We left the Zion National Park area via the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway traveling from Hurricane, Utah to the Springdale, Utah entrance. I wanted to do this mainly so we could travel through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel out of the park.
Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920's and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. The purpose of the building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park.-NPS
Here's what we saw on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.
January 6, 2021 marks the beginning of our third year of full-time travel (we began living in Miranda on the 27th of October 2018). I'm writing this from Ocean Springs, Mississippi where we are camped in the Davis Bayou Campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore. Tomorrow, New Orleans for a night. Heading ever westward at the moment.
We awoke to great news (for us, anyway) out of Georgia. Seems people in my home state didn't buy all the QAnon conspiracy theories, etc. of the incumbent senators and 45 and, from all indications, the incumbents will be packing for home. Purple Georgia. Who'd a thunk it?
The bullshit happening in D.C., notwithstanding, it's another new day and there's much work to be done by the new administration going forward.
Like many of you, the year past has been full of challenges for us. Many of our challenges definitely are not the same magnitude as others had and continue to experience. Traveling has been largely a great experience even during the pandemic. Looking back we're grateful for the many people who we've been able to meet and spend time with both before and after the virus became a problem.
Winter in Southern California cannot be beat, and Randy and Doni Heyn-Lamb made sure we found connections and hospitality all over San Diego and Los Angeles and points in between. January and February were spent happily occupied with Melanie's nonprofit work in Episcopal churches all over Southern California. The Heyn-Lambs opened doors and created opportunities and made the winter our most productive and heartening season. We are indebted to them for their gracious support.
In March of last year as the pandemic began, we planned to travel into San Francisco. Melanie had preaching engagements and meetings tied to Episcopal Peace Fellowship. But it soon became clear to us, as San Francisco quickly became a "hot spot" for the virus, all plans needed to be cancelled and we needed to take some time to reassess next moves.
Which brings to mind the many people over the past few years for which we owe a large debt of gratitude for being there for us before and during the pandemic.
In March 2020, our friends in Carmel, California, Arleen and Bill Tarantino, who had contacted us earlier to invite us to visit with them, told us to come and stay a few days with them. This invitation came as little was known about how contagious was the virus, nor much about how it was transmitted. We had our last lunch in a restaurant in Carmel just before arriving for our stay with them. Looking back, probably not the wisest choice, but then, we didn't know what we didn't know at the time.
Our few days with them were great. We hiked and had meals together and I was able to begin assessing our next moves only beginning to understand how serious was the situation in the U.S.
We quickly moved north through San Francisco to Berkley, California to pick up mail we had forwarded to our friend Rev. Ann Coburn. At this point there were very few people on the streets in San Francisco and Berkley. It was eerie. Ann knew a restaurant close by that was providing physically distanced take-out service and she bought us lunch and we took it back to her apartment and caught up with her for a few hours.
We remained in California for a few more days positioned just southwest of Sacamento as I made a determination of where the hot spots were and trying to decide whether we could continue to travel and avoid the virus. At that point many of the federal and state campgrounds were beginning to close with only private campgrounds remaining open. But for how long?
Our friend, and my brother from another mother, Trip Tomlinson, contacted us and told us we were welcome to stay at his home in North Georgia. He and his wife, Teresa, hosted us the previous year for a week or so and knowing we had a place to land immediately gave us great solace. While we weren't keen on the few thousand miles travel across country to get there, it gave us a nice baseline for considering our next move.
Jack and Christy Close Erskine, with whom Melanie traveled to Palestine in 2019, had invited us to come to Sisters, Oregon for a visit as we traveled north last Spring. But as the seriousness of the virus became apparent, they renewed their invite towards the end of March and told Melanie we could come and quarantine with them for as long as need be. They mentioned their children were all out of the house and we could live downstairs in their home which also had a separate entrance and separate bath. While it was still bordering on too cold for Miranda to be in Sisters, we made the decision to travel north from Nevada and begin our quarantine with the Erskines.
The decision to quarantine in Sisters was a great one and we are so very grateful for the Erskine's kindness and generosity during our nearly two month stay with them. I did much of the grocery shopping and running errands and we all pitched in for family meals in the evening, a powerful experience Melanie and I will cherish always.
