Maiden Voyage – Relaxing – so far – in Winston-Salem

We are currently parked in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Our current yard is a Thousand Trails park,  Forest Lake RV Resort. It is really quiet here as it is not peak season. The weather has been cool but still warmer than upstate New York. During the summer I bet this place is hopping with friends and families enjoying the lake, the hiking trails and the wonderful wooded grounds. Right now, they are all vacant save for the ducks that come out from the woods every morning to swim and search for some passerby to toss them something to eat.

But, we are not here to languish and sit around watching the water ripple.

So far we have braved the relative cold, around 40 degrees, to walk through Old Town Salem. I had been out to the states for so long that I had forgotten the trend for shops to be closed on Mondays, so all we got to do was stroll and stop for lunch in a pub.

Pub since 1968.

We also stopped at Broad Branch Distillery

Now, I am not a whiskey drinker. I have always found it rather like gasoline or, if a good one, rubbing alcohol. I went in the distillery with Ed because he is a gasoline drinker. You know we have to humor those we love.

He tried them all and enjoyed them all except the rum. But it is difficult to beat some of the rums you can get in South America.  I sampled the rum and two of the whiskeys. See, I am a good partner.

And…to my surprise…I found one to swoon over. One that cause my taste buds to go hmmm? Then hmmm! Then YUMMM!!!

smashing violet

This whiskey embraces North Carolina blueberries to produce a flavor so rich and so sweet that you want to run home, grab a rocking chair, a coon hound and a glass for siippin’.

After the stop we did run home. But the whiskey went in to cupboard to enjoy at my leisure when the weather warms up a bit.

Next week is supposed to be in the 60s and low 70s, making it more attractive for exploration. I am spending the weekend online planning our adventure which will be shared as soon as the weather warms up enough to force me to get off my lazy backside and see them.




Maiden Voyage – the Shenandoah Valley

When I last wrote, we had just begun planning our new adventure. It took a while to get on the road as the weather was plotting against us. Finally, on the 22nd of February, we got on the road and headed south.

Our first stop was at Pinch Pond to visit our son. After that we headed further south to the Shenandoah Valley.

Ever since I was a child I thought of the Shenandoah Valley as a magical place. Just the name – Shenandoah – conjured visions of times past, battles between the north and south, plantations, and, for the life of me I don’t know why, fairies. When spoken, the name Shenandoah flows from the tongue like the wind through willows or water over rocks. It is still a magical word for me.

Well, the battles were fought, the past is the past and still represented beautifully in the mansions and farms. The name? I found a beautiful native American legend about Shenandoah that validates the sense of magic and wonder. The fairies?

I think I found them…deep beneath the mountains and fields of the beautiful valley…in the Shenandoah Caverns. I saw them flitting about in the crystals and water. They were having tea in a small grotto. They landed in my hair as I walked beneath a stalagmite. If you look closely you might be able to see them too. Thoroughly enchanting!

Above ground, not long ago, where the world exists and fairies avoid, a battle raged just north of the nearby town of New Market. The Confederate forces clashed with Union soldiers  in a farmer’s field just outside of the village.  The farmhouse, used as a hospital by the Confederate forces after the battle is claimed to be haunted. You can hear footsteps upstairs, voices in the rooms accompanied by the soft, mournful cries of the dying souls bedded within.

This battle, won by the South, defended the rich agricultural area of the valley. There is a state park that protects the battlefield and the original farm. The violence that occurred there, the resulting deaths and pain created, for me, a feeling of loss and sadness.

As we drove south, leaving the beautiful valley much too soon, my childhood fantasies remained intact. This place is magical, it does have fairies. But, amongst those fairies are the ghosts of men and women that lost their lives and the native Americans that once lived on the shores of a wondrous lake that is now reflected in the stars.shenandoah-valley---west-virginia-2771-1-1

New Chapter, New Adventure

Wellllll…it looks like our Ecuador adventure is coming to a close.  Actually, it is a definite. Our Ecuador adventure is coming to a close. We will be saying Vaya con Dios at the end of the month and heading back to the states. It is bittersweet. We have loved our time here. The Ecuadorian people are amazing! The country is beautiful and diverse. And the availability of almost everything makes it a tempting place to stay.  But, trips back to the states for medical reasons every 3 to 6 months have negated any savings we may have accumulated. So, we have parked here long enough and it is time for a new adventure!

