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Parrottrek Journal 2004 - 2005

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The snow is so thick, we actually sank in it

Hooray! Here comes the sun

December 2004 - A Dream... A Notepad... and A Huge Leap of Faith -
Welcome to what I hope will be a continual journal of all our adventures in the up and coming life that we plan on living. We currently own and operate a very successful restaurant in Buellton, California and have done so for almost 9 years. Since the restaurant is doing so well, we figured that this is the best time to sell it and besides, we are ready for a change of work, scenery and life experiences. Over the last sixteen months we have penciled out everything on paper, and let me tell you we have used up lots of lead, researched all sorts of traveling jobs and realized that with a little faith in God, and each other, our plans of traveling the country might just work out. Of course right now it's just a dream but if you know Frank and I, like I know Frank and I, anything we put our minds to, we accomplish! So... back to the journal. Since we do live in, somewhat, sunny Southern California, the snow days here are very few. In fact in our town we have to drive up to the top of Figueroa Mountain, 18ish miles away, in order to play in the fun white stuff. So since we each had the day off, not a common occurrence lately, we decided to pack up the Jeep and drive up the mountain. It was really cold and snowed on us most of the time, but was fun.

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January 1st 2005 - Tournament of Roses Parade -
So, I have lived in California all my life, minus the first two months were I lived in Oregon, and the only place I've ever watched the Rose Parade is in the warm confines of my home, minus last year when we bought tickets to watch it from the bleachers on Colorado Blvd. This year we decided to go back to the warm confines of home, since our seats were a bit cold and getting out of them to use the potty was not an option. However today our 'second home' was parked on the parade's path. It was awesome! We arrived last night and got situated. All of our neighbors are really, really close and none of us could put out our slides, but who cares. Once the blinds were closed we had no idea how close the neighbors were. We sat up half the night watching all the people outside stake their claim on the pavement in front of us. They would set up chairs, tables and cots with about 20 blankets each and try to get comfy in order to grab some sleep before dawn. Of course since it was New Year's Eve and all around us people were celebrating the festive occasion and since it was about 35 degrees at 11:00pm, the brave locals didn't sleep much but they too were having a great time. Around 1:00 or so we crawled into bed, with the heater on, and set the alarm for 7am. We woke up before the alarm went off, turned on the TV and watched the pre-parade ceremonies from the comforts of home. It was the perfect set up. We tuned into KTLA 5 and watched the commentary and description of the floats about 10 minutes before they passed in front of us, which was perfect. We noticed that the morning slowly warmed up for our outdoor neighbors since they began to shed a few layers of blankets, but I still wanted to make hot cocoa for all of them. However after noticing we only had four packets remaining after we made ours, I decided against it. As the last float past by our windshield I came to the conclusion that watching the Rose Parade from the warm front seat of a motorhome on Colorado Blvd with a warm body, a snuggly parrot and a hot cup of cocoa in hand while still in your PJ's is pretty much the best place ever, to watch it.

February 2005 -
Well, it's official!! The restaurant is for sale, the ad is in the paper and the calls are flooding in. Hooray! We are also in the process of renting out our house that we bought back in 1997, a mere 5 months after we got married. Boy time sure flies when you're having fun. It's wonderful that we have had so much interest on the restaurant, however we have only had a handful of people look at the house, but we are quite confident both will be off our hands before our departure date which seems to change on a weekly basis. We have had two garage sales and have sold most of our belongings that won't be coming with us on the road. It is amazing how much "junk" we have accumulated in our 8 years of marriage while living in this house and will only be taking the bare necessities. I think that we had three sets of pots and pans. Who needs that many pots and pans?! Especially when we hardly ever cook! One doesn't have to cook much when the menu of a restaurant is at your fingertips. The motorhome is getting some more warranty issues taken care of, again!!! :-( . I certainly hope that we don't have many more issues with the Trek once we hit the road. It would be terrible to be stuck somewhere unable to get to our next location because of mechanical errors on a brand new coach. It is definitely a love/hate relationship with this darn motorhome. We love the floor plan and design of the motorhome, but we are less than impressed with Monaco's level of craftsmanship and quality control. Enough said!! Note to self, and anyone reading, never buy another Monaco product again! We are really excited about our initial career on the road. We will be working for a company called MainGate. We will follow them to all the NHRA events around the country and assist them selling NHRA licensed merchandise. We will start out working in the store that is 4,000 square feet. It travels via semi-trailer from race to race and no we don't have to drive anything other than our little house on wheels. It is quite impressive how the whole system works. We will be working in the same building with the same people each week, but our location will change every weekend. We are greatly looking forward to seeing the majority of this great country in less than a year! We worked at the Pomona event earlier this month to try it out and see if it was something we would enjoy and lucky for us it was even more fun and enjoyable than we expected it to be.

