Happy New Year From St. Helens

Here it is, the last day of 2012, and, once again, for like the 57th time in my life, I wonder where all the time went. Unless I think really, really hard, there are no defining events to fill that seemingly lost void. Most people are lucky and can just fill it without even thinking about it, but not me. The whirl wind in my brain doesn’t provide me with many coherent images unless I sit and concentrate. I have to sit to do that because concentrating on the swirling pictures, while doing something else, leads to injuries and trips to the emergency room. I know that’s true. Ask Diane. Now I’m going to trust my calendar to be correct and give an in-depth review of our year … I suspect everything to follow was mentioned in one blog entry or another, but I’m not going to look …


The first day of 2012 found us waking up at the Hillcrest Inn in Seaside. We picked that place because we live on Hillcrest Road and thought it would be fun. It actually was, although we stayed in one of the oddest rooms we’ve ever had at a hotel or motel. But, it was right next to the board walk. Somewhere I have photographic evidence of us on the boardwalk, on a sunny January 1st, but it will not reveal itself at this time. You’ll just have to trust me on that. On the 21st Tiana attained princess status by turning 16. January came to a crashing end when our furnace died on the 30th.


The new furnace was installed on February 3rd so we lived, oddly, in the living room with the fireplace running while waiting for the install date. We ate lots of sugary things to take our minds off being chilly. On the 23rd we joined our Winnebago friends at the Cannon Beach RV Resort for a few days of frolicking. It was cold, rainy, and miserable, but we still had a great time.


On the 3rd we headed south for a week at a resort in Carlsbad, CA. It was located just above Lego Land Resort so all or my sunset pictures have remnants of huge Lego toys in them. It wasn’t too bad except for all the children screaming on the Lego roller coaster rides. Thankfully, we couldn’t hear them with the windows closed. From Carlsbad we drove to Las Vegas for another week at a Hilton resort. While there we went to two shows … Cirque du Soleil for “O”, and then to the Donny & Marie show. I’m sure we would have really enjoyed that show but, thankfully, it was cancelled for some unnamed reason, and we had to settle for another choice suggested by the concierge. It was the “Las Vegas Show”. We had excellent seats and found it to be one of the most enjoyable shows we’ve ever seen. That’s the reason for the “thankfully”, above. We would have liked to have seen Donny & Marie, but the Las Vegas Show was a stellar alternative. On the way home from Las Vegas we stopped in Nampa for a visit with big brother Jim and family for a couple of days. We made it home in time for Lydia’s 13th birthday which is on the 26th.


April brought us Jeran’s 12th birthday on the 11th, and then we had an opportunity to reimburse the US Government for all the blessings they’ve provided to us, and to everyone else in the world, during 2011. They do that on Jim’s birthday, every year. If I was Jim, I’d change my birthday to the 14th, or the 16th, but he won’t. On the 19th we fired up the Winnebago and headed for the Hoodfest in Hood River. This is an annual event for the Winnebago folks and we enjoy it a great deal. On the 20th we celebrated Ruth’s birthday by also celebrating Diane’s and my 44th wedding anniversary. After that it was just birthday, after birthday … Logan on the 25th, and his little sister Baylee on the 30th.


Daniel turned another year on the 1st, beating me by 19 days. So, I guess that makes him older than me, though I’m sure he, and most everyone else in the world, would disagree. On the 16th we drove the Winnebago to Moses Lake, WA where we, and five other classic ‘Bagos, spent a week surrounded by really, really big, expensive Winnebago motor homes. One of them tipped the scales at around $500K. The more “common” ones only cost a couple hundred grand. Nice rigs. We left for home on my birthday, the 20th, and arrived on the 21st, Jeff’s birthday, and Gram’s mammy gram on the 22nd. That same week we received word that big brother Lyle had passed away. Not a surprise, but not welcome, either. Diane and I made plans to take off right away to attend the funeral, picking up Jim on the way. Yes, we were going to drive. Events changed those plans when Donna broke her arm, and Diane’s mom received notice that she need to have a biopsy as the result of her mammy gram. Jack couldn’t make the trip, so Diane decided that I should go alone to represent the West Coast. Not being trusted to drive that far all by myself, she bought me a round trip plane ticket which allowed me to arrive at, and depart from, Bradley Field near Windsor Locks, CT, my ultimate destination. Niece Susan offered to pick me up at the airport, but had to attend a wake for a family friend on the way. I spent a week with Ruth, Lyle’s wife, with the thought that I’d get her through the rough spots, but her family did that in spades. She was never alone the entire time I was there. That was good because I got to know them better. I love them all.


