Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

HANDS

August 11, 2018

Okay,  this posting may be a little gross, so be ye warned.

barbed line

Yesterday I wrote about the country that young Bryce Andrews* drove into  (taking my heart along with him!),   but he went there to work,  not to be a tourist.    He went there to be a cowboy, to work the cattle that feed us  (and  give us other useful products too).

I’ll do Cattle in the next post,  take you right among the herds with Mr. Andrews, but here I want to tell you what I found out about being a cowboy.   Most of a cowboy’s time is  not spent with the cattle,  rounding up cows, keeping them moving,

After you have the cattle put where you want them,  they pretty much take care of themselves for long hours, long days at a time.    You don’t ignore them,  but  your time is taken up with a lot of other tasks.

mon fencing

Keeping pumps repaired, for example,  that bring water to the herd.    You’ve got to be a small-motor man and be able to trouble shoot the little motors that are exposed to the elements and in almost constant use.     You’ve got to be toting salt for the widely scattered salt licks that are so important to keep our cattle (and elk)  alive.     You’ve got to patrol for predators.

Most of all,  your time is taken up with an endless round of fence inspection and repair.  Some fencing is electrical,  but  fences are still mostly barbed wire:

barbed spikes

What takes down fences is age,  storms,  cattle plunging through when they’re panicked, and frequently the elk herds and the moose.

And then you have to know whether to repair broken lines or cut them apart and restring the fences or build them up from scratch,  starting with  the fence posts.

How do you put up a fence post?    With great strength and persistence, a little knack for it, and good luck.

mon postbhole

(That’s not a cowboy in the photo!     You can’t have bare legs in the Western scrub and you can’t go without good, strong boots!)      But you don’t carry a motorized auger  on the saddle of your horse either, so you have to use other tools:  a strong steel pointed mallet,  a heavy hammer,  and once you’ve worked your muscles sore,  then you use a shovel to take out the small broken pieces of stone-hard earth.   And then you pound again. . .

Ever drive in Wyoming or Montana in the summertime?    It’s often  90 degrees or more with a strong, dry enervating wind blowing against you.    And that’s when much of the routine  fence repair occurs, occupying you with long solitary hours,  sunrise to sunset.

Fence building is hard on your body, and it’s hard on your hands.

THE FENCE

(If this gets too long, just skip down to the last quote-box.)

After a hurried lunch, I loaded all sorts of fencing tools into my work truck and headed out to fix a handful of broken H-braces on a fence . . .   An H-brace consist of two upright posts, usually eight feet apart, with a stout rail, spanning the distance between them . . .   An H-brace is pinned together by a pair of heavy spikes which are driven through the posts at each end of the rail . . .

An H-brace is a masterpiece of applied physics.  Properly built, it stands strong as a rock for many decades.  The secret is the wire.   Picture the low H of the brace’s wooden frame.  Upon it superimpose an equally wide X formed of two loops of wire.  One loop connects the lower left and upper right corners, the other angles from lower right to upper left.  At either end,  the loops are secured to the posts with fencing staples.

What he isn’t telling right now is the strength it takes for a man to work these “heavy” tools, post staple guns, the stout and  heavy parts of the wooden frame, and the strength it takes to position and move these fence parts around.

And then he sees the fence line that needs to be redone:

For the most part, I could tell very quickly how long digging posts would take and how difficult it would be.    If the shovel,   when stabbed down, slid into the ground a few inches with a satisfying crunch,  the dirt was cooperative,.   If on the other hand, it clanged like an off-pitch bell and bounced back through my hands, hard hours were in the offing.

. . .  I stomped on the shovel, giving it all I had to little avail.   A spasm of all-out work yielded just a six-inch crater around the old post.   I looked down  the fence line at the rotten, shattered braces that needed to be dismantled,  dug out, and replaced.  I was in for a long afternoon.

Setting aside my shovel,   I pulled a rock bar from the back of my truck.   A simple, brutish tool, made for unforgiving soil . . .  it was a heavy steel rod, six feet long and tipped at one end with a flat, tempered blade that looked like an oversized screwdriver.   The blade was used for shattering rock and dry compacted earth into pieces that could be shoveled out.

The rock bar was never fun to use.   It weighed twenty pounds and tended to peel the skin from my palms with shocking efficiency.  I beat steel against embedded stone until they broke or loosened, mining downwards.

The first hole took an  hour . . .

He inserted the post, part of the H-brace,  then stapled the barbed wire to the posts,  then strung loops of wire by sticking a piece of wood about two feet long,  twisting it in circles until the wires began to twist around each other, pulling the barbed wire lines taut  . . .

That’s working in close contact with the barbed wire!  When he was learning the job,  his hands and arms were all cut and bloody,   but he  noted that the more experienced man next  to him had no bleeding cuts from the barbs, only old scars.

 

The HANDS:

But then, after this day’s work, he walks back to his truck, and as he goes in, he first gazes at the beautiful open land stretching out to the horizon before him .

After drinking in deeply from it, I noticed my hands were stained an unnatural yellow.   Sweat had mobilized whatever noxious chemical was used to tan my gloves and it had stained my skin a dead, unsettling hue.  It worried me, so I flipped my hands over to take a look at my palms.     They looked even worse.      In addition to being yellow, my palms were torn to pieces.  A number of callouses, softened by sweat or the tanning agent,  had torn loose.    The raw, new skin beneath them oozed a clear liquid with a slight reddish tint.   I peeled off the biggest sloughed pieces and threw them in the grass at my feet.

As  I looked down at the jaundiced wreckage of my palms, I felt a strange surge of pride.  These weren’t city boy hands.  They weren’t delicate by a long shot.   From the elbows down, the skin of my arms was covered with a chiaroscuro of barbwire scratches.  The older ones had healed, peeled, and turned a dark, bluish color from the sun.    More recent marks were zippered shut with lines of cracking seals.   A few spots, either sliced open today or bumped hard enough to reopen, were smeared with small patches of freshly dried blood. . . .

 

This is the life of a cowboy.   Strong,  hardy,  solitary,  hard-working, rightly proud.     He has earned his self-respect.

So, see what I mean?    I love to drive through Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.   I drive through easily, as a tourist,  inspired and spiritually elevated by the scenery,   making a few stops here and there,   but quite aware that I don’t belong to this land.     These young men do.

mon steak

And think on these young cowboys when you have your next hamburger or that big, juicy steak,  tender, full of flavor,  marbled miraculously with good tasty fat.

And next time I’ll tell you about how the cattle got that way.

 

 

 

 

 

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TRAVELING FROM HOME

August 11, 2018

Mon vista

I got away to Montana this week.        So to speak.

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After I voted, as described in the last post,  it seems I heard a lot of “voting” stories –  too many;  too much confusion;  too much arguing.   Not from the people I know;  not anywhere around me.  But on the public airwaves, as we used to say.  All the media gleefully created as much noisy controversy as possible from this year’s Primary elections.

I needed quiet.    Turning off the radio and Internet news helped.  And so did a certain book.

