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Thursday, August 16, 2012

POST 686: 08/16/12: SALVO, OUTER BANKS, N.C.

My five minute walk to Pastor Steve's home this morning resulted in another bunch of mosquito bites. Angry now, I drove to near by ACE HARDWARE, where I purchased a bottle of "what the locals use": CUTTER BACKYARD BUG CONTROL. Returning home, hooked up Linda's hoses to my bottle of Cutter and sprayed the yard grass until it was well soaked.

...first, put on long thick pants, long sleeve shirt, Aussie Hat and Betty's Bee Net.

Have not seen a mosquito since spraying.

So, since I was already dressed for bug protection, cranked up Linda's lawn mower and finished cutting the grass.

Today's other achievement has been to strip out the entire Food Pantry building. Mixing up a solution of antiseptic and water, washed down all the shelving and the concrete floor. The concrete is impossible to keep clean...sweep it 6 times and then once again still results in a dust pan full of, I again trundled back to Ace Hardware where I purchased a gallon of cement paint which I will apply on Monday.

Cleaning the shelving, ran into a few undesirable crawling critters...some of which escaped me. So, I have set off a bug bomb inside...after first removing food items. Must wait 4.5 hours before entering the closed space. Will then again wash everything down in preparation for arrival of new food items tomorrow morning.

Food Pantry customers will begin arriving around 9:30 am, so will be busy this evening and in the morning. Will accompany a driver to the local Food Lion Grocery Store at 7:00 am, pick up the food set aside for our Food Pantry, drive the 35 miles back to Salvo, unload, sort, and stock the newly sparkling shelves before opening up for clients.

Wearing my anti-mosquito get up today resulted in bites only to my hands. All else was protected...even tho many mosquitoes swarmed around my head, they could not get thru the bee net.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

POST 685: 08/15/12: SALVO, OUTER BANKS, N.C.

Finally, I have a functioning home. A number of boxes remain to be unloaded, but Kitchen, Living, Bath, and Bedroom are all up and running - even the hot water tank....weeeee, hot baths !

Have checked in at the Food Bank (Food Pantry) and have received the "key" with the advice that it is all mine. Am informed that as soon as local schools re-start, locals will flood to the Food Pantry. During the Summer, tourist activity apparently keeps locals busy and in food essentials.

Trailer is on display at the LIFEBOAT CHURCH, sponsor of Salvo, N.C. Food Pantry, having Highway 12 exposure. Hope for a sale in a few days. The motorcycle has been put through it's paces and performs OK - now in the protection of Landlady Linda's garage. MPV / Mazda is relieved from it's burden of the trailer and also performs like new - even with nearly 253,000 miles...and having been rebuilt three times:

Yes, my MPV has been in three crashes...two involving deer requiring new sheet metal to the front window - engine and suspension totally avoided damage -, and a third injury to both front and back: Nephew Dale driving, stopped in traffic in Seattle when a speeding motorist crashed into the U-Haul trailer Dale was towing to pick up shipments from Europe. The crash was so severe that the trailer hitch broke free and went flying through the MPV rear the same time pushing the front end into the flatbed truck stopped in front.

All running features of the MPV avoided damage. Metalwork was perfect during all three repair efforts...and the MPV runs, as I said, like new.

But, I do have a major problem involving the MPV. It is parked on the "crab" grass in front of my new 2-bedroom home, about 100 feet away. Walking from the MPV to the front door results in a swarm of mosquitoes attacking every exposed bit of skin. Running to the front door results in a half-dozen bites...opening and entering lets in 5 or 6 mosquitoes...which I spend the next hour tracking down.

Have been in Salvo one week and have at least 25 bites still irritating and itching.

...that is until today. Today, I offered to mow the grass of Linda's three homes, of which one is mine. Linda has a small manually pushed gas mower to chop down a large expanse of grass, some of which is over 1.5 feet high. Wearing long heavy pants, long sleeve shirt and hat with ear flaps protected all except my face and neck. At this writing, the right side of my face - from forehead to neckline, is swollen with too numerous to count mosquito bites...

...and I itch like crazy.

