Old Diary

Dodged a Big One

The rolling, rolling, thunder had been just around my consciousness level and I wasn’t sure if I was hearing things or dreaming.  When I got up the rolling, rolling, rolling thunder continued and I hopped online to see what was going on.

It was forecast to be a quiet, dry night. But overnight the storms ‘magically’ appeared — from cooling temps after a 90º heat — and the Weather Channel said they had already had 3” of rain fall just to our immediate south.Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.58.25 AM

Normally I’d have worried that we’d be right in the path — but this storm was traveling NW to SE so we missed it.  Well, we missed the worst of it.

Strong storms like this always make camping-departure-day an interesting experience.  We get the option of avoiding the rain if we choose — we only have 4 arrivals today — but those folks who get to go home today face the ugly choice of how wet they want their belongings to be when they pack up.

I find this fascinating.  In a sociological sort of way.

How do we deal with unpredictable?  Are we loosey-goosey and devil-may-care about packing up — figuring we can dry things out at home in the basement/garage?  Or maybe we don’t have a basement/garage and if our gear gets wet the only place to dry things out is in the condo?  Or maybe the kids are screaming because they don’t like thunder and your partner has a headache from sleeping on one of the kid’s Transformers/dolls/legos?  It’s fascinating to recognize the various campers — as families — and watch who goes home when:  during the downpour, after the downpour, way past check-out time — you get the idea.

We had a lot of children in the campground this weekend.  I love it when there are kids here!  That was one of the things I loved about our house in Cudahy.  Living next to an elementary school I had the distinct treat of listening to the sounds of (mostly) happy kids on the playground 9 months of the year; and when I went out to work in the yard during school hours (always my preference) the kids would line up along the fence line and pepper me with questions…. “Hey Mister…”

WE had but one child.  And I was an only child.  I can’t say I missed having a sibling — what did I know — I had no experience of a sibling so I didn’t know what I was missing.   But I love seeing siblings playing together.  They are so diverse!  Sometimes I think these are going to be lifelong friends — they seem to get along so well.  Other times I swear they must hate each other — even at such young ages.

Yesterday 5 little ones were camping in what we call the Electric Circle — 11 sites that can be rented out as a group for family gatherings or small RV rally’s.  The playground is about 1/8 mile from their site; they and their bicycles had made it almost all the way there before we saw them turn around and head back towards their campsite.  We were out in our golf cart at the time and they stopped to ask where the playground might be.  We gave them directions and followed them all the way there to make sure they found it.

One of the five was a little bit chubby — he reminded me a lot of myself at that young age… always the guy wearing the “husky” version of boys wear …and he was at the end of the parade of bikes.  The others were off their bikes and onto the play equipment in a shot … but this young fellow hung back and just watched.   We were done with our rounds and heading back to our campsite when he came up to us and with tears trying to escape his eyes asked how to get back to his campsite.  We’re not sure what the problem was but the other four were having fun and he wasn’t.  On the way back to his site he said he had a migraine — but when I was his age I didn’t even know what a migraine was.  Then again, had they even invented migraines in the 50’s?  I don’t know.

We half followed him and half led him back to his site.  I remembered that sometimes lonely feeling of being the ‘husky’ one, and maybe not being all that athletically inclined.  He finally recognized where he was and took off on his bike  — probably so that he arrived at the site not looking like he needed someone to help him find his way back.  …yeah… I remember days like that.

A week ago we had a family with four kids and the kids were all over at that same playground.  One child of the four had returned to the campsite and I heard a parent loudly inquire as to where the youngest of the four might be.  The little one answered that he was at the playground.  And then the parent shouted, quite loudly (for us to be able to hear) “Don’t you ever leave your brother at the playground along again!”  Being an only child myself, my first thought was, “Well, isn’t that your job — to make sure your kids are safe”  and not the little kids’ job?  But then I wasn’t a sibling.  And I had very, very different parents.

You know that I love diversity.  I love being around different people, different kinds of people.  But that doesn’t mean that I understand them all.  Or that I think they are all good people, or good parents, or good siblings.  Fortunately, it doesn’t make any difference whether I approve — to borrow that old expression:  I’m not the boss of them. They can live their lives any way they want.  And I can be happy I had the parents I had, and the family I had, and the opportunities I had.

