A Change of Pace

I’m sure at some point you have done the old “hurry up and wait” thing. We did some of that since I was here last.
We were scheduled to leave Bellingham at 6:00pm Friday on the Alaska Marine Highway, the instructions said we needed to check in 3 hours prior to departure. We planned an additional hour to take care of traffic issues, getting lost etc. We didn’t get lost and traffic was OK for midday Seattle. We had a leisurely lunch in Bellingham and still got to the ferry terminal about 2:00pm It took all of about fifteen minutes to get tickets instructions and find our place in line.
I have known for many years that I don’t wait very well, I think Patty and I share that characteristic. We were almost last to board, after what seemed like an eternity, we left Bellingham on schedule for the 36 hour ride to Ketchikan.
We spent the next 30 minutes or so getting our sea legs and figuring out the lay of the land, or boat in this case. We then settled in for the remaining 35 1/2 hours of the first leg of our little boat ride. I don’t know,if you know it but that is a long time to just kick back and watch the world go by.
I addition to the scenery, which improved as we went north, the boat was an excellent place for people watching.
I’m not sure how many passengers were on board, probably two or three hundred. There was a broad mix of cultural, economic, and social backgrounds. Some completely normal, maybe not as normal as Patty and I but normal, there was some that beared watching and everything in between.
We soon realized watching and visiting with people was a better time killer than watching trees and shoreline, although seeing a few whales on day two was pretty exciting.
Accommodations on the boat range from pitching a tent or rolling out a sleeping bag on one of the decks at the back (I should say stern) or finding an empty chair somewhere inside or a cabin with a bathroom down the hall or do what we did and get a cabin with, of all things, a private bath.
There were young families and there were even some people older than me, if you can believe that and everything in between.
One guy asked us what day it was and then how long til the end of the month, we helped him with that. He then turned around excluded us from a conversation that continued for a while.
The was a couple from Virginia hauling their RV, a couple from Minnesota taking their Harley up north.
There was a group of very well mannered students from LSU going on an educational exchange program of some sort. And two old guys from southern Arizona going to help a friend complete a project.
Some were following new career opportunities or maybe just a dream, others appeared to be on just another leg of a never ending journey to somewhere or maybe nowhere.
For me, it was the first time in a few years that I didn’t lay my iPad on the nightstand just before going to sleep. We went about 34 hours without WiFi or cellphone service. I think that might have been a good thing for me.
The first night we were out, sleep didn’t happen quickly, I wandered about the boat for quite a while, surprisingly it was almost eerie quiet. I settled in a chair with my feet on the stern rail, listened to the peaceful sound of the water and “gathered my thoughts for a long time. I would share those but most of them aren’t worth sharing and the others are too personal or private. I looked back, I looked at the present, and tried to look down the road. I am OK with then and now, we never know about the future but I like what I think I see.
To sum up the boat ride: The thing was clean, we met interesting people, saw some very pretty scenery and it got us from point A to point B reasonably hassle and stress free.
We are in Ketchikan tonight. We had a good day, maybe I can put something together on it in as day or two.
I’m not going to do any pics tonight. The ones I have need editing, I’m tired and we have a boat to catch first thing tomorrow.
I am going to apologize again, I am still having trouble getting my thoughts to your side of the keyboard. Maybe by the time we get home I will learn to write on the road.
Good Night and God Bless.
Thanks for riding along.
Dave and Patty

The 101…..

Apologies if I sounded a little tired and grumpy last night. Some things are just hard to conceal. I am still tired tonight but the mood is much better. Maybe that will eliminate the grumpy overtones.
Part of the plan was to run US 101 up the Oregon coast. We did that today. We started in Coos Bay, OR . As is becoming the norm, I lied to Patty again. I projected about a 5 or 6 hour day. Ten hours later we arrived bleary eyed and tired in Aberdeen, Washington.
The difference in today and those first three, today we saw about 300 miles of the most attractive coastline in the lower 48. The tough part of the day was sharing that crooked two lane with a whole bunch of other folks interested in that same coastline; most of them were in cars or RVs, however a lot of them opted for bicycles or sneakers.
I promise better pictures later. This is a couple I snapped with my phone. I have some better ones in the car in my camera and Patty definitely has some better than these. We gotta do a little high tech stuff and get some of those to my iPad. We’ll work on that.
If you travel with Patty, you just know you are going to dine in places with great food and good character. This place qualified in both categories.

