My pad as an Airbnb? Maybe, but is washing sheets and scrubbing a bathroom really for me? …


One of the chief reasons I bought a three bedroom townhouse was the potential to lure the kids to visit the South. That’s been somewhat unsuccessful and that owes to them living their own lives with a limited timeframe to trek to Charlotte.

That doesn’t mean others might not find my third bedroom palatable for short rentals. It might be farfetched, however, to consider myself a hotelier. I’ve asked Ellen and Reid for the advice. No counsel from them as yet.


June 19, 2017

Ellen/Reid: I’ve enjoyed from afar each of your travels these past few days. Reid, NYC sounds liked great fun, and Ellen, you and the girls seemed to have a great time in California (even though it was blistering hot). Both of you guys just seem to get around. I texted Tim a bit ago and he reported the fishing has been slow owing to strong winds. Those would play hell with a fly fisherman. But the winds will die down and he’ll land tarpon. I’ll head to Charleston early tomorrow. I’m suspicious about the fishing due to warmer water but I can’t go down for the count without swinging. Reid, Cap’n Tripp the kayak guide said they’ve been killing it. But how? He’s been using a bait fish called menhaden that he nets from a boat but I don’t have that facility on the kayak. Otherwise, I’ve been mystified about where the fish are and how to catch them.

There was a nice article about Air B&Bs (sic) in the Sunday New York Times, and it got me to thinking about renting out my spare upstairs bedrooms. How would you two counsel me on the prospect of my pad as an Air B&B?

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I’m mildly intrigued at the idea of my place as an Airbnb. There’s more homework to do, however, before I agree to the idea of washing sheets and scrubbing bathrooms for others.

It sounds like something of a lot of work in terms of changing sheets and buying a TV for the spare room, and maybe cooking breakfasts, etc. But it sounds marginally interesting, and possibly profitable. Of course, the Times wonderful reporting lists both the good and the not so good (rude and demanding guests, etc.). I would appreciate your thoughts.

I’m having a tough time shaking some of the holdover weight gained from before the operation. I mean it’s not critical but it would be nice to stay in the same size pants for a while. It would also make it easier to hike next month. The pint of ice cream I wolfed down last night and today won’t help matters much.

Ellen, in two weeks I’ll be in St. Paul. I’ll still plan to rent a car so you don’t have to haul me around all the time. One question I have for you is: what are people wearing to weddings these days? I’d like to wear a coat and tie but if that’s not the norm, then let me know what you’d suggest. My golf clubs won’t make the trip. There should be a lot of Des Moines people there and it will be fun to catch up. (I just saw an article that lavishly praised Des Moines as one of the top cultural spots in the country.)

And then scarcely 10 days later, Reid, I’ll be with you for a day in Chicago (and hopefully on the way back, too). My workouts have been bruising but the gym work has to be done. There’s no way I’ll head into the hills in as good a shape as last year when the hike was a relative breeze. The knee feels pretty good for a change.

The lettuce out back is kaput. I’ll pull it up later this week. But the container tomatoes are going gangbusters and just this night I had a couple of BLTs, along with a beer. It was too hot to sit out on the porch. It has really been steamy here but that’s what you expect in the South.

Had a pretty good Father’s Day, capped off by talking to the two of you (and the girls). Those two little lovies just sound so refreshing and energetic. I played golf and started out fairly strong but collapsed like a house of cards on the back nine. Just can’t seem to keep any sort of concentration. Maybe that’s an age thing. I cursed like a sailor at some shots.

Here’s some news; Jane and Dave H. may walk a few days of the Camino de Santiago with me. Due to their schedule it may push my departure back a couple of weeks to mid September to accommodate them but that is fine. We’ll probably iron things out at the Furstenau wedding in Minneapolis. I actually think it would be great fun for those two to join me for whatever length of time. One thing I do know, Barcelona will be the likely landing spot for me since it costs so much less than London. The other thing I know is it’s gonna be here before you know it.

Love, Dad

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A travelogue from the couch …


I guess this is what retirees do. Hit the road. 