Our last trip back to the states allowed us to get the first item needed for our new chapter…


Let me just say that this is a Beast! I haven’t driven it yet, and don’t plan to in the near future. The thing is sooooo biiiiggggg! But it rides like your favorite rocking chair. The seats fully recline and the back seats have as much leg room and the fronts. We had to drive all the way to Ohio from central New York state to get this baby.

When we get back, after the doctor’s visits for the BF are done, we will be looking at getting a new home to haul behind it.  One of three brands, we aren’t sure yet.

We have been drooling over Grand Design. I love their Solitude and the Reflection. The BF is leaning toward a Momentum.

Then the BF found Vanleigh RV. He like the Beacon, the new model for the coming year. I like the Vilano. Either way, these babies are like a luxury condo on wheels!

This morning we peaked at a Redwood. Because I haven’t walked in one yet and gotten a feel for the quality and layout, my heart isn’t feeling this one yet.

Once we have a Beauty to haul behind the Beast, we will be hitting the road and exploring the U.S. Our country is beautiful and there is so much to see. The BF has never explored the country from coast to coast. It will be fun to show him the places I went as a child – the southwest, the west coast from Mexico to Canada, the Mississippi River from conception to the Gulf, Tuscon, San Antonio…the list goes on and on.

And, because he is retired military and in the VA system, medical care for him will be readily available, no matter where we might be parked.

The current chapter is soon closing. A new chapter with a new adventure is just ahead!Spence-field-appalachian-trail

Inside My Head – Memories and Contemplations

I began this post exactly one year ago today. It has been more than a minute since I was here to write. It is about time! So many changes have taken place since this post. So many things have happened. So many things are about to happen. But, here is the post from September of 2017. Still valid for the most part, still my thoughts.

As I sit here gazing out at the Pacific, my front yard, I cannot help but think about the life choices that brought me here.

When I was a child, living in northern California, I loved going to the beach with my parents and grandparents.  Those childhood days spent playing tag with the waves as they washed ashore, freezing my feet and turning my toes blue, hunting sea shells and peering into tide pools were some of the best days.

Later, in my teen years, the Pacific and Fort Ross were my escapes.  I found solitude in the bluffs by the sea, surrounded by flowering shrubs and hummingbirds so thick that their buzzing provided white noise for my writing and reading.  I spent hours, looking out to sea, wondering what my life would be like if only I could make it through whatever turmoil was wreaking havoc on my young psyche.

Some days I would escape to Drakes Bay and Point Arena, usually alone, to play tag with the waves and watch the sea lions.  My memories of those days are just as clear to me as if they happened yesterday.

Living in California and my father’s love of history caused my early childhood to be wrapped in visions of Spanish conquistadors, Jesuit missionaries, and the lives that the people of the past lived.  My playground consisted of the historic homes and sites that dotted Sonoma County – General Vallejo’s home, the Sonoma Mission, the downtown plaza – all things Spanish.

I had this romantic idea of what life must be like in countries other than my own, Latin countries. I have been lucky enough to have lived in Spain. And now, lucky enough to have lived in South America.

There is nothing greater than experiencing life as an adventure. What is yours?ecuador-san-jacinto-1

I Live In A Movie

We have been here for a little over a month and oh, what a life!  Our days have turned into one relaxing day after another.  Not many stresses, very little “important” stuff, and absolutely no immediate deadlines.  I wake up every morning feeling as though I live in a movie.  A movie about someone’s life that is slow and simple and joyful.


Boat Parking
During the day, fisherman line up their boats along the road.

Ecuadorian life has a rhythm and flow to it that can be found in most South American countries.  The rise and fall of the sun dictate what you do and when you do it.  First light is about 5:45 a.m.  The sun comes out about 15 minutes later.  Getting out of bed early is easy with the sun and sounds of the ocean.  From that point, you have 12 hours to get any daylight things done.

Shopping is done early as the tiendas and markets open at about 7 a.m.  The panederia’ has fresh pan de sal (savory rolls) ready and hot from the oven.  The fisherman have brought in their catch and are setting about repairing nets.  If you want their catch of the day, you simply walk a few blocks further to the village market and while you are there, pick up fresh produce to go with it.  You must go early as the best is sold quickly and the market closes about 11 a.m.

