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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Travel Dreams-

So, I have recently been thinking about my dreams of travel. I realized that nothing will come of such dreams unless I turn dreams into plans. So far my lottery winnings have not been sufficient to finance unlimited travel. Indeed, due to my regular failure to buy lottery tickets my winnings have been consistently quite thin.

Now great travel dreams are fun. I just the other day used Google Maps to go over Interstate Highway 395, and Interstate Highway 15. They both run from southern California through several other states to the Canadian border. Indeed, Highway 15 nearly connects Canada and Mexico. Both of these would be epic journeys and I really hope to follow them, some day.

However, considering my current responsibilities I can't start making plans for such epic journeys. They shall remain dreams for quite some time.

California Highway 9 is another story. It is very close to home, and not all that long. It will make a good first photo project for a reasonably comprehensive collection of a highway. It can be done in a day, and so will require no camping or overnight motel stops. It is something I think my wife could do with me.

So, it is there I will begin. I believe I can plan this for a weekend sometime before April. Since we got a nice new camera for Christmas, we should get some pretty good photographs.

Feel free to follow my ramblings on Google Maps. Just open another window and bring it up.

Highway 9 begins in Santa Cruz, California. It meets Highway 1 at the edge of the downtown area, and heads into the mountains and into the Santa Clara Valley. It is quite pretty, and worth the drive if you are ever in the area.

Another short highway I have in mind is California Highway 35. It begins at a junction with Highway 17, the main artery between the Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz County. Running along the ridge line northward it intersects Highway 9 and continues north. It has a bit more complex path than Highway 9, but eventually ends in San Francisco near the zoo.

This is another day trip, and if we start early we can spend a few hours at the zoo in San Francisco before returning home. Having practiced our highway photography on Highway 9 I am sure my wife and I can get some nice photos of Highway 35. And the zoo.

Hopefully we can get that one between April and July.

The third highway I want to collect this year is Highway 25. Unless my wife suddenly develops an interest in camping, I will probably do this one solo. It will require a short journey just to get to the beginning of the highway. Highway 25 begins between Gilroy and Hollister, at a point about 45 miles from my home.

From there it runs south to meet with Highway 198 about 77 miles to the south. On this particular journey I shall be watching closely for camping options along the way, stopping to evaluate those options for inclusion in my photo essay about the highway.

I am unsure as to just when I will be making this run. I will probably try to do it before the beginning of September.

These three journeys should provide the opportunity to develop skills in travel photography and travel writing. They will serve as a good beginning to what I would like to develop into a serious hobby. If I can find the right angle, I would love to turn it into something of a profession, though that is a great deal for which to hope.

With my Oregon trip later in the year this should be a great year for travel. Not just travel dreams, but travel plans and actual travel.

It should be fun. I will certainly be blogging.


In a few hours I get out of jail and go home to my family for Christmas! It was hard leaving last night and coming to work. I had to sleep all day, and the evening festivities were just getting started. I had time to grab a sandwich and be off.

This will be my 55th Christmas. After having my gall bladder removed and the episode where the doctors thought I had a tumor in my head I don't count the passing years lightly. These days and months and years have been a gift. Indeed, they have always been a gift.

I still struggle with how to "seize the day" and "live all of the days of your life." Most of life is mundane, and that can't be avoided. How to turn each step into a celebration is something I have yet to learn. I have, however, become better at appreciating the high points.

Christmas is one of those high points. It comes once each year. It has a lot of tradition and history. It is shared by multitudes, and so is a common point for many people. I have come to love Christmas for the magic it represents, both in its secular and religious significance.

A big part of my participation is anticipation. Now that anticipation is almost ended. In a few hours all of the Christmas season will have been realized for another year. It does not make me sad. I have lived another year. I now can begin looking forward to my 56th Christmas.

But not yet. Soon, I go to my family and rejoice with them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I have a vague interest in boats. I recall when I was in junior high school a friend and I would spend time looking at boat plans. We dreamed vaguely of building small boats and doing some vague kind of boating.

In high school I had a friend who was interested in sailing on a tall ship. For a time I shared his dream, at least in some vague way. We would sign on as crew on some cloth and wind powered vessel and see the world.

I have long had some vague notion of running down the Mississippi in a small boat, ala Huckleberry Finn.

Never real plans. No setting up savings and doing extra jobs to get the money together. Just vague dreams and notions.

When I am doing my virtual travel, and even sometimes when I do real travel, I see bodies of water on maps or in the distance and vaguely dream of exploring those waters on a vague general boat.