This must be – has to be – the first letter Ellen and Reid have ever received that deals exclusively with their old man’s travel. Maybe not the travel itself, but the looking forward to it. Now if only I was better at the planning …


June 12, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Tomorrow marks a drastic change for me in terms of fishing with Miss Emma in Charleston; I’ll finally overnight there to milk a second day out of the excursion. I booked a fleabag on the west end of Rte. 17 north of Bowens Island. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out since the down-and-back in one day routine just flat wore me out. Don’t ask why this tact has not been taken before. Beats the hell out of me. I’m cheap, I guess.

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Bowens Island is my escape route. Escape to the water. Miss Emma got a full taste of the brackish salt creeks last week, and she’ll get more of same this week, too.

There’s an added factor in that my friends Jill and Troy want some of my fish as an glitzy appetizer for a big, formal sit-down meal they plan to serve to 20 – 25 guests. They are both chefs as opposed to cooks so they’ll doll up whatever is caught and really make it delicious. So for once we will be a production fishing operation. It means we can spend way more time on the water on Day One rather than scoot out of town at 2 p.m. or so to beat the horrid Charleston traffic. So it’s exciting in a way.

Wyoming is really creeping up soon. This time next month everything might be in the pack. Got to get some new tires for the Camry for the Westward trip since there are nearly 48,000 miles on the car in barely 19 months. My trail meals have already been purchased from an outfit called Packitgourmet.com. The food is all dehydrated rather than freeze dried which takes, in my opinion, too much time to rehydrate. What I’ve seen from Packitgourmet.com is some really good stuff. Almost cuisine. Lunches will be the standard peanut butter and flour tortillas along with tuna in foil packs. Tom buys dried fruit at Trader Joe’s which is really good. Breakfasts will be equally standard; oatmeal with raisins and Starbucks instant coffee. The Tyvek hustled from a construction site has been trimmed to fit the one man tent (and the two person tent, too, Reid). That saves some weight and it compresses better than the plastic sheets. We’ll stay at the super-duper Four Winds in Jackson on the eve of the hike. Reid, Pinedale was nearly full. I had to scrounge for a motel. Must be a lot of roughnecks staying overnight. No way I want to spend another night in the car under a full moon like we did 11 or so years ago. What a memory that is.

Been paging through the Camino de Santiago guide, trying to wrap my arms around the whole idea of an enormous trip. It’s interesting that the author of the guide asks readers early in the book to consider why they would make the trip at all. Really a good question. He assumes, and treats readers thusly, that most make a pilgrimage rather than treat it like a hike or sporting event (my friends Tom and Vince and Richard who’ve all made the trip think it’s more of a walk than a hike). Certainly it’s not race walking or push every day for miles, miles, miles. As I look at the map of Spain – my sense of geography is just awful – my anticipated side trips to Madrid and Barcelona won’t happen. Both are just too far off the trail. In fact, I might book my initial flight in to Barcelona rather than an airport to St. Jean Pied de Port, France, the traditional starting point for the Camino. That way I can spend a day or two traipsing around Barcelona and then hop a bus toward Pamplona which is three days walk from St. Jean. Tom sent me his exacting and incredibly detailed (go figure, huh, Reid?) gear list and that is an enormous help. I’ve been bending Vince’s ear, too.

All this has me thinking about other adventures of this sort that might be made since we shouldn’t be afraid to live. It would be so fun to launch Miss Emma offshore to paddle the length of the Carolinas. It’d take some planning but what fun that would be. There isn’t much other international travel that trips my trigger. Reid, remember that guy we saw up in the Bridger who walked the Continental Divide Trail? Now that would be an extraordinary feat. I’d do that, too, but again, I’d need Tom’s sense of planning since such minute details tend to escape me. No surprise there. Sigh.

Love, Dad

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Maizie the wonder dog and a week of minutiae …


Ellen used to ride me like a rented mule on a dog; ‘get one, get one, get one.’ But with my schedule, fairness to the animal is a consideration. No dog deserves to be alone for extended periods.

But young – and ultra shy – Maizie is giving me some second thoughts.

The bulk of the week, however, was a matter of routine.


