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Holiday Letter 2011

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well its been a tough year on Leslie Lane but Fido and I are resilient if nothing else and still found some joy worth sharing this holiday season as we recount the events of the year for our family and friends. I use the “we” pretty loosely as Fido is sacked out on the love seat with his head on a pillow as his cousin Shadow, “a little human in a dog suit” taught him to do. He rarely much to these narratives so I will plunge ahead without his active input.

Currently I am sick; scratchy throat, sore, chills and tired. Came on last evening, I couldn’t sleep for the congestion, got up and took some Nyquil and almost slept through the time to call in. As I alluded to in my last post and if your a new reader you may not know but we had our share of tragedy this year, Fido’s man died in April and if being sick brings a little solemnity to the narrative, its entirely appropriate; snot riddled and a little tearful looking back on the year that was.

Dad and I celebrated the holidays at home last year. Usually we travel and the year before in a hotel in Monroe Michigan it struck me that I have a perfectly good house with a lovely Christmas tree at home why am I spending Christmas in hotels and campgrounds year after year. I worked Christmas Day and came home to celebrate with Fido and the Popster with the exchange of gifts and holiday cheer. We celebrated the New Year with Dad making a pork roast in the slow cooker, you have to eat pork on New Years to” root ahead” as Grandma Trapp would say. If you eat chicken you’ll scratch all year and beef leaves you standing still chewing your cud.

We had a bad Winter with lots of snow and cold. Since I live only a block from work I was one of only three that made it in and one of two that stayed. We had fun doing all the groups and accommodating ourselves to the weather. I walked Fido a lot. He would have a good time even when the snow was deeper then he was tall. He kind of jumps and swims like his moves to get through tall grass. We owned the Bear Creek Trail that winter.

I made my first road trip of the year in early Spring when Dave Smith won some free tickets to see The Pogues at the Royal Oak Music Theater. It was nice to reconnect with Dave and see his new place and visit family and friends who I’d missed on the holidays. The green  truck did not survive the trip however with the timing chain rubbing its way through the engine case. I landed on my feet and Betty and Bill were kind enough to loan me there car for my stay and rented one for the drive back.

I brought back Johnny Watson for a working vacation here in CoMo. He put in a new floor and tile in my kitchen to replace the crappy linoleum that was cracking even though it was new when I bought the house. The disruption and dust was hard on Dad and it was only a little before that that I saw Dad was struggling to get through his routine and that I was going to have to step up my game and start helping him with laundry and making his bed and real basic shit like that. I cried when Sarah asked me how I was doing the morning I realized Dad couldn’t make his bed anymore. I wondered how I would manage the house on my own and caregive for Dad and work all on my own.

In early April Dad couldn’t catch his breath and I took him to the ER. They gave him a breathing treatment, which eased him up and they almost sent him home, but decided to admit him. I went to work and came back after and he was struggling to breathe. I got on the nursing staff to get him some breathing treatments ordered and went home since he couldn’t visit. I missed a call in the middle of the night and awoke to a voice mail they had Dad on a ventilator.

I called family and pretty much moved to the hospital. Bob was on the road within hours and bedside that night. What a blessing family is. They took Dad off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own and we were instructed to get his final wishes. As he was coming out of anesthesia I said “Dad, Dad its Mickey [my childhood nickname]”. Dad licked his lips and said “Mickeys in the wide mouth green bottle, Rolling Rock…” and I could tell he was thinking of beers in green bottles and after a pause he said “I’m not an alcoholic”.

Well he couldn’t breathe without mechanical assistance and that’s a shitty life my friends so we stopped the machines and started the best friend of the dying, good old Morphine. Morphine relaxed him and got him some lung action so he could push out carbon dioxide again and gave him a few good days, to visit and say goodbye and give more family time to come and make peace.

My friends went into action, hosting my family, cleaning my house, walking my dog so that I could be at the hospital full time. They visited and offered support and got us the things we needed. Boone Hospital Palliative Care were beautiful. We drank rum and cokes, Dad had lost the taste for beer with his gluten free diet, but enjoyed a good drink with family and friends and was his charming and engaging self. We snuck Fido in one night and he lay at Dad’s feet while he slept. Dad woke and said “I’ll be damned”.

It was good for Fido who had never been apart from Dad for more then a few hours in his whole life and he seemed to figure out what was going on. Dad hung on for a few days, the price of doing business when your tough as nails. One of the last things he enjoyed was listening to the first two chapters of “Last Stand at Papagos Well” by his favorite author, Mr. Louis L’amour, read by yours truly.

Dad passed and family returned home and Fido and I were alone in our grief. I decided to do the funeral service myself out of respect I didn’t want to hand the chore over to a stranger. I had a small memorial service in the backyard that weekend and sprinkled a little of his ashes on Fido’s predecessor Myrtle’s grave. I wanted to make sure I could get through the thing without breaking down before I did it for the full funeral the following weekend. It went well though my progressive friends wondered how it would go over in the heartland.

