Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Time for a change! Time to transition to Fall.  Time to think ahead. LET'S GO!

"Change" has been our watch word lately.  We've been going through more changes than the Monarch Butterfly's chrysalis.

We've sold off more of our Boy Toys than we ever dreamed possible.  We've just been in Total Potlatch Mode for what seems like ever since we got back from Waterton-Glacier.  Every day I get up and it's like Ground Hog Day.  I sell stuff.  I list stuff and I sell stuff.  Some days I have half-expected a rodent to come out of my stuff and bite the hand that feeds it.

But that's been my deja vu for daze and days.  Sell Stuff.  Keep Selling Stuff.  Then sell more stuff.  And, oh, did I say SELL STUFF?  Geezsus, it's been a chore!

But it's time to stop.  It's time to transition.  Fall is hot on our heels, so to speak.  Back when we were newbies here in Eastern Idaho, we often got fooled by the hot late August temps, thinking such temps would forestall fall.  HAHAHA!

The footsteps of fall listen to a drum beat of their own.  When those footsteps begin to fall upon your forest floor, all those "in the know" nod and smile and share their LOVE OF FALL!

And so it is that even though we are mired in the midst of yet another relentless California High Pressure Ridge, the inexorable Idaho Fall Marches ON!

We are go grateful to live here and be a part of this magical place.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Shanty Town

One of the earliest memories I have to hold in my Whole Life is visiting a Shanty Town.  I think I was maybe late 5 or possibly early 6 years old and it was probably The Spring Of 1953.

My Dad knew everything about Everything where I was born and raised in Tippecanoe County Indiana.  My Dad survived several Nazi prison camps when he was shot down 2/21/44 over Germany.  He once had to grab small potatoes out of a pig's mouth to survive.

So, when he came back to Indiana and sired me, he took a close personal interest in my upbringing.  He was always taking me places to "show me" something.

One day, he decided to show me Shanty Town, such as it was, far outside Lafayette, Indiana.  It was a place implanted in a deep, deep forest where no road went. It was on a steep hill beside a railroad line.  It was where The Hobos Lived Large.

Here they could catch an uphill bound freight train by merely stepping aboard.  (Downhill not so much.)  Now this was where The Hobos traveled North toward Chicago and The Promised Land.

My Dad was savvy from all his Nazi Prison Camp experiences.  He had an innate ability to understand other human beings in dire straits.  He just "knew".

And so he held my tiny hand and led me through a convoluted hardwood forest trail, over hill and dale until we arrived at Shanty Town.

It is a Life Experience burned into my brain.  I will never forget it.  There was this huge village of shacks next to the railroad tracks.  Food was still cooking on the wood camp fire.  Half smoked cigarettes were carefully laid down in appropriate places.  Men's bindle sticks were carefully arranged outside their shanties.

Each shanty had it's own unique character  As my young child brain looked around in awe, I somehow memorized that place.  I can yet see it this evening as if it was yesterday.

When I went to the Habitat For Humanity Shanty Town today at Freeman Park, it brought back a huge flood of memories.

Indeed, Shanty Towns exist.  They are part and parcel of The American Human Experience.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pickleball Progress

Behind that smile on July 8th after winning a Bronze Medal in the SE Idaho Senior Games is acute left knee pain.  OUCH!  I injured the MCL of the left knee that day.  Foolishly, I masked the pain with some NSAID RX meds and then played in the July 28 Star Valley Tournament.  BAD PLAN!

Anyway, Dick (above right) and I got smoked in Star Valley.  But it  was all because of me and my knee.  I couldn't play and I should not have played and it was extremely foolish of me to have played.

So, after the debacle at Star Valley, I decided to give my left knee a "Healing R&R Break".  I didn't touch a pickleball paddle for 28+ days.

Only until today did I dare pick up the paddle again.  First, however, I checked in with my Doctor twice to make sure everything in the knee would be feng shui.    My Doc and I discussed the RX and I agreed to continue taking it.  It's a once-a-day NSAID called Meloxicam and it's only 15 mg.  But it sure helps.

Anyway, I thought about playing last Sunday but pushed it back to Friday, August 25, 2017.  I scheduled a paid lesson with our local Pro, Austen Felton.

I showed up at High Noon today and Austen and I worked in private for an hour before  anyone else even came through the gym door.  I told Austen I wanted to "Begin From Square One" and asked him to treat me as a rank beginner.

It was a truly refreshing and delightful coaching experience and Austen taught me a lot about how to improve all aspects of my pickleball play.  He is such a great teacher  Austen ROX!

Then after an hour of coaching, I faced off with The Ladies!  They are so awesome and so aggressive and so addicted to this sport.  When they come at you, they don't cut you any slack whatsoever.  If there's any way to make a point on you, they will find it and they will do it and then they will DANCE and Celebrate and hoot and holler and high five!  YEAH!  They LOVE IT when they stuff a point in your face!

So, Kitty and I squared off with Annette and Donna (A&D).  A&D just flat stuffed us two games in a row.  No mercy, no remorse.  They were dancing around the court like they were on Dancing With The Stars!

So, then we decided to switch pards and equal it out a little bit.  Donna and I then matched up against Kitty and Annette. (K&A).  K&A were convinced they could smoke us into oblivion and they danged near proceeded to do so in the first game of "Best of Three".

But that's when all my dormant pickleball skills came back to roost and we narrowly lost 11-9.  Then in Game #2, Donna and I fell behind 9-2 and somehow we found ourselves and won 11-9, going on a 9-0 run

And then it came down to Game 3 of Best of Three.  That's when the pedal really hit the metal and K&A were playing their hottest, bestest game.  Somehow, Donna and I got up on them 9-5 but they came storming back and fought us three serve sides at 10-9.

And then they got another point and tied it up at 10-10.  Luckily, we broke  their serve and got the ball back.  Donna served first and with a deft return put us up 11-10.

And then it was my turn.  ELEVEN-TEN-TWO.  I called out our score and stared across the net there in the APPLE Gym and then I closed my eyes and bowed my head.  I asked The Pickleball Gods to have mercy on me and allow Donna and I to win.

