Tag Archives: London

The line is drawn, however, on environmental issues…


Rarely is anything ever written on these pages with an overt political bend.  How the kids ultimately vote or who they side with is their business.

For the record, I am a centrist Democrat who does think Obama has gotten the wrong end of credit for the current economic lethargy.  My preference is to pay attention to Warren Buffett‘s economic opinions given that his brain power is considerably more than my own.  Considerably more as in light-years more.  (I’d love for him to answer the question “For each year in the economic doldrums, how many years does it take to recover?”  If he wants to, he can figure in the prior eight years of economic malfeasance of the then-in-power party.)

The line is drawn, however, on environmental issues.  The climate deniers and coal junkies and those who look the other way at environmental indiscretions (for the sake of “jobs”, don’t you know) are selling out the long term for no assurance of short term gains on any front – jobs, energy independence, etc.  When you have a spare moment, Google Pinedale, Wyoming and smog.  Case in point.

So it is that every so often I will remind Ellen and Reid that it is our collective responsibility to the Emma’s and the generations to come to be, to quote the venerable Successful Farming magazine from a couple of decades ago,  good “stewards of the land.”

While I care much about those things that have people out of work or fetter businesses, when it comes to preserving our chunk of space, there can be no compromise.  Protect it now or lose it.  Sure, I have only one vote, but those who run afoul of securing our earthly future won’t get it.

Here is last week’s letter to my two.

—————

August 13, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Reid, it’s great having you home on this side of the pond.  Not that your British hosts were not ever so gracious, but it’s always nice to be back in the friendly confines.  Now London can get back to its normal drab self with the Olympics gone and foreigners heading to the airports.  Their rain can return too.  You came back just in time for a mean-spirited and divisive political campaign.  Politics as usual.

The Observer ran a small editorial from me last week about while I agree with the GOP on certain issues there is steadfast reluctance to vote Republican as long as the polarizing nitwits continue backsliding on environmental issues, but so far there have been no rebuttals.  That means everyone agreed or they thought it was too mundane and inconsequential.  Probably the latter.  Mundane and inconsequential are my specialties.  Jeez, if we can’t protect what we have for the Emma’s and subsequent other grandchildren out there, what will we protect?  It only figures that since so many GOPers are science deniers as well as public school doubters, we’ll have to school ‘em all over again.  Oh, to be the teacher with a ruler in his/her hands to whack ‘em on the knuckles, or, better yet, upside the head.

Reid, I am okay with you and Liz cohabitating.  Some time ago there was an article about how the vast majority of couples test those waters, and that seems fine enough.  I can’t think of any particular doctrines you are violating.  Just be sure you keep up your end of the bathroom and kitchen cleaning and you’ll be all right.  Those are lines that can’t be crossed.  Liz’ standards will become your new standards.  It will be a wholly new experience but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

My ribs are well on the road to recovery.  Sleeping is easier now.  Sitting for extended periods is a bit of an issue but my guess is another 10 days and things will be back to normal.  I walked 18 holes yesterday pushing my cart and am no worse for wear.  I milked the woe-is-me rib malady to the hilt with Felicia but she’s wising up to that ruse now.  It was good there for a little while when it came to fetching another cup of coffee or retrieving a beer.

I laughed out loud at the shot of Emma sacked out on your laps on the plane home from Michigan.  You have to hand it to the girl, she can sleep anywhere at any time.  It’s a gift.  We should all be so lucky.  Can’t wait to see her again.  On that point, what are holiday plans for you guys?  The door is always open here in NC – hint, hint – but will understand if you have other plans since there are forces other than me tugging at your shirttails, too.

If you do venture down here, it would give me enough time to replace the air conditioner.  It went down for the count on Friday, and there has been no call from the repair company.  I’m afraid a whole new unit is in order.  The old beast was a contractor grade unit, meaning it was not top-of-the-line, and it had likely reached the end of its useful life.  So the fans in the condo are on full trying to circulate the warm air.  Knock on wood, but to this point the temperatures haven’t been totally unbearable.  The units on either side of my place have some insulating value and I’ve keep the shades down.  Ellen, you and Tim added a bathroom, kitchen and master suite, and I’ll keep pace with a new air conditioner.  When it’s on, it will be cranked down all the way to mark its debut.