It went over really well, people liked hearing his story and having a theologically unique approach was validating to many and offended few (at least they were quiet about it). It gave me a chance to connect with a lot of family as I am normally quiet at such affairs and no one knew I could write and deliver a speech. I submitted the service to the New Yorker but ultimately just posted it on my blog.

I thought I would be alone in the house but this guy Kevin who used to live in Columbia contacted me about renting a room and John came back to stay with me for close to six months which was great having him around. John got some projects done putting in a dog waste compost system in the back corner and building a raised bed frame and a cold frame out of some of the old windows.

The garden was largely a bust this year, tough weather with lots of rain early and then a month long hot and dry spell. Ultimately it got nice but green tomatoes were about the only thing I had in abundance. I fried some, made and canned chutney, and ripened a bunch for homemade tomato sauce several times. Put the last of them in my turkey soup yesterday.

It was a good year for floating, though not on The Big Muddy which was closed for much of the year because of flooding. Michael, Trevor and I floated both the Lemine and Locust Creek. The Lamine was slow and Locust Creek involved a lot of portages due to debris which was new to me. I floated the flooded Overton Bottoms twice. Nothing like canoeing through the woods. My best float though, John put together a full moon night float on the Gasconade on my birthday. That was incredible.

John and I also vacationed in the Appalachians. We stayed in Sieverville for a couple days and daytripped into Great Smokey National Park. The hike to Laurel Falls was probably my favorite but we also watched a mama bear and her cup snacking and lazing about in a gum tree. It was very cool. We dropped south of the park and did some guerrilla and dispersed camping in the Nantahala National Forest. We hiked in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Grove and saw some great old growth trees and hiked to some more waterfalls including another Lauurel Falls. On the way out we camped in the Pisquah, pretty much skippable. It was a great trip though and I got another mile of the Appalachian Trail and my total stands at 157. I pledged to go back and start north just north of the park, but not this year.

Ultimately John moved back to California and my housemate Kevin bought a house and moved out yesterday, so as of today its just me and Fido. We’re content with that, though the house seems big for me and a little dog. In the Spring if a housemate hasn’t turned up on their own I’ll start looking. I expect someone will just show up, its worked so far.

Lets see, entertained less, but some. Had a nice blow out for Thanksgiving, with a local pasture raised heirloom turkey and Kevin made some excellent sides. We had a collection of strays from my neighbor Henry, my buddy Harry originally out of Toledo, Kevin, his new girlfriend, and a couple of professors from the university from way out of town (Italy and Estonia). We had lively conversation and drank some good wine and enjoyed our lovely meal snug and grateful.

Work continues to go well. I was demoted to counselor after a minor screw up. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a more responsive boss and a more reasonable work load. I continue to do staff trainings, education groups (added self control and dreams to my repertoire), therapy groups, and am getting to be a better counselor. I am a more confident public speaker and am even more motivational. I came to realize people need more preaching then teaching.

I continue to eat more local food and now that I’m buying all the groceries my local content should do nothing but climb. Lets see, I also joined the Odd Fellows and I’m glad to be a part of something both storied and ready to play a more important role as our government slides further into dysfunction.

In October I got into the post a day challenge a little late but upped my blogging game considerably. It challenged me to have something meaningful to say daily and I started picking up more subscribers and “Likes” from strangers. I cancelled my Directv and will likely drop Netflix as I blog more and watch TV less. I hope to get into an exercise routine in the coming year. Still single but feel closer to changing that but am still not feeling rushed. Have a couple folks that I think are interested but haven’t followed up on it. I may, or I may not when it comes right down to it.

All in all some good things happened in a tough year. I am not sorry to see 2011 go but it was a time of growth and change and I am not ungrateful for the experiences I have had. 2012 promises to have more joy and less pain and I look forward to building on the gains I have made, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

The Salamander Dance

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Fido is restless wanting to go in and out. He’s been by himself most of the day. He is not a fan of being home all day when I work, even though I come home for lunch but he deals. Tonight I went out immediately after work just stopping by to let him out and pick up the car. I had hoped to leave work early because my lunch got mangled but the day was too difficult to disengage from gracefully except a mere 5 minutes early.

I was rushing because I decided to squeeze a little Occupy Como before my beer and a movie I had planned. Elise was in town and saw her there but I didn’t see the “You Are Awesome” sign which is my favorite. I settled with “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” after passing over a lot of other signs. Even the “We Are the 99%” didn’t resonate today. I am part of the 100%.

I didn’t stay long and headed over to RagTag and had a Cuban and a Schlafley APA, which were both familiar favorites that performed as expected. I also picked up a loaf of Ancient Grains bread and caught a flick with Trevor. We saw Urbanized which was pretty good but dragged a bit and felt like school. Would’ve been a nice break from a boring professor in a class on urban development. But it was visually interesting and showed stuff I did not know. Copenhagen and Stuttgart are smaller then I thought. A human’s visual field is 100 meters by 100 meters and classic cities make their central square that big probably the most interesting thing. I’d never thought of that seems obvious in retrospect. I love stuff that’s like that.

