For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Jul 28, 2012

Today is Your Birthday

Can it be eight birthdays that have passed? I spend my hours with memories of you. I'm glad you didn't have to grow old alone, though I suspect you might have faired better--you would have had that new motorhome and traveled. You probably would have taken the grandkids with you, and traveled with John, Lisa and Michael and their girls, and Susan. At least, that's what I hope you would have done.  I wish, too, that you had had the opportunity to meet Laura. The two of you would have gotten along so well. As time passes, grief changes. I don't cry every hour on the hour, anymore, but you are still the driving force in my life. And, when I write of you, the tears do come. When there's a crisis in life, I ask, "What would Rich have done? I wish he were here." I remember our kids as they grew, your pups, and your general love of life. I remember your kindness, and how I never knew of a person who didn't like you, including your wife and children.

I have all the diaries and so many photos and hours of video from our years, together. Not only traveling, but of the kids growing up and the grand kids coming. I sure wish blogs had been available when you were here. I've "met" many virtual bloggers (wonderful people) and I'm glad they are able to live their dreams, but so wish we could have continued ours and lived our golden years together. They aren't so golden without you.

Remember how we laughed at the sign about the walk-through, and the sign about shooting at Kerr Dam not to mention the mountain lion warning after I was out of sight. Crazy Horse Dam,  Zion, Bryce, Arches, Deadhorse, Canyon Lands, Hebo which took us out west to begin with. Chama and Silverton, and what a blast going to Polebridge and bear grass. Ghost towns and old cemeteries and sculptures made from junk metal. The beautiful paintings on the silos in Grey Bull--they have disassembled them, you know, but I was glad to read that they were preserved because the artist was smart enough to paint them in sections and number them so they could be reassembled. The prison and car museum in Deer Lodge, getting stuck on 50 in Nevada. The great car show in Durango, bicycle races up to Silverton. Telluride and the powerhouse. Flathead Lake. Hong Kong Harry. Whitefish and Kalispell. Livingston and the lady with the sandwiches. Walks in the evenings. Anchovies clogging Brookings Harbor. Crabs and seals. The mighty Columbia River and the Truckee. The unexpected detour to beautiful Idaho. Who knew? Central and northern all the way to Coeur d'Alene, the sculpture of five little girls (our grandchildren). Remember the red Jeep way up on the bluff in Stanley and how we worried that development was coming. It didn't. The bluff is still untouched. The town has grown--it was 69 population when we were last there and has grown to 100.

The year I was working in the office and you said at lunch time, "C'mon, let's go get a hamburger." Up the stairs Lizzie and I bounded ready for a break and you directed me to the motorhome. I had had one in a little cafe' the year before and always (still say) it was the best burger I ever had. The hamburger was in Big Fork, Montana! You had secretly done all the packing. You ran downstairs and forwarded the phones to the cell, and I grabbed my laptop. Off we went! Whoo Hoo!

Hunting for internet cafes, dial up from campground offices (wifi, who heard of wifi in the early days?), carrying on business certainly not as usual, but carrying on never-the-less. A devoted teacher who taught Indian Children. Remember all the books you gave her? Was like you gave her a million dollars. Bribing a librarian to allow me to plug in the computer for internet access. Susan sending overnight fedex packages to campgrounds, and returning calls to people who had no idea we were on the road thousands of miles from Georgia. Oh, we surely pulled one off, didn't we. What a team we were!

Letting the pups swim in all the lakes and streams we could find. The peaceful places we camped. Dancing on a rock above Icicle River, and how we missed Joanie and Bruce when they passed. We had such a good time with them in Leavenworth.

Betting who would spot Devil's Tower first (you won-I won't discuss the prize), Taos, Santa Fe, Angel Fire and the DAV Memorial, The Enchanted Circle, Tillamook Hangar and ICE CREAM. Rapid City's unexpected adventure, Crazy Horse, Custer, Rushmore. Vancouver Island, the dangerous journey up Mt. Ranier. Silverton, Ouray, and the backcountry. An ice cream cone wherever you could bribe me into getting it--Choteau comes to mind. Our little green truck--our first toad. Jack and Lizzie and their antics. The young couple we caught with the camera as he proposed to her--the invitation to their wedding. The senior salmon dinner!

The coast of Oregon and how you laughed at my fascination with Tsunamis. Light houses big and small. Busy coastal towns, ghost towns and old western towns. Blue skies, green forests, gold fields and wild flowers. Crater Lake, short shoes and hikes which have nothing to do with one another, but I know you'd laugh at the mere mention of them.

