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Where are we?

We didn't write very many "Where are we's?" in 2005. Why not, because we didn't do much traveling. We spent most of the year at the Manchester Beach KOA workamping. We will also spend much of 2006 doing the same thing. Why, it certainly isn't for the pay. In general, workampering does not pay high wages. However, we do like the area, we love the people, and we are having lots of fun. Who could ask for more?

Subj:     157. Where are we?
Date:     Saturday, January 8, 2005

Here we are, in our warm motorhome, relaxing in a city that is partly known for the major University located here. The mascot for the University is the Duck, which, given the weather since we've been here is very appropriate. In fact, it's the only University in the world that has a license from Walt Disney to use Donald Duck as a mascot. But, they can only use Donald Duck's character when they are in this state.

We left the Manchester KOA on Monday, January 3. That day we drove to Crescent City California to spend the night. Tuesday we left Crescent City and headed to Grant's Pass Oregon and then North to our current location.

We've spent the last few days shopping at Costco, Wal-Mart, and a few other places. Of course, since we are in the area, we also visited our newest Grandson, Tristan. Tristan is almost 6 months old now and is really cute. We may be considered as prejudice but we still think he is adorable. We were even able to baby sit a couple of times.

Tomorrow, we start heading south so we can be in Bakersfield on Monday. However, we probably won't make Bakersfield on schedule. Our plan was to head down I-5 but, it's snowing on most of the passes, tire chains are required in some areas, and it doesn't seem like that route would be a good idea. So, instead of heading down I-5, we'll head west to US 101 and then head south on US 101. It will be wet, but at least there won't be snow.

Where are we now? We are in Eugene Oregon (where the University of Oregon is located) visiting Larry's daughter Michelle, her husband Keith, and, of course, our grandson, Tristan.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
even during a winter storm

Subj:     158. Where are we?
Date:     Tuesday, January 11, 2005

We made it to the southern end of the Central Valley of California. This area is generally known for oil wells, cotton, and agriculture.

The trip here from Eugene was interesting to say the least. The weather along the west coast has been frightful. Interstate 5 was closed in southern Oregon and northern California, so we decided to drive down the coast. Actually this was the only option. The trip started by driving between Eugene and Florence. Well, it wasn't bad but there was certainly snow on the side of the road. After Florence we drove down US 101 and guess what, not only did we see rain, we saw snow on the side of the road, and we drove through sleet, and some hail. Saturday we made it to near Trinidad California. Sunday we left and headed south again, we also saw rain, snow on the side of the road, and in general lousy weather. Sunday we made it all the way to Santa Nella California. Now we were on Interstate 5.

Monday we made it to Bakersfield for the RV appointment. The dealer thought they corrected all the problems but, as it turns out they didn't. So today we took the RV back and found out that the toilet needs to be replaced. The toilet is on order and won't be in for a couple of weeks. We can certainly survive with what we have but it's not optimum.

Of course we are in Bakersfield right now, and have an internet hookup at our RV site in one of our favorate campgrounds, Orange Grove RV Park. That's a very appropriate name since we have already picked a couple of bags of delicious oranges. The weather continues to be rainey and lousy. The various passes have snow and chain requirements. We have to make some decisions tomorrow morning. To go east or more east

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
on the road for a few weeks.

Subj:     159. Where are we?
Date:     Saturday, January 15, 2005

Here we are in the Valley of the Sun. A well earned nickname for this large city in the desert. The city is known for its mountains surrounding the city with strange names like the Superstition Mountains, Camelback Mountain, and areas like the lost Dutchman gold mine. The nickname, Valley of the Sun, is well earned because of the heat during the summer. Fortunately it's winter and the high today was about 80, but tonight it's cool right now it's in the 40s.

When we left Bakersfield on Wednesday, we had to decide where we would go. If we went to Ridgecrest, we would only spend the night and then head to our current location. So we decided  to head here and spend a day doing something that realistically can only be done in January or February. So we drove to Blythe, California right on the Colorado River.

What did we want to do? Well, Thursday we spent the day in Quartzite Arizona. If you've ever driven Interstate 10 in Western Arizona, you have passed through the town of Quartzite. Quartzite is a small town with a normal population of about 1900 people. But, in January and February the local population swells to close to 1,000,000 people (yes that's 1 million). Most of those people come in RVs of all sorts of types. The RVs vary from million dollar motorhomes, to fifth wheel trailers, to travel trailers, to van conversions, to antique RVs, to homebuilt RVs. The major attraction is probably the weather, but also there is a reason for many people to be here. First there is the Gem and Mineral Show. Well, several of them according to the Quartzite website. Then, during the last part of January is an RV show which is huge. That apparently is the time the population swells to about a million people.

We were too early for the RV show but there were probably several hundred thousand people in the area. The big attraction now is a gigantic flea market. It seems like every open space in town is filled with various merchants selling almost everything you can imagine. We spent five hours wandering around looking at a lot of things, and actually buying a few, yet we may have covered a fourth of what is here. It's not even the busy part of the season yet.