This is the kind of Jungle Gym I remember as a kid!

This is the kind of Jungle Gym I remember as a kid!

Yup — we missed the storm this morning.  I think that as we go through life we miss some of the storms and we find ourselves right in the middle of others.  We all get to react to whatever is happening — storm or calm — as best suits us.  Sometimes we make good choices and we have a blast on the jungle jim. Other times we get a migraine and after we arrive at the playground it doesn’t look nearly as appealing and all we want to do is go home.  Sometimes we aren’t kids when we make those choices.  Sometimes we’re retirees!  Sometimes we’re RV’ers. time and chance

It’s easy to get all self-determined, to let one’s ego rise up and appear to be in control. But the facts of life are simple.  We aren’t always in control; the best don’t always win; misfortune happens to us all and it’s not in succeeding that we prove who we are — rather it’s in how we handle what comes our way that demonstrates to all around us who we really are.

kids playing in the mudI tend to remember the little children who have been here from week to week sometimes better than I remember the parents.  It tickles me when the kids remember us too.  They are so open, honest, and creative.  I love when they are so excited about nature that they end up filthy in mud collecting snails, or when they dream up stories about a kangaroo in their ear.  It’s great to be excited about life.  It’s great to see opportunity at every juncture.  These are the minds of the future. And if they have anything to do about it — it may just be a pretty great future!  At least it will be interesting.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here tomorrow to chat. Why not stop by?

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Old Diary

Could use a little water!

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2014

We’re hearing a little about how ferocious this el niño is and I have been focussing my attention on the areas of greatest interest to me — namely Florida, Texas and Arizona.  But it’s easy to be distracted from reality by one’s own biases.  For example, there’s the LACK of precipitation here in Mid Mississippi.

When I look at the longterm forecasts for the winter and I focus in on the projection that Florida may get significantly more rainfall than normal — I forget about the fact that we are passing through Mississippi and the situation is very different here.

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Same scene — 2015

The top two images are taken from nearly the same point, one year apart.  As you can see water levels at this dam are significantly lower than they were last year.  Momma Nature can be very unequal about her distribution of her favors!

We are enjoying the sounds of nature, and the wildlife.  Last year we didn’t see any deer at all around Lake Grenada — we were 45 days earlier and there were a lot of campers in the campground.  This year there are 9 camping units set up — and that includes three units for the different loop hosts. — So, really, there are 6 campers in this lovely site.  Last year I thought they were open all the way through the winter but this year I see recreation.gov shows no availability from 1/1/16 to 4/31/16.  Evidently something changed.  It would be interesting to see what winter would be like here.  I know that some of the hosts have stayed through the winter during previous years.

2015121510302703Back to my tale about critters…

Last year we saw no deer.  This year we saw some right away on the first day.  There are a lot of Canada Geese here — whether to over-winter or just in transit I have no idea.  A couple herons have been seen as well as cardinals, jays and a variety of other birds we recognize, we hear numerous woodpeckers, and there are at least half a dozen bird songs that we have no idea what they might be.

The catchment basin that we are parked alongside is nice because it doesn’t seem to vary as much due to water level fluctuations.  It seems to stay fairly full most of the time.  There’s a swimming area, and a pier for fishing — taken more advantage of during warmer weather I’m sure.  I don’t believe I want to go swimming this time of year.

We made one brief trip into town for provisions.  I think we’ll stop over again on Sunday to top off the fridge before heading to Silas but we’re good for now.  I forget that it’s hard to find wine by the box around here — Mississippi is clearly BEER country — Oh well….

When we first sold the house and went mobile we had planned a 2 week stay to decompress after the stress of selling and legalities.  This stop in Grenada seems rather like the same thing.  I can feel the stress just sloughing away and it feels good.  I had some projects I intended to take care of on our first or second stop — they may wait until we get to Gulf Shores.  I’m enjoying being retired.  Peg’s enjoying sitting out side — something she didn’t do at all in Milwaukee for the last 2 1/2 months since the temps started dipping.  This is just a nice homey place for us.

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

P.S.:  it’s now a couple days later since writing this and the current 10 day forecast includes 8 days of rain — maybe they’ll get a start on filling this reservoir!

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Family, Old Diary

Obsession

A really close friend of mine was a weather-head.  He has passed now, but lived his life in Kansas and his weather condition records detailed his life in Ottawa for almost 1/2 a century. yahoo weather app I am nothing like him.

