The $1000 Round of Golf

I started playing golf because I got a great deal on golf clubs.  When I asked Tom if $220 for an entire set of clubs including the bag was a good deal, he said “Why are you asking me that?  You don’t even play golf.”  So I replied “Well maybe I’ll start if that’s a good deal on clubs.”  He rolled his eyes and said “Why don’t you just get me a set, I actually play golf and need new clubs.”  So I got us both a set.  That was 16 years ago and I’m still playing with those clubs.

Although I like the game of golf I am really just a hacker and even though Tom has been playing his entire life, he is too.  So when we were recently in St. Andrews, Scotland, of course we had to play a round of golf.  We weren’t good enough to get on the Old Course at St. Andrews, you need a handicap that I will never see, but we were good enough to play at Kingsbarns where they don’t check your handicap.  It turns out that Kingsbarns is where the Women’s British Open will be held this year in August, so I was really excited.  When you’re watching that tournament, just think that I actually played the course.

The day of the game arrived. It was cloudy and cold but not raining.  On the way to the course at 6 AM with no breakfast or coffee I sunk into my thoughts for the upcoming day.  “Why am I even playing here? I’m not good enough to justify all this money for one golf game, my handicap is so high, my game is so inconsistent that if I play well one round, I’ll be terrible the next.  Wait, did I play well my last round of golf?  Oh no, I did! That means I’ll be terrible today. I’ve never had a caddie before, he or she will be so depressed. I’m playing with three men, one of whom I’ve not met and is a high school golf coach.  I’m playing with rented clubs. The day has already become a disaster!”  Of course I was expressing these thoughts to Tom who counseled me that we were paying the caddy so he’d be nice and that I needed to think POSITIVE swing thoughts not negative.

We got to the course and Kevin and Tommy were already there.  I gave Kevin a hug as I know him and Tommy seemed like a nice guy.  So we got our clubs and our bucket of balls and went to the practice range where I tried to hit my rented clubs.  Every one I pulled out I couldn’t hit.  Because the first shot I was going to hit would be with a driver my last practice shot was with a driver.  Naturally it dribbled off the tee to about 50 yards.  It was time to go.  When I met my caddie he was not the friendliest so I am sure he drew the short straw among our caddies and got the girl.  In the picture, the guy in the background is my caddie.  Note the folded arms.  Not good body language.

Standing at the first tee, with 3 men and 3 caddies watching, my heart pounding, I closed my eyes and swung the club. It landed in the fairway and went over 100 yards! None of the men had hit into the fairway and I could see my caddie breathe a sigh of relief. There were pot bunkers everywhere and Tom was in most of them all day. To the point where his caddie started complaining about having to rake so much and muttering about charging extra for it. On hole #7, I passed by Tom’s caddie raking the 8th pot bunker Tom had hit into.  He looked up at me longingly, wishing I’m sure, he had drawn the short straw and gotten the girl as I was playing the best round I’d had in years.

I found myself walking next to Tom going to hole #9 and said “Why aren’t you hitting any of your long clubs, the woods?”

“My caddie won’t give me one” he said, pouting.

Laughing, I said “See, negative thoughts do work!”

There were three of us in the same bunker at one point and Tom said “closest to the pin getting out wins and the other two buy the beer.”  Tom’s caddie looked at the other caddies and said” closest to the pin rakes” betting against Tom.  Tom won and his caddie had to rake, much to the delight of us all.  Do any of you readers remember seeing Robin Williams and his take on golf in Scotland?  If you’d like to refresh, here is the link but beware there is profanity:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcnFbCCgTo4

We celebrated our day with dinner at a restaurant where the food turned out to be fabulous.  We were even inspired to try the national dish, haggis. Haggis is everywhere.  You can get a burger with haggis, chicken stuffed with it, appetizers of haggis which ours was.  There are haggis and whiskey bars, odes and monuments to haggis.  Ours came with neeps and tatties.  I recommend that you google haggis.  It was actually pretty good. Skip the neeps.

Does anyone out there have a golf story they’d like to share?

