There’s quite a lot going on for me right now. Many things are in the works and they all seem to involve travel. I’ll talk about them in no particular order.
Work is winding down but there’s still plenty to do. With the recent big changes I had at work it is really going to be a good winter.
I have a long weekend coming up soon and that you know what means – yep… there’s another adventure on the horizon. I will be posting updates daily while I am out and about so be sure to check back. I am excited to finally be able to get the trailer out and have the chance to get away. It will be time to fully relax and take some serious me time and maybe even work on some new music.
I have begun the process of trying to narrow down some countries to see in Europe. I hope, and plan, to see a few new countries this time. There are some great sales going on right now so I need to get some decisions made in short order concerning where I want to go. As of right now part of the trip will be solo and that is the only part I am trying to figure out. The part where I am traveling with Jim and his wife we have already discussed some options so we know pretty much where we want to go.
With the process of starting to plan another trip, I have been considering a change in my choice of travel backpack. The one I have, the eBags Weekender Convertible, worked great on our trip but I want to get something a little lighter to carry. It has a lot of extra pockets with organization that I just do not use – I do not put anything in unsecured pockets. I want simple and functional and that has been what I was searching for.
There are two that rank very highly for travel packs, but they still are too overthought for me. They are nice, however, and difficult to not consider given the mesh back panel and padded hip belt. Then I thought I might just take my Osprey Stratos 36 pack. I already have it so it is “free”. It has a comfy suspension and is pretty simple. It is a little lighter than my current one and not a lot of gimmicks and cannot be locked.
Then, on Tuesday, I was given a new backpack at work for helping out with some things. It is a pretty nice pack – an Outdoor Research Dry Payload Pack 32 Liter. Perfectly simple! One outside pocket that I could use for a map, and 100% waterproof. It has a simple waist belt and shoulder straps but it is quite similar to the suspension on the eBags pack I used and it was comfy on the shoulders. It weighs half the eBags bag. There’s also no way to lock the bag zippers but that’s okay since I only do a carry-on. My bags do not leave my side unless locked in my room.
I think it would work just fine but I have to really think about that. Being halfway around the world for several weeks, carrying everything you need on your back in a bag, means there has to be no doubts it is going to be something you are happy with. I really like the Osprey I have because it is simple and comfortable and a little bit lighter than the eBags one. There are some trade-offs to consider.
There’s also going to be a road trip to KS at some point to start going through stuff in the house. This time I’ll be driving back and I’ll stop and pick up Meghan and Addy so that is exciting and will make a better trip. It will be good to see all my girls and sister again even under the circumstances.
So as you can see I have a lot going on. It actually looks kinda busy now that I have typed it out. I am excited for all of it though.
Friday was a bit of a busy day. It was a day to get caught up on some paperwork and do some arranging, cleaning, shredding and make a trash run. I did the recycling last week so that was already out of the way. Saturday was jam-packed with some filing and more shredding and getting rid of unnecessary paperwork.
Another thing I am doing is pondering my travel options now that I have my schedule. Europe is definite during the off-season, but not exactly sure when yet. It is narrowed down to a timeframe but no tickets are bought yet. I have seen some great deals and want to go twice at the prices I have seen but I am leaning more towards a road trip in the trailer for a month or so and a single trip to Europe. Decisions, decisions.
The trailer trip is something I was planning on doing before but with everything going on I could not go earlier this year. I was hoping to do some weekend trips this summer (as I had posted earlier) but this is a great time to be able to make a longer adventure happen.
I needed a getaway so I went over to Port Townsend and attended my first-ever Wooden Boat Festival.
My schedule changed so I took full advantage of the time off to get out, hang with some friends, have a few beers, some food-truck deliciousness and have enjoy some much-needed relaxation. It was a great time and I had a lot of fun and had some unexpected things happen while there.
I got there early and decided to walk around and check out the amazing craftsmanship that was put into some of the boats. The skill and attention to detail is just incredible on some of these vessels. One was an old speedboat capable of going 63 mph with a two-stroke Mercury that had been carefully rebuilt and restored. The motor alone was Art Deco brilliance.
