While camping on Carlsbad Beach in California, I noticed an ad for a ride in a biplane. Barnstormers! Wilbur and Orville! Snoopy and Red Baron! Two for the price of one! Janene revved high spirits as we opened our pickup doors, “You look like you came from Colorado!” Enthusiasm flowed as she briefed us, checking for hazards: “Are you wearing earrings, Ann? Tuck your hood in, so it won’t pull. I have a vest if you’re cold.” I especially appreciated these efforts because I was so nervous about getting airsick, I’d taken two pills, and they were making me slow […]
A few years ago a pinecone dropped out of the top of a ridiculously tall tree and wacked me upside the head. It didn’t need to do that. I learned a long time ago that paying attention to pinecones pays off. I figured out how pine cones come into being when I noticed a few clumps of needles that had turned red. Apparently cones don’t start from a special bud, just some co-opted needles. In biology lab I learned that tiny cones like these above are males. If you spot one in spring, shake it and watch for yellow powder–pollen. […]
As I cooled my trail-weary feet in a mountain stream, I noticed a small creature flitting above the water about tree top height. A glut of recently hatched gnats no doubt inspired the critter’s erratic hover. The flier was bat-sized, a little small for a bird, and its flight was bat-like as well. Yet the evening seemed too early for bats. I watched for several minutes trying to distinguish bat or bird and finally got the right angle to see that the head was bird-like. Shortly after that, as I sat beside our camper, something flew just over my head and apparently clung briefly to the side of […]
I’ve always loved finding sweet ripe serviceberries (pronounced sarvice) while hiking in the mountains. The Waterton Park guide called them Saskatoon berries which has an even funner ring to it. Our campsite was overrun with them, so when our dog spotted a bear rummaging around right under our window, I was only surprised that the bear didn’t stay longer.
A fellow Newfoundland Ferryboater commented on the miles that Steve claimed we’d put on our trailer. I said that Steve is the kind of guy that likes to get there…and there, and there, and there. The man’s wife upped the smart comment bar by saying: “He thinks he’s a shark and has to keep moving or die.”
“We scouts raised enough money to stay on Grand Mesa for two weeks. The Mesa is the highest flat-topped mountain in the world. It’s beautiful country; forests of blue spruce, ponderosa pine, and aspen with flowery meadows in between. The flat top collects rainfall in three hundred sixty lakes and a zillion marshes. Those wet-lands make for a whole lot of hungry mosquitoes, but we scouts were tough. After two weeks of eating the fish that ate the mosquitoes that feasted on us, we were all blood brothers, and there was no mystery left in the circle of life.” Thought […]
Most of my elderly relatives lost their hearing, but I never heard of any of my predecessors getting burned. So when our camp trailer’s smoke detector shrieked without reason once again, I was more concerned with preventing further cochlear damage than preserving the detector. Steve entertained our friends, who were camped next door, with a dramatic rendition of that incident, and Linda asked him to send me over to fix their detector too. Some years later, that infamous detector still seems to be working, it just doesn’t attach to the ceiling anymore. Steve noticed today that it is 10 years old, and the ones in our house are […]
The man is losing it. I’ve gotten used to Steve firing up our GPS, Faith, to drive to places that he could find in his sleep. I concentrate on my puzzles and block out her prattling every name ever assigned to each highway. When he ignores her pleas to “turn around when possible,” I console myself: better her than me. But for our trip to Newfoundland, Steve decided that we would listen to Faith and the truck’s built-in GPS’ in tandem. A month-long duet of “route recalculation” and “turn around when possible?” Yes, absolutely, a second opinion would double our chances of finding the best route for our 8,000 mile journey. Great, […]