Okay, I’m outta time and outta here.  Glad you’re back Reid, and Ellen, keep the videos and photos of Emma coming this way.  Adds spice to my otherwise drab existence.

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Back to normal…


This was a weekend for varying members of the clan to hit the skies.

Reid landed Friday in Chicago after his extended work trip to London.  He’s already back in the swing of things.

Emma had her parents accompany her to Michigan and back.

Emma easily claims the Gold Medal for her knack of sleeping anywhere and everywhere – including a comfy spot on her dad’s lap on the trip home from Michigan.

She displayed the inherited trait of being able to sack out on a noisy plane and wake just in time to announce her presence to other passengers within 2 -3 rows of her.

Moreover, now that Reid is back stateside, we will resume the practice of tossing his weekly letter into the mail.

This brings our world back to normal.

Here is last week’s letter to the kids.

——————

August 6, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The ribs are feeling better day by day although the couch remains the most comfortable place to sleep.  I still feel like a doofus for allowing the slips to happen at all.  Tom thinks a change from heavy boots to more of a running/cross training shoe would help.  Could be.  All in all it could’ve been much worse.  We did see one rescue helicopter venture into the high country, and the destination appeared to be in the direction of a group of 20-some kids we learned about from their adult leaders.  We also read in the Jackson Hole paper about a woman from New York who suffered a compound fracture of the femur – ouch, ouch, ouch – near Lake Lozier (which we sped by save but a few minutes of fishing time) just before we went up top, although there was no real news about how they got her out.  An online search found nothing.  Now that would be real, excruciating pain.  My aches would have been like so many insect bites by comparison.  My golf has taken a hit while the ribs mend but I haven’t missed it a whole lot.  There’s plenty of time to get back in the swing of things down here, like 12 months a year.

So it is back to the daily grind.  That’s okay, I like what I do.  My mid-year review was last week and it was good.  It prodded me again to think about when to pull the plug, and if they will have me until I’m 65, that would be close enough to call it a ‘career’ – if such things still exist.  If you’re counting, that’s about two and a half more years of toil.  Of course, you’re only as good as your most recent week so even the best laid plans can go awry.  But that seems relatively feasible.

Sorry to bother you both with my back-and-forth nonsense about the iPad and MacBook Air.  No sooner had I signed the iPad sales slip at Target when a serious case of buyer’s remorse set in.  The Air seems a relatively good choice.  I leaned on Bob F., too, for his advice, and to sum up he said why get an iPad when the hand-held iPhone is so closely akin to it.  I like the way the Air handles and feels, and the operating system is probably a little more stabile.  Yet to be bought are the equivalents to MS Word.  I’ve got to keep the clunky Acer around for the church newsletter but that is probably the highest and best use for that contraption.  Ellen, the Air comes with Facetime, so keep little Emma within arm’s reach in case Gramps calls.

Reid, you have travel in your veins.  Barcelona?  How the heck does one get from London to Barcelona in the face of all that Olympic zaniness?  Good for you.  I’m envious that you just pull up stakes and go.  It takes some nards to do that when you’re by your lonesome.  What is the total count of nations you’ve visited?  11 by my rough tally, and that may be off a few.  Hey, when you are back stateside, look at the first opportunity to A) get your carcass down to Charlotte or, B) tell me when we should get up to Chicago so you can meet Felicia and vice versa.

Keep the Emma videos flowing to the Southeast, Ellen.  She looked so unhappy, but cute, on the way back from Cass Lake.  She’s a good sport to be in her car seat all the time, especially when she wants to stretch her legs and kick out the jams.  One thing about that sort of trip; you know you’re not childless anymore.  It probably seems as if you had to pack enough gear for a round-the-world-cruise.  Get used to it.

