Little Did We Know…

As we left Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve on June 8th, we planned on visiting family in Colorado, Texas, and Ohio and returning in September. We hadn’t planned on driving away forever.

Oh, but what a final journey we had! The refrigerator inverter was not working, so for 10 hours each day, the refrigerator was off until we could plug into electricity overnight. And one of the brackets for the rear end sway bar was broken, causing the RV to shake, rattle, and roll along the highway and byways. Then we discovered one of the tires on the tow dolly was losing air. We were lucky to arrive in Colorado safely and in one “peace” via New Mexico and Arizona roadside politics.

But arrive we did. On June 10th we made it to Jernigan Land.

We had a lot of RV repairs to take care of, however, so we canceled our plans to drive the rig to Texas and Ohio. (Did I mention that our built-in propane tank needed a new carburetor?) Staying put in the Colorado Desert in the Coachella Valley for 21 months really took a toll on our vehicle. We even needed to reupholster the captain chairs and couch as the synthetic leather was flaking off in the dry desert heat.

Unfortunately these are the only pictures I have from the many ones I took of our family and grandkids. (I will explain later.)

I decided to fly to Ohio on June 25th to visit my family in Columbus. My grandson Oliver has Sanfilippo Syndrome, a rare and fatal genetic disorder. But when I called my son, Brian, I realized the sooner I could visit the better… Jen was starting a new job at Forge Biologics, a gene therapy manufacturing and therapeutics development company working to “accelerate transformative medicines to reach those who need them the most”…like Oliver and his buddies with rare genetic diseases…) Brian was still working from home. Reagan was in full-time preschool. Oliver was home for the summer. Jen’s new insurance was in flux about covering the ABA aides who spent daily in-home time with Oliver. Since Oliver is neuro-atypical he requires constant supervision and stimulation to do his best each day. Well, you can fill in the blanks. I was needed. So, I flew to Ohio on June 19th. The night before, however, I lost my phone! Jeff and I tore apart the RV and car. The only other place it could be was at David’s. A precursory lookie-loo by Jeff and Patty turned up nothing, So, I bought a new phone and lost most of my pictures from Jernigan Land. (Later, my old phone showed up at David’s behind the couch!)

I purchased a one-way ticket to Columbus because Jeff was planning on driving out when our RV was scheduled to be in the shop for the reupholstering. We booked a nearby hotel for 10 days in the beginning of August and then we were supposed to drive back to Colorado together. In the meantime…

June jumped into July.

Oliver wants pancakes for lunch.
Grammy L delivers.
Reagan’s condor…
…lays an egg. We wait…
…for the egg to hatch.

The 4th of July!

July 5th…

We met Glenn and Cara O’Neill, the founders of the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation and their older son Beckham and 11- year-old daughter Eliza diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome. Another Columbus area family joined us. Their 9-year-old daughter, Reagan, also has Sanfilippo. And finally, Katie Walton, the Foundation’s VP of marketing was also there with her neuro-typical family.

This was the day I knew I had to trade in a home on wheels for an apartment in Columbus close to Oliver, Reagan, Brian, and Jen. I need to celebrate Oliver’s best everyday while he is still active and talking and laughing and playing… While he still calls me over to give Papa Jeff a hug… While he still runs up to me with an enormous smile and takes my hands and makes me clap… While he still jumps into my lap and looks at books with me.

And of course, Reagan too!!!

Back in Jernigan Land

And the U.S. of A. …

Monday, May 20th

Andy and I share a cab to Paddington Station and take the train to Heathrow where we both catch flights to the States. Andy flies for work and I return home.

Heathrow is a very impressive and efficient airport. After checking in and passing through the security checkpoint, you sit in a central terminal area and wait for your departure gate to be announced. Meanwhile, you have time to shop, snack, or sit down and eat. Announcements are posted an hour before departure. Once your gate is posted, you proceed as directed and present your boarding pass and passport and wait until your boarding group is called. Easy Peasey…

I arrive back in Jernigan Land at the Denver Airport around 5:30 PM. It’s snowing!

We stay in the Campbell Driveway Exclusive RV Resort for 4 more nights before moving to Cherry Creek State Park for another 7 nights.

Here are some pics of our visit with our grand-kiddos in Jernigan Land…

Mackenzie and Ruby playing in David’s apartment…

Jace and his school friend at the Rockies’ baseball game…

Jeff, his son Andy, and grandkids Jace and Jasley attended the game on May 25th. Jasley was part of an elementary school collective choir singing the Star Spangled Banner, opening the baseball game.

