Welcome back ladies, gentlemen, the not so ladylike, the not so gentle and those yet undecided. You know……….if you’re fully engaged in the act of living it’s difficult to take the time to record the events of one’s life without sacrificing more living. Such is my current conundrum, condition, quandary and might one say dilemma? Yet greater minds have set aside their physical life for an inner journey – think Proust. I said “think” not read! Most authors that we enjoy have shared with us their adventures of the mind but it often can be a dark journey dotted with trip wires, land mines, pot holes, tangled vines, rabid dogs and long periods of staring into the black abyss. It can also be an adventure of joy, inspiration, tenderness, raucous celebration and hilarity bordering on delirium. Rest assured, while I now step away from my life to record it’s passing I will take you on none of those journeys. But meander with me if you will down the windswept highway I so recently trod.
We find ourselves in Ithaca after once again traversing the continent and then untraversing it, and eventful our excursion was. Out of a profound grand-maternal need to see her grandson and of course assist her daughter while Brian was on business (rock concert) in California we attempted to wear through the magnetic strip on our SouthWest credit card and in the process extend our sasquatch size carbon footprint by dragging it slowly across the western plains to Reno and back. Hang on, it gets worse.
Our first days in Reno were most pleasant. Imagine sunshine and 70 degrees in early March and a cheerful, small, plant eating cherub eager to spare us his time and share his world view.
He has a very good appetite and so far embraces each new culinary adventure with a smile! Thanks for the pickle Grandma!
And is no longer limited to soft food! Such was day one and lunch at the art museum. He seems to have a more than avid interest in early 21st century ceramics and managed to put a fine edge on those first seven teeth!
Day two and the sun shines brightly upon us. Kelsey, Brian and Kieran have all had a cold with lots of coughing, sneezing and runny noses but they grow ’em tough out here and Kelsey’s agenda included taking us snow showing – so a shoeing we did go. I don’t think Kieran is going to get a lot of sick days when he reaches school age! It was a spectacular day and in the 50’s even up above Lake Tahoe. We hiked to a place called Chickadee Ridge where the chickadees will eat out of your hand if you have food for them. We sprawled in the snow and ate our picnic lunch with a view of the lake below us. Some were breathing (panting) harder than others due the 20,000 foot elevation. The sign said 8,740 ft. but I’m pretty sure that was wrong… Kelsey wasn’t feeling well so we let her carry the baby. We returned home and the way I remember it I cooked a great dinner. The days end early here – about the time Kieran goes to bed – for the first time. He still likes to check in with his parents several time a night! It was a good day.
Day Three -Sunday
Kelsey had entered us all in the 5K Lepracaun Race. She and Kieran still didn’t feel well so she and Susan ran pushing him in her running stroller. I guess if they were healthy she would have made him run! It was yet another sunny morning – I just don’t get this place?- and the Reno-ites were out 1,400 strong with spirits high and outfitted in green attire that would have made St. Patrick bring the snakes back to Ireland! The object of the race was to beat the Leprechaun. Problem was….. the Leprechaun was 6’2″ and ran at about a 5:30 pace. As you might imagine, he just nosed me out at the finish……yes, I have spent time mastering the yoga pose necessary to kiss the Blarney Stone. I did however come in 4th in my age group, at high altitude having run a total of 38 miles all winter. This allowed me to appreciate the fact that the rest of the world is not as fanatically extreme as Ithaca where in a field half that size I would have come in 20th! We went out for a big breakfast afterwords where Kieran further developed his fine dining skills and mastered the art of drinking out of a glass. Well, he mastered drinking out of the top edge, which dumps a lot of water down your shirt! Try it!
While all this was happening, a storm was brewing back east and flights were being cancelled, including ours. Bummer, we have to stay out west where it’s warm. Since it was now the work week and we didn’t want to impose on their schedule, Susan and I decided to visit the Redwoods National Park in Northern California – bucket list item. We rented our Hyundai and headed north out of Reno then west on Rte 36 across California which has to be one of the most scenic drives in the country. About half way we saw a bald eagle just sitting in a tree. We stopped and sat there watching it and it sat there watching us. I’m pretty sure we’re now on it’s life list – pretty sure he also has us on the endangered species list. Arrived in Trinidad, Ca. at about 6:30 having maneuvered mountain roads much like we experienced in France minus the angry Frenchman but with our gas gage hovering around E for much too long. We were staying in a VRBO right on the ocean so we did what reasonable people do. Opened a bottle of wine, sat in the hot tub, celebrated the fact that we had avoided contracting the Day Care Crud and watched the day fade away. There are some things it’s better not to celebrate.
