Old Diary

UPS – grrrrrrrrrr….

Wednesday didn’t go as expected at all.  We scrapped our plans over breakfast and ended up taking a road trip to Spring Valley, and the Highland Ridge Campground.  We spent a good part of the summer there last year and we just wanted to see the old place again.  an unexpected 300 mile round trip.  But one we enjoyed a lot.

Returning home I received a 2nd failed delivery attempt from UPS and after realizing that the problem was my fault, not UPS (though they don’t make it easy to fix the problem) it looks like today we get to do an unexpected 400 mile round trip to pick up at the distribution center what I was trying to get delivered to our kid’s new house.

So, there you have it… the best laid plans of mice and men…  I’ve learned a good lesson from this.

But no… we are not going to stop to look at the kids new house — We’ll save the joy of sharing it with us for our daughter.  That’s only fair.  🙂

Old Diary

DARK Clouds

We woke to nearly black clouds South of us.  I’m glad I’m not where those clouds are.  We have a slightly better than 50/50 chance of rain but at last the heat has broken and there are 10 days of temps in the mid 70’s and low 80’s to look forward to — I’ll take a little rain just for a break in the heat.  My Coastal-acclimated body is still readjusting.

Last night I ripped the pleats out of the passenger side windshield curtains.  It’s a small first step to ‘fixing’ the ill fitting curtains that keep the public out of our lounge.  We hope to adjust both the height of the curtains (they currently hang about 2″ lower than the track that suspends them ) and the length (drape) of the curtains.  Right now they seem way too long (almost 5″ too long).  A little ‘break’ on the dashboard is good, but not that  much!

Tuesday we got out and took a nice walk around Peck Lake — lots has  changed since last year.  The flood waters have played havoc with the root system of some trees and there is more light getting down to the ground on that little circuit around the lake.  We like that little walk, we try to get it into our schedule every day that it’s not too hot.

Beyond that, I didn’t do much at all.  A little writing, a little reading, just enjoying being retired.  Hasn’t been much of that, actually.  Lots of coming and going — it’s nice to have a day when not much happens.

Old Diary

Still Wheels

Monday we drove into La Crosse to look for sewing ideas.  What?  Since when did Peter start sewing?  But don’t get sidetracked on answers that don’t matter.


They are also too long over the entry door

The curtains are too long over the dashboard

The curtains are too long over the dashboard

The windshield curtains in our coach are worn; they are also way too long for the windows they are installed in; they probably don’t belong in this coach but what can we do about them short of replacing them at this point?

They need to be cut and hemmed.  We don’t travel with a sewing machine.  We thought about using hot seaming tape — but we don’t travel with an iron.  So, what could we do?

We found some fabric glue to try out. So over the next few days or weeks we’re going to take the three curtain pieces down (one at at time), re-do them, and see if they will survive another couple years.

We thought about asking our daughter to bring her iron along — but I want to find a solution we can use both now and in the future for our sewing needs in the  coach.  We’ll keep you posted on how all this works out.

But, I teased you with “Still Wheels” and haven’t said anything about wheels, have I?

On the way into La Crosse it dawned on me.  We hadn’t been in the car, or in a vehicle with the engine running for 67 hours.  Almost three days and no movement, no ignition, no blast off, nothing!  We got to thinking about our recent history and realized that we haven’t enjoyed that time in one place without interruption since BEFORE we arrived in Oregon!  The entire time in Oregon we were on the move every day, or at the most on an alternate day.  I’m liking this.

Buzzard Billy’s Flying Carp Cafe

While we were with family in Tahoe the husband of Peg’s niece got to talking about his hometown (Viroqua) and the neighboring town of La Crosse!  One of their restaurant suggestions was Buzzard Billy’s — so as long as we were in town, and the temperature was going to be in the 90’s again we decided to eat out and save the cooking heat in the coach.

We had a fun time in this Cajun joint in Wisconsin, featuring seafood, creole cooking and even alligator!

It was a fun meal!  And the music was great!  We almost didn’t want to leave.

A review of today’s coming week forecast shows that we’re cooling off as of tomorrow.  Rain is a bit iffy — but if we can have some dry time and some cool then I’ll have a chance to get into the basement and pull stuff out, think about it, and see what I can do to rearrange it in a more usable fashion.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


Old Diary

Sunday Morning in the Park with Peter

“It is a strange thing to come home.
While yet on the journey,
you cannot at all realize
how strange it will be.”
– Selma Lagerl

It’s hazy again.  The clear skies after yesterday’s rainfall have surrendered to the haze of summer humid heat.   We’re due for another warm one today — 90º plus.

