OLLI I.T. Training

To see my latest addition to the Information on OLLI’s Information Technology go to my  other website:




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Prayer

I have been writing an essay ‘On Prayer’ on and off for several years. It is not finished, so I am not ready to publish it. But, I am willing to share the current draft that is stored in DropBox. Here is the link by which you may download a current copy:


Posted in My Philosophies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Overcoming Phobias

When I was very young, about ten years old, I spent the summer at Camp Ropioa near Harrison, Maine. One day I caught and was playing with a snake. It didn’t like being held by a big monster. So, it bit me. It left two small holes in my left center finger. It didn’t really hurt, but it startled me. I let it go. But, even though it slithered off to some rock, it didn’t let go. It held on to me for months, years. I developed a phobia for snakes. I would break out in a sweat even if I saw the picture of a snake. I still remember a field trip to the Museum of Natural History when I was in about eighth grade. I freaked out when I passed an exhibit (under glass) of a coiled snake. It bothered me to be afraid of something that posed no real threat. I thought I was being unreasonable. And I was.
After high school, after College, after being on my own in the world and with a wife and kid I was living out in the country. Wife and kid were away visiting family. I looked out the window to see a six foot long slithering monster crawling up the side of our house! I got an axe and separated the head from the rest of the snake without getting any closer than the length of the axe handle. To prove my bravery I skinned the carcass and pinned it to a board to dry.
Later I read a story about someone who had overcome their unreasonable fear of snakes by catching and holding and stroking one. The thought sent shivers up my spine. But, I thought it might be worth a try.
Some time after the family came home I came across a three or four foot Black Snake in a field near our home. I carefully caught it and picked it up. I carefully held it from behind its head and showed it to my wife and son. We all stroked its scaly sides and felt its strength as it wiggled in my hand. I either got careless or the snake got impatient. It twisted it neck and bit the upper knuckle of my left thumb. Many of its short, sharp teeth penetrated my skin.
Now, I knew that a Black Snake is not poisonous, so there was no need to panic. I almost panicked anyway! If I had, those short, sharp teeth would have slid along my finger and ripped it open. Oh, it hurt, not much, but it did hurt. I held still and looked at my hand and the snake. I explained to him that he could hold on or let me go and that if he would le t me go, I would let him go. He did. I did. And he slithered away taking my phobia of snakes with him.
Some weeks later I was at the door of one of the out buildings on the property where we lived when I heard a rustling in the leaves next to the door and between the step I was on and the chimney that was a few feet away. When I looked down I saw a Copper Head snake! With about two bounds I was off the step and on top of my car! Was my phobia back? No! There’s a difference between a respect for a poisonous snake and a silly reaction to a harmless one. I’m not about to handle a Copper Head or a Rattler but Garter Snakes and Black Snakes don’t scare me anymore.
I was reminded of this when I saw a TED Talk by astronaut, Chris Hadfield, who talked of a fear of spider webs. Here’s the link:

Posted in Biographical Essays | Leave a comment

Communicating For the Results You Want

In 1981 I wrote a book which was a compilation of various classes and lectures. I have updated it and made it into a PDF file. I would appreciate any comments you may have.

You are welcome to download it from here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/86253860/Communicating_for_the_Results_You_Want_10-17-13.pdf


Posted in Communicating For the Results You Want | Leave a comment

This I believe, I think

This I believe, I think!

The ground under me is flat and solid. I see the sun and moon rise and set and travel across the sky.

Astronomy and physics and chemistry tell us about the world. Tho their conclusions can always be challenged and revised and updated, their theorems must be proved to be widely accepted. Peer review includes experiment to challenge new ideas. I trust science. I believe that the moon revolves around the earth and the earth revolves around the sun and the sun revolves around the Milky Way Galaxy. I believe that the acceleration of a body falling to earth is 32 feet per second per second. I believe that wood is solid and water is wet. I find it hard to believe that glass is liquid. But I have seen the drips at the bottom of Victorian windows. It is easy to verify the science of Galileo and Newton.

I cannot verify atomic physics in my office. I can measure the voltage and current my computer and monitor use. I accept the explanation of electrons moving in conductors and not in insulators.  Which leads me to believe in atoms that are composed of electrons and nuclei and space between them.  Which leads me to question if solids really are solid.