 

What Happened in Scotland is NOT Staying in Scotland

Midnight in Cupar, Scotland. The street lamps are the only lights in the Village.  Everyone was asleep as it should be at midnight.  After renting a car we were on our way to St. Andrews after being up for 34 hours.  Portland to San Francisco to London to Edinburgh  We were two hours on the road when we got lost in Cupar.  Tom rounded a corner on what we thought was the way to the main road when it happened. The worst sound in the world at midnight in a foreign Country. The crunch,  the curb and the tire blew.

It turns out not everyone in Cupar was asleep.

As we got out of the car, a woman walked by with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.  “That’s bad, you can’t drive on that” she said.  “You’re gonna havta move that car, this road is really busy in the morning and you’ll get a ticket.”

 

In the morning?!   How would we make it til morning?  At that point our marriage seemed really rocky.  We moved the car down the street and lo and behold there was a light.  We bolted out of the car and went into a take out pizza place that was just closing.  The proprietor took pity on us.  Tom tried to call Hertz.  His phone message was “no carrier.”  Same with mine.  The extra money we had given Verizon to have our phones work in Scotland really paid off.  The pizza guy pulled out his phone, dialed the number we gave him for Hertz and handed the phone to Tom.  They were not happy.  The Hertz person said they’d call a tow truck which would be there by 2 AM and that we’d have to come to Edinburgh Airport the next day to get a new car.  The marriage got rockier.

Paul, the cheerful tow truck driver, showed up at 1:30 AM.    He had a big flat bed tow truck which he winched the car up onto.  We got in the cab with Paul who talked all the way to St. Andrews in his Scottish accent which was difficult to understand.

One thing he did say was “Going back to the airport tomorrow is dumb. The Hertz people are nasty there and it’ll take 5 hours.  I’ll drop the car at the Kwik Fit Tire place in St. Andrews,  and you call them in the morning to see if they can either fix the tire or give (i.e. sell) you a new one.”  So he did.  Then telling us that St. Andrews was one of his favorite places he proceeded to give us a tour at 2 AM in the morning.  We saw the Castle, the University, some ruins, his favorite coffee shop and then took us to our hotel at 2:30 where we checked in exhausted.

At 8:30 AM Tom was up calling Kwik Fit.  Because it’s Scotland, it was pouring rain, cold and windy.  At Kwik Fit they told us it would be a few hours so we walked into old St. Andrews, took a tour of the Castle and perused some shops.  It was still raining and cold, and we were soaked so a cafe sounded like the perfect answer.  After Tom decided we should split a panini of tuna, tomato and mozzarella cheese, it arrived at our table.  The mozzarella was not melted on warm tuna with tomatoes, instead it looked like they had dumped a can of tuna between two slices of bread, plopped a few (3) tiny mozzarella balls on top with two tiny slices of tomato. Things were not looking good.  At this point I was very unhappy with Tom’s overall decision-making AND, especially, his driving.  He chose to go to Scotland, he was an inept driver and now he’d selected a bad cafe and a really bad sandwich.  How could I have married this guy?  How can we make it to our next anniversary?  Our future together looked as dark as the weather outside.

Back to Kwik Fit where they hadn’t even looked at the car yet. Finally someone took pity on us. They couldn’t fix the tire but they were able to sell us a brand new one which set us back about $320. At this point my T-Chart evaluation of our marriage showed a long list of negatives and zero positives.

After a few days in St . Andrews we drove on to Inverness.  I was on the edge of my seat, extremely nervous, as the roads were really narrow, mostly curbed or with rocks right up to the edge or hedge rows covering stone walls and we were driving on the left.  “Tom, watch out, you’re going to hit the curb, or a rock or something!”  After about a day of this Tom turned to me and said  “If you know what’s good for you, don’t say another word about my driving or about anything I may be about to hit.”  “Don’t you even want me to warn you if you’re going to hit something?” I asked.  “No.”  After that I tried to focus on the scenery which was wonderful but it was hard.

My favorite Inn was the Corregior overlooking a Loch in Fort William.  It was an old fashioned Inn, full of antiques, wonderful people, cozy, great food and a bar where Tom tasted whiskey with the proprietor. She’s looking a little crazy in the photo so I must have caught her at an awkward moment.  I could have spent hours in their dining room alone which is on the left.

We also saw our first Hairy Coo (Cow) there. Scotland has unusual cows which are celebrated but we hadn’t seen one until we were on the road and coming back to the Inn when we saw them. Luckily there was a place to pull over so we did. I couldn’t get closer but they have long hair and the hair completely covers their eyes. There was a blonde Coo there also.

With memories of the Corregior Inn fresh in our heads, our next stop was Drymen (say Drimmen like the locals do) where we had the worst hotel room so far.  Walking around the small but very picturesque town, we saw a hiking path we followed which we found out later would have led to a Castle had we kept going.  We stopped in a little cafe called Skoosh ( the only one in town), had afternoon tea and crumpets. The most wonderful couple, Denise and Robert, owned the cafe and took us under their wing.  They gave us all sorts of advice, conversation and steered us to a restaurant for dinner that we loved. We would have eaten at the hotel but this place was less money and the food was great!  Proof is in the picture which is pork with Yorkshire pudding on top of it.  Delicious!

Meanwhile the tire light had gone on in the car.  Left front tire, the brand new one.  We were losing air. After Drymen we were headed back to Edinburgh Airport where we were returning the car.  It was about 50 miles away. Between Drymen and Edinburgh is the town of Sterling and 8 miles from Sterling, we stopped in a small gas station to put air in the tire. It was raining of course.  The really nice gas station man looked at our tire and said “You’ll never make it to Edinburgh on this tire.  It has a slit in it and is bubbling.  You might make it to Sterling and there’s a Kwik Fit there where you can  get a new tire.”  You know the rest of this story.  With about 15 miles to Edinburgh, we once again had to buy a new tire.  This time we got a discount.  It was only $270.  Both of us remembered hitting a pothole which must have torn the tire. If you ever see Kwik Fit in Scotland on the stock exchange, buy stock, it’s a sure winner!  Especially if Tom is headed to Scotland.

The end of the trip was the Lake Country in England where the scenery was spectacular.  We took a train from Edinburgh to Penrith where we were renting another car. As Tom got off the train in Penrith, he hustled to get his coat and our bags but I thought he was being hasty so I took my time.  Big mistake.  Who knew I had only 30 seconds to get off the train?  Tom was on the platform with me still on the train when the door locked and we were about to leave the station. Tom was frantically waving to the conductor and with the help of a train attendant on the platform, got the conductor to stop. They let me off but were not happy.  If I had not gotten off that train the next stop was at least 70 miles away…

We had a great time in England’s Lake Country where the weather was great, the B&B’s were fabulous and we had no more drama.

I’m glad to be home!

Can anyone out there top our mishaps with your own travel mishaps?

Stay tuned for our St. Andrews $1000 round of golf.  Will the fun never end?

Is This a Nightmare or is this my Neighbor?

They say silence is golden.  However if you write a blog, not so much. If you are following my blog you will notice a new and hopefully improved look, not to mention a new name. So really, I have my excuses.  All my previous blogs are now in categories which you can access by hovering over the blog heading above.  I hope you like the new look and thanks for sticking with me.

At some point in our lives most of us have experienced the neighbor from hell.  I have been meaning to write these stories for a long time and I hope you enjoy my first one.  I am calling them “The Joan Stories.”

The Wedding Dress

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon at the end of February 1987 that we first saw what was to become our home. Larkspur, CA at that time was a sleepy undiscovered small town in Marin County. My how times have changed! Now it’s one of the most “chi chi” and expensive places to live in the Bay Area.

 

It was no ordinary place we stopped in front of that day with our realtor and two small children.  A Chinese Tea House made a formidable entry, as did the Moon Gate to the right of that. We went through the Gate searching for the front door. No one answered our knock, so our realtor opened the lock box and in we went.  It was dark and a bit spooky. The house was rented to 12 Rock Musicians and even though it was 3 PM, no one was out of bed. We walked into an enormous living room with a huge brick fireplace and ceilings at least 20’ high. There were blue Christmas lights strung up all over the beams which had been painted black. We pulled open the curtains to reveal three sets of sliding doors onto a large veranda. We walked outside and fell in love. We were caught up in the magic of the place. The Teahouse, cypress trees surrounding a tiled reflecting pool, a greenhouse (which turned out to have someone living in it), a stone fireplace next to a hot tub and finally in back on the hillside, a small Chinese gazebo.

