Tuesday, December 30, 2014

San Francisco Area

It was June 29th 2004 and it was cold in the city. By Texas standards, California has really mild summers. Their hottest months in San Francisco are September and October where it can get up to a scorching seventy degrees. But this was June and it was cool -- mid sixties in the daytime and high forties at night. We liked it. On days when the sun shines in San Francisco it is one of the best places to spend the summer.

We stayed in the Trailer Villa San Mateo RV Park in Redwood City and drove into San Francisco to see our son, almost every day for two weeks. We did make a few drives in the area south of San Francisco on US 101. Cities in the vicinity to the south include Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Stanford. We drove through all of these towns, but did not do a lot of driving around in the towns since they are mostly residential neighborhoods once you get off the highway. We did drive around on the campus of Stanford University and saw students playing volleyball. It is always good to see kids having a good time.

We spent most of our time site seeing in the city itself. We think we have hills in the hill country of central Texas, but San Francisco is laid out on forty hills, some as high as 1,000 feet in elevation. Since the city is a peninsula bounded by three sides with water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, baseline elevation is sea level.

We went up and down as many hills as we could find. I did not find driving in San Francisco very pleasurable. Pedestrians know they have the right of way and take advantage of it. As near as I can tell the only laws policemen enforce in the city is not letting people intentionally injure other people. Jay walkers, petty theft and drug dealing is pretty much ignored, especially in the evenings. Parking in the city is almost impossible. This means everywhere you stop in town, you can expect a lot of walking, usually up or down a hill. People in the city appear to be very fit.

Every time we go to San Francisco, we try and see all the tourist traps we can find -- it feels like an obligation. You meet people from all over the world, some living in the city and some are just visiting. We enjoyed driving through The Presidio which used to be an Army base. It has buildings that look like barracks with red tiled roofs, similar to what I remember seeing in picture of Hawaii in WWII. Now, The Presidio is a park that is part of the golden Gate Nation Recreation Area.

Traffic is always bad in the city. Since there are no places to park, truck drivers making deliveries to vendors have to park in the street. Throw in the number of pedestrians and their willingness to walk out in front of cars, driving can be nerve wracking. I always take my time and make sure the streets and sidewalks are clear near intersections before I turn a corner. These are the types of cities where public transportation is really needed. Reducing vehicles in the streets of San Francisco is better for everyone.

There will be other stories from San Francisco, because there is so much to write about. We really enjoyed spending a few weeks with AJ. Next stop 29 Palms to meet our Marine and his buddies flying in from Okinawa, Japan.    

Arlon on a hill with the city of San Francisco in the background.

One of many great ocean views along California 1 - The Pacific coast Highway.

You cannot tell by looking, but this water is cold.

Stanford University campus

This appears to be a church on the Stanford campus.

Vollyball at Stanford. -- Probably a weekend, because I do not remember any kids walking to classes.

A picture from the San Francisco Yacht Club.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Onward to California

This story is a continuation of our travels in 2004. We started out in Texas and went east for a spell, making stops in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. After visiting friends in Florida we headed north for a loop back to the west. We stopped in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and finally Nebraska at the end of April. We trudged on to South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Nevada. Next we planned a stop near San Francisco to visit our oldest son for a couple of weeks, then planned to meet our youngest son at the Marine base at 29 Palms, California, as he returned home from a tour in the far east.

On June 24th, we departed the Valley View RV Park in Elko, Nevada and drove to the Desert Rose RV Park in Fernley, Nevada. Fernley is about thirty five miles east of the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area. Traffic was very light moving west on I-80 but we were still tired after the 260 mile drive. We parked our RV, then went out for Mexican food before returning to the RV for the evening. The highlight of the day was the beautiful sunset that turned the sky turquoise, pink and red. We were so tired, I neglected to get pictures, but I can still remember the colors.

The next morning we took a drive into Reno to find a Walmart store to pick up a few supplies. The mountain views and the sky made beautiful sights. Traffic was really congested in Reno and unfortunately we found the Peppermill Casino before we found Walmart, so shopping had to be postponed. The casino had a lot of blue lights and a lot of chrome. We had a good time there, but stayed only a couple of hours to conserve our money, as we anticipated California to be expensive.

