Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Roadtrip Day 110

Roadtrip Day 110

10/26 Monday

This morning is as beautiful as yesterday. Marvelous scenery all around and sunny blue skies with just a few clouds on the far horizon. Let’s see what mischief we can get into today.

We had PG Tips for tea this morning cuz we found some at the Carlsbad Albertsons. $10 for 80 is not as good a deal as that $1 for 100 box we found in Wherever, Nowhere, but even I, nowhere close to being a tea connoisseur, can taste the difference. I think.

Ha! I met a sweet, sweet dog today. As I was walking back to our campsite from the bathroom, this beautiful mid-sized dog that looked mostly like an Australian shepherd came RUNNING up to me wiggling and nuzzling and whining, desperate to be petted. She was dragging a leash, so I figured she’d just gotten away from her owner(s) on a walk and they’d soon come along.

The dog continued to attack me with love, pathetic for attention. When Ronnie stepped out of the trailer to see what was up, she (the dog, not Ronnie) was so excited she peed herself. We petted her for quite a while and she calmed a little bit but continued whining piteously with happiness at being with someone. Eventually, she calmed enough that we could take her for a walk up the road to look for her owner. We hadn’t gotten too far when her mom met us with thanks. The dog had been out for a walk with a 4-year-old kid and when a rabbit appeared in the bush nearby…ZOOM! Kid on his/her face, dog on the loose.

Now that we were down the road a short way from our site, we heard the kid crying back at their campsite. So, we said goodbye and mom and dog headed back to comfort the crying kid. You know the appropriate Shakespeare quote that goes here.

Getting on toward evening now and we’re running the genny. My poor little laptop needs it. I’ve added 5 pages to chapter 14 since my last full charge and my battery is tired. Getting repowered now. Hooray! Let’s see what those wacky legionaries are up to.


Roadtrip Day 109

Roadtrip Day 109

10/25 Sunday
Good morning, Dawn Patrol. Errol Flynn had the boys up at oh-dark-thirty to prep their crates for an attack against the German lines. Sounded like the mechanics were hard at work pounding metal into submission for a long time getting the craft ready for the flyboys. After a while, the pounding was done and those dashing old retirees cranked up their engines. Sounded a lot like radials, original, unmuffled aircraft radials, not Wankels.

After their typical overly-long warmup period, they powered up and headed into battle. Good luck, you decrepit old bastards, heading out to face the enemy on that freeway in the sky. Or the one in Southeastern New Mexico, anyway.

Damn!, I am not a morning person. Getting prepped and on the road before the sun is fully above the horizon is just… Shudder! The exodus continued as the later waves headed into metal-to-metal combat. I gave in and got up around 8:30. *We* will be on the road before noon. Probably. Ronnie found me some more of that local, full-fat chocolate milk – Price’s TruMoo. Yum! That and donuts makes for the perfect breakfast of champions. Yeah, it’d be better if it were Brown’s Velvet full-fat chocolate milk and French Quarter donuts, aka beignets, from Café du Monde but we ain’t in New Orleans, so I gotta make do.

Chilly last night and this morning but the sun is bright and it’s warming quickly. Man!, that bat exodus was spectacular. Ah well, time to pack up and roll. Alamagordo and White Sands, here we come.

Not a terribly long drive and a very impressive one coming out of the mountains into Alamagordo. Beautiful vista. From the first view of the area as we descended from the pass, we thought there was a low cloud cover over part of the land in the distance. Eventually, we realized it was the White Sands area. Hoo-boy! We’re camped at Oliver Lee State Park just South of Alamagordo. We stayed here once upon a time in the past with the girls. Ronnie remembers it well; I kinda do. Lovely cacti, ocotillo, and assorted scrub and shrubs all around us. A nearby camper said hello and watch for snakes. Ok, we will.

We’re nestled up against mountains to the East and there’s a wide valley (White Sands in the distance) leading to a mountain range West of us. Sunset is gonna be pretty.

Had some leftover BBQ for dinner and a little butterscotch pudding to settle it down. I might write a little but I think it’s gonna be a fairly early night for this momma’s boy.

Roadtrip Day 108

Roadtrip Day 108

10/24 Saturday

Hello to our last full day in the Carlsbad area. Woke to a totally overcast sky, kinda small-lump spackly clouds rather than huge cumulonimbus stormbringers. Some tea and oatmeal to get this coolish day started.

Overcast burned off to give us a sunny, hot afternoon. We hiked locally and are getting ready to go to Carlsbad Caverns for the evening bat exodus. Planning on a grocery trip and bed after that.

Well that was magnificent. First, there was the sunset itself. We were facing Eastish and there was a distinct line of clouds underlit in all those beautiful orange-salmon- red colors with the ¾ moon hanging above. Then the swallows started returning to the cave mouth and their nest therein. Fabulous. Finally, the bats themselves began their exodus. In swarms. Amazing covered in awesomesauce with a side of magnificent. But wait! There’s more. A hawk swooped in from the periphery, zooming through the bat cloud and landed on a nearby rock to devour his catch of the day. His first catch of the day. He repeated this process five or six times as the bats continued their exodus. Simply incredible. We’ve seen the bat show before. It was never this good. Leaving, we drove West into the end of the pure sunset and it was lovely. What an experience. Had some BBQ at a local joint and continued to talk about the evening with astonishment. Eventually, finally we hit the grocery and returned to camp. Very tired now.

As for my legionaries, after I finished chapter 13, I was a little tired of writing and unmotivated to start on chapter 14. In the past when I felt this way, I’d jump to my epilogue and work on that but I have now also finished the epilogue. Well, damn. I wanted to write something more but if I wasn’t willing to work on chapter 14 what could I do?

Our friend Lisa in her talk about her self-publishing efforts stressed the importance of writing books in series instead of an endless string of stand-alones. She also seems to end her books with cliffhangers, although I can’t say that as a universal truth cuz I haven’t read much of her work. I had never considered “The Lost Century” as anything but a stand-alone; however, I had always intended to end it with the survival of some of the legionaries and the last bit would be them heading off into the sunrise. So, that’s essentially an opportunity for them to have additional adventures. Personally, I dislike books that end in cliffhangers, forcing me to read the next one. “The Lost Century” will have a definite end with a completed story. However, they will be alive, (relatively) safe, and heading off into the sunrise; so…

Having been unwilling at first to consider a series about “Flavius’ Furies,” I gave in and decided to write a teaser for/from the (possible) next book of the legionaries’ adventures since I felt like writing but didn’t wanna work on chapter 14. I dunno whether I’ll use it, rewrite it, or throw it completely away; but it was a fun exercise to keep me writing about them, even if it wasn’t for the current book.

