Day 1, Wednesday, March 24, home to Gridley via CA99, I-5: 123 miles
Our last visit to Gridley to see my sister, Gale, and brother-in-law, John, was back in November. That turned out to be our last visit with Gale, as she passed away in January from that awful Parkinson’s Disease she had suffered with for several years. Due to Covid, we missed the graveside and memorial services for her as we continued to strictly avoid crowds.
We expected this visit would be a reality check because there would be no Gale – for the first time. And it was a bit sobering to see the place without her. We all miss her terribly, but at least she was no longer suffering.
The preparation for this trip included a visit to Mello Truck Repair, the diesel shop in Modesto where we have service work done on Big Blue. These diesel pushers require oil changes – and the many other maintenance items that are required – about half as often as gas motor homes, but diesels are a lot more costly to service. When the service was all done, we were good for another 11,000 miles.
Having taken my nearly three week Search for Sunshine trip clear into Louisiana in February and early March, I cleaned the coach inside and out for this trip. It took me days to get it all done in my old age, but eventually she was ready to roll again. Big Blue was looking good for this family gathering.
Loading just one of several baskets full of stuff for our trip to visit family in Gridley.
Posted below are several photos of our drive north to Gridley. Click to enlarge, then you can scroll down each photo and click on “View full size” for even larger, and click again for full size photo:
A pastoral scene along I-5 south of Sacramento.
Approaching downtown Sacramento.
Wild mustard was in full bloom along our drive. Beautiful!
A colorful orchard with wild mustard under the gaze of the Sutter Buttes.
A country lane near John’s home.
This old barn near John’s place is scenic, but slowly falling apart.
Our visit would include John’s daughter, Jill, and her daughter, Kyleigh, along with Kyleigh’s son, Ceddy. They’re all from central Oregon, where Jill and Craig work for the local school district in the cities of La Pine and Bend. Kyleigh and Ceddy live in nearby Bend. We’d miss Jill’s husband, Craig, this trip as he had to coach soccer during this Spring Break. We hadn’t seen them since July, and we surely looked forward to the visit.
Our drive north to Gridley included a stop in Sacramento at an In-N-Out Burger for lunch. I hadn’t had my favorite hamburger, a Double-Double, in so long I couldn’t remember the last one. Of course, we also had fries, and I ordered a vanilla shake. What a feast it was for us as we rarely allow ourselves such fare. And we continued north.
We arrived at John’s place in the country near Gridley at 1400 hours. Nobody was home when we arrived, as John had to attend a funeral in town, and Jill, Kyleigh and Ceddy were shopping in nearby Yuba City. But having brought our own home with us, we simply backed into the driveway and were very comfortable as we waited.
Our little home on wheels parked at John’s home in the country near Gridley.
In due time, everyone returned, and our visit began. It was a real pleasure to be with family again, but we sure missed Gale. She left a big hole in the hearts of this family that will always be with us.
Ceddy and I tried our hands (and brains) at a game of chess. We both agreed to change to Chinese checkers after a while as Ceddy still had a lot to learn, and I’d forgotten so much since my last game – probably 50 years ago. And then I got whipped at Chinese checkers.
As we visited, talk soon turned to dinner. We’d already agreed on pizza, which we’d brought with us. We brought along two medium pizzas from Papa Murphy’s, which we’d bake ourselves.
Dinner didn’t go so well – one of the pizzas leaked some of the ingredients onto the bottom of the oven, where it caught fire! Jill quickly grabbed some baking soda and tossed it onto the fire, smothering it. But then we had a half baked pizza and an oven too messy to continue cooking. The thin-crust pizza was done, so we made do with the one pizza, plus a third pizza Kyleigh brought from town after the brief oven fire. Along with a salad Jill whipped up, dinner turned out to be just fine and we all ate our fill. We decided that we’d finish baking the half-baked pizza, rescued from the fire, for lunch the next day.
