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!!!

A Spring In My Step

Bexley, Ohio

(My next few posts will be out of order chronologically as I catch up with our last days at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve and my first post pandemic visit to Oliver and Reagan Land.)

I finally bloom with joy just because I am able to travel to Ohio again safely after sequestering in California during the pandemic!

Faelan and I take a walk through Bexley in late March.

Scenes from the backyard…

…a cardinal, Ohio’s state bird, Jen’s new raised vegetable beds, and buds on the sweet gum tree…

And the sad tale of a robin with lock jaw…

The family wakes up on the last Saturday in March. Jen takes Faelan outside for his morning pee and she notices a robin with its beak open standing next to the steps… just standing there like a statue… frozen… motionless… for a long time… Jen calls the rest of the family over to witness this strange phenomenon, questioning whether robin red breast is alive or not, and wondering what to do. As the bird still hasn’t moved, Jen decides it is dead and proceeds to get a shovel and garbage bag to move it. Brian goes out to assist her. I’m inside with Oliver and Reagan, when all of a sudden we hear 2 loud screams! As Jen approaches the robin, the bird flutters its wings, ascends several feet into the air, and lands in the side of the yard.

Obviously, the bird is alive but its beak is still open. It tries to peck for insects in the grass and flower beds. Reagan is both concerned and a little scared as the robin hops around the back yard seeming to follow her.

I quickly search Google for an answer to why a robin cannot close its beak. I learn a stressed bird will have its mouth open and pant. But there’s no panting here. Did he or she fly into something that caused trauma to its beak? Possibly…

Oliver brings a plate of blue tortilla chips outside for a snack but abandons it. Reagan runs inside and brings out a bowl of water and we watch as the robin tries to desperately peck at the chips but his beak won’t close. The robin hobbles its way across the yard and eventually flies away.

Reagan and I hope the robin gets better and we dream that he does!

Columbus, Ohio

We spend an evening with Jeff’s sister, Jan, in Indianapolis. Bob and Jan bought a small camper that they park at Heartland RV Resort  in Greenfield, Indiana for the summer season.

We were able to find space here as well, so Jan joined us after work on Friday, August 18th. She is a manager and sommelier (wine steward) at a restaurant in Indianapolis.

Saturday we arrive in Delaware, Ohio, north of Columbus and about 30 minutes from Ollie Land, where we spend the next 9 nights at Alum Creek State Park. (I should say Jeff spends the nights here. I stay at Ollie’s for 4 of those nights.)

Alum Creek State Park

Behind the RV, a path leads to a trail.

The summer wildflowers are beautiful but the humidity and biting bugs are unbearable.


Ollie and his dad (my son, Brian) drive me back to the RV on Sunday and stay for a quick cookout.

…the fire and the outside temperature!

We stay inside the RV where the air conditioning provides comfort.

Oliver is not sure what to make of our home on wheels. And he hasn’t napped all weekend, so he is not a happy camper…

His po’d look…

But then he starts coming around…


And I manage to get the start of a smile…

Now he’s a happy camper!

His surprised face…
Pinching his nose…
Counting his fingers…
Tickling his knees…
Making a happy face!

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O…

 O is for Oliver and Ohio

I flew to Columbus, OH on March 29th for my grandson’s 2nd birthday. My son, Brian, and daughter-in-law, Jen, and I had been planning Oliver’s party long distance.

After discussing various themes, Jen and Brian settled on the Alphabet. Oliver really enjoys books. He chooses his favorites and brings them to you. Then he turns around and settles himself in your lap so that you can read them together.

But recently Oliver has discovered the letters of the alphabet. Amazingly so, he can identify both upper case and lower case letters!

So, his birthday theme started to take shape.

The brunch menu centered around the letters of his name…

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Orange juice

Lemon scones

Idaho herbed potatoes and tomatoes

Vanilla waffles and a Veggie side of asparagus


Rashers, aka, bacon

The decorations were easy… ABCs everywhere!

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Ollie woke up to a paradise of letters. You would have thought he had won the lottery! He pointed, laughed, covered his face with his hands in disbelief, and started identifying all the letters on the walls.

