Happy Birthday to Me !

Yes, today is my birthday. I turned a flatulent 71. Only the number is new, because I was a flatulent 70 just  yesterday. The day passed with no fanfare other than the many friends and family members who wished me well. It’s simple times like this that remind me that I have many more friends than I would have thought possible. I’m blessed. There was no cake, which is fine because I’m diabetic and wouldn’t have eaten any. I went about my day as I did pretty much every other day this past year even down to the detail of acquiring an injury. I’ll talk about that later, if I remember.

The dogs didn’t think it was a special day because they got me up promptly at 0530 as they do every other morning. What was different this morning, however, is that they didn’t find a reason to bark at random things in the back yard, something that always rouses me from my morning slumber in my recliner. That was a good thing.

Before reclining for that nap I made a really good pot of coffee. That was confirmed by Diane who awoke about 0830 and sang to me like she does every May 20th. She also asked me what she could fix me for breakfast. I opted for Honey Bunches of Oats with a splash of brown sugar and milk, and one piece of toast. Only one piece of toast because I’m on a quest to lose weight and have cut my bread consumption in half by omitting that second piece I used to have. Regarding the weight, I’ve lost 12 lbs in the three weeks we’ve been working on this. Not bad for a plan that is supposed to yield a 1 lb loss each week.

After breakfast I sat around waiting for Lucan, the guy who would install our new gutter system. While waiting, Jack and Wynette called to wish me Happy Birthday and they were joined in a communal effort of the song by two other folks I haven’t heard from in a long time. That would be Gene & Shirley who live in Mesa most of the time. It was a very nice surprise.

Lucan showed up around 1000 and promptly got to work, finishing the job in about 3 hours with the help of his sidekick, Jose. Lucan, whether or not you’re interested, belongs to Jody & Rick and we’ve known him for a long time. It’s always good to see him because he has a smile that totally lights up the area around him. During the installation I observed and visited a bit with the two of them, as they went about their business doing some pretty incredible things with tin snips. We are thoroughly pleased with the results.

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After Lucan and Jose left, I fired up the old truck and went back to our parsonage which some of us are working on to make it ready for a new renter. I selected power washing the exterior as my project. Yesterday I did the front steps, the sidewalks, and a portion of the back where the dirt is more evident. This afternoon I went back to finish up the back of the house and the upper porch. The weather cooperated to the tune of about 75 degrees, so it was OK to get soaking wet, as I knew I would. Unlike yesterday, when I did the sidewalks and got mole hill mud all over me, today I pretty much covered myself with little bitty paint chips from the porch roof support.

Here’s a little of what I’m dealing with …

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I did the power washing until almost 1800, logging about 9 hours total for both days, when I deemed it time to go home and eat something. I’d been running the power washer for so long today I missed a call from Diane and one from my much older brother, Jim. He always calls me on my birthday, but normally when I can hear the phone ring. He didn’t time this one very well. He also sent me greetings via Facebook messenger and it appeared right below the last Facebook messenger message he sent me on my birthday last year. He doesn’t use messenger very often.

When I got the truck home, I remembered that I still needed to tidy up the Lions Club newspaper collection box so Diane drove me back to the High School, where the container resides, to get it done. While doing a lot of bending and lifting I managed to clean up the huge pile of papers while Diane did some shopping at Safeway.

Then it was time to determine what to eat for my birthday supper. I had many choices, one of which included having Diane cook me something, but I opted for a Burgerville Tillamook Cheese Burger Basket with a large chocolate shake. We do this about once a week as a rule and find that it doesn’t interfere with our weight loss program. Because it was my birthday dinner, however, I opted for a large shake instead of my normal medium one. I figured all the work I did would offset the extra calories.