After we left Sisters we traveled around in Oregon and California then Washington State where we met new friends, Nancy Crowell and Mike Carlisle in La Conner. We spent a pleasant few days getting to know them and look forward to visiting with them again. Nancy is a wonderful photographer and my only regret is we didn't get to shoot together.
My longtime friend and another brother from another mother, John Woodward, happened to be traveling too and arranged for us to meet him just outside Boise, Idaho in the summer. John rented a ski chalet and we were able to park Miranda nearby for free. It was 90+ degrees in Boise 25 miles away, but only in the mid 70's where we were. John then traveled ahead and made sure we had a spot in a great National Forest Service campground for a week in the Sawtooth Mountains. We had a great time catching up and are grateful for his friendship and help in procuring a couple of great camp spots.
It was in Stanley, Idaho we met fellow full time travelers, Karen and Martin, whose travels we now follow. We hope to see them on the road again.
Aida and John Havel own a beautiful Air B & B in Salvo, NC, on Hatteras Island. They are the perfect hosts and always welcome us to their little slice of heaven. We've retreated to be with them twice now on this journey and we treasure their support, friendship and generous hospitality.
We've spent a fair amount of time with our friends, Jen and Wade Anderson and family, in Birmingham, Alabama when we have been home. They have the perfect spot to park Miranda along the side of their home in Mountain Brook. We are grateful for the spot and their continued support of our travels.
We were glad to visit with Ginny and Bill Pierson in Asheville, North Carolina in 2019, and sorry because of COVID to miss seeing them in 2020. Kathy and Gary Moore allowed us to park at their home in Charlevoix, Michigan for a couple of nights in September past and while we didn't get to visit with them, we hope to see them in 2021. Bill and Frances Nolan gave me and Miranda a place to be for a time while Melanie was in Palestine. IB and Rebecca Browning who we met in North Carolina and who gave us refuge at their home in Morgantown, West Virginia.
We've done a bit of house sitting in the past two years. Recently, we're parked in our son, Tate's, driveway in Nashville where we spent the Christmas holiday house sitting while he and his girlfriend, Zoe, traveled to Florida.
We had the good fortune to spend a few great days with our friends, Keith and Beth and their son, Eric, and his girlfriend, Nina. They traveled to Florida to meet with us over the New Year's holiday. I've known the Johns since Eric and our son, Tate, were in preschool at the Waldorf School in Birmingham. Always great to spend time with them and we treasure their friendship.
There are, of course, many others we've met and spent time with over the course of these past two years, some old friends we hadn't seen for a time and many new friends we've made along the way. They make the journey interesting and worthwhile. We value the support of many with whom we keep in semi-regular contact, including Pif and Chip Hicks, Melanie's Dad, her host of EPF connections, and friends from St. Andrew's-Birmingham. Our biggest grief for the year includes the deaths of our dear friends, Martha Jane Patton and Ewan Tytler. We have no words to speak of the huge holes in our hearts left in the wake of their deaths. Both were incredibly supportive of us on this journey, and we carry their influence and love with us wherever we go.
We'd planned to be out west by this time, but with COVID rates through the roof in many places and a vaccine (hopefully) just around the corner, we decided to delay heading west until now. We still feel fortunate to be traveling full time. Being agile provides us with opportunities like I've mentioned. We're looking forward to more great adventures.
Our friends John and Aida Havel who own and operate a 5 star rated Airbnb, Sunrise Over Salvo, on Hatteras Island have agreed to offer the spot you see above exclusively to Leisure Travel Van owners who would like to explore the Outer Banks in the off season.
From October 15 through March 15, you can get this premium spot (one available) only about a block away from beach access. For $50.00 a night (comparable to local commercial campgrounds nearby), you get water and (20 amp) electric, cement parking pad, access to private laundry, pool, hot tub, gas grill, andl picnic table.
Or, you can book a stay at the Airbnb and enjoy one of their nicely appointed rooms at Sunrise Over Salvo with your van parked and plugged in while you're in residence.