Sadly, Lyle & Ruth’s anniversary was the 2nd but the “sadly” part was replaced with happiness when Heather & Justin were married in Sarasota Springs, NY. Since Heather is Ruth’s granddaughter her attendance was mandatory. Since I wasn’t trusted to stay alone in Connecticut, I had to go, too. Turns out my presence was useful because I escorted the bride’s Mom, Cheryl, in for the ceremonies. I was asked to do it for two reasons … she didn’t want to walk alone, and she didn’t want to fall off her high heels. I was pleased, and honored to be included. I flew back home on the 4th to my lovely bride. For Cedric’s 15th birthday on the 13th we took him to lunch on the 11th. We told him we’d take him to lunch anywhere he wanted to go. He made it easy on us by choosing Fultano’s in Scappoose. On the 14th, Bob, Steffani, and Maryssa arrived for a visit so Maryssa could participate in a softball event in Portland. It was good to have them here and the local kids (Cedric, Jeran, and Lydia) were very happy to have time to visit with Maryssa. Then we drove the Winnebago to South Beach State Park for the last week of the month. Word came to us that the mosquito population in that area was starving and we felt compelled to help in any way we could. So, we fed them. A lot. Actually, Diane fed them a lot. They only feed on me when I’m alone.


Daniel & Jennifer’s marriage turned 17 on the 1st. Hard to believe our baby has been married that long. Then Jeff’s Heather had a 30-something birthday on the 6th, and their baby, Jerrie Anne Diane, was 1 on the 15th. On the 19th thru the 22nd we camped with the Walters at Big Eddy Park. Topping off the month, Niecey Susan turned 28, I think, on the 28th. She started doing that a couple of years ago and liked being 28 on the 28th so has decided to retain that number forever. It’s a good number.


My 50th High School class reunion was on the 4th & 5th. We saw folks that we haven’t seen since graduation! It was awesome. One of them was little Eddie Decker who has been a tenured professor at Oral Roberts University for a number of years. Dr. Eddie. Who’d thunk it? He’s truly one of the good guys. Diane’s Mom, Jean, had a birthday on the 8th, but we didn’t celebrate until the 11th. Instead, on the 8th, she, Diane, and Ozzie all got their hair done. They use the same stylist so having concurrent appointments simplifies things. We spent the 14th thru the 17th at LL Stubb Stewart Sate Park with Jennifer, Daniel, Cedric, and Jeran. Lydia was at camp. Diane went to the dentist on the 20th.


Ocean Park was our roost from the 6th to the 9th when we visited to attend the Rod Run To The End Of The World. It’s pretty incredible … pretty cars and trucks everywhere. Our friends, Gary & Cindy, showed their 1968 VW camper. It’s quite a ride. While we were gone, Joe Mayer gave a presentation on I Love Lucy at our small little church in Warren. Joe and his twin played “Little Ricky” on that show in the early 50’s. He is employed at PGE in Portland where I worked with him for almost 20 years. He’s a wonderful geek. On the 17th I ordered rocks and a motorized scoop rig to move them into the ditch I dug over the past several months that will move water coming down the hill from the front of our house and out of our driveway, and out of our basement. Jack had surgery on the 14th and is well and happy. Our roof was replaced over the course of 3 days, 20-22, and after a day of rest we embarked on our trip to San Diego on the 24th. First stop was Medford, then on to Beale AFB, and NAS Lemoore, arriving at the 32nd Street Naval Base Navy Lodge on the 26th where we stayed the remainder of the month for the USS Dennis J. Buckley (DD-808) reunion, visiting with old shipmates from this ship that was decommissioned in 1973. I was aboard 1964-66 when the ship was only 20 years old. One shipmate who attended was aboard in 1948.