I didn’t realize it,  but after being told I couldn’t travel very far  this summer (to avoid the development of more pulmonary embolisms)   there developed an “ache” in me, deep down where I hardly think about it, but it’s there.    I ache for the traveling I’m missing.

Mon hwys

I love the Open Road.  Two hands on the wheel and wide open horizons stretching out in front of me and no reason to stop the car for a very long time.   Openness.  Freedom.   Beauty.

There is scenery so vast that it takes your breath away as you round a  curve or come over a rise and the land drops away further than you can see.

 

mon rock

 

After I turned away from all the entertainment-news media this week,  just by luck I picked up a book from my shelves that took me out to the Open Roads that I’m missing so much.     It takes place in Montana.  A young man becomes a cowboy.

Mon ranch

Fortunately he has a talent for describing his first year out there in Montana.   He describes the world I only see through my windshield as I drive past — but he belongs there and can tell what it’s like from the “inside” of all that scenery.

The young man left his home in Seattle,  packed his truck with a few things,  scuffed his new cowboy boots so they wouldn’t look so new,  and headed east on I-90 to go out into the West where his new  job was waiting.

Ahead,  the horizon was wide and empty and the sky a clear blue.   I sped through  wheat fields and orchards . . .   and crossed into Montana by way of the Idaho panhandle.  By four in the afternoon I was at the foot of Norris Hill.   If Norris Hill were someplace flatter  than southwest Montana,  it wouldn’t even be considered a mountain.  Out here, though, it’s unremarkable and probably wouldn’t even merit a name if it weren’t for the fact that Highway 287 climbs it to a saddle from which the whole Madison Valley is visible.

The view on the far side is distracting enough to cause a wreck.  I pulled to the edge of the road to take it in.  Two mountain ranges strike south from  the hill, keeping roughly parallel to each other.   In the foreground they are at least  ten miles apart, but father off the ranges bend inward, pinching off the valley like an hourglass waist.    Though the valley is symmetrical in shape, the mountains that flank it could not be more different.

On the east side the Madisons leap suddenly toward the blue sky.    Sharp, sheer, and rocky . . .  from the top of Norris Hill they look like a solid wall with broken shards of glass along the top. . .  forming a line of glinting canine teeth.

(On the other side of the valley are)  the Gravellies, a many shouldered swelling of the  earth.  The  fallen-down range humps up from the floodplain grass rising into a maze of timbered ridges, flecked from top to bottom with open meadows of various sizes.

Rangeland begins where the foothills end, and the valley is wide enough to hold an ocean of grass.      From atop the Norris Hill the landscape resolves into a series of descending benches, regular enough to look from a distance like a massive green-carpeted staircase connecting the mountain to the rivers.

The most striking part of it all was the Madison River, which reflected the afternoon sun and drew a golden line through the heart of the valley.  Curving smoothly  across the floodplain like a snake navigation stony ground,  the river issues from the south end flanked on either side by dark thickets of willow . . .

Mon WY

 

So,  this is the country the young man is driving into.    It makes for difficult reading — unless you’ve ever driven through it and  past it.    But it gets more interesting:

“Hands”  come next,  what happens to your hands when you do the work.

And then the cattle.  Working the cattle.

But I’m not going to do the wolves. . . .

 

And the name of the book is Badluck Way.  The author is Bryce Andrews.

Personal Updates

August 5, 2018

When you’re old, old, old, old like me — well,  this is the oldest I’ve ever been anyway —  you kind of want everything settled and everyone in their place.   You don’t mind a little kerfluffle now and then,  but these last three months . . .  my goodness!

So,  just to make a record in The Spruce Tunnel,   here are some updates for my family and friends before I can go on to other topics.   Let me see if I can give an accounting of everyone:

In no special order,  I’ll start with Cooper.     Not too many hours ago today,  Cooper was on the Staten Island Ferry,* and on his way to the Statue of Liberty.

Cooper on Ferry 300

Don’t mind the squint.   He’s got light blue-gray-hazel eyes and the sun is very bright.  He’s also just returned from a several day spelunking tour and hopefully enjoyed the deep dark caves of eastern America.    Can’t wait to get a letter from him describing the caves!

Cooper apparently made it out to the Statue.     His daddy asks the question:  “Where’s Waldo?

Cooper tiny 330

That’s my “tiny little’ grandson in front of the Statue of Liberty.   Or is that a camera trick?

Daughter is vacationing in New York City too, along with Cooper and Daddy,  so that side of my little family is all happy and accounted for.       That’s fine with me!

Now, Son . . .

se us

Son is somewhere on that map,   having left Florida yesterday and on his way home  here in the Far North.     But I don’t know his route.  His texts are  not too specific.    All I know is that it took  not 3 1/2 hours,  but about 7 hours for him to go one-half inch up the eastern coast of Florida yesterday.   Apparently there are some pretty nice beaches along the way.

I am glad for him.  He’s had a lot on his mind, a lot to worry about, a lot of decisions to make, a lot of new people to meet, a lot of tasks . . .  and now he is alone for three days  in a pretty nice car,   beautiful scenery,  only his own thoughts to guide him.    He’ll be fine.

Nancy and Dusty 90  Dusty:     This has been a 3 or 4 month long concern,  but Nancy’s horse has finally found a new home.    I’m a bit confused because it doesn’t sound today like he’s going to the same place people talked about yesterday;  but although the destination is different,  both locations are described as “wonderful”  places for a horse with caring people . . . .   I hope everyone is as happy as Dusty will be.   He will be just fine now.

 

Our young friend M.       —

5/24/11 Aerials of UM Campus and Hospital and Ann Arbor area.

This week I took her to a big university hospital where they are supposed to know everything and be able to do everything.    They don’t.    And they didn’t.

M preop 330

She was patient #1595201 on the board.  All for nothing.  They went in – and they went  back out.

My young friend M.  is back to square one and rather beyond disappointed.   We have to wait.  Wait and see.    Wait and see what the medical industry will do to her.   And I’m very scared for her too.   Son and I and all her friends stand by her.  We hope and pray she’ll be fine.

 

The bat and the bird.     Well, I took care of their possible entry point:

Fireplace Screen

A little duct tape and some metal screen.    Okay, a guy would probably smack his forehead and say,  Why on earth . . .?         But it works for me.    There was about a 3/4 inch gap between the fireplace insert and the fireplace opening.  Now there isn’t.   I have peace of mind and I don’t have any birds and bats tonight.    That’s just fine with me.

 

Me.    Update on me?      Well,  I still covet your “butterflies.”    Or else I won’t be here to give you any more updates.     I read today ** that when Jesus walked this earth,  He lived His holy life for our benefit;    He lives today for our benefit.     He did miracles of healing back then;  and His miracles of healing  still exist for our benefit.    Because Jesus is also the Son of God,   True God and True Man,   His goodness and love and power are not confined to any one generation,  but are here, now, present for us all.

If prayers surround a person like graceful little butterflies,   then I too am just fine.

