Sunday, June 29, 2008

Recent Read

Cannery Row - John Steinbeck. My last "Recent Read" was another Steinbeck book, "Travels With Charley". Reading that book gave me an appreciation for Steinbeck's talent and when my daughter, CaJenn, got married at the end of Cannery Row in Monterey, CA a couple of weeks ago I just knew I would have to read this classic too.

Cannery Row is a delightful, quirky story of a group of misfits who live in the sardine capital of the world. At the time this book was published (1945) Cannery Row was home to 16 sardine canneries. It was the peak year for this business and Monterey was a bustling town.

One of the central figures in the book, "Doc", makes a living by gathering and supplying various companies with specimens of sea life which he collects from nearby beaches. Doc is somewhat mysterious and while everyone calls him "Doc" he is not a medical doctor. That does not keep the locals from coming to him for medical problems and "Doc" does his best to help. Doc is a beloved figure to the downtrodden of Cannery Row.

Mack and the boys, Hazel, Eddie, Hughie and Jones, are the counterpoint to Doc. They are the fringes of society. They live in an abandoned warehouse, which they called The Palace Flophouse and Grill, and pursue the free spirited life, working only when absolutely necessary and constantly scheming for the next big deal.

A large part of the book centers around Mack and the boys planning and throwing a party for Doc. They had to do it twice because the first time Doc was out of town and by the time he got home. Mack and the boys and all the other guests were totally drunk and had trashed Doc's place.

This is a very entertaining book and if you want it to be it has an intellectual sub story all about humanity, morality, psychology and social issues. To tell you the truth, I resisted the intellectual part and just enjoyed the hell out of a rollicking good story.

As I read the book I said to myself, this is really good but this is a guy book. Only a guy would understand the convoluted logic and antics of Mack and the boys. Maybe I'm wrong however, because this book would not have achieved the acclaim it has if only guys read it.

In any case I can heartily recommend this book to all the guys out there. Ladies, you might want to try it too....

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Unwound - Totally

In my last post I indicated that I was headed to the mountains for a few days to unwind after my trip back to Georgia to see my Dad. I did and I'm back...

I left mid-day on Monday after getting the RV stocked and ready. My goal for the day was to take a leisurely drive to a boondocking site just north of Buena Vista, CO, that I had discovered on my last trip to the area. This site is directly on the Arkansas River and I wanted to do a little gold panning for a day. The picture at the top of the post is the site I stayed at on Monday night.

The ride there was great. There was very little traffic and what traffic there was, seemed to be headed out of the mountains not into them. A great start for the trip. The camp site was a Forest Service activity area with no facilities except picnic tables and fire rings. That was ok by me as I have everything I need in the RV and the price of "free" is hard to beat. I pulled up to a spot not more than 75 feet from the river. That's the good news. The bad news is that when I looked at the river I had one of those "duh!" moments....

It's late June. This is the rafting s
eason on the river. Why? Because the water flow is huge this time of year. Remember all the snow I was complaining about this past winter? Well it is now ending up in the rivers. One look and I knew that there was going to be no gold panning for me this trip!

For those of you with a scientific bent the actual flow of the Arkansas River at this point, as of a few days ago, was about 3100 cubic feet per second. That's a heckuvalot of water! That is so much water that it's plain dangerous and while I was eating dinner Monday night, looking out the window at the Arkansas, listening to the radio, I heard a news report that 4 people had drowned in the past week while rafting in the river! Nope, I'm thinking gold panning is definitely out for this trip.

That didn't stop me from enjoying the afternoon by just communing with nature. I walked along the river, read, and generally chilled. I also developed Plan B.

Plan B was to move to one of my all time favorite campgrounds the following day. Cottonwood Lake is just about 8 miles west of Buena Vista and I was now about 6 miles north of Buena Vista. An easy hop the next morning would give me pretty much the entire day to enjoy the delights of this 9000' altitude mountain lake and the surrounding mountains.