John and Aida are great hosts and knowledgeable about what's happening locally. Contact Aida at (919) 740-7031 for details.
Well we know where we're going
But we don't know where we've been
And we know what we're knowing
But we can't say what we've seen
And we're not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out...--D. Byrne
Melanie and I will mark two years of living in Miranda on the 27th of October. Today is October 18th and we're sitting in a Missouri State Park just outside Macon, Missouri on an overcast and chilly afternoon watching as the campground slowly empties of weekend campers. Campers on weekend leave. What follows will be random thoughts between now and the 27th on what it means for us to travel full-time in a 25' van after a couple of years.
In a few days we'll be close to St. Louis where Miranda will have some warranty work performed before her two-year warranty expires. Then it's onward towards a visit with our son, Tate, and his girlfriend, Zoe, for a few days.
We've got a working title for our travel book in progress, It's Alabama Everywhere, Y'all: That looks like a good place for a weed store
It's my sincerely held belief that what the United States really needs is, in part, legal weed everywhere, especially in the designated fly over areas, and a little time for people to sit down with one another, get high and discuss the issues, ratcheted down a notch or two, certainly a few decibels lower volume. We'd get some real shit done and end up loving each other like we should anyhow. Jus' sayin'.
I'm smiling as I entertain myself with thoughts of legalization. There are, however, kernels of truth to be found in legalizing the weed. On the plus side, we could free all the political prisoners who received sentences for possession, a disproportionate number who are people of color. Maybe what would follow is the end to our failed and stupid "war on drugs." Money spent on fruitless enforcement strategies might be redirected for assisting people with real world problems of coping with an insane world.
Teaching civics in secondary school again would help immensely. That will involve good people who aren't predisposed to magical thinking and white privilege and racism getting elected to local and state offices to begin making sound policy based on science and the common good. That includes making our political economy more progressive through tax policies more like those of the 1950's and '60's. I'm not holding my breath, but it could happen with some due diligence on the part of a majority of citizens who, thanks to the pandemic, have had a chance to reevaluate what's valuable to them. Hint, it's not all the stuff they've accumulated over a life time of conspicuous consumption.
Remember. We're out here traveling the country in our tiny home on wheels so y'all don't have to bother. No thanks necessary. 😎
We're traveling today moving farther south from the St. Louis area where Miranda had some work performed on her which took the better part of yesterday (20th). I had a moment to look at last year's places and new states and found we will have been in 120 unique places and traveled to 13 new-to-Miranda states during our 2019-20 year. The only states remaining for us are Utah, Nebraska and Alaska. Hawaii too, but not realistically. 120 unique places is only 3 fewer than 2018-19 and a little surprising considering we were quarantined in Sisters, Oregon for almost two months. We're traveling about 30,000 miles a year on average.
We're in Wappapello, Missouri at an Army Corp of Engineers campground until tomorrow. I'm looking at our 2019-20 yearly average monthly costs today. We spent an average of $688.00 monthly on campgrounds during this past year. We spend our time camping between private campgrounds, public campgrounds and "free" places we stay through services for which we pay a yearly fee, Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts. We also driveway surf with our friends and family.
We spent an average of $313.00 monthly on fuel costs, including propane. We have benefited from lower diesel prices since March of 2020 due to, I assume, the pandemic. Our propane costs averaged 31.00 a month.
We spent an average of $1,386. 00 a month on groceries. We spent an average of $1,293.00 a month eating out. We ate out regularly before travel and, while the pandemic has slowed our eating in restaurants, we still seek out good food in places where physical distancing is adhered to and where safety is promoted for guests.
We spent $2,070 on RV maintenance which averages to $173.00 a month. That figure includes service for the Mercedes Sprinter, new water hoses, a trickle charger for the Mercedes cab battery (used when we are in place more than 3 or 4 days), black tank treatment, DEF, oil, replacing propane regulator (warranty covered most of this cost), and mobile service related to a problem we had with our leveling system. We spent $1,216.00 on new tires. We spend an average of $65.00 monthly on items related to mail and for our mail service in Florida, where we are domiciled, that holds, forwards and/or scans mail for us.