I lofted the serve high, long and far...and it faked out Kitty and she hit her return out of bounds..  OH, HOW SWEET it was after being gone 28 days from The Game I Love.

You have NO idea how much that moment meant to me today.

I am a Happy Camper!  Life Is Good!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tech Talk

It's great being able to post this kinda boring tech stuff here on my blog.  99% of our Dear Facebook Friends go comatose when we talk tech there on FB.  By putting Tech Talk here, the one percent can come and enjoy our rambling narrative while the other 99% can breathe a huge sigh of relief and move on to other items in their News Feed.

We're prepping for a Road Trip (to be described in a separate post).  The main reason for the Road Trip is to help some long-standing Dear Friends revise their website.  We built their website by hand years ago and have maintained it now and then.  We haven't touched it for at least 2+ years.

So, in the meantime, we've forgot ALL about FTP protocols, the latest in HTML coding and all the other nuts and bolts of maintaining a website.  Well, lo and behold, The Family wants us to help them and they really need help so we consented to drive almost 200 miles to go help them.

But first we needed to know we could get back in the saddle and ride that horse again.  Yesterday was the day we began the process of saddling up the horse.  Our work continued well into this morning.  Altogether, we've invested 5 hours in saddling the horse.  And we're pretty sure we can now mount up and go for a ride in the back country of the host server.

If all this is somewhat confusing to you, fear not.  We're talking simply about installing the latest and greatest (to us) HTML Editor and FTP programs.  Getting in and out of a remote server is fairly easy and've forgotten the scripts and/or your software won't work.

The host server is owned by a small telephone cooperative in one of Idaho's most remote rural areas.  Luckily, the people who control the Domain Name Server there are the same man and woman I've worked with for years.  So they know me and trust me.  And it was easy enough to simply ask them for the security stuff such as user name, password and correct IP address to begin to attempt to gain access to their server.  Thanks goodness those two kind people still work there.

We tried three different FTP programs before finally finding one that worked the way it is supposed to.  Then we generated a test HTML file (test99 in the graphic above).  After that, we uploaded it to the root directory and then downloaded the index.html file for the website from the root directory to our desktop workspace.

Ah, it's great to be back in the saddle again!  Some of this stuff is truly like riding a horse or a bicycle.  It's stuff you don't forget.  You may get rusty but it all comes back pretty quickly.

Now the next tricks will be to wring out the new capabilities of the HTML Editor and find out what I've been missing by not messing with it for 2+ years.  "Back in the day" I used the free edition of Coffee Cup.  Yesterday, I paid their small $24 fee to get the Hot Rod version of Coffee Cup.  So, it's going to be fun to see what kind of bear bells and dog whistles are lurking in the paid version.

We go way back with coding HTML by hand.  We go back before there were programs such as Coffee Cup.  We started HTML coding back in the Dark Ages of the internet--like 1994!  That's back when the only way to connect to the internet or to a server was with dial up.  Does anyone remember those Dark Age Daze?

We have the distinction of creating the very first truly functional website for an American Conservation District. Considering there are more than 3000 Conservation Districts in America, that's saying something.  But it was a real headache and a chore back in those days.  Everything was by hand using ASCII characters one by one.  There were no automated devices or tools to help you.  Every little speck of code had to be inserted one key stroke at a time.

Coffee Cup is an HTML editor built in the classic style.   You can easily change coding with one or two mouse clicks.  We love that little program and we're delighted to finally have had a reason to buy the Hot Rod edition.

I doubt that anyone who has read this far has much of a use for something so archaic as an HTML Editor.  But if you do, the web address is between the two graphics.  Thanks for reading & Happy HTML!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Totality Tomorrow...

The pedal hits the solar mettle at 11:33 AM here tomorrow.  We checked out The Sun's position today at 11:33 AM.  It's in a Sweet Spot for us to view right from our back yard.  We don't have to go anywhere. We have our ISO-certified eclipse glasses.  We're ready to rock and roll.  Cain't wait.


Cry Wolf

Perilous predictions of terrible traffic have yet to materialize. Saturday was light & Sunday AM even lighter.  Show me the cars. Roads empty

Crunch time is approaching here for the forecast gridlocked traffic on our local highways.  Trouble is that are hardly ANY vehicles out this morning on any of the highways.  On some of the Transportation Dept. webcams, it's tough to even spot a single vehicle.  The highways are essentially deserted so far this morning.

Will the traffic crunch materialize?  If so, where are all the drivers hunkered down and waiting to create a huge traffic jam?  We  will be keeping a close eye on the ITD webcams and you can, too.

Here's the link for the I-15 webcams:

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Shifting Sales

It's been a huge week.  We've sold two boats, all our BBQ apparatus and ALL of our Golf Stuff. That's a trifecta and represents three huge sea changes.  It says we're not doing those three activities any more.  Yes, major Life Changes indeed!

The sales of so much stuff in a short time period really cleared our decks to shift sales into new areas. Our next quest is to get rid of ALL our back packing gear.  And then comes ALL the cross country ski gear.  And then ALL the Man Cave Guy Tools.  And yes, there's more.

Basically, we're shedding all of the tools and toys of activities we know we're no longer going to do. Why keep that stuff if it isn't going to be used and enjoyed?

It has been a difficult week getting rid of what we call "Dear Friends".  Waving goodbye to our beloved canoe and kayak was extremely difficult to do.  Waving goodbye to our beloved BB apparatus was painful.  Waving goodbye today to our golf stuff left us feeling like a homeless zombie walking around in a fog.

You can't sever this kind of stuff from your life without withdrawal pains and pangs.  This stuff has been part and parcel of our Life & Self Esteem and Identity for a long some cases, forever.

During many moments of this week's "throw the deck chairs off the ship" mode, I felt so lonely and forlorn as I watched my past disappear into new hands...gone forever from my life.

But the process has been strangely enabling and energizing.  As I threw more stuff overboard, I wanted to throw more stuff overboard.  The process fed upon itself and became somewhat obsessive.

