Meet Ramsey Junior

Hi

I haven’t posted for a while because my van life has been in transition. I traded Ramsey, my fully-stocked 21-foot Class B that got 14 miles per gallon, for a small cargo van that fits in my garage and (supposedly) gets 28 miles per gallon on the open road.

I made the decision to make the swap after taking a trip around the Northwest last August. As you can see from this map, I visited many National Park sites. What a treat that was!

2019-Aug-Map-NorthwestNatParks

But on my way home I was wishing I didn’t burn so much fossil fuel while enjoying the scenery. I was coveting smaller vans. Driving Ramsey around for two years taught me what I need and what I don’t.

  • I never used Ramsey’s shower.
  • I only need one burner on the stove.
  • I don’t need a generator and air conditioner.
  • I don’t need a sink and complicated plumbing.
  • It is just as easy to use a bucket as it is to use the toilet that requires black tanks.
  • Since I have a wonderful home where I can entertain, I don’t need my RV to be a place to cook elaborate meals. Besides, one of the fun things about traveling is trying out local restaurants.
  • I don’t need a whale beached on my driveway when I’m not using it. It blocked access to my garage.

I suddenly knew I was done with my Class B, even though the PleasureWay Lexor is an absolutely beautiful mini-RV.

Fortunately, a cute couple in Oregon was ready to start where I’d left off and purchased Ramsey from me. I put 2/3 of the cash back in the bank and used the rest to purchase Ramsey Junior, a ProMaster City cargo van – the passenger wagon version.

I did a lot of planning before making that purchase.

  • I took all the items that I had had in Ramsey that I thought I would need in a small campervan and placed them in a pile in the middle of my garage.
  • I put the smallest items in 11″ x 17″ plastic tubs that I could stack.
  • I obtained measurements for self-inflating mattresses from the Internet.
  • I got measurements for the cargo spaces in Ram ProMasters, Ford Transits, and Nissan cargo vans.
  • I marked the spaces out in my garage and made mock-ups of how everything would be placed in that space.
  • I measured myself sitting to see how high a chair could be and not cause my head to bump the ceiling.
  • I drew plans using Adobe Illustrator.
  • I test drove the ProMaster and the Transit and lay down in the backs of both to see how well I fit.

Promaster-City-Wagon-Layout

I took a few practice trips in my much-more-cramped BMW X1. That helped me eliminate more stuff I didn’t need. I watched countless videos about van conversions to see what other people found important. (It is amazing how some couples actually live full time in tiny vans. One couple packs a water heater and a stove in the ProMaster City!) I do not live full time in my van, and I place elbow room high on my priority list.

RamseyDrivewayFacingDown

My goal is to be able to live off the grid for a week at one time. I’ve made the decision to stay with a cooler instead of a 12-volt fridge, which would need some sort of power. I can charge my phone, my computer, and my LED lantern while driving. But what if I am in one place for a week? Do I need to buy one of those self-contained batteries, like the Jackery, and a solar panel? I’m still working that out.

Meanwhile, here is a video showing Ramsey Junior so far. I have taken several weekend trips in him and been very comfortable. Let me know your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Barbara, Rincon, Santa Paula, the Sisters on the Fly

God, I love my state. I count my blessings every time I drive south along Highway 101 to Santa Barbara. One thing I was struck by this time, that I hadn’t noticed before, is how many Camino Real bells there are between King City and San Luis Obispo — one every five minutes or so. Does that mean there were once that many here at the northern end of the Royal Road between San Francisco and Sonoma?

Camino-Real-Sign-Bradley-CA

Let’s hope the ignorant general public continues to ignore them.

After leaving super early on a Wednesday, so I could clear the South Bay before rush hour, I made it to Santa Barbara by 2:00ish. I visited two places. The first was a retirement village named Samarkand after the hotel of that name that my great-grandmother Mary Hopkins established in the building that her son, my maternal grandfather, Prynce Hopkins, had built in Persian style for the Montesorri-like school he founded in 1913 called Boyland. (Long sentence, sorry. Sometimes it is difficult trying to be factually and historically correct.)

