Saturday, June 30, 2012

Camp Grenada

"Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am in Camp Grenada.

It is very ... entertaining,
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining."

Do you remember that 1963 novely song by Alan Sherman?

If you do, or if you've just listened to it, you have an idea about how my trip to see my grandchildren has been working for me so far.

The very old, like the very young (and like dogs ... see below), have 'problems' dealing with their environment and experiences.

For me ... well, I'm like The Hobo Brasser ("My Travels With Hansel and Gretel"), except the grief in my life comes from my car.

Yesterday, my car died just as I was pulling into the motel in Medford, Oregon. I ended up perched on a red curb (NO PARKING: VIOLATORS WILL BE TICKETTED AND TOWED!") by the restaurant next door to the motel. After I had explained and apologized to both the motel and the restaurant owner, the car started right up and I drove to my room.

Today, halfway to the American River Valley area along Interstate 5 in California, my front tire started to make "funny noises". Like THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP. So I pulled into a gas station at the next exit (ever notice how Service Stations never have a "Mechanic's Bay" anymore?) and it looked fine,

Back on the road, 20 miles later the car started pulling to the left.

It's 6pm Saturday Night, no place to go, so I limped on into Stockton and got room. The most disreputable Motel 6 in the entire chain can be found there; i'm in room 105, and the fine folks in room 106 are starting their Saturday Night early. WHOOPIE! Did I mention that the ice machine isn't working? I called the front desk. They checked. "Yes sir, our ice machine is working". Yes, it's churning and making noises .,. but it isn't dispensing any nice. One presumes that the fine folks in room 106 are making regular Ice runs too keep the machine drained. Either that, or in 94 degree weather, the stuff melts before it gets to the dispenser.

I haven't tried the shower yet. I'm afraid to.

Maybe I should just go visit the party in 106. It's my best chance to get ice, and The Good Lord knows I'm not going t get any sleep tonight anyway ... and I'm afraid to drive a car with a wobbly wheel like a grocery store shopping cart tomorrow.

Tomorrow: "Muddah Faddah Kindly Disregard Dis Lettah"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Geek Ride

Here's the problem;  I live in Oregon (mid-Willamette valley, milepost 228 on the Interstate 5) and my kids live in San Diego (milepost 0 from the Mexican Border).  I've got two kids, and between them they have SEVEN children.   They don't come to visit me in Oregon very often, and I can only handle one trip a year because ... face it! ... I won't fly with the current regulations, and it's a drive of about a thousand miles.

Who knows how many?  Maybe only 900 miles between us, maybe 1100.  Perhaps I should keep track of my mileage this year, so I could REPORT it accurately; but I think if I spend too much time focusing on how far away they live, I may talk myself out of the next trip.  So I'm saying 900, if only because it's doable.

Oh.  That's one-way distance.  Not round-trip.  I don't want to think about round-trip distance.

In previous years, I've made the trip in three days.  The last day is always a killer.   I cannot help but thing that The City of The Angels is right  next door to Saint Diego; but in truth, just getting through the LA Freeways is a grueling experience for a guy how has lived in a small college town for the past 20 years.

And of course, the time of the year is important.

Right on the California/Oregon border, there's a mountain range where any trip attempted September through March offers the possibility of fog at least, snow/sleet/ice at best on what can only be described as "a treacherously curvacious freeway".

It looks straight-up and straight-down, except that the Interstate 5 freeway appears to have followed the path of a notoriously lazy cow, always searching for a road grade which tries (but often fails) to conform to the standard of a 6% grade.

There is no chance at all that I would choose to make this trip during the winter; I have, often enough, when my kids lived in the San Francisco Bay area.  I could make that trip in two days.

Once I rode a motorcycle from Oregon to the Bay Area, with a passenger.  When we got to the bay area, I dropped the bike in a super-market parking lot, at night, when we got to Oakley (where the kids' mom, my ex-wife, lived).  My passenger ... my second wife .. ended up in a hospital being treated for possible spinal injuries.  Thankfully, she was only suffering from bruises, but the experience demonstrated how fatiguing it can be to drive too far in too short a time.  I don't want to dump my car because I'm suffering from driver fatigue, so I'm leaving a week early and also taking another week to come home.

What's the Point?

The point is, I'm going to admit that my stamina has decreased, and there's no reason why I should push myself so hard that I will be to tired to enjoy my grandchildren when I get there.   I'm looking for under 300 miles a day, and a good night's sleep between every leg.

Unfortunately, this means that I will be unable to commit to my regularly scheduled "Introduction to USPSA" class, which should take place on the first Saturday of the month;  July 7.   I may or may not be back home by then, but I won't make any promises.

Mac has volunteered to take the class for July, and I'm volunteering to let him do it.  He's a good instructor, even though he's still going through "The Cancer Thing" ... chemo-therapy undermines one's stamina, but he feels he's able to handle it.   We've got one student signed up for the class so far,  and frankly I'm hoping that (a) the class won't be so large that it's a challenge to the instructor, and (b) local competitors will volunteer to support Mac during the class, so HE won't  be tempted to exert himself physically more than his current condition allows.

Me?  I'm retired, but I still allow myself one vacation a year.  I'm going to see my kids and my kids' kids whatever it takes.
Grandson Jack teasing his Pre-school teacher with his diploma

Granddaughter Samantha and friend

(below) Granddaughter Elizabeth showing off her six-stitch scar from where she hit her head on the side of the swimming pool while doing "laps"