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Archive for July, 2006

Family Night

I am fortunate to have in-laws who are nice people, with nice kids. Emma spent the entire day with her cousin Hannah, and Eleanor spent the day with her sister-in-law Alison. They all had fun at the swimming pool. I spent the day working on their dining room table. Oh well.

Co Spgs cousins.jpg

One of the fun things about visiting Emma’s cousins is that there are so many of them. There are five kids from 18 to 5 years old in this family, all great. The two oldest girls and their boyfriends joined us for dinner. Eleanor made an Italian entree that I can’t spell (but it was really good), and she seasoned the cauliflower in such a way that everyone liked it (which I would have thought impossible).

Co Spgs Eleanor Arthur.jpg

Eleanor’s grandfather was the Head Chef of the Locke-Ober Restaurant in Boston for twenty years. That’s where Eleanor got her cooking talent. Her brother Arthur also inherited the cooking gene, so when the two of them get together it’s time to build up your appetite. Tonight Arthur was busy at a baseball game, so he only showed up for the eating segment of the evening, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they team up in the kitchen later this week.

I uploaded pictures from Garden of the Gods city park today. See the Flickr photo album. We also worked out some tentative plans for the weekend and next week. We’re going to head west into the Rockies to Salida and Gunnison. This will be our last chance at Colorado for a long time, and we would like to enjoy it as much as possible.

A Quiet Sunday

… and then, nothing happened.

We had to move the rig this morning from the dull & noisy campground we had in Colorado Springs to a spot about 15 miles south of town. So we spent the morning doing Sunday morning stuff, and then stopped off for groceries, and by the time we got to our new site it was nearly 2 pm and 96 degrees outside.

I had all these ideas about driving out to some little towns in the mountains, seeing the Royal Gorge Bridge, etc., but somehow they all evaporated in the heat of the day. Besides, I found out a bit too late that cell phones don’t work here, even though they work just about 2/10ths of a mile down the street. So I spent an hour of the afternoon trying to get my Vonage box to work on the campground’s wireless network, and then Eleanor and I languished while Emma griped about our lack of activity.

Well, once in a while you’ve got to take a day off from everything. I guess today was it. Tomorrow we will resume our usual schedule of frenetic activity. Since I can’t make calls from here, I will tag along as Eleanor and Emma head up to Colorado Springs, and park myself either in the in-laws’ house or Panera Bread for the day. I could do worse than having an office in Panera Bread …

But despite the lack of activity today, I did find a great place to go for good times with family:

Ft Collins Dr Bob.jpg
Sign of the week!

Garden of the Gods

The weather continues hot here in Colorado, but we decided to hike around Garden of the Gods city park anyway. This place is too beautiful to miss.

Co Spgs Garden Gods pano.jpg

It’s also rather busy, especially on a sunny summer weekend like this, with rock climbers and browsers of all descriptions. There are a few short trails off the beaten path, if you need to escape the crowds.

There’s a good Visitor Center with various added-value attractions: a movie ($2), gift shops, cafe, a bus tour ($5), etc. But the park itself is free and the view is spectacular.

Co Spgs Garden Gods rocks.jpg

After some hot hiking, we decided to visit our local Thai restaurant for lunch. A blog reader and fellow traveler, Brad A, mentioned that he has not seen any good Pad Thai lately. Brad, this one’s for you!

Co Spgs thai.jpg

Now we’re taking a break before meeting the in-laws for a barbecue nearby.

I’m fixing a hole …

… where the rain came in (metaphorically). We don’t actually have a hole in the Airstream, but we certainly had a few holes in our systems lately.

We packed up and left Cherry Creek today for Colorado Springs. But before we left, I picked up my Powerbook with the new 100 gigabyte hard drive, and a copy of Tiger too. That’s two items fixed from our bad luck spell: computer and phone. Eleanor also got me a very good t—– wrench (I still can’t say the word, but you know what I’m talking about) at Sears. Cost about $65 on sale, and I think the regular price was about $90. Well worth it given the alternative.

So I before we pulled out, I added two items to our pre-departure checklist: checked the lug nuts on the wheels, and checked the air pressure in all the tires. We won’t have THAT disaster again if I can help it.

Fred C wrote me to say “thanks for the KITA” (Kick In The ***). My hard drive failure inspired him to get serious about backing up his stuff too. I hope our disasters have been at least useful in preventing other people from having similar problems. That’s why I go out on a limb and admit all the stupid things I’ve done and the things that have gone wrong.

Now that my Mac is almost fully set up, I’m installing a program called Silverkeeper by LaCie. It is an automatic backup program, very easy to use and fast. I’ll run it at least twice a week to back up my files to the external LaCie hard drive. It works with any type of drive, including CDs and DVDs.

Our campground in Colorado Springs is not pretty. It’s sort of a dirt parking lot with views and sounds of a busy highway. The wi-fi does not reach us, predictably, and since I needed to download some big files I’m at the Panera Bread. We didn’t have much choice in places to stay, since everything else seemed to be booked up for the weekend. Fortunately, we are only spending two nights at this campground and then moving along to another one in the Colorado Springs area.

Tomorrow we’ll have some fun. It’s about time. There’s a lot to do in the area of Colorado Springs and I plan to check some good stuff out! I’ll also resume taking photos for you.

Trip planning for Fall

We have been making plans for the next few weeks. Our obligations are declining for the late summer and fall, and that’s a good thing since it means less running around. But we still have a few things that must be done, and logistical problems to solve.

