Tag Archives: Airbnb

A guy can dream, can’t he? …

Of course, there are now cheaper plane fares to Spain. But those are only noticed once you get home. It figures. If only I had the nerve to pull up stakes and go back at a moment’s notice.

Still, now there’s something to look forward to next year – a return trip, this time a south-to-north Camino-esque hike in Portugal that may well end up in the interior of France. Ellen and Reid can only hope this is the last they read of it. But they know once their old man is unleashed on a topic they’ll get a steady diet of my plans.

October 30, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s been a bit of a slog to get back in the swing of things. There’s been just a little bit of jet lag but a lot of general fatigue. Having slept Sunday morning until 10:30 must be the indicator of such. The right ankle is still a bit sore and tender but it’s on the upswing. Didn’t bother me a lick at this morning’s Y workout. The workout bothered me, but not the ankle.

All the gear is unpacked and stowed and the trail clothes are clean at last. It’s kind of serendipitous to put everything away, wondering when and if those things will be used again. But the answer is of course they will. Since there are different Caminos all over Europe, and since I travel on a budget, the south to north route through Portugal has some appeal. That route, as they all do, ends in Santiago, Spain. So that’s what I’m gonna do next fall: the body willing, return for another hike that will mirror this just-concluded one. There’s another incentive. Sondra and Jody have tickets to the Ryder Cup golf event in Paris at the end of September and what I might do, what I could do, is time the walk so as to meet them in France for the tournament.


I want to experience more of this …


… and this …


… and eat more of this.

There’s a lot of planning to do but mostly that will be the plane ticket and knowing the route since I already have the 16-17 lbs. of gear thing down pat. I did find octopus at Whole Foods and am primed to take a stab at preparing pulpo, a delicacy in northwestern Spain. You boil the octopus for about an hour, slice the tentacles into disks, then drizzle it with olive oil and paprika and course salt. It’s divine and way better than it sounds. I looked for it at every cafe on the trail and would eat it when I could.

I’ve been following the domestic events in Spain with some trepidation. I watched the demonstrations only yards away from the flag wavers and Civil Guard lines. The Catalans take independence very seriously but there are a lot of Spaniards who take keeping the nation together just as seriously. There were an estimated one million pro-Spanish marchers in Barcelona over the weekend and part of me wishes I’d still been around to witness that spectacle. My friend Franky, who lives in Alicante in southeastern Spain, has sent me a few messages about the goings on. He has family up in Catalonia and he’s worried about them but my sense is the Spanish are civil and genial enough to avoid any sort of protracted violence. It appears the majority of Catalans aren’t in favor of separation but the region is so wealthy it kind of bristles at having to share its wealth with the rest of Spain. Spain has only had independence since the facist Franco regime was upended in the 1970s. So in a way they still are undergoing some growing pains.

There have been two Airbnb guests here since Friday and they’ve been just fine. The couple was here for a wedding and are set to leave this morning. They brought their little dog with them and aside from some barking here and there she’s been a good girl. I was a little hesitant about their reservation since they made it while I was in Spain but it was hard to turn them down even though I really wanted the weekend to be one to relax alone rather than worry about having the place ship shape. But all in all it’s been good. I’m still on the fence about this Airbnb thing.

Looking forward to seeing you both, the girls and Tim for Thanksgiving in St. Paul. Ellen, I really do volunteer to do a lot of the cooking. Is Tim planning to smoke the turkey? That would be great. I can concentrate on the stuffing, fresh bread and other side dishes. The photos of the girls in their Halloween costumes have just been adorable. It reminds me of how I used to sneak the chocolate candy out of your bags when you were kids. Must be some sort of adult tradition. Heaven forbid you and Tim would do that.

The weather is cooling down here quite rapidly. Nice to see the change in seasons. Had to turn the heat on for the first time if only to keep my weekend guests comfortable. And their little dog, too.

Love, Dad


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All aboard the mundane train … and a 500th post

When you look at where my kids have traveled – especially Reid – I’m a relative neophyte compared to those globe hoppers. 

But travel isn’t the only thing going on these days. I’m trying to play catch-up in relating all the little mundane things before zooming – hopefully the post-Irma weather will cooperate – out of CLT. It’s not just about letters these days. A couple of phone calls and FaceTimes with the kids helped to fill in the information ‘How are you doing?’ gaps, too.