I got to the campground at about 10 am. Being as how it was the middle of the week there weren't very many people there. I had lots of good spaces to choose from and I chose one a little more in the open but with a view of the lake. A bike ride, a little fishing and a nice hike up the mountain made that tight old innerspring in my body, unwind flat as a board.

The picture to the right above was shot from the mountain behind the campground. If you look real close you can see my RV in the trees a little right of the center of the picture. While hiking, I came across evidence of how hard the past winter must have been up here. Elk normally eat the bark of aspen trees during the winter when they can't get other food. Judging from the large number of aspens that had elk marks, there probably wasn't much other food available this past winter.

I also stumbled on to a very melancholy thing. About a mile from the campground I spotted a rock back in the forest that looked like it had a sign on it. On coming closer I saw that it was a plaque and getting closer still, I discovered that it was a grave. From the inscription I'm guessing that it was a free soul who wanted his last resting place to be the Colorado Rockies.

As far as I know all the land in this area, except for a very few privately owned cabins, is Forest Service land. Burials are not permitted on Forest Service land so I'll bet there is some story behind this person's last ceremony?

My original plans were to go to Tarryall Reservoir on Wednesday morning. I thought long and hard about leaving Cottonwood as I was having a great time. There was no cell phone service available at all however and I had told The Bride that I would move to Tarryall on Wednesday and call her on the way there. I didn't want her to be concerned if I didn't check in so yesterday morning I left Cottonwood and drove to Tarryall.

I had been to Tarryall about a month ago and had a great time. There were very few people around at that time and I thought I had discovered another little gem. It seems like the rest of the world has discovered my "little gem" since then. All of the campgrounds were pretty much packed with campers and between them were the people there just to fish for the day. I found a spot to camp and fished for an hour or so. While I was fishing and watching the hordes of people....and listening to the dirt bikes and ATVs I thought to myself that I just wasn't going to enjoy this place this time. The great thing about being retired is that I don't feel obligated to cram in enjoyment to any particular I packed up and drove home. No hard feelings. I just didn't want to stay. I arrived home about 5 pm about as unwound as you can unwind and am already thinking about the next trip.

Tomorrow night is a Circle dinner held at K's place. I'm sure we will talk about a Circle the Wagons trip for the group so come back for a report.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Back Home Again

It's one of my favorite John Denver songs, "Back Home Again". Matter of fact it's one of my all time from anyone favorite songs and I am back home again after a trip to visit with my Dad, The Colonel. It was emotionally and physically tough but oh so very worth while.

When I originally purchased my flight tickets, the best I could get on the return 3 hour flight was a center seat in a packed plane. After the stresses and strains of the past week, I decided to try for an upgrade to first class using some accumulated frequent flyer miles. It was a small Airbus plane with only eight first class seats and I didn't think my chances were good. The fact that it was a very early Saturday morning flight helped and I scored. It was a nice way to begin to unwind from the previous week.

I had decided several days ago that when I got home I was going to take a few days and head up into the mountains for some fishing and gold panning to complete the unwind process. Right now my plans are to leave here Monday morning and to camp along the Arkansas River in the vicinity of Buena Vista for one to two nights. I'll then head back towards the Denver area and stop at Tarryall Reservoir for a couple of nights. A key part of the plan is to be headed back or be back in the Denver area before the hordes attack the mountains for the 4th of July weekend.

Sounds like a plan to me....stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Visiting With The Colonel

I left the Denver area Monday morning and had a fairly uneventful trip to Columbus, GA to visit with The Colonel for a few days. The weather here is downright oppressive compared to Rocky Mountain Front Range weather I left. Temps in the middle 90's with humidity at the same level. Don't know how I survived all those years in this part of the country. I guess my years in Colorado have thinned my blood too much.

The Colonel fell and broke his hip about a month ago and after an operation he was admitted into the skilled nursing care facility at the same location as he has his assisted living apartment. He will not be able to return to that apartment until he recovers sufficiently to ambulate and transfer himself from walker/wheelchair to bed or a chair. That may take months from what I've seen the last few days.