Backyard fun…

Cherry Creek State Park

Never a dull moment in Jernigan Land!

Hello… Goodbye

Next Stop… Jernigan Land and the Airport!

State Route 160 takes us through scenic countryside:

Fort Garland


La Veta

Then the big cities, like Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and finally the burbs of Denver catch up with us as we travel I-25 North.

Early afternoon we arrive at the friendliest and least crowded spot to park the RV for the next 11 days, The Campbell Campground, aka, Patty and Mike’s driveway. Jeff’s son, David, also lives in his own apartment there too.

Meanwhile, my bags are packed and I’m ready to fly to London to visit my son, Andy! After saying hello to everyone, I quickly say goodbye and Jeff drives me to the Denver International Airport. I am booked on a British Airways flight that leaves at 7:35 PM.

Nine hours later I arrive at Heathrow Airport.

Jernigan Land Part Two

Hanging Out…

4 Silly monkeys hanging in A tree, emjay, the oldest, strikes a pose for me.
3 silly monkeys climbing in the breeze, jasley, next in line, gives the tree a squeeze.
  2 silly monkeys sTanding in a tree, jace and Eliska are cute as can be.


 Jace doesn’t like to pose for me, so most of my pics of him are blurry. This time I got lucky.

  Emjay is always ready for a photo op…

Hanging In…


On Display…

Jasmine created a baby dinosaur hatching from an egg in art class at her elementary school.

It was chosen and displayed at Grandview High School.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

How tall are you next to a dinosaur?


  Jasley stands on her tippy toes…


Monkey business…


A view of downtown Denver from the mezzanine balcony…



Back in California

Lake Elsinore

Either you are wondering why my newest posts are still back in early September or you haven’t taken notice. For friends and family who know me well, you understand my need to research and add factoids to my posts from the road. I mean, if I am so awed at our country’s natural wonders, maybe you are too! But if my back-posting frustrates you, let me bring you up to date in real time…

On September 22nd we arrived in Jernigan Land in Colorado and spent 13 nights there. Jeff bonded with his sons, David and Andy. We watched Emjay, Jasley, Jace, and Eliska twice so Andy and Daisy could have a date-night. And we had so much fun taking the big girls to swimming lessons at Dolphinz!





(Sorry Emjay, I was too busy having fun playing chess and watching you create spaces on MineCraft to take a picture.)

We left Wednesday, October 5th, after another locked-in, locked-out episode with our newly replaced RV lock. We had to pay a locksmith to break the lock and screen door and dent the outer door. Then we ordered a new lock and waited 2 extra days to have it delivered. I will spare you the details now, but you know I am writing a letter to Forest River!


Jeff and I arrived back in Lake Elsinore on October 10th. After looking for other RV spots, we opted to return to Lake Elsinore West Marina for the winter. Our site, #124, is a corner lot with sweet views of the lake.



The picture below is from our inside kitchen table window.


Within 2 days Jeff found a temp agency and worked at a motor-cross event and was scheduled for banquet serving at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula.

On October18th I flew to Cincinnati to spend a week with my BFF, Marylee, and her so cute dog, Tinkerbell. I met, held, and loved on her almost 6 month-old granddaughter, Ellie.


We laughed, cooked, laughed, walked, laughed, relaxed, and laughed some more until we departed. I miss her so much!!!!!!

Marylee drove me halfway to Columbus where my daughter-in-law’s Mom, Susie, picked me up for the rest of the ride to Bexley. Grandma and Grammy L picked up Ollie from his Day Care. Oliver wasn’t sure about me yet.

I spent 11 happy days in Bexley. Ollie got used to me and remembered me.


Brian and I got haircuts at Great Clips.


We stayed up watching the World Series, rooting for the Indians and pantomiming our joy when they scored as Oliver was sleeping. Eventually we opted for going to bed as the Series continued to disappoint us.

Ollie had a play date with Amelia who lives down the street.


Ollie, Mom, Dad, cousin Caleb, Aunt Julie, and Uncle Brad went trick-or-treating.


I spent 2 days with Jen’s Mom, Susie, tracing and cutting patterns while she sewed incredible costumes for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz performed by the Artisan Ballet Company. Jen’s sister, Jessica, is owner, teacher, and creative director of the Artisan dance studio where dance is for everybody and every body. I attended the opening night performance on the Saturday before I left. Wow! I enjoyed every moment and am so proud of Jessica!

I took Faelan on long walks and won 2 games of Sorry in a row!! Brian and I took Ollie to the zoo.


