Tag Archives: Road King

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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Georgia, Reid in Raleigh, and a Big Red …

Family news is still dominated by Georgia’s grand entrance, but there are other things going on, too, i.e. Reid’s headed down this way, the garden is in, and a Big Red finally shows up in my boat.


April 20, 2015

Ellen/Reid: So now there are two granddaughters. Welcome, Georgia. Wow. That little peanut is a little beauty. What a great photo that is, Ellen, of the two of you moments after she was born. Whew, and I’ll bet you’re glad that is over. Sort of funny to hear she’s a little night owl although that’s easy for me to say 1,200 miles away. At least your mom, then Nancy P. , will be there to help you the first few weeks.

Ellen beams moments after  Georgia made her debut. A couple of real cuties.

Ellen beams as Georgia announces her arrival. A couple of real cuties.

To look at Georgia’s long fingers might be a tip off that she’ll be tall. Maybe 5’ 7” – 5’ 9”, something on that order. Emma seems a little reticent around her new sis but that’s only natural, one would think. She’s been the top fiddle for three years but she’ll be a good big sister in short order. To be a fly on the wall to hear those two bumpkins talk once Georgia is old enough. You and Tim will have your hands full.

I’ve no real clue about what to get her. Some suggestions would be good and it would be fine to wait until I’m up there next month before any shopping is done. Did you keep a lot of Emma’s baby clothing? For some reason it rings a bell that you gave some of it away. That’s okay. So just toss some ideas out there.

Reid, even though your weekend in Raleigh for the wedding should be packed, I’m looking forward to however much time you and Liz can spare. So just let me know what works for you. How’s an early Saturday morning breakfast sound? I could be up there around 8:30 or 9:00. If the weather permits the Road King will make it’s highway debut since it’s seen no road time with me. How was Berkeley? Can’t wait to hear about it. If Liz could get entrance to Cal, that would be a great thing, and you can do worse than live in the Bay area although it’s probably pretty pricey.

Alas, the blue birds are gone. Continue reading

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Emma’s Garden…

So, Emma has tomatoes.

On May 5, the day after she was born, her Gramps used a spade to turn over the good, dark Minnesota earth to form Emma’s Garden, a smallish 10′ x 6′ plot of very black dirt.  Into the ground went cilatro, romaine lettuce, peppers, basil, flowers, and red raspberries.  And a single tomato plant.

Emma’s mom shows off State Fair-quality tomatoes on her kitchen counter. A garden is a good thing. Such good soil in Minnesota would be a terrible thing to waste.

A few months later, and thanks to a corker of a Midwestern heat wave, Emma’s plant is producing in quantities I can only dream about.

The rush to build a garden actually springs from Emma’s great grandfatherwho cultivated a garden well into his 80s.   Toward the end as his tillable plot grew smaller and smaller, tomatoes and raspberries were about all he had the energy to tend to.  But he loved the soil and his deep forest-green thumb rubbed off on me, although mine more closely resembles a pale lime green.  Maybe the deeper shade will take hold again in Emma’s mom.

My tomatoes are dwarfed by Emma’s. When I equate them to golf balls, I’m not kidding. I’ve seen bigger hailstones.

Perhaps one day in Reid, too.  Ellen even mentioned expanding the modest-sized chunk of dirt and edible plants next year.  When they were not much older than Emma is now, I vividly recall Ellen and Reid rooted at the Sugar Snap pea and Heritage raspberry plants in our garden.  Very little of those two items ever made it to the kitchen.  But there are far worse things than watching kids gobble up stringless peas and red raspberries.

I suppose a garden is something of an environmental statement which my letters have preached about on more than one occasion.  Ellen and Tim no doubt went more of an organic bend than my enduring reliance on Miracle-Gro.  The larger lesson might be that there’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty.  Hopefully, Emma will wash hers off, unlike her granddad.

Here’s what Ellen and Reid found in their mailboxes last week.


August 20, 2012

Ellen/Reid: So I think we have the holiday situation kind of, sort of worked out.  Ellen, you and Tim are not opposed to coming down here for early T-Day, November 15-18?  That is great.  Reid, you will be here for Christmas, correct?  Your tickets are on me.  I’m still not sure of my plans for the official Thanksgiving and should know about that in short order.  St. Paul sounds doable.  You truly have something to be thankful for.  Maybe Thanksgiving should be May 4.

Last Wednesday the 15th marked my sixth year in Charlotte.  Incredible.  It just does not seem at all possible.  It seems just yesterday I was in Des Moines, and then the upheaval.  If you would’ve asked me five or six years ago (and no one has) for my impressions of the new surroundings, it would’ve been tempting to say ‘send me home’ and that would’ve been that.  But time has a way of leveling the bumps out across the job and social spectrum and now this is home for all intents and purposes.  A little too politically conservative on a lot of fronts, but that is the price to be paid for accepting the role here as an intruder.  Felicia has made a big difference, too.  Since I can work anywhere, there would’ve been a possibility of bolting for the old pastures.  But this is it and its okay.  I would like to get back to Des Moines with more frequency, but it’s hard.

