Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Grand(s) Time in SoCal

October 15 - November 15, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona - Frazier Park/Acton, California

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Once back from our New Mexico jaunt we return to our slow and quiet lives at our little desert oasis. The weather continues to be much warmer than we like, and it's a lot dryer than it was last year. 

Still hard to believe we've been here a whole year!! I don't imagine there's anyone who isn't saying "hard to believe" about most of 2020. 

A quick storm cools our temps for a couple days.
The motorhome goes to the shop for it's coolant notification and engine light issues. Not living in it means we can leave it for several days - another new experience for us. They don't find anything major and replace a cap that wasn't holding pressure. Hopefully that will be all it was since that simple fix cost a fortune :-( 

There's already "the list" of things we want to get done before heading out this Spring, none that keep us from traveling now. After two and a half weeks back at the house, we're packing up. Jeff is going with us this time too.

It's a very important trip to SoCal - to welcome our sixth grand child! Ezra's brother is due on November 4 and we head west on November 1. 

The longest drive we've done is the 380 miles to Desert Center, California, and we do it every time to break up the 600+ mile trip to see the kids and their families. All I-10, some of it pretty, some of it city traffic, none of it very exciting.

We moochdock at our friends' new place, and enjoy getting caught up with them over a nice dinner. Of course I fail to get any pics.

Spectacular California sunset.
Leaving Monday morning we hear from Brian that Shalise has been in labor for a couple hours (OMG!), but no rush. Their new house is an hour from the hospital so I can't help but feel a little bit rushed :-) 

The 250 miles to Frazier Park, California, go by quickly despite the added excitement. Except for the brakes coming on in the Jeep going up the Grapevine (I-5 grade out of Valencia). So glad we have that handy light that comes on when the Jeep brakes engage! Bill wiggles the thingy and they go off. Thankfully.

Back in the golden state.
We have a baby coming!

Set up is just plugging in and jumping in the Jeep at Lake of the Woods Mobile Village about six miles up the hill from their house. The "up the hill" becomes relevant later in the week.

Brian was right. There's no rush. Still, labor is happening and after giving us a short tour of the new digs, they're off to the hospital! Glad we didn't wait another day expecting the due date to be too early. 

Elliott Alexander Smith arrives on November 3, 2020. 7 lbs, 6 oz, he is a healthy little boy with a full head of dark hair and gray eyes. Ezra is excited that his little brother is finally here, and does well staying home with his Uncle Jeff for two nights.

Hours old.


Ezra sees Elliott for the first time.

And shares him with the family.
I'm grateful to have this lovely experience to keep my mind off the election. Even when it's fairly obvious that Biden has won, it will still be a week before I can finally take a deep breath of relief. 

The newest family member and his parents arrive home to a very happy big brother, grand parents and uncle on Wednesday afternoon. Elliott sleeps most of the time, each day becoming more alert, giving us an occasional smile. He's a sweet and easy baby.

We visit and cook and eat and watch movies and play games each day, arriving about 10, leaving about 8. It's a lovely week of just enjoying family and welcoming little Elliott Alexander to the world. 

A final day of shorts and sunshine.

The big boys play a game.

The Smith boys.

On Friday the weather takes a big turn with rain, snow and wind. It definitely feels like we're in the mountains, and with the RV park 500 feet higher than the house we're below freezing all night for our last three nights. It's beautiful and magical.

Now a fan of snow zoomies!

Backyard at the motorhome.

Backyard at the house.
For the first time in many years, my Steelers play Bill's Cowboys on Sunday. It's a fun game although those having-a-horrible-season 'boys nearly beat my undefeated team!!

What a blessing to have this very special time together. I'm so glad we arrived in time to be there for Ezra, and to welcome Elliott home.

Sunday night we drive to the rig in snow and ice, more than I've ever driven in! The next morning there's 3" of soft and crunchy white around and on us. We make a quick drive down the hill (the road is clear) to say our good-byes to the family who are headed out for a doctor's checkup.

While we're getting ready Ezra has brought his "snow bowl" inside to play with.

Such a lucky big boy!
First deep snow prints at the new house.
Back at the motorhome we have a new adventure! Heavy snow built up on the large slide topper keeps it from coming in all the way. Oh dear...... Bill pulls out the ladder and a broom and is able to clear it away. The sun on the other side has melted enough for the other two slides to come in easily.

At least we have bright blue skies!

Once we're slides-in and jacks-up we take Hwy 138 across the high desert to Hwy 14 to our next stop in Acton, California. Our usual park in Valencia is booked for the month of November so we were happy to get the last spot in this nice park about 25 miles from the rest of the family. Bright and sunny, it's still chilly for the next four nights. 

