Old Diary

Perceptions Aren’t Reality


This morning’s weather radar — and what Kathryn get’s to drive around/through on her way here.

Staying in the moment is a deceptive place to be!  Just because one perceives their environment doesn’t mean their perception is accurate!  It’s rather the same difference as is found between an opinion and truth.  Just because one has an opinion about something does not make that either a fact, or the truth. (And yes — I’m still one of those dinosaurs that believes there is and can be such things as absolute truths.)

Like most of the parents I know, when our family is traveling we’re always a bit on edge; always waiting for that “Arrived Safe” from whomever the traveler might be.  Today, there are some sizable weather cells betwixt Kathryn and us, so we’re understandably eager to have her through them and into the good weather.  (If indeed there turns out to be any good weather this weekend.)

After her early morning “I’m Leaving” message I checked the rain numbers for our area.  (doncha just love text messages from your kids — no matter what age they are!) We normally get about 3.5” of rain in May and this year we’ve had… WHAT? …  Only 1.34”?????

How can that be?

Seems like twice that?

Mumble, mumble, mumble….

That’s the thing about living in the moment.  You are left with impressions of the moment — impressions that aren’t always accurate. I know that as an RV’er impressions are often the only thing I have to report as we aren’t in many of the  places we visit long enough to assimilate truths about them — what we experience are isolated points in time aside from context and ignorant of trends.

When in school I never liked history. But I wasn’t out-in-the-world for very long before I began realizing that history is a lot more important than I ever gave it credence for being. I found myself boning up on history and trying to put my own life into some sort of context;  context I discovered is a lot more important than the smart-aleck young guy living in my body wanted to acknowledge.

context-mattersWithout context we repeat errors.  Without context we adopt exaggerated behaviors.  Without context we commit to ill advised plans.  The builder who ignores the hundred year flood plain is bound to find expensive repairs a frequent experience.  The nation that ignores the morals of their neighbors ends up with a century of war.  etc.. etc., etc.

I don’t know if it’s possible to travel without adopting some inaccuracies about the places you visit.  I know that for us, we can only take away the memories we experience of a place.  Our recent winter in Florida might have been during a cooler and wetter season — but we can’t walk away saying how WARM it had been — because for us it wasn’t that way.

There is a part of me that knows the United States that I remember growing up in, and working in, is a lot better than this United States that seems to have emerged during the current election cycle.  Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the candidates on both sides.  I keep asking myself, “where did these people come from, and are there no better options out there?”  The predominant trait for the front-runners is not what they stand for, but how strong are their disapproval ratings.  That’s a terrible thing to have happen.

It seems as if in the current climate the entire election process is about $$$$$$$.  And I can’t see any way that the Average Joe can do anything to change that.  Politicians themselves aren’t going to suddenly decide to throw away the feeding trough that has made them all pigs and gluttons for more.  So, how we get ourselves out of this current situation is quite beside me.how powerful

Just the other day I was thinking about how down to earth a lot of the young adults we meet are.  There really are a lot of decent, thoughtful folks out there.  And then I turn on the news and after about 30 seconds I want to turn it back off because the stories that reach the media are such trash.  I find myself needing context.  I find that listening to the evening news is quite like listening to the pitter patter of rain on the RV roof:  it often sounds much worse than it is; it often seems to last much longer than it does.

Currently I’m reading a book by Julian Fellowes — the same guy who wrote the screenplays for Downton Abbey. In this book which encompasses past and present from the 1960’s to now he comments on how friendship has changed.  It’s a change that I have thought about myself numerous times because along with the technological changes in the world, the way we see other humans has changed as well.

Friendship used to be a thing of experience.  You became friends over time because you became friends as you got to know someone more and more intimately.

“This is a distinction lost on the modern world where
people who have shaken hands and nodded a greeting
will tell you they ‘know’ each other.  Sometimes they
will go further and assert, without any more to go on,
that so-and-so is‘a friend of mine.’   If it should suit
the other party they will endorse this fiction and,
in that endorsement, sort of make it true.
When it is not true.   Forty years ago we were,
I think, more aware of the degree of a relationship.”

As we travel around we make a lot of acquaintances, and a very few friends.  In fact, during my lifetime I’d say I had a handful of real friends, and a myriad of acquaintances. The thing is, no one want to be an acquaintance.  Everyone wants to think they are friends.  But I’ve never been willing to commit myself to all that many people at once.   It’s hard work to be a friend.