My friends showed up while I was in the “Main Stage” tent having a local beverage. They joined me with an IPA and then we went for fish tacos and poutine. Perfect match with a beer. We then went back to the tent to enjoy some more music. And another IPA.
We ended up standing on the edge of the dance floor since there was not ,much room anywhere else and one friend had happy feet and was busting a move. While we were talking between songs another song was started as I made some gesture with my hand while talking. All of a sudden a strange hand grabbed mine and dragged me to the dance floor before I knew what had even happened.
You have to understand something. I do not dance – it is just not my thing and never has been. It’s not that I haven’t, but it takes quite a lot of alcohol to get me out there to bust a move. And I really do mean a LOT. I had not had but two beers so for this to happen was rather shocking. But, I went with it. When in Rome…
It was a slower song so that was better than a fast song as far as my dancing abilities. So there we were, slow dancing and just chatting away. Then came a rather unexpected surprise. She suddenly said “Oh, there’s my husband!”, to which I replied “What?”, trying to make sure that I had somehow incorrectly heard what she had said. She repeated it and then he came up to us, fairly drunk and a bit bigger than me. “Oh shit.” went through my head quickly and repeatedly. She told him that SHE grabbed ME to dance and introduced us. He smiled at me and said “whatever”. We then shook hands and he went on his way to find yet another beer. Just another adventure in my life.
It was really good to get out and do something and do it with some friends. With the events that have taken place over the last few weeks I am now trying to return to the version of “normal” that is my life. After losing your parents you find that normal will never be the same again, though. Then there is the emptiness that will never be filled and the endless “shoulda-woulda-couldas” that goes through your head.
But we have all the great memories and that is a wonderful thing to have on top of knowing that they loved us all and we were lucky enough to have them in our lives. And we loved them, and still do love them.
No one can take that away.
If you want to contact me please feel free to send a message or a comment. I have to approve them so I see them anyway.
I wanted to pass along because I gave out my website address to some relatives at the funeral. I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that they can contact me through here.
I had the day off today. I really wish I would’ve realized that before I went to work though. I am quite used to working holidays after all these years and didn’t bother to read the email as carefully as I should’ve so it’s my own fault. That’s OK. I woke up at 4 AM anyway, long before my alarm. That’s very frustrating.
So after I got back home, I took the recycling and dropped it off. Then I washed the trailer and the truck. I haven’t washed a vehicle by hand out in the yard in a long time and it was actually quite therapeutic. I usually just take them to the car wash.
It felt good to get out and do it though. I’ve been sitting on my ass way too much lately and I need to get busy again.
I wanted to get the salt air washed off of both and get them looking good for a trip. I’m not sure about where to go next weekend. The following weekend I have a long weekend and I’m going to enjoy it.
Looks like I’ll be off a few months this winter and come back early. I’ll have time to make a trip to Europe and some other places too. I have some appointments to keep but I’ll make time to do some things.
I cooked up a breakfast tater tot hot dish this morning and put some burritos together for meals. I’ll be eating some Instant Pot items from the freezer that I made ahead and froze. Looking forward to trying some new recipes after I make some room!
I got back home yesterday and I was absolutely worn out. I didn’t do anything other than wash some clothes but was too tired to even pull them out of the dryer. I spent the evening trying to relax.
It was back to work today and it ended up being a good day. I really was not quite ready to go back yet, and probably could have taken a few more days off, but decided to go ahead and get back into it. It helped me out and I am looking forward to going back again tomorrow and keeping my thoughts in a better place.
Now that things have settled down it is time to start thinking about a much-needed getaway for a few days. Where I’ll go I do not know yet but I definitely need an escape for a few days. That means it is time to finally take the trailer out. I should still have plenty of time to get it out for several more trips this year before I have to winterize it.
It is also time to start thinking about going to Europe again. I am ready to get a ticket but not sure when I can go yet due to a schedule change at work. I will hopefully find out this coming week when I can go and get a ticket. Where I can go will be determined by when I am able to go. I have been seeing some great deals again so I am quite anxious to get a reservation made with the prices I have seen. With all of the flying I have been doing I think I actually have enough miles to go to Europe for free!