Here’s the teaser, as written on the spur of the moment with no thought to how the actual story might go, except *of course* the “dragons” would be living fossils – horse-sized (?) therapods, pack hunters, maybe able to come to these lands after a huge earthquake demolished some geologic feature which previously kept them separate (and alive for the past 65MM years). Or something like that. Here tis:


“Dragons, Sir?” Rock said skeptically. “Are you sure he said ‘dragons’?”


“Neptune’s incestuous daughters!, Rock, I dunno,” Flavius replied, frustrated and tired from his efforts at an awkward three-way negotiation. “This guy speaks terrible Greek and he’s translating from that guy’s barbarian blabber. He probably speaks terrible barbarian, too. For all I know, the village wants to hire us to kill a horde of beautiful virgins who’ve come down from the nearby hills and are rampaging through their crops and absconding with wandering villagers, male and female, old and young. Oh, and they’ve also slaughtered some local troops who went to kill them. Sounds like they might be some badass virgins.”


“Well, ask him if it’s ok if we rape ‘em before we kill ‘em,” Rock retorted.


Flavius glowered at Rock and Gus put a hand on Rock’s forearm, saying, “We’re all tired. Let the Centurion get this done.”


Rock nodded his assent, “Sorry, Centurion. Are we really gettin’ anywhere here?”


Flavius said something in Greek to the translator who turned and started jabbering with the village elder. Flavius turned to his NCOs and took a sip of the slightly bitter, slightly alcoholic beverage they’d been served during these negotiations.


The small room was decently lit with oil lamps and they all sat on thick, beautifully-woven rugs as Flavius faced his NCOs and summarized. “This process is slow and frustrating, BUT… Their village is being attacked by something nastier than they can handle with the local forces who now refuse to face whatever it is after losing some of their troops. They’ve heard from the caravan master that we’re tough guys who can face anything and they wanna hire us. The important part here is that they’ll pay us the weight of a man in gold to kill the ‘dragons’, whatever the hell they are. The weight of a man in gold just to face some predatory animals.


“We could use that kinda payday.”


Rock and Gus both went quiet. They were flinty men, used to keeping their emotions off their faces but had to work hard to do so now. Gus spoke first, “That’s a lotta gold. Are we sure these guys have that kinda loot?”


Flavius nodded to his Third Officer, “This city is a crucial spot on the Silk Road; the wealth of Croesus exists in this area. That guy’s village is essentially an exurbs where a lotta the wealthy merchants have homes. Money is much less of a problem to them than being eaten in their own neighborhood, no matter what exactly it is doing the eating.”


Rock chimed in, “Hades!, Sir! We’ve fought vampires. We can absolutely whip a buncha lizards no matter how big they are. So, is that the weight of a man their size, cuz they’re smaller than us, or more like, say, Blue’s size?”


Flavius grinned, the exhaustion falling from his features. Blue was a legionary who originally came from the Germanic areas North of Rome’s territories and he was a head taller than most legionaries and stocky in his build. “Now you’re thinking, Optio,” he said, citing Rock’s rank as his top sergeant. “That’s an important negotiating consideration.”


Gus smiled slyly, “Well, ‘dragons’ or ‘beautiful virgins’, it’s all Greek to me. But I sure understand ‘Blue’s weight in gold’. I understand the shit out of that, by Jupiter.”


They all considered it while the translator and village elder chattered. Blue’s weight in gold to kill some pesky lizards. After all they’d been through, how hard could it be?

Roadtrip Day 107

Roadtrip Day 107

10/23 Friday

Another lovely day, although the threat of rain continues in the forecast for the area. We’ve decided to stay here through Sunday morning, so Sunday will be a travel day. I’m thinking that by Sunday I’ll have my legionaries settled into their new site and ready to make their massive, genocidal, joli-rouge attack against the “vampires.” Hmmmm, if I keep up a decent writing pace, I might finish by NaNoWriMo (November). It’d be amusing to use NaNoWriMo as a month for my first (ever) editing pass on this effort rather than speed-writing with no editing, especially because I started this novel as a NaNoWriMo effort in 2010 to force myself to write without editing – any kind of editing, even the most minimal – and finished the first 18K words then.

Lunchtime and I have indeed finished chapter 13 (Chapter 13. Preparation Is the Key But to What Lock?). The legionaries have arrived safely at their new location as the day draws to a close and are getting ready for their fourth night since the big battle in chapter 1 where they got reduced to a single squad from their full century. What will this night bring? Bwahahaha! Only chapter 14 will tell. Chapter 14. Hide and Seek.

Hmmm, sounds ominous. Happily, my outline only calls for 17 chapters plus an epilogue, which is already completed. I’m gonna try to write 1K words/day from now until I’m done. That’d make for a nominal 16 days to completion based on my guesstimate of what’s coming up, not quite the beginning of November but not too far into the month. Of course, then comes the horribly daunting task of editing this sow’s ear into a Gucci handbag. Or, at least, a decent Target wallet. Compared to many (most) people I know who are writing, I am S-L-O-W. Even when I’m trying to write “quickly” with no editing, no going back over it, it takes me almost two hours to write 500 words; so that’s an idea of my writing pace.

Some grey clouds obscured part of the afternoon but the sun returned to finish out the day here. Ra is descending now and the mantle of darkness is preparing to cover the earth. Must be getting to be dinnertime. Let’s see what’s in the larder. We’re getting low on food supplies. Time for a grocery trip tomorrow, I’m thinking.

Roadtrip Day 106

Roadtrip Day 106

10/22 Thursday

Last night was quite the doozy. (Or deusie, if you like to think of that expression being based on the exquisite Deusenberg automobile.) Huge, long-lasting thunderstorms –lotsa lightning, lotsa thunder, big winds – for a LONG time. We were shimmying and shaking. The lake is significantly higher. This morning, in contrast, is sunny, warm, and beautiful. Only scattered clouds in a freshly-washed blue sky.

Oh, Ronnie tells me that the Seahawks are on Thursday Night Football, so we’re thinking about going into Carlsbad (city) to someplace sports-bar-ish to watch the game – Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, or…? Trying some local place would be fun.