I can glance at my smartphone weather app 100 times in the day, see the temp, and then forget it just that quickly.  Or (as many RV’ers who concern themselves with the overnight low when the temps are near freezing) I catch the overnight low… and ignore the rest.  I’m a very focussed guy; sometimes focus gets in the way of seeing.

This time of year I pay a little more attention to the forecasts than the rest of the year.  Spring and Autumn we are usually spent en route from North to South and sudden changes are more likely to affect our travel choices.

  • We avoid high winds when possible
  • We avoid snow (which is to say driving in snow) and ice whenever possible.
  • We concern ourselves with freezing temperatures.  If we are connected to a water supply we disconnect and run off our onboard tanks, and we may hook up our heat tape to our water line and / or turn on our water bay heating.
  • In Spring we try to follow the warm up, in Autumn we try to get South before the cold hits us in the North.

There’s no value for me to keep daily records like my friend did;  it’s unlikely that we’ll be in the same place two years in a  row.  At one time I tried adding daily weather details to the blog and quickly realized that was a dumb idea.  Too much work for no reward.

But…temperature map By keeping our travel plans within average climate predictions we manage to do most of the above without much stress.

Planning pays off. Stay proactive and move before the trouble occurs whenever possible.

Obsessive planning doesn’t. Sometimes we make mistakes and pay the piper for not paying attention to the change of seasons.  That’s what happened in the Spring of ’15 when we stayed in S. Texas longer than we should have.  We hope to avoid the same this autumn — but now we’re dependent on a clear signal from the doctor.

We’re learning how to do this as we go; just like every other RV’ing couple.

flooded campgroundAnd there’s no sense in getting all worked up about our mistakes — unless of course one were to end up in 5’ of water in a flooded campground.  That kind of mistake we all want to avoid.

Obsession is a strange human trait.  About many things, obsession is not a good idea. About some things obsession is the only way to live.  If you are an artist — obsession with your art might be your best friend.  If you are an eater, obsession with food might be your worst enemy.  Finding balance is the trick of all tricks.

This past two months my cardiologist has had me tracking my blood pressure and pulse.  Let me clarify:  he’s had me taking readings 10-14 times a day.  Now think about that.  10 – 14 times a day.  On one level that doesn’t sound like a hard thing.  It only takes a minute — once you are sitting and resting.  So, it’s not really the act of only a minute,  it’s the act of a few minutes.  And then there’s the part about remembering to do it about once an hour — because after sleep and eating, 14 or 15 hours are all that remain of the day.

What we’ve been doing — the doc and I — has been finding the right dosage of a medicine that slows my pulse,  we’re messing with my heart rate.  I have to tell you, that’s not something you do with out causing odd thoughts to pop up from time to time.  Like: “what’s too low?”  “Is this the way I should be feeling?” “Why do the numbers go up and down so much?” And many many more.

Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not a hypochondriac.  I think I have a level head and I can be very analytical — which in itself can be a form of obsession.  But I have been healthy all my life, none of us escapes this world without dying and at some point in time that’s going to happen to me too.  Preferably later rather than sooner, but about some things we have little or no control.  We do the best we can,  maybe we even alter our lifestyle to live a little longer, but in the end we all have an expiration date.

here is lifeAll this blood pressure checking gets into your head though…  Our bodies are these very involved chemical factories and they are very much like this earth in the sense that how we live on earth affects how our planet functions the same way how we live in our body affects how our body functions.  Like gravity there’s not much we can do about some things;  genetics and our past living have their effects, and they are beyond alteration.  About some aspects of life we are quite helpless. Obsessing about them helps nothing.

One of the effects has been to make me less patient with people obsessing about everything that is wrong or bad, and whinging about them incessantly.  That’s life.  Get used to it.

I’ll never stop caring about the weather.  I love the seasons, I love the changes.  Oh, I suspect I’ll never stop disliking the cold.  I’ll never stop caring about my health, that’s a prudent and wise thing to do.  But neither is it good to obsess about it, nor to waste my life whinging about what’s wrong, or right, or happening.