June 5, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s a cool, rainy morning and it tabled morning golf with my friend Garry; but in a way that’s a good thing. Nothing wrong with vegging with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. I’ll head to the Y in a bit to put in some more work to shed a few stubborn pounds (ugh) and up the preparations for the Bridger. It’ll be here before you know it.

It was sort of a vegging weekend. I bailed on Saturday and Sunday golf to spend time with Maizie, Sondra and Jody’s adorable little Aussie. She’s just the sweetest dog ever but is the shyest animal I’ve ever been around.

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Maizie was just an adorable houseguest for the weekend. If there was to be a dog in my house, it might well be an even-tempered Aussie.

You go to pet her and she flinches or ducks away. But once she warms up to you she becomes your shadow. I couldn’t go anywhere without her tailing me, even to the shower. And she was in-out, in-out the entire weekend. She made fast friends with the other dogs in the neighborhood. But I’d watch her again in a heartbeat.

My other houseguest for the week, Eva LaValle of Des Moines, left on Saturday for home. She was just a dear, and so appreciative of the housing. She did earn her raft guide certification at the Whitewater Center and now she’s on the prowl for a rafting gig where she can put her new-found skills to work. She might even return to Charlotte later this summer for a short term stint at the Center. I told her she’s welcome to stay here until she finds something more permanent. She was incredibly low maintenance. As in no maintenance.

Did play golf for a day on Friday up in the mountains with friends Lynn, Ted and Alice at a course called Olde Beau. It was a one of the prettiest blue-sky days you can imagine in the Carolinas. Of course, my game stunk up the course but that wasn’t of much concern. We just had a good time. Not sure why my iron game is in the tank but it is.

Tim drove me crazy with the pics of his latest smoked pork shoulder triumph. That guy can really bring it. He’s kind of thrown out the challenge flag and now it’s up to me to respond. Sounds like this could be another weekend to toss on the pork. He’s more of a methodical smoked meat disciplinarian than me. I put it on for 14 hours and that’s about the extent of the labor.

It was great to hear you and Liz got to spend time with Sondra and Jody, Reid. They are just great, great people. I wasn’t aware his son lived in Chicago so Jody got to double dip in a way. Those two don’t miss out on much fun. U2 and the Cubs – in a single weekend? While I’m watching the dog? I was up in Davidson last night for a dinner and wasn’t here when they retrieved Maizie. So there was no chance to ask if they went to Gibson’s for steak. But I’m really glad you had a chance to be with them.

Ellen, I’ll make flight plans today to get to St. Paul on Wednesday, July 5 for the Furstenau wedding.  I’ll rent a car this time since I’ll be all over the place. (Tell Tim to fire up that smoker.) And you guys should have a great time in California while Tim chases tarpon in Florida.

Reid, I’ll be in Chicago late on Monday, July 17. As of this writing Tom and I hit the road early on the 18th since we have to pick up Vince in Jackson on the 20th and it’s a solid two day drive. My plan is to take us through the Nebraska Sand Hills since Tom has never seen those natural wonders. What a walk it would be through those grand hills. In the long ago I dreamt of running through that part of the country but we know how that worked out.

And the Camino de Santiago guide book is getting something of a workout. I need to make my flight plans this week (and my plans in general since I’m a laggard on that aspect) since that adventure is getting closer, too. There’s so much to do for it. Tom has been there and I suspect much of our road time will be spent picking his brain on what to do and how to do it.

Love, Dad

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Two letters for the price of one …


Trust me, the fallout from the ‘missing persons’ case is mercifully at an end. It garnered far more attention than it deserved.

Still, there were a couple of loose ends to tie up – including a surprise follow-up visit by police officers involved in the case. (What? You think they could possibly escape being on the receiving end of a letter? Dream on. Scroll all the way down to read my note of thanks.)


