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Monday, April 30, 2018

April is Poetry Month

Aloha Everyone,

I didn’t want to let April pass us by before writing that this is Poetry Month.

Have you read any good poems lately?
Have you read a poem titled Poem?
Do you have any favorite poems that you memorized?

Well, if your answers are no on all three, here is one of my favorites of all times.  I sang this in our college choir so whenever I see “The Road Not Taken”, I sing these words! Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear, 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.
by Robert Frost
Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Julian, CA

Aloha Everyone,

The entire town of Julian is designated as a California Historical Landmark. According to the 2010 census, the population was 1,502, which is down from 1,621.

It is a mountain town about an hour drive from San Diego, but the place feels like a world away. According to a local real estate agent, Julian is only 45 minutes drive to the Pacific Ocean and 30 minutes to the Colorado desert. It is pleasant year around. The perfect place to find a luxury homes below $1 million :-)

During the 1870’s Julian was founded as San Diego's first and only gold rush town. The total amount of Julian gold (lode) found was about 220,000 ounces.

Today Julian is a destination stop, a weekend getaway place to hike, enjoy the cool mountain air and experience apple picking during the season. Main Street Julian is lined with charming shops, café, bakeries, bed & breakfast, hotels and restaurants. Apple pies are being sold everywhere and this is not the apple season. 10,000 apple pies are baked in October for their visitor industry.

Downtown Julian is pedestrian friendly. Drivers go slowly as people pay more attention to the sights and not to traffic.

At Julian Market & Deli, we purchased provisions for dinner and breakfast. 

Our lunch stop was at Soup & Such Café. J.J. and I both had a cup of onion soup with 1/2 sandwich. Perfectly prepared and delicious!  

At Rong Branch Restaurant & Gift Shop, we purchased a whole apple pie for our family and a slice for our afternoon snack.

This has been a wonderful stop over between Yuma and La Jolla.  

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Anza-Borrego State Park

Aloha Everyone,

Anza-Borrego State Park is located within the Colorado Desert of Southern California. This is the largest state park in California and the 2nd largest in the contiguous United States. The park is 600,000 acres equal to 20% of San Diego County.

Anza-Borego is named after Juan Bautista de Anza, the 18th century Spanish explorer. Borrego comes from the Spanish word for bighorn sheep. According to the park’s website, among many types of fauna, visitors may see include bighorn sheep. Unfortunately for us, these majestic creatures usually come out at dawn or dusk.

Honu bravely pressed on S2, “Great Southern Overland Stage Route”. The two way road was paved but not very even and Honu shook more than usual. Reminded me of Mark Twain’s book about riding in a mail coach Roughing It (1872).

Taking this alternative route off I-8 was absolutely worth it. I had seen a part of Anza-Borego State Park viewing spring wildflowers last year with our daughter-in-law, but this was a first time for J.J. And what a memorable trip it became!

Tonight we are happily settled in at Pinezanita RV Park & Campgrounds in Julian, CA. Yvi, at the registration desk was friendly and accommodating.

At 4,226 ft elevation, today’s high was 62 Fahrenheit and it is expected to go down to 39. Rather a drastic drop from Yuma, AZ where we endured a high of 103 Fahrenheit.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 27, 2018

Yuma, Arizona

Aloha Everyone,

Yuma has been a hot dusty desert city where we stop one night in an RV Park on our drive East or West on I-8. Tonight we are staying at La Fuente Inn & Suites. I am grateful to be in an air-conditioned room. At 6:30 pm, it’s 99 degrees Fahrenheit, only 3 degrees lower from the daytime high of 102.

Until now, I had not realized Yuma’s importance in Arizona’s agriculture.

1). Yuma is #1 in Arizona and #3 in the nation for winter vegetable production. The nation’s winter leafy vegetables are grown in Yuma between November to March.

2). Yuma is one of the world’s top producers of gourmet Medjool dates.

3). Yuma is Arizona’s top producers of lemons, tangelos, watermelons, tangerines and cantaloupe.