We continued west on I-80 into California and across the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the Donner Pass. The mountains were covered with evergreen trees and we saw a lot of wild flowers along the roadways. I missed a road sign somewhere along the way and we ended up driving down some residential streets in Sacramento. There was no convenient place to pull over so we just continued west until we got out of town. Too many stop signs and street lights for me. I planned to be more wary of my travel plans on out next trip near Sacramento.

It was noticeably cooler as we entered the San Francisco Bay Area. We drove across the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge into San Francisco. We managed to get off I-80 onto U.S. 101 south to get to Trailer Villa San Mateo in Redwood City, which would be our home for the next few weeks. We were anxious to see our oldest son, A.J. so after we got parked we drove back into San Francisco to pick him up. He looked healthy and happy, which made Kathi and I happy, too. It was nice to see him, but we were really never out of contact with him, because we talk on the phone every day. He is living in Austin, Texas now, but A.J. still considers San Francisco home.

We went to Fisherman’s Wharf to eat dinner. We had seafood, but I do not remember the name of the restaurant. It is certainly not the same quality of seafood we get in the Houston-Galveston area. Most of the restaurants are for tourists and atmosphere seems to have a higher importance than food quality. That is probably just my impression -- I knew for sure I was not in Texas.

We went to look at A.J.’s apartment and made plans for a shopping trip the next day to get a few furniture items he needed to make his apartment more livable. It was a long tiring day, but we were in California and thrilled to be with our son, who we had not seen in nine months. 


A view of a rainbow as we looked east out of the Trailer Villa San Mateo RV Park in Redwood City.

People waiting in line to catch one of the boats to Alcatraz.

Bubba Gump seafood restaurant sign

Flowers at Fisherman's Wharf

Golden Bear -- one of the boats to Alcatraz

Seals live on the platforms just outside a restaurant area. The seals really smell bad.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas on the 8th Floor

On Christmas Eve Kathi went to The Rose for a routine checkup. The Rose does mammograms, ultra sound and bone density testing. The Rose is a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas that specializes in women’s breast health. They provide a low cost service for those with insurance and free service to women who cannot afford to pay. You can donate to the rose at their website,

After our visit to the Rose we went to visit Kathi’s brother, Larry at Methodist hospital on the 8th floor of the main building. While Kathi visited with Larry and Andrea, I walked around the 8th floor to get a few pictures of the Christmas decorations.

Larry was in good spirits and ate some roast and green bean casserole. We talked for several hours and his energy level continues to improve. Daily blood tests are aggravating, but indicate his body is making some improvements to rid itself of the leukemia cells. Larry will have a bone marrow biopsy on Monday.

We talked to our son, AJ in Austin this morning to wish him a Merry Christmas. We have not heard from our son, Christopher. We normally do not call him because of his erratic work and sleep schedule. Kathi and I are spending a quiet Christmas day at home. Christmas is not the same for us as it was when the boys were little. We have had a lot to be thankful for this year and the few regrettable things become lost memories as quickly as possible.

I hope everyone is having a grand Christmas. Thanks for taking time out to share our travels and adventures with us. 

Arlon

Christmas decorations in one of the waiting areas on the 8th floor.

A white Christmas tree in the kitchen.

What a great idea. A mail box specially for Santa.

Candy Cane Lane has a nice sound to it.

So no one forgets why we are on the 8th floor. 

Everyone stops at the wash station to wash hands before entering the unit.

Staff at the hospital has been exceptional. I loved the Christmas colors in her hat.

Christmas display in Larry's room.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Elko, Nevada

We left Declo, Idaho on June 17, 2004 on the way to San Francisco to see our oldest son, A.J. We went east on I-86 to Twin Falls, Idaho and south out of Twin Falls on U.S. 93. When we reached I-80 we turned west toward our next stop on the trip, Elko, Nevada -- total trip about 210 miles.