It is easy to get spoiled here.  Once the fisherman and locals know you, they go out of their way to make sure you buy from them!  Last week, I went to purchase some shrimp from one of the local fisherman.  This visit was my first attempt at sarcasm in Spanish.  As he weighed out my purchase I saw that his scale was just shy of the amount I has asked for. One shrimp would have topped my purchase off to 2 lbs even.  So I asked for one more.  He obliged.  And, as he was dropping it into my bag, I told him that that one shrimp was all I would get from the bag.  He looked at me and said, “You just get one?” My response, “Si’, que lastima.” (Yes, what a pity.)  He laughed with a grin the lit up his eyes and placed another one in the bag.  “Now you get 2!” he said, still laughing.

Today, Saturday, he came straight from his shrimp boat to our home.  These babies were so fresh that they were still moving!  When my purchase was complete, he threw in 3 more saying, “Estos son para ti!” (these are for you!)  I think our little joke is going to last a while as he said he would bring me 3 more on Wednesday.

I love the connection that you get with the people here.  Without the intrusion of big box, one size fits all stores, you form a relationship with the men and women you do business with.  They become your friends.  They do special little things.  They treat you well.

The market I go to almost daily, is owned by a woman from Spain.  She smiles and helps me through my broken Spanish, teaching me as I go.   The baker, or panadero, helps me identify items that are in his case that are unknown to me.  He is always there with a smile and a bag ready for my culinary explorations of his shop.

Once your shopping is done and stored for the day, you can then begin the exhausting task of relaxing on the entresuelo  (balcony), walking on the beach, playing in the surf or swimming in the pool.  It is difficult.  Really.  How do you decide?  I usually partake of it all.

Later in the day, some time around 4 or 5, we break open the day’s purchases and prepare our evening meal.  Each day is some new flavor, a new fish, a new vegetable or a new fruit.  But that is for another post.

Then it is time to enjoy the evening.  We have fallen into the routine of “Happy Hour” or maybe “Happy Evening Hours”.  As the sun sets, we are treated to a beautiful display of color over the ocean. Marvelous!Sunset

(This is the part where you hear a romantic tune floating softly in the background.)

Once the sun is down and the lights of Manta sparkle in the distance, we laugh and talk, or read or watch a movie.

Yes, it is slow and simple and joyful – my movie life.


Making Pineapple Salsa

One of the things I love most about being here is the wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  This motivates me to explore new uses for the things I am familiar with and experimenting with the ones that are new to me.

At the market avocados, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, peppers, onions – all of the old standbys could be found in abundance.  Stocked up on a few days worth of each.lychee

Then, there were the WTF are those.  Lychees, mounds and mounds of them.  Bought some.  The fruit is covered with a spiny looking outer shell.  It is actually kind of soft, like stamens on a flower.  When you cut it open, your hand is covered with sweet, sticky juice.  Pop the inside into your mouth, bite down, and what a disappointment.  At least I was.  The white pulp surrounds a huge seed that is inedible.  So, what you get is a small amount of sweet, sweet, sweet stuff that isn’t worth the time and effort it takes to get to it.  Oh well, purchase, live and learn.

I also bought what looked like a pepper and smelled like a cucumber.  The vendor told me to saute it like a pepper.  Took it home, did just that.  It was another disappointment. No flavor at all.

Then, low and behold…Pineapples!  Pineapples and cilantro and jalapeno peppers and garlic and cilantro!  Heaven!!!  By the time I left that stall, the vendor had enough cash in his til to live well for the next week.

With the amount of produce I was lugging, I needed to either hire a sherpa, bring a donkey and cart, or flag a taxi with a huge trunk.  The taxi won.  (oh, and only cost $3 by the way.)

At this point you are probably saying “This post was about salsa.”  “Why is she carrying on about the market?”  “Where’s the salsa?”  Okay, here it is…


Pineapple Salsa

Mouse over the picks to get instructions. You can use more or less of any of the ingredients – just hit the balance that is right for you.  I must admit, I added more jalapeno to ours.  Add salt and pepper to taste and blend.


We ate ours with Chifles.  But mostly with a spoon.  Good stuff Maynard!



New Lives

20170612_095145We left our home in Clinton, New York, two weeks ago for a new home on the coast of Ecuador. Those two weeks have been exciting, daunting, frightening, and educational. Our Visas are in the works and soon we will be counting the clock to our residency.

Meanwhile, we live and learn and build new lives. Anna (hija segunda) came with us in the hopes of attending school down here and becoming fluent in Spanish, thereby bi-lingual and more marketable in the United States. The Boyfriend and I bought a guest house and just want to sit back, enjoy our retirement and share our home with guests from everywhere imaginable.