Regarding the old truck … it runs like a dream and starts first time every time. Getting it to that point was tricky because there were multiple problems that I rectified with a new battery, and new starter, and a new set of jumper cables. I didn’t need the cables but got them just in case. I did this all day before yesterday and, as soon as I got it running, I took it to the dump and emptied $21 worth of junk that has been accumulating for the past 1.5 years. I was so pleased with how well the truck works that I am seriously motivated to start renovating it. Diane said I could. I may have already mentioned that. The first thing I’ll fix is the turn signals because I’m getting tired sticking my arm out the window to signal my turns. Luckily, so far, everyone behind me actually still knows what those hand signals mean and haven’t run into me. Still, I’m all for automation and need that fixed. That’s especially true since the last project I did on the truck was to replace the turn signal switch. Apparently one of the many wires hanging from the bottom of the dash have something to do with that problem.

Another significant event was Lydia going to her prom. She went with her two bestie and, I can only presume, had a terrific time since none of them had to deal with any kind of drama involving boys. I’m sure, however, the boys noticed …

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They all play soccer on the same team and wanted to incorporate that aspect of their lives in their photos. So, that’s what we did. The field was full of little boys at soccer practice and these three just marched through the middle of them to a goal in the middle of the field. Left to right it’s Georgie, Lydia, and Ceiarra, the Three Amigas.

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Now the evening is winding down and I’m pretty close to going to bed. So, I will end by thanking all of you who sent me birthday greetings on this day. You all made it special and I appreciate that you took time out of your day to honor me.

Oh, ya! My new injury was sustain when I was strapping down my ladders on the truck when a bungee cord broke causing my left thumb to hit the ladder in such a manner that it’s normally opposing nature was temporarily disabled. It was a very painful process and the opposing aspect has only partially returned. Considering my advanced age, it may never return to normal.

Peace to you all.

Hot Tub & Water Conservation

According to Diane, our hot tub works pretty well. I wouldn’t know because I typically don’t use it. I just make sure all the chemicals are OK so Diane doesn’t come out of the water all splotchy like she did once when I forgot to check. Thankfully the splotches went away before Diane noticed so there was no need to engage a lawyer, or marriage counselor. I also wisely chose to NOT photograph her during this delicate time in her life. Her memory of this event was a good one of relaxing and time alone reading a book on her iPad as it floated conveniently at eye level in the styrofoam holder I made for her. She really likes that thing which makes me happy.

Since that event I’ve been very careful to ensure the chemicals are ready for immersion any time she wants to use the tub. One night a week or so it was late when she exited the tub and I failed to replace the cover. Consequently, over the ensuing days, much of the water evaporated to the point where it was necessary to replace it so Diane’s shoulders wouldn’t be exposed the next time she chose to use it. Therefore,  one morning, I hooked up a hose, put it in the tub and turned on the faucet. Six inches were all it needed but it went a little over because I forgot it was running and didn’t notice until I went down stairs to lock the lower patio door late in the afternoon. By this time it had been “filling”, and overflowing, for approximately 4-5 hours.

Upon this discovery I immediately sensed I had wasted a tremendous amount of water that would have come in handy for many folks living in Southern California and turned the water off. But, the damage was done and there was no way I could stuff all that lost water back in the hose so I went on about my business.

Since the tub was overflowing I felt it was necessary to find a way to lower the level in a manner, short of using a bucket, to ensure Diane could breath OK the next time she wanted to use the tub. Taking a less hands-on approach to achieve my goal, I chose to simply leave the cover off and let nature take care of it for me. The water was heated to 103 degrees which aided in the desired evaporation. I will reinstall the cover when the water reaches the appropriate level which should be in a couple of days.

Unless I forget.

Then I’ll have to fill it again.

This could become a vicious cycle that could result in threats from folks living in areas where water is in short supply.

Perhaps this is where I should ask for those who care to pray for my continued safety.

Thanks.

Type II Diabetes

For the past couple of years I’ve been flirting with diabetes but haven’t really taken the threat serious because the numbers were always on the verge of normal. So, why worry, right? Well, my last visit with my VA doctor brought all that frivolity crashing down on my head when she said that I’m beyond “being on the verge” and have acquired the status of a true diabetic. My A1C told her so.

Because of that, instead of making a lame attempt of counting carbs, Diane has put me on a strict weight loss program which we are both following. This one counts calories and we’re tracking everything we eat using a handy little app called “Lose It”.