No surprise, but it was hot in the desert in June. We enjoyed traveling in our air conditioned motorhome. There is a lot to be said about traveling down the road carrying your own bathroom with you. It is certainly different than the trips my family made up and down highway 59 when I traveled with my parents in my youth. My grandparents lived in Nacogdoches and we made treks from wherever we lived back to see the grandparents in the summertime. Those were miserable trips with no air conditioning and relying on service station bathrooms. Remember, this was before Buckees.

The scenery on the way to Elko was a pleasant diversion and U.S. 93 was almost void of traffic, which allowed us to relax and enjoy the trip. We were pleasantly surprised to see a canyon with a stream running through it. We found out in later visits to Idaho, that Twin Falls has some marvelous touristy things to see along the Snake River Canyon.
Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho

Nevada cattle drive

Sitting in our RV waiting for the cowboys to get the cattle off the road.

Waterfalls near Twin Falls, Idaho

We stayed at the Valley View RV Park in Elko, because it is near I-80 with reasonable daily rates. After resting following our drive into Elko and a good night’s sleep we decided to do a little exploring. It did not take us long. Elko is a town of only about 20,000 people and is the county seat of Elko County. The Humboldt River runs through the south side of the city. We managed to find three casinos. Since it had been awhile since we saw a casino and they are our favorite hobby when we have a little extra change, we were excited.

We stopped at the Gold Country Casino which did not have enough parking spaces for the cars, but we managed to find a place to park nearby. We mostly played video poker which is a good way to start in a casino you are not familiar with. You can usually play video poker for a long time and lose little money, no matter what the odds are for that particular casino. We had a nice lunch at the casino restaurant. Kathi had a veggie wrap she really enjoyed. After lunch Kathi hit a jackpot that gave her all the money back we had lost in the morning, so we took the opportunity to go home breaking even, so we could enjoy gambling another day.

We could see snow on the mountains around us, so we spent the next afternoon driving in the mountains. We enjoyed seeing several waterfalls in the Lamoille Canyon. It was 85 degrees in town, but much cooler in the mountains. The next afternoon Kathi took me to see a Harry Potter movie. We were the only ones in the theater, so we could stand and walk around getting exercise while we watched the movie. Kathi always thought Harry was for kids and I guess I came to the same conclusion. My consolation was the movie was cheaper than the casino.

Next stop: Fernley, Nevada on the way to Redwood City, California where we stay when we visit San Francisco.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Declo, Idaho

First, a quick update on my brother-in-law, Larry Clark, who has leukemia and is in Methodist Hospital in the Houston medical center. This is his fifth day following a week of chemotherapy and he sounded like himself again when Kathi and I visited yesterday.  His energy is coming back slowly. His taste buds are also coming back and he wanted a beef and bean burrito from Taco Bell. We took one to him and he ate it rapidly. It was good to see him eat without prompting. It will take a while, but we all know Larry is going to be better.

I will write a blog post someday about the Houston medical center -- it is like a city unto itself and is similar to large medical centers in New York and Boston. But now, I am moving the story to Delco.

Exercise area for cancer patients on the 8th floor of Methodist Hospital.

Books shelves and TV in the hospital waiting room - 8th floor.

Nighttime picture of Texas Childrens Hospital from the Methodist Hospital parking lot roof.

I never get enough of this picture. I like being a patriot.

On June 14, 2004 after our two weeks of treks from Cameron, Montana into Yellowstone National Park, we were worn out, but we made arrangements to meet my sister, Carol and her husband Lloyd in Declo, Idaho. I remember studying United States geography in school so I had heard of Idaho, but never dreamed of actually being there. Oh, we had drifted through a corner of Idaho on one trip from Cameron, Montana to Yellowstone in Wyoming, but this was different. We were actually going to live in Idaho. Our RV is our only abode, so wherever we park is home, so yeah we lived in Idaho for awhile.

We left Cameron going south on U.S. 20 through Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Pocatello. We took I-86 out of Pocatello to Declo and moved into the Village of Trees RV Park -- total trip about 260 miles. Carol and Lloyd started RV traveling several years before Kathi and I and this was our first opportunity to be with them on the road. The weather was great -- sunshine and sixty eight degrees in the daytime and down to forty five in the evening. Though we were extremely tired, we sat outside and talked until around ten pm. There were a lot of colorful birds flying around us and I moved under a tree for a while and sat still hoping to get some close up pictures, but the birds would not sit long enough for me to get good pictures. The birds were intermittent topics of conversation throughout the afternoon.

