Monday, January 21, 2008

Please see my new blog (now regularly updated) and website (it's amazing, if I do say so myself - not that I had anything to do with the design. I have AuthorBytes to thank for that!). This is my last post on this blog, please come on over to my new place to see what we're up to!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House is going to publish my bus memoir, QUEEN OF THE ROAD: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus With a Will of Its Own based on this blog, in June '08.

Thanks so much to everyone who read/commented on this blog. Now that Tim and I are stationary again, our plan is to fix up our house, sell it in a couple of years and hit the road to full time again. I guess Tim not only got a bus conversion, but a wife conversion as well -- into a bus nut! (Evil, evil man.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

A friend of mine from back East recently reminded me of Friendly’s.

As a kid, we used to go to there for ice cream treats and if it was a really a special occasion, we’d preface our desserts with one of their fabulous burgers. When Tim and I were in Foxboro, MA last fall (when the bus got flooded, but that’s another blog entry) I squealed with delight when we passed by a Friendly’s in our Jeep. I hadn’t even thought about the place in years. Being an East Coast thing, Tim had never heard of it.

“We have to go! We have to go!” I exclaimed, channeling my inner 9 year old as I bounced in my seat in the Jeep. Tim dutifully drove us back for dinner that night.

I had remembered not only the food, but the service which strives to live up to the restaurant’s name. To every single one of my change orders (fried onions on my burger instead of bacon, lo carb chocolate in my milkshake, ranch dressing with my onion rings, slab of raw onion and don’t forget the steak sauce) the waitress whooped an enthusiastic, “NO PROBLEM!” As a kid, to have an adult hang on your every word and treat every request as gospel, was kinda nice. As a bus phobic, to hear a “NO PROBLEM!” in a situation where I could really be assured that there was none, was kinda liberating.

But, the Friendly’s in Augusta, ME (yep, I was on a roll reliving the highlights of my childhood, just as Tim was on a roll sleeping on the couch because he couldn’t stand the reek of onions in the bed) seemed to lack the same… Friendly-ness. When I gave my by now, usual order, there was not a “NO PROBLEM!” to be heard. Instead, the waitress practically sneered, “the woman likes her condiments.” Haven’t these people been trained that sarcasm is not particularly friendly? Then, my order complete, I was treated to a “she’s the condiment queen!” I guess at least that’s some sort of promotion from princess. Tim, who always rolls his eyes at my dining requests (and who takes great pride in following his order with, “and I’ll have it exactly like it is on the menu”) was trying not to let his milkshake shoot through his nostrils after that Heinzien coronation. Then, unfortunately for us all, I noticed my ice tea glass said, “free refills.” You must understand that at Friendly’s, freverything is freenamed. The onion rings are “fronions,” the shakes, “fribbles,” and so on. So, I ask the fraitress, “How come the drinks aren’t called, freefills?” She shot me a strange look, finally got it and narrowed her eyes at me.

“Freefills. Cute. I’ll let management know. It’ll be one more thing for them to throw at us.”

That was the last time we went to Friendly’s.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tim has been around my family long enough that he knows what the Yiddish word "shmata" means. ("Rag," as in, when something spills, my mother screams, "Get me a shmata!") So, one day on our trip, when I was nagging him about something or other, (probably something to do with driving) he turns to me and says, "Gee. Someone's on the shmata."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

So, today I go to my seamster (well, he's not a seamstress and alterer sounds like he does castrations). There's no parking except right out front in the no parking zone. I leave my emergency lights blinking, because if I get towed, that's exactly what it would be and run in. There's only one try on room and it's occupied -- by a woman who's talking on her cell phone. She's talking about how she's getting her dress altered. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I wait... and wait... and wait. Finally, little miss all important comes out in a rather unimaginatve gown and settles herself in front of the mirror. Finally. Now, we can get going here. Only... she doesn't know how long she wants the thing. She and the ever patient Mr. Lai try out various lengths, but the poor dear just can't make up her mind. Finally, she turns to me.
"Do you have an opinion?" She asks. Do I ever. But, to my credit, I simply reply with my own query.
"That depends on what you're wearing it to."
"The Grammys" she replies with a smirk. You might think that was the last straw. In fact, it was only the penultimate one. The last straw occured a spit second later as I spied a tow truck lumbering down the lane toward my unsuspecting Saab. So, you'll understand that, as I ran out the door, I gave the only appropriate response possible under the circumstances: "You're wearing THAT to the Grammys?"