So after unsuccessfully trying to extort a piece of desiccated liver Fido is settling into some tug-o-frog interspersed with some fetch so my post drags out in spits and spurts. its good though he needs the attention and the fun. He’s my buddy.

I was walking him the other day at the Bear Creek Park out past the little lakes and met an old vet walking with a cane. Fido was a little skittish but we struck a conversation and he said “dogs are pretty good partners” and they are. After having been married, lived with folks, siblings, political cooperatives, unintentional communities, roommates, and road trip buddies Fido is enthused, low maintenance, and can make me smile just thinking about him. Its supposed to be nice tomorrow and we’ll go on a long walk. Even if I never get my shit shoveled. Actually should finish that Saturday weather permitting or Sunday for sure. Seems to take all my energy to do much more then tread water.

So once again I am mostly posting to get more poetry up. My hits have been up and I’ve been picking up subscribers as I put out more stuff. I guess at some point I’ll have to start writing some new stuff. I keep singing “Black Iron Prison” hoping to get more but I haven’t added anything I want to keep. But I bet I got at least another 100 floating around in my head and 50 more on scraps of paper and old books and notebooks and probably another 50 floating in the world. So maybe I can keep up the production.

I might share a poem in my ed group tomorrow. I was covering Feelings Management and somehow our ultimate nature came up. I had stated I am not my feelings, I am not my thoughts, and when asked what I was I thought my truest self was my will. That was called my actions but that doesn’t sit right but I couldn’t really explain how the will was different any better then Epictetus’s “moving towards a thing” or a sense of purpose. I also suggested a narrative or a story. There’s a couple of really smart dudes in treatment so it makes me want to take it up a notch and I may share my: i-believe-i-am-a-pattern I posted a couple posts back.

Well tonight’s offering goes back to the ill fated Appalachian Trail hike of 2000. I found it pretty challenging physically and it was an emotional low point but it was also filled with a sense of accomplishment intrinsic in climbing mountains every day and there was poignancy that makes that era very memorable. I had a tangible sense of intense nostalgia when I visited in September. I want to go back and hike more this Spring if I can get motivated on a few projects to make it happen. But anyway the biggest thing I remember was being cold and wet all time. It rained a lot, there was frequent heavy dew, and seemed times we lived in clouds, and sometimes above.

One night we (I hiked it with my wife at the time Amee) got a trail side shelter on the side of a mountain. The clouds came up below us and the other mountain peaks poked up and it was like being on an island in the clouds. But it was hard sometimes to keep spirits up in the rain and wet. But I noticed that that was when the salamanders and such would leave the little springs and streams and you could spot a lot of them out on the trail if your eyes open. I sparked this one and sang it as I wrote it hoping to cheer Amee up (and truthfully myself as well) when it started to rain for the umpteenth day in a row. I called all four of the pieces on the trip Appalachian Spring and a number. This one is number 4 so likely the last, but I can’t be sure of that without looking at a map. I went through a fairly intense non-linear period that I am still not completely over. Have to warn you its more then a bit silly, nonetheless “Appalachian Spring #4 (The Salamander Dance)”:

