Sunday, January 30, 2011

How I Got Here, Part 2

Long roads, I luv 'em

This is part 2 of my recent road trip. Part 1 is the post before this one.
I don’t wear a watch. I never did. I didn’t care about time and still don’t, but I’m never late to be somewhere or do something that I said I was going to do at a certain time. I must say, I do consult the cell phone for a time check now and then, but not all that often.
While sitting in the At Sarah’s Table Restaurant in Kearney, MO ordering coffee, I knew instinctively it was too early to get a hold of an auto repair shop to see if they would install a new alternator in The Morphodite. It was still dark outside.
The waitress went in the back to grab two mugs and a Bunn carafe filled with steaming hot brew. Not the kind we’re used to as I am traveling with a guy who owns a coffee shop and roastery in St. Paul. We have plenty of the good stuff with us, but we already drank our first cup of quality coffee, this one would be what we wash down breakfast with.
When she delivered the coffee mugs and filled up the cups, I spoke to her.
“Young Lady, do you know of any mechanics or guys from an auto repair that come in here? We had a breakdown and we’re kinda stranded. We need some repairs done on our RV.”  I asked.
She answered, “What time is it? Oh, Norm isn’t here yet, but he’ll be in any time now. He can do that sort of thing, just wait a few minutes.”
Then, we bantered briefly back and forth about what happened and what kind of vehicle. Each time we added a piece to our story, she would tell us that Norm was the guy that would help us out as he had a shop in his garage.
Personally, I was skeptical, but then again, I knew of others that performed miracles in the back yard when it came to fixing cars. I guess I just sipped coffee and waited for the breakfast I ordered. Speaking of breakfast, this restaurant, At Sarah’s Table, had a really good cup of coffee for a diner, and the breakfast turned out to be great! I just had a couple of over medium eggs with grits and whole wheat toast, oh, and some bacon too, four strips, thick sliced and good.
At Sarah’s Table, the restaurant, is housed in an old house, a large old house. All the oak woodwork was refinished and the wooden floors glowed. There were a couple of rooms where people sat. We were in the No Smoking section. I guess Missouri still allows smoking and no smoking sections in their restaurants. Minnesota and Wisconsin have done away with that a while ago and are totally non smoking venues. 

Betty, a first class Hash House Queen, morning anchor  at At Sarah's Table in Kearney, Mo.

The waitress came into the room where we sat and as this man walked into the place from outside, she said, “Norm, stop right there. These guys need some work done on their RV. They're stranded, here, talk to them.”
Norm turned to his right and looked at us and we explained our situation. This was going to be a piece of cake for old Norm. He said, “Wait until I finish my breakfast and you can follow me to my place and I’ll take a look at it. I’m 7 miles out of town.”
Norm went into the smoking section and joined other regulars. He ordered breakfast, ate it, drank coffee, kibitzed a while, smoked a few cigarettes and came out and asked, ”You fellas ready to go?”
As we finished our breakfast and waited for Norm, we found out the waitress, Betty, has worked there for quite some time. Through three previous owners. She is the morning anchor. I dubbed her a Hash House Queen and that made her blush. She went out of her way to help us out and was very pleasant to everyone that walked in the door. We tipped Betty handsomely and even paid for Norm’s breakfast as we anticipated he would be the right man for the job.
We went to the parking lot, deciphered who was driving what and followed Norm out of town on a beautiful sunny Winter morning. Cold, but not so cold you’d freeze your arse off, not with that bright sun a blazin’. We stopped at the motel where the RV was sitting. It started as the battery was fully charged from the guy at the auto parts store the night before. Steve drove the RV, I drove Goldie and we followed Norm’s Ford pickup truck into the countryside.
We get to where he turns off and we see two huge garage sheds and a bunch of cars sitting around, seemingly waiting to be fixed. Norm pointed to where he wanted Morph to be parked and he went to work immediately. He assessed that our prognosis of a faulty alternator was correct and he proceeded to remove it from the engine compartment. He had that thing out in ten minutes and we were all in Goldie driving back to the same auto parts store that charged our battery the night before. That was where Norm bought his replacement parts.

When you see the hood up, that means the thing is sick or we're working on avoiding a disease.

