Monthly Archives: July 2012

South Dakota

We spent last Christmas with Janet’s family in Indiana and had a great time.  We went to the children’s museum in Indianapolis and signed up for a dinosaur dig because the kids thought it would be a lot of fun.  The dino dig was near Faith, South Dakota and it was scheduled for mid July.  I have to be honest, the only reason I was going was because the kids wanted to go and Janet had never spent any time in the Dakotas (one of only three states she hasn’t stepped one of her giant feet in.)

The thought of traveling, in the middle of July, to a state I didn’t really want to visit, made me almost dread going.  I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but what’s there to do in South Dakota? We were planning on spending a whole week there.  We left Bend Saturday morning with the goal of seeing friends and visiting Portland and Vancouver.  Our flight was on Sunday afternoon and we flew to Billings, Montana.

Janet picked Billings because it was the cheapest alternative out there.  We decided against driving because that was too many miles on the Prius.  Billings had the cheapest flights and the cheapest car rental we could find.  It’s only about a 6 hour drive from Billings to Faith, South Dakota.

We spent Sunday night in Billings and left in the morning to head for Faith.  Along the way, we stopped at Custer’s Last Stand a fascinating place for history buffs.  At first Jessie wasn’t interested in stopping to walk around the grounds but we couldn’t drag her out of the museum once she got going.

I’m not sure what Jessie liked more, the feathers, or weapons, or beads in the Native clothing, but whatever it was, she loved the museum. The descriptions in the museum were a bit neutral for Janet and myself, no information on why this battle happened, but the park ranger guided tour was much more informative and we learned about atrocities on both sides.

The closer we got to Faith, the closer we got to an enormous black cloud in the sky.  It didn’t start raining until about 45 minutes outside of the city, but it sure did rain.  It stormed so hard we had to wait for the hail to stop before we made a run for the hotel’s front door.  It rained so hard it washed out our dino dig.

I was pretty disappointed we didn’t get a refund for the “Act of God” storm and when Jessie asked if we were going back next year I honestly told her I didn’t think we would.  I don’t see the point in spending a lot of money for something where, because of a typical summer storm, we got nothing to show for it.  Oh, wait, we did each get a lime green dino dig t-shirt.  And we spent a couple of hours in the museum at the Black Hills Institute looking at dinosaur replications.  That was kind of cool.

Janet’s sister had broken her hip 3 days before they left for the dino dig so she couldn’t get around very well with her walker.  So, we decided to go to Deadwood to see a Wild West town and we were very impressed.  We took a bus tour up to the gravesites of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.  We then went up to Leads and took the kids on a mine tour and panned for a little gold.  It was so funny, it cost $7 to borrow the pan with the rocks and pre-measured gold (worth $4).  The kids carried the gold around like it was worth a fortune!

We spent Wednesday night in Spearfish and left in the morning for our final stop in South Dakota: Keystone.  We went to Mount Rushmore and it’s pretty impressive up there.  I finally found people with heads bigger than mine.  We took pictures, shopped in the gift shop (one of the more popular pastimes with us), and watched the making of Mount Rushmore: the movie.

It might not sound like we did much but everything takes more energy when you’re traveling with an 80+ Mom (Janet’s mom), a woman with a walker, 3 more adults, and 3 kids.  Not to mention the fact it was over 100 degrees every day we were in South Dakota.  I’m just glad the wild fires didn’t hit any of the towns where we stayed.

So, Friday we were pretty tired and mostly just laid around the hotel, walked around Keystone’s little boardwalk, and ate 3 or 4 meals.  We eat a lot, I know.  We all had a really good time, we all got along, and everyone survived.  Good times.

On Saturday Janet, Jessie and I drove back to Billings where we spent the night.  On the way, we stopped by a rock shop and Jessie informed us she wanted to be a mineralogist.  Granted she’s only 11; she might change her mind once or twice between now and then.  We also stopped by the Crazy Horse Memorial.  What an impressive sight.  I loved standing near the artist’s studio, looking at both the small scale version of Crazy Horse with the real monument in the background.  That will be impressive when it’s done.  It’s impressive now.

On Sunday we flew back to Portland where Jessie’s Dad picked her up to spend the week with him.  Janet then flew to California to work and I drove myself home to Bend.  I’ve spent the last few days catching up on emails, doing laundry, and basking in the glorious quiet of being alone with myself.  I have the best conversations with myself.  I’m glad no one is here.