So, I believe in contradictions: space in atoms and solids under my solid feet.

My belief in science depends on proof, verifiable proof, experiments that can be repeated with the same results. If a new explanation can be proved and repeated I’ll change my beliefs as the pre-Newtonians changed their belief about the heavens.

I don’t believe that science is finished. I expect a unified field theory that will better explain quantum physics. Maybe there will be a proof that there are more than three or four dimensions. Maybe time is not a one way street moving toward the future with no way back to the past.

My spiritual beliefs are different. I can’t weigh my soul. I have no spirit meter that measures spiritual energy. I can’t see or touch God. I have experiences that seem to be outside the realm of science. When my Auntie Kate said goodbye to me in January of 1963 I knew she meant it for the last time. She died a week before I was to visit her again in March. I sensed death in a trip across the country in November of 1971 and prepared my papers. A few days before the trip my sister died and I moved the trip up to attend her funeral. I felt compelled to get out of bed one Sunday morning in August, 1968, and walk across LaSalle Street in Chicago where I met a person I hadn’t seen since October, 1967, in Washington, DC. I wanted my wife to wait to call me one morning until after I made my plane reservations.  (She was to call at about 9). I made my reservations and went to lunch at 11:30.  She called at 11:35. All of these experiences could have been chance. I cannot repeat them or similar experiences, but they feel like some power beyond our current view of science.

I had 16 years of catholic school. I was brought up believing in God and an afterlife, heaven and hell. I was told that the bible was the word of God and was “true.” I was taught that other cultures had creation “myths” but we knew “the truth!”  Science has pretty much debunked most creation myths including that the world is built on the back of a giant turtle who is on top of another turtle on top of another all the way down, or that the world was created in 7 days.

Zeus and Venus and Diana and Mercury and Mars and Wotan and Fricka and Brünnhilde and Ganesh and Krishna, Shiva, Lakshmi and Kali, etc., etc., all have nice stories but Christian or Muslim or Jewish folk don’t believe in any of them. They believe in Jesus or Adonai or Allah. Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it. Joshua blew down the walls of Jericho.  Lots’ wife was turned into a block of salt. Jesus walked on water. God and the devil wagered over the loyalty of Job much to the dismay of Job. I lump all of these stories into allegory or metaphor. They are nice stories that teach lessons of morality (or immorality). We can learn from them. They can teach lessons that can be used to lead happy or successful lives. They work.

Korsybski distinguishes between the map and the territory. The map has a structure that represents the territory. It is not the territory. You can use a topographical map to plan a hike but it is not much use to plan a road trip. You can use a road map to plan a road trip but it is not much use to plan a cross county hike. A weather map will help you pack for the trip but it won’t help you get where you’re going. Each map has its uses and its limitations. Science laws, religious principles, world views are like maps. They are abstractions built on something more complex. The map is not the territory.  You can’t blow out the picture of a candle.

I believe in God. I believe that there is a personal God who cares about me. I believe that when I talk to God, God listens to me. I believe that God talks back to me. I believe God talks to me whenever I listen to God. I silently talk to myself. I am never sure whether I’m hearing my “self talk” or “God talk.” God rarely answers my questions directly.

In 1976 I was unemployed and broke. I was responsible for my kids and a mortgage. I went on a back pack trip to the mountains.  I took along a list of existential questions I hoped to have answered by the time I came back. I can’t say I got any answers. This was before I had the faith that I could talk to God. I was in a very agnostic phase. I didn’t expect God to talk to me. As I started back to civilization I had a sense that life was going to work out alright. I felt comfortable, I didn’t have to fight. I just had to go with the flow. As I reached the top of the first hill back to my car a hummingbird flew up in front of me and stopped. It was only a few feet in front of me. It paused.  I paused. We paused for a longtime. When it flew off I had the sense that it was a sign to me that my experience that everything was going to turn out alright was true. I felt a sense of peace. There was no path to follow down the mountain to the car. There were dense patches of Manzanita. I chose to test my new sense of peace. I would go down the hill and not think of which way to turn except to go down the hill. When I got to a point where I couldn’t go forward, I turned right or left without thought. I never had to back track. The next day, as I was backing out of my driveway, a neighbor stopped me and offered me a job. Now, when I think about that experience, I feel like I was being held lovingly in the hands of God.

