Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Greetings

This is a picture of a Christmas ornament sent to me by Joan Pomeroy. Did you know that Santa or Sinter Klaus has already arrived? He goes down the chimney on Dec. 5 so the children get gifts on Dec. 6. The Dutch Santa rides a white horse and puts bad children in his sack and sends them to Spain.

Joan said that she bought the ornament when she was in Pella, Iowa. Joan is a fulltime RVer writer whom I met several times in the past years. This summer we toured Pella, ate at the Strawtown Inn Restaurant, and saw a Shakespeare play. She also accompanied me to the Ladies Birthday Tea in June. We met again in Ft. Worth Texas at my Camping World book signing and went to dinner at Red Lobster with her and Jerry.

The youngest and smallest member of our family is a new great grandson. He is the child of Jamie and Juan. (Jamie is the daughter of my son Steven.) Juan Jose Valacruz Junior was born by C-section Sunday morning Dec. 9. (His name is pronounced Wan Hosa Val a Cruise.) He weighed 3 pounds and 14 ounces. He is breathing on his own and appears healthy. He will remain in Houston Northwest Hospital until he reaches 5 pounds.

We are celebrating Christmas in Yuma, AZ. We went to a Living Christmas Tree where a church choral group of 80 persons performed a program entitled "It Happened in Bethlehem." Christmas dinner will be at the Clubhouse with Yuma Lakes Campground furnishing the turkey and ham, stuffing and gravy and each of us providing the other dishes.

Merry Christmas and may you receive the blessings of love, laughter, good health, good food, good friends, and good fortune in 2008!


Terry and Darlene Miller

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Book Signings and Fun in Texas

I had three book signings at Camping World stores on our way from Iowa to Castaways RV Park in Willis, Texas. Pictured is one of my fans who wanted to meet a “real author.” The charming young man, who has a wonderful imagination, is showing me sketches of his “inventions.” Terry's cousin, Bill Miller, and wife Joann from the Ft. Worth area met us in Ft. Worth. We also met some RV friends and the six of us went out to eat at Red Lobster.

On Monday, November 12, Carol Weishampel and I went to the CARE-A-THON in Livingston, which was a fund raising for CARE. Besides setting up a book table and giving a portion of our receipts to CARE, we each donated two books to the auction.

Since arriving at Castaways, we have gone to a senior’s lunch, played Bingo and won a pie and some brownies. We went to a potluck supper and jam session at the clubhouse. Last night, we dined with Dick and Irene Madlung who grilled salmon for us as a pre-birthday celebration for Terry. I have played Sticks, Bingo, Skip-Bo and Crazy Rook. Yes, we are having fun meeting with friends that we have not seen for two years.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More RV Chuckles and Chuckholes

My new book has arrived! I am pleased with it and hope all of you like it as well as I do.
Did you know that if you click on the pictures, you could see them better? I realize that you still can’t read the reviews of the manuscript that are on the back cover because the print is too small, so I am copying it here for you. I did shorten the reviews to get all of them on the back page. (I apologize if I cut your words.) Now we are in the process of changing the web page to include the new book. Yes, I do have an isbn number but it has not been added to this proof.

Darlene Miller shares what the day-to-day life on the road is like for her and husband Terry. They search for the white (Kermodei) bear on their way to Alaska. She describes how she bonds with her grandchildren while traveling. Guest contributors write about the quest for New Mexican chilies; what happens when the windshield broke in the middle of traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge; or how to RV when you’re born with no mechanical genes. More RV Chuckles and Chuckholes is an instructive read for new RVers and a trip down memory lane for experienced travelers. Alice Zyetz - RV Traveling Tales: Women’s Journeys on the Open Road

Darlene Miller treats us to viewpoints on The Perfect RV Woman, "She is thrifty, gives a great back rub, and always dumps the black water." On The Perfect RV Man she states, "He still has a 36" waist and can fix anything with duct tape." Her humor shines! Yes, Darlene Miller is at it again, amusing us with smiles, laughter, and of course, chuckles along her adventurous journey. Joanne Alexakis - Penwheels

Like her first book, “RV Chuckles and Chuckholes”, the chapter Darlene wrote about the Escapees Boomers BOF (“Birds of a Feather.”) gives a delightful look into the versatile RV lifestyle. Escapees is an “inclusive” not an “exclusive” organization based on the principle of caring and sharing. Kay Peterson - Co-founder of Escapees RV Club

