Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello from Orlando Florida

Hello from Orlando Florida

Saturday afternoon May 29, 2010 (third travelogue of this trip).

I debated on how to number this travelogue. If you read our previous posts, we made a somewhat quick trip to Prescott, IA for a funeral. We made this trip in our PT Cruiser, as the bus transmission issues were not yet resolved. However, we had planned a trip to the East (including Prescott) to attend a couple of rallies. So, when we returned to Evergreen, I finished up the bus and we headed back out on Thursday (5/20). This time in the bus!

We made our “normal” stop in North Platte, NE at the Wal-mart. Friday we drove to Prescott and parked at our relatives farm (our “Iowa Home”). Saturday we attended a wonderful wedding of Pat's second cousin. We were able to get to see almost all of the relatives in the Corning/Prescott area.

As a bit of background, Pat was born and spent the first 15 years in the Corning, IA area. She even attended a one room school house close to where her mom and dad farmed. We have visited the school a couple of times and it is still in good condition. Unfortunately, the farm house where she was raised is gone, as is her Grandparent's house. She still has a ton of relatives in the area and it is really fun to come an visit!

The next few days in Iowa were quite hectic. Pat and her cousin spent some time decorating graves and visiting relatives. I helped Bill plant beans and did some work on the bus. Pat and I also visited some relatives of her dad. This was fun and really contributed to her genealogy database. We also got to have a fun evening on her cousin's new-to-them pontoon boat on Lake Icaria (map). . This is a beautiful lake that is very close to the Corning/Prescott area.

On Thursday (5/27) we drove to the Kansas City area and stayed at the Travelodge (exit 18 on I 29). They offer a very inexpensive package for a night's lodging/parking/transportation to the airport. Indeed, the cost of a night's stay was about what it would cost to park at the airport. We had stayed there many years ago for the same arrangement. We were concerned that the facilities might have become run-down. However, it was neat and clean and that is all we could ask.

We got up at 4:00 AM on Friday to catch a flight to Orlando. This is a trip our daughter Lisa and her family had planned and they “twisted our arm” to come along. We arrived in Orlando a bit before noon and went to the local Wal-mart to get groceries for the week (staying in condos). The Kassels arrived about 5:00 PM and we have been relaxing. Our condo is a part of the Grand Beach facility (map).

We will probably start the “park adventures” tomorrow. The whole week has predicted afternoon showers, but we can work around that.

That is all for now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hello from Snow Central (Evergreen

Hello from Snow Central (Evergreen)

Thursday Morning May 13, 2010   (Second travelogue of this trip).

We are back home after our short trip to Iowa for the funeral. 

It rained for most of the first half of the trip home and then again as we got closer to Denver.  Indeed, the rain turned to snow as we got close to the house.  We have over 4 inches of snow on the deck this morning!

It took us about 12 hours to drive home.  We took our time and made some longer than normal stops (one to do some Internet work).  We arrived home last night about 6:30 PM.

Our short time in Iowa was very whirlwind.  We were amazed at how small towns respond to the grieving families.  Some of the families delivered food within a few hours of hearing the news.  The food was abundant!  Folks were very good about delivering the food, saying a quick condolence greeting and then leaving.  They did not overwhelm the family. 

Speaking of family, Joe's family is very large.  We had a family dinner Sunday night and there were over 50 people there.  The minister said a few words and asked for ideas as to what to say the next day at the funeral.  That started an small avalanche of stories.  Everyone was laughing and crying at the same time.

In my last post, I may have given you a slightly distorted picture of Joe.  He was everything I described, but much more.  To say the least, he was a CHARACTER!  He loved life and lived every moment to the max.  You would not be able to pick him out of a crowd, but he was larger than life.  The minister concluded that many of the stories that folks related would not be appropriate for the the service {big grin}.

There were 18 of Joe's cousins (first second and third) that traveled from Denver for the funeral.  That tells you how much our family thought of Joe!

We are off schedule for our travels.  We had planned on leaving for Iowa next Monday for a wedding and then some family travel to Orlando followed by travel to two trade shows.  We will still make the trip, but may not be able to make the wedding.  Part of that depends on how my final testing of the bus goes.  I think I have worked my way through the problems and have a plan. 

I am a little surprised that none of the readers noticed that I posted the wrong month in the text my last post.  Seems anymore I don't know what month it is {grin}.

That is all for now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello from Prescott, IA

Hello from Prescott, IA
Subtitled: We will miss you Joe Holbrook!

Monday Morning May 10, 2010 (First travelogue of this trip).

We had planned to travel to Prescott next week, but those plans got changed last Thursday evening. We received a call that Pat's cousin, Joe Holbrook, passed away quite unexpectedly at age 55. He had had surgery to repair a torn hip muscle. Apparently a blood clot from the surgery caused the death.

We left Evergreen early Friday afternoon after my doctors appointment. We arrive in Prescott at 1:00 AM their time.