Speaking of my job, I received great news about some big changes to it yesterday afternoon. It is pretty exciting news and I was quite anxious to share it with those close to me. In the past my parents were always the first ones I called whenever I had good news to tell. My dad was the first one I thought of calling last night but as I reached for the phone I realized…
It was a very somber moment for me to make that realization.
That’s all until next time.
Warning: Strong language.
It’s very early in the morning and I’m back on a plane homeward after yet another trip back to Kansas to visit my dad.
This trip ended up being the last time I saw him. Goddamn cancer took him from us late last week and we had his funeral just a few days ago. I was fortunate enough to get back to be able to spend time before he passed.
The last few weeks have been very emotional for my family needless to say. The memories of my mom’s brave cancer fight and the similarities with my dad’s own battle two years later have rocked us back on our heels yet again. Even though we have those horrible recent memories, they cannot, and WILL NOT, replace all of the great memories and all the love and support they gave us all throughout the years.
With those memories and love and support we continue on with our own journeys, passing on to our own families not only the things we learned in our own lives but also the things that we learned from our parents.
The last few days I started the process of transferring over utilities for the house into my name and looking into wrapping up financial affairs for my parents. Even though I knew this day would come, it is so very strange to be doing this and is, admittedly, a little uncomfortable to be so intimately involved with something so personal…but it has to be done. I started a checklist of things I need to take care of and got several things checked off that list already.
After owning very little the last few years I now own a 1926 Ford Model T and a house with all of my parents personal things and memories. Soon we will be starting the long process of going through things and that will certainly be another ride on the emotional roller coaster for all of us.
My sister has been staying at the house the last couple of years, keeping an eye on my dad and taking care of him as necessary. With her own health issues it was the best thing for her as well. I am certain losing our dad will be tough on her once it really sets in, but we really have a great network of support from friends and family and I hope she takes advantage of that support when necessary.
It was great to see my family and I do miss them all. It was good to see our other relatives and friends at the funeral. I met several new people that knew my parents and some familiar ones as well. The reality is I will probably never see any of them again.
The service went great and my immediate family all wore plain white t-shirts in honor of my dad. It’s how he dressed at home and we wanted to pay homage to him. A few people thought it was strange until I explained why we were dressed that way.
I am anxious to be back home. On top of all of the emotional stress and numerous plane trips the last few months the allergies I have really kicked my ass while I was back. I am exhausted and ready to be back in my surroundings.
I’m not quite ready to go back to work – I need some downtime for myself after all of this. I do have time off coming up and I am really looking forward to it. But, reality beckons and life marches forward for the rest of us. The distraction from the events of the last two weeks will be welcomed, however, and it will definitely help me get in a better place within.
Fuck you, cancer.
It’s good to be home but I am somewhat anxious to get back to work to get my head in another place. Today was a little rough in spots.
The last time I came back from KS a few weeks ago I found that getting back to work was pretty beneficial for me. It really helped faster than I thought it would. I’m hoping it does but the news this last week was worse than before so I just don’t know. I am hopeful though. It will take some work on my part though and am being as optimistic as I can.
I got a really good night’s sleep last night and I am sure it had something to do with being up so long. Stress probably is a negative in the equation too. I had acupuncture for my neck first thing this morning. It really helped ease my headache and loosen up my neck and back pretty good. Tomorrow morning is my first massage in way too long and its for 90 glorious minutes.
The horrible pain in my hand was officially diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon this afternoon as arthritis. We are going to try a brace and ibuprofen first to see if it helps. The next step would be a cortisone injection in my hand; after that would be surgery. The surgeon thinks it will stop hurting at some point – they’ve actually seen it before even though things are not lined up correctly any longer. I’m game for avoiding the shots and surgery myself. The surgery could potentially take away some mobility in my hand so I’ll definitely try to put that off. ANY relief would help.
One last item…
Thank you to those amongst you that sent me a note of support and encouragement. It was a nice gesture and greatly appreciated.