And today marks a milestone of sorts: It’s the 500th post for this blog. That’s a lot of letters over a lot of years. For those of you who’ve stuck with me (and Ellen and Reid) on this compulsive endeavor, thanks.

September 4, 2017

Ellen/Reid: This morning’s 11 mile practice slog with a full pack went well enough. It took a shade under four hours, which equated to about 20 minutes a mile and that wasn’t pushing it very hard. Most of the Camino days are in the 20 – 28 Km range which works out to about 13 – 16 miles which should, heaven forbid, be doable.


Here’s the whole shebang – all 14.4 pounds of it. Enough for nearly seven weeks on the trail.


And it all fits (with room to spare) in this 2,100 cu. in. Osprey pack.

Everything of consequence has been purchased; the final major item was a silk sleeping bag liner in the event the evenings are too warm in the hostels. My guess is the final pack weight will be in the 16 lb. range. Not really sure how that could be shaved down. It is what it is.

Celebrated Labor Day by rolling out the grill on the drive way and charbroiling a few burgers. Those were the first of the season and were washed down with a couple of cold ones. Read the Camino guidebook while the cooking was going on. Hard to believe in less than two weeks it’ll be boots on the trail.

Miss Emma is atop the car for a run to Charleston in the morning. I am really fatigued by the walk and the activities of the past few days but if fishing isn’t done tomorrow then there won’t be another excursion until mid-November at the earliest. It looks as if there will be a race against Hurricane Irma which I just saw has grown to Category 4. That’s a biggie. In a way, if it hits us in the next seven days that’s good for me in that it might otherwise delay my outbound flight to Barcelona. I did purchase a train ticket that gets me into Pamplona early in the evening of the 14th; I’ll find a place to bunk then meet Jane and Dave at the local aeropuerto. I’ve arranged for a taxi from Pamplona to St. Jean Pied de Port which is our jumping off point in France. We’ll walk five or so miles and stay at a B&B that Jane found. Reid, it is amazing how many nations – 19 or 20? – you’ve visited. That’s just one hell of a list. The offer of minor help to Sri Lanka is still on the table. You’re putting your old man to shame.

There wasn’t any more time to run the rings over to the jeweler for a final assessment as to their realness. They’re sitting in a little box awaiting for my return. It is amazing that the matching wedding band was a mere few feet away from where the ‘diamond’ engagement ring was found. How could I have missed the diamond-encrusted band, let alone it still being there a week later? Bizarre. No more true valuables have been discovered on any of my recent walks. After you’ve found gold and (faux) diamonds, anything less is a downer.

No more Airbnb guests, and it was a little bit puzzling as to why the dearth of visitors until I scoped out the competition. My place is a hovel compared to what the options are; above garage guest quarters, opulent baths, well appointed bedrooms, etc. And I don’t even offer a TV. Maybe that’s the downer that separates nicer places from mine. Perhaps I should promote my pad as ‘pet friendly’ if the dog is housebroken and behaved. That’s doable, too.

Went to the Panthers NFL preseason game and it was a complete yawner. I don’t know why they even bother having those games. Here’s what’s really stupid, however. I found myself watching virtually every play on the JumboTron screen rather than the real action down on the field in front of me. How insane is that?

Okay, I’m at the end of my rope. Time for shower and a bed. Gotta get up before the chickens in order to arrive at Charleston in the dark. The coffee maker is locked and loaded.

Love, Dad

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Two golden rings: one stays celestial, the other crashes to earth

It’s interesting that my world revolved around two rings last week; one celestial, the other at ground level.

If you follow my Pick Up Your Path.com blog, you’ll have seen the photo and tale of the ‘diamond’ ring found by chance in a parking lot. The eclipse and ‘diamond,’ however, shared one fatal trait: both flamed out in a matter of minutes. And to think the dispiriting loss might have been Ellen and Reid’s gain.

Yet news about the 18K gold ring won’t go away quietly into the night; fodder for the weekly letter written today will touch on a truly bizarre find – a second ring. Tune in next week. 

As for the trip to a bridal shop, that stays between us. To borrow from Mark Twain, “reports of my marriage are greatly exaggerated.” Emphasis on ‘greatly.’