The Olympics have taken up some of the evening tube time although by confession, it seems pretty formulaic; gymnastics, swimming, basketball and the track events.  It gets pretty boring sometimes.  I’m a shoo-in for gold if/when it comes to lazing around on the couch while the rest of me mends.   Too bad I don’t get to go to London to collect my medal.

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The habit-practice-compulsion


Last week’s letter (we are the well into the 11th year of a weekly note to Ellen) never made it to a door side mailbox before it was read.  Reid opened his within minutes of the email attachment arriving at his London office, and Ellen read the post days before her letter arrived by postal delivery in St. Paul.

The habit-practice-compulsion (it is whatever you wish to call it) just keeps rolling along.  It has its own energy and sense of momentum.

But it consists of the energy of one.   Momentum-less is the original dream: prod non-letter writers (parents in particular) to adopt regular letters as a legitimate low-tech means to simply stay in touch with their kids.  The sense here is almost no progress has been made to move even a small number of people from Point A to Point L (letters).  That failure is a super-duper-sized elephant in the room.  Case in point: subscribership remains low.  I’m not reaching parents at the logical separation point when kids flee for college and the nest is suddenly empty.  That’s when writing a letter might seem to be a viable thing.  The dream, it turns out, is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Other factors may be at work.  My blog itself could be suspect or ill-created/managed/promoted or worse yet, just flat-out uninteresting.  Likely on those counts and others.  Maybe the forest is too close and I can’t see through all those infernal trees.  But I wouldn’t label this as a wholesale rant or whine.  Instead, it’s recognition that the formula isn’t working.  One thing for sure, I’ll keep trying.  Someday the light will come on and I’ll spring forward with an approach that is more viable.

So the blog remains essentially a running, public diary of correspondence between me and my two.  Maybe that is enough.

This morning’s letter to Ellen and Reid is freshly minted and won’t be posted until next week.  The same-week release of last week’s letter on the excursion to the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming used up whatever free pass I had on that score.

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Idiocy knows no borders in the Bridger Wilderness


Most adventurers to the Bridger Wilderness come away with memories and perhaps a few blisters.  Me, I stumbled out with two fractured ribs from a self-inflicted mishap that is enough proof that idiocy knows no borders.  It is highly transportable from North Carolina to Wyoming.

X-rays at an emergency orthopedic center Tuesday night confirmed the source of ache and soreness; ribs nos. 9 and 10 on the right side of my back were broken although not cleanly snapped through.  The kindly doctor took the chance to remind me of balance issues “as we age.”  Thanks.

This post marks two departures from standard practice involving the weekly letters.  This is the first time in the more than two years of this blog that I’ve released a letter before both kids have had a chance to read it; London-based Reid has already viewed it as an attachment (he responded within 10 minutes of receiving it).  Ellen’s snail mail copy should arrive tomorrow  in St. Paul.  Second, at one and a half pages, the letter below (including the sordid details of the oafish stream-side tumble) is well beyond the  single page norm.  Note: it was composed before last night’s excursion for x-rays.

—————–

July 30, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The Bridger Wilderness was as expected; wild, unpredictable, alternately cold and rainy or hot, full of fish, steep and hard and with views beyond my limited comprehension.  We had the time you would expect but it is clear to me that backpacking for extended periods is really a younger person’s game.  This seemed hard, hard work from the get-go.

There were interminable switchbacks to this point on a very tough day 2; but the view looking north just short of Lozier Lake were well worth the effort.

If this letter was based solely on our trek of Sunday, July 22, my hiking career might well be kaput.  It was the single toughest day on the trails in my long experience.  I had this note all written out in my head as I slogged onward and upward on what seemed like an endless string of inhumane switchbacks and false passes – just when you thought you’d reached the top, another long and steep incline lay ahead – on a 10 mile day.  It was sheer torture.  Emma’s cold seemed to come along for the ride and it was just a battle to suck in enough oxygen.  Tom, whom you met last year Ellen, and Richard left me in the proverbial dust.  The closest I would get to them was on the hated swtichbacks, and even then I’d be 100 – 200 yards back.  We motored on through heat, then finished in cold rain and wind the last few miles.  When we finally reached Clark Lake, I was completely spent.  My legs were muscle-less mush.  Felicia says I walk like a cowboy anyway, swinging my legs out and then forward, and that long day exacerbated that highly inefficient motion.  That night literally I got around camp like Festus on Gunsmoke.  A painless hobble would have been an improvement.