Sorta of like magic at the end of our Leisure Travel Van warranty period (October 27), Miranda has experienced a few ailments. In Fort Collins, Colorado back in July someone in a KOA camp smelled propane around our vehicle. Our propane regulator had failed. Leisure Travel Vans stepped up and, even though the regulator was out of warranty, the one LTV installed on Miranda was failing regularly, they paid for the regulator and a portion of the labor expense to have it replaced.
Our four point leveling system pump started to fail in Michigan. We were fortunate to be within 250 miles of Equalizer in Elkhart, Indiana and they were able to replace the pump under warranty.
A couple of days ago, I checked tire pressure before leaving our COE camp and found one of our dually tires was flat. The tires were new in May. I was able to put air into it for a 15 mile trip to have it repaired. One flat in nearly two years travel works for me.
Yesterday marked two years. We're in Nashville visiting our son and his girlfriend for about a week. We're fortunate they have a driveway that's large enough and flat enough for Miranda. It's a nice way to begin our third year of travels.
Watch this space and, if you haven't already, vote.
“History is important. If you don't know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.”
― Howard Zinn
So, maybe it's because I grew up during a time when people of color had had enough and had no stake in much of anything except trying to eek out an existence among white folks who (mostly) didn't give a good damn about people of color, except as they knew their place and provided services making their white and privileged lives comfortable. Those people of color, descendants of slaves, victims of lynchings and Jim Crow laws and myriad of other shameless horrendous acts, decided to burn it down and arm themselves and white folks in power had no choice but to pay attention because, you know, private property and their stuff. Maybe it's because some things then changed, but some white people and their descendants didn't. Not really. Maybe it's because I grew up working class, but with the help of many people along the way, including government grants to pay for some of my education, I eventually was able to get a legal education. Maybe it's because I've never really made enough money to keep me in line, at least not for too long a stretch of time. Maybe it's because I saw early on in my Christian inculcation my fellow "Christians" weren't really all that serious about following the teachings of Jesus causing me to want badly to opt out of that charade. Bless their hearts. Maybe following Jesus for many has mostly always been form over substance because, consciously or not, most know in their heart of hearts, capitalism, especially crony capitalism, the political economy since Reagan and Christianity were never really a good mix, at least not for the majority of people. No, not ever.
And now, here we are at yet another seemingly insurmountable precipice before we will surely tumble off into the abyss of authoritarianism, fascism or some other "ism," but God, please don't let it be Socialism, much like we were during those tumultuous '60's. But this time, we, the people, elected, mostly through benign neglect (not showing up to vote will cost you, my precious) a demagogue to serve as our president and he's up for re-election in a little over a month. We who have opposed much of what can only be described as the most chaotic and crooked presidency of modern times, are often baffled by his cult-like followers' undying love of all things happening under his rule. We search for ways to make sense of why anyone can objectively look at what's happening day after day, we rationalize and ruminate, ruminate and rationalize and come up with nothing short of one frustrating exercise after frustrating exercise. And then, pandemic. And now Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And we're all bearing witness to just how fragile is our democracy and the rule of law, not to mention our very sanity.
I've struggled with what to say to people about all of this. I'm tired of the memes and the endless gnashing of teeth and apocalyptic speculations. Weary, actually.
Because we travel full-time, we experience different communities on a regular. Many of our fellow citizens living in other states strike us as just like the ones we find in our home state of Alabama. I used to respond when people would say, well, there're rednecks everywhere. Yes, but not everywhere are they elected to office and allowed to make the laws for everyone else like in Alabama. I'm learning that's not necessarily so now. And I don't mean in just the old confederate states either.
I've come to the conclusion, like many of you, that all we have left is our numbers. We must show up in sufficient numbers and take back the government from those who are not capable, would destroy it by various means and have only their self-interest and the profit motive in mind.
That's a monumental task given we are currently not all operating with the same facts. Which brings to mind a Netflix documentary we watched a few days ago entitled, The Social Dilemma. A must watch. Here's a synopsis by Andrew Sullivan in his weekly newsletter:
[We] will be lucky if the country doesn’t erupt in large-scale civil violence by the end of [this election cycle].
