Back in Bonaire (Under Water) — January 7 – February 23, 2019

Here are some of the underwater photos taken so far in 2019.

Back in Bonaire (Part Two) — January 17- February 9, 2019

Erik Robb and wife Cindy came to visit for a week in the middle of January.  They had planned on doing a substantial amount of diving (Cindy having gotten certified on their last visit) but Cindy arrived with a cold that persisted for their entire stay.  So the two of them had to mostly be content to snorkel, which they did a lot of. Coincidentally, I had a cold as well, so it was Barb who finally took a dive with Erik when it became evident that Cindy would never be able to make bubbles.  Barb reports that Erik, despite his relative lack of underwater experience, did a fine job.

The couple make lovely guests.  Relaxed, helpful , appreciative and adventurous. For example, near the end of their stay we all went to Jibe City where Cindy took windsurfing lessons.  On another occasion, Erik and Cindy dove and jumped off the top deck of Tusen Takk II.

When a Disney Cruise Ship was in town, Megan and Murray Zook spent a few hours with us.  Megan is the daughter of Barb’s cousin Tom, which makes her a cousin once removed, if we understand the labeling scheme.  It was nice to meet for the first time another relative.

For the third consecutive year we participated in the annual Lora Parrot Count.  This year we were assigned to the Fontein rookery which was near Rincon.  My partner was Laura Koop, since Barb was suffering from an irritated Achilles tendon that prevented her from ascending to the dramatic observation point.  Michael & Roberta (with whom we shared a ride aboard Wanda the faithful pickup) were assigned to an observation point nearby.  Barb had to observe from the back of Wanda.  We counted an amazing 250 parrots, the highest number in the survey.  The total count for the island was a whooping 1,153 – the highest in the 24 years they have been counting Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots. 

We had scouted the location during daylight several days earlier, since on the day of the survey we were required to be on station BEFORE the sun came up.

Pat had a number of us over for the super bowl, during which we enjoyed an extended “Mexican” meal. 

In Other News …

Back in Bonaire — November 5, 2018 – January 16, 2019

It has been an unusually busy time for us in Bonaire this year. On our trip over to Bonaire from Curacao we discovered that our auto pilot had stopped working after performing flawlessly for us since our purchase in 2005. Careful checking of connections revealed no explanations. Attempts to reinitialize the flux gate compass (by navigating in circles while in setup mode) were unproductive. We ordered another compass and had it sent to my nephew for a delayed delivery when he and his wife would come to visit in January.

I spent a number of days restoring the varnish on the cap rails after an unavoidable period of neglect over the six months while we were on our RV in the States over the summer.

My 99-year old mother developed serious health problems that required virtually 24/7 attention. My sister Zona, with whom Mom lives in Bismarck, North Dakota, was understandably feeling stressed-out and overwhelmed. So Barb caught a series of flights and spent 10 days lending a hand. She left only when some of Zona’s children were able to serially arrive from Minneapolis to help Zona celebrate Christmas, and perhaps more importantly, help with Mom. Barb had not purchased round-trip tickets due to the uncertainty of when she could return. When she attempted to get the tickets she found that there were no immediate flights available to Bonaire because of the volume of holiday travel. She was finally able to return on Christmas day to Curacao where she could catch a puddle jumper back to her lonely husband.

Mom’s condition has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride. Periods of improvement followed by setbacks that leave her too weak to get up by herself at night. So she is sometimes in her own room in her own bed at night, and other times sleeping in Zona’s room.

While Barb was gone I celebrated my birthday at lunch with friends Paulein & Gary and Jason & Laura at Donna & Giorgio’s, one of our favorite Bonaire restaurants. No German chocolate cake this year (but I did have two desserts).

Our Dutch vegetarian friend Paulein – keeper of our pickup Wanda when we are not on the island – had us over for a Christmas turkey, prepared by Canadian omnivore Gary. Roberta & Michael (Celilo) – co-owners of Wanda and Laura and Jason (Blue Blaze) – were also guests. Originally planned as a mid-day meal, our hosts graciously delayed the feast so that Barb could attend.