Norm ordered an alternator specified for the 1986 Chevy C-30 350 V8. He got a great big discount on the price of the part. We paid for it and headed back to Norm’s place. Norm installed the alternator, put everything back together and checked the system. Everything worked fine.
We stood around before during and after this whole thing talkin’ with Norm and found out he was a retired auto worker from the Kansas City Ford plant. He showed us his 1952 Chevy hot rod, a beauty, two door coupe with one monster of an engine with dual quads and racing slicks. He pointed out the VW bug that his daughter out in California wants him to restore, the Ford that needed an oil pump and the Dodge that needed something or other. Norm was a busy guy and he told us that doing this kind of stuff while his wife went to work kept him out of the bar and that he was happy about that.
Here’s the kicker. We didn’t want to leave, but before we did and we asked Norm how much we owed him, Norm sheepishly said, “Oh, how’s forty bucks sound?”
Forty dollars!! That job just cost me $530.00 for a new alternator in my van not a month ago. Heck, the alternator was only $56.00. We gave Norm $60.00 and couldn’t thank him enough
We headed into town to hook the trailer onto Morph and load Goldie so we could resume our trip to New Mexico. But we had one last piece of unfinished business. You see, we had one other breakdown the day before that I didn’t mention in Part 1 of this saga.We had a flat tire, just 45 miles from where we decided to pull off for the night in Kearney, MO
The blow out happened, everything was safe. I have many years and over a million miles of driving experience and I was a stunt driver in motion picture production, so I never felt we were in any danger from a front tire blowout. The right front tire blew at 65 miles per hour. I steadied the rig and made it just a short distance, less than a hundred yards, to an exit ramp. That was very convenient. I got to the top of the ramp, pulled to the shoulder and stopped. I called Triple A. 
AAA sent out a man in a small truck to take off the bad tire and rim and install our spare tire. Our jack wouldn’t fit under the frame member and the lug nuts were very tight. He had the right tools for the job. But waiting for road service and the loss of time from the out-of-gas fiasco earlier kept the clock moving and got us further and further behind.
The spare was a bias ply tire and the other side was a radial tire. I know from experience we should not mix the two for any extended driving situation. It would be kind of like crossing the streams when the Ghostbusters did it, (You had to see the movie to understand that metaphor).
So, after we finished at Norm’s, we headed over to the Goodyear tire dealer where Steve had called and ordered a tire. We spent another hour getting a matched set of tires installed on Morph and were finally on the road and driving through Kansas City by One O’ Clock PM. It was Tuesday, January 25th.

Rockin' Y's, Tucumcari, NM on old Route 66

We drove until 11:00 PM and got a motel room in Dalhart, Texas on US Highway 54. We would resume the next morning at 6:15 AM and gain an hour with the Central to Mountain time change at the New Mexico border. We made Tucumcari by 8:00 AM and had Mexican food at the Rockin’ Y’s, one of my favorite places to stop and eat while driving this particular route.

My first plateful of Huevos Rancheros, this order with Red.
For those with inquiring minds, there will be more about Red or Green soon

You may wonder why we got a motel room instead of staying in the RV. It was still pretty cold at night and needed to get out of that thing after driving in it all day and I wanted to hook up to a WiFi connection. Besides, I’ll be living in it for the next month or so, there would be plenty of nights spent in The Morphodite.
We continued on and made Albuquerque where I circled a parking lot while Steve went in to a cigar store and replenished our stockpile. I had spotted The Duke City Cigar store on the internet the night before. From Albuquerque, we bought the last tank of gas in Belen and made Truth Or Consequences by 2:00 PM. Journey ended, mission accomplished.
We pulled in to The Artesian Hot Springs Pools and Trailer Court, my destination all along, and found many empty spots. We grabbed one and spoke with the proprietor on Thursday morning. I’m paid in full for one month and will see how things go. We headed for the Riverbend and were comfortably sitting in the hot mineral springs soon after we arrived. The next morning, we enjoyed a cigar with our morning coffee on the patio of the local coffee house/used book store, The Black Cat.

My friend Steve, relaxing in the sunshine.

The trip has been an experience, to say the least. At times, I wondered if I wasn't going to make it or if we'd be stranded for days waiting for parts or to find a mechanic. Then I thought, "Maybe this isn't about me." Maybe this was something Norm or Betty needed, or some enlightenment that I needed to think about. We don't know why things happen, but they do, for good or for bad. We got behind in time from what I wanted to do, but maybe I was right on time all along.

What it is, is what it is. What happened, is what it's become.

