip in your sink.

Awe-inspiring is an understatement.

By popular request, a photo of Kate. Now, aren't you sorry you asked?

Dusty with her sister April and brother-in-law Ron. Ron was a great tour guide today.

After Malcolm saw this photo, taken outside the MGM Grand, he asked that we have a bronze statue made of him.

One of the ceilings in the Venetian. An amazing place - indoor canals, gondolas with singing gondoliers, fancy restaurants and shops, and of course the casino.

Dusty with friend Connie. This woman has a turtle named Fluffy - honest.

A few final words for tonight. Internet access will be catch-as-catch-can in Ventura until I get a broadband connection set up, and that probably won’t happen until we return from Oregon. However, I’m going to try to keep up with the blog, and will be posting photos of our new home, Ventura, and who knows what. We will also be posting from Oregon.

So I hope those of you who have been following our travels will continue to read this blog. It’s fun to write it and nice to know that you’re reading it!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Night 6: Las Vegas NV

Driving up to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff.
Dusty was definitely impressed with the canyon.

Tonight we're in Las Vegas and looking forward to a day of visiting friend (Connie) and family (sister April & brother-in-law Ron) tomorrow.

Just a short blog tonight, folks. We're both pooped after six days on the road (wasn't that a song?) and glad that we're going to be staying in Las Vegas a couple of days before heading on to California.

I'll post more Grand Canyon photos tomorrow!

Malcolm says hi.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Night 5: Flagstaff AZ

Hi Everyone,

Dusty here, with a little help from Malcolm the Hairy.

We made it through New Mexico and halfway into Arizona today. Can't really do justice to the stark beauty of the country. Miles and miles of open range. Buttes rise up in the middle of nowhere to give some definition to the landscape. The aspens along the creeks are bright yellow, and some shrubbery I think is Indian Paint Brush adds some orangy-yellow.

We're at 6000 ft here in Flagstaff. They had snow flurries this morning, and it's supposed to go down to 24 degrees tonight. Who knew! Kate and I are off to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. We may have to wear every stitch of clothing we brought with us to stay warm.

We've decided to go spend a couple of days in Las Vegas after we visit the Grand Canyon. My sister April and her husband live there, as well as a good friend named Connie. So we'll be visiting them as well as having a little fun at the casinos. Have to see if we can find another Lucky Ducky machine!

Here are a couple of pictures from today. Expect lots from the Grand Canyon tomorrow!

Humphreys Peak, near Flagstaff, Arizona.

San Jose de la Laguna Mission, 40 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, built between 1699 and 1701.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Night 4: Santa Rosa NM

Hi Folks,

First of all, thanks to those of you who have emailed us or left blog comments. We really enjoy hearing from you, even if we don't have time to answer all of you individually right now. We do read the blog comments and have gotten some good laughs from them and a few warm fuzzies.

We had fun last night in Shawnee, Oklahoma. We went to an Indian casino and won enough to pay for our night's lodging. Rusti/Dusty picked out a slot machine called "Lucky Ducky", and sure enough, it was. We are going to look for more Lucky Ducky machines as we continue our travels.

We drove along the old Chisholm Trail today and looking out over all the flat plains it wasn't hard to imagine huge herds of buffalo and cattle, cowboys and Indians.

The weather was beautiful today and we got some pictures. Hope you enjoy them.

Near Shawnee Oklahoma. This place had the most beautiful authentic Indian pottery. They also had a lot of "Indian" items made in Taiwan and Thailand.

The Texas panhandle. Ain't it purty? Definitely the wide open spaces.

Near Tucumcari, New Mexico.

In New Mexico, the dinosaurs eat french fries.

Near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Tomorrow we head for Flagstaff, Arizona and all the beautiful scenery around there, so the pictures should get more interesting!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Malcolm's opinion of blogging

This blogging is hard work! I'll write my piece as soon as I take a little nap.

Night 3: Shawnee OK

I've been leaving the blogging to Kate, so far, but decided it was my turn tonight. Sorry gang, no pictures from Arkansas rained all day. We so much wanted to stop at Toad Suck Park, too! (Makes you wonder, doesn't it?!)

We're stopped for the night at Shawnee, OK. I love to stay in towns that songs were written about.............. Shawnee, how I love ya, how I love ya. (Oh, Kate tells me that was Suwanee, as in GA.)

Anyway, I'll be adding my two cents here and there from now on. I think maybe the first two days I was looking back; at the family and friends I've left behind. I'm at a place now, where I can miss you all and still look forward to the adventures ahead.