The guests started arriving:

  • Opa, Mimi, and Aunt KeKe (Brian’s Dad, Step-Mother, and Step-Sister)
  • Aunt Julie and Cousin Caleb (Jen’s sister and nephew)
  • Grandma and Grandpa (Jen’s parents)
  • Aunt Jessica and Uncle Steve (Jen’s sister and her husband)

Grammy L (me) and Uncle Andy (Brian’s brother) were already there since we both flew in from out of town.

Unfortunately some of the family could not attend Oliver’s 2nd birthday bash. Uncle Brad (Julie’s husband and Caleb’s Dad) had to work as fireman/EMT responder. Papa Jeff was back in California taking care of our dogs, Casey and Murph. Uncle John and Aunt Amanda (Brian’s brother and sister-in-law) had moved to Dublin, Ireland. Funkle Tim and Thom (my brother and brother-in-law) couldn’t drive in from Warren, Ohio.

We visited, ate, and played a game of sorts… Each guest answered 15 multiple choice questions about OUR ONE and ONLY OLIVER. Did you notice the alphabet alliteration here?

The winner, Aunt KeKe, received a recent 4×6 candid photo of Oliver in a magnetic pouch to display on the refrigerator. But of course no one went home empty handed. Each family unit received a set of magnetic ABCs!

Then Oliver, with Mom’s help, opened his gifts. Ooohh, he kept saying!

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He even looked at his cards with Mom… so precious. At one point he walked over to Caleb to share a gift with his cousin. And then when Oliver started clapping his hands, everyone roared with laughter.

Clothes, toys, first games, a zoo membership, shoes, plush “animals” from books, a mint collection of coins, alphabet cards and books… No doubt about it… This munchkin boy loves books!

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Finally, Oliver had one last gift to open. Another shirt… yeah! But Ollie wasn’t paying attention. And I have to admit, neither were the rest of us until we read the message on the shirt.

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That’s right! Brian and Jen are expecting their second child, due to arrive the beginning of October! What a surprise to all of us and what a clever way to announce it to the family!

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I captured some cute moments at the party…

…Spending time on Uncle Andy’s lap, reading books and pointing to his head when he sees a hat. (Even after Andy left, whenever he saw these pictures he exclaimed, “That’s Andy!”)

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…Ollie cuddling with Thidwick, the big-hearted Moose, and Little Critter. (Later he strapped these onto his John Deere riding toy and pushed them around the house!)

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…Reading with Grandpa. (Look at those big smiles of joy!)

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…Dad, Mom, and Ollie reading the book from Aunt Amanda and Uncle John, O is All Over. (John wrote and published this book!)

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Happy birthday, Oliver! You are Loved!

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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.

Ollie Land

It’s so hard to say goodbye…

What a week for my little love-love boy! He started at a new day care, he had a birthday, he is eating lots of new finger foods, he is cutting several teeth, he is drinking goat’s milk, he is transitioning from a bottle to a straw, he is almost walking… And he got kicked out of his new day care on the second day! Well, not really, but it sounds funnier to describe it that way! He was crying a lot and Ms. Tacy called Brian as she suspected Ollie had a slight fever.

This was the Monday after his birthday weekend and Brian had scheduled the day off so he could sleep in and get some work done around the house. But Ollie had other plans for his Dad! Ollie was inconsolable and constipated and Brian needed Grammy L. So I went over to lend moral support and spent the night.

I returned again Saturday. Ollie was back! He was little love-love boy again. What fun I have playing with him!!!!!







Later, Oliver joins us as Jen, Brian, and I play Sorry. He turns out to be our good luck charm as each one of us wins a game!

But Sunday comes all too soon. Papa Jeff arrives to take me back to the RV and it’s time for tearful goodbyes. I love my family so much!



Can’t Wait!

I’m going to Ollie Land!

MARCH 31, 2016

The last segment of our journey east… Frankfurt, KY to Columbus, OH

We take a backroad to I-75/I-71 and soon the skyline of Cincinnati appears around the curve of Kentucky’s cut-in-the-hill. Before I could capture a shot of it, we descended elevation and it was gone again. The best I could do were a few pictures as we crossed the Ohio River.