I take my dog to the veterinarian. The vet gives shots or takes blood samples and palpates the tender spots. Sometimes it hurts. The dog doesn’t understand or like it. Neither the vet nor I intend to hurt the dog. We do what we do in the best interests of the dog, whether she understands it or not.  I believe that God loves me more than I love my dog. I believe that God takes care of me. Sometimes God’s loving care may cause me pain.

I believe that pain is God’s way of reminding me that I am still alive, so I say thank You. I believe that the world is turning out just as God intended whether I understand or not. I don’t understand the suffering of the poor, the sick, or the war-torn. I do what I can to relieve suffering and leave the rest to God.

Ken Keyes said “You add suffering to the world as much when you take insult a when you give it.” I believe that you add suffering to the world when you don’t trust in the loving kindness of God. There should only be two prayers: “Thy will be done.” and “Thank You.”

I don’t know what happens when we die. I suspect that when it’s over, it’s over. I don’t believe in Hell. I have kids. They have done things that I didn’t like. I punished them from time to time. My punishment was meant to teach them lessons they needed to learn. I cannot imagine anything any one of them could have done that would have motivated me to hold their hand over a candle or to burn them with a cigarette. They could never insult me more than I could understand or love them. I do not believe that I am more understanding, forgiving or loving than God. I cannot believe that God would condemn anyone to “burn in hell forever.”

I wouldn’t go to war over or be willing to die to defend the weight of the electron or the distance between the earth and the sun. My belief in God is like that. I hold it lightly. It is a map that works for me. It helps me navigate my life. I think it represents what is beyond my comprehension. And I might be wrong. I hope I am open to new information, new theories, new maps.

I trust the gurus of science, the wise men and women who have run the experiments, read the papers, repeated the experiments, refined the theories and have given us the science we have. When 90 or 98 percent of the experts in a field agree on something it is not unreasonable the believe them.

Forty years ago I saw a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle to the effect “Man will never travel to another solar system.” This was attributed to a “Scientist.” This guy joins the ranks of those who said “The earth is flat,” “The Sun revolves around the earth,” “Man will never fly.” True scientists know that you can’t prove a negative and that you may embarrass yourself if you try.

I do not have the same confidence in the religious leaders. There may be a high degree of agreement between Catholics and Catholics or between Shiites and Shiites or between Methodist and Methodists, but there is such wide disagreement about the nature of God, the afterlife, the scriptures, what constitutes sin and salvation they just don’t generate in me the same level of respect and confidence. If Jews and Christians and Hindus and Muslims, etc. have such great differences in belief some, maybe most, if not all, of them must be wrong. To the extent that each of them insists that they are right and the others are categorically wrong seriously damages my respect for them.

Recently I heard someone describe the difference between science and religion as this: Religious people try to prove themselves right and opposing opinions wrong. Scientists define experiments to prove themselves wrong. And if they can’t, they call it a theorem.

Both prophets and psychotics hear voices that they take as real. I don’t know how to tell them apart.

Posted in My Philosophies | 1 Comment

The Crazy Mud Caper

The Crazy Mud Caper
I’m seventy-three years old and should know better!
It was late in the season, late September. Kate and Lon were visiting for some R&R and theater. Saturday afternoon nothing was scheduled and the weather was warm and sunny. My wife, Michele, lent Kate a hat, but stayed home, herself. Lucy, our dog tagged along. I normally forgo taking the boat to the lake on weekends because I don’t like sharing the lake with so many other boats. But my friend of 36 years and her husband deserved an exception. We were surprised to see how few boats were at the lake. Heck, we were surprised at how small the lake had gotten. Most of the boat ramps were stranded way above the water line. The one near the overflow still had its dock in the water. (I confess being a little proud about backing the boat down the long ramp. ) We took a leisurely trip around the lake, the small lake, first the southeast leg then the southwest leg. We dropped anchor in about 9 feet of water at the end of the lake.