Tom was a true mountain man – he knew routes and landmarks by name, packed ultra-light, and was prepared in every conceivable way. He knew a thing or two, too, about using his Japanese inspired fly rod.

Contributing to that might be a weight thing, too.  Tom measures everything – food, fuel, rope, containers, socks, bags, his tent and ground clothe, etc. – to the gram, and he is totally focused on ultra-light gear.  So while Richard and I are weighed down with 45 pound packs, Tom is relatively light at 30.  It makes a difference.  My boots felt like cement overshoes sometimes; Tom and Richard wore light footwear that was a notch up from running shoes.  An ounce here and an ounce there, and pretty soon you’re talking real poundage.  I’d never approached backpacking in those precise terms.  If I do this again, and the jury is out, that will be the way to go.

Tom was the real ringleader on this enterprise once we got moving.  He’s hiked Nepal, the length of Spain, the entire 2,500 mile Appalachian Trail, and big chunks of other noted paths.  He looks at maps differently and makes on-map notes on waystops, mileage points, altitude, camp sites, etc.  Me, I look at the map and go.  He knew mountain and route names so in that regard his presence was good.

Richard’s first ford (but far from the last). He was a real trouper in this North Carolinian’s first foray into the real mountains.

It was Richard’s first go in the back country and he more than acquitted himself.  We all got along well and there was nothing that truly held us back.

Other than me.  I had a couple of sloppy mishaps, balance issues, really, one of which could’ve cost us the bulk of the trip but didn’t.  Our first night we camped at that rock-topped outcropping where we spend two nights last year, Ellen.  As you know, it is a long way down to the stream, and while trying to navigate upward to the campsite with a pan full of water, this klutz slipped and slammed the tip of my right elbow on a rock.  The water went flying and for a few seconds considered that my elbow was a goner.  In a flash a ping pong ball sized knot popped out that stayed ping pong ball size the entire way, and for the rest of the trek there was no way to sleep on my right side.  Episode two was after Sunday’s killer walk.  We took a rest day – mercifully – and I was working a steep stream when I tried to rock hop to reach a pool, only to slip on a big, wet slab of granite.  I went into a 4 – 5 foot free fall but was able to spin slightly so the meat of the right side of my back hit another big rock flush.  I heard a small crack, and literally had the wind knocked out of me.  I laid there for the better part of 10 or 15 minutes taking stock of what might be hurt.  It was difficult to breathe.  If either of my feet could’ve reached my butt, I might have kicked it hard.  The camp was 500 yards up the slope, and finally got to my feet, collected my rod, and literally inched my way back up the trail.  It was just awful.  From that night forward there was no comfortable way to turn in the cramped confines of the one person tent without major pain.  I couldn’t let out a groan for fear the guys would hear it and contemplate getting my sorry ass out of there via the nearest exit path.  Amazingly, I could sleep in relative comfort on my left side.  It was also amazing that once my pack was on, for some reason everything felt better and wasn’t too difficult to walk.  Things could’ve been much worse.  The incredible numbers of infernal mosquitoes – a real scourge that never seemed to relent in their attacks – preoccupied much of the time for the three of us.

From Clark we camped on successive nights at Summit Lake, then on to Borum Lake and finally Round Lake.

From my tent on Borum Lake. Six nights, six incredible campsites at about 10,500 ft. altitude each night.