He also suffers from bouts of confusion where he doesn't seem to understand his situation and why he is not back in his assisted living apartment. I judge this to be more a function of his age, which will be 90 in less than a month, than to his hip condition. Either way it is difficult to watch one's own father in this condition.

I had planned to take him out away from the facility for lunch or dinner or just about anywhere just for a change for him. Given his current physical condition however, I don't feel comfortable in doing this by myself.

I'll be returning to the Denver area on Saturday.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

To The Fathers in My Life

Happy Father's Day.

Only "The Colonel" remains but all are remembered fondly.

My dad "The Colonel" and his father.

My mother's dad.

The Brides dad and her grandfather.

Mothers may have given us civilization but fathers provided with food, shelter and a mans love.

Thank you one and all.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl..... now someone else's wife. Which is a good thing. Now, not only do I still have "Daddy's Little Girl" but I also now have a son.

I have been blessed with two wonderful daughters but I did not, until this time have a son. I am excited. My new son is a great guy who loves my daughter and they both have a bright future ah
ead of them both.

The story......Thursday morning The Bride and me, The Emmer and my mother in law S. flew from Denver to San Jose and then drove to Monterey to the site of the joyful occasion. The event was held at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, an absolutely perfect place for a picture book wedding. It's located on Cannery Row made famous by the book of the same name by John Steinbeck. The weather was perfect, everything went off without a hitch and you now have a his-self that is just full of himself with the warm glow of family and happiness.

The wedding was on Saturday so on Friday the his-self side of the family went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is a world class facility for sure. We spent 4-5 hours there and just barely scratched the surface of what we could have experienced. With our party were The Bride's, brother's children and they were in kiddie overload with all they could see and touch. The picture to the right shows my niece K, The Emmer and Daddy's Little Girl, CaJenn.

The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring Cannery Row. A couple of weeks ago I did a "Recent Read" post on Steinbecks "Travels With Charley". I now have another Steinbeck book to read..."Cannery Row". The history is fascinating and I'm sure since I've now visited the place, I'll really enjoy the book.

Late Friday afternoon was the rehearsal and it was at this point that everything really sunk in on his-self. I have to admit that I got a bit misty eyed...several I finally faced the happy reality of the event.

The rehearsal dinner was at Latitudes Restaurant at Lover's Point in Pacific Grove. Tell me, could there be any better place for this event than "Lover's Point". My new son's family did themselves proud and we had a memorable evening getting to know everyone in each other's extended family.

Saturday, day was a blur of activity, most of which I was not involved in until the actual ceremony which started at 6 pm. The wedding was held on the plaza over the Bay of Monterey at high tide. Winds were calm with just a little cooling breeze. The bride was as beautiful a woman as I have ever seen and the groom was as made for her as she was for he.

The reception was held at the hotel just inside from the site of the wedding and the new family bonds just continued to grow and get strong.

I do not yet have any really good pictures of the actual wedding or reception to post because I purposefully did not bring my camera. I wanted to enjoy the fullness of the moment and let the professional photographers take care of recording the history. Hopefully in about 3 weeks I will have some great photos to post.

Sunday, the happy new couple departed for their honeymoon on Fiji. I guess they have gotten there by now? I don't even know what or how to say anything about that. It's way out of my league. The Bride and I spent our honeymoon at Hilton Head Island.........My new son has class.

I'll tell you more in the next post.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summertime Is Calling Me

The weather is changing for sure. Instead of 3 cool days and one warm day we are now in the season of three warm days and one cool day. Along with this season comes the afternoon thundershowers which at times can be severe. It's still amazing to sit on my deck and watch a cloud like the one above, grow before your eyes....which it did last night. If it happens to be at sundown the show can be nothing short of spectacular! It's getting to be summertime...