March 2005
The Buellton house is getting emptier by the day, just as we get more excited about our new adventure beginning as each day passes. After carefully looking over each offer we received on the restaurant and consulting our accountant, we have accepted an offer and are currently waiting for escrow to open on Antonio's Pizza. If it opens on time, barring any delays, we should close at the end of April, which coincidently is that same time frame we closed when we bought it back in 1996. We hope to hit the road on July first and head towards Colorado for the July 15th drag race in Denver. Thank you Jesus that everything is working out so well. Neither of us can believe our dream of traveling is really coming true. It just shows that a lot of hard work and a plan early on in life really does pay off. Our philosophy has always been, never wait to save money for the future, save and we are so thankful we listened to ourselves way back when.

April 2005
The restaurant is officially in escrow and will only be ours for another thirty days (April 30 is the scheduled date to close escrow). We will be moving into our motorhome sometime this month so that we can adjust to living in it full-time and that we can get our house cleaned out for the future tenants. It will be a great way to see exactly what we need and what we don't need to make it our new home. It will be a bit of an adjustment since it is only 8 1/2 feet wide and 30 feet in length, but we are very optimistic. It is one thing to stay in it occasionally for a week or two at a time where you can live without little things for a day or two, but who knows what it will be like living permanently in it, which is exactly why we are moving into it early and while it's still in the driveway. Check back with us in a couple months and see how it pans out.  :-) Call us crazy, but we have no doubts it will be as fun as we are expecting. Our plan now is to leave around the beginning of June and head up to Oregon to the Monaco factory. We have been having problems with the front entry door to our Trek, for some reason it doesn't like to close and that is a key issue when driving down the road. The plant supervisor has contacted Frank and has arranged for us to show up at the factory and they will perform the work whenever we arrive and send us back out on the road in a timely fashion. It will be fun to see the plant where our motorhome was built and more importantly it will be nice to get all the things fixed, there are too many  little things to mention. They said they would even show us how the new ones are built. Maybe we can give them some pointers on how to run their operation a little more efficiently and not have as many problems from the get go. Once we leave Oregon, we have until the middle of July to get to Colorado for work. How crazy is it to think that we will have so much time off and be able to do whatever we want. What a dream come true. From there, we will be following the rest of the circuit for 2005. We will log over 11,000 miles between July and December and then have about 2 months off. Keep in mind we have almost every other week off before that as well, so our work schedule will be a piece of cake... we hope. Once February comes back around and we are still having fun out on the open road, we will begin the following season in February 2006 and work an entire season with Main Gate and the NHRA. There are 23 events so we will work 23 weeks a year and have the rest off to play around the country and enjoy our lives and each other. Have I mentioned lately how excited we are about this adventure??

Change of plans:
Surprise, surprise, we have changed our plans yet again!!! We have discovered that Monaco has technicians at many of the NHRA events so there is no need for us to make a special trip, a couple 1000 miles out of our way, to the factory for our repairs. In fact while we were in Vega,s trying out another event with Main Gate, just to make sure the first one wasn't just a honeymoon phase, the Monaco technicians adjusted our door while we were at work. What a great set up. Let's hope that they are a little better with their mobile repair facility then they are with their dealership repair facilities. Positive thinking, positive thinking. :-)

May 2005
Escrow has closed on our restaurant!! We are now unemployed!! Well, only temporarily..... It is very strange adjusting to having very little responsibility, but surprisingly very fun. Frank is so cute, he doesn't know quite what to do when he wakes up in the morning. He does go in for a couple hours each day to help out Mark, the new owner, but Mark has caught on to everything so fast he doesn't need to much of Frank's help. Thank you God! We know it isn't our restaurant anymore, but it was our baby for so long it's nice to see someone competent buy it and run it. We are a little selfish in the fact that we love the food so much we want it to be here when we come back to visit, hee hee hee. We have been living in the Trek for almost one entire month now and surprisingly, it has not been that hard to adjust to. We decided that once we had it packed up for the Las Vegas race we would not move out of it, even when we were back in Buellton. However I do wonder what all the neighbors think, at least the ones that don't know what we are doing. Oh well it gives them something to talk about I guess. Camping out full-time has actually been a lot of fun. We hardly notice the house is still there, and we never go inside except to show it to potential renters. This way it stays nice and clean. Speaking of clean, the motorhome is great because it only takes a few minutes to clean it and it feels very cozy and comfortable to hang out in it. We have about three weeks left here in town and then we will be hitting the road. I still have a couple weeks left at the horse ranch training my replacement - Which happens to be my sister-in-law Renee who is doing an awesome job. This change has seemed to be rewarding for everyone. Renee, who has happily been a stay at home mom up until this point, can set her schedule around the girls' school and sports schedule, so their family time isn't diminished at all.