Then Paul Brown Stadium looms by…


We’re back in Cincinnati, only suddenly it doesn’t feel like home anymore. We are riding in our home and wherever we go the hearth goes with us. A sad realization, but true… We are visitors in a land we once knew well.

Continuing north, the iconic Eiffel Tower replica of King’s Island appears and we pass by the amusement park.


Columbus lies ahead and then it’s on to Alum Creek State Park. We’ve been travelling through rain and overcast skies but my spirits are up. After getting water, unhitching the tow and car, backing in the RV, and plugging into electricity, I’m off to Ollie’s house to help with his birthday preparations. Since he lives about 25 miles south of where we are camping, Brian meets us halfway to pick me up and I spend the next 2 nights with Ollie at his house.




Musical Campgrounds

Ah, Thursday, a busy and hopeful day as we move to Delaware State Park* and return to Alum Creek Colerain RV to get our new locks installed. We drop off the RV at 10 AM and find the nearest car wash and vacuum for the chibi car, our Scion IQ. I vacuum as much dog hair out of the car as I possibly can and Windex the windows and insides till they glow. I gas it up and get it washed and I feel good. My car is clean. I even re-attach the dog barrier with the straps. Before we just tied the loose ends around the driver and passenger seats. Then we find out that the wrong door lock was ordered and the correct one will have to be re-ordered. We hope this will all be taken care of by Monday.

*Alum Creek State Park could not accommodate us for the weekend so we had to hop around.

About Delaware State Park

delaware state park map

In Ohio, the park, the town and the county are all named after the Native American Delaware tribe originally from the Delaware Valley in the northeast. The over-powering Iroquois Nation drove them westward and other Native Americans referred to them as “Na-Be-Naugh-a”, the people of the east. They joined the efforts of the Shawnee and the Wyandot to prevent settlers from expanding further west.

In the early 1800s people frequently traveled to Lake Erie on parts of what is now Route 23. A brick tavern, built on a hill overlooking what is now the Delaware Lake Reservoir, was a popular resting place on this journey. A Captain Taylor had the foresight to build a fort around the tavern during the British and Indian Wars so that local settlers would be safe in case of an Indian attack. Fortunately no such attacks happened.

In 1951 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a flood control dam and created Delaware Lake. In 1952 the reservoir became a state park. (from

Friday I drive down to Cincinnati to spend some time with my Special BFF, Marylee. We watch the first 2 episodes of How to Get Away with Murder’s new season and discuss where the plot is going and exchange our thoughts and opinions. Saturday and Sunday I visit Oliver in Ollie Land and leave in tears as it sinks in that I am really leaving this time and won’t be back until his first birthday.





Monday we move back to Alum Creek State Park for one night. We choose a shady spot surrounded by woods, A-38. This is now our favorite site and we plan on requesting it each time we are back in Columbus.


We prefer Alum Creek over Delaware State Park because it is closer to Columbus and nearer to grocery stores and other useful amenities.

The RV’s new lock arrives late Monday afternoon and Seth from Colerain RV gets us in first thing Tuesday morning.

It’s real now! We head out West to Denver, Colorado to spend time with Jeff’s sons and grandchildren. Will I become Grammy L to them? Will they like me? I hope so! As sad as I am to leave Ollie Land, I am excited to enjoy and spend time with Emjay, Jasley, Eliska, and Jace in Jernigan Land.

Labor Day Weekend


Brian, Ollie, Faelan, Andy, and Dewey visit us for lunch. Jeff and Andy make a fire in the pit and we roast Boar’s Head beef franks. Along with the “dogs” we devour a wheat berry salad and coleslaw from Kroger’s Deli Department. Pretzels, Triscuits, hummus, and cheese tie us over as appetizers. We eat S’mores for dessert. I cry as my family leaves. Then Marylee, my BFF calls and I cry all over again. Oh, to love and be loved!

jeff and ollie

ollie and grammy L

ollie driving RV

Alum Creek Dewey

ollie and brian

alum creek fire

ollie 5 months

so big