4).  Yuma grows more than 175 different crops and seeds.

5).  Yuma creates $3.2 billion economic output, more than 1/3 of Arizona’s total agricultural production. Source: Yuma Arizona Official Visitor’s Guide 2017/2018

I wonder how much financial hardship are being experienced by vegetable growers as a result of romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona with E. coli infections have been discovered in 19 states

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Honu’s Maintenance

Aloha Everyone,

One of the major expenses of homeownership is upkeep and maintenance. In our case, Honu is our home. After nearly 4 years on the road (May 5th will be the start of Honu’s Year 5), there is a list of things that need attention.

Yesterday, we had the windshield repaired at the cost of $64.99 and today we replaced the kitchen faucet. The repair, inclusive of parts and labor cost us $276.11. The people at the RV repair shop were professional and their work attitude is admirable. J.J. and I will keep them in mind for future repairs and maintenance work.   

With 94 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too hot to stay in Honu while the sun is up. Today, we went to watch 2 movies back-to-back. Both films we saw were not our genre but satisfied our goal to stay in an air-conditioned building.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Retirement 101

Aloha Everyone,

Most economists recommend keeping your housing costs which includes mortgage or rent, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance to no more than 30% to 40% of your budget.

Here are steps J.J. and I took 4 years ago:

1). Housing - we sold our home in Hawaii and purchased Honu. By making this drastic move, we reduced our housing expenses. Buying in cash means no mortgage.

2) Transportation - instead of owning a house and car, we combined both.  

3) Food - prices we pay for groceries or restaurants are lower in many parts of the USA and some overseas cities where we do long stay. We make no compromise on quality.

4). Taxes - our home state is South Dakota. We pay Federal taxes but no state income tax.  

5). Healthcare - our primary health insurance is Medicare, Medicare A plus supplementary private health insurance.
The two of us practice dental and vision tourism. Prices overseas are lower. Our primary care physician is in Saint George, Utah.

Our mantras in retirement is to live simply and with gratitude. Everyday, the two of us are grateful for each other, for our family, relatives and friends. We live and embrace life of the moment.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
-Leonardo da Vinci

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.

Simplicity is the glory of expression. 
-Walt Whitman

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Aloha Everyone,

The beautiful sunrise promised another wonderful day. I am always grateful whenever I am able to do my morning walk. Having an extra day in Las Cruces meant that the two of us can strike out some items from our list of things to do.

What followed was truly a wonderful stroke of serendipity.

J.J. found a windshield repair shop called Speedy Glass. They agreed to repair the crack while we wait in their office. A young man walked in and engaged in a conversation about his new haircut with the receptionist Robbie, who happened to be his aunt. Johnny’s haircut looked great so we asked him who cut his hair.

J.J. got his haircut from David who is also related to Robbie. The busy barbershop is tucked at the entrance of Stay Fit Fitness Center.

Robbie also recommended a great Mexican restaurant. El Sombrero Patio Café is very popular local eatery. At 1:30 pm the place was packed with happy, hungry regular patrons.

From the KOA Las Cruces books and magazine exchange library, we got the November 2017 issue of National Geographic with a captivating title.

“THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS What we can learn from Costa Rica, Denmark, and Singapore - the most joyful places on the planet “ by Dan Buettner

There are universal similarities as well as cultural differences on what one regards as ingredients for happiness.   Being personally familiar with all three countries, J.J. and I find it baffling that Singapore made it to the top of the list.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, April 23, 2018

James A. Michener’s novel, TEXAS

Aloha Everyone,

TEXAS, a novel by James A. Michener was first published in 1985. As in his other factional multigenerational epics, it is a monumental work and requires that you set aside a serious segment of time to read it. There are many interesting and unforgettable events and characters woven into the story that sometime it’s hard to keep track.