Don’t hold me to it, but I’m thinking of parting with the Harley.  For whatever reason, my balance very recently isn’t what it used to be, and to navigate with a heavy beast like that takes that ability.  Perhaps it is the ribs (which feel the torque on certain turns) but something is different about riding it right now.  Even as recently as a few months ago there was some thought given to a Road King, but that’s been tabled for the time being.  There is always the off chance the next pleasant ride on the next nice weekend day will change my mind.  I hope it does because there is nothing like cruising.

Mike Hill put his dog Buddy to sleep a couple of weeks ago.  Mike posted some poignant videos of Buddy’s last meal on his Facebook page, and you should look that up.  Reminded me of our last days with Scooter.  It’s a dose of reality.

My A/C wasn’t totally on the blink after all.  Apparently all it needed was a new “board” in the upstairs unit – I don’t totally get all the technical gymnastics about it – but the board was about the size of an iPad and cost just as much, too.  So now there is at least cool air circulating in place of the hot, humid air that kept me away at night.  Just another unexpected expense.

Reid, you could do worse than a cruise line as a new client.  That sounds like a lot of fun, and they advertise a fair amount.  I’ll have to start watching for their plugs on the web, which I am sure you will do a good job of promoting and tracking.  I’ll make an exception and declare right now that their Internet ads won’t be the invasive kind.  I’m glad your mom got to get to Chicago to survey the new living arrangements and such.  I’d like us to get up there in short order, too.  Keep me posted as to your availability.   FYI…even a group like Fish makes a stop in the boondocks every once in a while.  They visit here in the next couple of weeks or something like that.  I still remember hauling you and a vanload of your boys to KC to a summer concert and being sold a total bill of goods as to when the concert started and, more importantly, when it would end.

Speaking of ending, that’s it for today.  Let’s really nail down the holiday plans so I can get tickets while they are still getable.  It would be great to have you all down here.  I’ll notify the cleaning service to do their thing just before you arrive.

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Send me your address…

A friend at work informed me this week I was on their short list to receive a personalized Christmas e-card.

The cards are nice, beautiful even, she said, and they sure save a lot of time.  I’m sure they do.  Her’s will feature some sort of animated blinking thing although she’s not sure right now which e-card she’ll pick.  Really, I’m okay with it since it’s the thought that counts.

I suppose Christmas traditions have to start somewhere, but this hybrid approach that melds real cards with technology throws me off a little bit.  I’m gearing up to do what I did last year, which is to pepper people with short notes in lieu of cards, so if you want one, send me your address since my skills at keeping contact lists fall woefully short of Santa’s data keeping mechanisms.


Last week I reminded my friend Bob in Des Moines that we Nebraska fans have to take our pleasure where and when we can.  Unfortunately, the pleasurable moments have been few and far between.  Here is that note.

November 29, 2010

Bob: I have assumed the role of an unlicensed financial advisor in that I’ll keep your growing pile of $1 bills here to “accrue in value.”  That’s probably a better return than you’ve been getting.  At some point in time you will be paid in a lump sum.  The lump sum will be triggered if and when it reaches triple figures, minus my fee, of course.

Nebraska seemed to have an easy enough time with Colorado.  Good to see the Buffs get punked one last time seeing how they’ve been a–holes for a long time.  I have a history with them that dates back to the late 60s’ when we were out there for a cross country meet and stayed over for the NU/CU game (which Nebraska won to precipitate my problem later that day) all of which was exacerbated by me wearing a red Nebraska cowboy hat up on The Hill after the game.  But a good old fashioned ass kicking for old time’s sake was in order.  Iowa will be a better natural opponent for a border war anyway.  The Huskers will probably get rolled by Oklahoma this weekend but it will give me something to do Saturday night.  Watch for near-continuous text messages.

Your idea of a bike ride to Alaska sounds kind of fun.  Hopefully my Heritage (44,000 miles) will be up to such a trip.  In the best of all worlds it would be nice to get one of the new Harley Road Kings but we’ll have to see how the rest of this job situation shakes out over the next month or so.  Pierson made such a trip but he rode on a lot of gravel and rock roads and saw bears and the like all along the way.  But it would still be a great trip, but not one you make over the course of a long weekend, that’s for sure.

We had a pretty good Thanksgiving but as you perhaps see with your own girls – at least it is with my two – kids move well past their parents and on with their own lives.  It really is all about them and what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.  That would just be the way of the world, I suppose.  It is the natural order.  Ellen is thinking and talking about babies and Reid is thinking about his role in the pecking order of smart people.  I fear he’s not having as much fun as he should.  He’s going to be old before his time.  You guys had family in from Nebraska, isn’t that right?  Hope Val’s son was moderately behaved.

Well, I’m back to the grind to prove whatever worth I can.  My second-to-last-paycheck arrives tomorrow.  If they keep me on the temptation is strong to buy a Road King, but if not I’ll suffer through with a high mileage Heritage.

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