I am in my hotel near KCI, leaving tomorrow morning to go back home. Today was a rough day with bad news.
My dad had surgery this morning to remove the remaining part of the tumor in his bladder. A discussion I had with the doctor afterward brought more bad news. They had to remove more of his bladder than originally anticipated due to the depth and size of the remainder of the tumor. We already knew it was stage 4 bladder cancer and may possibly be in his bones. I was also told today that not only is the cancer in his lymph nodes, but it’s also in his liver. The doctor told me that he has had this for a while. The doctors’ plan is to do intravenous treatment on him since he is too weak for regular chemo treatments. He was told last week it is not curable. Perhaps if it had been caught early there would be a chance…
But it wasn’t. And there isn’t.
My heart just sunk. It felt just like June of 2016 all over again – when we got the news about my mom’s stage 4 glioblastoma.
What the fuck?!?! First my sister gets sick with it, my mom dies from it, and now my dad probably has but a brief time left. You try to stay positive and hopeful, yet there is reality and that really blows at certain times in our lives. It is so horrible and you feel so helpless when you are looking at losing your other parent and a sibling along with already losing a parent…all within a very short time. It can be difficult to keep your shit together.
I’m trying really hard to do that. Yes I have shed many tears over all of this and nobody should be afraid to do that – it’s not healthy to keep it in. Besides… I am human and it fucking hurts.
Luckily I am so very fortunate to have the best family and friends that a person could have and we are all there for each other. I’ll continue to stay as positive as I can – life continues to move forward for those of us left behind. We always have the memories, and those will never die.
Fuck you cancer. For a third time in too short of a time fuck you cancer.
That’s all I can write at the moment.
As I start this post I am back in Seattle and will head to my hotel this afternoon. I catch a plane tomorrow morning to go back to KS again.
My day as it unfolds:
Until then I am starting out in the Capitol Hill station getting ready to get back on the light rail. Came up this way to go to Dick’s Drive-In for a snack (burger, fries, vanilla shake) before I go to Pike Place Market for another snack. I am debating going to the International District for another snack but not sure yet. There’s a lot of good stuff to eat at Pike.
Capitol Hill is a really cool area. I would like to explore around there a little more and may be doing just that in a few weeks when some family gets here. There’s a restaurant in that area that I want to find – I just haven’t been there yet.
Got to Pike and went directly to Mee Sum Bakery for both a baked and a steamed bbq pork hombow. Been a year since I had one and it was delicious as always. The area was busy as hell and I didn’t stay there long. I saw a little boy there that had a shirt on that said “Snacks first, then pants”. Cracked me up.
Seattle is just swarming with a lot of people. It is also pretty warm so I decided to head to my hotel and went back to Westlake station to head south to check in. I also was not very hungry with what I had eaten on the two stops I already made plus the heat was nothing I wanted to hang out in. No International District this go around.
My usual hotel was booked up so I am trying out a new place tonight. It’s actually more convenient to the airport so if it works out I’ll probably be changing my hotel preference to this new one.
Seattle is such a cool city. It has major homeless issues and can be expensive but there’s no denying it’s an interesting place to hang out, eat great food, and have a lot of fun. Be prepared for some huge crowds though.
I got to the hotel and it is damn good to be in the A/C. I walked 3/4 mile from the light rail station to get here and it was almost all in the sun. Good to get exercise though and as of right now I have walked a little over 4 miles today.
I took a walk to get dinner and ended up having Japanese at Masae’s Teriyaki. I have really never been a fan of teriyaki, but the teriyaki I have had in the past has been pretty heavy on the sweet taste and not much savory. This was a perfect balance. It was delicious and filling, and I even ate the slaw that came with it. I thought I would at least try the slaw since I didn’t see any of that nasty stuff called mayonnaise on it.
Since I will be making several trips back to Kansas in the near future I will maximize my time while I’m in Seattle, finding some new places to eat and interesting things to see and do. Today worked out pretty well, and I can even get over here earlier to have more time to do stuff.