We made tasty grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch with Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar. I put some wasabi on mine; that made it even better. Getting to be time to restock our butter now; I used a lot making those grilled cheeses. (grin)

Go, Seahawks! We drove into town and got a table at Chili’s. Before you berate me for my pedestrian taste, lemme explain that we had a gift card. Free is good and suits our budget to a “T”. It was actually a lovely date night, the food was fine, the drinks were good, and the waitress was a sweetheart about letting us have a S-L-O-W meal which lasted the entire game. Yes, we left her a fat tip. And the ‘hawks won. W00t!

Back to the campsite at 10PM and I’m ready to crash. Sheet lightning on the horizon but 65 (F) and half-moon clear skies overhead.

Roadtrip Day 105

Roadtrip Day 105

10/21 Wednesday

Good morning, grey skies. We did get (a little) rain last night and today is universal, lowering grey skies and “damp.” Feels rainy although it isn’t actually. It’s a bit cooler than usual but still very pleasant. It’s 9 AM but there’s one owl who’s still awake, eternally questioning. Severe thunderstorm warning just North of here, 2” hail, 60MPH wind gusts, and tornado warning. Eek! But it seems to start North of here and it’s moving Northeast. Stay there. Ok?

Ronnie reminds me that it’s “Back to the Future” day. Where’s my flying car conversion?!?!?!? The theater in Carlsbad (city) is NOT showing any individual movie, much less the full trilogy. Well, bah, humbug. Maybe we should drive to El Paso for the day. I’m sure *some* theater there is doing the honors.

The sun tried to come out briefly this afternoon but I guess it was overcome by shyness and retreated behind the horizon-to-horizon cloud sea. Now, with evening approaching, we’re getting a little rain.

Hoo-boy! HUGE thunderstorm this evening. Lessening now but it was significant and went on for a good, long while. Time to snuggle up and get some sleep.

Roadtrip Day 104

Roadtrip Day 104

10/20 Tuesday

Lightning on the horizon and a beautiful halfmoon in a dark sky last night. Big thunderheads building at dawn, exquisitely backlit by Homer’s (in)famous rhododactylos eos. Warm now with cloudy skies and darker threats on the weatherfront. Thunderheads to the East have dissipated. Rain is predicted; we’ll see what we get. Flashflood watch for some of New Mexico.

This is a very quiet campground. I like that. Bottomless Lake was so very full of very noisy large groups every night we were there. This is so much nicer. Seems like people go there to party and come here to rest. Quail run everywhere in groups and are very casual about getting off the road for cars. Jackrabbits are also in abundance and not very timid. Mostly desert scrub growth but a few gymnosperms and even a coupla angiosperms for height and shade.

We’re trying to decide which “special” (not open to the public and extra $$$) Carlsbad Caverns tour(s) we wanna sign up for. There are a couple which sound really interesting but they require an hour or more of crawling on your knees, so those two are out for me with my poor old bone-on-bone knees. I wish we could do them; they sound really fun. There are several others which we’re considering. We did the “Left-hand Tunnel” with the girls last time we were here. It was great but BTDT. One ranger said the “Lower Caverns” is her favorite. Down some flowstone using a knotted rope for stability, then down 50’ worth of ladders. Then you get to explore the lower caverns. Added note in their writeup: “Not recommended for anyone with a fear of enclosed spaces, heights, or darkness.”

Sounds good. (wink)

Slaughterhouse Canyon Cave also sounds interesting. Caravan to the site (I assume that would be Slaughterhouse Canyon), a steep climb to the cave entrance, then the exploration. The writeup warns: “The tour is slippery, muddy, and requires the ascent of a slope using a knotted rope.”

Again, sounds good. (grin)

And, of course, the bat exodus any (and every) evening. Magnificent.

Lunchtime. Slices of the chicken breast I BBQed the other day dipped in wasabi sauce (kinda like the chicken version of the way I eat Chinese BBQ pork), Tillamook extra sharp cheddar, and a Coke with fresh lime added. I thought about adding rum, too, but for whatever silly reason decided against. I might have some Tim’s jalapeno potato chips with this, too. Yum. Wasabi makes everything better. And jalapeno doesn’t suck. Sunny and beautiful with only scattered clouds. I know the rain is somewhere but it ain’t here.

Windy tonight. I was in a mood for visual entertainment so I plugged in the first disc of “firefly” and watched the first three episodes. Getting toward bedtime now.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Roadtrip Day 103

Roadtrip Day 103

10/19 Monday

Woke to a pleasant, sunny day to find our shoes gone. We usually leave our crocs outside the trailer at the door. Ronnie headed out for a shower this morning and – no shoes! Who’d steal a coupla pair of old crocs? Some animal, apparently. They were hidden in some nearby bushes with somebody else’s shoe and one of mine had poop in it. Ok, then. I guess we’ll be keeping our shoes inside the trailer here.

It’s lovely today and I’m gonna put shorts and a T-shirt in the car for later but I’m putting on heavy socks, jeans, a thermal shirt, and bringing a down pullover, knit hat, and fabric gloves. We’re going down, down, down, into Carlsbad Caverns! Leaving the campground after breakfast. I’ll write more this evening.

A fantastic, beautiful experience. We hiked down from the natural entrance and walked around the big room. Such incredible features. So bizarre to imagine the early explorers with their carbide headlamps, ropes, wooden ladders, etc. Brave people. Fascinating to see them reding the lighting system. Looks like LED fixtures going in. That’d be an improvement. I can’t imagine their constant battle to replace burned out bulbs. Tubes, whatever.

Back at camp, we both just kinda fell into bed and had a *little* rest. Phew! Guess that caving is more tiring than we thought. Lovely evening now with the half-moon on high and lightning strikes on the horizon, near the city of Carlsbad. Rain in the forecast but it ain’t here yet. Perfect evening. Light supper then back to bed. Yawn!

Roadtrip Day 102

Roadtrip Day 102

10/18 Sunday

Travel day. Not far. Brantley Lake State Park campground will be our base to go hit Carlsbad Caverns tomorrow. Still windy and cloudy with rain predicted within a coupla days. Only three campsites available when we arrived so we chose one and are now settled.

