In 1971, we started our epic Camping Road Trip in Southern California. We wanted to see as much of the country as we could so we could pick our place to live. In our circumstance, the rat race of Southern California was just not going to cut it. (More on that later.)
We piled into my 1971 Metallic Blue Datsun 1200.
And when I say “piled” I mean enough stuff that in each campground people gathered to watch in awe as we unloaded and set up an elaborate outdoor domicile. By the end of our 4 months on the road, we were pretty impressive in our efficiency, both in setting up and breaking camp.
We drove up and down and back and forth across the southernmost United States so we could reach our goal of camping in every state. A few things stand out of course, like the Grand Canyon (though I was too sick to hike down to the bottom…more on that later also). We tried to find something unique wherever we stopped, you know, something only the locals would know about…like Chang Gonzalez’s Kosher German Deli in Blue Lake, New Mexico. Wait. I’ll let you digest that name…
On the Gulf Coast of the Deep South, we pulled into a classic KOA Campground in Biloxi, Mississippi. I remember us being exhausted that day and all we wanted was to set up camp, have a sandwich and a glass of wine, and hit the sack (or bag, as it were). Oh NO! Somehow, we had lost our wine corkscrew. This was not acceptable so we wandered out into the campground to see who looked like they might have one.
And there they were…Bill and Linda. To shorten a very long story (45 years worth, in fact) they had a corkscrew and they also had a flat in New York City, close to Columbia University where they were students. They were on the same quest as we were, camping across America to pick their place to live after college.
When I told Linda our trip would take us through New York City and we were excited to camp in their giant park (Central Park! What did I know??) she laughed and within minutes of knowing me, gave me the keys to their apartment so we would have a safer (more legal) place to stay in their city!
That was it! She just handed over her keys! When it is her turn to tell our story, Linda will say she knew she could trust me because I had already shared with her the fact that I was pregnant, and fairly proud of the fact that I had not felt the need to get married because of it.
After we each completed our months’ long searches to find our permanent homes, Bill and Linda chose Portland, Oregon to live in and we chose Seattle, a mere 3 hours away.
So Linda, the traditional girl from Ohio, student with her husband at Columbia, and Kathie, the Hippie Chick from San Diego, too “morning-sick” to climb down the Grand Canyon, in an instant, became fast friends for life. And we still are.
Linda has continued to “hand over her keys” to me for more than 45 years, to her house, her vacation homes, her psyche and her heart. And she has always made it safe for me to do the same! I could not have found a more perfect, lifelong best friend than my Linda.
Happy Birthday Linda! This post is dedicated to YOU for your love and patience and wisdom all these years!!
PS Your present is in the mail!!
Our theme for Song Lyric Sunday is to post a song from a band you recently saw in concert. If you don’t go to concerts or haven’t been to one in a while, feel free to post a song that you would love to hear live.
If you’d like to participate, go to https://helenespinosa.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/song-lyric-sunday-theme-for-91816/
Well, I’m going to veer off again and post a song I heard at my most recent concert that has no lyrics!
It was a terrific concert at the Woodlawn Park Zoo in their ZooTunes series…a birthday gift from my James. We brought a picnic and sat on the lawn with dear friends that James jams with on THIS side of the mountains. (not his regular band from Spokane…) These newer friends are so great and we have really grown to love them. The guys bring together a variety of professional musical experience and have a good time playing together. They call themselves (light-heartedly) Geri and the Attrics!
The women have all become good friends too so sharing this amazing concert was a huge treat!
I chose a song that I think highlight’s Beck’s amazing talent. It’s from a slightly older concert but at 72 years old, the guy definitely still has it!!!
It’s a great “close your eyes and drift” song if you like hearing a guitar genius at work.
Mind blowing gig, and a wonderful encore performance by Jeff Beck and band, when they played the fantastic Ronda hall (amazing sound and light systems, exploited to the limit by Jeff) at the Tivoli Vredenburg venue, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on Sunday, May 25th, 2014.
This is a love letter to my Dad, and a Thank You to the amazing, brave pilots who make up the Blue Angels.
It’s Seafair in Seattle and the Blue Angels are here!!!