On December 30 daughter Nellie and her husband Michael flew in from Atlanta, joining us for a week aboard Tusen Takk II. They became enthusiastic snorkelers who pored over our fish ID books to learn the names of the creatures they had seen. Of course we also did a tour of the south end of the island, stopping at Salt Pier, the Slave Huts, Kite City, and Jibe City. And we watched New Year’s fireworks from the superb viewing station that is the upper deck of Tusen Takk II, enjoying 240 degrees of fantastic pyrotechnics for well over an hour.

In other news Barb and Roberta and Laura all participated in a  Clean Coast Bonaire “beach cleanup”.  Three beaches have been chosen, and once a month volunteers go to one of them and pick up all of the trash. The purpose is not so much to clean the beach (although that happens as a consequence) as it is to meticulously count and categorize the litter with the goal of monitoring trends of pollution. 

We continue to use Wanda to go out to lunch or dinner and to attend the monthly wine tastings, and we often find ourselves at Gio’s gelateria.

TT2’s Xantrex Freedom 25 inverter/charger failed one day, continuing to invert but no longer charging.  So we had a new Magnum Pure Sine Wave inverter/charger sent in.  I installed that, and subsequently realized that I also wanted the remote control, and so had that sent in.  And then realized I wanted the battery monitor to get full information and control, and had that sent in.  We are now happily monitoring and controlling our inverting and charging. The new inverter seems to be much more efficient than the old, so we are quite pleased.

Curacao Commissioning — November 5 – December 5, 2018

We spent an entire month in Curacao this year, arriving on November 5, on a flight from Savannah via Miami to Curacao, and departing on TT2 for Bonaire on December 5, the longest commissioning time we had ever spent getting the boat ready.  Why so long?  Basically because projects required ordering “stuff” from the USA that took a couple of weeks to arrive in Curacao.  What projects? Our 20-gallon water heater was leaking; it needed replacing. The generator had been running just a little warm of late; the usual suspects appeared to be innocent, so it was time to remove and check the heat exchanger.  When I got it out, the chambers were clean!  But alas, one of the ends was damaged (maybe by me, during the removal.)  So we were forced to wait for the delivery of a new heat exchanger and a new water heater. So what caused the minor over-heating problem.  Not sure.  But replacing the heat exchanger had necessitated partially draining the coolant, so when the exchanger was finally installed, I completely drained the coolant, flushed the system, and replaced the coolant with fresh and new.  That seemed to solve the problem.

The wait for parts was not leisurely, however.  I spent days and days cleaning and painting the bilges.  Maybe weeks.  Seemed like months. (There is a lot of bilge in a Krogen 48 North Sea.)

And then there were the usual tasks.  Removing and cleaning the through-hull covers in preparation for painting. Using an angle-grinder to thoroughly clean the prop and rudder. Applying the outrageously expensive PropSpeed to the propeller, a fussy and exacting process that requires a two-person application team.  (Barb and I have gotten pretty good at it, but don’t eavesdrop while we are working at it; we sound as if we are on the cusp of a disaster.)

But all was not work.  We had delightful dinners with Maggie & Al (Sweet Dreams) and Paulette & John (Seamantha).  Heather & Don (Asseance) were in the Marina when we arrived; it was good to catch up with them.  Barb and I walked up to Rodeo Bar & Grill for dinner many many times; their ribs are second only to the home-made perfections created by Bill (nee Dolce Vita). 

Perhaps the most interesting gastronomic experience was the Thanksgiving dinner we attended with Laura & Jason (Blue Blaze) and Sabrina & Tom (Honey Rider).  Someone saw an advertisement of an American Style Thanksgiving dinner to be held at the Rif Fort in Otrobanda.  Reservations were required; one seating only; 60 persons max at a long table family style; payment in person required in advance.  

