Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deviation can bring lovely surprises

We will meet our friends, Lori and Lynn, the Barksmore sisters, at our rendezvous point in Fort Collins Colorado. Lori and Lynn are their actual first names, but Barksmore is a cute little handle that derives from the fact that they have 4 dogs (n'uff said).  Everything is going as planned. Before they arrive a late snow storm hits the plains and the rockies. We wake to a white blanket which quickly disappears with the warmer winds. Our son and family have recently relocated to this beautiful area where the rockies meet the prairies. Fort Collins, along with the rest of Colorado, is an outdoor-thinking area so there are well used bike paths and walking paths EVERYWHERE! So as we wait for our friends to arrive we enjoy the outdoors and conversations with family.

Finally our friends arrive in their Holiday Rambler and the sightseeing begins!

Now Ft. Collins' Chamber of Commerce could probably point out things to see and I'm certainly not a tour guide, but if you find yourself in Ft. Collins country I recommend two things to kick to the top of your "to do" list.

#1 The Swetsville Zoo -- And it's not a zoo, it's an art exhibit and for all you cheapskates out there, it's free.  Oh, you could put a

couple bucks in the bucket if you choose to donate, but no one's there to make you feel guilty. That being said this cheapskate kicked in a few bucks just 'cause I enjoyed the show. This fellow definitely sees more things in a pile of junk than the average dude. You're not going to hang this art on your wall but you are likely hear, or say, things like...."Hey Honey, come look at this."...."Well, would you look at that"..."Hey, it's an alligator." "A chain, I'll be. He made that with a chain"....    Oh yeah, while this is an opinion of an old crumugin, I think kids would like it too. For you romantics out there, it's a love story also, he made all this art for his wife.

#2 The Campbell's Soup Can
First of all, it's free. So what have you got to lose?  They don't even want your stinking donation.
Our friend, Lynn!
Well it's a big tank, cut and painted in the proportions of Andy Warhol's classic painting, but big.  I know, I know, I laughed too when I first read it.  I mean it just sits there and looks all soup canney, but then someone pointed out that you could have your  picture taken in front of it.  Bang! Just like that I was in.  I wanted a picture,  Ok, think about it and I'll bet you'll want one too. And yes kids (especially kids) will want one too.

Hand-held CB radios link our rigs as we venture down the road;
our next stop 10 miles east Cheyenne, WY on I-80 at Mel Gould's Buryville. The four of us marvel at how this welding artist has a different twist in how all his creations move with the wind.

I've got to tell you, as far as travel is concerned, this retirement thing is just great (Why didn't someone tell me about it sooner?). The flexibility of traveling with few time constraints is absolutely liberating. Our goal of touring Western Canada and Alaska is still a strong tug, but we agree that maybe we should take our time by slowly zig zagging our way north.  We choose to visit some sites that we have seen on previous trips. We agree that Devils Tower seems like something to see again. So we're off to northeastern Wyoming and Devils Tower.

Now, I suppose that someone might see this igneous monolith with bear claw marks running up and down it so often that it becomes blase, but I assure you twice ain't too much. And, hey, it's a Federal campground, which means cheap and I so do like cheap.  We arrive in the evening with wind rocking the Casita and with on-again, off-again showers. The planned cookout is canceled.  Fear not we will find a nice place for a fire and cookout in the next few days. We drift off to sleep, snug in our little fiberglass egg, rain drops dancing on the roof. I love it.

Morning comes with the tower out our window shrouded in low lying clouds and then the cloud settles about the tower's base with the top popping out. How cool is that? It's easy to see why the Native Americans thought it was sacred. Sunshine drives the leaking clouds away and we seize the opportunity to circle hike the big rock. Ahh, beautiful, and twice isn't too much to see this National Monument (Thanks Teddy).

However, there is a problem. Our fellow travelers, the Barksmore Sisters, have discovered that their 31' Holiday Rambler has sprung a leak above the driver's seat and since we are unable to find an RV supply nearby and since more rain is predicted we find ourselves headed to Camping World in Rapid City, South Dakota to get some of that super duper sticky tape to put on the seam. The negative is we are going to have to go away from Alaska, albeit through the
magnificent Black Hills (ahaa shucks!) The positive is that we don't have to be anywhere at any particular time and we will get the leak fixed. And...and the cherry on the top, we will get to see Kamala's nieces, grand nieces, and great grand nephews, because we are arriving at the same time as a family dinner is scheduled.   Whoopee!