I have always been a bit obsessive.  I know that about myself.  My dad always told me I had a One Track Mind.  He was right.  Great powers of concentration do that.   It’s easy to block out the rest of the world and concentrate on getting done what you want to get done.  Retirement has been hard in a good way  because I haven’t had projects lined up to be accomplished one right after the other.  And it’s taken me four years of retirement to adopt a little more of a  laissez faire attitude.  Some of the projects I have tied up during our stay in Milwaukee have been on my list for over a year — and they just sort of all fell into place while we were here — without straining or stress. It was bothering me that the list of projects was still there — unchanged, or if anything growing longer.  But the fact of the matter is that it didn’t bother me all that much; it didn’t bother me enough to change the situation.  And that is the key.  I could look at them and not feel compelled to do anything.  And I was comfortable with that.

For so many years I had to have a deadline.  If there was no deadline I made a deadline so that I had one to work towards.  Letting go has not been a battle — because I haven’t exactly been thinking about “I have to let this go.”  I’ve been enjoying other things.  The ones that haven’t gotten done simply had less importance. And to me, that’s the best way to learn.  Let something thrill you, inspire you, excite you — and the ones that don’t just fall away.   That’s healthy.  That’s what I am enjoying about retirement.  I don’t have to, I just do.

We’re still hoping maybe we’ll get out of town around the beginning of November.  We aren’t sure.  Seems that 2015 has been the year of waiting, over and over and over again — each time for a different reason.  Maybe all that waiting has helped me let go of things;  maybe it’s all just a lot of hot air.  Hey, I’ve never been accused of saying too little.  🙂

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

All you hear is the thunder of wings as thousands of snow geese fly out in the morning.

All you hear is the thunder of wings as thousands of snow geese fly out in the morning.

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Old Diary

It’s a Bit Nippy!

cold-weatherThirty Two Degrees and falling.  Yup,  it’s getting a bit nippy.  Even here  in Grenada MS! It’ll be a bit cooler tonight (forecast at 28º) and then we gradually move up the thermometer for the next week. Happy November! But then, you’ve got to expect Momma Nature to march forward with her Seasons whether or not we’re ready for them.

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I like my tan lines!

Don’t let the numbers on the thermometer fool you!  Just because temps are falling doesn’t mean I’m putting shoes on! One of my goals when we retired was to keep my feet in sandals as much as possible.  Working at the Dunes we weren’t able to do that — you know… safety shoes and such.  But when we left the Oregon Coast I put my shoes in the closet and with rare exceptions I’ve been wearing my Teva sandals and Crocs.  I’m quite happy with my tan lines.  What do you think?   With luck I won’t be wearing my  ‘real’ shoes for some time (Unless we end up in places with poisonous snakes or Gila monsters). I have sweaty feet and all my life I have lived in wet shoes.  I can put a pair on and an hour later they’re wet inside.  Sandals let my feet dry out and I’m doing my darndest to live with dry feet.

Lasko heater

Well, this didn’t work out well at all. ugh.

First news of the day is about that recent Lasko heater purchase. It gets warm alright — but the thermostat isn’t functioning correctly (or it doesn’t seem to be) and it continues outputting heat long after it should have stopped. On these < $50.00 heaters I don’t expect a narrow heat range but this thing has both a wide temperature range between turn-on an turn-off, but also the thermometer doesn’t seem to read temperature changes.  Sticky bi-metla strip or something.   I don’t know if we still have the receipt but I think we’ll try to return it against our credit card and if that doesn’t work we may just toss it — I don’t feel comfortable with a wonky thermostat in a heater! Not at all. P.S.:  turns out we disposed of the box it came in, so I guess no return.  I’m going to try  moving it to the Lounge — perhaps it’s designed for a larger space, and the thermostat may handle a larger space better….. we’ll see.  

I have no idea where Friday went!  It was cool during the day and I got started keywording images in my photo catalog and it seems that might have been all I accomplished beyond reading and cooking.  It was a good day and I enjoyed my time.  Peg got some reading done and towards evening I did too. We don’t have to be going places or fixing things all the time.  It’s nice to simply BE in a place.

The ebb and flow of campers increased a bit as we got into the weekend.  About 1/2 of the sites in two campgrounds might be full this weekend. But the third campground officially closes for the season at 10 a.m. today, Saturday.   The other two remain open year round.

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It’s hard to read the reservation information on these narrow Carcenite posts.