The following day we had lunch together and continued our conversation sitting outside in lawn chairs. We took a walk in the evening and found out they were in much better shape than we were in. Kathi had still not adjusted to the higher altitudes and got winded easily. My problem walking is that I carry too much weight. We walked and talked until everyone was freezing before we called it a night. Spending time with my sister was really great. We had not spent a lot of time together while we were working and raising kids. It was a really pleasant time for us. We have managed to meet up in a lot of different locations between then and now.

After a few days just relaxing and enjoying the RV lifestyle, it was time to move along. Carol and Lloyd were on the way northeast with their next stop in Boise and Kathi and I were going to make our next stop in Elko, Nevada on our way to see our sons in California.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yellowstone III

I have two previous posts on our trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2004. They were posted on October 9, 2014 and October 17, 2014, if you are interested in seeing more Yellowstone pictures and stories. We stayed at the Howlin’ Mad Moon RV Park in Cameron, Montana for two weeks in June of 2004. This was our home base for our Yellowstone visits. The Yellowstone River was about one quarter of a mile west of the RV park. Howlin’ Mad Moon is so isolated there is no cell phone reception. We had to drive about twenty five miles when we wanted to make a phone call. Another thing we found funny is that no one washes their car in this part of Montana -- no car washes within one hundred miles.

Our time at Yellowstone is still one of our favorite memories since we began traveling in our Alfa RV in June 2003. It really helped having great springtime weather while we were there. Elevation is around 6,100 feet, so we had the cool mountain air and we could see snow on the mountains around us.  

We drove south on U.S. 287, following the Yellowstone River on most of our trips into the park. We saw fly fishermen fishing in the river almost every day. I never saw anyone catch a fish, but that is probably not unusual just driving by in the car. Certainly they would not be fishing if there was nothing to catch.

When we were in the Yellowstone park, we saw deer, horses, elk, a wolf, caribou and even a bald eagle. We drove up one of the mountains to 8,100 feet and there was snow everywhere. The waterfalls were spectacular and the roar of the falling water was exciting. We see a lot of waterfalls from a distance, but we do not get many opportunities to see them up close.

Taking a picture of a waterfall while Kathi took a picture of me and the waterfall.

The Yellowstone River. It is really fun driving down the road with this kind of view for miles and miles.

The Yellowstone River through a gorge it carved into the rock.

We saw a lot of fallen trees in the park. They endure pretty extreme weather conditions.

Another waterfall. My hair obviously loves the wind.

We saw many herds of buffalo.

Buffalo rubbing off his winter coat to get cooler.

The yellow shirt is really a distraction form the waterfall behind.
If you continue south on U.S. 287 you drive out of Yellowstone park right into The Grand Teton National Park. If it were not for the road signs, you would never know you changed parks. The Teton Range is about forty miles long and is named for the tallest mountain called The Grand Teton, which reached 13,775 feet in elevation. That is 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the valley below. I would love to have driven into Jackson Hole, but it was already late in the day and we did not want to have to drive home in the dark. We will have to visit Jackson Hole another time.

In our shorter drives exploring around Cameron, we saw a lot of colorful birds -- yellows, blues and turquoise, like we have never seen anywhere else. They rival the birds you see on National Geographic TV on some of their show about African or South American Jungles. The birds are so skittish, we were never able to get closer than ninety to one hundred feet. They are obviously not trained for amateur photography.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our Wednesday

Sorry, no pictures today -- just an update on our day and an update on my bother-in-law, Larry.

Larry has had a couple of bad days recovering from the chemo he took last week. He has sores in his mouth and throat and has no appetite. We stayed late at the hospital yesterday so Kathi could try and get him to eat something. She finally managed to get him to eat a little oatmeal before we came home. His brother Carl came into town from Kyle, Texas to visit him today. We got a text from Andrea a little while ago that Larry is walking in the hallway. This is a real step up. He has not felt like moving since Thanksgiving Day.