On November 6th I flew from Columbus to Denver on Frontier Airlines before realizing that I had an 8 hour layover there! 8 hours! Yep!

Jeff’s son, David, his Mom, Patty, and his service dog, Ruby, drove out to meet me for lunch at the airport. Always great to see them and be in Jernigan Land again!

After going through security again I discovered my iPad was missing. Panic set in! A security guard directed me to the Info Center on each level of the concourses. The first one I went to told me to wait 24 hours and gave me a number to call. I called the number anyway and could not reach a person, only a choice of numbers to press and, of course, my situation was not a menu option. The next security guard had me call TSA and told me the number the Info person gave me was not the best one to call. Finally, yet another security guard suggested I return to the main terminal and check TSA again because they are often too busy to really look for a misplaced item. Also Lost and Found was around the corner and I should check there too.

Found it! Can you believe it? A kind soul saw me leave it behind and he turned it in. “YES!,” as Oliver would exclaim.

One last time through security. I was becoming a regular. But, hey, do I know how to kill 8 hours or what?

A few facts about Frontier Airlines…

img_4655 Matthew Staver Bloomberg News

Besides having cute animals on the tails of the planes, each one with its own name, the flights are inexpensive and if you check in ahead of time, you apparently get the preferred TSA security line. At least that is what happened to me. I stood in a much shorter line, went through security without having to remove my shoes, and I didn’t have to succumb to the full-body x-ray machine. I just walked through a non-invasive portal.

But wait! My cheap flight began adding up. Having a seat cost extra. Only one personal item can be carried on for free. Carry-ons stowed in the overhead compartments cost an extra $35. Checked bags cost $30 for the first one and I paid $40 for the second one. (Since I had an 8 hour layover I opted not to lug around a carry-on. As it was, I did a poor job of keeping track of my personal item and iPad!) Beverages and snacks were not complimentary. Oh, and for the first time on an airplane I wanted to recline my seat and take a nap. No can do! The seats do not recline.

After a long day I boarded my plane to Lake Elsinore, just one more time zone to enter. The sunset above sea-level is beautiful! I tried to capture the deep orange contrasts on the horizon and the twinkling city lights below as I landed in Orange County, Santa Ana/John Wayne Airport.



As I made my way to Baggage Claim, I descended some steps and recognized a pair of gray sneakers attached to khaki pants waiting for me. I was home again in Jeff’s arms!

I’m back walking again on my favorite River Walk route, out and back. My friend, Gene, who works for the city, recognized me, even without my red hair, and we greeted each other with a warm hug. My friend with the kidney transplant still walks everyday wearing dark gray sweat pants and a lighter gray hoodie no matter how warm the temperature. And the frail old man who drinks a large can of Budweiser for breakfast is still wandering around.

Jernigan Land… Our Last Days

On Sunday Jeff goes to Dave’s and Ruby’s graduation ceremony for owners and their service dogs. I am invited too but Jeff insists that one of us (hmm… who could he mean?) stay back with the dogs. Later, Dave confides in me that he is still shocked that Jeff left me behind. Dave encourages us to leave a cell phone behind to record how long the dogs whine and bark as we go off without them. (I am ashamed to say that we still have not tried this! But we will, Dave, I promise!)

We spend our last few days with Dave parked in his driveway. Patty and Mike are off to Sacramento, CA, to visit Mike’s mother.



I like being with Dave. He has so many interesting thoughts and opinions. I like the way he knows his mind. For example when we order a carry-out, he knows exactly what he is in the mood for and makes excellent recommendations for us. Jeff dislikes thick crust pizza yet Dave convinces him that the only way to order a crust from Chicago Pizza is thick. His choice of the spicy Hawaiian is perfect too!

You should see the many examples of his photo-shopping skills and the interesting websites he finds. There’s a place in Georgia where an old car junk yard has turned into an outdoor sculpture museum. The pictures are amazing: trees growing through cars, cars splitting tree trunks, and cracked windows creating ghostly mosaics.

Watching movies and television is fun with him too! He selects some that he knows we will like and that fit the mood of the day. He is just so easy and enjoyable to be around. I feel so relaxed and peaceful.

Casey and Murph get along well with Ruby, his service dog, and now even Marley, Patty’s young German Shepherd. But I still sleep inside the RV at night with our dogs while Jeff stays on the upstairs couch. Four dogs can be a lot sometimes! Check out this blog that Ruby’s puppy raiser, Christine, created about her called, Raising Ruby.