I had no sooner set the anchor than a gust of wind blew my wife, Michele’s, hat off Kate’s head. Now if I were a sensible man, a wiser man, hell, just not an idiot, I would have restarted the motor, disconnected the anchor line and driven after the hat. The anchor line had a buoy on it so there was no need to pull up the anchor. Oh, yes, and the anchor line floats so getting back would not have been a problem. But, no, Mr. Macho had to show off. I stripped off my hat, watch, shirt and shorts, down to my swim suit. I dove off the back of the boat to swim after the hat. As my head broke the water coming up from my dive I thought “Did I take off my glasses?” I felt my face and there were no glasses there. I swam for the hat and returned to the boat. I found my shirt, shorts, watch and hat, but no glasses.

A little background: Before I retired I had gotten a new set of glasses while I still had Vision Insurance. I had my glasses for two or three years, so I was eligible for a new pair. But, the new glasses didn’t fit right. I had them adjusted many times but they kept slipping down my nose or causing pain behind my ears. So the glasses in the lake were at least seven years old. Not a big loss, right? They were to me!

The water may only have been nine feet deep but this was Emigrant Lake, not Crater lake. Crater lake is 1900 feet deep and is so clear you can see a white disk lowered into the lake when it is 180 feet down. In Emigrant Lake you can’t see your feet unless you’re a midget. There was no need to even try to find my trusty old glasses.

Back in August I talked to a park person who was moving the dock down the boat ramp. He told me that the lake was going down at the rate of 18 inches a day. If that rate continued, where we had anchored the boat would be out of the water in 6 days. I made a mental note to go out to the lake in a week or two.
There was no measurable precipitation in Rogue Valley during the month of September. Everything is dry except what is irrigated. And the irrigation water comes from Emigrant Lake. I had good reason to believe that the lake would have gone down by over nine feet.
Two weeks later, Lucy, our Shepard mix 12 year old dog, and I went out to the lake and parked way below the high water line. I went in my sandals and shorts with the idea that I wouldn’t mind a little mud between my toes. I took a walking stick. (Well, it wasn’t a walking stick. It was a 1 inch dowel with a rubber foot on one end that I used as a walking stick.) Much to my surprise, between where we parked and the lake, there were two small creeks that were flowing into the lake. One we could jump over, the other, not so much. As I waded through it, mud and gravel oozed up around my sandals and feet and between my sandals and feet! There was no way to use the water to rinse my feet without stepping back into the gravel and mud. So we walked (limped) on.
Since my chemo for lymphoma several years ago I have had “Peripheral Neuropathy (PN).” When the doctor warned me of this possible side effect I passed it off as nothing. I’d rather have numb fingers and toes than to die of cancer. Who wouldn’t? What I didn’t know was that PN does not cause numbness but hypersensitivity. Walking on gravel is like walking on nails. And I was a hundred yards from the car and the lake. So I gritted my teeth and resolved to go to the lake and try to find my glasses. (Ooops! That is a mistake. My son, DJ, used to say “There are two kinds of people, those who do and those who try.”) We got fairly close but I was not about to step into any mud that would rise above my sandals. And the mud was sticky. Several times it grabbed the rubber tip of my walking stick and pulled it off. There was a high place that was close to where I dropped my specs but we had to wade through more mud than I was willing to so we stopped. I thought I could come back later when the lake would be drier and I’d be better equipped. On the way back to the car re-crossing the creek replenished the gravel I had shed from my sandals.
That night I soaked my feet in Epsom Salts.
Four days later I put some screws into the walking stick (dowel) to keep the tip from drowning in the mud. I put on a pair of boots that come almost to my knees and ventured back to the lake. I had thought of making a sort of snow-shoe set of attachments for my boots or to take some boards to help ford the mud but did not. (Big mistake, Hey, I’m getting really proficient at making mistakes, aren’t I?)
This time we drove a little further and parked in a lot above the water line and hiked to the lake. As we were descending the bank I noticed some strange plants that were glistening with water. The ground under them was wet! I thought I’d take a picture on our way back. We made it to the part of the lake where I had dropped my specs.
Back when we were anchored and I couldn’t find my glasses in the boat I made a note of getting some sitings so that if I could come back I’d know where we had been. I looked north and south and drew a mental line between Pilot Rock and the rowing sculls. I looked more or less east and west and drew a mental line between a house on the west and a house on the east.
I didn’t expect the precision of a surveyor. I expected that I was within a hundred yards. I also expected that the glasses would rise above the surrounding mud by at least a little bit. Sticks did, beer cans and soda bottles did. I hoped the glasses would, too. Although the lake bottom where we were was pretty flat there were places that were high and dry and others that were quite muddy. I wanted to get to one of the higher places and plotted a path to get there. Then I sank ankle-deep. It was not easy getting my feet out of the muck. If I could make it about five yards I’d be on drier ground. The next step went deeper into the mud and was harder to pull out. The next step wouldn’t budge. . . I was stuck!