When I was growing up, Angels were a surprising but recurring theme with my fairly agnostic father. He was one of the least religious and more unconsciously spiritual people I have ever known. Angels seemed to be everywhere in the things he did, where he took us and in what he showed us.
From San Diego, where we grew up, we went on many trips north to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels”, to ride the “Angels Flight”.
He told us many stories of the “Guardian Angels” he had as a kid who helped him survive his completely unsupervised childhood. Apparently he had many bizarre accidents and adventures…like tumbling off a mountain and landing halfway down on the only possible 11 inch ledge that could break his death-fall.
When he died, it was really no surprise that we received gracious help from the Hell’s Angel’s on the day of his Memorial.
We bungee-corded my Dad’s ashes to the back of his lifelong Dream-Harley. (He didn’t get it until he was in his eighties.) Our caravan of family cars followed Lee on the bike out into the mountains East of San Diego to my Dad’s favorite little town called Julian. We celebrated his life and when we got ready to leave, I spotted a couple of real Harley riders, mounting up. I told them my Dad’s story, and pointed out the box of ashes on the back of my Dad’s bright red, flame-painted Sportster (with matching helmet). Much to my delight (and the chagrin of some of my religious relatives) we were escorted down the mountain by the two guys I talked to AND their friends. FIFTY Hells Angels followed my Dad (and us) back down that mountain, lights on, in two perfect parallel lines!
The Blue Angels entered my life very young!
My favorite of the Angel Activities as a kid was this. My little sisters were too young, so Dad would take just me to Miramar Naval Air Base early on Sunday mornings, to watch the Blue Angels practice their soon to become famous stunts. He was very proud of being able to get on the Base and to show off what he claimed to be the planes that “he had built”. (My Dad was an aeronautical engineer who moved from Kansas to San Diego to work in his industry.) I would ride on his shoulders for the “show” and he would duck down when they flew over, as if they were actually flying low enough to be dangerous to this lone man with a squealing little girl on his shoulders. What an absolute thrill it was and my memories to this day are so clear, so physical!
Though I struggled sometimes with the dichotomy of a Hippie Peacenik Flowerchild being in love with fighter pilot jets, I have watched The Blue Angels through so many stages of my life. In my 20’s and 30’s, before the trees grew up around us, the huge deck off my house was the favorite viewing place of all the single Mom’s in the neighborhood. We’d put on our bikini’s and pose on the deck, debating the safety of doing that…as if the pilots were actually going to look down at us each time they flew over! Then, there were the years I worked lunches in a fancy restaurant in the tallest building in Bellevue…sharing the panoramic viewing experience with my wealthy customers. One of my favorite memories was when my small son and I watched them while we were zipping around Lake Washington on a friend’s Jet Ski right under them. What a high that was!!
And for almost 40 of these years, we kept the Blue Angels alive in our conversations during the rest of year. My best friend’s father, Colonel Louis Ford, was like a second Dad to me. He was a fighter pilot in 3 wars. And though he was respectful of the “Angels”, he clearly had a bias! Made for some lively discussions, Air Force vs Navy pilots, between him and my Dad, who built jets for the Navy! Colonel Ford taught me about the concepts of Hangar Flying (the time spent in the hangar, processing mistakes and accidents) as well as “The Hole in the Sky” (an opening in the clouds) that a pilot sometimes had to find in order to survive.
Boys got me autographs on my Blue Angel’s birthday t-shirt!
Now, I have 2 Grandsons, 9 and 11, and their Mom and my son have taken them to see the Blue Angels every year of their lives. This has been a great setting to share stories of my Dad, the wonderful Great Grandfather they never got to meet, a man who had a life filled with “Angels” and he passed them all onto us….
For many years I went by myself to a tiny (and progressively less secret) park on Mercer Island shore, the Thursday and Friday prior to the big Seafair Air Show. On Thursday, from this little park on the water, you can watch the scouting the Blue Angels do each year to get the lay of the land. And on Fridays, you can watch a full rehearsal of the big show they will perform on Saturday and Sunday. You can’t be at this little park for the actual show as it becomes an emergency Aid Station on those days.