 

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.*  If you’re from New York and  I got the name of that Ferry wrong, well,  sorry,  I’m just an Out Of Towner —   Pretty good movie!

Out of towners

 

.**      From  “Christ in His Mysteries  by Dom Columba Marmion   (A very valuable and highly recommended book.  I wish I could buy all of you a copy!)

STORMY DAYS . . .

July 6, 2018

 

I have returned home now, a week or so ago, right  before my surprise “health event.”  I wonder if I had a premonition of the ordeal ahead; a hint of “stormy days” coming.

As I wrote before,  as I returned from Florida,   from south of Atlanta all the way to Louisville was one long, slow, sometimes dangerous traffic jam, with added thunderstorms along the way: slippery, mountain driving.

Then as I neared home, a half a day’s driving away, the sky made itself as menacing as possible.   Waves of dark storm clouds ahead

Storm ahead 4 hours 400

Now, I love thunderstorms, and I’d certainly proved I could drive through the heaviest monsoon Florida could throw at drivers!    However, somehow all these bands of clouds moved eastward before I got to them.    Just a reminder?     Just a hint that stormy times might be coming ahead?     Metaphorically speaking.

And then I crossed into my home state.  I stopped at the Welcome Center, something I’ve never done before.  After all,   I know my state, I don’t have to learn about it at a Welcome Center.   But then I saw all the green beauty all around me, and I saw this sign:

Deep dark places 400

What struck me was the deep darkness behind the sign, on into my home state.   Kind of a beckoning, maybe; but still, very deep, dark, strange.

And then a couple days later, one of the biggest “health storms” of my life struck me down. Again, I’m home now, sometimes facing the daunting task of walking across the full length of my house – and still breathing!    But they say that will improve, with time.

I’m weathering this storm.

(I must be better — I’m blogging again!)   

TRYING TO LEAVE THE SOUTH BEHIND

June 22, 2018

 

I’ve left the beach behind,  as I said  in the last post, I’ve left some nice new acquaintances behind,  I’ve left unfinished business behind –  and I’ve left my sister behind . . . .

But so far the leaving  hasn’t been easy.  I think this was the worst day of driving I’ve had in my long years of driving.     In all my travel memories,  no other day has come close.

blue car blues

This is a posting that is just for making a record for The Spruce Tunnel –  just so I can remember . . . .  Might not concern anyone else – unless you drive around the country.

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Yesterday I drove through bands of very severe thunderstorms. Tropical, windy, can’t- see-a-thing monsoons.     20 to 30 minutes long,  then nothing,  then another surprisingly severe band of thunder and lightning and heavy downpours.  Three big storms that were hard to drive through, and one pretty bad thundershower tacked on at the end.

As I drove out of each storm,  the view of them through my rearview mirror was pretty frightening!

It was all right.  I’m a seasoned traveler.  Thunderstorms happen.   Just not four really challenging ones in the same afternoon.   After the long day of intermittent white knuckle driving,  I was ready for a night’s rest.

And then today happened.  

With courage and confidence  this morning I was ready to tackle,  once again,  Atlanta traffic on my way home.

Two hours before Atlanta I hit the beginning of a traffic jam that lasted for seven hours and for two states.  Most of my day was spent in bumper to bumper multi-lane traffic at 5 – 10 m.p.h.    Of course I didn’t know it was going to last that long, and indeed just before the city itself  traffic speeded up — a bit.   But then it slowed down again to almost no forward movement.

Slowly moving parking lots

It was like being in among two giant parking lots,  six or more lanes wide, one “parking lot”  facing one direction;,  the other, the other direction.  Barely perceptible movement.  It was disorienting.  Parking lots shouldn’t “move,”  but these did move, in slow motion.

Two hours to drive through Atlanta.    And then came the traffic jam just north of Atlanta.    As all the cars crept along, at slower than walking speeds,   I kept an eye out for just what was causing this slowdown.   All the way to Tennessee I saw nothing.  No construction,  no crashes,  not even any cars parked along the side of the road.

Now,  when you creep along slowly forward like this,   it feels far more dangerous.  And actually is,  because there are sudden stops . . .  and at those slow speeds it’s hard to tell when brake lights mean slower or STOP quickly –  and it cascades down along the line of cars.      And there are incessant lane changes by people who think “the grass is greener in the other lane.”

I thought the turn onto I-24 would be better, but our traffic just merged into a  “thicker,”  slower traffic jam.   There was no discernible cause.    There were a lot more semis in this one.

Now,  I-24 goes through some very beautiful scenery.   The interstate is cut right through the Smokies, and you feel as though you are right in the mountains,  with the trees and the ten-story  rock cuts creating dark tunnels to drive through.   If you ever drive there in October,   the oranges and yellows and reds are so glorious and so brilliant that you’ll feel you need sunglasses just for the fall colors!

Cotton-Ball Storms

But  to my seven-hour traffic jam at 5 – 10 m.p.h.,   Mother Nature added more intermittent  monsoon downpours,  so heavy that at times it felt like I was driving through a cotton ball.     In these storms when the rain and mist is so heavy  I usually follow behind the shadowy bulk of a semi truck,  using his taillights as a guide.    Today,  the shadowy bulk was just about hidden in the heavy rain,  and the taillights were very dim.

We were driving pretty slow to begin with, but I discovered a hidden danger to my method –  the semi I was following had been making a lane change,  unseeable to me – and as I followed him,  I left my own lane –  narrowly missing a car on my side.  Not too narrowly,  but enough to scare me.

As I said,  at really slow speeds there are reasons to be even more careful – and alert – and tense.

The  tension seemed permanent in me today.

clouds in the smokies

I hope I remember that a rainstorm (thunderstorm)  in the Smokies is very beautiful and intriguing.  The thick white clouds appear as a white down-filled quilt rolled up lengthwise and draped across the dark mountains.   Sometimes it looked like pieces of the cloud had broken off and were lying on the road that we had to drive through.

We were headed west on I-24.   West:  right into the sun.   Some day I’ll tell you how the sun has changed over my many, many decades of life.   From the hot yellow summer sun of the Illinois prairie to . . .  the white-hot burning arc light of what we have now.   When the sun lowers in the sky,  that welding arc is blinding,  and the heat of it seems to radiate something within your skin;  not just like a sun shining on it but like you’re insides are being cooked.

(Scientists are measuring this increased radiation,  but now’s not the time to expand on their findings.   The Bible also says something “mysterious”  about the last days of this Age of the World:   “And power was given to the sun to scorch the earth . . .” )

There was something very scorching about the sun in my eyes today.

 

. . . . . beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep . . . .

Just when it looked like things were getting better,  no more rain,  faster traffic, and I was feeling the full fatigue of a nerve-wracking day,   the alarm clock in a suitcase in my back seat went off.

NO WAY should I try to reach my arm around and attempt to shut it off ( at 70 m.p.h.)   It would be physically impossible anyway.

After all,  count my blessings,  it really is a very small annoyance in light of the driving I had had to do.    The worst thing that could happen is I’d need a new battery.