I MUST find a defense against the millions of mosquitoes which rise up from the sodden - been raining for nearly three weeks - grass at every step. The town "mosquito" spray truck trundled by yesterday sending out clouds of mosquito spray. The truck passed by quite fast, pointing the spray nozzles mostly over the pavement...not many mosquitoes live in the pavement..., but not much spray over the grasses lining the roadway.

I do have a "bee" net which I received as a gift from Ed and Betty (Oregon) two years ago. I used Betty's bee net extensively until I became oxygen deprived in Georgia and collapsed, ending up in ER. Nonetheless, I have broken out Betty's bee net, which will become a required garment when walking to and from the MPV.

Began my quest to find employment. No luck today, but am encouraged by learning of three businesses looking for "help". Perhaps tomorrow will land me a source of $$ income...which I need to pay off trailer and MPV repairs incurred en-route from Bellingham.

My home is 1 city block from the Atlantic Ocean Beaches; 3 blocks from Pamlico Sound, and 3 blocks from the Food Pantry. Am pleased that I need not drive the MPV much for the moment.

Have not walked significantly since leaving Bellingham two weeks ago. Most folks living in OBX are runners. Have not run since giving up Marathons 35 years ago...perhaps it is time to get my old body back into running condition...must be cautious, however, not to re-damage either knee, both of which have received ORTHOSCOPIC surgery to repair running damage of years ago.

Sure is fun growing old...especially since I am keeping myself healthy and finding so many interesting and intriguing activities ... not to mention oodles of new / old friends.

Monday, August 13, 2012

POST 684: 08/13/12: SALVO, OUTER BANKS, N.C..

Yes, arrived last Thursday evening in Salvo, North Carolina on the sand spit of the Outer Banks.

Has taken most of three days to unload the trailer and decide where to put what to make my new home livable. Linda Hooper, my landlady, has presented me a like-new 2 bedroom home...fully redone after being flooded - along with dozens of neighborhood homes - with up to 5.5 feet of water during Hurricane Irene of last September.

The first night, Linda offered one of her own home bedrooms (thank you, Linda). Linda added a couch, kitchen table & chairs and all appliances - including a heat pump to ward off the stifling humidity. Feel somewhat guilty all alone in my spacious home, as Pastor Steve and Betty are sharing their tiny newly renovated home with friends and family shoehorned into every nook and cranny.

Spent better part of two days visiting sister Carol in DeKalb, Illinois. Carol is doing OK, but is still in need of assistance. She seemed pleased that I dropped by to see her again so soon, as she assumed she would not see me for quite a long just never knows.

I took time to install rear brakes on the MPV...and good thing too. To avoid the series of steep West Virginia Allegheny mountains along I-40 and Highway 64, I stayed North, driving Highway 68 East in West Virginia and Maryland (close to the Pennsylvania border) before turning Southeast to Washington D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia to reach OBX at Kitty Hawk.


The northern route had many more L O N G and S T E E P hills than the southern route ever did. Poor MPV was constantly jarred by rough roadways plus the strain of dragging our heavy trailer.

MPV, however, performed flawlessly. Drank up tons of gasoline. Normal gas mileage is + / - 20 MPG. This trip, she realized only 12 - 14 mpg over our course of 3,350 miles. We consumed 260 gallons of fuel @ $4.00 = $1,040.00.

We made the 3,350 miles in 7 days/nights, taking motel rooms at from $45.00 to $80.00 per night, wiping out an additional $450.00.

U-Haul wanted $1,000.00 to rent their large (but not large enough) trailer one way from Bellingham to OBX, so I purchased a new larger trailer for $3,000.00, which I will now sell for around $2,200.00.

All told - including $150.00 for food, $250.00 for new rear tires and $300.00 for new rear brakes, this trip cost:

$1,040.00 (fuel)
450.00 (motel)
150.00 (food)
250.00 (tires)
300.00 (brakes)
800.00 (trailer)

$2,990.00 Total for the trip...

In the next day or so, I will look for employment.

Arriving in Salvo, I could not get close to my new home because of the extensive flooding left behind after three days of soaking rain. The land (all sand) here is only about 6 feet above sea level. There is simply no way to drain away the rain water left behind. Wearing boots, I was able to back the trailer up to the home. Between rain squalls, I was able to carry all my stuff into the home. Two of Linda's friends helped me move the heavy credenza and off-load the motorcycle (thank you guys).