Samarkand

The blue urns, now planters, are remnants from the hotel. My great-grandmother probably imported them from the Middle-East where they were created to store olive oil. See the koi pond at the left? Grandpa built that for the school. Here is a photo from the history exhibit the complex displays. My aunt Jennifer Hopkins provided the old photo for the exhibit.

BoylandII-Pools

The round pool beyond the koi pond was a swimming pool for the school children. It was shaped like a globe to help teach the children geography.

The second place I visited was the Santa Barbara History Museum.

SantaBarbaraHistoryMuseum

Even though I have been visiting Santa Barbara since I was in my Mommy’s belly (to visit  her father [d. 1970] and grandmother Mary [d. 1955]), I had never been to the museum — at least that I remember. Here are some of the highlights for me.

First, I noticed upon entering the museum that the stone with the brass plaque to the left of the door is exactly like the gravestone for my great-grandfather Charles Harris Hopkins’ in the nearby Santa Barbara Cemetery (the photo below).

HopkinsCharlesGrave

Next, it was fun to see photos of Santa Barbara back when my great-grandparents moved there. They built their home on the corner of Pedregosa and Garden Streets back in 1897. Their son, Grandpa, who would have been twelve in 1897, later wrote about the horse-drawn trollies running down State Street. He mentioned that sometimes the trolly drivers waited outside a store for a rider to do her shopping, then continued on after she reboarded.

Old-Santa-Barbara

I also liked seeing this old embroidered silk shawl. I have one just like it that used to belong to my great-grandmother Mary. Maybe she used to wear it for the annual Santa Barbara Fiesta?

Shawl

I spent the night at the Rincon Parkway Campground, a strip of parking spaces along the highway between the ocean and the cliffs.

Next morning I headed to Santa Paula for a Sisters on the Fly weekend event. The Sisters on the Fly is a group of about 14,000 women around the US and Europe who like to camp and have fun. They have four rules for joining their events. 1) No men. 2) No children. 3) Be nice. 4) Have fun. The fun activitiy planned for this weekend was paddling kayaks along the coast of Anacapa Island.

That was Friday. On Saturday, we hung about the KOA campground, did some crafts, got to know each other over coffee, and then, following Sisters on the Fly tradition, toured the women’s camper trailers, or, as in my case, campervans. I only filmed the fun vintage trailers.

On Sunday, before heading to Pasadena to visit my grandchildren, I took advantage of Family Day in Santa Paula. All the museums were open for free. There is an Agricultural Museum,

SantaPaulaAgriculturalMuseum

an oil industry museum,

OilMuseum1

OIlMuseum2-OilRigs

and two art museums. The drive from Santa Paula to Pasadena through orange and avocado groves was very pretty, but the weather was cloudy. So I’m not going to include my photos.

That’s it for now.

Otis, Massachusetts

Hi there.

My ukulele and I have been in Massachusetts, where we performed Henry’s Big Kaboom for the children of Otis, population 1549. Otis is one of the 56± towns along the Henry Knox Trail. Ramsey and Annie stayed at home for this one. Here is a short video.

Women’s Rights and Child Labor Laws

Julia-Frances-Fanny-Baker-Ames-_Young-n-Old

Julia Frances ‘Fanny’ Baker Ames (1840-1931)

This is why studying my ancestors can be so interesting. Often I find connections between events in the distant past that enrich my understanding of events today. This time the women’s rights and child labor law connections are between my great-great-grandmother Fanny Baker Ames and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Yesterday I wrote up a bio of Fanny because she is being featured in an exhibit for the Massachusetts State Police Museum. Fanny lived in Boston in the 1880s, when she was in her 40s. While her husband Charles Gordon Ames busied himself as the minister of the Church of Disciples Unitarian Church, Fanny served as the president of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association, held offices in the Massachusetts and New England Woman Suffrage Association for Good Government, served two terms on the Boston School Committee, and was one of the first women on the original Board of Trustees for Simmons College.

