Saturday, August 24, 2013

I've Still Got It Baby!

I woke up Saturday, turned on the radio and what was playing? Hot Rod Lincoln. Yeah baby! It's my 60th birthday and most of the time I feel like a hot rod Lincoln. I can still remember when I thought about my parents or my grandparents in their 50's and thought to myself "that's old". But that's not how I feel as I turn 60. Joan and I are blessed with good health and positive attitudes that contribute to feeling 'younger'. Maybe not younger, but I certainly don't feel as old as I used to think 60 was. I opened some presents and Joan stated she was going to keep me for another 10 years! Yahoo!

Last week we had a young man, Scott, pedal into the campground for 1 night's stay. As I escorted him to his site I asked where he was from and found out he lived about 5 miles from where we lived in Florida. He had just graduated from FSU (GO NOLES!) and was helping his sister move from Atlanta to Denver. He had traveled from Denver to Buena Vista before renting a bike to explore the local area. His plans included horseback riding and white water rafting before he had to head back home. He was also considering his future career plans.....a great desire to become a Fish & Game officer or Park Ranger; or use his degree in environmental engineering to develop/build habitat-friendly communities. Good Luck Scott.

A couple of weeks ago Joan stayed home while I drove to one of my softball games. When the game finished I walked out to the car only to remember I'd left the key in my ball bag inside the car. OH NO! Maybe just maybe it's not locked. I don't remember locking it. So I tried the door. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Dang! It is locked. BEEP BEEP BEEP. And the car alarm is going off. BEEP BEEP BEEP. And I'm 9 miles from another key. BEEP BEEP BEEP. So I made a command decision. BEEP BEEP BEEP. I quickly walked away from the car. BEEP BEEP BEEP. To the other side of the ball field. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Way far away from the car. BEEP BEEP BEEP. "Hey guys, anybody got a cell phone I can borrow?" BEEP BEEP BEEP. I quickly called Joan and requested that she bring me a key to the car. "How am I going to get there? Ride the motorcycle?" she said. BEEP BEEP BEEP. "I don't know. I just need a key" I replied. BEEP BEEP BEEP. So for the next 15 minutes.....BEEP BEEP BEEP.....I talked with my buddies......BEEP BEEP BEEP...."would the owner of the white Grand Cherokee please turn off the car alarm" someone announced over the PA system...BEEP BEEP BEEP......well you get the picture. Joan hitched a ride from our neighbor and showed up about 5 minutes after the alarm finally reset itself. I casually and inconspicuously meandered back to the car and quickly left the scene. We both pledged we would be going to the hardware store to have a hide-a-key made and hidden on the car the next day.

The scenery is great...
But the situation sucks!
Fast forward to yesterday, 8am. We get a page from our boss stating we didn't have to start work until 1pm. Hey Joan, we've got 5 hours to explore. Where should we go? "Let's go towards Leadville, I love that drive" she replied. So off we go north to a little turnoff towards Clear Creek Reservoir. We drove about 4 miles until we saw a sign indicating 8 miles to the abandoned historic mining town of Winfield. Let's Go! Up the mountain we go until we arrive at Winfield . Numerous late 1800/early 1900 cabins on both sides of the road with small information signs. Looks like a neat place to explore. Out of the car, lock the door. "I need the camera from the back seat" says Joan. "You've got the keys" says I. "No I put them in the cup holder" says Joan. "We are so screwed" says I. No....we had not gotten the hide-a-key yet. So....12 miles up the mountain, no cell signal, with no signs of civilization......we are so screwed. About that time a 4-wheel drive drives past us up the hill, travels about another 100 yards before turning off road and into a small cabin set back into the woods. Maybe just maybe they’ve got a coat hanger or hacksaw blade that I can use to try and open the door lock. I walk up to the cabin and yes, they have a coat hanger. After 30 minutes of pushing the wire through the gap between the door and door frame; and trying to push the unlock button, we scrap that idea. If I had a longer wire maybe I could hook the keys in the center console cup holder. So it’s back to the cabin and would you have another hanger and pair of pliers I could borrow? Sure, no problem. 
Emergency Key...or
Hide A Key
Which would you prefer?
So I twist the hangers together to get a 5’ length of wire, bend a small hook in one end and start fishing for keys. Joan’s laying on the hood and across the windshield so she can see the keys in the bottom of the cup holder which I can’t see from the door; directing me “little to the left, turn the hook, up, down, missed it. More to the front, down, forward, more to the right. Right there….you’ve got it……easy…..up……don’t drop it…….yeah!” So now I’ve got the keys on the end of a 5’ piece of wire that we’ve got to pull through the door gaskets. We used the handle of the pliers to pry the door open about a ½ inch from the door jam and slipped the keys out. “We are so not screwed anymore” 2 hours after we arrived we’re on our way home. YEAH! And I’m proud to announce that as of today we have a spare hide-a-key on the jeep. Who says you can’t teach an old dog a new trick. Not as dumb as I look am I? Wait, don’t answer that.