Well, I tried. I tried this and I tried that. I tried using the “walking stick” to dig a hole around my boots. I tried wiggling them from side to side. I tried wiggling them front to back. The harder I pulled on one foot the deeper the other foot sank into the muck. I didn’t look at my watch when this ordeal started but I tried for quite a while. Lucy, meanwhile, was having a great time. She was running around, splashing in the little streams that feed the lake, splashing in the mud next to the little streams. After a while I guess she got tired and sat down on a dry spot about 15 yards away, right about where I wanted to get, right about where I think my glasses are! And I didn’t move!
I called Michele, my wife, thinking to ask her to bring me some pieces of plywood, not sure if that was a good idea or another stupid mistake. She suggested I call 911. I tried to get out a little more and gave in and called the nice lady at 911. She wanted to know if I was in a boat. I explained to her where I was and that I could be seen from highway 66, if anyone cared to look. She asked me if I was all right, if I was having trouble breathing or anything like that. “No, I’m fine. Just stuck and embarrassed and stuck.” She asked me how long I had been there. I didn’t know but figured it must have been close to a half hour. It was about 4:15 in the afternoon. I’d left home about 3:15. She told me to stay on the line while she tried to get me some help. A little while later she came back on the line and said that someone would be out to help.
Sometimes I ‘m not very bright but at least I had not left home without my cell phone and it was charged. I got a phone call from the Sheriff. He asked where I was and if I was in a boat. I told him was on land ( well, in land). I was 30 yards or so from the water in the lake. A boat wouldn’t help but a hovercraft might. He said they had one but they might not be able to get it out to me. He told me to hold tight and someone would help. I waited.
Lucy waited. At one point I spoke to her and she started to come bounding toward me. But when she started to sink up to her elbows I told her to back off. I didn’t want us both needing rescue.
The District 5 Fire Station is not far. It’s closer than the other end of the lake. So I watched the Highway for a big red truck. I thought “there is no easy way to get me out of here” Someone asked if it would help for someone to throw me a rope. That didn’t sound like a very good idea. If I ever decide I want to be dragged through the mud I’ll run for public office. I would not want to be dragged through the mud at the bottom of Emigrant Lake! But a helicopter, that might work. And I know a nice guy who owns helicopters. Well, I kind of know him. I haven’t seem him for 18 years. But his shop is not far from the lake. Maybe he’d like to try a rope rescue. As I was looking through my phone to see if I still had his number I heard the squawk of a portable radio. Two guys from District 5 were heading toward me with a stretcher of sorts. It looked like a blue plastic plank about five feet long and a foot and a half across.
Now, I had been standing in the same place for 45 minutes to an hour. It was not comfortable. I did not have my feet next to each other as one would if he knew he was going to be standing for a long time. No, I had one foot in front of the other. One of the firemen picked up a tire that had been laying in the mud. I directed them as best I could to how to reach me without getting in the same predicament. They got to within a few feet of me without sinking like I had. They put the tire behind me and the board on top of it and instructed me to sit on it. They tried to pull my left boot out of the mud. “Can you get your foot out of the boot?” one asked. I could and I did. I must have looked pretty funny half-reclining on the blue board with one stocking covered foot in the air and the other in a boot about a foot deep in mud. Without a foot inflating the boot it was extracted and put back on my foot. Somehow, with three of us pulling the other boot and foot they popped out. The guys helped me to my feet and we started to walk out. I tripped. The mud did not want me to leave. A lot of it came with me. On my pants, on my boots, on my walking stick, on my dog.
We walked back to our respective vehicles, noticing some of those weird wet plants along the way. I didn’t take the picture. They were kind enough to spray off my boots with the water they carried in their fire truck so I didn’t dirty my truck.
I got home a little after 5. And a little later the sheriff called and asked where I was. He was out at the end of the lake in a hover craft. He hadn’t been informed that District 5 had gotten me. I was apologetic. He was nice and not upset. My feet and back hurt. A couple of Naproxin and some Arnica and a few hours and the only pain left was the embarrassment.