We caught fish all along the way, although it was frustrating for Richard because he dropped two bills on rental fly fishing equipment, and the act of casting was vexing for him.  He simply needed more time to practice, and the cauldron of trying to catch fish for dinner really wasn’t the time to do that.  He caught his share, but Tom really brought home the proverbial bacon.  Since there was a ban on fires, we had to make-do by wrapping the Brookies in foil and cooking them in the pot over the MSR.  Not quite the same as broiling over smoky wood, but it worked out just fine.  It occurred to me at Round Lake that these might be the last mountain trout I’d ever catch in truly wild country.

Not that it was all bad.  Far from it.  We ran into the same group of genial cowboys from Utah twice over 5 days and who we talked to at length while admiring their beautiful horses, and for the first time ever elk could be heard bugling.

I happen to be a hiker that fishes. We knocked these Brookies down at Round Lake. Nothing wrong with a 10″ trout in the pan. We kept enough to eat but all the others were returned to the wild – alive.

There was no hint of grizzlies and after a while we stopped talking about bears.  We trudged out and down, down, down in a cold, steady rain on Friday morning and made it out in six hours in bright sunshine and heat.  We had one final ford to make, and afterward I left my Tevas on for the final two miles.  Those were the most comfortable two miles of the entire trip, so it goes to show what lightweight footwear can do.  The traditional post-hike beer and food in Pinedale reminded us of what we missed, as did Friday night’s meal in Jackson.  They say the feeling of pain is transient, and perhaps it is.  If there’s another trek out there next year, it will be earlier in July, and this time maybe to the unexplored Southern half of the Bridger.  But my back reminded me seconds ago that those mountains are probably best mastered by others who are younger and more balance-capable than your dad.

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That’s a lot of letters from a dad to his children…


This thing of writing to Ellen in St. Paul and Reid in London is taking some getting used to.

It’s strange to not affix a stamp to each of two envelopes.  The idea of emailing attachments to the Reidster runs counter to everything I’ve practiced in the past 11 years of knocking out the Monday letters.  The U.S. Postal Service is probably planning for the budget shortfall.  A rudimentary computation a couple of years ago uncovered that I’d already popped for several hundred dollars in postage alone, and in today’s dollars the out-of-pocket expense has zoomed past $500.  That’s a lot of letters from a dad to his children.

Emma holds on for dear life to her gramps as she catches another nap. She’s nearly doubled in weight, and quadrupled in cuteness.

The build up these last few weeks before the pilgrimage to see Emma in St. Paul has come and gone.  Felicia and I returned last night none the worst for grandparental wear.  The little cutie pie is doing well (despite her bumbling gramp’s awkward efforts to hold her).  Unlike riding a bike, at least this guy needed to learn Baby Holding 101 all over again.  I did, however, escape changing any diapers, as I was always a moment too late.  Darn.  Felicia stepped up big-time in that role.  I pledge to move quicker next time.

This time next week I’ll be huffing and puffing at 10,000 feet, trying to keep up with my boys Tom and Richard.  Excitement isn’t the right word for this trek as I have transcended excitement.  But like most things long anticipated, what has been too long in the planning will too soon be over.  Already, son-in-law Tim has decreed another – and newer – route in 2013 through this part of the Wind River range in his pursuit of trophy size Golden Trout.  If he will have me among his troupe of youthful hikers, I am game, game, game for it.

No news from Reid this week.  Such is the way of his world.  I’d love to hear from the lad before shoving off for Wyoming and the Bridger.  If I don’t hear from him, at least he will hear from me.

Here is last week’s letter.

——————

July 9, 2012

Ellen/Reid: About the only thing that benefitted from the near-record heat here was our tomatoes which have come on like gangbusters.  Grass, trees and flowers took a pounding with or without water.  Nothing can flourish in nature’s oven.  And if it weren’t for the heat, it would be the humidity.  Reid, you were just the opposite over in London, what with rain, rain, and still more rain.  I suppose that’s good in some respects given Briton’s love for gardening.  It does get old sweating all the time.  You can’t even walk to the postbox without working up a good drenching.  Its good your mom got you guys a spare AC unit, Ellen.  That’ll help the three of you immensely.