20140717-214938-78578366.jpg

20140717-214938-78578287.jpg
And a couple of shots of the coast.

20140717-215037-78637260.jpg

20140717-215037-78637313.jpg
I know you and Patty has heard it before, but the GPS tells me we are 3 1/2 hours from the dock. We need to be there at three in the afternoon to start the kickback and let the ferry boat captain drive part of this little trip. We sail or motor or whatever a ferry boat does at six tomorrow. First stop Ketchikan.
I don’t know if we will have WiFi on the boat. If we do I will probably write some. Maybe I will have time to relax and do it right.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave and Patty

Endurance…..

It is easy to sit in the comfort of your living room on a cold February night and plan a great summer vacation.
The plan starts with what seems to be a reasonably easy three day drive from Longtown, OK to Coos Bay, OR.
Somewhere west of Cheyenne, Wyoming the first night you start to think that plan might have been just a bit ambitious. This thought occurs as you head on to Laramie in search of lodging. You see some little celebration called Frontier Days occupies every available room in Cheyenne.
That over ambitious thing hits a bit harder the next day when you realize southern Wyoming and Idaho are just about as scenic as western Kansas. The main difference being the changes in elevation are more significant and not as subtle in Wyoming.
I did see both trees in western Kansas, Patty took a short nap and missed one of them. We think the wind generators out number the trees by at least 2 to 1 in Kansas and Wyoming.
We spent night two in Boise, ID; fatigue contributed to a poor choice of hotels. We got one too close to the interstate, heard the big wheels roll all night long.
If anyone wonders, eastern Oregon is scenic kind of like southern Wyoming and Idaho. I have never seen as many miles of unmolested sagebrush.
The last few hours of day three were quite scenic, and we are in Coos Bay tonight. We had a relaxing seafood meal and plan to slow the pace for the rest of the trip.
I know I said something about pictures. Believe me you don’t want to see what we saw the first 2 1/2 days and by this afternoon we were both to tired to focus a camera.
Patty is still speaking to me although I would fully understand if she weren’t. No one needs the kind of endurance test she has withstood the past three days.
This one is from the iPad and kind of unedited so forgive the grammar and punctuation errors.
Good Night and God Bless
Dave

Gonna go . . .Way up North!!!

When Old Glory had, just, 48 stars and I was a kid, I read about a road that went all the way to the Alaska Territory. I made a mental note to drive up there someday, like most kids I made a lot of mental notes, a few of them stuck, that trip to Alaska is one of them.

About 15 years ago a friend told me about a fleet of ferry boats operated by the state of Alaska. They serve seaports along the Alaska coast and down south to Bellingham, Washington. I think most of the boats accommodate two or three hundred passengers and some vehicles. The system is known as The Alaska Marine Highway. They don’t offer the amenities available on the cruise ships; they just provide basic transportation.

I modified that mental note. Someday I will ride one of those boats to Alaska and drive home.

A few months ago Patty and I decided the summer of ‘14 would be a good time to make that trip.

We looked at lots of brochures and even more websites. We talked to anyone who would listen. We checked the weather. When does the snow melt? When does the first snow fall? When we were completely confused, we picked a date. It just happens to be after the Midnight Sun and before the Northern Lights; if we’re lucky maybe we get a glimpse of those lights.

Another change to the old childhood plan; we are going to take the boat both ways, occasionally we do something sensible; this was one of those occasions.

We start this adventure in a few days. We’re hoping this guy will get us to the port in Bellingham Washington.

aspen (Small)

In addition to Alaska and a little bit of Canada we will see (mostly out the car window) parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and on the way home we probably add Montana and Nebraska to the list. We do plan to get out of the car and enjoy some of the Oregon coast.

This is our ride out of Bellingham to Whittier, Alaska.

The Chrysler has to ride down here in the basement.

Tustumena_36

I think Patty and I get to ride upstairs.

vessels_13

We will be in Alaska and the Yukon Territory about three weeks. We wanted to do it without advance reservations but we listened to some experience and reluctantly made hotel reservations (didn’t want to sleep in the car), those reservations are certainly subject to change.