People often ask how we decide where to go and what to do. With Airstream friends all over the country, family, events, and seasonal changes, we never run out of ideas or places to go. Our bigger problem is figuring out the logistics of how to make it all work and not spend a billion dollars on gas. And when we are going somewhere in peak season, we have to work out places to stay, but we try to avoid crowds so that isn’t often a problem. I prefer to have freedom to meander, and having campground reservations can kill spontaneity.

Speaking of peak season, tomorrow we have to leave Cherry Creek because there are no sites available for the weekend. We’ll head down to Colorado Springs for a while. Next week looks like a work week, with some visiting. On the 9th or 10th we’ll head to the Rocky Mountain Vintage Rally in Creede CO for some fun.

After the rally, we are going to get our bent aluminum fixed at the Airstream factory in Jackson Center OH. It’s right along our route eastward. We should be in Vermont by the week of the 20th, and then we can stay put for a while. The trip eastward will be our last big mileage push for a while, which should be a welcome relief for the fuel budget.

At this point the only major trip from Vermont will be a week in Maine, visiting Adam and Susan. We’ll go across Lake Champlain to Plattsburgh, to visit with Colin Hyde at his restoration shop, and do a few upgrades to the trailer, but that’s just a short hop from home. We may take the trailer up to Montreal too, but again that’s a quick trip.

So that’s how trip planning is done. We just look at what we want to do, what we need to do, and usually a plan presents itself. There’s enough of interest in this country that we rarely have to worry about finding something to do when we get there.

Recommended travel books

Since I’m working long hours this week to get the Fall magazine and other issues under control, we aren’t having a lot of adventures. Tonight we visited Fred Coldwell and took him out for pizza & ice cream, but other than that the day has been “just another day at the office.”

All long voyages have days like that, whether a long day at sea during which nothing much happens, or day of doing laundry and polishing the brightwork. I don’t regard it as time wasted, just time spent a bit differently. The lack of news gives me a chance to talk about other things.

For example, I’ve been reading more travel books as we go, and it occurs to me that I haven’t told you the latest items in my bedside book nook.

One classic of Airstream lore is Wally Byam’s book, “Trailer Travel Here and Abroad.” It’s half travelogue, half “how-to” guide for prospective trailer owners in the 1950s. Wally talks about some of the superb adventures he and his fellow caravanners had in the heydey of international trailer travel, when a trip to Europe was a glamorous experience available to an elite few.

The book also covers his many trips to Central America, Africa, and the Middle East. Interestingly, the insights and notes of the book echo many of the lessons we’ve picked up as we’ve traveled in the 21st century. I can read his comments about trailer travel and (excepting technology changes), many are as relevant today as they were half a century ago.

Fred and I were working on a project to scan this book (long out of copyright) and reprint it. I was unsuccessful at achieving a good OCR (optical character recognition) scan of it, and for now the project is on hold. If anyone has access to a resource that could handle this large task at low cost, let me know. I’d like for this book to be available to everyone, since it is very hard to find and rather expensive on eBay.

One thing in particular that echoes throughout the pages of “Trailer Travel Here and Abroad” is Wally’s firm belief that by traveling, every caravanner was a diplomat and emissary of international peace. We have noticed also that in travel we learn more about the diversity of people and come to appreciate the differences between human beings, rather than fearing them.

Wally was a self-described gadget man, too. He had a phonograph, wireless set, bullhorn, and other gadgets in his trailer. I expect that today he’d have wireless Internet, a cell phone, an iPod, DVD player, and solar panels — just like we do.

Another book I’m reading about a great voyage is Steven Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage”. This is the story of the Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery”. Our recent travel has taken along their route (but in the opposite direction), from the Columbia River in Oregon to the Snake River in Washington and Idaho. We camped in Lewiston ID (just across from Clarkston WA), and followed their path into Montana. Their accomplishment is incredible considering the times.

It’s easy to find a copy of “Undaunted Courage” in western national park bookstores, and I’m sure it is still in print. Their rough-and-tumble voyage in a set of pirogues and river boats bears little resemblance to our cushy existence in an Airstream, but still I find tiny parallels. There are commonalities to all voyages, and it is inspirational to read of the fearlessness of this team that penetrated the west when the west was unmapped and mysterious to all Europeans.

Emma learns to ride

We really needed to settle into the Denver area for a while. There is so much to be done. I picked up my new phone today from FedEx, then spent a couple of hours trying to get my Mac Powerbook serviced. I finally settled on a specialist in Denver who will put in a new 100 gb drive and have it back to me by the end of the week.


While I was gone, Bill (The Health Chic’s other half), took Emma’s training wheels off and started teaching her to ride her bike, while Eleanor supervised. It went well, and now Emma is able to ride in a straight line all by herself! The campground is an ideal place to practice, since there’s no traffic, flat smooth paved roads, and lots of room.

In the afternoon I had a conference call, which I usually take outside so I can pace around while I talk. Unfortunately, we got a rare sprinkling of rain right around then, so I spent most of the conversation ducking between trees for shelter. I could have gone in the trailer but when I’m concentrating on a call I just can’t sit still — and besides, Eleanor and Emma were in there making noise. Such are the compromises of working in a trailer with family.

This evening we went to the home of our friends Forrest and Patrice for dinner. Forrest draws the cartoon for the magazine each quarter, in addition to occasionally contributing articles. We solved all the problems of the world in one evening, so if anyone needs to know the way to world peace, rejuvenating the WBCCI, or inexpensive electric power from cold fusion, just let me know.

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