Friday, January 06, 2006

Yes, we're back home, but I thought I would leave you for now, with a picture of how our bus looked after traversing the "roads" in Alaska. I'm sorry (and sufficiently chastised by many of you) that I have been neglecting the blog. But, I have good reason -- working diligently on a book proposal for a bus memoir. For now, here's a link to some press our trip is already getting. And, have no fear! There may very well be a new blog acomin': Tim, ever tiring of how (his perception) I portray him in the blog as, "an idiot" (his perception, again)will likely be pushed over the edge by this post's picture and may finally, as I have often retorted, "get your own blog!"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dave Menaker at his Great Land Wines, Haines, AK
In Haines, Alaska, we spend a delightful few… oh… I really have no idea how long… hours?… days?… tasting wine at Dave Menaker’s shack cum winery. This ain’t your Napa Valley. Dave greets his guests in a heavy, pullover work shirt, jeans and work boots (he also operates a sawmill out back -- hopefully not running both businesses at the same time). Tim and I were the only ones in the place and the samples ran wild and free -- onion, potato, blueberry, raisin, rose petal and dandelion wines were just a few of the selections, with Triscuits proffered for the obligatory palate cleansing. I was totally blitzed by the time we left (fortunately, he also offers a carry-out service -- not the bottles -- the spouses) as evidenced by my suggestions of possibilities for future vintages, including a cat/dog hair variety, marketed to eccentric little old ladies who’d want to drink a memorial toast to their dearly departed Flopsies. To his credit, Dave was amused. Or, at least the other Dave standing next to him was. Well, maybe one of them was only feigning amusement. But, that was when the room starting spinning, so I can’t really be sure.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rise and shine!
Our standing joke the entire trip has been “let’s get an early start,” which has usually meant 11 am – if we were lucky. Well... we finally achieved one: After a quick overnight on our way out of British Columbia at a muddy, mosquito infested RV park with only 15 amps of power, you might say we felt no pull to linger. Tim swore he’d have us out of there by 9 am.

“Oh, yee of little faith” he said to my skeptical look. Yup, that’s me: Yee Orion. From the lost tribe of Asian Jews.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Us in front of Mt. McKinley, the biggest draw of Denali National Park. This picture, however, wasn't taken at Denali, since as we found out after our bus ride, the Park is probably the worst place to see the mountain.
In Denali National Park, the only way one is allowed in, is via bus (and no, I don't mean ours). This was not a good thing. It's not that I was afraid… more like constantly horrified. It started with the very first animal sighting, a caribou. An older woman across the isle from us let out a blood curdling scream. I thought perhaps, that the poor animal was being eaten by a bear. Since I had yet to see an Alaskan bear and there would be little I could do to help poor Rudolph anyway, I craned my neck in its direction. But, no. He of the antler bling was languidly grazing in a meadow. Then, I heard the rest of what I suppose is the tourists’ rallying cry: “WALTER! GET THE CAMERA!” Tim and I hadn’t taken organized tours in quite some time, and as we shot each other pained looks, we remembered why. “This is going to be a very long trip,” we said, in unison. What does Walter’s wife do when she needs to get his attention for something really important? Like… say she’s being strangled by a stranger, which nearly occurred several times during the eight hour trip. The rule on the bus was that anyone could yell STOP for anything at any time: animal sightings, picture opportunities, bloody noses (this really happened… they sent the kid off the bus… to be put out of his misery by a bear, I suppose. Or, is that sharks?) Our overly helpful guide/driver even got walkie-talkies for us slobs in the back, so that we could more easily communicate our wishes to him on this hell ride. Unfortunately, “Stop the bus. I’ll catch a cab” was not one of the possibilities. Then, there were the Dall Sheep. Someone would shout, “STOP THE BUS!” and we would… for dots of white, which we were told were frigging sheep on a hill. O.K. He didn’t really say frigging sheep. Being a naturalist named River, he of course referred to them as Dall Sheep. Apparently, no one on that entire bus had ever been to a farm.

“But, they’re mountain sheep,” Tim protested the first time I made this incisive observation. By the sixth, he had come over to the dark side with me and delighted in spotting sheep himself, only to withhold the information from the rest of our wool-crazed herd. At one point, the driver even stopped the bus on his own, saying he was going to scan the mountain ridge with his binoculars for bear. I rolled my eyes at Tim. “If they’re that far away, who gives a sh*t? To which he replied, “let me get the walkie-talkie for you.”

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Caribou in Denali National Park. Those antlers -- a bit much. Someone should take the poor animals aside and tell them that there's such a thing as over-accessorizing.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hey, thanks, Serwer! (And, I know the dog is cute, but what am I, chopped liver?)
I've gotten quite a few emails wondering about the bus itself. Check out the Meltdown Cruise entry from June '04 for info on that, as well as our many, many mishaps our very first day out (door flying open at 60 mph with me next to it, nearly getting run over by the bus as Tim backed it up, horrendous hail, cat peeing on bed in terror, wrong turns and not being able to back up... )is it any wonder I developed a bus phobia?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I’ve been dragged on enough death marches by Tim, that I’ve developed…

The 5 Stages of Getting Grief from Hiking with Doreen: Denial (“There's no way in hell I’m going all the way up there!”); Anger (“I can’t believe I let you take me on this f--king hike!”); Bargaining (“If we stop now, I’ll have the energy to do another hike tomorrow. Really, I promise!”); Despair (“Oh, why did I ever let you talk me into anything over 3 miles?”); Acceptance (“This is absolutely, positively, the last hike I will ever go on for the rest of my life!”)