And the reason this dystopian scenario is so credible is not just the fault of these political actors. It’s ours too — thanks to the impact of social media. I think we’ve under-estimated just how deep the psychological damage has been in the Trump era — rewiring the minds of everyone, including your faithful correspondent, in ways that make democratic discourse harder and harder and harder to model. The new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, is, for that reason, a true must-watch. It doesn’t say anything shockingly new, but it persuasively weaves together a whole bunch of points to reveal just how deeply and thoroughly fucked we are. Seriously, take a look.
The doc effectively shows how the information system necessary for democratic deliberation has, in effect, been jerry-rigged in the last decade to prevent any reasoning at all. It’s all about the feels, and the irrationality, and the moment, which is why Trump is so perfectly attuned to his time. And what’s smart about the documentary is that it shows no evil genius behind this unspooling, no sinister plot deliberately to destroy our system of government. One of the more basic motives in American life — making money — is all you now need, the documentary shows, to detonate American democracy at its foundation.
For Facebook and Google and Instagram and Twitter, the business goal quickly became maximizing and monetizing human attention via addictive dopamine hits. Attention, they meticulously found, is correlated with emotional intensity, outrage, shock and provocation. Give artificial intelligence this simple knowledge about what distracts and compels humans, let the algorithms do their work, and the profits snowball. The cumulative effect — and it’s always in the same incendiary direction — is mass detachment from reality, and immersion in tribal fever.
With each passing second online, news stories, graphic videos, incendiary quotes, and outrages demonstrate their stunning utility to advertisers as attention seizers, are endlessly tweaked and finessed by AI to be even more effective, and thereby prime our brains for more of the same. They literally restructure our minds. They pickle us in propaganda. They use sophisticated psychological models to trap, beguile, outrage, and prompt us to seek more of the same.
Alternative views, unpleasant facts, discomforting arguments, contextualizing statistics, are, with ever-greater efficiency, filtered out of what our eyes can see and our minds absorb. And what we therefore believe becomes more fixed, axiomatic, self-reinforcing, and self-affirming. We become siloed into two affective tribes, with dehumanization of each other deepening with every news cycle. And we know what happens when dehumanization through social media is fully exploited. Ask the Rohingya of Burma, whose horrifying persecution was a function almost entirely of a Facebook disinformation campaign, seeded by a few in government and then unleashed by the masses in a spasm of genocidal violence.
And finally, I'll leave you with one of the best explanations I've read recently about why, given everything our president does on a regular basis that would seemingly make any sane and rational person want to run screaming from the building, his followers still support him. Stop trying to make sense of their madness and show up and vote in November.
The question was asked why people continue supporting Trump no matter what he does.
“You all don't get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence. They don't give a shit what he does. He's just something to rally around and hate liberals, that's it, period. He absolutely realizes that and plays it up. They love it. He knows they love it. The fact that people act like it's anything other than that proves to them that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.
If you keep getting caught up in "why do they not realize this problem" and "how can they still back Trump after this scandal," then you do not understand what the underlying motivating factor of his support is. It's fuck liberals, that's pretty much it.
Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable, and they'll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense? Because they're not even keeping track of any coherent narrative, it's irrelevant. Fuck liberals is the only relevant thing. Trust me; I know firsthand what I'm talking about. That's why they just laugh at it all because you all don't even realize they truly don't give a fuck about whatever the conversation is about. It's just a side mission story that doesn't matter anyway. That's all just trivial details - the economy, health care, whatever. Fuck liberals.
Look at the issue with not wearing the masks. I can tell you what that's about. It's about exposing fear. They're playing chicken with nature, and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal.
You got to understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for what they consider weakness because that's what they believe strength is, hatred of weakness. And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred. And I'm not exaggerating. Believe me. Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that's what proves they're strong, their passionate hatred for weakness. Sometimes they will lump vulnerability in with weakness. They do that because people tend to start humbling themselves when they're in some compromising or overwhelming circumstance, and to them, that's an obvious sign of weakness.
Kindness=weakness. Honesty=weakness. Compromise=weakness.