Ship’s crew of DD-808 took a tour bus to Point Loma, stopping at the National Cemetery to honor our lost shipmates. Then we went back to town and dropped everyone off at the USS Midway museum at the foot of Broadway. It was noon, and our two bus loads of people descended on the small fan tail cafe enmasse. We did not warn them because we though, perhaps, some of them would choose one of the eateries ashore. Big mistake. DD-808 crew members, and their wives, kept the 3-4 person crew hopping for a couple of hours. Diane and I ate much later, but still caught a little friendly flack from the cashier. We earned it. On the 2nd, we all took a 2 hour harbor cruise of the San Diego harbor. It was totally awesome for us, and all the old guys who haven’t been around the navy for many, many years. On the 3rd we celebrated with everyone at the old 32nd Street Chief Petty Officer club which is now a lunch place, 5 days a week. We had our own room with access to the all you can eat prime rib feast. It was a great ending to the past few days with these old guys. We left San Diego on the 5th and motored to Mesa, AZ to visit with Gene & Shirley for a few days. Then it was on to Kanab, UT, Hill AFB, then Nampa, where we spent a couple of days before returning home. We had to get home before the 23rd, Jennifer’s birthday, because we always seem to be gone on that day. That was the important part of the month.


Diane started working on the Election Counting Board this month, something she’s done for a number of years now. She loves it. They love her. She’s a good counter. On the 8th I had an EMG test at the VA given by a nazi Dr. with needles. He hates people and likes to make the writhe in pain. All the sticks were in my right leg, which gave the proper readings that avoided his need to stab me in the back. The 22nd found us gathered around our dining room table for a great Thanksgiving Feast with all of our family. Diane and her mom, Jean, had their hairs cut on the 28th. Ozzie declined to go.


This month was more than a whirl wind … I had a dreaded MRI on the 5th, which I miraculously survived, then on the 9th Jim & I decided we should go to Arizona. We had to be there before the 15th, to surprise Jack & Wynette for their 50th. So, it was Nampa, ID on the 11th; Ely, NV on the 12th; Nellis AFB, NV on the 13th; and Surprise, AZ on the 14th. We headed home on the 18th, stopping once at Ely then driving to Nampa on the 19th and home on the 20th (Diane’s birthday). The temp leaving Ely dropped to -19 degrees. Yes, that’s a “minus”. Jennie left a birthday cake for her Mom in our refrigerator so we had something to eat when we got here. What a gal. The last event of the month was Ozzie’s Poodledo on the 27th. For the rest of the month, calendar events are just vague, repeating messages reminding me to take my pills. Oh, and today is the 31st, and we got our first snow of the winter this afternoon. It was a glorious day.

This is the sunrise this morning …


… and this is the way the day ended …


That’s a wrap for 2012. You should be totally bored by now. Me? In looking at all that and I’m amazed by how many trips we took. We were gone from home about 88 days which means it’s good to get social security so we could pay for all that gas.

Happy New Year to everyone …

Wonder what’s going to happen next year …

News Reporters & Sports Announcers


Am I the only one who thinks live reporters ask some pretty dumb questions, and report from some pretty dumb places? Actually, I know I’m not because Diane and I agree. Also, I realize that these reporters are given directions from some folks tucked away in a cozy trailer somewhere, but the questions they ask are, sometimes, really, really stupid. For instance, reporters into the wake of hurricane Sandy to ask residents of destroyed towns “what are you feeling right now since you just lost everything you own and probably don’t have insurance to cover your loss…” or words to that effect. That’s pretty brutal. What’s this person going to say … really? And the reporters who interviewed 8-year-olds at the scene of school shooting in Connecticut. Two points on that … what were they thinking? and why did their Moms allow it? Forever imbedded in my brain is the vision of Ginger Z standing in water as hurricane Sandy worked it’s way north along the east coast. She was always in the water, either in the ocean, or in a flooded parking lot. Always! OK, we get it … it rains a lot during a hurricane.

Reporters are always after the emotional impact from victims which I think is wrong. Leave them alone … they have enough problems to deal with instead of taking time to answer dumb questions. And the questions don’t change, just the victims. I think reporters are taught to ask a specific set of questions for selected disasters, and that’s all they need to know to get the job. That, and be attractive. I suspect reporters would disagree with me, but that’s OK. Opinions are allowed.

Enough of that …

Sports Announcers

Sports announcers are kinda like reporters, but they have live action “stuff” going on most of the time. What they do that annoys me is keep up a running commentary on what’s going on right there before my eyes. I can see it going on, but they insist on telling me what I’m seeing, then letting me know why a particular formation didn’t work, or that a basketball team needs to make more shots if it’s going to win. Really? Make more baskets? I think that’s what the team’s coaches are yelling at them, too. Like the players forget what they’re supposed to be doing. You’d think multi-millionaire players would be able to focus and keep that in mind.