I have located some pretty large bodies of water in my virtual travels that just beg for exploration. Miles of shoreline. Days, weeks, even months of potential exploration.

It sounds interesting. It sounds fun. Vaguely.

Perhaps such a vague and general interest is better served through reading. I wouldn't have to get as much money together, and it would serve such a vague level of interest just as well.

Perhaps better.

I rarely get wet when reading.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas #55-

Yes, this will be my 55th Christmas. With my children grown, and only one grandchild nearby, Christmas has changed a bit. Still, I love the season. Here we are just days away, and so far it has been quite nice.

We attend Twin Lakes Church in the Santa Cruz area in California. If you check on YouTube some videos associated with the church will be available. Last week was the Christmas Concert, and this week the Candle Light Service. Both were very nice experiences.

Indeed, spending as much time as I do in jail makes church a very special thing. I spend my time with broken people, and it is trying. Being in church with a great number of people who are worshiping God is refreshing. Some of them are even the broken people I have had to keep in jail. That, too, can be refreshing.

It is a good church, and they do such a nice job presenting Christmas. I have enjoyed the season even more in recent years because of their wonderful efforts. Since this has been a time of healing for me, it is even more important.

My wife, Linda, does a great job at home. The decorations and ambiance are fabulous, and I am again refreshed. She even put together a nice weekend outing this week. We visited a mall in nearby San Jose and enjoyed the decorations. I especially like the themed trees in Macy's. She made it a point that we got over to see them.

We also visited with her sister Carol and her husband, Jack. We shall not be getting together for Christmas Day this year, due to my work schedule. It was nice to see them.

I spent a good amount of time playing World of Warcraft, which is also refreshing for me. I need such refreshments, because I am growing less and less able to handle my job without them. It is good that I am ending this career next year, just after Christmas. I do not know if anything would prove refreshing enough to get me through any more time.

It will be an interesting year. I really must get the whole retirement package together, and prepare for a next career. I have no idea what that career might be. I consider professional writing, but our income requirements might preclude such a risky venture. Nothing else really grabs me other than something that would include a lot of travel like my last trip to Oregon.

I really don't know how to make that a career. It would be so much time away, as well. With the family coming back together I don't know if I would want to be away for long periods of time.

It would be wonderful to do such traveling with Linda, but again the time is just not right. No, I need a career for the next few years that will lead into a future time of travel.

I have a year to develop my plans and begin getting them moving. And Christmas #56 will be one of the stops along the way.

That is something to look forward to.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seasonally Challenged-

I love Christmas. More than birthdays I count my life in Christmases. This will be my 55th Christmas.

It is a season, however, that brings out a personal weakness. Actually, each season brings out a personal weakness, but this is the Christmas season and I am addressing my particularly Christmas weakness.

I am gift wrapping retarded. I apologize to anyone who is offended by the term "retarded" being used in the manner it was used in my youth. It meant restricted, challenged, fundamentally weak in some way. I don't know, it got changed over time. Anyway, I am seasonally challenged.

Looking at it objectively it is not a practiced skill for me. Once or twice each year I try to encapsulate some object in paper, ribbon, string, tags and whatever else is seasonally appropriate. My overall lack of practice remains obvious from year to year.

It does not help that for most of my life the purchase of gifts and the wrapping of gifts was generally the responsibility of other family members. For the most part they would assume this duty to prevent the dubious result of my efforts from denigrating the underside of a Christmas tree or whatever other designated place of presents was being used.

There was a time in my life when I used newspaper comics as wrapping paper. Hey, they were colorful. They were available. I thought they were cool.

I learned that they were not cool. In the general run of my education, I again learned that my tastes were aberrant and generally cheap. You would think that some of this would sink in over time.

So, I have finished wrapping a pile of gifts for my wife. They are the only ones I will wrap this year. I guess she trusts herself to forgive my weakness.

Maybe I could find a summer program to help me. A nice camp somewhere. Days spent by the lake, under the pines, wrapping and re-wrapping practice gifts until the folds are neat. I can master tape, ribbon and label.

Perhaps not.

I will probably serve better as the poster boy for gift bags.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dream Job-

One of the exercises in I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher is to describe your dream job. Since I have not yet figured out what I want to do, though I am pretty much grown up, I purchased that book and did most of the exercises.

Of late I have been assessing my desires and dreams and my current life. I think I have found my dream job. Unfortunately, I just don't see it making enough money to actually do.

I really would enjoy traveling around and seeing the United States and visiting just about every campground and campable place along the way. I would love to assess the campgrounds and publish those assessments.

