Friday, July 29, 2011

Catching up

This morning I am in Burns, Oregon.  I arrived here way late last night after taking a wrong turn on Oregon's secondary roads.

Let me back up a bit, say three days.

I didn't leave the Lake Michigamme campground until around ten on Tuesday morning, after dumping all my tanks, including the fresh water at the dump station then returning to my campsite to reload the fresh water.  I knew I wouldn't be piling on miles this day and also that I would be getting into Minnesota early afternoon so when I stopped to fuel up in Duluth I called my friends the Lyslos in Glenwood and invited myself over for a visit.  I arrived somewhere around six I believe, locked up the Traveler and climbed into their new Buick to go to dinner, I think in Alexandria.  I can't recall the name of the restaurant but the food was good and we got to catch up a bit both during dinner and back in their living room afterward.

I wanted to leave early next morning, intending to chalk up substantial miles to get me well into Montana.  Mary asked me how early, adding that Subway didn't open for breakfast until seven.  We settled on seven.  During breakfast El and Mary mentioned their high school reunion and it hit me once again that this town had been their home forever.  I think they were high school sweethearts, Mary will correct me if I'm wrong.  I thought about my own nomadic life and wondered what it would have been like to have a hometown, a real one where I'd been born, raised, gone to school, left, and ultimately retired to; a place with a history that I and my family had been part of for however many generations.

After breakfast, which Mary wouldn't let me buy, I headed west on I-94.  With a few stops for fuel and coffee, I arrived in Big Timber, Montana an hour before dark.  I settled in at the Spring Creek Campground and Trout Ranch, by a fast running stream which I have to assume is the namesake of the place.

I was on the road by seven-thirty Thursday morning, rolling back up over the stock grates that held the campground owners' three horses in the field.  The horses, in the same place they were last evening when I'd arrived, shifted from their side-by-side, head-to-tail position, doing a little do-si-do for me as I went by.  My plan, if one could call anything I think formulate a plan, was to stay on the interstate all the way to Missoula then turn south, wending my way through Idaho mountains on secondary roads and crossing into Oregon around Weiser, Idaho.  I "knew" that there were many campgrounds along 20/26 in Oregon.  Sigh...

Shortly after crossing the border 20 and 26 split and I, I took the road less traveled.  Well not really, but I like the phrase.  I had spent many hours behind semis  (interruption: two deer just walked through my campsite) climbing through the Idaho mountains, not that I'm complaining but it did mean that I arrived in Oregon way later than I thought I would.  See what I mean about planning?  So I go in a hurry and didn't give the roadmap a recheck before choosing US-20 when the roads split.  No campgrounds in the high grassland of south-central Oregon.  I finally, after many hours and in the dark, arrived at Burns, Oregon and the Burns RV Park, exhausted with a windshield so bug-splattered that I'd had to stop twice to clean it.

It is now seven-thirty Friday morning, I'm less than three-hundred miles from Eugene and I'm eager to get there.  Bye for now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Go [north]west old man!

Yesterday, July 24th, at about 7:45am I cranked up The Traveler (Carol's name for the Roadtrek camper) and started my 3100 mile trek to Eugene, Oregon.  Partly because I hate the boring drive across Pennsylvania, and partly because Canadian campgrounds are so much nicer than those in the US, I added a couple of hundred miles to the journey by entering Canada over the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, returning to the US at Sault Ste Marie.  I also instructed Sadie, our GPS to avoid tolls so she directed me along New York's Southern Tier before angling up to Buffalo.  I Stopped for the night at Earl Rowe Provincial Park a bit south of Barrie, Ontario, about 500 miles along the journey.  Sleep deprived and thus exhausted, I fell into bed at 8:00pm.  I woke a little before 3:00 but told myself that, if I remained still I'd go back to sleep, and so I did - at about 4:00.

I finally got on the road after 8:00 this morning, my target - Michigan, my next stop - anybody's guess.  Twelve hours later, I pulled into Lake Michigamme campground - a commercial site with a discount for Good Sam members.  It's now about 10:30, dishes done, teeth brushed, and writing this.  Tomorrow I'm going to drain and refill the fresh water tank - I still smell chlorine from the sanitizing process even though I've gone through the drain and refill thing once already.