I grabbed a (free with the $14/day fee which includes power and water) shower and am now contentedly updating this post. Fingers crossed for the Seahawks. Despite the clouds and wind, the temps are comfortable. Gotta dress warmly for the caverns tomorrow, however. Not a problem since I have all that stuff out and available. (grin)


Roadtrip Day 101

Roadtrip Day 101

10/17 Saturday
Good morning. I did go to the late showing of “The Martian.” I enjoyed it. As always, it wasn’t the book but they did a pretty good job. Got back to camp after midnight. Sign at the gate said it would close at 9 pm. I expected to hafta park outside and walk in; but the gate was still open. Ha! So I drove right up to the tent trailer and crawled in with Ronnie while the huge, multifamily party was still going on, and kept on going for a good bit longer. Then they got up early and started in again.


Sunny today with scattered clouds, unlike yesterday’s consistent overcast. Got 10 new (kindle) books from my library 2K miles away. I love living in the future. It’s so interesting here.

When we arrived in Roswell, we hit the supermarket and scored some basics plus purple asparagus. Had those tonight with grilled pork chops and mashed potatoes (in honor of “The Martian”). They tasted like asparagus. At least they cook quickly. Like the Romans said, “Velocius quam asparagi coquantur.”

Crescent moon is lovely tonight.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Roadtrip Day 100

Roadtrip Day 100

10/16 Friday

Wow! 100 days. I feel like I should write something special. After breakfast, I had a shower. Now, *that* is special.

Last night was very comfy, not at all cold. Hooray! Very windy, however. Still kinda windy and overcast today but pleasant temps as the day progresses. We’re catching up on wif stuff. Posting to the blog(s), checking in on facebook, etc.

I’ve wanted to go see “The Martian” since it came out. Got too busy in Phoenix. I think I’ll catch it tonight in Roswell. Kind of appropriate with space-alien-themed nature of the town. Plus, it’s only $8 here. Half what it’d cost in Seattle.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Roadtrip Day 099

Roadtrip Day 099

10/15 Thursday

Travel day. Broke camp and said goodbye to Gail’s place. Worked our way down U.S. 550, checking potential weather and trying to decide where to go. We thought about somewhere in the Santa Fe National Forest but it seemed chilly. So we headed South a bit more. And a bit more. Finally decided to go ahead and take U.S. 285 all the way down to Roswell and Bottomless Lake State park. Kind of a long day but we reached the warmth. And the aliens. Roswell is SOOOOO kitschy with all the alien crap.

This is a nice campground – power, water, and showers. Of course, it’s $14/night, which is more than we usually spend. (grin)

Night is here and it’s still not cold. I’m glad we made the long drive. Quick and dirty Tuna Helper (tetrazzini) for dinner. One easy pot for a hot meal. Kinda buggy here but wind is expected tonight. That ought to eliminate the bugs but…

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Roadtrip Day 098

Roadtrip Day 098

10/14 Wednesday

Rhododactylos eos! How I despise thee. I am not a morning person.

Woke early to a car horn. Gail’s neighbor was checking on us to see why we were here. It would have been an interesting chat if I’d been more awake. He told me this whole area was named for the mesas which are called Hawk’s Nest in Navajo. I wish I’d been more alert to listen carefully to his pronunciation. Navajo is a very melodic language.

Back to sleep after that and just getting moving, a bit after 10AM. Some oatmeal will get us started today. The local birds, maybe doves (haven’t seen them while they were on our outside and we were on the inside), have decided that we’re part of the scenery and started hanging out on the trailer early this morning. Pretty amusing. However, I didn’t hear any long coyote chorus last night. Maybe they were over the next ridge.

Amusing side note while drinking my morning tea. We like PG Tips brand. In the novel I’m reading now, the writer is one of those guys who hasta name-drop everything. The protagonist drives a Lotus, wears bespoke suits from somebody-I’ve-already-forgotten, and, TA-DA!, drinks only PG Tips. Hahahaha! Of course, what I’m drinking right now is $2/100-bags of no-name tea cuz there was no PG Tips at the supermarket where we last stopped. Yes, $2 for 100 bags. It’s not terrible but even Lipton seems refined comparatively. Of course, I doctor mine so much with sugar and lemon (or lemonade powder) that it’s less noticeable for me. Ronnie has a harder time with it.

I’m gonna take this opportunity to describe our living arrangement for those who don’t necessarily grok how popup tent trailers work. For travel, it’s a box about 10’ long and 7’ wide. It sits maybe 4’ tall (overall on its wheels) when collapsed for travel. The tongue at the front holds two propane canisters and 1 deep-cycle battery. We have another deep-cycle battery in reserve. The tongue hitches to the receiver hitch on our Honda minivan and we ease on down the road. Unlike those huge, half-millon-dollar, Class A diesel pusher RVs getting 5 MPG, we still get 20MPG or better. We checked a few tanks of gas ago and got 22.25MPG. I’m very happy with that for towing our “house” along with us at freeway speed or up and down crappy, little dirt roads.

The magic happens when we find a camping spot and open it up. First we level it in roll (left-right elevation) by putting risers under the tire on the low side. Camping stores sell fancy plastic risers. We have several short 1X6 boards with a 45-degree bevel on one end. One board equals one bubble off plumb. (The trailer has one bubble level for roll and one for pitch.) Once we’re level in roll, we unhitch from the car and get ready to open up. First task is to adjust pitch. Once the car is out of the way, we run the front support shaft (with a wheel) on the tongue up or down to obtain a level fore and aft (pitch). Second task is the fridge. The fridge can accept any of 3 inputs: 120vAC, 12vDC, or propane. While travelling, we have it on 12vDC. When we stop, it’s much cheaper (in terms of power and cost) to run it on propane; so our first task is to turn off the 12v input and turn on the propane.

Now it’s time for our mechanical flower to open. We unsnap the clamps which hold the top down when travelling and crank the top up for standing-room height inside the trailer. Then we crank down four support feet at the corners. The main box is fiberglass with aluminum framing and so that top we just cranked up is solid. Now we can pull out the tent ends, which are solid base but tent fabric for top and sides. The tent end on the front is a king-sized bed (nominally, not quite so in reality). The one at the rear is queen-sized, again, nominally. A coupla braces from the underside of each platform down to the metal bumpers for support. Then, inside the trailer, each end has a pole which mates to a hoop support to hold open the end of the popout and keep the roof up. Now, we’re 20’ long and about 10’ tall.