The weather has been pleasant, in the 50’s and 60’s temperature wise, and a bright sun all day everyday. The slower pace of retirement has set in and I’m looking forward to a lot of time in the lawn chair.
Peace to all

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How I Got Here, January 2011

Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth Or Consequences, NM

Yes, that’s yours truly in the natural hot springs pool. I’m fulfilling a dream. I sat around for weeks thinking of doing just that, sitting around relaxing in a natural hot springs pool in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Now, I’m here, I made it, and I feel good. I already miss my family, especially Mrs. Spadoman, but she’ll be joining me soon.
The trip down was a grand adventure in and of itself and wasn’t without drama, intrigue and some tense moments. Let me tell you about it. You know I bought a 25 year old RV from my friend. It’s old, but the engine is pretty new, and the interior is laid out the way I like it.
My friend Steve joined me on the trip down. He’ll be flying back home from Albuquerque on Sunday. We left St. Paul right around 8:00 AM on Monday morning. We headed South on Interstate 35 and got near an exit in Iowa for Latimer, a small town about 50 miles South of the Minnesota/Iowa line. The RV was running good. I knew it wasn’t going to be good on gas consumption, but I did think it would get me 200 miles on a tank of fuel.
That was my first mistake. The thing sputtered and stopped. Out of gas, one mile from the exit and 196 miles on the tank of gas. I was towing my Ford Focus, Goldie, on a tow dolly I rented from U-Haul.
I pulled over to the shoulder, and tried to start it back up. Nothing. The battery was completely dead. This was an easy fix, right? Unload the car, drive to the gas station and see about Triple A coming to our rescue. I have the new RV Premium road service protection just for such emergencies.
There was a wrecker there, and the guy came right out to jump start or tow the vehicle, whichever was prudent. He put the cables onto the battery and the starter worked, a good sign, but it didn’t start. We also remembered we ran out of gas. While the tow truck driver sat out on the freeway with the jumper cables charging the battery, we went back to the station, purchased a gas can, filled it with gas and headed back out to the stalled RV.
We poured in 5 of the 6 gallons from the new very expensive new fangled gas can and it roared to life. We followed the tow truck back to the station, filled it with gas, paid the bill and headed for the small town of Latimer, Iowa to have the charging system checked. A young fellow at the local garage put electronic equipment on the system and said the alternator was good. Our dashboard battery gauge even went to a normal operating position.
We had a bite to eat at the little diner located inside the gas station and were on our way. We had lost about two hours of driving time is all, but we were on the road and headed South with a mission.

Towing the car with an old RV and bucking a headwind, we weren’t breaking any speed records or conserving gasoline!

We drove all day and were darn close to Kansas City by dark. It was cold out, so we had the heater fan blasting, the radio on listening to some music, the lights on and my phone charging in the cigarette lighter socket. 
I noticed the dash lights were dim. I chalked that up to my tired old eyes. I need glasses and bright light to read. But they got dimmer and dimmer. So did the headlights. I was just about 20 miles North of Kansas City, MO and I made an executive decision to pull in, get a room, and have the electrical system checked out in the morning before we proceeded any further. The last thing I wanted was to get stranded on some long deserted stretch of highway in the middle of the Kansas Flint Hills.
We did just that. When we turned off the motor at the EconoLodge motel in Kearney, MO, it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead again. Of course we didn’t have a plethora of tools along on this epic journey, but we did have a vise grips. Steve unhooked the battery and we unloaded Goldie for a second time. We drove to the nearby auto parts store and had them check the condition of the battery.
They did so, and we found the battery to be good with no dead cells. They gave it back to us fully charged. Now, we knew we had to find a repair shop that would take in a 25 year old RV and install an alternator. In the past, it has been my experience that it might be hard to find someone willing to work on an old junker, and being an RV, many garages don’t have high enough bay doors to accommodate such a vehicle.
We found a place to eat and returned to the motel to get some rest. After some discussion and realizing that there was absolutely nothing we could do about the situation that night, we went to sleep. The next morning started early as we were both up and ready to search out our options to get this thing back on the road.
Five O’clock AM is too early to start calling repair garages, so we made coffee and discussed our dilemma a little bit more. We drove around to the repair garages and by looking at them from the outside, decided which one would be the best bet, second best and third, you know, prioritize by judging what we saw from the street as to whether they would be likely to take in an older vehicle and get us back on the road.

Morph, with Goldie in tow, sits in the sun at the Rockin' Y Restaurant, Tucumcari, NM

This old RV sits on a one ton Chevy chassis and has a small but powerful 350 cubic inch motor. There is not more than 8000 miles on this engine. It was installed new four years ago. It’s not much to look at as the outside is dinged up and has a few bruises and a sun faded paint job. The inside is nice, but there are some tears in the drivers seat and some things don’t work properly. I felt this vehicle would make the trip and I would drive it to New Mexico, find a spot in an RV park and leave it there. I would return as I do every year and have a second home of sorts.
Having had this thing in my possession for a few days and having driven it for 1450 miles, I have dubbed it The Morphodite, or “Morph”, for short, as it has tendencies to be both heavenly and devilish. Tuesday morning, having not gotten 400 miles away from home, it was devilish to be sure. Especially when we wanted to be about 650 miles from home on that first day. We decided to have breakfast and backtracked in Kearney to find a small diner we had seen as we drove through looking for auto repair shops.
The place is called At Sarah’s Table. We walked in, sat down and ordered coffee. That’s where the fun really starts. 
To Be Continued, soon I hope.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Mexican Desert

Haiku My Heart Friday
January 28, 2011

I'm living in my new (to me) 25 year old RV set up at The Artesian RV Park in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. I have been coming down here for the past 20 years or so. The weather is so much different than the below zero cold air blasts that I came from, and although it is warming up a bit in the Northland, the sunshine here has a wonderful healing effect on me.