I end this epic eclipse week worn out.  Exhausted.  I don't think I could sell another pencil from a tin cup right now, let alone any more of my stuff.  I know that I will wake up tomorrow renewed and rejuvenated and ready to sell more stuff.

But tonight I am simply happy to sip a glass of wine and reflect on a wild week gone by.

A Big Bust...?

Fred Meyer's new sign today may be the harbinger of Eclipse Reality. What  will they do with the unsold inventory?
It ain't over 'til it's over...but it's looking like Eastern Idaho's share of The Great American Eclipse is going to be a Big Bust.  So far, none of the "cry wolf" "sky is falling" hoopla and hype have come true.  In fact, it's been so quiet around town today, it's kinda spooky.  A normal Saturday is a real free-for-all as weekday workers finally get to jet their jazz around town on a weekly spending spree, spouse and kids in tow.  Today felt more like a typical Sunday than a Hot Rod Saturday.

The stores we visited were so quiet they reminded us of a funeral visitation.  Empty checkout lines and just barely a modicum of shoppers.  We looked and looked for out-of-state license plates and saw very, very few.

We studied the ITD webcams periodically today and saw nothing unusual on I-15.  If there was going to be a crush of people, it would show up on I-15.  Some of the webcam views showed a nearly vacant interstate, much contrary to the "sky is falling" hype we've been hearing for many months.

The more we looked at that vacant highway, the more we began wondering about The Big Bust.  What if they held an eclipse and nobody showed up?

Susun and Karen were downtown today  and talked with an Eclipse Couple from California.  They said they had no trouble getting a room in a local hotel due to the cancellations.  Meanwhile, that couple went to one of the immensely popular local eateries out by the interstate.  The server told them the restaurant double Staff and tripled ordered food and they were all standing around with very few diners.

This sort of report seems to be the norm here today.  It's been a very quiet, sedate and relaxing day here in Idaho Falls.  Yes, there WAS some congestion and congregation down by the riverside this afternoon.  The local Rotary decided to do their annual Duck Race today instead of last weekend in conjunction with the Roaring Youth Jam.  But that's normal commotion.  It happens every year like clockwork.  It's nothing out of the ordinary.

What we've been looking for is something out of the ordinary and, so far, we've found nothing.

So...the distant drums are building for The Big Bust....
Smith's has 22 pallets of Eclipse Water outside the grocery.  Hardly anyone is buying them.

Pickleball article

The interviews and photos took place Tuesday morning,  The article appeared in the Saturday, August 19 issue of "The Post-Register" in Idaho Falls.  The Editor kindly put a small note on the front page calling attention to the article on Page A9.  It was a good looking layout on Page 9.   All-in-all, it was a decent article and will serve to help educate people here about pickleball.  I got in several good quotes and they also included our correct blog address. The article as printed is behind a paywall and unavailable to post here.

Eclipse made me money

Who'd a thunk that the Eclipse could make me money?  But it did.  Here's how.  Many years ago, I got conned into buying an ancient set of left hand golf clubs.  Well, one thing led to another and I began to play golf again...albeit only on the local "par 3" kiddie course for $3 a round.  I upgraded my clubs several times and added all sorts of accessories.  By and by, I had a rather large assortment of golf flotsam and jetsam.  The inventory included 19 clubs and two putters with two bags, a cart and other items too numerous to mention.

Well, I can't play golf any more because of the bad left shoulder.  Pickleball, yes.  Golf, no.  So, when we returned from Arizona in early May, I put all my left hand golf clubs and stuff up for sale on Craigs List.  I've had great success with Craigs List but not this time.  NOBODY inquired and those who did were air heads.

How do I know one of them was a total air head?  Well, I am in Idaho Falls and this air head was in Nampa, 300 miles west of here and he said he'd be right over.  Um...not so much.  Once the air head found out he'd have to travel 300 miles, he rather quickly changed his mind, and hopefully his direction, too.

Quite frankly, I was getting pretty discouraged by the lack of interest in my golf stuff.  And then, lo and behold this morning someone inquired about them and wanted pictures.  So, I dutifully took photos and sent them along.  BAM! POOF! SLAM!  The buyer showed up almost immediately and peeled off the cash asking price for everything.  Naturally, I assumed he was local and asked if he'd ever played the Sand Creek Junior's Course, as it is more properly known.

He kinda looked confused and then said, "No, I'm from Minnesota."  So, I asked, "Are you out here for the Eclipse?"  Yep, he sure was.  Showed up yesterday and is leaving right after the eclipse.

So, you see, that's how the Eclipse made me some money.  If that guy hadn't shown up, I'd probably be sitting on that golf stuff for years and years.  It simply wasn't going to sell out here where the potatoes roam.

Consequently, my attitude about the eclipse improved dramatically!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pickleball Today

Even though I can't play pickleball, I can still get things going.  I got this interview going today for our local daily newspaper, "The Post-Register."  It was great.  Wendy Cavan NAILED her side of the interview.  I've NEVER worked with someone who nailed their interview as good as she did.  It was SO GOOD.  I just added a few comments and let Wendy go on her roll.

The photographer was awesome and went for The Hero Photo Shots.  I am so looking forward to what shows up in the newspaper...and when.

Then one of our Fave Players, Janet, came over and charmed the Post-Register Staffers into actually playing.  It was a Sweet Moment.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sell off continues- SOLD

Well it sold in less than an hour.  BOOM, GONE!  So sad to see it go but...such is life.

Yesterday we sold the canoe.  Today we put the hard hull kayak up for sale.  We will not be selling our inflatable kayak.  However, it's hard even listing the hard hull kayak.  I've owned a hard hull kayak continuously now for 37 years.  A part of my adult identity goes "bye-bye" when the kayak floats off to a new owner.  I've priced this one "right" and have no doubt it will go quickly.

