Thankfuls

I usually don’t do these kinds of lists, but in light of the political atmosphere and general tension, I think it’s good to remind oneself of the good things. Hopefully, this will inspire others to do the same.

In no particular order:

Thankful for:

  • The doggies. Their unabashed appreciation of my existence, especially around meal times, always brings a smile to my face, and often a giggle too. I love these furry critters.
  • Continued decent health. I am lucky to have hearty genes.
  • My history of friends. When I posted on my Facebook page that I was leaving my job to go travel road-trip, the massive response, invitations, and “move here!” replies overwhelmed me. I was looking at 35+ years of my life through my friend’s posts. I am astounded by the wonderful people I’ve made – and continued to have – connections with throughout my many, many, varied chapters of life thus far.
  • Family. We are spread out over a few continents, but still email and call each other for advice, recipes, and updates, and we gather together when possible.
  • The opportunities this job has given me over the past few years. I’ve learned a ton both about tech and about corporate work environments. It is all valuable learnings.  I hope to take my knowledge forward to build a solid new chapter.
  • Did I mention my doggies?
  • The camper. I was fortunate to be able to buy my camper last year. It has kept me sane during some very trying months. It is also in what the pups and I will be living for the next indeterminate amount of time.
  • My truck. Solid, well-built, reliable.

I must say that it’s hard to list everything for which I am thankful.

Suffice to say: thank you.

Anniversaries and Adventures

Three days before Labor Day weekend officially began, I headed out with my camper, dogs, and anticipation from Prescott, Arizona to my hometown of Carbondale, Illinois. Awaiting me was the 30th Anniversary of the punk rock house that was my second home-away-from-home when I was in high school. Last time I saw a lot of these folks was just five years ago for the small 25th (and first) Anniversary shindig. But there were a few folks going this year that I hadn’t seen in around 25 years.

Before I could see all those people, I had to get there. I try to avoid campgrounds, but since I was barreling across the U.S with a short time-frame, I wanted something definitive to hold onto for my first night. I stayed at the Storrie Lake State Park in New Mexico that first night. It was a lovely area with both campground camping, and a primitive area right next to the lake.

Wed. Aug. 31st

Since it was drizzly, Pugsly and I settled in with a good book.

Thurs Sept. 1. The second night I stayed at a wonderful spot in Kansas at Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area.

Another lakeside spot, but this time the weather was much more cooperative. I got in early enough to take the dogs exploring a bit.

Up the road a short ways is a boat ramp, and in the evening a man launched and did some evening fishing. That lake was so lovely, I stayed at it on the way back too!

Sunrise at the lake

Friday Sept 2. I arrived at my mom’s house in one piece, said my hellos and we took the dogs for a walk to the old punk house. There have been shows in this house continuously for 30 years. It’s amazing it’s still standing. Actually, the porch was replaced a number of years ago because it was starting to fall in. This anniversary had turned into a real spectacle, with the current residents obtaining city permits to block of the street, build a stage, and have a street party. I wasn’t terribly excited about our humble beginnings being turned into a festival – with street shows, bands at two different bars, and shows at the house – but I figured see how it all goes.

Mom got me sushi fixin’s and made most excellent sushi rice (gotta waft the rice as you add the vinegar to make it sticky but not clumpy) and I made a roll for dinner! Yay mom!

The house had been painted black for the occasion. Quite fitting.

“30 years of stupid” is a great summation.

This basement is where I spent many evenings during my formative years. It hasn’t changed much. It’s amazing the floor hasn’t collapsed down, or that the earth hasn’t just swallowed this house of noise to rid itself of the pests.

My poor cell phone couldn’t get very good night shots, but suffice to say, it was great! So many bands have passed through those doors, there really was no way to showcase many of them if this had been held in just the basement. I am still impressed by how well-organized the whole weekend was. Kudos to the young punks. (geez, I sound old.)

It’s amazing how people you knew 30 years ago so often look just like the kids you once knew. Memory does amazing things with recognition. My old friends look like the same punks I knew 30 years ago. Sure, a little weight, some wrinkles, a touch of gray, but I barely see those changes in my dear, long-time friends.

and I made friends with a dragon!wA3oC498dLK7g6KIlpzzJMogBEUBQVknyeImn-Lm

In Carbondale, Il. “Castle Park” aka “Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park” was built by a dad after his son died. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/jeremy-rochman-memorial-park

My mom and I went through a box of old photos and found some gems.

a beaver home on Snake River 1978?

my dad and me…not sure where

I stayed through the weekend until Tuesday morning. After living in the arid South West for so many years, I’d forgotten not only what summer midwest humidity feels like, but also how ferocious mosquitoes and other bitey bugs are out there. I think the first one to bite me told his friends that there was fresh meat in town, and they all came to feast. Ow!

Tuesday Sept 6th. morning it was time to go. The dogs were overwhelmed.

Pugsly’s enthusiasm knows no bounds.

I went back to Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, but it was very windy all night so our night there wasn’t as nice as the previous visit.

Wed Sept 7. This drive back was more leisurely and I found that not having to worry about time made for a much more fun adventure. My daily destination was more flexible and relaxed. It was great. I had two things to accomplish: visit Valley of the Gods, Utah and make it back to Prescott, Arizona by Sunday.