I really didn’t expect much from South Dakota when I went; but I came home having just finished one of the more enjoyable vacations in recent memory.  Janet and I liked it so much we’re talking seriously about going back, just the three of us, to see more of South Dakota.  With our group’s mobility problems, we didn’t get to see as much as I would’ve liked and I barely crossed over 5000 steps each day.  We only stayed in the Black Hills and never even ventured over to the Badlands, a place I’ve always wanted to see.  I just never realized it was in South Dakota.


Ps.  Seriously?!?  Not only did we trade away Ichiro, but we traded him to the Yankees?  I understand the reasoning behind the move, for both the Mariners and Ichiro, but to the Yankees?  I will never understand that.

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Can Someone Please Explain Children To Me?

I published my book, Devan’s Story, in Amazon last month and was having no luck with the other aggregate publisher I used so I went ahead and used Smashwords to see how that goes.  I’m not sure how long it will take to get to the Apple store or other devices, but it’s pending approval.

You have got to click on the link below for Smashwords because I want you to see the picture I uploaded for my profile page.  My…bicep…looks…huge!  I don’t know what’s in the dish I’m holding but I’m thinking it’s a giant Steroid Pie.  Seriously, what is caught in my shirt?  I look like Arnold’s younger, way better looking sister.

Can someone please explain children to me?

I love my daughter, I really do, but lately she’s been coming up with these weird sayings and doing weird things.  The other day we were walking along the Deschutes River and I pointed out some trash along the bank.  Jessie says, “Oh look at that trash, what is wrong with people nowadays?”  Nowadays?  She’s eleven!  What days is she talking about?

I’m thinking she needs to hang out with people her own age and not us oldish parents.  Either that or I’m going to have to look for the alien pod that changed my daughter into a very similar, but very alien child.  I hadn’t made up my mind until I took her shopping today.

Jessie and I went to look for clothes at Kohls and we were walking along a main aisle when I noticed Jessie wasn’t next to me anymore.  I stopped to look around, went back to where I had last seen her, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?  She was picking up a bunch of towels that had fallen on the floor.  She carefully picked up each one and was putting them back in their proper places.

I could only stand there and watch her and I wasn’t the only one.

I looked over at the Kohl’s employee and said, “Are you seeing the same thing I’m seeing?”

The stunned woman replied, “A tall, blonde, thin pre-teen picking something up off the floor?”

“Oh, good, I’m not hallucinating.”  We stood like that, two momentarily flummoxed adults, until Jessie finished and looked over at us.

“Why are you looking at me like that, Mom…and lady I don’t know?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do that before, Jessie.  Why did you pick up all those towels?”

“Oh, that kind of stuff really bugs me.”

REALLY?!?  This is the same girl who, after a bath, will ball up her towel and throw it on her bedroom floor.  And if that ball was in the middle of the floor, in front of her door, she would step over it until said towel ball decomposed back into the earth.

“Wait a minute.  Why don’t you pick up the stuff on your bedroom floor?”  Because, honestly, I don’t see a difference between the towels at Kohls and the stuff she throws on the floor in her own home; apparently I was wrong.

“Oh, that’s different, Mom.  I would never have picked those up at home.  I want the stuff on the floor in my bedroom.”

“Even your wet towel?”

“Oh, I just never notice my towel on the floor.  You can pick that up if you want to.”

OMG.  She never notices that, yet she saw, out of the corner of her eye, towels on the floor along the back wall at Kohls.  Please, if you can explain, even a little, what goes on in the mind of a child, I would greatly appreciate it.  Now if you don’t mind I have to go and search for the pod in my house because I’m pretty sure that wasn’t my daughter at Kohls.  Maybe I’ll show her the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers and see if she makes that weird screeching noise at me.



Filed under Musings

Lebron James vs Kevin Durant

Right off the bat, I just want to say I’m not much of a basketball fan.  They run around and sweat way too much for me.  My preferred sport is baseball followed, very closely, by football.  Sports with long mellow periods interrupted with short bursts of crazy energy.  Kinda like me!

I found myself watching some of the basketball finals because I’d heard so much about the matchup between Lebron and Kevin and wanted to see a little myself (I hope they don’t mind if I use their first names).  I did a bit of research on the two, during the game, and it seems Lebron isn’t liked by many people and I couldn’t find anything bad written about Kevin.

I don’t know Lebron or Kevin at all, but my perception of them seems to follow closely with the opinions of many other people and I wondered why.  Since I don’t know them at all, why would I perceive to like Kevin and dislike Lebron?  Maybe it has to do with how they approach life and the personas they project for others to see.

Basketball:  They’re both terrific basketball players, no one can dispute those facts.  Lebron didn’t even pretend to go to college like Kevin did.  Lebron went right from high school to Cleveland where they treated him like a God.  Not only was he a gifted player but he grew up in Akron!

You can’t really blame Lebron for leaving Cleveland, he honestly didn’t feel the team had the drive and desire to win championships, and that’s exactly what Lebron wants.  He wants to be a champion in the record books.

I read a Q&A when Lebron signed the 3 year deal and the question was: Will Lebron leave Cleveland after the 3 years is up?  The answer in a nutshell?  He will leave if he’s not supported during those 3 years but he would be stupid to leave because he is a GOD in Cleveland.

Lebron didn’t feel supported so he left, I understand that part.  But the part where he holds a news conference in Miami, on live television, and calls it “The Decision”?  I don’t understand that part at all.  I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “don’t burn any bridges”?  Maybe Lebron hasn’t heard that one because he didn’t even bother to do the ‘one and done’.

If Lebron had issued a statement, before The Decision, to the people of Ohio, thanking them for their support, explaining his desire to win championships, explaining how he didn’t feel management was doing enough to create a winning team; he probably wouldn’t have hurt so many people who did view him like a GOD.  There would have been a lot of upset people, but, after reading people’s responses to The Decision, it seems like everyone in Ohio was brokenhearted and mad.

Kevin, on the other hand, signed on with Seattle and is still with the same team.  Don’t worry Kevin, yes I’m from Seattle, but I’m not mad at you for leaving, I’m mad at Clay Bennett for ripping the SuperSonics away from Seattle and dropping them into Oklahoma as the Thunder.  Not Ohio-Lebron mad, but pretty mad.

Kevin signed a deal with Nike instead of Adidas, not because it was bigger (actually it looks like it was $10 million smaller), but because he had worn Nikes all his life.  He recently signed a 5 year contract extension with OKC and I hope he becomes the face of that city like Andre Agassi (Las Vegas) or Lance Armstrong (Austin).  He may leave after his contract is up, but it just seems like he is a loyal guy who has a lot of support in OKC.  Plus, now that they have the Thunder, Oklahoma is the proud owner of 1 professional sports team.

Tattoos:  I have tattoos and I’m a big fan of the artwork coming out now.  I enjoy seeing other people’s tattoos and have no problems with anyone just because of their tattoos.  Having said that, there’s a huge difference in Lebron’s tattoos and Kevin’ tattoos.

I didn’t even know Kevin had tattoos until I googled him (I’m sorry Kevin, I don’t mean for that to sound nasty…it just does).  He has quite a few on his chest and back.  You don’t see them until he takes off his shirt, a huge difference from Lebron’s tattoos.  Lebron’s are up in your face, you can’t miss them, doesn’t matter what he’s wearing on the court, tattoos.

Lebron has a big tattoo on his back which says: The Chosen One.  I read Lebron’s explanation of the tattoo, something about the phrase makes him push himself more, but to me it just seems to be arrogant and childish.

Kevin has a brand new tattoo on his back of the word Maryland, a praying angel holding a basketball and two hands: one holding up three fingers, the other five fingers.  Kevin wears the number 35 in honor of his mentor and his old amateur Athletic Union coach, Charles Craig, who was killed at age 35.

Social Butterfly:  After Miami won the championship, Lebron posted on Facebook the following: OMFG…I’m a CHAMPION!!! I AM a CHAMPION!!!  He didn’t say “we are champions”, he said I am a champion.  That goes along great with his The Chosen One tattoo.

This is how Kevin starts his blogs: What’s good everyone?  And his first blog?  It was about him eating sour patch extremes.  That sounds like something my daughter, Jessie would blog about.  Kevin seems more innocent…he probably isn’t…but I like thinking about a basketball player who wears a backpack, is humble, is loyal, and doesn’t flaunt his millions of dollars with a row of lavish cars and mansions in every major city.

Janet and I talked about the differences between Lebron and Kevin and my surprise at the seemingly depth of those differences.  I can’t fathom why two young men, both turning pro at an extremely young age, could turn out so very different.  Janet feels you are who you are from a very young age and no amount of growth opportunities will help if, deep down, you’re an immature person.  I tend to agree.


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