Thursday, June 30, 2016

Roadtrip Day 357

Roadtrip Day 357

6/29 Wednesday

Kinda caught up on my sleep last night. Feeling almost human this morning. Roused around 10 and we got the screenroom set up on the door side of the popup. Very nice addition under the awning. With that chore done, I’m sitting here with a delicious glass of cold Ovaltine and contemplating a quiet, lazy day. With electricity available, that might include movies on my laptop, some connectivity through Ronnie’s hotspot, a nap (or two)… like that. Lazy day. Cool enough last night that covers were very enjoyable and not supposed to get very hot today. Lovely.

If I feel energetic later, there are some organization chores that need to be done for the camper and the car. Maybe tomorrow, huh? Might have the energy to BBQ some ribs tonight. We bought some the other day that look pretty tasty. Mashed potatoes sound pretty good, too. Hmmm, guess I might be hungry. Let’s see what I have to go with this Ovaltine.

More later.

Ok, so I’ve been working on TLC:CtD some but only on peripheral stuff, not actually writing narrative. While doing so, I got sucked into a next-book mentality, so I switched my brain from working purely on CtD (#2) to what might come next. I think I’ve firmed up a concept for #3, although nothing on specific structure or plot. I have, however, absolutely decided to include in that one a small homage to my favorite Asian fantasy of all time – “Bridge of Birds”. I’m absolutely delighted to have stumbled onto the idea of doing that. Makes me very happy and it motivates me to work on (and FINISH) CtD. I’ve also spent some time on the “About the author” page(s) and, most significantly, the photos for that. I mean, what’s important for my novels, after all? MY EGO PAGE!

I’ve decided that I do enjoy this process overall (despite specific frustrations and intimidations), enough so that I’m motivated to continue creating new adventures for the Furies even if I never make a dime and people roundly condemn the material as unreadable crap.

And with UNLIMITED POWER (Robin Williams genie style) I’m listening to LOUD music (headphones, of course) while I novelize. Aw, yiss! Got some blues going right now. Now that is how you get motivated to write.

Dragon Huntin’ Blues

By Flavius and His Famous Furies, from their album “Lost!”

(Key of B-motherfucking-Flat, of course)

Got up before dawn.

Put my armor on.

There’s some dragons to fight.

Hope I come out alright.

Muthafuckahs are big

But I don’t give a fig.

Load ballistae with darts.

Hit them in their hearts.

CHORUS (walkin’ bass style)

            Gods, I got dem dragon-huntin’ blues.

            They chase me without fail.

            Trooper, have you paid your dues?

            Yessir, the check is in the mail.


Got my sword from Spain.

Gonna stick ‘em in the brain.

To make sure they’re dead,

We’ll cut off the head.

My necklace gets a claw;

Make people jump back in awe.

Add to that a tooth

And they’ll know it’s the truth.



Ha! Might turn this into a finished product sometime. (grin) I’ll let ‘em use it for the movie. (wink)

Yeah, anyway… Some writing work, some napping (Ronnie is down right now.), a movie pretty soon, I think. That’s the way to have a recuperation day. Beautiful afternoon here.

Dinner was as planned. BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. Made up a BBQ marinade/sauce from stuff we had on hand – EVOO, balsamic vinegar, lemon, honey, white sugar, garlic powder, Tony’s, and hot sauce. Hot, sweet, and sour. Not bad for throw-together. Tasty. All of it.

Long, hot shower and it just might be bedtime. (9:30) Still catching up on my weariness, I think. Later!

Roadtrip Day 356

Roadtrip Day 356

6/28 Tuesday

Travel day. We got up early, broke camp, and hit the road – destination undecided. Enroute, Ronnie talked to Laura Endres who offered us a possible spot at the campground of a private lake club they belong to. As the day developed, so did that plan. Laura called in a guest pass for us to use the campground if there was space available and we put on our driving faces for a long day.

Long driving day and I wasn’t feeling too fabulous to begin with. But we grunted it out and made it to Lake Summerset in Illinois so far North as to be almost in Wisconsin.

Thanks, Laura and Rob.

We minimally opened the camper, lethargically ate some tuna salad that was in the fridge and I crashed. Because this campground has electrical hookups, Ronnie stayed up, enjoying the connectivity. I dunno when she came to bed.

More alive tomorrow and several days here to rest up for our final run to Minneapolis.

Roadtrip Day 355

Roadtrip Day 355

6/27 Monday

Welcome to Monday. We were talking about moving today, either to a campsite deeper in the campground here, near the rear of it, or getting down the road farther West and/or North. For the whole weekend, the campsite across from us has contained three huge tents, and a half-dozen cars, plus one boat, of an obvious family reunion. They stayed last night and that was part of our motivation to skedaddle. However, in the early pre-dawn/peri-dawn, there was a surprise rain shower. They got up and went home. Hooray! I slept in until 10 after that and now the rain has mostly stopped, although it’s still overcast and cooler, and neither of us now feels as motivated to move. At all.

On writing. With the research I did, I was thinking I should move this story to Chengdu/Chengtu, China instead of the Indian subcontinent where I was envisioning it. That was frustrating when I thought about the rewriting I’d hafta do and all the peripheral stuff it entailed. Today, I’ve decided to leave this story on the Indian subcontinent (exact location TBD) and save Chengdu for the next one. Yes, I’m contemplating Book Three although I have no fucking idea what the relevant conundrum will be for da boyz for that one; but that problem is a long way in the future. Sticking with the Indian subcontinent will work fine. That puts them on the Southern subroute of the Silk Road which is good. I would have been unhappy and I don’t think they would have survived the “main” Northern Route. Anyway, maybe I’ll do a little more research to choose a more-precise spot for this novel and get back to writing.

Coming on toward midday and the sun is out. Now it’s possible that we might hit the predicted 90 for today. The morning grey was delightfully cool. That’s over.

Ronnie and I both loved the tuna salad we had the other day – a perfect lunch in these conditions. So we had tuna salad for lunch today. And it was good. Especially with an ice-cold Coke to wash it down. Ahhh! Now as we’re moving into the sunny afternoon, Ronnie strung the sunshower up on a tree branch in the partial shade. It’s useful that way to cool off with instead of having it heat in the sun to give us hot showers.