My goal is to dump 20 pounds which Lose It says I can easily do by September if I just quite nibbling my way through the day. Using technology to track everything is a great way for me to avoid the snacks because it’s a pain sometimes to make all those entries so I skip the snacks so I won’t have to. It works.

In addition to losing 20 pounds, my goal is to diminish the effects of diabetes to the point where I can retain all my digits until the even of my untimely death, whenever that may be.

Regarding the latter, there’s a chainsaw in the back yard calling my name. It’s an electric one but it can still cause a lot of damage for the unwary.

Check you later.

Me & My Fitbit

Yes, I have one of those things and I’m kind of attached to it, so to speak. I find it interesting to see, at the end of a day, how many steps I’ve taken and how far I’ve walked. Diane has one, too, and she is always a bit disappointed to learn that I usually  walk farther than she does, but she doesn’t know my secret.

The ‘secret’ became apparent to me while working my way around the burn pile, trying to get rid of that old, huge, pussy willy tree. Turns out I have terrible balance when walking across branches of varying size and spend a great deal of time just trying to maintain a vertical appearance. The object of all this staggering around is to NOT fall into the fire, a true and present danger. I suspect that would leave quite a mark on my precious body.

The upside to staggering is that the Fitbit doesn’t know what’s going on so counts all those little jittery steps, pushing my total quite high while all I’m doing is dance in a pretty small foot print around the fire simply to keep from falling into it.

I’ve yet to fall down which is very gratifying. But, I’m not done yet so anything can happen.

Old Age Check Points

I went to my monthly American Legion meeting tonight and received confirmation that I am officially old. It was brought to my attention when I was introduced to a new member who is also a retired Navy Senior Chief who spent 21 years in the service. He joined in 1990. I retired from the Navy in 1989 after a 26+ year career.

Yes, I already suspected I was old, but it was easy to ignore because there were no reference points to consider, until tonight. Well, maybe they were there and I just failed to see them.

Now that I’m aware I’m old, I must modify my behavior and act like a grown up, I suspect. That will make Diane happy because she’s been trying to modify my behavior in that direction for the last 47 years.

I think I’ll get over this little bit of depression I’m experiencing, but it might take a while.

Like all night.

A Brief 11-Day History of Recent Oregon Events

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April 10th

We’re going to another softball this afternoon in Parkrose to watch the St. Helens JV “A” team play. Lydia has been playing 1st base and alternate pitcher with Brooklyn. Seems to work well. Their last game, on Wednesday, Brooklyn pitched 3 innings, and Lydia pitched 2. The final score was 26-0 when it was called after five innings. I know, you aficionados of the sport will report that max runs allowed in five innings is 5 so the final should have been 25-0, but I counted all of them. After two innings it was evident the other team were very new to the sport and were having serious problems catching the ball and hitting our pitches. Our varsity also won, 11-0 after five so the school we played needs help.

I mowed the yard yesterday but didn’t vacuum, thinking I’d get that done today. But, the grass didn’t dry out enough to get it all done so I only got the front and back yards cleaned up. The lower 40 is just a mass of chopped grass. Panzee loves it down there and rolls in it whenever she goes out. Diane isn’t at all happy that Panzee loves the loose grass, of course, because it sticks to her fur. I also burned up a large portion of the pussy willow tree that was lying around the burn pile in pieces. Took a while to get it going but once I did it burned nicely while I mowed. Today I continued the process and didn’t even have to use a match to get it going again because the ashes were still burning hot. Literally. A bag of shredded paper covered with some really dry branches from the old cedar tree barrier was all it took. Then I started dragging all those enormous branches to the pile and let her rip. Every once in a while I’d stop by the pile and work my way around the pile, shoving the branches into the smoking hot cinders. Oner of these days it will all be gone. I hope.

I also hope I’ll get the old RV road worthy … and the old pickup running reliably … and my desk clean … etc … one of these days.