As I passed by Michigan's Teal Lake I spotted a pair of  cranes on the side of the road.  They were probably immature sandhill cranes or possibly immature whooping cranes (both have similar color then).  Way cool.

Time to get some sleep.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Too Wired to be Tired

It's nearing one am on July 24th.  In not many hours, I will be hauling my butt into The Traveler to begin my cross country trek - target Eugene Oregon on July 29th.  Buy the route I've chosen, the trip will cover about 3100 miles.  I always have trouble sleeping the night before a trip: anticipation of the adventure, concern that I may (probably will) forget something important, and a little reluctance to leave, all factor into this absurd wakefulness.

I think I'll post this and hope I can sleep because I owned up to the reasons I can't.  G'night.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Musings from a scattered mind

I woke this morning just before five.  Grabbing my laptop, I decided I'd write about pre-dawn, then I thought about today being Tuesday and starting a long drive west this coming weekend.  I went over the mental list of things that I still needed to do to prepare the ... Traveler (I think I've mentioned that Carol refuses to accept the fact that we're old white folks in an RV - she has decided to call it that) for the journey.  From there I pondered my decision not to take Elvis, my primary cat, on the trip.  
That brought me to thinking about cats and their ability to survive, which led me to remembering my Aunt Edith and Uncle Vincent who moved from a comfortable suburban home in Bridgeport, Connecticut to a forty-acre farm in Otsego County, New York, with two pedigreed Persian cats.  I then looked up the breed on Google, read the Wikipedia info which mentioned Angora cats in some context.  I read about Angoras, a Turkish breed, which led me to the Turkish Van - a rare breed from the Lake Van area in the eastern mountains.  That brought me back to Sugar, our lone female cat, with the ear tufts, one green, and one blue eye and other van-like indicators.

By that time it was five-thirty.  I closed my computer and went back to sleep until seven-thirty.  Welcome to my brain.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Comfort Zones

Our youngest grandbabies are here - Miranda, 7 and Danny, 4.  They're sweet and energetic, reinforcing the fact that raising children is work for young people.  Miranda is tiny (her nickname is Peanut), slender, agile and strong.  She is heavily into gymnastics and swimming.  Danny is sometimes headstrong and contrary, deviling his sister but often as not following her like a devoted puppy.  He is also athletic, beefier, likely to grow up a well-muscled jock.  I love them both and am glad when I see them.  But I'm also scared.

I don't know how to play.  I don't think I ever really knew how to play, even as a child; I was more of a watcher.  I watched other kids play, not joining unless asked and most often not asked.  I was never a boy scout and until high school, was not into sports; not much socialization.  So, when it comes to kids games I'm not creative enough to invent one and not comfortable playing any that are invented by the little people.

I am in awe of Carol and our daughter Wanda, of their ability to do both those things.  I relate much better to our three teenage grandkids.  I can hang with and talk with them and not be concerned about amusing them.  Maybe that's it, I only need to keep them safe, without the responsibility of amusing them.  

Being a watcher helps me as a writer but doesn't do me much good as a grandfather.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

games and more games

So the Supremes have deemed violent video games protected by the first amendment.  Seems rational to me - parents should make the call, not the morals police; just as parents should make many other calls they unfortunately outsource to computers and schools.

The argument that it desensitizes players to violence, smacks of the similar argument applied to violent movies and TV, and probably to violent radio broadcasts (though I have no personal recollection of restrictions on The Green Hornet, The Shadow, or any of the others I listened to.)  As adults, we question the ability of children to differentiate reality from fantasy, when a few moments observation would assure us that children know the difference perfectly well.

The reason I'm musing about this at all, has to do with an opinion piece I read in today's NY Times (  What intrigues me most about the piece is the author's acceptance of the fact that the games are adaptive - the goal being to keep the player involved, not bored by easy wins, not frustrated by continued defeat.  This type of interactivity, as I learned from the article, is used in GRE and GMAT testing.  I like that approach to testing because it gleans the level of knowledge of the test-taker more accurately than a static paper exam could, by keeping the person involved.

But in a game?

The only purpose of adaptive gaming is addiction, feeding the pleasure principle just enough to keep the player coming back; an escape route from boredom, from conflict, from all the chaos that is the real world.

I find that frightening.