I'm getting into the warm weather swing now. For the past few mornings I have been taking my bike out to an area that I can ride into the back end of Chatfield State Park. This State
park is smack dab in the middle of the Denver metro area but once inside the park you would think you're miles away. The main draw to the park is the reservoir which on weekends, is choked with boats of all descriptions zooming back and forth. Having lived in Savannah, GA for some years and having a boat that I would take inshore and offshore fishing I always chuckle at seeing some of the huge boats that people put into this lake. There is actually a "boating capacity" at the reservoir and once that is reached, which is not unusual to happen on a nice summer weekend, no boat can be launched until one is taken out.

But I digress. I have found a shortcut to get into the backside of the park that is about 10 minutes from my house. The park has numerous trails for hiking and biking so I am now exploring those. I've been going out at about 8:30 and returning at about 10:30 am. The weather then is still delightfully cool and I have really enjoyed myself.

Here's some of the things I've seen on my rides...

ow, back to the title of the post. Summertime is Calling Me is the title to an early 1970's tune by The Catalinas that was a huge beach music hit. I'm not talking about Beach Boys stuff here. I'm talking about Carolina Beach Music. This is a regional music that started in the 1950's and is still going strong today. This is the music I danced to while I was in college in the late 60's. This is the music that still gets my toe tapping even today. The dance that accompanies this music is called the Carolina Shag and it's the official dance of both North and South Carolina. The Mecca of Beach Music and The Carolina Shag is Myrtle Beach and it's neighbor, "OD" or Ocean Drive.

Whodathunk that a thunder cloud would make me think of these things? Listen to Summertime is Calling me and watch the folks do the Shag here.

This will be my last post for a while. I'm leaving for my daughter's wedding on Thursday and won't be back till Monday. I'll take my laptop with me but blogging will be far from my mind.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Circle for The Circle

There hasn't been much to report about the activities of The Circle lately but this weekend we decided to get together for a picnic dinner and a hike in Roxborough State Park. I guess my post about Checking the Bloom had piqued their interest. Guitar and Pic-E had been there before but K and Too Tall, Two Timing had not and I was anxious to show them this little jewel

Sunday afternoon we all gathered at a picnic area a mile or so outside of the State Park.
Strange as it seems this State Park has no facilities for picnicking? Chicken salad, quesadillas, pork and beans, layered green salad and margarita pie all washed down with a little bit of Framboise Lambic. My mouth is watering again from just thinking about it. A perfect dinner for the June afternoon of the year. If this is how the rest of June is going to go, I'm really excited.

After a very relaxing outdoor dinner where we all had the chance to catch up on the events of the last couple of weeks, we packed up and headed for Roxborough. I was about 6:30 by this time, cooling off with a nice little breeze....things are really going our way! The park is open until 9pm and I didn't expect that there would be many people there on a Sunday afternoon. I was correct and we pretty well had the place to ourselves.

We decided to take the Fountain Valley Trail. A 2.2 mile loop
(hence the post title "Circle for The Circle") which I think gives a good overview of the park. It was also a perfect way to work off the daiquiri pie we has just eaten!

I was surprised at how many more wildflowers had bloomed since I was there just 3 days
ago. It's still no where near bloom but things are beginning to "bust out"

About a third of the way into the loop, the ladies who were walking ahead of the men, stopped and pointed ahead. There on the trail was a black fox. Now I've seen a lot of red foxes before but had never seen a black fox. I tried to get a picture but he hopped into the brush before I could. Then as we were talking about how cool that was, he came back out of the brush and stared at us for a few seconds before disappearing again. Seems he was as curious about us as we were of him.

The rest of the hike was much less eventful....thank goodness. That's an odd statement you say? Well, in this case "discretion is the better part of valor". When we got back to the ranger station a little while later, the ranger said that a momma black bear and her cub had been spotted on the trail we were on, just a little bit before we finished the hike.

The ranger also said that he had seen the black fox only once and it is a rare sighting so we felt pretty lucky.

By about 8:30 we were headed home. A great gathering of The Circle with great food, great friends and a most enjoyable nature walk.

Thanks for visiting.


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