We woke to an overcast day and as it turns out, Redwoods only grow where it’s pretty wet which is why they call them rain forests. Matter of fact, they say a mature redwood can pump 100 gallons of water a day. Well coming from Reno we weren’t thinking rain so we got pretty wet, and sick . And those trees are really tall. You can’t really see the tops but when you try to and it’s raining in your face it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling about their elegance. Their size, their age, their patient calm and the quiet of the forest arouses a true sense of awe. Everyone should see them. I am not a religious man but felt I was in nature’s cathedral. When we returned to our house we listened to a Ted Talk about the redwoods and the speaker referred to “redwood time” which is so much longer than people time. Some of these trees are 2000 years old – and we’ve managed to cut down all but the last 3%. His point was that as humans, we’re here for such a short time, we should not be at war as nations or in conflict as individuals but should just love each other. Now if your not ready for that kind if commitment or it’s too early in the relationship, we could start by just being nice to one another!
Susan Clearing the path for me.
Stumped? This is what they look like when they tip over. Quite a crash!!
Rain forest in winter.
Our days passed, I caught the cold, Susan caught the cold and it was Friday, time to return to Reno for the St. Baldrick’s day celebration. We had plenty of time to get back but still felt a sense urgency in order to not miss the great St. Baldrick’s Day reveal. Susan was driving and all was going well until my phone informed me that the road was closed ahead and rerouted us over a winding mountain road, well not quite a road but it may have once been. After about twenty minutes it became apparent that we were the only ones rerouted because there were no other vehicles bottoming out on potholes and maneuvering around fallen trees on each switchback. Just so you can appreciate the true essence of the journey, the mood in the car was one that suggested that this detour was all my fault. My suggestion that we turn back and take our chances with the closed road was also well received for at that moment there was nothing resembling a traffic circle. After the brilliant execution of a 37 point turn we retraced our steps over the now familiar potholes and downed trees to soon encounter the closed road. There had been a big slide which is apparently not an unusual occurrence in this local. The road had been pretty well wiped out but after a forty minute wait we were allowed to pass.
OK, we’re still doing alright time wise – water break, bathroom break, switch drivers and on the road again just outside Reading, Ca. Enter the COYOTE. Yup, never saw it coming. Ripped the plastic bumper right down to where I could drive on it. Lots of noises you don’t like to hear in a rental car in California! The day just keeps getting more interesting. Note for travel guide: Don’t run over a coyote in a rented Hyundai. Note for coyote: Don’t try that again! Never mind. You won’t! We now have not only an ever expanding carbon footprint but have substantially increased our WK/M ratio ( Wildlife Kills per Mile). What good could come of this you might ask? Well, an encounter with the kindness of strangers. As I was pulling dangling car parts from the belly of the beast (I’m talking about the car) two ladies in a pickup truck stop to see if we’re OK. Then since they have a towel in their car they go back and pull the carcass off the highway – nice. Now assessing the damage and wondering how I’m going to drive the next three hours to Reno I inquire as to whether they have any duct tape – which they don’t. Don’t laugh, I drove from North Carolina to Ithaca with the front bumper of my Audi duct taped in place (another story for another time). So now I’m on the phone with our insurance company filing the report and seeking guidance which went something like “Good luck!” Susan is relating our dilemma to Kelsey who is solely concerned with the well being of the Coyote. Re-enter the ladies in the pick-up truck. Somewhere they had scavenged a piece of blue nylon rope and while I was writing down accident claim numbers they tied the bumper to something structurally sound and were gone with a smile and a wave. There were echoes of my childhood in this and reminiscence of an old Lone Ranger episode! On to the festivities.
To those of you unfamiliar with St. Baldricks Day, it is a day where people shave their heads to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. It began in 1999 and has raised millions to help children who are fighting for their lives. I’m not sure why it coincides so closely with St. Patrick’s day but there was a very St. Patrick’s day spirit with a bagpipe procession to open the ceremonies, shamrocks galore and lots of hair that had been dyed green prior to losing its head. This was a big day for us because the donor we had come to support, my son-in-law Brian, has been grooming his mane in preparation for this event for 9 1/2 years! And due to it’s length and brilliant color his hair was coveted as future wig material for cancer patients in need. They estimated he was good for four wigs! So here we go………..
During – His hair was braided into four braids to contain it for the wig makers.
Well, Brian and Kieran now have the same haircut although in this picture Brian appears to be happier about it – or in shock! One of the great unknowns in this sport is what shape the uncoiled dome will display and once begun there is no turning back. Blame it on the luck of the Irish but Brian has a good looking head for the high gloss approach to head fashion. He also has an incredibly extensive hat collection should the weather stay cold. There was much discussion at the event about no longer needing shampoo. I just checked the Reno consumer report for the last week and in truth, the bottom fell out of the shampoo/conditioner market …..but…… there was an off the chart spike in sales of sun screen!
It was a great event. Hundreds of people of all ages stepped up to have their heads shaved in support of friends, family and strangers who have fallen victim to cancer. Brian raised $3,500 in donations which I think put him in the top ten. Well done Brian!!
My apology for running on a bit but as I mentioned once before, much happens in the life of the idle. But now it’s time we part – something Brian won’t be doing for a while!
OK – since you asked – Why do bald men never use keys? Because they’ve lost their locks!
Until next time.