On the map below, the “X” marks the spot where I stood and near where my glasses are unless a stray goose has borrowed them. The red blotch is about where I parked my truck on our first expedition. The green box below the other marks is where the fire truck and my truck were parked during my rescue. The District 5 Fire station is located under the “66” in the circle next to the lake.

Post Script, literally. The morning after I wrote this story, as I was thinking how serious and stupid my situation had been, I remembered that I had not considered the possibility that I might get stuck in the mud – – – until I was stuck in the mud.

Posted in Biographical Essays | 3 Comments

My Sentimental Journey Part 5

Day 28: Thursday: Geneseo, IL to Omaha, NE: First thing in the morning I checked the damage I had done to the Air-conditioner and the roof. It was bad! The A/C was totally destroyed and it had jammed a hole in the roof of the camper. We were very lucky we didn’t get any rain last night. I called an RV place in Davenport, 30 miles down the road in the direction we were heading. They said they could work on it today. Lucy sang all the way to Davenport, IL. We got there at about 11 and left a little after 2 but I was cautioned not to drive at freeway speed for at least another half hour because the goo they put on the roof needed to dry a little more. So I played with Lucy a bit, had lunch and drove slow until about 3:15. Most of this trip has been unscheduled. This afternoon and evening had been an exception. We were going to Omaha to see Michele’s cousin, Judy and her husband, Joe. We got on the road about three hours late. One of the guys in the RV place had said that the drive to Omaha would be boring. I didn’t think so. He reminded me of something Ken Keyes said: “There’s always something happening. You only get bored when you call it nothing.” We discovered that no two farms are alike. There were wind farms with huge blades lazily twisting in the wind. I noticed a hill side that looked like it had been terraced. I didn’t know we did that in America. Then I saw more and suspected that it was a geological fluke. Later, Joe told me that a federal mandate requires the farmers to do that to prevent silt from contaminating the streams and rivers. Then it rained! I mean it really rained. I was glad I had had the roof patched or I would have been able to take a shower next to the refrigerator in the camper. Lucy and I got to Judy and Joe’s at about 7:45. We had a nice visit and called it a night a little after 10.
Day 29: Friday: Omaha to Denver: This is another day that has a schedule. I’m to meet my old college buddy, Nik Nikkel, in Denver in time for dinner. I had coffee with Judy and Joe and reminisced and I didn’t get on the road until about an hour after I had planned. I used to run every morning before work. I thought, and still think, that the exercise was good for me. But I always refused to run for a bus. That’s not exercise, that’s stress. I was not going to let my schedule interfere with a good time hanging out with Judy and Joe. I’m glad I didn’t stress. I got to Denver just about at 6 which was a fine time to meet Nik’s wife and to have dinner with Nik. AND, some interesting things came up on the road between Omaha and Denver. One: I noticed that the rumble strips in Iowa, Nebraska and later in Colorado were different than the ones we have in California and Oregon. At home they are just roughed up sections of the road by the shoulder that make a loud, rough, steady noise when your tire hits them. In Iowa and Nebraska I noticed that there are blank sections between the roughed up sections. When you run over them the roar is interrupted and almost sounds like a gruff “Wake UP!” I’m not sure which are better. They all make loud starling noise. The other interesting thing that happened needs some background. As a devotee of science, if not a scientist, I try to hold all the things I know in a state of probability rather than certainty and I am sure one cannot prove a negative. I am pretty certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. We have successfully predicted sunrises for thousands of years. There is a high probability that our theory of astronomy is accurate. I am less sure about the existence of God. I haven’t seen any predictive tests of God’s existence. But neither have I seen any science that proves there is no God. So, I am an agnostic. The only people who hear voices are prophets and schizophrenics and I can’t tell the difference. Sometimes when I pray I hear a response. I can’t prove that what I am hearing is coming from God or from my imagination. Some of the responses I get are as confusing as the responses from the Delphic oracles. Sometime the response is funny or ironic, but never so specific as to prove that it is not my imagination. So, as I was driving long on this gray, cloudy morning, enjoying the scenery I said to my voice “Some sunshine would be nice, Lord.” Immediately I was being passed by a truck. The truck that passed me was from Sunshine Trucking! Coincidence? Or God’s sense of humor? I don’t know. But I believe that God has a weird sense of humor. But I hold my belief lightly. I wouldn’t bet a lot on it. Judy told me about the Sand Hill Cranes that hang out in the corn fields along the Platte River. I wouldn’t have known what they were if I had seen them at all if she hadn’t told me. They are huge and gray and blend into the corn fields very well. I saw hundreds of them mostly in groups of one to two dozen. On this trip I noticed that no two trees are alike but I also noticed that they seem to communicate with one another and have artful shapes, they don’t clash. What I mean is when they grow together, they grow together. They blend into a shape without sharp edges or individuals sticking out or up.
Nik told me he had heard that Pati Cockram, whom we had known in college, had died. If I’d had more time as I passed thru Arkansas I wanted to stop to see if I could find any of her family so I could re-connect with her. But I was too late.. NY Times Obituary, June 13, 2010, confirmed it.
Day 30: Saturday: Denver to Provo, UT: Breakfast with Nik: Radio Shack for an adapter to let me hook up the inverter to the spare battery: On the road in Sunshine: We stopped at the rest area and visitor center in Georgetown, CO, and played with Lucy.