We're definitely in the "get rid of stuff" mode right now.  Even thinking of having a massive yard sale to get rid of 90% of our camping stuff.  I go down in the basement and look at all that camping stuff and know perfectly well we're not goiong to use 90% of it ever again in this lifetime.  So why let it sit?  Why not help someone get a good deal on some high quality stuff?

Those two thoughts are heavy on my mind today.  Maybe if we had a camping yard sale on Eclipse weekend we might do pretty good.  Hum...

Pins and Patches

We were goofing off late yesterday afternoon and put up a Facebook profile photo wearing a baseball cap peppered with pins.  We titled the photo "You know yer a geezer when ya gotta hat fulla pins."  Eventually, we changed the title to one word: "Geezer."  As of Wednesday morning, the post has 29 Likes and nearly 30 comments and replies.  So "whazzup" with hat?

Naturally, there's a story (or many stories) behind the hat and also the patches that weren't part of the Facebook post.  First, we've been collecting for many years what were once known as lapel pins and are now simply called pins.  Our pin penchant dates back into the 90's.  We became a little more aggressive  purchasing pins about 15 years ago.  In the last 2 or 3 years, our pin pursuit picked up.  As you might expect, we have plentiful pins.

Meanwhile, let's pause pins for a minutes or two and talk patches.  Our patch penchant parallels pins.
We arguably have more patches than pins.  For the past 2-3 years, we have  been working to convert our patch pile into productive public patch display.  We are constantly on the lookout for appropriate hats and shirts upon which to attach a patch.  So, you see, that's how the hat in the photo wound up with a Grand Teton National Park patch.  We bought the hat at the Idaho Falls LDS Deseret Industries thrift store and took it to our favorite business here--Classy Threads on Yellowstone Avenue.

Patches waiting to be paired with a shirt or a hat.
The wonderful people at Classy Threads did their usual expert job sewing on the patch.  In this manner we wound up with a classy GTNP hat for $10.    If you've ever priced hats in National Parks gift shops, you know they don't get any cheaper than $20 and they can be as pricey as $30.  The usual price point is $22-$25, plus tax of course.  Our $10 price includes the $2 hat, the $5 patch and $3 to sew it on.  Meanwhile, we wind up with  really a outstanding hat that looks, feels and wears much better than an off-the-shelf hat from the typical National Park gift shop.

OK, now we have to rewind onto a different topic--the NPS Centennial Celebration last August at the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, Montana.  Post-Register Publisher Roger Plothow graciously somehow wrangled a press pass for us to attend that epic and historic event.  THANKS, Roger!  Well, we decided we needed a hat with something associated with Yellowstone in it.  Hence, we pulled out our GTNP hat and found our Old Faithful pin and stuck it on the hat.  We got quite a few happy looks and smiles when people glanced at that hat during the event.  (The Old Faithful pin  is on the right side of the GTNP patch.)  When we returned to Idaho Falls, we added the spiral pin seen on the left side of the patch.  It kinda symbolized our circular Road Trip routes round this region.

And that's how the hat sat until yesterday.  Once in awhile, we'd pull the hat out of the closet and wear it.  But it always seemed so Geezer-ish.  I remember back in my 30's looking askance at old guys wearing hats festooned with multiple pins.  I'd think to myself, "Geezus, What a Geezer!"  Baseball caps covered with pins were the penultimate pointers to Geezer-dom.

OK, now let's take this whole process one step farther, shall we?  We were up in Glacier National Park not long ago getting ready to cross the Canadian border to go to Waterton Lakes National Park. Somehow one of the NPS Visitor Center Staff spooked me into thinking the border crossing would be a Big Ordeal.  (See: )  And that's when the light bulb went off.  Nothing screams "GEEZER!" like a hat fulla pins.  So, I pulled out the hat and proudly put it on.  It was the very first thing the Canadian Customs guy looked at when we pulled up to the border check station.  The Customs guy didn't bother to look at anything else. He asked us a few perfunctory questions and waved us on.

Well, I figured if it worked going into Canada, it sure would work again coming back to the States.  Sure enough, it was like the hat was a magic wand or something.  POOF, back into the States with ZERO hassle of any kind.  At that point, my admiration for my Geezer Hat grew immensely.

Yesterday afternoon, the light bulb went off yet again.  I reasoned that if two pins made magic, imagine the Magic of Many Pins.  So, that's when and how and why I set out to pack pins onto this particular hat.  Man, with this many pins, I am a triple certified Geezer Guy of the First Order.  Man, I gotta a hat even Geezers will envy!  Now, mind you, I am not at all sure what to do with my brand new triple certified Geezer Guy hat.  We won't be crossing any borders until next year maybe in July.  But we'll think of something to show off this Geezer Guy hat, you can count on that.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Gosh, how I miss playing pickleball.  I haven't played since July 27.  It seems like so forever ago.  I sure hope I can play again some day!

Happy-Sad Day

Well, we sold our canoe today.  Got our price--$300.  But it's sure was sad to see it go.  Lots of great memories in that boat.  Lots of great stories.  But it's gone to some new owners in Wyoming.  They were really happy to get it.  Bye, Bye, Baby!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Phone groans

By now, each and every one of us has enough "phone groans" to fill a good size encyclopedia.  Chances are pretty good that each of us could tell Full Grown Phone Groan Stories until the cows come home...or even later.

In the ever epic world of Phone Groan Stories, you're really only as good as your last tale of woe.
We all certainly know how those woes goes.

Well today, believe it or not, we think we finally reached equilibrium with our phone woes.  Truly.
The last few weeks have been really seminal in arriving at this point today about 5:30 PM Idaho Time.

We had a brief love affair with a Moto E 2nd Gen smartphone served by a fly-by-night outfit called Freedompop.  At first the affair was lovely but the deeper we delved into Freedompop's tentacles, the less we loved them.  Finally, our affair went on the rocks during this Glacier-Waterton Road Trip.  We decided Freedompop and their perky little Moto E were getting kicked off the island.  GONE!

Meanwhile, we crossed a techie Rubicon on this Glacier-Waterton Road Trip.  We were able to use our Nikon L840 for photos and our laptop for photo & word processing, We were able to easily transfer files and graphics to Susun's Sweet Smart Phone--her Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime.

