730 Days and Counting

Two years ago today, I tied the knot for the third time. After burying two wives, I decided to give it another try. Some one has to out last me. I can’t say that these days have been all bliss, but I can’t complain too much either. Lovely keeps me fed, and gives me company, and God knows she needs a driver. Lucky for her that I can still drive and enjoy doing so. In two months I’ll have to return to the Secretary of State’s office to get retested for my vision and driving ability. My Dad was two years younger than I am now when he gave up the keys. In his case, his knees and hips were so shot he was dangerous to be behind the wheel. We humored him for as long as we could, never telling him he shouldn’t drive. When it was time, he knew what to do. My brother is seven years older than me and the same age as my Dad was when he died, but at 92 he still leaves town to go to his cottage in Michigan a hundred miles away.

Yesterday, I drove Lovely to Pilcher Park to visit the Bird Haven Green House. They have a lovely display of white lilies every spring. We were very disappointed when we found the place locked up. They actually celebrate Easter. Instead we saved the trip by walking a trail into the woods. We were not disappointed as the forest floor was covered in tiny white blossoms. The trees are just beginning to show a hint of green at the tips. I was reminded of all the times I was disappointed in Illinois weather when I finally returned from spending a warm winter in Arizona. The last time was the worst. Peggy and I left on May 5 to return. I wanted to see the saguaro cactus bloom before we left. The temperature finally topped 100 and the cactus showed it’s flowers as we were leaving town. Since these towering cacti grow to be 66 feet tall, all we saw were tiny white dots at their tops. Later, I learned that some desert cacti require intense heat in order to bloom, and the saguaro is one of them.

On the way home I chose to go straight north into Utah to find Interstate 70 where we would head east to see the the Rocky Mountains one more time. It was a great drive until we reached Vail, Colorado. The road was closed with snow and we had to seek a place to stay until they were cleared. We enjoyed touring Vail at a time of year when it is literally a ghost town. We left while the roads were still being plowed but the snow on the road was mostly deep slush. We arrived in Frankfort fully intending to see lush green leaves filling the trees and the spring shrubs in full bloom, but they were still sleeping and it wasn’t until nearly June when I saw what I expected to see in May.

From Bird Haven we drove the back roads west to Morris, IL for lunch-supper at R-Place restaurant at the TA Truck stop. It was open and fully staffed. I like this place because it is decorated with antique toys, and they have a salad bar, and a four pound hamburger, which I take full advantage of. On the return trip we ventured east on route six toward Joliet, and finally Frankfort. Although it is still very cool for us the temperature was enjoyable, and we loved the bright sun filling the car with heat.

One Word Changed My Mind


Today’s plan had us getting back to Interstate 70 to cross the Eastbound Vail Pass. We will have to climb from the town of Vail at 8120 feet elevation to the crest of Vail Mountain at 10,662 feet. The pass is twelve miles long, and half of that is uphill to reach the peak. My I-phone alarmed a travel advisory this morning. It said it snowed last night, is still snowing, and there will be snow showers most of the day on the pass. Packed ice covers the road, and there are gusting 40-50 mph winds making driving conditions dangerous and treacherous. The last word did it for me. So, Peg and I are sitting it out for another day watching all the adventurous drivers pass us by headed for the pass. At my age I take words like treacherous seriously. I no longer ache for the adventure of driving in hazardous conditions to get some where. Another day on the road will not hurt us at all, while one slip off a road above 8000 feet might hurt us real bad.


This is the third time Peggy and I have experienced poor driving conditions while commuting to and from Arizona. The first time we followed a storm front across the west from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM. Each morning we awoke to a cloudless sunny day only to catch the storm in the early afternoon, and be shagged off the Interstate by the State police. The second time we met a snow storm in Oklahoma while driving west. We sat a day waiting for the storm to pass. The next morning we bravely got on the road to learn that the road was hard packed ice for one hundred and twenty miles. We holed up again for two more days to wait for the storm to pass, and for the ice to melt. Last year, our plan had us on this very same route, but a winter storm advisory (I didn’t know that late April thru early May is still considered winter in these parts, and they are serious about it.) caused me to detour back south going two hundred and fifty miles out-of-the-way to get away from the delivered twelve inches of snow dumped on Vail Pass to Denver. The third time is now.


What do they say? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”