I drove out to the desert, away from town today. I sat in the deafening silence in the sun, and let whatever spirits that wanted to carry me along, do so. I went willingly and feel like I am certainly on a healing path.

More to come soon as I get settled. For now, I'll let the photo and these words speak from my heart to you.

Along the Rio Grande River near Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico

Soft desert winds blow
Grandfather sun glows bright, warm
Healing energy

To read more Haiku My Heart or to participate, visit Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog.


Monday, January 24, 2011

On My Way

All Aboard! St.Paul, Des Moines, Kansas City, Wichita, Liberal, Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Socorro and Truth Or Consequences.

Leaving today, in about an hour actually. Current temperature is 12 degrees ABOVE zero, (for a change). Here I am, headed South and the heat wave arrives. Forecast of 26 for today. Oh well, I'll just suffer through it.

Give me some time to get a few miles under my belt. I have a laptop and will make regular reports, (but not on a schedule). I'm excited, but I also know I will miss my family until Mrs. Spadoman joins me in Mid February.

Maybe I'll see you at some point while away from home. But make no mistake. This isn't a vacation. I'll just be living life as usual while all this is going on. I just won't be in the same bed I usually am.

I appreciate all your thoughts and wishes for a safe journey and will carry those with me.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tree Shadows

Shadow Shot Sunday
January 23, 2011

I haven’t participated in Shadow Shot Sunday for quite some time. Seems like I’ve been busy and when I finally get around to thinking about it, it’s Monday in OZ! Well, it probably still is closer to Monday than it is Sunday in Australia, but it’s very early in the morning on Sunday where I am, so I’m going for it.
Today I have a photo from a recent weekend sojourn on my way up to Lake Superior. It had snowed the night before this photo was taken and the snow was crisp and white. Ni was rounding a curve on a less traveled County Road in Douglas County, Wisconsin. County Road A.
A friend of mine loves trains. I thought of her when I pulled over to take the shot, but I also noticed the shadows from the morning Winter sun. That sun is low in the sky around here this time of year, that’s why it’s so hot and humid in Hey Harriet land and so cold here.
By the way, visit the Hey Harriet Blog and see many more great examples of the shadow shot as well as some guidelines in the event you’d like to participate. 

The train was sitting on the siding. It had been there a while, as when I crossed the tracks a few moments earlier, I saw the fresh snow from last nights mini storm still on the tracks. I thought how mysterious that the train cars would be filled with logs cut from the surrounding forest, and while it sits, the shadows of the trees, probably their tree brothers and sisters,  seem to be coming up the embankment of the tracks to ‘visit’. Maybe the train has stopped at the funeral parlor for trees and this is the visitation. At least this is what I imaginned for a spell.

Take care and be well, all of you.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Northland Winter

Haiku My Heart Friday
January 21, 2011

Haiku My Heart Friday is the creation of my friend Rebecca. You can see and read more Haiku and see how to participate by visiting her blog, recuerda mi corazon

The wanderlust has a hold of me in the strongest fashion. I don't recall having this much anxiety about an upcoming trip since I went to California on old Route 66 with my folks in 1959! I'm leaving on Monday and have been busy packing and getting things in order.

I did some chores last weekend and drove up to Ashland, WI. Winter is in full force up here. Right this very moment, the actual temperature is -22 degrees Fahrenheit. It's calm right now, and the full moon is casting a glow, making shadows as bright as any sunny day has ever done, especially against the ground white and glistening with fresh snow. It will be windy today. Wind chills, felt by human skin, are said to be almost 30 degrees below zero. The temperature in another place, like International Falls, Minnesota, is -42 degrees right now. That's below zero folks.

I don't leave the North in Winter to get away from the cold and snow. If that were my purpose, I would have gone in late October. No, I travel because I like to travel. My mode is to drive, and take the slow roads at that, seeing what the slower pace has to offer.