Being parked here at Blackhawk Park, we are in familiar territory.  We’ve already heard woodpeckers, seen egrets and cranes, watched a Bald Eagle go fishing for breakfast.  We’ve seen three tows of barges:  a 9 barge, a 12 barge and a 15 barge tow.  It’s almost like we were never gone.

waiting for the rain to stopThis time I chose the Southern Loop (they call it the Western loop), of campsites — partly because we made our reservations when the campground was still closed due to flooding and this was the only section available, but also because we were anticipating our new solar panels and we wanted to insure being able to get a satellite signal.  (Which may not mean anything — the WX for the coming week is pretty much just RAIN!) All of which is just static on the radar screen of life.  Fact is, we like it here.

The Northern loop has a direct view of the shipping channel; the Southern loop does not.  To be honest, we hadn’t even heard the thrum, thrum, thrum of a string of barges until our walk this morning., but they’re out there. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

River Traffic

Current river traffic at our location

There is a mainline RR track not far away; we hear a little commotion from the rail, but it’s not as loud as the OHV’s were when we listened from our front door at our compound in Siltcoos.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land;
it is at last to set foot on one’s own country
as a foreign land.”
– G. K. Chesterton

I have a friend from High School who cannot understand why I like to travel.  They clearly lack the RV gene!  The concept that travel need not be about the places visited — but can, in fact, be all about your perceptions of life — seems to elude them.  But that is what travel is for us.

We travel in order to be changed.  To be changed in ways we could not anticipate because we cannot anticipate what will happen in a strange place.  (Well, not all that strange — we are after all still in the U.S.) There is that feeling of coming back to a familiar place but seeing it with new eyes; seeing it with altered eyes; seeing it with sharpened eyes is priceless.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.”
– Carlo Goldoni

dragging a blanket

We all drag a little baggage along with us through life.

When I was younger I didn’t understand why returning to your own place would not result in a little despising.  There is always room for improvement in the world.  Why should seeing other ways of doing things NOT make you a little irritated?  But over time we grow and realize that’s not what it’s all about.  When you travel you don’t see things from the standpoint of a native — in order to do that you’d have to live your entire life there — you’d have to be saturated by the culture, the mores, the biases,  the fallacies, all of that and more.  No, when we travel we remain travelers who pick up a few bits and bobs and that’s usually about it.  When we return home we drag them along with us; and often we think we see the world through clearer glasses — and maybe we do — from the standpoint that we see there are alternatives; other ways, other ideas than we have as yet entertained.

Lucy_Blanket But the fact of the matter is we take ‘home’ along with us and we rarely really leave it behind even when we ‘relocate’.  Our ideas go with us, and our imaginations go with us: it takes a really long time to leave home behind and set down roots in a new place like a human transplant.  Young or old we all carry around our stupid blankets — and we think we’ve gotten smarter.

Comfort blanket … drag a blanket with you, à la ZegnaTruth is, as a species we seem not to get a lot smarter.

I was ready about the conflict between folks near San Francisco being casual about water usage at a time when the entire state is in a catastrophic drought.  And then a little while later I read about the Quake in Frisco.  Sometimes our values need adjustment by the forces of nature.  When Momma Nature turns off the water we think we can beg, borrow and steal it from other places and avoid her wrath.  That Momma nature might send along a trembler to bring our attention back to things that matter somehow seems like life’s way of bringing focus to life.

There are so many things that people who live through the same things can’t agree upon.  There is always climate change.  And economic inequality.  And a few dozen other problems that we can’t even agree are problems.  My point in all this is that travel — adventure — often ends up producing results that we never expect. We end up changed in unanticipated ways.  What is important changes.  What we are willing to give up changes.  What we are willing to fight for changes.

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

I’m glad to be back in Wisconsin for a while.  We have approximately a 1 month window here – because we have no plans beyond September 18th – at all.  We are here in Blackhawk for a total of 13 nights, then Bong Recreation Area for 14 nights.  After that as long as the doctor doesn’t come up with something she wants to do we are out of here. (We aren’t as young as once we were and while we are both feeling well, you just never know about those things — so we leave ourselves an open window).

We are talking about Texas for the winter.  But don’t be confused by that statement. For us talking is just talking.  And we aren’t all that sure, yet, that we have a ‘destination’ at all — maybe it’s more like the way a compass needle points in a direction  — without picking one point on which to focus (that you can see) and your present location always changes our perspective about where that needle is pointing.

There’s no telling how long it may take us to get to New Orleans, our first intended ‘general direction’   We already know we are going to take a leisurely meander.  We might take a month or more to arrive, then maybe time at Bayou Segrette State Park, and/or at Grand Isle State Park.

Will we, or won’t we try to get out of Texas in time to see some of the Sandhill  Cranes at Bosque del Apache before they head North for the Summer? All of that is on the table but none of it has been talked about in detail.  We are in the moment now, and I don’t think we’ll  talk about plans until after we are done in Milwaukee.  We are thinking about whether to replace one sofa this year; and if we did we might return to Bradd & Hall in Elkhart.  There’s a world of opportunity; and nothing to say we have to do any of it.

