Tag Archives: Osprey packs

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

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

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

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

May 15, 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Love, Dad

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Ready, set, go – almost …

The annual countdown to Wyoming has started. We’re on the clock now. Reid and his wonderful girlfriend (that’s a direct plug) are on board for week one, and the Charlotteans are primed for week two.

It never gets old (maybe it does for you reading about it) but honestly, it’s one of the yearly highlights. I’ll do this every year that I’m able.

June 15, 2016

Ellen/Reid: So, the July travel plans have become official. I’ll drive due North to MSP to see you and the girls, Ellen (and Tim, too) before heading to Des Moines for a couple of days, then further West to Wyoming to rendezvous with you and Liz, Reid. And then, two weeks later, it’s back East to Chicago for a day or two layover before heading home to Charlotte. Now that’s what I call a serious road trip. But it really sounds exciting. And for the first time in a long, long time, we’ll try to go unshaven for an extended period. I hope not to frighten Georgia and Emma.

Reid, that Osprey pack will do wonders for Liz, plus she’ll have it for eternity and it has a lifetime warranty. Those Salewa boots would be great for her (if they pass the ‘style’ test). Just keep me abreast on the food situation. I’ll toss in the tent and extra sleeping bag. My Marmot should be plenty warm for her. Let’s compare notes on food in the next week or so. I really do need to up my game for dinners at the least.


Hopefully there will be a lot more of these cutthroats where these beauties came from (we’d settle for fat brookies, too). It’ll be Liz’ first time fly fishing. Let’s hope she catches dinner.

The lousy nighttime food from last year is still a bitter memory. Hopefully we’ll catch plenty of brookies for dinner (and hopefully neophyte Liz will do all the catching. It would be great for her to eat what she caught. Nothing would ever taste better).

It’ll be fun to be behind the wheel. There’s something liberating about hitting the open road, clutching a cup of coffee and turning up the tunes. I’ll make a brief stop in Omaha and Grand Island plus a side trip through Sundance to pick up the Sundance Times and Crook County News in honor of your grandfather and to see the old home, too.

The Harley still hasn’t sold. It’s depressing to not get at least some lookers. Seems like I’ll have to eat it and/or come way down in price. The more time that goes by, the more anxious I become. I’m on the fence about Miss Emma; it could always make the trip with me, I guess. Still have to jettison a lot more Continue reading

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Hours lost, time gained …

After a few changes and alterations on several fronts, I suddenly have plenty of time on my hands. Ostensibly the bike and I could take one final long adventure but I’m anxious for it to be sold and out of the garage. It’s the one thing Ellen asks about, so if you know anyone who wants a spiffy ’13 Road King Classic, let me know.

June 7, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Well, it does feel good to no longer be the editor even though I loved the work dearly. The sense of having time back is really quite valuable at this stage of the game. The letter to the owners was quite civil and I do like them, I really do, plus it was gratifying work but at some point you have to get paid.


With the editor job out of the way there’ll be no more pictures of babies at parades. I will miss the creative challenge but not the hours.

45-50 hours a week was just over the top. Already this morning I’ve wiped my hands of it. I do have some sense of responsibility to my writers so I’ll send one final email with their assignments. And then that portion of it will be done.

The Harley was repriced this morning to $14,900 since there has been no action at the higher price for the six days it’s been on Craig’s List. We’ll see if the reduction spurs any interest. I’m kind of surprised there haven’t been any lookers. It’s a good ride but it won’t make the trip with me. I sweetened the pot by making mention of a bike cover, helmet, assorted Harley gear. Hopefully that will pull a buyer out of the woodwork. I may ride it to Macs tomorrow night and put a little sign on it to see if that lures anyone in. I’m up in the air about selling the kayak but that’s probably on the block, too, even though it kills me to think Bowens Island will be in the rear view mirror.

One of my news writing classes got scrubbed since CPCC fell a few enrollees short of a full class. That’s disappointing but okay in that I’ll have plenty of other things to do to get ready. But the other class is still a go as of this writing so we’ll have to wait and see.

Reid, Katy is still on the hook for Wyoming. She sent a text today that she’ll make her final decision today. It’s going to be hard for Liz to find a rental backpack – it’s doubtful REI will do that – and it’s really important that she be fit for the right pack. Otherwise, she’ll be miserable. I’ll volunteer my Osprey if that would make things simpler for her. How the heck did it get by me that you already had a denatured alcohol stove? Your dad is really losing it, and at a rapid clip.

