Eureka to Grants Pass, then Home – Days 14 & 15

Some of you may have already done the math and discovered that Eureka and Grants Pass are only 164 miles apart so why such a short trip this day? Well, almost the entire trip is composed of twisty, turny roads and lots of maintenance folks holding signs with “Stop” on one side, “Slow” on the other. We’ve all seen those. Without fail, we always wound up with the guy who had the “Stop” aimed at us. Not a bad idea, I suppose, since the road kind of caved into either a canyon or Pacific Ocean over some long stretches. Pretty exciting stuff if you’d been there when it happened, I’m sure, but totally mind-numbing delays currently. However, I have to admit that the delays were in probably the most beautiful country in the world.

I’m talking about the Northern California Redwood Forest.

If you’ve never had an opportunity to visit these majestic trees, you are missing out on a humbling experience.

Before leaving Eureka we had breakfast at Denny’s and had the pleasure of seeing our waitress, Lisa, one more time. Both the food and the service was exceptional.

Then we stopped at the beach so the girls could spend a little more time playing. Diane and I sat in the truck and read our respective books. it was all good. When the girls finished with whatever they were doing on the rocks they made their way back to us and we continued our trip North. Since we knew it was going to be a short journey we chose to stop when the mood struck … like when we saw another one of those immense trees lurking alongside the road. Had that been the only criteria for stopping, we’d never made it to the next mile posts. There are turnouts all along the highway to allow folks to exit their vehicles to enjoy the splendor.

At one of those spots there was a small stream where pretty rocks overcame the joy of extremely large trees for the girls. They found a small stream and spent their time searching through the water for rocks while I wandered amongst the trees. All of us enjoyed ourselves.

At Klamath, California we stopped to visit the Trees of Mystery. That’s the pace where Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe, stand guard alongside Highway 101. After a quick trip through the gift shop we got in line for a walk through the trees, something that would never get old for me, then a 7-minute trip on the Sky Trail gondola to the top of a tall hill with a stunning view of the forest.

We met some nice folks going up, and some more on the trip down. The girls opted for the mile walk down a very steep path. It didn’t take them very long and neither of them had new injuries so they apparently didn’t fall down. Ceiarra’s white sneakers took a hit and got a little dirty so it was kind of a minor disaster from an apparel perspective. But, bottom line, they were both smiling profusely upon their return.

This is a ‘selfie’ by a pro. I was trying to figure it out then Lydia took my phone away from me. Good shot.

Then we left, said goodbye to Paul, and headed north.

Eventually we made it to Crescent City, our original destination for the night, arriving just in time for lunch. We drove all the way through town looking for something likely. Finally, I was told to turn around and return to the first place Diane saw and it turned out to be a great place. Good food. I ordered fish and chips, Diane had a tuna melt, Ceiarra had a taco salad, and Lydia had chicken strips and fries. She was thinking about fish and chips then negotiated with me to trade one piece of fish for one of her chicken strips. I did it and finally realized why Lydia likes those chicken strips so much. However, one thing I would suggest to others who order fish then trade for some chicken, that you should also bargain for some of the ranch dressing that comes with the chicken because it doesn’t go well with tartar sauce. Apparently, though, according to Lydia, ranch goes with everything, even fish. Who knew?

After lunch we went a little way south to the beach for one more beach ‘fix’ before heading inland to Grants Pass.

Ceiarra was content to sit in the warm sand and just relax.

Then it turned into an art project. Pretty crafty, C.

Lydia spent her time searching for special rocks.

Diane was content to just sit and take in the sun.