Darlene is back with another helping of good times and bad on the road, from being knocked off her feet by a tourist's car in Yellowstone National Park to gleefully getting 256 miles per gallon coasting downhill. A fun read for the newbie RVer and the veteran fulltimer. Nick Russell - Gypsy Journal RV Travel Newspaper

Monday, October 08, 2007

Safe Arrival in Iowa

We arrived in Iowa safe in spite of driving in “poor winter driving conditions” in Alberta Canada. In the first 1,250 miles, we only had 250 miles where the pavement was dry. Then we encountered rain, sleet and snow with icy roads in the Canadian Rockies. We left Alaska about two to three weeks late. Most of the tourist places that sold food and fuel were closed for the season. The salmon were not swimming in Fish Creek so there were no bears there. There was construction by Klune Lake so the Dall sheep were not there. It was too foggy and rainy to see mountain goats near Little Atlin.

We did see the bull elk in Jasper National Park that is in the picture. He had a harem of 31 cows.

Terry finally got the Internet going again. Sat 99 Transponder 1370 went bad. He did not know & was trying to setup the satellite Internet and did not get a signal. He was on the phone for 3 hours. After directions from 3 technical people, Terry was able to get Directway to connect us to a new Transponder 1110.

Sorry for the delay in my blog. Now you know why.

Raymond and Teresita’s Alaska Property

In May, Terry and Raymond are building a trench for the added foundation to the garage which now has an apartment over it. The duplex is in the background.

Terry and Raymond have the roof shingled, OSB board on the outside of the apartment/garage and foam insulation to cover the building. Most of the plumbing and gas and electricity are in. All the components of a home (cabinets, bathtub/shower, sinks, commode, stove, refrigerator, dish washer, washer and dryer) are in the apartment but are waiting sheet rock before being installed.

In September, both families moved from the duplex so work was done on relocating gas, electric and water lines to add a new bathroom and to change the kitchen in the duplex, which is pictured here. One apartment is in the lower level and one is in the upper level.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Autumn in Denali

We were surprised by the signs of autumn. There are a few golden cottonwood or birch trees in the park, but it is the low bushes and tundra that are shades of red, orange and amber. There are five to six hours of darkness so we were able to see white and green aurora borealis, and asteroids. During the day, it misted and sprinkled so we saw five rainbows. Because of the clouds, we were unable to view Mt. McKinley and most of the photos were in muted light. The caribou were on the road and decided to outrun the bus until they saw the bike riders so they decided to exit stage right. Here are pictures that Raymond took of these animals. On our way home, we picked several pints of wild blueberries that Teresita made into two delicious blueberry pies that we ate on Labor Day.

White coats in Winter

What the ptarmigan, fox and snowshoe hares have in common is that their coats turn white in winter. The ptarmigan is becoming white but the fox and snowshoe hare aren’t ready for snow yet. We also saw herds of Dall sheep that are always white but they were far away.

Bears at Denali

We went to Denali National Park over the Labor Day weekend and saw grizzly bears! Terry was the first person from the bus to spot a mother grizzly and two cubs when we stopped for a bathroom break. On the twelve-hour trip to Kantishna and back, we saw seven bears at a distance and two that were close to the bus.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kodiak Bears

I had my picture taken inside the Baranov museum with Kodiak bears. The other bear was in the lobby of a bank. Even though we went to the end of roads and saw thousands of salmon return to the creeks from the ocean, we did not see any Kodiak bears. We may have seen a black bear if we stayed home since our son, Raymond saw one as he was shingling the roof of his apartment last week.

Miller Point

Since Kodiak Island is in a rain forest, misty rain and fog with streams of water falling from cliffs are prevalent on most days. The spruce trees in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park drip with dark green moss. Miller Point has WWII fortifications, bunkers, a generator house and a small museum. Teresita and I are pictured here. We saw several black birds with bright orange feet swimming below us in the bay but could not see the orange beak that would identify them as puffins.

We saw an eagle perched above the area where small pontoon planes were landing and taking off. Along the road to Chiniak Point, sea otters and seals were swimming far below us.

City of Kodiak

Terry and Raymond are walking to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a reminder of the Russians influence in the town of Kodiak. The inside of the church held many members even though it is small because the people stand for the entire church service.

The Baranov House Museum, which is almost 200 years old, is the oldest Russian building in Alaska. The industry in Kodiak is fishing. We had lunch at the Chowder House which served me delicious halibut. We slept in the Russian Heritage Motel where we had a great suite with two bedrooms and a kitchen area with a refrigerator and microwave.