We arrived early, and settled in for drinks on a balcony on the east side of the Fort overlooking the St. Anna Bay and the pontoon swing bridge; there we were treated to the sight of the full moon rising over the city.  When we made our way to the dinner venue on the upper inner wall on the west side of the Fort, we were surprised to find the long table wasn’t so long and accommodated only 32.  Our hostess explained that the dinner was conceived as a means to publicize the various eateries in the Fort and its immediate surroundings.  Consequently, each separate establishment would be delivering samples of their fare, and our hosts would bring them out one at a time.  Apparently, the quantities had never been adjusted from 60 to 32, for each serving was enormous.  Apparently, there were MANY such establishments, because there were MANY servings, and they were eclectic!

Here are some of the servings: a complementary serving of Prosecco, and then sushi, two types of pizza, mashed sweet potatoes, pork chops, grilled fish, green salad, small hamburger sliders, french fries, pumpkin soup, a small steak, and  breads.  (And I think I have forgotten some.) And then the finale:  brussel sprouts, stuffing, and roasted turkeys, brought to the table whole and uncarved and as brown and as pretty as you please!  We six Americans (the only non-locals in attendance) almost swooned!  (Although that may have been because by that time we were all VERY full.)  We had to ask for someone to come back and do some carving, an operation we watched with considerable amusement. We had been promised cranberry sauce and one of us asked about that. Apologies were given and then a triumphant and proud return with the strange garnish that those goofy Americans insist upon when they consume those strange birds.  There soon followed puzzled looks on the faces of the six Americans. The “cranberries” each had a single hard sizable pit!. And the “sauce” bathing the berries tasted a good bit like cherry pie filling!  Some among us opined that the berries were pomegranates, but I know better, having consumed gallons of pomegranate seeds when visiting my sister Zona, who likes pomegranate seeds A LOT.  And they don’t have big pits. My guess as to the berry?  Dunno.

Dessert was apple pie served with heaping bowls of various flavors of ice cream.

The launch of Tusen Takk II was mostly routine.  Curacao Marine does a good job.  But the launch ramp was slippery from an earlier rain, and so TWO tractors were used to ease the trailer into the brine.

So we had a productive time in Curacao, but it is good to be in Bonaire.  See our next post.

Wrapping up Georgia; Atlanta & Savannah — Oct. 26-Nov. 5, 2018

Atlanta

On October 26 we flew to Atlanta, GA, there to visit daughter Nellie and her husband of two years, Michael, and their two sons Mike and Conner.  We also broke away for a brief visit with granddaughter Kristen in her new home in Loganville, from which she commutes to her new job in Conyers, utilizing her new credentials as an MBA and CPA.

While in Atlanta, our two main activities, besides lots of visiting and catching up, were to go for an extended walk on the BeltLine and to indulge in an extended visit to the Jimmy Carter Center, which is just one block away from Nellie & Michael’s home.

Built in the ’80s, the Carter Center and adjoining Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (collectively known as the Carter Presidential Center) sit on a 35-acre park east of Downtown Atlanta.  The center, a nonprofit think tank affiliated with Emory University, is only open to the public by appointment or for special events, and so we were unable to submit our ideas for improving the body politic.  But the museum and library are open throughout the week and we were quite impressed. The museum includes a permanent (and extensive) exhibit of significant events from Carter’s life and career; an exact replica of the Oval Office, down to the furnishings, from his 1976-1981 presidency; and his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2002.

The BeltLine is a former railway corridor around the core of Atlanta, Georgia, under development in stages as a multi-use trail. Some portions are already complete, while others are still in a rough state but hikeable. Using existing rail track easements, the BeltLine is designed to improve transportation, add green space, and promote redevelopment. The BeltLine plan was originally developed in 1999 as a masters thesis by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel. It links city parks and neighborhoods, but has also been used for temporary art installations. 