If it starts to rain by chance

The salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

And if it starts to rain some more

Then the frogs begin to soar

There’s flying frogs all over the place

There’s flying frogs flying into your face

And if it starts to rain in pails

Then out will come the snails

With their slimy trails

Of snail entrails

And when the rain is finally done

Then out will come the sun

and the hikers will smile

For another mile

But if it starts to rain by chance

Then the salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

Another Friday Night…

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Killing time before the Tigers game comes on. I have to work tomorrow so don’t know how deep I’ll be able to get into the game with it not coming on until 9:00. They have a chance to clinch the central division and its nice to end the season strong. I like our chances. Spent some time after dinner weeding the strawberries. They really took it on the chin in the heat wave (probably should have watered them more) and a lot of grass came up in the newly opened space. I especially wanted to get the fox tails, last thing I want is one of this bristles stuck up one of the dog’s nose. Cost my brother like a thousand bucks when it happened to Smokey. Also need to mow, but tired yesterday, and kind of wet today. Got some wild flowers blooming, wish i knew all their names, but the asters by the mail box are especially pretty. Saw more then a few of those in the Nantahalas along with fancy goldenrod, phlox, and a bunch of other stuff  i couldn’t ID or can’t remember. There were a lot of these orange pitcher flowers by our second camp site. Even though it wasn’t a legit dispersed site in the National Forest (too close to both a paved road and a picnic area) I was glad we stayed a second night because a beautiful little hummingbird got comfortable enough with us to feed on the orange flowers. It worked its way through the little jungle of them for quite a while. There’s always something magical when they stop by and I am looking to get more flowers in, in front of my picture window and in the back to draw more in. I’ve upgraded to black sunflower seed instead of the cheap mixes and it has drawn a better class of birds. John got me a squirrel guard, a plastic dish that tilts when you put weight on it  that has kept out the squirrels and of course the dogs help. Fido has them all running out to the feeder whenever someone opens the back door or yells squirrel. I trimmed up Fido some tonight, straightened up his mustache and got some long spots and some spots that were matted and worked out from his pre-vacation cut. They had been annoying me the whole trip and I was glad to get it done. I had left his little penis hair but it was getting to be better then 2 inches long and John was teasing me so I trimmed that too. He doesn’t care for the manscaping and I can’t blame him after what happened to his balls. I wanted to share more about my vacation but after being back a couple days it already feels far away and long ago. I didn’t take a computer and instead had this great idea of blogging in a book instead. The links are hard but its really revolutionary. I realized I don’t self-censor as much here as much as I thought as my writings for myself weren’t much different, although I would be lying if I said they were exactly the same. Over-sharer that I am I still hold a lot back for the general prevue. I may share some excerpts or use it as a draft maybe this weekend. I have to work a half day tomorrow so no market. I will probably go to Wilsons to get at least some local produce. I was going to wait until Sunday and go to the art/vegetable market at bus station but I want to make barbecued beef and need some sides. Maybe I’ll do carnitas instead and go to the grocery store. its not a bad idea anyway the cupboards are, if not bare, have some room and the fridge is bare. I did make it to the market last Saturday in Franklin North Carolina. It was small but friendly and we got some local tomatoes (not as good as home), a jalapeno, pimento, green beans and okra which livened up our tuna and noodles and our canned chinese food (man that stuff has really gone done hill). We also got a little zucchini bread which was not as good as the ones i get locally (or make for that matter). that would be a good weekend activity, i’ve got a brown banana in the freezer. Franklin was a cool little town though. Caught breakfast twice at the City Diner. Had the Gypsy Omelet which was hash and swiss, pretty yummy and it was cheap. We drove past a place in a strip mall that didn’t have any customers on a weekend and found the City Diner with a lot full of pick up trucks. Pa Miller taught me that was the way to find good eats in the country, god rest his soul. There was also a cool indian mound with some history that it had been an important city of the Cherokee before they got f*cked and they kept the village center on the mound. It was an important battle(the battle of echoe) there where the Cherokee won one year quite handily but got beaten decisively a year later. Would have liked to check out more Cherokee stuff when we were out there, but we stuck to the woods. Looks like its time to call Harry and tell him can’t go to the market and watch a few innings before hitting the hay. Good night faithful reader and sweet dreams.

birthday float

August 14, 2011 1 comment

john and i had a long night but the birthday moonlit float of the gasconade went splendidly. Its a beautiful drive from Columbia to the Linn area where we put in. trevor had suggested the gasconade with a put in at where it crosses highway 50 at the 219. We decided, wisely in hindsight, to use it as our take out, correctly surmising that we would need an extremely clear land mark for a pull out to have any chance of seeing it. We drove around quite a bit following roads and driveways trying to find a nonexistent river access point.

We ended up just parking the truck on highway 50 near the take out area after scouting around on foot. We realized it would be a haul pulling out the boat so for day floats it would make an easier launch point then take out point.

We then drove to Linn at the 203 and easily found the boat ramp. we packed up the boat and got on the water at dusk. there were a couple of boats but we didn’t pass any as we set off. the nice part of a night float is it thins out the boats with engines. caught a little of the sunset and the moon was up nice and it soon settled in to as dark as it was going to get. you could probably have read a large print book by the light of the moon.

The river was strange not knowing what’s ahead until its upon you. shallow at times and a fair number of trees and other obstructions coming up out of nowhere. the gasconade is braided through there and it would be hard to tell shadows from islands. mostly the current could guide you until it took you under a low hanging tree. some of the rocky bluffs would look like channels and even though it was mostly a calm and gentle float there was a hint of excitement on occasion when obstacles appeared out of nowhere.

we left the dogs at home but regretted not bringing one or two as it was fairly easy. we used the outriggers which was a good move though we never needed them. there was one area where going around an island we were in a narrow and swift channel with a maze of downed trees to navigate through that the outriggers barely cleared. john broke out the light and i paddled us through. our short boat with a big keel makes it very maneuverable and that was probably the highlight of the trip.

It was peaceful, though we passed two parties and a few people camped on gravel bars. there were fireworks, occasional sounds of the city, some car noise on occasion but a lot of peace and some pretty bluffs. not a lot of wildlife to be seen but we scared up a big heron and the swallows or whatever insect eating birds would buzz us on occasion. Big splashes from the suspected asian carp rounded out our interaction with wildlife. bugs were thin.

the perseids were light but i got a couple of flashes, nothing worth wishing on. john saw a nice one but declined to wish being a rational sort. we were quiet some and talked some and it was peaceful. i definitely want to do it again and want to see the gasconade by daylight.

this is my 5th float of the year, with one more planned and likely at least one more, so not a bad year for floating considering the swollen nature of the big muddy. thanks to john for the lovely sandwiches and working out the logistics. many thanks for all the b-day wishes, i am blessed.