Even with COVID restrictions all of the Valencia kids are working so we manage to squeeze in visits with all but Richie, our youngest, Bill's number four. He's possibly been exposed to the virus and is being responsible. We're bummed to miss him, but appreciate the reality of today's world.

We spend a few hours in Nick and Jillian's backyard. Our second oldest, Bill's number one. Maximus and Mason are lots of fun, keeping us all entertained. They're growing too fast, and we miss being able to spend time with them. Fortunately their parents are great about photos and videos and chats while we're not here. 

Mason talks the whole time while Maximus plays with his very cool toy. 

Emily isn't able to get away from work :-(, so we spend a couple hours with the grand daughter and her daddy Travis, our fourth oldest, Bill's number three. With five grandsons, Reese is the only pink in a sea of blue for us. And of course she is the cutest little girl who ever lived!! What a bundle of happy giggles and wiggles she is. Her first birthday was Tuesday and it's so hard to believe she's already a year old.

Daddy and his beautiful little girl.

A room full of toys but nothing as cool as a pair of sunglasses.

Our last night in town Corey and Christie come to the park for chili bowls. Bill's second oldest, our number three. They celebrated their first anniversary in October and are both doing great. Of course I fail to get a photo although we have a great visit.

With COVID numbers rising again and shut downs imminent, we return east on Saturday morning. Sadly it means we don't see grand child number six - Henry Miles is my "borrowed daughter" Megan's little guy who will already be a year old the end of December. I hate missing a chance to see him again :-(

Henry, our munching Munchkin!
I'm hoping we can come back in February to get some more time with all these kiddos! Our summer plans include spending time here on our way to the coast. Praying the good vaccine news and stronger leadership will make a real difference in all our lives by then.

We again stop for the night in Desert Center. This time we sit around the fire with our friends, and enjoy the beautiful desert views of where we spent so much of our youth.

Desert twilight
Back to Tombstone, the motorhome is unpacked, parked and plugged in. A few projects will keep us busy, some visiting friends will make us smile, and the holidays will be quiet. I'm hoping our 80 degree temps will drop soon and we'll get some much needed rain. 

Elliott two weeks old
I'm missing the babies, wishing they were all closer, and that visiting wasn't such a chore. And I'm grateful they are all safe and healthy and happy.


  1. Pleased to meet Elliot, a welcome addition to your family. Continued safe travels.

    1. Thanks Jeff, we're delighted he's here. All the best to you and yours.

  2. What a batch of beautiful babies! Lots of love to share there for years to come.

    1. They are beautiful one and all, we're so fortunate.

  3. Oh my gosh...that second photo of Elliott looks like a little Ezra! What.a peaceful smile. :).

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jodee and Bill!

    1. That's what we said :-))) Looks so much like Ezra except for more hair.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and Diana as well. We miss you.

  4. Congratulations on the new grandchild--he's precious! And Ezra makes such a cute big brother. We are with you on the wishes for cooler weather and rain. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and John. We're cooling down but it's still sooooo dry!

  5. You have much to be thankful for.....

  6. So glad you were able to safely visit most of the family. Those grandbabies are way too cute. Welcome to Elliott!! Another adorable grandson. Glad you do have one pretty little granddaughter. Fingers crossed we have a vaccine for all our spring/summer travels. Happy Health and Thanksgiving to you and Bill!

    1. It was wonderful to see them and went by way too fast. Looking forward to safe travels for all of us.

  7. You have such beautiful grandchildren. That photo of Ezra curled up with his new little brother Elliott...💕It's wonderful that you were able to see almost everyone and to have that sweet time together. Like you, we're hoping for positive changes in 2021! We also feel much more hopeful with the new leadership we'll have. Hugs to you both!

    1. Still can't believe we have six little ones now, we're very blessed! Hugs right back :-)

  8. How wonderful - so many grandkids! Darling new baby! You are brave to have the RV in SNOW. Oh my goodness. I won't even drive after dark let alone SNOW. Amazing that you went from too hot to too cold and back to too hot. Guess your pipes didn't freeze thankfully.

    1. I was very happy that the snow was cleared on the roads so only had to drive it out of the park in a couple inches and some ice. Admittedly I crawled every inch to the road :-) Our water pump did freeze that last night but we prepared with a jug of water and were able to use the utility water after 9 am. I was so happy to be out of the heat but that was so much so quickly!

  9. Oh my goodness! Elliot is adorable!! Congratulations to the entire family :-))

    1. Thanks! Still can't believe how tiny and cute he is :-)

  10. So glad you got out to visit, and made it in time for the newest edition. You have a family full of cuties. The snow...

    1. It was close! Of course there hasn't been a flake of snow since we left....

  11. I still can’t believe you gave 6 grandkids! How special to have the cousins grow up together so close in age. Elliott is precious!

    1. Me either!! We had zero when we went on the road :-)