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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our Joad trip to Glacier National Park

Finally a month after our trip to Glacier National Park, here’s the story of the adventure.

Day One
A couple of months ago, soon after the Tardis camper remodel, the bride started talking about wanting to make a trip to Glacier National Park.  So I got Neal the truck ready, being named so after the Astronaut for going to the moon, my truck is on the return trip at 274 thousand miles.  So after a few smaller shakedown camping trips, we took off on a Sunday morning drove 30 miles stopped to get some ice and came back to the truck and the engine had seized up. 
You see, a while back ago on another adventure, one of my hoses had popped off and the truck overheated blowing the head gasket and I had not got around to fixing it.  Well, the final straw was tossed on Neal’s back and he wasn’t going to take it anymore.  So I called a tow truck and right when the tow truck arrived, I turned the key and he started up.  I paid the tow guy for his trip and drove home.   Guess the engine is at such a stage that it seizes when it’s hot.  Sigh.
We decided, well, I am on leave for a week, let’s just pack up the car with the tent and supplies and head out.  So, 2 hours later, after a very quick packing job because we had to cut down on what we were bringing.  We hit the road much later than expected and decided that Louise Erdrich’s, The Plague of Doves would be a good road tripping book.  It set the tone well for the first part of the trip.
Sunset behind us over my moonroof
11 that night, we were tired, I was grumpy because one of my cars was mortally wounded and we decided to stay at a Super 8 in Spokane.  One thing about owning dogs that you can’t expect to stay in a really nice place but Super 8’s are always accommodating to pets and give a military discount.  Sometime in the life of this particular Super 8, it looked like it had hosted regularly graduation parties and biker parties.  I’m okay with that.
Day 2


Next morning, bring shiny after a good night’s rest, we hit the road again and broke our fast at Dawn of the Donut, a zombie themed donut in Spokane.  

By the next afternoon after driving through some beautiful country in Idaho and Montana with a stop for Bear repellent we arrived at Glacier National Park only to find that there were only 2 campgrounds open after Labor Day due to the government sequester.  Apgar was full and the other, Many Glaciers was only taking hard shell campers and mine was still sitting at home hanging his hood in shame. 

When we planned the trip, we planned it for camper.   We kept driving because on our map, there were some campsites in this particular direction and the wife indicated a dirt road which we abandoned early on, deciding that it was too rough after a mile for the Fusion.  Instead, we turned around and drove down a different road, on which there was supposed to be another campground.  However we missed an important right turn at Polebridge village in the dark and ended up randomly wandering down some dirt road for over an hour, every once in a while passing a closed campground.  Until we saw the a campground symbol with an arrow pointing down a small one lane dirt road with a 10 underneath it.   So we drove those 10 miles slowly in the dark. 

Consider at this point, we had spent 3 hours of just driving in one direction on a dirt road and had not seen another car.  I had scary movie themes running in my head, considering how many Wrong Turns it took to get here and that we were totally cut off from cell service, it was to be expected.  Finally after a very long and slow 10 miles we were at this mystery campground, which wasn’t a mystery anymore.  It was called Tuchuck and it was just miles away from the Canadian border and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was free, had 7 very large, clean camp sites and we were totally alone.  Added bonus, there was a stream singing merrily right behind the campsite we chose.  I could have kissed the ground but didn’t.
Picture of the campground sign in the daylight

Many people are horrified about having to set up tents in the dark.  To me, those people don’t practice enough, we were veteran campers and had the Montana 8 tent up in less than 10 minutes and started the queen sized air mattress inflating.  Okay, even though we were totally caught by surprise having to switch out of a camper with no notice.  We were used to tent camping more than anything else and it wasn’t that big of a shift to us. 


I made steaks that night with corn and home fires, and we enjoyed the fire and the music of the wind through the trees and water in the back ground.  This is life.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Road tripping to Glacier National Park


The bride has been talking about wanting to go to Glacier National Park for years and now that we live in Washington, it's just a hop, skip and a jump.  Taking a week of leave, checking out the sights and taking a bunch of pictures.  Also get a chance to test out the Tardis camper, hopefully Neal (my Toyota Tacoma with 274 thousand miles) can handle the trip and we don't get eaten by bears getting ready for winter.

I'm also testing out my EC tech bluetooth keyboard that I picked up off Amazon for 13 bucks with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 with Evernote.  Blogging light.  Too bad I can't use this to upload my pictures from my camera but I do like the Photoshop touch, which does work on the Kindle.  You upload the pictures up to Adobe and from there you can edit them on the Kindle.