I feel a little better about not being stupid after last evening.  We were taking an evening walk and a new camper drove in looking for a non-reservable spot where he and his grand-daughter could camp and he could not for the life of him figure out the campsite availability scheme here.  Which made me feel much better — when we drove on that first day it was hard to realize that there were printed words “reserved” on the Carcenite site markers  and small boxes with dates written in them in china marker.  They just didn’t show up very well.  We directed the new camper to a site we knew to be available and he’s quite happy and we walked off feeling vindicated and helpful!

Interestingly enough, the campground that is closing has hosts who are remaining through the winter — they’ll have their chores to do even in the cold.  But the host at the third campground — the other one of three that we aren’t in — he is leaving.  He’s been picking up his gear for 3 days now and I understand he’s only been here 2 months.  Yikes — he REALLY moved in!!!!  Skirting and tents and golf carts and all sorts of stuff….  Not sure if they are going to replace him before Spring (or if they already have) — I’m sure we’ll discover that in the next few days.   I was commenting to Peggy about this guy while we were walking and for a moment she was wondering if I was suggesting we try to snag that hosting job — but NOT — I’m not ready to go back to hosting yet!!!  I’m enjoying our freedom. Chilly Willy

When we were checking out Bob & Janice’s RV I noticed that they have an electric blanket, as do a LOT of RV’ers we know. We haven’t used one…. well,…. since Hector was a pup.  I know that on an efficiency scale the electric blanket would be a more effective way of staying warm overnight.  You heat that which touches your body overnight not all the air inside the RV.  But there’s a BUT…. I don’t like getting up in a cold ROOM!  It’s something I’m going to ponder for a while.

There’s a bigger reason for that conversation than might appear.  The RV’ers over at Technomadia converted their entire coach to electric.  They don’t have propane at all.  And I have been pondering the implications of that.  Our solar installation did not add MORE batteries but we did add AGM batteries with more storage.  We are up at about 600 amp hours (If I remember correctly).  Sean and Louise (the couple who used to RV in their Neoplan conversion called Odyssey before they bought a trawler named Vector) had 11 batteries in their coach.  I have been wondering whether it would be worth the effort to remove our propane tank and replace it with a bay’s worth of storage batteries.  That would necessitate other changes — expensive ones: new fridge, a stove that wouldn’t work (but I never use the stove anyway — I use our induction burner) and no gas furnace.  I’m not in a hurry to think about this but it’s something I’m playing with.  I probably won’t make that change but when I have ‘nothing else to think about’ I’ll toss it around for a while.

Ok — there you have it.  We’re gonna try to return our heater today and maybe pick up some groceries while we’re out.  I’m stilly wanting to get to organizing chores but as long as I’m having fun reading that may win out over work. 🙂

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

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Old Diary

Hot and Dry

Dateline:  Eugene, OR
It’s warm here and that’s ok

hot-thermometerWe acclimated to the cooler temps of Coastal Oregon,  now we return to the ‘real’ temperate world we have known all our lifetime.  I’m sure we’ll have some re-acclimatization to do. But there’s a bigger story than just temperature.  There’s the whole ‘thing’ about water.

Leaving the coast where water is ever present but not always ever accessible leads to other travel-plan-considerations.  Not the least of those is, will we find water there?

Water monitors are saying that California is having the worst recorded drought in their history. Where we had been — near Florence — we were at the tipping point between moderate drought and severe drought (there being two further steps ‘extreme’ and ‘exceptional’ drought beyond those). The drought statistics since 2011 have been very sobering, for those of us who have been paying attention.  I’m not going to chime in on global warming — I’m not sure our weather ‘yardstick’ is long enough to know that Momma Nature is up to as far as climate is concerned — but certainly the weather has been a changing.

Where to go, where to go...

Where to go, where to go…

Water is always someplace in our personal travel calculations.  Peg grew up in Toledo OH — Lake Erie being not far away.  I grew up in Milwuakee.  Together, we lived most of our married life in Milwaukee — on the Michigan Coast.  And for some years we were within 1 mile of the shoreline.  We walked along the shore as a matter of routine exercise. We talked along the shore as part of our major-decision-making-process.  The lake, water, was always in our life.