Kathi and I slept late this morning after a long tiring evening at the hospital yesterday. When I woke up, I wrote a new blog post called “Things That Are Wrong” on my “Thought and Ideas” blog. If you have not read this blog it is available at http://thoughts.arlonhboozer.com -- take a look.

Kathi told me she was going to bake some blueberry muffins and needed to go to the store to pick up a few items. I jumped right up to get the car started -- I like blueberry muffins. I got gas while Kathi shopped. I came back home with intent to write another post about Yellowstone National Park and realized I had a lot of pictures missing on my computer, so I spent the afternoon scanning my Yellowstone photos back into my computer. If things work as planned, I will have another Yellowstone story tomorrow.  


Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday In Dickinson

It has been a long time since we changed the spark plugs in our Jeep and I had a few other service items that needed to be done, so I took our Jeep to Ron Carter on I-45 in Dickinson. It is about 15 minutes from the Green Caye RV Park. We had other chores to do today, so I got to the Dodge/Jeep Dealership early. I was there about 6:30 am and the gates were still locked. I parked outside the gate and waited. About 6:50 one of the maintenance people arrived and opened the gate and service writers arrived a few minutes later. I finished my Jack Reacher book, “A Wanted Man” while I waited and I got back home about 10:45 am.

Kathi also got up early and she was hungry, so we had an early lunch. Kathi had pasta for lunch and I had spaghetti. Since we have been traveling, each time she cooks, she makes enough for several meals. The spaghetti was great once again and we still have more for later.

We hate losing this microwave, since it goes so well with the fridge.

Christmas display at Ron Carter in Dickinson. The chairs are very comfortable. They had seventeen of them and most were filled this morning.

Looking through the fence at the Shetland pony.

Reindeer live next door to the ponies and burros.

A yard on Lanis Street in Dickinson, ready for Christmas.
We had to go to the post office to get a box to ship Kathi’s mother’s cookbooks to our niece,Shanna.  We got a box and came back home to pack the books for shipment. We normally use the post office flat rate boxes. The box we picked up was printed on both sides, which I thought was strange, because extra printing costs a lot of money. My mistake was, I assumed both sides had the same print. We took the box to the post office for shipment and we had used the “Priority Mail Express” side of the box. For an 8-1/2 X 10-1/2 X 5-1/2 box, shipment was going to cost about $40. I looked at the boxes on display and the quoted price was $12.95. Obviously we inquired about the cost discrepancy and the postal worker explained “Priority Mail Express” must ship by overnight delivery and costs about $40. If we had used the other side of the box it says “Priority Mail” which is usually about three day delivery and costs about $13. We decided for $25 we would drive back home and repackage for a three day shipment. The post office was crowded each time, so we spent about two hours to mail one package at a post office three miles away.

You can determine wind direction at the top of the tree.
On the way home from a little Walmart shopping, we went down Windswept St. across 20th St. from the RV Park to see the Shetland ponies and the reindeer. There are also some burros in the field, but they often stay at the back of the property. It is hard to get pictures of the ponies, because they are behind a fence with 1” X 8” planks and you have to view them through the gaps in the Fence. I hate to get out and take picture over the fence, because I do not want to be viewed as a rustler -- maybe too many western movies.

Our microwave/convection oven went out in our RV and Kathi has been using the convection oven for several years. Our preferred RV repair centers are in Louisiana and Utah and we are a long way from both. So, we bought a cheap microwave a few weeks ago, but for baking and broiling, Kathi needs an oven. Our RV has a propane stove top and oven and we have always used the stove top, but the pilot has been off in the oven for nine years. Kathi wanted to roast some chicken breasts and so I retrained myself on lighting the pilot light. Oven use also required a wash down, since it has been out of use for so long. I told her the cost of lighting the oven would be home baked chocolate chip cookies. They will probably come later -- I am just hoping they will not taste like chicken. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finally, Montana

First a quick update on my brother-in-law, Larry. He ate some spaghetti and had some protein drinks yesterday. Food has no taste for him and he has no appetite, but the doctors want him to eat a little every two hours. He said he knew the spaghetti was good because Kathi made it for him. Andrea is relentless getting him to eat and keeping his spirits up. He is very weak following seven days of chemo to rid him of leukemia and is now in a twenty one day recovery period, after which the doctors will evaluate his condition to determine what’s next. I will take Kathi to the Methodist Hospital to visit him this afternoon, along with homemade chicken noodle soup, yogurt and energy drinks.