They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn't hate weakness as much as they do. They consider liberals to be weak people that are inferior, almost a different species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it's that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority."
Dunning-Kruger all up in your face.
Well it's all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right, if you got someone to love
Well it's all right, everything'll work out fine
Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line
Good morning from Stanley Ranger Station just outside of Stanley, Idaho (where connectivity is mostly not an issue).
We've been in residence at Mount Heyburn Campground for the past six going on seven days now. The weather here at about 6,500+ feet above the level of the sea has been nothing short of amazing. We begin our days in the 40's, reach the low 80's around 4:00 p.m. and then suffer through the 70's then 60's as night falls around camp. Dark thirty is at around 10:00 p.m. though it doesn't get dark until after 11:00 p.m. Humidity levels are generally less than 50%, but mostly in the 20% range giving new meaning, at least for this Southerner, to the blissful days of summer.
The sixth of July found us living on the road for a year and a half (18 months full-time travel, 20 months living in Miranda). Another milestone in our travels. Life, even in times of pandemic, remains nothing short of amazing.
The negatives of full-time travel remain, at least for us, very minor. Melanie still misses having our cats around, though FaceTime with Tate remains good for some kitty contact as we can see Gus and he and Zoe's new kitty, Poppy, sometimes once a week.
We miss seeing our friends in Birmingham though in these times we most likely wouldn't be in direct contact with them on too regular a basis anyway. And sometimes our friends are able to meet us along the way. We were stymied back in April when friends cancelled a planned trip to San Francisco where we were to spend time, but we're currently traveling with a long-time friend (and my brother from another mother) who met us almost two weeks ago.
In our opinion, there's never been a better time not to own real estate and be stuck, so to speak, in one place. We really enjoy having options about where we live and how long we choose to stay. We stay abreast of the latest news regarding COVID-19 and try our best to stay clear of the reported "hot spots." While it's unfortunate many areas of our country have made mask wearing and social distancing a political tool, or maybe I should say the political tools and hacks are running amok in parts of our country making it difficult to get the virus under control, we have been able to steer clear of the misinformed. An ability to be agile in a pandemic is proving to be a good thing for sanity.
The great people we continue to meet along the ways. Physical distancing, not necessarily social distancing. We wear our masks when they are called for. We stay away from all venues that are statistically high for virus infection.
Local produce and restaurants. We aren't eating out as much, but that's made up by being able, especially now during the growing season, to purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables. We mostly eat out when we can be outside and properly physical distanced.
We are increasingly aware of how little one needs to actually be happy. Large living spaces are not on the horizon for us. Once off the road, we see ourselves living in a small, but comfortable space with emphasis on the outdoors.
We really love living most of our days outside. We sleep and shower, sometimes eat in the van, but much of the day is spent outside. Today Melanie is working on a picnic table at Stanley Ranger Station.
The many and varied places we continue to travel to and through while not being on vacation. Before COVID-19, we were often planned to be located in church parking lots on weekends for Melanie's work. Since churches are not currently meeting, we can move at will and travel where we please as long as Melanie is connected for work. Sometimes that proves challenging, hardly ever impossible. Flexibility of movement equals great freedom.
Experience may vary depending on what you're willing to compromise.
Bogus Basin, Idaho (July 9-12, 2020)
Day trip Stanley Ranger Station to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho with JW (July 19,2020)
Good afternoon from Klamath Falls, Oregon where we're in residence for a few days at Rocky Point Resort. It's a sunny day here, low this morning was 42. It will reach 68 degrees this afternoon sometime. The resort is situated on Recreation Creek which flows into Upper Klamath Lake. Beautiful serene spot.
We've now been out on the road and away from quarantine in Sisters, Oregon for just over two weeks. We traveled down the Southern Oregon Coast into northern California as far south as Fortuna, California.
After leaving Fortuna, we moved inland and north to Trinity Center, California. The drive away from the coast and into the mountains along the Trinity River to get there is a truly amazing and remote experience. Recommended with the qualification, if you're driving a vehicle that's 25' in length or more, you must give yourself more time than you imagine the mileage dictates due to mountain roads being up and down and curvy.