I took the advice of friends and don't leave home without my camera. I took some shots here and there and I really like this one in particular. It was a simple scene, really, repeated over and over again here in the Northland. Pine trees studded with a fresh snowfall. The sun was breaking through after a storm. The sky was bluer than blue as the clouds were quickly disappearing.

Along Douglas County A, North of Iron River, WI

Ice and cold persist

Beautiful snow capped tree limbs

Blue sky abundant

County Road P near Solon Springs

I'll miss Wisconsin, and I will return when it is time. The journey really never ends you know. It is continuous, ongoing, a way of life. Coming back to where my family is will bring great joy. I'll be ready to plan another trip. This is how I live, coming and going, driving.

Can I spend some time with you
Using a finger to guide a steel appendage
From one pebble, embedded in tar, to another
Connecting my world, across
The breadth of America

Can I witness what Nature gives us
Cold, wet, dry, warm, sun, moon, clouds
All of it an experience
A part of me, every sense working overtime
Feeling every piece of air, seeing

Will my heart beat steady
Through all the days
Motion making me young
At night, still seeing, feeling 
Wandering amidst the stars and rainbows


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Little Trip Up North With My Camera

Busy days for me here at Spadoville. I did manage a trip up to visit the Great Lake Superior last weekend. I had a couple of chores to do, a little shopping and some visits to friends I haven't seen in a while. I had breakfast with two really great guys, Veterans, friends of mine that I truly miss since I left Ashland.

This train, loaded with logs for the pulp mill, sat idle on a siding

I did manage a few photos and I'd like to share them with you today. It snowed overnight on Friday, so Saturday morning had the roads a bit icy and snow covered in places, but that also lent itself to some very beautiful landscapes as the trees were heavily laden with the white stuff.

The big lake had some ice in the bays, but there was open water evident from this long shot. That's Minnesota at the top of the photo on the far side of the deep blue of the lake.

Minnesota in the distance. This shot from just outside Port Wing, WI

The trip from River Falls to Ashland is right around 200 miles. A four hour journey. I have stops strategically planned along the way to buy some specialty items or take advantage of deals I just can't get at home, like the fresh frozen lake trout fillets for $3.29 per pound at the Johnson store in Port Wing.

Then, there's the licorice, sold in bulk, at Tom and Peg's Homestead Gardens store just North of Washburn. But the main thrust of my journey was to meet Jim Sullivan to pick up two frozen deer hides that he had put aside for me during hunting season.

The hides have been frozen since they were taken off the animal. I will make drums from them. I keep them frozen until I am ready to work with them. The first time they will dry is when they are stretched across the drum hoop. It has been my experience that this process makes the best sounding hand drums.

I love the long views of the roads through the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest. This day, with the sun brightly shining, made the trees glisten. The roads were safe for slower speeds than normal, but I wasn't in a hurry anyway. I'm usually not when Up North.

This next road shot was along a lesser used County Road near Solon Springs, WI. I cut across from one major highway to another via these small roads. You never know what you'll see. I did have deer pop out and cross the road and sighted a few eagles perched in trees.

Temperatures this particular day were in the teens. The weather has been the same for over a week now. A little colder than normal and the occasional one to two inches of fresh snow. It is certainly some of the most beautiful country in the world in my view, but I'll be leaving soon on another adventure, Stay tuned.

Peace to all

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Mystery Tour, January 2011

Winter sunrise in Wisconsin

I often changed jobs on a whim, and sometimes for a specific purpose or reason. There was a stretch of time in the 1980’s when I was doing this and found myself in the unique situation of being between between employment  opportunities and having a little time off without the guilt of being a lazy bum.
A good friend of mine and his wife owned a lodge on the edge Minnesota’s beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They had a thriving canoe outfitting service and every once in a while, they had need for a guide.
It was one of these times that he called me and low and behold, there I was, between jobs and able to travel North on the Gunflint Trail, out of Grand Marais, MN,  to Seagull Outfitters. I was to guide a trip for a couple from Milwaukee. They were husband and wife, and they were doctors. They knew nothing of the Northwoods but wanted to have a canoe trip experience. I was to be their guide.
They knew how to paddle a canoe, but not negotiate large expanses of water like we would encounter on the fifty mile loop route they chose. They had fishing gear and a good camera. The outfitter provides the canoe, life preservers, equipment, food, cookware, shelter and sleeping bags, the participants provide their own personal clothing, toilet articles and other items suggested for a comfortable trip as stated in the brochure.
The 18 foot aluminum canoe can hold the backpacks for a five day journey through canoe country easily enough. I had my own 15 foot solo canoe, a nice easily handled craft called The Autumn Mist, made by a company called Sawyer.
The sleek 15' Sawyer Autumn Mist. Mine was green