Each tent end has solid panels to zip up for privacy and/or warmth or permanent screening for ventilation on all three sides. The main box has screening, plastic zip-up windows, and curtains on both sides. Use any combination for fresh air, privacy, or insulation, as desired. (OK, not much insulation but better than just screen!) Inside the main (10’) box, the starboard side features 5’ of low cabinets aft, then a door (more on this later), then another low storage box of a coupla feet. The port side aft features a 6’ dinette which collapses for travel or to be used as a third bed and opens up into a 4-person dinette. Storage under the seats includes a 10-gallon watertank (with electric pump to the sink), a 30-amp electrical connector with a 20-amp adapter to connect to shore power (or our generator), and some space for our stuff. Forward of the dinette is the galley. The sink and stove rotate down into the “walkway” for travel and rotate up for camping. The minifridge is in the base, along with some storage space. The stove is a 2-burner, powered by the propane, as is the external attachable BBQ.

I mentioned the door. For travel, it attaches to the roof inside the trailer. When camping, you detach it from the roof, slip it into position, attach the top to the inside top of the trailer and velcro the upper sides to velcro strips on the upper door. The door’s upper half has a sliding solid piece with screen outside of it, so you can get ventilation or have privacy.

We also have a 10’ awning which is over the door side. It rolls out about 8’ for extra shade. In buggy areas, we have a “screen room” which attaches to the awning with velcro and has flaps and loops along the bottom to keep it grounded. On the trailer side, it velcros to the trailer body. That gives us another 8X10ish “room” when we wanna be outside but still want some sun and/or bug protection.

Getting ready to hit the road, is the reverse of setting up. Then we’re on to our next location.

So, back to action. After a lazy morning and a sandwich lunch, we hiked out to the river (bed) and hiked down it a way. Interesting walking down a wide, shallow, dry (sometimes) watercourse. Pretty hot in the sun and I enjoyed a nice sit-down in the shade and breeze upon our return.

Changed the oil in the genny. Pretty simple really, just needed an elevated spot for the genny and something sealable to catch the old oil. Easiest with two of us doing it. Put the genny on the icechest and the catchbasin below. Perfect. The genny came with a long, narrow, precise funnel to do the filling and draining and we used an empty juice container to catch the old oil. It got sealed up and will travel with us til the next time we pass an auto parts store or similar to recycle it. Should have done this a while back but we did it now, so… Beautiful clear, fresh oil now, in place of the old, black, well-used stuff. Genny is running happily right now. (grin)

Our stay here is driven/limited by not wanting to abuse Gail’s hospitality and the weather. If it rains, we’ll be stuck right here until the local drive and the main road dry hard again. Looking at the weather forecast, we’re thinking we’ll depart tomorrow (Thursday).

Beautiful sunset tonight with a few swirly clouds on the Western horizon picking up those delicious sunset colors. Bye, Apollo, Thanks for hauling that sun chariot across the sky just for our benefit. Nice of ya, bro! Hello, Mother Nox. What do you have in store for us? A coyote symphony would not be amiss. I’m just sayin’…


Roadtrip Day 097

Roadtrip Day 097

10/13 Tuesday

Good morning! Two coyote serenades last night. They sounded close. Also sounded like a good-sized pack. Charming. Beautiful sunrise streaming soft light through the closed-up tent sides of our popup trailer. Chilly night which felt like it met the predicted 41(F) but the sun is warming things up quickly.

Met Melvin this AM who was fencing nearby – barbed wire not the Olympic sport of l’escrime. He’s Dine (Navajo) and we chatted a while about the locale and its history and that he knew Gail from way back when. Then we hiked over to the little cluster of mesas Northish of us.

Followed a small gully in the general direction of the mesas, mostly to avoid bushwacking cross-country. We got out our gaiters last night after we arrived and collected legs full of various kinds of stickers, so we wore those suckers for our hike today. Got to the mesas and saw the grave of Gail’s brother. Requiescas in pace, frater.

Contoured our way up onto the top and wandered around enjoying the majestic vistas. Contoured back down Eastish to go see the sheep station before squaring back to the tent trailer. On the way we saw a beautiful wild horse, dark with a white blaze. He galloped away when we got within 50 yards but now as I write this I can see him again about 75 yards North, near the fence line.

Back at the trailer, we destickered our gaiters and shed out hiking boots. Ahhhhh! Happy feet. Time to cool off and have some lunch. Ronnie made herself a frying pan of cut up leftover steak and pasta, with some fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter, of course. And a little too much red pepper flakes. (grin) I was more in the mood for a simple hand-food snack and ate some sliced turkey, sharp cheddar cheese, and jalapeno potato chips.

Finishing now with some lemon oreo cookies. I like ‘em. Time for a digestion rest now. Talk atcha later.

Ronnie took an extra afternoon hike. I relaxed at the trailer. Winding down to dinnertime. Hot and sweet stirfry, I’m thinking. EVOO, Balsamic vinegar, sugar to cut the vinegar and make the “sweet”, and cayenne for the “hot.” Carrots, mushrooms, and shallots (green onions), with some leftover BBQ chicken breast. I sautéed the carrots first for a good while in my “broth” cuz we both dislike really hard carrots. Cut up baby carrots into fairly thin slices to speed the cooking process. Then the rest. Served over white rice. I’ve mentioned before that we both prefer long-grain white rice to other types. It was pretty good for something made out of stuff we had on hand.

Last of the golden light on the mesas now. Lovely. And now it’s gone. The Eastern sky is lavender and dark blue. The Western sky is a full horizon of those orangey-salmoney colors. Time to gather my nighttime clothes and change out of my shorts-and-T-shirt couture.

Roadtrip Day 096

Roadtrip Day 096

10/12 Monday
Travel day. Bye, Hovenweep, and thanks! Wiggled down to 4 corners and bought a few trinkets. I think we were on the Colorado side of the bazaar square when we made the purchase. (wink) Saw some beautiful pottery but the little ones were pushing $200 and the nice (and bigger) ones were… well, more. Then, on to Gail’s family property. Back on the U.S.64 through Shiprock, lunch and brief wifi in Farmington, to Bloomfield, then a turn South onto U.S. 550 to Nageezi and the turn to Gail’s property, 600+ acres a few miles West of Nageezi, which is just a skosh North of the turn to Chaco Culture National Park. Got the trailer set up, got out the portapotty, and now some genny time to charge my poor overused (and low-charge) laptop.

Side note: The pineapple-jalapeno chicken bits from Domino’s are yummy! A perfect road lunch. Genuine white chicken meat, cheese, pineapple chunks, and jalapeno slices, all baked to perfection – a delicious combination, IMO. Wash that shit down with a Barq’s and ease on down the road.

Thank you, Gail, for offering this. It’s peaceful and beautiful here. Sunset is highlighting the nearby buffs and it smells wonderful. Sage? We’re looking forward to a few lovely recharging days. Quiet. It’s what we’re both wanting and looking forward to.

Rain is forecast for Saturday with a very high percentage, so our plan as of now is to decamp on Friday. Getting stuck in the mud here or in the occasional waterway across the access road, which is soft soil now but which would be an impassable mudpit after rain, would be bad. And not very fun.

It’s the end of a perfect, sunny day. Predicted low tonight is 41(F). Time to switch from shorts to warm clothes and get those sleeping bags ready.

Roadtrip Day 095

Roadtrip Day 095

10/11 Sunday

The star talk was fun and I learned that Hovenweep is some kind of official “Dark Place”, one of very few in the world. We always said the night sky here was special and I guess now it’s official. Almost as dark as the sky when you’re offshore, a hundred miles or more away from everything that causes light pollution. Another interesting note, the campground was full last night. When we were here ten years ago, the rangers said they’d never filled up. Now they have.

Coyote serenade a coupla times last night. I kinda look forward to it now that we’ve gotten it every night. Petroglyph walk again early this morning. Ronnie’s alarm went off and we said, “Yes? No?” and then went back to sleep. Maybe someday we’ll see the petroglyphs.

The full campground is emptying out this morning and we’re looking forward to the delicious quiet of this campground that we’ve loved in the past.

The box of a dozen glazed canine testicles I got in Shiprock is getting toward stale but dipping one into my tea makes it mo bettah. Another perfect sunny day. Cloudless sky, sweeping vistas, purple mountains, lovely breeze… it doesn’t suck.

We spent the afternoon hiking the canyon trail to(ward) Holly House, another site of ruins, an 8-mile hike from Utah to Colorado. We didn’t go the entire distance but we enjoyed hiking the canyon bottom for about 4 miles. A little hot in the afternoon sunshine. Beautiful and quiet. The path down to the canyon bottom is steep and rugged with a couple of places with a long passage squeezing between stone formations. BMI over 25 beware. Or tall/large people even with a low BMI. Pretty damned narrow and steep. Coming up was distinctly tiring, especially after all that time hiking in the hot sun.

After the hike, we enjoyed turns under our SunShower, then sat in the shade drinking raspberry lemonade-tea, eating grapes, and reading our Kindles. Now it’s 4pm and genny time to repower everything. After genny time we’re thinking boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill, Brussel sprouts, and potato rounds sautéed in butter with shallots. Might even break out some red wine.

It’s been a pretty full and pleasant day. Hope the Seahawks won.

Roadtrip Day 094

Roadtrip Day 094

10/10 Saturday

Heard the coyotes once last night. Not a disturbing sound. Rather peaceful, actually. Star party tonight at the Visitors’ Center. Let’s have breakfast and see what the day brings.

The quiet is what’s one of the attractions here. Sadly, today was The Day of Noisy Motherfuckers. Worst offenders were the assholes a few spots down who have 3 yappy dogs. Not only do they have them off leash, free to jump out at me when I walk past them to the bathroom but they also leave them alone in their trailer while they are off doing whatever and the dogs yap incessantly. Loudly and incessantly. Add to that, the fact that they have their sewer hose leading out to the open ground next to their campsite. That’s right. There are no sewer connections here. These assholes have simply led their sewer hose as far as it will stretch from their trailer and are letting it flow out onto the open ground. ACK!

Add to them the various arrivals who seem to be required to yell at each other at the top of their lungs for everything and my annoyed face gets more annoyed. Did I mention that the soil around here is fragile? Aside from the dipshits with their open sewer line, the folks pulling in near us, maybe 10 yards from the lovely bathrooms, featuring flush toilets, hand dryers, etc., are talking to their kid about just peeing behind the nearest bush.

I’m thinking about peeing on their car’s seats while they’re away.

I’d also like to feed those fucking yapper dogs to the coyotes and shit on the seats of those fuckers’ car. I refrained from punting the Chihuahua when it charged me this morning but, Damn!, I was tempted.

Aside from that sort of stuff, it was a perfectly lovely day here. Later afternoon now and it’ll be dinner, generator time, and star party on the evening’s menu.

And, milestone of milestones, I wrote a bit more than a thousand words in “The Lost Century.” They’ve repulsed the third attack from the nighthunters, one of their invalids has come out of his coma, and they’re waking to a new day when they’ll head to a new, safer, better location whence they can launch their own attack against the nighthunters. Things are looking (somewhat) up.

Update on the sewer dumpers. I whined to a ranger who was walking the campground in mufti with a beer (so not very *official*) and she stopped to talk with them. Casually. No more sewer line open to the desert. Star talk in an hour.


Roadtrip Day 093

Roadtrip Day 093

10/9 Friday

Sleep was too comfy to get up for the ranger-guided walk and talk. After breakfast we’ll go do the loop trail on our own.

So we did. Sun was bright but the breeze was pleasant. We did the loop trail counterclockwise to do the steep down-and-up into the canyon last. I really love the human scale of these ruins. So much smaller than Mesa Verde but so easy to imagine families living here. It is starkly beautiful up on the mesa and surprisingly lush down in the canyon bottom. The fragile soil here looks much healthier than it did in my memory of our last visit here a decade ago. I hope that’s a genuine reality rather than an artifact of the tremendous rain over the past week.

A delightful lunch of turkey and cheese sandwiches with some (nasty! –grin) greens on it while I write this post. That hits the spot after a brisk morning hike. Even now in the early afternoon, the breeze is pleasant. Very few others in the campground and the quiet is pervasive. You can hear the wind in the wings of the ravens as they swoop over, low and slow. Well, not *very* slow.  Very unlike the three old Cessna taildraggers who buzzed the campground the other day. Way too low and WAY too loud. I love planes, but, C’mon!, be legal and considerate, dudes.

Time now, I think, for an idyllic digestion afternoon. Some reading and perhaps even some writing to get those poor legionaries (and me) unstuck.

