Saturday, October 2, 2021
Friday, October 1, 2021
The last few days Dar and I have been in the Portland area helping out our Son-in-Law Gage, Our Daughter Andrea, and their family. I haven't written anything here about whats been going on. The short story is that a few weeks ago the SIL was involved in an accident between a bicycle and a Jeep. Gage was on the bike. As you can imagine, (Jeep vs. Bike, Bike vs. Jeep, either way) he got the raw end of this deal. A number of broken bones and a long recovery is expected. We're here to lend a hand.
As of a few minutes ago, he awoke from his third surgery. All is good. Bones have been put straight. He's now on the road to recovery.
Monday, September 27, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
Yesterday, Dar and I reserved the day for just the two of us. Far too little traveling lately, maybe too much community involvement, and over-exposure to stupid people who reject facts and science... and probably a few other factors that aren't jumping to mind right now... combined to motivate us to get out for the day and just get away.
A restaurant breakfast on board, and under a clear sky, we soaked in the views and relished the break in routine as we motored along. We checked out a few area campgrounds, but unfortunately, many of these are closed, or in the process of closing, for the season. Add that to the list of unfortunate things that don't make sense on the surface. Autumn can be the best time of year for camping and they're closing the damned campgrounds! But that's another story.
Both the miles and the hours melted away. One thing led to another and later that afternoon the truck was parked at PlankTown Brewing Company in downtown Springfield. Dar and I have always enjoyed these pub stops during our travels. This one, for me, more so than usual. A sudden feeling of happiness flowed through me as I nursed a pint of Sara's Pale Lager beside a background of soft jazz and just the right amount of people din filled the space. It was perfect. I've really missed this. Cheers.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
A new picture. The table was originally built by Dar's Dad, and was with us when our kids were growing up. Dar had them each paint whatever they wanted on a portion of the top. Now it's grandkids time... Andrea's boys have made their mark on one bench and now Justin's two have done their part on the other. So two generations of memories.
Unfortunately, the table has spent too much time in the elements and is deteriorating to dust. Entropy in action. Photographs will preserve the memories even if the table is no longer with us.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
The National Park Canyons are great, of course. But I'm continually blown away by the drives between the hot spots. There's just so much to see and appreciate along lesser-known byways.
Much more snow than usual at Bryce... at least according to locals.
See the full album HERE
Friday, March 1, 2019
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Monday, November 27, 2017
“But fate ordains that dearest friends must part."
It’s taken me some time to process the loss of a dear old friend and to get to the point where I can write about the tragic ordeal. We spent so much time and did so many things together. We spent many weeks, months, in the great outdoors. We made long hikes in the desert. We climbed small mountains. We were together in Alaska and the Far North all the way to the Arctic Ocean. We've driven from coast to coast. We’ve weathered storms and incessantly hot sun. The years passed. And as our life together matured, so did the comfort and flexibility of our “fit”... perhaps more weathered and worn, but more relaxed and comfortable too. An old friend who seemed to mold to the surroundings, was liked by nearly everyone. An old friend who I’d like to think probably saved my life over the years. At least, I’d like to think that.
The loss itself was bad enough. But the fact that I was instrumental in the events leading up to the end… well, that was almost too much to bear.
But first... a disclaimer. Small children and those overly sensitive to physical carnage, to spilled guts, to seeing what used to be (and should be) on the inside suddenly all over the outside... please go no further. Stop now and switch over to a blog about dogs or food or shopping. Whatever you do, DO NOT continue. It’s not that I’m insensitive about this tragedy, but I must describe the gore and the ugly reality for closure.
Still with me? OK, here goes: I was mowing the lawn out at the farm in Beaver Dam. It’s a large lawn and we use a garden tractor with a large mower deck to do the job. The job is usually one that Dar’s Dad is responsible for, but a recent illness put him on the injured reserve list, so I was filling in. “Pinch” mowing as it were.
It takes about 3 or 4 hours to mow the entire lawn, and I was almost done. The day was sunny… bright hot sun. But it was also windy… strong gusts right out of the south. I was concentrating on mowing close to a planting bed, moving slowly for control and precision. A particularly strong wind gust came up, and my hat… my friend for almost 10 years… my Henschel Ausie Breezer… blew off my head, did a back-flip just out of reach in front of me, and landed on the grass immediately in front of the big mower, just 2 or 3 feet away. I’ll always remember those last few moments we had together, in slow-motion, as I saw it sitting peacefully on the ground, waiting patiently for me to pick it up, innocently unaware that this was it’s last moment of existence.