Really late in the evening, Bob & Steffani showed up out of the blue. Apparently they were evicted from Idaho for a few days for some sort of unsubstantiated violation of an obscure rule regarding people who have nothing to do but complain about things no one else cares about because of their insignificance. As written, the law is intentionally vague which allows law-abiding citizens to cause situations where normally law-abiding citizens to be evicted from the state without the need for the accuser to provide even a tiny bit of evidence of the infraction. Only in Idaho, you think, right? Well, none of that is true as I’m sure you know. So, just disregard all of it.

But, Bob and Steffani did show up right about 10 pm demanding a room for the night even though they knew the room was reserved because they had confirmed it a week previously with one of their many expired Visa cards: 4180-8099-3286-2788 exp 02/11 secret code 2123. You can forget that, too, because I’m pretty sure I just made it up.

The reason for the visit was the Eastern Oregon University softball schedule that reported their daughter, Maryssa, was playing in a game against Concordia University in the morning at Concordia University. Complicating the scheduled games was the rain which wasn’t a problem when the schedule was created. Still, there was hope.

April 11th

After being forced to remain awake well beyond our normal bedtime the previous night, and then, to ensure our guests were properly cared for, we had to arise earlier than normal to prepare ourselves for the ensuing day’s events. With the games scheduled to begin at 1100 hours it was necessary to find sustenance in a timely manner in a way that didn’t sully the pristine condition of our kitchen which is only used for special occasions. This not being one of those times, we collectively agreed to partake of the succulent menu choices available at the Kozy Korner Kafe, one of our favorite eateries suitable for relatives of the lower order.

After enjoying a better than normal breakfast composed of various parts of, and issue from, various animals normally found in barnyards and fenced pens, it was brought to our attention that the 1100 game had been moved to 1300 because of the rain. It had also been moved from Concordia’s field to Sandy High School, 20-30 miles closer to Idaho. It was moved again to a later hour but I can’t remember which one. I do know it was late enough that Jennifer, who works on Saturday, and the entire family would be able to attend the entire double-header, both of which EOU lost. It was readily evident that the losses were allowed because of the coach’s unwillingness to make use the talents she left languishing on her bench while the opposing coach rotated virtually every player on her team into the game at some point to ensure they all had playing time. “What a concept,” a statement that was whispered by one of us and overheard by all, pretty much says it all regarding the stubborn, biased, misguided efforts of a coach who was in a position requiring a lot more ability than that with which she was currently equipped. So sad.

After the game we all went our separate ways to our homes.

Another significant event of the day was that Jeran officially turned 15. To emphasize this milestone in his life he managed to shoot up to a six-foot elevation and the odds are he will continue that trend. We all agree he’s going to be the tallest member of his family. Cedric will be next, then Daniel, Lydia, and Jennifer in that order. If that changes I will let you know.

April 12th

This was a totally routine day for us with the one incredibly random event that caused us to sleep well beyond our normal arousal time thereby making it to church on time pretty much impossible. So, we donned clothes that we normally wear outside the home, collected Diane’s Mom, Jean, then went to lunch. I honestly cannot remember where we went for this repast. It may very well have been a lunch at home. I can only attribute this memory loss as a testament to old age and/or early onset dementia.

April 13th

This day I spent rebuilding the mower deck on our old lawn mower. The blades, which I’ve sharpened at least three times, were all bent, causing an uneven cut. Also, due to the fact that I typically ran the mower far too long and fast in tall grass, the left most blade, from the perspective of one who is driving the mower, stripped the star-shaped thingy on the end of the pulley mechanism that spins the blade thereby making it necessary to over-torque the bolt holding the blade on in order to ensure the blade spun at all. Not a good solution for doing a good mowing job. So, I went online to Sears Parts Direct and ordered three new spindles, which arrived Saturday, and installed them on the already dismantled and clean mower deck. Apparently I cleaned the deck on Sunday and promptly forgot about it. But, there it was, laying in the back yard, just waiting for me to go to work.

