Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Can We Do?

When we attended our Bible study class this morning, there was a quote on the dry-erase board that kind of struck me. While it was in quotation marks, our instructor had not given attribution to the author of the quote. Also, our instructor may have injected some of his own thoughts within the original quote. Anyway, I thought I would share it with you.

“The history of the Church has been a great fight between two ideas: the false human idea (what we do to join or be identified with) and the biblical idea (what God does in all ages to call, move, convict, preserve for Himself, not from our merit, but by His good pleasure.)”

There has been centuries of discourse and arguments over what mankind must do to receive salvation. However, in reality, man can do very little to save himself. When I was growing up within the church of Christ, we learned what became phrased as the “five fingers of salvation.” Of course, I was to learn later that there is a sixth.

Each of the precepts of the “five fingers” by themselves will do nothing for us. All must be done, or there is no success. And, those six precepts, by nature, must be done in a logical sequence. Those precepts are “hear”, “believe”, “repent”, “confess”, “be baptized”, and “stay faithful.” Logic would dictate that one obviously couldn’t “believe” if they had never “heard.” One would never “repent” unless one had “believed.” Confession that Christ is the son of God, and our Savior, would likely not come until all the “hearing”, “believing”, and “repenting” had occurred.

I don’t’ remember which translation of the Bible was used at the time, but I was taught that each of the precepts (or steps) had verses that related those to salvation. In the precepts of “hear”, “believe”, “repent”, and “confess”, those verses spoke of falling short. In other words, we heard “unto” salvation, we believed “unto” salvation, we repented “unto” salvation, and we confessed “unto” salvation. It wasn’t’ until we got to the precept of baptism that we were baptized “into” salvation.

But, while one might have done all of those things, and done them in the correct and logical order, we ourselves could not have saved ourselves. It is like the story of the log. A man makes a camp somewhere and finds a log. From half of that log he creates a fire on which to cook his meal and with which he warms himself. Then, he takes the other half of the log and carves an idol of some god created within his mind and then asks that god to “save him”.

It was God and only God that gives us salvation. Toward that end, he even sent Jesus, a part of himself, to Earth in order that His sacrifice would be the path of our salvation. When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked for the task to be taken from him, if it was God’s will. But, he knew that if He didn’t make the sacrifice, mankind would never have hope of nor actually receive salvation.

So, the precepts of salvation are what have saved those of mankind that followed those precepts. Sadly, there are differing beliefs of what is membership within a church. In some cases, the members even “vote” in new members. But, Acts 2: 46-47 has a different method. I quote from the New American Standard Version of the Bible:

46Day by day continuing with one mind in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

47praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Verse 47 states that the Lord was adding to the number…those who were being saved. So, how can “man” add to the church? No more than we could “save” ourselves can we “add ourselves to the Church.”

In our congregation, when one wishes to become members of “the congregation” many have already followed the precepts of salvation and have be put into the Church by God. Now, they are merely stating an intention to affiliate themselves with our congregation. No one votes, no one goes through a “vetting” process, and all that is done is an announcement that “X” individual (or family) wishes to identify with our congregation.

Then, in our congregation, on the fifth Sunday of those months have 5 Sundays, we have a fellowship meal in honor of those that have recently joined to worship with us.

There will come the time that when Jo and I start traveling, we will miss the association with such a great group of people. However, I have decided that in our travels, I will try to further God’s purpose by being something of a “campground minister.” It is my intention to study and worship with those that wish to do that, and to also serve as one to offer prayers for those in need.

While I am not a Bible scholar, there are tools that are available that can be helpful to those that are searching. One that we ran across a few years ago is a video series produced by Focus on the Family. The video series is 13 hours of what looks to be a classroom setting called “The Truth Project.”

Originally, the requirement of Focus on the Family was that one had to view the videos with a relatively small group before they could purchase the series themselves. After that was done, the “leader” would then provide a website and authorization “key” to allow us to order for ourselves.

I have watched the series several times and each time I watch it, I learn even more. It is a series that will show the fallacy of evolution, even using the words of Darwin himself. It is a very profound series. Perhaps someday, some of us can view it together. I sincerely hope so because it strengthens Christians and can convince those who might wish to be Christians.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Granddaughter Moira

We were blessed with the birth of Moira, our oldest son’s child, on September 13, 2009. As it happens, Jo’s birthday is also September 13, so it was a real blessing for Jo. Besides Moira, our son also has two sons, Nate and Liam.  Moira is now a year and four months old.

Over the last year plus, when visiting, Moira not only didn’t want anything to do with me, she had a tendency to start crying. At some point, I started taking off my cap when I would go see them, and it turns out she didn’t like the caps for some reason. While she still didn’t cry, she still didn’t want to get anywhere near me. She would stand off at least 10 or 12 feet away and if I stood up, she would head for her mother.

It was some time before she even began to go to Jo. But, part of that is because Jo managed to go by their home more often than I did.

Today, we had a busy schedule of sorts. We had dental appointments (yes, on a Saturday) and then we were going to the son’s home and buy them all lunch. In addition to having pizza and breadsticks, we sat down to watch an animated movie on the TV that was about a young Viking and him taming dragons instead of killing them. It is named “How to Tame Your Dragon.”

Throughout the day, Moira did her usual thing of staying away from me, but watching me a lot to see what I might choose to do. While watching the movie, she did manage to get closer to me as she passed by the chair I was in, but she still wouldn’t get near me or come to me. She went by me several times, and each time, I would just smile at her.

Oh, side note here…..anyone seeing me smile at them, just know that it is a fake smile…..I have false teeth. (Yeah, I know. Awfully cheesy joke.)

Anyway, as we were all getting ready to leave, Jo and I in one direction and Kevin and his family in another, Moira came around the chair and right up to me and handed me one of her shoes. I was flabbergasted with that one. Then she went and got her other shoe and brought it to me. After her mom and dad finished dressing her, I then put her shoes on her, and as I did so, I looked up and she was smiling. I was in hog-heaven with that.

Then, just before we went out the door, I put my arms out to her and she let me hold her. Then, it became a great day.