Savannah

On Monday morning we rented an auto and drove to Savannah for our annual visit to doctors, friends, and relatives.  As has been our practice in the past, we timed our visit to coincide with the annual Film Festival sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit, accredited university with locations in Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; and Lacoste, France. Founded in 1978 in Savannah, the university enrolls more than 13,000 students from across the United States and around the world with international students comprising up to 14 percent of the student population.

SCAD’s effect on Savannah has been remarkable and impressive. Its efforts to work with the city to preserve its architectural heritage include restoring buildings for use as college facilities, for which it has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Victorian Society of America. The college campus includes 67 buildings throughout the grid-and-park system of downtown Savannah. Many buildings are on the famous 21 squares of the old town, which are laden with monuments, live oaks and a Southern-Gothic feel.

The college owns two theaters in Savannah, the Trustees Theater and the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Among other things, these theaters are used once a year for the Savannah Film Festival in late October/early November. With average attendance more than 40,000, the event includes a week of lectures, workshops and screenings of student and professional films.

Recently, questions have been raised about the unusual pay packages granted to SCAD’s president, Paula Wallace and her family. Paula Wallace received $9.6 million in compensation in 2014, and 13 members of her family have received $60 million over the past 20 years. Additionally, the American Association of University Professors places SCAD on its list of censured institutions over SCAD’s treatment of its professors.  A revealing exposé was recently published in the Atlantic Journal and Constitution.  It can be read here.

Savannah Squares

Barbara worked in downtown Savannah for many years, and always insists when we return that we spend some time just sitting on one of their benches.  This year, it was Johnson Square’s turn.  The Nathanael Greene monument on Johnson Square honors one of America’s top Revolutionary War officers. Brigadier General Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) was second only to George Washington. Greene and Washington were the only two Continental generals that served throughout the entire American Revolution.   

One of the war’s greatest strategists, he successfully waged a war of attrition against the British forces in the South.  In appreciation for his service in the Revolutionary War, Greene was awarded Mulberry Grove Plantation by the grateful state of Georgia. (The Plantation would later become the site of the invention by Eli Whitney of the cotton gin.)  Greene moved to Savannah with his family after the war, but died a short time later of heat stroke. Originally buried in Colonial Park Cemetery, the remains of Nathanael and his son were moved to Johnson Square in 1902, and reburied in the base of the monument erected in his honor. 

Savannah Friends

We never have enough time.  This year, we squeezed in visits with Mike & Iris Dayoub and with Steve Ellis & Beth Logan and with Richard & Karen Munson,  And of course with daughter Danielle and granddaughter Abigail (and Kristen, who drove down from Atlanta to help us celebrate Abbie’s 15th birthday.)

Wrapping up Arizona; Flagstaff & Phoenix — October 16 – 24, 2018

On October 16 we said goodbye to Buck and Parks, AZ.  (Bill was in Missouri on a visit to his mother.  Colleen was in Phoenix, helping her sister adjust to the  sudden death of her husband Douglas.)  We settled into the expansive Phoenix RV Resort “Desert Shadow”, where Barb and I spent days (days, I tell you) cleaning and then applying 303 protectorant to the roof of the bus and then washing and then waxing the bus.  Days, I tell you.

On October 19, we had lunch with Barb’s second cousin Bill Carr, who shares Barb’s interest in genealogy.

On October 22 we got up early and drove up to Flagstaff to see some doctors, and then had lunch with Buck (on a shopping expedition) and Barb’s son Jeff (passing through on his way to Moab.)  They had plenty to talk about since they own similar Jeeps.

On October 24 Bill (back from Missouri) and Bruce met us at Phoenix’s RV Harbor where they helped us shoe-horn the bus into a covered storage spot, where the poor bus will languish for approximately six months.

We then drove our CRV to the Las Vegas home of Barb’s father Cliff.  Our poor auto will languish there for approximately six months.  

We are currently in Atlanta, Georgia to see Nellie and her Atlanta family and will tomorrow briefly visit Barb’s granddaughter Kristen.  But more of that and our subsequent visit to Savannah the next edition..

