Monthly Archives: May 2014

No turning back…


There are a couple of types of exhaustion; one from simply being tired, the other because you’ve burned the candle at both ends the over-activity spectrum. The latter variety has more appeal to me.

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May 19, 2014

Ellen/Reid: There’s no turning back on the kayak now; I dropped $550 at REI for a roof rack and other gear. Now it’s on to the kayak itself (Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Angler Package). The plan is to order it today from Austin Kayaks. I’ve got to rig some sort of pulley system in the garage to suspend it from the ceiling. But I’m excited about the prospect of going after fish although there’s a ton to learn about rigging rods, what to take on board, water safety, etc. Reid, that photo of the giant redfish was from the pier adjacent to where we stayed in Oak Island, so we know the fish are there. Now it’s just going after them. I don’t think I’ll be in open water very much; mostly the inter-coastal waterway and other reedy areas until I find my sea legs, so to speak.

Kayak ordered. Check. Roof rack installed. Check. Next stop: Oak Island, North Carolina.

Kayak ordered. Check. Roof rack installed. Check. Next stop: Oak Island, North Carolina.

Ellen, tell Tim I’m sorry to renege on the Gregory pack. I was all set to ship it with your iPhone stuff but at the last second wondered if John would go to the Bridger next summer. If so, that pack would be helpful for him since I’ve got the new Osprey sitting on the first floor. All this year’s Bridger gear is laid out on the carpet. I ordered a new stove from Anti-Gravity Gear that is fueled by denatured alcohol. It means for the first time in nearly 45 years, I won’t take an MSR stove along on a trip. That is a huge deal for me. That saves about 6 pounds of fuel since only 10 oz. of denatured alcohol is needed. Tom and I had breakfast on Saturday, and he’s just a whiz at this stuff. He has us going against the typical flow of hikers once we get to the Cirque of the Towers. That means we’ll see fewer people and we’ll have a better choice of campsites. We’ll be above timberline a lot of the time.

The notion of other non-Ellen/Reid/Emma travel is wearing on me. I’ve come to the conclusion Continue reading

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Staying the hell out of the way…


I don’t get the kids down here to Charlotte all that much, what with their lives and goings on. That’s what the experts probably advise: prepare them as best you can then stay the hell out of the way. So I go to them and that works just fine. It makes when we do manage to get together all that much better. The brood is in good order. I saw that first-hand last week in St. Paul, MN.

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May 12, 2014

Ellen/Reid: What I do know after this past weekend is that I will return – today – to the semi-vegan diet that was totally abandoned while around you guys. But it was the sort of weekend you wouldn’t have any other way. It was totally fun and now we can put a wrap on three consecutive weekends of Emma’s birthday celebrations. She had to be on complete sensory overload what with all the people and all the stuff. Her grandfather met his sugar quota for at least the next year. Geez. That was a lot of sweets, much of it admittedly self induced. But a few days in a row isn’t that bad. Here’s to hoping we can all return to a dietary routine.

Ellen and Reid above the St. Croix River just across from  Minnesota. This is what they've become - good adults and good people.

Ellen and Reid above the St. Croix River just across from Minnesota. This is what they’ve become – good adults and even better people.

One thing is for certain, the steaks that Donna and Tom grilled to perfection are not the sort you can find in the South. Those were incredible. Nothing like Midwestern beef. Saturday night was just great fun, and their cabin was beyond belief. This morning I’ll call the wine shop that’s close to them and send them some sort of gift certificate on our joint behalf for whatever wines they normally consume, which would seem to be pinot noir. It was so gracious of them to let me crash at their house. About the only time I had to talk to them, and that was with Tom because he nearly rivaled me in getting up at the crack of dawn, was in the morning since I was hitting the sack so early.

Ellen and Tim are the best of couples - and parents.

Ellen and Tim are the best of couples – and parents.

