Tag Archives: Wyoming

Change is in the air …

Changes – and that’s a real big knock on wood – are afoot. Ellen and Reid got a whiff of the possibilities in this letter; they also got some phone call updates this past weekend. If nothing else, it will give us plenty to talk about at Thanksgiving in St. Paul. And more fodder to write about, too.

November 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: So it appears the plans for Thanksgiving are set. A 2 p.m. dinner with the girls, then dessert over at Liz’s parents. That sounds fun. Reid, tell Liz, Donna and Tom thank you for the dinner invite but that would make two big meals in the space of a few hours and it would have been too much good food even for my healthy appetite. Ellen, I’ll be baking a lot of the day Wednesday, so if there are any special requests, let’s hit the store Tuesday and early Wednesday. Anything Emma and Georgia would like, other than pancakes or waffles? What’s Tim’s holiday schedule at 3M? Is he taking the bulk of the week off? I know it sounds a little odd to be scooting out of town on Saturday afternoon but I thought you guys might deserve a somewhat quieter weekend after all the hustle around T-Day.

It’s turned cold here, perhaps not by your Midwestern standards, but cold nonetheless. I’m telling you, 30 degrees feels downright frigid. It must be our damp air that slices right through you. Golf this weekend was liking teeing it up in an icebox. But golf might be on hold for a bit; somehow I goofed up something just outside my right elbow. Not debilitating by any means, just very sore. So golf is out of the picture at least for a little while. That’s not entirely a bad thing. Some lettuce and spinach was planted last week as a winter experiment; nothing has popped up so far and the expectations for a good crop aren’t terribly high. But there were some surplus seeds were left over from the summer so into the pots they went. I’ve got to make a do-I-stay or do-I-go decision on the house. This three floor thing is killing me. Not literally, but the heat rises so it’s cold during the day when I’m downstairs and warmish upstairs when I try to sleep. Something has to be done. The real estate market is still reported to be fairly hot and the notion of putting the homestead on the market has crossed my mind once more. Now, where to live?

My friend Tom has tossed out the idea of a rigorous hike around Mont Blanc in the Alps. That would derail plans for the Camino in Portugal. His suggestion sounds of great interest and what it will likely do is shove Wyoming back another year since the plan now, as it is, is to make this trip in late July or August.


Portugal may not look exactly like this scene along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, but the vistas can’t be that far different.

But I absolutely have to be back in time for the September wedding of Sondra’s daughter, Chianna. There’s still the notion of a rendezvous with Sondra and Jody in Paris toward the September but that might not be a fiscal possibility for me to both trips in such close proximity. But there’s a long time to go and planning to be done before this is a done deal. Still, Mont Blanc sounds fun. Tom says it’s a pretty tough route. You have to be adventuresome while you’re still able.

Reid, your countdown to Sri Lanka has started. I’ll make amends when we’re in the Twin Cities for Thanksgiving. Damn, kid, you really get around. It’ll be interesting to get your take on the island. The Tamil Tigers were active there for quite a while and I’ll admit to not having paid much attention to the turmoil in that part of the world. That’s gonna be one hell of a trip for you and Liz.

It is also good news, Ellen, about Georgia’s coloboma. She and her eye are going to be just fine. She really looked smashing in those perky little glasses. So stylish in her sweater and specs. Can’t wait to give you and the girls your trinkets from Spain. I hope they like them. There were lots of things to choose from but I couldn’t very well buy anything too heavy or bulky since there was not much room for extra stuff.

Alrighty, time to sign off for a Monday. I’ve subsisted on C+ chili for the past few days and it’s time to dream up some other recipe. There’s no telling what that will be but it will be something different. Gotta sharpen up the feeble cooking skills before we put it all on the line for Thanksgiving.

Love, Dad


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A travelogue from the couch …

I guess this is what retirees do. Hit the road. 

