Tag Archives: Charleston

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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A spiffy space for my girls … and the specter of the knife


One week it’s St. Paul, the next week it’s Florida. By my standards, this is a fairly active travel schedule. Ellen has a completely made-over home and my granddaughters are enamored with it – as is their grandfather.

But the travel is about to grind to a halt, at least temporarily. What’s a month on the shelf?


February 27, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It was great to be up in St. Paul to assist – at least partially – with your move, Ellen. You and Tim did a ‘wow’ of a total makeover to that house. Don’t sweat the stone-topped coffee table. Of all the things that are wonderful about the home, that is a blip on the design radar.

The girls sure seem to love it. What a pair of total goofs; Emma ever the Drama Queen and showperson, Georgia and her angelic little presence. There’s more space for them to roam (and spread toys) but they each get their own rooms.

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Bedhead or not, sweet little Georgia loves her room with a view.

The upstairs windows are to die for; such light is magnificent. It seems highly unusual that an older home would have such spacious wraparound windows but that is a real plus for you guys. And you seem to have a nice amount of storage vs. the other house.

The kitchen is the real star of the show. It is a real cook’s kitchen. I could’ve been content to spend all my time in there to whip things up. You’ll love cooking and baking with gas. There is absolutely no comparison to that hard-to-clean glass cooktop that was tough to control temperature-wise. Gas is so much more efficient and manageable. And again, all that storage. Then again, you might jettison some things that aren’t needed; i.e. tupperware up the wazoo. That is hilarious. A whole drawer devoted to the stuff. On a more serious note, I’m already shaking from the DTs after going without Tim’s smoked pork shoulder. To call it incredible is to sell it short. It was unbelievable. 11 hours on a smoker will do that to hunk of meat.

The move didn’t really bother the hernia thing. But it was a mild downer to find out today the March 16 surgery would be a double hernia affair. The doctor said 4-6 weeks of recovery before full activity. There can be very limited movement after a couple of weeks. But I suppose the good news is it’s not very invasive in the sense of not being sliced open. Three small holes on each side of the abdomen. A week of feeling pain and then it should subside. The operation has caused me to cancel a golf/St. Patrick’s day trip to Asheville but it will be a good tradeoff to be able to do my floor exercise and full daily YMCA regimen. I miss the pilates and other floor exercises. Already, I’ve added a few pounds and can feel the lack of hard work in the gym. But he said there were no restrictions on the trip to Florida which will begin early tomorrow morning. That’s a relief. With me will go four rods, associated fishing gear and my golf clubs. We plan to fish offshore a couple of times and golf a couple of times. My guess is I’ll see significant kitchen duty which is okay with me. If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll probably make a stopover in Charleston to fish. If I’m up to it. In some ways I’m anxious for the surgery to be over and done with. Still have a few Medicare issues to work out and if those don’t pan out I’ll dip into my own pocket. It’s gotta be done.

Pretty good response to the non-move. People here are accepting of it although there’s been almost no contact with friends in Des Moines. One thing that was noticeable in St. Paul was how cold the wind can really be. It was bitingly cold on the walks to the hardware store and around the block with Henry. Those temperatures are something that won’t be missed by any stretch.

Reid, I do want to plot a trip to Chicago. Let me know what dates in April or May work for you. I’ll be totally on the mend by then. I’ll drive as far as southern Indiana then head due north up your way. Probably a Thursday – Sunday excursion if that’s okay with you.

The next big decision is do I keep the house on the market and find smaller digs in most likely an outlying part of Charlotte. My tilt right now is to take it off the market and stay put since it’s an incredible location and one I like – a lot. Not as nice as your spiffy new space, Ellen, but good enough for me.

Love, Dad

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Patience is running out – I mean the patience of Ellen and Reid


It’s been a total, complete, patience-testing grind as far as the house sale and move to the Midwest are concerned. The kids have to be on the margins of fatigue; they’ve seen me whine and moan about it in the weekly letters for months on end. They’ve got to be as tired of reading about it as I am writing about it.

But all the stewing and fretting is about to come to an abrupt end. More on that next week.


February 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: I dunno, this house thing is taking on a personality of the macabre. A flurry of visitors last week after the new listing but now nothing. There was a low ball bid from an investor looking for easy pickings but the offer was rejected out of hand. I have faith in the new Realtor. He thinks when a townhouse across the way closes sometime soon at $400,000 it will change the landscape entirely and will be the comp we need.