May 30, 2017

Ellen/Reid: There was one final bit of residue from the missing persons case. I was in the kitchen last week about noon when two police officers walked onto the back road behind the unit. I knew right away what was up and raced down to the garage and opened the door. I said “you guys must be  looking for me, and one of them said “are you Dave?” Yeah. One was Evan Akers and the other a Ms. Bajic. Both had visited the house during the disappearance and they were just stopping by to make sure I was still around. It really was good to meet them. We had a laugh about all of this, and they took a moment to remind me to make sure someone is told the next time I go on any extended excursion. All that’s coming up is the Bridger and Spain.

Come to think of it, I’ve got to get cracking on the Spain trek. The guidebook arrived last week but am chagrined to say it’s yet to be opened. Tom Bohr has nickel and dimed me with tips and ideas and that has been a real shot in the arm for planning. He and Vince are my tutors for the trip. I’ll tap into another local friend, Richard, for his thoughts too since he and his wife walked the Camino a few years ago. All that help is just what’s needed.

Sort of a quiet week otherwise. Had a small group of 12 over on Sunday for smoked pork shoulder and brisket and ribs. The smoking starting at 3:00 a.m. since it required a 13 – 14 hour process. The earliness cut into my sleep time but I napped a few times in a chair in the garage while babysitting the Weber. Tim’s advice really helped me and the meats turned out just great. There was enough to feed a small army. Much of it is still in the fridge even though as much as possible was given away as people departed. The best move of the night was to relocate the proceedings from the garage – the hot sun poured right in – to the breezy and shaded common area behind the house. We moved everything; tables, food, chairs, coolers. It all went. That really helped. We capped off things with a small fireworks display of very small fireworks. The store had a display of weak, puny North Carolina approved fireworks so it was a total impulse buy although I was reminded that I could head over the border to South Carolina for some real explosives. Hey, a few sparkly fountains and some sparklers were about all the group could handle.

A young woman from Des Moines is here for the week as she goes through raft training at the U.S. Whitewater Center just northwest of Charlotte. Eva is the daughter of Mike and Lisa LaValle of Des Moines, and she’s really a treat. Bob Furstenau made the arrangements and I was only too glad to host her.

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Eva was a low – make that no – maintenance house guest while she toiled at the Whitewater Center for her rafting certification. And she earned it.

Eva arrived on Sunday just in time for the party and she fit right in. You just can’t find a lower maintenance guest that Eva. You can hardly tell she’s here. She’s in town to earn some sort of raft guide certification so she has to be out there every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Her parents, particularly her dad, Mike, are true chefs and have been in the DSM high-end restaurant scene for years but I sense her heart is on the water or in the mountains. As for the Whitewater Center, it is really one hell of a place, and it’s changed a lot, Reid, since you were here all those years ago. They’ve worked in more trail riding, yoga, trail running, zip lines, live music, etc., to jazz the place up to draw more people, which it certainly has.

Looks like no fishing in Charleston this week. Just no time for it. I’ll watch Sondra and Jody’s new dog, a sweet little azure eyed Aussie named Masie (sp?). She’s still a puppy so my hands will be full. She and I will go to the Whitewater Center for music on Thursday then I’ll park her at a kennel on Friday as I golf up in the mountains. I’ll retrieve Masie early Saturday then we’ll just sort of veg the rest of the weekend. That makes her my kind of dog.

Love, Dad


May 30, 2017

Officers Bajic and Akers: On a severity scale of 1 to 10, my alleged ‘disappearance’ probably rated a 2 but that’s almost beside the point given how you guys responded to the call for help. I’m not sure if a missing persons report rates a badge of honor or not. Probably not.

I’m still trying to piece together how events led to your inclusion in the manhunt yet my kids (Ellen in St. Paul, MN and Reid in Chicago), and the other searchers, were very grateful for your involvement and professionalism. (Honestly, I’ve tried to put the topic to rest since every time I talk to the kids about it they use the opportunity to climb all over me and let me have it, again.)

Still, you two and anyone else in the police department who abetted the search really demonstrated what you do on a day in, day out basis. You all have an admittedly tough job and minor flare ups like the one I subjected you and a whole lot of other people to is no doubt par for your course.