This must be – has to be – the first letter Ellen and Reid have ever received that deals exclusively with their old man’s travel. Maybe not the travel itself, but the looking forward to it. Now if only I was better at the planning …

June 12, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Tomorrow marks a drastic change for me in terms of fishing with Miss Emma in Charleston; I’ll finally overnight there to milk a second day out of the excursion. I booked a fleabag on the west end of Rte. 17 north of Bowens Island. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out since the down-and-back in one day routine just flat wore me out. Don’t ask why this tact has not been taken before. Beats the hell out of me. I’m cheap, I guess.


Bowens Island is my escape route. Escape to the water. Miss Emma got a full taste of the brackish salt creeks last week, and she’ll get more of same this week, too.

There’s an added factor in that my friends Jill and Troy want some of my fish as an glitzy appetizer for a big, formal sit-down meal they plan to serve to 20 – 25 guests. They are both chefs as opposed to cooks so they’ll doll up whatever is caught and really make it delicious. So for once we will be a production fishing operation. It means we can spend way more time on the water on Day One rather than scoot out of town at 2 p.m. or so to beat the horrid Charleston traffic. So it’s exciting in a way.

Wyoming is really creeping up soon. This time next month everything might be in the pack. Got to get some new tires for the Camry for the Westward trip since there are nearly 48,000 miles on the car in barely 19 months. My trail meals have already been purchased from an outfit called Packitgourmet.com. The food is all dehydrated rather than freeze dried which takes, in my opinion, too much time to rehydrate. What I’ve seen from Packitgourmet.com is some really good stuff. Almost cuisine. Lunches will be the standard peanut butter and flour tortillas along with tuna in foil packs. Tom buys dried fruit at Trader Joe’s which is really good. Breakfasts will be equally standard; oatmeal with raisins and Starbucks instant coffee. The Tyvek hustled from a construction site has been trimmed to fit the one man tent (and the two person tent, too, Reid). That saves some weight and it compresses better than the plastic sheets. We’ll stay at the super-duper Four Winds in Jackson on the eve of the hike. Reid, Pinedale was nearly full. I had to scrounge for a motel. Must be a lot of roughnecks staying overnight. No way I want to spend another night in the car under a full moon like we did 11 or so years ago. What a memory that is.

Been paging through the Camino de Santiago guide, trying to wrap my arms around the whole idea of an enormous trip. It’s interesting that the author of the guide asks readers early in the book to consider why they would make the trip at all. Really a good question. He assumes, and treats readers thusly, that most make a pilgrimage rather than treat it like a hike or sporting event (my friends Tom and Vince and Richard who’ve all made the trip think it’s more of a walk than a hike). Certainly it’s not race walking or push every day for miles, miles, miles. As I look at the map of Spain – my sense of geography is just awful – my anticipated side trips to Madrid and Barcelona won’t happen. Both are just too far off the trail. In fact, I might book my initial flight in to Barcelona rather than an airport to St. Jean Pied de Port, France, the traditional starting point for the Camino. That way I can spend a day or two traipsing around Barcelona and then hop a bus toward Pamplona which is three days walk from St. Jean. Tom sent me his exacting and incredibly detailed (go figure, huh, Reid?) gear list and that is an enormous help. I’ve been bending Vince’s ear, too.

All this has me thinking about other adventures of this sort that might be made since we shouldn’t be afraid to live. It would be so fun to launch Miss Emma offshore to paddle the length of the Carolinas. It’d take some planning but what fun that would be. There isn’t much other international travel that trips my trigger. Reid, remember that guy we saw up in the Bridger who walked the Continental Divide Trail? Now that would be an extraordinary feat. I’d do that, too, but again, I’d need Tom’s sense of planning since such minute details tend to escape me. No surprise there. Sigh.

Love, Dad


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It’s Monday, meaning another Monday letter is nearly out the door …

True to form, it’s another Monday which means another letter to Ellen and Reid is about to be stuffed into #10 envelopes and posted at my development’s mailbox. 

