Adventure Travel

My tiny town of sixteen thousand has three camper sales businesses. Seems like a lot of campers for such a small population. Ever since I got married I became fascinated by campers and camping. The basic camping lifestyle is learned in Boy Scouts, tent, backpack, wood fires, and sleeping bags. A more sensible or nonsensical camping style depending on how one wants to live is to put your six bedroom, eight bathroom, nine thousand square foot house on wheels and drive it to the edge of the woods. Maybe you would have a small fire to make samores with the kids.

When I got the bug my wife did not have a clue about camping nor did she want to learn. She was that way mostly because I tried talking her into back packing. That wasn’t going to happen and it never did. Instead I got my fill of the rough style by working with the Boy Scouts. That cured me.

Along the way I morphed into going camping in a pop-up trailer. It was the lightweight version of house trailer camping. I dreamed about getting one or better yet building a pop-up tailer. I drew plans for one but never got excited enough to begin building. Instead I began looking at camper trailers at the outdoor show. They made sense, but Barb still couldn’t be convinced that this was for us. Then I saw a used pop-up for sale near where we lived. I called and convinced Barb to come look at it with me. She grumbled and balked a bit but decided to come with me. In fact the whole family went. The seller had set up the unit in his driveway with the attached fly extending out from the tent. Under that fly he had a home-built portable kitchen set up ready to cook meals. The kitchen had pots and pans, dishes, utensils, a stove and wash tubs for cleaning dishes. All of it packed into two boxes that were neatly partitioned for all the goods. The sides of the boxes folded down to make a counter top.

The tiny trailer was a canvas tent set up on wheels. Inside, there was room to sleep six, we were five, and a table with seating for six. There was a tiny indoor kitchen with a sink and ice box for keeping food.

By the time Barb moved from the outdoor kitchen to the inside she was sold. We bought the trailer. It was the beginning of a new life for us. We named the trailer Gypsy II. The two was because our first gypsy vehicle was our tiny Ford Falcon in which we traveled.

Just prior to buying Gypsy II, I had bought a new family truck, a 1967 Dodge van. Vans were a new idea back then, and they became very popular, they still are to this day. I had intentions of converting it into a camper van. After buying the trailer that notion changed. I did build a section behind the rear seat to give the kids a place to play and to nap when we drove. Barb made curtains for all the windows in the back to keep the sun from burning the kid up. That van remained our faithful camping partner for five years. Then, I stepped up to another van, a larger one, with more power, and air-conditioning. We became a two-van family. I sold off my going to work car which was a Toyota Corolla wagon. It was a genuine pre-quality Japanese piece of shit. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it after only two years. I didn’t buy another Toyota until thirty seven years later. It happens to be the best most reliable car I ever owned, and I still have it.

With the new van I sold off Gypsy II and bought a new pop-up trailer with very firm side walls and solid top and a complete kitchen. We named it G3. Our camping trips became more frequent and we ventured much further from home. One summer, I took the trailer back to the manufacturer for warranty work. G3 was stolen from the manufacturing company in Indiana. Eventually G3 was replaced by G4. Five years later I bought a new GMC van with a super interior and a coral full of horses under the hood (~400 HP) it pulled that big trailer like it wasn’t even there. We took the adventure camping trip of our lives, a five week tour of National Parks extending from Chicago to Seattle, down to Los Angeles, and back to Chicago via the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The only regret I have about that trip is that it should have been ten weeks instead of five. As it turned out, that was the last time we had all three of our kids with us on a vacation at the same time. The next year the two older ones got jobs and we couldn’t travel long distances any more. Barb had totally adapted to the camping lifestyle and became a magnificent planner for meals along the way. She pre-cooked and froze many meals which we kept frozen until we needed them. She needed a vacation from cooking too, and this is how she accomplished that. We enjoyed her home cooking away from home.

A couple of years after that Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer. One way she used to beat the deadly beast was to dream about camping. I found a used almost new class C, mini-motorhome, and bought it. She and I used it to take respite trips to help her forget her battle with the disease. Our youngest was eleven, and he traveled with us as we explored Canada and the Eastern states. another five years later we used the MH to take respite trips when Barb was caring for her dying mother 24/7.