got in after 4:00 but feel pretty good. got some bean soup on the stove with sarah’s easter ham bone, market white potatoes, onions, yellow pepper & a hot pepper with rosemary, oregano, lots of garlic, time & a little sage from the garden. also started my day with my first egg and tomato sandwich of the year. got a nice heirloom tomato and very yummy. put a little fresh dill & fresh ground pepper in my market eggs. hope to lime some more pickles, watch the Tiges catch up to the Orioles (down 3-1 in the 4th) and may mow the backyard. laundry of course.

thanks again faithful reader and continue to make comments. if you’re ambitious register and make them on wordpress so they last. facebook has its charms but it is transitory, your comments do not have to be.

there and back again

returned today from an extended outing to go to the family reunion. its a long drive to have lunch with family but it needs to be done. i felt like i strengthened some connections losing dad and was glad i followed through with coming up although i didn’t push myself to chat with people as much as i’d hoped. i finally went through a few edits on dad’s eulogy, emailed it out to those i’d promised, and submitted it to the new yorker. if they pass on it i may try a few others like it and if no bites then i’ll throw it up here on the blog.

the trip was good. we took dad’s truck and john drove. i keep going back and forth on if i’m going to keep it or not. am now leaning towards not, its a bit out of my league to deal with and i hate to take a loan out to get it. at least his bill’s will be paid up. i may change my mind again. got to move on the probate thing, probably this fall.

the drive up was pretty smooth and staying at betty and bill’s was a good idea. it wasn’t so hot up there and they have built in swimming pool and have done a lot of work on it and its pretty sweet. i could get used to swimming every day. smokey and fido kept wandering off so they were mostly leashed which cut into their getting to run around and be a dog. fido was off enough to get into the burrs though.

betty and bill also have an amazing yard, big with a big vegetable garden. very lovely, got a shopping bag full of cucumbers, and betty even picked them for me. they’re tomatoes were coming along nicely as well as potatoes (russets which are tough to find seed apparently), cabbage, green beans, and other stuff. it was late because they had a lot of rain early on but its come along nicely.

betty and bill really crank out the back yard food production far more then most of my friends who state it as a value. they’re big production makes me question my organic approach. maybe i should try optimizing for pulling out food. its making me think and seeing the sad state of my little patch upon my return is making me want to step up my game.

my big plan is to put in a short wall around my first bed and add significantly more compost. hopefully improve the drainage by raising the bed and adding a lot more organic matter. we’ll see, it would be good to get the wall built while its hot and dry.

the reunion itself was pretty fun. a little more sober then usual with a lot of deaths recently and one less then a week prior. one birth though. my niece julie is due on 8/18 and we’re all excited about that. grandpa trapp’s was 8/17 and of course mine and my brother dob’s is on 8/13 but happy to be having another leo in the family. and the food was amazing. so much stuff mostly homemade it was good stuff.

sunday we went to rumors a Mediterranean place which most liked some not so much. i was sad to hear the beirut closed. that was the first middle eastern food i’d had and it really expanded my world being a vegetarian at the time. a big group of us went and spending a lot of time with family was really nice. am going back for christmas.

john and i left monday morning and drove out to iowa city. we reminisced about camping near there on our mammoth first hitchhike across the country. we camped for a week while john’s ankle healed up. this time we stayed at a motel 6. made it a point to spend a lot of time relaxing each day even though it meant i didn’t get to see friends. i am learning to respect my limits. although i did go out and see bobby’s band saturday night even though they didn’t come on until after 12:30. bob and i went and they played at howard’s in bowling green which brought back some memories seeing some shows their back in the day. hadn’t changed much. bobby’s band “minus elliot” was a lot of fun.

today had breakfast in montezuma, really good diner food, had a denver omelet with roast beef, cheap and yummy. there was a nice break from the heat and humidity especially yesterday though we drove through some heavy heavy rain storms after leaving the Iowa 80 truck stop. that also brought back some memories as john and i spent a lot of time there as kids. its quite a deal now, major tourist trap but we just ran the dogs.

and then back to the show me state. like hitting a humidity wall driving back down. got home and cleaned house. its nice to do that ahead of time but couldn’t and glad its done. settling down with some baseball and about ready to call it a night.

Categories: camping, family, hitchhiking, travel

adventure can be inspiring

Its a hot day outside and enjoying some rare ac at home “relaxing and enjoying the work of justin verlander” to use the commentary without the expressed written consent of major league baseball. Its a slow game though and with only evenings and weekends for entropy control and to advance projects it seemed a good time to blog. as i said a post or two ago i am committed to blogging weekly if for nothing else to give the computer enough time online to do updates. i feel like my last couple read like that too.

