Monthly Archives: December 2016

Odyssey Seasonal Letter

We just started receiving holiday letters. Thank you. Don’t expect this to be one just cause it says so, like an election promise. But, it is nice to hear that people on this list are alive. Just in case, and I say this because some of us are old fuckers, some reckless people, and some with just bad luck – send me a note when you bite the big one. All cheeriness aside – that son-of-a-bitch error correction tried spelling that as cheesiness, I hate that – some of you may remember our holiday letters of the past, I believe beginning when we moved to Colorado and started sending annual, picture-filled letters of our wonderful new life out west, from frolicking in three feet of snow in March, to throwing up in the throes of altitude sickness on Pikes Peak, and shitting our pants as buffalo charged through our campsite at Yellowstone. Alas, the electronic age with social media exposing our every movement has left the written communication via snail mail to die. Remember opening that magazine to the centerfold upon receipt? Those were the days. In a mind-wandering related way, I think back to my early geek years with new fangled email and internet in the office and found the true use of the internet, porn. But, I digress, with some ugly memories of a woman and a horse. Ooooooh! Get over it. She did. Anyway, the guy in accounting sent it. And the guy monitoring emails was the porn king. Those were the days.

Back to the joyous holiday season. Think sugarplums (what the hell are they anyway? Was she a centerfold or something to hide the pubies?), mistletoe and draedels. Come on, Christians, there is a Chaunaka Harry, and this year he also comes tonight. (Hey, you pornheads, don’t think it.) To the point of this damn thing, wishing you all, not just a happy holiday season – what a narrow timeframe – but happiness and, perhaps more importantly, with possible threats to healthcare on the horizon, good health throughout the year. We’ll revisit next year. I know for many of you, this year sucked. Let me join in that refrain. THIS YEAR SUCKED! We’ll get over it. But don’t lose your focus and do anything stupid. If some asshole at the bar deserves a fist in the nose, think clearly about the possible repercussions. Don’t punch the idiot in the nose. Think about your hand. Ask the bartender for a fresh, frosty mug and use that to break the jerkoff’s nose. Maybe you’ll get his last tooth too.

Sorry. This past year gets me riled up. So much bad shit (why does error correction capitalize Shit? A deity I missed? Thought I dismissed all of them). I think I’m still having alcohol and opioid withdrawals. Some anger issues. Could it be that intoxicants were invented to calm the masses? Well, pot’s going legal, eventually everywhere. Wish I still had a desire for that. Big brother trying to mellow out the rest of us? Think about it, how many stoners will break a face with a beer mug? By the way, a paranoid rumor in my head, and maybe in a few others, had it that when I was sending out 2am, off-the-wall ramblings about whatever stream-of-consciousness was surfacing after ten ounces of alcohol, a couple of pain killers, and a few tokes of hash oil, that I was perhaps “losing it”. Well, let me put that rumor, if there was any truth to it, to rest. I never had “it”! Actually, I lost it a long time ago and had been pretending all those years that I still had it. Do you still have it? Condolences, depending on how you feel about “it”. Get rid of the copy too.

More digression. Sorry. Anyway, you don’t need a holiday letter from us. I sent 17 of these out in the first half of the year, just 5 since – surgeries really fucked up my mood more than expected. So, you know what we did this year. But, here we are, on the road again, there I am, up on the stage. The Metallica version is, in my hard rock opinion, the best cover of any song in history. Talk amongst yourselves on that one. There’s always ‘You Keep Me Hangin On’ by Vanilla Fudge, or, for the season, Trans Siberian Orchestra tearing up (in a good way) any Christmas song. But, hey family (sorry non-family for this digression), on a very similar topic – do you remember the first lipsynch contest at the first annual cousins’ party (1986-7?) at Uncle Bobby’s. I know it wasn’t a cover but I worked hard for weeks while driving back and forth to work getting the words and timing perfect for my ‘Doe A Deer’ presentation. It has audience participation, everybody singing – and I didn’t even get a bowling trophy. Remember, Jill? That was entertainment. Pull out your old camcorder videos. Play that sucker at my funeral. Again, apologies non-attendees.