Meet Moira.

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After we left the kids’ house, Jo and I drove down to the area around the river in Oklahoma City where they have begun a process of erecting statues depicting the Land Run of 1889. I wanted to get pictures of the statues because I had heard that one statue of a covered wagon was being chased by a dog. (Maybe he’s not a “barking dog” but it is still kind of the same image.)

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Their series of statures are pretty large and part of the Bricktown Canal goes between some of them. Another statue is of a wagon pulled by two horse that is rearing at the “river crossing” in front of them.

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When the Land Run Monument is finished, there are supposed to be something like 45 different statues. (Oh, one is even a Jack Rabbit.  Look at the lower right of the following photo.) The statues are roughly 50 percent larger than life sized.

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Some of the lighting wasn’t really great, so I’ll need to go back down and take more pictures when there is morning light. I may wait until spring so that the trees and grass will be green again, similar to the time when the actual Land Run was conducted.

There is one other major memorial here in Oklahoma City, one which I haven’t been able to make myself visit.  It is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, located downtown, where the Murrah Building bombing back in 1995 took place.  Perhaps I’ll get there sometime for photos of that memorial.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More About Purgatoire River Campground

My test with Live Writer and pictures turned out to be a successful one. Everything posted into the blog just as I had composed it in Word and Live Writer. I thought that for today, I would add a few more photos. These may be from different years as I will be choosing photos now to show a little more of the campground.

This first photo is of the meadow, but taken from the Eastern side looking up-slope. The ones I displayed yesterday were taken from the upper loop of the drive down towards the meadow. There are two campers in this photo, one to the left and one to the right. Both of those are in sites just off of the upper loop road. In fact, the one to the right is our campsite. The cylindrical object on a trailer that is in the middle left of the picture is a bear trap that had been set the night before to capture a marauding bear. And yes, he IS in the trap.

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This one is of our campsite. While it is not very evident, about 20 feet to the left of the camper is an area that has been leveled off for use with tents. That area also has a picnic table and a fire ring.

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I guess I should mention that part of the reason you don’t see many campers in the campground is because we usually go up the last week in August, just before the Labor Day weekend. That way, we get an extra day off for our vacation. Since it is late August, students are in school and there are very few campers. Sometimes, other than us, the only ones in the campground are people who are up to hunt deer or elk. Usually, we see very little of them because they are up on the mountains instead of in the campground.

Not visible in the campsite above is a culvert that goes under the site where the camper sits. There is a very small stream that comes down the slope and through that culvert, right under the camper. And I mean small. Back years ago, I used to drink a lot of iced tea and we would keep a 1 gallon Tupperwear pitcher full of tea in that stream to keep it cold.

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In 2006, our youngest son went with us for vacation. We had taken wading boots so we would have the capability of walking in the streams and rivers to get pictures. The following pictures are of the Purgatoire River, the first being fairly close to the campground area.

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This one is further away from the campground where a point of rock is rounded by the river. This one is actually right next to the road going up to the campground.

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This one is that same point of rock but it is taken from the road.

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Another use we had for the wading boots was to walk back into Zapata Falls, a waterfall that is actually back inside of a mountainside.  I’ll show pictures of that area another time.

Working with these photos has sure depressed me a little.  After buying our Mobile Suites, we haven’t had the cash money to take a vacation since 2009, and we might not be able to this year either.  Everything hinges on our house being sold.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playing with Live Writer and Pictures

Following a question that one of the RV Dreams participants posted about, this is a test of the ability of Live Writer to be able to insert photographs throughout the blog posting instead of only at the end as I have been doing.

So, let me put up a few photos of our favorite campground in the past. All of these photos will have been taken at Purgatoire River Campground in Colorado in 2004.

First, a picture of one campsite with our then Ford F250 and the 26 foot Salem LE travel trailer.

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The following picture is of the meadow around which most of the campsites are arranged. There is an upper and lower loop to the roads, This shot is taken from the upper loop road and looking down towards the lower loop road. That are is where a lot of folks with horses camp. There is plenty of room for their horse trailers plus grazing for the horses.

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Looking out over the camper towards the ridge off on the North side of the valley.

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This picture is of the ridge to the South of the valley. There is a 4-wheel-drive trail that one can take that would take them over on the other side of this ridge. I have walked that road once or twice, but never took the trip in a 4-wheel-drive.

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This is part of the lower meadow of the campground, and it is not unusual to occasionally see deer in this campground. But, there are also a lot of bear as well. In the past, there has not been any allowances for hunting bear and they are about to get to the stage that they are a problem. Not only for the campgrounds, but they’ve even been going into towns.

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All of these photos were simply added one at a time within the text.  So, it looks like Live Writer does a good job of managing the photos within the body of the posting.  While the photos can be manipulated as to placement with the use of the “Align Text Left”, “Align Text Center” and “Align Text Right” buttons in the tool bar, one must take care because it can cause the text to appear next to the photo instead of above or below it.  Looks like I need to experiment more.

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This photo was taken in 2006 with our F250 and the Rockwood Ultralite fifth wheel.

 

Now, lets see how it posts into Blogger.  Success or not?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oldest Living Member of ‘Band of Brothers’ Dies

“From Associated Press:

By Timberly Ross, Associated Press

January 22, 2011

OMAHA, Neb. – A member of the "Band of Brothers" who fought in some of World War II's fiercest European battles, Ed Mauser shunned the limelight and kept his service with the Army unit a secret, even from some of his family.”

A link to the above story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110122/ap_on_re_us/us_obit_mauser

Many other veterans of wars and conflicts within which they participated have also been very quiet about their service. I had several uncles that served in the Navy during WWII. Even when we had big family reunions or birthdays, one never heard any of them recount the events that they had witnessed.

There is something about the spilling of blood for an ideal or a friend that cannot be described with mere words. Many an old, grizzled veteran has been seen with a tear in his eye, and that can express much more than words. Way too many of them have seen comrades-in-arms fall in combat and wondered what is the value that calls for so much sacrifice. But, then they found the courage to continue, whether it was for their country or just to be there for their friends.

