Thursday, June 21, 2018

It's a damned shame...

It's a damned shame...  A neighbor and close friend of ours, Tim D., is hurting.  He had a nasty form of cancer, in his neck and head.  This necessitated surgery late last year, and he's been on radiation and chemo until last month.  He's lost 15% of his weight, and has gone from a hale and hearty farmer to the point where he can't safely stand in a light wind (seriously).  His appetite is practically gone; food even smells unattractive to him.  His voice is almost gone, from dry mouth and overall tiredness.  It's so sad to see him suffering like this.  He's told his doctors he's stopped taking one particular medication, because it's knocking him for a loop; as best we can tell that drug is for his rheumatoid arthritis, so that seems like a good tradeoff. 

Debbie and I spent some time with him today, to give him some company and whatever comfort we could provide.  During that visit, which was generally pleasant and full of good humor, we learned from Tim that his beloved dog Lexy had died.  As if things weren't bad enough for Tim already!  She was badly injured by a swather (a giant mower that cuts alfalfa for hay) in Tim's hay field, most likely because she was nearly deaf and probably didn't hear the machine approaching.  When they got her to the vet, the only real option was to euthanize her -- that must have been an agonizing decision for Tim...

Lest I sound too hopeless, I should point out that we are still hopeful that Tim recovers from his cancer, and that something else can be done for his arthritis.  Our reactions here are for his current unhappy state.   He's such a good man.  Life often seems unfair, and this is certainly one of those cases...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I'm in a race with the clock...

I'm in a race with the clock...  We have granite for our grill cabinet scheduled for install on the 25th (next Monday), and I haven't yet finished the cabinet.  So I'm working as hard as I can to get that thing done.  Currently I'm installing the cedar “skin”, which I should finish in a few hours.  Then I'll be sanding that skin, installing some corner trim pieces (tricky because they need to be glued to the four outside corners), sanding them, and then I'm ready for painting.  I'm using marine spar varnish – really tough stuff – and that's oil-based.  That means I have to wait a day between coats, so I'll have lots of time to blog while I'm waiting for each coat to dry.  You'll see my trip posts appearing then...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Home!

Home!  We got home as planned yesterday afternoon.  The dogs were overjoyed to see us, most especially our two “old men”: Race and Miki.  Jahar (Debbie's Savannah cat) was over the moon to see her again, and has been frantic every time she leaves the room.  Last night I had a (large!) glass of Scotch, first one in over two weeks – very nice.  We slept in our own bed – oh, that feels so good after being on the road for a while!  I luxuriated in our shower last night, and again this morning; I've really missed that on the trip.  Had our usual morning routine this morning, including feeding the dogs – they really liked that.

Our friend Michelle H. took marvelous care of our animals and house while we were gone.  We knew she would, and that knowledge kept us from worrying at all on our trip – that's such a nice thing, and so different than on trips we took away from our homes in San Diego...

There will be posts about the trip, with photos, later.  First I have a bunch of catch-up to take care of around the place...

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Day 2...

Day 2...  We got an early start this morning, leaving Cheyenne at just about daybreak.  Our route was basically I-80 all the way, but we sure traveled through some beautiful country.  Much of it was through rolling hills, or along the Platte River.  All of it was green, green, green – except when there were flowers.  Nebraska has way more trees than I remember, and far more water.  We really enjoyed that drive!

About two-thirds of the way into our trip to Lincoln we stopped for a while at the Crane Trust preserve.  There's a beautiful trail there that we spent a half hour on, but to our surprise there was live music, food, and more – it seems we stumbled into their 40th anniversary bash unawares.  That's not our kind of thing, so we left – but it looks like a great place to come back to.