I stepped away from the golf group last week. It feels pretty good, too. Really, I was at the end of my rope, and my wits, after the years of doing it. I went out of character with some minor blow ups at a couple of recent outings. Losing my cool wasn’t good on my part. People were either late or switched pairings which threw things out of whack. That’s really what pushed me over the edge even though I’d been inching that way for a long while. But it was just time for someone else to shoulder the load of scheduling and herding the cats.

Alright. I’m done for the moment. I’ve got to make the Wyoming flight plans today, and so do you, Reid. I’ll let you know what flights I’m on. We need right-side tickets so we get the great view of the  Tetons on our approach into Jackson. Best and most scenic flight path in the U.S.

Love, Dad

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Of Wyoming, more classes and news photography …

When this letter to Ellen and Reid was written last week I was just plain exhausted. It shows in writing that is more uninventive than usual.

Push is coming to shove on newspapering. I love it dearly – I am completely, utterly and totally all in on it – but it can’t keep on like this. There are so many other competing interests and things to do. I just need to suck it up to deliver another brand of news.

May 10, 2016

Ellen/Reid: That was such good news about Kristin and Delsin. He strikes me as such a really good guy. Thanks for the suggestion to contact her, Ellen. She got right back to me. Another nice wedding at Plymouth, no doubt. That will be a good bash, that’s for sure.

Reid, we need to talk about Wyoming, stat. It looks right now that with the newspaper still in the picture, there won’t be time for a leisurely drive. I’ll fly out to Jackson, probably on that Thursday, July 21. I’ll get the tickets for you and Liz so make your plans right away. We should probably plan to arrive early in the day and we can drive down together to Pinedale to the Baymont Inn. Not entirely sure where Tom and Vince and Katie will fly in to. Salt Lake City most likely, then they can take the northern route up through Rock Springs. We’d fly out on Saturday, July 30. The Osprey I used last year would fit Liz just fine and I can take the Gregory. Both fly rods would make the trip, too. But let’s talk sooner than later about the plans.

I babysit this Saturday night for little Evelyn. My next door neighbor Mary Beth has some camera programmed into her iPad so I can sit on my couch and monitor the sleeping baby from the comfort of my couch. It’ll be fun. She’s a sweet little girl.

Signed on to teach several more classes at Central Piedmont Community College. Two on news writing and the other on writing letters. They twisted my arm about a blogging class which is okay but I did recommend another guy, Brett Bumeter, who is a real techie to teach a more advance blogging class while I’ll stick to teaching the introductory class. That will work out much better for the students since they would’ve of learned next to nothing from me on the advanced portion of blogs.

The newspaper thing is settling down into more of a routine but I’m still spending two or three times the number of hours that were originally intended. I end up writing about half the 24 pages since my writers are just coming up to speed. Lots of road miles from here to there just to provide basic news coverage and take photos for my writers who can’t get there.


Welcome to the wonderful world of newspaper photography. I spend a lot of time in Mint Hill on ‘spot’ news and shots like this to support the stories of my writers who can’t make it to town.

Tonight’s another long night of page layout. I’ll have to get up about 5 a.m. to proof the issue before it heads to the press. Mercifully, this edition Continue reading

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A world of mundane events…

Not much earthshaking – hardly a tremor – in last week’s letter. All it shows to Ellen and Reid is that their dad lives a world of mundane events.


April 21, 2014

Ellen/Reid: My afternoon walks have become a little gummier these past couple of weeks. Whenever I stroll beneath the oaks down here, I step through a gauntlet of thin strands of sticky fiber produced by canker worms (aka inch worms) that work their way to the top of the trees to munch on the new growth, then rappel their way down. All it is is a nuisance, if you like to brush little wormie things off your shirt. People defend the trees by wrapping the trunks with a sticky band of goo that snares the little critters.

We had a rainy Saturday and a nice Sunday. Spring seems to be catching hold but I wish it would go one way or the other. There will be no mention of golf today, other than to say ‘Good riddance.’

My new Osprey pack is here. What an apparent upgrade from the old Gregory Palisade in terms of weight and technology. Holy smokes. It’s about 3,100 cubic inches vs. the 5,000 for the Gregory. It seems a fair deal smaller and I hope everything fits into it. I’m marginally leery that it will so I’ll head to REI sometime this week to look at another pack that’s about 3,500 cubic inches. But then again, you’re only tempted to fill available space. Like my friend Tom, I’ll start to lay out gear on the beds in the spare bedroom. He thumps me on weight; i.e. don’t carry more than you need, and when you carry something make sure it is the lightest something available. We did lose one of our hikers. Katie, whom you met, Ellen, had to bail since her daughter is getting married in San Francisco and it’s just a prohibitively expensive endeavor to do both. I told there there’s always 2015 (Reid, you ought to join us then) and we will do this all over again.