What’s the first thing a person does when something jumps out in front of a car or truck? Why, of course you step on the brake, right? That was my instinct too. But that was not the correct move to make on this tractor. Because it’s a hydro-static drive machine, the correct move would have been to remove my foot from the drive pedal. The tractor stops almost immediately. But in my panic, I resorted to my primeval and innate muscle memory and jammed on the brake. But it wasn’t the brake I hit, it was the drive pedal, and the tractor lurched ahead at full speed.
During the next few seconds time stood still. The sound of a Henschel Ausie Breezer being chewed up by 6 angry mower blades spinning behind 28 horsepower is one that nobody should ever hear. It’s a sound that I’ll carry with me to my grave. A well made hat might stop a lesser mower. But this tractor kept working at it’s prey, chewing, grinding, rending, spitting out bits and pieces as it did so, (like a cat going through a brush chipper) until the largest bulk of the viscera was finally thrown clear.
I was in shock. Hadn’t been this awed since my brother flushed my Dad’s Christmas sweater down the toilet (but that’s another story for another day). After collecting the pieces and setting them aside, I finished the lawn, a tear in my eye. Little appetite for dinner that night, didn’t eat much. But I did toast my old friend good-bye with a couple fingers of a fine Scotch Whisky I keep for such occasions.
I don’t know if the new Henschel Ausie Breezer replacement will ever be even half the hat my old friend was. Time will tell.
So long old friend.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Link to our photo collections
For Facebook fans, click here: https://www.facebook.com/OnTheRoadWithDarAndThom/
The Evolution of a blog.
In the beginning, 2006, I gave birth to this blog with two objectives in mind: first, to serve as an easy means to keep family and friends informed about our whereabouts and activities, and second, as a permanent record of our travels for our own purposes… a personal journal. Ten years have now passed and while these two objectives are still valid and important to us, I've re-evaluated the means to achieve them.
Keeping family and friends up-to-date: Regardless of one's opinion about Facebook or Google+, the reality is that most of the people we want to reach in our "family and friends" category are looking at their Facebook pages every day... multiple times each day... and some, I swear, are on it all day long. An update I make to Facebook automatically shows up on their page, amidst posts from all their other "friends". The point is... they see it. It just pops up in front of their face, automatically, with no additional effort whatsoever.
Compare that to a post I might make to our RV Sabbatical Journal blog. Over the years I've been aware that many, perhaps most, of the people in my intended blog audience, specifically family and friends, do not check in on the blog very often... or at all. They might see it occasionally, if they happen to think about it, but then only quickly scan it and look at a few pictures. Although, arguably, just an easy click away, they must remember us in the course of their daily lives and make a discrete decision to follow a link when they happen to be in front of their phone or computer. Furthermore, the long posts that I tend to write... that I've spent hours composing, improving, nurturing, changing, correcting... become a dis-incentive to check in with us. Too long... takes too much time to read. Most people these days have a lot going on in their lives. Attention spans are short. Let's get to the point here. Their main interest is quickly finding out where we're at and that we're OK, and they're less interested in the little detailed minutia that we might find interesting.
So, some time ago I started updating our Facebook travel page in earnest, almost daily while we're traveling. Feedback indicates we're getting the word out more effectively now, with Facebook, than we were before with the blog. A quick update on Facebook can be done in just a couple minutes, and can be easily done with any device... including a smartphone. In contrast, my updates to the blog... because they included so much more information and... could take hours to assemble. Using Facebook is so much more efficient, both for the reader and the author.
In some ways I prefer Google+ over Facebook. Most importantly, a person without an account is able to see our Google+ page without being prompted to open an account of their own. We have some readers who don’t have Facebook and don’t want to ever have a Facebook page, and it’s tough for them to see our post updates on FB with all the clutter and prompting to sign up. Google+ at this point, at least, doesn’t do this.