Most relevant to this blog post, on May 9, 1891, Fanny was one of the first two women hired as officers for the Massachusetts State Police. The other woman, Mary Ellen Healy, lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Fanny and Mary Ellen worked as factory inspectors to help enforce the new child labor laws. Men officers were each paid $1,500 per year. The women were each paid $1,000 per year, though the men and the women did the same job. Fanny worked for the police until 1897. But Mary Ellen stayed on for 37 years.

Then this morning (February 20, 2018), on BBCNews Online, I read about Elizabeth Warren officially launching in Lawrence, Massachusetts her campaign for the 2020 Democratic race. “Ahh, Lawrence,” I thought, curiosity piqued because, of course, I remembered learning yesterday about Mary Ellen of Lawrence. I related to this news article with a completely different perspective than if I had not written Fanny’s bio yesterday.

“The Massachusetts senator told the crowd of several thousand in Saturday’s blustery cold about Everett Mill. …. Back in 1912 [when Mary Ellen was still an inspector there], the textile factory was the scene of a labor strike for better pay and working conditions that expanded to include 20,000 workers, mostly women, in the then-bustling industrial town.

The west side of Everett Mills as viewed from Essex Street.

Everett Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. (Photo placed on Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, by EMC)

“The movement that started in Lawrence, [Warren] explained, led to government-mandated minimum wage, union rights, weekends off, overtime pay and new safety laws across the US. The story of Lawrence is a story about how real change happens in America,” Ms. Warren said. “It’s a story about power  –  our power  –  when we fight together.”

I suspect Elizabeth Warren caused as many eyes to roll as I do when I talk about my ancestors, but wouldn’t Fanny have been happy to know that six of the ten Democratic candidates running so far for President in 2020 (400 years after Fanny’s ancestors Francis Cooke and Richard Warren stepped off the Mayflower) are women? Richard Warren may well be Elizabeth Warren’s ancestor, too. Six degrees!

Massachusetts militia entering Everett Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Photo copyrighted by the Lawrence History Center.

Photo from the Lawrence History Center Exhibit: “Bread and Roses Strike of 1912: Two Months in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that Changed Labor History”

Snow on the Napa Hills

While I was on my USA Swing last August and September, the door of my fridge broke off. The top hinge, which is a plastic tube molded into the door, cracked off. My good friend Kevin did a temporary repair while I was staying with him and Shelly in Memphis. Eventually, that broke off too. Getting things repaired on RVs is not an easy task. The nearest RV Repair shops to Marin are in Petaluma, Napa, and Sacramento—all at least 45 minutes away and all have at least 2-week back-ups. My dealer in Sacramento has a 3-month backup waiting period. And, it turned out, the repair places in Petaluma won’t service Dometic products. “They don’t pay us back,” one said.

But I did find Dan Shavlick’s RV Repair in Napa (45 minutes with no traffic). His wife/office assistant Jodi made me an appointment for 2 weeks later. I needed to be there at 8:30 am since there is a line-up waiting at the door when it opens.

I took this little video of the winter wine country scenery on my way. It is unusual to see snow on the hills surrounding the Sonoma and Napa County valleys.

Map of Route from Marin County to Napa Valley

My route from Marin County to Napa Valley.

Dan took photos of my broken hinge and will get back to me when Dometic sends him a new door. Fingers crossed that will be within the next month. Meanwhile, I am using a small Igloo Playmate Ice Box.

Happy New Year 2019

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season. I spent Christmas with my son and his family in the Bay Area, then headed south to Pasadena for a few days to open more presents with my daughter, her husband, and their two energetic sons. From there I drove to the California desert to explore a part of my state that was too hot to be in when I drove through last September. Here is the link to my YouTube video.