The efforts of those in that war brought about changes that would have been unthinkable at the time. Who might have even considered that two of our enemies would someday become two of our staunchest allies in freedom? That the USSR might become an enemy was a consideration, and they did fulfill that consideration. Some WWII veterans today cannot find it within themselves to buy a vehicle made in either Germany or Japan.

I heard a commentary the other day by Glenn Beck regarding the generation of WWII. Not only did they become “The Greatest Generation,” as Tom Brokaw wrote of them, but many of them accomplished much both during the war and afterwards with only an eighth grade education. I can remember my parents and many of my uncles speak of only having that level of education. Thus, it wasn’t unusual to see successful people doing great things with mostly common sense.

To the family of Ed Mauser and to other surviving veterans and their families, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. So many times, the sacrifices of the families are overlooked.

Let me leave you with a quote from an anonymous source:

"A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check, payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his life.”

It matters not which service they were in, nor whether it was active duty, reserves or National Guard. The currency of freedom is the blood, sweat and tears of a nation's people, and their willingness to shed all there is to shed.

God bless you all.

In association with all previous and current veterans and those currently serving.

ProudVeteran

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hazards of a Wifeless Weekend

A few days has passed since my last entry. Perhaps that is because of “writer’s block”, or maybe it was laziness, or just other things to do that had a higher priority. I imagine that this won’t be the first time for such lapses in the frequency of writing.

As mentioned in a posting this last weekend, Jo had to work both on Saturday and on Sunday. Since she is in management, she feels the obligation to be at work, even if it is the people of her department that are actually doing the work. With a few minor quirks among her team, she still has a very cohesive and effective group. However, there have been many times that she has gone in to work at night instead of calling team members to do the job.

This last weekend was one where an upgrade was being done, and most of the work was being done by a member of the team. But, she felt the need to be there in support of the gentleman who was doing most of the work. In fact, she left for work around 7:30am and didn’t get home until after 9:00 or 10:00pm. About the only thing I did that day was to go pick up our Mobile Suite from the dealership.

Sunday also found her going to work. In my case, I again did little. In fact, by the end of the day, I was REALLY bored with what little there was to do around the house and being on the computer. Other than the time spent doing a blog post, most of what I did was completely non-productive.

Monday was a holiday, and since we both work for the state, we had that day off as well. That was the only day that Jo didn’t have to go to work, and since I was bored with being around the house all the time, we did a fair amount of driving around Oklahoma City. Mostly it was shopping and lunch out. I was certainly glad to be out of the house and doing something.

All of that leads to an explanation of the word “Hazards” in the title. I have since had a chance to think that I am REALLY going to need to find something more to do with myself. A few years down the road will bring retirement and our hopes of doing a lot of traveling. But, since we won’t always be going around and taking pictures and seeing the sights of whatever area we are in, I’m going to need something to keep me occupied.

I had the mental picture in my head yesterday that I might very well be walking around whatever campground we are in picking up trash and looking for other things to do. While I really do like my time off to do as I wish, I also wish for something to do to keep from being bored. I have a hunch that retirement might be a bit tortuous.

Sunset at Western Hills Lodge in Oklahoma; November 2001

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Was Even More Lazy

Today was a sit-around day for sure. Jo had to go to work today because they are upgrading one of the computer systems at work, and they always have to do that sort of thing on the weekends when most everyone is off. So, I sat around and did very little. I think I got out of the house maybe 3 or 4 times, most of which were to go to the fifth wheel for some reason.

I had a forum participant contact me via private message on the forum asking me for instructions on how to post a photo to the forum. Incidentally, not all forums make that easy. So, I sat down and wrote step-by-step instructions for two different RV forums, both of which are related to the DRV Suites models (Select Suites, Mobile Suites, and Elite Suites.)

In doing that, I worked at posting a mountain sunrise photo on both forums so that I could be sure of each step. After doing that, I was asked to send those instructions to another forum participant. So, I offered to send the instructions to any of those that wanted them for those two forums. (The forums are SOITC [Suites Owners International Travel Club] and Fifth Wheel Forums.)

With a lot of the forums, one has to register with the forums in order to see any pictures. So, for the benefit of any readers, I’ll post that photo at the end of this blog posting. It was taken in 2000, with my first digital camera. At the time, we didn’t have a camper, so we were tent camping. It was Jo and I and our two sons and our two Miniature Pinchers, TJ and Lady.

Just as a side story (get used to those), that was a nearly new pickup in the picture and I nearly had to break out the window of it when we got ready to pack up and leave. We had put the dogs in the pickup because of the cold and had the engine and heater running for them. (Do you know where this is going yet?)

One of them managed to step up on the armrest to watch us break camp and locked the doors. (Damn electric locks and dumb owners!) Of course, Jo had left her purse, AND TRUCK KEYS, in the pickup as well. When we realized what had happened, we were trying to coax one of them to the door to step on the electric lock switch again. One of us always had our hand on the door handle, just in case they unlocked it. No good. Then, as the sun was getting higher and hitting the glass, the sunshine and the heater was working to make them sleepy.

Well, I went looking for a club or rock so I could break out one of the “quarter-windows” that are the rear side windows of a club cab pickup. As I walked away, TJ got up to see where I was going and stepped on the switch. Glass saved!!!

The campground is the Purgatoire River Campground that is west and north of Trinidad, Colorado. I had written a kind of review for some of the forums about that campground, so I’ll also put that here.

“Purgatoire River Campground

For those who like boon-docking, I'd like to share a campground that Jo and I have frequented numerous times since about 1976.  The name of the campground is Purgatoire River Campground (and that is spelled right) and it is located in the San Isabel National Forest west and north of Trinidad, Colorado.

Jo and I have had preferences for what our campgrounds were to be like.  We like three things:  lots of trees, at least the sound of running water, and back off of the main roads.  Purgatoire River campground has all three.  As a National Forest campground, it is "developed" in that there are sites developed with picnic tables and fire ring facilities.  THERE ARE NO HOOKUPS!!!