There are, of course, complications to doing dream jobs. They are called Dream Jobs for a reason. They aren't our real jobs. We get real jobs to pay bills and clothe the family and keep a roof over our collective heads. Dream Jobs are dreams.

Still, it is a great dream. Of course, this particular dream job has evolved out of recent events. My setting up camp at work to avoid having to commute home in the morning after working all night. I really didn't camp a whole lot before this. Some, but not a lot.

Now, having equipment and experience, I realize I could do this quite a bit. I could travel and camp. I like to write, so assessing the camps I visit would fit well. A man without a family and a mortgage and a LIFE could do this.

Still, it is a dream with appeal. I have to wonder, could I do this?

Probably not. However, I sure will keep myself open to some way to make it work.

Sometimes dreams do come true. Right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Camping Notes-

This week I experimented with applying my tarps to the awning that is part of my Sportz II truck tent. Since the tent is designed for a compact truck (a 97 Ford Ranger in this case,) it is small. The point at which the awning is attached to the tent is lower than the level of my head when I am standing. The awning actually slopes upward from the tent to the top of the poles even when they are not fully extended.

As a sun shade it is adequate, when my chair is placed under the awning. As a rain shield the awning leaves a bit to be desired. I think the awning on the full-sized truck models probably works a bit better, as it can be sloped properly away from the tent to shed rain and will still be height enough off of the ground to allow the tent dweller to stand under it.

Anyway, what I really wanted was an enclosed space that would be sufficiently private to allow me to use my Lugable Loo bucket toilet. Not that I am anxious to do so, but it is the sort of thing that needs to be Incorporated into the overall camping plan.

Using two smaller tarps I was able to hang them along the sides of the awning. I clamped the tarps to the awning near the points where the awning attaches to the tent. It worked well. That left the large opening at the end of the awning, farthest from the mouth of the tent.

Folding my rain tarp (which covers the whole tent, a bit of the awning, and most of the truck,) I attached it to the poles holding up the end of the awning. The poles have long pins on the end to go through grommets. Long enough to take the side tarp grommets and the grommets of this folded end tarp.

Using some bulldog clips I was able to enclose the area under the awning. The resulting space was large enough for some storage containers (mostly under the truck tailgate), my chair, a TV tray, and a few other items. I found the space reasonably comfortable to sit in after I was done sleeping.

Three small tarps will be sufficient to create this space whenever I want it. I think I will want to find stronger clips to hold it all together, since even a light wind pulled a couple of the bulldog clip joints apart.

So, I have been evolving my camping system. It is going well. I have learned that I am surprisingly comfortable in relatively primitive camping conditions. Of course, my primitive system is opulent relative to the resources some people live with all of the time. It is good enough for me.

As I contemplate this set up, I think that a small truck with a utility bed would be a great base vehicle. Above the utility box a folding tent system could be installed. Such a system would be tidy, easy to use, comfortable, and set up quickly. So, I am homing in on the ultimate minimalist RV for my personal style and taste.

This has been fun, and I have years to perfect the system.

Gilmore Girls, again-

I am now most of the way through the second season. My coworkers are making fun of me. They fail to see that I am enjoying a show founded on great writing and an amazing cast of quirky characters. They think I am showing my lavender.

Not that I am bothered by them making fun of me. They always have. With abundant reason. Hey, I spend a lot of my time off driving a cartoon character around an imaginary world. I spent years reading mathematics books for recreation. I did word problems for fun. I have read the Lord of the Rings more than ten times. I live in the parking lot.

So, anyway, I really do enjoy the relationships that are central to the Gilmore Girls experience. Perhaps it is because even the most intense elements of those relationships are presented at a fast pace and in a context of humor. Oh, there are real moments of sadness. There is a real concern for the welfare of the characters facing the consequences of their story driven decisions. Fortunately, the doses are small and surrounded by witty banter and just plain fun.

The greatest challenge is believing the intensity of the young characters with regard to their education. Or even Grandpa Gilmore, reminiscing over his own youthful dedication in aspiring to a suit and a position with a powerful firm at the age of ten.

I am fifty five years old and don't have such devotion. I just want to finish this career and find a next career that fits a little more comfortably. I haven't any idea what that might be. My devotion has always been doing what I must to take care of my family. They still have needs, and so that remains my devotion.

Fortunately I have the Gilmore Girls to aid me in bearing the burden of an ill fitting career. They will see me through the waning months of that career, and provide what has always been good medicine.

A bit of laughter and a warm heart.