Ok, back to now. On the road again. We’re in cold, rainy and windy Bullhead City, AZ. It fucking poured last night.This is usually one of the hottest parts of the state but the jet stream, pushed pretty far south by a cold mass, is sucking moisture from the Pacific and spreading it throughout the southwest. I know, you all get it a few days later much worse. It’s just nasty here but at least it’s not freezing.

The pics are just views from the rv park. We’ve been here, in Bullhead City, twice before but not in this park. Our site is on a ridge overlooking the city, the Colorado River, and Laughlin (mini Las Vegas), NV, where they are on Pacific time. My phone gets confused sometimes. Not so smart. I think we’ll go over there this afternoon and join the wheel-chaired, oxygen-tank smokers at the tables. Actually Harrah’s has a non-smoking floor.

So how many Happy Holiday notes did you get like this? One last thing – when the weather sucks, the movies is an option. Our choices were limited yesterday but “Manchester By The Sea” got great reviews so we tried it. If you like character studies and don’t care about feel-good BS, this one’s for you. If you’re depressed, bring several vials of heroin with you and inject anytime it seems appropriate. They’ll be lots of opportunities. Or go with a communicable disease and sneeze all over everyone. Give them a reason to feel sick. But, fantastic writing, directing, and acting, if that’s enough to float your boat.

Wait, one more. We picked up ‘Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot’ on the way home. Eh, or for dreidel spinners, meh. Great line at the end though. That old, personally familiar theme of “adrenaline junky” resonated throughout, culminating in Tina Fey’s character’s reason for leaving after years in Afghanistan, “It’s starting to feel normal”. Like when you stop taking acid. (It’s in the book.) But then it sounded more like an echo from the political campaign. Let’s hope “nuclear winter” doesn’t become part of “normal” conversation. That said, time for Mad Max?

He sees you when you’re sleeping

He knows when you’re awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for NSA’s sake

Dear Santa. How about just showing up?

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Hiking Near Sedona

How can you be near Sedona and not get outside for a hike? Andrea found five easy hikes and had me choose one. So I picked a short one, about a mile and a quarter in total, but a four hundred foot elevation gain. That means lots of switchbacks. It’s rated as easy, so why not?

Who the hell decides what’s an easy hike anyway? Easy for who? Thirty year olds or a sixty-six year old with a new hip? How about a rating for dogs with six inch legs? And who are these nasty people that design hiking trails? Pure evil running in their blood. At least, that’s what my hip is telling me two hours later sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot with little Luna with the six inch legs. She’s tired too. Where does Andrea get her amphetamines? I have a lot of questions.

The good news, it was sunny, fifties, and the hike was beautiful. It was a bit windy on top, bone chilling even in the sun, but worth it. Hell, it was 18 degrees overnight. Out of here tomorrow.

The pics:

1. The girls, waiting for me, as they would every hundred yards or so.

2. A pano from the top. Once at the top there’s a flat trail to the other side with some cool views. I just wanted a bench.

3. Every step going up I kept thinking that these kinds of hikes are always harder coming back down. When I spotted the helicopter I was hoping that Christmas had come early. Zoom in, upper left. “Over here, over here!”

4. That wasn’t to be. On the way up I didn’t want to stop to take pictures. On the way down, any excuse to stop. Views were nice on that side, too.

5. Here’s proof that somebody with my phone took a picture of the Jeep from up on the trail. Zoom in to the center of the parking lot. The blue Jeep is ours. The bikes on the rear rack might be harder to see. That’s what about 350 feet up looks like. An ‘easy’ hike.

6. No, the F16s didn’t follow us. Andrea took that at Sunflower Resort. You can tell these are F16s. The F16 has a single tail while the F35 has two, widely separated tails with a noticeable gap between the left and right horizontal stabilizers when viewing from below. Glad you asked? Google F35 to see what four hundred billion buys you. Why don’t we just buy countries instead of scaring them with loud planes? Like, wouldn’t Greece be cheap now? Italy’s about to go bankrupt. Or maybe a cool island like Barbados? Just a question.

Six hours after the hike and it feels like the day after the operation. Shit. I picked a bad year to quit booze and pain killers. Anybody got any glue?