Overall, i’ve been a little low energy which is not unexpected but inconvenient as the world expects me to jam, all day almost every day. i’ve been on top of that but not much else, personal life items i’ve left without the attention to detail and positive effort they require. but today i am tired but a good kind of tired. not as tired as verlander, its 98 in KC and he’s over the century mark and a fast hurler. in his defense he’s in much better shape, which sort of relates to what i’m going to be blogging about. adventure can be inspiring.

friday i lit out of work right on time and threw some things together for a float trip with eric and trevor. we were going to go camp somewhere close and then float the grand, conditions permitting. [verlander’s getting some rest after an inge error cost him his shut out, there’s bases loaded with a 1 run lead] i loaded a lot of stuff since i had the space and time and wasn’t exactly sure what the camping would be like. i also gave everything a good solid drink in the garden because it was supposed to be hot and stuff was thirsty. i also found this ginormous tomato horned worm and squished him. he’d done some damage and i feel like there’s at least another one but i can’t find him. maybe tonight when its in the shade.

at close to 6 i decided i would see if i could load the boat. if you’re  not a regular reader i have short and stubby plastic canoe that slides nicely into the back of the popster’s f 250, one strap and its secure. its really growing on me. my brother got it for a float with smokey down the big muddy and its both short and has a huge keel which makes it maneuverable for a solo boater. also makes it convenient not to have to strap it on top. plus people are always impressed with all the cup holders. john calls it “the Cadillac of cheap canoes”.

but i never got to see if i could load it myself because mark, who i knew was a possible drove up and helped me load it and ably strapped it down. i have a thing about scraps and am majorly inept for having been dealing with them my whole life. its probably a complex but i’m almost 500 words into this post and haven’t even left yet so i got to pick up the pace. mark followed me over to trevor’s and we had a PBR in the front yard and strategized. the grand was flooded and there was no nearby camping so we decided to do locust creek through pershing state park. [the royals announcer gave a nice run down on victor martinez, he came to the tigers not up to potential, got in ‘short stop shape’ and this year he’s an all star. cabrerra has also dropped some pounds (but he was a monster last year big as a house)]

mark rode up with me and it was nice to reconnect as we both have been through some stuff and could relate and we had a good talk about grief. we stopped in macon for mexican food. i got alleged tamales which were either these little deep fried things which were pretty good or a mass of corn meal with an array of chicken and hamburger. not bad but not tamales. i also realized i forgot fido’s bowl, remembering i had let it be when i thought to pack it in case he wanted to eat before the treat. i walked over to walmart and got some iam’s little dog cereal and a couple of other things.

so with all that we rolled into pershing state park pretty late. it was an rv kind of park but the entrance was empty so we were off by ourselves and they have showers. not bad really for $11 i think for a nonelectric site. i didn’t want to chance setting up the tent not really knowing if its mine. john and i both had Marmots and he had packed up the camping stuff conflating our things and i couldn’t remember what model i have. so i decided to just sleep on the cot which was a bad idea from the start because of the mosquitoes and not packing a sheet. plus the raccoons were persistent and fido was barking and facing off and i didn’t get to sleep until they called it a night at sunrise, except for the four stuck in the dumpster. [valverde holds the lead and the tiges go into the all star break in first beating out the hated cleveland racists] so maybe 2 hours sleep tops.

but i woke up a little groggy but feeling good. eric makes this coffee concentrate and i mixed it strong and everyone enjoyed the can of condensed milk i broke out. a camping trick i learned from the popster who liked to live large. it was also good with the oatmeal mark made with lots of chopped almonds as it sweetened it up a little. i read the paper and drank my coffee and felt human enough to do the dishes. we drove south to find a pull out, checked out a little iron bridge and talked to a local who didn’t know anything about floating conditions. we drove south and found a spot and left the red truck.

we drove up to 36 i think and went west to the first pull off and found a good put in place. this is norther missouri bottom land. flat and rich mostly agricultural. there’s a nicely maintained riparian zone down the creek and it was muddy but of a goodly size. trevor saw a flat turtle and we both encountered a snake at the first log jam. it looks like he was fishing were everything just suddenly comes to a halt. we looked around and he disappeared. we ended up with a fairly lengthy portage which we did with good sport and a lot of gratitude as we ran into some really great wooded wetland with some really big old beach trees that certainly predated settlement. they didn’t look as big as the biggies in the spot of alleged old growth in Houston Woods in Ohio but they were really good sized and it was a mature forest.

we pushed through both poison ivy and stinging nettles to get back to the creek and were glad to get in the water and ended with no ill effects of either except from some nettle-itch at the time which is invigorating if you can look at it right. we ended up having 2 more portages and saving a third one by lifting the canoe over a fallen log at the third obstruction. nonetheless we all had fun and the portages made it more of an adventure, our own voyage of discovery and a good time was had by all.

especially fido who enjoyed his first float. he enjoyed being off leash as we scouted pull outs and put ins and had been on a swim and was reluctant for me to grab him up and throw him on the canoe. He jumped out once preferring to swim or run along side but he got used to it. we stopped to pick a couple of ripe blackberries (in a week or 2 it will be an excellent float with a lot of berries pickable by boat. I had fido on a leash when we picked berries or he would have abandoned the expedition.