Installing the spindles required me to obtain new bolts from ACE because 8 of the 12 bolts holding them on broke when I attempted to retracted them. They just snapped right off. To ensure I had the proper size bolts, I tried one of the salvaged bolts on the new spindles and discovered that the new spindles didn’t have threads in the holes. They were just, well, holes. Thankfully, I had a solution and, oddly, I knew exactly where it was in my messy basement shop. It is a tap set that I purchased at one sale or another with the thought of it coming in handy one day and that day had finally arrived. Luckily, I had the exact tap necessary to all me to install the new bolts. It was a splendid success story. I also reinstalled the front middle wheel on the mower deck which is apparently necessary to keep the deck from plowing into ground at each little rise in the landscape. It’s been that way for a long time now and I just hadn’t been motivated to find the correct sized shoulder bolt that would allow me to reinstall the wheel. ACE didn’t have them and the local Sears store didn’t carry them the last time I looked. So, when I went to Sears to purchase new blades I looked for that shoulder bolt and, oddly, they had them. It wasn’t a cheap stop because those blades, of which I needed three, cost $27 each. It was a shock because it’s been a long time since I bought new blades for the mower.

Once it was all put back together I reconnected the deck to the mower and wound up with one extra cotter pin and could not readily find an empty hole in which to insert it. I strongly considered just firing up the meow to see what would happen, but visions of metal parts flying around discourage me to the point where I laid down next to the mower and searched all the parts I had removed in order to remove the deck and finally found the missing hole on the rod that connects the front of the deck to the mower and allows one to adjust how far down the deck tips while in use. It was one of those cartoon moments where you search around, calmly looking at things and suddenly your eyes go wide and your vision impulsively zooms in and out on the target a couple of times. I could now start my test with no fear.

I attached the grass catcher tube and headed for the front yard as soon as the air compressor was able to supply enough air to fill up the front tires which are always going flat. Perhaps I should replace them, too. And the grass tube which has had more than it’s share of contact with the lower fence, and other immobile objects, making it necessary to bind the two halves together with duct tape.

Considering the efforts involved with getting the mower back into proper shape, I vowed to be more careful in the future and carefully mowed the front yard, twice. Once on 5 and once on 4. The results were spectacular – the cut was nice and even and new blades vacuumed up all the cut grass just like it did when it was all new. I was immensely pleased because I was able to restart my new grass pile around the burn pile in the lower 40.

It’s interesting about the grass pile. I’ve been dumping grass clippings in the same 20 foot long area for the past 7 years and have never needed to move to another spot. All the grass just keeps sinking into the ground. I’m sure there’s some pretty rich soil down there, but I really have no need for rich soil. Perhaps we should have a garden.

April 14th

Other than working on stuff I can’t remember, I facilitated another rendition of our Church Council meeting. We talked about a lot of churchy type stuff that probably wouldn’t mean much to any of you. So, I’ll just let this day go.

April 15th

Three significant things for today – big brother Jim had his 78th birthday, the IRS relieved me of a bucket of cash, and St. Helens JV team waxed Wilsonville something like 21-0. It was good to have the game end the day, making the IRS gift more tolerable. The JV 1 team is totally indomitable so far. They haven’t lost yet. They can hit, and their defense is awesome.

April 16th

Had coffee with church friends at 10 am then went directly to the golf course for another bad round of golf. Still had a good time with friends.

 April 17th

Today was a bit difficult because I had to go to the VA clinic to shed some blood at the hands of one of my favorite phlebotomists. That, alone, isn’t all that bad, but it was for a fasting lab meaning I had to stop eating before midnight last night. I did them one better and quit eating at 8 pm. I remembered to not eating anything in the morning and just held off the hunger with water until Diane got up and got me to the lab around 1030 or so. My phlebotomist used one of those new little tangly tube things and inserted the needle in a painless manner that, surprisingly left a lovely bruise.

After being phlebotomised by a pro, we began a semi-slow trip to Sandy in preparation for another JV softball game. This one was a little more tense because Sandy scored first and showed us a surprisingly good defense and good pitching. Lydia played 1st base and reported to the team that whenever a Sandy made it to first base they would jam their elbow into her back. She mostly shook it off until one girl hit her so hard it knocked her a few steps off-balance. That was incentive needed to pick up the game and whittle away at that 1-0 lead. An increased effort on defense and more concentration in the batter’s box which resulted in a 7-2 win for our girls. Not a blow out, like they’ve normally had. It was a solid team effort that should serve them well going forward.