Sorry … that’s been bugging me for a while and I just had to unload it.

Jeran and Lydia spent last night with us. Lydia has a virus that’s clogging her lungs and the meds she’s taking caused her to sleep about 18 hours of the visit, but that’s OK. She really needed the rest. The upside is that she only threw up 3-4 times this morning. She’s normally got a weak stomach and I have to watch what I ask her, and how I ask. You’d think I’d learn, huh?

While Lydia slept yesterday afternoon, Jeran and I took his electric powered Air Hog out back and tried to get it airborne. I have the height and distance record for crashes. Once on the roof, and again way over the trees in the front of the house. I had to claw my way through hundreds of strands of black berry vines to get the last one. I was a mess and decided to quit while I was ahead. It’s fun to fly, but it wears me out getting it out of trees and other peoples’ yards. Jeran has a great time with it. He let Lydia fly it this morning which perked her up a lot. Made her forget about puking for a while, anyway. Actually, she does that because her lungs get full of gunk because she refuses to cough it up. Then, when it does come up it’s a mess and makes her sick. Knucklehead. She’s fun to have around.

Gonna quit now. Sorry I wasted your time with this.

2012 in review for Jerrie

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Games & Hot Tubs

Today we played Quelf, and Sour Apples with some of our children and children’s children. Cedric as missing because he had to attend wrestling practice. The rest of us had a marvelous time while he was sweating profusely. I’m assuming he’s sweating, but really doubt if it’s profusely because he only has 5% body fat. Not much extra to sweat off.

The hot tub is filling as I “speak”. This is a Christmas Promise I made for Diane. It’s been sitting empty for a few months and she wants it resurrected to help soak out her joint aches. So, that’s what I’m doing. Perhaps it will help with mine, also. I doubt the latter, however, because all my aches and pains are terminal. Last time I checked, the water temperature was all the way up to 45 degrees. Diane didn’t think it was yet time for her to don a bikini and go soak. It should be up to 104 in a few hours.

Jeran got a remote control plane for Christmas but it doesn’t work. The silly thing won’t turn on. It’s a slow mover and has a camera that will take snap shots, or movies that you can download to your computer. Very interesting gift. After fiddling with it for a while, I totally dismantled it ,to ensure there were no loose wires. Then I remantled it, hoping for the “magic” fix, but it still wouldn’t work. I did, however, discover the problem, which could nave been fixed with out the dismantle part, and fixed it with a small piece of tinfoil. Now it works. I’m so proud and just giddy with happiness. I love fixing things. Especially for the kidlets.

Now it’s 2121 and I must slumber until the dogs decide to wake me in the morning. Either that, or my bladder makes itself known in the night and demands attention that would, if ignored, result in a situation that might, perhaps, result in the need for a new mattress. Diane probably wouldn’t care because she’s been wanting a new bed for the last 2 years.

So, my next entry may be about our trip to Mattress World. Now I’m going to go drink a bunch of water.

Christmas Adendum

Though we thouroughly enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with all of our top tier family members, I must sadly report that we did so without the ornaments we’ve accumulated over the past 44 years, 8 months, and 4 days, 6 hours, and 20 minutes … or thereabouts.

It’s always been a tradition at our house to unwrap each ornament and share memories about where we got it, who may have given it to us, what country we were in at the time … nifty things like that. We searched the house from top to bottom and just couldn’t find them, so Diane resorted to using ornaments that have seen little use over the years. Oddly enough, that turned out to be a good thing because it forced us to remember, without benefit of visual clues.

So, somewhere in this house, tucked away in a dust free box, are the ornaments. We’re confident they will reveal themselves when it’s their turn again. This year they declined to participate, allowing the less fortunate ornaments to shine. We’re good with that.

Besides, Christmas isn’t about trees, and ornaments. It’s about a birthday, and this year maybe He wanted to keep things simple.  So, He hid our ornaments.


Although our journey was long and tiring, it was well worth it. Surprising Jack and Wynette was worth every second. However, arriving home safely is always the best part of a trip for us. It’s as if all journeys are taken for just that reason … going home.