Enough with geek speak, I'm still here and alive.  Have a year of left of this canoe club and then need to find out what I'm going to do when I grow up.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Doctor Who Tardis Camper

I remodeled a cabover camper and painted a Tardis on the back.  Yes indeed,  I'm an ubernerd.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Camping in Sasquatch Country

Wednesday, the bride texts me and says, “I want to go to Canada this weekend.”  And for half of the day at work, I kept getting texts about places that she wants to go in Victoria and how much the ferry is going to be and what time we have to be there.  Realizing that there was one ferry going there in the morning and one coming back in the afternoon, I was a bit skittish and said, how about going camping on the mainland side?  And she picked a place called Sasquatch Provincial Park which is the actual place where the Native American’s or in the case of Canada, they are called the First Nation people; came up with the name Sasq’uts which means hairy man and of course the English speaking people changed it to Sasquatch. 

Anyhow, according to the oral traditions of the local First Nation people, they believed the Sasq’uts to be a spiritual being that could vanish into the spirit world at will and there have been centuries of sightings in these parts.  Camping out here, with the mountains that seem to reach into sky and undergrowth that seems so thick that it looks like jungle, it’s easy to believe that a giant could walk a couple of feet off the road and totally cease to exist.  (Now, I look around the dark woods with no fellow campers about and strange sounding birds crying out in the dark, hmm, it is a bit spooky out here)

Sasquatch Provincial Park is located a next to Harrison Lake which is 60 km long and is home to 5 kinds of salmon and 14 foot long sturgeon.  The closest town is called Harrison Hot Springs which has a bunch of touristy type shops and there is a public pool where you can relax in the hot spring water for 9 bucks a head.  When you’re dirty and camping, it’s a pretty good deal, rinse off in the hot showers then head out to the 4 foot deep pool and just lay and relax soaking up the warmth and peaceful vibes, when you leave, you’ll feel like a new person.  If you’re hungry, there are all sorts of small restaurants, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Schnitzel and a scattering of burger joints, from elegant to bars, the grub seems pretty good.

Camping works like this, check the board and pick a slot that hasn’t been reserved and start setting up, before too long, a ranger will come by and take your money and offer you wood.  At this point, I have to mention, the rangers who took our money the first night were the most attractive rangers I have ever seen which is total truth, the bride thought so too.  We picked a place in the Bench Campground, vault type toilets, a bit primitive but we’re an old hand at the camping racket.


Tomorrow, I’m making pancakes with some real Canadian maple syrup.  So far, our first take of Canada has been good.  Roads are smooth, locals friendly and food isn’t too bad, an added bonus, all of the trails are dog friendly.  Maybe next time, I’ll see how my fishing luck holds out.

Here are some pictures, more over at Facebook for you Facebookers located here.

 our campsite
 A water park that you have to take a boat too
 usual suspects
 checking out the fine day
 ride on doggie
 mushrooms by our campsite
 That's a glacier off in the distance
 Hanging out with the locals
Bridal Falls

Monday, January 07, 2013

Sarah Lynn Rouette, April 21st, 1974 to January 7th, 2013

I can’t believe you’re gone, a month ago, you had a close call and by the time I got to your side, you were already bulling people around about the proper texture of your coconut jello and the feng shui of the Christmas decorations in your living room, 6 months ago, you were risking your life on that damn mountain bike of yours flying down steep mountain slopes and 2 years, 9 months and 21 days ago you went into see a doctor for a excisional biopsy on her right breast and woke to a world that had cancer in it. But this blog post isn’t about that disgusting disease, it’s a selfish post about me and her and choices we made in life.

 Sarah was younger, other than her shoe collection, she was a minimalist. She was a stubborn, smart, pig headed, fun and had great dreams, she would focus on a goal and it was hers. She made life look easy. She saved up her money, lived in a shack and took huge elaborate trips to far distant lands with a pack on her back but she always came back to Prescott to roost. Me, I ran away like I was being chased by wild dogs and then spent the next 2 decades coming back for sips from that well. I became a Gypsy, joined a band of roaming sailors who pulled into home port on rare occasions and somehow in the middle of that wildness I had got married and had a kid. Sarah being Sarah and never one to beat around a bush, called me a breeder (with great distain) and that I was making a foolish mistake, alright, I admit, she did call that one sort of right.

Years go by, me traveling the world and wearing out my soles while she stayed in Prescott and gathered a community around her.