Sightseeing; Lockett Meadow Campground & Wupatki National Monument — October 15, 2018

After enduring several days of cold and rain and/or clouds and wind, the forecast predicted a clear and sunny day for October 15.  And so it was that Barb and I arose early and headed off to see some of the sites north of Flagstaff.  As we were departing the Parks, AZ area we broke into an open area that afforded a nice view of Humphreys Peak.  After stopping for a quick photo we continued on to Flagstaff where we took Highway 89 northward some 20 miles.  When we reached the turnoff for Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on our right, we instead turned left onto a gravel road that soon turned into a dirt road that displayed a sign reading “Warning!  Not maintained for passenger vehicles!”.  Nevertheless, we continued along the forest road that frequently narrowed to a single lane with a deep ditch on the left and a cliff to the right as it climbed uphill some 3 miles to the Lockett Meadow Campground at 8,600 feet.  The  campground is right near the Inner Basin trailhead, and Barb ventured up a few miles while I focused on the just-turning aspens.

Our second destination was the Wupatki National Monument, which we reached by returning to Highway 89 and then driving through the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  We didn’t have time to stop at Sunset, but took consolation from having seen some of it back in June 2018. Click here for a reminder.

There is a very impressive Visiter Center in the Wupatki National Monument.  Exiting out the rear door gives access to perhaps the most impressive of the ruins in the area.

From Wikipedia:

The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil’s ability to retain water. By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. Based on a careful survey of archaeological sites conducted in the 1980s, an estimated 2000 immigrants moved into the area during the century following the eruption. Agriculture was based mainly on maize and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation. In the Wupatki site, the residents harvested rainwater due to the rarity of springs. The dwelling’s walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with scores of rooms. The largest settlement on monument territory is the Wupatki Ruin, built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area’s tallest and largest structure for its time period. The monument also contains ruins identified as a ball court, similar to those found in Mesoamerica and in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona; this is the northernmost example of this kind of structure. This site also contains a geological blowhole. Other major sites are Wukoki and The Citadel.

Wupatki Site

Wukoki Site

Work and Play; Parks, AZ — September 30 – October 15, 2018

Back at the home of Bill & Colleen near Parks, AZ, we soon settled into a happy mix of play and project.

What kind of play? Weightlifting in the garage most mornings, followed by a walk through the woods. Frequent gathering for shared meals in the evening, often followed by card games punctuated by dessert and coffee. Special night on October 5, when we celebrated Buck’s (“Meat’s”) birthday.

An early project was the resolving of an “old” problem.  Bill, Buck and I wrestled the washing machine out of its enclosure and then removed the rear and top panels, revealing the cause of what had become excessive flopping of the drum.  Simple fix.  Re-attach the right spring that suspends that side of the drum.  How did the spring get loose in the first place?  Remember the problem we had back in Washington when the right rear shock and air bag of the bus had to be replaced? Click here to refresh your memory.  The bumpy ride that did that damage also disengaged the support spring.  Would that all bus problems were so easily and cheaply resolved.

Bill was an especially busy beaver, helping me with my projects and attending to his own. One project sent Bill to his roof to sweep his chimney, a messy job but relatively brief. Much more substantial was his project to improve the drainage in the area to the rear of his garage. Bill and Buck started by deepening and extending by shovel the trench running to the north from behind the garage. Next day they were joined by a neighbor with a backhoe whose efforts considerably speeded the project. Bill & Buck did some major surveying to get the right slope. After the drainage hose had been laid but not covered, Barb & I took up the tripod, level, and rod to help fine tune the gradient.

The most significant project on our bus involved a long-standing electrical problem. It all started months ago, when we were all lounging on the driveway in front of the garage.  Suddenly, the awning above the door self-extended.  We were all flabbergasted.  We used the controls to retract the awning, and after a few minutes of experimentation, during which the controls seemed to work fine, we dismissed the problem.  When the same thing happened several weeks later, we disengaged the electrical connection to the awning, for fear that it would one day extend while we were underway.  Now, we had time to investigate the problem.  We had strong suspicions that the problem was pinched and frayed wires lurking behind a plate on the “ceiling” of the right front wheel well. We raised the front of the bus as much as we could, blocked it up for safety, cranked the wheel to its right limit, and I crawled into the cavity to begin cleaning the plate of its obscuring undercoating.  When I had cleaned the sealing edges, it was clear that the plate had been fastened by spot welds.  I did my best to grind the welds away, but had little luck.  At that point my frequent guardian angel in the person of Buck came yet again to my rescue.  He replaced me in the cavity and eventually got the plate off.  At that point the source of the original problem became clear. There were several wire bundles running from the center of the bus toward the outer edge.  One of them was pinched at that edge because at the time of manufacture, the bundle had not been placed into the appropriate notch that would protect the bundle when the floor of the bus was placed onto the frame.  The bundle ran up into the coach.  We disconnected the wires in the coach and pulled the wires into the wheel cavity where they could be examined.  Several had bare spots that had apparently been grounding on the metal of the frame.  Bill & Buck repaired the wires and sent them through the notch back up into the coach, where they were reattached to the connectors and reconnected to the passenger console.

We repaired the somewhat-crinkled plate and reattached it to its position (using screws rather than weld) and sprayed it with undercoating.  Ta-da!!!!  Thank you Bill and Buck for repairing a chronic problem and removing a dangerous condition. 

On October 7 we woke up to a surprise!

My last project was to manufacture, under the tutelage of Benevolent Bill,  blocks for use under the bus jacks.

Fun with Mom; North Dakota — August 31 – September 30, 2018

Before we discuss our visit to Bismarck, let’s review what we already know. We had driven to Las Vegas from Parks, where we had left our RV. I flew from Vegas to San Francisco where I visited my son Wil over the weekend. Barb flew to Bismarck on Aug. 31, arriving just in time to be with my 99 year old mother while my sister Zona went to Europe. I flew to Bismarck on September 4. (Barb later flew back to Vegas to help her father celebrate his 83rd birthday.)

So now that we are all caught up, let’s talk about our visit to North Dakota. Friends and neighbors of Zona, Jerry and Jeanne, were attentive and welcoming. We joined them a couple of times at a restaurant for dinner. They brought over fresh home-baked caramel rolls. They brought over sausages and frozen pheasant. They are both retired, but Jerry still putters at farming. Zona has a huge yard, and Jerry on September 10-12 brought over his swather and then hay baler and then pickup to gather the bales from Zona’s front yard.

While I was still in San Francisco, Mom and Barb drove out to Lake Isabel to see Jon and Cathy and their kids Kate & Cole. The apples were ready, and so they all picked apples to be made into cider.

In other miscellaneous news, I saw my dermatologist and escaped without any surgeries or freezings. Barb had her toe X-rayed and finally got assurances that it was healing and that she could abandon the boot.

On September 13, Barb and Mom and I drove south to a spot along the Missouri River that the locals call ‘Desert’ presumably because there is a large sandy area along the inside of a sweeping turn of the river.  Its more formal name is “Kimball Bottoms OHV Area”.

On September 15 we got up early to drive Mom to a one-day religious meeting in Fargo. After dropping her off safely, we met Barb’s cousin Geri and her husband Denny for an early lunch. After lunch Denny excused himself to attend a football game of the North Dakota State Bison, who are having another wildly successful year. Geri and Barb and I then retired to an adjoining coffee shop where we spent a number of enjoyable hours until it was time to fetch Mom.

(On September 16 Barb flew to Vegas for her father’s birthday, returning on September 20. While Barb was gone, it fell to me to curl Mom’s hair every day.)

On September 21, childhood friends Lynne & Monica came to visit Barb. Our Norwegian friends will recognize those names; those two accompanied us to Spain in 2011 to help Lars Helge & Tove harvest their almonds, to be sure, but mostly to celebrate the birthdays of Barbara and Tove. Our blog of that unforgettable event, made when we had a different blog system, can be found here. (Use the ‘<‘ key to return to a former page in this old blog; some of the links are broken.)