If you are into RVing, and you take it somewhat seriously you will certainly hear about Quartzite. We've known about it for most of the 11 1/2 years that we've owned a motorhome and, although we've driven through Quartzite on I-10 numerous times, this is the first time we stopped here. All we can say is WOW, it is really an experience. Now we want to go to Quartzite during the RV show. Even this early, several RV dealers had already set up shop in Quartzite. Their lots were huge. We spent an hour at one of the lots that must have had close to 1000 motorhomes plus almost as many trailers. Like we said, Quartzite is a huge event and certainly worth a few hours or several days.

Now, where is the Valley of the Sun? It's Phoenix Arizona. We are here for a few days visiting Adrienne's Dad.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun in Phoenix
after spending a day in Quartzite.

Subj:     160. Where are we?
Date:     Tuesday, January 25, 2005

It's Sunday, January 23, and we are in the 7th largest city in the United States and the second largest city on the West coast. It's also often called the Birthplace of California. It was founded in 1769 when Spanish soldiers built California's first military fort. Also in 1760, Junipero Serro, a Franciscan priest, established California's first mission.

We started our month long vacation almost three weeks ago and, if you've been following our adventures, we have done a lot. First was Eugene Oregon to visit with our new and very cute grandson. Then there was a long drive down the coast in wet and cold weather to Quartzite via Bakersfield. Then we spent the weekend in Phoenix with Adrienne's dad.

After Phoenix we spent a few days in Ridgecrest. There were four reasons to visit Ridgecrest. Three of them are named Ashley, Daniel, and Breanna, three more of our grandchildren. We also had Denist appointments. Yes, we know we are Texas residents but we haven't given up our trusted dentist in Ridgecrest.

After a few days in Ridgecrest, we drove to our current location yesterday. Now we are enjoying very good weather and the company of Denise and Aaron (Larry's youngest daughter and her husband).

Where are we? We are in San Diego for a few days.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
on the road again

Subj:     161. Where are we?
Date:     Monday, February 7, 2005

We are now back where we started about a month ago. We are on the coast where, according to the local "Traveler's Guide" there are "Timeless communities and rugged natural splendor. Winding country highways connect five diverse regions, each with its own rich sense of time and pace. There are rural small towns, agricultural heritage, arts and crafts, and the earthly pleasures of the table."

WOW. How's that for an introduction.

The last time we wrote a Where are we? was almost 2 weeks ago when we were in San Diego visiting with Aaron and Denise. It was a nice relaxing few days. We went to Tijuana for a few hours and it's amazing how the town has been cleaned up. It's still a border town but it seems to be improving from what it was in the 60s. We also spent a day just wandering around Balboa Park and visiting the San Diego Air and Space Museum. That was great.

After San Diego we drove all the way to Anaheim. After setting up the RV in an RV Park near Disneyland, we drove into Culver City to see Jeff, Jill, and two grandkids. We kidnapped the grandkids and took them back to the RV. The next day we took them to Disneyland. It was a gray morning that turned into a rainy afternoon. After we met Jeff and Jill at Disneyland we would all head back to the RV to dry off and change clothes. As luck would have it, late in the afternoon it cleared up and became a cool but dry evening. So we went back to Disneyland. At 9 o'clock that night Disneyland had a show called Fantasmic, well it was great and thanks to Jeff, we had great seats.

We then left Anaheim and went to Valencia. Valencia is close to Scott, Adrienne's oldest son. So we visited with Scott, his girlfriend Jennifer, and Jennifer's 2 boys (who started calling us grandma and grandpa).

After Valencia, it was a quick stop in Bakersfield to get a new toilet for the RV. We had ordered one our first time through and now it had arrived so we had it installed. It's great having a toilet that holds water.

Our next stop was two days later in Petaluma. Petaluma has a nice KOA and, thanks to Yolanda, the manager of the KOA in Manchester, we were comped for two nights. That's another benefit of working at a KOA. Although we didn't explore Petaluma, we did drive over to the coast and see some of the coast that we had never seen. We drove to Jenner, and then south to Bodago Bay, then down to Marshall where we bought oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company, then a short visit to Point Reyes and then back to Petaluma. We didn't really have enough time to explore everything we wanted to but it did whet our desire to return to that area for more oysters and spend more time at Point Reyes.

After Petaluma it was a fairly short drive to our current location.

Where are we? We are now back in Manchester California at the Manchester Beach KOA. For those of you who do not have maps available, we are 153 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1. We are 6 miles north of the Point Arena Lighthouse.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun

Subj:     162. Where are we?
Date:     Sunday, July 3, 2005

First of all, we have to wish everyone a Happy July 4. We are still at the Manchester Beach KOA and wll be here through the summer. There have been several events that we should pass on to everyone.

Right after Memorial Day, we had a visit from both of Larry's daughters, their husbands, and Larry's grandson Tristan. We really had a great time and Tristan is as cute as ever. If you want to see a picture of Tristan set your web browers to Yes, Tristan is now famous. It also shows some of Michelle's handiwork. On the same web site is a picture of Larry with the honey wagon. If you aren't into RVs, you might not know what a honey wagon is. Well, Motorhomes and Trailers have holding tanks for waste water. Obviously you have to get rid of the waste. Most of the time you empty the tanks at a dump station. The honey wagon will pump out the holding tanks so you don't have to move your rig. Our "honey wagon" also has a nickname, we call it "Sweet Lips." Just think about that for a few minutes and you will get the irony.