The only scheduled activities are a charter bus trip to the back of Denali National Park and a plane trip out of Fairbanks that will take us inside the Arctic Circle.

We will see Ketchikan, Juneau and some of the other inside passage ports. We will do a little “bright lights big city”, Alaska style, in Anchorage and a few days later in Fairbanks. We will spend a couple days on the coast around Homer; maybe fish a little or Kayak in the bay. Then a few days with the tourists in Talkeetna and Denali, we’ll try hard to look and maybe even act like normal tourists. I really don’t think normal and tourists go together.

After the Arctic Circle and Fairbanks we will spend a little time in Tok and Chicken, maybe just kick back, relax and get to know some of the people that call Alaska home. We plan to drive the Top of the World Highway from Chicken, Alaska to Dawson, Yukon Territory.

I guess it is time for a little trivia; they wanted to name the town Ptarmigan, they couldn’t agree on the spelling so they just called it Chicken, and yes Chicken, Alaska is on the map.

From Dawson we will go through Whitehorse, YT and down to Skagway, Alaska. If the plan works we will get to Skagway in time to board the ferry for a relaxing 3 day ride back to Bellingham.

I suspect the trip from Bellingham home will be one of those get in, sit down, shut up, buckle up and hang on deals.

I’m sure we will make some interesting side trips and probably go see what’s on the other side of some of those pavement ends signs.

If the keyboard will cooperate and I can find some Wi-Fi I will do a little blogging along the way. If the words don’t flow maybe I can flood the site with pictures; Patty is a pretty good photographer and I don’t mind sharing my futile attempts. The plan is to use a good combination of words and pictures and sometimes a plan comes together.

Keep us (especially Patty) in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Got Ur Done!!!

A couple years ago in one of my posts I talked about three things I needed to work on. Obviously there are way more than three things in my life that need improvement, but tonight let me bring you up to date on those three.

I think first on the list was a need to lose some weight. I did that long enough ago that I have managed to find about half of what I lost. Someday I guess I need to do that again or maybe not.

I expressed a desire to learn to have fun at the lake again. I have done that; I spend a lot of time here and enjoy it.

The third thing on that list was to overcome four years of neglect and get my yard to look like my yard again. That one didn’t go well. I didn’t have a clue about what to do or how to do it to the flowerbeds. I knew about mowing and watering and fertilizing the grass. I knew about chainsaws and trimming trees. I also knew about all the reasons to wait until tomorrow to do those things. It can always be too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry. I used all those excuses but I made gradual progress, so gradual I never noticed a significant improvement.

When I finished mowing today, I gave it a good look and I liked what I saw; the place actually looks as good as it did in the summer of ’08. Sure, there are some things that need a little attention, maybe trim a few low hanging limbs or weed eat the back fence a little better. I’m sure there were a few low hanging limbs in ’08 and that back fence has never looked real good.

If you drive by you won’t see a “Yard of thee Week” sign. It isn’t that good but all I wanted was as good as it was in ’08. It just took two years but I got ur done.

It's a start

It’s a start

Sun was wrong.  Should have waited til morning, but I wont be home.

Sun was wrong. Should have waited til morning, but I wont be home.

Tomorrow if it isn’t too wet or too dry; too hot or too cold, I get to see if I can make the lake place look as good as it did in ’08.

Have a safe and fun Independence Day.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

I Love You, Dad….

dad2a (Small)

I never said, “Love you dad” I never heard him say, “Love you son”. I don’t know why, maybe it was the Patten way or maybe it was a generation thing or maybe it was . . . all I know is I loved the guy and he loved me.

Dad was honest, quiet and hardworking, most days he simply went to work in the morning and he came home in the evening; he didn’t stop at the local bar nor did he stop at the grocery store. He went to work and he came home. Mom kind of had to force the issue if he took part in any form of social activity. He did attend church, not every time the doors were open, but it was not uncommon to see him there and I am pretty sure I know where he is tonight.

His hobbies were limited and simple; he liked to hunt squirrels in the spring, rabbits when a fresh snow covered the ground and he liked to tinker with mechanical things. Occasionally he listened to a little Roy Acuff and the Grand Ole Opry.