WE ARE NOW ON THE ROAD!!!
Our first weekend out we went to see a race at Mesa Marin Speedway in Bakersfield California. We have great friends that run and drive the team of the #9 Greg Voigt car in the Southwest Series of NASCAR, so we spent the weekend with them. It was soooo weird not to have to head back to Buellton for work, the most fabulous weird we could have imagined. Yes, we will head back to finalize everything, but not for work! Yaaayyy!!! After the race we went a little bit further east, to Lake Isabella and Kernville. What a crazy road on the way out here. The two lane road to get here is very narrow and has a cliff wall on one side that sometimes hangs out over the white line. It was a very slow and nerve-racking trip in the motorhome. Lake Isabella is...well....ugly! There are hardly any trees or plants and everything is brown. Even after all the rains that we have had this year. Because the lake was so unappealing we decided to head further north to Kernville. It is much nicer here. Still brown, but we are camped right next to the Kern River and it's FREE! We have absolutely no neighbors, and great nature views as far as the eye can see. However we are a bit lonely out here with no one around so we will head out tomorrow to more populated places. The official "hit the road date" is close!! We are so excited and this trial run was great. We didn't have restaurant worries, which no matter how many times I say it out loud, I still can't grasp it. It took about 3 days before Frank realized "The restaurant may never call me again, and I can't tell you how wonderful that makes me feel". I can see a little more stress leave his body everyday. Even the birds are happier since they get to be with us all day, whether they are inside their cages in the motorhome, or outside hanging from a perch under the Easy-Up. Every so often it hits both of us that Wow, we really are doing this! We really have accomplished what we set out to do, and we are living out our wildest dreams. We realize a few of you out there think we have driven off the deep end and gone completely nuts... ... and we are absolutely fine with that. :)

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Our campsite on the banks of the Kern River

The birds love sitting in the Easy-Up

A nearby waterfall

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Frank and I with my parents

Tim and Sharon, some of our best friends

Those crazy in-laws

Tony, Allison and sweet Kylie

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May 21st - Our Last Night in Buellton -
We had the greatest send off party with about 50 of our dearest friends. There were so many memories shared and stories of old times told. Some made us laugh, some made us cry. It was held at Antonio's Pizza and being there tonight with all our friends and family and not having to leave the table to run and grab the phone, or check on the other tables around us to make sure the waitresses were doing their job felt... ... odd, but wonderful all at the same time. It's quite nice, after all these years, to no longer be tied to a business that is open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and yet felt so strange to walk out at the end of the night knowing it was no longer ours.

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Our ex-restaurant - Antonio's Pizza

Good-bye California... Hello new adventures

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Our trip begins as we leave our driveway

The view of the M*A*S*H set from above

The wonders of self portraits

Frank and Cody feed the wild rabbits

May 22 -
The Trek has officially begun. We left on Sunday morning after breakfast with our family. We drove south to Malibu State Creek Park. This is the place where they filmed the TV series M*A*S*H. This is our favorite show to watch on DVD and we fall asleep to it [pretty much every night. On our first day here we rode our bikes as far into the hiking trail as possible, but since it was so overgrown we ended up having to walk the bikes more than half way there. About two and a half miles later, we found the site where they filmed the show. It has been over twenty years since the show ended, and there have been a couple fires since,so the area where their camp had sat was quite overgrown. On our initial visit we found the helicopter pad, and an old Jeep, the rest of the set was hardly recognizable. We went back to our campsite and after watching several episodes in order to study the area we came back the next morning, on foot with the bikes parked at home, and were able to visualize where everything was.One of the days we spent in Simi Valley we went to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. We were hoping to get to see Air Force One on display, but they won't have the display open until the Fall. I guess we will have to come back here next year. The Presidential Library was very interesting, and quite educational. We were both fairly young throughout Reagan's presidency, however Suzy did get to shake his hand in junior high. Yes the real man, not just his statue,so it was nice to relive his presidency through movies and memorabilia. It sure would be wonderful if we could have another president like Reagan.