Moving tomorrow. Gonna get some sleep.

Roadtrip Day 354

Roadtrip Day 354

6/26 Sunday

Happy Sunday. Beautiful sunny morning. Kinda warm so I think it’s a cold Ovaltine day.

Sigh! Time for a moment of painful honesty. I spent a lotta effort and time working out my plot and structure for TLC:CtD. I was writing some of the narrative I felt pretty good about while I was working out those details; so I have a coupla chapters worth of writing done. HOWEVER, I recently used the wifi I had to do some research about some things important to the story. As a result, I think I hafta rewrite much of what I already wrote. And that’s depressing. Grump.

Yesterday and today are officially “avoiding writing” days. Maybe tomorrow, too. I need to restart that motor and I’m not in the mood to do that right now. It’s supposed to get hot today, so we might just go sit by/in the lake instead of doing anything else. A week and a half until we meet Chloe in Minneapolis. (N.B., I did not type “Milwaukee” by mistake! Maybe I’m catching on.)

We took a ride in the early afternoon heat to check out the nearby state campground. Wow Charmless, mostly treeless, parking-lot looking sites and over $20/night compared to our $5 for a pleasant, woodsy site. Ha! I love my federal, non-privatized campgrounds.

Running the genny now to charge things and to run our fan full power the whole time. Fan is good. It’s gonna be a hot one.

Speaking of hot, lemme digress here a bit for a camping confession.

I dislike fires.

I love camping, being in the woods, mountains, beach, whatever. I even used to like backpacking before my knees got to the point where carrying a 50# pack uphill for miles was simply no longer on the agenda. I love sitting around in the evening, chatting with friends as the stars come out and wheel above our flighty heads. But I don’t really like to do it around a campfire. The smoke is choking. The heat is uneven, assuming heat is a desirable thing. Often, it isn’t. It’s mid-80s here in the early afternoon and our neighbors have a big fire going. Blech. Even when it’s desirable, it’s awfully uneven. Ya gotta do the personal barbecue roll, charring one side while freezing the other.

Given that I’m not backpacking any longer, if I had to have a stand-alone heat/light source to gather around and roast marshmallows and s’mores, I’d get one of those little propane firepits. My Seattle band guys do this boys’ weekend thing in the Fall over in Eastern WA every year. One of the guys has one of those firepits and it’s delightful. Ya still gotta do the personal barbecue roll but there’s just a nice EVEN heat and consistently good marshmallow melting conditions. AND NO SMOKE. And if I wanna roast weenies or whatever, I can do it on the gas BBQ attached to the trailer and fed by the trailer’s tank.

Anyway, that’s me on campfires. I put a gaslog in our fireplace, too. (Thanks, Poppa Tom! Couldn’t have done it without you.) Quick, easy, no firewood, no smoke, no cleanup, still useable when a burning ban is on – the perfect fireplace fire. I love my gaslog.

Got a good charge on my laptop and my 2:30 report is – Yep. It’s hot. Still hot. Getting hotter.

We spent the afternoon sitting in the shade and splashing ourselves with water while brainstorming our travel possibilities to get to Minneapolis for the 7th. Never did get to a firm decision. We’ll think about it more tomorrow. Heat has faded with the lowering sun and it’s time for dinner. Sauteed green beans, steamed rice, and thin strips of top sirloin quickly seared on the gas BBQ. Buncha hot sauce on mine. (grin) And that would be Mahatma brand rice, my New Orleans childhood favorite. (another grin) But I’m cooking it steamed style rather than old New Orleans style like my momma taught me. When we’re back home, I’ll get some pickle meat delivered to me from or similar and make some genuine red beans and rice and cook the rice my momma’s way.

But dinner was good. Time to settle down and read just a bit, then bedtime. Later, gators.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Roadtrip Day 353

Roadtrip Day 353

6/25 Saturday

Yes! Little bit of road noise, coupla random dog barks, but generally a cool, quiet night and I slept WELL. Hooray!

Today we kinda returned to our “basic” mode: Morning hike followed by lunch. From this campground there’s a trail down to the lake. It’s about a mile and a quarter each way then there’s a loop trail around the lake. Primitive trail. Deep woods. Very pretty. Pleasant hike. Now we’re back in camp and it’s time to run Genny to get power for all the electronics and have some lunch – round two of smoked oysters and Cheetos. Mmmmm. Breakfast was a Little Debbie “Fancy Cake”, frosted, crème filled white cake squares. Another, mmmmm.

Ok, we’ll make a real grocery trip today.

In terms of writing, I used last night’s power and hotspot to do a bunch of research about several important things for TLC:CtD: theropod feathers, the Silk Road/Route in the first century B.C., opium use in ancient times, Chengdu (China) at that time, earthquake activity around there, etc. Good chunk of necessary research for some verisimilitude in my story. Did you know that the dynastic Egyptians credited Thoth with the “creation” of opium? Praise Thoth!

Milestone! Ronnie says that a year ago today was her last full day at work! Hooray!

MJ just told us that she sent in the car tab renewal for the van. Phew! Glad we’ll be back next month. I can stick those on and we’re good for another year!


Roadtrip Day 352

Roadtrip Day 352

6/24 Friday

Ok, that’s enough of that. We did not get the predicted T-storms coming on morning. It’s very nice… but those fucking dogs…

We’re moving today. Gonna slurp down a quick breakfast, pack up, and take Horace Greely’s advice. More when we get resettled.

Ok. A nice, sunny drive for a few hours. One little, short rainstorm but that was all for the rain. I can no longer even pretend we’re on the East coast. We have moved to that great blank spot on the map in the middle of the US that starts with “I”, specifically for us right now, Ohio. Buck Oak Cove, Wayne National Forest, near Glouster, Ohio. $5/night. Eat my shorts, privatization.

We got set up in the pleasant sunshine. Caught our breath a bit. A good bit. Finally, about 8pm we decided we needed to run to the grocery for, at least, a quick-and-dirty dinner, if not a full trip. We’d need a full trip tomorrow but neither of us had the energy to face that today. So we zoomed to a Krogers about 10 minutes down the highway from our campground figuring we’d hit their deli department and do a rotisserie chicken plus whatever. Keep on figuring, Cajun boy! No deli section at this Krogers.