Kodiak Island Trip

Even though Kodiak Island looks like it isn’t too far from Anchorage on the map, everything in Alaska is far away. We drove six hours to Homer and boarded a ferryboat for another ten hours to arrive in Kodiak.

Different moose were grazing along the road on both the trip to and from Homer. While in Homer, we drove the End Road with a view of mountains and glaciers above the town of Homer and the Homer Spit.

I felt like a bird as we rode the narrow road between seven to eight feet tall fireweed on both sides of the road. We spent the night in a campground before we boarded the Tustumena, a ferryboat under the Alaskan Marine Highway system. A few whale spouts were seen far out in the ocean.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wild life and the Building Project

Last week, Terry and Raymond bought supplies and loaded them into the building. Sheet rock is being loaded inside in the picture with the backhoe. This week, they are finishing work on the plumbing and electric before they can put in the sheet rock.

I don’t know what the wild life thinks about the building but I know that they have been checking it out. Teresita was looking out the window of their home around 7:30 one morning when she saw this mother moose and her baby in their yard. She ran and got the camera and took this picture. The moose pruned the mountain ash tree for her breakfast. A black bear likes Fridays to visit our area since it is garbage pick up day. Terry photographed bear tracks 30 feet from our RV. The building is 22 feet from the steps that lead to the lake so the loon must have seen the building progress but all I’ve seen him do is continue to fish. The huge dragonflies float on iridescent wings and eat insects. They do a good job because we rarely see an insect.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fishing Fun

We went to Homer and Soldotna so the guys and Teresita could go fishing. Terry, Teresita and Raymond took a charter 1/2-day trip on the ocean for halibut. They each caught their limit of two but Terry caught the biggest halibut on the boat. (There were 20 persons fishing on the boat.) As Alaskans, Teresita and Raymond can go fishing on the Kenai River with dip nets. They caught 11 salmon. Yes, the fish will make delicious dinners.

Reenactment Memories

Meanwhile, I had a wonderful breakfast at Spit Sisters in Homer and met Kenneth Altergott at the campground in Soldotna. Ken reenacted Alexander Hamilton Willard at the reenactment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 2004. He was the Pilot and Captain of the keelboat. When we returned to the RV, Terry found the pictures that we had taken of the reenactment which included a picture of Willard and myself in front of the keelboat he piloted. (Yes, I am sun burned.) These experiences will make wonderful stories for my new book,” More RV Chuckles and Chuckholes - More Confessions of Happy Campers.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Apartment Progress Continues

Progress is being made on the apartment even though the weather is not co-operating. It has rained almost every day during the past week. The temperatures are in the 60’s during the day so it isn’t too hot to work. Now Terry and Raymond are building the truss system for the roof.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Apartment Progress

The progress that you see in the apartment that Terry and Raymond are building happened in one week. They worked a half-day on the 4th of July.

It was raining when David and Anita visited with their sons Daniel, age 15, and Stephen, aged 11. But we had a dry place to eat because Teresita brought the wonderful meal down to the gazebo overlooking Upper Fire Lake. When the weather cleared, the boys had fun in the catamaran and the larger boat with the electric motor. It wasn’t just the boys; us adults liked our exploration on the lake too.

Crowds do not gather for big firework displays Alaska. It just doesn’t get dark enough. We saw fabulous firework displays on Presidents Day weekend in February in Arizona Hope your Independence Day was good.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Making Memories

I sent Barbie doll clothes to Iowa for Christmas for three –year-old Mercedes Druliner and seven year old Angelina McCoy. Mercedes did not remember the grandma that made the clothes. She saw me at the graduation party, the graduation and at the two Little League ball games where her brothers were playing baseball. Shelly said, “This is the grandma that you don’t see very often.” Mercedes emphatically responded, “ Yes I do. I know her.” When she saw me at the tea party, she run to me with arms outstretched and said that wonderful word, “Grandma.”

Birthday Tea

My sisters, Clara Klein, Angie Rheuport, Joy Block, and I have birthday # 65, 62, 60 and 50 years old this spring and summer. Since I have been Rving, I have not given a party for more than a few people. I missed it. My daughter, Karol, agreed to let me use her house for a birthday tea. Unfortunately, my sister, Clara, had already left in her RV for a trip to Alaska. Pictured l to r is Angie, myself and Joy. I invited my mother, sisters, sister-in-laws, nieces, grand nieces, daughter, daughter-in-laws, granddaughters, and great granddaughters. Joan Pomeroy, who is an RV friend visiting Pella, took photos of us.