The writing (about 15 minutes) was polished off over a cup of coffee. There’s no real formula to how the letters come together; at one time I kept a cheat sheet of notes but now I sit down and write whatever comes to mind in whatever order. That’s pretty much it.

(Here’s the letter sent last week. I wait one week before posting each letter so Ellen and Reid see the single pages first.)

March 13, 2017

Ellen/Reid: The tepid stream of prospective buyers will no longer be trouping through the house. I took it off the market at mid-week and my W Group Realtor, Scott, took the news like a champion. Really a good guy. He did confide that he thought my asking price – the one he and I agreed to at his suggestion – was a shade too high since other homes he’s represented have been selling very quickly. But in the end that didn’t matter. He’s sent me a few more smaller townhouses to take a look at since he thinks I’m still in a tad too much space; he’s probably right. The taxes and such might be less elsewhere, particularly if I relocate to the suburbs in South Carolina but I sure like the SouthPark location. As you’ve seen, it’s right in the thick of things and I can – for the time being – still navigate three sets of stairs. But after months of keeping the joint clean (let’s hope that trend continues) it’ll be nice to just live in it for a change.

So now the garage has to be cleared out of the two twin beds and cardboard boxes that will no longer be of use. In one sense the purge of stuff was a wholly good thing, plus I got some free decorating and rearranging advice. I really do like how the first floor dramatically opened up. It just looks so much better and is more livable.

I’m not sure how a move might have gone physically if this hernia operation goes on as scheduled. There’d of been no packing or lifting for a month or so. Still no word or update from the Social Security/Medicare folks. Somewhat perturbing in that if the letter doesn’t arrive today then I will pull the plug on Thursday’s surgery and delay it until the situation is clarified. The condition hasn’t deteriorated so a rescheduling might not be bad. What’s lurking on the radar is Wyoming; I want to be in good shape entering the mountains and need several months of solid workouts to deal with the climbing and walking. We shall see.

Since it looks like the knife will be staved off later this week, I’ll proceed to Asheville with Sondra and Jody to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy golf with them on Saturday. Since my dating life has per usual ground to a halt/is non-existent, it’s an easy solo trip to make.

My Irish friend Luke and his daughter Kate came over for dinner last night (she’s in the states for another 10 days or so before heading back to Dublin) and I asked if they’d like to come to Asheville too, and it looks like they might take up the invitation.


My friends Jane and Luke and his daughter Kate show that the English and Irish can indeed get along.

He’s really a great guy (Reid, he said he wanted to talk to you again) and a good stick. He can be the jovial life of the party and jazzes up any room in an instant, such is his pleasant, outgoing personality. So that pair will be a good addition to the soiree. My English friend Jane was here, too, and she and Luke dispelled any notion the English and Irish can’t get along. After my unfortunate faux pas linked Ireland and England, I was told in pointed terms that Ireland is not part of the U.K. Learn something new every day.

Sunday’s snow event totally fizzled. It never ceases to amaze me how people here launch into a tizzy at the mere mention/hint Continue reading

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Liberation: the open road and a cup of black coffee …

After a long break (one month) of nothing written to the kids, the letters to Ellen and Reid have resumed. This one is largely a reprise of the nearly five week trip to the West (I know, it gets old to read my constant praises of Wyoming). The whole adventure really was everything I envisioned, and more.

But other doings are going on in their lives, including Ellen’s move within St. Paul. Other news is afoot, too, and it will be mentioned in coming weeks just as much as Wyoming, if not more.

August 9, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Holy cow, what a month of July. It just frosts me that what is contemplated and planned and anticipated for so long speeds by so quickly; it’s all just a blur in the rear view mirror. I tried to reconstruct portions of the trip the other night (rather than count sheep) and every leg of the trip just seems like eons ago. It really does.