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It’s very old keeping the house spic & span for the few lookers who’ve paid a visit. But that’s all about to come to a screeching halt.

We’ll see. I was sitting out on the front steps yesterday wondering how this has come to this point. But my chin is still up. I keep my fingers crossed but they’ve been crossed for so long we can only hope they don’t freeze in that position.

Saw six deer foraging out back yesterday morning including one large doe that had some sort of bad rear leg injury. It was everything the poor thing could do to hobble along with the rest of the herd. Probably got dinged by a car over on Sharon View. With the coyotes around she probably will enter the food chain in fairly short order.

It was nearly 80F here yesterday. Some sort of record high. Could’ve played golf but the stinging rebuke from the sad round the day before was still with me. My skills are eroding and fast. It’s not the loss of distance that bugs me. It’s not hitting the ball solid.

Really had to work hard at Charleston last week. When a full moon tide is in effect, it’s like paddling against the current of a major river. At one point we reached the confluence of tidal current from two different branches of King Flats Creek and we literally paddled in place. Plus there was a harsh in-our-face wind that exacerbated things. It was really a grind. But I suppose that’s what makes the sport what it is. You have a paddle and you use it. My mindset on the drive down – knowing the conditions would be this way – was just to hang in there and get through it. I was also comfortable with the idea there might not be anything caught. But Miss Emma (I love that little boat) stuck with me and we landed a bunch of nice reds. What’s really fun is to see the expressions of the black oystermen when you ask them “Hey, how about a fish?” They work so hard for their share of oyster clusters. Nice to share the bounty. It truly is.

We head down again this Wednesday. I’ll cook for 20 on Friday and have got to make sure there’s enough redfish and black drum in the freezer. People have their pick of fish or steak. The menu will be slightly blackened fish with a fresh salsa topping that’s a spin off of Cowboy Caviar. Or, I’ll marinade several flank steaks for about 72 hours for the grill. I’m hoping to run into Mr. Richard during our voyage and if we catch enough of anything, we can swap a red or two for 40-50 pounds of oysters which would make for a fabulous grilled appetizer Friday night. People have been instructed to bring a side dish. I’ll bake some bread and whip up roasted brussels sprouts with garlic and pine nuts and keep that in reserve as needed. There’ll be sautéed shrimp, too.

Reid, watch for a call from my golf friend Luke. He’s an Irishman who founded a very successful IT company with 100+ employees that does business in the States and the UK. He’s got a strong entrepreneurial side that you might find interesting and he knows the ins-and-outs of the industry you’re trying to break into. He’s a great thinker/doer with a high energy threshold. And make sure you call Tom and Gene since it’s a little embarrassing for them to keep asking me when you’ll be in contact. They’re all good businessmen who have so much more to offer than the tepid ideas and encouragement you keep hearing from your mother and your old man.

Alright, enough. Ellen, I’ll see you and the girls and Tim next week. I’ll work the weight machines this week so I can have the strength to help you move. Can’t wait to see your new place.

Love, Dad

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Losing at fishing and a countdown to the Bridger …


I’ve been AWOL the past few weeks with my blog posts (the letters to Ellen and Reid have still gone out) as I’ve wrestled with internal turmoil about my newspaper gig. That’s resolved now, and it’s time to keep on keeping on.


May 31, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Geez, there have been better weeks than the one that just passed. I dunno, stuff was just setting me off for all the wrong reasons. The letter to you is usually the first thing on the priority list but even it got bypassed for the first time in a long while. There just doesn’t seem like enough time to do the things that I want to do.

That includes a purge of stuff to get ready for the sale. The garage is a good starting point, then the closets, and maybe some of the furnishings. Only enough needs to be kept to furnish a two bedroom place. Hopefully, one can be found on a single floor so there’s no more going up and down the infernal steps (I re-goofed up the left knee by jumping out of a moving golf cart about a week ago. Idiot.). Things are pretty ship-shape mechanically speaking – knock on wood. Units here appear to be selling fairly briskly and at reasonable prices so we’ll see. The goal is still an Aug. 1 date on the market. Ellen, you guys came out smelling like a rose on the sale of your place, and the inspection report was a good one. That gives you clear sailing to pack up and move out. Let’s hope that holds true for the home you’re buying.

Went back down to Charleston with my buddy Ted and he crushed me from his rental kayak. He nearly swept all the bets we shook on. I got the first fish but he claimed the most and the biggest. What was disappointing was we only caught one in the slot, a speckled trout, which we gave to a black woman at the dock.

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My friend Ted enjoys a cold beer – at my expense – after he out-fished me on what should be my turf: Bowens Island. But if you’re going to lose a bet, no better view than the elevated deck at the Bowens Island Restaurant.

Ted caught nine or 10 black drum to close me out. I caught eight, including a small shark. For like the fourth or fifth straight trip, there were no reds boated which was really disappointing. Reid, I think the barge is completely overfished and there’s not enough time for the fish to replenish their numbers due to all the unceasing pressure.

Since we intended to shove off at 3:45 a.m., he stayed the night in the guest room. The ride down and eight hours on the water were fine enough, as were the shrimp and grits at a really nice restaurant Ted knew of in downtown Charleston, but the ride back just finished me off. I only drove about 50 miles before ceding the wheel to Ted. I literally zonked out in the passenger seat. It was the most tired I’ve been in my adult life. I just could not wake up. We pulled into the garage about 11 p.m. and once we got everything situated and stowed, I re-zonked out in minutes. There has to be a better way to do things. Maybe it’s time to experiment with a new place on the water. I may try the open ocean just off Folly Beach but it would be a two hour paddle to reach there from Bowens Island so I’d need to find a closer put in spot. But this down-and-back nonsense has to stop.

Played golf twice with my group and didn’t comport myself very well. At the last second people re-jiggered my announced pairings and it throws everything out of mental whack for me even if their changes are minor. It just throws me for a loop and unfortunately, I teed off on people to let them know it. I need to bottle that in rather than let my emotions get the best of me. I embarrassed myself. But I’m a short timer in that someone else will take over the helm and we’ll organize by committee. A group of 12 has agreed to rotate the responsibilities to put together outings. I’ll be scot-free in terms of zero responsibility to herd the cats. I’m really looking forward to that, as no doubt are the people who witnessed my outbursts this past weekend. Perhaps that’s what really has me in a pissy mood this morning. But I am looking forward to two-plus weeks in the Bridger not that long from now. At least that will give me something to look forward to. That, and videos of Emma learning to ride her bike. Ellen, you can send as many of those as you can. Let Tim know the big Gregory pack and a few bags of coffee beans, plus some little things for the girls, will be shipped this week.

Love, Dad

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I embody anti-tech in its highest form …


This being afraid of technology is getting old. Reid, in particular, has to be shaking his head at his dad’s dunce-headedness. I just don’t get file sharing and storage and transfers of who-knows-what and deep down apparently I don’t want to get it. Some people embrace gizmos and are inherently adept at handhelds, downloads, apps and anything else that smacks of electroni-mania.

Not me. I’m not feeling it.

But I’d better come up to speed pretty damn quickly. Otherwise I can add technology to the long and ever-growing list of things I know little about – and that includes fishing, too.


April 11, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Here’s how the lion’s share of my day has gone. A 6:45 a.m. call (mercifully, I was already on my second cup of coffee) from the newspaper to see if I could pitch in on editing articles. ‘Of course’ was the answer – and that was just the start.

To bring a semblance of coordination to the editorial structure, they instituted something called Box.com. It’s used to manage stories and the such – and me, as the new editor, is supposed to master the dog-gone thing – but it is so utterly bamboozling to me. I worked all day to log on, went back and forth with the Box.com staff – and still didn’t get online with it. So I meet tomorrow with the Mint Hill Times new owners to get it all straightened out. Then I head to a local high school to cover my first-ever baseball game plus do a couple of features on a fan and some savant who is a wizard with high school baseball stats.

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This Good Friday service at the town’s main intersection was my first stab at ‘spot’ news for the Mint Hill Times.

But it should be fun, and in some ways is really exciting. It’s genuine work and is right down my alley. I just like the news. My editorial guidelines for writers was finished tonight and tomorrow I begin to call everyone to introduce myself and lay down the law on how they ought to put pen to paper, etc.

All this work stuff has shoved aside my budding painting career. Not that anyone will miss my artistic endeavors, but it was fun while it lasted. The walls won’t wait for art to be added. I’ve got to hop to it and get canvasses done before it just becomes another pipe dream that, like a few other can’t-miss projects, has gone unfinished. That’s no fun.