Frank shakes hands with President Reagan outside of the library.

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 Suzy poses with a piece of the Berlin Wall!Thanks to Ronald Reagan it no longer stands between East and West Germany.           ------------>

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June 2nd - Richfield, Utah -
We are sitting in the parking lot of a Flying J Truck Stop in Richfield, Utah. We left Vegas this morning and have driven for about five hours so far. It doesn't feel like we have driven even half that far because the views are beautiful, and the roads are nice and smooth. Our goal is to get to Arches National Park in the next day or so. We spent three days in Vegas visiting with our friends Chris and Karolyn as well as Tony, Allison, and Kylie White. We had a great time, the weather was perfect! It was hot, but not too hot. It was in the nineties, so being outside was actually enjoyable. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool and lounging around at the beach surrounding the pool. We met another couple at the RV park who were traveling with their amazon parrot. It is nice here in Richfield. You can see snow on the mountains in the distance and there is green in the fields and trees! Such a nice treat after the brown of Vegas. The birds are having a wonderful time as well. Bradley sits in the front window when we drive and he loves looking at everything. Abbey has begun to play with her toys on the floor of the motorhome like a cat, she will entertain herself for hours doing this. Her newest thing is to chase after Frank's toes when he walks by and attack them. The funniest part is that she won't bite my toes. Somehow, she knows the difference. In fact when I walk by, Abbey will run over and cuddle with my toes. Well, we are off to complete our drive to Moab, Utah which is about 2 minutes from Arches. We will probably stay at a Rest Area tonight since it is still a bit of a drive into Moab. It is so nice to be on roads out of California. We pay some of the highest registration fees in California yet our roads are the WORST! It's weird to think we won't be back in CA until the end of the year. Hooray! Can't to see what's in store for us in the meantime. Stay Tuned!

June 3rd - Arches National Park -
Arches National Park is amazing! It is enormous, and very fun to drive through and explore. We spent last night at a Rest Area about an hour away. It rained all night long, and snowed up in the mountains above us, so that made for a very chilly morning today. The Rest Areas here in Utah are very nice. The buildings are new, and look like homes. While we drove further into Utah it began to snow on us at the top of one of the peaks we drove over it, what an experience. We've never driven-through snow in the motorhome before. It was still raining today when we arrived in Moab and it made quite a mess on the motorhome and Jeep since all the roads are red dirt. The RV Park we are staying at is quite fun. We have our own private Jacuzzi!!! We sat in it most of tonight since it's so cold, and the rain let up. Tomorrow is supposed to be a very nice day, so hopefully we will get to see a bit more. We did drive through Arches today, and between rain storms we walked around and got a few pictures of the park.

June 6th - Canyonlands National Park
We explored more of Arches National Park and made our way over to Canyonlands National Park as well. We had no rain at all today or yesterday and the skies were beautiful and clear. We took a three hour Jeep ride on the "Shafer Trail" which climbs from the base of Canyonlands to the very top and you are only allowed on it if your vehicle is equipped with four wheel drive. This was an awesome trip. We did not need to put the Jeep in four wheel drive, and the views were gorgeous. It would be the equivalent of starting at the base of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River is, and driving to the very top of the Canyon. There were many views that were literally breathtaking! Yesterday, we floated for 10 lazy miles in a canoe down the Colorado River. Once we hit the end a Jeep came and drove us back to base camp, where our Jeep was parked. It was another great day of pictures. This lifestyle is already turning out to be even more fun than we expected and it's only just begun. This evening we met some very nice neighbors Fred and Sue, who also have a Trek Motorhome, and travel with birds!! What a coincidence. Their names were similar to ours as were the birds. It was fun to see what other people do with their birds on the road, hopefully we will keep in touch as they too are full-time RVers.

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It was a little colder than we expected

Hello down there!! I sure love that wacky guy.

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Cody and Frank take a bike ride.

