Tag Archives: General Nonsense

A Really Big Deal

October 18, 1980

Kathy and I often refer to important events as “BFDs.”. But since this is a family-friendly blog we’ll use the term RBD instead.

We’re in Asheville, NC this weekend celebrating our 40th anniversary.  That’s a BFD.  And all 40 years to the same person! 😉  And as much in love now as we were then, just with a few added aches and pains. 🙁

This photo is from the archives.  Photos (and stories) from Asheville once we get back home in a few days.

Bugs, Dirt, Soot and…Salt?

Near Deer Lodge, Montana

One of the challenges of a long road trip is all of the varying road conditions and how it trashes the car.  I’m not one of those guys who obsesses over every water spot, but I do get to a point where I need to find a car wash!

Southern Montana near Fort Smith
National Bison Range near Charlo, Montana
Transcontinental Railroad National Back Country Byway at Golden Spike National Historical Park near Corinne, Utah

For some reason, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri seem to have way more bugs than anywhere else we’ve been.  After 2 or 3 days of highway speeds, the front of the car looks like the site of an insect massacre.

Along Alt US-14 through the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in North central Wyoming
Soot on our car from the smoke around Cannon Beach, Oregon

We spent a lot more time on gravel and dirt roads on this trip, especially in eastern Washington but also in Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.  In the Palouse region of Washington, a few of the roads had dirt so fine that was like powder, and it got everywhere.  Not to mention the smoke and soot in Oregon!  It took its toll on the car, for sure.

I should have waited until after we visited Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Fortunately or unfortunately the drive home from Tennessee was almost all in the rain, so it did help a bit with the dust.  But a couple of hours in the driveway to clean out the inside plus a trip to the car wash was an absolute necessity.  It’s all good now, at least until the next trip down a dirt road!

The Subie gets a well-deserved bath after hundreds of smoky, dusty and sooty miles

A Little Taste of Fall?

No, this is from last year!  From Colorado….

Kathy & I woke this morning to a temperature of 68 degrees and a noticeable drop in humidity.  We had our morning coffee & tea on the screened porch and almost needed our sleeves! 🙂

Kathy & I met our friend Paul for lunch today, and on the way home Kathy said that the shadows and colors on the houses looked like fall.  The air is crispy clear and it does have that fall look.  But we’re not fooled!  This will only last a few days before the heat and humidity return.  In the meantime we’ll enjoy it!

Another Form of Distancing

Castillo San Cristobal, part of the San Juan National Historic Site in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Much is made these days of the idea of “social distancing,” a term I abhor because there ain’t nothing “social” about it.  I understand and support the idea of maintaining space, but I can’t help but wish that “they” had come up with a better term for it!

Kathy & I were having a conversation recently where – one of our frequent subjects – we talked about the fact that there is way too much information available these days – that there is a big difference between information and facts.  And she mentioned that there needs to be some term for the idea of maintaining “virtual distancing” from all the crap that circulates in the media and on the Internet.

Social Distancing, of course, means that my chances of getting cooties from someone decreases dramatically if they are outside my imaginary 6-foot personal space.  By a similar token, if some virtual boogieman – real or imagined – is outside my zone of relevance, it’s importance to me means very little.  We as a society pay way too much attention to people, voices and noise that have little or no direct influence on us.  Because it is out there we feel some sense of obligation, and we never take the time to think about whether or not it is useful, helpful or relevant.

Case in point: our upcoming presidential election.  We now know who the candidates are for each respective party.  I now know who I’m going to vote for.  Until I get my ballot in the mail, I don’t need to follow every analysis and every story relating to who vs. who or what vs. what or he said/she said.  And you can be assured there will be plenty of it – it’s been going on for months and will really get started today (although I would love to see a head to head debate between Ms. Harris and Trumpty Dumpty, which of course will never happen).  Send me my ballot and let me vote.  Beyond that I have no influence, I have no emotional investment.  I’ll do my civic duty as a responsible citizen and live with the results when I read them the next day.

Castillo San Cristobal, part of the San Juan National Historic Site in San Juan, Puerto Rico

I’m liking the concept of Virtual Distancing even more than Social Distancing.  Social Distancing is pretty easy – stay away from people!  Virtual distancing isn’t any harder, as long as we pay attention to who and what is trying to get our attention.  While the most effective form of distancing means staying completely away from people,  their ideas and their opinions, that just isn’t practical.  But just like we cast a wary eye on that person behind us in line at the grocery store, we need to approach our media consumption with the same level of caution and skepticism.  And turn it off when it makes sense to do so.

Castillo San Cristobal, part of the San Juan National Historic Site in San Juan, Puerto Rico


A Recalibration of Compromises

Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Kirk Tuck recently used this phrase in regards to making choices between camera options, specifically about different lenses.  The full quote follows:

The “science” of optical design can not have changed a tremendous amount in four or five years so you have to understand that the “new versus old” shift is largely a recalibration of compromises. Buy the new one and watch your left biceps atrophy. Buy the old one and suffer the dreaded effects of manual portage. Suffer the ruinous added weight of the original for the extra 1% of quality in the corners or choose the lightweight version and forever wonder how much optical magic they had to remove to get the lens corpulence under control.