It’s been unusually cold here the last few days. Lower 30s in the morning, 50s in the afternoon, tops. Only 10 from my golf group showed up to a really great course up in Hickory, about an hour’s drive away. It was just too cold and windy for golf. The unseasonable cold has also stalled planting my basil and cilantro for fear they would wilt in the nearly-freezing temperatures.

Speaking of cold, fishing in Charleston last Wednesday was a total bust. Make that another bust in a string of busts. It was just frigid with a hard Continue reading

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Do bad things happen in more than threes? …


They say bad things happen in threes but after these past few weeks it seems entirely possible that they occur in bunches of four or more.

But no one was hurt in the most serious of the instances and the true cost was only money. As Ellen and Reid found out in last week’s letter, it’s how you react to what’s on your plate that really matters.

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November 22, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Well, it’s been one hell of a last 30 days; job loss, phone dunked in the saltwater near Charleston, and then the crash.

Waiting today to hear from the appraiser but the policeman at the scene saw the Camry’s front end and said “That looks like it’s totaled.” But we shall see. At least no one was hurt. The officer called it a ‘garden variety’ crash at a site – where two lanes of traffic join into two lanes from opposite directions on Tyvola onto I-77 northbound. The poor Hispanic woman was at a dead stop in the right hand lane as I had my eye on traffic merging from my left. When I began to speed up, bam, there she was. Of course, having no phone was a real problem since she spoke little or no English. My first words to her were “Are you okay?” and then she returned to sobbing to whomever she was talking to on the phone.

In the eyes of the insurer, my Camry was totaled. But the silver lining is that no one was hurt. I'll spend sufficient cash for a new car but as they say, it's only money.

In the eyes of the insurer, my Camry was totaled. But the silver lining is that no one was hurt. I’ll spend sufficient cash for a new car but as they say, it’s only money.

She hadn’t called 911 yet. Really, not having a phone was the most maddening part, and Verizon has been almost no help in helping me get a new one. What really frosted me the day before was that the replacement phone from the insurance company was ‘reconditioned’ – so, I’d been paying $10 a month on insurance for a ‘reconditioned’ phone whose battery wouldn’t hold a charge. I almost went nuclear at the Verizon store when they wouldn’t replace it on the spot and that I’d have to work through the insurance company. What a total rip off. The ‘new’ phone ostensibly arrives sometime today. Once it does, the Verizon manager said she’d help me set it up.

The police were nice enough to let me retrieve a few valuables – notably my golf clubs – and gave me a courtesy ride home. For the first time, and hopefully the last, I got to sit in the rear seat of a cruiser surrounded by iron bars. The police woman and I had a nice Continue reading

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No wolves at the door …


So, what do I do now?

Whatever that is is already beginning to unfold. Perhaps the larger point for my two is to continue to underscore that things indeed are ‘… far better than fine and far better than well.’ It’s not enough for them to read between the lines; they’ve heard as much from me as I double-up on assurances.

So that’s where we are today. Adjusting, as many of you have, to the new regime that is retirement. I mean, what the hell? The hand has been dealt and now it’s about playing the cards.

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November 2, 2015

Ellen/Reid: So, what do I do now?

That’s the $64,000 Question (that’s the title of an old game show when I was a kid). I can’t sit around and read the paper all day or spend time posting inane fishing videos on FaceBook or just idle around or walk or pick up trash. There has to be something of substance out there for me to do. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing to work a part time job. What that might be, there is no clue. No real thought has devoted in that direction but the noodling on it begins right about now.

There’s no particular rancor directed at Bank of America. It’s just a big business, that’s all. Employees account for roughly 60 percent of expense cost, and something had to give if the bank wanted to make its numbers and assuage The Street. Some friends have asked if I was shocked but the correct answer was no; if you didn’t feel this coming something was wrong. My run there was fine although I was never sure they knew what they had in me. They are caught in such a trap of corporate lingo/non-communicativeness that it is beyond its ability to escape. It’s just the way it is in business. What’s maddening is that is not the way the rest of the world communicates. They ought to gravitate toward plain English/plain spoken-ness. But I guess musing about that kind of foolishness isn’t my concern now, is it?

The ‘package’ arrived over the weekend via FedEx and it’s nothing that wasn’t expected. There were a few pages of added – and likely unintended – tidbits included; someone’s hand-written notes about me Continue reading

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