Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Bucket List revisited

I know that it has been a quite a while since my last post and I really have no good excuse for not writing more frequently. Lord knows that we have been busy in the interim. St. Jan and I drug the trailer to Wisconsin to be on hand when Gen ran a half marathon in Elroy, Wisconsin shortly after returning from an excursion to Rapid City with the trailer in tow. In October Jan and I, Gen, Sam and Gus loaded up the pickup and made a run to Virginia to see Rachel and her family who just returned to the USA from Germany. After a non-stop run out -lets not do that one again- we found their house in Chesapeake with the help of our gps unit. How did we ever get along before this came along? I mainly use it to navigate in urban areas. Anyhow it was good to see them, Hans, Rachel, Josiah, Annika and for the first time William, the newest grandson. The Norfolk area is nice, naturally not quite what I expected. We celebrated Will's first birthday during our stay and made a two day run home. Amazingly enough we all made the round trip without strangling anybody. Even Sam and Gus traveled like troupers strapped into car seats the whole way. I don't think that I would care to make the trip tied down like that.

I have been on a few PGR missions in the meantime, riding to as many as I could before the weather turned cold and snowy. Today it was 2 above zero when I got up. That makes me think of something, every night when you go to bed you routinely assume that you will get up in the morning don't you? Hmm, anyhow in this period of time I should have written a blog for St. Jan's birthday, the woman that literally saved my life, gave me three terrific children that have expanded into seven grandchildren. What can I say but thanks? At one of the last PGR missions I was standing next to a guy from Jordan, and we got to talking about riding to Alaska. This guy spent two months on the road up there and back and said don't wait. I mentioned it to Jan and she encouraged me to just do it. I have to admit that that is one item that has been on my bucket list for a long time, so know I am into researching the trip. I have all winter and then some to get this organised so it should be interesting. I have done a map-quest and it is over 3000 miles to Fairbanks from here, so I am thinking it's going to be a minimum of two weeks on the road. Jan and I also plan to ride out to Virginia this year too, and I was planning a return to western Wyoming this Summer. I am thinking something is going to have to give or I won't be back until Fall. I am going to throw in some random pictures with this post to give my pathetically small group of readers a look at what we have been up to.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Bucket List continued

Just a short one here. Phil and I just got back from Buffalo, Wyoming where we spent a couple days riding in the Big Horn Mountains. For the most part the riding was good but the distances involved in moving the bikes up into the mountains and from place to place was not as convenient as, say Colorado. Every morning meant hauling them up into the mountains 25 or 30 miles to unload and ride. Once we got off the highways and into the dirt it was fun. It's another case of having the correct weapon for the job. Our GS 1200 is almost too big, for me anyway and the KLX 250 doesn't have long enough legs. I'm thinking our XR 650 would be better at this type of spread out duty. Enough grousing, Tuesday we went over toward Ten Sleep and rode down old highway 16 to Ten Sleep, then up a gravel road to Hyattville. There we split off back to the east on a dirt road that deteriorated to some pretty rocky sections and some deep sand which can be worse ( ask Phil). The views back to the west as we climbed back into the mountains were spectacular! Eventually we got back into the trees and the truck for reloading and a scenic drive up to Greybull and back over to Sheridan and Buffalo. We headed out of there yesterday morning early and were home by about 5:30 in the afternoon. Buffalo is around 700 miles from here, so it is just a good days drive, around 10 or 11 hours on I 90 for the most part. We had a good time but I am not so sure that I would go back without some better basing location, ie. up in the mountains somewhere. I did see a lot of trailers tucked away in the trees on some of the trails we rode, but I don't think that I would want to drag our toy hauler in there. The pictures were from a look out we went to the first day and of course Powder River Pass which I have been over about 6 times in the last 3 months. Jan and I hit it in June, I went over in July, and Phil and I hit it several times this trip. Take care, stay in touch and leave a comment if you feel moved to write, ok? The flowers are a little something I gave St. Jan for being such a good sport and partner to me. It was good to see her again when I got home. When we are apart I feel like something is missing, my better half would be it, I think. She has to listen to my descriptions of the riding because there is no way to ride these trails two up. We will be off to the wilds of Wisconsin in the near future with the toyhauler to camp, ride some, and watch Gen in a half marathon, I believe. So more future riding. Oh ya, my check up at Mayo last Friday went well, I believe the Doctor said the results were spectacular. It must be all of the good care I get at home and the riding, actually he ( the Doctor) encourages it. That's it for real this time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rachel Naomi Cathrine DeFor