Once we get there, reviewing the trip seems like it was just a dream. The tangible evidence of our trips are the trip logs, blog entries, and photos. Most of those items are pretty boring, but they are still evidence. At least the photos are. The trip logs and blogs are subject to embleshment, something I cannot do with photos with any degree of confidence.

The trip from Nampa to home was relatively uneventful. We got up early which was directly related to the fact that we went to bed early after visiting with Daniel, Tyler, Bob, Steffani, Maryssa, and Cass. The highlight was Maryssa singing a very long song in Spanish. Impressive, and well done. She even explained to me what it all meant. A sad song. She told me the name, but I can’t pronounce it because I can’t wrap my tongue around Spanish words. I’ve tried and have determined that I’m too old to train my tongue to do anything new. As it is, performing basic operations required for sustenance works OK, but chewing gum, if my mind wanders a little, results in a bloody gash that hurts a great deal. The latter aspect isn’t a complaint, it’s just the way it is. I’ve been biting my tongue on a regular basis since 1987 when a Navy dentist equilibrated all my teeth.

Equilibration is a process where the dentist makes an attempt to move ones lower jaw back as far as possible by randomly grinding teeth so they mesh in such a manner that one has to conciously move their jaw back in order to chew. The random grinding process is accompanied with a lot of banging the teeth together onto carbon paper, which doesn’t taste too bad. Once all the banging is done the patient is blessed with a record breaking migraine and another appointment for the next day to do it all again. This is repeated as long as the dentist sees a need to push the jaw back. Before he started my teeth were actually not lined up too badly. Now I have an enormous overbite which is the reason I don’t smile very often. This process also provided a prime opportunity for my tongue to wander into the chewing process because before the equilibration it had timing down pat for the old position. Then the mechanics of chewing were changed forever and the tongue refused to upgrade. This resulted in the need to chew a great deal more slowly which has, actually, improved my health because my bites are much smaller now so I don’t eat as much food.

The sun was shining brightly as we departed Nampa and stayed that way all the way to Pendleton where it started raining. That was OK because by that time all the really scary bad roads were behind us. On the way down the hill to Pendleton we only encountered one semi that was tipped over by the high winds. I didn’t mention those, did I? From Namp to Pendleton the winds were blowing 60 mph most of the time, with gust far higher. I said we only saw one flipped semi because the gal who filled out tank at the bottom said there were three of them that morning. Maybe the other two were on the uphil side of the freeway.

I drove from Pendleton to lunch in The Dalles. We stopped at a Sears store and bought some vacuum cleaner bags then walked around the parking lot to a Burger King. We both had Whopper Jr’s. They contain all the sustenance we needed at that moment in time. Then, Diane drove the rest of the way home.

Diane is a great driver and got us home safely, just like she always does.

The End


We Made It To Nampa !!

Here we are in Nampa … arrived at 1700 local. It was only an 8.5 hour drive. Coming out of Ely, Nevada wasn’t a problem, even though it snowed all night and the temperature plummeted to -17. That’s what it was when we got up at 0600 this morning. While we were eating our breakfast at the hotel, this is what it looked like out back:



The drive to Nampa was uneventful except for the part where Jim drove from Ely to some point north where there was no snow. The road was packed snow, ice, sand, and salt during his stint at the wheel and he really messed up the car, bad.


The windshield washer wouldn’t work so when southbound trucks passed us things got dicey because using the wipers only smeared the mud around, making it very difficult to see the highway and oncoming vehicles. We decided to quit using the wipers after stopping and trying to clean it off with water that froze immediately. It was -16 or so at the time, so it was no surprise.


After cranking up the defroster as high as we could, it melted enough so we could scrape it off with one of the card keys we stole from the Ely La Quinta Inn. Fortunately we had two of them so Jim and I doubled up to get it done quickly. That worked well until we stopped at a small store and purchased some window cleaner and got all the windows cleaned off for Diane to drive. She drove to Twin Falls then I took over and took us the remainder of the way to Nampa. My portion of the trip was the smoothest, of course. And the car was clean. This is what it looked like when I parked in Jim’s driveway:



Now, about the clean car … in Twin Falls we got gas and it came with a free car wash, so we got one and it was awesome. I wasn’t ashamed to drive the car.

The roads were clear all the way to Nampa.

About the time we sat down for dinner, Steffani, Daniel, Tyler, Maryssa, Bob, and Cass showed up so everyone had to stop eating so we could hug everyone. Cass wouldn’t hug me and that’s probably OK because I don’t know who she is. Gotta change that … she’s a U of I Vandal studying to be a Veterinarian.

Now I’m going to quit and visit.

Going Home

Today we got up by 0600, packed our stuff, and met Jack, Wynette, and Jim at the Village Inn on Highway 60 in Surprise. The goal was to depart on our journey north by 0800. We almost made it.

Now I must go back to last night to report on our supper at Archie’s. Dave and Debbie were there as well as Jack & Wynette. And Jim. He was there. too. Dave was a medivac helicopter pilot in Viet Nam. Tough job. Nice people.

Archie’s was interesting for two, no three, reasons. First, they put plates of dill pickles on the tables instead of bread. That’s probably OK because, first, they are good, and second, Archie’s mainly serves sandwiches. Second, the sandwiches are absolutely enormous! Honest. I was so amazed that I failed to take a picture of my food like I normally do. My Rueben was, no kidding, about 4 inches tall. Amazing! I had to nibble around the edges because I couldn’t get my mouth open far enough. It was totally wonderful. If I lived in Surprise I’d eat there once a week. I really would. But I don’t, so I can’t.

I lied, I guess. I thought there were three reasons, but I can only remember two of them.

After supper we retired to Dave and Debbie’s home in Happy Trails. The first thing I did was update Debbie’s laptop’s security … it was actually up-to-date but it hadn’t been scanned in a while. Then I downloaded Malwarbytes and rand a scan for malware and found 208 “bad” things which I removed. Then we played a game of cards the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It was a golf game of sorts, and lots of fun. Then we went next door to visit with Pat and Carolyn for a bit before dropping Jim off at his private Villa then went back to the hotel to pack and get to bed early.

Now, for the trip … we worked really hard to get an early start because we decided to skip Las Vegas and drive all the way to Ely, Nevada – 510 miles. An aggressive goal, but the weather was bad enough on our route we had to make room for an extra day on the road should we get snowed in. Here’s the Arizona sunrise that sent us on the way …


Diane drove the first 6 hours and 300+ miles, quitting when the weather got bad, then I took over and drove the rest of the way. We didn’t have a bit of trouble even though the snow got really bad, the road was covered with packed snow, and it dropped to 18 degrees as we climbed to 6700+ feet in Ely. We didn’t slip, we didn’t slide, and we didn’t get scared one time. The big problem was trying to keep the windshield clean. Tough job with no washer fluid. Or, it was frozen. This is what it looked like most of the time I was driving … with an extremely full bladder …


There’s not much to add to that because the view was pretty much the same the entire time I drove. But, the roads were well tended, with good traction, and we were able to roll along between 50-60 most of the time. I was amazed. The Buick does really well in crappy weather. Maybe we’ll keep it after all.

As soon as we got to Ely we got gas so we wouldn’t have to mess with that in the morning. Since I had to stand outside in the 18 degree weather, with wind chill to about 9 degrees, I thought I get a shot of the rig. I’m really glad we got the car washed yesterday …


We confirmed that they use a lot of salt on the freeways which is no doubt why we had good traction. But, that means we’re going to have to get another car wash in Idaho. No, we’ll wait until we get home because it’s going to be snowy pretty much all the way.

Here’s the view from our hotel window which I think is a Nevada sunset …


That’s about it for today. We’re winding down and ready for bed. But, before I go, I have to share another picture I found that you should enjoy. I took it at one of the rest areas we hit on the way through Nevada on the southern trip. I figure this is a way to limit clean up visits to this rest area. Diane said the women’s restroom was the same. I’m thinking of doing something like this in my bathroom at home. I’d just do away with the padlocks, though …


Nice, huh?

Golden Anniversaries & Other Stuff

This isn’t going to be anything like you expected because it’s all about a personal journey to honor a brother and his wife. It goes back a few years and involves a standing tradition for our family. Simply put, we gather for all 70th birthdays and 50th anniversaries. You may have surmised, at this point, that we’re all old. That’s true. I will be the last to observe either of those milestones.

This time, it’s for Jack & Wynette. Yesterday was their 50th Wedding Anniversary so big brother, Jim, and I had to attend. The problem was, Jack and Wynette were in Arizona. How to overcome that obstacle proved to be a lot simpler than one would have thought. All it took was a wife who was willing to go anywhere at the drop of a hat which this trip turned out to be.

Before I get too involved with the details I must back up a little to provide a bit of history …

Last Sunday, the 9th, Diane and I were talking, something we rarely do, trying to remember when Jack & Wy’s anniversary was. It wasn’t written down anywhere we looked. Diane thought it was on the 10th, two days before Jack’s birthday. Regarding that, Jack’s 74th birthday was on 12.12.12. So, that’s a golden birthday.

Since there wasn’t a lot of confidence that the 10th was correct for the anniversary, I called Jim, who didn’t have a clue. Neither did Donna. Then I called the other Jack, Wynette’s brother, who said, “I think it’s the 15th.” He said it with confidence, but the “I think” imbedded in the statement added a bit of uncertainty so I thought I’d call Greg, Jack & Wy’s son. It’s a Scappoose phone number so I dialed it up. Brother Jack answered, throwing me off a bit, but I recovered and the conversation went something like this …

“Uh, hi. Are you Greg?”

“No, I’m Greg’s father.”

“Uh, can you pretend you’re Greg for a minute?”

“Yes I can.”

“Uh, will you pretend you’re Greg for a minute?”

“Yes I will. We were married on December 15th, 1962. You should know. You were there.”

He was right, of course. I was there. I was the best man. You’d think I’d remember, but it was, after all, 50 years ago. Just saying …

But, I got the information from Jack so my goal was accomplished. The fact that it was the 15th, not the 10th, was the determining factor for us deciding to jump in the car and make the trip. Jim was all for it. So, Diane jumped on the internet and started checking for places to stay along the way. The plan was to head east to Nampa, pick up Jim, then head south to Surprise, AZ.

While Diane was doing that, I looked around on Facebook and found Brian, J & W’s grandson who lives near Surprise. Not having an email address, or a phone number for him, I sent him a message via Facebook asking him to call me. He actually did that which surprised and pleased me a great deal. The objective was to learn if any plans were in place to celebrate J&W’s Golden Event. He told me it was on Sunday the 16th at 1300. That was great, and Brian expressed his excitement that Jim and I would be there.

Diane got us rooms, for three adults, at Ely, Nevada, Nellis AFB (near Las Vegas), and Surprise, Arizona, about 6 miles from Happy Trails where J&W are staying.

We planned to leave St. Helens at 0800 and actually got out of town around 1100. Right on time.

The trip to Nampa was uneventful except for the fact the rain coming down upon departure quit around Troutdale and we had dry roads the entire way. Very nice. We arrived at Jim’s and Donna’s around 1900. Donna had dinner waiting for us for which we were grateful … it was wonderful minestrone soup and cornbread. Excellent!

We visited a while then went to bed. I didn’t get up until 0830, or so. I ate a banana and Diane had a yogurt then we were on our way. I have no idea what time we left, and I have no idea what Jim ate, if anything. We did have coffee at the house before leaving, too.

The goal was to reach Ely, NV before it got dark. It was about a zillion miles away and we had to make it in less than 8 hours. We thought it was doable, and it turned out to be true. Diane drove most of the way then I drove the last 200 miles, and gave up control to Diane so I could navigate the last couple of miles. We had a room with two queen beds. That was one bed each for Diane and me. Jim had to sleep on the floor, but he didn’t mind.

After getting checked in, we took the night manager’s suggestion to eat at the Silver State Cafe. It was an excellent meal and we went back to the room well nourished. We all had a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed. Jim didn’t really sleep on the floor, but he wanted to. He had a bed all to himself. Because of that, he got to drive the first leg. He had a really good time because after getting on the freeway, it started snowing. A lot. But it didn’t stick to the road. Thankfully, we were heading downhill so we drove out of the snow before Jim got too scared about driving in the snow.

The next goal was Nellis AFB just a bit north of Las Vegas. Turns out we left Ely far too early and arrived at the base at 1230. The time zone changes 2-3 times on Highway 93 during that trip, something we hadn’t considered. Because of the early arrival, we had to kill 3 hours before we could check in. So, we went to the Base Exchange so Jim could see what the “new” Air Force exchange looks like. It’s a lot like going to a Nordstrom’s that’s inside a mall, food court and all. Very high end store. The advantage to shopping on the base vs. shopping at local stores is the absence of the state tax.

