Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas 2012

I thought that I would try something different this year and since I have not been able to work up the ambition to blog since March, I thought that this would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I usually do the letter in a month by month format, so her goes. January, the temps varied from the 50s to cold. I was working on re jetting a bike which worked quite well, and some carpentry work in the basement. We moved my Mother-in-law back to Sherburn from Wadena this month too.. Leah, our grand daughter started piano lessons that I sat in on, and I painted the bathroom. In February the weather was not too bad and I got in some riding, and of course some snow too. Jan and I were over to Rochester a couple of times, once with both of the great-grammas along for Gus' birthday party. We also spent some time clearing out my mother-in-laws storage unit here in town and getting her settled in at her home in Sherburn etc.. Jan and I spent a few days with Leah and Aaron at their house while Eli and Lindsey were up North trying to find enough snow to do some snowmobiling. Oh ya, we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary on the 14th. March, the temperatures vary quite a bit from the 30s to the high 70s, needless to say I got in a lot of riding, with a trip out to the Hills in the middle of the month. Also spent some time, and money, needless to say for maintenance on said bikes. Jan and I made a couple of trips to Rochester, celebrated Leah's birthday, and did some work for my Mom. I also hauled another load of worn out jeans to Grove City to a PGR buddy's home, where they make quilts for autistic kids from them. I did paint and hang the window boxes we got over the Winter, and they looked good this Summer full of flowers and greenery. April, the weather got better and better, but wetter and windier. I had to start mowing the lawn the first part of the month, and we drove my mother-in-law, Bernice to Sioux Falls for a doctors appointment. On the 20th, Jan and I started out for Virginia again, after a stop at the Air Force museum in Dayton and a couple of motels we arrived in Norfolk on the 22nd for a visit. We had a nice visit with the Defors and headed home on the 28th, and arrived back in St. James the next day. This trip I tried a new route around Washington, DC, I will not be trying that way again if I can avoid it. May started out with some heavy rains and several PGR missions to Jackson, Rochester , and Jackson again. Jan and I got our trailer out for the first trip of the season, which is to Albert Lea KOA. We did some riding down into Iowa around Decorah and the Theobald's came down to visit one afternoon. I think that this is the first year that we have been down there and the weather has been nice, the last few years it has been rainy and cold to boot. I had to replace the battery on our 94 Ducati and after stating her up I found the clutch AWOL. So I had to rebuild the master cylinder, it works good now. Gen ran in the Fargo marathon in May and naturally we drove up to watch. I am not so sure about her but we had a lot of fun watching the race on city streets. There were assorted bands on almost every block set up in people's driveways, it made for a festive atmosphere to be sure. Gen was happy with her time, so I guess that is what really matters. Toward the end of the month I rode out to the Big Horns in Wyoming to try some trails that I saw on my maps, but when I got way up in the Mountains I ran into a lot of snow so I had to turn around and head home. I guess that I was there a little too early, this time. It looks as if we got an awful lot of rain later in May, luckily as the crops needed the water in the drought that lasted the rest of the year around here. On Memorial Day we had our annual picnic at a park in Owatonna, with all of the family in this area at least including my sister Kathy who was home for a visit at the time. On the first of June I rode to Fergus Falls on a PGR mission for a soldier killed in a swimming accident. Jan and I drove down to Sherburn for her to visit her Mom and I went to the movie in town, yes Sherburn still has a theater that shows first run movies. Good grief, even Fairmont the county seat does not have a theater now, there used to be two and a drive inn. I was shopping around, looking for trees to replace the two ash trees in our front yard that were taken out later on. One was planted when Rachel was born and the other was for Genevieve. Eli's is on the east side of the house and is a maple. Gen, Sam,Gus, and I went to Mankato to the airshow to see the Blue Angels perform. Jan and drove over to Peterson for Scuba's softball tournament, this is getting to be an annual event too the way it seems. We had a PGR mission to Bloomington for a soldier KIA one day and a funeral for a PGR friend's Mom in Hardwick the next day, so I put a few miles there. Jan and I went to Mankato so that she could talk with Social Security and PERA about her upcoming plan to retire from Watonwan County Human Services where she has worked for 20 plus years. This is something that we have been looking forward to for years praying for the time to be together after retirement. So far so good. On the 4th of July we got the trailer out again and headed down to Lanesboro for a few days. Gen, Scuba, Eli, Lindsey, and families joined us, camping next to the trailer for a couple of days mostly to catch the terrific fireworks display that they put on down there. We got some riding in and had a good time with the gang. We celebrated Aaron's birthday on the tenth, and I spent several days sanding the deck off to re-apply a finish in the future. Jan and I met my brother Phil and his wife Laura in New Ulm one Thursday so that the ladies could do some shopping followed by a tour of the Schell's brewery and a burger at a small town burger joint, all in all we had a nice time. I did get the two maples in the front yard planted toward the end of July. Boy did we pick the wrong year to remove trees, it's been so dry and hot that I have been watering those