The highlight of the day for us came at an unlikely location: the Gothenburg, Nebraska Tesla Supercharger.  We took a little walk to the sod house museum there, where I spotted a very weird windmill and spent a few minutes trying to figure out how it could work.  A little old lady popped out of the museum, the guide there – and we spent the next 90 delightful minutes just talking up a storm with her.  Her name is Suse Pederson, 85 years old, and she's as full of great stories as anyone we've ever met.  She and her husband used to own the local airport and the associated flight training school.  Both were pilots and instructors.  We learned a tremendous amount about the town and the area in that short time!  We parted reluctantly, and only after several tries and several rounds of hugs.  We've been smiling about that encounter all day long. :)

Some memorable events of the day:
  • We saw a few more baby antelopes.  As we got closer to Lincoln, though, the incidence of antelopes gradually petered out to zero.
  • At one stop we ran across a mother plover with four babies – cute as buttons – who was simultaneously herding the young ones while trying to lead us away from them.  What a good mom she was!
  • We saw our first deer on the plains.
  • We're ensconced in the Westview B&B in Lincoln, a big house divided up into guest rooms.  Ours is a spacious suite that includes a full kitchen, and has views of the countryside to the west.  The facility is just outside of town, on a large property that you'd think was out in the country somewhere.  We love it!
  • We ate at the Leadbelly Bar and Grill in downtown Lincoln.  The food was spectacular!  The first photo below was my entree: the Smokehouse Mac & Cheese.  The second is Debbie's Southwest Cobb Salad with rare steak.  We also had a peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream, and the cobbler was miraculously not mostly sugar – it was delicious!
  • We finished off the evening with a walk through the sunken gardens in Lincoln.  It's a beautiful place, though a bit formal for my taste.  We quite enjoyed it, though, both for the gardens themselves and for the very nice people we met there.


All-in-all it was a very nice day...

Friday, June 1, 2018

Day 1...

Day 1...  We made it to our planned destination (Cheyenne, Wyoming) safely, and with some time to spare.  The trip over here was more interesting than we expected it to be.  The fellow at right was near the second supercharger we stopped at, in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  It's actually associated with the restaurant in the background.  Looks weird from the front, but a little shocking from the back. :)

Along the road on today's trip we spotted quite a few Sandhill cranes, and about two bazillion antelope (including one baby!).  There were lovely flowers as well, most especially Camas lillies in the low wet spots.  We saw several places where there were patches of them alongside snow fences – Debbie came up with a plausible theory for that: snow piled up in front of the snow fence, melting to make a wet spot conducive to Camas lillies.  Sounds likely to me.  There was beautiful, well-watered sage over a stretch of 150 miles or so.  I love that color!  At one point we got sprinkled on, but the nearest cloud was at about a 45 degree angle to us – all we can think is that the wind blew the rain onto us.  We also saw patches of gorgeous yellow flowers that we're pretty sure were yellow lupine (they were too far away to be positive about).  The photo at left was taken about 75 miles from Cheyenne as we passed through some particularly nice terrain.

One interesting thing we saw was hundreds and hundreds of automated oil wells.  These are much less intrusive on the landscape than the old rocker-arm oil wells.  Most of them have no visible infrastructure outside a small shed, other than a fuel tank (propane, I think) and a satellite antenna.  I know these are remotely monitored and controlled, which means the companies save a great deal of money in labor (traded off by the increased capital cost).  I think they're a huge improvement on the old style wells.

Once we made it to Cheyenne, we stopped to eat at a place called Ribs and Chops – had a great meal of fish tacos for Debbie and fish-and-chips for me.  Very nice.  Then we went to the Cheyenne Frontier Days museum, associated with the famous annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.  The museum was fascinating, especially for the collection of horse buggies there (one example at right).  We spent almost two hours in there, leaving only because it was closing.  Cheyenne must have a dozen or more museums, most of which look interesting to both Debbie and I.  I suspect we'll be returning here someday to explore them.  There's also a botanical garden that looks quite promising.  And our bed-and-breakfast is super nice.

And then there are the shops.  Debbie spotted one called “The Wrangler” and spent some time in there while I charged the car.  She sent me several texts, the gist of which was “I love this place!”.  When I picked her up, her eyes were glistening and three giant shopping bags were in her hands.  I shudder to think what she did to our credit card account. :)  She said she got a pair of boots like the giant one at left.  Those fancy boot statues are scattered all over Cheyenne.  Apparently they're some kind of city symbol...