When I was in the kitchen the other day and saw you two patrolling out back, I knew in an instant who you were and why you were there. It had me chagrined a little that you would take the time to stop by and case out the joint to see if indeed I was still around and among the living. That was a nice touch of follow up on your parts but in some ways I’m sorry to have subjected you to it. When I found out that people considered me a goner and on the AWOL list, one of the first calls I made from my car on the way home was to the 3-1-1 line to have the search called off. Of course, the operator bucked me, appropriately, to the 9-1-1. The dispatcher said it wasn’t as simple as just making a call; when I did get home another call would need to be made so an officer could stop by and see for him/herself that it was me in the flesh. Since I was hosting a dinner for friends that night, it would have been morbidly fun to have an officer stop by in the midst of the meal to check things out. Fortunately (for you, most likely) a friend who formerly was in law enforcement was able to set things straight. But I was only too glad to meet you when I did.

So on behalf of my kids, my friends and other worried folks, thanks again for doing what you did. Sure, on the severity scale, maybe it didn’t even rate a 2, but to them – and eventually me – it’s not the number that counts, it’s the result and how all of you responded together that really counts. Trust me, this likely won’t happen again. If you knew how my kids blasted their old man and how my friends used the chance to pile on, you’d know what I mean. Thanks again for your effort and service.

Best regards –

Dave Bradley

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Post-mortem on a self-induced ‘three alarm fire’ …


The dust has settled on my three day disappearance; one thing for sure, it gives a person something to think about. Notably, this is what friends are for – to keep you on the straight and narrow or, at the least, to stay in touch. And bust you upside the head when necessary.

(On a side note, police officers Bajic and Akers couldn’t escape being on the receiving end of a letter. But more on that next week.)


May 22, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Well, what a helluva week that was. Geez. Saturday and Sunday were spent kicking myself for putting you and others through the wringer. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, the least of which is to not rely on snail mail to let you know where and when I go traipsing about whether it’s to Wilson Creek or Charleston or wherever. It’s interesting how any of us react at the very real possibility of the dire and the unknown and the truly serious; there are elements of panic, finality, danger, loss, and any of some other things. I’m chagrined that so many people rallied to your plea for help; Sondra, Jody, Chiana, Troy, John, Ted, my neighbor Dan and more. It’s interesting, too, how urgency creates an instant community among folks who would not otherwise be in this mode if not for precarious circumstances. People are used to the cordial familiarity of their social bonds, not the ‘what the hell?’ news that comes to bind them even tighter in unexpected emergencies. What that potential bad news does, in the beat of a heart, is reinforce what is valued and held dear. So if there was anything heartening to come of this three alarm fire it’s that it put your belief system to a very quick test. It sorts things out for you in a New York minute. I had a moment of instantaneous panic, too; Tim’s ‘call me as soon as you get this’ text really sent my mind racing about ‘Oh my God, what happened to Ellen or the girls?’ That really put me in a full sweat. I’ve spent some time, but not enough as of yet, to thank people for caring. I’ll do that in the next day or so. There was some dark humor, however, in hearing about the full-court sleuthing you two and Sondra, et al, did when you all went into full CSI mode; calls to Charleston Outdoor Adventures, Harris Teeter, ex-flame Felicia, the police and whoever else you badgered. That was pretty impressive on your part. And a key under a doormat? That’s my idea of security? Holy cow, what a doofus.

But that’s over and done with. As for the hike to Wilson Creek, it was great. But the fishing was a bust. I worked my tail off for a few small fish. That’s the price you pay for an area that sees a relatively high number of trekkers/fly fishers. The water just gets a lot of pressure. The fish get no respite from the volume of baits tossed their way. But it was beautiful and the company was wonderful. I would go unplugged again with certain caveats (see above paragraph) since that’s really the best way to enjoy the wilderness. One thing I wouldn’t do is buy a dehydrated meal that includes a ‘heater’ that negates the use of a stove. All you do is add water to activate the heating element. The package literally chugged steam like an old locomotive as the food got super hot. It was bizarrely wild. Then you have to lug the soggy thing back out again.

The new smoker will be put to the test again this Sunday when Troy and Jill and a few others come over to sample brisket. It’s a 14 hour gig so I’ll have to be up really early to fire that beast up and get to cooking.