trees almost on a daily basis ever since. On the 30th I was at a small cemetery in rural Canby waiting for the funeral procession to arrive from South Dakota, and realized that it was exactly 50 years ago that I had entered the Air Force, holy cow a half century ago! The Air Force I served in had more in common with WWll than does today's service. Many of the personnel I served with were veterans of that conflict. At the time I had no idea how many of those hero's I was surrounded by. I just wish that I knew then what I knew now about their sacrifices. I just finished another book about the air war over Europe in 1943 and 44, it seems incredible to me that we can expect people to just keep going out when the odds of coming back are slim to none! August started with me installing Mom's new stove, I have been helping out on her kitchen remodel here and there, so it is coming together at this time. Jan and I made another return trip to Rochester to see my doctors for a follow-up check, and everything looks fine, so they said "you don't have to come back in a year, if you don't want to". We said that I think we will be back just for the peace of mind of it. If we didn't go back, I think that we would kind of miss wandering around that facility checking things out. In the middle of the month Phil and I made a run out to the Hills for a little dirt biking etc.. It has been a while since we had been out there, what with several trips to Colorado over the years taking up some of our off road time. Toward the end of the month I headed south through Nebraska and Kansas so that I could clip the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas, cross northern New Mexico and end up in Colorado. By riding Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico I would add 3 more states to my riding list. Anyway I was on my way to Rapid City for the 28th Bomb Wing reunion, and I had to be there Thursday the 30th, due to the fact that I was running behind I had to skip Texas and New Mexico. I found the panhandle of Oklahoma to be the most God forsaken part of the country I have ever had the displeasure of passing through. The next day I rode to the top of Pike's Peak, there's a really good view from up there, and up through Breckenridge, Granby, and Walden to Laramie for the night. The next day was on to Rapid city and the reunion check in, which turned out to be a bust. Evidently this was a function for senior NCO's and officers, so I felt really, more so than ordinarily out of place.So I headed home the next day, won't be doing that one again. Oh well I had a pretty good ride anyway. September stated out with Eli and I making a run to Maple Plain for him to get a different bike, again, a Yamaha FJR, which seems like a nice machine. We got the trailer out and loaded for our run over to Oakdale, Wisconsin for almost a week pf riding and relaxing. As usual we had a good time in the hills of Wisconsin on some of the best roads in this part of the country. I also finished finishing the deck before the end of the month when Jan officially spent her last day at the office!! The day after her retirement we loaded up the Mustang for a run to Norfolk to visit the DeFors for a couple of weeks. The primary excuse was Hans and Rachel were going on a cruise to celebrate their 10th anniversary and we, well Jan and I were going to watch the kiddos for a week or so. It went pretty good for the most part, but I guess that I forgot how much work 3 smaller children are. You've got to admire grand parents that take over raising their grand children. The only downside of the trip was hitting a deer near Jaynesville on the way home, as usual didn't even see it until it took out the front of the Mustang. Naturally it took out the radiator and a few other things, all to the tune of $4500+. After returning home I had a couple of PGR missions and we celebrated Jan's birthday with a retirement party at her former place of employment. Along with my brother and sister-in -law, we made another run to the Black Hills for a few days. We had a good time one day touring the wineries that a popping up in the Hill City area. November started with a trip to Rochester to help the Theobalds finish their basement with some painting assistance. Shortly after that Jan,i, Phil, Laura, and my sister Kathy flew out to Washington DC for a few days. Kathy has been reading names at the Wall every five years for a while now, I've been with her now for the past ten years. Jan, Phil, and Laura had never been to DC before so it was quite a treat for them. Our hotel this time was right in back of the Air and Space museum so it was a short walk over there and then a pretty good hike down to Wall from there. We did ride the trolley one day around town, stopping at the National Cathedral, White House, etc.. It was really beautiful there this time of the year, cool, with the trees turning. Did I mention that Kathy picked up the tab for this whole adventure? I can say without a doubt that the gesture was greatly appreciated! Jan and I say that we would go back in a moment. I did manage to get in some more riding and two more KIA funerals with the PGR, one in New Prague and the other in Algona, Iowa. Thanksgiving was in Rochester at the Theobalds again this year, this is also an annual event at their house. It is nice developing traditions like this.  December, it seems as if now days we spend the better part of the month leading up to Christmas itself. We, Jan and I were over to Rochester to attend both grand son's Christmas programs and the Cities for Rachel's mother-in law's concert at Woodale. The Woodale Christmas concert is quite a production, you need to see it to appreciate it. We had our family Christmas at our house last Saturday with the whole gang here minus the DeFor family, who are coming home from Norfolk by the end of the year for a visit. We plan on holing up at a hotel in the Cities with them for a few days. Our son-in-law Navy Cmdr Hans DeFor just got the word that he has been approved for the command of his own ship, something he has been working toward for over 20 years of service.