Dad hunted with a 22-caliber rifle and believed squirrels should be shot in the eye and rabbits in the back of the head. He grew up hunting to put food on the table, so it was just kind of understood; if dad shot it we had it for dinner. He shot a crow one day and I thought, oh my god we’re gonna have that thing for dinner, but crows were the exception to his rule; he just didn’t like the things. Literally, I never had to eat crow; figuratively, if it is OK with you we wont go there tonight.

I mentioned, dad was quiet, that is an understatement, he was extremely quiet. He had the unique ability to give a one-word answer to almost any question. He set a good example as I grew up but he provided very little verbal guidance. I learned about the birds and bees from the proverbial boys down at the pool hall and through trial and error.

He gave me two pieces of advise on completely different things that have remained with me throughout the years. Tinkering with mechanical things was a little more than a hobby; dad was a pretty good old shade tree mechanic, I learned from watching and helping. Dad never fixed mine for me; he watched a lot and helped a little as I struggled to figure out what made a ’46 Ford tick or not tick. He used very few words to tell me “Son if it is getting fuel and it is getting fire and it is getting both of them at the right time it will run”. That advice is as good today as was when I received it all those years ago.

The other bit of advice helped me through a failed romance in fact it probably helped me through a few break ups. My girl friend and I had just decided to go our separate ways; I don’t even remember which old girl friend it was and it was probably her idea to take those separate paths (a roundabout way to say she dumped me); dad simply said “ Son you’ll find that women are like streetcars; if you miss this one there will be another on the next corner”. I don’t think mom heard him say that.

Dad has been gone almost 30 years, as I have continued to mature during that time I have questioned why dad talked so little and probably laughed even less. His dad was a heck of an old storyteller and usually had a smile on his face. His siblings were much more outgoing and jovial than dad.
I think I finally understand. A difficult childbirth in rural Oklahoma claimed the life of his wife. He was suddenly a widower with two precious little girls, the newborn and a two year-old. Dad was just a few months past his 24th birthday. A short 4 years later tragedy knocked again and took the newborn, now a four year-old, to be with her mother. At 28, dad had suffered the loss of his spouse and a child.
I am thankful he found my mom and recovered enough to talk a little, laugh a little and do his part in his own way to provide a loving home for my siblings and me.
The surviving “big sister” is now a spry 80 something that could pass for my little sister and has been the kind of sister every kid or old man yearns for.
Love you, dad; there I said it again.
Please keep me in your prayers.
Good Night and God Bless.
Dave

Hello June, Glad You’re Back!

I know June is still a couple days away but, if I lean to the right and squint just a little, I can see it coming around the bend. I am excited; June has always been a favorite of mine.

I took my first breath and shed my first tear on a June afternoon seventy something years ago. I have fond memories, although some of them are a little vague, of the childhood birthday parties with cake and ice cream and maybe a little “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”. That first driver’s license; sitting in a smoky bar in western Kansas and legally buying a beer during my 18th June. I did that again about three years later in Oklahoma as I threw away that fake ID for good.

As I matured and the family grew Father’s Day was added to the June festivities and June kind of became an extension of May. Mother’s Day, Sharyl’s birthday and the day those goofy kids decided to start down life’s highway together all happened to be in May.

In recent years I have looked forward to the arrival of June, not to celebrate another birthday and father’s day isn’t as exciting as it was during the growing years. I have looked forward to June because I wouldn’t need to do May again for a year.

To say May has been difficult is an understatement. I thought I had it under control this year. I had my head screwed on straight; I was focused and busy. I had the support of my family and some very good friends. I almost made it, I have recovered, maybe next May will be just another month or maybe May will always be difficult.

To my family and friends: Thanks for being there, for helping me up when I stumble and for understanding.

To all of you: Thanks for your prayers and for running down the road with me through this silly little blog.

To Sharyl: I love you babe I miss you. Happy Birthday and Anniversary.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

See Ya Later 5th Grade!!

I did one of these about three months ago titled “Turned Another Page”. I talked about attending my final elementary school function; I guess I was a little premature. Earlier this evening I had the pleasure of attending the Cleveland Elementary Fifth grade Promotion Ceremony.