I’ve been doing my daily walk in the midst of all of it, and am thankful for the workout although the pounds aren’t shedding quite as quickly as they used to do in yesteryear.  A cold Nalgene has made the treks around the block a little bit more palatable.  For some reason I was reminded this weekend of what it felt like to run long distance in the heat, and am glad those days are long, long ago.  My old gang of Ironman, Joe, Rand, Beamer, Bob O. and Jetz used to run 20 miles on Saturday mornings at 7 o’clock, and by the time mid morning rolled around as we finished, you could’ve poked us with a fork because we were done.  Those were the days, and good riddance.  I watch some of the runners around here hobble their way on the pavement, and I just want to pull them aside and tell them to find something else to stay fit.  It is tempting to tell them to bicycle except bikers are getting run over by cars all the time.  You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

We’re excited to head up to Minneapolis this weekend.  It will be great to see how little Emma has grown – from the photos, she’s becoming a chunk-ette.  But I say that with all good intentions.  She is just such a little sweet pea.  Felicia keeps telling me we have to be considerate of your family time so we’ll tastefully bow out and retreat back to the B&B at the appropriate time.  ‘Gramps’ is available to do any chores around the house that you and Tim see fit.  Betsy has strongly suggested that we take Felicia over to the Big Mall so she can see how Midwesterners spend their idle time, and it would be a good way to get your b-day gift, Ellen.  Gramps calls first dibs on pushing Emma in her Rolls Royce of strollers.

Everything is all packed for Wyoming.  The excitement is really beginning to build.  I’ll be toting much less in the Bridger Wilderness than was done in previous years.  I’m gonna guess about 35 lbs.  At least two pounds of that is gorp.  Food is pretty much pasta and dried sauces, cheese grits and oatmeal for breakfasts, power bars for lunch (plus tin foil for any hapless trout that mistake our store-bought flies for real food).  Looks like no fires – too dry out there – so we’ll lug two big bottles of white gas.  The only cause for concern is my shoulders.  For some reason, both have gone to pot at once over the past few months, and there will be hell to pay to put my pack on.  Once it’s on my shoulders, no problem-o but it’s the getting it on my shoulders that will hurt.  I literally cannot touch my back or reach up to my shoulders.  Not sure why they would both go kaplooey at the same time.  This is a reminder to me to call the doc to get his two cents on things.  All in all, it’s hell getting old.

Nothing much else to report.  Same old, same old.  Reid, it was great to get your call.  You sound good, and I’m glad the Brits like your work.  They are also models of civility and you should fit right in culturally.  Let me know of your plans for continental travels.  Might as well make travel-hay while the sun shines, as they say.  Adieu.

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It’s almost time twice…


It’s almost time.  In fact, it’s almost time twice.

Almost time #1: Until Saturday, and in true guy fashion, the lower living room was strewn with every imaginable do-dad and gizmo for the trip to Wyoming; a new (and lighter) tent and new (and lighter) sleeping bag,

To answer your question, yes, everything fit into the pack (okay, maybe with some pushing and shoving). I’m ready to get this show on the road and hit the dusty trail.

minimal clothing, food, fuel and MSR stove and cookpots, collapsible plate and coffee cup, mosquito net, maps, boots, Tevas, and a few other sundry, lightweight items.  We shove off for Jackson, WY on Friday, July 20.

Almost time #2: Felicia and I head northwest to Minnesota to check in on Emma’s progress at 2+ months and see her folks.  She’s rapidly asserting her personality and no doubt she’ll find her grandpa all too pliable in her tiny hands.

This grandpa thing is still all too new and I’m not sure how to grandparent from afar.  Perhaps this week’s junket will help me figure it out.

From the look of Emma, she still has only two rules: #1) “What I say goes, and #2) See rule #1.” What’s also clear is she is firmly in the driver’s seat.  Perhaps this junket will help me figure that out.

Here is last week’s letter.  Reid is still in the U.K., so his copy went electronic late in the week.