Tom and I didn’t say much to each other but went back inside where by this time our realtor had aroused one of the tenants. We went into his bedroom—dark with a mirrored ceiling, peeling grass cloth and kicked in wood paneling along one wall. The bathroom was painted black and dirty dishes were piled in the sink. We backed out of the room and knocked on another door. A dog growled. We never saw that bedroom until we bought the house. The kitchen had orange shag carpeting, orange wallpaper, rusted old appliances and a stuffed Iguana in the refrigerator.

We left, looked at each other and said YES!

We had a lot of work to do before we could move in by June 1st and spent most of our weekends working on the bedrooms, especially the kid’s rooms so those would at least be livable. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May, Tom and I were there working in the living room when we heard a voice outside.

“Neighbor, oh neighbor!”

Tom went out onto the deck. Coming up the steps was a woman who looked to be in her mid-50’s with reddish brown hair tied back with a satin feathered headband.  She was wearing an old wedding dress.

“Hi neighbor, I’m Joan and I live in the house right above you.”

Our house had once been a summer estate for a wealthy San Francisco family and the house Joan was talking about had been the Grandparent’s and was indeed right on top of us on the other side.

“Don’t mind me, just go back to what you’re doing. I’ve hired a photographer I met at the Silver Peso (the local biker bar downtown).  I convinced him  to come take pictures of me in my wedding dress. I told him to come here as this is the perfect place for the pictures, you have such a big room, and I won’t be bothering you!”

Joan proceeded to twirl about the place and as she twirled you could see the panel sewn into the back of the dress to make it fit. Sure enough we heard a motorcycle roaring up the street and stopping at the house.  It was the photographer looking a lot like a Hell’s Angel.

“Up here! I’m up here” yelled Joan.

He bounded up the stairs and sure enough had a camera. As Joan twirled and pirouetted in our living room and outside on the veranda, he shot the pictures.

“Oh neighbor, did you know I am going to Japan to teach Japanese businessmen how to dance?  They don’t know how to dance over there and I am going to teach them.”

When Joan was satisfied with the number of pictures he took, she promised to give us some and the two of them swept away.

That was our introduction to Joan. Who was this woman?  Was this a one time thing or the start of something else entirely.

Obviously it was just the beginning as I have several other stories.  Are you willing to tell me about your worst neighbor?

 

Larry Kruppenbacher

“I fell for her Windsor Chairs and she fell for my Samplers.”
Larry and Judy Kruppenbacher  joined our bocce group last year.   I watched as they came to the park where we were going to play and remember thinking  Oh no, surely he is not considering joining our group, he looks like he can barely lift a bocce ball let alone throw it down the court.

As I am in charge of our bocce group and make the teams up weekly, I immediately put Larry and Judy on my opponent’s team.  Well, I was so wrong.  Larry not only could throw that ball down the court, he was darn good at it.  Yes he was frail looking but I only found out why much later in the season.

Our bocce group lives for the happy hour we go to after we play. We often consider just going to happy hour and skipping the bocce altogether.  One particular evening I found myself sitting next to Larry at a restaurant in Lake Oswego where we play.  We were outside on the patio overlooking the lake.  I asked Larry a question and it must have been a good one because he was off and running.  I found myself ignoring everyone else there which never happens and just listening to Larry as his story was so fascinating.

Larry and Judy moved to Lake Oswego, OR from San Jose, CA in 2013.  They moved to  Mary’s Woods which is a continuing care retirement community.  It’s Catholic but if you’re not Catholic they will still let you in.  It’s a very popular place with several buildings consisting of apartments and also townhouses down by the river.

Larry and Judy moved to leave the ever-changing and chaotic Bay  Area environment and escape the high cost of living.  Boy, could I relate.

What fascinated me however was what Larry did at his new home to reinvent himself.   Back in the “old days” Larry was an obsessive antique collector of early Americana and had his own business Cape Cod Country. 