Bathroom facilities are available in the form of outhouses (bring flashlights for night-time visits), and bear-proof trash receptacles are available as well.  (Pay close attention to the reference to "BEAR.")  Also, there is water available in the form of an old-timey hand pump in the lower part of the campground.  (We have refilled the fresh water tank of our 26-foot campers with 5-gallon plastic jugs and a funnel.  It definitely takes a bit of pumping.  But, it's good water.)

As for really large RV's, there are a few places where they will fit, although I only can remember one that would actually be in the trees.  Other sites for large RV's are available in the meadow area that has been designed for those camping with horses and their associated trailers.

Purgatoire River Campground is located about 3 1/2 miles off of Highway 12 (the Highway of Legends) about two miles north of Monument Lake.  I would guess the campground to be about 40 to 50 miles west and north of Trinidad.  There are two entrances, but unless your camper is short, do NOT take the south one.  (It isn't really marked as an entrance, and the nature of the sloping road led us to damage a rear step on a travel trailer.)  The north entrance is marked as Purgatoire River Campground and is the best entrance, although long units may need to veer left in the road before passing through the cattle guards into the area. There is a right turn just before the cattle guard.  That cattle guard is about 1/4 mile or less from Highway 12.

South of the campground area is Monument Lake with a lodge, fishing (bank and boat), restaurant and little store.

North of the entrance to Purgatoire River Campground is North Lake (fishing with boats or on the bank), and further north is Cordova Pass.  At the parking area of Cordova Pass campground, there is a trail that takes one up onto West Spanish Peak.  (Hike in the mornings when there is NO danger of lightning.)  On north of the turnoff to Cordova Pass is a road up to two more National Forest campgrounds at Blue Lake and Bear Lake.  (Blue and Bear Lake campgrounds may be more suitable for larger RV's, although there are some fairly sharp turns going up the mountain.)
On north of that area is a ski resort, the little "touristy" town of Cuchara, and then on further is LaVeta, Colorado.  RV parks are available at LaVeta.”

Now, in that review, I referred to Cordova Pass. That is a beautiful drive in itself. However, don’t be surprised if I call it Apishapa Pass at some time. When we started going up there in 1976 (when the campground was first developed) the pass was called Apishapa, which by the way, means “Stinking Water.” (Apishapa is pronounced “U [like uhh]-pish- [like “wish”] u [like uhh]-paw.

I also referred to Blue and Bear Lake Campgrounds. Those are also National Forest campgrounds, so there are no hookups for water, electric and sewer. Again, there are nice outhouses and bear-proof trash receptacles.

Overall, we still like Purgatoire River Campground, and even though we have a big fifth wheel and truck, I think I would still attempt to go up there to camp. That is another reason that we equipped our Mobile Suites with an inverter and we carry a portable Honda generator.

Life camping now will be hard. If you look above the forum archive list, there are some links to websites. Under “Links Specifically to Me” you will find a link to my Photobucket account. Check out “Our New Home” to see how hard life will be for us when we finally start full-timing.

Mountain Sunrise; Purgatoire River Campground, Colorado; August 2000

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Really a Lazy Saturday

Even though I woke up early enough to get things done early, my heart just wasn’t into it. I needed to go to the RV dealership and pick up or Mobile Suites. It had been for the repair of one of the two furnaces. The one for the rear of the coach was putting LP fumes into the coach, enough so that the LP detector was always going off.

When I woke up, I sat down to the computer and started drinking my coffee. Usually, I only drink only two mugs (a four cup coffee maker’s worth) on the weekends. But today, I guess I decided that since I wasn’t going to be doing much, I had extra coffee. Thus, I spent quite a bit more time at the computer.

I’ve needed to get a wider 2” board for under the wheels on one side of the fifth wheel. The one I have is a 2X6 and I really need a 2X8. Jo suggested that I look into the plastic ones that kind of lock together. When I got online to look up prices last night, I stumbled onto a website of a guy that does quite a bit of boon-docking. He spoke of doing that, but then he thought of something else.

Link to the blog with the story on the rubber mats, including pictures and instructions.

Since boards tend to rot or split and the plastic “boards” tend to break after a short while, he went out and bought a barn stall mat made of heavy rubber. Then he cut it up into 8X12 inch sections and then he just stacks them on top of each other if needed. With them being made of rubber, they tend to kind of stick together instead of sliding around.

While at the dealership, I checked the prices of the plastic interlocking ones and a small set was costing about $35. A treated 2X8 board costs around $8. Then I went to Tractor Supply in Mustang and found the barn stall mats. They are 4’X6’ mats and ¾” think and only cost about $25. I think I know what I’m going to use now. I’ll just have to pick one up and then start cutting it up with a utility knife.

Once I got the Mobile Suites home and set up, I spent the evening in the coach with the heater running while I watched “The Sacketts” on the 2-disc set. With 3 or 4 hours of movie, I detected absolutely no “whiff” of LP. So, I think the furnace is now ready for whenever we need to occupy the coach as our home.

Incidentally, “The Sacketts” is a novel by Louis L’Amour. For those that have been on the forums, you might have heard me speak of him. The story and the barking dogs at the start of my blog is related from his stories.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Understanding Differences

I’ve just spent some time reading someone else’s blog. While it is sometimes hard to get a feel for another person’s philosophies of life, one occasionally gets a hint that leads one to believe that the other person doesn’t share the same philosophy. But, you know, that is absolutely fine. In fact, I’d say it was very good.

With respect to politics, there are those in the RV’ing world that are opposite of me in our philosophies. But, we can still all take the opportunity to learn from each other, so long as we remain civil. Being a conservative, I am proud to say that I have a lot of friends that are opposite, and I welcome that.

Some years ago, I read a book entitled “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg, who was a CBS journalist at the time. In his book, he wrote of how it was that “most” of the people that he worked with all had the same political philosophy, all lived in the same geographical part of the country, and all seemed to share a lot of the same interests. Goldberg wrote that because they all seemed to be the same, they all thought that they were “living in the norm”, which in their case, was pretty liberal in political philosophy.