August 21, 2017

Ellen/Reid: There is total eclipse mania down here. Not too far away in South Carolina there will be darkening in its totality; here, it’ll be 98 percent or something like that. The last 100 percenter I saw was before you two were born. I remember standing out on Grand Avenue in Des Moines with a box that had a hole punched in it so as not to look at the sun directly. In a couple of minutes later today all the hoopla will be over. Sondra and Jody have invited a few of us to their lake home just over the border. It’ll really be an excuse to guzzle wine on a workday.

I hosted two sweet young women, one from California and her friend from Virginia, last night and they were up around dawn to head down to SC for the viewing. They were cheered by an improved forecast but all it would take is a random cloud to fuzzy things up. Bean counters say the whole shebang is worth a lot of tourist money to the Carolinas. At least it was for me in the Airbnb sense. The overnight visit was the latest in a string of good experiences with guests so perhaps my lodge will stay open a little while longer. The tryst still has me chuckling. What a complete sap your old man was.

You can appreciate this, Ellen, but Sondra’s daughter Chiana asked me to make comments as she toured bridal shops last Friday for a wedding dress. She’s going to be a beautiful bride and although my couture expertise and sense of style is severely limited I was able to give a ‘yes/no’ to some of the candidates. The best Jody and I could really do was fidget. At no time in my past have I ever set foot in a bridal shop. Didn’t you share of photo of yours with me? I don’t recall literally being in a shop to look at dresses.



Don’t ask why nothing was written at length about my best day of fishing ever in terms of jumbo red fish; three reds over 30 inches with the big one topping out at 35 inches. It could be the kids are tired of reading my incessant whining about not catching much.

Geez, I don’t know what to think about the diamond engagement ring. Or at least I’m hoping it is real. The band is stamped with ‘18k’ so it’s hard to imagine a fake stone going atop a quality band. At least the gold would be worth something. Ellen, I’ll follow your advice and get it appraised. It’s not to late to claim it for one of the girls (or you, Ellen). Sorry it won’t work out for you either, Reid. I’m no gemologist by any means but it sure looks like 3/4 karat to me. Another point for it being a true diamond: the ring had been run over and is slightly bent but the stone remained intact. The setting looks top drawer, too. It either slipped out of a purse or some pissed off chick tossed it aside. Man, if that was the case, it must’ve been one hell of an argument. My guess is there was one boatload of remorse once someone sobered up Sunday morning. How the heck would I find the rightful owner? I’ll look around a little bit but it could be a ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ deal. Maybe it will help to offset the cost of my walk across Spain.

You know, there are a few jitters, some nerves and admitted uncertainty about the trek at all. I’m having second thoughts, not about going necessarily, but just wondering if I’m mentally up to a solo hike. There are others who would brush that off. Maybe it’s just nonsense worrying. This week there has to be a decision about a return flight. Someone suggested EuroTrain from Portugal to Berlin to see my friends Claudia and Frank. Then a jet home from there.

Still, my pack is packed and weighs in at 13.6 lbs. before a water bottle is added. I feel pretty good about that but am not sure how much, if any, weight can be shaved. In fact, it might go up a few ounces at the last minute with overlooked gear. I’ve enlisted some friends to make a 10 mile test hike with me this Friday. I’ll be in full regalia, including the loaded pack. The Salomon boots have not been worn other than the floor of the store up in Pinedale. Gotta see if they they, and me, can pass the test. Physically I should be okay. It’s the mental fortitude equation that is still in the balance.

Love, Dad

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Golf guests, tiny birds and wonderment (bewilderment?) about Mr. Orange Face …

My experience as an Airbnb host is beginning to level out. With the funnier-by-the-minute tryst in the rearview mirror, Ellen and Reid are learning the dos and don’ts of opening your home to others. They won’t be following suit anytime soon.

I continue to opine/lament about the regime in Washington; it’s just a dire situation. But I’m in no position to be a politician. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to be an elected official in a nation that would put me in office.

August 14, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Well, the long week has past and I can finally catch a deep breath. The Airbnb couple was just fine as were my friends Christie and Doug. I sacked on the first floor couch (not an unusual napping spot for me) and things worked out in good fashion.