After our young son was in college I finally sold the motor home and Barb and I began taking trips using airplanes and staying in hotels. We often discussed camping, but never did again. Instead I wanted to show her the hotel lifestyle and to give her a complete vacations without cooking. She loved it and so did I.

Today, I watched a half a dozen short videos on people who live in their cars or who convert a van to live in. I loved it still, the juices are flowing again. I’m afraid however that I would not fare well sleeping in my Toyota while camping in the wilds of Wyoming and Montana. I’d need a more substantial living space and a more drivable vehicle. It would have to be a professional van conversion with total off the grid capabilities, and I’d have to stay in super-safe campgrounds away from the wilde-beastes.

My how times have changed as has my penchant for adventure.

Something Old-Something New

It has been too long since I tried to make a movie. A few years ago I became very adept at using iMovie on the Mac and went crazy converting my old Super 8 movies into digital media. Last week when I posted about my first Cattail bloom I tried posting a simple video from my phone. I couldn’t make it work. (I had to take and insert a  still photo of the Cattail to show it off).  So, I left  iMovie open and went to work on it. It took me a full week to re-learn iMovie, but it is getting a little easier, now that I know how to import from my phone, and to turn it into a project on iMovie. All of the stuff that was in the program five years ago is still there, but trying to find it now is not easy. It seems that the millennials working at Apple think differently than do I. I use my own logical thinking sequences to make things happen, and they use the mindless computer functions as the logic to make things happen. Then, they garble the whole thing up with computer speak that only the inventor of the computer and its accompanying language can understand.

I can not understand computer speak and must resort to trial and error to learn what works and what doesn’t. Most time I strike it lucky but then can’t redo the same function, or at least don’t understand what I just did. Mind you, I learned how to program a computer in 1962 on a rather clunky Royal McBee 5000 (the size of a kitchen stove) that needed step by step instructions in binary code to function. Computers and their programs have evolved tremendously since then. Thank you Lord! What hasn’t evolved as quickly is my brain. I think my brain stopped evolving about the same time I realized that programming a Royal McBee 5000 was not going to make me a living. Before facing a real physical Royal McBee 5000 on the job I had learned of computers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois. They proudly possessed a hand made (Heathkit) personal analog computer the size of a drafting table which could add and subtract. Hidden behind the walls in another part of the school was a special lab that worked on a thing called the ILLIAC.  We only knew of its existence by rumor as the machine of the future. None of us really gave a damn.

Throughout my career, I fought the temptation to become a computer nerd. As a machine designer I prided myself on being able to visualize, and to hand draw machines. When I entered the mold making business this skill was most useful, I was able to design a plastic part in two dimensions in all planar views. Then I became adept at converting those views into a three dimensional perspective, and finally to convert that into a reverse image which was the picture of a mold cavity. Mold makers loved that. Because when you are machining a mold you are not machining the actual part but rather the hole into which the plastic flows to form the part. My images enabled them to get the job done much faster.

Sometime in the nineteen eighties the company began thinking the wave of the future was Computer Aided Design or CAD. Piggy backing onto that was Computer Aided Machining. Just think, draw the plastic part on the computer, push a button and the mold cavity will be ready to cut. Just clamp a piece of steel onto the milling machine table, install the cutting tool, press go, and walk away to take a break. They(computer salesman) made its sound that simple. Of course our company bought into it. It wasn’t until the late nineties that we came anywhere close to having the right computer, and the staff trained well enough to be able to think in computerese, computer controlled machines, and to give up the old ways. About five years into the program to convert our engineering department into nerdsville we met with the company experts from McDonald Aircraft who were selling the CAD/CAM system referred to as McAuto. I attended the meeting to express my dissatisfaction with their product. I asked the VP in charge if it was true that their aircraft division used this system to design the F15 jet fighter plane. “Why yes of course” was the reply. I said, I am surprised the wings on the F15 stay attached to the fuselage.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because we use your system to model and machine our product, and at the intersection of the strap body (wing) to the cable tie head (fuselage) the system blows up and we cannot successfully complete the job. I can model and machine the job 1000 times faster using analog methods over the digital method capability.