So far, the biggest learning curve is going to be the language. Duo Lingo and Spanishpod 101 are becoming my best friends. Oh, I cannot forget Google translate and the Spanish word of the day! My high school Spanish is hanging around in the back of my head along with a smattering of Castellano from my time in Spain. All is coming together to allow me to communicate in a type of hand gestures and pidgin. Rather comical, if I do say so myself. The hunt is on for a Spanish teacher.

Since our arrival we have jumped into the lifestyle with both feet. Anna and I walk, most days, into the village of San Jacinto, for small necessities such as bread, rice and the seafood of the day.


Yes, that is right. Seafood. Fresh. From the boat. That morning. Huge shrimp (7 to 8 per pound) is going for about $4 per pound. Swordfish from our neighbor is under $5 per pound. One day a week we plan on hitting a different restaurant and sampling the local cuisine. The best we have had is just two doors down at Restaurante Los Mangles. Earlier this week, exhausted from attempting to use my limited Spanish while shopping, I ordered three seafood dinners. The daughter delivered them to our door and it was less than $20!

Every Sunday is market day in the small town of Charapoto’. Heading out early to catch the bus to market is an experience. We walk almost a mile to the bus stop. When a bus arrives – any bus heading that direction will do – you wave your hand and get out of the way. Once on board, you must be ready for a quick take-off. Hold on tight! As soon as the last person boarding has one foot in the door, the driver hits the accelerator! I believe I have a permanent hematoma of gargantuan proportions on my thigh from bumping into the arms of the bus seats. Painful… Anyway, the market makes me feel like I am living in a movie set. All of the people, the sights, the sounds the aromas.

Yes, this is quite the experience and is what I get for marrying a gypsy.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  So much yes!

Long Term Parking in San Jacinto?

We contracted for a bed and breakfast in Ecuador.  Have we lost our minds?  We did it spur of the moment.  We did it over drinks, with a slight buzz going on and a Pacific sunset over my shoulder.  He did it with the glint of a dream in his eye.  I agreed without hesitation or

Now, a couple of months later, that dream is still in his eyes and I am still ready to dive in.  But, the real-life maze and bureaucratic hoops are being navigated and jumped.  There are background investigations from the FBI and the state to get done.  There are birth certificates and a marriage licence to be translated and aposteled.   Income to be verified and notarized.

Fingerprints!  The Boyfriend’s (husband) flew right through.  Not a problem, investigation done in less than a week.  Mine?  Another story altogether.  The background investigation is done.  It is the fingerprints that are not.  I need to do them again.

Received a call from a very nice young woman from the FBI.  She informed me that my fingerprints could not be read and I needed to re-do them.  Oh, and what do I do for work?  I was tempted to say I had removed them in order to commit some crime or another; climb into the neighbor’s third floor window and take some little trinket, take a joy ride in some stranger’s car, even…maybe…think about a bank?  I controlled myself and just said I work with fabric, wool and acid dyes.  Aha!  ACID!  That will take them off very quickly.  Now it is latex gloves and lotion to heal my fingertips so I can go to Ecuador.

Once these little things are done, we then have 2 houses to sell and all of the contents of said houses.  Sorting the contents is proving to be a challenge.  What to take?  What to sell?  What to store until we decide to sell that too?  I have quilts I have made, I have furnishings that took years of searching to find.  There are things from our life in Spain that I love.  And my dishes?!  I love my hodge podge of  Fiestaware.  None of it matches.  The riot of color that has been collected may just have to come along.

My fabric stash is headed to a new home.  My father’s Stickley recliner will be picked up next week, along with a desk lamp that I found in a small shop in Madrid.  The desk that was also a Madrid find is going to a new home as well.  It is like selling memories to buy new ones.  It is sad, but exciting at the same time.

Only a few months left here in central New York state.  With the closing of my shop and the pending move, I feel so disjointed.

We plan on staying here until after our oldest son graduates in May.  Then, we will get our pets their USDA certifications, a hotel and a fight to Manta.  Coming back to the U.S. will be budgeted over 2 years while we wait for our Visas to come through.


Let’s Talk Birds, Shall We?

One of my favorite parts of traveling, next to the food of course, is looking at the local flora and fauna.  The house at the end of the road, the house on the Boca, did not disappoint.

The first morning, while drinking our coffee, a couple of little green lovebirds sat atop the power line and chattered away.  Then, finches joined in the song and a hummingbird kind of danced along.