Thus, those people took the notion that anyone to the political right of them philosophically was the extremist. Mr. Goldberg’s experiences led him to become more conservative than he had been in the past. Should any reader be interested, here is a link to the Wikipedia account of him. While I am not a fan of Wikipedia being an objective source of information, based on the knowledge that almost anyone can post to it, I feel it valuable to present so others can see his history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Goldberg

It has been my experience that in order to get along with those of the “other political persuasion”, one needs to take a more open discussion. Thus, I tend to want to ask questions in order to help others learn a different perspective. I also become exasperated when those others don’t seem to want to really have a good dialogue.

Should it be that any of us are conversing in the future, and I ask a lot of questions, don’t take offense with what may seem to be “answering a question with a question”. I am just trying to reach a common ground upon which we can be civil to each other.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So, How About a Little Camping History

As long as I can remember, our family has been camping in one form or another. My earliest memories take me back to camping for a week in Cimarron Canyon in New Mexico. That is an area between Cimarron, New Mexico and Eagle’s Nest. The area we camped is now called Cimarron Canyon State Park. At the time, camping was allowed within the canyon itself. We would pull in and set up our umbrella tent and begin a week of pure enjoyment. Nowadays, I understand that one can only camp in campgrounds at each end of the canyon.

I remember that there used to be a small “country store” in the canyon, and out behind it, someone had carved out a trough the length of a log that had fallen across the river. A stream on the hillside ran down to and across that log. As a youngster, it was so cool to watch that water come across the log and trickle off at various places along it.

I suppose we camped in that canyon every couple of years or so for about 8 or 10 years or longer. We also would go to Colorado, but up there we tended to stay with relatives unless we were going up on Grand Mesa for Dad and other relatives to go fishing. While I was never a real fanatic for fishing, I always loved being out in the forests and the mountains.

As I got older, I went camping less. After all, I had a driver’s license and an old ’54 Ford 2-door car. You know, I had altogether different priorities all of a sudden. But even then, I and some friends occasionally managed to slip over around Red River, NM for a while.

Jo and I married in December of 1968 and while we had our vacations, those didn’t involve camping in any way. Then in 1976, we took a vacation to see an Army buddy in Iowa. On our way back to Oklahoma, I told Jo that the next year we were going camping in Colorado. It had just been too long. As it turned out, we went camping that same year, but just over the Labor Day weekend.

We lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle at the time, working on her dad’s farm and ranch. My mother and a good friend were going up for that weekend and invited us. The place we went is called Purgatoire River Campground and is located West and North of Trinidad, CO. Since it was only about 4 ½ hours’ drive, we managed to get a couple of days in before we had to go back home. After that, Purgatoire became a regular place to go, with everything from tent camping to small travel trailers.

With a lot of campgrounds in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, I was always tempted to try some other places, but we never really got around to it. Back in the early ‘90’s, we did finally borrow Jo’s sister’s full size van (with bed in the back) and check out a lot of different campgrounds in those that area of the country. We have always liked a campground that had a lot of trees, at least the sound of a river or stream nearby, and be off the main road a ways. Purgatoire River Campground always fit that bill.

In that week of running around New Mexico and Colorado, we NEVER found another campground that had all three of the criteria that we had. So, we continued to go to Purgatoire. It is a National Forest campground, so there aren’t any hook-ups for RV’s. There are “developed” sites in that the campsites have space for campers and vehicles, plus picnic tables, fire rings, and level spaces for tents.

Then in 2009, we went to Sportsman’s Campground Northwest of Pagosa Springs and spent two weeks (instead of the normal one) with FULL hookups. Jo is now officially spoiled. However, I do have to admit, the amenities are nice. But, with our Mobile Suites being equipped with an inverter and having a Honda generator, we may still do some boon-docking on occasion.

I will relate a story, originally told to me by my mother, which occurred when I was a really small tyke. Mom and Dad had taken us on vacation somewhere in a state or national park. Wherever this place was, it had some bottomless pits or some such thing. Anyway, I wandered off somewhere and couldn’t be found.

They had Rangers and all the area campers out looking for me through the forest. When I was finally found, they asked me what I was doing. I reached into my back pocket and took out my toy rubber knife and told them that I had gone bear hunting. I think that was the beginning of my desire to get a picture of a bear in the wild and not one in a zoo.

The years from 1976 until within the last couple of years has seen me get photos of them, but they were always running away and all I got were blurs. It wasn’t until 2005 that I got my picture. We had taken a cruise and land tour to Alaska and I got my pictures while in Denali Park. I’ll have to hunt some of those pictures up and post them later.

Until then, how about a picture of some Elk from Yellowstone?

P0001803

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Religious Beliefs

I had mentioned in an earlier post that my grandfather was an Elder in the Church of Christ in Keyes, Oklahoma. Since they went there, it was natural for my mother to also attend in the same place. Thus, I sort of grew up in the Church of Christ.

While there was also a few other churches in Keyes, at that age, I had no idea of the differences. So, as a means of explaining the Church of Christ, please allow me to provide some background. The Churches of Christ are known as churches that do not use musical instruments in their worship, they celebrate Communion every Sunday, and they have the belief of “speaking where the Bible speaks, and being silent where the Bible is silent.”

That last phrase basically means that if the Bible doesn’t specify a belief, we don’t follow that belief. If it does specify some aspect of worship, then we do practice that form of worship. The Bible specifies worship in the forms of singing, preaching (teaching), prayer, communion, and giving. There is no mention in the New Testament of using musical instruments in worship, thus, we don’t use any kind of music other than singing during worship.

Each congregation of Church of Christ members is completely autonomous. There is no governing council other than each congregation’s Elders. No form of higher authority over the congregations exist other than God and what we learn from the Bible.

If one follows the history of Christianity, one has to be exposed to the Reformation movement of such men as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who attempted to get the Catholic Church to move back towards more strict following of the Bible. I won’t dwell on the Reform movement, but I do want to mention the Restoration Movement.