 Back to my birthday. Before we head out to Denver to pick up Joan’s niece who is flying in from Raleigh, NC to spend a couple days with us, we go out for breakfast. After breakfast we’re walking to the car when Joan says she’ll drive because I have one more present to open and it will take a while. ????? That’s curious. She hands me the gift and I open the box to find 62 birthday cards….from friends and family across the country that Joan had been secretly collecting for over a month. What a surprise. I spend the next hour opening cards and reading them. What fun. Thanks everyone. What a great surprise.

 Well, that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time Flies

Less than 3 weeks left in Colorado. Working in a private campgound is different from the previous workamper jobs we've held during the last 2 years......(Yes, October will be 2 years since Joan and I moved into our MH fulltime!). Our job responsibilities are generally the same each day with the exception of a special project or odd-job every once in a while. When we go to work Joan knows that she will be registering guests, working in the store and/or house cleaning. I know I will be cleaning sites, trash and recycling pickup, and escorting/parking campers. The weather here is great, our co-workers are fun and entertaining to work with, and our work schedule is not overtaxing. For workampers that prefer routine, working in a private campground is the way to go.
Mt Hood - Oregon

That being said, the jobs Joan and I held in Mt Hood National Forest last year and Lake Mead NRA earlier this year were always varying and our schedule was always flexible and changing.

Lake Mead NRA

We really enjoyed the variety of places we were going, people we were seeing and things we were doing. Which one is better? Joan and I agree.....we like the variety.

We have our next job lined up for this fall back in Lake Mead....and no, it's not the same one we had last year. We will be located in a different CG; working for a different boss; and we'll have different job responsibilities. We will be road monitoring. "What is road monitoring?" you ask. Is it like being a Hall Monitor in school? Kinda' sounds like sitting beside the highway ensuring everyone has a pass and is being quiet! The answer is "No"

Lake Mead NRA encompasses nearly 3000 square miles of land and was the 5th most visited National Park in 2009. And while there are only a few hundred miles of paved roads within the park, there are over a thousand miles of unpaved and back country roads throughout the park for off-road and 4x4 vehicles. Joan and I will be given a 4-wheel drive truck and we will be driving the back country roads throughout the park monitoring the use of the roads, checking to ensure off-roaders are staying on the designated roadways and trails, and restoring any signs of misuse. And if we like the job (don't get bounced around too much), we've told our supervisor that we would return in January for another few months.

Last month I was invited to play in a softball tournament in Gunnison. A few weeks later I was invited to play in the Leadville Boom Days tournament with the same team. That made me feel good. After all I'm at least 15 years older than anyone on the team and probably closer to 25 years older than most of the players. I know I'm 40 years older than our 3 youngest team members. We finished 4-2 again. I pitched all 6 games we played and didn't make more than 1 out in any game...even went 5-5 in one of them. In our Salida league, our team finished in first place and won the post season tournament. In Buena Vista we finished 2nd in the league and 2nd in the post season (got beat by a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the last inning). I was not pitching at the time. More on that later. I didn't realize how much I missed competitive softball until after the tournaments were over. Last year I only got to play for about 7 weeks on a coed team in Oregon. It was fun at the time and I will do it again if given the chance. However playing on competitive teams in tournaments and/or competitive leagues still gives me a charge. I only hope I can continue to find teams in the communities we live in so that I can play . Shout out to the Cardiac Kids back home in Florida....miss you guys. Hope to see you when we return to Florida for Christmas.
Flowers Adjacent to the Softball Field

Our friends from NC, Richard and Susan, flew into Denver and we spent several days with them showing them around Colorado. We saw a Rockies game, drove through Rocky Mountain National Park, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs and took them to the top of Pikes Peak. We also got to take a gondola/ski lift ride. They managed to get in a little shopping while they were here and stayed in a nice Denver B&B their last night here. Maybe we'll get to see them again next year wherever we are!

I mentioned that I wasn't pitching when we lost the post season tourney in BV. That's because I was recovering from a visit to the ER earlier in the morning. The day before the tourney I was plagued with lower abdominal pain, headache and fatigue. I was only able to sleep a couple of hours that night and decided I needed to see a doctor the next morning. That visit resulted in a visit to the ER for blood work and a CT scan. They were prepping me for a worst case scenario (surgery) until they got the test results back. They were concerned I may have needed an appendectomy but to everyone's relief it turned out to be infection of the colon. I was sent on my way with a couple of prescriptions and assurances that the medications would have me back to normal within a few days. normal as I can be!

Today, 8/20 is my son and his wife's 3rd wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary to Doug and Erin. And on a more somber note, please keep my bride Joan in your thoughts. Next week she'll be sleeping with a 60 year old! And in September she'll be sleeping with a grandpa! Yep, next Saturday is my 60th birthday. And next month Doug and Erin are expecting their first child and my first grandchild. Yahoo! Poor Joan.

Stay tuned. More to Come.