I would add a sixth stage, one which only occurs in extreme circumstances, at a perfect storm of elevation gain, total distance, mud and bugs: Confabulation (“Look at the dog! You’re killing him!”)

Finally, when I’ve nagged enough to make even Tim agree to quit, I clutch the poodle to celebrate, beaming as I attempt to reinforce the wisdom of my husband’s capitulation.

“I’m so glad you didn’t make me continue to the top. That way, I could actually enjoy how beautiful it was. I’d even do it, again.”

“Really? Tim replied. “I wouldn’t.”

Miles and me. Harbor Mountain, Sitka, AK.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Eagles were always thought to mate for life, but Captain Jim told us that while recent DNA analysis indicates that monogomy is dominant (I guess that depends on what your definition of "is" is), they do fool around. Birds with benefits.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On our jet boating trip down the Sitkine River in Wrangell, Ivan Simonek, a naturalist and professional photographer extraordinaire was on board with his lovely wife, Jeannie. (Check out his website for amazing pics: He took this one of Tim and me, a few hours before our pilot, Jim did a "Hamilton Manuever." I won't go into the physics of it, but suffice it to say the boat turned end to end in 40-50 feet and the G forces were better than an E ticket ride. After the first try and my scream when the frigid water hit us, Cap'n Jim hollered, "That was only practice!" I yelled back, "Good! "Cause that was just a practice scream!" I wasn't kidding.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Of our first stop in Alaska, Ketchikan, Tim says he's never seen such dense forest. I wouldn't know.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Tim getting the bus on the ferry. He's an animal, I tell you!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Loading the bus on the ferry to Alaska.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Border chic
ALASKA – both of us were a little worried about going, albeit for different reasons: Tim was concerned about the trip up through Canada. He thought, given how Americans are perceived in the world these days, that we’d encounter nothing but hostility. Then again, he had also never had a burning desire to go to Alaska. I was the one who said, even before we ever headed out, “Well, if we’re doing this bus thing, then we should at least go to Alaska.” What an idiot.

At least now I’m not just restricting my fears to the bus. Oh, no. Now, I’m terrified of the roads (are they even paved?) hitting a moose, getting mauled by a bear (I had a dream we both were the night before we left Seattle). And, since my bus phobia had generalized to any moving vehicle, I’m also a little nuts about the ferry rides. I love boats and the water, but I’m actually fixating on the stuff in the bus crashing around, (just like I still do when I’m riding in it) even though we’ll be topside. I’m a wreck from worrying: did we have all the paperwork we needed to take a bus, a Jeep and three pets across the border? How will we navigate (our GPS has no CDs for Canada)? Why didn’t we bring a gun (for bears)? Tim says we just have to make noise in the woods while we walk and that that’s why people carry bells. Well, we don’t have any bells, do we? He says we don’t need them with my mouth.

I was half hoping we’d be turned back at the border, but we weren’t. They didn’t even ask about the pets’ vaccinations, trusted us on the ridiculous amounts of alcohol Tim said we had (a few bottles of wine, less than a 12 pack of beer and 1 bottle of hard liquor. Right. That’ll be my consumption the first night – if I survive). Tim says one look at me and the border guards knew no self respecting smuggler/terrorist could possibly dress this way (see the picture above for my tres bus chick outfit: pink track suit with big pink furry socks).

I guess that’s why they didn’t even bother aboot us.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Driving to the Oregon coast from Portland, we pass through Scarpoose and the “peace candle;” really a peace silo, painted red with a giant fabricated flame on top.

I could just feel the world drawing closer together as we whizzed by on Hwy 30.

Monday, June 06, 2005

More bus phobia. I now realize why psychotics engage in “self quieting behavior” such as rocking, repeating words, etc. My new mantra, as we twist over Hwy 199 East from CA to OR is “kill me kill me kill me kill me.” It’s all mindless until I suddenly realize what I’m saying. It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, it’s that I’m afraid of dying like this. So, my new, new mantra; “kill me, but not like this… kill me, but not like this…”

Finally, I can’t wait anymore. I say I’m just going in the back to kill myself. Tim replies, "so, I guess you'll be back there trying to slit your wrists with your electric razor." What an empathetic guy. I guess he gave at the office.