While the Reformers tried to get closer to the Bible, they still practiced much of what the Catholic Church practiced. As a quick description of the Restoration movement, let me insert some commentary from Wikipedia:

The Restoration Movement (also known as the American Restoration Movement or the Stone-Campbell Movement) is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. The movement sought to restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament They do not consider themselves to be Protestants in a technical sense, since they maintain that they stem directly from the 1st century church rather than from a backlash (protest) against the abuses of the medieval-era Roman Catholic church.

Now, if one wants to pattern their church’s beliefs after the New Testament church, they logically have to go to the most original documents of that era, being the books that make up the Holy Bible. In my case, I grew up using the King James Version and continued to use that version for many years. Then, when we looked into joining our current congregation, we sat down with two of the Elders of the Lakehoma Church of Christ of Mustang, OK. I stated to them that I tended to follow the King James version since I believed that one needed to have a translation as close to the original documents as possible.

To my surprise, one of the Elders explained to me that while that was good, the New International version also took into account the information on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which the King James Version obviously couldn’t have included. Then, he went further to explain that if I wanted a version that was the closest in translation, then I needed to go to the American Standard Version of 1901.

The ASV of 1901 was translated by 30 Bible scholars, both in the United States and Britain. There was one specification of the translation that stated that any translation offered by the American scholars had to be accepted by two-thirds of the British scholars, or it wouldn’t be accepted. The work began in 1872, so it was not a quick application of translating.

I went in search of copies of the American Standard Version and found only one source of the bibles. That source was Star Bible out of Texas and they are online at:

www.starbible.com

The particular copy that I have of the ASV was purchased at A & D Bookstore in Amarillo, Texas.

Our congregation is closely linked to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma. In fact, I think our previous minister and our current one both are adjunct instructors at OC. In the past, we have had Summer Wednesday night services where various speakers present lessons to us. Many of those speakers are instructors at Oklahoma Christian. One of those, now since moved on to a Texas university, is a scholar who has worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls and understands the original Greek and/or Hebrew. (I’m not sure whether he is capable in both or not.)

When I asked him about the validity of the ASV, he told me that when he translates, he can directly translate from the original into the language used in the ASV. Any other translation version that he attempts to go to requires him to first translate directly and then paraphrase to get to something similar to the New American Standard or the New International Version.

I was in a Christian book store in Oklahoma City one day when I overheard a customer asking a clerk about the various bibles. The clerk explained that the New American Standard Version was closest to “word for word” translation and the other versions went through different stages from “word for word” to “thought for thought.” So, there seemed to be a confirmation of what our Elder and the Bible scholar had both told me.
If you are interested, an online source of various versions of the Bible can be found which includes the American Standard Version. That source is at:

www.biblegateway.com

I have found that in using the American Standard Version, I occasionally come across a word that throws me. One such word is “usward.” Thus, when studying in the ASV, I also keep a copy of the New American Standard Version or the New International Version available so that I can get an idea of what those strange words mean in context with the rest of the verse.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Embarrassing Myself

I have managed to embarrass myself for the first time here at Ignoring the Barking Dogs. Being a complete novice, I went into the “Comments” section of the “Dashboard” and thought I would clean out what I thought was something like an “Inbox” of comments. Imagine my displeasure to find out that deleting those comments in that area ended up deleting them entirely from the blog.

For those who had posted comment, I must apologize. For those that may be thinking of starting your own blogs, learn from my mistakes. Believe me, I will probably make more and like Howard on RV Dreams, I’m honest enough to let people learn from my mistakes. Please bear with me through this whole learning process.

While I have other thoughts about the Arizona shooting, I don’t wish to express any of them until I have had an opportunity to study more about the whole sordid affair. However, from what I have seen so far, I must change a term that I have used for a long time.

I have long referred to the “Main Stream Media” as being those who are supposed to be in the news business, but instead write stories and articles from a very subjective viewpoint. In an earlier part of my life, I wanted to be a journalist, so I kind of have a good working knowledge of how news should be written.

Since I’m NOT seeing good, intellectually honest journalism, what used to be called the Main Stream Media will from now on be known as the “Lame Stream Media.” It is sad that an enterprise that is supposed to be the protector of truth and is protected by the Constitution in the form of the 1st Amendment, should become such a profound embarrassment. I’m sorry that I ever considered that as a profession.

In fact, given my conservatism, had I become a journalist earlier in life, I would certainly need to leave that profession for something with a bit more honor. Oh, you know, something like being a gigolo. (Not meaning to bad-mouth gigolos with that comment, I apologize to them.)

For those interested in a good book to demonstrate the sorry state of the Lame Stream Media, I recommend the book entitled, “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg. He used to be a journalist with CBS.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where Is The Common Ground?

Saturday, January 8, 2011 brought us the unfortunate incident in Arizona where the Congresswoman from Arizona was shot in the head and something like 6 people killed and lot more wounded. I’m not sure what the motivation was for the suspect’s actions, but even if it is a case of being unstable, it is still the wrong actions to take to try to administer retribution or influence the actions of others.

Sadly, there are those on both sides of the political aisle that are blaming their opposites. While some try to attach the perpetrator to the conservatism, others try to attach him to the liberal side of the political spectrum. Some say that he is a part of the Tea Party movement, but others point out that he had written on one of his “social media” sites that his favorite books were The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf.

However, I wonder where the voices are that condemn the man based on his actions and not necessarily his politics. Admittedly, I am very much a conservative politically, but more than that, I am a Christian. There are nut cases on both sides of the aisle, with people like the Uni-bomber being on the left and abortion doctor killers on the right. Each of those “sides” felt the need to avenge some wrong, but we should all be condemning all wrong.

Killing abortion doctors is as wrong as killing babies, even if the method is abortion. Shooting the Arizona Democratic Party Congresswoman is wrong, regardless of her beliefs. While I can condemn her IF she is a supporter of abortion, I can also praise her if she adheres to other beneficial beliefs. Since she is a newly elected Congresswoman, I have no idea of her philosophies or of what she may have done in the past. I just find it abhorrent that someone feels the need to administer violence for much of any reason.