Yesterday in the few minutes I spent down in the ‘basement’ I realized that there are a couple things I could and should rearrange.  Our fan and our vacuum could live in the same tub. Once again, after drying out another tub last week, I find something has leaked in that same tub — so I have a chore — figure out what’s going on.  It’s not a leak in the basement — it’s only ever water in one tub — the one with liquid containers.  Maybe the solution is to carry fewer liquids 🙂

All of which is my way of saying we’re here to putter around for a while.  To move into our new house — to unpack our metaphors and metaphorically unpack our boxes of moved belongings from Journey to the Ambassador.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

In’s and Out’s

Sundays are always fun in a campground. The weekend warriors head home and there’s a flurry of activity around the campground. You can hear trailer owners using their electric drills to crank up stabilizing jacks; there are children crying because they don’t want to go home, there are pets that escape — or don’t want to get into their carriers, there are those who are skilled at driving their rigs and others who aren’t (SCREEEEEEEECH & CRUNCH). Sunday mornings are great people-watching!

In two and a half years this is only the second time we’ve had a pull through site. Life is so much easier when you don’t have to back in! And it’s safer. We picked this site (with limited options available) because it kept our large front windows out of the West, and we knew that there was good sight lines to the South for our satellite.

CROC drying stand

I like to wear my Crocs to the shower house and flush toilets — when I took my shower I arrived back at the coach and decided to leave them outside on the rug to dry off. What I didn’t count on was the downpour later in the day – at which point those Crocs got filled up with water. My new Croc Drying stand!

Here’s the Man of The House, just kickin’ back in my easy chair. To be truthful with the temps up in the 90’s I didn’t stay out there all that long. It felt great  to just sit back and read. I’m still on my Lawrence Sanders kick, but I have other things in the library.  When I finish this I think I’ll try one of them.

As is typical with campgrounds, there’s a lot of beer consumed. I found it interesting that when it came time to throw out their trash this camper had a small bag of trash and a LARGE bag of aluminum beer cans. This wasn’t the worst/best example — it just happened to be the one walking in front of me.

I like my alcohol — don’t get me wrong, I’m not against drinking while camping. I am, however, amazed at how much people can drink. I’m one of those guys who can be drunk under the table by a 90 lb woman. I just don’t have much tolerance for alcohol! But for those who do and can… as long as you are safe and don’t disturb other campers: it’s your choice.

this 9 barge tow was headed down stream

here’s a 12 barge tow headed upstream! there’s a 15 barge tow behind this guy along the bank waiting for this faster, same company, barge to pass them.

Being close to the Mississippi, we get a chance to see the tugs and barges. For Peggy and I that’s a big part of the attraction of this place — to watch the commerce of the world go … floating by… at what appears to be a snail’s pace. Of course, if you realized how huge the volume of freight each of these barges carries the concept of haste changes dramatically. Today we saw three, small photos of two of them are enclosed.

This last photo I include to illustrate the amount of water involved in this year’s flooding. From the current level of water to where that moss has come to rest on the low tree branch is a good 10 feet!  Half of the campground was closed for several weeks; it’s an annual thing here and they just work around it.

Well, that’s about it for me for today. thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

And then there was… (silence)

Friday afternoon was the first opportunity on this trip to

  • turn the engine off,
  • have a few minutes of free time when we weren’t exhausted,

And it was eery.  There were:

  • No OHV’s.
  • No ocean sounds.
  • Just the still of the forest.


  • There was Wisconsin Mucky Summer Humidity,  also known as summer haze…
    .Summer Haze

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  It’s just interesting how quickly what I spent a lifetime becoming accustomed to can suddenly (in comparison) become foreign!  I don’t remember this much humidity.  I love the silence of the forest, but I miss the sound of the ocean.  The OHV’s — well, they’re just what they are: a joy to some and a nuisance to others  — but they were ubiquitous where we just came from and the sudden absence is a bit mind blowing.

We slept Ok last night.  It was hot like the previous nights — but seemed hotter.  We have not yet twigged the best way to keep the coach at a comfortable night-time temperature/humidity level.

That wasn’t a problem on the Coast — it was cool EVERY night.  And even though we might have kept the dehumidifier (freestanding – that we bought while we still had Journey to help control mold and mildew) running all night we never felt this kind of humidity.

You other RV’ers know that finding a comfortable temperature can sometimes be a sticky wicket.  If you set the A/C warm enough to be comfortable with it blowing on you it’s not cool enough to sleep without waking.  If you set it cold enough to sleep with you need blankets to keep you out of the breeze.  You can turn off the A/C and just use the house fans, but we go to bed early and often the heat of the day hasn’t dissipated — so it’s still to hot when we go to bed, and just right when we wake up.

We’ll suss it out in time.  And our technique will inevitably change as we move to other parts of the country.  This would all be much simpler if we could just learn to stay awake later and get up later — but a lifetime of early to bed and early to rise has not been an easy habit to kill; and 10 months on the forest didn’t do anything to help when we sort of had a time to go to work.

And so it is that retirement is a period of adjustment; and RV’ing is a period of continual adjustment. If you want calm stability in your life, never buy an RV.  But they can be SO MUCH FUN!

The Grand Scene

My mother was one to sit in her easy chair and watch the neighbors. She knew them all by name, knew their comings and goings, and commented on any deviation.  That doesn’t sound complimentary but I mean no ill will — it’s just one of the things she did.  Dad wanted to travel; Peg and I are living my FATHER’S DREAM to be sure.  Mom’s priorities were different:  there were local people she cared about and for and she needed to be near them.  They traveled a good deal, but she never wanted to be away from home more than a couple weeks at a time; and when dad talked her into the rare 1 month long trip she was ready to be home after 2 weeks.  And hope to heaven that no one had a heart attack or died while they were gone, that would have ruined everything.


Peg and I were driving down the road — someplace East of Worthington — and all around us were green, verdant fields and rolling hills and trees.  I looked at her and said, “Now isn’t this better than sitting on your sofa in the living room and staring out at all the neighbors?”

Indeed.  It is. At 55 mph on the Interstate life is quite luxurious in an RV.  You are way up there — over the top of all those short cars.

The view near Chamberlain S.D.

The view near Chamberlain S.D.

At that speed you are moving slow enough that almost all the traffic is pulling away from you (so you aren’t having to hit the brakes or change lanes to pass).  You aren’t going fast enough to really need to be super-vigilant — normal vigilance is OK.  🙂  In other words you can just enjoy being there.

The world stretches out in front of you...

The world stretches out in front of you…

We don’t need to travel a lot — but good gosh golly — it’s hard to get tired of this sensation — the world laid out in front of you like a … giant oyster … had to get in a little Coast humor seeing as this scene is so DRY!

This is getting back to the retirement we visualized.  And the one we bought the bigger RV to enjoy.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for stopping by, and God willing and if the creek don’t rise (after all, we are along the Mississippi where there was flooding earlier this season) I’ll talk with you tomorrow.  🙂

Old Diary

Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Ok — so I started this blog entry about 2 months ago and I never finished it.  What with travel and the visit with Kathryn I just never had time to get back to it.  But I was very struck by our little visit to the Genoa National Fish Hatchery and I wanted to share what we saw.

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau


a broad view of some of the hatchery pools

Those words come out of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s brochure and it speaks to the heart of their mandate.  The hatchery is part of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Act of 1931 — it’s been around a long time — but located where it is (like most fish hatcheries) not many people even know it’s here.  I’d like to do a little something to help change that.


a hatchery sturgeon

This particular hatchery raises 15 species of fish and 15 species of mussels — they are actively producing more species than most other hatcheries in the country.  They produce primarily cold water breeding species, and I was surprised to learn that the also breed mussels!  With ten breeding ponds and enough out-buildings to handle fertilizing eggs and getting the little critters started in life it’s quite an interesting operation.  They welcome visitors and you’re free to make your way around the facility using their self-guided tour map.

Among other species they raise Bass, Rainbow Trout and Sturgeon.  I happen to have more images of sturgeon — they were what were in the culture tanks during our visit, but they operate all year working one species after another.

300 species of Mussels!

I was surprised to find that there are 300 species of mussels in the freshwater rivers of North America. Nor did I have any idea that most mussels need a host upon which to grow their larvae!  Without the right fish, no mussels.  The eggs settle into the gills of host fish and there the mussels grow until ready to drop of; without hurting the host fish.

Mussels have been on the decline in the U.S.  Species numbers are declining about 1.2%  per decade and they are expected to decline faster — in the range of 6.5% per decade in the future.  Genoa has released about 10 million juvenile mussels back into the rivers since 2000!  That’s a lot of mussel!

I hope some of you will put the hatchery on your To Visit List.  It may be small but they do a lot of good work!

Thanks for stopping by!

Quotations, Travel

Instances where I dont have my camera

I am working hard at mastering this.  Stay IN the moment, and quit thinking about what’s around the corner.

This is becoming increasingly difficult as we sit here waiting for the day to arrive when we move towards Oregon.

I can be way too one-track-minded. Yes dad, you were right.  I’ve never really denied it, but then I’ve rarely ever embraced it either.

I have no patience.

Dear Instances…