They were all in for the PGA Championship which, after visiting it on Thursday morning, it confirmed for me that golf is perhaps better seen on TV than in person. Sure, when you’re there you can feel the vibe and energy but after a while you wonder how in the hell you’re going to navigate to another suitable viewing spot among the hordes of golf watchers who are largely headed in the same direction you are. The enjoyment of the tournament is all about location, location, location – as in where you get to see most of the action.

The party Friday night was good but I was AWOL from a lot of it, flitting from guest to guest and totally neglecting my job as a host. Sondra and Christe did a lot of the restocking of food and they also shouldered most of the clean up in my unexcused absence. The smoked shoulder was somewhat disappointing. It graded to a C+ at most. Not quite as pulls-apart-in-your-hands tender as previous efforts. I just couldn’t keep the smoker in ‘the zone’ even though the shoulders went on at 4 a.m. The temperature just never reached optimum smoking conditions. The result was fine enough but just not as good as had been done before. Sondra and Jody helped to set up in the garage since there was imminent threat of rain and although the downpour held off we never did leave the garage. Man, did we go through the wine. But a brewery’s worth of beer was left behind. And there’s also enough left overs to feed a small Army.

The hummingbirds have been waging aerial wars for a space at the feeder.


Hummingbirds have made a beeline to the feeder. Their aerial combat for position at the trough of sugar water has been fun to witness.

My friend Sherry counseled me on a red dye-free sugar mix and that has the little flyers zooming to the trough in tiny waves. Their display of combat has been fun to watch although I’m not sure of the damage one hummingbird could inflict on another.

Got the itch to make a foray to Charleston after being away far too long and will load Miss Emma atop the Camry in a couple of hours. Really, really excited to get back down there after a couple of months. There aren’t any lofty expectations for a stringer of reds or ‘specks’ but anything will be better than nothing.

It’ll give me some time away from the news headlines. I’m just so disappointed/disgusted in Trump after the weekend white-instigated violence in Charlottesville. How can he not single out, and condemn, Nazis and white supremacists (the same thugs who conjointly wave the U.S. flag alongside swastikas and the Confederate flag. Great. Two entities that tried to defeat America)? He is just a complete and utter moron. An idiot of the first order. It’s a shame and a shock that I would be a better president. He’s just not a leader, not a sane person, not civil, not reasoned, not diplomatic, not much of nuthin’. And his poll numbers (fake news!) are dropping to near-historic lows. Of course, Mr. Orange Pouty Face probably thinks ‘strength’ and the nerve to make unpopular stances are the signs of leadership. And his bluster on the pimple on a gnat’s ass, North Korea, is just flat-out foolhardy and dangerous. And to think he’s got his little, fidgety hands on the nuclear triggers. We need an old fashioned coup d’etat or military junta. Republicans have got to, at least privately, wonder what the hell is going on. As the mid-terms get closer and Agent Orange keeps this up, a nervous GOP is gonna have to figure out a way to regroup without him. That his base sticks with him doesn’t say much for the American electorate. They’re getting what they deserved – a jerk on yet another golf vacation – or make that a ‘working vacation’ as he calls it. Let’s hope he works himself right out of a job. C’mon Mueller.

Love, Dad

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The old catch up routine … and turning a two cent opinion into a quarter’s worth

Last week’s letter played catch up on usual and sundry matters after a couple of writing-free weeks.

It’s the letter I’ll write in the next half hour that has me steeling myself.

Ellen and Reid are free to make up their own minds on issues of conscience but that doesn’t mean their old man can’t weigh in with his two cents worth. And this past weekend in Charlottesville – and the president’s lack of pointed condemnation of white supremacists – is a case in point. I’m boiling over it. 

It could be that the two cents will turn into a quarter’s worth.

August 7, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Really good to be home from the long jaunt to Wyoming. But as soon as I say that, sooner than later will come the itch to go back out the third full week in July ’18. Already planning on it. Tom was a good car guy; we split the driving and most of the expenses. He’s pretty low key on stuff like this but what I appreciated most was his attention to the planning details. He is just so organized whereas your old man is deficient in that category. The downer about this portion of the Bridger, the Elkhart Trailhead, was the volume of hikers. I’ve never seen so many people in the back country. People were everywhere, many of them armed, which left Tom, Vince and I to scratch our heads “Why?” At any rate, we didn’t do all the trails we planned on. One stream, Pole Creek, was really a wide, raging river and Tom was reluctant to navigate the 40 – 50 yard waist high ford since that kind of swift, icy cold water really isn’t for recovering heart patients. So we reverted to Plan B and hiked secondary trails which was fine enough. We saved about 20 miles in distance which was okay by me. The fishing was just awful. Not sure why (other than all the other anglers pressuring the fish); maybe it was high water and abundance of food. I suppose if we’d of gone higher/farther there might of been more fish.