After Tristan's visit (with his parents, his aunt and uncle), we had a week long visit from Daniel, That too was great. Daniel had a great time and we certainly enjoyed Daniel's visit. He made lots of friends and we found many exciting things while exploring the local beaches.

It's also been very busy. Over Memorial Day weekend the campground was completely full. That was good for the campground but, especially since we were at least one workamping couple short, it was a lot of work for the rest of us.

The last weekend in June was also very busy. That weekend was a very low tide weekend and the last low tide of the first part of Abalone season. There were lots of abalone divers in the campground and, although we were not full, we had 80 sites to clean on Sunday.

This weekend, July 4 weekend, we were also full. We are still short 1 workamping couple plus Felipe, the only long term employee on the outside. Felipe broke his foot and will be off work for three weeks. Yolanda, our most famous, awesome person and the manager, is off on materity leave to make sure she " cooks that daughter long enough to be 'ripe'".  Yolanda's due date is Aug. 15, but baby girl may arrive on July 15th.

Again, that leaves a lot of work for the rest of us. The good news is that we will be getting another workamping couple this week. We expect them to arrive on Thursday. The even better news is that they are friends of ours that we met at Crater Lake last year. We are looking forward to seeing them and working with them.

The Brauers
Working hard but still Havin' Fun

Subj:     163. Where are we?
Date:     Thursday, December 1, 2005   

First we want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We are still in a remote area of wonderful natural beautiful but questionable roads. The natural beauty includes mountains, and seashore. I can't really say beaches although there are some beaches. Much of the shoreline is really rocky cliffs. There are two lighthouses nearby. Not too far away is a wonderful town that was built on the logging industry but is now an artist community. That particular town has a great Chamber of Commerce. They know that they now have no traditional industry but survive solely on tourism. Consequently, they plan all sorts of events to attract tourists. They will sponsor music festivals, crab festivals, mushroom festivals, wine festivals, art festivals, whale watching festivals and many more. Not a month goes by without at least one major event to attract tourists. Many people may recognize that town from some old television shows. In fact, Jessica Fletcher’s home in “Murder She Wrote” was supposed to be in Cabot Cove Maine. It was actually in this town on the Northern California Coast.

This is the first “Where are we?” since early July. You already know that both of Larry’s daughters visited us with their husbands and our newest grandson. You also know that one of Adrienne’s grandsons was here for a week. However, in August, Adrienne’s two oldest sons (Jeff and Scott) visited with their families. So far we have had visits from 4 of our 6 children and their families.

The season was been very busy and finally ended with the Thanksgiving Celebration. Jim, one of the campground owners, deep-fried 8-22 to 24 pound Turkeys. Guests brought side dishes to share. We ended up having over 150 people for Thanksgiving Dinner. Fortunately the weather was great. It didn’t rain until after the dinner and after everyone had left the Rec. Hall.

Of course there were other activities for the holiday including a visit by Santa Claus. Yes, Larry was Santa again and he had a lot of fun.

Early in October we went to the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg (40 miles north) to take a class on “Identification of Mushrooms for Beginners.” Although we learned a lot, we also decided that when we go mushroom picking, it would be at a supermarket. We also have to mention that while we were there, we had a Portobello Mushroom sandwich, wow, that was great!

The end of October was the Oktoberfest. Once again we catered the Oktoberfest dinner. The menu was Bratwurst, Hot German Potato Salad, Sauerkraut, Beans, Cole Slaw, Hot Pretzels with several different mustard dips, and Finger Cookies. Again, Larry’s homemade Hot German Potato Salad was a big hit.

Oh yes, Yolanda, the campground manager, had her beautiful baby girl in August. Nayeli was small but is very cute. She is growing well and is a very happy baby. We have been adopted as Grandparents, a title we accept with pride.

Now for some of our plans, but remember, plans have a tendency to change with outside circumstances. We are planning to spend one more year here. That means we will be here until just after Thanksgiving of 2006. By that time we will be more than ready to hit the road again. Of course we will be taking some time off after the first of the year. About mid January we will be taking off to visit our kids and grandkids. This year we plan to be off for about two months and we are really looking forward to it.

Oh, we had a surprise a couple of weeks ago. A neighbor invited us to go to the Senior Center in Point Arena for lunch. It’s by far the best $3.50 lunch on the coast (it’s probably the only $3.50 lunch on the coast). Anyway, we were eating lunch and enjoying the conversation when Adrienne looks up and says, “Larry, That’s Maureen Aardalh, and there’s Jeff!” She was right. Maureen and Jeff are friends of ours from Ridgecrest. As it turns out, they retired and moved to Gualala, which is about 20 miles south of us. We had a great time visiting with them and we’re sure that we will spend more time with them.

Where are we? We’re still at the Manchester Beach KOA in Manchester California. The town we described above is Mendocino, about 30 miles north and a very fun place to visit.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun, As Always