Floatin' down the Colorado River

June 10th-
We arrived in Durango on June 8th. Yesterday we rode on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It takes you, surprisingly enough, from Durango up into Silverton, Colorado. The views are great, the river was roaring, and there was a multitude of waterfalls. We had great seats on an outside gondola which made the views that much better without windows or walls, but the ride up and back was a bit long. The long day did have a little to do with the fact that we watched the wrong news report. Instead of watching the weather for Silverton which would have told us that it would in fact snow in the mountains, and the temperature in Silverton was 50 degrees, we watched the Durango weather that informed us the temperature would be a beautiful 80 degrees. Dressing in shorts and a light sweatshirts was not the wardrobe to have. We should of worn our long underwear and parkas. We smartened up on the drive home however and instead of keeping our outside seats we slyly found some seats in an inside car. It made the ride back about 40 degrees warmer than the ride there. Frank actually fell asleep he was so comfy. We will stay here until June 14, and then make our way to our first official work site since we have hit the road. We will try and get to Illinois fairly quickly, and do a bit of sight seeing there. The only things between us and Saint Louis are Kansas and Missouri. According to the map Kansas doesn't have to much to see except wheat fields and tornadoes. Missouri may have more, we shall see.

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The view from our scenic yet cold seats

The train passed right in front of our campsite

All Aboard!

June 16th -
Kansas has a little more than wheat fields! In fact it has a great zoo. We stopped by the Rolling Hills Reserve today in Salina. It was roughly 100 acres, and the best laid out zoo we have ever been to. All of the animals have huge enclosures, and all of them could be seen easily from the nice walkways that lead you around. They had a petting zoo  that had cows and pregnant goats and sheep. They had baby black bears that played next to a golden eagle (in separate cages of course). The prairie dog display was great! They would all come out and stand when it was quiet, but as soon as a tram would go by they would all start to bark, and dive for their holes. There was a baby leopard display, and in the middle of the display was a crawl hole that lead you into a glass room that was in the middle of the enclosure. The baby leopards were practically within reach. Walking through the Reserve was a nice change from the 500 miles we drove yesterday. It felt great to get out and stretch our legs. We are driving almost to the end of Kansas this evening, and into Missouri tomorrow. The rest stops here in Kansas are like parks! All of them have picnic tables and enormous grassy areas. They even have dump stations! We are currently watching the news which is full of thunder storm warnings and tornado watches. Hmmmmmm! I hope we don't get sent to Muchkin Land while we are here in Kansas. Driving through a tornado wouldn't do the motorhome much good. Maybe we could get to Illinois faster with the help of Dorothy!  Hope we make it out of Kansas before the wind catches us!

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Frank loved watching the Prairie Dogs

Sweet baby bears played in the water

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Very hungry, pregnant goats

I tried to climb into his den to no avail

June 27th -
We have finished our first event since we have been on the road, and the third event that we have worked for the company. We had a good time, but boy was the weather hot. It was about 98 degrees each day, and the humidity has quite high. The humidity wasn't bad, except for the fact that the city is so full of smog that there was absolutely no fresh air. Today Frank is out in the heat helping them tear down the tent that we worked in. They started early this morning to try and beat the heat. We do have air conditioning in the tent, so it isn't as bad in the store, but the poor fans that sat out in the heat in the stands must have been cooked by the end of the day.  The store was setup right outside the staging area so we could see the cars lining up behind our tent to get ready for each race. It's amazing how loud, and fast the cars go. The ground beneath our feet in the tent would vibrate each time the Top Fuel or Funny Cars went down the quarter mile track. Before the race we did get to spend a little time in the city. We went in to the top of the arch one evening and watched the sunset. Another day we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the water and out to dinner. Luckily the temperature was perfect to be outside on the days prior to the race. We also spent a couple days at the different Anheiser-Busch attractions. We toured the Brewery one day and were quite amazed at how much beer they process at each location. They walked us through the entire process from growing the grain to taste testing. That was quite different at 11:00 in the morning to sample beer. The following day we drove out to Grant's Farms where the family previously lived. It has now been turned into a zoo with many great animals, and even a bird show. We were able to bottle feed baby goats in the petting zoo who also liked to eat your clothing, your hair, your arms or anything they could get their lips around. They even had two severe macaws. We had never seen an Abbey at a zoo before. These miniature macaws looked almost as spoiled as ours. Now we know who to will our birds to in order to ensure they have many more years of happiness after our passing. Frank was ready to move in the old Anheiser mansion and run the bird show himself. We will leave this afternoon and head towards Oklahoma for a small detour. We want to look at a couple of bus conversions. Frank has been looking at them on the Internet for months and months, and we have found a place to test drive a few. We will definitely look at many many more before deciding on whether or not we will make the switch, but it should be fun to research. Who knows where we may stay in the meantime, but that's half the fun. We usually study the map and find a fun new place to stay.

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Frank auditions for the bird show

Abbey's fellow family

Feeding time at the zoo

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The beautiful St. Louis Arch

A very fun horse-drawn carriage ride

The windows at the tippy top of the Arch

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