Looking out the hotel window I can see the sun trying to peek through. Tomorrow we should be able to get back to taking pics. I'm sorry we couldn't get any in Arkansas. There are some really beautiful areas in Arkansas...............we weren't anywhere near them, but there are some!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Night 2: Forrest City AR

This was a day of crossing rivers. Above is a shot of the Tennessee River. Dusty took a few pictures of the Mississippi as we crossed it, but it's hard to get a decent shot from inside a car going across that bridge. As you can see, it was kind of a gray day. We didn't run into any rain today but it sounds like we may have a rainy day going into Oklahoma tomorrow. We considered changing our route a bit to avoid the rain, but we'd have to go through Calgary.

We find ourselves driving about 350 miles a day, stopping fairly early in the evening, and not doing a lot of sightseeing so far. I think we are pretty much focused on just getting to California and starting our new lives as glamorous California babes. Plus, after more than two months of living in hotels & motels, it's going to be great to get settled in the Ventura house.

Malcolm did a lot of sleeping in the car today, after serenading us for a while this morning. He's decided that sleeping in the passenger side footwell is kind of cool, especially if we cover him up with a little blanket and he can pretend that he's not there.

Because he's not allowed to go there, he really wants to get into the driver's side footwell and he keeps trying new strategies to fool us. So far he has failed, but it gives him something to strive for which is important for a traveling puddy-tat.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Malcolm at the wheel

Malcolm couldn't reach the brakes but he was very good at steering.

Fall foliage

Taken at a North Carolina rest stop in the Smoky Mountains. Dusty says the fall foliage would be much prettier if we were in upstate New York. I pointed out that we would also be a lot further away from California.

Night 1: Crossville TN

Hi all,

We had perfect weather for our first day of traveling. The colors in the Smoky Mountains are a little subdued this year but still beautiful. We both found ourselves feeling a little nostalgic about leaving all this behind, but not nostalgic enough to turn around and go back.

We didn't get away from Charlotte until about 10 am. It took us that long to get everything crammed into the Santa Fe. For a while it looked like I was going to have to be tied to the luggage rack.

Malcolm turned out to be a better traveler than I expected. He yowled for the first 100 miles or so, then took a nap. For the rest of the day he alternated between yowling and napping, with the naps getting gradually longer. He even drove for a little while. By the time we got to the motel tonight, I had more cat hair on me than Malcolm did.

I'm having internet connection problems in the motel tonight and I'm not even sure I will be able to get this posted. I had a couple of photos that I wanted to include, but have had no success getting them uploaded. I hope to be able to include some pictures with tomorrow's post.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tennessee Oktoberfest

Rusti/Dusty is finishing up her last day of work at Wachovia and she hopes to be home by 2:30. I am waiting patiently for this LONG Carolina day to go by. It's been about two months since we made the decision to move to California, and now it's finally going to happen.

I've been surfing around to see if we might be passing by anything interesting in Tennessee tomorrow. An Oktoberfest in Crossville caught my eye. They advertise "authentic German food, continuous German music, and the chicken dance". Who cares about the food and music!.......but the chicken dance, now that would be something.

Those crazy Germans! Ms. Heintzelman should fit right in, and she does love to dance.

Malcolm gets a crazed look in his eyes when I mention dancing chickens to him.

Quashing a Rumor

It has been recently suggested that Kate and Dusty are a lot like Thelma and Louise.

That is ridiculous! Thelma and Louise didn't have a CAT!

However, should we pass Brad Pitt hitchhiking on the road, brakes will squeal.

(Don't worry, Mom, just a joke. We never pick up hitchhikers. Except Brad Pitt.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Farewell, Miz Rusti!

Wachovia is giving Rusti/Dusty quite a sendoff this week. Beautiful flowers, delicious food, cards, gift certificates, and a most wonderful tiara.

The job is easy to leave behind; the people are not.

Ventura Tidbits, Part I

Having been away from Ventura for a few years (does 45 count as "a few"?), I'm reacquainting myself with some of its history.

Did you know that the famous fictional detective Perry Mason was born in Ventura? In the early 30's, Erle Stanley Gardner (shown at left with an unfortunate rabbit) had a law office there and wrote the first of his many Perry Mason novels.