————–

July 2, 2012

Ellen/Reid: We’ve been hammered by 100F+ heat the past few days.  Reminds you of what summer is really like in the Carolinas which is code for ‘not very enjoyable’.  The humidity is off the charts, too.  It’s just less than hospitable for humans.  My golf group slogged through a round on Saturday with people dropping like flies all over the place.  We had poor one guy taken off by ambulance for heat stroke.  The cart girl came up to us and asked if we knew this guy named Bill, because he needed help and was passed out on the next tee box.  He had crashed his cart and stumbled to the grass.  By the time we got there, the course superintendent had called 911 and help was on the way.  Not a very pretty sight.  It’s all about continued hydration.  I consumed nothing but water and got through in good shape.

Felicia’s daughter Suefan got in Saturday.  She’s a good kid and is about your age, Ellen.  She lives in Baltimore but she and her boyfriend, Ben, are moving back to Charlotte, hence her trip to look at something to rent.  We went to a sushi place Saturday night where, for the first time ever, I knowingly ate some tofu.  It wasn’t as bad as I assumed it to be.  It’s like a bean curd thing.  If you doctor it up (ours was fried) it is palatable.  The raw octopus was really good and so was the eel.  I would never seek out eel at the market let alone fish for them, but in a sushi place after a couple of cold ones and enough wasabi, and it’s not half bad.

Reid, I’ve been wondering how London is going.  What a time to be there: Wimbledon, Olympics, etc.  That is fortuitous in that regard.  There’s no way to get over there in time to see you, what with vacation semi-maxxed out and ticket prices being what they are in an Olympic year.  But there’s always Chicago when you return.  I tried to get Google Plus up and working but it was nothing short of a disaster on my iPhone.  I created the wrong email, couldn’t get the account deleted, etc.  So it’s still not working like it should.  And Ellen, someone told me you can’t do FaceTime from an iPhone to an iPad.  You both have to have to have the same device.  But to confirm that, I will go over to the Apple store tonight to hear that factoid straight from the horse’s mouth.

My trip to California was okay.  Incredible weather and the meetings were fine.  It’s just the return trip that set me back.  To save the bank a few hundred bucks, I took the red-eye back on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and there is a reason those flights are mostly for younger people.  I hardly slept for lack of a comfortable position.  Left L.A. at midnight and got home about 10:30 a.m.  Was just fried the rest of the day.  Totally gassed, and that lingered into Friday.  No way will that ever be done again.  Traveling just isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Enjoyed real, honest-to-goodness BLTs the past couple of days.  The little patio tomato plant on the front stoop has come through like a champ.  Its producing tennis ball sized fruit, and they’ve been mighty tasty.  There was an article in the paper about how taste has been bred out of store-bought plants (in the zeal to have eye-appealing red fruit with a long shelf life, most of the tasty sugars have been cut out by the plant chemists).  The commercial varieties are red, sure enough, but with the flavor and texture of cardboard.  It’ll be fun to see how Emma’s little garden is progressing, Ellen.  Can’t wait to get up there to see the little wonder (and you and Tim, too).

The Bridger group came over Friday night.  We didn’t plan much, just hung around and ate burgers and gabbed.  All my gear is laying out in the front room.  Trying to figure out how to take the pack as carry-on luggage since I’ve got two stops with a short layover between each.  Don’t want to risk the darn thing being lost.  In three weeks we’re on the trail, whether we’re ready or not.

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Some people have all the luck…


Reid is in England for his short-term work stint.  Some people have all the luck.   Poor kid has a nice apartment smack in the middle of central London (hopefully with his own ‘loo’), Wimbledon is on not far from his temporary digs, England made it to the knock out round of the European soccer championship and, of course, the run-up for the Olympics is gaining steam.  Tough gig for a single guy.  I just wish he’d stay in touch with us on this side of the pond.

The living room is crammed with camping stuff in advance of the trek in the Bridger Wilderness.  I'm trying to pack light but lite-weight backpacking technology has passed me by.

