Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer is here in Iowa NOW

My apologies for not posting sooner.   We had a great time at daughter Beth's (for the most part).  A week earlier, Beth had been to the farm to sort 'stuff" in our storage trailer. Lots of stuff went to the fire pile and some stuff went back with her for good will.   So I got to shed another tear over what daughter has declared "surplus to our needs" and took it with her.

Two things really hurt:  lots of books and a pair of life jackets.   They keep telling me that it is all available online, but I do enjoy browsing through a book, like a book on our National Parks.  Puff, it is gone.  As to the life jackets, she wasn't around when I spotted them in her trunk, so I promptly rescued them.   After all, I still have the canoe and intend to use it.  So I need some life jackets!   I think it was Sunday afternoon or evening when she commented, "I haven't seen the life jackets around!"   So I had to fess up that I had them and I was keeping them!

We returned to the farm on Monday, with Sandy driving and I slept.  It was a few quick stops in Cedar Rapids, then to see my mother in Amana and home sweet home to our motorhome!

Yet that afternoon, the work began.  I mowed the lawn which is a real bouncing job.  Later it was a trip into Williamsburg and I noticed that the county was cleaning the fill out of the road ditches nearby.  A quick visit with the crew chief and I was in line to get a whole pot full of fill dirt to fill the hole left by the silo and the hole that was under the corn crib.  He asked "How much could I take?" and my answer was "All you can make available."   If the holes can't handle it all, we'll raise the area where the silo was.  After all, it is nice black soil.

Today, I suggested to Sandy that maybe it was time to start the air conditioner. (Not that I want it!)   The good news was that the compressors run.  The bad news is that the fan doesn't run on low speed.  However, I never could tell a difference in the two speeds, so we have air conditioning with a high speed fan.

It is hard to believe, but the summer here on the farm is almost over.  We head north next week  for the Winnebago rally, which takes up July.  In August, we have 4 family reunions, one each weekend.   Then of course, September is next and we'll probably get itchy feet to consider heading south.  So I have one more week of summer here on the farm and it looks like mother nature is going to make sure I remember it.

We do have a nice breeze here on the hilltop.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Traveling to See Family (daughter)

We packed up a few critical items and slowly headed northeast to daughter's house for the weekend.   On the way, we made a call on Mother at the care center, finding her "about the same" as she words it.  At 100 years and 2 months, not much seems to change in her life.

It was then on to Walmart in Cedar Rapids for some critical items and a haircut for Sandy.  As we left, I told Sandy that I was suggesting that we pick a different route since we've traveled highway 151 numerous times over the years.  So we headed NE, initially on 151 before exiting the 4 lane for various state highways.   All went well until we exited the state highway onto a county road on the way to the ferry.  It was a very  good road surface with a lots of turns.  We can handle that okay; the show stopper was when we rounded a curve and the road was blocked with a stopped freight train.   The train disappeared around a curve, looking to the right or the left.

It seemed like hours that we were waiting, although it was probably only 10 to 20 minutes.  What was also a bit unsettling was that there were no cars parked on the other side of the train.  Or maybe that was good news that the ferry wasn't in yet.

Finally, there was a rumble and lots of banging as the train started to move.  It still took a while before the last car cleared our crossing so that we could proceed.   About a mile down the very curvy road we finally met another car.  I was expecting to see a number of cars from the ferry, so did one car indicate that the ferry was in or not?

The road then went from a nice (but curvy) oil to much narrower gravel road.  We finally rounded the last curve and spotted a ferry sign and then the ferry.  The gates were closed and the ferry just sitting there, but the one deck hand quickly opened the gates and beckoned us to come forward.  He parked us in the middle lane at the end of the ferry, as if they had to load many others.  However, after we were parked, he went to the ramp and closed the gates.  We were leaving now.

I wasn't paying much attention to the pilot house and then noticed that it was at 90 degrees to the ferry length and rotating.  It appeared that the power unit is a pusher and always positions itself to push on the barge part. Once we were underway, the deck hand came by to collect the fee, a cool $15 per car.  Reading online, each car is allowed to take as many people as there are seat belts in the car.

The crossing went smoothly and shortly we exited the ferry onto main street Cassville, Wisconsin.  We hadn't paid attention to road details and when I turned, the Garmin GPS announced "recalculating".  So we stopped to figure out (on paper) where we were going.  Karen (the voice in the GPS) wanted to take us south to Plattville, WI and I said "no, we're going to take small county and state roads east. Sandy resolved that issue  finally and we headed north, intending to pick up a state highway.  However, upon arriving at the state highway junction, it was closed for bridge construction.  We headed north following the "detour" signs, all the while with Karen insistently saying "turn right" at the every intersection.

Since the reworked closed bridge was 8 miles east of town, there is no use taking any road sooner.  Finally, Sandy and I decided to change our planned route to the north and suddenly Karen was happy.

We picked up U.S. highway 18 and seemed to float along, as we had a very strong tail wind.  Even the MPG indicator was happy, getting us to a number over 30 for the trip.  "That I can take any time!"

We finally arrived at daughter's house and settled in. It has been two weeks since we've seen her, but it is always great to see family again.  The really great news is that we have a high speed Internet connection and Sandy and I get to sleep in our very own King sized bed that Beth is storing for us while we travel the country.  It still has the right feel and so much SPACE!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Relaxing on the Farm

We arrived back on the farm yesterday and did a few little things.  Today, we did much of the same  (very little).  When we were out, we were mowing the grass. It continues to grow and grow.  Tonight we relax here in the motorhome with an eye out the front window, looking for any livestock that might wander by.  We had a doe deer check us out this morning and after about a minute of staring at us, she decided it was time to evacuate the place quickly.   She ran about a quarter of a mile to the neighbors timber.