He had such great titles for his books, too:

The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe
The Case of the Stuttering Bishop

You know, you could just mix up a bunch of his titles and come up with some very interesting new ones to use for your own mystery novels. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

The Case of the Haunted Duck
The Case of the Fugitive Fingers
The Case of the Grinning Typist (that one's scary just to think about)

If you do any reading of genre fiction series, whether mystery, horror, fantasy, sci-fi or romance, and you prefer to read the books in order but have trouble determining which came first, check out Enter any author and you will get a chronological listing of all their books, series or otherwise. It's also a great place to find new books and authors.


A few of you have asked what route we will be taking between Charlotte NC and Ventura CA and how long the drive will take.

We had considered plotting a course that would take us through some states we have not yet visited: Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. However we ended up deciding to take the most direct route, Interstate 40. We suspect that traveling with Malcolm may make us a bit anxious to reach our destination. And he doesn't seem to care if he ever sees Mississippi.

I-40 will take us from North Carolina through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally, California. Since Dusty has never seen the Grand Canyon, that is one detour we will definitely make, weather permitting. Other sidetrips may be made, depending on our mental health.

With no schedule to meet, we will probably drive no more than 6 or 7 hours a day, which will make this trip 7 to 8 days long. It's all somewhat vague. The phrase "free at last" comes to mind.

By the way, we were originally going to get tranquilizers for Malcolm, but after talking it over with his vet we opted for a chem-free trip. There will be much yodeling, I'm sure, and we will be singing right along with Malcolm. No bass-heavy rap music coming out of OUR vehicle! White and Nerdy, not Drivin' Dirty!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hotel Living

We sold our house in Matthews NC fairly quickly and had to be out of it by August 31st. Since Dusty agreed to continue working for Wachovia until mid-October, we found ourselves in need of temporary housing prior to the California move. After looking around a bit for a furnished place that would allow a cat and that had kitchen facilities (Malcolm likes to cook), we settled on an ExtendedStay hotel in Pineville.

This is an interesting place to stay. Almost every day there is a hotel "Special". Today's Special is no water between 11 am and 3 pm, and it's free.

Yesterday's Special was no phone service, also free.

Malcolm's favorite Special is the random Fire Alarm Test, which gives him the opportunity to swell up to twice his size and burn rubber until he gets under the bed.

One somewhat disconcerting Special is the almost constant supply of hot water - in the toilet. I'm sure this must be important in some cultures.

Well, only three more nights in this hotel. I will miss the Specials.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pie, anyone?

What a beautiful night for a walk in Pineville, NC.

From Charlotte you can go lots of places.

The Witless Protection Program

Since Southern California is the land of make-believe, we have decided to celebrate our new life by remaking our personas.

Rusti shall henceforth be known as Dusty, since the red hair she was nicknamed for no longer exists. No, she isn't bald, although that would be amusing. She now has a full head of gloriously gray hair which she refuses to color any longer. Yes, it does make her look 20 years older but she's just so darn stubborn and has made up her mind. So Dusty it is.

Kathy shall be known as Kate, but will answer to just about anything. Kate is much more outgoing and adventurous than Kathy, plus she has a much better figure.

Malcolm is and shall remain simply Malcolm. If you knew him, you'd understand.


Some of you have not yet met Malcolm, so he asked that his picture be distributed. He was afraid he might be confused with just ANY old cat.

He's so cute when he's asleep.

It Begins

Hello, Friends! (Do I sound like Winnie the Pooh?)

Rusti and I find ourselves blessed with a lot of friends and family who would like to follow our trip cross-country. HENCE (don't you love that word?), this blog. It should be easier to share trip highlights and photos with all of you this way rather than by e-mail. Plus, I think we were the only two people in the world who hadn't started a blog yet, so this takes care of that.

The long-awaited trip/move officially begins Saturday morning, October 14th, 2006. Rusti's last day of servitude to Wachovia is Friday the 13th (a very dark day for Wachovia indeed). Come Saturday morning these two retired ladies and their sidekick Malcolm the Hairy will be leaving the Carolinas behind.

I never thought I'd live in the South - ever - and yet here I am leaving it after 18 years. Rusti has been here even longer and is actually worried about whether people in California will think she has a Southern accent. I told her "Honey chile, don't y'all worry your little head about that. Bless your heart.".

This blog is an experiment, and with any luck it will help you share a little in our excellent adventure, plus it will give us something to do when we get tired of watching the white lines go by.

Let me take this opportunity to thank my wonderful mother for the new Dell laptop which is making all this possible!

Comments are encouraged - we'd love to hear from you. And we will still be receiving and answering emails at