In the introductory chapter a discussion takes place as to the reason why Texas is great. It boasts seven different cultural inheritances:

1.  Indians
2.  Spanish-Mexicans
3.  Kentucky-Tennessee settlers, originally from places like New York and Philadelphia 
4.  Latecomers from Old South
5.  The Blacks
6.  The free-wheeling cowboy
7.  Germans, Czechs and other Europeans 

(Ref: Chapter on THE GOVERNOR’S TASK FORCE, pages 11-12)

I must confess that I have not yet read all 1,429 pages of the book.  

A fellow birder I met at Goose Island State Park who introduced himself as “Tony” with Department of Anthropology at University of Texas, Austin, recommended that I read books by J. Frank Dobie to get a real understanding of Texas history. I perused J. Frank Dobie’s writings and listened to his book reading sessions. His folksy approach to writing seem very different from Michener’s literary style. They will give me a deeper understanding and appreciation of one of the great states in our union.

Vicky was setting up her tent across from Honu’s pad. An outgoing and vivacious woman, Vicky earned her graduate degree in Environmental Science from UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio). She is semi-retired and along with her husband, they are “waiting to make the next big move.” We talked about lifestyles and promised to keep in touch.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 22, 2018

From Van Horn, TX to Las Cruces, NM

Aloha Everyone,

Unexpected detours and delays are part of our RV adventure. We stopped at Fabens, the last Texas rest area on I-10 West. While J.J. took a short nap I went for a walk enjoying colorful flowers that adorned this isolated rest area.

Back on I-10, motorists were directed to detour to Route 375. The flashing sign indicated that closure of I-10 westbound today is due to a new overpass being constructed. The detour passed by the El Paso International Airport.

Traversing the Franklin Mountain State Park was beautiful. By the time we merged back to I-10, the detour added about 40 minutes to our drive. Things worked out in our favor. J.J. was able to avoid the confusing, often tense and congested El Paso downtown freeway. I was able to see a new part of Texas.

We are back in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Comfortable weather with low of 48 and high of 77 Fahrenheit. Life is great!  

J.J. spotted an adventure quote on the back of a Jeep, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.  Life is good.

Aloha - Cathi

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Back to Van Horn

Aloha Everyone,

We left South Llano River State Park by 9:00 am. A long driving day for J.J. Overnight rain ushered in a cloudy sky
but soon the sun came out and it was a gorgeous drive on I-10 (Interstate 10) West.

We stopped at Fort Stockton Walmart to purchase provisions, had lunch in Honu and took a nap for the second and much shorter leg of our drive.

Halcyon day. It is windy in Van Horn. Honu’s pad is between two trees that are about 40 feet in height. I hear songbirds and hope to be able to see them when I go out on my evening walk.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 20, 2018

Birders’ Paradise

Aloha Everyone,
South Llano River State Park is a bird watcher’s paradise. As you drive along the entrance road into the park, you will pass the first of a number of bird blinds that are scattered throughout the 2,630 acre track.  

The bird blinds are well maintained and equipped with benches, a log book where visitors may record the birds observed plus very helpful bird identification books.  

Feeders and bird baths allows you to observe a variety of birds (approximately 225 species at South Llano River State Park) depending on the time of year.

Our birding participants led by Ranger Holly were serious and knowledgeable. Most of us were delighted to see the Painted Bunting. This colorful and attractive native Texan also has a distinctive singing style which makes it easy to discern. April is a perfect time to be at South Llano River State Park. The Painted Bunting migrates to Mexico during the winter months.

Two other rare and endangered birds we saw are the Golden-Cheeked Warbler and the Black-Capped Vireo. Photos courtesy of

By our campsite, there seems to be nests of hummingbirds. They buzz around like bumblebees so I could not ascertain whether they are the ruby-throated or the black-chinned humming birds. Either way, they were very entertaining.
Alison is from Florida and she is an experienced birder. She also practices meditation. It was wonderful to meet a fellow birder who also can converse about Pena Chödrön, Tonglen, Bodhichitta and other Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

Aloha -- Cathi