Jeff and Dave like to watch mixed martial arts together. I opt out but we all enjoy the finals of American Ninja Warrior, especially since 2 Americans finish all 4 courses for the first time ever! Dave used to go watch the famous heavies of the WFC practice in a nearby gym. He has a gallery of pictures on his wall. A bus used to come by his house and take him places. Now, however, his address has been cut from the route by less than a third of a mile! I am still upset about this. It just isn’t fair to cut off his independence! In December Dave is flying out with a friend to watch a big fight in Las Vegas.


Wednesday we meet Andy, Daisy, Emjay, Jasley, Eliska, and Jace at Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant. Dave stays home because it is past his dinner time. I get a picture of the Jerni-gents:


and the Jerni-gals:


We exchange lots of hugs and “I love you”s as we say goodbye. Emjay tells me she still has ten hundred things to tell me but there is no more time! Bye, Jernigans. You are an awesome family!!!!!!

Mike and Patty return Thursday evening and Friday morning brings more tearful goodbyes as we head to Lake Elsinore, CA for the winter and Kelly-O’Connell Land.

Jernigan Land… The Jernigals

Emjay and Jasley fit us into their busy weekend schedule and spend the night on Friday. Jeff has to get them back home for an afternoon birthday party and an evening slumber party.


We go on a scavenger hunt.




image Where’s Jasley?






After eating dinner we share scary stories and shine a flashlight on our faces. We roast marshmallows for S’mores and bury a banana topped with chocolate and mini-marshmallows in aluminum foil on top of the coals. We play Caribou Island and Sorry. Jasley and Pappa Jeff poop out so Emjay and Grandma Laurel finish playing for everyone until everyone wins! We set up all the dominoes and make them fall. The girls turn on every light in our bedroom and snuggle under the covers playing with the tangram puzzle and making pictures from the different shapes. Jeff and I sleep on the fold-out couch wondering why there isn’t a thin matress. Instead, we have to place all the cushions into a make-shift sleeping surface.

image Goodnight, everyone.

image Sweet dreams.

The girls wake up to hot chocolate and Pappa Jeff’s special pancakes before leaving to get ready for not one, but two birthday parties!!

Jernigan Land… Housekeeping

As the new week unfolds we do laundry, get the Scion vacuumed and washed, clean the inside of the RV, and find a place that will wash the outside of the RV. When the best deal costs $500 we rethink this need! Jeff visits Andy and his family without me because I opt out to babysit our dogs, Casey and Murph. Without going into a long story about Casey’s fear and territorial issues, let’s just say that Casey and Mamba, Andy’s family’s dog, do not get along. And this makes for an unpleasant and un-relaxing visit to be sure. Also when Casey first met Patty’s dog, Marley , he yapped at Marley causing him to knock his head on the car window. Since our dogs are still getting used to RV living, Jeff and I are not comfortable with leaving them alone while we go off by ourselves. We don’t want other campers to have to suffer from excessive dog-barking. I offer to do the same when Jeff visits Dave.

Jernigan Land… Lost and Found

Andy and the kids come visit us at Cherry Creek State Park on Sunday, giving Daisy some time to herself. I take off earlier in search of a 5 mile walk along the park’s many intertwining trails. Well, I get lost! I even have the Trails Map with me! Nothing is marked! Where am I? I ask joggers, bicylcists and other walkers who I meet. Nobody knows! Their responses include: “You can’t get lost.” “That’s the fun of unmarked trails!” “I don’t know.” “Take out your phone and use the GPS.” This last one came from a woman walking her dog. English was not her native language as she had an accent and was speaking to someone on her phone in a foreign tongue. She was the most helpful as she watched me proceed along some path and told me to turn here or go straight. So I just keep walking. Along my misguided way, however, I take some cool pictures.







Emjay and Jasley stay with us while Andy takes the twins back home for a nap. The four of us take the dogs for a walk down to the beach and back. Emjay remarks that I must be very tired of walking by now. She is such a compassionate child and older sister! As Jasley was off exploring, Emjay and I spy the tallest cat-tail and as soon as she snaps it off its stem I say to her, “Now watch. Jasley is going to be upset and want that cat-tail too!” As soon as the words fly out of my mouth, Emjay and I grin at each other because that is exactly what happens! So what does Emjay do? She gives the cat-tail to her little sister and she and I begin looking for an even taller one! (And of course, we find one!)


Pappa Jeff drives them home and I wonder what Daisy is going to do with these 2 cat-tails. Secretly, I begin planning some fun when the girls can spend the night with us next weekend in the RV!