Gooooooood morning, Quartzsite! We woke up after a restful night’s sleep and enjoyed our morning coffee in the desert before packing up and getting back on the road. It’s really too bad that we couldn’t have stayed longer and experienced Quartzsite during the busy season. Although, as of now we don’t have a home to go back to in Seattle because we generously extended our renters’ lease through the end of May 2013, so we may end up back in Quartzsite after all. (Jeff and Meghan, that’s okay with you, right? This whole working from the road thing has been going okay so far, working from a commune in the desert should be just fine. Let’s talk.)
We didn’t have to drive too far before we hit the Arizona-California border and were back on Pacific Standard Time for the first time since June. Suzanne grew up in California and Kevin has a lot of family in California, so once we crossed that state line it started feeling like we were home or at least that we were in the right time zone. (And speaking of time zones, Wylie may be blind, but he has an inherent sense of time. He knows what time dinner is and there’s no arguing with him. So going from Eastern time to Central time to Mountain time to Pacific time – and dealing with the daylight savings time switch in there as well – has really thrown him for a loop. Or, we should say, has really made him start trying to convince us that 3:00pm is the new 6:00pm. It’s a good thing we’ll be back in the Pacific Time Zone for awhile, or at least until we head back to Quartzsite.)
Our destination that day was Yucca Valley, CA, with a quick visit to Joshua Tree National Park along the way. We were heading to Yucca Valley because Alice Anderson lives just north of there in Johnson Valley. Alice and Suzanne’s mom, Marianne, became friends in 1970 when they worked together in Boston at the Joseph P. Kennedy Hospital (which is now the Franciscan Hospital for Children) and Alice has been part of the Mooney family ever since. For our wedding last year, Alice was the one who found a local caterer in Lake Tahoe to make our wedding cake using Suzanne’s mom’s carrot cake recipe. That’s the kind of person Alice is.
We had a great couple of days with Alice and her dog, Susie, who was kind enough to let Molly and Wylie hang out with her. Alice fed us and let us park in her driveway and let us do laundry. And, on the morning we left, she made her world-famous ricotta pancakes that were always a Mooney kids’ favorite growing up. She’s taken them to the next level now by adding blueberries. Fortunately for Kevin we decided that he should be allowed to partake in the ricotta pancakes since we’re married and he’s officially part of the family now.
We continued north towards Sacramento the next day and had one quick overnight stop in Bakersfield before reaching the home of our friends Todd and Tish in Visalia, CA. Todd and Tish and the rest of the Callen family have been part of Suzanne’s family now for almost 10 years. This visit was extra special because we got to meet Todd and Tish’s daughter, Samantha, for the first time. Talk about a cute kid, wow! She is one of the happiest babies we’ve ever met. We really had a lot of fun getting to know her.
This visit was also extra special because Suzanne got to reunite with Baci, her long lost yellow lab love who she shared a home and a life with many years ago. Baci isn’t quite old enough to fit into our family yet, but he is getting some gray hair around his muzzle and we may petition to adopt him in the next couple of years. It’s true though that labs don’t start mellowing out until they are at least 8 or 9 years old. Baci came from a shelter so only he knows his true date of birth but he has to be at least 8 years old now and yet he still acts like a young pup. Wylie loved Baci and his exuberance but Molly gave him a lot of looks that very clearly said: “Simmer down now, you little whippersnapper.”
After Visalia we continued north to Oakdale, CA, where we visited our friends Jamie and Todd and their adorable daughter Ava. Jamie and Suzanne met in the dorms during their freshman year at UC Davis and have been family ever since. Jamie’s actual family was in town for Thanksgiving as well. We got to visit with her parents, John and Jennifer, and with her brother Jeff, who is no longer the little kid he was when we were in college. And we got to meet Jeff’s girlfriend Jaime, who baked a delicious homemade apple pie for dessert. And we love this picture of Ava and Molly feeling each other out and deciding whether or not they should trust each other. In the end, they did manage to become friends like their mommies..
This whole trip really has been about family, those we’re actually related to, those we feel like we’re related to and those we met for the first time when we showed up at their house in our RV because someone they know vouched for us. It’s been really incredible to connect with people and reconnect with people and remember what really matters in the grand scheme of things. Our time in California has been a great reminder of that.
Next time we’ll talk about our Thanksgiving with Suzanne’s family in El Dorado Hills. For now, we’ll leave you with this picture of Suzanne’s brother Scott from when we picked him up at the Sacramento Airport in the RV on Thanksgiving day. This is actually the fifth time we’ve seen Scott since we started this journey, which should probably qualify him for some sort of Vaya Con Perros frequent visitor award. We’ll get back to you on that, Scott. See you on down the road!