It occurred to me, however, that the concept applies in a much broader context, especially in recent months.

Every decision we make requires some effort to balance the options, to compromise.  Do I want the camera with the big sensor that is huge, heavy and requires a large suitcase to cart around, or am I better off with the compact camera with a smaller sensor, small but excellent lenses and “good enough” image quality?  We want to travel – we love to fly but not not any time soon.  We have spent a lot of time on cruise ships but won’t for a while.  Our trip to the beach worked out really well – just like living at home but with better scenery. 😉

We love to eat our but have limited our restaurant outings.  We’ve gotten even better at preparing simple but delicious meals at home – much to the delight of the bathroom scale!

Kathy and I are currently in the process of planning a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.  The places we’re planning to visit are the places where we’re less likely to encounter big crowds.  As crazy as it sounds, we’ll probably drive within a few miles of Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks, but have no intention of stopping.  First, crowds are not our thing.  We probably would be doing pretty much the same thing even without all the Coronacrisis hoopla.  But second is that we don’t want to have to deal with the logistics of large crowds.  Third is that when we do go to those parks we want to be able to spend several days or even a couple of weeks there.  That isn’t the plan for this time.

Our recent drive to Ohio and Wisconsin taught us that we can eat, sleep, pee and get gas just about anywhere.  Sometimes it requires a little compromise on location or timing, but it can get done.  Ultimately, once we solve that basic equation we can go just about anywhere!

People ask us why we don’t buy an RV.  For some people it’s the perfect solution.  For us, we like knowing that when we get to the motel, tired after or driving or exploring all day, we don’t need to spend another hour setting up camp.  I can have cocktails made within minutes after arrival!  And the next morning, we grab a cup of coffee, drop the keys at the front desk and get on our way again.  Neither option is right or wrong, just different ways to calibrate the compromises.

None of our choices are either/or or yes/no.  We need to consider what we can do instead  We have to look at the options and recalibrate our compromises.  Our priorities, if you will.  It can be hard, particularly for those of us who don’t care for change.  But the effort is worth it, because there are still plenty of things to do once we have worked out the details.

Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

An Attempt at Night Photography

Comet NEOWISE viewed from Neck Road near Huntersville, North Carolina

If there is something you really want to do, don’t avoid doing it just because things you can’t control make it uncomfortable.  Go! (Me)

We had been waiting for a clear evening to try and see the Comet NEOWISE and finally got it on Sunday.  Unfortunately, our neighbors are afraid of the dark and we have way too many lights around to see the sky.  We had pre-scouted a place out in the country for just such an occasion, and ventured out there after dark on Sunday.

The comet was harder to spot than I thought it would be, but we finally did locate it with binoculars.  I tried to make a decent photograph of it, but between not being able to focus and using a too-long shutter speed for the focal length of my lens, I got mostly junk.  The in-focus shots are sharp but have long star trails, and the out of focus shots have blurry lines.

Most night photography how-tos suggest using a wide-angle lens, but I was using a longer lens because I knew that with a wide-angle lens the comet would be even less visible than it was with the telephoto.

The first shot was taken at 55mm for about 10 seconds, and even it has some blur.  The second one was taken at 200mm, but I made a rookie mistake by using a 12 second exposure when it should have been about 5 seconds or less.  Oh well, it was an interesting outing with or without photos and satisfied my desire to just see the comet.  My philosophy is that there are other people taking night photos far better than mine, so I don’t need to make my own, just look at theirs instead!

One of my sharper blurry shots of Comet NEOWISE

Hangin’ In While Hangin’ Out

Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania

My grandfather, a wise man who taught me a lot, always said that we should never complain about birthdays or haircuts.  He didn’t have much hair, so birthdays were a big deal. 😉  My brother and I have carried on the birthday tradition, although we both have much more hair than he did. 🙂

To steal a statistic from Monte – today is my 22,647th day on this planet.

Cupola on a barn near Greenford, Ohio

Celebrating doesn’t have to be a big deal, and this year is no exception.  I’m looking forward to a quiet afternoon with family – as quiet as an afternoon with a 4 1/2 year old can be! – and a nice easy dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, takeout from our favorite Italian restaurant.  With wine!

Hops plants growing in a field near Greenford, Ohio

Kathy and I have been watching the developments in other parts of our country and can’t help but wonder what the outlook for travel will be over the next few months and longer.  We just had a nice road trip to visit a number of our closest friends and family members and are privileged to have our closest family right here in Charlotte with us.

Sunset over Lake Erie from Avon Lake, Ohio

We look forward to our next adventure, but in the meantime we are thankful to have family, friends and memories to carry us through.

Intersection on Historic Route 66, Dwight, Illinois

Some People

Roof of the Riviera Building in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Kathy & I were sitting on a park bench this afternoon and a woman waddles up slurping an ice cream cone and sits down beside me.  Insert your best stupid person voice here: “Don’t worry, I don’t have the virus, no one in my family has the virus.”  I was speechless.  Of course you don’t think of the right comeback until hours later, but what I should have said was, “funny, but I think maybe I do.”  Instead we stood up and walked away.  There really wouldn’t have been anything I could have said.