Assisted in yesterday's - Sunday - Food Pantry. This morning - Monday -, spent a hour or so sorting through the veggies and breads, discarding out-of-date items into the dumpster. On Wednesday, new product will be picked up to restock the shelves. The Food Pantry is open Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings.

With all the flooding, mosquitoes are rampant. Backing the trailer up to the front steps, I was bitten no less than 6 times. One critter slipped into the house, giving me more stings during the night...part of the price paid to live in OBX.

Unpacking has been a traumatic trip. I managed to hold on to a few meaningful items from previous years...a photograph or two, a few dishes, a favorite dishtowel, a gifted "I Love My Teacher" coffee cup. Once again taking these treasures into my hands has returned a flood of memories...memories difficult to process.

I have not slept well. For the first time in many years, I mixed and drank a few Rum & Cokes.

Realization has fallen that I am indeed beginning a new chapter...a chapter I swore I would never venture near. I'm not sure what I feel. "Empty" might be appropriate.

I am, of the moment, not quite so certain of where I am...where I am heading. I do know, however, that I must - will - go on, looking to gain the next round the next corner.

Have shed more than a few tears maneuvering through recent days.

...Lisbon to Beijing is becoming ever-so-important.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

POST 683: 08/07-08/12; ON THE ROAD - DEKALB, IL.

Have avoided most criticisms in this blog; one constant, however, must be mentioned:

I-90 (Interstate 90), is becoming a rutted undulating roadway in need of significant maintenance / replacement. Poor MPV has been beaten up.

In particular, approaches to bridges: many approaches have sunk / separated below bridge-level roadway surface, leaving severe "bumps" driving onto and off bridge surfaces.

Also, a couple feet or so on the berm-side of concrete expansion joints are being broken apart - seems to result from insufficient sub-base support and ever-heavier trucks, leaving gaping holes between concrete sections often filled with large chunks of mangled concrete pieces. In Wisconsin, I nearly hit a worker removing - by hand - pieces of crushed concrete...he was out in the traffic lane in heavy traffic...with NO warning signs set out to protect him, or even wearing a reflective vest.

Driving is becoming hazardous!!

Truckers are still following much too close to vehicles in front of them...witnessed a truck running onto the back of a car, turning it sideways and throwing it across two traffic lanes to smash into the center divider..

OK, enough of that.

Visited with sister Carol in DeKalb, Illinois for 24 hours before continuing on to OBX. Carol is doing OK considering the burden(s) she is carrying.

Took the opportunity to stop in at MIDAS, where the MPV received new rear brakes. The old brake pads had NO friction surface remaining and had been metal to metal. Installed all new parts. MPV now brakes properly. No excuse for not changing the brakes back in B'ham, except for lack of $$ until my SS arrived on 08/03. Total rear wheel brake job: $285.00.

Also, gas prices (regular 85 octane gas) prices in DeKalb are now $4.99 gallon. Sister Carol says price was about $3.50 only a couple days ago.

Drove from DeKalb on I-39 to I-70 East. Stopped for the night at the up-scale COMFORT INN motel in Danville, Illinois. Took a swim and hot-tub soak...what a pleasure !

In the morning, will continue on I-70 to above Washington, D.C. Will drive to and thru Washington D.C. where we will pick up I-95 South...then to US 64 in North Carolina, which we will take to Nags Head, Outer Banks...about 600 miles distant.

During the few minutes writing this short blog update, VERIZON has "dropped out" five times !!

Very annoying.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

POST 682; 08/05/12: ON THE ROAD TO OBX - I-90

MPV with her severely overloaded trailer. Trailer hitch is nearly scraping the ground. Front tires are contacting roadway surface just enough to enable positive steering.

If this were not plenty to challenge our drive, must admit that both rear brakes have now depleted the brake pads...which had 2mm remaining when we departed Bellingham.

Using plenty of motor braking to slow this duo safely.

Took two days driving to find the proper running speed and how to brake such a heavy unwieldy tandem. Today, we ran between 65 and 70 a very comfortable stability factor.