But then,  after fifteen minutes . . .   I made a sudden turn into a little exit ramp and took care of the darn thing.   Much to the amusement of a young man who was putting his dog back into his car parked next to me.

The day didn’t end easily.    The billboard for my upcoming hotel said:  Take Exit 78B and turn Left at the light.    That was informative.   Except when I took the exit and stopped at the red light –  there were signs saying No Left Turn.

Well,  I found it.  I’m here.   I’m writing because I want to put this whole difficult trip behind me and never have to think about the drive again.

Never forget

Except I’ll  have a permanent daily reminder.    Sometime today someone dinged the door of my pretty little blue car with a “big” white scratch, probably from opening their door into mine.

I will always remember the day this happened. . . .

____________________________________

 

 

I  want to be home.

ladder

I need time to think . . . and pray . . .   figure out what happened to me . . .  and rest with Him.

 

 

.

Leaving a Brief Visit Behind

June 22, 2018

Come take a very brief visit to the ocean with me.

 

Well, this whole southern trip was long –  almost three times as long as I had expected.  That’s okay,  there was a lot to do.    What the brief visit was is this:

m beach

I don’t live anywhere near the ocean,  and I thought I wouldn’t even have time to go to the beach this time, except for Daughter, who lives  in the mountains,  and who managed a visit to see her aunt – and me –  and the ocean.   With Daughter’s encouragement,  we did manage a brief visit

Over the causeway –

down causeway 390

 

Then on to Merritt Island, to face the ocean.

1 surf

 

Sea shells on the sand   like stars in the sky –

1 shells like stars

 

It was a short visit to the beach, but we enjoyed the water, the surf,  the sounds,  the people,  and the little tiny dog that played in the surf.

Daughter wore her matching beach shoes –

1 shoes matching

And we had the famous pizza experience at Bizzarro’s on the beach –

1 pizza

Daughter’s was a thick spinach-stuffed pizza, mine was plain cheese — my life had become complex enough, so I just wanted “plain.”    The piece was so large I had to “shorten it” for the picture.    Bizzarro’s was opened many years ago by a New York family,  father and sons,  with a rapid-speaking incomprehensible Bronx accent.  But they do know how to make an excellent pizza!

Later we had a serious meal at Squid Lips –

squid and ocean

Very good sea food, but,  coming from the Far North,  I never understood the concept of eating  OUTDOORS in 95 degree heat,  which people smile and say, “Oh,  but there’s such a nice breeze from the ocean . . .”

squid inside

A95 degree breezes doesn’t make it any cooler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

June 7, 2018

          “Here” is where you are right now

           It’s your present Location.

           “There” is where you want to go

           It’s your desired destination.

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My Dad used to say that the streets of  his little city here on the Space Coast of Florida were poorly designed for so many people:  “They let in too many people in too short a time and they didn’t pay attention to the streets.   Some people got very rich with all this growth and look at the mess we got.”

 

“You can’t get There. . .”

Making a mundane shopping trip can seem like a complicated itinerary to some exotic destination.     There are two obstacles to straightforward travel around this little city:

traffic planning algorithmtraffic planning algorithm

 

One obstacle is the traffic  lanes around here.   Invariably,  going “There”   involves two or more left-hand turns in which you must maneuver within two or three permissible left-turn lanes and an array of multicolored traffic lights.

Well,  red, green, and yellow circles and arrows.   With four-minute cycles, I think.

There is a left left-turn lane;  a right left-turn lane,  and sometimes a center left-turn lane.  That means you have to know where you’ll need to be up ahead a half a block further on.    The lane you’re supposed to stay in is marked with white dotted lines –  when the dots aren’t too faded.

Everyone has his own idea of how wide an arc he must make as he turns –  and sometimes that leads to, not bumper-to-bumper,  but door-handle-to-door handle driving.

There are very narrow lanes for bicycles and motorcycles too — and not always at the edge of the street, but in between the left-turning lanes.     They have left and right left-turn lanes too.

So,  you’ve made your last left-hand turn.  You’d think your destination is actually “on the left.”    But, no . . .

Remember, “you can’t get There from Here” — at least not easily.

Usually, you have been forced to drive past your destination.   That’s the second obstacle.

The median between the two directions of traffic is rather wide and made of solid concrete, punctuated with little openings through which to make the necessary U-Turn, often ducking into another left-turn lane.

Once I found myself driving in a  lane marked  “U-Turn Lane”  for about a half a block.  I thought I was doing something wrong until I realized I’m the one who needs to make a U-Turn here eventually.

After a while I was able to make that left-hand turn,  but I think I would have gotten to that store faster on foot.

I took my sister to her doctor appointment yesterday.

She soothed my frustrations with our Dad’s words:  “. . .  Poorly designed roads . . .  they let too many people in . . .  Someone made a lot of money with all this growth!”

blue car

Which does not make driving around here any easier.

_________________________________________

Beware NASCAR  fans.  Daytona is like that too.

 

UNDERWATER ROADS

June 5, 2018

I received a Thousand-Mile warning today from Son.     More than a thousand miles, actually,  and it was a weather warning.   He probably knew that the Bluegrass Junction channel on Sirius/XM  does not announce the local weather,  no matter where your locale is,  so I was totally unaware of what I was driving into.

This –

Storm Clouds 390

Just beginning to drive into a huge dark tropical storm.     Up ahead of that white truck the storm clouds are dragging the ground.   There was lightning of all kinds, almost constant,  but the camera got this shot between some of the most spectacular thick bolts of lightning.   It was crackling up there.

Then I did drive right into it:

Storm Into 390

The rain really hit;   it got very dark and the wind gusts blew the car around.

The road disappeared under a solid surface of water.  You could not  see the lanes or the shoulder of the road.    Cars slowed down variously to  20 m.p.h.  or 15  or 10.   I put the emphasis on “variously”  because even though the cars were bunching up,  often less than a car length apart,  every driver seemed to have his own idea of how slow he should go.

Cars were stopping in the median or on the shoulder of the road, sometimes down in the grass but they all left their taillights on, so you couldn’t tell if you should follow them or not.       That was the dangerous part,  because, as I said,  the lanes were all under water.

I couldn’t take a picture of the worst of it.  “Two hands on the wheel,”  you know.

I think we drove like this for a half hour or so . . .  Eventually I found my exit and drove out of the worst of the storm.    Pried my hands off the steering wheel and found my motel –  my home for the next several days.

I am dry,  safe,  and “home.”   And there’s a steak house associated with this hotel.

I ate   (and drank)  myself into a coma and slept for the next three hours.

Okay –  I’m not known as a “drinker” —  but when you have this menu staring at you on your table:

Armadillo 200

. . .   and the cranberry, pineapple, and orange juice  sounds sooooo good and healthy,  it’s hard to resist.    That’s an armadillo in the upper left corner  with the light shining on his back;    a shelf decoration, I guess.