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The new smoker got a workout – and less than a week after I got grilled by family and friends.

I’d better produce an edible meal or I’ll never hear the end of it. I may throw a pork shoulder on there that can be shredded and put in the freezer once we’re done cannibalizing it. On balance, Tim does a more focused and methodical job with his smoker. He’s the Gold Standard right now for barbecue.

 

Went to the Y this morning but the exercise center was shut down as staff was set to install a whole new set of Machines of Torture (aka ellipticals) that I’ll need to prime for the Bridger. Played golf on Saturday and got over the post-surgery jitters pretty quick although in hindsight another week of rehab might have been more prudent before swinging the sticks. But this past week wasn’t too much about prudence, was it?

Love, Dad

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If only … if only … if only … and the prescience of paragraph 4


For those of you enlisted to a frenetic ‘search committee,’ if only this letter had arrived a day earlier rather than be read at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. If only.

It’s all about six benign sentences in paragraph four.

Think of the angst and anxiety and hand-wringing a simple call or text might have saved everyone. But my armchair after-the-fact analysis/critique will be saved for this week’s letter to Ellen and Reid you’ll read next week. Really, it will be an open letter of appreciation to the rest of you.


May 15, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s kind of weird to walk into the garage and not see the Harley. I’ve taken a second look several times, and when I pull the car in the garage, the subconscious takes over the steering wheel to pull the Camry a tad to the left so as to give clearance for the bike. It’s only when the car goes into ‘park’ that the realization is made that there’s no longer any reason to give the Road King leeway since there is no Road King. But I don’t miss it at all. There are no second doubts, no ‘yeah buts …’ – none of that. It’s gone, someone else is the proud new owner and that’s perfectly okay. It really is.

Miss Emma is atop the car and that was the real acid test for the surgery. It was awkward to lift it into position but I really didn’t feel anything other that some anxiety. I thought there was a faux-pinch in there but it hasn’t hurt since then. It’s been a four and a half weeks and the literature and the surgeon said return to full activity after four weeks. But I reserve the right to ask some of the Charleston Outdoor Adventures staff for a bit of muscle power tomorrow when the time comes to hoist her back atop the car. There shouldn’t be much of an issue on paddling since my legs are bent and my feet get some leverage against what amount to foot pegs inside the boat. I’m excited about again going down – and back – again although the weather is warming up in a hurry and that doesn’t spell much in the way of good fishing. I’ll view it as a shake down cruise of sorts. There won’t be any oysters this time around; that season is over and I’ll miss the back-and-forth banter with the black oystermen. I don’t know what they do for off-season jobs. Maybe work the shrimpers?

Ellen, you looked great in your cap and gown. It’s okay you didn’t go to the actual ceremony. In a way that’s sad, however, since going through the ritual seems to be falling by the wayside. I would have gone to yours too, Reid, if you’d wanted to go through it. It’s a nice recognition for all the work that you guys have put it. I do still grin at the thought that your ‘ceremony’ was last weekend and not this one.

I’m going to go hiking and camping with some new friends Wednesday through mid-day on Friday. I’m kind of excited about it. The Osprey is all packed and ready to go.

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The dehydrated meals for the Wilson Creek trek served as a metaphor for added food-for-thought: as in telling someone – anyone – when I head out of town on an extended excursion.

We’ll head to Wilson Creek and my fly rod is making the trip with me. Don’t know what’s catchable but one of the guys is supposed to be real knowledgeable about the fishing thereabouts. And Reid, there won’t be any infernal bear barrels.

Got invited to Adrienne Furstenau’s wedding the weekend of July 8 in Minneapolis. It’s an honor to be asked. It has me rethinking the plane flight. Scarcely nine days later I’ll pull back through the Midwest to pick up Tom and head west to the Bridger. What if … I drove up for the wedding, spent a few days in MSP, drove down to DSM for a couple of days, then headed east to Chi-Town for a few days before journeying West? I guess that would remove me from Charlotte for virtually the entire month of July and a few days into August. Ellen, are you guys going up to the lake that weekend of July 8 since the 4th falls during the week? That may figure into my plans so let me know ASAP.