On the Coast, we have been near the water but the hills and the sand have kept us from walking along the salty fluid. Yet we were comforted by it’s proximity.  Water is usually part of our calculations about where to go and what to do.  We put up with the lack of water for a while — and then we seem to crave it again.  Or have we just convinced ourselves of that because our previous experience has just been a couple weeks here and a couple weeks there like most workers on vacation.  Now’s our chance to find out… but first a story.

Low Water Alarm

Evidently water is the karmic reason for our staying this past weekend.  I checked the pump house Sunday morning and guess what?  The Low Water alarm was on!  There’s a problem someplace here in the Siltcoos corridor and the tank is lower than it should be.

So, remember that phone I kept, just in case?  Well, call Da Boss on her weekend; call her assistant on his weekend; chase around on our last day in town trying unsuccessfully to find a water leak.  It turns out that Da Boss’ assistant did find the leak — we had enough water left in the 25,000 gal tank to service the campers who rely on this well and in the next couple days the pump will recover from the water lost during the leak and life for the staff will return to normal — just another major scare.

Glad to do it.  I’m here and I’m mostly packed up… Why not?

And yet…

not my circus not my monkey

It may be an old Polish saying (I AM POLISH by heritage you know) , but as much as this has been my mantra in recent months I hope to return to a more engaging frame of mind at some point soon.

 

It seems strange though.  We have not had that alarm activate in the 10 months we lived in the compound.  On our last day — there it goes.  Just keeping the adrenalin flowing for one more day.  A few hours of running around; a few hours of ‘feeling important’ because we were doing something important to the safety of a few hundred campers down the road;  a fitting end to our ‘giving back’ even if it did get all the wrong juices flowing all over again.

 

Drier for Us

Ed La Grone, the Lane County Sheriff who patrols the dunes out of our work center stopped by to warn us about forest fires along what he thought would be our route to see Peg’s brother.  Oregon is currently fighting two more fires — bringing the latest total to 14 here and more in Washington.  It was nice of him to think about us in that way.  Once again, it’s a testament to the caring nature of the people we have worked with here on the Forest and in Coastal Oregon.

We’ll be mostly away from water for the next few weeks.  And in the short term that’s OK.  But I have been thinking about how water will affect our travels long term.  Can we two really thrive away from a large body of water?  We have never tried.  But when we hear about droughts it makes me wonder.

desertWe have discussed between us the idea of RV’ing in the desert S.W.   And we ARE getting that solar installation which sort of pre-supposes that we’ll be in open, sparser populated areas with access to the sun. Sounds pretty much like desert to me!  We have yet to see how much time we really choose to spend away from large bodies of water!  I know folks who boondock in Colorado at higher elevations who enjoy the rivers and mountain springs.  There are tens of thousands who Boondock at Quartzite AZ yearly.   We, as a couple relatively new to this lifestyle  have yet to work out the details of where – exactly – we are going to go  in the long term once we are better equipped to live off the grid. That too is part of our Life Unscripted.

We are off the forest.  We have no volunteer gigs lined up.  We are free as a bird.  And it feels wonderful!  What the coming year will have in store  is a great mystery; just the sort of thing we were looking for when we started this adventure.  It’s going to take a while to start thinking new thoughts; in the quiet moments my mind still tends to wander back to ‘our’ volunteers, or little details about our life @ Siltcoos.  But gradually life will take over; one can’t expect to go from complete involvement to nothingness in two days.  But we made the start; and we’re on our way.

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

P.S.:

  • We topped out at 93º today in Eugene/Springfield.
  • The trip over was uneventful — just like we like it.  We left Siltcoos about 10:00.
  • The coach is handling well. We have almost 200 miles on the most recent tank of fuel — We’ll have to figure out whether to fuel here when we leave, after we decide for sure on our route.  I did some route planning today but no firm decision yet.
  • We made our stop-off at the Reedsport office this morning.  With me waking up early lately,  we were there right at 8:00.  After answering all the really good questions and we were on our way out the parking lot before 9:00.
    I said my good-byes.
    Belva (otherwise known as Da Boss) gave us a little basket of Oregon goodies.
    Bob (her assistant) was particularly cordial and thanked us both effusively for our help.
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Old Diary

More Regional Differences

carolina cayenne

Carolina Cayenne

Well,  mostly just ONE regional difference really.  Let’s talk Peppers!  Chili Peppers.