I will have to apologize to Rachel ahead of time here for the lack of any older pictures of her. It is the same with all of the kiddos, I am only up to about 1980 or so in my slide conversion project. Hopefully I will spend some of the non riding time in the Winter to get a little more caught up. Maybe next year at this time I will be able to ratchet up the age of the pictures. I am sure that she has heard all about the days before her birth in Waconia on a nice August morning, the false labor that brought Paul and I rushing home from the Hills and the night of the 17th at the Navarre drive in. I remember running into a co-worker of mine as we went into the hospital (he had broken his arm playing football). We brought her home to our duplex without a clue what to do next. I mean you buy a tv set and the instruction manual is in three languages that is 50 pages long, but they send you out of the hospital with a wave and a good luck, you are going to need it. Evidently the mother instinct kicks in shortly there after because she thrived and grew into a beautiful, talented, intelligent woman with three of her own. It probably helped that she spent a lot of time with her grand parents while Jan and I took some time off. Rachel has definitely become our musician and I would say that the piano is her primary instrument, although she has played the french horn, violin, and cello. All three of our children played the piano, but Rachie is the only one to sit and play for fun. She once won a competition at Normandale and went on to Northrop Auditorium for a mass recital. Since marrying Hans DeFor of the U.S.Navy she has lived in San Diego, California, Newport, Rhode Island, Japan, Germany and will soon be moving to Virginia. While moving around the world she has had three beautiful children of her own. Josiah was born in San Diego, Annika in Yokosuka, Japan and William in Stuttgart, Germany. Rachel may be a musician but this is her highest calling, being a top flight mother. I think that she could be an excellent teacher as her kiddos are all are way ahead of their contemporaries. The thing that makes me sad sometimes is the fact that I won't be able to see how things all play out, but that is life I guess, and that is what happens when you love someone so much you just can't wait to see the next act. Looking back it is hard to believe that that little girl we brought home from the hospital will be 36 in a few days. The one thing that I have tried to re-enforce with our children is this, pay attention, in no time at all your children will be grown and out on their own. Try to set the memories in deep so you can remember what they were like when you first saw them come into this world. Rachel we love you dearly and don't you ever forget that.
Dad August 14 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Bucket List