The couple had their canoe and I had mine. I carried all  my own gear and they carried theirs. The Boundary Waters, or BWCA as it is commonly known, is about a million acres, and immediately North, across the Canadian border, lies Quetico Provincial Park, which is another 1.2 million acres. Together, these two wilderness area parks, commonly called the Quetico Superior Wilderness, comprises some of the most beautiful scenery in the world with thousands of lakes, towering pines, rock formations and the possibility of moose, bear and eagle sightings at every turn.
Entry is by permit only, limiting the number of people in the park at any period of time. Entry points are scattered and it is impossible to access every one of the thousands of lakes that lie within the region. You must canoe to the interior and portage your canoe and gear across rough trails from lake to lake. People usually make a route and connect their trip from lake to lake, via these portages, in some sort of loop, entering at a place and returning there from another direction.
The doctor couple made a reservation with the outfitter and my friend supplied the maps and laid out a route. I was familiar with the area and the route and would lead them to sights they wanted to see, like the petroglyphs, and to obscure portage trails that can sometimes be hidden in plain sight amidst the woods, rocks and water.
I would also help with tips on cooking outdoors with freeze dried foodstuffs, gathering firewood, fishing, carrying their camping gear across rods and rods of portage trails and keeping safe and dry in the event of rain or a storm.
We were to be out about six days in total. We would have one long leisurely day in the middle of the trip at a portage I knew of on Lake Saganagons, (sag’-uh-nah-gons), which was in the Canadian section or the Quetico Provincial Park.
The trip was a basic guide for me as I was familiar with this type of tourist. Paddle for so many hours, portage canoe and gear across from lake to lake, stop for lunch, paddle some more, portage some more, find a camp, set up camp, make a fire and eat dinner, sleep comfortably in our tents or under the stars, maybe see the Northern Lights. Then wake up, have breakfast and do it again the next day and each day thereafter until we finished the route and returned back to the starting point.
We’d get picked up at a predetermined time by the outfitter, which was, in this case, my friend Roger, and be returned to the lodge where the participants would shower and pack their car and drive away, hopefully leaving me with a large tip for exemplary service above and beyond the call of duty.
My usual ruse was to make sure that somewhere in the conversation they understood I was just a paid employee and did not own and run a guide service on my own. The theory being that a working stiff didn’t make much and that a large tip would certainly be in order.
We were just getting started and we had to cross a large expanse of water called Cache Bay. This was the gateway into Canadian waters and the famed Silver Falls Portage. The wind was fresh, and out of the North. We were headed right into the face of it, which is good. The side wind is the treacherous one. A side wind could easily swamp the canoe, especially with novice paddlers like the doctors.
Stock photo of Silver falls from Google search images

I explained the possible perils of crossing a large expanse of water in the windy conditions and repeatedly told them what to do in the event they should tip over and swamp the canoe. Precautions were made by lashing packs and gear to the thwarts. I assured them the canoe would stay buoyant, albeit just below the waters surface, if it tipped over.
The waves were very high, and I had to keep paddling to stay in a straight line with the smaller and lighter canoe I was in. If I slowed down or stopped, the wind would turn me around in an instant. The canoe I paddled only weighed a little over 50 pounds and had no keel. Their canoe, heavily laden and deeper in the water was more stable.
I tried to keep an eye on them, but at times, besides paying attention to my own craft, I lost sight of them often as their canoe would dip below the level of the lake in the swells. At one point, I actually maneuvered my canoe to turn back to find them as I hadn’t seen their canoe for many minutes, only to see them bob up above the swells again.
The crossing took twice as long as planned and the distance traveled that day was less than anticipated. We stopped early and found a sheltered area to set up camp. As the couple paddled up along the rocks, the man of the species stepped out and his foot landed on some slippery green algae moss that was hiding just below the surface. 
He slipped and went into the water, the canoe flipped, with the shifting of the weight, and by the time I safely got out of my canoe  to help them, most all the packs were saturated. The slope of the rock carried him deeper and deeper as gravity pulled him into the lake up to his armpits.
We recovered and started unpacking things to see what needed to be done to dry essential items that needed to keep dry, like the expensive 35 mm camera they carried. That’s when it started to rain.
I built a fire. Novice campers are always astonished at the skill of building a roaring blaze in the rain. I did not disappoint them and had them dry and warming up in no time. The camera was a totally different matter. The film was taken out and the body exposed. By this time, the lens was frosty with condensation and nooks and crannies of the device were wet. I shook the camera box many times to expel the water, each time seeing drops fall from it.
The rest of the trip went as planned. The couple got to see the petroglyphs, but I don’t know if the pictures taken with that camera ever made it to the processor. We caught a couple of fish, walleye, enough for a satisfying campfire meal and they swam and relaxed between paddling lakes and portaging trails.
Another Google Images stock photo. These types of rock wall petroglyphs are common to the BWCA and Quetico Wilderness areas.