====

After I retired the end of June 2003, I told everyone I was going to Montana. Well it took a while, but we finally got to Montana May 24th, 2004. Why did it take so long to get there? I was hesitant to buy a motorhome, so I was stalling. We took a car trip to the Grand Canyon in July 2003. I will discuss that trip in a later post, but it did make it clear to us that we did not want to travel in our car and stay in motels, so when we got back home we bought our Alfa motorhome.

The day we bought the motorhome was the first time I had ever driven one, as a matter of fact I had never even driven a van. We drove it home and I held my breath most of the way -- the lanes looked so much narrower driving the big RV. We parked in the driveway of our home in Deer Park, Texas and loaded everything we were going to travel with into the RV. We sold the house as-is, including kitchen appliances and big screen TV and we moved all the way to Baytown fifteen miles away from our sold house. We stayed in Baytown for two weeks while we bought towing equipment for our car and had it installed.

After two weeks in Baytown, I got brave and we drove ninety miles north on Highway 146 to the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, Texas. My sister and her husband had been RV traveling and clued us in to the Escapees RV Club and their mail service. We joined up to take advantage of their mail service for RV travelers and visited their post office while we were in Livingston. The Escapees Club has its own zip code in Livingston and that zip code has more people than actually live in Livingston.

We spent the rest of 2003 and the first half of 2004 moving between California and Texas. Our oldest was living in San Francisco and the youngest was in the Marine Corps and stationed at 29 Palms. We made a lot of short stopovers in between Texas and California with long stays near our sons and back in Texas for our annual doctor visits.

My posts last month in November and earlier in December describe our trip from Texas along the gulf coast to Florida, then the loop back west to South Dakota. We left Black Hawk, South Dakota and finally arrived at Hardin, Montana on May 24, 2004. I do not know if it was my imagination or if it was real, but the sky seemed bigger in “Big Sky” country. It was cold and windy in South Dakota when we left and still cold when we got to Montana. We left I-90 and got on U. S. 212 with almost no traffic. The scenery was all we expected and we were excited to be there. There were lots of mountains and a multitude of evergreen trees and the really big sky. What a life. At this point it was still like a dream to us. No matter how far we traveled we woke up each morning in our own bed and we were home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Family Update

Kathi and I are still at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, Texas and expect to be here a few more months. My sister and her husband also are living in the RV park right now and we have not had a chance to visit with them but once, since we have been here. They have two sons and four grandkids that live in the area and it keeps them pretty busy. Kathi and I have been busy seeing our doctors for annual checkups and helping her brother, Larry and his wife, Andrea battle his Leukemia.

On Monday morning, Kathi and I went to see Larry at Methodist Hospital so Andrea could go to work for a few hours. Like everyone else, it is essential that she keeps her job while taking care of Larry. Andrea works
 
Old picture of ducks at Green Caye 

Black bird is a pine tree. I forgot what day of Christmas this is.

I really had a tree hangup in November 2010. Lots of palms here.

Picture taken earlier this week by Jack In The Box

My sore left foot from too much walking. My other one is sore too, but too tired to lift them both.

at Dooley-Tackaberry in Deer Park and they have been supportive and understanding about the medical problems. Valet parking was full at Methodist, so I dropped Kathi off at the door and took the Jeep to Methodist Parking Garage #7 which is several blocks from the hospital main building. I used the crosswalk on the 3rd and 2nd floors to move from the garage through four other buildings, then into the main building. It took a while, but I finally got there. I ducked my head in to let Kathi and Larry know I was there, then went to the waiting area. They are trying to limit visitors to just Andrea and Kathi while he is vulnerable to infection.