Today is one of those days, with rain on the roof and cloudy enough that you need the lights on in the house. I thought that this could be a good time to catch up on my blogging thread. After naming my bike trips "Farewell Tour 1, 2, 3, etc, I have decided to call them the " Bucket List Tours", because that is what they really are. I think that I am trying to cover as many places in this country as I, we, can reasonably ride to. Jan and I were out to Utah and Idaho earlier and I made a short run out to the Big Horns in Wyoming last month- I'll throw in some pictures here somewhere. I rode some trails out there that I had been curious about for quite a while. Crazy Woman canyon was interesting to say the least, and old hi way 16 was fun but the scenic byway from Schell to Wyattville was 35 miles of bad road. I think that that stretch took at least 3 hours to cover. I don't think that I will do that one again, at least not on a bike the size of our GS BMW. On the way back home I stopped at the site of the former Sundance Air Force Station near Sundance Wyoming. I'll include a couple of the mountain top location of the radars. This site was the only AFS powered by a nuclear reactor, which makes it kind of unique. I spent the night in Rapid City again. I located a net book at Best Buy for a good price that we ended up buying here in Mankato that I plan on carrying on trips in the future. When Jan and I were on our trip out west earlier this Summer, Jan suggested that we should get a computer to bring along so that we can stay in touch via the Internet while on the road. So now we have a net book, a much smaller laptop that I can download pictures to on a daily basis and communicate with the world, provided there is Internet access. I had to stop at the museum at Ellsworth on the way out of town to see if anything was new. This part is for Bill P., didn't 657 have iron bombs on the wing racks when we were there last Summer? I am pretty sure that it did. Today they are gone. I wonder is it like Guam when then collected all of the butt cans on base (which were 500 pound tail fins) because they ran out of tail fins for the real bombs? It seems to me that they were inert 500 pounders on 657, but maybe somebody was offended. The rest of the Summer is passing in a blur it seems, Jan and I and our State side kids and grandkids have been up to assorted activities in the area, for instance Jan and I just returned from a weekend at the KOA campground near Albert Lea, where we parked the trailer for a couple nights. We got in some riding and time with family, although the heat and weather kind of take the fun out of things. When it is hot everybody holes up in the trailer, which has air conditioning. I finally managed to get our flag pole refinished and put in place a week or so ago. I took it down when we added on to the kitchen 10 years ago and it had been hanging in the garage ever since. We placed it in the flower garden that is coming along slowly but surely. Most of the plants in there have come from other gardens and some are the plants we started with seed from Prairie Edge in Rapid City last year. Eli helped me with some mulch which has made a big difference with holding moisture, now if the damn squirrels would quit digging in there I would be thrilled to death. Maybe I can trap them out, it is illegal to shot them in town. Mom's 90th birthday party has been put on hold until sister Kathy can attend from California. Kathy is still recovering from colon surgery from a couple months ago. I am sure that it has turned in to a much bigger problem than was originally thought. St. Jan and I are heading over to Rochester on Thursday evening for a Friday morning appointment with my ENT doctors for a check-up. If I pass this one it will go to every 6 months for follow ups. In September I have a follow up with my Dermatologist to check my nose etc.. We are extremely lucky to have the Theobalds in Rochester to base out of when we are down there. Gen is always after us to move over there. Sometimes it almost looks attractive, but I would have to give up all of our garage space and my shop. One other thing, brother Phil and I are heading back to the Big Horns on Sunday to do some dirt biking. I had intended to go back to Ouray, Colorado again this year, but they have had a lot of moisture out there this Summer and at the elevations we ride that means snow, so I diverted back to the Big Horns. Anyhow that about does it for now. Stay in touch and leave a comment if you please.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So Green it almost hurts your eyes

I have used this phrase before, but this year the crops are so green it just doesn't seem possible. Perhaps it is all of the nitrogen applied to the corn fields, but more likely it is the moisture that we have been getting lately. Last night I ran up to Leavenworth to take in a minor league baseball game. It was like going back to the 50s when my Dad played for Ormsby fast pitch. The games between Ormsby and Odin would draw hundreds of people in the days before decent television. I can remember sitting in the car waiting for Dad to get out of the pool hall after the game where the team went for a couple of cold ones. Believe me it must have been tough just forcing your way in the door the crowds were so big. It is hard to believe that those days are almost 60 years ago now. I have been thinking about trying to get a blog together on the rural schools that I attended in my youth. I went to district 67 for first grade, before district 126 was re-opened the next year. The district 67 building was torn down and replaced with the Galena township hall in the past, but the district 126 building is being used as a shed on a nearby farm to this day. I need to contact my Mom about possible pictures of those days. Anyhow, Jan and I have been busy since my last post 2 months ago. A couple of weeks ago we went on an extended bike trip that was pretty much destination determined by the Weather Channel. Originally we had planned to head out across North Dakota and Montana to Alberta, but nasty weather in that direction changed our plans. We ended up going to Nebraska and northern Colorado to Utah and up into Idaho. We tried going toward northern Idaho but the sky was just black in that direction so we turned around and went east to the Grand Tetons. I'll throw on some pictures of that trip. Previous to that trip we spent a weekend near Winona in a crowded campground across the road from the Mississippi river. The Theobalds came over and spent some time in their tent. Jan and I spent a couple of days there wandering the back roads in Wisconsin. Steve, Gen, Sam, Gus, and I hiked a State Park on the bluffs overlooking the river one morning. I will try to include one from that day. I have some photos from our July 4th weekend and I will include some of them in here too. Saturday is Aaron's birthday which we will be celebrating at Eli and Lindsey's house on the 10th. It's hard to believe that he is already two years old, my how time flies. With any luck I plan on making a run out to the Big Horns next week for a few days to cover some roads less traveled. Also need to remember my sister Kathy who has spent the last couple of weeks in a hospital in Modesto battling with the after effects of colon surgery. Lately it has been one thing after another with her health, so keep her in mind and your prayers. I know that it has been a couple of months since my last post, but I just did not have the urge to type. I can't blame work I guess. So anyhow, stay in touch, be good and eat your vegetables.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Early May