April 18th

This day was the high light of the week because we got to attend a wedding. Making it even better, it was at the beach. Better still, the weather was fantastic. The bride, Noydena, is like another daughter for us because she and Jennifer have been great friends since middle school. Another “better” because the groom, Mathieu, and Noydena went to their Junior Prom together in high school. So, this is like a fantasy finale to an old romance. Very poignant, when it’s all said and done. Being Scottish, Mathieu and his male family members all wore kilts. It was a fun affair even though we had to get up at 0600 so we could leave by 0700. That was brutal.IMG_1698That’s Noydena and Mathieu on the rock, and the bride’s Mom, Sandy, expressing her excitement about being included in the shot.

Next is a photo of the Walter’s kids enjoying the beach. The little tiny one, way out to the left, is Jean in a swim suit. A brave person because, though the day was perfect, the water temp was hovering around 48 degrees. Normal people would have sunk and drowned, but not Jeran. Lydia is the in the white shorts, and Cedric is way off to the right, getting away from the water like a smart person should.

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April 19th

A typical Sunday for us except for the WELCA meeting on the end. I tried to stay out of it, but couldn’t seem to do that and wound up being the guest speaker for some reason. Then we went home.

April 20th

This is the big one, the reason I saved it for last. Today is the 47th anniversary of marriage to my best friend ever. We’ve been mostly happy all that time, and we’ve travelled a lot of places. The best part is that we did it together. All of it. And that makes it all excellent. With that in mind, I must terminate this in order to end it on a positive note. Not that there was a bad moment today, but that the longer I drag this out, the more potential there is for something bad to happen.

So, good night.

A Shameless Plug For Chevrolet

At this time in space, 1225 pm, we are nearing Sacramento, home to one of the lovely California Kathies, one our way to join fellow divers on I-5 North. It’s a beautiful day, currently 73 out there. When we got up this morning it was 20 degrees in Fallon but it quickly warmed all the way to 45 before we embarked on this next to last leg of this current voyage. When Kathie reads this she might be a little miffed that we didn’t stop to talk, but we have a mission to accomplish that can’t be influenced by stops visit for any length of time. It’s not that we don’t love her lots, it’s just that she recently returned from Hawaii and I’m sure she’d be talking non-stop about that trip. She used to live there, too. Now, don’t get me wrong. We LOVE Hawaii. We just need to make it to Medford before the sun goes down. Not knowing what the traffic might be like going North so just don’t want to take a chance. So, Kathie, please forgive us for zooming on by. Truth of the matter is, I’m not driving, as you may have suspected, and have absolutely no control over the driver. It’s my job to point out the pretty things along our route that I think she may want to briefly look at, keep my mouth shut, and hand her whatever she wants. So, that’s exactly what I do because I do not want her to have to stop the car to punish me.

Today I thought I’d try something a little different and utilize one of the nifty features of Diane’s new car. It’s got wi-fi and works as a hot spot, like Starbucks, for up to seven devices. I’m using six of them right now – two phones, two iPads, and the laptop. I’m doing that just so a bunch of people traveling along with us can’t hijack our signal and use it for nefarious “things”. It’s kinda neat because it’s connected to AT&T, which is our cell provider, so I can simply add it to our data plan once the free three months have expired. Interesting to have a car on the cell phone data plan. Should make the monthly bill interesting, too.

In the past 25 minutes Diane skillfully maneuvered us through the incredibly complex array of freeway ons and offs where I-80 and I-5 meet. Most of the time interactions like that are frightening beyond belief, but not this time because I just wasn’t paying any attention. My Navigating responsibilities have been reduced to the task of ensuring our destination has been entered into the car’s brain before we head to a specific destination. You might find it interesting to know I can do this more than one way. The easiest way is to open the RemoteLink app on my iPhone, enter our destination and upload it to the car. Then, when we start car up in the morning, the destination downloads and gets us on the way. If I don’t do that, then I must enter in manually in the car. I can do this by pushing the appropriate buttons. I can also talk to the navigation system and tell it where we want to go. That method is tedious because she, Bessie, tends to mess stuff up and we wind up arguing. It has never ended well, yet, so I try to get the destination downloaded.