Writing a blog is an interesting past time.  When riding the lawn mower, there are all kinds of subjects that come to mind that I ought to comment on.  But sit me down with the computer on my lap, and I lose all of those excellent pre-planned thoughts.  So you take what you get.

It is time for me to get busy on two more presentations that I  have to present at the Winnebago GNR  (Grand National Rally).  They are a repeat of what we did last year, so they should be kind of painless to prepare.   Sandy  found our formal copy on her computer and edited them.   She likes to add all kinds of "stuff" to the text, stuff like italics, bolding, and color.   In my book, keep it simple so that they can read it.

Incidentally, we did find the hedge post that I thought daughter Beth may have disposed for me. It's just not where I stored it!

We're also expecting more rain  tonight!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

A rally weekend and no rain!

It has been six days since our last posting.  I guess I've recovered from the train wreck of daughter attempting to pitch all of my goodies!  One item that I haven't found yet is a 2 foot piece of OLD Hedge Fence post that I picked up out of the field about 50 years ago.  I had a section of it (cut with a hack saw) that I kept on my desk during my Rockwell years.   Ways to remember by-gone days.

We are about to wrap up hosting a rally for our Escapee friends.  Our original plan was to host it at a county park with no services, parking on grass.   However, on Monday we did an emergency change of plans when it was predicted that the park was expecting another 2 inches on Tuesday and another inch on Thursday.   So with great reluctance and frustration on my part, we changed it to the Newton KOA on the south edge of Newton.  Paying $30 a night just about made me cry.  We had one member cancel out coming (because it was KOA or the price.)   I had to give KOA a credit card number to make the reservation in case we had less than our number.  But this afternoon, the office confirmed that we met our commitment.

We tried a couple of things on the group and it all worked well.  Today, we baked potatos for the group on the fire.   I was a bit concerned about having enough coals and even bought a package of firewood from the office.  (I had brought a good load of wood along, but just not quite enough!)  We consumed it all.  But the potatos were done as expected.!

More about the rally later.  It is late tonight!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Losing the battle, daughter is cleaning my house

We are kind of blessed and cursed this weekend.  The blessing is that our youngest daughter from Wisconsin is here for the weekend (or longer (I hope not).  The bad news is that she thinks I need to pick all of my memories from our storage trailer.

When we moved out of our house, we stored a lot of stuff in a 45 foot reefer trailer (minus the refrigeration unit).  Our intention was to fulltiime for a year or two and then buy a retirement house.  That was 18 years ago.  Today we're still happy to be on the road and lots of the "stuff" no longer has the value it once had.   Items such as a set of encyclopedias..   We used them often, but her feelings are that now if we have a question, see the Internet,.  So at the moment, the books are on the burn pile!  Doesn't that seem like a waste?

There were lots of other things she wanted to pitch that I put my foot down and said "NO!".  I know I won't use it again, but my old Air Force Uniform  just seems like something I want to hold onto.  There were lots of decisions that I made then that shaped the direction of my whole career.   In 1960, there was a need for "forward observers" in the Air Force.  Being engaged at the time, I didn't think it was the proper thing to do and put extra worry on my intended.  (Little did most of us realize the degree of involvement  we as a nation had back then in southeast Asia.   We got out of the Air Force after three years of service and today I'm not eligible for VFW membership.  But I always had a little desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, part of the training I would have received then.

Like all good engineers, I have lots of notes and scribblings on personal projects.   Her way of thinking says that it ought to be pitched.   Maybe I'll go straight to the pine box, but in the meantime, I expect that after we give up the fulltime lifestyle,  I'll enjoy some of those old projects.  So, yes, I want to keep those old notes and file folders.

Here it is Sunday and I thought she was returning home.  But I now find out that it is another afternoon of arguing the value of old books etc.   She also wants to burn the burn pile.  Then it is too late to recover items tossed in error.

We'll survive.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm up and at'em again

It wasn't that I was sick, but I  was busy.  It was called "prep" time for a colonoscopy.   Something that all of us periodically need if we're past 50 or 55.    Since I've lost two brothers to colon cancer, it is a very important test for me.

The bad thing is that you'd think that the medical profession would come up with a "pleasanter" prep solution.   Sure, they let me chose my flavor (orange, cherry, pineapple, lemon and two more.)  I chose orange and it was pretty flat (or awful) tasting.  But we did down it all on schedule.

The test itself went pretty well.  Actually, I almost felt like I was cheated some.  Initially, they were to do an upper scan via the mouth.  The nurse had explained it to me which seemed pretty reasonable.  (I have always wondered how they get the patient to swallow it.    Her description was that they spray a mist in that deadens the nerves before inserting the scope.  That led me to believe that it was an event that I'd be fully aware of what was going on.

Well, not so.    After the usual prep in the room, they wheeled me to the examine room and the two nurses were very professional about attaching all of the stuff (blood pressure, temperature, EKG, etc)  So while that was happening, they must have also turned on the sleeping stuff because I remembered nothing else.until I woke up in my room again.  Sandy told me that I had been back to the  room for 30 minutes before I came alive.   So I missed the doctor's debriefing.  With both of my previous tests, I was awake when I got back to the room and listened to his report.

Everything was fine, but......  They removed one polyp and will have the lab results if it in a few days.  Plus he scheduled me for an office call in 75 days.    The final downer was that as a result of the  esophagus  and stomach exam, he has prescribed an anti-acid that has to be taken an hour before breakfast.  That I could really do with out.

So now that all of that is over, we can get on with our life.  I was going to fix the lawn mower belt and mow grass today, but there has been a steady rain most of the morning.   So the grass gets a reprieve and it will continue to grow.  We've had about an inch of  a light rain and it looks like it is all soaking in