I am going to try and get the photos in the proper order on this one, so here goes. The last one is of my Mom and my brothers Phil, Paul, and I at the Kaiserhoff in New Ulm. We, along with our wives, Jan, Laura, and Marcy took my Mom out to dinner for Mothers' Day. Afterwards the girls went shopping and the brothers adjourned to a bar across the street. Last week on Thursday Phil and I went on another Pgr mission in St. Paul for a Maplewood police officer who was ambushed responding to a fake call. The officer was Sgt Bergeron, a 26 year veteran with a wife and twin 13 year old daughters. The funeral was at the St. Paul Cathedral in down town St. Paul. We lined the steps and the side walk in front of the cathedral while thousands of law enforcement officers faced us across the street. There were LEOs from a 5 state area and even a couple from Chicago. After the service the string of cop cars in the procession must have taken 45 minutes to get out of the several different parking areas and heading for the cemetery. I think that they said that there were over 800 cars in the line. I give up, The pictures, as usual are backwards again, I think that I need to blog more so that I can remember which way to go. Other than that the weather has turned cold and damp, kind of a typical May after a very nice April for a teaser. Today Jan and I are heading over to Rochester foe another followup with the doctors and a day with the Theobalds. Take care and stay in touch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A busy weekend

As is my usual practice, if you check out the pictures from the last to the first you will get them in proper order. One of these days I will get it straight and then everyone will be all confused I suppose. Anyhow, the weekend started on Friday when a group of PGR riders met at our place and then we headed for Rochester for the return of Lcpl Swenson's remains. Somehow that doesn't sound like the correct term for the body of a 20 year old Marine that was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was a son, brother, grandson, and husband. The first part of the mission was at the Rochester airport to greet the charter flight that brought his body home and escort him to the church where the funeral was held. The visitation was later in the evening, so in the interim I rode over to the Theobalds to drop my gear and hang out for a bit. The next photo up is Gus of course and then one from the visitation. Saturday morning dawned bright and warming nicely so there was a big group on hand for the funeral . We had the Patriot Guard and The Leatherneck MC club in abundance. I believe that we had over 200 standing in the flag line and at least 175 bikes across the street in the K-Mart parking lot. Maybe I am selfish, but I always try to line up as close to the door as possible so that I can see what all goes on. Let me tell you that the Marine Corps does a fantastic job of taking care of their own. Lcpl Swenson had a guard from the time he got off the plane until the casket was in the ground in Houston, Minnesota. Their precision and attention to detail puts the other services to shame. They had us surround the hearse with our backs to the vehicle while they placed something with the Lcpl in his casket. Someday maybe I'll find out what. After the service we lined up for the 64 mile drive to Houston. I don't know how many bikes that were in the string but it must have stretched for over a mile on I-90. I think that every bridge that we went under on the way down had people waving flags or just waving as we went by, but Houston was incredible. The main drag for several blocks, was lined with people shoulder to shoulder with flags etc.. Wow, it just gave me goose bumps passing down that street. He was buried at a small cemetery outside of town with all of the honors. We also had the almost common bald eagle fly over too. This is getting so common, you begin to wonder if our national bird is aware of what is going on on the ground below. I shook a lot of hands over the weekend with his father, mother, Grandmother, sister, wife, and Marine after Marine some of whom were in tears, all in all a satisfying two days. I managed to get home just as the sun set Saturday night. Sunday Eli, Lindsey, Jan and I went for a bike ride up to Fort Ridgley and down to Mankato along the Minnesota river. We stopped at a small waterfall-don't ask me how to spell it or pronounce it-and at Lake Crystal for a break and gas. After we got home Jan and I drove over to Eli and Lindsey's for a brewski. Today- Monday- I was going to go to St. Cloud for the funeral for Sgt Kruize, a 35 year old father of four, killed in an accident in Iraq, but it was raining and 47 degrees this morning when I got up and the funeral was early. I wanted to make the internment at Camp Ripley but I wimped out, I do have my limits. As I sit here writing I can hear the thunder outside and Eli called me from his job and said they were warning of flash flooding around Worthington. This will really green up the lawns. Take care and stay in touch?