Nevada, Missouri

Nevada, Missouri

On our way back from Rolla to Denver, we stopped at the limit of Nevada, Missouri for a picture. In Missouri, Nevada is pronounced “Ne-va-duh” with a long a in the middle syllable, which would cause a native Nevadan to have a hissy fit. It is one of the amusing things about Missouri life that I appreciated.



Yesterday morning I left a bit early before heading to my in-laws’ 65th anniversary celebration. I elected to wander about Rolla to clear my head and spend some time alone with my Girl. We collected the last stage of a multi-stage geocache we were working on and then drove up to Buehler Park to retrieve another geocache. On the way we passed the Maid-Rite. This is a Rolla landmark and has been there since before I came to Rolla in 1968.

I decided to buy a Maid-Rite and sit in the cool air inside for a few minutes. Decades ago i worked at a gas station a few hundred feet west from the Maid-Rite. I would walk down to the store to buy a sandwich or a bowl of chili/soup now and again. The sandwiches were never that great, but they are still solid food and not bad. The soups and chilis were great in the winter, though, and I remember those very well.

Mount Vernon, Washington

Lakeview Oregon AlleywayI woke way-too-early Monday morning, probably about 0400, rolled over, and realized there was no going back to sleep. With my restlessness, Ki stirred, lifted her head, and looked at me. She seemed to say “What… are you thinking?” Then she wisely laid her head back down and resumed snoring.

I made some coffee and went out the to 4Runner to get my half&half from the cooler. Ki watched me, not wanting to be left out (or left), but waited patiently for my return and then resumed sleeping. I puttered on the computer for a bit, catching up my email (nothing else was to be done with slow internet) and drinking my coffee. I realized that I might as well get going.

So, I put Ki’s collar on her and we went out for a romp in the wonderful play area at the Rim Rock Motel. She did doggie things, sniffed about, and I made another image or two of the gorgeous irises. Then we packed up the 4Runner and drove back into Alturas to find a few geocaches and refuel the car.

The geocaches were fun. I especially enjoy earthcaches. These are containerless geocaches where the intent is to see some geographic or geologic item of interest. I love the outdoors, I love geography (a civil engineer has to love maps), and I love geology. Earth sciences fascinate me.

On our pass back through town, the breakfast cafe was still closed (and would not open until 0800). So we drove out to find a couple more geocaches. The Chimney Rock geocache was very cool and the Girl and I drove the short run to the real Chimney Rock (need image) to see it. I was planning on making breakfast out there, but the mosquitoes drove me off. So, given it was still too early for the Alturas breakfast cafe, I elected to drive on north and find something else. I would either pull off at a nice place and cook or find an open cafe.

The small towns between Alturas and Lakeview look like toys that a parent folded up and put away. There was not much between Alturas and Lakeview, Oregon — certainly no place to eat. But, in Lakeview I found a place. The best rated was closed, so I took a chance on Jerry’s and pulled in there.

The place was clean and the waitstaff attentive. It’s hard to ruin ham and eggs and they were great. Or, perhaps I was just hungry. Nonetheless, I was refueled and ready to get on with my day.

The morning air was pleasant, so Ki and I walked to a geocache located at the local museum (Historically Fat Log Cache). It was a nice walk and fun find. After the find, it was time to head out, so we walked back to the 4Runner and headed out. However, I was not yet done. There was another geocache I wanted to find and I couldn’t resist being outside in the morning sun. So we stopped by the Oregon Fire Defense headquarters, found the hide there, and walked inside to refill my water bottles. While there, I visited with the young woman in charge of the front. Her brother is an engineer working in the aerospace industry. It’s a small world.

I had asked about engineering firms in Lakeview and it happened that the local general civil engineering firm was located on my way out of town. So, I stopped by and visited with the principal engineer, Daryl, and left my business card. I will follow up with a copy of my resume and perhaps there will be some consulting work for me there.

We drove north, windows down until about noon. The temperature was over 85F, and that’s about the point where I decide to close the windows and run the A/C. The land became more desolate, much like Nevada, with the exception of those irrigated areas, which were lush and growing. Lake Albers was stunningly flat that morning. When we passed Alkali Lake, we came across a group of sand dunes, probably aeolian deposits from the prevailing winds across the lake basin. So, I stopped the rig and stepped out.

I put my hand down onto the sand to test the temperature. It was warm, but not blazing, so I let the Girl out for a romp with me. We bounced up the dunes, she hunting lizards and me just looking around in the warm air. The sand was so fine that it filtered right through the uppers of my shoes and I had sand in my shoes after only a couple hundred feet. Although there really wasn’t much to see, I saw it, made an image with my phone, and then followed the Girl back to the 4Runner. She was hot and the sand was too hot for tenderfoot. She darted under the rig until I opened the door, when she jumped in.

The remainder of the drive north that day was relatively uneventful. It was 106F in Bend, Oregon that afternoon. That’s very hot — Texas hot — and reminded me of many hot summer days motorcycling across Texas. We stopped for the night in Toppenish, Washington, not far north from the Columbia River crossing. I was very tired and crashed early.

I slept late for me, probably 0600 or so. I suppose I was more tired than I thought. I made some coffee and sat down to gather my thoughts for the day. After a few minutes I gathered up my things, staged them, and prepared to leave. Then Ki and I went for a walk in the small park across the street from my lodging. We played ball in the dew-wet grass and enjoyed the warm morning sunrise before returning to the motel to move our things to the 4Runner and head out.

It was not far west before we began the climb into the Cascade Mountains. That was a pleasant change because the air cooled substantially with the sea breeze from the west slope. Although much more humid, the cooler air was welcomed after the blazing heat for the eastern part of Oregon and Washington.

I was ready to be out of the car for a bit and the bed and breakfast was a happy sight. CJ was working in the yard when I arrived. She motioned me where to put my rig, then showed me the ropes of her place. It’s a converted garage, but very nice (much nicer than the motels where I stayed), had plenty of good coffee, and a residential place for walks.

A local church lot was very large and nicely mowed. It made a perfect place to play ball with the Girl. I knew that I was going to enjoy my stay in Washington.

One Ending, One Beginning

Carson Valley OverwatchThe last few days were a whirlwind of intense activity. Older Son was here to help me prepare the house for sale. Then, once it listed, it sold the first day. I waited until I had some assurance the sale would be consummated before starting my move.

That was a mistake, I think. But it is what it is.

Eight years ago (and change), I left a tenured university appointment and returned to private practice. I was tired, recovering from a clinical depression, burned out, Daughter and Grandsons had just left, and the last straw was a personnel issue. It felt like it was time to move on to something else and somewhere else.

An opportunity opened and it seemed like the right thing to do. So, I moved and brought my family with me. For the first couple of years I was slammed at work, trying to get through the backlog of hydraulic projects that were left in various stages of undone by others. Yes, it took me two full years to clear that backlog. Then, in 2009, the bottom fell out of the housing market and work began to dry up with the fall of housing prices. There isn’t much need for general civil engineering (and the supporting hydraulic and hydrologic work) when the private sector is dead.

I expected to be laid off at that time, but it didn’t come. So, I kept after it, finding small projects here and there. I suppose it was enough to justify my continued engagement.

Then, four years ago, Wife became ill. About this time four years ago, she was in chemotherapy for lymphoma. My focus shifted from work to caring for her. If you follow my weblog, then you know the rest of the story. She lost that fight in January 2013.

As I worked through my grief, I picked up a little more work, but the projects were not plentiful. That process culminated in my engagement ending about three months ago. So, I elected to sell my house without knowing where I would go.

That process is nearly complete. The closing is next Friday. That will bring my tenure in western Nevada to an end. Anticipating that (and there’s no reason to doubt it now), I cleared my house and put my durable goods into storage. I put Older Son on an airplane home Saturday morning, then returned to my house to sort through my remaining things, do a test fit into my rig, and pack those things that would not fit in my rig (but that I wanted with me) and put them into storage. I finished that process about 1700 Saturday night. It being late, I elected to sleep one more night in my house, made my bed on the floor, and crashed.

I woke early Sunday morning, as usual. The Girl and I walked a short version of our regular route. Everything was wet from the showers Saturday afternoon. When we returned home, I began cooking without my familiar tools. I’m using my camping rig and things work differently. It’s all good — I’ll sort out how everything works and it will become familiar again. I ate, fed my Girl, and then took a shower. Then I gathered up my things, stowed them in my rig, and did a last walkthrough the house.

Those tasks completed, I pulled the 4Runner out of the garage and closed the door, probably for the last time. A chapter of my life ended that moment.

The Girl and I headed for Reno to have coffee with our friend Jimmy. This will not be the last time for coffee with Jimmy, God willing. Jimmy might as well be my brother. He is my brother-from-another-mother. We sat at Java Jungle, solved the world’s problems, and talked about my mobile house. I think that I’ll land in Reno again later in the summer and, if it seems appropriate, Jimmy will show me the ropes of finding a solid travel trailer that will be my home — my mobile house — going forward. This is a beginning. A new chapter of my life is beginning and I have no idea where the plot leads.

The Girl and I headed north on U.S. 395. We’re going to go see a friend in Washington. I want to spend a few days with her, work my dog under her guidance, and see a new area. We’ll be there in a few days.

Once past Susanville, California we were in new territory (for us). It was warm, but it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that I decided to put up the windows and run the A/C. I much prefer the air to the conditioning. The Girl snoozed most of the afternoon, except for the pause now and again to stop and stretch legs. I’m on no schedule, so I’m free to move at my own pace. So, that’s what I’m doing.

I decided to pause for the night in Alturas, California. This is northern California and does not deserve the PRK moniker I’m fond of using to refer to this state. It’s a big state and might as well be two, given the differences in culture. I chose Alturas partly because of the Google reviews of the Rim Rock Motel. The place is old-school motel, but it’s not run-down as I normally experience; it’s clean, kept up, and gorgeous. Rory greeted me at the desk, quoted me a (very attractive) rate, and I signed the papers.

Alturas is a beautiful little town in northern California. I think I could live here. I wonder if there is work for me here?

So, here I am. I’m in-between engagements, working part-time for myself, I’m partly retired. I’m houseless and have no plan other than the vague notion of seeing a friend, seeing my in-laws, and spending some time with Daughter and Grandsons. In the meantime, I’ll drive a bit, photograph a bit, and work a bit. This will be interesting.

How do I feel about this change? Well, there is a mixture of trepidation and excitement. So we’ll see where the path leads!