Frigid Arizona

Welcome back to the road. It seemed too soon to go, Leo growing up before our eyes. Andrea is vowing to go back in January, to make sure he doesn’t get too old too fast. The really good news, and it’s not a secret anymore, is he’s going to have a little sister in the spring. That event will bring us back to Monument in mid April, a little early at seven thousand feet. Well, we’re getting some cold weather practice now.

After the warmest and driest November on record in Colorado Springs, we left on Dec 1st, just as winter started moving in. We picked up the RV in Apache Junction, an eastern suburb of Phoenix, and stayed there a week. The weather was as expected, low seventies and mild nights. Next stop was in Surprise. Really, it’s a northwestern suburb. The RV Park, Sunflower Resort, is one of those mega parks where a thousand snowbirds gather for the winter. Arriving on Saturday it was very quiet and peaceful.

Monday morning, surprise in Surprise! Pairs of F16’s and the new, billion dollar, F35’s came roaring overhead all day long. Luke Air Force Base is just to the southwest, about 3 miles, almost on a straight line to runway 3/21 (that’s 30 degrees oriented to north, and the other way, when the wind blows from the south or west, 210). Taking off toward us their engines were cranking – quite impressive, all day long. Luke is the largest fighter pilot training base in the US. Now we know.

Later in the week a guy and his buddy stop in front of the RV and, while commenting on what a nice rig it is, he gives us a sales pitch on washing and waxing it. I tell Bobby “no” enough times that his price is finally a bargain. Next day he comes back with his buddy who is 20 years old with 2 kids and a new Dodge Charger packed with a ladder, some hoses and a buffing machine. They’re an hour late and immediately upon unloading their equipment they have to go get buddy some aspirin for his hangover. Add a half hour. Finally, they start working.

Buddy does most of the work while Bobby mostly talks with us, at one point asking if we have any pot to smoke. Bobby gets high. An hour later he needs to go out to get something to drink. They didn’t bring anything. Andrea offers them soft drinks or water. Ok for buddy but Bobby wants his kind of drink, and could he borrow twenty bucks which he’ll take off the bill. Andrea gives him a rum and coke, later a beer – just do some work. As the sun starts going down it is clear they won’t be done that day. Bobby has another beer for the road and promises to be back in the morning. When it rains that night I have to put his equipment under the RV or his electric gear would have been ruined.

He doesn’t show up Thursday. At 5pm Andrea calls him to find out when he’s coming. Oh, his mom is in the hospital. He’s been there all day. Uh-huh. They show up on Friday, along with Bobby’s wife, who is, apparently, there to kick him in the ass to finish. By mid afternoon the ordeal is over. Bye bye Bobby.

The RV does look pretty shiny. At nightfall some more of that rare rain hits and then the wind picks up. Crazy wind for hours. When we wake up Saturday morning, we find that the wind had deposited dust over the drying rain droplets. Fuckin A! Something like that. At least it’s quiet. The flyboys don’t work on Saturdays. With that, we’re out of there.

So here we are in Verde Valley Resort, a secluded place, a few hundred isolated acres near Cottonwood, AZ, 70-80 miles north of Phoenix. It was 26 degrees last night and below 30 now, Sunday night, as Andrea speaks all the parts and sings all the songs in The Sound of Music, for the 39th time in our marriage. I’ll get even later this week when I play It’s A Wonderful Life (my 78th time). But, I digress. The 4000 foot altitude here, some 20 miles or so south of Sedona, is the temperature culprit. Climb every mountain and see.

Photos. Start with the storage facility at Apache Junction. The owner, a very nice man, just wanted a helicopter to decorate his place.

Sunsets – they look remarkably similar at these parks.

We finally got out for a hike, an easy one. The new hip is trying to make nice with the surrounding muscles. We’ll get there.

Lastly, an F35 made like a UFO above the rising moon. You need a real camera for moons and UFO’s.

What the hell are we doing here? It’s 24 friggin degrees Now at 1am. Who knew? Gotta leave a faucet dripping. And we only have 30 amps so one space heater, one gas furnace and the electric hot water heater gets you to the edge, 31. Cross your fingers. One more day, then on to Bullhead City.