But, back to the thing about perceptions…

Perceptions as regards friends and acquaintances follow the same paths as other perceptions.  A moment’s attention gives you a data point that applies to a moment.  There are no trends,  there are no averages. In that moment of experience you may fully experience all that a person reveals to you of themself; but you’ll only experience all that such a person reveals to you in that moment.  There’s no way to know more about them short of spending … duh … more moments with them.

I’m not sure I want to spend many more moments getting to know either Hillary or Donald.  To be honest, I don’t think either of them would be good for the United States of America.  Similarly,  I don’t know much about the climate here in Highland Ridge — I’ve experienced a grand total of several summer months of it, but whether they are typical or not I don’t really know.  I’ve tried a few restaurants; but I don’t know if they are really good restaurants, or if we were just there on a good night.

I’m happy for this part of my retirement to be a constant flow of temporary experiences.  I’m happy — for a time — to approximate a life without context.  I know that will end at some point.  My need for context will eventually overcome my need for novelty.

criteria decision matrixAll my life I’ve used the the illustration of a matrix to describe how I live my life.  Life is a giant grid and people, places, things, experiences, relationship all fit into that grid in some way.  When I don’t know the coordinates I put those items off on the side until I figure out where they belong.  Then the fit into the matrix and I can… sort of… forget about them:  I know where they fit.

Perhaps that’s partly the reason we haven’t found a “place” that we want to call our retirement home.  Thus far the places we’ve been have been only points in time.  And perhaps I’m jus figuring out right now what I’ve been looking for.  I’m not sure.

Anyway… perceptions are not reality… they are point in time data points that tell us about the moment, but not about what to expect.  I wish I knew what to expect from this election.  I DO know what to expect from Peggy, and from Kathryn, and Michael and Melanie, and many of my close friends.  I also know that I’ll never be able to count on any politician — not on Donald, neither on Hillary — or even Bernie.

So, on this Friday before Memorial Day weekend there you have it.  The reality that Presidents send young men and women into battle — often for reasons more their own, than reasons of the nation.  And I’ll do my own grieving for those lost.

And I’ll be here tomorrow,  to chat if you will.  Why not stop and spend some time?

Old Diary

We are REALLY liking this place!

December 8

Our Monday jaunt.

In spite of significant rain Monday we went exploring anyway. It wasn’t the best day for a drive but the temps were in the 60’s and we were seeing new and interesting things.  We are both beginning to appreciate that there are a lot of things to do here and it would take a long time to do them.

Santa Ana NWR signEven though it wasn’t a good day for birding we went to check out the next two closest Wildlife Refuges.  The Santa Ana NWR and the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park World Birding Center.WBC-logo BRG-WorldBirdCen Those locations are over 50 miles (one way) from Los Fresnos.  So the places we choose to visit regularly could easily determine whether we would want Los Fresnos to be our long-term rendezvous point,  or whether a site closer to them would be better.  A lot will depend on which birding sites we like the best, and what other activities we find pulling us back time and again.  Los Fresnos is great for access to Brownsville, Padre Island, and Laguna Atascosa as well as points not too far west.   But if we find that we are spending more time at westerly destinations then Los Fresnos becomes a liability rather than an asset.

We have not been in this area since 2009, and we found another huge factor — for us — during Monday’s drive.  The area between McAllen and Mission is far more heavily/densely developed.  Traffic is much worse: there are a lot more stores/malls/restaurants there.  We’re talking lighter than Milwaukee but still — it’s significantly more congested than where we are.  Other RV’ers might crave all of those details, specially the restaurant, but not us.

Where will we live, where will we live?

our new siteOn the Which-Site-Is-Ours front…. we talked with Michael and Carolynne today about changing sites and we picked a new one.  It’s funny how a few days in a place can give you enough information to change completely how you view it.  Before seeing the place with our own eyes were were wanting to be on the perimeter and out of the midst of activity.

After considering the drainage issues which won’t easily be resolved as there seems to be no city sewerage system this far out of town,  and getting to know a lot of the residents we scrapped the perimeter idea in favor of a site that is centrally located, close to the laundry (for Peg) and has better street drainage, and a concrete pad.  I’m doubtful we’ll get moved before the 18th.  There’s rain in the forecast for this Thursday, and if it stays dry it looks like it takes the better part of a week for this odd terrain to drain.

So, there you have it.  Another day in paradise. 🙂 Or at least as close as we’ve come in quite a while.  We love the people here. But… I’m realizing that my Northern Midwestern personality needs to slow down & I need to sharpen my hearing.  It ought not to be surprising for me to say that there are a lot of hispanics in the area — and for one thing so MANY of them seem so very soft spoken — I really have to listen more carefully when they speak.  The other thing is that folks here really are friendly; I tend to be more business like — and I need to slow down;  take time to exchange niceties before getting down to the business at hand.  I really need to work on this.  Once again today while we were at Bentsen-Rio Grande I was charging ahead of the staff officer at the reception and while I thought she was catching up to me, she was in fact ahead of me and I was the one playing catch up.  I guess momma didn’t teach me enough good manners.  sigh.

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

Old Diary

We were almost ready to move and then there was more rain…

We were scheduled to move to our permanent site on Monday — if there was no rain.  Texas Rain…And then it rained!  Moving plans are on hold.

First, let me say so there is no confusion on the matter:  Do not feel bad because we are temporarily sitting in a place that is not our ‘final resting place.’  (giggle)

  • Texas is coming out of a two year drought — and I do not hear anyone complaining about the rain — they need it, and although it may be inconvenient it’s not a big deal.  🙂
  • The Park put us into a Premium campsite until our longterm site is ready so we have it BETTER here than if we had moved into our assigned site upon arrival.  🙂
  • The only ‘drawback’ is that we haven’t put out a few gee-gaws and conveniences that we might like to — but it’s not like we are inconvenienced in any way.  🙂 rain

When the rain stopped this morning we went  ‘house hunting’ — which is to say we took the list of unreserved sites that I made from the map on the wall and we went out to survey which sites might be available as alternatives to  one we selected sight unseen over the phone.  We’ve been here a week; have seen what the roads look like after a rain; and how long it takes the water to disappear. It’s clear that there are better locations than that to which we initially committed.

Most of the resident comments have been positive about the park. (I’m talking about seasonal residents — I haven’t met very many of the longterm year-round residents, there are a few but most of the park is filled with seasonals like ourselves).   The two negative comments we have heard relate to how long it takes to get things done and how bad the roads are.  Or course complaints have to be taken with a grain of salt, and viewed without bias.  We don’t yet know how true or serious the comments about time-to-resolve might be.  The complaints about road condition I have to say are a function of what you are accustomed to.  Clearly the roads here in the park are better than some of the city streets in Milwaukee.  They are also filled with more potholes than many people would like to see.  I suppose the road condition could be rectified quickly if the rental rates were doubled; but no one’s in a hurry to have that happen. So, I’m just taking a back seat to the discussion and thinking to myself — “that’s not so bad!”


This is the other side of the street in front of our site. The Frogs are going fishing! (just a joke)

Having surveyed open sites, we intend to check with the office on Monday to see whether there might be a different site into which we could move.  We talked with the Mattisons from Wisconsin (a couple we met almost two years ago while we were camp hosting in Spring Valley) and they encouraged us to do so.  The park is not fully booked and it should not make any difference to the management which site we take — just that we stay, enjoy our stay and consider returning – that’s what every business person wants.   We’ll let you know how that works out! 🙂

In any event, now that it rained pretty hard overnight, we won’t be moving in the next few days — perhaps for a week.  The underlying substrate is clay with some kind of light sandy earth on top.  Once that top layer saturates there’s no place for the water to go until it evaporates.  Given their normal rainfall, that’s not a huge issue.

I’m equally curious to see how this may affect movements when people are ready to leave in the spring.  I’d think that ‘spring showers’ might have an interesting impact of departures…. we’ll see.

Long story short though — more and more sites have concrete pads to prevent getting bogged down in the mud — which only exacerbates the problem taking away more surface area for the rain to soak into. …

A Reunion

Yup — more people we know!  You see, Wayne and Cheryl Mattison are to blame for our being here today.  In August of 2013 we met them and two other couples caravanning through Northern Wisconsin.  They stayed a few days at the campground we were hosting and as is our style when we meet nice people we spend time getting to know them.  They told us about Palmdale and we thought we would be here last winter — but of course the USFS got in our way and we never made it.  It was good to reconnect with them.  Wayne is a real live wire — to wit — he was wearing a SKI TEXAS t-shirt last night!Ski Texas

We have been meeting and making friends a lot.  There are Otis and Ann who live next door — they are from Castle Rock WI.  There are Don and Judy are from Springfield IL who arrived at the same time we did and like ourselves and several others they are waiting on the ground to harden so they can pull into their assigned spot.  They however have more of a problem — their tandem axle 42′ coach is more than 10,000 lbs heavier than ours!  We scale out at 30,000, they are over 41,000 lbs.  That weight seems heavy to me, but I assume he knows his own rig (which may or may not be true)    Don and Donna are from…. who knows…..  I forget.   Ralph and his wife are from Ohio, Then there are  Jim and Marilyn are from Yoder, Indiana.  logoquebecWe have also met two couples from Quebec — one of whom struggles with his English — but then I too struggle (with my non-existent French) — so we’re even.  BC_Logo_50bThere are even one (or maybe two) couples here from British Columbia.  Both the Quebecois and the British Columbians are a LONG LONG way from home! It’s a fun place to be.