Lynn’s husband Steve came with Lynne and shared a meal with us, but then had to return to Valley City. The girls spent the night. It is always interesting to stay quietly in a corner and watch and listen to these long-time friends reminisce. We also taught the girls how to play 3-to-13 with Barb, Mom and me. Of course, Mom shellacked us.

Barb’s brother Tim stopped in for a nice visit on his way from Carrington to watch his son Preston compete at the Jamestown Speedway. We later learned he took first place on the last night of the season.

Zona returned on Tuesday evening, September 25, pleased with her trip but bushed from the long flight back.

On September 27 Barb and I drove back down to the ‘Desert’ area, knowing that the Cottonwood trees were turning. Barb patiently waited in the car and read while I took an extended walk through the ATV park and along the river, toting my camera and tripod.

We flew back to Vegas on the 28th, and drove back down to Parks, AZ on September 30th. But our stay at Parks is a topic for a later post. Stay tuned, or take advantage of the new subscription option.

Catching Up with Loved Ones — August 26 – September 16, 2018

When it was time to leave Barb’s brothers in Washington, we made our way back to Bill’s home near Parks, AZ.  We left the RV Bus there and took our toad to Las Vegas. I flew to San Francisco to see my son Wil, and Barb flew to Bismarck to be with Mom while sister Zona spent about three weeks in Europe.  I spent the weekend with Wil, and then flew to Bismarck to join Barb and Mom.  Later, Barb flew back to Las Vegas to help her father Cliff celebrate his 93rd birthday.  

San Francisco

My son Wil has gotten into wall climbing, and has been very happy with what the new hobby has done for his level of fitness.  Unfortunately, he slipped one day and fell onto folks below who should not have been there.  Their presence prevented him from executing a momentum-absorbing roll and hence he sustained the “crunch” of two broken bones in his ankle.  When I arrived he had just gotten out of a rigid cast and was in a new boot and learning to use a peg leg.  

His new condition changed our plans, but we still got out to local coffee shops and one of Wil’s favorite local restaurants in the famous Castro district: Delfina.  We have been there on previous visits as well; it continues to be fantastic.  Not so good was a more remote restaurant that Wil had been to some time ago: Front Porch.  We went back because it features southern cooking and we thought it would be a fun way to recall our eating experiences in Savannah, GA.  Alas, not so. The boiled peanuts were saturated in something resembling soy sauce.  The fried green tomatoes were overcooked.  Even more so the tiny bits of okra so overdone as to be near lumps of charcoal.  The mashed potatoes were cold and lumpy.  The collard greens were drowning in overpowering vinegar.  The fried chicken, instead of having a tender tasty interior, was stringy and dry.  Folks, this ain’t southern cooking the way we knew it.  To taste the real thing, go to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, GA.

On one of our excursions we walked past a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Alas I din’t have my camera with me.  I had to ask Wil later what we had just seen.

From Wikipedia:

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. At their inception in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of nuns in visible situations using high camp to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District.

Las Vegas

A number of Barb’s family gathered in Las Vegas to celebrate her father Cliff’s birthday. They included her brother Mike, her sister Audrey, her son Jeff, Cliff’s brother John and his friend Barbara, and Cliff’s brother Joe and his wife Rita.  Cliff was presented with a special gift from a niece: a printed copy of a commissioned  painting she had done for a former school mate.  Now a successful eye doctor and a world traveller, he requested a painting with multiple scenes from his North Dakota upbringing.  The copy, by Theresa Stahl, now graces a wall in Cliff’s apartment.

A few days later, when the birthday celebrants  had dispersed, Audrey and Barb joined Jeff for a ride on Lake Mead on his new boat — a boat which bore strong resemblance to the one we owned so long ago in Savannah, GA.

We’ll write about our Bismarck visit in a subsequent post.  Here are some pictures from our two visits to Loved Ones: