Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Different Kind of April

We came back to Northern Idaho earlier than normal this year to attend a forestry conference in Moscow. We were able to move back onto our place by March 29th, and that has made for some fun in the snow this year.

This is hardly any snow by most measures, but it was enough for us. The forest this time of year is free of brush and the visibility through it is amazing. A nice quiet walk through the woods during or after a snowfall is one on life's great pleasures.

Jake and Wesson seem to like this a lot better than the desert.


 Magic Hat has new spokesdog.

The snow is all gone now and it's time to plant some seedlings!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Prelude to... a Return of "TailS from the Back Seat"

ˈprelˌ(y)o͞od,ˈprāˌl(y)o͞od   noun
  1. 1.
    an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important

Although a 25th wedding anniversary is quite momentous in itself, the celebration and gift exchange between John and Susan last May was truly just a prelude........

The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their 25th anniversary.  A silver wreath is a metaphor to represent a place where love can be found. The connection is drawn in the fact that wreaths are actually made of sticks and such which birds use for their homes. Thus, a silver wreath is a representation of having your heart open and allowing your true love and you to build your home around it. 
Hence, a 25th Wedding Anniversary is known as the "Silver Anniversary". 

So what special gift would John and Susan share for their 25th wedding anniversary??? 

Surely a shiny, silver Smith & Wesson revolver would have been appropriate, 
but they decided to forego the Smith (this year) and just present.....


Wesson was born in Fox Lake, Wisconsin but she ain't no Green Bay Packers fan!

The anniversary present was to include a relaxing 2-week Midwest sightseeing adventure in the RV traveling from Idaho to Wisconsin to pick up Wesson, but a broken axle on the RV took the relaxing out of the equation and added to the "adventure"...for all of us!!

It is usual for puppies to exhibit separation anxiety when leaving their birth family, 
but Wesson is anything but usual.....
she immediately embraced her new family and the open road!!

"Sweet Dreams"

Back in Idaho, Wesson also took to her new environment with ease.....

Maybe too much ease for Jake.....

Just how long is she going to stay with us?

Wesson soon made friends and the training in all things dog began....

...and it was quickly clear that Wesson and Jake would live happily ever after....
just like Susan and John...

"What a Wonderful World"


          I see skies of blue, 
        And clouds of white. 
        The bright blessed day, 
        The dark sacred night. 
        And I think to myself, 
        What a wonderful world.

   The colors of the rainbow, 
   So pretty in the sky. 
   Are also on the faces, 
   Of people going by, 
   I see friends shaking hands
   Saying, "How do you do?" 
   They're really saying, 
   "I love you". 

  I hear babies cry, 
  I watch them grow
 They'll learn much more 
 Than I'll ever know 
 And I think to myself, 
 What a wonderful world. 

       Yes, I think to myself, 
       What a wonderful world. 
       Oh yeah.

Stay tuned for a return of "Tails from the Back Seat"!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Joy of Nothing

This is a blog post about nothing. During the last four months of 2017, we were parked on various streets and parking lots throughout the country. We almost always had somewhere to be and something that had to be done. For the past few weeks we've been back in the middle of the desert with nothing to do.

Everyone should have a zero day every now and then. We've been lucky enough to have a few weeks of them. Sleeping for as long as you want, reading a book all day, taking long, leisurely walks in the desert with the dogs, and enjoying the deafening silence both night and day. Completing some small project each day is rewarding enough, but when we think we need to accomplish more, we'll enjoy a nice sunrise or sunset.

Nothing really matters when you have the chance to do nothing. Government shutdown? Who knew and who cares? Flu pandemic across the country? What does it matter when you're getting 9-10 hours of sleep a night, exercising in the sun, eating well, and enjoying a spot of wine every now and then (all of them much better remedies for the flu than any vaccine)? The disfunctional circus continues to spin on its axis without us looking over its shoulder.

The only news that concerns us is the progress of the Philadelphia Eagles. Since we've been in our current boondocking spot, the team has won their two playoff games and is on their way to the franchise's first Superbowl since 2004.