Truly, as Conner points out in his Art of Travel: one should be able to deviate from your course when you want to. And that, folks is why retirement rocks.  A planned itinerary is great, but deviation can bring some lovely surprises if you got the time to explore and the willingness to let go of plans.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sometimes Sweethearts can be Heroes

A hero is someone who, through skill, intelligence, fortitude or some other neat attribute saves the the day. Now if you're one of the Avengers and have those superduper type skills like throwing big hammers across football fields, or turning into an angry, very angry big green man, well then they make movies about your deeds.  But even us mere mortals can be heroes by excelling in tough situations.  Ok, so, I'd like to nominate my wife for getting us out of a tough situation.
Today we're driving in the high country above Boulder Colorado, looking for a place to lite for the night with Kamala at the wheel. Being very cheap, we're checking out Federal campgrounds. (Gotta love that Golden Age Pass)  A quick search of the books and apps shows that just up the road is a campground.  The small two-lane country road is leading us into the forest, and now, without a warning from Bob, our friendly GPS voice, who usually announces such things, it's suddenly a one lane gravel road and we begin to worry a touch, but being the brave pioneers that we are, we soldier on.
Let me assess our predicament by noting that the road is getting more and more narrow, the skies are drizzling, there is a drop off to the left, not much--maybe 12 feet.  On our right is the mountain with a riverlit of water from the afternoon rain running along it's base beside the road. Up a hill, around a curve and then there it is, a mushy snow pack about 14 to 18 inches high and 20 feet long. Dark muddy ruts cut across the pack, so obviously someone has gone this way before, however Kamala and I are in harmony on the decision not to try to run it, but then the alternative is to back up a couple of football fields. Kamala, who usually backs up as I guide whenever we back the Casita in a campground is insistent that "I can do this".  So here we go, ten yards, forty, a hundred around the curve, down the hill and we are here at a small, very small and short drive way and finally after much deliberation amongst ourselves, and a couple of rangers who have stopped to see the show, Kamala is backing the Casita at a right angle off the road. Trailer is hitting the small drive way perfectly, but she has to get it into the shallow part and then about 3 feet up the side of the mountain in order to get so the truck can make the turn on the 12 foot road.  I'm amazed as the Casita sails up the mountain at about a 30 degree angle from the truck. Just enough to turn the whole rig.  Great job. Finally, Kamala turns to the two smiling rangers and says, "Crazy Texans, huh?"
Side note: No Casita was harmed on this adventure tale. By the way, we're really glad we had that high-lift axle put on the trailer! We do regret not getting a picture of our little trailer going up the side of the mountain at a 30 degree angle from the truck.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Curtains......Afraid of the dark? I think not! But I've come to a conclusion that most of America is. Everywhere you go, there's light. Neon lights, street lights, security lights, porch lights, and I can't forget the cute little solar butterfly lights that brighten the path in my backyard. I get it. I do. Security, safety, and attempting

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Paranoia and mudflaps

A story of rumors and quandary
This is a blurb about mud flaps, well fear too. Yeah, mud flaps and fear, but first let me preface my tale by telling you that we're a couple of weeks away from lift off to Alaska and points north. Because, we're going to share this little excursion of Northern

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Casita on the Casa for the Casita

 We had the guys from  Chaparral Steel Supply put up this little metal roof awning (we call it a techo here in the border area) 20' X 12' to protect the Casita.  Great! So what now? Top's protected, but the sides look naked.  We decide that we can put up a side and a back ourselves. So it's off to the local salvage lot (Yes, it's a junk yard, because we're responsible, green, and, of course cheap), Used 3/4 inch plywood sheets at 5 bucks a piece with a whole lot of nails to pull. But, hey, did I say we were cheap?

So now, we're cleaning, cutting and painting a base coat and I'm thinking maybe we'll paint stars, or symbols, or how about a fire breathing dragon, (Dragons are cool). But Kamala says it's a Casa for

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sweet anticipation

Ah, the sweet feeling of anticipatory planning for a trip--well, actually two trips (there be more on the second trip later). Right now, we're in between trips. I'm in limbo. With launch date set at the beginning of May and lots of to-dos to check off, I find that while I 'gotta' live in my house to prepare for the trip, I 'gotta' pack also. 

Usually we leave the house with a general idea, general direction, and general timeline. We adopted this overall idea while riding our recumbent tandem on our first long 2,800 mile bicycle tour from El

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Perception, Such a Narrow View of Life

See the Elk?There's actually more than one. It's all about perception.
Sunshine streaming in the window, jump out of bed, fling open the window and I'm treated to colors of a beautiful sunrise, so full, so magnificent and to complete the perception, a cool breeze and a cacophony of birds, dogs, and morning sounds. So big, so filling, so complete...well not quite, but, damn, it sure seems like it from a perceptual point of view. And, for the most part, we walk around

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taking leaps

It's difficult to get away if you work at a job that only gives you two to three weeks off per year. When I was a CPA, that was all I was given for vacation. I started to take time off during slow periods without pay. Weekends were precious and we would take many mini-vacations to surrounding areas by taking off Friday after work and returning home on Sunday. 

Personal time is worth so much. What were we working for

Friday, April 3, 2015

Birds of a Feather

I find it very curious the almost instant bond created by commonness. 

I can remember very clearly my first few hours of hours after arriving at Marine Corps boot camp. We had our heads shaved, we were relieved of our "civilian" clothing and handed boots, olive green pants and a yellow sweatshirt. In other words we had been stripped of our old identity (they were going to build us a brand new one, yeah sure!).  But standing there, everyone having the same dorky bald canary look, we talked and the first groups that