Twenty-two women and girls wore hats to the tea on June 16. The preteen girls were also given necklaces, gloves, and hats to wear. Their dolls even had hats and tea sets. The tables were decorated with tablecloths, flowered napkins, lace placemats, clear glass dishes and real flowers. Guests enjoyed a variety of flavored teas or iced tea. A silver tray held assorted cookies. Trays held cucumber, ham and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I enjoyed the party and I hope that I have made another memory.

Tea Sandwich Memories

My granddaughter, Kari De Joode, remembered the time she went to the Tulip Tearoom with my mother and mother-in-law. Since she was only five or six years old, I discouraged her from attending but she said, “I will not be bored.”

She wasn’t too enthusiastic by the menu which included Dutch spiced beef and chicken salad with walnuts. The proprietor said that she would make special peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her. When they arrived, the sandwiches were shaped like tulips.

Kari is now 13 years old. She agreed to help me with a Birthday Tea while I was in Iowa. She suggested that we serve the little girls fancy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I agreed. We could not find tulip cookie cutters so she chose teddy bears, a rabbit, a chick, and a heart. The little girls loved them and some of the big girls too.

Nathan Klein

Nathan played in the park where his sister and brother’s graduation party was held. Since it had rained almost every day for weeks, the playground was muddy. This only added to Nathan’s fun. He cleaned up well for the graduation on Saturday. I used to tell my three sons that it was a good thing they were washable.

Mark Klein’s Family and Me

I am standing in the upper left of the picture. You met Amanda and Matt Klein in the last blog. Meet the rest of the family. Beside Matt is Joshua Klein. He is almost as tall as his brother. When his siblings leave for college, he will be the oldest child at home. He is looking forward to using his school permit to drive Emily and Nathan to school this year. Connie is the mother who looks more like a sister to Amanda than a mother. Mark is the proud father and my son. Emily is ten years old and a sweet granddaughter. Nathan is the youngest member of the family. He turned five years old on May 15.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Amanda and Matt Klein’s Graduation

I am so proud of my grandchildren, Amanda Nichole Klein and Matthew Allen Richard Klein, who graduated from the Pleasantville Baptist Academy on June 2, 2007.

Amanda was eighteen on Christmas Eve. Amanda has fun as a cheerleader, singer and volleyball player. She also won 2nd place on a science fair project and a trophy for scripture memorization.

She will be going to the Berean Baptist College in Florida in August where she will major in Elementary Education. Amanda will also tell you that she plans on being a pastor’s wife. She has a beautiful promise ring from Ben Mead who is a college student with the goal of being a minister.

Amanda told a reporter for the Marion County News that “ her parents have had the most influence on her life since they taught her character, discipline, responsibility and have always been there for her.”

My son, Mark Klein and his wife, Connie Klein, also had a son graduate this year. Matthew Allen Richard Klein. (Matthew says to use all his names or call him “Matt”. He is proud that his initials spell MARK, which is his father’s name.) Although he is more than a year younger than his sister, Amanda, he took accelerated classes to graduate early. Matt made the Who’s Who Among American High School Students, the Pleasantville Baptist Academy’s Honor Roll, and the National Honor Roll and as a Scholar at the National Society of High School Scholars. His extra curricular activities have included basketball, weight lifting, and being a Junior Firefighter with the Pleasantville Fire and Emergency Services.

In August, Matt will attend college in Sioux City towards his goal for a degree in Criminal Justice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to me

Pictured is the darling little teapot that sits on a teacup, which is my birthday present from Raymond and Teresita.

This morning, I sit in my pajamas to eat the dark chocolate cake with fresh raspberries, which is breakfast on my birthday. Last night we dined out. (We eat out when we go to a fast food restaurant but dine out when it is more elegant.) It was elegant. The pale pink cloth napkins blended with the striped cloth tablecloth. The white embossed china was laid on top of gold plates. We dined on salmon almandine with wild rice and a medley of vegetables. It was as delicious as it sounds. (There is a rumor that the chef not only caught the salmon but also filleted it.) Desert was the rich chocolate cake. The staff sang “Happy Birthday” to me. The chef gave me a hug.

If you want to dine at this elegant place, forget it. It is for private Miller parties only. Our daughter-in-law, Teresita, made the elegant dinner for us.

Now our problem is what are we going to do to honor Teresita?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Arrival in Alaska

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers who read this.