Emma has just grown and progressed so much even since Thanksgiving. It was such a contrast from then to now. Sure, she’s just two but she’s putting away her toys and being responsible, mostly, much of the time. She’s just a good little girl. It was marv to see Kristin and Jeff. It hadn’t been since the wedding. Kristin seems happy with Delsin, who seems like a really good guy, and Jeff seems relieved to have graduate school over and done with. He seems to like the Twin Cities and I hope he finds the right sort of job.

Boy, you guys sure have good dirt up there. Thanks for letting me plow asunder some of the garden and do a little planting. Other than the weekend Emma was born, that’s really the first time my hands have gotten dirty by handling soil. If only I had a small garden plot to tend to. That would be complete nirvana. A few seeds here and there, plus pulling a few weeds, would be a total joy. A space smaller than the one you have would suit me just fine. Nice to see the raspberries coming up again. That’s the one perennial I wish could be grown down here.

Emma wasn't all that sold on a tram ride down to the St. Croix. Tim's arms seemed to take care of any qualms she had.

Emma wasn’t all that sold on a tram ride down to the St. Croix. Tim’s arms seemed to take care of any qualms she had.

The flight home was pretty uneventful. I hit a jackpot of sorts in that there was a vacant center seat between me and the adjacent passenger. That really was a bonus in today’s age of jam-packed, sardine-ish seating and flights. Got home early and was immediately greeted by heat in the upper 80s. Not that it was oppressive but it was just warm compared to Minnesota. My intent was to walk but I ended up on the couch and closed the evening with Game of Thrones. I don’t think this season is quite as gripping as the others before it.

There was a crush of emails when I logged on this morning about 6:00. But those are all sorted or disposed of by now and it’s back to the work routine. Thanks again for this past weekend. The one thing it bolsters is that there aren’t enough of those long weekends. I’ll continue in my quest to get you guys down here at some point yet this year, so keep me in mind if you have a few spare days.

Love, Dad

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Goodbye to my friend Ray…


Not all letters are written and mailed to Ellen and Reid. Indeed, no letter was prepped last week as I was due in St. Paul to see them both.

But a letter did go out to the widow of Ray Sculfort. He was a good friend to many. I was not able to attend the funeral; Jan would hear from me nevertheless.

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May 6, 2014

Jan: I wish there were something to say that could somehow ease things for you, Andie and Joe and your grandchildren.

The best I can do is is recall, like so many others have done in the last few days, what Ray meant to the Scarpinos, Eldreds, et al, plus the countless others like me in Des Moines and outside it.

Ray was among my truly good friends although the last few years I’d done a poor job of holding up my end of the bargain. When the news reached Charlotte this past weekend (from several sources) there were a flood of memories of campfires in Minnesota, your backyard cookouts and lots of Harley rides. And that’s just a start. Those good times really are beyond count. I sent a quick note to Ellen and Reid and within a few moments Reid had responded: “So many good memories.”

Some of the very best times in my adult life were in the company of Ray. Our frequent hunting trips (so often empty handed but that was never the point) to spots south and west in Iowa were seldom about the shooting and the game, but rather the small talk in the car as we crept along dusty roads hoping that the coffee would last and that, with any luck, a bird might appear, not that they were in any particular danger from our less-than-accurate marksmanship. It was just a hell of a lot of fun talking to Ray and simply being with him.

I guess, too, what really strikes me was that Ray was just a good guy. That’s pretty high praise and no doubt how the rest of us would like to be remembered. The sum of his parts included smarts, astuteness, playfulness and and an unfailing sense of caring. He was fun to be around (although despite his urgings, he could never turn me toward the GlenLivet). When your time with Ray was done, my automatic assumption was ‘let’s do that again.’ You wanted there to be a next time for whatever it was you’d been doing together. You’d look forward to the next time.

We don’t ever replace irreplaceable guys like Ray. I don’t think Andy and Joe have fallen too far from the tree, and that’s a testament to you and your husband. How your kids turn out is a good measure of how the parents have done their job. Ray (and you) did that nicely.