You don’t need to see my full ribs dinner,  but   —

Arma glass 360

—  I got the Armadillo Punch.

Two.

.

Sweet dreams,  everyone, and me.    I’ll be busy tomorrow.

.

 

 

 

 

NOT SO OPEN ROADS

June 4, 2018

 

Not-so-open . . .       Well,   here:

atlanta bridge390

I knew this was coming.    All through the richly green beautiful hills of Kentucky and Tennessee,  I was thinking about this challenge that lay ahead.

Atlanta.

Seven lanes in my direction,  with another six merging in on up ahead,

atlanta

This one is right after going under the bridge; you can see the merging lanes better.

Now,  usually the challenge is that the traffic is going  55,  60,  70 or more miles per hour and invariably you have to make  several cuts across lanes because they keep switching where your route is.   Big signs, very little opportunity to make the switches.

Today was better, so to speak.     Atlanta radio,  WSB,  750 AM, announced there was an accident, and the two right lanes were closed.    At first I thought,  “Oh, nuts, now there’ll  be severe slow downs and stops.”    And then I thought –  “slow downs and stops?”    Now all the cars will have time to see which lane they’re supposed to be merging into, time to plan the sudden left or right turn in front of another car,  and we can all do it at reasonable speeds –  say,  6 or 8 m.p.h.

It all worked out nicely.   I’ve never been so relaxed going through Atlanta.

And I had two rewards for making it through safely.

One was I got to drive right under the runways of Atlanta Hartfield –  I saw two huge passenger planes,  a few hundred feet above my head!     (Pretty exciting for a girl who grew up a half mile from O’Hare Air Base   (and even after it became  O’Hare International).

And then there was this little reward –

cattails 390

I hope this shows up real well.     After all that urban “alertness,”   it was a treat to be presented with this little clump of natural beauty.    It’s a little arrangement of cattails at the side of the parking lot where I’m staying tonight.

I’m pretty sure they weren’t planted there;  just so attractive and calming.

Stay grounded to Nature, everyone!     Take time to stop and smell . . .  photograph the cattails in your life!

.

OPEN ROADS

June 4, 2018

 

“Back in the saddle again . . .”

 

Open Roads

 

Open Roads.

With a Hat Tip to Gene Autry,  I am back in my favorite “saddle” again –  enjoying the open roads!

And with Hat Tips to Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher,  I’m humming along with one of my favorite childhood songs:  “Don’t Fence Me In”  !

 

That’s all.  I’ll check  in later . . . .

_________________________________________________

   But just one comment:    Funny thing –  I can pray here,  far from home, with confidence that God knows where I am.    Hundreds of miles from home – I am not lost to Him.     He knows my whereabouts,   the concerns I face of long-distance driving,  and all the other needs I have . . .  still have . . .

I’m  here in time and space,  but I can touch Eternity at any time.

Deo gratias.

 

 

MAILBOX VIEW – A NEAR MISS!

November 14, 2017

You can get a pretty interesting view of the world from your mailbox –  a changing world.

junk mailbox mine

My neighbor and I stand side by side with our mailboxes.    The mailbox used to  bring a lot of things that it doesn’t,  anymore.  Paychecks.  Other “checks in the mail.”   Birthday cards and lots and lots of Christmas cards.  Letters from family and friends.

And letters from Pen Pals!  

Penpal stack

One of the joys of my teen and young adult years was to write to and receive letters from pen pals.  There were even magazines and sections of magazines devoted to introducing people to each other from around the world.   There are some I still wonder about and regret that our correspondence ended somehow,  but I have one pen pal who has remained with me and I count her among my good and precious friends –  across the ocean!

Today:    Our mailboxes hold mostly  Junk Mail.

junkmail

And lots of it.

But many years ago,  Hubbie had some advice for his family,  and he had learned it the hard way.    He usually went through the mail, tossing out all the junk mail,  keeping only the “important stuff.”   But one month he was fretting about not receiving a rebate check he had “gone through all the hoops”  to  qualify for.

He was sitting idly at his desk one day,  thinking of complaining to the company,  but just staring  at his little wastebasket which was nearly overflowing.    He looked at it, into it,  and there were a few “junk mail” envelopes unopened.    Sure enough, one envelope was from the same company that had sent  him the rebate.

So –  Hubbie said:   “Always open your junk mail;  it takes very little time,  and you may find something that isn’t junk after all.”

I don’t always listen to my husband’s advice.

Recently I got a big colorful envelope,  something about driving,  something about ENTERING A CONTEST – YOU CAN WIN $$$.   “ENTER HERE TO WIN”

Junk Mail brochures

Well, it was from Colorado.  I had just traveled there a couple months ago – briefly.  It was just a drive-through,  maybe two hours.   I just had to get from western Kansas to Wyoming.     But somehow  “Colorado”  had gotten my personal information.

I didn’t open this ” junk mail”  for  a week or two, until I had more time for it.   That’s a photo of the brochures I got for driving in Colorado and entering their contest.

“Junk Mail”  for a Toll road.    An Express Toll Road.

junkmail letter

 

“Express”  means:  You don’t have to stop to pay your toll –  they’ll send you a bill later!  (along with a chance to enter a contest).

By the time I opened the envelope to see what kind of fun contest Colorado was offering me,   I saw that I had only five days left to pay this toll bill –  or else!

I wonder –  if I hadn’t opened this junk mail, and if I had seen another  similar piece of junk mail from Colorado a month or so from now (with a “final notice” within),  well,  would there be a warrant out for me next time I drive out West?

(Sigh-h-h-h.   Yet another reason to drive  so slowly that I am just about under the speed limit.)

_________________________________

Read your junk mail, guys.

I. FLAG, FOOTBALL, AND DROUGHT

October 7, 2017

Looking out my kitchen window right now, a lively, noisy scene:

f Window

Sunshine.   Cool air.     Fall flowers.   The after-effects of a little rainstorm.   The leaves are changing,  and the wind is blowing.   If you stood outside under a tree,  you’d think it was still raining because the wind blows the raindrops off the leaves and creates a second rainstorm.   Acorns plunk down on the roof and roll all the way down to the ground.

I love Fall,  not the least because it m e a n s  used to mean football.    I always dreaded February because that was the beginning of  the “long drought”  of no football.

Droughts are no fun.  But I see now that they can end;  they can be ended.   Apparently some droughts are a matter of opinion:    Several weeks ago  I left this rather damp northern climate and traveled across the (dry) prairie and the (dry)  Great Plains and the  (dry) high desert, and then to the (very dry)  High Sierras.

f bottle grass

Family and friends who live there high in the mountains have learned to drink water – all the time.   The desert and altitude suck the moisture right out of a person’s body.    Everyone on a bicycle, skateboard, walking, boating was carrying a container of water with him.  Even the children, whether at parties or swimming or playing a game of soccer – when it was their turn to do something,  they would first set their water bottle down in the grass,  go do their thing, then come right back to the water.