I bet he’s glad he stayed though cuz we hiked in out of the way places, swam when we got hot. one nice place had a shady log and there was one of the few bluffs and the creek had carved out a nice deep swimming hole. fido swam across even though it was wide and deep with a strong current. he is a doughty sailor dog just like bichon frise’ are supposed to be. we had lunch really great cheese and avocado on black bear bakery bread which were very yummy. i wish i would have brought my first tomato though, although we may have that for dinner tonight. kevin made hummus and tabbouleh.

at our lunch stop i really struggled. i sank into the mud up to my knees and lost a shoe and was really stuck for a minute. had to have help to scramble up the muddy bank to the luncheon log. it really struck home my desire to get into better shape and the need to be way more on it now that i am getting older. i’ve been cutting myself to much slack for having a hard life and still need exercise more and eat better. i was more convinced when i was the only one that was completely done in (except for fido) at the end of the day. eric was kind enough to drag my boat out and carry it up to the truck.

but the adventure was fun. it could have been an ordeal which that uncertainty is a prerequisite of adventure. we were all resourceful, flexible and laid back so we would have rolled with whatever and made it work but it was big enough to be a challenge but doable enough to be pure fun. we all enjoyed some country cooking and had the buffet and i ate good. but not so good as has been my habit of late.

been pretty on it today too. slept hard and good and woke up refreshed and feeling like i’d done something. drank coffee and read the paper. roasted my first batch of beans, an ultra-light Guatemalan that looks awesome and i’m eager to try. i’ll let you know in a day or two how it is. then i mowed the back yard before it got to hot, got some laundry hung and made it to the wabash farmers/art market. got some sweet corn, cucumber for the humus, and some peaches (pricy but good). decided to skip malick’s new one but saw it was playing through thursday so i might still catch it. been thinking about asking someone out. haven’t done that in many years.

Camping in the Rolla District

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Finally got our Fall camping trip in. It was a little on the cool side Dad likes the lows in the 50s but was also pretty motivated to get Fido out in the woods so he said it would be a go with an expected low of 49. We drove down Saturday in typical Dad fashion about 45 minutes before we had planned to leave. That way I still got to go to the market. We had decided to get dinner in Rolla so we wouldn’t have to cook but I grabbed some hot dogs from the local beef guy and we’ve been sitting on a bag of marshmallows for a while.

We drove down to Rolla got on 44 West and got off at the J exit. We also stopped at a tourist trap because we weren’t hungry enough for dinner so I could get some hot dog buns and I grabbed a jar of Amish style pickled eggs, which turned out to be really good. We took J down to M and then left on forest service road 1208. We followed it the required two miles from blacktop for dispersed camping. There was a spot where the road turns to trail that would have worked but it wasn’t an existing spot. We ended up driving back about a half mile where there was a cleared area by the road where they had done some logging and we camped there. Built a fire pit in a low spot. Since no one had ever camped there but they had logged there there was ample wood extremely close.

Took Fido for a hike and we found a sandy area where wild turkeys wallowed in the sand. We also saw lots of asters mostly the purple but some blue ones too. Fido enjoyed being free in the woods quite a bit. He did not want to get back in the truck when we left on Sunday. Can’t say I blame him.

We roasted weenies and I toasted some marshmallows and we sat around the campfire. I slept out by the fire to enjoy the stars. When the wind it would whistle through the pines. When it was softer it would rattle the dry leaves much like Aspen. There was some Fall color but peek seems a couple weeks back. We hope to get back then if the lows stay high.

It was a nice spot for Fall camping. Its low and tends toward wet. Oh and I forgot to mention the chiggers. Got et up pretty good, probably from sleeping on the ground though it was in the dirt and not in the grass. But they mostly got my legs and they like stretchy waste bands and stuff and i only had my thermal long johns on at night.

Categories: camping, dogs, travel

they paved the road to sutton’s bluff

This week found Harry, Dad, myself and Oni making a brief Ozarks excursion. We delayed a day to have an extra one to prepare and severe weather had been threatening and left on Tuesday. We set out around 9:30 and had an enjoyable drive down. The Black Eyed Susan was striking and it was nice to get out into the woods. Going gluten free and wanting shade for the dog kept us out of restaurants and it made me nostalgic for road trips past when we had made sandwiches on the road because we couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants. In 94 I had helped organize a summer long volunteer/protest/environmental education/camp out. We were a roving band of 8-60+ folks who met and did projects and hung out and camped and gave workshops and talked to locals. We worked on trails, repaired a dam, dumped saw dust at a national forest office, publicly threatened to disrupt an ATV race, got death threats, and were almost set up for a marijuana cultivation case we did not commit by a crooked sheriff in a small town. All in all it was a grand old time camping and hiking in beautiful country, learning about the natural world and how to live together and make it better.  A lot of skinny dipping and a lot of driving. One of the places we liked to go was Sutton’s Bluff and I planned to check it out/camp near it and check out some tourist sites I gave short shift to back in the day, namely the recently re-opened Johnson’s Shut Ins.

We had a little trouble finding our road as forest service 2233 was being paved and was renamed county rd 917. We drove up it a few miles weaving around the paving crew then traveled down a forest service road for a couple of miles until we found an established camp site at a trail head for the Ozark Trail. It was a pretty site with some clearing, lots of shade, and some black eyed susans. We pitched our tents then drove to the shut ins but we didn’t have a lot of time and we were tired and the visitor center was closed so we never figured out how it worked.