That background came in handy as Larry loved to peruse the shop at Mary’s Woods for the cast offs of his fellow residents.  With his discerning eye he could spot something  of value and he would snap it up for next to nothing.  His first “find” were two sterling silver baby cups for $7.  He took them immediately to an antique shop in Sellwood, OR and sold them for $75.  Feeling very proud of himself, his next coup was a pair of sterling candlesticks for $6.  Off again he went  to Sellwood and sold them for $85.  As he was bragging about the money he made to his wife Judy, she told him he was taking advantage of the Mary’s Woods shop for his own personal gain and did he know that the proceeds from that shop benefited the Resident’s Fund for those who needed help.  Larry was immediately struck by a lightening bolt of Catholic guilt.  Larry then donated his profits to the Residents Fund and a new career was born.  He now culls the donated items for things he believes can bring more money if sold elsewhere.  He has brought in and donated over $7000 to the Residents Fund.  His reputation has grown and he is kept very busy valuing items for Mary’s Woods residents.

Larry has never really found “the big one” in terms of thousands of dollars profit, but has a couple of  success stories to tell.  He once bought an old cast iron eggbeater at a garage sale in San Jose for $10.  Judy did her usual “what are we going to do with that” routine but changed her tune when he sold it for $750.  He sold it to the eggbeater expert who had written two books on eggbeaters.  Because he lived only an hour away, Larry and Judy got to see his 1200+ eggbeater collection.

Another find occurred in Oregon when Larry picked up a painting of Rooster Rock on the Gorge for $1.  It was by Eliza Barchus a renowned Oregon painter of Mt. Hood and Gorge scenes.  He had it restored and sold it for $800 at a local auction.

I asked Larry how he and Judy had met.  This was his answer: ” I fell in love with her Windsor Chairs and she fell in love with my Samplers.”  Larry has the driest wit of anyone I know and he is  quick with a quip.  Judy also is an antique collector and that is how they met.  Judy had us all crying with laughter at one happy hour as she was picking on Larry and for once Larry had nothing to come back with.  I am so happy to know the two of them.

Many happy hours and laughs later, I found out why Larry is so frail looking.  He has Parkinson’s disease.  This only slows him down a bit.  There is another man in our bocce league with Parkinson’s.  Both are good bocce players and you can tell both are former athletes.  Both have great senses of humor and in a competition I would be happy to have either on my team.

.Our dog Larry.  Yes, named after that Larry.

Life is like a Snow Globe

2015-04-24 10.12.21

 

If the circumstances in your life were not working, would you have the courage to reboot and change them?

He packed his bags and headed for the border, wife in tow.  But why?  What made him leave his home of 36 years, his children, grandchildren, not to mention his Wednesday night bocce league and  pizza with the boys afterwards?

Welcome to my new blog theme:  What makes a person get out of their rut or comfort zone and change everything?  I have decided to interview and profile people who have done this and who knows?  Maybe it will inspire you to change something that is not working.

I am starting with our story and interviewing my husband Tom.  Cronyism at it’s finest.

Tom, why did you pack your wife and head for the border?tom

We lived in Marin County for 34 years followed by 2 years in Napa.  The last 25 years in Marin were spent in an historic house that we loved but was a money and time sinkhole, just like the movie “The Money Pit.”tea house

In 2009 my outplacement business was busier than it had ever been.  Unfortunately it was a case of “the best of times, the worst of times”.  While we were busy, fees were very low, the likelihood of finding jobs for our candidates was low and payables were very slow to come in.  Then my credit line was frozen and I found myself living from fee collection to fee collection in order to pay my employees and the overhead.  It was a very stressful next two years.

Our solution?  Sell the money pit. This turned out to be Step One on our way to Portland.

Over the years we had discussed where we would move when the time came.  We narrowed our search to Austin, Texas eliminating all West Coast cities due to costs (Bay Area & Southern California), weather (Seattle) or nuttiness (Portland).  We’d seen a couple of episodes of the TV show Portlandia and knew we couldn’t live in a place that required living on a sustainable chicken farm if you wanted to order chicken in a restaurant.

Step One was completed when we sold our house.  The sale was complicated in that we had only three weeks to move before closing.  Since I still owned and ran a business based in San Francisco we had to find something that would enable me to continue working.  The short window forced us to rent rather than buy.  This turned out to be Step Two as it didn’t tie us down to one location; rather, it gave us flexibility once the lease expired.

We found a decent rental house on the water in Napa.  From there I could access all my Bay Area offices relatively easily.  So we settled in Napa.  While there we began a casual house hunt.  We found little of interest that was affordable.  As time passed we liked living in Napa less and less.  While there I was approached by a national firm that wanted to acquire my business.  Sold!  Foolishly, I thought that I would find something interesting and acceptable in Napa but it turned out that I was old, gray-haired and not in the food, wine or hospitality industries.napa  A friend of mine pointed out that while I thought I had 40 years of experience, HR saw an ambulance waiting outside the front door.  In other words, I didn’t exist as a potential employee for someone else and I had no interest in starting another business.

In a quirk of fate I found a job listing at a company where a friend of mine is an executive.  The job was in Portland.  I asked Stevie “If I got a job in Portland, would you move there?”  She answered “Yes.  I’d move anywhere you found a job.”  (That comment made my situation seem even more desperate than I had realized)  So I called my friend and started the application process.  A day later Stevie asked if I would consider moving to Portland even if I didn’t get the job.  “Absolutely not,” was my response.  However, as a sensitive, cautious husband normally does I began to reflect upon her question.  Why would she ask that if she wasn’t considering it?  What happens if I just ignore her?  Where else will we go?  I didn’t have a better option and time was slipping away.  We went on a 90 minute hike and did a T-chart comparison of Austin with Portland and for various reasons, at the end of the hike we were moving to Portland.  It also didn’t seem to be as popular a destination,  (Portlandia notwithstanding) as Austin .

We booked a trip: Step Three.  We arrived midday on a Saturday and picked up our rental car.  Of course it was a Prius.  More Portlandia.  We drove around the city to get an idea of where things were.  I had made an appointment to look at a house in Lake Oswego first thing Monday morning.  We walked around the area and got a beer at a local pub.  While sipping the beer we concluded that Lake Oswego was just like Larkspur, our hometown of 25 years.  Since we were in a different place in life we decided the house and area was not for us and cancelled the appointment.  Big mistake.

After looking at houses and apartments each day we had scheduled dinner each night with friends to discuss our possible move to Portland.  Arriving at the restaurant the first night I couldn’t figure out to how shut off the Prius.  Stevie finally said “We’re in Portland.  Go inside and ask if anyone has a Prius.  I bet everyone in there will have one.”  So inside I went and spoke with the hostess about my problem.  She had a Prius!  And kindly came outside to show me how to turn it off.

Our friends all encouraged us to make the move.  At dinner the last night we were in town my friend’s wife suggested that since we knew nothing about Portland, we should rent a small apartment downtown to become familiar with the city.

Step Four: The next day we rented a one bedroom, two bath loft in the Museum District which is downtown between the Pearl District and Portland State University.IMG_4148  Now we were committed to the move and had little more than a month to downsize again, sell one of our vehicles and arrange for the move.  I packed a box with essentials we would need for the first night spent in the apartment waiting for the trailer to arrive.  Unfortunately it went into the moving van so we had no essentials like towels and toilet paper.  We did have an Aerobed.  A leaky Aerobed as it turned out.  Amazingly we also had duct tape.  With several reflations and the duct tape we made it through the night though when I climbed out of the Aerobed in the morning it snapped shut and swallowed Stevie much the way a Venus Fly Trap catches insects.

Step Five:  Towards the end of college friends would ask what I was planning to do and I’d answer “my life is like a snow globe at rest for awhile and now it’s time to turn it upside down and see what new comes of it”.  Since our lives had just turned upside down we dove into life in our new city.  We lived in the loft for two years and became familiar with the city and met a lot of people through work, and especially through Newcomers Club.  The biggest surprise to us in this move has been the increased social activity.  Our willingness to reach out to meet new people has made the move successful.  We now have a circle of new friends, a new house that is sized to our needs and are living in a less expensive area that has ocean and mountain access in less than two hours from our house.  We haven’t seen an episode of Portlandia since we’ve moved.

Q. Would we go back to California given the chance? 

NO!

 

And that my friends is our story.  My next interview will be with a woman who has followed her husband around the Country as he has taken on new jobs.  She has had to reinvent herself many times and has always insisted that she’s much smarter than her husband.  I know them both and I must agree!  Find out what she is doing now.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Larry

The second we saw Larry we were smitten.  There he was, in a shop that was closed, looking at us with big eyes.  We could tell right away that he wanted to go home with us.   We were in Sandpoint, Idaho on the first day of a two day road trip, the eventual destination of Golden, Colorado for a wedding.  I’d never heard of Sandpoint but it’s a cool little resort town in the mountains, surrounded by gigantic Lake Ponderay where lots of rich and famous people have second homes.  And we fell in love with a Bulldog.  He was colorful, muscular and had a spiked collar on which told me he was a boy.  He looked like an English Bulldog but had French Bulldog ears.

Road Trip!

The next day, after a hike and breakfast we made a beeline to the shop, hoping Larry was still there.  Yes!  He was waiting for us.  After about 10 minutes, Larry was ours.  The shopkeeper said his name was Spike but to us he was Larry.  Tom went to get the car.  All of a sudden it dawned on me, we were on a road trip.  Would Larry be a good traveler?  We put him in the backseat and went on our way to our next destination:  Kallispell, Montana.  Larry was the best Bulldog ever. Nary a peep.  We checked our handy dandy hotel tonight app on the phone and found a place to stay.  Would they take Larry?

Larry ended up being perfectly happy in the trunk.

larryA perfect road trip is one in which unexpected things happen. We didn’t expect to be eating Yak burgers and Boar burgers in Kallispell, MT. I have looked for large metal flowers forever but didn’t expect to get those in Bozeman, MT. Bozeman was one of those places I am pretty sure I could live in and be happy. We stayed at the Pronghorn Inn in Lander, WY. Lander is a one street town but the home of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), where our son had gone between his Senior year in HS and college. He spent a semester in the Rockies. They have a brand new building and we were poking around in the evening, when someone came out the front door and asked what we were doing. We got inside information on where to hike and got a personal tour the next day. Completely unexpected!

We spent five days altogether in Colorado between the wedding and seeing old friends.  We headed home through the same states we had been through on the way down, but different places.  Surely the trip home would be boring.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming ~

snake-riverWe made really good time through Wyoming as it’s wide open roads and high speed limits.  Instead of pulling off the freeway at a fast food place for lunch we decided to go into one of the towns off the freeway.  The very small town was further off than we thought, but so glad we did. We ate at the Huckleberry Cafe and the food was wonderful!  Giant grilled sandwiches and an expresso ice cream shake for dessert.  The owner talked our ears off and had a guest book for us to sign.  So much better than McDonalds.

We made it to Burley, Idaho that night and the next morning, realizing that Twin Falls was only 40 miles away, we headed there for breakfast.  We turned into Twin Falls and ran into a canyon!

Twin Falls is the only place in the Country that you can base jump without a permit. We saw that also and then hiked to the place where Evil Knievel made his famous try at jumping over the Snake River Canyon. That’s Tom on top of the Evil Knievel jump off point.

We spent most of the day in Twin Falls and then headed to Boise, Idaho. This is the place we were meant to live.  We found a hotel through our hotel tonight app and then headed downtown to dinner.  We hit restaurant row where all the restaurants had outdoor seating and everything was jam packed.  We went into a place called Fork that was full inside also, but we could sit at the bar.  This bar was spectacular. The building itself was a former bank and the people were so friendly!  The guy sitting next to us insisted we try his appetizer as it was so delicious. His girlfriend insisted we have some of their onion rings.  We offered them tastes of our food. My Idaho trout was out of this world. We had a bottle of one of the best Rose’ wines I’ve ever had.  It was local and the winery is called “Cinder.” Who knew Idaho made wine?

balloon-close-upThe next morning as Tom opened the curtains in our room, we saw this:  A hot air balloon festival.

Needless to say we made a beeline to the park.  

After a trip to Cinder winery and a case of wine later, we headed into Oregon where we spent the night in Pendleton, a true cowboy town.  I was in heaven.  The very definition of a perfect road trip.

I am still working on my idea for ongoing blogs and really, it’s coming soon!

Any ideas for a road trip?  We have decided that is the best way to travel and we are now road trippers.