Ha! Fallback to one of the first things Ronnie and I bonded over – small, canned smoked oysters and Cheetos. Mmmmmm! That’s a fine meal. And great memories. Real groceries tomorrow after we have an actual night’s sleep. I HOPE! Seems quiet here. Pleasantly cool as the sun goes down. Crossed fingers.

Parenthetical road story about food. I don’t usually eat at McDonald’s. We stop there when we need fast food, cheap fast food, while we’re rolling on the road. Because I don’t have a lotta experience there, I kinda just though that the nasty, tiny, not-very-good fish sandwich was as cheap as the little hamburgers; so when I just can’t stand a hamburger, I order the fish sandwich. Last time we stopped at McDonald’s, we actually went inside and I noticed the prices on the menu.

Fuck the whore of Babylon! That thing is, like, almost $5, not less than $2. I started to order one, then noticed the price, and changed my mind to a cheeseburger. I began complaining loudly to Ronnie. She laughed at me and asked if I truly had never noticed that the fish was more than the basic burgers.

No, I hadn’t! Honest. I argued that I could get a spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy’s for about the same amount, and that chicken sandwich is a nice piece of chicken breast and it’s tasty, quite unlike the McDonald’s fishwich which tastes like a coupla Catholic grammar school fishsticks on a bun. Ick!

That was good for a laugh and the absolute last time I’ll ever order a fucking fishwich.

Cheetos and smoked oysters, however, retain their exalted place in the firmament of tasty food pairings. Pretty cheap, too. I’m going to bed happy.



Friday, June 24, 2016

Roadtrip Day 351

Roadtrip Day 351

6/23 Thursday

Weather report said rain after midnight. Yep, they were right. Pretty significant T-storms in the deep of the night and into the morning. Still dark and rainy this morning, although not at T-stormy level. Allow me to catalog the other negatives about this campground.

It’s not very far off the highway on a steep grade. Trucks grunt and roar uphill and lean on their compression brake downhill. All night long. That alone would be survivable but then ya add in the dogs. Somebody or somebodies down the hill has a thousand dogs (approximate estimate) and they bark randomly, but fairly constantly, all around the clock. Combine that with the trucks, the thunder and lightning, and the nearby couple screaming fuck-youish comments at each other in the middle of the night and it makes for a less-than-perfect night’s sleep.

Might be a nap day. I’m already excited to move on Sunday.

So, with unlimited power and a plot, structure, and outline to fit my characters into for TLC:CtD, I’m gonna try to put in some focused writing time today. I’m also in the mood to watch a movie. We have several old favorites with us and I haven’t seen a movie in a long time. That’d be a nice two-hour break from Roman legionaries fighting dragons (theropods) in the first century B.C.

Ok, one other benefit of shorepower is that I can play music while I write without running my laptop down before I crank out only 500 words or so. (Remember, I’m a slow writer.) Unlimited music, unlimited writing time. Excellent. I really like to listen to music while I write. It helps my flow immensely. Today (and probably for the next several days) I’m writing about the legionaries’ leisure adventures, having a night on the town after their disastrous first encounter with the dragons. They certainly already know how to enjoy sex and alcohol but they are about to be introduced to opium. Chasing the Dragon, indeed.

Wrote about 1500 words. Time for a break. Gotta choose a good movie and give my brain something else to think about for a bit. Music was good to tune out the various noises here. Movie’ll do the same.

We decided omelettes were the perfect dinner for this inelegant grey, rainy day, warm, yummy, filling, and easy. More T-storms scheduled into the night then a late night break until they recommence at 5am. Swell.

Time for that movie now. Something FUN. With no rain in it. Lemme think…

Galaxy Quest! Yeah, that’s it. Widely acknowledged as the best Star Trek movie ever made. (grin) In honor of (the new) Chekov. Ach!, Pavel, we hardly knew ye. RIP, Anton Yelchin.

Good decision, Frank. That movie is just so perfect. Ah, I’m happy now. And on that note, it’s time to brush my snags, as my mother used to say, and hit the sack. Goodnight, West Virginia. Goodnight, trucks. Goodnight, dogs. Goodnight, T-storms. Goodnight, occasional trains. Did I forget to mention the trains? Well, yeah. trains, too. I can’t really sleep with earplugs; but I’m not gonna get great sleep without ‘em. What’s a boy to do? I’m really tired from last night’s terrible lack of sleep. Maybe I’ll zonk despite all the disturbances. Maybe. I hope you have a good one, anyway.

Roadtrip Day 350

Roadtrip Day 350

6/22 Wednesday

Partly cloudy. No chance of meatballs. Or Zeros sporting “meatballs”. Or Corsairs chasing them, for that matter. WWII is long over and we toured the air museum quite a while back. Not here. After a quick breakfast, we’re gonna run down to the store so Ronnie can get online and check camping availability at a coupla places. Time to move and maybe settle in one place until it’s time to sprint for Minneapolis to pick up Chloe at the airport there and camp a few days with her as she gets ready to start her new job there.

Then we stop at Cherie’s to visit for a few days and drop the trailer there then sprint to a visit at home for a coupla weeks then get all Chloe’s stuff into a U-Haul and drag it to her in her (HOPEFULLY!) new apartment for August then back to Cherie’s to grab the trailer.

Sounds tiring. But it’ll be good. Haven’t seen Cherie in years and it’ll be wonderful to see the kids. And maybe I can play some music and do kendo and iaido at my home dojo.

Moved to the West side of this mountain range, still in West Virginia. Stuart Campground. We have electrical shorepower here and we’re reasonably close to the town of Elkin. We also have cell signal here so people can reach us if they need to and Ronnie can create a hotspot for both of us to get online. This park has showers which I haven’t tried yet but the toilet, despite being a pit toilet, was sparkling clean and did not smell. At all. Amazing. The entire campground is very well maintained. But allow me to grump.

My old-guy “passport” theoretically allows me to get into Federal areas – parks, forests, sites, etc. – for free and gets me half off for camping. HOWEVER, now that they’ve privatized the campgrounds, I found out here that my “half-off” does NOT include electricity service. So from the usual price of $30/night, my fee should mathematically have been $15. Ha! It’s $19 because “electricity is not included in the half off.”


Privatization is the scourge of the modern love affair with libertarian/Austrian economics. It’s such bullshit. Fucks up everything it touches.

Sigh! Anyway, here we are, a bit farther West. At these prices, we’ll only stay here through the weekend. Then we’ll ease even farther West in anticipation of our sprint to Minneapolis, which I continue to call Milwaukee for some unknown reason.

Spent most of the afternoon evening online. Some of it on social media but also did a lotta research for TLC:CtD. Gotta make my “dragons” somewhat realistic, after all. I absolutely love that modern paleontology had discovered that many (most? all?) theropods were feathered. OMG!, the possibilities.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Roadtrip Day 349

Roadtrip Day 349

6/21 Tuesday

Wow! Significant T-storm in the night. We started the evening with several neighbors. By morning, only 1 campsite was still inhabited; the others packed up and ran away in the dark to more weather-independent accommodations. Rain has stopped and the sun is breaking out as we pass 9:00am and run Genny so I can use this thing cuz I ran it down to nothing last night.

It was quite an amusing T-storm. It had been warmer last night than the night before and we were mostly sleeping without covers. Then there were distant rumbles. Then pattering on the hard central roof and soft tent roof over our bed. Then the intensity of the T-storm and the coolth that came with it. Poor family in the campsite opposite us had several kids in tents and they’re one of the ones who packed all that stuff and left during the pounding storm. The rednecks were mostly sleeping in hammocks, so they went the way of the dodo and the cave bear. Only the techno-pop boys remained after dawn.

I am constantly amazed by the integrity of our little dozen-year-old popup trailer. We have weathered some terrible storms with never a leak. We stay dry and cozy in our bed. There’s one line of a 3-line gratitude post. While it rages outside, I can have a cold drink from the fridge or a hot drink from the stove and sit at the dinette for a while, watching the forest revealed in lightning strobes. Then back to our cozy bed and the soft web of my dreams.

Now that I’m awake and have breakfast in me and power to this laptop, I should probably do some writing. Getting all that plotting/organizing/structure to a reasonably complete place yesterday was a big milestone and a strong step past a large stumbling block to my progress on “The Lost Century: Chasing the Dragon”. Let the wild hunt begin.

Ah, but who’s hunting whom? To paraphrase Indy - Therapods. Why did it hafta be therapods?

Honestly, pushing through all that organizational stuff yesterday was intellectually/emotionally tiring. I might make today a writing holiday, maybe just fool around with some random bits and pieces rather than trying to stream pure temporal narrative from my last stopping point. I’ll see how it goes.

Thinking about dinosaurs as I look out our windows, the forest seems Cretaceous to me. The rain reduces visibility and the middle distance fades to grey. The forest is lushly and deeply green with enough low, feathery plants that I can imagine them as members of the fern family. A fine Cretaceous forest waiting only for a normal population of dinosaurs. I see none. Guess I’ll hafta write my own. Or keep looking? The small rustlings I sometimes hear could be ornitholestes sneaking about on their nefarious business. Could be.

Real-world note: I hate “right-height” toilets. They’re only the right height for transferring from a wheelchair to the toilet seat. In all other respects they are completely unergonomic for taking a shit. Anyway, lunch break now. I’ve spent the morning reviewing what I did yesterday, added a little tweaking, and am at the point where I could actually start writing from where I left off, which would be chapter 4 - the afternoon after the legionaries’ first encounter with the therapods when they’re back in the village, licking their wounds, and trying to formulate a plan to kill the “dragons” without getting killed themselves.

Lunch first. After I finish chapter 4, I only have 19, plus an epilogue, to go. Sigh!

Well, at least I can use the hashtag #amwriting. Cranked out almost two thousand words for chapter 4. Progress. Now, I think I’m done for the day. Might be time for a shower. A hot shower in the actual shower, not just me standing out in the rain. I only do that between 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South when the rain is as warm as the air and water, a nice 85^3. That looks funny. I’ll write it out. Eighty-five degrees cubed. Better.

Ya know, I could write a campground report based on showers. The one here is one of those deals where ya gotta push a button every 15~20 seconds to get more water. That’s a pretty big PITA; but at least the water does get decently hot, after 5 or 6 initial button pushes resulting in cold water. But we’ve had some with nice tile, ordinary handles for user control of temperature and HOT water available. I was talking about stuff I missed from home recently. I do like my two showerheads, on the front and rear walls, and jetted tub. Lotsa bathing options. I love tubbie-showers.

We ran to the little store nearby. We got ice cream and ice and wifi. Ronnie used it to check for desperate messages. Maybe tomorrow, we’ll take our laptops and take advantage. No cell signal but wifi. Interesting.

Butter pecan ice cream from the store with our own caramel sauce at 6 pm was tasty. Who needs dinner?

Last time I was online, I grabbed a random police/murder novel from the berry called “Career of Evil.” It was less than mediocre. Author is Robert Galbraith. Turns out that’s a nom de plume for J. K. Rowling. Interesting. I don’t really like her writing as herself in the Hairy Potato series and I disliked her writing as Robert Galbraith. Seems like I just don’t especially like her writing style in general.

Ok, a little reading time now. After we digest our ice cream, maybe we’ll think about dinner. My new read is called “Matterhorn” a Vietnam War novel by a Marine veteran. A far cry from an unlikable British detective. I hope it’s far to the side of “readable” rather than “unreadable.”

Quick, small late supper and bedtime. Wonder what tonight will bring.

Roadtrip Day 348

Roadtrip Day 348

6/20 Monday

Lovely cool-but-not-cold night and a quiet, sunny morning. Pretty much the only sound I hear is the occasional woodpecker. Unless it’s the Predator from the eponymous movie. Could be either.

Getting warm as we approach midday. The only sound I hear now is Genny. We’ll have an hour of that, then return to natural quiet. I’ve been using my laptop charge pretty consistently, working on TLC:CtD. I’m close to having a complete outline, which is the thing that’ll really let me flow when it’s done, and I’ve written some narrative for the story itself, covering the initial action. Compared to TLC, I’ve added two “new” legionaries as Pyramid and River have both come out of their comas which they’d been in for TLC. I’ve added a caravan of traders on the Silk Route and a translator associated with them to help our legionaries actually communicate with the locals. Speaking of the locals, there’s a village full of people, of whom I’ll introduce a couple. And, of course, the antagonists – the therapod dinosaurs, aka dragons. There’ll be a coupla peripheral sauropod species, too, just for verisimilitude.

In this book, our heroes begin their story in media res confronting the dragons from the first words of the first chapter. Then a little flashback to tell how they got involved. The next several chapters will be them figuring out how to deal with a significantly aggressive, intelligent, and flat-out deadly foe. However, in genuine horror movie fashion, I’m saving the true “monster” for the third act. They haven’t seen their ultimate antagonist yet. Bwahahaha!

Our redneck neighbors were surprisingly quiet last night and this morning. Hooray for them. Wish my knees were not as worn as they are. The climbing at Seneca Rocks looks really fun. Maybe tomorrow we’ll hike up to the “base camp” and see who’s out on the rock. Looks like a pretty good hike to there from the ranger station. Lotta switchbacks shown on the trail map. When we were at the station yesterday, we could see a coupla people at the base of the rocks, getting ready for an ascent. There’s a small, fixed telescope there for viewing climbers.

Three youngish dudes have moved into the campsite on the other side of us. I guess we’re like humanity magnets. At least these guys don’t have thick accents and they’re playing techno-pop rather than country. Small mercies.

I love/need electrical power for our various devices but I sure do like the quiet when Genny shuts down. Full charge on everything now and I can work on that damned plot/structure while I have a little lunch. It’s much less easy, comfortable, intuitive than TLC’s plot/structure was to create. But I’m getting there. A bit more fiddling around and I think I’ll have a complete enough structure to look at and say yes to this, no to that, move this, etc. Once I’m there it’ll just be writing. I’m working on getting there.

YES! Huge milestone. I have finally organized TLC:CtD with a complete outline and plot. Planning to run 23 chapters plus an epilogue. Time to settle down and just write.

But first: resting now that I have that done. Laptop battery is down to “Hey, asshole! Shut me down OR ELSE!”

Ronnie was still in a pasta mood so we had spaghetti and (red) meat sauce for dinner with a small green salad. Easing into the night now. Cool and lovely. And I’m tired so goodnight.

Roadtrip Day 347

Roadtrip Day 347

6/19 Sunday

Travel day. Casual takedown after glazed donut and cold Ovaltine breakfast. Mmmmm. What an evocation of childhood. Even working casually at breaking down, we got on the road by 10. We made porkchop and cheese sandwiches on these cute little mini-pistolette rolls to have for lunch and put them in the coolerator with drinks in the car for easy obtention. Switched drivers at midday somewhere in Northeast West Virginia and ate as we drove up and down over the rolly mountains here. We were intimidated by a coupla stretches which warned of 10% grade (downhill). That’s pretty damned steep, especially towing the trailer. But they were not too bad.

Found our way to Seneca Shades but there was no camp host to check us in. Since they’ve privatized much of the camping stuff, these for-profit entities charge more money and provide less actual service…. Rant! Rant! Rant!

Anyway, check in is only with the camp host, no self check-in but there was no camp host. So we drove a coupla miles to Seneca Peaks to the ranger station. He said people had also complained Friday that nobody was on duty. Fine. We drove back, left a note and payment at the host’s trailer and set up in an open site. After that effort in the hot afternoon sun, we went to the showers. Naturally, in the middle of my shower, a voice calls, “Mr. Maier, can you come see me after your shower?”

Sure, asshole. NOW you’re here. Inevitably, there was no excuse for his absence but a complication because somebody had gotten online and reserved the site we were in for the next day. We had signed up for three days. He said he’d call them and ask them if they’d be ok in a different site.

Phew! Finally, kinda sorted out. We’re here for three days (maybe more) and settled in this spot. We were alone until not long ago when two big 4X4 diesel trucks full of beer-brand-hatted, sleveless-shirted fellas chose to move into the site right next to us. Really? Empty fucking loop except for us. The next loop was half empty. But noooooo, the dual GMC 2500 4X4s hadda barroom-baroom right next to us. Harleys are quieter. Didn’t I read recently that Detroit adds artificial extra noise to their truck exhausts to make them sound “manlier.” Dipshits.

It’s almost 6 now. We’re running Genny until 6:15 then we’re gonna have corn on the cob with angel-hair pasta done ailio y olio (sp? - garlic and olive oil) tossed with shrimp and spring onions which were sautéed in butter and Tony’s (Creole seasoning). Maybe some parmesan on mine. Ronnie likes hers straight. We’ve gotten a lotta good, fresh corn on the cob here on the Eastern loop of our trip. We both love it so we have it whenever we see a good-looking batch.

Except for the bullshit administration and the redneck neighbors, it is very lovely here. Steep hills (they call ‘em mountains) and deep woods. Nice. No cell signal at all so no possibility of hotspotting some internet time. In a coupla days when we move I’ll catch up on loading my posts onto the blog. Now, it’s just about time to shut off Genny and start boiling some water for dinner.

Maybe a bit more narrative later.


BTW, we are theoretically back in bear country. No grizzlies but theoretically there are bears. We’re being a little careful with our stuff, especially food, but not full on Yellowstone-paranoid careful. Given that we had shrimp, we took the trash straight to the garbage after dinner. Then, it was time to put away leftovers. And then, do the dishes.

And then, the oral sex.

Wait! That’s not the Monty Python and the Holy Grail quote I wanted. Well, now I can’t think of what it was that I was thinking of. I guess I’ll just leave that one here to embarrass Ronnie.

P.S. Dinner was pretty fabulous. Couldn’t have done better with a professional-sized ultra-snooty-brand-name 6 burner stove and double dual-fuel ovens. Not that I’d turn my nose up if someone offered to give me a professional-sized ultra-snooty-brand-name 6 burner stove and double dual-fuel oven setup. I lust that kinda kitchen shit. I was delighted when our old stove died a coupla years ago and we got a 5-burner with the middle burner a long one which could use an included cast iron griddle or grill and one of the burners was enhanced to zillions of BTUs [approximately] for superfast heating.

Sometimes I miss my stove. I frequently miss our fridge, replaced about the same time as the stove. First fridge we ever had with water/ice in the door. I hadda tap a saddle in the basement cold-water line and drill a hole in the kitchen floor to bring a copper waterline up to feed that fridge - Clark. Chloe named him Clark. Sounds righteous to me. I often miss our Toto Washlet. Sigh. But we’re having a totally swell time overall. Nothing is perfect and we’ve had some less-than-marvelous times; but generally… Kick-ass fun!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads I know, the living and the dead, whatever their sexuality, who are taking care of their kids. I know a lotta single moms who do such amazing double duty. Hats off to them and to those who are not as simplistically binary-gendered as I am.

I miss my dad. When he died, I remember writing that he was the kind of guy who was tougher than a twenty-five cent steak (a quote from some 30s movie, thus the extra-surprising price) and who swallowed the blood and kept going forward when life punched him in the mouth. Cuz that what you do. That’s what he did. Always.

Love you, dad.

Roadtrip Day 346

Roadtrip Day 346

6/18 Saturday

Beautiful, still, sunny morning here in the fairly-full campground. Kids on bikes zooming around, boy scouts in the group campground doing boy scout shit, rednecks playing country music for all to hear, drunks chatting late into the night – at volume. Pickups to the left of me, pickups to the right of me, pickups in front of me. Half an hour, half an hour, half an hour onward. In the campground of rednecks sat the two of us. If we run Genny and point the exhaust right at us, the noise somewhat cancels the country music and praise for Trump and hotly-debated preferences in long guns. Shoulda bought a louder generator.

Ronnie and I put in earplugs for a while yesterday evening. Helped some. But did I mention that it’s a beautiful day now? Ok, then.

Interesting couple in the campsite to our starboard. They set up a large tent and when they were done, the woman emerged in a nice dinner dress, a lovely shade of red, deep décolletage, and a long slit up the skirt. Next time I looked, granted it was a while later, she’d changed again into some other outfit. They were gone when I woke; I’m curious to see what she’s wearing when they return and how many costume changes she makes today.

The chatty, musical rednecks are to port.

Like the old rock song says: Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.

Tomorrow, we’ll break camp and head to Seneca Shadows, a park favored by rock climbers in West Virginia. We’ll see if John Denver was right. I think he was full of shit. Today, I will enjoy this lovely weather, do a little more writing, and maybe take another hike with Ronnie.

After I have some breakfast and close this out for a while. Bye for now.

Well we were gone a lot of the day but I saw three different outfits on the glamour camper to starboard. Most entertaining. We had a nice day out and about and it’s turning into a lovely evening. Ronnie and I worked together to make a tasty Summer dinner salad with chunks of cheese and porkchop mixed in with the veggies, all covered in our mutual favorite bleu cheese dressing. Perfect fare for a hot Summer’s eve. Followed by a coupla mini BabyRuths. Fireflies to glow our way to bed. Pretty swell.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Roadtrip Day 345

Roadtrip Day 345

6/17 Friday

Day 345 seems so mathematically significant. If only it would have happened on 6/7.

Rain off and on last night but sunny this morning. Despite the rain, this campground has gotten several more customers for the weekend. Not full, but fuller.

Working on TLC:CtD this morning. Actually writing some text for the novel itself rather than just working on parenthetical stuff. What progress! That’s an exclamation point, not a question mark.

Getting to be dinnertime now and I’m pretty happy with what I wrote. Actual narrative in the story itself. Amazing. And I kinda like it. Legionaries, meet therapods. Bwahahaha!

After a long day hunched over my laptop, Ronnie took me for a walk on the C&O Canal Towpath. We got 6K steps on her fitbit in the beautiful light of the “golden hour”, walking through dense, green woods. The occasional sight of an abandoned bit of canal engineering was kinda eerie in the seemingly archaic forest. Back to the trailer now and thinking about dinner. We have leftover BBQ pork chops. The coolerator has some fresh corn on the cob, broccoli, carrots, green onions, green beans maybe, and the dry storage has potatoes, rice, and pasta. We can figure something out to avoid starving. For lunch, I ate the leftover mushroom pizza from our meal at Nora Robert’s son’s restaurant. It was still pretty tasty.

Chloe wanted to chat so we were on the phone while Ronnie made dinner. Efficient for me. Done now and easing into the evening. Goodnight, world.

Roadtrip Day 344

Roadtrip Day 344

6/16 Thursday

We did get the lightning and thunder last night. Not quite a T-storm but pretty good rain after enjoying the lightning bugs right in camp last evening. Seems to be done this morning with the sun out. Three weeks now.

Three weeks from today, we’ll be camping near Minneapolis and picking up Chloe at their airport late that evening. Then we’ll spend the weekend with her as she gets set up for a new life in a new city. Pretty exciting. A little scary for a concerned parent. But she has contacts there and she starts her job that next Monday, so that’ll be a new bunch of potential friends, too.

After that, our plan (so far) is to drop the trailer at Cherie’s house in Nebraska and visit her a bit. Then we go home for a visit. When Chloe gets an apartment (for August and beyond), we’ll grab a U-haul trailer and take it one-way to Minneapolis so she’ll have her stuff. Then we are once again footloose and fancy free (after we pick up our trailer from Nebraska) until our scheduled house-sit for Ronnie’s dad in San Diego during the last half of September.

Followed by the hopeful hardpoint of the kendo seminar in New Orleans in the latter part of October. And, of course, a basic New Orleans visit with family, friends, food, ordinary kendo with the New Orleans Kendo Club… maybe even some sailing with Bob. Everything before, after, and inbetween is unspecified.

Mowing crew is here today. Trash pickup part of the crew looks like work-release dudes in matching yellow convict pants. Interesting. Time to run Genny cuz her noise is unnoticeable with that big tractor mower going.

We motored to Boonsboro to pick up the signed books from Nora Roberts’ bookstore. Tried the Subway for a late lunch. It was good. Phew! We had a couple of terrible experiences at different Subways months ago and had been avoiding them ever since. Nice to get a good sandwich there. Next from there to the Boonsboro “creamery” and had a little ice cream chaser. After that, it was time to head back to camp. Rain was threatening on and off all day. We finally got some as we were leaving Boonsboro. Then on the freeway, Ronnie’s phone got a tornado watch notice. By the time we got to camp at 4 pm, we were out of the rain and the sky around us was clear but we can now certainly hear the thunder in the distance.

Big excitement.

I definitely need to do (daily) gratitude posts more often. The prevalence of banal evil in American society is soul crushing. Gotta fight back against that shit. Shine your light, folks. Even a tiny, tiny light can dispel the deepest, darkest, blackest, seemingly-unconquerable, vast evil darkness. You are made of atoms from stars. Shine like you know your heritage! Don’t let the zeitgeist of our age be one of the triumph of anti-intellectualism, anti-science, pro-violence, and strident xenophobia.

Tornado warning until 5 pm. Thunder getting closer; sky going grey. If necessary, we can abandon the tent trailer for the car. If necessary, we can drive the car into the narrow tunnel 50 yards down the road. Stone tunnel under the railroad tracks – seriously bombproof. Heavy, straight-down rain here right now. Pretty, as it dimples the canal water’s surface in the yellowed light.

4:30 now and the sun is shining through the heavy rain. Devil-beating-his-wife weather. Thunder lessening. Rain starting to lessen. 4:45 and the rain is almost done. Thunder gone. Sun bright. Ronnie less nervous. (grin) Ok, I’m calling it over. And that’s our scary excitement for this day.

Rain chances are heavy for the next coupla days so we’re thinking about just staying put then going to West Virginia on Sunday when the rain chance is zero to low. It’s not a lotta fun to break down and set up in the rain.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Roadtrip Day 343

Roadtrip Day 343

6/15 Wednesday

Ooooooh, exciting (possible) news for me. There are plans for a kendo seminar in New Orleans toward the end of October. It’s being put on by the Southwest Kendo and Iaido Federation so I’m unsure about attending since I belong to the Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation; but I suspect I can. We’re all part of the AUSKF. And my money is green, ya know? We were looking at being in NOLA around that timeframe anyway. It’d be sooooooo cool. Gotta hear more about that as the SWKIF firms things up. I was excited to do kendo in NOLA with the New Orleans Kendo Club in general whenever we happened to be there but to do that AND a big seminar would be ultra-cool. I have my AUSKF # and my credit card ready. All I need is some specific info and a signup opportunity.

More on that as info becomes available.

Got a little rain last night and it’s overcast and cool this morning. But I slept in until noon so it’s all good and the sun is trying to make its presence known as I type. Ronnie has been searching online while I slept and she’s gotten us a reservation at a campground near Minneapolis for July 7, 8, and 9. We’ll pick Chloe up from the airport late at night on the 7th and hang out with her for the weekend while she settles into her Minneapolis life. Big doin’s for our little family.

In extended-family news, a coupla my cousins are looking to buy a good-sized sailing catamaran (40ish feet) and head over to the South Pacific. We’ve been chatting about sailing and boats and passage-making as they push toward a decision. Depending on my commitments, I might crew for them for a while on a coupla legs of their passage. We’ll see how all that works out in reality.

After breakfast at noon, I think I might be ready for lunch now that it’s pushing 3. We just got a lotta stuff at the grocery store; I’ll take a look and see what I feel like having. Ronnie’s going for a hike. My knee is bugging me so I’m gonna stay here to eat lunch and read. Or write. Or something.

Neighbors arrived this afternoon. A pair of car campers, obviously together, with kayaks, etc. Slight drizzle now at 8pm; possible T-storms predicted for tonight. We’ll see. Aside from interesting good-ish news today, there were a coupla not so good-ish items. I’m weary. Gonna read a while then hit the sack. See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Roadtrip Day 342

Roadtrip Day 342

6/14 Tuesday

Very quiet here, except for the several trains which roar by at night. Nonetheless, pretty nice. ROUSs in evidence, probably woodchucks. I dunno for sure. It’s a cold Ovaltine and blueberry muffin kinda morning. So pastoral here I feel like listening to some Beethoven.

We drove to Boonsboro and had a Nora Roberts sightseeing tour. Shopped in her bookstore, wandered around the core of the town, visited the cemetery, and had lunch at her son’s Italian restaurant.

Then we went to Antietam. Toured the battlefield. There are an amazing number of unit markers there, from simple plaques to large statues. Mostly referencing Union units because they were placed by subscription (fee collection) after the war and the Confederate units were living in a shit economy with no money to spare for war memorials. Fascinating battle. It’s not often that 6 generals are killed in one engagement.

Ronnie bought and left a few books for Nora to sign. Apparently she signs books for the store three nights a weeks. Sounds like the woman is a serious workaholic. Anyway, we’ll pick up those signed copies on Thursday. This has been very pleasurable for Ronnie. We even saw Nora’s husband in the bookstore. (He runs it.)

Back to our lovely, quiet campsite, except we’re running Genny to charge our electronics. Only an hour, then we’ll let it be quiet again. Until one of the many night trains comes thundering through. Calling Mister James Brown! All aboard! All aboard! Night… Train… Hit it.

We’re circling around a plan to meet Chloe in Minneapolis in July. If that comes to fruition, we’ll be ending our East Coast travels before too very long rather than waiting until closer to Fall. We’ll see. Kinda hoping to see Behan and her gang in/near Mystic later this month. They left Seattle in ’08 on their boat Totem and have come all the way around the world back to the East coast. It’s been 8 years since we saw them. The kids were small. We’ll see if/how that works out.

Thinking about lunch leftovers for dinner. Then a good night’s sleep. The many trains made mine short and Ronnie’s was terrible. She had insomnia in addition to the trains. I’m thinking the trains won’t bother me tonight. Hope she can get a solid sleep.

Roadtrip Day 341

Roadtrip Day 341

6/13 Monday

Excellent decision to wait until today to move. Cool, not boiling hot. Got packed up casually, had a nice shower, then hit the road to the Boonsboro, MD area, home of one of Ronnie’s long-time fave authors Nora Roberts. Cheap camping nearest there is a bit out of Boonsboro. There are a coupla choices; we wound up at McCoy’s Ferry on the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Very quiet and peaceful. Small (14-site) campground. 1 other space occupied.

We passed through Boonsboro on the way here and we’ll go back to do actual sightseeing tomorrow. Stopped for groceries on the way in, too. “Primitive” campground and all that. Pleasantly cool as evening comes on. Might even close up some windows tonight. Had some tasty BBQ chicken thighs (skin and bone on and in), sautéed potato rounds with green onion, baby carrots, and corn on the cob. Burp! I’m looking forward to a quiet, restful night here.

Roadtrip Day 340

Roadtrip Day 340

6/12 Sunday

Temps are predicted to be so hot today that we decided to stay here and avoid the whole break camp then set up camp in this kinda heat. It’s supposed to be at least 10 degrees cooler tomorrow, so we’ll move tomorrow. The humidity here is also terribly high which exacerbates things significantly. Today, we’ll sit under the fan and maybe go for a ride in the airconditioned car.

A little breeze today to help offset the temp. Hot but not unbearable as we approach 3:00. Getting online to connect to the library to get some new books.

Eased into a pleasant evening.

Roadtrip Day 339

Roadtrip Day 339

6/11 Saturday

A little overcast this morning. That’s ok cuz it was supposed to be hot today. I had a fun time with the Maryland Kendo folks last night. Their dojo is open 6 days a week. Pretty amazing. I haven’t done kendo in a good while and I pooped out a little early. Wore me out. They just built a new floor for their dojo and it’s really nice. Got a lotta give to it, easier on everybody’s knees, especially mine. Nice bunch of folks. Doing my kendo stops around the country as we’ve travelled has been really fun. Every dojo I’ve visited has been so friendly and welcoming. And they were so enthusiastic about hitting me mercilessly and endlessly with their shinai. (grin) The interesting thing about this group is that a lot of them came to kendo and the AUSKF from Korean kendo. I did notice a couple of small style/technique differences. And they did a lot of their commands/nomenclature in English instead of Japanese.

I recently saw a thing from Chinese medicine that the cure for migraines was to hit the patient on top of the head with a bamboo stick. Well, I guess I’ll NEVER have a migraine with all the hits I’ve taken to my head from bamboo shinai. Got a million headache remedies stored up.

Tired and stiff this morning. I think it’s a recuperation day for me. Having some Genny time now cuz most of our electronics were pretty low. This laptop was way down. Charging now.

Wow! The overcast of the morning gave way to a HOT day. Supposed to break 90 and it feels like it. I showered and came out without drying off so I could get some evaporative cooling but I dried very quickly in today’s heat. C’mon evening breeze. C’mon evening low sun.

We gave up and went for a drive in the airconditioned car to the airconditioned mall for ice cream and then Popeye’s for dinner. Back to camp at 7:30 and it’s still hot but not mercilessly baking. We plan to break camp and move tomorrow. I think we’ll get up early and get it done before the heat settles in.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Roadtrip Day 338

Roadtrip Day 338

6/10 Friday

Lovely night, perfect day. Thanks, D.C.

On the home front, apparently Rigby’s dental hygiene hasn’t been the best. Vet wants to sedate her and do a deep cleaning for something in the neighborhood of more than $500 but less than $1K. We’re gonna try less draconian (expensive!) methods first. Chloe is picking up some kinda mouth rinse from the vet for about $25 and they can try to massage her gums to palliate things there. Maybe brush her teeth after her mouth settles down some. She was just at the vet six months ago. (grump)

In other Chloe news, her company has an opening in Minneapolis which she is going to take! She’ll be leaving Seattle to start work there in a month! More on that as it develops. Big doings in Chloeworld.

We’re settle here pretty happily after our rainfest on the coast. I’m gonna try to do some kendo tonight or tomorrow if the sensei ever gets back to me. Dojo is only about half an hour from this campground, depending a lot on traffic, I’m sure.

One thing that’s amusing (as an abstraction) here is that the campground is very woodsy and usually quiet but urban and close to the freeway. At night, the rice boys seem to love the stretch of freeway near us and use it for street racing. Grapefruit-shooter exhausts screaming up and down as they progress through the gear changes until they finally get tired and we can finally sleep.

On TLC:CtD, I’ve spent my “writing” time the last coupla days on character development, specifically on my dinosaur/dragons. They are a crucial character, after all. (grin) Honestly, yeah, it’s fun to “design” a coupla therapods with feathers, bright feathers. I mean, what self-respecting predator would be caught dead in dull plumage? Color me colorful! It’s the therapod of a bad acid trip. (grin) And then there are the sauropods.

Even before the meteor, or whatever caused the K-T extinction, there had been changes in the diversity of species among dinos. There were fewer sauropod and therapod species in the time coming up to the extinction. I feel scientifically reasonable to have my 65-million-years-later, plateau-limited sauropods limited to just a coupla big species and a handful of smaller ones. Same for my therapods.

Anyway, that’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.

Lunch and a nice, long, hot shower are a good way to move into the afternoon.

Heard back from Maryland Kendo Club. I’ll be heading there for a 7:00 session. Yowsa!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Roadtrip Day 337

Roadtrip Day 337

6/09 Thursday

Cool night. Nice to bundle up in a quilt. Sunny, pleasant morning. Breakfast then I’ll get some hotspot from Ronnie to see if the local sensei has mailed me with a response to my request to play with them sometime in the next coupla days.

No reply about kendo yet. If he hasn’t emailed by later this afternoon, I’ll call. There’s a phone number on their website.

Very pretty day and folks are showing up at the campground for a long weekend in D.C. We have neighbors. (sigh) From Florida. Well, at least I don’t see a TRUMP sticker on their car. I ate the last of the store rotisserie chicken with some potato salad for lunch and had some grapes as a chaser. Pretty good grapes and a great snack on this heating-up day.

Working on TLC:CtD. Kind of. I didn’t feel like doing additional snowflake-plot stuff, so I’ve worked on character descriptions and backgrounds. That stuff is important, too, right? Actually kinda fun working on my dinosaur/dragons, especially now that there’s evidence that many of the therapods, including T. Rex, had (at least some) feathers. Bwahahahaha! I really kinda like fucking with Flavius and da boyz.

Gonna have some sauropods, too, so I guess I can put a little effort into those guys. They’re not important to the plot flow but they are there so they kinda need to be addressed. Later.