Posts

Showing posts from January, 2014

... we're left to remember... alone.

Image
I had put this photo up on Facebook shortly after Mom's funeral, but need to get it into this journal to complete the record.  It's a wonderful photo of the two of them, taken by my brother Bill, as they were walking alone in Yellowstone National Park.

For some reason this photo really speaks to me... has more meaning now than originally intended. As they head off into the unknown, we're left to remember... alone.


Jan 24 - My Mom

Image
Carol Mae Hoch My Mom 1928 - 2014

Jan 23 - Impeccable Timing

I don't know how it happens... "it" being uncanny, mysterious timing. But I'm not one who needs supernatural explanations for weird phenomena, so I'll just call it impeccable timing.

We arrived at the Columbus Wisconsin Amtrak station last Tuesday evening in the middle of a minor blizzard... 7 inches of snow driven by icy 30 mph winds. "Welcome to Wisconsin you soft traitorous weaklings. We'll show you what you've been missing... what we true gritty Wisconsinites endure without nary a whimper or comment. Why, we're proud of our extreme weather... of our ability to take it in stride... of the way it keeps riffraff (like you) away... sort of an environmental Darwinism at work."

For the past week if it hasn't been snowing and blowing, it's been a bit chilly. This morning we woke to -5f (that's 5 below zero for you soft snowbirds). But at least the wind is blowing, hard, out of the Northwest. It's difficult to explain to folks wh…

Jan 14 - Final Day on Amtrak

Image
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I was awake early, still dark, when we made the bend southward from the Grand Forks area down to Fargo, where we bent eastward again. Don't know why but the passing landscape is much like watching a campfire... not many surprises, but you've just gotta watch.

Don't think we would have eaten in the diner car if our meals weren't included in the price of the roomette. It's not cheap and the quality was not the best. I'm sure they make liberal use of the microwave oven. Also read some place that they utilize "sous vie" cooking style... a means of bringing food to temp slowly, and keeping it at serving temp for long periods of time, with controlled hot water. Hmmm.

After Fargo we rolled and clacked our way southeastward toward the Twin Cities. Through here we were now almost 5 hours behind schedule. A crew member said we almost always make up time between here and Chicago. Hope so. Don't want Cal and Marion to be out after da…

Jan 13 - Rolling Eastward on Amtrak

Image
Monday January 13, 2014

3AM PST Monday. Woke to a bright light just outside my window. And no movement... clearly we were stopped... somewhere. The light is a street light, one of several used to light up a parking lot immediately next to the tracks. No one around. All is quiet. Timetable says we were supposed to leave Spokane (after connecting with the Seattle part of the train) at 1:30am, an hour and a half ago. Further investigation and clarity of head reveals we're still in Spokane. No word on why we're delayed. About 3:30AM we start moving. Back to sleep.

8AM MST Monday. East of Libby MT. We're on the rail line pioneered by the old Northern Pacific which through the mid-section of the country came to be known as the "high line". Much of the route follows US-2, but through this area of Montana, between Libby and Whitefish, the two separate. Train passengers are treated to scenery motorists on the highway won't see. There's a 7 mile long tunnel through…

Jan 12 - Aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder

Image
Aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder January 12 - January 14, 2014

Sunday January 12, 2014; 6pm

A few minutes after 5pm we boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder at the Vancouver WA station. I've mentioned before that this is a handy boarding spot for us, being only 10 miles or so from Gage and Andrea's house in Camas. Andi and Evan saw us off.

The train is made up of one Amtrak engine, a baggage car, an observation/club car, two regular coach cars, and a sleeper car bringing up the tail end. All except the baggage car are "Superliner" two level cars. The Empire Builder is unique in this regard: between Chicago and Spokane it's a single longer train. In Spokane it splits, with half going to Seattle and the other half going to Portland. The process for eastbound travel is the reverse, and our small train will rejoin it's Seattle half later tonight. From there we'll be at "full strength" for the rest of the trip.

9pm PST Sunday. Our route follows the C…

Jan 6 - Journey to the Artic Planned

Image
While others of our ilk are warming themselves in the extreme southern corners of the continent, we're preparing for a trip back to Wisconsin to retrieve the truck and camper. Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, it's the low-point of Winter. As I write this the temp in our little hometown of Beaver Dam is -17 (that's not a typo... minus 17 degrees on the fricken cold scale. Note the time too... high noon... and the windchill is -39). I've heard that hell freezes over at about -28. 

The plan at this point is to get on an Amtrak's Empire Builder next Sunday, the 12th, for the trip to the Midwest. There's no doubt Amtrak is a convenient option for us; we board the train about 10 miles from our daughter's house in Vancouver Washington and get off about 10 miles from the farm near Beaver Dam Wisconsin. If all goes right we'll be on the train for 42 hours. Of course we could be on board for much longer, (maybe weeks?) as there's a lot that can go wrong.…

Jan 4 - Cycles

Time advances. The winter holidays recede. Parties. Family time. Solstice. Christmas. New Years. Bowl games. Food... so much food. Binges of excess... in so many ways. But it's our way, our ritual, so don't mess with it. We can't wait for it to start; then we can't wait till it's over. What does it all say about us?

So much of our energy and time and money is spent during these holidays. Decorating. Shopping. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Gifts. Wrapping. Christmas Cards. Hors d'oeuvres. Holiday dinners. Travel. Who's in? Who's out? Gatherings. Small talk. Run here. Run there. Sorry, can't think about it now - no time. After-Christmas sales. Un-decorate. More storage space for more stuff.

But January is when we reach the part of the craziness cycle when things slow down. Back to work. Back to school. Normal weeks again. Sol, our sun, has decided to halt it's southerly procession and head north for another cycle of seasons. A calm settles over …