But Tom and I got into some decent cutthroats on the Grey River which bisects the center of the Wyoming Range some 50 miles west of Pinedale along the Daniel-Alpine Cutoff which is really a long gravel road.


Usually a Tenkara man, my friend Tom was uncanny with his casts on his first day with a real fly rod. He caught some nice fish in the Grey River, a largely unknown fishery in the Wyoming Range.

It is one hell of a lesser-known fishery, and Ellen, tell Tim it doesn’t see a ton of pressure and is every inch what the Hoback is. We pitched tents on a flat spot right next to the water and had a great time. But it is good to be home. (Reid, if you see Tom, ask about his run-in with the Wyoming Highway Patrol. It was a scream. I rode him hard about his ‘traffic violation.’)

Tom and Vince both schooled me on the Camino de Santiago and now the preparations for the walk are in full swing. In scarcely a month I’ll wing it to Barcelona, then catch a train to Pamplona where I’ll meet up with Jane and Dave. That will be so fun. A good way to get the thing started. Already, I’ve purchased new ultra-lightweight hiking shoes (as opposed to heavy boots), 50F sleeping bag, rain pants and rain jacket, a very lightweight umbrella, money belt, Osprey Stratos 36 pack, etc. Did a test pack last night and it looks like I’ll have plenty of room for everything. It should be about 12 – 14 lbs. when all is said and done. That’s really doable for 600 miles or whatever it is. I’ve made a pitch to some friends up in Berlin to crash for a few days but have yet to hear anything. I’ve made no plans for a return flight yet. I may bop up to France or dip down into Portugal. Not quite sure when I’ll return. I guess it depends on the Berlin response.

The PGA golf tournament is in Charlotte this week and I’ll have a houseful. My friends Christie and Doug will arrive tomorrow, and then a couple from Missouri will use me as an Airbnb for four nights beginning on Thursday. So I’ll make a few bucks in the deal. Actually, my last two Airbnb visitors have been great. But they comment about the lack of a TV so I suppose I’ll need to get AT&T Uverse cranked up (against my will). If there is a steady flow of guests, it will make it worthwhile. In some ways I feel like a cleaning service. I’ll be relegated to the couch while people are here. Plus, I’m smoking three pork shoulders for about 25-30 people on Friday night. It feels like I’m biting off more than I can chew but it occurred to me over the lonesome weekend that it feels better with people around than not.

I also got to watch over Marvel, a two year old Aussie, for my friends Andrea and Kurt. What a sweet dog.


Marvel is on high alert for rogue squirrels in the greenbelt. He’s giving Marge a run for her money as the most obedient dog – ever.

There cannot be a more obedient dog in Charlotte. You say a command and he listens. Maybe better than you two did at a young age.

Love, Dad

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A slim month for letters … and severed bear heads

July was an odd month, letter-wise.

Only two single-pagers were mailed, owing to my trip to St. Paul to visit Ellen, Tim, Emma and Georgia followed by the annual trek to the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming. When I get a chance to see Ellen and/or Reid, there isn’t always a letter mailed that particular week. (Note to potential hikers: another six night/seven day backpacking and fly fishing excursion to the Wind Rivers is slated for July 13 – 21, 2018 so set that in stone on your calendar. Feel free to send me a note with any questions.).

But today marks a return to the weekly letter routine. The writing process really isn’t a grind; it’s cathartic and is a joy. A lot of ground will be covered in one page: a recap of the Wyoming adventure, a glut of Airbnb guests (no more trysts that I’m aware of), preparations for the Camino de Santiago in scarcely (yikes!) a month, watching over Marvel the Super Dog, et al.

So there’s no letter to reprint this morning. But one will be written and mailed momentarily. Watch for it next week.