All of our blog posts on that Road Trip were posted online via connectivity from Susun's Samsung.
That's when the light bulb went off.  It goes something like this:  "Gee, we travel together.  Gee, Susun's phone always has a signal.  Gee, Susun's phone is easy to use.  Gee, let's use Susun's phone!"

So, we turned off our worthless Moto E and decided we'd sort everything out once we got back home and after we sorted out all the usual post-trip stuff.  And so, all the chickens came home to roost this afternoon and we faced up to our Phone Groans like the Classic Adult In The Room.

We deactivated our Freedompop pants-on-fire phone and reactivated our ancient Tracfone with 450 minutes good until Thanksgiving.  Now we actually have a voice and text phone that's easy to use. It's been proven easy to use for us for years before the smart phone affair.  Now we're locked into a $10 a month service plan that gives us gi-normous voice and text that we will never use.

Now, we can kick the anatomy of the Moto E six ways to Sunday.  And, meanwhile, we can use Susun's phone to post stuff when we're on The Road! We FINALLY solved our Phone Groans.

Life Is Good!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Oh, Oh, this could be trouble

We've decided to start a three-person ukulele band.  Oh, oh!  To make matters worse, this three-person band will be me, Susun and Karen.  Karen is caravanning south with us in her motorhome this October.  So, the plan is to pull into a camp, leap out of our respective rigs and burst into song while playing three ukuleles.  We've already put out an ad seeking a ukulele here in Idaho Falls.  If need be, we will buy them on ebay or Amazon.  We're serious about this plan.  The photo shows a screen clip from a YouTube video of the world famous Jerome Ukulele Orchestra (JUO) performing in the world famous Spirit Room. They are our Role Models.

Here's the link to the JUO video,  Beware, the video starts really slow and continues slowly for 55 agonizing ukulele  minutes.

Here's JUO's Facebook:

Well, anyway, this is sometimes what happens when three Dear Friends get together for Sunday Night Dinner!  For more insanity see:

Below is the rig we are probably going to buy to get started:


We actually ordered the book below Monday morning.


A shopping tale

Most of our Dear Friends & LBR's know that shopping is one of our favorite things to do.  It's in our DNA and we love shopping.  To us, shopping isn't just finding something and then buying it.  Nope.  Shopping is a cat and mouse game.  It's all about finding the best price on something we want.  Sometimes, it requires a lot of cat-like patience to wait out that mouse.

And thus begins a two year tale of the Brother 2320D monochrome laser printer.  Two years ago during the Black Friday Madness, we noticed Best Buy put a Brother 2320D on sale for a mere $50.  Well, we knew that was a red-hot smokin' deal so we bought one in Mesa, Arizona, within an hour of seeing the ad.

That little Brother black and white laser printer has been a God Send at our Rimrock home.  It works flawlessly and is the easiest and most fun printer I've ever used.  Toner cartridges are insanely cheap and we just LOVE the little thing.

So, naturally, we decided to wanted an identical printer up here at our Idahome.  The problem was that no one would put the Brother 2320D on sale.  Prices stayed pegged  at $100 (plus or minus) forever.  Once in awhile, the price would come to $80 and then go right back up to $100.  We actually saw some local highway robbers trying to sell the unit for $140!!!

So, that's where the cat and mouse gig comes into play.  No way would I pay a dime more than $50 for that printer.  And thus we have patiently waited in front of the mouse hole for almost two years.

Until today.  Staples put the Brother 2320D on sale for $60 and that got our attention.  Our cat-like ears perked up and we sensed we had the mouse in our grip.  However, as stated above we weren't going to pay a dime more than $50.  Period. Case closed.

And thus began a thorough, time-consuming search of Ye Ol' World Wide Web for some sort of Staples coupon code.  Well, after  much searching high and low, we found a coupon code just for businesses.  Luckily, we happen to have a dormant business (that's still on file with the Idaho SOS) called "Idaho Volunteer".  So, we signed up our business with Staples and got a actual, genuine $25 coupon code.

And the coupon code actually worked!  And so, we get to drive out to our local Staples later today and pick up our long sought after second Brother 2320D for a mere $37.09, including sales tax.

HA!  That's what shopping is ALL about to us.  We have infinite patience for the right deal.  Two years may sounds like a long time to you. But to us it's nothing.  We would have waited longer...NO problem!  Shopping is a game and patience is also a name of the game.  The dollar savings is only part of our reward.  The psychological reward is knowing that we WILL beat them!  The cat WILL get the mouse!  It's just a matter of time, patience and a keen sense of situational shopping awareness.

Life is Good and we are a Happy Shopper!

How to comment on blog psots

Facebook makes it easy to comment on posts.  Google has never made it easy to comment on blog posts.  You'd think Google would take a page from Facebook's script.  But no.

Anyway, if you wish to comment on a post, look below the post and see a teeny, tiny link that either says "No Comments" or lists the number of comments such as "1 Comment" or whatever.  Click on that link.

By default, Google will try to get you to sign in.  Ignore it.  Look for the "Anonymous" button and click on it.  Then you can leave a comment without any further hassle factor.  It may takes awhile for your comment to show up because I have to approve each comment.  Long ago I didn't bother approving comments and, my, oh my, how I got burned by the spammers.

Anyway, that's how you do it.  Thanks for reading!

All clear for eclipse...or not

Above is the Sunday morning 7-day QPF which covers the period ending at 5 AM next Sunday, August 20.  Note there is no precipitation in the forecast for all of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming--the first three states that are in the Path Of Totality for the eclipse.  It's highly unlikely that precip will somehow spring up on the day of the eclipse.  Possible but unlikely.   So, it looks like it's going to be "all clear" at least as far as rainfall goes.

However, with so many fires burning, it's really impossible at this time to hazard a guess about the "smoke issue".  If you're lucky you might be in a smoke-free zone.  If you're not so lucky, your sky might be totally obscured by fire smoke. It's a roll of the dice...and it's an issue that can change from day to day, sometimes even within a few hours.  The fickle factors of air flow, wind, topography and just plain karma will have a big impact on who sees a pristine, clear air eclipse and who doesn't.