Other neat things on the car that I’ve fiddled with is the Driver’s Information Console (DIC – I didn’t make that up) which can be set to provide a lot of distracting information to the driver. One of them is the speed alert. I set it for 80 yesterday but we didn’t make it ten miles before I was severely directed to turn it off. That’s because every time the designated speed is obtained the car beeps a few times and my driver got tired of hearing it. I should have set it to 100 instead. She would have still heard it, but not as often.

The DIC, I really didn’t make that up, will also, if the driver is interested, display an accurate rendition of a speed limit sign for the current location. Diane never looks at that, though. She checks the tire pressure frequently, and the overall mpg which, for the first 1317 miles, is 27. Not bad. On this current stretch of the trip we’re averaging  31.2 mpg. That’s while running along at an average speed of 65+ (mostly 80).

Boring stuff for most of you, I’m sure, but I’ve got nothing else to do. I did pause to check all the devices and see that all their batteries are charged so I should unplug them for a while. Maybe I’ll read some of my book. See you later.

Oh, before I go I have to share something I heard on the news last night … Don’t know what station it was, but the reporter told us that a certain lake had “… six drownings this year, 3 of them fatal.” Had to stop and think about that. I guess the three fortunate ones were dragged back from the dead by a handy people who knew CPR.

Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada

Greetings from NAS Fallon. Diane just finished this leg of the trip home, 390 miles, in a record 7 hours with only 3 stops along the way – one to pee, one to eat, and one for gas. Interestingly enough, the gas stop was only our 4th fill up on the trip and the last one was a short tank just to ensure we could make it to this destination.

The trip from Las Vegas to the point where we got gas was excellent! The car got over 31 mpg, the best gas mileage we’ve had on a car in a long, long time. Then the highway turned to two lane and 70 mph. Most of the people in front of Diane weren’t going fast enough so we wound up passing all of them, eventually. During those short bursts of thrilling power it was verified that the Impala will easily got 110 mph. When the gas is floored, as Diane often did, I noticed that the car shifted to sixth gear around 95 mph. Needless to say, Diane is a happy camper. Me? I just sit there calmly in the passenger seat fiddling with my electronically gear. Since we now have in-dash navigation, I’m useless in that capacity. So, I guess I should just probably stay home in the future. I’m no longer needed. Well, there are those times when I have to carry stuff to and from the car, so guess I’m handy for some things.

NAS Fallon, as some of you may already know, is the US Navy’s premier air warfare tactical training center. Consequently, during the day the sky can be quite exciting. Sadly, this trip we won’t be here long enough to enjoy the pilot antics. Home beckons and we must go. Next stop is Medford.

Sweet dreams …

Richard Petty, PT Cruisers, and Las Vegas The Show

Today was especially hard for me because I thought my entire life was perfect in all aspects the, out of the blue, Diane told me she’d had enough of my shenanigans and wanted to be set free. So, I went down to the jail, paid her bail, and did just that. Her court date isn’t until, like June 1st, so we’ll have to come back and see what happens. Things were fine until she went to see “Thunder From Down Under.” You know, all those naked Aussies dancing and such. It was girls night out and she apparently had a really good time. It is an unspoken deal between the two of us that I will never asked what happened and she’ll never tell. I, on the other hand, had a very sedate evening sitting in our room, watching all the pretty lights until I got tired and had to go to bed. Alone. That was the first time in a very long time. Like years.

This morning, once I got her released, we went to visit Pat & Pat at their Worldmark condo on the southern part of the Las Vegas Strip so we could tag along with them to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he was going to make a few laps in a NASCAR race car. He was signed up to participate in the Richard Petty racing experience.