The venue was the Cleveland gym; Dava advised me via text (Don’t you just love technology?) she had seats on the back row. I like the back row; it is usually more relaxed and much better for people watching.

As I made my way to the gym I struck up a conversation with a lady, under the pretense of not knowing where the gym was. Yes in spite of my reputation of being a non-people person I am capable of initiating conversation with strangers. She was going to support her oldest grandchild, me, in support of my youngest. I felt just a twinge of envy, it soon passed, and quite possibly by the time the thing was over she was the envious one.

The place was full; I think the average number of guests for each of the 92 fifth graders was approaching double digits. It was kind of a typical deal, a few canned speeches, and a couple songs; then it became interesting. Each fifth grader took his or her mom a single rose, a nice gesture and it sounds simple but picture, if you will, 92 kids finding their mom in a dimly lit packed to the rafters gym. I think that one kid may still be looking.

The grand finale was the presentation of a certificate or diploma to each kid. The principal asked that we hold our applause until all students had been recognized, probably a good plan, we didn’t need a contest to see which family could make the most noise. I think 89 of the 92 went with the recommendation. I guess two of those three thought the principal meant everyone else and that other bunch, I think their kid may have been the first family member to complete fifth grade.

They had a reception in the cafeteria with cookies and punch. I wasn’t really hungry or thirsty and remember I am not a people person. I was a no show for the reception. I have to look hard but there are a few advantages to attending these things alone, Sharyl would have stayed and helped them clean the place after the reception and she would have probably shamed me into helping. I’m sure her blog about the evening would look nothing like mine.

Earlier today I went to a baseball game at Tull Lake Field, I went to watch a great nephew and a couple friends kids / grandkids play. It was probably the first time I have ever hoped the Shawnee Wolves won a game of anything; they were playing Guthrie in a state tournament game.

It was my first visit to Tull Lake Field, home of the Norman North Timber Wolves, in a very long time. The last time I was there Sharyl was with me and we had two grandsons playing for the Timber Wolves, it was the spring of 2010. A lot of good memories were made at Tull Lake Field, and, yes, the return there was a little emotional.

Although it gets easier, the month of May continues to be a little more difficult than some of the other months. Keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

‘Bought This Little Book…

I started this bloggin’ thing about five and a half years ago. During that time I have run a few thousand words through this keyboard; those words have formed sentences, the sentences became paragraphs. And there was, or should have been, a lot of punctuation involved.

Misspelled words have always been one of my many pet peeves; I also have been diligent in the proper use of their, they’re, and there; or to, too, and two. I’m sure I have never screwed up your and you’re and that list could go on for a while. Punctuation on the other hand, I guess we all have those things we don’t do well. I have been content to throw in a comma every once in a while or maybe a semicolon; I like parentheses and have probably abused them. I believe admitting there is a problem is the first step.

book (Small)

I guess the second step was buying this little book; it was on sale, only cost a buck. Including the index, there are 330 pages of everything you might wonder about apostrophes, brackets, colons, (this kind : as opposed to the kind that needs a colonoscopy when you get old), dashes, ellipsis points, hyphens, parentheses, periods, question marks, semicolons, slashes, and a bunch of other stuff.

I have a lot of confidence in Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster and refer to them often for word definitions. This little dollar book did nothing to improve that image. If I open these guys dictionary to “boring and hard to understand” I would fully expect to find a picture of this book. They actually used 21, or should it be twenty-one, pages to talk about commas; that is okay if it is an interesting read, I think they went to great effort to find boring sentences to use as examples.

Part of a typical paragraph

Part of a typical paragraph

I read about apostrophes, brackets, colons, and commas, the first 31 pages, before I found it a place at the back of the desk and went out to watch the grass grow. Yes, it does have good information and I will probably refer to it occasionally.

I don’t know if anyone has written one but I need something with a yellow and black cover titled “Punctuation For Dummies”. The “Dummies” books I have used contain very good information or instruction and it is presented in an easy to read and entertaining format.

I think I will just continue to write and throw in an occasional comma or semicolon; I may even try to find an appropriate place for some brackets. I don’t remember ever using those.