She did finally settle down and had two beautiful children that she could call her own and somehow became a super momma involved in all sort of outlandish mommy activities. Most of the mom’s I see are military wives or military members and she out momma’ed most of them. For those of you who do not know Sarah, it’s hard to explain the gaggle of momma friends she had around. These girls were her life and she was theirs in ways that I can’t pretend to understand.

If my sister and I have one thing in common, we can pull people together when we put a mind to it. By this time, I had gathered my own community of nerds and oddballs that was connected by electrons and ether and scattered across vast gulfs.

The point I’m getting to is that even though I’m torn up and weepy right now and even though I’m her brother. It’s been two decades since I’ve made a real impact on Sarah’s life and even then, I don’t’ think I shifted it an inch out of the path she made, over the last few years, she’s formed this commune of friends that have been her strength and armor, she was a part of Prescott, not meaning that she lived in it or that she was a Prescott girl. She was as much of the town as Whiskey Row. I’ve only touched her life briefly, a dab here and a dab there, dumb little things like setting up her blog and attempting to pull her out of the dark ages because even though she had a huge brain, she was still at heart, a total Luddite and thought of technology as a passing fad that the rest of us would get over.

We were always off on our own private holy mission that seemed so important at that moment.  If there is anything in life that I regret, I regret that we did not have a proper brother/sister relationship, I regret rushing off those moments when I could have taken more time to take in her amazing life that she had built like a castle around herself and I regret not being there for you when you needed me. This armor of hers, it’s just not hers, it’s the people she’s drawn to herself and right now, it’s torn asunder and I’m sorry, I’m just a dumb boy and don’t have a clue on how to mend it.

My heart aches, I love you sis and miss you terribly.

Her blog is called Drink Water and Breathe

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When Social Media goes Wrong


This is the story I've seen wondering around friends walls this morning, my sleep addled mind read it and thought, this sort of sucks and I went back to bed.... 

Yesterday, my 17 year old niece, who attends Lancaster High School, was beaten by a football player, named Kyle, on school grounds, for being gay. After receiving over a dozen blows to her jaw, eye and head, all he received was a 5 day suspension by the Lancaster School District. She suffered from a fractured jaw and multiple concussions to the head and the Deputy Sheriff advised her mother to re-think her wanting to file charges against the football player because her daughter pushed him back. The school ended up documenting "assault" charges on my nieces file, NOT the football players! To make things worse, the Deputy Sheriff on site warned my niece, by saying,"Just so you know, if you file charges against him, I'm taking his side." Oh, and the icing on the cake was when the football player came up to my niece after school and said, "Sorry, but you had it coming!" We're attempting to raise awareness and bring this story to light because Lancaster High School is trying to sweep this "Hate Crime" under the rug! Like if you care and please forward to everyone you know

Then I woke up a bit more and thought, hey, this has all of the hooks of a net myth, must research this more and here’s the link to what Snopes has to say.  

The reason that I’m even posting about this is because it’s happening now, not some recycled story.  Here’s the facts, a 14 year old boy was pushed by a 17 year old girl because he complained about another 17 year old girl cutting in line in front of him at lunch, he fought back against the girl who pushed him who he thought was a guy (Justin Bieber haircut?).  The girl got a cut on her lip, they both got suspended should be end of story.  40 witnesses agree with that story.  But someone embellished that story and the story had such a grab that it's passing around the world, causing people to gasp, "that's so wrong!".  No what's wrong is that you believe that story before looking.  In some ways, this is the same as Muslim video that's causing all of the protests in the middle east, do a moment of research before you repost stuff on your wall. This boy’s parents have pulled him out of school, he’s received death threats along with the principle of the school, he didn't belong to the football team but the football team did have someone who's name sounded like his, he's received death threats too.  Dumb asses are protesting outside of the school.  

Here are the stories from the AV News, my old stomping grounds when I was stationed at Edwards AFB.  Search around Antelope Valley News, they'll probably keep updating it.  Hope no one gets hurt. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 years have passed..


The wife and I are glued to the History Channel as the events of that day are played through from hundreds of different angles and viewpoints and even now, more than a decade later how unreal it seems, we are watching that unfurl on TV.  I’m not going to rehash what I was doing back then, those memories have already seen the light of day and are living in my archives.  I’m going to look at what has happened since then.  At that time I was a mechanic at the low end of the pay scale, single, struggling and then, in the space of a smoky morning, I had direction and goals.  On a terrible day, my life took a turn for the better, I found my calling back in skills that I had shelved and in pursuing that new life, I found that I liked taking pictures, writing and eventually, the strange girl of my dream.  Now, 11 years down the road, I’m 2 years out from a retirement, I have friends all over the world. 

So instead of mourning this year, which is hard watching what we are watching, I’m going to celebrate and be thankful for what I have now.   My wife, my friends and my family and the fact that we all made it to the other side.   I haven’t forgotten but do believe we’ve punished those who were responsible, chasing them all over the globe and when they poked their head out from under a rock, squashed them like a bug and now the biggest bug is dead.  Now it’s time to heal and close some of those wounds and go back to being the land of the free.  Get back to being healthy and happy, I don’t know about you, I’m a bit weary about being a nation suffering from PTSD and I’m sure winning hearts and minds only lasts for so long. 

Crap, this blog post is hard to write while I’m watching people jump out of buildings and people screaming.  Anyway, I’m glad we got the main asshat responsible for this.  I’ll never forget but I was raised by a bunch of forgivers, I have no problem forgiving the dead.

Monday, September 03, 2012

My two cents on the book “No Easy Day”


First, you cannot compare it to Wikileaks, that was done by a disgruntled asshat who grabbed as much secret stuff he could and sent gave it to someone to share with the world which probably caused a lot of people to die and he somehow expected not to get into trouble.  If anything, that guy deserves the Darwin Award just for being a dumbass, he purposely wanted to do as much damage as he could.
No Easy Day on the other hand is a story that I bet a fair percentage of the population dreamed about for the last 11 years.  The boogieman was finally caught, I rejoined the military to see this guy taken out and I, for one wouldn’t mind hearing the story.  This is the tallest of tall tales, what we have spent trillions of dollars to accomplish and as me being Joe Public, would like to hear about the end result, unedited and uncut.  Hopefully the truth as told by a highly motivated decorated warrior. 
Some secrets are too big to keep and I’m glad this one is getting aired to the world and I’m looking forward to drinking a cold beer while reading about it.  I’m just wondering about who got the reward and if someone did, did we set him up nice.  That story and Roswell, then I’ll be a happy camper.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Naval Hospital Oak Harbor

I've settled in here over the last few months and now heading the local physical exam's department and I like it.  They have a good system here where there are lots of checks and balances in doing paperwork which in my line of work is a good thing.  While sometimes a pain because it takes a little longer, I don't mind in the slightest coming from places where the system isn't working and trying to get a system in place.

Outside of work, I'm enjoying fishing,  crabbing and clamming and making interesting comic book furniture.  Now you ask, what's comic book furniture?  This...



and this


Life is good, love the new house and I'm working with a good bunch of people who don't rub me the wrong way.  Hopefully one of these days, I'll find my muse here but until then you can catch me in smaller blurbs over on Facebook.  Peace.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Social Networking

The reality of Facebook/Blogging/Social Networking is that you only get a snapshot of someones life, a few seconds of someones day out of thousands. No matter how much I post here, there are thousands of other things going on in my life that the interwebs has no clue about. There is a full world going on in my point of view and a moment here and there might be dropped onto this medium. We invented the real world of 1984 because it became part of the easiest path to take, the only big difference is that we don't follow the orders that come out of a faceless machine. While the book was sort of a horror story about the future, it's amazing that we can pull much of the same tech out and come up with a vision that is so different and brighter. I put my thoughts here and they can be seen around the world instantly, will they be remembered? Now that is the question.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Day

One of my favorite Independence Day memories was being stationed at MCAS El Toro back in the 90's and being at the local movie theater which was half filled with Marines watching Independence Day on opening night when the General tell's Wil Smith, "El Toro has been completely destroyed." and the entire theater breaks out in cheers.  He flew with VMFA-314.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our trip up Highway One and 101 from California to Whidbey Island Part 1, day one and two


First note about this trip, the bride planned everything out weeks in advance and put it all in a binder which I’m looking at for the first time.  She spent a week looking up directions, taking notes on what’s interesting everyplace along the drive and making reservations on the best spots to camp.  We planned on staying in a motel 2 nights but that ended up being 4 nights after a largish rainstorm and we were muddy and needed a bit off warmth.  Say what you want about Motel 6, but they gave us a military rate of 45 bucks a night and no arguments about two 50 pound dogs.  All of the campgrounds mentioned take dogs just make sure to clean up after them and keep them around you like a second skin.  So on with the journey.


We left out of San Jose on the morning of June 10th, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and drove up the 101 till it connected to the 128, which is also called the Tunnel of Tree’s when you get closer to the coast and we got to see our first redwoods of our journey north because like the name says, it was a tunnel of trees.  Very pretty and scenic, too bad I was driving or I would have taken more pictures. 
Our first night was at Mackerricher State Park which is located 5 or so miles north of Fort Bragg CA.  Basic campsite, running water and flush toilets but no showers.  A hundred yard walk to the beach and seals on the beach.  My first run in with wild life was here too, I was sitting roasting a marshmallow and a spotted skunk bumped into my leg as it stumbled by.  Glad the dogs were in the tent or it would could have been ugly, or is that smelly? 

this is a whale skeleton at the entrance to Mackerricher

To reserve a campsite online is 8 dollars and the fee for Mackerricher was 35 bucks which seems in line for most of the California campgrounds.  One thing I noticed was that Oregon campgrounds were cheaper and they all had showers which were free.  Camping in the Sierra Nevada’s last summer, none of those campgrounds had showers either.




Note 2: We’re driving in my 97 Toyota Tacoma with 270 thousand miles on him with a camper shell, his name is Neil, like the astronaut because he’s driven to the moon.  Our biggest problem is that we over packed and unloading and loading took up an hour or so each side of the day and my old knees feel it and there wasn’t much spare space, specially when you are married to a souvenirholic.  Our tent was a Colman Montana 8 which is easier putting up with 2 people but we could do it in 10 minutes by the end of the trip, we had a queen sized blow up mattress which we put a blanket on top of to keep sharp doggie feet from poking holes in it and 2 dog beds.  Note, always bring a patch kit with you when you have a blow up bed.


The next morning, I made breakfast of eggs, home fries and toast, we were off towards the Albee Creek Campground at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.   We drove north on Highway 1 till it connected again with the 101, but before we got on the 101 we went to see the Chandler Tree, a big redwood that someone had carved a hole that you could drive through and here’s Neil driving through it.

We then followed the 101 till the first exit of Avenue of the Giants and we followed that 20.8 miles, here is where the directions got tricky, you can’t really see the sign to turn so it’s important to turn left at exactly 20.8 miles, sure it would be quicker to take the 101 but you would miss one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever been on.  Drive past the turn to Weott on Avenue of the Giants, drive over a bridge over a river which goes under the 101 and take a sharp left, the campground is 5 miles down that road. 



Albee Campground has coin operated showers, you can’t take dogs on the trails so we stayed in the area. I made dinner, we took showers and crashed. The next morning on the way out, we checked out the Rockefeller Grove and Bull Creek, some of the biggest trees you'll probably ever run into. It's late and I'm done with typing for tonight, expect more posts on this over the next few weeks.






Sunday, May 27, 2012

Transferring from NAS Lemoore to NAS Whidbey Island

I finished up our housing inspection on Friday and over the last two days, have just worked on catching my breath.  Every time we move, we seem to have a more gear then the last time we moved.  The bride just graduated out of San Jose State with her Masters in History and most people can not imagine how many books that is, well I can, it's about equal to the amount of books I had sitting around the house before  her stack was added.  Over the last month, we've felt like we're filming an episode of hoarders, not much fun.  

Things that have happened over the last month, I finished my tattoo


The quote I attached to this when I posted it on Facebook, "This is my lighthearted look at TEOTWAWKI, in flame or flood. The Phoenix because at heart, I'm a comic book geek, I'm from Arizona and I've always had dreams of bursting into flame. The water because my earliest memory was being pulled out of a pool by my hair, I've always loved the mystery of underwater cities, the bridge is memories of Key West, the fire like a sunrise that sets the sky alight and the ocean ruled by robot fish because I could. Thanks Meghan Ortiz, the both of us are going to miss how you could turn our visions into art."

We planned out our trip to Washington taking the long slow route up the 1 driving 50 to 200 miles a day in Neil (my battered Toyota Tacoma with 270 thousand miles on it, named Neil because he's been to the moon (220,000 miles away) and working on the trip back).  The wife has every place we're staying reserved and I plan on taking a lot of pictures.  

Remember what this weekend is about, its for remembering those people who gave it all for a cause they believed in and that sacrifice should not be taken lightly.  This weekend, I'm remembering my friend Mark Lawrence, who died on January 10th and was an Army SSG stationed out of Fort Bragg.  The reason I'm remembering him is because I have not seen a single story out about his death in the news and as far as the world goes, he's been forgotten.  But not by me nor by his family.  He worked in the Wounded Warrior Battalion and his death was ruled a suicide, he was also worked with Army SSG Joshua Eisehouer, who was involved in a police shootout on January 14th, I'm not sure if these are connected but I haven't found anything online about it.