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It was a special event and we were honored to have been invited to witness his experience and share in his joy. Diane, Short Pat, and I even got to participate, as observers, in the training evolution but we didn’t get to wear fire-retardant suit like Pat did. I, personally, felt cheated on that note because there were dozens of them just hanging there. Wouldn’t have hurt if they let me wear one, just for fun. But they wouldn’t.

The training took place in the infield of the speedway which was quite a treat for us all because it’s such a huge place. Also, since it’s right next to Nellis AFB, we were treated to numerous F-18 fighter jets flying over as they practiced take off’s and landings. Pretty impressive. Diane loves that sound. Makes her swoon.

Once out at the track, each of the drivers posed next to a Richard Petty 43 car before moving on to their assigned vehicle. Our Pat was the first one out since all the other drivers opted for the additional ride along with the pro driver to get the real feel of the track.

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Then one of the drivers cranked up one of the cars on the track. It’s the one they use to take drivers on a fast ride, like 165 mph, before they do it themselves with a ride along driving coach who has a kill switch should things get out of control. The sound of that car cranking up was an attention getter on a large-scale, especially since it was only about 10 feet away from us. Very thrilling. Diane had to sit down.

Then Pat got in his assigned car and flashed a thumbs up before starting the engine and entering the track for his attempt to hit all the gates and make the 1.5 mile trip as fast as he could.IMG_1635

There was another fun looking car at the track but no amount of whining by Pat would have made it possible for the professionals to allow Pat inside the car. I don’t blame him. I wasn’t signed up to drive, and I ever whined a little. Looked like it might be a lot of fun.

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Once the ride was over, Pat exited the car and staggered back to our side of the barrier that kept us out of the pit area. Actually, I don’t think he walked at all … he kinda floated back with a really silly grin on his face which let us all know he’d just experienced the thrill of a life time. And we were there to see it. Below Pat and Pat share a moment in history that won’t soon be forgotten.
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Watch of the drivers got a video of their ride from inside the car, and I also took video of him each time he flew past us on the front straightaway. He was moving along very nicely. When it was all done he learned that he’d set a new track record for rookies of 155.3 and was immediately offered a sponsor so he could go pro. What an honor. He turned them down because he didn’t want to spoil the thrill of that initial ride and didn’t want to make it a job. Once it’s a job, it’s no long fun. It’s work.

We left the track and headed back to town. On the way the girls did a search for a nice place to eat. They came up with an Italian place called Norman’s, or something like that, that was a little ways out of town, away from the strip. It was very authentic and the food was delicious. I had my forever favorite spaghetti ala carbonara. It’s really great stuff. Diane had raviolis, Tall Pat had spaghetti and meat balls, and Short Pat had tortellini. We were all well fed and thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the visit with Pat and Pat.

Then we monied back to Worldmark and retrieve Diane’s new Impala. Sadly, it was time to bid adieu and go our separate ways. But, we know we will see them again soon once we’re all back in the Portland area.

Here’s where we stayed. It’s one of the newer Travelodges recently acquired by Hilton and added to their expanding list of properties that we can use in our travels.
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Last night was festive over at the Gold Coast Casino where we had our PT Banquet. The food was good, the service was excellent, and everyone had a really good time. One of the more interesting events, in addition to the many PT related stories people told, was that one lady, from Colorado, who bought two $10 tickets for a 50/50 raffle, won on both tickets. She got 1st prize of $350, missed on the 2nd place $225, and one 3rd place for $125. Not a bad night. What incredible luck.

This evening we went to see “Las Vegas, The Show” which is one we’ve seen on a previous visit. We chose to go again because it’s magnificent and we recommend it to anyone who has a notion to visit LV. Another draw was the theater is just around the corner from our hotel. Seriously, right around the corner.

Now we’re back in the room and will pack before retiring with the intention of embarking on our homeward journey tomorrow, a day earlier than originally planned. The lady at the front desk was ecstatic when I told her she could have her room back a day early. We need to do this so we can make it back to St. Helens in time to attend Easter service at our church.

So, I bid you farewell and have to point out that today is April 1st, and only part of what you’ve just read is true. You’ll just have to decide for your self which part.

Good night.

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