I’ve guided other trips. I recall this one because I remember getting a big tip. I think I was revered as some kind of mountain man or wilderness guru when I had the fire blazing in no time flat. They didn’t know I used Coleman fuel.

Friday, January 14, 2011

To the Road Soon

Haiku My Heart Friday
January 14, 2011

Haiku My Heart Friday is the wonderful creation from recuerda mi corazon, my friend Rebecca's blog. You can see more Haiku examples or participate yourself by visiting her site.

So sorry folks, I have a one track mind these days. I'm off on an another adventure. That in and of itself is never unusual in my life, but this time, it will be a little different. I bought a small RV. It's called a Class C RV. That means the camper shell sits on a chassis and has a motor.

I'm going to drive this RV down to one of my favorite places in New Mexico, a town called Truth Or Consequences. I know, it is an unusual name. You can read about the name here.

Having previously been named Hot Springs, NM, you can guess that the place has hot springs, and that's the big draw for me. Hot soothing pools of nature's finest water to soak in, bubbling up from the Sacred Earth Mother, pure, full of healing minerals and gentleness, accompanied by beautiful scenery along the Rio Grande. That, and the proximity to great Southwestern/Mexican food. Did I mention it's right around zero degrees up here where I live?

The part about this particular trip that is unusual is not that I am taking an RV down there from my home in the Northland, but that it will be a one-way trip for the RV. Also, the duration that I'll be away. I know  I'll be wasting precious resources by burning fossil fuel, but it's a one way trip and this beast will sit where I park it for eternity, never to pollute again.

I plan on leaving it down there for use on the occasion that I return. I have been going to T or C, (that's what the locals say), almost every year for the past 22 years. I was there last September with my motorcycle and wish I had the RV in place at that time. It would have been nice to have my own lodging sitting there waiting for me to arrive. Now, I'll have it there for future use.

I won't be the only one to use it either. I got a call from a friend yesterday who told me she found out that I was going to put Steve's old RV down in New Mexico. Being familiar with New Mexico in general and T or C in particular, she asked me if she could go down and use it sometime. I told her, "Sure, c'mon down anytime."

I will tow my little Ford Focus down there with the RV and drive home with the car. I rented a car tow dolly trailer from the famed U-Haul and will drop it off rigth there in T or C when I'm done with it.

The trip to set up the RV will last about three weeks. I'll return home for a few days with the Focus, then load my motorcycle into the back of my van and return, with Mrs. Spadoman and my Triumph in tow, to New Mexico and points West.

If all goes as I figure, I'll be back home by March 17th or so. We're lookin' at almost two months on the road. Barb will be with me for a little better than two weeks, until March 4th, and we'll visit T or C, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She'll fly home from the Bay Area and I'll continue North to Eureka to do more riding and hang out with some very good friends.

Some people meditate by doing Yoga or Tai Chi. Some immerse their spirit into religion or follow some doctrine of their own choosing. People run, or walk, ride bicycle or swim and work out at the YMCA. Some write, do art, read, play or sleep to relax. Me, I drive. I love the world going by through the windshield. It is, for me, the most effective and ultimate form of therapy I have ever experienced.

Sorry, no pictures of the RV, I won't be picking it up until next week

Peaceful windshield time

Mind lost change of scenery
New Mexico bound

Wish me luck. I've tried this before. In fact, I've tried to establish a second home, or at least another place to stay while traveling, a few times down in New Mexico. I also tried it in Southern and Northern California and I even tried it with an RV back in 2003. I've rented some artists loft space, I've stayed in a motel with a kitchenette, I've rented a house and a cottage, I've used a camping trailer and a pick up truck pop up topper, I bought an old vintage 1955 mobile home. Every time I abandoned the project and came home to roost.

It's getting late in the game to keep this up both from a standpoint of money and perseverence. So wish me luck. I'm too old for this.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mail Art Call

Check out This site
Art by Michael Harford, 2010

I’ve been on the blogs a while now. I think I actually started in 2005. That means I’m going on my sixth year. I deleted my blog once, and cleaned it out pretty good another time, leaving only posts I thought had significant value. The oldest I have posted on my current blog is from March of 2007.
Some of the sites on my side bar have been there for a long time as well. I haven’t visited everyone in a long time. One of these days I’m going to sit my butt down and go to every blog and make a comment.
Lately, my own blog has made a sort of transition and I dabble in the art of haiku and very amateur photography. In browsing around from here and there, mostly by clicking on a commenters name that I might see often at a blog I might frequent, I have found some fantastic sites and made many new friends.
But I still have many old friends. Some of whom I have had the honor of meeting in the flesh either when I was traveling, or when they were traveling, and stopped over in my neighborhood. On an upcoming journey, I have plans to hopefully meet two or even three or four bloggers that I have only “met” here on these pages.
One such blogger friend is Michael. He calls himself Coffee Messiah. Michael garnered that name as he used to be in the coffee business and has the eye and nose for this important beverage.