By the way, for those of you didn’t get the memo, I set up a new YouTube channel so that I could have one for my personal/writing vlogs and another for my RV travel vlogs. This video is on the “Rambling in Ramsey” channel. The other channel is simply called “Mary Ames Mitchell.”

If you don’t feel like watching a video, here are the pretty pictures. The first two are of North Shore on the Salton Sea. I wish you could hear the seagulls.

6876-saltonsea

6878-saltonsea

I think this next one is of Slab City. I didn’t realize I missed that eccentric town until it was too late to backtrack.

6885-slabcityithink

I spent the night boondocking at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management, i.e. free) camping area called American Mine Road.

yumatripmap

Then drove around Yuma, Arizona the next morning. I also bought gas there. Gas in Arizona is a dollar cheaper per gallon than in California.

6908-yumaarizona

From Yuma, I cruised through sand dunes swarming with zooming dune buggies. It looked like fun.

6893-roadtoyuma

Then through the Anza-Borrego Desert.

6929-anzoborregodesertentrance

6933anzoborregodesert

6941anzoborregodesert

And through Julian, elevation 4000 feet (so check out the snow). There was no place to park, so I couldn’t pull in and walk around as I had planned.

6946julianca

I spent the night at the Vail Lake RV Resort in Temecula. Very nice.

6954vaillakervresort

Here is the view from my van the next morning.

6951temeculahills

A lovely, peaceful place to enjoy a cup of coffee. Annie liked it too.

Holiday Closet Sorting

HopkinsChestVideo-prt2-Cover

Hi there. A few months ago, I reorganized my blogs so that this blog, Rambling in Ramsey, is just about my travels in my campervan and other RV-related thoughts, while my other blog, Peach Plum Press (the name of my publishing company), is about my writing projects. Since nearly all of my writing projects have to do with genealogy, I am now posting genealogy-related subjects on Peach Plum Press. For those of you would like to follow along, here is the link to Peach Plum Press.

https://peachplumpress.wordpress.com/

Happy Holidays

Last Leg of the Henry Knox Trail

Hi. I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving. Lucky me, I got to be with all three of my grandsons and their families. Meanwhile, I was able to finish this video compilation of my trip in September 2018 through southern Massachusetts following the Henry Knox Trail (West Springfield to Cambridge). I also visited some amazing libraries. I sorta screwed up on my video labeling. This is Part 2 of following the trail but actually, Part 4 of my series on being in New England doing Henry Knox related things.

As I noted in the comments section on YouTube:

For a copy of my sing-along children’s history book about the trail, Henry’s Big Kaboom, go to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store at http://www.fortticonderoga.org and click the ‘shop’ tab. You can also order it on Amazon. You can view the animated video (same title – Henry’s Big Kaboom) on YouTube.

To view my video about following the first part of the Henry Knox Trail go to https://youtu.be/aD9fu4BeTzI.

For a written guide (pdf) to following the Henry Knox Trail, check out the Hudson River Valley Foundation website at http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/themes/knoxtrail.html. They updated the guide a year ago.

That’s it for now. Keep on Rambling.

USA Swing Videos – Pasadena to Vermont to Maryland to Pasadena

Brochures for the National Parks I saw on my westward leg of my USA Swing

Traveling westward, I visited 5 National Parks, 3 National Historic Sites, 5 National Monuments, 1 National Recreation Site and 1 National Historical Park as well as county and state parks.

I’ve just posted on to YouTube my video’s of my August to September USA Swing. In the second video, I included a clip about how I found free or inexpensive campsites using an app called AllStays.

Here are the links. The video for the trip eastward takes about 12 minutes and the video for the trip home is 33 minutes. I love it when people leave comments on YouTube and subscribe to my channel.

I feel so lucky to have been able to see our spectacular county this way. Next time I take this trip, I will make it in October and November when it is cooler.