Took a walk around the campground at sunset. Beautiful sky. Last night was clear and the stars were magnificent. This evening there are scattered clouds and they were underlit with all those beautiful shades of red and orange and salmon and what-all. Simply beautiful.

Roadtrip Day 092

Roadtrip Day 092

10/8  Thursday

Good morning, Hovenweep. Cool night and now a sunny, pleasant day. Breakfast, then a hike to the Visitors’ Center to check in because it was all closed up when we arrived last night. No entry fee here anymore; there had been one on our previous visits. Camping is $5/night with my old-guy pass. $10/night for “regular” people.

Discovered that my lexicon is out of date. The dwellers of the Southwest from this period had been called “Anasazi” for most of the 20th century and I’ve always used that term for these people, especially to differentiate them from the earlier flint-knappers of various eras going back to 15K BC (BCE) and perhaps even as far back as 40K BC (BCE) which is now being posited because of recent discoveries.. IIRC, Anasazi is Navajo for “ancient enemy”. Now, it’s correct to refer to them as “ancestral Puebloans”. Personally, I’d prefer “Pueblan” to “Puebloan” but that’s me. I am happy, and agree, with the renaming from the somewhat negative “Anasazi”.

The structures in this valley are similar in age to Mesa Verde, circa 1200-1300AD. (or “CE” if you prefer.) There are approximately 10 structures remaining in the small canyon where the campground is. One loop trail of about 2 miles takes you to see all of these close up by looping the canyon rim, then descending into and climbing out of the canyon to complete the loop.

Tomorrow morning at 8 there’s a ranger-guided hike (and chat) to the petroglyphs down in the canyon. After the talk, you can continue to do the loop trail on your own. We’re thinking we might do that after spending much of today reorganizing the trailer and van. The sun is hot in the afternoon; an early hike would be mo’ bettah.

Full dinner which was nice after our previous two late, meagre evenings. I even had a piece of white cake from our last grocery trip for dessert. I love white cake. Tired now at 6:15 or maybe 7:15. Time changes are a PITA, especially since Arizona doesn’t do Daylight Savings. Ack! Anyway, bedtime soon. See ya tomorrow.

Roadtrip Day 091

Roadtrip Day 091

10/7 Wednesday

Woke and broke camp in the sunshine. Apparently the rain was (mostly) done. Spent a fascinating morning cruising the park and hiking the “Long Logs” trail, being amazed by such huge petrified logs and so many stumps and chunks scattered for miles. Stopped at several other viewpoints along the road for fascinating views. One spot features a 180’ long “bridge” of a petrified log over a small ravine. Amazing. That’s 60 yards of intact petrified tree. Imagine.

From P.F., we drove right into Painted Desert National Park/Monument and a couple of those viewpoints were simply beautiful vistas stretching for miles of plateaus and ravines. Magnificent colors. From there, we grabbed the I-40 East and headed to Gallup, NM where we grabbed lunch at Wendy’s (spicy chicken for me, of course) then turned up U.S. 666, which has been renamed something lame (maybe 491?) because the US is a hotbed of 13th century fundamentalist thought and 666 is just too scary to have as a highway number. Gimme a fuckin’ break.

On the way up, we were thinking about an interim camp before going to Gail’s in case things there were too muddy after the recent torrential rains. We decided to jog back just a bit West to Hovenweep National Monument in the Southeast corner of Utah, going into the Southwest corner of Colorado. It’s one of our favorites. Same types of ruins as Mesa Verde. Not nearly as grand (huge!) as M.V. but a more human scale. We’d been there twice before with the kids and decided it’d be a swell place to spend a few days.

After grocery shopping at Shiprock (that and driving up the 666 were so evocative of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo novels), we found our way over to Hovernweep after dark. Set up camp in full dark with unspoken apologies to our neighbors whose camps were already set up and (probably) sleeping.

Brief snack, too tired to cook a big meal, and crawled into our warm bedding for a good night’s sleep. So dark here, with essentially no light pollution. The sky is incredible. Almost as good as a couple hundred miles offshore in a sailboat. Coyote tribes serenaded us a couple of times during the night. Lotta voices. Seemed like they were right across the small canyon from the campground.

Goodnight, Hovenweep. Ruins hiking coming up.


Roadtrip Day 090

Roadtrip Day 090

10/6 Tuesday

Ok, time to hit the road. On our way Northeastish toward Gail’s property in Northwest New Mexico. Her family has over 600 acres there and she offered to let us camp there in the pristine peace and quiet. Headed out of Phoenix and had a beautiful drive except for the sporadic torrential rainstorms. Wow! We decided to camp/explore Petrified Forest National Park (Monument?) and managed to get set up in a mostly dry period between rainstorms.

There’s no camping at P.F. but there’s a little commercial place just outside the South entrance where you can camp for free. So we did. More rainstorms throughout the night.

Roadtrip Day 089

Roadtrip Day 089

10/5 Monday

Woke up, packed up, and checked out of the hotel. I’ll do a separate conference post to talk about the overall conference experience. Did a huge mass of dirty clothes at the laundry to while away the afternoon.

Wes and Laura had generously offered to have us stay at their house tonight – friends, food, and football. Seahawks even won! Great food, great companionship. It was a lovely evening. And we got to sleep in a real bed one last time before hitting the road.

Thanks, y’all. It was a wonderful time.

Roadtrip Day 088

Roadtrip Day 088

10/4 Sunday

10-4, good buddy and the 88 in our roadtrip has nothing to do with the stinking NAZIs. If you’re unaware, neo-Nazis use 88 as a subtle “Heil, Hitler!”cuz “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet; so 88=HH for “Heil, Hitler.”

Diversity chat was a good thing. After that, I jumped in the car and went to Phoenix Kendo’s practice from 1-4. PHEW! Tired Frankie. Very nice to meet those folks. They were most welcoming and I had a fun practice with them. Rushed back to watch MJ host the Teen Panel, then rushed MJ to the airport. We’re gonna crash in her hotel room again tonight as she flies home. Thanks, baby.

Rock group performed after dinner. That was fun. Anecdote: one teen came around announcing the start of things. Someone asked “What kind of rock?”

He responded, “Classic rock.”

We asked for additional clarification. He said, “Well, ya know, like… Greenday.”

Yes, “classic rock” from my 50s. Not “the 50s” but my 6th decade, the years way back when I was in my 50s. (grin)

Then we sat around on the pleasantly cool patio and chatted with a delightful (and wickedly funny) bunch of friends – old and new.

Dead tired now. Bedtime.

Roadtrip Day 087

Roadtrip Day 087

10/3 Saturday

Late start for me. MJ on the Grown Unschoolers Panel at 2 then her own talk at 4. Thinking about going to “The Martian” tonight.

Afternoon was great. Got involved socializing and it got too late to go to “The Martian”. Maybe tomorrow.

Roadtrip Day 086

Roadtrip Day 086

10/2 Friday

Fascinating day. Lotsa stuff going on. Old friends and new. Highlight of the day, dinner with Wes and Laura Crisp. Lovely people and a wonderful dinner. Thank you, Wes.

Late night chats in the foyer.


Roadtrip Day 085

Roadtrip Day 085

10/1 Thursday
Wonderful (free) breakfast. Coupla good talks. SSUDs session after the start of the (free) Happy Hour. Dinner at the hotel restaurant, Lafitte’s. Supposed to be authentic New Orleans cuisine. Yeah, you know what that means. Oh well, it was edible, if not delicious. Or authentic.

Several nice chats with old and new friends. Bedtime.

Roadtrip Day 084

Roadtrip Day 084

9/30 Wednesday

Breakfast and breakdown. Of the campsite, that is. Got organized and on the road. A brief stop for ice, then East on the I-8 into Arizona. North on the 85. East on I-10. Onto I-17 and. Poof! like magic, here we are at the Embassy Suites. Checked in, parked the trailer, un hitched, parked the car, loaded all our crap into the room.

SHOWER! Scrubbed my mostly-black feet. Long shower. Felt really good. Now we’re off to pick up MJ from the airport.

Hooray! Successfully navigated to/from Phoenix Shyharbor. Went way the hell out somewhere to get MJ some McDonald’s. Back to the hotel now. Ready for sleep.

Roadtrip Day 083

Roadtrip Day 083

9/29 Tuesday
What a perfect day. Sunny and temperate. We’re enjoying our quiet time here in these lovely, wooded surroundings with very pleasant temperatures. Tomorrow we’ll hit the road for Phoenix where the weather reports are for temps over 100. Glad we’ll be in an airconditioned hotel! Looking forward to seeing MJ. And a whole mess of old friends. It’ll be our first time at Free to Be but we’re seen comments from lots of folks we know who’ll be there. Going to an unschooling conference as parents of college kids – amusing.

Interesting aside. Ronnie is searching for directions to the YMCA where they practice kendo in Phoenix. The directions to get there start with our actual spot in the Shady Loop of this multi-loop, remote campground. Living in the future is so cool. Technology rocks. Now if only the sensei of Phoenix Kendo Kai would email me back to confirm that they do practice at the listed times and that it’s ok for me to join them. It should be. All member dojos of the AUSKF (All U.S. Kendo Federation) accept all other current members of AUSKF but it’s polite to talk to the head sensei first for form’s sake. I am a member of the Everett Kendo and Iaido Club of the PNKF (Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation) which is a member of the AUSKF. So I should be good to go.

I’ve missed hitting people with a yard-long stick while yelling at them. It’d be nice to get in some clobberin’ time in Phoenix. And I look so badass in my armor. (grin)

Aside from the usual squirrel activity today, the birds were out in force. Several jays adding an elegant blue to our lives and a red-headed woodpecker shining his brilliant red at us as he flitted around. It’s so peacefully bucolic here it’s gonna be hard to leave for busy, urban, populated activities. Pork chops on the grill, sautéed mushrooms with green onion, broccoli, and pasta on the stove. Dinner coming up.

Dinner going down. That was… satisfying.

Roadtrip Day 082

Roadtrip Day 082

9/28 Monday

Well, the Lunar eclipse was spectacular. The Moon didn’t rise above the mountains until the full dark phase but we got to watch the entire second half of the eclipse. Fabulous. While the Moon was dark, there were endless stars and a bright Milky Way. After the eclipse was done, there were far fewer stars visible to the naked eye and the Milky Way was very faint. We sat in our camp chairs, bundled in blankets and sleeping bags as the Moon brightened and the night chilled. Then a perfect cool night’s sleep.

Goodnight, Moon!

Delicious lemon pound cake with my sugary, lemonade-y tea for breakfast. Yum! Pound cake for breakfast reminds me of my mother who kept “special bread”, aka pound cake, in the freezer and often had a slice of special bread, a Coke, and a cigarette for breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, true confession: I used to put sugar in my orange juice when I was young. Later on, I took to mixing orange juice and Coke approximately half and half. My mother called this concoction “ditch water.” I still enjoy a nice glass of ditch water but I no longer put sugar in orange juice. Things fall apart, The center cannot hold. And tastes change.

Mom died from emphysema in 1990 and never got to meet MJ and Chloe. After 18 years of living with a chain smoker and also playing music in smoky New Orleans nightclubs, I’ve never wanted to smoke, not even dope. I don’t even really enjoy campfires, unless they’re very nonsmoky. And there are marshmallows. By the way we bought a bag at the grocery yesterday. Yum! Now all we need is a nice, nonsmoky campfire turning to lovely, lovely, marshmallow-toasting coals.

We’re gonna stay here through Wednesday morning. At that time, we’ll break camp and drive to Phoenix for the Free to Be Unschooling Conference. We’ll pick up MJ at PHX at about 8:30pm then check into the hotel UNDER HER NAME cuz her suite is comped because she’s a speaker at the conference. Ha! Sponging off our daughter! We’re moving into yet another phase of life.

It’s pleasant here. We’re in kind of a dell or small valley with moderate mountains all around. Lots of trees. Squirrels, birds, including hummingbirds, and a full chorus of insects to lull us to sleep at night. A sunny day today with sparse, high clouds. Very few neighbors and none close by. That’s nice for when “tick checks” get noisy.

We sat in the shade of the varietal trees to read the afternoon away and were entertained by the antics of the competitive squirrels. They knew that people tended to feed them and were looking to us for a handout. Squabbling, chasing each other for access to the stingy humans. Ha!

Leftover chicken from last night and I’m cooking the asparagus we didn’t use and some mashed potatoes. Don’t think I’ve done mashed potatoes yet the entire trip. Time for some. Good thing we restocked butter at our recent grocery trip.