I like to eat and I like to cook but I’m not a gourmet.  By my age I have had enough time to develop distinct likes and dislikes and to hone my tastebuds, and taste a lot of foods but I have never been huge on categorizing things.  As a photographer that was always a pain — because part of my business dealt with categorized images and I always had a hard time deciding what categories fit which images.  So, when I go to the store I usually want something fairly generic:  Gorgonzola (I prefer Sartori Dolcina but I’ll eat a lot of different Gorgonzolas), or beef (to be quite frank I shop price as much or more than cut — if the price is right I’ll figure out what I want to make with that piece of animal protein), or flour (bread or all purpose or whole wheat — beyond that I don’t much care about brands or details.

Santaka Chili Pepper

Santaka Chili Pepper

I like my spices and herbs.  I have two shelves of them in our RV — even with limited space. I ran out of Cayenne the other day and I wanted to replace it.

Imagine my surprise when this Midwestern boy who shopped at a lot of ordinary grocery stores (not the high priced ones, not the exclusive ones) went down the spice aisle and couldn’t find CAYENNE.  Whoa! What Happened?  Don’t people like hot food out here?  Of course they do, but it would appear that their tastes are a little more refined than the stores I’m used to.hot chili pepper poster

I’m getting used to different choices.  I’m getting accustomed to limited choices.  It seems, however that limited and different aren’t always the same.

I’m looking forward to the growing season.  I can’t wait to see what the two sort-of-nearby farmers markets have to offer.  I’m curious to see how the choices may vary from what we had in Milwaukee.  (to say nothing of being interested in EATING them)

You might like: Cayenne Dianne’s Red Hot Chili Big List of Peppers

saltStats

Think about it… MA uses 19 TONS of salt per traffic lane per mile in a typical winter…. That’s a LOT Of salt.

On a very different regional difference subject let’s talk roads and winter.  In Wisconsin we used salt.  A LOT of salt.  Most of Wisconsin has not yet seen the folly of salt on the roads.  Other states even further East that have used salt longer than Wisconsin have had to purchase private wells contaminated with salt, municipalities have had to drill new wells because of contamination, rivers have been polluted and… well… salt on roads is a solution that’s as bad as the problem.  Wisconsin is testing a new product:  the residual water from cheese manufacturing which is basically a brine waste product.

Oregon doesn’t use salt (though there is a pilot project at the CA/OR  and OR/ID border.  Washington either it seems.  The do put some chemical that’s supposed to act as an antifreeze but primarily what they DO use is sand/crushed volcanic rock.  It’s not a solution that makes your cars look clean in winter.  All that sand makes vehicles look pretty grim.  And it’s a good reason for the F.S. to have their own spray booth for washing motor vehicles (Except for the fact that ours doesn’t work).

Momma Nature sent us a surprise today — snow at sea level — which was turning to sleet/ice.  The Forest Service shut down early — we were out of the office by 10:30.  And we called all our volunteers and told them to hunker down and stay safe.  By the time we left there was no snow on the ground; enough ice to send one of our staffers heels over head on the way down the office steps; and forecasts of 1″-3″ of snow on the Coast which is pretty unusual.

As we headed home there was no traffic.  I saw 5 vehicles in our 13 mile drive (going both directions).  Most of the distance looked like wet pavement until we got about 2 miles from home and then we had glare ice a good 1/4″ thick on both lanes of US 101 for about 1/2 mile.  It wasn’t anything too exciting.  We lost traction for a second or two as we started slowing but we’ve seen a lot worse in our previous life in WI.

So, we’re home today, early.  I brought some work home — I might do some keyboarding and then again I might not.  The boss was adamant that we not make the stop in Eel Creek we had planned — I had business I wanted to talk ver with our hosts there.  So, I listened and did what I was told.  There’s always tomorrow.

There have been other differences that haven’t hit the news-to-be-talked-about threshold.  There will be more worthy of a note.  But for today, that’s all that I have in my craw, so thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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Old Diary, Travel

The August that Felt Like September and Weather Channel Planning Tools

spring valley weatherJoe and Sandy were our Camp Host predecessors and the poor souls really missed out by leaving here early!  Ever since they left in the heat and with the skeeters eating them alive the weather has been very much different.  So much so that people are talking like it’s SEPTEMBER!