I’m anxious to get back and spend time with my dad. This cancer thing has really surprised us all and it sucks. Life is always too short and I try to make the best of it all the time. This will be no different for any of us – we’ll enjoy the time we have and make the best of the situation.
That’s all for now.
Today is a cooking day. The weather is nice and cool, but it is supposed to warm up quite a bit in the next week so I need to get it done soon.
I made breakfast sandwiches for the week this morning, then after a quick inventory and spice run I am now making barbacoa beef in the Instant Pot, The whole house smells wonderful right now! This recipe is quite earthy and is so good. Next thing, while that is cooking, I will take the burrito mixture that I cooked and froze last month and make burritos and portion them out for meals. It is still a bit frozen so I may have to wait until tonight but that will get done today. I also want to fire up the oven and make up some red velvet cake mix cookies.
Since I got home Tuesday we got more bad news about my dad from the oncologist and now we are waiting for more news after scans today to see what exactly is going on. I have been wanting to get some cooking and meal prep done the last few days but I have not really felt up to it after getting the oncologist report. My original plan was to come home from this trip and get the trailer out but I got that phone call and thought I should stay closer to home in case I was needed. I’ll be making a lot of trips back it’s looking like.
I need a big distraction and once I get this cooking done I think I may take a walk. Work looms tomorrow so I need to get in a better headspace and that might help. It actually might even help by getting back to work. The cooking is definitely helping today.
The big news I was referring to about a month or so ago won’t be happening after all, but something else big is quite possibly going to come through for me concerning a job. It will be pretty exciting if it happens and I hope to find out soon.
That’s it for now.
I got back home successfully yesterday and it was another first for me, especially here in the States. My trip to and from the airport was all on public transit and it was fantastic. No traffic, no stress, some exercise, no parking fees and actually quite inexpensive. I saved some money for certain.
European Adventure 2018 made us both realize just how ridiculously easy and cheap it is to get around using public transit. It also really showed the accessibility that everyone has for getting from A to B. With it being a way of life over there you soon realize you don’t really need a car! It is too expensive in some areas to drive or own one anyhoo.
It is also one of those many experiences that you never forget after a long trip, or, perhaps, I guess even a short trip: the people watching, the countryside, the back streets and neighborhoods, villages both in and out of the city…the out-of-the-way places. It gives you a “local feel”…a closer look at the place you are in. No, it’s not quite the same as walking the area we were in while in Antwerp, but still quite interesting.
I am so glad I finally have the option to use public transit to go to places and not have to drive in Seattle traffic. That will be nice over winter if I want to go over to the big city for a night and hang out. That brings up another option.
I myself have not used it yet but do want to give it a try. Meghan and I had to take one in Denver a few years ago after that Frontier Airlines cluster when our flight got cancelled for no known reason. She had an app and got us a ride from the hotel we were put up in. It was pretty painless. I really do have to give it a try soon though. Getting around on trains, buses and planes is more difficult than hitting a button on an app I guess and I have that down pretty good so far.
Perhaps the thing is I am not really interested in taxis (at least here in the States; I would like to try one in Europe just for the experience, though) and it reminds me of getting a taxi. The cost is another thing I would think would be expensive but maybe they aren’t. I am okay with getting around like I did today for the time being.
Reminds me of a story…
On one particular tour run we made in Tennessee when I worked for the Statler Brothers we decided to go out to eat. To do that we had to get a taxi to get us across a city whose name I cannot remember. The semi was not an option on this particular stop.
The taxi showed up and it was a rather interesting trip. A big old gold Ford pulled up and the four of us road crew got in. The taxi reeked of Jack Daniel’s, and with good reason. The driver had been drinking so we did the adult responsible thing.
We got in the cab of course.
The restaurant we went to was actually out of the taxi “area” and in another county but a tip took care of that little issue. We went in and ate a pretty good meal and called another taxi to take us back to our hotel.
A big old gold Ford pulled up and the four of us road crew got in. AGAIN. Reeking STILL. It was the same guy. AGAIN. Yet drunker.