A quick glance at the spreadsheet data for current fires indicates that over 80% of them have estimated containment dates well after August 21.  Some have containment dates as far out as October 30, which is "code" for  "when the snow flies".

Plus, there is the ever-present factor that yet one or more wild fires could ignite in your local neighborhood between now and next Monday's event.  Ya just never know.

As we enter the final week's runup to the eclipse, we fully expect an avalanche of publicity, hoop-la, hype, and people.  Here's a fun article about the role of Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory in eclipse viewing at Ground Zero--Madras, Oregon.  Let's hope they have clear skies!  But with so many Oregon fires burning upwind from Madras, clear skies would be something of a miracle for that location.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Our All Time Fastest Road Trip

Each of us....YOU and Me and everyone reading this post has a Personal Best Road Trip.  It might involve time or space or distance or even unique weirdness.  But we all DO have those memories.  That's what growing up is all about.  That's what being a parent taking your kids someplace special is ALL about.  That's what being alive in American is all about.  Road Trips are part and parcel of my and your American Experience.  What would we be without Road Trips in this Country?

Talk turned tonight to our own Personal Best Road Trip in September 2002.  I think it was September 12th but I might be off one day left or right on the calendar.

For whatever reason, we had decided to become Volunteers to run a California State Park in Red Bluff.  It's the William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park and it's arguably The LEAST known state park in the California system.  Essentially, that State Park tries to interpret the end of The California Trail and what it  was like to FINALLY wash ashore in California after months of terrible travel.

We were smitten with the place because one of their premier displays was a cribbage board.  YES!  Apparently, all the California Trail Pilgrims threw EVERYTHING off their wagons EXCEPT their cribbage boards.  Part of our job description there was to interpret the Role of Cribbage in Pioneer Life. Oh, yeah, how we could relate to that!

Well, anyway, we met with  the Park People to "seal the deal" but before we sealed the deal, we said we had to do some more "research" in the local library.  We didn't want to be blind sided by local politics so we figured we'd go read back issues of the local newspaper to see if there was some missing piece to the puzzle.

While we were in the library, Susun said she would check her phone voicemail.  She came back and said, "Our Home has been flooded!"

We cut short our meeting with the librarian and rushed back to our tent camp alongside The Sacramento River and we literally threw every thing into the back of the truck and left a little before 6 PM.  We drove like bats outta someplace and arrived nearly 1000 miles later at our place in Rimrock, Arizona, before 9 AM the next morning.  It will forever remain as THE Single MOST Epic Road Trip either of us has ever done.

There have been other Road Trips that have come close, but none have ever topped that one!

Straw Bale House Construction 1994

We're always looking for ways to help Friends see photos of our straw bale house construction  in Rimrock, Arizona, during 1994.  In our previous format here on this blog, we had a link to a photo album that Google has since stopped supporting.  So, we've been grappling with a way to get the photos back up and running in a manner that fits a wide range of "attention spans".

Not everyone wants to sit through a viewing of more than 100 photos!  Luckily, we converted our old photo album from the defunct Picasaweb to Google Photos.  Then we were able to do a series of screen clips from that album and put them together as a Facebook album.  So someone who just wants to get a quick glimpse of the gist of how we built the house can do so in seconds.

Here's the link to the new Facebook album which is a sequential series of photo collages:

And, if you have a long attention span and you'd really rather skip the little thumbnail photo collages, you can now go directly to the Google Photo album with this link:

Please let me know if you are able to view either or both of the albums on your device.  Use this email:

Pantry Management

Above and below are a couple of glances at our pantry after restocking was finished 8/12/17.

We love a good pantry.  We actually began shopping for a house in Idaho Falls in October 2005.  We made up a spreadsheet of "must have" items to give to our Realtor.  One of the Top Five items was a pantry.  From our perspective, a house without a pantry isn't truly a home.

Ten years ago in August 2007 we began a serious search for a home here.  We told our new Realtor, "Don't bother showing us any houses without a pantry."  That's just how much we love pantries.  Luckily, our 1939 bungalow has an unmolested, ancestral, LDS-style pantry in the basement  Oh, JOY!  Between 1939 and September 2007 when we closed on the deal, no one has ever changed a thing in the pantry from the very day it was built when the house was brand new.

You have no idea how delighted we were to buy a house with a genuine 1930's era pantry.  For the past ten years, we have enjoyed restocking the pantry each and every year.  We generally restock around Labor Day, plus or minus.  The latest we've restocked was late September.  Today we finished our earliest-ever restocking on August 12.

Back on January 19, 2009, we did a photo album of our pantry.  A screen clip from that album is below.  We have to admit our 2017 restocking isn't as Type A as our 2009 effort.  But it's every bit as good in its own way.

Yes, we do cull our inventory.  In fact, we cull it each spring and fall.  We take all our culled goods to the local Food Bank and they are always happy to get high quality stuff that's not ridiculously beyond code date.  Today we culled out enough to fill a full six gallon milk crate full of stuff.

The grocers generally tend to feature their lowest prices on canned goods this time of year--right around "back to school" and just before the onset of fall.  Three local grocers do case lot sales right after Labor Day.  This year, Albertson's decided to get a jump on their competition and dropped name brand canned vegetables to a price we know to be the lowest of the annual cycle.  So, what the heck?

We decided we might as well restock sooner rather than later.  A few odds and ends remain to be procured but the pantry is once again in good shape.  Most of the inventory is code-dated out well into 2018 and mid-2019.  So, we're good to go once again.

It's such fun that it's kind of a let down when it's done.  We love a good pantry!

Above is a screen clip from the January 2019 photo album of our pantry after it was tidied up.  The link is ridiculously long but it "should" work.  Only those who love pantries should bother looking  at this album.  Otherwise, it could cause terminal boredom!