We all enjoyed a pizza dinner. After a mishap with the oven, all turned out well.
After dinner we visited ’til a bit after 1900 hours when Lavonne and I bid everyone goodnight, and headed back to our home in the driveway. Jill would join us later for a margarita party.
There was a beautiful country sunset that evening, something not at all unusual out in the country.
When Jill arrived about an hour or so later, we whipped up a round of margaritas with our Margaritaville machine. It makes wonderful, icy drinks, and they were very tasty. We had a lovely visit with Jill, made even lovelier with a second round of slushy margaritas.
Cheers! Later that evening, Jill joined us in the coach for a nightcap of margaritas and a lovely visit. We brought along our Margaritaville machine, and whipped up some mighty fine margaritas. (Goodness – who is that skinny old man in the middle?! Maybe I’ve lost too much weight!)
After Jill’s visit, Lavonne called it a day and headed for bed soon after. I stayed up ’til about midnight editing photos and watching more WWII documentary on my laptop. It had been a wonderful day aboard Big Blue and spending time with family. Life is good.
Day 2, Thursday, a day with family near Gridley.
We spent a restful and quiet night out in the country near Gridley. We looked forward to a slow and easy Day 2 there, with the family. We had no plans to do anything but just take it easy. The others planned to drive to Oroville to visit a park and play something called disc golf.
Our meals were just hunt and gather affairs, except for dinner which was to be taco salad ala Jill. I took a mid-morning walk along local country lanes for about 25 minutes. When the gang returned from Oroville, we spent much of the afternoon just visiting with one another. I also spent some time in the coach writing this travelogue.
Dinner was served buffet style, with all the fixins’ for taco salad set out for us to choose whatever ingredients we wished. I partook of everything – except avocado – and we all enjoyed a nice dinner together. Hot fudge sundaes were offered afterwards, but I declined. Very late in the afternoon I had made myself one when nobody was looking!
Jill joined us again that evening in the coach for another margarita party. And yes, the party was again extended with a second round of margaritas. That Margaritaville machine – and Lavonne’s recipe – sure turns out excellent margaritas. We enjoyed a warm visit with Jill ’til around 2200 hours when she thanked us, bid us goodnight, and returned to the house.
Jill caught the bartender unaware – and in my robe – as I prepared the second round of margaritas. Life is good aboard Big Blue!
Lavonne headed for bed not long after Jill left, and I joined her about 2330. We slept well, as usual, out in the countryside near Gridley.
Day 3, Friday, March 26, Gridley to home via CA99, I-5: 121 miles
We both slept ’til 0700 hours which was very unlike us, especially on a morning when we planned to be traveling. We must have needed the sleep. We worked our way through the morning chores, then headed to the house for breakfast with the family.
It was another hunt and gather breakfast, and we chose more cold cereal. We had a nice visit over breakfast, and when I was finished I headed to the coach to set her up for the drive home. When Big Blue was ready to roll, I joined everyone in the house. We thanked them for our fun visit and bid them a warm good-bye. We pulled out of the driveway at 0930, and headed for home.
The Sutter Buttes in the distance on a very clear morning as we began our drive home on back roads near John’s place.
Another splashy display of wild mustard along the junction of CA99 and I-5 near the Sacramento Airport. Beautiful!
Our drive was uneventful and without delay, and that seemed a bit unusual as a Friday morning drive through Sacramento can be pretty busy and sometimes with stop and go traffic. We arrived home at straight up noon.
After a good lunch, I began unloading the coach and putting things away in the house. I was ready for a restful afternoon, so when the coach was unloaded, I parked her in the community RV lot. Dumping the holding tanks and washing Big Blue’s very buggy front cap would wait ’til the next day.
It was a very pleasant trip to see the family in Gridley, and it was a real treat to time it along with Jill, Kyleigh, and Ceddy’s visit.
Our next trip may be another visit to John’s in April. We are also planning to visit to the kids in Denver in May – so stay tuned!
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