I couldn’t find much for boondocking in Eastern Colorado in my searching before the trip, and probably should have posted up in some forums for advice, so I stayed at another campground. It was pricey, difficult to find a level spot, and not terribly scenic.

We did get a lovely sunrise, however.

Pugsly was happy to have a new, homemade quilt gifted to us by an old friend back home.

Thurs. Sept. 8th. On the way to our next campering location in the mountains of Colorado, we stopped for Thai food in Poncha Springs, Co! Thai take-out! How cool is that? My Pad Thai was fairly bland, but having Thai take-out at camp was absolutely lovely.

The high plains nestled in the heights of the Rockies feel very different the low plains of Kansas or Oklahoma. There’s a finite space up there as the open range slopes upwards into the mountains. The Rockies are intimidating. Driving through the mountains I felt invasive, as if the mountain range could decide to close its yawing mouth and swallow me whole at any time. I felt I must ask permission to tread in this elevated wilderness, and go lightly lest I disturb a sleeping giant.

It seems that almost each new campering location becomes my new favorite. This was no exception. See my camper there to the right?

Sometimes I wonder if my mind really cannot take in this amazing beauty. Whether it is the mysteries of the forested hillsides of the Rockies, or the vast expanse of the desert Southwest. With my eyes open to it all I don’t know that I’m truly feeling the brilliant beauty that I witness. The views reflect against the sun into my eyes but sometimes I wonder if the intensity makes it very far even though I want to have it envelope and overwhelm me.

Instead, I read.

Or try to….

Friday Sept. 9th. Friends in Denver suggested I go visit. Since it was only a 2.5 hour drive from where I was camped, and I had time(!). I took a detour north. What a great thing to be able to do!

Sat. Sept 10. After leaving Denver, I headed towards Valley of the Gods. Since the weather forecast said highs of 93°F, I decided I’d go spend some time in Durango and try to arrive at the VotG just before sundown in hopes that it had cooled off to a more reasonable temperature. One of the nice things about the desert is that once the sun goes down, it cools down rapidly. Unlike the sauna that is southern Illinois.

I got a salad to go in Durango, and we lounged across from the bicycle path, next to the Animas River.

When I got to the Utah state line, I pulled in to take photos with the camper and dogs. Instead, I found this group of young travelers from “all around Europe”. I took a group photo of them with their cameras, and got one with my own.

I headed into Valley of the Gods, but it wasn’t late enough in the day and it was still painfully hot.

Instead of staying and suffering through the heat – and making the dogs suffer – I headed south to the Navajo National Monument.

When I was 9 years old my mom and I visited the Navajo National Monument south and west of Kayenta, Az. It is a canyon and cliff dwellings, among other amazing sights. During that visit, I saw a desert storm on the other side of the canyon and a subsequent rainbow. It transfixed me. I remembered that moment, but not the location. A few months ago my mom told me where that moment happened. It’s been on my list to visit since.

Betakakin Overlook area. I got set up just in time for sunset. That further glow is the canyon.

In the morning, Argos and I took a little walk

but didn’t make it down to the overlook before it started to drizzle.

I was hoping to see another rainbow, and the folks at the Visitor Center said I just missed one. That was good enough for me!

We took a short walk past the Visitor Center, but Pugsly got tired before we made it to the cliff dwellings.

I’ll be back soon.

Sun. Sept. 11. It is only about a 3.5 – 4 hour drive back to my cottage, so we went right home from there.

Every time I go on the road I learn something new. This time, I got to rekindle old friendships, visit with my family, learned more about how stress-less campering can be without time pressure, and worked on being flexible. A few months ago, I would have stayed at Valley of the Gods even with the painful sun because that is where I’d planned to stay. I might not have gone to Denver (and had a great time with new and old friends) because it hadn’t been in my itinerary. The ability to be flexible and know how to find good locations to camp is necessary to cultivate. As usual, while indoor plumbing is nice, I wasn’t ready to come back to the brick and mortar.

But wait! There’s more! Truck platform build-out continues

But wait! There’s more!

I bought 6′ of square tubing with the intention to slide it over the existing legs to make longer legs.

A friend of mine has a machine shop, so I took the tubing over there and he cut it to my measurements.

It’s a good thing I didn’t go into architecture cuz it was too tall and slightly not level

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At lunchtime today, I went back over to his shop and we cut the legs down to a more reasonable height. I wanted to be able to open the built-in cubbies on the floor, so it had to be at least that tall. We got the legs measured, leveled, and cut.

After work, I went by True Value and picked up some self-tapping screws so I could attach the slide-over legs to the original legs. (I’d originally considered tack welding them, but I don’t have a welder, so I figured this way would work just fine)

My neighbor has a drill press and let me use it to drill through the thicker stock.

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Eyeballed the holes – pretty darn good!

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I slid the slightly larger legs over

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and got them all screwed in

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Looks GREAT!

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Since I can store a lot of stuff under the platform, I think that instead of using the quite heavy metal cabinet, but instead get a plastic foot-locker (on sale at True Value) for the random things.

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