“Drought normal.”   I didn’t mind it, but I did have difficulty returning home, where I kept remarking in astonishment – to everyone –  how humid it is!    I could  hardly breathe in the hot and  thick, sticky air!   Needless to say,  they were experiencing “normal”  air, and even corrected me by saying, “It’s been so dry for so long . . .  we need rain . . . our lawns are turning brown.”   (Not that I could see.)

f and ross
So I was able to become philosophical about this drought thing with  football,  the “long wait”  until the next game.    I had returned home right in  the middle of the “disrespect your flag” controversy that some of the football players were perpetrating by making their knees a sign of resistance –  although resistance to what was a movable target.

Betsy Ross and the ladies who sewed our first flags together did so not only believing in the United States of America and all the things the new nation stands for,  but also knowing full well that their men, their loved ones,  might very well be dying for it.

f scott flag“The bombs bursting in air”   gave Francis Scott Key reassurance that the flag was still flying,  but you can see that flag now, in our nation’s capital,  and it’s in tatters.

The price of America is American lives.   It cost us something.   And it still will cost us something in the dread near future.

My Friday morning class was discussing “things in general” for a while,  and although they really aren’t political and they really aren’t too aware of current issues,  they do watch the entertainment-news media — and they all expressed a vague sort of fear for the near future.    That surprised me.   One lady patted her stomach and said, “It’s not very strong, but I feel in here a small sense of  doom.”

Doom?     We don’t have “doomy” discussions, usually,  but I could see it struck a chord in the others.    And, unfortunately,  now that she mentioned it,  in me.

So that’s what I meant:    “America”  cost us something.   And it still will cost us something in the dread near future.   

I used to count up the hours per week that I watched football, (yikes!)  and told myself,  oh, well, it’s such a short season . . . .       But  here’s my new equation:

NFL Players Union  +  the Global Socialist Soros-funded activism =   Not me

 

f blimp

“Not me.”       I’m out of this picture for a while.

This kind of “drought”  is all in one’s personal perception.

There is  the big annual intrastate university football game today.   Big rivalry!    I’ll watch that.  But as for the NFL games –  I’ve think I’ve gained a lot of free hours.     I love football,   but when I want to watch a game,  I don’t want to watch the Opposing Team’s politics.

Not me.

 

f off

 

I love football.  And my country.  And my flag. 

CAN’T ALIGHT

September 6, 2017

Alight:    (verb);    an adverbial of place,  with no object;   to get off a vehicle of some sort

This will pass, but it’s a strange feeling.    I’m home, so I’ve had a “homecoming,”   and I’m appropriately filled with gratitude and mild surprise that all went well.      But deep inside,  I haven’t “arrived.”

I can’t  “alight”  from my vehicle that has held me for the past two and a half weeks.

I am floating around my home as though I’m a ghost,  seeing, but not quite belonging.

I’m at the age where I can easily imagine leaving this world,  leaving my home for good,  and yet curious about what will happen to this house.  What would it look like when I’m no longer living . . .  here?

It would look like this, like it does now.    With me,  close by, looking down and around, but  not quite dwelling in it.    “I” will not be here,  but this house will still stand.

The reason may be that I’ve been doing the same things that I did when I was in “travel mode” and getting ready to leave for my trip.   I seem to be washing and arranging the same clothes that I had gotten ready for the trip, only now putting them back into their closets and drawers,  not in suitcases.

I’m looking through old mail, paying bills, throwing away junk mail and catalogs,  just as I did right before I left.

I’m still eating  from an almost empty refrigerator with “travel food”  yet to finish. Familiar food of  the past couple of weeks.

Still cleaning and organizing the car, as I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks.

For Pete’s sake:  I’m still watching a hurricane threatening our coastlines!

My reality is still . . .  traveling.

So what am I?    Am I the body now living in this house?   Or am I my mind,   still alert and oriented to my car?

It’s my birthday month right now, and I have to renew my driver’s license –  inside a Secretary of State office   I went there today,,  traveled a bit to get to a smaller office at what I thought was a good time of day;   took a number and realized there were thirty numbers ahead of me!

As I sat there I thought this may take  2 1/2 hours for my turn.  No, actually,  it would be  about 200 miles worth of driving.  Enough to drive out of one state and get halfway into the next.    That’s a big waste of time, just sitting there, getting nowhere.

I left the building.

I’m me,  in my mind,   but I haven’t yet come to terms with the ups and downs of everyday living.   Being here, not getting here.    I can’t put together the physical reality of being home and the mental reality of getting home.

_______________________________________

So who is me?

Where am I?

And what am I?

 

where am i

It’ll come back to me soon.

 

 

SAYING BYE

September 5, 2017

There comes a time when you “just know”  it’s time to reverse direction and turn towards home.    After spending so much time together, side by side,  the little one,  Cooper,  my grandson, bravely accepted that I wanted to go home.  He knew I wasn’t going to be there when he came home from his second whole new day of school.

He shuffled around that morning,  went away and got something,   then handed me his favorite  cute little bear.    He said, “Here, Grandma,  you should take him with you.”

Byw Teddy Bear

He didn’t want me to be alone on my long ride home.  He wanted his love to accompany me on my way home.     (This is the “miracle child”  that was born under surprising circumstances, sent to us when the whole family needed him . . .  He brings peace, caring, and love.       The story is in the Archives for November 2010,  so I won’t repeat it here, except to say Cooper’s mission continues.)

So,  it was  time to hit the open roads again   (with little bear on the dash).

Bye On the road again

Those hazy mountains up ahead . . .  one hour later . . .

Bye Western Hills

. . .   one hour later I reached them and enjoyed driving through them for the last time this year.

Bye side rocks

Last drive through mountain scenery.    And then the  mountainous terrain thins out:

Bye curving roads

Hours and hours of driving later,  next day in fact,  there are still occasional mountains to drive into:

Bye rock in the way

Tunnels make it easier (and fun!):

Byw Tunnel

Eventually,  good-bye to buffalo land:

Bye bison

Good-bye to all the dinosaurs:

Bye Dinosaurs

Well,  but good-bye to fossils and archeological digs and dinosaur museums.    And an archaic way of looking at gasoline:

Bye sinclair

I grew up with those Sinclair gas commercials on television.   I think their mascot was called “Dino.”      Much to my surprise,  when I became an adult, I learned that oil doesn’t come from smooshed dinosaurs,  but that’s all right.

A couple days of driving later I had new scenery to look at:

Bye coming east

It’s all green now.  Rich, fertile land for cattle and sheep and wheat and corn.    Our food.

You think this might be a boring place to drive?     No!   If you’re open to genuine experiences,  the sheer immensity of the landscape, the wide green expanse,   the limitless scenery,   the vast distances that your eyes can take in –  occasionally I still just have to  take a deep breath when I see so far into the land  I’m driving into.

The high plains,  the prairie,  sometimes becomes a desert during August:

Bye dusty roads

You pass by moving clouds of dust alongside the Interstate,  knowing that a tractor or a little truck or a car is on the dusty local roads.