The View From The Rest Stop in Georgetown, CO

Glenwood Canyon was “Oh!,” “Oh!,” “Oh!” Then the mesas of Utah were back to “Wow!” I stopped in the “No Name Rest Area” coming out of Price, UT.

The No Name Rest Stop in Glenwood Canyon

Right by the side of the road we saw a half-dozen Big Horn Sheep! What a treat! After Green River, UT, we got onto Route 6 which took us into the mountains on less than Interstate quality roads. The sky got dark and then started to snow as we climbed into mountains that went on forever. For a while I was afraid that I had been caught in a three-dimensional M C Escher experiment on a road that went up and up forever. The windshield froze! I thought it was dirt and the windshield washer fluid didn’t spray up far enough to reach it. Then I thought to try the defroster and it cleared. The last part of the trip to the campground in Provo was to be on Interstate 15. I 15 is under construction before and after Provo! The exit for the campground was poorly marked for an outsider so I went the wrong way. Wrong! There was no way back. I ended back on the freeway for three miles. I was able to find the campground from back roads, which helped me in the morning.
Day 31: Sunday: Provo, UT to Lakeview, OR: George tried to put me back on the freeway to Salt Lake City but he does not know anything about construction-caused road closures. He wanted me to take Center Street to I15 and then turn left. But Center Street is closed under I15! Remember how I screwed up last night and had to use back roads to get to the campground. I just retraced my steps and was back on the road. The sun was out and there were partly cloudy skies. There were a string of confusing signs along the freeway into Salt Lake City. They spoke of a 25 cent toll. It looked like it was only for the left lanes. I suspect it is to meter traffic on the express lanes and is collected by a transponder like my FASTRACK or EZpass. It indicated that High Occupancy Vehicles didn’t have to pay. I never did figure out how the system could tell if the vehicle was HOV or not. Have I mentioned that I don’t like traffic? Even on a Sunday morning there was too much traffic into Salt Lake City for my comfort but before long we were on I80 heading out of the city and past the Great Salt Lake.

Mountains by The Great Salt Lake

It is the remnants of a truly Great lake. You still can see the lines where the shore was on the mountains around the lake. It must have been 100 miles across and a thousand feet deep. I remember one time in the eighties that the water level rose so much they thought they would have to close route I80 because it would be under water.

Lucy in Front of the Salt Lake Resort (Closed)

There were more “Wow!” times across Utah and in Nevada. The mountains had fresh snow. Just out of Salt Lake City I think I saw ski tracks coming down mountain sides that had no ski lifts. Could it have been helicopter skiing? I’ll never know. I wanted to have dinner in Winnemucca after I got gas but never saw any restaurant I would like to eat in so we pushed on, hoping to find food in Denio. Fat chance! I think Denio is too small to have a name. The road to Denio is absolutely straight for 30 miles then turns and then is straight for 11 miles and turns again and is straight for 16 miles. It is all very flat prairie with mountains on both sides. Neither Lucy nor I found it boring. She sleeps some of the trip but sits up a lot of the time and looks out the window appearing to be very interested in the scenery. From Denio the road rises into the mountains then drops off again. There were two places that signs said had 8 and 7 percent grades for 3 miles. One looked down onto a flat plain that was laced with streams looking like a jig Saw puzzle. On one of the up slopes after we were in Oregon I looked over to the left and saw a beautiful waterfall. Then there was the sunset! I looked up and saw a peach sunset with a dark blue spot in it under a baby blue arching sky. It only lasted a few seconds but I don’t remember ever seeing anything like it before. Seeing the old shore line of the Salt Lake and wondering what it must have been like and what it must have been like when it burst its dam and drained and seeing the mesas with sheer cliffs and knowing that they are what’s left after the surrounding land has washed away made me feel very insignificant both in time and space. I am in awe of the majesty of the world in which I live. This has been a wonderful trip of discovery for me. I had hoped to find a Walmart in Lakeview but no such luck. We searched around for a nice restaurant and settled on a restaurant without the nice. The service was so slow I left and ate in the camper in an Elks parking lot. And here we spend the night.
Day 32: Monday: Lakeview, OR to Home: I didn’t see an inviting gas station before I left Lakeview so I checked the mileage and thought I could make it to Klamath Falls with no problem. There were 209 miles since the last fill up and I have made as much as 360 miles without running out and Lakeview to Klamath Falls is only about a hundred miles. Yada, yada, yada! When I noticed that the gauge was below a quarter tank I started to worry that I had once again done something really stupid. Route 140 is not heavily travelled and I doubt there is cell service on most of it. This has been such a blissful trip and here on the last morning of it I’m making myself anxious!. “Here and now, boys, here and now!” It was a beautiful ride even though it snowed on the way from Lakeview. And then there was Bly and a gas station that sold diesel. The station must have been the town’s hang out. There were people standing around inside buying food and eating and talking. The attendant did not seem to be too happy, particularly when I asked for only 10 gallons when I heard the price. She apparently was the cashier, gas jockey, manager and lackey. She was definitely overworked. Lucy and I stopped in a roadside park to throw the ball. It was a nice park for people, or it had been ‘til the geese decided it was nice for geese. I picked up after Lucy but no one picked up after the geese. Coming into the Rogue Valley we were pleased to see Immigrant Lake and to see that it is almost full. We stopped to empty our tanks but were dismayed to see that the dump station was closed. I decided to try the campground for a dump station but found none. I didn’t find the park host either but I did find a regular camper who suggested I pull into an unused campsite and dump there. It worked. Then I stopped to fill the gas tank. Was I surprised to see that Ashland’s price for diesel isn’t much better than the price in Bly! With a full tank I was able to determine that if I had not stopped In Bly I still would have 6 gallons left in the tank when I got to Ashland. Another example of useless worry!
To sum up the trip: It was wonderful! Driving was like a moving meditation. There were few rough spots. I was reminded that I’m not as bright as I sometimes think. I was awed by the beauty of the country. I was blessed with great, good or acceptable weather almost all the time and only stuck in bad weather a few hours. Lucy was a fine travel companion. She sang a lot but it mostly amused me except when I was trying to navigate strange intersections and she and George were giving me confusing or conflicting instructions.
At home, Ashland is in bloom!

The End?

Posted in Biographical Essays | 3 Comments