Stopped at Mitchell, South Dakota for gas and 1/2 hour nap.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has resulted in I-90 literally filled with motorcycles...thousands of motorcycles converging on the small town in South Dakota. I heard one report that 1.2 million
(1,200,000) motorcycles have been expected.

The Mitchell Gas Station was crowded with bikes en route to Sturgis.

MPV performed well again today. She seems to like cruising at the higher speed...which gives her a boost when climbing the hills - hills must less demanding that those of the Rocky Mountains.

Have stopped for the night at a truck stop motel ($39.50) near the city of Madison, Wisconsin.

We should arrive in DeKalb before noon tomorrow, where I hope to spend two days with sister Carol.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

POST 681; 08/04/12; ON THE ROAD TO OBX - I-90

Slept soundly last night. The Sheridan, Wyoming motel furnished an excellent "Continental" Breakfast to send us on our way.

Leaving town on I-90 South, I stopped to take the above photograph of the distant mountains bordering Yellowstone National Park.

Another beautiful day greeted my MPV, which again performed without a hiccup all day. In fact, a strong tail wind pushed us along I-90 at average speeds of 60 - 65 mph, improving gas mileage to 16 mpg.

The Rocky Mountains are now behind us. The Northern Grasslands of Wyoming and South Dakota are still quite undulating, offering up some challenging hills.

The past three days have produced many hundreds of motorcycles on I-90. Yesterday I realized that this is the weekend for the Sturgis Motorcycle of the most popular and well attended events in the USA.

Around mid-day, passed through Sturgis as we headed East on I-90. Wanted to go into town to witness the festivities...but the roads into town were chocked with motorcycles, campers and vehicles pulling, continued without stopping.

As I passed Sturgis by, I was thinking about...and looking for...Danielle Hebert. Danielle attended the Sturgis Rally two years ago and had some interesting observations re. public nudity and sex.

Did, however, stop in the town of WALL.

Having driven I-90 often during the past 60 or so years, have always stopped in WALL to buy an ice cream from the WALL DRUG STORE.

Today, I opted for a large chocolate milk shake...easier and safer to consume while driving.

Main Street, Wall, South Dakota.

Restaurant inside WALL DRUG STORE, which has not changed from my first visit.

Please say HELLO to this biker (motorcycle) from Indiana...on his way to Sturgis after a quick stop over in WALL.

Stopped at six motels along I-90, but every one was fully booked...because of Sturgis.
I finally found a room in a small motel in the town of White Lake, South Dakota. So fortunate am be offered the "apartment" ...a truly fully furnished three room apartment, including food - which I have not touched -.

Special Note Re Danielle Hebert: I have mentioned Danielle on this blog a number of times during the past two years. Danielle is touring North America on her motorcycle, writing music and performing wherever a venue presents itself. During the past two days I have had a strong and unsettling feeling about the degree that I carefully looked at bikers as they passed us on I-90.

Have received Danielle's e-message this evening that - unknown to me - she has been granted entry back into the USA and yesterday was riding south from Helena, Montana by way of Butte, Montana on I-90 / I-15. It appears that Danielle was in fact at or near Sheridan, Wyoming within the past 24 hours...I over-nighted last night in Sheridan, Wyoming.

In the morning, will continue East on I-90 toward DeKalb, Illinois...and on to OBX.

Friday, August 3, 2012

POST 680: 08/03/12; ON THE ROAD TO OBX

By this evening, have travelled 1,035 miles of the 3,000 to OBX.

MPV performed without ailment, climbing numerous torturous hills today at under 25 mph. Strange to realize how difficult - and picturesque - I-90 really is. Have driven I-90 coast to coast at least 20 times, and only now, after 2 + years of walking and observing, do I "see" that which I pass by.

Mid afternoon found me driving up the hill to the Battlefield Of The Little Big Horn...seen in the grove of trees at the top of the hill.

This, my third visit to Custer's Last Stand Memorial, is the first time I really understood that which I was seeing.

Entering the Battlefield National Park, the above cemetery greets visitors. I have the option to be buried in such a National Cemetery...having served 10 years honorably in the USAF.

Panorama from the Visitor's Center of the hillside of the battlefield.

Custer's "last stand" is located at top left, a few yards beyond the teepee.