My ritual was always to go there early, get settled and then call my Dad….so I could be on the cell phone with him as the Angels arrived. That first fly over is an indescribable thrill! In that park, they fly in low and from behind you. Their approach is muted by the hillside and thick trees, almost silent until suddenly, they thunder over your head. It is kind of like walking up the path next to the massive, rolling Niagara Falls; totally quiet until you get past a certain point and then instantly it becomes a deafening roar of falling water.
Anyway, I would hold the phone up in the air and scream at the top of my lungs as my Dad’s Angels buzzed our shared location.
No matter when or where I see them, I am instantly five years old again, sitting way up high on my Daddy’s shoulders when those beautiful Blue Angels scream by.
my only shot this year from my deck. they fly directly over me. could not get camera working in time
I sure hope Dad witnessed that generous and spontaneous Hell’s Angel Memorial procession, and that he sees us watching the Blue Angels every year, from somewhere up there through the “hole in the sky”.
When my son was about 20, he picked up an old Porsche to rebuild. He worked on it for years, including finally finishing major parts of the body work while it was parked in his grandmother’s driveway. She forgot it was there, drove into her driveway late one night and totalled the car. He is 43 now and has hauled it around with him to every place he has lived…Nebraska, Arizona, and several places in Washington state.
At one point, in support of his project, I told him that though I didn’t much want to work on the car with him, I had a supportive parallel project going that was just about as time consuming, so I challenged him….a race to the finish line.
I won and I gave him MY project a few years ago.
That car now lives HERE at my home, along with my son and his two sons. He plans on the three of them finishing it together. I really hope so as now it has become a symbolic “principle” of the whole thing.
But I am thinking maybe I start a new parallel project and re-challenge him. What do you think?
Made with beads and my son’s great-grandmother’s mostly glass buttons.
This is the story of my oldest Grandson, Julius Jones Blank. No, he was not named after the football player but rather his Uncle Jones, who gallantly stepped in during his sister’s long labor with Julius…to give the Dad a break for his back.
Julius has been a spiritual being since he was born.
And he is gorgeous. I know I’m his grandmother and you might think I’m biased but seriously….Check out these genes.
His Maternal grandparents and three Uncles
His Dad and Grandfather
This kid has also been smart from the start. One of his favorite toys at less than a year old was this contraption that you drop a ping pong ball into so you can watch it wind down through a swirly tunnel. At the bottom, the ball is blown back up to the starting point again with a gust of air. Apparently that was too simple for Julius so he began trying out different things to see if they would float above the toy in the puffs of air.
Here he is experimenting with feathers floating
When he would come across the street to visit me, I would have all these expensive toys for him (Hey, do I know my job as a Gramma or what?) but he had his favorites.
My giant salad bowl provided hours of entertainment, especially “music”.
And I guess his fascination with air propulsion continued because my fan and a plastic bag would keep him busy for hours.
Even when he was older, our favorite autumn game was called “American Beauty”. I named it that after a really beautiful scene in that movie. Kind of obscure and I would not let the boys see that movie but if you did, you know the scene.
Playing American Beauty at the school closed for Thanksgiving
He’s been a Master Builder from the start
And an artist. I couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with if I gave him a pile of paper, some scissors and some scotch tape. One day it would be a practically animated, pop-up type greeting card, and the next he would fashion 10 claws to decorate his fingers.
a glass blowing class and a “paint like the Masters” class
He thought early on he’d be a scientist.
Science Fair at school
And he was born to be a musician, like many generations before him (mother, father, grandfather, uncle, step-grandpa, etc.).
First REAL guitar
He’s a natural athlete.
And we started getting him ready for the only motorcycle fairly early on.
He can be such a goofball, very entertaining with his magic skills, sense of humor or just his face!
He’s always been in awe of and drawn to animals.
He is the MOST amazing big brother, almost from day one. We had to cut him some slack that very first day when he asked if his Mom could please put his baby brother “back in there”.
He has so many expressions…
This is the one I just posted for “Face” for the WPC
But here is my favorite look. It reminds me that since he was very young, he has let me be one of his best friends!
Happy anniversary of Mount Saint Helen’s Day, Julius. The day you “erupted” into our lives was the best day ever!!
Love you so much,