We were in residence at a KOA Campground near the Trinity Lake for a few days. The campground is large and many of the people camped there are seasonal, some from the California coast who want a bit more of the summer's warmth Trinity Center has to offer them.
Connectivity was somewhat a problem at the KOA, so we cycled over to Trinity Center a few days so Melanie could work at the local market that had outside tables and where our Verizon signal strength was much better. The church across the street from the market had a sign asking people to join The State of Jefferson. Who knew? A modern-day secessionists' movement that encompasses Northern California and some of Southern Oregon.
All that's missing from their sign is a Confederate battle flag. White people wanting to over turn Reynolds v. Sims, a case originating in Birmingham, Alabama that established the one man-one vote principle. They don't like taxes. Imagine.
We took several nice bike rides along California Highway 3 and Trinity Lake. I took a ride to a trailhead into the Trinity Alps Wilderness one afternoon.
We left Trinity Center on Monday morning traveling to Klamath Falls, Oregon and our current spot on Northern Klamath Lake. We'll be here until Friday morning when we'll travel north and west to Eugene again. We'll resupply and head toward the Oregon Coast again and northward into Washington State.
Our plans to stay at a campground just north of Crater Lake National Park were dashed yesterday afternoon when the park service extended the closure of Diamond Lake campground due to concerns about COVID-19. Drats.
We'll most likely take Miranda to Crater Lake tomorrow morning for a brief visit, hopefully the weather will cooperate.
It's a bright, sunny and cool day here in Sisters, Oregon. Current temp is 50 degrees, but when I went out to Miranda this morning to make our coffee at around 6:30 a.m., it was 33 degrees. The days may be getting longer, but the temperatures still feel like early spring.
Melanie and I have decided, after being quarantined in Sisters for almost two months, we are ready to begin our travels again. We do so, as you may imagine, with some trepidation, but armed with good information about how to stay safe in the time of pandemic.
We will miss our spot in Sisters. Our stay here has been nothing short of great. Even as the virus continues to plague many areas of the country. We are fortunate to have been invited to shelter here and grateful for our hosts, Christy and Jack. It's good to also know, if things don't go as we hope and plan once we're back out traveling, we have a place to which we can return, if need be.
It's the Sunday before Memorial Day. The New York Times headline, U.S. Deaths Near 100,000 an Incalculable Loss. Meanwhile, 45 spends Saturday and today golfing and posting racist tweets from a racist supporter. No mention by 45 of lives lost due to COVID-19. So it goes.
Memorial Day 2020
We end our Sisters quarantine tomorrow and begin our travels anew. First to Eugene, Oregon, then on to the Oregon coast.
I'd intended to cycle one last time into the Cascades on McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway to McKenzie Pass, but there's much to do in preparation for departure tomorrow. Aside from the beauty and great exercise I've gotten from my rides around Sisters and on the scenic highway, I'll miss the many and varied conversations I've had with people who take the scenic route.
Always maintaining the proper physical distance, I was reminded by a physicians assistant from Bend that physical distance didn't necessarily mean we had to forego social contact. We could talk to each other from safe distance.
I met someone from my hometown of Columbus, Georgia one day while in Windy Gap. She had worked in Portland, but retired with her husband and now lives in Sisters. While we went to the same high school, she is younger and so I missed knowing her when we both lived there.
There was the guy from Bend who misunderstood me thinking I was being critical of him when I said you'd have to be missing a brain not to understand the gravity of our situation during the pandemic. His response was to declare he had a very large brain and to ride off abruptly leaving his companion to apologize to me. Luckily, I saw them both again and was able to explain my comments were not critical of him. I did not mean to insult. He apologized too and, I assume, all was well.
I met another couple, John and Susan, from Bend as I was stopped and was drinking water at the closed seasonal gate on the highway. John asked if my bike was an electric assist. When I responded, yes, he mentioned his was also. We struck up a conversation as we ascended the highway and Susan mentioned that John would soon turn 91 years young. I suddenly felt like a kid.