If the above link won't work, try this one:

Eclipse glasses

By now everyone knows about the August 21st eclipse.  The hype for the event has reached a truly feverish level.  Most of the scams associated with the eclipse are pretty low level stuff.  One of the lowest of the low, however, is people selling bogus eclipse viewing glasses.  Use of these bogus glasses could truly cause someone to go blind, maybe even blind for life.

It always amazes me what some low life people will do to make a buck.  The graphic attached shows how to determine if your eclipse glasses are the real thing.  I know this particular post is useless for the bulk of my readers.  However, if this post helps just ONE person avoid the scam of using fake eclipse glasses then it will have been worth it.  Pass it on to anyone you know who  might be in or near the Path of Totality.

Montana fires

Montana's really been getting hit hard this fire season.  First off, there are some big fires burning on the west side of the state.  Meanwhile, the state is getting hit with smoke from major fires in British Columbia, Oregon and Washington.  Having just returned from that area, we can vouch for just how bad the smoke actually it.  It's really bad.  Meanwhile, Thursday evening lightning sparked several new fires inside Glacier National Park.  We were lucky to get to see Lake McDonald is only semi-smokey conditions the other day.  Now it appears that the picturesque lake is totally smoked in.

NWS Boise published a great short video showing the extent of the smoke now and how it might clear up in the next few days.  Hopefully, they will get some relief, even if only for a short time period.  Numerous people have been complaining on Twitter calling this year "Montana's Summer Without A Sun."  If you click on this link, you might be able to see the NWS Boise Tweet.  You might possibly be able to see the video from which we took the screen clip above.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Eight people

Yes. Eight People.  That's how many people are assigned to wild fire incidents in the Southwest Coordinating area which includes ALL of Arizona, New Mexico and most of West Texas.  EIGHT People!

Meanwhile, there are over 15,000 people assigned to national wild fire incidents.  I don't know what the percentage of 8 is to 15,000 but I think it's it's pretty minimal.  This is what monsoons do for the Southwest United States.   So, the next time the lightning is crashing down on your head and the flash floods are washing away your stuff, reflect on this.  It wasn't too long ago that a couple thousand people were feverishly trying to snuff tough wild fires running hither and yon across the wily coyote landscape of hardscrabble Arizona.  Now?  Not so much.  EIGHT PEOPLE!

Meanwhile, there are well over 9000 people in the Northwest and Northern California and over 5000 between the Northern Rockies and The Great Basin.  Don't they WISH they had a monsoon like Arizona does!


$100 off

When did Costco go upscale?  How did I miss it?  What kind of paradigm shift happened here?  I thought Costco was just a bunch of savings-crazed shoppers.  I didn't know they might pay $100 for a 12 ounce steak.  What did I miss?  And when?

Look at the photo clip from the most recent Costco so-called '"Members Only Savings" mailer.  Feast your eyes on this one for a few seconds.  Narrative continues below graphic.

OK, so this is one hundred dollars PER twelve ounce steak.  IF you cooked the steak perfectly and IF you were lucky to get eight bites out of your $100 steak, that would be $8 a bite.  That's a mighty pricey bitey!

But what about every thing else?  Surely, if you paid $400 for four freaking steaks you wouldn't dare serve frozen broccoli as a side?   Or boxed wine as a drink. NOOOO!  You'd have to have all the accouterments to make such a meal memorable, meaningful and maddeningly expensive.

Gawd forbid YOU yourself would cook a $100 steak.  NO!  You'd need a top notch Professional so you wouldn't suffer the interminable disgrace of destroying four $100 steaks.  Gawd forbid!

I'm thinking if you served $100 steaks to your spouse and two Dear Friends, you'd need to invest at least another $1000 in the meal and its accompanying ambiance.

We need some of our Dear Friends to weigh in on this culinary equation.  Isadore, where art thou?

Meanwhile, just for your culinary reading edification, here is the Wiki on Japanese Wagyu beef:

With a name like Wag You, I guess they are wagging You AND your wallet!

B1 bomber in rear view mirror

The B1 @ Hill AFB Museum:
(Editor's Note:  Current events have brought this story back from over 16 years ago.)

We retired the first time back on January 10, 2001. After spending nearly 10 weeks in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico, we returned to Rimrock to set our life in order.  We then set forth on what we expected to be a multi-month trip that would take us to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.  Anyway, we surfed ashore in Kanab, Utah, on April 12.  We were somehow smitten by Kanab and wound up staying there six weeks.  Each day during that time, we'd try to do something unique, new and exciting.  Since Wednesday, April 18 was my late Dad's birthday, we decided to do a really, really long back country Road Trip from Kanab up Johnson Canyon to the Skutumpah Road and then down Cottonwood Canyon back to Highway 89 by the Paria River and from there back to Kanab.  We were traveling in our little 1987 Suzuki Samurai and felt very comfortable being out in the middle of nowhere.  We left very early since we knew it would be a really long day on very slow roads.  Sure enough, the hours wore on and on and we didn't get back to the pavement of Highway 89 until very late in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, between the  Paria River and Kanab lies a very substantial hill.  It's the northern part of the Kaibab Monocline.  For modern high speed vehicles, that hill is virtually nothing.  However, for a 1.3 liter engine in the Samurai, that hill represents a very tall challenge.  Naturally, our speed dropped way down as we ascended the hill.  We were chugging and puffing along as low as 35 miles per hour.  We actually thought doing 45 was really flying.  It seemed like forever to get to the top of the monocline.  I kept a very close watch on the rear view mirror since I didn't want to get rear-ended by someone traveling too fast who might misjudge our speed.  I also continually eyed the road's shoulder for "escape routes" in case we were about to be rear-ended.  That's why I had my eyes more or less glued to the rear view mirror.