I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment, I own and use firearms, and I firmly believe that one can use deadly force in protecting one’s family or one’s self. Beyond that, I find it difficult to find many other reasons for violence.

It would just be nice if the citizens of our nation could regain the feeling of unity after we have suffered attacks upon our nation and our peoples. The nation pretty much rallied together after Pearl Harbor and after September 11, 2001. In both cases, our citizens were in danger and waging war on the perpetrators, and their supporters, was justified.

I just can’t find any good reason for attacking a duly elected official of our government. If one has conducted themselves illegally, there are legal means to address the issue. If there are moral outrages the official has done, there is the ballot box, and sometimes the option of recalling that official.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those injured in the Arizona shooting for a speedy and full recovery. In addition, they also go out to the families of those that were killed. God bless them all.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sister and her Husband in Town

Sister in Town

We spent most of the day with my sister, LoRee, and her husband, Howard. They came down to see a relative of Howard’s that is undergoing radiation treatments. They also wanted to spend some time with us and buy us lunch. So, after taking the Mobile Suites in to have the furnace for the rear portion of the coach looked at, we went back to the house to meet up with them.

Some years back, LoRee had a knee replacement and they now have an appointment to get her other knee replaced later this month. She had some real issues with the first knee, enough so that they had to go in and remove the original, then she had to wait for her leg to either heal or get stronger or something before putting in the knee a second time. For anyone reading this, please say a prayer for her.

She has had her health issues over the years, but she always tries to keep up her spirits. Of course, around this family, one also has to learn to deal with family members joking about things. Just today, Howard related how someone had asked him that with all LoRee’s problems, why didn’t he “trade her in for a more solid” model. His response to that person was something along the lines of, “Hey, why trade? We’ve just about got everything replaced.”

Anyway, it was good to see them and spend some quality time. Our youngest son, Eric, also came out and we all just ran around. We needed to stay away from the house because there were three different realtors in the last 24 hours that called and wanted to show our house to their clients. So, one arrived around noon, one was scheduled for about 2:00pm and the third was scheduled from 3:00-3:30pm. We got back to the house just as the last of the three were leaving.

Who knows? Maybe one will be interested enough to buy. Our house has been on the market for about 2 ½ years now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Parents

Just as all our ancestors before us have proven to be a guiding light, very much like continuing the guiding light of God and his son, our parents have a much stronger influence upon us. This is because they live with us and raise us and teach us, all based on the teachings of those that came before them. Thus, much of what we become is strongly based on what our parents were like and how they taught us. If they taught us by word AND example, then we had a strengthening of those lessons. But, what were those lessons and how were they presented to us.

In the case of my parents, Bob and Fretia, the lessons were those of hard work, independence, and determination. From the earliest of my memories, Dad worked more than one job. His primary occupation was in driving a semi-trailer fuel truck for one of the local businesses that not only operated an automobile service station, but also delivered fuel to the farmers. He was always getting up early and leaving to go to some refinery and pick up fuel. He left early, because it was in his nature. It also left him time for other pursuits.

He also rented some farm land and did farming in the evenings or on the weekends. For a period of time, he also operated the projection equipment at the local movie theatre. I liked him having that job because I used to get into the movies for free, and many times got to sit in the projection room with him while he worked.

As I got older, the farming was something that my sister and I got to help with. That period of time was in the fifties, and that was a period of time where drought conditions once again hit the Panhandle. If one’s land started to suffer from wind erosion, one suddenly had dust storms again. They weren’t on the same scale as the Dirty Thirties, but the land still needed to be worked in some way to stop the blowing away of topsoil. More than once, my sister, LoRee, and I got to help when Dad had to be on the truck with his primary job.

So, for many years, Dad worked a lot of different jobs and numerous times he worked two jobs as well as the part time farming. But, those were the times that were hard and one had to work hard to provide for one’s family. There were few, if any, jobs available for women in town. There were certainly more women than there were jobs for them. While I knew what Dad was doing, it was many years before I really developed a respect for all the hard work that was his lot in life.

Mother was a stay at home Mom for the most part. I only remember her working out of the home on one occasion, at that was at the local drug store. For the most part, her work involved taking care of us kids and the house. As time went on, she took up oil painting on canvas in a venture that was entirely self-taught. As she developed more skill, she entered some of her paintings in the Cimarron County Fair each year. As long as I can remember, she always won ribbons, and most were Blue Ribbon entries. Blue Ribbons were first in category.

As time went on, she began to barter her paintings with others to get things that she wanted around the house. I can remember a period of time when we had a lot of antique furniture and other things around the house. On a rare occasion, she might sell one. While I never developed a talent for drawing or painting, being around and seeing all the paintings that she did helped me to develop an ability for composure in photography. But, that was to come about after I turned 17-years-old.

Being that Mother was the one that was mostly present when I was growing up, I think she had more of an influence upon me than Dad had. While neither had more than an eighth grade education (normal for the period of time when they grew up), Mother instilled an interest into me of reading. That interest, along with “old-time” schooling, led to me having a strong ability for spelling, although my grammar has begun to suffer in later years. In high school, I was even on the high school newspaper as a co-editor.

After I graduated, I went to one year of college and then into the U.S. Army Security Agency for about four years. During that time, Mom and Dad got a divorce. Since Mom had never had any formal job training, she wondered as to what she could do to make a living. She asked us whether we thought that she might get by with teaching others to paint. When we encouraged it, she put out the word that she was going to start teaching.

Before long, she was in a position of teaching up to 60 or so students per week, in two hour lessons, and with as many as four students at a time. When she began that venture, she stopped entering her paintings in the county fair. She refused to compete against her students. Her skill and demeanor with students led to a waiting list of people who wanted to paint. Also, being in the furthest West Panhandle county, she had students coming to her from Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and of course, Oklahoma.