Camp was nice though, made spaghetti and we had a smoky fire to keep away insects. Got up early made coffee. Thought our Kaldis Bolivian in the French Press quite likely the best cup of coffee in Reynolds County. Hiked the OT up from camp, nice. Found some fresh boar scat which i thought i had heard them snuffleupagussing in the night.

We headed out and drove up to Taumsauk and climbed the tower. Oni was game for it even though she wasn’t quite as tall as the step, but she climbed it like a champ. Beautiful 360 view. We also checked out an overlook than headed down to Elephant Rocks. I’ve seen bigger rock fields but it was cool for the Midwest, getting to scramble around on boulders. We checked out the ruins of an old engine house made of the granite pieces. I learned about Reg Granite which can can come from Missouri and Dad talked about how granite got going (black granite first used as ship ballast to even out loads until they had a surplus and decided to slice em up and sell them) and how they work it (1/4 mile long wires to give it time to cool). Elephant Rocks are the world’s preeminent place to see weathered red granite and it was pretty cool. There were some cliffs you could jump off into a quarry but i wasn’t quite hot enough and wanted to get back to dad and oni.

We then went to Johnson’s Shut Ins which were very cool and Harry and I slid/scrambled our way through that. Rock climbing in a waterfall, just a lot of fun in the water. Went back to camp and cooked again, i made an apple and ham wild rice dish that was impressive let alone for camp food.

Today we packed up, did out OT hike and cruised back. Caught a diner for lunch on the way home, they did a nice hamburger steak and we all made it home happy. Oni enjoyed camping, just thrilled to be living outside and loved the off leash hiking.

Today back in time to mow the front yard and get cleaned up for Batterer’s Group. The guys were rockin’ and we graduated a cool dude, biker type who teared up when I praised his progress. life is good, vacation is fun even when you’re working. Harry and I are both excited to be seeing mewithoutyou tomorrow night in Springfield. I remembered when I was hoping to leave work an hour early to make the show on time and now i’ve had all week off. Surely god works in mysterious ways.

June 14, 2010 2 comments

My vacation is off to a great start. I have such a love of travel, I’ve never had one come up where I didn’t try and go somewhere. But I only found out last Wednesday this was coming. My outfit expended pretty much the year’s allotment for substance abuse treatment so I get to take the rest of the fiscal year off. No work until July 1. Its funny, I busted it out Thursday and Friday to get caught up and everything running on its own and I wouldn’t be heading back to work for another two hours but just knowing I am on vacation made the weekend so much more fun. On Saturday I busted out the lawn. I got the front done before we went to the market and the back I took it easy on as I was getting it in the heat of the day. It was in the best shape to start with then it has been all year and it came out pretty. I still had a little energy f0r some other odds and ends and when the rain came I was glad I was done.

Yesterday I started my day with Church. My housemate Harry goes to the Nazarene Church and they have a Summer Sunday School class on science and the bible. It was OK. Very smart biologist dude teaches it but his premise is that science makes some a priori assumptions about the world and so does the bible and christians should go with bible assumptions. not very appealing. the service was heartfelt and sincere but didn’t speak to me and the music, altar call, and closing prayer i found all very nostalgic and when i reached out for the Spirit, of course it was there. Nonetheless if I had to sum it up in one word, as usual when i go to Church, I would choose irrelevant.

I got back on the yard stuff and finished off the tree trimming chores in the back and cleared some headroom and dead stuff and hauled all the sticks to the mulch pile. I also weeded the shade bed which was getting out of hand and some other miscellaneous projects. I tried to buy a tent but Dicks only had department store tents. I did get a rain jacket that fits at a nice price.

We are planning on going to Johnson’s Shut Ins, but put the trip off until tomorrow. Looks like the weather might be a bit better and it gives us more time to get ready. I still need to get to the store. Dad’s new gluten free diet has really made camp food more challenging. We have to forgo our usual processed this and canned that. I got some natural cold cuts (ham & turkey) but bread is problematic (he doesn’t like the $6 loaf i got him, crust is too hard). I think we are going to boil eggs, bring along fresh fruits, perhaps some oatmeal for breakfast. In general it has pushed us in a lot healthier direction regarding food. Checking labels and excluding anything with wheat fillers is an interesting exercise. Spending more but eating better stuff. If nothing else its stopped Dad from putting Hamburger Helper on the dinner table.

So today I might pick up and spread mulch. I might do some shopping. I found a $200 bed I might get, I still need that tent (mine finally crapped out after sustaining sever damage when it got blown a 1/4 mile in death valley, 2 Christmases ago), food for the trip, and perhaps paint for the living room. I might get some mulch and mulch out the little path I made, clean out the grass behind the back of the fence, cultivate stuff, and start in on putting in a small bed next to the horse radish for okra (its probably too wet to work the garden beds and time’s a wastin’).

Categories: camping, cooking, gardening