Which brings me to a tool we have been using to make travel plans and I don’t know if you use it too. It’s not a one-click find — you have to look around for it, but I love it.

Everyone knows about The Weather Channel website:  http://www.weather.com.

I’m not sure how many people know about the basic climate information they offer — particularly suited to deciding where we want to be during any month of the year. I have a stack of screen captures of just this graphic filed away on my ‘puter for those times when we are trying to figure out whether New Orleans at this time of year is a winner, or Fairbanks AK at some other time of the year would be better.  My travel plans live by these little graphs.  They aren’t perfect but they sure do make my planning easier.

find monthly

Click on MONTHLY

Once you get to the page for whichever locale you are interested in you can get all sorts of info about the current weather.  That’s not what I want.

It’s an easy click to  the Monthly page.  And that page has a lot of interesting information about highs and lows and precipitation THAT month.  But what I want is essentially CLIMATE information rather than WEATHER information.  I want to know the AVERAGES so that’s where I go next.

Hidden at the bottom of the daily chart are links to various pages, including one for AVERAGES.  It’s a small text link and easy to miss, but click on it!

find averages

Click on AVERAGES

It’s here that I find my Holy Grail of Route Planning.

Peg and I kind of like the temps were in right now:  average highs in the 70’s, average lows in the 50’s.  For us that’s pretty comfortable right now.  We would like to acclimate to warmer temps but we aren’t there — YET.

The reason I have a pile of these little graphic files is that when we add a location to our bucket list of places to go and things to do I also add one of these graphics and WHEN we go there will depend on what the temps are like during that timeframe.

I don’t care about low season or high season.  In a sense I don’t even care whether so-called ‘attractions’ are open or closed — most of the time we aren’t visiting that location because of a man made attraction that has to be open for us to enjoy our visit.  We tend to like the more wild space and nature is pretty much nature whenever you see her.  It’s just that sometimes she’s a little more fierce than other times.

What I Don’t Do…

Cluttered Graph

I find that adding record highs and lows to the chart just clutters things up too much. I don’t use them.

I believe in travel planning you can make yourself sick worrying about all sorts of details that will never occur — and if they do occur you could never have predicted them anyway.

To illustrate my point let me pull up a different graph for the same locale — Spring Valley — right where we are now. The difference between the first chart and the second chart is that this large one has a couple extra boxes ticked.  Note that RECORD HIGH and RECORD LOW are checked off.

I suppose you could say that this graph gives you a lot more information, and it does. But not really useful information.  You can’t predict highs or lows.  They happen once a century, or once every 50 years and all they do is clutter up your screen with extraneous information.

That might be a sign of the times — that clutter up our lives with stuff we don’t need to know — but it’s not helpful for route planning. Not at all!

With the first graph I can almost tell at a glance whether I want to be there.  The TWO BLUE LINES on this second chart have been drawn to illustrate my point.  I don’t care what the dark blue line on the bottom is doing.  I don’t care what the top red line is doing.  I want the yellow and blue-green lines to fall between those horizontal lines when I’m there.  I’d like the precipitation chart on the bottom to be below 3″ for that month but I’m flexible there.  As long as the average temps stay in that +/- 80 high and +/- 45 low range I’m pretty much good to go! 

Let me know if you use these graphs. I’d be interested to know what tricks or tools YOU use to make your travel plans.

Our movements (or some may our lack of movements) will most likely keep us in areas where there is more Nature and fewer people — that’s just who we are. We are too new at this to know if we’ll spend the majority or minority of our time volunteering, or touring, or sitting on our duff reading a book. All we’re doing is living in the best and most interesting way we can find.

So, there you have it — it’s cool here, even in the middle of August when it’s supposed to be hot. — or when people want to THINK it’s supposed to be hot.  And that is my takeaway about using graphs to plan your travels.  We all have our perceptions of what the weather is supposed to be like in certain places and sometimes we are right.

But sometimes we are wrong. You see, no matter that people are saying that the weather here is like SEPTEMBER, the fact is we are right on our monthly averages this month.  THIS is what Highland Ridge / Spring Valley are supposed to be like in August.  This is why we planned on being within 100 miles of there.  Our plans can’t account for the exceptional summer like last year’s drought — but we’re going to be on the money most of the time — no matter what people tell us about their perceptions of a given month.

That’s if for me for today.

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

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