What our problem was determined to be (note, it was our problem) was that we needed to make a design change at that intersection in order to make the system work. In other words, the system was incapable of replicating the geometry of our successful product, and now we were going to have to change the geometry to suit the capabilities of the CAD system. I was not a happy camper.  Luckily the owner of our company, the man who invented our product and insisted we keep the design exactly as he intended, allowed us to make this critical change and we moved forward.

So with all of the computer baggage behind me I am ceding to Apple’s latest iMovie system  to complete a short video which will become the basis of my new movie called 2020 Monet Vision-Retired. I selected the theme Retired because I fully expect this will be my last garden. I will use my iPhone exclusively to take videos and still photos of the garden as it blooms throughout the summer and use those clips to document this year’s gardening effort. I will post the finished product when it is complete, in the meantime here is the start, or in Hollywood terminology, the Trailer, but it is not really a Trailer because Trailers tell the whole story from beginning to end and my trailer is really just a Tease of what is to come, so here is the Tease.

 

 

 

Independence Day

My Flag Flies Every Day

On this prestigious day please play safe, and remember what the day commemorates, Independence for all. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence put themselves on the line for the new country. Had they failed to defeat Britain all of them would have been executed. Instead we have the strongest country in the world. Because of our strength, all other countries who wish to knock us off the pedestal are friendly enemies (is there such thing)? China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, are just a few of them with goals to defeat America and Capitalism.

Independence Day also celebrates the birthday of our country. We are now two hundred and forty-four years old as a nation.

Happy Birthday America

Whaat? Again?

After two years of faithful and reliable service my hearing aid finally crapped out completely. Not both of them only one. It is the unit with the volume control button. Nothing works, nada. A phone call to the audiologist has left me longing for pre-covid days. She is either so busy that she can’t answer the phone, or she isn’t even open.

I am seriously considering calling another audiologist for help. If I do it will be with another brand. I’m certain that an appointment will mean buying new aids again. Heaven help they should fix the ones I have.

Suddenly watching tv is no longer enjoyable. That is because I have to turn the sound up so loud the neighbors are banging on my door to stop making so much noise. With the Bluetooth connection gone I am at a loss to stream phone calls, TV, and radio into my ears directly. That is one technology that I really enjoy, when it works.

Time, Age, & Wisdom

I received this from a very good friend just as I was going through a particularly bad time in my life. It cheered me.

Time, Age, & Wisdom

Age 5

I’ve learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing “Silent Night.”

Age 7 

I’ve learned that our dog doesn’t want to eat my broccoli either. 

Age 9 
I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back. 

Age 12  
I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again. 

Age 14 
I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.

Age 15 
I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me. 

Age 24

I’ve learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.

 
Age 26

I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s great pleasures.  

Age 29 
I’ve learned that wherever I go, the world’s worst drivers have followed me there. 

Age 30 
I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.

 
Age 42 
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it.

 
Age 44 
I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little note

Age 46 
I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.

 
Age 47
I’ve learned that children and grandparents are natural allies. 


Age 48 
I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be better tomorrow.

 
Age 49 

I’ve learned that singing “Amazing Grace” can lift my spirits for hours. 

Age 50 
I’ve learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone. 

 
Age 51 
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

 
Age 52 
I’ve learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.

Age53

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.

  
Age 58 

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

 
Age 62
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

 
Age 64 
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. 


Age 65 
I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, 
And doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

 
Age 66 
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision

 
Age 72 
I’ve learned that everyone can use a prayer.

 
Age 74 
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

 
Age 76 
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, 
Or just a friendly pat on the back.

  
Age 78 
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

 
Age 80+ 
I’ve learned that life is what you make it, and your life is much better when you make someone happy. 

****** 

I’ve learned that you should pass this on to someone you care about Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile.

If Things Get Better With Age Then I’m Approaching Excellent.

“Old Friends are the best friends!”

“Thank you for being an “OLD FRIEND”

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