A creative selection from Coffee Messiah from his blog

Years ago, I used to sell freshly roasted top quality coffee beans on Ebay, and the name of his blog, also Coffee Messiah, caught my eye. We exchanged back and forth and have been for years now. Last Fall, Michael was in the Minneapolis area and we met for coffee at the J&S Bean Factory, a coffee shop and Roastery in St. Paul that is owned by a very good friend of mine.
Just like I have changed, or rather evolved, from the way I used to blog to the way I participate in blogging now, so has Michael. I’ve been visiting his blog lately and I see he has taken to doing artscapes, or art scenes, cut and pasted on post card sized stock.
Another Messiah original

I went down his side bar and found a blog called Scrapiteria. It is about the art of collage and goes as far as to call the people who do this form a collagist. Scrapiteria is only interested in cut-and-paste artwork. No digital forms. I know I’ll be going back there for more of a look.
In the meantime, Michael, the Coffee Messiah, has put out an Art Call for Mail Art. Mail Art can be found all over the world. It could be called a cultural movement and has been around since the 1960‘s. It involves sending visual art (but also music, sound art, poetry, etc.) through the international postal system. Mail Art has also been called Postal Art or Correspondence Art. In its basic form, I see Mail Art as a post card size work of art. HERE is another site I found with some history and great examples of Mail Art.
At first, when I saw Michael’s Mail Art Call, I didn’t have a lot of interest. But lately, through Michael posting submissions for the call on Facebook, I have seen more and more of it and I kind of like it.
Here is The Coffee Messiah blogsite. He mentions the 2011 Mail Art Call in the first post, but scroll down and see some of the collagist style art that has been submitted or found by Michael. Make sure you scour the side bar and check out the links as well.
Then, go to the Mail Art Call site. It is called The World is a Town. Those words are described as being found in some very old Russian transcripts that date back to the 11th Century. The theme is described and the call is made. Submissions are starting to be delivered to Michael and he is posting them. The ultimate destination for the submissions is an art show, but maybe more might become of it all. More shows, possibly international shows.
I was talking with my twelve year old Grand Daughter. She is the oldest. I showed her the sites about Mail Art and she took off. I had things all over my desktop. I finally put them all into a folder so she could keep all her work together. She is eagerly creating a Mail Art piece to submit to Michael’s call. I have never seen her so enthusiastic about anything, and I love to see her this way.
It was funny how I came to introduce her to Mail Art. A month or so ago, she was drawing these round faces. She was using recycled paper, lined paper. In fact, the paper was the large wide margined lined paper that an early elementary school child might use when first learning how to print.

Anna's first attempt at Mail Art which I find quite impressive

I recalled Ledger Art as done by the plains indians. I told her what I knew, that is, there wasn’t much in the way of paper to draw and paint on, so these resourceful people took to using old ledger book pages. This site has some wonderful examples of Plains Indians Ledger art.
My Grand Daughter’s art looked kind of like the ledger art,or at least mimicked the form by using what she could find, in this case, the lined paper. She had created a series of what she calls, Anna’s faces. Here are a couple of examples of her work.

Ringo the Lizard

I mentioned the Mail Art Call and put the two together. Using her faces to create a submission. She hasn’t stopped yet and is furiously working at creating a piece for submission.

You can tell she is so mature, she uses our names and not Grandma and Grandpa

I am considering taking a shot at creating a piece of Mail Art myself, and since I now have so many ties to some fabulous artists on my own side bar, I hope that they’ll read this, go to Michael’s site and make a submission themselves. From what I have seen over the past year is such marvelous creativity from individuals and art colonies traveling and working together on collaborations and themed projects.
I’m looking forward to seeing the submissions that Michael posts on his blog and anticipate I might recognize some names of the contributers from my own blogroll. I know I’ll see at least one from my Grand Daughter Anna. I’m also hoping that The Coffee Messiah reads this and comments with more information about this project.
It was really good to meet him face-to-face. I’ll be heading down through his neck of the woods one of these days. I’ll have to visit and have a cup of coffee, or maybe tea.
Take care and be well.