LL Stub Stewart State Park

Camping at LL Stub Stewart — August 31 and later

It was a close call, but we escaped from St. Helens without being stopped by the law. That was accomplished by taking the main roads instead of backroads like they apparently thought we would. And, that’s what we normally do.

Our desired destination was LL Stub Stewart State Park where we intend to hide for the next few days, then we’ll sneak our way back to our main domicile and get on with the daily struggle with the COVID pandemic.

I’m not taking the pandemic lightly which may be why our little neck of the woods is pretty much safe. We don’t go anywhere there are crowds, something we’ve done for years, so it’s ingrained in our behavior and druthers that we be left alone. When I do go out amongst the people, I find myself holding my breath whenever I pass someone. I don’t think about it, it just happens. As long as I don’t encounter a long line of people I should be OK.

Here at Stub Stewart it’s 70 degrees. I know that’s true because I looked at the thermometer I packed. It’s an indoor/outdoor thing that was laying around the house. It worked until I checked to see if it needed new batteries then it mysteriously quit. I figured it must have heard what I planned and decided it wanted new batteries. I was happy to oblige and it worked great. People should listen to their electronic doodads more often.

Diane and I are sitting on our roll-up patio just listening to the quiet. It’s very lovely.

It’s quiet at home, mostly, but somehow the quiet here is just a little bit different. Makes the trip worth while.

Driving over took a long time because every time we saw a car I got off the main road to avoid capture. There are a lot of cars on Highway 26 so there was a lot of hiding going on.

You’re probably wondering why we’re hiding, but I’m not going to tell you because that would make you complicit. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than being complicit. There isn’t enough olive oil on the planet to make the itch go away. So, I’m saving you from a lot of aggravation.

Just as we were leaving Scappoose, after adding fuel to the tank, we discussed whether or not we were hungry enough to visit the nearby Burger King or really dig deep and get something from McDonald’s. We decided that the trip would be short enough that we could do with an energy bar of some sort. I had some in my golf bag that are pretty old, but still good, but Diane had new ones so we each had one. It was just perfect and was something I could eat while dodging the police.

I’m getting hungry now. So is Diane. She said so. Apparently I’m eating a frozen TV dinner that fell out of the freezer when Diane was checking everything after I parked the rig. She caught it and said, “that’s your dinner” which is why I know that’s what she’s going to feed me. That’s OK because I like TV dinners. Alot. We were going to have steak for dinner but when Diane went shopping to stock the RV it was $15 a pound. She said I wasn’t worth $15 a pound for steak and didn’t buy any. That’s another reason I’m eating a TV dinner.

The Dish TV antenna zeroed right in on all the right channels for me because I knew exactly where to put it. We’re in the same spot as the last time we visited here and I put a big X on the grass where the antenna needed to go in case we ever returned. Makes things easier for Diane because her main objective for selecting a site is to ensure it has an unobstructed Southern view so the antenna can ‘see’ all the satellites it needs to ‘see’. Sometimes I have to drag my 76-year-old body up the ladder to the roof to make that happen (get an unobstructed view) which is getting trickier every day. She stays inside when I climb that ladder because she’s afraid I’ll fall and doesn’t want to see that happen. She just listens for a THUD which is her clue that 911 might be necessary. Before calling, however, she always goes out to see what the noise was. So far we’ve avoided the need for an ambulance. Except that time when Diane crashed her bike.

We brought the bikes this time so she can “get back on that horse,” if you know what I mean. She broke her wrist the last time she tried so is a little leary going down that road even thought it’s been two years. It was a very painful event for her. Not only because of the pain of the break, but also because it happened near a bunch of yurts and an entire herd of yurt people rushed over to see what happened. It was probably the most excitement they had all week. If she isn’t able to get the bike going, she knows what the training wheels will look like. I looked some up and showed them to her. Either that, or get her a different bike. Or a scooter. There is absolutely no pressure on her to ride again. I’d like her to try, but if it is difficult I’ll do whatever she wants to make it OK. That’s because I love her, and I’m just a little bit afraid of her when she gets mad at me. I’m not going to make her mad.

What I’m writing is pretty dumb stuff, I know. But the words are just flowing out of my fingers as I sit in my reclining lawn chair while Diane cooks.

It only takes 4 minutes to cook a TV dinner so I’m stopping now to wash my hands and be ready when it hits the table.

As she always does, Diane brought along a small carrot cake. We both really like carrot cake. I didn’t take a piece when she was cutting hers so was surprised to find this when I felt it was time:

Really, who cuts a round cake like that? Diane, obviously. She said she didn’t want all that frosting. I guess that makes sense, in a way.

—- pretend there was a delay here —-

Since that last entry we’ve been pretty busy. We both got a good night’s sleep, got up early, and drove to the Vernonia Golf Club to play golf with Doug. Yes, he drove all the way out there to meet us for a super round of golf. Actually, we drive out there sometimes for our regular weekly games. It only takes about an hour.

Sadly, he was disappointed about the “super” aspect of the game because he was the only one who attained that level. He had a 49. Together, Diane and I had a stunning 130, or something like that. That’s for 9 holes, people. But, we had a really good time. The weather was great and there was hardly anyone there but us so no pressure.

This is Diane and Doug looking for my ball in a wild patch of vegetation:

I helped and I actually found it. It was suspended about 3 inches off the ground in an especially tenuous bush.

I hit it from there just for fun. I normally toss bad hits like this back in the fairway, but this one looked like fun. So, I hit it and it worked out OK.

Here’s Diane at bat:

After golf Doug headed to Hillsboro to buy a new clothes washer and we went ‘home’ to our RV for lunch. On the way, we went past our section of the camp ground to the end of the road where there are no lights so the stars are really visible. At night. Oddly, there’s a sign on a gate going in to the last section that states “No Stargazing 7am to 9pm”. Kinda weird, don’t you think?

On the way back down the hill we turned in to a section of the park that opened on September 1st. Just wanted to look it over and confirm that it’s the section we camped in with the family when it first opened in 2007. Indeed it was and we found Les and Sophie and had a short chat with plans to connect on Wednesday after supper for a fireside visit.

As for lunch, I can’t remember what I ate, but it was good.

While laying in my chair, waiting for dinner to settle, I got to wondering where my phone was. I misplace it all the time and a search of the RV and the car revealed that I had done a stellar job of misplacing it this time.

Thankfully, Diane has this nifty app on her phone (Life360) that she uses to keep track of me and discovered it was still at the golf course. Apparently I left it in the golf cart they loaned me.

So, back we went to the course to see if we could retrieve it. When we got there, just before 6 pm, I approached a gentleman by the office who said, “Looking for a phone?” to which I answered, “Yes” and he led me into the building to get it off the counter. In all, the phone was officially missing from me for about 20 minutes, but it had been at the golf course for about 7 hours. It’s nice to know there are still honest people in the world.

Today, Wednesday, we drove to Banks to look around thinking we might find a thrift store. But, we didn’t. Banks is a really nice little town (2,500 pop) and it’s obvious that the residents like their town. It was pretty spiffy.

There was no thrift store but we enjoyed touring the small town, then returned ‘home’, ate lunch, then just laid around, avoiding the heat.

Lunch was delayed for a bit while we cleaned up the remnants of the microwave turntable which Diane took out and threw on the floor in a frenzy. That’s not true, of course. It was a total accident. She was removing the syrup she heated up for the waffles the the wire rack for use during the convection cooking periods caught on the turntable. On its way to the floor, the turntable hit the handle of the skillet I used to cook her eggs and the eggs were still in it. The skillet flipped up in the air, separated from the eggs and everything landed on the rug, side by side, just after the turn table landed and broke to smithereens. Diane immediately said “I can still eat the eggs” but I wouldn’t let her. She barely argued when I took them away from her. I was pretty sure she was kidding, but didn’t want to take a chance.

We were both barefoot, standing in a sea of minuscule pieces of glass shards and it took a couple of minutes for either of us to move.

After rolling up the rug that was in front of the stove, I cooked the replacement eggs and we ate. Sadly, I failed to take photos. You would have liked them.

After eating, then spent a great deal of time watching the 2nd part of a Hallmark movie we had recorded. What made it difficult was the hard drive I set up as the DVR for our Dish receiver was EOL. That is a valid acronym. Look it up. One of the choices will be End Of Life. Because of it’s advance age, and maybe because it had been on for a couple of months, the playback kept freezing at different spots so we finally just gave up and removed the drive from the system and watched regular TV. With commercials.

Actually, the hard drive was long past EOL. I salvaged it from an old Apple Time Machine that just quite working about six or seven years ago. As I do with most things that quit working, I tore it apart to see what made it tick. In the end I had a pile of a case not worth keeping, a bunch of electronic parts, and this 1TB hard drive that looked OK to me even though it was around 10 years old. That’s ancient for a hard drive.

Going on faith, I purchased a case for the drive that had a USB connection which I plugged in to my Dish receiver. When I did that, the Dish perked up and asked if I wanted to format the drive to serve as a DVR? Of course I pushed the Yes button. Doing that started the process of setting it up and when it was finished I was informed using it would add $10/month to my bill. That was expected, so OK.

That was a few years ago so I’m totally happy that it lasted as long as it did. I can get a replacement 1TB drive for about $60 and that’s my next project.

This afternoon, after supper, we drove all the way up the hill to Dairy Creek Campground East from Dairy Creek Campground West, to visit Les and Sophie. They are about 300 feet apart, but we drove. It’s up hill.

Now we’re home again and winding down for our last night in the park. Then it’s back to the real home for a couple of weeks before we will be forced to take off again. Next time it will be Fort Stevens State Park at the coast.

It’s a rough life.

Really.

Condiments, Hot Weather, and Tillamook

So, Diane went to Taco Bell yesterday and got me a couple tacos and a burrito. Knowing I like the hot sauce she asked for some and got this:

Ya gotta wonder how doing this affects overhead for this establishment. Just a little bit of waste.

Well, not really a waste, I guess, because I gave them to Baylee who loves hot sauce on pretty much everything. Yesterday she made a sandwich of two pieces of toast that she doused liberally with Cholula Hot Sauce. Nothing else … just two pieces of toast covered in Cholula smashed together. Makes my mouth hurt thinking about it. Sadly, I failed to capture video evidence of this one, but I have no doubt she will do it again in the near future.

The weather has turned nasty up here in Oregon. Temperatures have been around 100 for the past few days. The good side of that is Diane won’t let me work outside when it’s that hot because she apparently doesn’t want me to die of heat stroke. For that, I’m happy. It’s also a reason for me to just lounge around in my jammies all day.

Last Friday, the 14th, we returned from a week long visit to the Tillamook Elks Lodge RV Park. In all, there were five RVs in our group so we were able to practice our social distancing each evening as we gathered for an illegal pot luck. We’re pretty comfortable with each other and have no fear of COVID-19 because we are very careful when out and about among people we do not know. We know they are safe courteous folks because they all drive Winnebagos. We used to, but they let us hang out with them anyway.

Cliff and Susie brought their cat, Dusty, who is pretty quick about escaping out the door when it’s open. Normally, when he’s allowed outside, he’s on a harness, but sometimes he just waits for the door to open and launches and runs under the motorhome. That causes Cliff to get active and chase him down. In this sequence, Cliff had to crawl under and extract him from the right front shock absorber:

This activity keeps Cliff in shape.

Note the sign next to Cliff.

Susan, Sophie, Susie, Carolann, Diane
Lunch at the Blue Heron. Looks nice, food was good, but the wind was blowing about 80 mph.
Fun with bubbles a few RVs down the road from us.

Since it was only five miles down Highway 101, we three remaining guys (the other two had already departed) went to Munson Falls State Park. It’s off the road a few miles and it’s a 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot, but a very easy walk. The falls are 300+ feet high. Since the weather has been very dry the falls were still pretty, but a little subdued. When the rains fall, they are amazing to see.

Cliff, Munson Falls, Terry
Munson Falls & Me – I believe I must shave. Again.

The last photo is from Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were in March when the pandemic began.

Here we are, eating again. It’s something we do well together. Diane took the photo so the only evidence of her is the empty plate across the table from me.

Hope everyone is staying safe. We are, even with all the riots and such going on in Portland. We just don’t go there any more. Really sad.

Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

Serendipity

A week or so ago, someone’s adult Daughter received a phone call from a friend of her Mother-in-law who shared a story about a young 9-months-pregnant mother of two, 5 and 7. Her children are in foster care and she knew she would make a better choice to give her baby to a Christian family and give him a great life. She sought help from the Mother-in-law’s friend who, in turn, sought help from the adult Daughter.

The Adult Daughter immediately thought about engaging her pastor for assistance, but he wasn’t available. However, the Children’s Minister was.

After digesting the situation, and understanding the concern for an immediate need, the Children’s Minister ended the call saying she would call back soon.

When she did, it was with a solution to the problem.

It turns out the Children’s Minister and her husband took all of the necessary training for adopting a child through foster care last year, but they were never called to serve. Then the pandemic created a situation where officials were afraid to move anyone anywhere. So, the Minister’s family went without a call but continued to pray for an opportunity to provide a good home to a child in need, and a potential sibling for their own daughters, 5 and 7.

The Children’s Minister told the Adult Daughter the she and her husband wanted the baby. The entire situation was like a God Send in that it came at an opportune time for a family excited and ready for a child, and for the expectant mother who desperately wanted a loving family for her baby.

On the surface it appears there may have been a lot of twists and turns to this situation but in reality it only took two phone calls to ease the mind of a young mother, and raise up the spirits of another. All the potential possibilities of who to call for help resulted in a straight line from a problem to a solution in one day.

As of today, the baby has joined his new family and is doing fine, as is his birth mother, and his adoptive mother. That it all happened so fast is amazing.

If that doesn’t make you believe that higher powers were involved in the decisions of who to call, we need to talk.

With a little embellishment, this could be a very enlightening movie, don’t you think?

Itsa Monday – May the 4th be with you

I’ve established a routine for eating properly that has been successful in controlling my BS level. My wife is pleased. She was getting a little annoyed with me for not minding established rules for diabetical eating requirements which caused my BS level to go whacky every once in a while. Truthfully, being an amateur diabetic (I’m not on insulin), I tend to experiment with the hope I can find just the right solution the will allow me to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Sadly, that doesn’t work.

I must control myself. I was kinda hoping that Diane would be my guide through this confusing sugarless existence, but she’s right … this is my battle and I need to take charge.

Getting to this point has had it’s ups and downs over the past few years, at times causing extreme concern about what’s going on. I’ve learned to recognize the need for sustenance when the cold hollow feeling grips my innards. That doesn’t happen often, but it’s exciting when it does. The last time was just a few days ago when I had Dungeness crab Louis for lunch and a bunch of sautéed shrimp for supper. I don’t know how many there were, but I bought a pound of them. My BS dropped to 62. Apparently there’s not a lot of diabetic-fighting ‘stuff’ in shrimp to keep things stable. Or, there was a conflict between the crab and shrimp during the digestive process. Who knows? Obviously not me.

Half a can of peaches fixed it. I would have had a glass of orange juice but I couldn’t find any. That works, too.

What made the event a little scary was that it occurred just as I was ready to go to bed. So, of course, my head took me down the path where, had I not caught it, Diane would have found me unresponsive in the morning and would have had to call someone to haul me away.

My golf buddy, Doug, is a professional diabetic, who assured me that had I been asleep when my BS dropped too low, my body would have alerted me to that fact so I’d awake to take care of it. He knows all that stuff. He lives alone and has dealt with high BS for many years.

Since my last ‘event’, I changed my eating habits in this way: one piece of toast, with crunchy peanut butter for breakfast, around 6 am; a large sausage patty, 2-3 eggs, O’Brien hash browns with freshly chopped peppers & onions, and one piece of toast for lunch, around noonish; whatever Diane wants for supper, whenever she wants it. Supper is an unknown but breakfast and lunch are consistent. Eating that way has allowed me to drop my morning BS level to around 130, down from 260+.

And, another thing I discovered is that those rumors I’ve heard about exercising being good for me are actually true! Who knew? Being sequestered at the moment, makes exercise difficult. Generally, my exercise routine consists of waking up, walking about 3 feet to the bathroom, then another 50 feet to the kitchen, then 30-40 around the house gathering dog and cat food after letting them out to do whatever they want to do, 30 feet from the kitchen to my recliner with a fresh glass of water and my PB toast, back to the kitchen to let the dogs back in, 10 feet to the dishwasher with all their dirty dishes, 40 feet back to my recliner where I sit, but don’t recline, to wait for the cat to come back, then 15 feet to the patio door when she announces her desire to return, then stand there with the door open which she exerts her authority by licking one foot or the other, then saunters slowly in.

Then I go sit down and start reading my book on my iPad. I don’t recline right away because I know the cat is waiting for me to do that so she can go beat on the patio door to go back outside. If I remain upright she may come jump in my lap and give me a false sense of security that she’s going to be there a while, then I recline. She waits a few minutes, looking over her shoulder, waiting for me to get comfortable, then jumps up to go beat on the door. She actually does that, too. Stands on her hind feet and pounds on the glass with her front feet. It used to be cute. I used to leave the patio door open for her as it’s on a secure balcony but in the past she’s brought treats, like mice, and various kinds of birds into the house when not supervised.

Sorry about that. I was talking about exercising, wasn’t I? What I shared really is exercise, but it’s just not enough to make a difference win one’s BS level. So, I decided to do my exercising on the golf course. Sounds like a really dumb idea because I have sciatica that’s brutal at times. But, I decided I’d walk the course instead of ride a cart like normal.

Turns out, I survived. We only play 9 holes and the course we use is pretty flat so the pain was negligible. I didn’t golf all that well, but I had some good hits. The big benefit from walking was this: I walked over 8,000 steps without falling down even once, and I travelled over 3 miles without getting out of breath. Amazing. Then, the next morning, my BS was something I could like with, literally.

Now I’m being a really good boy by eating regularly. I quit eating cake, ice cream, and pie, cut my bread intake in half (one piece of toast, not two), and don’t skip meals.

My bride is proud of me, and I feel better. I’d take a picture but “feeling better” doesn’t relate well to “looking better” in my case. I’m still really old and I need a shower. Diane told me that a couple of days ago so I guess today is the day for that, even though it’s not Saturday.

I must stop now and go make my breakfast before I fade away,

All of you please stay safe.

Coronavirus and Wasting Time.

Day 19 of isolation

Is it really isolation when you do it with 7 other people, 3 dogs and a cat? Yes, it is. All of the humans in the house have strict orders to not touch us, ever, and do not speak in our direction unless they are 10 feet away from us. So far it’s working OK, but the kids are getting rambunctious so it’s only a matter of time before someone gets tipped over the edge. We’ve already decided, as a group, if that happens the first one over will be chucked over the neighbors fence into their goat pen. It won’t be difficult, and they probably won’t mind because they like the goats. Just not sure if they will like living with them and eating their food.

Diane and I are still relatively healthy. Just some age-related stuff going on, but that’s been going on for years. It’s not a problem, just more noticeable now since we spend most of our time reclining, or in our beds, when thoughts are allowed to run wild while Diane fast forwards through the commercials. That’s only with the broadcast stuff, of course, so we toss in a movie once in a while to get a longer period of energy focused on the plot of whatever it is we’re watching. If it’s a Hallmark movie there’s not a lot of focus necessary because everyone knows the guy almost always gets the girl. The only trick with those movies, however, is that sometimes the girl gets the guy. Nice twist.

We’ve been reading a lot, too, but that gets boring after 4-5 hours. I test Diane’s patience once in a while … OK, I test them often … by asking her questions while we’re reading to see how many times I can get her to read the same paragraph over and over. That’s risky business, of course, but I’m not close enough for her to hit me and I can get out of my chair faster than she can should payback appear to involve physical contact. I learned this trick from my big brother Jack. He used to pepper me with questions while I was reading …

“What book are you reading?” … pause

“What’s it about?”… pause

“How many pages are in the book?” …pause

“What page are you on?” … pause

“Who is the author?”… pause

“Where did you get it?” … pause

You get the idea. It doesn’t take long before the target of those questions causes the recipient to escalate the conflict by raising their voice, or stomping out of the room without even a goodbye kiss. If you can focus, just ignore the questions until the perp gets tired of not getting answers.

We’re running out of food so we’re all investigating creative ways to capture and cook rats and squirrels. There are an abundance of them around here. We can hunt squirrels by day, and rats by night. That diet is, of course, a last resort. We’re just educating ourselves in case it becomes necessary. I’m pretty sure the neighbors’ goats, chickens, and ducks will hit the frying pan before we devolve into rat eaters. That’s a guess, of course. Who really knows what will happen when we run out of canned food?

The Littles got calls from their teachers telling them what’s going to happen since school is done for the school year. The youngest ones are getting Chrome Books so they can study on-line with their teachers which is a really good thing. The oldest, 6th grade, hasn’t shared how on-line schooling going to affect her free time but I suspect it will be equally as creative. They are all excited about getting back to learning.

I really try to keep their interest up but for some reason they don’t believe anything I tell them. That could be because whenever they ask me a question I address it like a challenge to include “Arizona” in my answer. It’s really easy …

“Grandpa, where are you and Grandma going?”

“Arizona.”

“Grandpa, where’s Grandma?”

“I think she went to Arizona.”

“Grandpa, have you seen Mom?”

“She said she was going to Arizona.”

“Grandpa, where did you get that?”

“Arizona.”

Their response to each of my answers is, “that’s not true,” or “no you didn’t.” But, they keep asking and I keep giving them the same answers. It passes the time and keeps them from asking more meaningful questions that I probably couldn’t answer correctly.

That’s it for now.

See you later.

Pajamas

I seriously considered providing my personal thoughts about the ongoing pandemic, but common sense cause me to put those thoughts aside. The reason, or course, is because I generally do not take things seriously, and this is a serious matter. Not something to make light of. So, I won’t.

Instead, I’ll share my newfound understanding about when it’s OK to wear pajamas beyond the perimeter of our yard.

Yes, I’ve been wearing my pajamas for a number of days – not the same ones all the time, but various “clean” ones. Until yesterday I was unaware that there was a dress version of pajamas that can be worn anywhere one wishes to go. Prior to this startling information I was perfectly comfortable going pretty much anywhere I had to go. Typically, that means I went to the mail box, an occasional trip to the drive through of a local fast food joint, or just a walk around the perimeter of our yard. You may have already surmised that those examples do not involve close contact with anyone. They were just isolated trips.

Yesterday, however, we went to Jennie’s and Daniel’s home to deliver some items we thought the girls of the house might find useful. As we went out the door Diane asked if I knew I was still in my jammies. I responded in the affirmative and continued to the car. Then she asked me if I was also wearing underwear. I said “no” because I didn’t think underwear were necessary when wearing pajamas. I mean, I thought we were going to Walmart* on the way home.

At this point I received a very specific message that when visiting people one must wear underwear, especially when visiting your adult children. To this point in my life I had been blissfully unaware that wardrobe restrictions of this kind also pertained to old people.

So, I went all the way back to our bedroom, put on clean underwear, went back to the car and was sent right back to the bedroom to put the underwear on under my jammy bottoms as the name implies. It was worth a shot.

Bottom line, it’s really hard to have fun with all this serious stuff going on. I’ll be very glad when it’s over and everything gets back to normal. Diane will be especially glad because as a form of protest against COVID-19, I’ve stopped shaving until it’s gone. Kinda dumb to protest against a virus, I know, but I really don’t like shaving any more and it’s the only thing I could think of at the time.

I seriously hope and pray that all of you are staying safe and healthy.

Hey, Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve let you know that I’m still out here causing grief. I’d ask for forgiveness but it really doesn’t matter because you either missed me or you didn’t. Not a problem.

The occasion for this visit is to let folks know that, after a grueling number of months, Adam got the job as Youth Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens. Some of you may recall a previous post where I mentioned Adam and Alicia. We’re very happy for them and they are looking forward to making their home in the St. Helens area. We’ve had the privilege to visit with them a couple of times recently and it was enough exposure for me to actually remember the girls’ names: Ivy, Autumn, Cora. I can even call them by the correct name when I see them. It will be fun getting to know the Pinkston family better.

Cedric spent a couple of weeks at home and had to be back aboard the Nimitz for work today so Diane drove him back to Bremerton yesterday. I was allowed to ride along to keep her company as long as I didn’t ask a lot of questions. We planned to leave home at noon and managed to get gone right on time around 2-2:30. The ultimately goal was to arrive in Bremerton before dark, which we did. After dropping Cedric at his apartment we mossed up to the Trigger Ave. gate in Silverdale to the Naval Station to see if the Navy Lodge had a room available for the night. I called the previous day and was told NO. We’ve discovered that just arriving and asking works well, and they had a room for us. Nifty.

Before checking in we headed back into town to find a place to eat that had decent food, not fast food. After a long trip on the freeway we wound up about a mile away at Fujiama Japanese Steak House. It’s in a little strip mall close to the base and is truly deceptive in appearance. The entry is small but inside is at least 10 Benihana grills surrounded by chairs. Each grill could accommodate about 10 people, so it’s like a family style Benihana. That isn’t part of their advertisement. It’s just a steak house, right? It’s way better than that.

Diane and I split a steak and I inherited all of her broccoli from the vegetable pile. The chef was talented and put on a good show. To start he juggled some raw eggs which he then cooked on the grill. They were destined to be part of the fried rice. Before mixing it all up, however, he went around the table addressing each person in turn, then tossing a small piece of egg which they were supposed to catch in their mouth. Some chose to skip this exercise because they were wearing nice clothes, and others who accepted the challenge saw the egg flying over their heads, or splattering against their cheeks or chins. As it turned out, I was the last one and I caught my piece of egg like a pro. You would have been proud. I’m pretty sure the other diners wanted to applaud, but they didn’t. Diane was one of the decliners which was just fine.

Needless to say, the meal was excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Although the steak was good, I’ve already decided that the next time we go there, and we will, I’m getting the shrimp. I was given a couple to sample and they are awesome. And, there were a lot of them for those who ordered them.

In addition to catching my piece of the flying egg, you will be proud to learn that I was the only person at the table who actually ate everything on the plate. Well, Diane ate her plate clean, too, but she gave me those broccoli’s, right, so it didn’t count. Everyone else had to get boxes to remove the left overs.

After a good rest at the Navy Lodge, we got up and headed home, the long way. Lots of side streets are involved in the long way which make trips lots more fun. The first side trip was to discover where the Bremerton Elks Lodge is for future reference. We’ll be going there in June with our Winnebago friends. We don’t have a Winnebago any more but they let us tag along anyway.

After leaving Bremerton Diane began having thoughts of lunch so I searched for something suitable in Shelton, WA. I chose another steak house just because it had a 4 star rating but when we got there we couldn’t find it on the first drive-by. So, we wound up at Blondie’s Cafe which also has a 4 star rating. That’s 4 out of 5, by the way. Just sayin.

I ordered a Denver omelet and Diane had fish and chips. My omelet was tremendous and undoubtedly the best Denver I’ve ever had. Diane’s fish pieces were huge and she could only eat one of the three provided. Another good place to park your rear and enjoy an exceptional meal.

Now we’re home and gearing down for the night. Only one more hour to bedtime.

I’m sure I forgot a bunch of stuff but that’s OK. Diane will refresh my memory if she reads this.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Till We Meet Again

Yesterday was a continuation of sadness for those of us that Nancy left behind. Stuffing the sanctuary and basement, over 300 people attended her funeral at our little church which definitely violated at least one fire safety rule but none of the dignitaries objected.

Many of those attending extended our parking facilities to include both sides of all the roads in the area and a large unused portion of Bethany Memorial Cemetery which Howard made available. The Columbia County Sheriff was notified about the expected overabundance of traffic so all was good. It was pretty amazing.

First Lutheran Church ladies showed up and took over kitchen duties so Bethany ladies could attend the service. That’s not a surprise because Bethany and First Ladies have worked with with each other for many years, serving each other as needed. Pretty special.

Everything was planned and replanned but as plans go, they don’t always play out correctly in the end. So it was for us. The one that went well was Rich’s efforts to wirelessly stream the service to a projector in the basement. He worked on it for days trying to work out problems with the sound to go with the pristine picture. He solved it about 30 minutes prior to the service and it worked perfectly. The easy part, playing a photo DVD in the sanctuary, didn’t work so well due to electrical issues. Actually, it was due to lack of electricity in AV corner of the church caused by the need in the basement to plug just one more thing into the overloaded circuits. I think it was another coffee pot but that’s a guess. Might have been a crock pot.

Since the service was in progress, and the basement was overflowing with people blocking access to the electrical panel I just warned those who were speaking that they’d have to talk a little louder since their microphones wouldn’t work.

They did, and it was good.

After the service Nancy was transported about 1/4 mile to her spot in Bethany Memorial Cemetery behind the church. It was appropriate that she was walked the entire way flanked by her pall bearers who all wore sneakers and had Nancy’s running/walking medals hung around their necks. They walked her home.

Then, most of the 300 attendees returned to the church for a pot luck lunch. Part of that was baked ham and turkey. I had the honor of slicing all of the meat on our handy-dandy meat slicer so I truthfully told everyone that I touched every piece of meat there.

Nancy approved.

We got home around 5:30 pm, watched a few recorded shows then went to bed. After about 20 minutes, before Diane had a chance to fall asleep, she jerked upright and asked me if I had turned off the heater in the lady’s restroom. Of course, I hadn’t even thought I made sure the door was locked. It didn’t occur to me to check the heater because Nancy always did that.

So, Diane got up and went back to the church to check. I offered to do it or to go with her but she refused so I stayed in bed and fell asleep before she returned. This morning she told me the heater was indeed still on so it was good she returned. Diane’s convinced Nancy reminded her to check it. I’m not surprised.

The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood and the Alabama Theater

Today (Friday) we ate quite well. Not that we haven’t eaten well on previous days lately, but today we ate exceptionally well. The Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort, where we currently reside, had a package for all of us old USS Cleveland sailors that included tickets to eat at The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood buffet. The web site shows the innards better than I can but here’s a quick peek at some of our group chowing down in our own private section of the facility.


Pretty much any kind of seafood you desire, especially shrimp, is presented in many different ways. Pretty amazing. Calabash, by the way, is a word that describes food in this way: Calabash seafood typically refer to seafood that is lightly breaded (usually dipped in milk & then a combo of flour & cornmeal) and then fried. Usually in a calabash-style restaurant you will get huge portions, oftentimes with a combination plate of several types of seafood – shrimp, various kinds of fish, crab, oysters, etc.. and hushpuppies. Calabash is also the name of a small town in North Carolina near the southern border north of Myrtle Beach. Driving on Myrtle Beach one is assaulted with all manner of calabash restaurants. It gets a bit confusing after a bit. Just remember, it’s all good. I’m happy to report, too, that none of it caused my blood sugar to spike. I think another reason it was OK is that Diane was very careful about what I ate. She takes really good care of me.

I would have liked to stay a little longer at the buffet but we had to leave in order to make it to the Alabama Theater before 7 pm to see ONE The Show. It was truly a great show and is highly recommended by all of us who attended.

We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show so this is the only picture I got of the inside. It’s special because it has Diane in it.

The host of the show, Greg Rowles, who won Ed McMahon’s Star Search Show as the Best Male Vocalist 25 years ago, honored all of us USS Cleveland sailors and even provided a lot of the ship’s history. Pretty special evening.

After the show we all headed back to the Sea Mist for our last night at that facility. After breakfast Sunday morning we packed up and drove all the way north to Hilton’s Ocean 22 high rise. It took 11 minutes. We fiddled around a while, driving north to an enormous RV park, with a very small dune that one must traverse to access the beach. It looks like a place we should visit.

From the looks of things, fishing off the beach is a requirement.

See you tomorrow …