I’m on the road with the big rigs.    I feel safe with the truckers out there.    I love listening to the Truckers Radio Show during the overnight hours.   They usually love their jobs,  love the open roads,  but it’s a difficult job that’s tough on a man’s body.

Bye chapel

It’s a hard and lonely job.

So,  I’ve been putting  the West behind me as the sun hung low in the western sky.

Bye sundown

 

Fun with the sun:

bye sun on bridgeThe sun sits on the bridge in my rearview mirror.

And then night falls —

bye sun dark

From beginning to end –

I started out with the eclipse,  the new moon covering the sun.

I’ve ended it now when the moon is full . . .

Son's Full moon

On the day I arrived home,  Son was kind enough to help me celebrate on his deck with grilled steaks.    The last time I saw him the moon was less than a sliver.  Now we enjoyed the full moon,  glowing reddish orange high in the sky.

Same sun.  Same moon.    But I feel different.  I know I’m different.

So much has been added to me.

“LEFT COAST” LIFE

September 3, 2017

 

The New Donner Memorial Experience:   Gone   Gone   Gone

Okay,  I hope you enjoyed “Lake Life”  and  “Mountain Life,”  because I have to get a little negative here.   Yes,  there was fun,  lots of activities,  lots of good food,  and lots and lots of really nice people —  but at the same time there were a lot of censorship and restrictions on the way you can think.

In fact – maybe the motto was:  Stay active;  don’t think.

Or:  Stay active;  we’ll tell you what to think.

As I traveled west,  I was pretty miffed about all the signs in the zoos that I visited that explained not what animal I was seeing or where they came from,  but   signs that  just gave the name, followed by    “And humans  are destroying this animal’s habitat.”

The World War One Museum conclusion?   “Humans who love their country –  Nationalism –  cause wars.”

The dinosaur museum?    “Humans are causing another extinction event  today. . .”

One day during my vacation,  when everyone was busy,  I decided to re-visit the Donner Party Memorial.  I remember it as a nice one, very informative, with lots of educational, interesting gifts in the gift shop.

But this time there was a big difference.  I should have known something had changed by the police presence there.

2 police presence 370

 

So maybe they were just having a meeting.

Here is the monument built to the Donner party,  90 some in all,  and 46 died.

2 Monument 370Their story is, of course,  a bit sensational:   betrayal and incompetence along the way,  miscalculation of the season and ignorance of survival techniques in  the weather,  and the overblown “horrors”  of cannibalism by a couple of the people,  in an attempt to stay alive.

It happened here:

2 map 350

That’s Cooper’s   “Beautiful Lake,”  as he calls it, where we did so much of our activities.

But in the museum (information center) –  Gone were the beautiful displays of animals native to the area.   Gone  were the life-sized figures of the people and their daily equipment, pots and pans,  children’s toys,  their covered wagons,  yokes, and wheels and axles.    Gone were the historical dioramas of building the railroad into the High Sierras shortly after the Donner Party tragedy,  a railroad which would have made their tragedy unnecessary.     Gone were many of the logs and diaries and books written by the survivors.    Gone was the sense of the grit and courage and perseverance of the Donner Party,  a tribute to the hope and dignity of human beings.

So much I had wanted to see again was just gone.   In fact,  if I didn’t know the story well myself,  I would have been a bit puzzled about what exactly had happened here.

2 donner party area 370

Because I had known what had happened here,  it was easy to recreate in my imagination what took place in these woods.   This is a poignant and eerie scene –  if you know the details.

A few areas were marked.  The actual campsite of one of the families:

2 camp site 370

With just a small plaque to name this site.

They had built a brand new large “information center”  —  so what took up all that space?

Well,  two main large areas told us:   “We must not forget that Western Man destroyed the culture of the   Washoe people  who lived here.”

2 Washoe 370

And there were some large displays of generic “Native American”  life.    This could be any tribe of Indians.    But they can’t live like this anymore.    This culture is  “gone.”

The second main large area was taken up by the Chinese coolies  (is it still okay to call them that?)   who were brought over from China  (shanghaied –  is it still okay to say that?  Because  Chinese merchants captured and sold their fellow Chinese to any country who could use them as workers.)   to do the hard labor of building the railroad across America.

The main statement was:   Western Man must not leave them out of the pages of history.”

Well, guess what!   Western Man didn’t!   I remember learning about the Chinese laborers in at least three different years in school,  with an increasing, maturing  presentation of their plight and of the context.

If young people today,  40 and unders,  don’t know about the Chinese laborers,  don’t blame Western Man –  blame the government schools and their weak, dumbed down curricula.     No one has “forgotten”  them except for the education system.

After all this negativity,  I felt like  “ducking”   every time I read some display sign.

This censorship of the “whole”  story of . . .  anything . . .  was all over.   There was an underlying feeling of guilt and self-doubt and uncertainty everywhere I went.

How about trying to buy some food?

2 Ca style food warning 380

 

And when presented by two or three or four trash cans side by side,  I never did learn which was “garbage” or “recyclable”  or  “compost”  or  “you’d better not put that in here”!

I hope this Left Coast mentality is stopped before it permeates our entire society.   This is not what our Founding Fathers,  our forefathers, and our grandfathers  fought for!   We must not lose our American History in a hysteria of anti-West,  anti-White,   anti-human propaganda.

flag

FREEDOM !!!!!

 

 

MOUNTAIN LIFE

September 3, 2017

 

A Flowers 370

Beautiful mountain flowers, just one of many photos.    I’ve been living for the past few weeks at about 5900 feet, altitude,  but for the people here,  they find their fun way up higher — say  7200 feet.

So up we went one fine day.

A Preferred Travel another view.jpg 380

I loved loved loved these open chair lifts,  feet dangling,  the wind in my face!   I discovered, though that they only go part way up – and not down –  so then you have to use the covered “gondolas.”

A Mt Bike from gondola 370

This is  a view from inside a gondola.  We’re going down.    Your ears can pop from the altitude change!    We’re looking down about 50 feet onto a mountain bike trail.    Cooper’s Daddy teaches mountain biking . . .   winter mountain biking,  in the snow.   He’s probably a good teacher,  but I’m never going to find out!

Cooper was excited to be up in the mountain tops.  There were many things he wanted to do.    Gem panning, for one.

A Gem Panning 370

Panning for gold and semi-precious gems were one of the historic  draws to this area,  so I guess he’s learning his own local history.    He found some really nice ones, including a really nice portion of a geode with amethyst crystals inside.    I’m the grateful recipient of that —  his idea.

This was his second choice:

A Coopers Legs 370

Well, it was hard to capture this activity with the camera.

A Cooper Up 370

In case you wonder how he likes being catapulted 25 feet into the air  —

A Cooper Smile 370

So much fun!   Wish I were six years old again!

The third place he wanted to go while we were up on the mountain tops was a trampoline place.   They actually do some serious practicing for the Olympics up here.