While we were working the high school marching band events in the fall, we met a 17 year old student from New Jersey who is a big Eagles fan. We tried to explain to him that he should cherish every moment of this season because they don't come along very often for Eagles fans.

The Eagles won their last NFL championship in 1960 (beating the Green Bay Packers and handing Vince Lombardi his only post season loss) before we were born. After graduating from college in the 80's and working our first jobs in Philadelphia, we used to run into "old timers" in the corner bars who would tell stories about the 1960 season or even about the seasons of the late 40's when the Eagles were a football dynasty.

All we've known of the Eagles over the past 40+ years have been moments of exhilaration between long stretches of humiliation and heartbreak. For the past two weeks they have won in the playoffs while we've been camped in the same spot and have worn the same clothing on each game day. To keep the streak going, we will stay in the same spot for the next two weeks and wear the same clothes again for the Superbowl. Every little bit of effort counts.

The last time the Eagles were in the Superbowl they beat the Falcons and the Vikings at home in the playoffs. They then went on to lose a close Superbowl to the Patriots. This time around, we're hoping that history will rhyme rather than repeat.

Okay, that's enough work for today.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Marching to the beat of a different drummer

Our annual return to work vacation has taken us to various workcamping jobs out west. This year we thought we would try something totally different. Something that would never be considered a true workcamping job.

This job took us to Cedar Hill, TX in early September for training, then on to Bethlehem, PA (via RV mecca Elkhart, IN) for the season, then down to Florida for one last event (again via Elkhart, IN), before returning to Cedar Hill, TX in early December. It was a three month tour that covered 4,600 miles, gave us the chance to visit friends and relatives in PA, and put us in Elkhart, IN two times for significant preventative maintenance and upgrades to our 5th wheel trailer. One of the additional benefits was that every mile we traveled was reimbursed and every hour spent driving was paid to us in an hourly wage. That alone more than paid for all of the fuel, wear and tear, and upgrades we did to our trailer.

Our seasonal vacation job this year was the management of official event merchandise stores at high school marching band contests. There was some attraction to working at high school marching band contests since Susan was allegedly a member of a "world renowned" high school marching band known as the Liberty High School Grenadiers.

This is a uniform, not a costume!

We worked six major high school marching competitions, sold over $330,000 of event merchandise (clothing, patches, pins, etc.) and managed 50 "helpers" over the course of the season. Our job was to handle the logistics, inventory, payroll, accounting, cash management, merchandising, and sales for each event. We had some events where we worked for 24 hours straight including drive time to and from events. It was a physical and mental endurance test. Much more than any agricultural harvest we've ever worked.

On the road with two vehicles and trailers. We towed like this from Cedar Hill, TX to Elkhart, IN to Bethlehem, PA, back to Elkhart, then to Orlando, FL, before finally returning back to Cedar Hill, TX.

Weekly inventory delivery day. It gave the neighbors something to peek out of their windows at and wonder about.

We had events at Metlife Stadium, Rutgers University, Towson State University, Allentown, PA, and Disney's Coronado Resort in Orlando. This band was in the small high school category, but they had some fun props.

You can't just park on the street in front of your mother-in-law's house for months on end, so we had to get creative with our boondocking options. The local Polish Catholic Church was kind enough to let us stay in their back parking lot for a month. We particularly enjoyed the home made pierogies from their annual fund raiser.

The kids we met at these competitions were all band nerds and proud of it. They were polite, well spoken and infectiously enthusiastic. We heard countless stories from the parents about bored, disinterested kids becoming focused and purposeful because of their band participation. There's no doubt that being a part of a large, tradition-filled group was making a difference in the lives of these kids. They were learning the values of working together for a greater goal. They were learning the value of being part of a shared narrative that is bigger than the sum of its parts. It was almost enough to make even the most cynical and skeptical curmudgeon think that maybe, just maybe, there might be a glimmer of hope for the future.