It was another curvy journey on Highway 199 to Grants Pass. Really narrow in spots, too. We stopped in Cave Junction, once we made it to Oregon, and got dessert at DQ. I offered Ceiarra a turn at the wheel but she said, “No way! I’ve got a Blizzard to eat!” So, I took my chocolate malt back to the driver’s seat and continued the journey. I haven’t driven this much on a trip since I was, like, 22. That was before I was married and had the option to drive when I wanted to. Once married I still drove quite a lot, but having a partner in life meant I had another driver, too. And she loves to drive. As we’ve aged Diane has taken over the lion’s share of driving and has become a far better driver than a passenger. It’s OK with me. Gives me a chance to sleep. With her broken arm, however, driving on crooked roads isn’t an option. So, it’s me. And I’m doing a good job, thank you very much. Lydia was so comfortable when I drove that she slept most of the time. Or, may she slept because she was afraid.

After a restful night in Grants Pass, we headed north on I-5. Since it was freeway all the way, Diane chose to start us out and drove to lunch. I don’t remember where we ate. I don’t even remember if we ate. We got home on Wednesday, day before yesterday, day 15, about 3 pm.  Lydia’s baby, Kylo, was over joyed that she was home. Knocked her right off her feet. He’s not a light-weight 3-month old puppy.

Our dogs were happy to see us, for about five minutes, then they took a nap. That’s OK. We were home.

I’ll finish with a nice poem and photos of some really awesome trees.

Pretending to conduct a wedding.

San Diego Zoo, NAS North Island – Day 6

Tuesday was a day at the zoo, then a trip to NAS North Island on Coronado. The San Diego Zoo was one of the “must do’s” on the girl’s list. Since Diane and I knew it would involve miles of walking, we opted out and just got tickets for our girls, letting them run willy nilly amongst the animals.

After they entered the zoo Diane and I just wandered around smartly, from shady spot to shady spot, enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. First, however, we took a short trip on the Balboa Railroad …

I almost forgot about the most amazing event of the day that happened when we drove into the parking lot and, amazingly, found a spot literally 5 cars from the main zoo entrance. One in a million, right?

The brown pickup is us and the entrance is just a short ways to the left of where we parked. Pretty cool.

Here are some photos of the things we visited … all manner of artistic folks inhabit these spaces. Very creative people.

Then we found the Botanical Garden building. Very unique, with lots of pretty stuff inside.

We walked around outside some more and rested when the moment called.

After the girls saw everything at the zoo, we went to the beach on the beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The beach went to is next to the Navy Lodge on the base. It’s a huge beach right on the Pacific, just a little north of the Hotel Del Coronado.

When we arrived at the beach we noticed that there was a pleasure boat trapped on the beach and submerged in the sand. The top part was still attached but by the time we left the surf had torn it apart and pieces were floating all over the place. Folks closer to the boat were dragging things ashore to get them out of the way and the girls moved quite a few until it became hazardous due to the amount of debris.

Then we helped Diane get vertical …

… the swimmers rinsed off almost all of the sand …

… we drove back across the San Diego – Coronado Bridge

… past the 32nd Street Naval Base

… and back up the freeway to Marbrisa in Carlsbad.

That’s it for this day.

Old Friends, Zip Ties, and Bubble Wrap

7 lbs of hair from Diane’s tub drain. By my calculations, she should have been bald somewhere around May 14th. But, she’s not because it just keeps growing back.

Mowed all 7 acres. Took three hours. Bagged it all.

The Crossfire gave me some difficulty yesterday. I went golfing, didn’t do very well, but stayed under 60, then we went to Burgerville for lunch. Diane said I could go. In fact, she encouraged me to go. So, I did. I invited her to join us, of course, but instead she went to a more upscale facility, The Warren Country Inn, for a sit down lunch with Nancy. They worked hard all morning at the church so they certainly earned it. None of the golfers were invited.

I was a little late arriving at Burgerville so Doug and JP were already sitting, waiting for their food. I got in line and determined that I recognized the guy in front of me as someone I knew from PGE. In fact, I knew both guys waiting in front of me. To my never-ending humblement (yes that’s a word I just made up), they both remembered me, too. Lonnie and Tom from Facilities, the department that is currently managed by my friend Fred with whom I worked in IT as a desktop tech for most of 20 years. Turns out Tom and Lonnie were just passing through on a job and stopped for lunch. It was good to visit with them and catch up a bit on what’s happening at PGE since I left 10 years ago. Small world stuff gets me excited.