A permanent record of our travels: To cover our second purpose for writing about our travels, I've been keeping an offline personal journal that's for our eyes only. Because it's just for us, I don't waste time correcting grammatical errors, mis-spellings, or wordsmithing insensitive or offensive (to some) comments. I can be me, I can say what I want, and I don't have to worry about the PC police or hurt feelings. How refreshing. All those “faubles” are me... and perhaps, someday after I'm gone, someone will find the real me in all those words.
I’ve written all that as background to say this: In 2017 I will stop posting updates to this blog. Some of you are probably thinking this has already happened, based on the lack of activity this year. The blog has been on life-support since this past summer, that is true. But I used the time to really evaluate the situation and to give the alternatives a go before making this decision.
I will still keep these pages and the 1,177 posts as a searchable archive as well as a portal to other blogs, pages, or projects I’m working on.
Thank you so much for your interest in our blog these past 10 years. We’ve had our ups and downs, ins and outs, but it’s been a very positive experience for me. Things evolve as time passes. The way we travel and explore has evolved. And the way we communicate has evolved.
We wish you all the best.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Saturday, November 12, 2016
The general route for the first part of the trip this year, oh, roughly between Wisconsin and Montana, is to follow US-12. We did depart from this plan at times, but that was the basic path. The back-half of the trip was still unplanned, except for my desire to do the Beartooth Highway again.
In Wisconsin on sideroads and backroads, we followed WI-33 up and through the Kickapoo River Valley in Western Wisconsin. Stopped for lunch in Wonewoc where we found the local Lions Club had big grills set up on Main Street and were offering lunch as a fund raiser. Think I had an entire half chicken with all the fixin’s… way more than I should have eaten. In Cashton, we got involved in a parade of some sort that slowed our progress. Then, just outside of Cashton, found our road to LaCrosse was closed due to some construction, and the detour was long. Crossed the Mississippi between LaCrosse and LaCrescent, and then up to our old neighborhood in Burnsville MN. where we overnighted at the home of good friend Jim.
|Blue pins are camps; Red pin is motel|
|There it is... over 7 feet high... all twine. Why?|
Between Miles City and Billings in Montanta we stopped again at Pompey’s Pillar, a must-see if you’re a history buff and a fan of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. We’ve been here before but we have found repeats can be as enriching the second (or third) time. The significance of a place can be more firmly embedded in your mind with repetition. And there are some of us who just forget. An excellent ranger-guided walkabout and discussion made this stop notable.
During this trip west I estimate we were on Interstate Highways for just 350 miles (out of 2500 or so). A big chunk of that was between Miles City and Billings… about 150 miles. I can’t stress the pleasure of getting off Interstates enough. Just so much more rewarding and relaxing.
The next morning we headed “up the hill”. And we lucked out with just about the most perfect day to do it. I’m serious when I say it’s almost impossible to adequately describe that drive on a perfect day. It’s just got to be experienced.
|Wildlife jam in Yellowstone.|
Then up to Bozeman for a quick dinner with professor Bill at MSU. US-191 runs between West Yellowstone and Bozeman, following the Gallatin River. I’ve written about this before, but we have a special place along this road we like to visit each time. It’s a gravel pull-off between the road and river where we stopped for breakfast, just the two of us, before kids, way back in 1974. The memory is of sitting on top a large rock in the river, munching a bowl of cherios. Somewhere we have some pics from that stop, but haven’t found them yet. That rock out in the river is really, for us, a monument to our relationship and we just have to stop by every once in a while. Ya know?
|"our" rock is the big one behind Dar.|
After Bozeman we point the nose westward again. In keeping with our shunpiking theme, we took some backroads and sideroads through Wise River, Wisdom, stopping at Big Hole National Battlefield, the location of a sad tragic battle between the US Army and the Nez Perce Indians as they were attempting to relocate to Canada during the brief Nez Perce War. Very moving and puts a different perspective on history. Just west of the battlefield, up Joseph Creek, we crossed Chief Joseph Pass, and eventually down the Bitteroot Valley to Missoula. Stayed in a motel that night, our only motel of the trip.