Turns out John, who is a retired Mathematician/Physicist, had, for a time, taught at Auburn University in 1958. John has a blog, Hoalablog, you may find interesting. He suggested I start at the beginning, I would suggest you also start there and peruse at your leisure.
I've exchanged emails with them and hope to stay in touch from time to time. Susan sent along places along the Oregon coast she and John have enjoyed for us to consider.
Here's an excerpt from John's blog:
It is fall, 1957. I am newly married to Barbara, my first wife. We are in Auburn, Alabama where I am a Temporary Instructor in the Physics Department at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later to become Auburn University. We have ended up in Auburn because Barbara was acquainted with Dr. Howard Carr, head of the Physics Department and knew that the department badly needed people to teach elementary physics to engineering students and liberal arts majors. Letters written from Innsbruck plus a positive reference from my graduate adviser at Stanford (Georg Polya, a well-known mathematician) sealed the deal. Of course, I had pretty much forgotten the little physics I had ever known so I would need to learn the subject from the text I was teaching and try to stay a week or so ahead of my students. Since I was planning to become a physicist anyway, this was a fun challenge and I didn’t do too badly in meeting it. Certainly, I could appreciate and relate to the difficulties my students were having with the subject. Meanwhile, Barbara had decided to switch her major from mathematics to English literature so was taking graduate courses in the English Department.
That fall we were totally absorbed in life. I was passionately in love with Barbara and working hard on learning elementary physics and doing well with my teaching. As a faculty member I had easy access to football tickets and enjoyed going to games. The Auburn team that year was winning all their games, a new experience for me after watching games in high school and at Stanford. In high school I watched Punahou lose 64 – 0 to Kamehameha in their first game and lose every subsequent game thereafter. Stanford had a similarly bad season my freshman year. In retrospect I think that the Auburn team was the best college team I’ve ever seen. They had an overwhelming defense often holding opponents to negative yardage on the ground. Their games were not exciting because they did not seem to be very fired up. They would get a lead of a few points, shut down their opponents, and play out the rest of the game in a boring manner. There was only the suspense of wondering if the opposition would score on a fluke play. When it came time to play the last game of the season against arch-rival Alabama, the press was wondering if there would be an upset because Auburn’s wins had been less than dramatic while Alabama hadn’t done all that badly. The game started in a usual manner. Auburn won the toss and, as they always did in such circumstances, elected to kick. As the kickoff sailed down the field I suddenly realized I was looking at a different, fired up, team. The Alabama receiver took the ball in the end zone and started up the field, making little progress as flying tackles narrowly missed their target. The runner was shortly overwhelmed at about the 15 yard line. In the next few plays Alabama lost yardage and finally fumbled after a hard hit in their end zone. Auburn 7, Alabama 0. Subsequently Auburn finally displayed their offense. They did have an all-American end, Jimmy Phillips, who played sensationally and their ground game became effective. Final score 40 – 0. What impressed me about that Auburn team was the philosophy of doing the minimum necessary to win, in a relaxed manner, never playing to potential unless necessary or in a game with Alabama. This attitude, with its suggestion of power held in reserve, smacked of the Zen I would later encounter.
Also in that Fall Quarter I was becoming acquainted with Barbara’s family and numerous relatives, taking in the friendly Southern atmosphere, which overlay a terrible racism, seldom explicitly on display to me. However, I knew it was there. The first morning in Auburn I was awake at dawn, still not adjusted to the time change, so got up in the early light and headed to town up the main street. A black man came down the side walk in front of me, began to hesitate when about thirty feet away, then stepped off the sidewalk three or four feet into the street and cowered, half turned away from me with head bowed, as I walked by. I was totally appalled, having grown up in Hawaii where there are too many races and racial mixtures for serious prejudice though people other than haoles (whites) had been quite subjugated in the days before I grew up. By the time I was in high school, however, one could be taunted for being a haole and perhaps beaten up, so what prejudice there was operated in all directions. In Alabama, because I am a realist and definitely a coward as well, I never openly challenged the mores of that time, but tried to treat black people with respect.
From Oregon Health Authority on Memorial Day 2020
Steven and Melanie