Not long ago, I started thinking about the potential of retiring and perhaps moving back to Des Moines to be closer to Ellen and Reid. And you know who was in the top tier of folks I wanted to rekindle things with? You and Ray. That really had a lot of appeal for me. Now, though, I will still hold on pleasantly to the memories of your husband who was my good friend and the good friend to so many others. I think that is the most lasting and highest honor you can bestow on someone who meant something in your life: That they were the type of person you want to remember. And you can be sure I will.

Best regards, Jan, to you, Andie and Joe. If there’s anything I can possibly do, you have only to let me know.

Dave

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A bug that won’t easily go away…


There will be no letter written to the kids this week; I see Ellen and Reid on the weekend. But there will be another letter written in sadness today or tomorrow and you’ll see it next Monday.

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April 28, 2014

Ellen/Reid: I broke out the new Scott A4 fly rod up in the North Carolina mountains on the Linville River in a last-minute trip yesterday with a buddy of mine named Ted. Apparently the trout weren’t too impressed by my new rig. Few strikes, no fish landed. It could be attributed to the faulty casting/fly selection skills of the fisherman or the fact that here in the East, the waters see a lot of fishing pressure. I did catch a couple of red eyed bass but they weren’t much beyond fingerling size and would not have been enough to feed Emma. The streams are heavily stocked by the state and just as quickly de-stocked by the locals who follow the release trucks and toss corn and such at the unwary fish. To get to wild trout we need to be higher up and well away from the beaten path. But it was still great fun and the Blue Ridge Parkway is nice to drive along. I was just exhausted from the long day.

After 30 years with the same Los Rios Anglers fly rod, it was time to come into the new age with this beauty by Scott. It'll be better for backpacking - and it damned well better catch fish.

After 30 years with the same Los Rios Anglers fly rod, it was time to come into the new age with this beauty by Scott. It’ll be better for backpacking – and it damned well better catch fish.

Ted and I will demo some kayaks this week at a kayak demo event. On the drive back yesterday he asked how much I’d use a saltwater kayak and I said 3 – 4 times a year. Really it might be more than that. Part of me wonders if renting wouldn’t be a better situation but I’ve got the kayak bug and it won’t easily go away. I do want to get to the coast with some regularity on the weekends. As Ted says, I can always sell the thing if it doesn’t pan out. You know what they say about boats (and this may include kayaks): the best day of ownership is the day you buy it and the day you sell it. I hope that’s not true.

There are four Republicans running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina and from the environmental standpoint, they’re all half baked. All are global warming deniers (“false science” says one). I posted some NASA numbers last week to refute these buffoons. They’re more interested in social issues (guns, gays, etc.). Their idea of better business is to screw the little guy and middle class, gut public education and cut corporate taxes. This is what I’m dealing with down here. I read last week that the wealth of our middle class in the U.S. has been passed by that of other nations. All of this neglect of education, working conditions, a true living wage and so on piles up. It has to be about more than tax treatment for the 1 – 2% and social issues. The GOP just doesn’t get that.

I went to a Saturday night radio broadcast of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice put on by a friend at a public radio station up in Davidson. It was really pretty good, and it was good for me to soak up a little culture for a change. The production values were good, and it reminded me when I was a kid, before we had TV, of sitting around the radio. Geez, that puts the ‘old’ in your old man.

Went to the new ballpark in the downtown on Friday night. It was just incredible and so much fun. The park has major league features with a small stadium feel. The backdrop to the outfield are all the downtown buildings. You could see people watching from rooftops. It was a gorgeous evening and it was just so impressive. Charlotte is by no stretch a major league city (not even football or basketball in my opinion) but we can support AAA baseball.

I’ve gotta get off my can and do my b-day shopping for Emma. I need to come laden with gifts for her next week. Ellen, I thought I was supposed to be getting the little trike or scooter for her so let me know what to do on that score. Reid, that is a generous offer by Liz to let me stay at her parents. You know what ol’ Ben Franklin said about imposers like me: guests, like fish, go bad in two days. And I’ll be there for three.

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