Earlier this evening I spent an hour or so visiting with some great people. I went to the American Cancer Society, Relay For Life at Tecumseh, Oklahoma. This was the third consecutive year I have attended. In 2012 I was in awe of the outpouring of generosity and support, I was there for several hours. Last year I stayed less than an hour and suddenly it was time to leave. Tonight I was there for maybe an hour and suddenly it was time to leave. I think the reason I must go is also the reason I can’t stay. Maybe next year I can stay away and provide my support in a different way or maybe I can become an active and productive part of a very worthwhile event.
Please consider a donation to your comfort level to the cancer research organization of your choice.

On a lighter note: I crossed a new entry off my bucket list. I drove the topless Jeep to Tecumseh tonight. The bucket list entry was to pass someone on the open road and maybe even exceed the speed limit. The Jeep isn’t fast nor is it the most stable vehicle I have owned (can you say understatement), but I got a long downhill run, I got by the guy and yes for just a little ways I was five or ten above the 65 MPH speed limit. It felt good, probably not as good as some of that 100 plus stuff in the old days, but it felt good.

If you think about it please mention my name as you say your nightly prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Where The Pavement Ends!!!

Somewhere in the Boston Mountains of western Arkansas, already well off the proverbial “beaten path” we had to turn right or left. If we go left we retrace our route back to the beaten path. To the right a blind curve and this sign.

sign2

Patty very calmly said, “It doesn’t say the road ends, it just says the pavement ends”. Sometimes she speaks a language I understand and appreciate. We turned right, pavement ends was a little bit of an understatement, for the next seven or fifteen miles of rough, very narrow and winding trail we saw a very scenic part of those mountains. We didn’t see other tourists; we didn’t even see other humans. We eventually found the beaten path and the little mountain café with the good reviews, we were ready for some lunch and homemade pie, however it is not open on Wednesday.

The noon rush had been over for an hour or two when we got to Fayetteville. The Catfish Hole is open on Wednesday, the food and service are both outstanding and to say the staff is friendly is an understatement. Yes, we will go there again.

We visited the Tourist Info Center earlier in the day; I told the guy our tentative agenda. He said “That’s a scenic route but you better get fuel in Fayetteville; he was right. Somewhere between Fayetteville and I 40 we did another of those right turns.

You might think we are a little bit crazy for running down those kind of roads, we prefer to call it adventurous.

This one didn’t have a sign but it also didn’t have pavement, however it was a pretty good gravel road and it was wide enough for two cars to pass. We probably did twenty miles and didn’t see another car. What we saw, in addition to a pretty mountain drive was several miles of the Mulberry River. We found a little trail and spent a little while down by the rivers edge, the only sounds were our voices and the water flowing over the rocks and a few birds. I think at dusk you could probably hear a lonesome whippoorwill. We also interrupted the silence with the sound of the camera shutter.

IMG_7120b (Small)

This is Patty on the banks of the Mulberry. I think she is almost as crazy or adventurous as I am but thank god she is considerably smarter. The other pic is just a snapshot of the river.

IMG_7121 (Small)

We eventually found pavement again and funny there wasn’t a sign saying “Gravel Ends”. We had a good day and plan to return and look for some more of those Pavement Ends signs we may even take the Jeep and hunt some signs that say Road Ends.

We thought it might be kind of exciting to look for some of those “Pavement Ends” signs a little farther north, say somewhere like our 49th state. This summer we are going to throw some stuff in the old Chrysler and see what we can find on the highways and byways of Alaska.

Very briefly: We will drive to Bellingham Washington. In Bellingham the three of us (me, Patty and the Chrysler) will board one of the ferryboats operated by the Alaska Dept. of Transportation. If you are curious just Google “Alaska Marine Highway”. We will ride the thing a few days up the inside passage to Whittier. We will spend the next 19 (I think) days visiting places like Anchorage, Homer, Denali, Talkeetna, Fairbanks, Tok, Chicken, Dawson, YT, Whitehorse and we catch the boat for the ride home at Skagway.

We are going to freelance to the extent possible, hoping to get a good mix of the popular tourist areas, interact with the local people and I am sure we will find a few Pavement Ends signs.

I hope your Easter holiday is filled with happiness and the prize egg finds it way to your basket. Please remember the real reason we celebrate the Easter holiday.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave