Last December, I found myself in Texas wondering where to spend the winter. I could go southeast to Florida, or I could just go home to California. Looking at a map, the west coast didn’t look much farther than Florida, so I headed west.
I spent awhile in The Lone Star State, seeing former California friends and visiting a cousin I knew about but never met. Evelyn’s dad and my grandmother were brother and sister.
Driving west across Texas, I came across the National Center for Illustrated Children’s Literature in Abilene. For a former school librarian, this was like Disneyland. I was able to see original works of art that had been published in familiar children’s books. This center hosts notable children’s book illustrators a few times a year.
In Midland, I stopped to see the childhood home of President George W. Bush. That evening I camped in Monahans State Park which is surrounded by sand dunes.
It was kind of exciting to reach I-10, even though I was still several days away from home. I-10 is a familiar California freeway.
In Arizona, I stayed in Benson and visited Tombstone, an interesting wild west town. Now I know more about the Shootout at the OK Corral.
My niece & family hosted me for a few days in Tucson. It’s always fun hanging out with Kim, Harrison and their girls.
Ah… now I was back on familiar roads and enjoyed driving west on I-8. On December 20, I pulled into a campground east of San Diego. My calculations showed that I had driven 17,000 miles since leaving California in July, crossed 31 states and made two trips into Canada.
A few days later, I was in Riverside celebrating Christmas Eve with family and good friends.
Something I missed on my adventures was driving in familiar cities on familiar streets. It was really nice being on streets and freeways I knew. I could put the GPS away for awhile. I was hoping for typical warm weather and sunny days in Southern California. However, this was one of the coldest and wettest winters California has ever experienced.
I loved connecting with friends and family. My kids and I celebrated a birthday and attended a play together. One week, I think I had coffee, lunch, dinner or yogurt with someone every single day!
It was great being back in my home church for a few weeks. This was also a good time to get my car serviced, arrange for new eyeglasses and see my tax guy.
The trailer needed maintenance, so I left it at the dealer for a week. BFF Angela (See #27 – Lucy & Ethel) asked if I would help her display at a trade show. At the end of January, we drove to Las Vegas and set up a booth for her company, Classy BottleToppers (classybottletoppers.com). We learned a lot, made some sales and connected with other entrepreneurs who are successfully marketing their products. On our last evening there, we went to the Cirque du Soleil production of The Beatles LOVE.
Back in Southern California, it rained and rained and rained. One afternoon, ducks were swimming through my campsite!
Spring slowly returned to the Southland. I enjoyed hiking and seeing wildflowers in Palm Springs. One Saturday, the ladies from my church visited Shields Date Gardens and I was able to join them.
My daughter and I went to a bridal shower for a young cousin and a few weeks later, our family was at her beautiful outdoor wedding.
Cousin Millie & Rob took me to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to see the amazing poppy bloom this year. While there, I had a dent on my car fixed, thanks to a good friend of Rob’s.
I also got to visit my oldest first cousin, Richard, age 93, who passed away just a few weeks later.
When April arrived, I knew it was time to get back out on the road. I wanted to allow plenty of time to travel to Waxahachie, Texas for a women’s camping event.
My winter in California wasn’t always sunny & warm, but it warmed my heart to be there with people I love.