That leg of the journey was not even as good as the previous one you could say. We thought we were gonna die with this crazy redneck driving like a maniac. He scared the shit out of us.
A taxi experience that was less than optimal.
Anyway, that’s it for the moment.
I am typing this while on an airplane heading back home. I have been in Kansas visiting family for almost a week.
Cancer is rearing its ugly head in the family again, this time affecting my dad. We are staying optimistic, waiting for the results from his visit with the oncologist. There are good signs but it is still of concern obviously…especially given the family history the last two years.
With all of this going on you can bet that I am staying on top of all my checkups and staying vigilant with keeping an eye on my body. I have certainly been trying to be more conscious of my health, getting more exercise and watching my food intake with regard to amounts and what I eat. Sure I will have some junk food on occasion but it’s no longer the norm for me. I need to do better, however, and I will do better. I have things to do, places to go, people to see.
It was a good visit. My dad seems to be doing okay and is in good spirits. I did some home repairs for him while there and did some watering in the yard and garden. He’s got a good crop of tomatoes going and they were delicious. Chelsea and her family were in North Carolina but got back two days ago so we got to hang out.
I also got to catch up with some friends and my first night there I got together with three of my long-time friends. It has been over 30 years since we were all in the same room together so that was cool.
There was not much cool otherwise. It was way too damn hot and humid – comfort levels over 100 degrees. I usually avoid going back there this time of year for that reason but that was the last thing I was worried about.
Yesterday we went out to a restaurant that served Korean, sushi, Vietnamese and Chinese. I opted to try something new – bibimbap. It was delicious and quite a hearty meal. I also ordered up some hot sake for us. It was my first time having that and once was plenty. Tasted way too much like whisky and I am not a fan of that taste at all. I drank my half of the little bottle though.
Obviously it was rookie day on Alaska Airlines this morning. People acted like it was their first flight and did not want to follow directions from the flight attendants. They would not stay seated so we could leave the gate, and would not stay seated during some major turbulence while the seatbelt light was on. They had to announce several times over the intercom concerning these things.
The asshat sitting behind me thought that my armrest was a footstool while I got up for the bathroom. He soon realized it was not one when I sat down and elbowed his foot off of it.
WTF is wrong with Americans and why the arrogance? We are no better than anyone else. All they care about is themselves and the hell with those around them. Yes, I am American but I don’t do things like that. The guy in that seat behind me apparently thinks he is entitled to something since along with that he had to be told more than once to unplug his charger during takeoff. I am not full of much hope but maybe he learned something today and quits being a dick.
Soapbox put away.
I finally got my tattoo refreshed and it looks so much nicer…ESPECIALLY with Meghan’s name now added. It got subtly updated a little bit but is still the classic style it was when I got it 35 years ago. It makes me want to get more. I guess it’s better than heroin.
My plans to go do a Bucket List item this week had to change for several reasons – part of it being that I could not find a place that wasn’t already reserved. I will make some reservations for where I want to go plus I’ll actually have more time to go that far. I really didn’t want to deal with the traffic where I wanted to go and with a limited time I also don’t want to spend it all in traffic with the many Griswolds. There are some other, more personal, reasons that I am staying close to home as well and those are the main reasons.
It’s all good…I’ll be going out soon for another trip that is already planned and has been booked.
Tomorrow I think I might take the Nikon out and try to take some nice pictures someplace. I haven’t done that in a while and I think it will be a nice change of pace. As early as I wake up even on my weekend I should be able to get out to some interesting light and things to photograph.
There might be a neighborhood cookout this week so that will be fun if it happens. I have heard about previous cookouts during the summers so I would imagine tomorrow will be a good excuse. I made another trip to the restaurant that belongs to a neighbor. Damn it was good.
I’ve been hearing fireworks going off sporadically over the last few hours. It makes me think of all the hundreds of dollars I must have spent shooting fireworks when I was a kid. Kept my eyesight and my appendages so that was a good thing.
I don’t know if I am going to go find a Fourth celebration to attend or not while I am out taking a drive.
We’ll just see what happens tomorrow when I get up.