My living room is clogged with camping stuff in preparation for the trek in the Bridger Wilderness (note: we still have room for late comers, July 21-27) but there was no mention of it for the first time in a while in last week’s letter and there was scant mention of it in the letter that was mailed just this morning.  The tinder-dry conditions are some cause for concern; unlike last year, there will be no fires on which to char-broil trout.  Instead, we’ll make do with a white gas stove to heat water for pasta and beans and flash-fry brookies.  Alas, my ancient but trusty40 year old MSR model A stove was lost during the move six years ago so a newer WhisperLite will have to suffice.  I’ll no doubt get into the Bridger goings-on a little more in the note to the kids next week.

Here is what was deposited in last week’s mail (although Reid got his via email late in the week):

—————-

June 18, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Monday has gotten off to a decent enough start but all that can crumble in the space of a few ‘do this…or ‘what do you think of this?…’ emails.  But none of those have come in so all things as of this moment are BAU (business as usual in bank parlance).

No sense mailing letters to your Chicago address until you return, Reid.  You’ll have to open your email to read them.  By the time this goes into the mail to Ellen, your plane will have already jetted east to London.  You get all the fun trips.  India.  England.  No doubt you will figure out a way to take the Chunnel beneath the channel to Paris or other mainland location.  Heck, I would too, if I were you.  Sad to say there is probably no chance for your old man to get over there for even a few days.  The schedule just won’t allow it.  I put on my blog this morning that if you were over there until, say, October or November then the odds of a visit would increase noticeably.  But not right now.  Too much going on.  The one thing you need to do is send us photos and whatnot of where you are and what you’re doing.  People ask and all I can say is “I dunno.”  So keep your mom and I posted on your comings and goings.

Ellen, your running cavalcade of photos of Emma has been just darling.  It’s just like being there.  Okay, not quite but it’s a great substitute for being hundreds of miles away.  She has just changed so much.  She’s putting on a nice amount of weight and her little smile is showing some personality.  Believe me, it’s hard to remember them (i.e. you and your brother) at this age once you guys reach the Terrible Teens.  I’ve got the framed ones here and there throughout the place.

We had a great 27 hours going down and back to Tybee Island, Georgia.  A ride that’s long but not too long.  The weather was incredible.  We didn’t do a whole hell of a lot.  A few drinks and some so-so seafood at a beach bistro, accompanied by a duo performing old standards on acoustic guitars.  That was a riot.  Some of the patrons really got into it.  We had breakfast at a classic old diner then did a couple of short walks on the beach, walked a little more once we rode back through Savannah (worth the visit) and then took a two lane road 40 miles into Hilton Head, where the traffic was just bonkers.  It was miles and miles of stop-and-go for most cars.  We really noticed the backup as we came out of HH Saturday afternoon on the return ride to Charlotte.  We stopped to check out the timeshare (no news there; I have squandered the resource but am trying to figure out how to use it) and had a nice meal and cool drinks over at the Westin.  That was fun.  I could have nodded off at the table but it was time to hit the road again.  We had a leisurely ride back to North Carolina.

We are looking forward to the trip to St. Paul in mid July.  Felicia has been through the airport but never really set foot on Minnesota ground.  We’ll be there just long enough to not seem overbearing.

Picked the first honest-to-goodness tomatoes we’ve ever had.  The secret must’ve been the patio variety because the Big and Better Boys really just never got going in the big pots.  There’s a bumper crop on the vine right now, believe you me.  They don’t get real big, not quite the size of a tennis ball, but that’s a far cry from the ping pong ball size the last few years.  Toss some of these tomatoes with a little basil and garlic, and you’ve got some nice pesto.  Glad to hear you had your first ripe raspberry.  Next year you should have oodles of the red rubies.  You might go online to see if you need to cut those canes back.  I’m guessing so but don’t quote me.

Well, over and out from North Carolina.  It’s getting warmer here, and warmth gives way sooner than later to boiler room heat.  We may have to start dunking ourselves into the pool.  The water level may rise, given my gain in weight.  Hope nobody harpoons me.

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Filed under Writing to adult children