Andrea picked up some work and a laptop computer, so now she can do some work from home or the hospital. After Andrea got to the hospital, Kathi and I walked across Fannin Street to St. Lukes Medical Building to see her cardiologist for an annual checkup and refill meds. Her ankles were swollen, so he increased the dosage on the diuretic she is taking. We walked back to Garage #7 to get our car and I was worn out by the time we got there. We stopped by Rudy’s for a barbecue sandwich on the way home.

Tuesday I had an early morning dental appointment. I woke up late, because I was using the alarm clock on my cell phone. The charging cord has an intermittent open and when Kathi woke up, my phone battery was dead and I had ten minutes to go before my appointment. I got dressed and took off and Kathi called to let them know I would be late. They punished me by giving me several shots of Novocain, replacing a crown and putting fillings in two teeth. I will not be late again. I got home to pick up Kathi and went to Methodist to check on Larry and deliver some yogurt. When we got home we picked up a extra large Legend pizza from Pizza King in League City. It is one of the best combination pizzas in the area -- being a pizza connoisseur, I would know.

Today we returned to the cardiologist’s office for Kathi to do a stress test. When she was finished, we stopped at Starbucks for hot chocolate and pastry while Kathi relieved her stress. I had been reading Jack Reacher #17, “A Wanted Man”, so I was stress free. We went across the street to see Larry and he was having a rough afternoon. About 1:30 pm this afternoon he finished his seventh straight day of chemo. Everyone is hopeful that it worked and Larry has a rapid recovery from the chemo. We stayed until Andrea got there and we went home. Kathi made Italian spaghetti which I enjoyed immensely. She packaged what I did not eat to take to Larry and Andrea. It was great, so they have something to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Devils Tower Trip

We were still in Black Hawk in the Black Hills of South Dakota on May 18, 2004. It was overcast and we were staying in the motorhome to do some cleaning while the weather cleared. We got a call from our youngest son, Christopher, who at the time was still an active Marine. He called from Thailand. He had been in the field in the rain for two weeks on howitzer training. When he said his cammies were stiff from mud and rain, I could sympathize, having spent a tour in the Army forty years earlier. They came in for showers, clean clothes and a weekend in Bangkok before continuing their field training on Monday.

All of a sudden, our weather felt better and we felt better knowing where our son was and that he was okay. Sometimes, the Marines do not let them divulge their location. Since our day looked brighter now, I talked Kathi into taking a one hundred mile ride into Wyoming to see the Devils Tower. I had heard of it all of my life, but it really became etched in my memory by Steven Spielberg in “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”.

We enjoyed the drive over with intermittent showers, thus intermittent windshield wipers. I had thoughts that this trip might not be such a good idea, but I wanted to see the site, so I did not mention my qualms. I think Kathi was muttering something, but thankfully she did not elaborate.

Devils Tower is unique for several reasons, but I think the most impressive is that its height is so much higher than everything in the vicinity -- you can see it for fifty miles away. It really looks desolate and isolated. Spielberg did well showing that in the movie, but it is more eerie in real life.

We drove into the Devils Tower National Monument and the entrance road goes through prairie dog town. Kathi and I both thought the prairie dogs were a highlight of the trip. They make really fast movements, like squirrels. I think they talk to each other, but I do not know that for sure. They always stay near their holes, which they call home. They stand erect resting on their haunches and buttocks, look around and speak gibberish, like “Chip and Dale”. Then they drop to all fours run a few feet and stand erect again, look around and more gibberish. There must have been a thousand of them at prairie dog town.

The tower was created by an extinct volcano and it consists of many cones where the weather has made the rock porous. Many people climb the tower each year, using one of over two hundred climbing trails. Climbers must register with park rangers before climbing. The park campgrounds allows tent and RV camping on a first come, first served basis.

Most of the wildlife is seen around the base of the tower and along the Belle Fourche River. Other than the prairie dogs, we only saw a few cattle, but I understand there are plentiful deer in the area and many bird species. We did see a herd of deer on the way back to Black Hawk, but we saw none near the tower. Driving through the rolling hills, we saw many plots of plowed ground ready for planting. Another great day, despite the rain.
Hidden rabbit

Devils Tower -- poor picture on a cloudy day