A Cooper Tramp 370

There were dozens of trampolines, side by side, as well as gymnastic floor areas and  things you tie yourself up in to do aerial tricks.   The place was busy with all ages of kids working on their moves.     Cooper  enjoyed the jumping, and his Daddy got into the trampolines too and displayed some spectacular dives and twists.

But it isn’t all for fun:

A Cooper Snowboard practice 370

This is a place to learn your snowboarding tricks.   You can jump and spin and somersault safely, because when you do it in the snow,  it’s going to be a harder landing!

And, yes —

A Cooper bike 370

You practice spinning, jumping, twisting tricks on your bike too.

And when you come down from all the activity what do you do next?

A Soccer 370

See the long shadows?   That’s  “evening on the soccer field.”

After soccer practice . . .  a bike ride to a restaurant . . .

And then the next day . . .  another full round of activities!

(See why this lady is ready to come home soon?)

 

LAKE LIFE

September 1, 2017

Here’s where the Little Blue Car has been parked for the past week:

L Blue Car 370

Beneath a mountain,  at the lakeside.    You can just about see it at the bottom right corner of Cooper’s house.  Cooper’s Mommy and Daddy have worked very hard and are working hard and long hours to be able to choose a home in this location,  but, nevertheless,   every day they told me how lucky and how grateful they are to have a home like that.

So, good.

The Little Blue Car hasn’t had much to do lately.    This is how we got around:

L how we got around 270

Cooper’s family spend a lot of time in that lake –  Donner Lake.

L Viking Dive 370

Tbere’s  a  fearless jump  into the Lake!   Daddy is close by in case he’s needed,  but by six years old?

Nope:

L Viking alone 360

He spent two hours  in  that Lake.     The whole family did.

And after lake time,  Cooper piloted the boat:

L Viking driver 370

Ahhhhh.   Viking blood runs true in the newest generation!

 

viking ship

________________________________________________

 

Active, active, active.   Everyone bicycles, serious mountain biking;   everyone does water sports in the summer,  snowboarding and snow mountain biking in the winter;   and lots of other sports all year round.      All the men.  All the women.  All the children.

But something else I noticed while here in the High Sierras:   I really didn’t see many people my age.   I think everyone must wear themselves out by age 50.

 

DESTINATIONED

September 1, 2017

Yes:  “destinationed.”     ” Destinationed out.”     As in “I got there and I’ve met my  . . .  end . . .”

These people are active!

It’s good.    I’m okay.    I’m exhausted.   Done thinking.    I’m sunburned,   been scraped and bloodied,    dizzied,     weak-kneed,    so-o-o-o-o-o thirsty,    tired,   and shaky . . .   and half-drowned at the bottom of this:

DL Lake Donner

I’ve  been staying there . . .  right about where that little boat in the bottom left corner is coming out of.     Donner Lake.    I’ve been on the Lake and under the Lake . . . .   Tricks on the Lake  you  shouldn’t do at my age, or at least while you’re still weak-kneed from other activities.

Do you know that after you peddle boat across the Lake and back again that your legs don’t work so well for a while?

I took that  Lake photo from up here:

DL Rainbow Bridge 370

 

Location of Rainbow Bridge:

2L The Rainbow Bridge

That little straight dark line in the center of the picture is the famous Rainbow Bridge.  Thanks to “Walt Disney Presents”  and my Viewmaster cards,  I learned about this Bridge as a child.    Almost never thought of it as real.

We got up there from Old US 40 – an old highway with breathtaking views and hairpin turns:

DL Old US 40

We parked our cars below and climbed up by foot further:

DL Rocks

There were more rocks to climb:

DL Boulders

Really was fun jumping from place to place, planning your footholds carefully.   Going down this mountainside was a whole different perspective.   You could see the depths.

Cooper was with me:

DL Cooper

He lives there at Donner Lake –  this is his back yard!    The mountains, the forests and the Lake.        We celebrated Cooper’s Daddy’s birthday — on a pontoon boat – and with ski lifts and gondolas and a bit of hiking at the Summit —  el.  7200 feet.

I did a few other thingsout here at Donner,  but I’m too tired to write about them right now.   Packing the car for the trip home is next on my mind.

I’ll need a rest from this vacation.

BONNEVILLE

August 30, 2017

One of the great stops along I-80  is the Bonneville Flats Test Sight.

After the flat green landscape of Kansas and the beautiful tan and brown and gold tones of the mountains of Wyoming and Utah,  you  notice a “change”  outside your car window:

B1 Bonneville 370

The land becomes white.

B2 Big Flats 380

Miles and miles of dry white surface.

And, of course,  these are the Bonneville Flats – and they’re made for driving!

B3 Flats are for driving 370

There are miles and miles of this.     I always say:   ” I’m not going to stop.”

B5.5 Rest Stop up ahead 370

“I’m not going to stop.    I’m not . . . ”

B4 rest area 370

But I always do.   They have a really nice and informative rest area,  and you can get as close as you can to the salt flats.

Although almost all you’ll see for many miles into the curvature of the earth is salt.

B5 just salt 2 370

Somewhere in that expanse there is a course set, varying in length each year, for the fastest cars to set speed records.  Only one mile of the course is recorded,  the fastest mile, I guess.

B6 sign 370

I’m not that interested in cars and motors and engines and how fast you can get a car-like vehicle to move,  but even for me a portion of that sign was impressive:

B7 sign portion 370

I’ve driven in “triple digit” m.p.h. — but not with an 8 in it!

Might seem like an odd place to take a stroll,  but there’s no danger.

B9 odd place for a stroll

And I always get out there on the salt-encrusted earth too:

B10 shoes in 370

Water seeps through some places:

B11 Wading 2 370

Wet and dry:

B12 shallow water 370

If you scoop up some of the salt from the wet portion –  well, it just looks like wet salt:

B13 shallow wet salt 370

 

But if you want some salt from the dry portion, you have to pry it up from the desert gravel,  you have to use a little force and try to get a big chip:

B14 salt sample 370

I had all the fun I wanted . . .  it was getting later in the traveling day . . .  and see that kind of white  line across the middle of this picture, leading on into the distant mountains?  —

B16 highway goes 370

That’s the highway where I had to go, off into those mountains,  up and over,  and into the high desert:

B17 highway into 102 370

Quite a temperature!

 

 

 

P.S. THE YELLOW AND THE BLUE

August 30, 2017

Here are the “yellow” and the “blue”  I alluded to in the last post  about dinosaurs but forgot to include them at the end.     You see, some of these species are still with us, living today.

So here’s the yellow —  tiny little things that spit poisonous and deadly venom at passers-by.

D Yellow Frogs

They’d be easy to overlook as you walked past them.    They were on display behind glass   (rather thin glass!)   in the lobby of the Sternberg Natural History Museum.

Same with the blue deadly venomous spitting things:

D Blue Frog

Odd.  Different.   Strange.   Exotic.    Hypnotizing.

I wouldn’t want to raise little children where these things live.

We’re reminded that Nature around us is not necessarily a friendly place  . . .  at least not since after the Great Fall, which forever changed the relationship of Man and his Environment.

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