From Missoula followed the Clark Fork River to Sandpoint and Ponderay in the Idaho panhandle. Stayed at a favorite campground on the lake... Riley Creek COE. We were both feeling a tad poorly the past couple days and denial wasn’t making it any better. Our original plan to see the kids in Washington on our way to homebase Sutherlin was scrapped and we headed south from here. Don’t want to show up and infect the grandkids… not the kind of thing good grandparents should do. Right?
So, after two nights at Riley Creek, we altered course to the south, through Lewiston and Clarkson to WA-129 south -- Rattlesnake Highway. We’d not heard about this road before… really just stumbled on it. But what a find. I’ll let the pictures do the describing. One doesn’t want to be in a hurry on this road, nor would I advise texting while driving. Briefly, it’s a canyon cut by Rattlesnake Creek, with a road stuck on the side of the canyon walls.
|Click to expand. Wherever you see road, it's the road we're on.|
|The last night.|
16 nights, about 2600 miles, some familiar things, some new. Perhaps a little faster than we’d ideally prefer. But it’s good to be home.
A few more pics...
|Along the Beartooth|
|Along the Beartooth|
|Clyde Holliday State Park in Oregon|
|Believe it or not... the only petrified wood park in South Dakota.|
|Red Lodge Ales|
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Dar's Mom, Marion, was a key member of the crew too. She supplied the food and refreshments to keep the crew moving so the job would be done before the snow flies.
Our summer evaporated as the calendar turned to September. Time to head back west again. We left September 11.
Here are a few photos of the various crew members. And, of course, there are more pics in our online photo album.
Friday, July 8, 2016
Monday, June 27, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
I arrived bright and early on a Tuesday and reported to surgery, my trusty patient advocate and moral support at my side. Mustering up courage and my best game-day face, I struggled to keep things light by bantering with the staff and joking around a bit to keep my mind off the chamber of horrors in the next room. It was fine. I’m going to get through this.
I don’t remember much after getting to the operating room. I climbed on the table, positioned myself where they wanted me, an injection of a drug cocktail including versed, my personal amnesiatic of choice, and I was in la-la land. Vague memories of 70s music… some conversation… the doctor talking his way through the procedure… and it was over. I’m told the procedure usually takes just 12 to 15 minutes, but it seemed like just a minute or two to me. Just another minute or two to come out of the drug stupor and I climbed down off the table and into an awaiting wheel chair for the ride to my prep room. Into a recliner, cup of coffee, and the best toast I’ve ever eaten.
One must be a little careful the first few days after cataract surgery. No bending over or heavy lifting or anything that could cause strain or raise the blood pressure. I was fine with that, mellowing in the afterglow of knowing that it was over.
Anyway, the eye healed and I was happy with the result. My previous prescription glasses no longer worked. As expected, I will need reading glasses for close-up work, but the clarity and crispness of my new vision is really something. I wonder what Alaska looks like with these new peepers?
A follow-up visit to the eye doc proved that all was going as it should for the first eye, and that the second eye would be following along just a couple weeks later. That procedure was an almost identical repeat of the first.
And now I’m done. Two eyes… two new lenses… new clearer and crisper vision. In a few more weeks I’ll get a new prescription for glasses, but I can tell already that it’s quite possible to function without any correction at all for most things. I can even read without glasses if I hold what I’m reading at a stretched arms length. A remarkable ordeal. A remarkable change for the better.
And now we’re ready to go exploring again.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Here’s an unfortunate fact. I’m not very strong when it comes to medical procedures of almost any kind. I’ve passed out from blood draws and other needle sticks. Donating blood is a worthy cause that I’ve done, but a few times the ordeal ended with me on the floor... even after getting my cookie and orange juice. Putting eye drops in has required a team of people. Eye clinics have rarely had patients that needed so many hands to hold open the eye lids for the dreaded glaucoma test. Contact lenses were not even a consideration when I needed glasses. So, the idea of surgery on my eye was simply off-the-chart. Fear, even baseless fear, is a powerful force.
But the prospect of going blind is an even more powerful force. A force that’ll make even the weak strong. And, over time, I came to accept, even look forward to, the idea that someone would be sticking a hot poker into my eye, shattering and sucking out the old lens, and sliding a new plastic replacement in through the hole made by the hot poker. And all this, mind you, while I’m awake? Really?
Initiative. Resourcefulness. Aggressiveness. However we define it, there seems to be too little of it among teenagers these days.