Today is the funeral and I will not do well. You see, Joe was a very special person. In a lifetime, a person meets a handful or two of people who are a cut way above any other friend. Joe was one of those people with out question.

Joe was a wonderful husband. He and Cheryl did not have children, but he was a very special friend to every kid he ever met. When we would show up in Iowa with our three girls, Joe would quickly round them up and take them for ice cream. They loved it!!! I suspect there were times that he did not have two nickels to rub together, but he still took them to the ice cream shop. But Joe was much more than that. We went to a family dinner last night (about 50 people) and the out- poring of love was unbelievable. Yes, that happens at other similar times when folks pass away, but it was quite different than that.

Our girls were devastated and immediately made plans to try to be here, in spite of their hectic lives. Two were able to make it, but Judy's family has had some terrible flu going on and they were not able to be here. However, she wrote a wonderful tribute blog (here).

I have searched for a way to describe Joe, and I can't find the right words. I looked up warmhearted in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it said it was “marked by ready affection, cordiality, generosity, or sympathy”. That certainly described Joe, but there would be a much longer list for him. The term “heart of gold” came up several times last night, but that also fall short. Lets leave it that Joe was a very special person who defied description!

I should also mention that Joe was a very proud Marine. His funeral today will include a Marine ceremony. There will not be a dry eye in the place. He loved his country as much as he loved his family.


I will continue this travelogue when we again head out to Prescott and then travel to some tradeshows.

That is all for now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Catching Up.

Monday May 3, 2010

Catching Up.

I have not posted on this blog since April 1.  As I have mentioned several times, this blog was conceived as a travelogue.  We have not traveled since our fateful trip home behind the hook (tow truck).  I thought I would catch up on a few things that have been happening since then.  And for a change, it has been a pretty good month.

First, I have to tell you that we are still having some snow storms.  Over the weekend, the snows in the mountains were huge.  Two of our daughters were traveling in the mountains and had hectic stories to tell.  Daughter Judy and her family were traveling in their new to them motorhome and got into terrible snow on one of our highest passes.  Their story is here

Last week we talked to our former German exchange student, whom we keep in fairly close contact with.  She was asking about my analogy of the light at the end of the tunnel as related to some of the trials and tribulations we have been going through.  It was obvious that she was concerned.  I assured her that things were not as bleak as she had thought.  It is always fun to talk with her and catch up on her family  news.

Last week we went to a very sad funeral.  The granddaughter of our good friends died at the age of 34 from cancer.  She was developmentally disabled, but seemed to live a fruitful life based on considerable testimony from her many friends who live in the various community facilities with her.  It really brought home how fortunate we are to have healthy productive children and grandchildren!

Speaking of productive children, we must brag on two of our daughters.  Their books have been published recently.  Kelly has written a great textbook for new teachers.  This book is a continuation of a training class that she presents.  The Amazon link is here.  The ISBN number is:  978-0545167284    .   Daughter Judy has published a children's book  based on her llama business.  The ISBN is:  9780984532308.  It should be on Amazon in the near future.   She has plans to visit disabled children's facilities with one of her llamas with the goal of helping the children cope with life.  Now each of our daughters have been “published”.  Lisa co-authored at least one professional technical paper.

One of our major accomplishments this past few weeks is to establish a new doctor “network”.  As a retiree of Gates, we have to adjust to the changes of their insurance program.  For years we have been in the Kaiser system.  We felt comfortable with their program and our doctors.  This year Gates dropped Kaiser and adopted Anthem.  That meant that we had to find new doctors.  Sounds simple, but that is not the case.  Pat was finally able to find a rheumatologist.  That was getting critical as she had to have her bi-monthly blood tests.  Her rheumatologist recommended a doctor in Conifer (close to our house).  We have appointments this week for our physicals.  Hopefully we will feel comfortable with this new doctor.  My physical will include the paperwork for renewal of my CDL drivers license.  I have an appointment with the eye doctor who did at least one of my eye surgeries (now possible since we are in the new insurance system).  I will need his sign-off on the CDL form because of my sight issues. 

Now to the bus project.  I have been trying to put at least 4 hours most days to get some fairly major projects done.  The timing of these projects affect my ability resolve the transmission control problem.  The major sub-project was to revamp the hydraulic system.  I am adding a large hydraulic fan to cool the charge air cooler.  This has been an ongoing problem since I installed the Series 60 engine in the bus.  When the hydraulic system is finished (hopefully today or tomorrow), I will be able to operate the jacks from the same system.  The jacks will permit me to easily elevate the axles off the ground.  This, in turn, will allow me to place the rear axle on blocks in order to do some preliminary testing in the shop.  That will make the troubleshooting much easier.  I am sure that is paragraph is clear as mud to most folks, but the crazy bus nuts will understand {grin}.

Guess that is all for now.