There was no hard-core fatigue factor once I got home. That tells me it probably isn’t such a bad way to go about it. It might have been different if stops to see you in Chicago and St. Paul weren’t included; I probably would’ve flown here and back to Jackson. But there was something liberating about grabbing a cup of black coffee, climbing in the car and just jetting down the road with the iTunes pumping through the stereo. We likely all need a road trip now and again. I did let out a little yelp after pulling in the garage but that was just because of the mileage. The last few hundred crept by. In the final analysis, I’d do it all over again.

Reid, it was impressive to see how Liz handled everything we threw at her.


Reid and Liz on the trail up to the No Name lakes. These two were fun to hike with, and better than average fly fishers – indeed, Liz caught that largest trout of the trip: a monster cutthroat.

She took to fly casting (and landing fish) like a champ and except for that one dehydrated dinner you two moaned about, she took the so-so food in stride. You guys did a nice job with the gear. It would have been easy to let pack weights get out of control but you kept things in check. I’m sorry again for coming unglued when the rangers forced us to move; you handled it much better than me. I hope that didn’t color her impression of the trek.


This was our view of the Cliff Creek fire from 10,800 ft. at 9:15 p.m. on July 20. We could see, and smell, the billowing plumes of smoke. We just had to get the hell out of the mountains – even if we had to hike in the dark with headlamps. We emerged at 1:15 a.m.

I see, too, that as of this morning the Cliff Creek fire has scorched 32,000 acres. That was the worst stretch of the entire trip, walking out in the dark. We just had no way of knowing how far away the fire was let alone how fast it was moving. It truly was a better-safe-than-sorry situation and I’d make the same decision all over again. Basically, it cost us at most half a day. And it gave you guys more time to laze around in Jackson. Nothing bad about that.

We had a good time in the second half of the trip in our circumnavigation of the Cirque of the Towers, albeit there were tons more people. A lot of them labored under packs woefully overloaded. That’s where Tom’s less-is-more approach paid dividends. He really knows his way around. He’s such an extraordinary planner. The one bad part was my left knee. It progressively worsened and the killers were the downhill sections. It was problematic on every step. It feels a little better now but not much. I’ve put in a call to my GP for a referral to an orthopedist since limping around is getting old in a hurry.

Once everyone departed Wyoming, the singular best solo moment of the trip was Saturday morning along the gravel road cutoff from Daniel and Alpine. I’ve heard wolves before and their howling woke me up about 5 a.m. Not long after came bugling from elk not that far away from my tent.


The view from my tent my last morning in the Wyoming Range. Wolf howls and bugling elk. If you have to be woken up, let it be wolves and elk.

The howls started again about 6:00 as I drank coffee and heated a spare oatmeal breakfast. It was completely windless and it just made for a surreal sunrise scene just to sit there listening to what was around the camp. It made me appreciate that part of Wyoming all that much more. And Ellen, tell Tim his flycasting pointers proved invaluable.

As for the other sidelight of the trip, I’m increasingly comfortable with the decision. It’s high time and, in some respects, somewhat overdue but likely not entirely a surprise to either of you. Ellen, you and Tim did the right thing on the other house. A short term rental ought to be palatable for a little while, and it sounds like the new living situation will be much better for the four of you over the long haul. You’ll have to send a few pictures to help me get a grip on where you’ll move. As for mine, it’s time to get a move on. My to-do list continues to grow and I’ve go to get off my duff.

Love, Dad

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No shortage of things to write about …

No letters were written to Ellen and Reid the entire month of July. That is by far the longest letter-less stretch in more than 15 years.

And the omission was for permissible reasons: stopovers were made at their homes during my journey to the West, and not too many days after a July 4 weekend in Chicago, Reid (and Liz) strapped on their backpacks to good naturedly walk 30-plus miles of trails with me on the northern half of the Bridger Wilderness.

I missed the writing. The loss was part habitual, part that there was no shortage of things to say.