The Spain trek is coming together. Ordered the guide book today and a new Osprey Kestrel pack. It’s about one-third smaller than what I tote into the Bridger so it should be a good option to carry just about everything I’d need without being too big and bulky. I’ve yet to pour over Tom’s gear list for the Camino but will do that in earnest when the guide book comes in. Now, I’ve got to get some sort of camera. Reid, any ideas? Nikon? Canon? Other?

Love, Dad

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A trip North, the girls, and black dirt …


For a long while there was active thought given to pulling up stakes in Charlotte for a move to the North. Aside from closer proximity to Ellen and Reid, part of that allure was the specter of a small garden (which I miss terribly here) where the good earth isn’t poured from a plastic bag bought at a home center. It’s already there.

The dirt is black and fertile. If you can’t grow anything there, you can’t grow anything anywhere. Reid I sure hope that’s the case after we left a little something for Emma and Georgia to enjoy a year or two from now.


May 10, 2017

Ellen/Reid: I must say the high point of the trip was your graduation ceremony, Ellen. It was hard to hold the tears back as you walked across the stage to accept your masters diploma.

No, wait. Ha ha. How could we miss it by a week? I laughed about that several times on the ride home. But those things happen. You just gave us something to grin about. Let me know how the real ceremony goes this coming weekend.

It really was a good trip. What I do know is I don’t possibly have enough energy to keep up with the girls. They are just a whirlwind of go-go-go all the time. Emma just goes non-stop. The house is coming together nicely although Tim has his work cut out for him on the yard. It was neglected for so long. I don’t know how you get rid of the weeds without spraying copious amounts of weed killer, and you don’t want to do that while the girls are running about.

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While under “close supervision” by a site manager who lounged in a chair nursing a beer, Reid does the heavy digging to prep a raspberry patch. This black Minnesota soil doesn’t need organic matter to improve its fertility.

Thanks for letting Reid and me plant the raspberries. In hindsight, Reid, I wish we hadn’t of mixed in the peat moss. It just created such a mounding effect, and that good black dirt probably didn’t need the added organic matter. But Tim can sculpt that space a bit if he thinks it’s a tad too unsightly. I sure wish I had a bit of a garden like that, let alone that good black soil.

Thanks, Reid, for driving up and back with me to MSP. That you could spell me behind the wheel really helped. And it was good to talk. Just keep your head up on the job thing, keep working your contacts, keep plugging forward. All it takes is that first conversation, that first proactive outreach and that will set the tone for what will follow. I think sometimes it’s hard to take that first step but once you do the ice is broken and the process will become a little more habitual and old hat, and it will build your confidence at reaching out and putting yourself on the line. That’s really how you’ll land a job. Just keep at it. Going after a job is a job in itself.

It was a tough drive home from Chicago to Charlotte. I was running a fever and had the chills and it was just a slog all the way. Bunked at some fleabag north of Knoxville, Tennessee but didn’t sleep a wink. Should have kept going. I alternated between shivering and being hot. But I just set it on cruise control and let it go.

I did stop in Asheville to check out those small homes I’d emailed you guys about. I was so hopeful about them. But they were packed into what basically was a flat hole carved out from a hillside. The homes were nice but the setting left something to be desired. There was absolutely no view of anything, and there was no covered garage on the smaller units. So those were crossed off the list and I’ll move on from there. It was very disappointing since I was ready to pull the trigger on those style of smaller homes. I’ll head back up that way before too long to take another look. I really don’t have much of a feel for Asheville.

Just RSVPd to Adrienne Furstenau’s July 8 wedding in Minneapolis. I’ll fly this time rather than drive. They have events all weekend. Then, scarcely 10 days later, I’ll zoom through the area again as Tom Bohr and I drive west to the Bridger Wilderness.

The new microwave was installed this morning. It’s a behemoth. It sticks out a few inches further than the old defunct model and that will take some getting used to. All that money just to be able to nuke a cup of coffee. Then it looks as it my water heater has gone kapoof. It’s only money.

Love, Dad

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