Our tent, our pop-up, our first motorhome, second motorhome, our third--and the fourth that we were supposed to pick up for our last trip that didn't happen. I remember saying, pretty soon you'll be able to stay in the driveway and be in Colorado at the same time.

The dams, the bridges, the boats, the dorymen, the rivers, the streams, the lakes, the waterfalls, the redwoods, the Pacific. Redrock, snow, rain, the coast, Timpanagos Caves, Sheba, fancy smancy resort on the coast. Getting lost trying to find Ship Rock, staying five minutes at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Tetons, Rockies, and my favorites, The Sawtooths, your favorite, Glacier. Bears, bison, elk, deer, and bumps in the night. What? Pelicans in Montana?? Our Christmas in the Keys and our trips to Charleston and every state park in Georgia as we worked.

Whale watching, ferries, and the coolness of the ocean. Afternoons watching cowboys herding cattle or sheep. Harris Beach, the first Oregon Coast State Park we stayed in. Singing as we rode from destination to destination. Tahoe and Ponderosa. Time spent with your sister in Reno.

Haven't scratched the surface. Just typed what jumped into my head--when I went back you were in all the familiar places, and we were always laughing. Have hundreds and hundreds of photos yet to  scan, but I grabbed a handful in no order because we never did anything in order or as planned. Why change, now? :) Thank goodness for scanners.

Yes, we laughed while raising our children, while running our business, and during leisure time and travel. It was your gift to radiate happiness and your dry sense of humor wherever you were or in whatever situation we were in. How Rich you made our lives.

The kids speak of you with reverence. And well they should--no better Dad ever lived. No better husband ever lived. Maybe we paid for that privilege by losing you too early. Nothing can take our memories, though. Nothing.

Jul 20, 2012


My sister and brother-in-law lost their beloved Weimeraner, yesterday. He had a long and wonderful life with them. He was a wonderful dog and their hearts are heavy with grief. It was a difficult decision, but they had Rupey's best interest at heart. I realized I don't even have a picture of him, but I don't want his passing to go unnoticed as he brought so much joy to those who loved him.

My sister and I live far apart so we don't get to see each other, often, but she has always been, and will always be, my best friend. She has the best memory of anyone I know, and she can recall the tiniest details when relating a story. Rupert provided much fodder, and she'd have me laughing until I cried at his antics. He was a true "dog comic" and will be remembered for his incredible personality.

I know she and my brother-in-law are hurting very badly and their hearts have big holes in them, now. I wish I had words to fill them, but I don't. I can't even fill my own holes.

I've played this many times, but it seems so fitting--I always think of Lizzie and Jack when I play it, but tonight, this is for you, Rupey. Rest in peace, dear pup. You made a difference in this world.
Rupey Song

I was able to get some pictures.

Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside... for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements... and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth... though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land... for you are my god... and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should I be deprived of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest...and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
--Beth Norman Harris

Jul 3, 2012



The Next Best Thing...

Well, I couldn't go west, but Susan had an opportunity to go to Denver, Boulder, and Breckenridge. She returned home with a friend who had been here in Atlanta for medical reasons. Susan fell in love with Denver, immediately. I got a text saying she was ready to pack her bags and move. Grass didn't grown under their feet. The first night they took in a ball game--I'm not sure what the name of the Denver team is.
Then she reconnected with a childhood best friend who she found (or she found Susan, I'm not sure which) on Facebook. Yesterday, she and her friend had lunch and Susan got her Mom's phone number and email address. Pat was my one of my best friends when we first moved to Atlanta. As things go in life, we had lost contact. I called her, today, and she is doing wonderfully. I couldn't visit her on my trip as I felt it might be too early after the loss of her husband, Hank. They were very good friends to Rich and me, so I was very saddened to hear about him. I am amazed at how well she is--full of life as she's always been--sounds exactly the same as she did years ago. She said her faith helped her to get to the place she's in, now. She's off to Scotland, soon. We vowed to keep in touch, and she asked me to visit her. Of course, that's not possible, now, and it may never be. I told her she was always welcome in Atlanta. It surprised me when she said she always loved Atlanta. 

Today, Susan and her friend are in Breckenridge, and she's having a blast. They will return to Denver, tomorrow. I've only gotten a couple of pictures from her--I'll take what I can get. I'm happy she's having such a good time--even planning a ski trip next winter which may include her brother.

The lack of traffic, alone, sells me on this place. Makes me wish we had made the move years ago before it was too late. Oh, well. A lesson for my kids and grandkids, I hope.