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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