Finally, as we were just about to top out on that long, long hill, my eyes dang near popped out of my head.  I will never forget what I saw as long as I live.  I matter-of-factly said to Susun, "There's a B1 bomber in my rear view mirror.  And there truly WAS a B1 bomber in the mirror.  It neatly filled the mirror, wings, tail and all.  The whole thing fit right in there like a picture postcard.  I couldn't even believe it.  And, naturally, the B1 bomber was gaining on us like you read about.  Since I had already been keeping an eye on the shoulder for escape routes, I jammed the steering wheel to the right and bounced into the brush.  We both leaped out of the Samurai just as the B1 bomber went screaming and thundering right over our  heads.  We quickly looked back and saw that a second B1 bomber was fast approaching.  Somehow Susun pulled out her old 35 millimeter SLR camera and managed to get a picture of the second bomber as it flew seemingly mere feet about our heads.  The pilot actually waved at us with one of those classic "thumbs up" poses from the cockpit.

Since we were right at the top of the hill, we watched in speechless amazement as both bombers dropped down low in front of us.  We were actually looking down on them from above.  The experience was one of the biggest adrenalin rushes either of us has ever had.  Our hearts were pounding wildly, our faces flushed and our skin covered with perspiration.  It was so overpowering all we could do was hug each other and gasp for breath. My Dad died in 1998 but my thoughts immediately went to him.  Somehow, I figured he had arranged the whole thing. I looked to the blue sky and said, "Thank You, Dad!"

We were both chattering incessantly about it when we returned to the Crazy Horse RV park in Kanab.  One of the Old Timers there in Kanab told us the twin B1 bombers were a common sight.  The bombers used that corridor for their ground-hugging exercises to practice flying below the radar.  They always reached their lowest point to the ground right at the crest of the monocline.

So, when they were coming up behind us, one of them would definitely be below us and could easily be seen in the rear view mirror.

On Veteran's Day 2016, we both were finally able to stand next to a real B1 bomber at the Hill Air Force Base Museum north of Salt Lake City.  The aircraft is so huge it's mind-boggling.  Photos simply can't capture the scale of the behemoth.  Standing there beside that museum display really brought back April 18, 2001, in Kane County, Utah, on US Highway 89.

And it brings home special and meaningful relevance today as the B1 bombers on Guam stand locked and loaded to Fight Tonight, as the Pacific Command there is wont to say.  The brave flight crews of those bombers are in our thoughts and prayers today.  We wish them Best of Safety and God Speed to return to warm embrace of their Families and Loved Ones.
Another photo from our visit to see a B1 bomber on display at the Hill AFB Museum 11/11/16.

Here's the B1 Wiki:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Forty Dollars a Night

Looks like our trip cost $250 in gas and $150 in camping fees and covered 1300 miles. That's $400 for 10 nights or forty dollars a night.  Pretty good deal, all things considered.

Two Pow Wow Drum Videos

Great to be back home and on a high speed internet connection. Lots of stuff I can do here that would be impossible on the road. We're using a dormant Facebook account to post videos and then embedding the videos here on the blog. It's a much more efficient way to posting videos than using either YouTube or Vimeo. Both videos are very short.  You ought to be able to see these videos even if you are not a member of Facebook.

These Blackfeet men were the drummers for the International Peace Park Pow Wow we watched August 8 in Waterton, Alberta.
The first video has some of the dancers in the background.
The second video is a few seconds longer with no dancers in the background.

Headin' Home

'Nother Red Sun kinda morning...

Makes me wonder what's gonna happen if all this smoke is still here in 11 days...which it probably will be because that's the way it goes during a Northern Rockies fire season.  Anyway, all those Eclipse Pilgrims supposedly coming from far and wide will be sorely disappointed to see their event shrouded in a pall of particulates.  We've never really succumbed to the Eclipse Excitement. Lotsa folks are going ga-ga over two minute totality.  But all this smoke sure does make me wonder....

This campground is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Being an upstanding federal bureaucracy, BuRec put up a really tall and upstanding flagpole nearby.  And, naturally, BuRec followed the rules and put in a really big light at the base of the pole so Old Glory can fly right and proper all night long.  It's actually one of the best night  lights for a flag I've seen in a really long time.  Most people and outfits skip on their night lighting for their flags.  I got up a couple of times during the night and sat in the darkness watching the Stars & Stripes flutter in the breezy dark air.  As growing turmoil continue to rock America's collective boat, it was a welcome comforting sight to see and reminded me of the timeless, sacred lyrics from our National Anthem.  We are proud of our Country and stand beside her through thick and thin.  We pray and trust that we will make it through these trying times together stronger, better and more united than ever. Those are the kind of thoughts a geezer guy has in the middle of the night while watching a well lit flag strut its stuff at Camp Fortunate.

Seeing the flag fly last night also made me think of the flag flying here at Camp Fortunate in 1805.  Lewis & Clark were really good about flying the flag at each camp.  Heck, I don't even know how many stars and stripes would have been on an 1805 flag.  And speaking of which, I don't think our National Anthem had even been written back then.

(Editor's Note added later: There were actually 17 States in 1805 but the official US Flag has 15 Stars and stripes.  Here's the link for more info:  And here's the photo of a typical US Flag in 1805.  The Star Spangled Banner National Anthem lyrics were written in 1814.)
Speaking of Camp Fortunate, this is where the Lewis & Clark expedition parted ways with their boats—boats that had paddled, dragged, pulled and portaged all the way from St. Louis.  Here is where they set foot almost due west to climb high onto Lemhi Pass and cross the Continental Divide.  We went to Lemhi Pass back in 2005 during the Bicentennial Hoopla of Lewis & Clark.  It's a steep, steep road up to that pass and danged near burned out the clutch on our little Suzuki Samurai.  But it's a worthy spot for a pilgramage to stand in their footsteps and stare at wave upon wave of mountain ridges disappearing into the far western horizon.  From Lemhi Pass, the expedition would drop down into the Lemhi River watershed and make their way to camp for a few days at what is now Salmon, Idaho. For two Lewis & Clark junkies, it's wonderful being here at Camp Fortunate.

We're happy to be going home today.  We originally thought we'd stay out much longer—possibly even skipping the eclipse.  But we're both glad to be 125 miles from home.  It's been a great trip and now it's time to turn a page and start a new chapter in the book of our 2017 Idaho Season.