Fighting occurred across and beyond the actual hillside battlefield. Groups of killed US 7th Cavalry Soldiers were found in a number of places.

Receiving an excellent lecture from Ranger Dan at the Visitor's Center.

Ranger Dan told about his most difficult post-lecture question...received from an 8-year old boy:

"Who, Ranger Dan, were the good guys and who were the bad guys"

Please click click to enlarge the photos.

The Battlefield of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Please click click to enlarge.

Custer's last stand was in the top center of the large green highlight.

The fenced-in area with the gravestones are the limits of Custer's "last stand" position.

Custer and 41 7th Calvary soldiers were killed here. Bodies lay for two days before being recovered. Only officers bodies were recovered - and taken elsewhere for burial (Custer's grave lies in the grounds of West Point Academy above the Hudson River north of New York City).

The enlisted bodies remained where they died. Years later, remains were recovered and placed in a mass grave within the fenced-in area.

The Eastern portion of the battlefield - as seen from where Custer and his 41 died.

The opposite view to the West.

Present day Visitor's Center is in the tree grove next to the cemetery.

A mural painting of the battlefield...specifically Custer's "last stand hill".

Battlefield monument standing over Custer's men's mass grave.

Teepee on display next to the Visitor's Center.

Indian Chief in full regalia on display inside the battlefield museum.

Leaving the battlefield, I drove to the city of Sheridan, Wyoming, where another motel room has been taken ($79.00). In the morning, will continue on I-90 toward DeKalb, Illinois.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

POST 679; 08/02/12: ON THE ROAD TO OBX

Yesterday the lawn received it's last trimming from yours truly. Also spent a difficult day culling furniture items to be taken to OBX in the trailer. Many items offered by my Partner could not be included for lack of room...the trailer is STUFFED and weighs much more than is reasonable for the MPV to pull 3,000 miles over three mountain ranges.

After attaching the trailer to the MPV hitch, the rear tires were nearly flat from the weight. Les Schwab told me the rear tires were worn out and must be replaced, so invested another couple hundred $$ in new rear tires.

Wanted to watch "So You Think You Can Dance", but also needed some sleep, so listened to the pillow at 8:30 pm til midnight.

At midnight, said goodbye to E - perhaps for the last time - and drove into the night...

With continuing cataract fuzziness, it was difficult to see clearly...I kept on anyway, driving down I-5 to Bellevue - then picked up I-90 East, driving over the Cascade Mountains by way of Snoqualmie Pass, crossed Washington's desert to Spokane and continued on to Missoula, Montana, where I have taken a motel room for the night.

Was behind the wheel from midnight until 4:00 pm, having taken one hour to sleep as I crossed the Idaho Panhandle, and two hours to repair the broken belt.

Near Ritzville, Washington (about 30 miles West of Spokane), the water pump / alternator belt broke, bringing red trouble lights on. Stopped immediately as I knew the red lights indicated a broken belt. Phoned a local Ritzville Auto Company, who drove the 3 miles from town with three new belts. 1.5 hours - and $185.00 - later, the MPV was running like new again.

Full Moon over Washington's Columbia Basin.

Brooks Street Motor Inn, Missoula, Montana, where we are spending the night.

No, I did not receive any discount... "walkers" some times receive significant discounts, but I have not been so fortunate as of late.

Walked one mile to a local Chinese Buffet - and back.

Offering was not exceptional, but was OK.

Missoula is surrounded by high hills of the Rocky Mountains.

My MPV worked very hard today climbing a number of hills in compound low dragging our overweight trailer. After some 13 grueling hours , she was running well. There are a number of long steep hills still waiting for us.

Four years ago, the Bellingham Mazda Dealer - a personal friend - advised me to get rid of my MPV as it was even then nearing 1/4 million miles. Instead, I put $4,000 of in-depth maintenance into her. Performance today seems to have justified my decision.

In all, we drove 562 miles today. Not an exceptional number of miles for 13 hours on the road.
But then, many of those hours were climbing hills at 30 - 35 miles per hour.

MPV cruising speed today has been between 55 - 60 miles per hour.

Am surprised by my lack of stamina behind the wheel...but look forward to the rest of our trip back to the Outer Banks.