But the weekly letters resume today. And, in a break for you, there won’t be any lengthy diatribe about Wyoming other than it exceeded my expectations and then some. I can’t wait to do it all over again in July of 2017.


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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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At this age, you’d think a guy would learn …

They say you eventually forget pain, but what’s not so easily dismissed is the rash of ill-thought through decisions that contribute to the situations that create the pain in the first place. This note doesn’t consider the hindsight that pinpointed the moment and place when the knee went south.

But it is what it is. That’s why they make ice packs.


June 8, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Well, this is a screw up of the first order. Since late Saturday I can’t bend my left knee and it’s swollen and very sore. This seems completely self inflicted; it was mildly sore last week but I continued to push the envelope with 36 holes this weekend and somewhere during the final round things went kablooey. I’m not sure precisely when it happened but with a couple of holes to go I knew there was trouble. Tried to ice/rest it all day Sunday but nothing seems to help. Could hardly sleep last night. No comfortable positions. Damn it. This is utter stupidity on my part, trying to force more activity on a 65 year old body than it can withstand. It probably stems from walking 36 holes the weekend before, plus really pushing it during my daily workouts and walks. Something had to give, I sensed it, and now there’s a price to be paid. Reid, if this puts the Wyoming trek in jeopardy I’m really going to be pissed. I’ll still make the trip one way or another but maybe not as a hiker. A call was made this morning to the office of my primary physician but they’re still trying to process the referral to an orthopedic doctor. I was hopeful this would be a minor ache and pain but it seems beyond that. Your dad is a complete idiot and total moron. There’s no other polite way to put it: It’s a real f—k up. The tentative plan also was to tote the kayak to Folly Beach/Bowen’s Island this Friday to fish, but that’s on hold now, too. That makes it doubly painful.

Pain or no pain, I was still able to hobble into my joint of choice for some cold medication. I'll usually pull up to Mac's on the bike, but  the rig will stay parked in the garage until the knee comes around.

Pain or no pain, I was still able to hobble into my joint of choice for some cold medication. I typically pull up to Mac’s on the bike, but the rig will stay parked in the garage until the knee comes around.

On top of it, I folded like a cheap suit at my hearing with the HOA board. But I say that in a positive vein. In the end, I know these people and they’re my neighbors, so my first statement was to apologize for some of the things I said in the heat of the moment. That calmed the waters greatly. They’ve allowed me to shift the plantings to the rear portion of the unit, and that’s okay. Since it’s on a slope there have to be some planters constructed to handle the gradient. The larger problem will be the invasive deer and squirrels but I’m willing to give it a go. This had been a big stressor on me and it’s good to have it past. I was the agitator in all of this. A pot of lettuce and tomato and basil plants shouldn’t get people – me – in a lather.

Also, both my courses at Central Piedmont Community College were scrubbed because there weren’t enough sign ups. I’m mildly disappointed but not crushed by any means. My contact at CPCC seems more distraught than me. There’s a letter writing course coming up in the fall so hopefully there will be at least a few enrollees for that one. Reid, any word for Liz in terms of grad schools? We know she’s on pins and needles about it. Let your mom and I know how that’s going because we want her to get into the school she deserves. How is your work going at DePaul?

Your aunt Gayle gets the cast off her broken ankle today. She must’ve had one helluva break. That timing is good. They fly to San Francisco in the next few days to pick up one of their granddaughters and bring her back for a week’s stay in Grand Island.

It’s so good to seem little Miss Georgia begin to smile. That’s such a pleasure. And Emma seemed full of it last night during our FaceTime. It’s good she’ll take swim lessons. That little fish will take to the water like you did, Ellen. She’ll be a good swimmer.

As for the Minnesota State Fair, let me know what weekend in August works for you. Feel free to dictate the terms of my visit. Hopefully I won’t need a wheelchair, a cane or a walker or a handicapped parking permit. You’d think at this age a guy would learn. Apparently not.

Love, Dad

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