A return to ‘normalcy’ (whatever that might be)

We are also settling into a little more normal life than that which we live while we are traveling.  Meal times are getting more regular — which makes my GERD happy.  We need to go back on a diet — the doctor ranked on my during my last visit and I should pay attention to her advice.  We putter a little, and generally we take a short jaunt each day.  And we are trying to get our walks in to get some cardio exercise.

Of course about the time we do we may have visitors.  Katy & Mike are thinking about visiting.  Peg’s cousin Diana is considering it, and so is our friend Debbie in Chatham.  We’d be happy to see any and all, and maybe we will — so routines are highly over-rated and don’t mean all that much.

We seem to get a slow start in the morning — I write in the mornings.  Then after a late breakfast we usually make a short trip someplace. Then return for an early dinner.  (Yup — usually two meals a day plus an evening snack of crackers and cheese or a dish of ice cream)

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

Old Diary, Travel

Here They Are

I mentioned Bob and Janice Flanigan this morning.  We had more time to chat with them this morning before they continued on their way, so here are a couple of shots to share.

The telltale of a PLQ -- the rear window on an '05, '06, '07, '08 Holiday Rambler Ambassador

The telltale of a PLQ — the rear window on an ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08 Holiday Rambler Ambassador


Curbside view — Things change and the factory decided to mount their awning over the top of their lounge slide.


Bob, Janice, and Peggy

It is always interesting to me that RV’ers who have never met before are so commonly friendly and open.  I think about next-door brick & stick neighbors and while I made friends of neighbors while we were stationery live-ers I really don’t recall them being as friendly as most RV’ers we’ve attempted to get to know.

In any campground there are campers who are clearly there to be with their family, or by themselves.  Then there are the ones who walk the roads just looking to make friends.  Sometimes I hide from them.  While I love people I’m not always ready for that sort of friend-making.  But those in between, can be the most lovely people we’ve met along the way.

With identical coaches (except for the model year changes)  we had a lot of approaches to RV’ing to share.  We share a lot of outlook on life, and I could see in their modifications to their own coach the kind of changes I might make, or might have made in ours given enough time to get around to them.

It was a fun day, and thanks to Bob and Janice for choosing to Just Stop By — without warning.  They’re off to a volunteer gig in Florida and we wish them well — and hope to see them again along the way.

Old Diary

A Visit With A Friend

An uneventful drive brought us to Chatham and the oh so lovely home of our longtime Friend Debbie.  She was Peggy’s co-worker for years at Aurora Health Care and she rented an apartment in the same building with us.  We’ve enjoyed staying in touch after she moved to Illinois, and we are looking forward to a good chin-wag with her and possibly her cousin Sharon whom we also know.

Our agent wasn’t so happy about our going away. “What if the buyer wants to do their showing while you’re gone.”   Well, I leave you a key.  Whatchathink?  We dropped the key on the way out of town through the agents mail drop and off we went.

It was good we weren’t in Journey for the trip. With headwinds +23mph it would not have been nearly as fun a drive as it was in the CR-V but hey — we had our big girl panties on and it was fun anyway!.   Forsythias were blooming, and pear trees, and dogwoods and redbuds and…. well,  Spring has sprung in Middle Illinois, that’s for sure.


Chin wagging among old friends is always a good time and it seems we had a lot to catch up on.  Debbie’s a stinker and some of her big news she didn’t bother telling us; but hey — not everyone rattles on in a blog like I do!

Arriving close to dinner time we had a choice to make:  where to eat?  We ended up at a little place that used to be a Pizza joint — and has turned into Vietnanmese and Thai — and was it ever tasty.  WoW.  Loved it.  Good company, good food ( except maybe for the shrimp suimai which was tasty enough but just not the right thing for our group ) and a nice subdued atmosphere. Debbie had a chance to get some sweet sour chicken, I went for SpIcY glass noodles with tofu and Peg played it safe somewhere in between my spicy and Deb’s sweet.  All were good and we left sated.

The WX forecast has slipped a bit,  what was supposed to be warm and sunny will now most likely turn into warm and drizzly.

We’ve made some plans for post closing — more on that tomorrow.

numeral 41Talk to ya tomorrow.