A Year of Exploring Comes to a Close

In Northern California, jumping in fallen leaves even happens toward the end of November!

As 2019 comes to a close, I reflect back on our holiday season here in Northern California. We are fortunate to stay in a nice RV park while taking a break from our roaming and exploring around the United States to spend time with family and friends. Some RV parks have a time limit, so being able to land several months in one place is a real blessing. It seemed once we got here a few things started to fall apart. Our reliable and hard working Ford truck developed several alarming “symptoms” including a worn wheel bearing that turned out to be a potential safety issue. Luckily, it didn’t happen while we were traveling on the winding coastal roads of Oregon or another far flung area. We were able to take the truck to a repair shop we trusted in Modesto and after several days our truck was back to normal. Another major issue was Mark’s teeth which became problematic a few days after arriving. After several visits to two dentists, it became apparent that much more dental work remains to be done. We are glad this is happening while planning to be in one location for awhile. Suffice it to say, that it looks like we will be staying in our spot even longer than intended to get all the dental work completed. But now, on to some fun activities we have enjoyed the past few months.

Luke judges the decorated cupcakes to pick out a winner

The two big events in November were our grandson Luke’s 9th birthday which was a lively bash with friends making pizzas and decorating cupcakes and Thanksgiving. For the holiday, we got together with family at our niece Elaine and husband Philip’s house. Philip smoked two turkeys for the event and they were the best I have ever eaten. I told Mark on the way there that turkey (although good) is usually my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal as the sides are so good, but this time the turkey was as good as the sides. Our holiday meals are usually served with a large dish of teasing and I think this time we laughed more than usual until our stomachs ached 😆 😂. An ever expanding coconut cream pie was one culprit.

From left to right, three lovely ladies at Thanksgiving – Niece Elaine, daughter Shannon and sister Barbara. They had no idea ahead of time that they would be color coordinated!

I am usually asked to provide a cheese board and this year I decided to make a little competition out of it. While staying near Medford, Oregon I found out about the Rogue River Creamery, known for making blue cheese. This year one of their cheeses won a world championship in Italy out of more than 3,800 entries from 42 countries. This was the first win for an American cheese company. I put this cheese out as well as others and asked family members to guess which one was the champion.

During November it was a lot of fun getting to see our grandsons play with their basketball teams as the season came to a close. This was our first opportunity to see them play this sport. They love the game and often practice out front of their home. I have even tried to play a few pickup games with them and am glad they put up with my lack of agility!

Grandson Luke
Will Levi make the hoped for basket?

Our grandsons both participated in their holiday church musical, titled, “The Little Drummer Dude.” It was quite a production with kids from the ages of 5 to 15 participating. There was singing, choreographed dancing and they both had speaking parts. We were proud grandparents! Luke played one of the wise men and Levi was in the chorus. I found myself humming songs for some days after the show.

Luke on far right in blue/purple robe
Levi is bottom center with brown striped sweater
Family picture after the performance

In December, both boys had their piano recitals featuring holiday music played at a local retirement home. Levi has only been taking lessons a few months, so his teacher played a duet with him. Luke has been playing about four years and has made excellent progress. It was another proud grandparent moment listening to them perform.

Luke playing “Little Drummer Boy”
Levi takes a bow after playing “Silent Night”

As can be imagined, it is hard to have a Christmas tree in a 21 foot travel trailer. But it was even more fun to help decorate the tree at our grandsons’ house. During travels, their family has collected ornaments from a number of places and it was fun to once again see what they had found.

Gingerbread house decorating (and eating?)

Celebrating the holidays together is often about scheduling and since Shannon and Jonathan were going to Texas at Christmas time to be with his family, we celebrated early. Because our son and daughter-in-law are nurses living in Southern California, their schedules are also challenging, but we managed to all get together one evening and had a great time catching up while enjoying food and gifts. Our grandsons love creating things and enjoyed making something for each person that included puzzles, stories and/or games for us to try.

Shannon with a homemade activity page from the boys
Mark and Levi hamming it up
Matt and Emma – Emma models her eye mask and travel pillow – perfect gift for the world travelers who are headed for a trip to the Middle East in January.

Christmas was spent in Chico with my parents who I am happy to report continue to be hale and hearty! It was a peaceful few days enjoying their company. Thanks to Trader Joe’s for the best ham ever! Mark and I have been happily creating several meals from the remains this past week. And it wouldn’t be a holiday in Chico without homemade berry cobbler, yum!

Christmas Day in Chico with my folks

When you live near the Pacific Flyway you have to go out and see waterfowl each winter. The day after Christmas we headed to Llano Seco Preserve, only about 20 minutes from my parents’ home. They were a bit disappointed there were no snow geese when we arrived, as they had seen hundreds of them there several weeks before. But we encountered the most Northern Pintail ducks I have ever seen on a birding trip. There were hundreds of those, one of the most beautiful species of ducks in my opinion. We also saw an eagle as it flew around landing at different places while scaring other waterfowl. It was a bit of a mystery to us and others visiting that day. We didn’t know if it was a golden eagle or an immature bald eagle with its dark coloring and lack of white head. Birding is like that, you often leave puzzled but glad you came out to be with the birds!

My parents checking out the many ducks

Although we won’t be doing much sightseeing in the next few months, I have plenty more posts to write and catch up on. I have two more related to our Oregon trip and then want to do some posts from travels of the last year or two. I didn’t write about these places due to time issues.

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2020 and a thank you for following along with us on our journey! We have really appreciated your interest in our travels and kind comments!

8 thoughts on “A Year of Exploring Comes to a Close”

  1. It’s so fun to see all these pictures! We sure had a fun holiday season and you captured it so well! It’s been great to spend so much time together❤️. Thanks for all the great pictures of the kids performances, sports, parties and activities!

    1. Thanks Shan, appreciate your comment! You guys made the holidays such a special time for us, so glad we could be here!

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