 I have to say that this has been an exceptional year in a string of exceptional years with our family, God has surely blessed us through no fault of mine, good proof that our deeds don't determine our good luck in relationships, children, and the blessing of having been born in the United States of America. Take good care of yourselves and those around you, and hopefully the Mayans are wrong and we will see you next year.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March Road Trip post script

After telling my story of woe yesterday I realized that I had forgotten to add the crowning touch to the part where I lost my wallet and camera and got them back. After returning from Sanborn, where I met the UPS driver, Hoot Malmgren, whom I have known for years, I thought that I would run out on the Sizer road to see if he had missed anything. So I got the XR650 out and headed west again. A few miles out of town "Harry" stopped running and I switched to reserve, thinking he was low on fuel. A little bit later the same think occurred and that's when it hit me, the bike was seizing up. For some reason I had changed jackets before leaving the garage and naturally I left my cell phone in the other jacket, just to compound the string of errors that were mounting up that day. Anyhow, I ended up walking back to town, calling Eli to come help, getting the truck and ramps out and bring "Harry" home. The knife twist in the back on this one is this, for years every time I changed the oil I tried to remove a filter in the oil lines without success, so this year I took him to the Honda dealer in Mankato to do the job along with the oil change. I hauled him back to Mankato and the oil filter housing was dry,not a good thing. They tore the engine down and the piston is scored etc., but luckily the top end, cam, rockers, etc. are ok. So now "Harry" sits forlornly, in pieces in a strange shop waiting to be rebuilt. They promised to split some of the costs, so hopefully it won't be too bad, but it will be bad enough. The thing is, I was doing all of this extra maintenance with the idea of heading back out to the Big Horns sometime this Summer. Was it Robert Burns who said" the best laid plans of men and mice oft times go astray"? I think that that statement fits here, don't you? That about covers it for now, see you next time, same time , same station.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Road Trip

This blog will be the first that I have put up in quite some time. The subject, as usual, will be a bike trip heading west. As this has been one of the nicest Marches on record, I had the bright idea of making a quick run out to the Hills, again. I picked a couple of days when the weather looked promising and got ready to go. I left home one Tuesday morning headed west, about 20 miles from home I started looking for my wallet, stopped and check all of the 15 pockets in my riding gear and the trunk, no luck. I headed back home checked around the house, still no luck. About that time I noticed some recordings on the machine, one was from UPS with the note that a driver had picked up my wallet on the road west of town, and one from the post office letting me know that a rural carrier had picked up my camera. Looking back I then recalled putting them on the bike while I was getting suited up and neglected to put them in a pocket. Anyhow, to make a long story short I ended up in Sanborn to meet the UPS guy and retrieve my stuff. After that much stress I headed home to think again how lucky I have been. God must really be fond of me, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. In the future I have to try and rely a little less on good luck and the kindness of strangers, and a little more on paying attention to the details. The next morning I did head out again and this time each item had an assigned pocket and stayed there the whole trip. I went out through Pierre and across country to Sturgis. Leaving Pierre there was a sign that the next services are 66 miles away, and that service, when I passed by, did not not look real promising. An unusual sight at the intersection of highways 14 and 34, west of Pierre is a baseball diamond surrounded by big banks of lights and all of the facilities that go with a ball diamond, but it looked as if it hadn't been used in years. Things like that get me thinking, "what is this ball diamond doing out here miles from any settlement of any size". I could see it if it had been a rodeo arena in that area, but no, a ball diamond. Things that make you go hmmm. Anyhow, I got to Sturgis checked in and ran up to the Terry Peak area to see if the property Eli, Phil, and I looked at last Fall was accessible, but no, the snow was pretty deep, at least deeper than I wanted to wade through. So back to Sturgis via Lead and Deadwood before it got too dark. The next morning I was on the road headed toward Rapid City and I passed by one of those huge RV lots, so I turned back and stopped in to check out the 5th wheel toy haulers. Jan had asked that I keep my eyes open for one even though we keep saying we are happy with the one we have. Sure enough the had a very nice 30 foot model right out front. I took the tour and videoed the whole unit. Needless to say it ain't cheap, but as soon as I got home and played the video for Jan , I could see the wheels start to turn. The whole drive to the 5th wheel camper is the idea that it will pull easier than the trailer, and thusly save some of that $4+ diesel fuel. So now we are thinking about a run to the Hills to check it out. Last weekend the weather was nice, but windy, so Jan and I rode over to spend some time with the Theobalds. We had a good time with the gang and were home by noon on Sunday. This time of the year I have been busy changing oil and mounting new tires on a few of the bikes, and getting the new window boxes ready to mount on the south side of the house. Well, that is about it for now, stay in touch and reply if it moves you.