My hiking buddy Tom Bohr and I enjoyed a cold PBR at our traditional stopover en route from Jackson to Pinedale: the venerable cowboy bar The Elkhorn in Bondurant, WY. It’s the same joint where untold hundreds of visitors have written snarky notes on $1 bills that they pin to the pine walls and boxcar ceiling. It’s also where, if you shoot a bear in season, you plop the severed head on the bar – and earn yourself a free hat.

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The sister act in St. Paul … now, it’s on to see Reid

I love my two little granddaughters, but holy cow, their energy level is off the charts. That’s as it should be. 

This week it’s on to another sort of trip. Part of the journey involves a chance to see Reid; the other part will be pure effort. If only I could tap into the girl’s energy reserves.

July 10, 2017

Ellen/Reid: The Uber driver just dropped me off at the door, and it is good to be home. Man, Ellen, I just don’t see how you and Tim do it. Those girls don’t slow down, even for a second. Let’s just say that Emma is on top of her game. Smart, active – and demanding. And Georgia is so sweet but she’s got her petulant little ‘I hear you but I’m not listening’ swagger going, too. But that’s probably how you want them to be rather than bending to your will every second. It means they’ve got little minds of their own and that’s a very good thing. That I usurped Emma’s room put another layer of hardship on your bedtime efforts to get those two down. They just play off each other before they finally get to sleep.

Tim is just a workaholic on that deck. It is going to be a work of art and it will be as solid as a rock. He’s saving you guys a ton of dough. There’s no question it will add a lot of value to the house. It will be like a two season room. When the weather is decent you will be living out there. I’m just sorry I wasn’t of more help on the thing but he just had that circular saw and the hand drill moving, moving, moving all the time. Maybe I’ll be able to see the finished product before long. No doubt you’ll post photos sooner than later.


My son-in-law Tim was getting after it on building a new deck. He was a pure workhorse all weekend up in St. Paul.

It was sure hot when I stepped out of the airport. Just very humid and not at all Minnesota like. The temps were so pleasant and the humidity so low, relatively speaking, of course. Uber is the way to do things. Not sure why I was the last adult over age 30 to use Uber but now I’m hooked.

Adrienne’s wedding was just the icing on cake for the weekend. It was an unusual ceremony but so tasteful and just so much fun all the way around. It wasn’t’ stuffy or pretentious. Wonderful to see old friends from Des Moines. Everyone seems to be getting older and you can lump me in with that crowd. Yikes. It does put aging into a perspective. That location was perfect, although you can burn that video of us dancing, Ellen. Make sure it surfaces no where else.


The Minnesota wedding of a daughter of a good friend let me catch up with good friends from Des Moines, such as the Dahlquists and Hemmingers.

Geez. As you said, Reid, ‘breaking it down’ was really more like ‘broken down.’ No way your old man has dance moves. No wonder the more senior crowd got off the dance floor and left it to the young set. That’s how it should be. It was great to see Afton there, too, and you guys were a good addition to the final attendance. I should send Bob a small check to offset the damages in additional wine consumption. What is known is a few of us really went after the G&Ts. I sure felt groggy Sunday morning. The lesson is you can’t mix wine, beer and gin.

The intern from Caldwell Presbyterian arrives here next Friday and will stay for a few days, even while I’m gone to the Bridger. That will give her some privacy and she can come and go as she pleases. I hope to get John and his wife over for a dinner sometime while she’s here. It may be that it will be delayed until August when I’m back from the mountains. We’ll see. As for the Airbnb part of things, the first caller went elsewhere, and I had to turn another inquiry away just today since the intern will already have the spare room. That’s too bad. At least there are some inquiries being made. It must mean the room is priced appropriately even if I think it’s a bit on the low side.

There were plans for a big BBQ party here next Sunday but I’m put those on hold until August while I zoom around trying to get ready for the big trip West. Reid, I hope to leave super early Monday morning and zip into Chicago in the late afternoon per usual. It appears I’ll stay with Tom for the night since we plan to get on the road very, very early and drive as far west as we can, maybe even to Laramie although thats a far poke. That would make for a short second day into Jackson. We need to pick up Vince in the early afternoon. Can’t wait to hit the road for the whole shebang. It’s what living is for.

Love, Dad

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