There were sea gulls and pelicans, herons and cranes.  And, a bird I didn’t recognize.  A large bird that seemed to float with ease on the air.  Some were black and others had white chests.  And, they were never alone.  I guess they know it is safer to travel in groups.

I asked the name of the bird and “frigate” was the answer.  Frigate birds – heard of them.  Read of them in books.  Now I have seen them.

Frigates!  Friggin’ frigates!  They are dangerous.  No, not deadly, but dangerous just the same.  They swarm like bees, they dive-bomb and they will shit on you if given the chance. Ask me how I know…

Male Friggin’ Frigate

Female Friggin’ Frigate

Picture this – sitting by the pool, focused on blogging, enjoying a bit of adult refreshment. Not a care in the world.  And


And unusual warmth slides down my back and into my shirt.  All I could do was curse and let loose with a few very colorful words – Friggin’ Frigates being the most comical.

I was told that to be shat (is shat really a word?) upon is good luck.  Now really, how lucky can it be to be directly beneath the one bird that had to take a shit and that particular moment?  In my humble opinion, that is anything but lucky.  I mean, what are the odds? There were 3 of us out there.  And, I am the lucky one?

Oh well, it wasn’t anything that a quick dip in the pool wouldn’t fix.  James and Marty could have my bit of luck, albeit dissolved in their pool.

Other than that encounter, the native birds were friendly. I will leave you with pics of the birds that entertained us.

Beinvenidos A San Jacinto!


We flew from Quito to Manta, arriving in San Jacinto at 9:30 a.m.  Our driver, Juan, was so adorable and talkative.  It was fun to practice my Spanish with him as he practiced his English with me.  I must admit, his English was so much better than my Spanish.

Okay, first impression of the Manta area was not good.  It was dry, dusty, rundown and not at all what my North American sensibilities expected.  It was like driving through the poorest part of most industrialized nations.  I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

We drove past and between fields of rice where we could see herons and cranes wandering ecuador-typical-homeabout.  There were small farms and everywhere little eateries that seemed questionable healthwise. The homes were small, mostly of brick and bamboo construction, and almost all were on stilts.  Curious… The one pictured is one of the nicer ones with a small tienda (shop) attached to the house.

Our taxi continued on through a village that was bustling with activity as the weekly market was in session.  There were people everywhere!  Piled two deep in pickup trucks, four lined up on a single motorcycle, people walking, people riding bikes.  Yes, it was dusty, yes, it was crowded, yes, I wanted to stop and be a part of it.  But, we needed to move along to our destination.

A bit further down the road, we turned off onto a rough dirt road that really made me question our thought processes!

There were dusty little stilted houses, dry palms, and flower pots that needed water in the worst way.  Juan drove to the end of this road and turned. Then…


one of the most beautiful views ever!  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ocean, the vast expanse of sand and beach, with waves caressing the shore, and not a soul in site.  It was beautiful.  There were frigate birds, more on those later, sea gulls, cranes and herons, but not a human in site..

At the end of the road we were greeted by one of our hosts – Marty.  We, the BF and I, soon discovered that he and his partner, James, were the quintessential hosts.  Casa WF, the house at the end of the road, la ultima casa por la Boca, was a little bit of paradise.  There are mangroves in the back, protected by the board of tourism.  There is a river to the side, that changes with each hour of the day.  And, as seen above, a view of the Pacific that would be tough to beat.

Marty gave us a down and dirty tour of our room and the property.  Then, without hesitation, took us out on the beach for a walk into town.  As we walked, all of the initial ecuador-downtown-san-jacintoquestioning of sanity kind of fell away.  The village was so alive!  We met a brother and sister, their names escape me now, that were just charming.  They were both so sweet. all the way to the village, people greeted us with smiles and “Hola, que tal.” or “Hola, buenas.” Genuine greetings.  Happy greetings. Although we stood out like sore thumbs, we did not feel out of place.

In the village, we met a woman from Spain that had opened up a small tienda.  We met “Mama” the owner of another small tienda that had VODKA!  And TONIC!  And, I think she was related to almost everyone at that end of the village.   We made a few initial purchases and walked back to Casa WF to relax from our journey and just kind of hang out during the heat of the day.

During our week long stay, the hours just melted away.  One day ran into the next.  I seriously lost track of time!  If it wasn’t for my daily check in with family at home, the days would have become one.

I fell in love.  With the people, the ocean, the birds and the simple life that is San Jacinto.

Luna Lovegood lives in San Clemente