Also in is the new four piece Scott A4 fly rod. It’s a beauty. It’s a 3 wt. and 8 gorgeous feet of fishing technology. Ellen, tell Tim thanks for his advice. I matched it with the Orvis Battenkill fly reel. My buddy Ted and I will head up toward Virginia way this coming Sunday to try things out on a stream he’s familiar with. That’s exciting. It’s about time I stepped out of the incessant golf box and did something new. Here’s hoping we catch something (and release it. Bad karma to keep fish, as Tim keeps telling me).

The new fly rod and reel are here. They didn't work so well this past weekend in the North Carolina mountains. It could be 'operator error.' But more on that next week.

The new fly rod and reel are here. They didn’t work so well this past weekend in the North Carolina mountains. It could be attributed to ‘operator error.’ But more on that next week.

Ted and I have also reached the conclusion that we will buy matching Continue reading

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Excited to go? Maybe.

There was a TV commercial not long ago that showed an older guy riding a motorcycle in the desert as a testament to staying uber-active in the golden years. I can’t recall the precise wording but in effect his voiceover said he wanted to go out at high speed.

Hey pal, count me in. I’m with you. I want Ellen and Reid to know their version of the commercial’s old man wants to go out kicking, too.


April 7, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Well, I’ve started to increase the intensity of the workouts for the Bridger. It’s amazing how much more effort is needed when you ratchet up the elliptical by a single setting. But it feels good and along about May 1 I’ll add some time on the Stairmaster to get the legs working. I’ve been pushing my golf cart on the weekends and that’s helped and really hasn’t been very tiresome to do so. It would be great to go in better shape than in prior years. Knock on wood that it will be so. My Scott fly rod has yet to arrive and I’m about ready to call to ask for its whereabouts.

You both have my itinerary for the May extravaganza. No hotel/motel has been booked as of yet but don’t worry about me infringing on your space. I’ll find quarters elsewhere, and a rental car, too. It will be fun to have everyone together. There won’t be a moment of quiet the entire trip but perhaps that’s as it should be.

Everything for the Bridger Wilderness - bear barrel and new Scott fly rod included - ought to fit in my jaunty new Osprey pack.

Everything for the Bridger Wilderness – bear barrel and new Scott fly rod included – ought to fit in my jaunty new Osprey pack. Excited to go? Maybe.

Speaking of Minneapolis/St. Paul, my friend John was there last week for a church meeting that was hosted by cousin Tim’s church. John was incredibly impressed by both the facility and the church’s outreach, not to mention Minneapolis itself. It makes our little Caldwell puny by comparison, but it’s all a matter of scale.

As we speak I’m watching a male cardinal feed his female partner. He dips down into the feeder for a sunflower seed then flits up to the high branches straight to her. My weekend walks at 6:15 a.m. start just about the time the birds are at their noisiest. It’s still the best time of the week. Calm, serene, no traffic, plus I’m bolstered by a go-cup of coffee (I’m using the gift coffee you sent me). I thought the blue birds were going after the nesting box aggressively but haven’t seen hide nor feather of them the last couple of days so it’s not altogether clear what’s going on with them.

My walks have been going just fine. Bob F. is trying to help me strategize how to push pickupyourpath.com but it’s a work in progress. One thing I’ve noticed increasingly are little bags – and not to be indelicate about it – of dog shit that people leave behind. Why go to the trouble of inverting the bag and retrieving it (plenty of people don’t) then not take it with you? Inane if you ask me. I’ve picked up a lot of sordid things in my time of doing this, but that is where I draw the line: picking up dog shit. I renewed my memberships with the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy last week. No sooner than the envelopes were in the mailbox than I kind of chided myself for not putting the subscriptions in your names or Emma’s.

Your uncle was reminding me this morning to put off collecting social security until age 66. He does the math in terms of how much more you get for each month that you put off that monthly check. But I don’t know if I can wait another 22 months for that to happen. I had another senior moment last week when, after exiting the theater with my date, I opened the door for her to what I thought was my Toyota and didn’t realize until I got in the driver’s side that the steering wheel was bound in leather and other stuff in the center console wasn’t mine. We beat hasty retreat to my car which was parked a few feet away. Perhaps this is why I don’t date too much. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m losing it altogether, which could well be. That’s a rhetorical question that does not demand an answer.

Love, dad

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