Here’s Tom, Lonnie, and me.

After lunch I jumped in the Crossfire to head home, but it wouldn’t start. The motor turned over nicely, but it wouldn’t fire. So, I raised the hood so Doug and I could just stand there looking at the engine, neither of us having a clue about what was causing the problem. We took a lot of guesses, none of which were projects we could do in the Burgerville parking lot.

So, I called Triple A to have it towed home. I was told it would take an hour for the tow truck to get there so Doug and I just visited. After a while, I decided to see if anything had changed and tried to start it again. To my surprise, it fired right up, but the Engine warning light stayed on. Having some minimal experience with causes for Engine warning lights that don’t go out, I pondered a bit, trying to recall some of the easy ones, like a gas cap that isn’t properly secured. Actually, that was the only one I remembered.

Since it was running, I called AAA back and cancelled the tow truck and headed home. Doug followed me in case it quit on me during the short trip. He’s a good friend. I made it OK and shooed Doug away so he could go home and get busy on some of the projects he has going on there. He lives on 85 acres on the top of a hill above Scappoose so he has projects all the time.

Curious about what the Crossfire computer might tell me about the problem with the Engine warning light, I searched and searched for my ODB II code reader. I searched the entire house and finally found it on the tray sitting about 14 inches from my right elbow. I actually looked there first, but didn’t remove enough layers to uncover it.

With the code reader in hand, I went to the car to plug it in and see what it might tell me. After a while I returned to the house, and my computer, to search the internet for information about where the ODB II port is on a Crossfire. Should have checked first, right? Right.

Back to the car, I connected the reader and stepped it through all the discovery steps and it came up with no news. So, I started the engine with it attached and it promptly popped up with P0337, the code for the Crankshaft Position Sensor which is identified as the CKP, which I don’t get. It should be CPS. Acronyms should make sense, don’t you think?

On my computer I found a lot of information about the CKP … how to find it, remove it, and replace it. Finding it was essential, I thought, so I did that first. It’s actually right in plain sight so I was pleasantly surprised. Nothing to dismantle to gain access. It is, however, in a tight spot which makes it difficult to remove the wire from the sensor without destroying the plug. Following detailed instructions, I managed to get the wire and cap off the sensor and knew I could get the sensor out with no problem. There was a strong warning about making sure to not lose the screw holding the sensor in place because when it falls it goes to an inaccessible part of the car. Not willing to test that theory right then, I replaced the wire on the sensor and put my tools away.

Then, for some reason, I started the engine. Perhaps it was to just make sure it still ran in case I might have to make a run to Urgent Care for some reason. I have a bicycle that works nicely, but I’d rather drive when that need arises because it’s much quicker. Anyway, the engine started just fine, and the Engine light didn’t stay on. I stopped and started the engine a number of times and it never stayed on. So, apparently, removing the wire from the sensor and putting it back on was the solution. Didn’t cost me a dime. Fixed. This is day 2 and it’s still staying off, so I’m calling this a win. I love solutions like that. Now I’m thinking that maybe I should work my way through the entire car unplugging and plugging all the connectors to avoid possible future weird things. Then again, I don’t think I want to engage in that much work. There’s a ton of plugs under the hood and most of them have names written in German because the car, although it’s a Chrysler, is made in Germany.

This morning I was up at 0500 for the marking dogs, but only for about half an hour. Then I assumed my napping position on the sofa until 0830 or so. Then it was time to put on some outdoor clothing and make a trip to the Kozy for coffee with the guys. I got there right on time, but there weren’t any familiar vehicles parked in our normal spot, so I just lurked for a while, then went home because I had yard work to finish.

You may remember that I buzzed the entire yard but it was so tall there was no way I could vacuum the mess, or use the mulching blades. Today, as anticipated, it being 80 degrees and all, the mown grass was nice and dry, weighing next to nothing. Before I could begin, however, I tackled the project of putting my grass catcher, and associated parts, back together, and tightening some nuts and bolts so it would mow better. I’ve run into a few trees these last 10 years causing the catcher cover to be hanging by a thread. Well, actually it was hanging together by two zip ties. Yes, just two of them. I’ve known for a while now that it needed many more to avoid the need to haul it back to the house when it fell off in the field somewhere.

So, I grabbed a hand full of zip ties, my drill, and went to work. Here’s the end product and it’s just as sturdy as a new unit.

The discharge chute was a mess, too. Up until yesterday it was held together, kinda, with duct tape, but it wasn’t working any more. In addition to stitching up the seam, I pop riveted the two parts of the tube together because the little rubber stretchy things it came with broke a long time ago and Sears doesn’t seem to sell those parts.

I even made creative use of some bubble wrap to keep the grass from blowing out of the catcher onto my back from the hole I previously plugged with a nice towel that was converted to many little towels as reported in a previous post.

Once it was all put together, I got busy sucking up all that grass I chopped down the other day, and it went very nicely. I was pleased. I only had to empty the catcher about 10 times. That’s 30 catcher bags of grass and it’s still nice and solid. It should last me another 10 years.

Now I’m officially tired.

Prom and a Party

Yesterday was Prom Night for St. Helens High School kids, the time of year when girls get new dresses and boys get new ideas because of the new dresses. Every year the cycle repeats. This year our Lydia, a senior, chose to observe this special event by avoiding the boy/girl drama by going with 9 of her friends. She did, however, invite her brother, Jeran, a Junior, and the family’s foreign exchange student, Ahmed, who is from Pakistan. So, it was 10 girls and two boys who were, I have no doubt, the envy of every other boy who attended. Avoiding the dating drama for most of her High School career has allowed her to focus on school work and sports. For her, and her friends, the drama is something that can wait because it will always be there.

So, here’s the crowd who reportedly had a terrific time. I only know a few of their names so will have to make something up for those I don’t know. On the left is Jeran, then a cute little red-headed girl in a white dress, a cute blonde in a purple dress, Maryssa, Lexi, a cute brunette in an aqua dress, Fiona, Lydia, a cute girl in a jacket, Ceierra, another cute girl in a white dress, and Ahmed. Good looking bookends for ten lovely young ladies. This photo was taken in front of the Midway Veterinarian Hospital in Warren, Oregon where Jennifer works. She’s Mom to Jeran, Lydia, Ahmed, and some times Ceierra, and had to work so they blessed her with a drive-by on their way to Portland. How cool is that?


Ahmed, Lydia, Jeran

Jeran , Lydia, Ahmed

I can’t go through those names again so refer back to the first photo …

We’re proud of our young adults and the values they embrace. In case any of you are wondering where those last three photos were taken, it was at Cathedral Park, which is under the eastern end of the St. Johns Bridge, which spans the Willamette River, which courses through down town Portland. Another interesting thing about Cathedral Park is that it’s where the Library resides in the TV Series, “The Librarians”. Watching that show gives folks an opportunity to see bits and pieces of Portland. “Grim” gives you more but, sadly, that show ended recently.

This afternoon, after church, we had a party at the house for Baylee who is going to be celebrating her birthday on April 30th. We had the party today because Diane and I won’t be home and we wanted to have fun, too. It was a simple affair with a herd of little girls running all over the house having a great time. There is one little guy, Donny, in the front row next to Baylee, but he wasn’t there for the festivities, just the photo-op.

They had a piñata, a Hello Kitty piñata, that took them a long time to destroy because I was in charge of the rope. Everyone had a good time and had a chance to take a whack at it, even the big kids. Here’s what was left of it. It was on the stake for just a short time before a short person grabbed it and made a gallant effort to destroy it by hand.

This is Eilena, a little girl Lydia babysits who many folks thinks is her daughter, which she finds adorable. Eilena (I’m guessing at the spelling) is like a Lydia Mini-me. I had to take this photo because Eilena managed to get cupcake frosting all over her face without ever attempting to take a bite of the cupcake. She dipped her fingers in the frosting one hand at a time, cleaning the fingers of one hand while the other was dipping up a little more frosting. Economy of motion. Smart kid.

Here’s Baylee, Gilligan, and Jerrie on their way home after the party. I think the smiles are a good indication that things went well. The candy didn’t hurt at all in swaying that good feeling to the positive side.

Here’s Lydia and Ceierra with that cute red-head in the white dress at Cathedral Park.

This is Gilligan and Abba resting with Ziva … in the very wet grass, that I haven’t been able to mow, because it’s so wet. Did I mention the grass is wet?

And, finally, here’s a rainbow Diane and I saw yesterday. We don’t often get rainbows where we can capture both ends. Quite festive.

Now it’s getting late and time for us to head to bed. I have ‘tasks’ tomorrow and need to be alert.

Bless you all.

A trip in the trailer, Lydia, Ceierra, Ziva, & Jeran

I did not realize that it’s been over a week since my last posting so there’s a lot to catch up on.

First, and almost the most important thing, I got to golf with the Peal brothers on Friday the 31st of March then again yesterday. The most important thing, really, was getting to watch Lydia play softball a couple of times. They were pre-season games against more powerful schools so the outcome was predictable – they lost all of them. But, they were fun to watch and they had fun playing. That’s the important thing. They were supposed to have their season league opener this evening, at home, but it was cancelled because it’s been raining, a lot, and the school doesn’t have a decent field for the girls to play on. So, it was a muddy mess and the game was cancelled. So, I took that opportunity to mow the yard, in the rain, with the hopes of keeping it low enough so Ozzie doesn’t get lost when he goes outside. Then, wouldn’t you know it, the sun came out, dried everything off, and it’s actually a perfect afternoon for a softball game. Sad.

In between those two golf events Diane and I took our trailer to Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon Coast so we could participate in the SOLVE Beach Cleanup. I’ve mentioned this in the past (way long time ago). It’s simply an event held twice a year where anyone can join the effort to keep Oregon Beaches clean. It’s amazing what kind, and the amount, of trash is removed by the voluntary clean up crews. Last I heard the total was over 27.5 tons. That’s a lot of “stuff” to haul off the beach in little plastic bags. For our part, Diane and I managed to remove a considerable amount of small plastic pieces and a few hypodermic needles. A small but significant contribution.

Other than the trip to clean the beach, and a couple of other walks on the beach so Ziva could run willy nilly, we spent our time in the trailer, listening to the rain, reading our books. No wi-fi, spotty phone reception, so it was very quiet most of the time. Diane took an afternoon off to visit Goodwill, leaving Ziva and me at ‘home’ to fend for ourselves. We had a good time taking walks and just sitting around. My prize for being good was a DQ chocolate malt. I love those things. Give didn’t get a prize because dogs don’t get prizes. Instead, I gave her a treat. She was happy about that so it was all good.

I got a message from brother Jack giving me a little more info about what’s going on with him in Arizona. As many of you know, he’s got prostate cancer. He recently started receiving radiation treatments which he must endure for 5-10 minutes every day through the end of May. His new motto is “I’m not dying of cancer, I’m living with is.” That sounds pretty optimistic to me. I’m pretty sure that all those praying for him are having an effect so keep on focusing good thoughts his direction.

Now for some photos to end the day …

Diane and I had PB&J sandwiches, Ziva got the empty jar. That sounds mean, I’m sure, but she loved it.

Just another ho-hum sunset on the Oregon Coast.

Ziva investigating miles and miles of driftwood.

Taking a break, guarding Mom’s Peeps.

Nap time …

Back home to the overgrown yard. Thankfully the little yellow flowers are back. I was afraid they wouldn’t show up this year for some reason. Silly me, because they always show up. The trick is to keep them mowed down so they don’t turn into those fuzzy things that fly seeds everywhere. My up-wind neighbors don’t do that.

These always show up, too. More and more each year.

So do the peonies.

Then there’s Alice, the neighbor’s yorkie, in a standoff with one of their chickens. Alice chased the chicken all the way home, then back to the same spot. Fun to watch. I think the chicken has fun with it.

Then Jennifer sent these to share … Ceierra, Lydia’s best friend, and her new prom dress.

And Lydia in her prom dress.

Quite stunning for a couple of jocks.

I didn’t get a photo of Jeran giving his testimony yesterday evening at the Junior High Youth Group at his church, but I can tell you it was a very emotional story about how and when he found his faith in God. He will be 17 next month and knows pretty much exactly what his future will be. We’re very proud of him.


The Mother Ship

I opened this because I was sure I had something profound to share but all that comes to mind is stifled with a confusing blur of naps, trips to the bathroom, meals, and trips to various places around town. That means I’ll have to share something that may or may not be true because I’m just not sure any more what’s what.

One interesting things is that the alien abductors are getting new ships. I learned this, I think, during my last trip up from my friend Arnold. Yes, they have names like ours but that’s only because they got them from watching TV. In their native language they all sound alike, to me. Arnold came from “Happy Days,” in case you’re wondering.

A few months ago Arnold told me that he was from the Aquarius constellation so you can imagine my surprise when scientists recently reported their findings about Trappist-1, the dwarf star around which 7, yes seven, earth-like stars orbit. Normally that would be a coincidence but I don’t believe in coincidences. I look at it as validation of what Arnold told me, and it would explain why we look so much alike.

I look forward to my next trip up so I can see what kind of equipment they are getting to replace the fancy things they already had. I asked him what they were going to do with the old ships and he said they would probably donate them to various governments around the world like they have in the past. Donations of this sort are the source of much of the new technology we enjoy. If you are a fan of some of the new gadget oriented TV programs you are probably aware of the technology these actors supposedly use. Just know that it isn’t fake stuff. The actors don’t know this because, well, they’re actors, but the folks who make create the shows have input from the mother ships, taking advantage of this large stage where they can showcase some of the things to come.

What fun. Perhaps I’ll be able to expand on this further after my next visit with Arnold unless they forbid it. Normally they don’t care what we share about our trips to the Mother Ship because they are confident that no one will believe them. I’m especially curious to find out how long it takes for Arnold’s co-workers to transit to and from Trappist-1 and to find out what they call it.

So, when I return with more info on this, believe me or not. Your choice.

My Brain

I guess it’s time to come clean with the results of the CT Scan of my head. That was administered at 0945 on Friday the 13th. It took us an hour to drive to the hospital and took about 2 minutes for the tech to do the test. That meant we had lots of time to do ‘stuff’ in Portland. First up was breakfast at Elmer’s Pancake House. From there I don’t remember what we did. Shopped, I think.

Apparently that short CT scan worked because my doctor left a message on our home phone at 1110 requesting that I call so she could talk with me about what the scan revealed. Since we were roaming around Portland I didn’t listen to the message until we got home, after the doc’s office was closed. Then I had to wait until Monday because I didn’t want to talk with the office’s answering service over the weekend.

I have to say that I was a little concerned hearing from the doctor so soon after completing the test, and that allowed my little brain to go through all kinds of gyrations and permutations about the possible results. Seeing all that going on im my infected head put me into overdrive which just made it worse.

So, I had Diane take me to town and drop me off at the Pastime Tavern and told her I’d have the bartender call her if I didn’t think I could walk home. She was happy that I didn’t just take the truck, like I’ve done many times in the past. I quit doing that when they moved the jail from the old court-house to the Sheriff’s Office on Old Portland Road. The old location was better because it wasn’t such a far walk for her to come bail me out. So, she dropped me off and I’m sure she was hoping I’d just forget our home phone number. But, I fooled her because a long time ago I had the number tattooed just above my left knee so I can read it when I’m sitting in the bathroom.

The evening of Friday the 13th, however, didn’t result in an arrest. Nope. I just sat around talking with people, drinking beer, playing pool, and pushing away all the touchy-feely women who seemed to think they could make it all better. Well, I’m here to tell you that I don’t put up with that kind of undisciplined behavior and I told them so. The fellows to whom I was kabitzing thought for sure that CT Scan was going to turn up something really terrible because at least 4 of the hand on ladies were easily 2BB’s. That’s code for 2 Beer Beauty. It means that after only 2 beers she’s a keeper. Normally it takes 7 or 8. So I’m told.

Anyway, after talking with the guys for a while I just decided to walk home and save Diane another trip. I’m that kind of guy, always looking for ways to make things easier for my one and only Love. Yes sir. I’m that guy.

On the way home I stopped by Diane’s Mom’s (Jean’s) house to use the bathroom but it was late and she wasn’t up. Fortunately, her property borders Milton Creek and it’s dark back there so I decided to take advantage. I didn’t have a choice, really, because Mom’s house is about halfway between the Pastime and Home.

The creek was rolling along nicely, and lots higher than normal with all the melting snow and rain, so I was very careful when I approached the water and made my way to a flat cemented area. I went there because I figured the rocks along there would be slippery and I’d no doubt wind up falling into the water.

Falling in wouldn’t really be a problem because the creek really isn’t very deep. It was, however, flowing very fast so dealing with the current would have been a challenge I didn’t want to face. That, and I really didn’t want to get wet.

As I was relieving myself the lights went on in the house directly across from where I was exposing myself. Before I could put myself back together I saw this bright flash that caused me to lose my place in space. The result, of course, was that I fell in the water and was swept away on a fairly long winding journey to the Columbia River.

I did everything I could to stop my forward motion but nothing I grabbed would hold me. I just managed to rip things from the banks as I swirled and swiveled downstream. Giving up isn’t normally my nature, but I decided to just relax and enjoy the ride even though it was dark and I couldn’t see much. That really didn’t matter, though, because most of my relaxing was staying afloat so I could continue breathing. I’m a fairly good swimmer so it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. At this point, I have to admit, that it really scared me when I fell and I’m sure I wet my pants. By the time I made that realization, it was a moot point because I was wet all over.

After rushing downstream for 15-20 minutes, it kind of got to be routine so I was pretty sure I would make it to the Columbia, and calmer water in pretty good shape. I got so relaxed with all the bumping and such, that I pulled my iPhone 7 out of my hip pocket. I was surprised that it was still there, to be honest, and I was very happy to discover that it really is water proof. I turned it on and checked my email as I glided under Highway 30. Then I opened bejeweled which really relaxes me more. Currently I’m on level 221 and I have 6,055,170 points. That’s an absolute truthism.

Finally, just as I finished another level, the current took a brief turn for the worse as it intersected with the Columbia, and I made an abrupt left turn towards Astoria, 62 miles away. I closed up my phone and returned it to my hip pocket and planned my escape from the river at the St. Helens Marina down by the Old Court House, where the jail used to be.

Staying afloat on my back, to conserve energy, I made paddling motions that would aim me for the docks. Knowing that the current could easily suck me under the pilings, I remained very alert as I approached the first dock, but got sucked under it anyway. Luckily, that put me into calmer water, but I still banged my head on one of the boats that always seem to be parked there. By the time I came to my senses I’d been sucked under all the docks, and 11 of the 13 houseboats that populate the marina. At the 12th houseboat I became entangled in a net that halted my progress downstream.

Getting out of the water in that flimsy net was a real chore and I know I was making a horrible racket. My thought was that perhaps someone would hear me and come to my aid. They eventually did, but only after I made it all the way onto the deck of the houseboat.

The owner finally came out to see what was going on, saw me, and went right back inside to get his gun while I just lay there trying to catch my breath. I was pretty tuckered out so I wasn’t too concerned about the gun.

Standing there, pointing his pistol at me, the owner looked around and discovered the net that had saved my life. His eyes went wide and he yelled at me, “You ruint mah net!” which, in fact, I had so I didn’t argue. I figured the manner of his speech and his excited manner didn’t have room for me to try to explain just exactly why I was laying there on his deck. Next he got his phone and called the police to report me as trespasser which is a terrible crime in St. Helens. At one point, while talking to them, he covered the the microphone portion of his phone, leaned toward me and said, “What’s yer name?” I promptly said, “My name is Doug O’Peal, but you can call me Jerrie.”

“How the hell do you get ‘Jerrie’ out of Doug O’Peal?” he bellowed in a questioning manner.

“It’s my mother’s maiden name,” I replied, calmly.

“Your mother’s maiden name was ‘Jerrie’?” he asked, with his eyebrows raised.


“What’s her first name?”


“Diane Jerrie?”


The conversation, such as it was, deteriorated from there until, finally, the police arrived to find us verbally engaged with the guy still holding his thumb over the phone’s microphone. I guess he forget he was on the phone with the police. They weren’t happy about it, either, because they came in full tacitical assault mode, not knowing what to expect. Lots of flashlights and yelling people. Soon the contents of all 13 boathouses were standing on the walkway connecting all the houses to the shore and it quickly devolved into a party.

Five of the guys got out their guitars, a little blond highschool girl dragged out a complete set of drums, and one of the wives just happened to have a huge bass fiddle. The hoedown was on.

While that was going on I told my story to the police and it was evident they didn’t believe much of it because, I had to admit, it was a bit far fetched. So, just to make it easy on themselves, they cuffed me and hauled me away for trespassing, and for ruining this guys illegal gill net. After depositing me at the jail I have no doubt they returned to the marina to participate in the party.

Jail was no fun at all. I never is no matter how many times you wind up there. It always sucks. The only really good things about it were I got to take off all my wet clothes, I discovered that I didn’t have any contraband stuffed in my butt, and I got a nice set of clean orange overalls and a pair of socks.

I’m just gonna skip to the chase right here and get to the really bad part of the evening. That’s when I had to call Diane and ask her to please come bail me out again. She wasn’t really surprised but I was surprised when she agreed without any negotiating at all.

After all the paperwork was done, I was released into Diane’s custody. They let her keep the handcuffs and she made me wear them the rest of the night, chained to my table saw in the basement. It was not a good night.

I made it through to Monday, chained to that saw, and she finally let me loose to use the bathroom and to call my doctor about that CT Scan. Instead of talking with the doctor, they made me an appointment for Wednesday the 18th at 0725 in the morning. So I waited. Patiently.

On Wednesday, at 0725 in the morning, I was at the office and talking with the doctor. She’s really great, and I like her, so of course she’s moving to another state to practice medicine and I have to find another primary care. But, that’s not important here. She told me that they didn’t find anything catastrophic on the scan, but they did find some (insert really complicated Doctor Words here) that are common in people my age. She converted the doctor words into something I could understand. Apparently I got many small areas of dead blood vessels in my brain, none of which indicate that I’ve had a stroke, or that I’m failing due to alzheimer’s disease. I just have little shrivled up veins that aren’t a concern.

Really? Dead blood vessels in my head and I shouldn’t worry? Well, OK. I won’t worry. What’s the point? It is what it is and the only downside, apparently, is that the areas damaged in my brain are important to those who don’t wish to be injured. That’s just a guess, of course. I definitely have the injury problem but I think it’s in my genes, not because of some little dead blood vessels.

So, there you have it. My brain is fried.

I’m sure no one is surprised.


OH – PS – none of the foregoing is true except for the doctor’s analysis.