We finally got checked in at 1500 and took a little break, watched a little TV, checked email, etcetera. The room had two double beds. For dinner Jim and I cooked.  We went to the lobby and bought three chicken pot pies and three Klondike bars for $6. Cheapest dinner for three, ever!

After a good night’s sleep, we departed, heading south on Highway 93. That took us across the Pat Tillman Bridge that spans the Colorado River, just downstream of the Hoover Dam. We stopped short of the bridge, however, so we could take Jim out on the bridge for a view of the Hoover Dam that he’s never seen before. To get to the bridge required a fairly long climb so we could trek out to the middle. Diane stayed in the car which was a smart move. The wind was blowing at least 90 mph, making it difficult to walk. But, we did it, and I got some got pictures of the dam. Jim seemed to enjoy it but didn’t say much because he was out of breath.


On the bridge we saw cars driving over the dam, so we decided to continue on down that way and just get back on the highway on the other side. Turns out, that was a trap because the road is closed about a mile past the dam. So, we had to turn around and retrace our steps to Highway 93.


We arrived in Surprise Friday afternoon at some unremembered time of day, but late enough to check into our room without having to wait for checkin. The room has a king bed, and a small sofa bed with pokey springs and a very thin mattress. Jim, being the trouper he is, said the sofa was fine, but it really wasn’t, so Diane bought a fluffy mattress cover at Goodwill after a wonderful dinner at the Portofino Ristorante, just down the street. Very authentic Italian food.

The next day I called Brian to see if we could find out when and where J&W might be so we could surprise them in Surprise. He said they were going to be at his house in about an hour or so. So, we jumped in the car and headed to his and Annie’s house in Litchefield Park, about 8 miles south of the hotel.

We found the house with no problem and parked  around the corner from the house. Brian came out to greet us, and we walked back to his driveway and were just about to enter the garage when J&W turned the corner. So, we just stood there and waited for them to park. Needless to say, they were very surprised to see us standing there. Who’d thought, right? It was very gratifying for all of us. Mission accomplished.

Later in the afternoon we had dinner at the Golden Corral where we met up with Pat, Caroline, Dennis, Mary, Jack, and Wynette. It was a gala reunion of Cate Brothers and Cate cousins. Pat and Caroline live in Happy Trails where J&W are staying and they just happened to have a livable unit that they are fixing up, and offered it to us for the duration of our stay. But, the room we have is non-refundable since the reservation was through Hotels.com, so we declined. Jim, however, thought it would be excellent. So, Pat & Caroline followed us back to the hotel so Jim could pack up his things, then took him back with them. They even gave Jim a golf cart to buzz around in. He’s currently in heaven, having a great time.

This morning Diane and I got up early so we could join everyone for church at Happy Trails. It was their Cantata, and it was absolutely wonderful. The church was full, with hundreds of people. After Church we took Jim and fiddled around a little before heading south to Brian’s for the party. The party was wonderful. We got to meet all of Brian’s family that includes Steve (Step Dad), Keithena (Mom), Brent, Bronte, Brooke, Brene, Breezy, Breven, and Bridgett. The last six are his sisters. A very good looking group of kids, including Brian, who range from 9 to 28 years old. Eight of them.

DSC_3488Keithena and Steve

DSC_3463Wynette . Brian . Jack

DSC_3484Keithena . Brent (Ben)

DSC_3478Bronte . Brooke . Brene . Breezy . Breven . Bridgett

We all had a wonderful time visiting and celebrating J&W’s 50th. It will be remembered.

DSC_3526The Happy Couple

DSC_3556Annie (Brian’s significant) . Diane . Brian . Homeless Guy

DSC_3557Jim . Jack . Brian . Homeless Guy

DSC_3529Jim enjoying the football

DSC_3466Super Annie

DSC_3544 DSC_3545The Lair – Dustin . Brian . Jim . Brian . Jim . Diane . Shane . Steve

DSC_3479Keithy in a lucid moment

DSC_3503Jim wasn’t allowed to eat at the adult table

That’s it for now. My next entry will be a cry for help when we get stuck in the blizzard that’s currently b lowing across northern Nevada  We’re going anyway.