We arrived safely to Eagle River, Alaska on May 12 at our son Raymond and daughter-in-law Teresita’s house. The tulips in the picture are real. Raymond and Teresita gave them to me. She also made us a wonderful meal, which included the delicious multi-grain bread that she bakes.

We had several good experiences on the trip to Alaska. We saw my niece, Heidi and her son, Jystin near Portland, Oregon where I did a book signing for Camping World. We also visited with Terry’s cousins, Henry and Evelyn in Penticton, BC, and my cousin Gladys and her husband Syd in Kalowna, B.C.
My book signings went very well. I look forward to doing more in the fall.
We went hunting the white bear with our cameras near the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia. We inquired about sightings of bears with a truck driver. He said that he saw the white bear 15 years ago and again a few nights ago. His voice showed the awe and magic of seeing the Kermodei spirit bear. A few hours later, she crossed our path!
It was snowing in the Yukon about 40 miles from the US border on May 11. Soon there was only a trail in the 12+ inches of snow. We stopped behind a small camper who was behind a truck with a trailer & car. They said that ahead there were 2 RV's off the road part way up the hill. We waited an hour before a snowplow arrived & said to stay where we were since there were more vehicles off the road between Beaver Creek and us. Finally the snowplow made two more passes and told us it was safe to move.

I will leave Alaska on May 24 to fly to Iowa to visit with family. My son Mark Klein and his wife, Connie will have two children, Amanda and Matthew, graduate from high school. My parents are moving off their acreage to a small house near Oskaloosa, Iowa. I also plan to visit with sisters and brothers and my other children and friends for a few weeks before I fly back to Alaska.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Schedule

Terry and I will do a whirlwind book signing tour from San Bernardino CA to Tacoma, WA. Then we plan to visit cousins as we travel through British Columbia on our way to Raymond and Teresita’s home in Alaska. We will not be connected to the internet during this time. We will write in the blog after we reach Alaska. The schedule is also on the Media Page.

The Camping World addresses and dates are:

San Bernardino, CA April 12 and April 14
151E. Redlands Blvd., San Bernardino, CA 800-423-7569

Valencia, CA April 16 and April 17
24901 West Pico Canyon Road – Newhall 800-532-0897

Bakersfield, CA April18 and April 19
6801 Colony St Bakersfield, CA 800-532-0897

Fairfield, CA April 20 and April 21
4350 Central Place – Cordelia (San Francisco Bay Area) 800-448-1253

Rocklin, CA April 22 and April 23
44435 Granite Dr.(Sacramento/Tahoe Area) 800-437-5332

Wilsonville, OR April 25 and April 26
26875 S. W. Boones Ferry Rd. (Portland Area) 800-446-9039

Tacoma, WA April 27 and April 28
4650 16th Street East (Seattle Area) 800-526-4165

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park

The short route thru Joshua Tree National Park in California is 47 miles. We were disappointed for the first half of those miles as traveled from the south entrance. All we saw was the same terrain of scattered pebbles on low mountains that we saw from endless miles along Interstate 10. The only vegetation was creosote bushes.

The only item of interest to Terry, in the first half of the miles we traveled, was the solar power that a worker said was the only power source in the park. Solar power ran the visitors centers, entrance stations and residences for the employees of the park. He said that the park had 194 solar panels.

When we arrived at the Ocotillo Patch we saw that the stick like bushes had red blooms!
Next we were seeing cholla, yucca and prickly pear cacti in bloom. In the distance, we viewed large rounded boulders. At last we saw the Joshua trees. An exhibit sign in the park said “the blossoms of the Joshua tree are pollinated only by the yucca moth.” The lack of plants, especially the yucca, was the reason that we had not seen Joshua trees.

The roads are good paved roads with good exhibit areas and nine campgrounds. The only problem was that the campgrounds had very small sites. Although you may get a large RV in some sites, they were not wide enough to put a slide out.

An Rver spoke to me as I was taking pictures. He told me that the park had a blanket of snow two days earlier on March 27, 2005 at three to four thousand feet in altitude. As I left, I asked him, “ What planet are we on?” He said, “I do not know.”

The scenery to me looked like some giant children had played in the mud and made objects that were familiar to them such as balls, stacked pancakes, and eggs. Some of these rounded objects had broken during the years the playground was abandoned.

The next day Terry happened to watch Star Trek Voyager on television. It was a happy surprise to see that many scenes looked like they were shot from the Joshua Tree National Park location.