Mom and Dad always displayed a strength of knowing what was needed to be done in order to survive. They developed that strength from the examples of my grandparents, and all of them lived through the double whammy of the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties when the sky would turn black during the day when a dust storm approached and overtook the area. They lived over a period of time where hardship was just naturally a way of life. As an aside here, Jo’s parents and grandparents also lived through that same period of time, with the same levels of education. All their work involved dealing with hardships.

The work ethics of our parents were emulated by Jo and I, and I have to believe that our sons also have the same attitude. I cannot say enough about how much we appreciate our parents for their examples, encouragement, and ethics.

Similar to the first motorized vehicle I ever drove.  It was an International WD-9.  In order to get it moving when I first started operating it, I had to grab the steering wheel, put both feet on the clutch pedal to push in, and then reach down quickly with one hand and put it into gear.  Then, I could again grasp the steering wheel and slowly engage the clutch.

International WD9

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grandparents

I had the blessings of two completely different sets of grandparents. Both grandfathers were involved with agriculture. However, from my earliest days, my grandparents on my dad’s side were divorced. Or, at least, living apart and having little to do with each other. Because of that, there was little interaction between me and my Grandpa Albert. Grandma Zida was a different person altogether. As a kid, I remember that when the family got together, it was usually at Grandma Zida’s house. Dad’s family was pretty large and when all the uncles got together, the poker game started and the smoke and the language got pretty heavy.

But, they were always good times. All my uncles had served during WWII in the Navy. When I enlisted many years later in the Army, I got all kinds of ribbing from them. You would have thought I had been the catalyst for another world war. But, our family was ALWAYS about picking on each other, so my tendency to do the same comes naturally.

On the other hand, Grandma Viola and Grandpa Ancil were married up until Grandpa passed away. In addition, both were very religious and lived their lives like none others that I had known. I was in my ‘50’s before I found out that Grandpa was an Elder in the small Church of Christ that I grew up in. For all the years I was there, their meetings were always referred to as “business meetings” instead of Elder’s meetings. And of course, all the men of the congregation were invited to attend those meetings. Thus, I guess it was natural that I didn’t know he was an Elder. It was a responsibility that he shouldered, but he was humble enough that he never spoke of being one.

Grandma Viola was a stay-at-home mom, as most were in those days, so she spent a lot of her time listening to music and reading, especially the Bible. Once Jo began to attend our church, she was amazed to watch Grandma when the minister would be reading from the Bible. Jo said that Grandma never looked at her Bible at those times, but Jo could see her mouthing the words right along with the minister. Plus, if he miss-stated something, Grandma usually then displayed a frown. The Word of God was important to her.

All my grandparents, except for Grandpa Albert, were generous to a fault. I have always had a great deal of respect for them and their values. Grandma Zida didn’t display much of going to church, although I think she attended a nearby Baptist church. However, I distinctly remember that her harshest words were, “Oh, Shaw” (whatever that meant) and worst of all, “Sow-Bitch”. That one came out regularly during Canasta games. It’s a good thing she never heard much of my language. But, with so many ex-Navy sons, she had heard the words before.

With Grandma Zida, I remember that at about 14, my mother got a call from her. Then Mom turned to me and told me that Grandma Zida wanted to ride on my motor scooter with me. It was her 80th birthday and she wanted to do something that she had never done. We must have driven around Keyes for nearly an hour, and probably created quite a sight, what with a skinny little kid driving a red scooter and his 80-year-old grandmother laughing on the back. On one other later year, I remember that she insisted on riding a mule. It took us a bit, but we found someone that had one, and Grandma rode him. I guess what really disturbed her most was that later on she found herself unable to fish and work in her garden. I seriously think that that was the beginning of the end. She was a lovely Lady, and I still miss her.

When I returned from basic training in 1966, Grandma Zida broke out in tears when she saw me. Later, my mother told me that Grandma was crying because I was as skinny as a rail and she was sure that I was ailing. I had to drive up to her house and explain to her that at 145 pounds, I had NEVER been heavier and that I had actually gained 10 pounds in Basic because of the regular meals. With all that was going on in those days, with the Vietnam War going on, I guess it was fortunate that she didn’t see me ship overseas before she passed away. I think it would have disturbed her to know that I was away from home and that she would might see me again. As it was, my service was not in any war zones, but one of my cousins did see Vietnam combat and was wounded. It was probably a blessing that she passed away before that happened, because that would have been heart-breaking for her.

All of my grandparents served to be a rock to my life. Each had the pioneer spirit and drive and a deep faith in family and with God. In another posting sometime, I will try to describe what it was that all of them had to live through, and when I do, it will give you a further understanding of the strength that was needed in those times.

Much of my spiritual and mental strength comes from their influence, and the knowledge of what their lives entailed. The love they all displayed toward their families has been an example to me as well. When I married Jo, I had the mental commitment that she was the woman of my life and that our vows were sacred to me. After learning that I was going to be a father, their influence was enough that I committed myself to providing for my family before myself. With the influence of my grandparents and with Jo, our two boys turned out to be young men of which I am very proud.

Another view of the rainbow seen on the January 4th posting.  It was created by the steam released by the steam engine blowing down its tanks.  A nice little mini-rainbow in the canyon.

DSC_4258

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

From Whence I Come….

First of all, the photo at the bottom of January 4th’s entry has the obvious reference to the rainbow to the lower left side of the image.  But, everything in the photo is a reflection of God.  Everything there is either a creation of Him or a creation of man, who was granted his knowledge by God.  Because I am a serious, amateur photographer, I like to tell people that I get to see God every day.  It may be a natural wonder such as plants and birds, or it might be nothing more than the shine of a beautiful woman’s hair, or the glint of anticipation in the eyes of a child.  I thank Him regularly for the blessing I have of having the right perspectives.

 

While I was raised in the Oklahoma Panhandle, I had the misfortune(?) of being born in Amarillo, Texas.  Way back in May of 1946, mother had gone to Amarillo to do some shopping and for some reason I decided it was time to see daylight.  (According to 53Merc on RV Dreams and other forums, I have “dual citizenship” because of my impatience.)  Oh, by the way, if you are a Texan, I’m pretty sure it is in the Oklahoma state Constitution that we have to pick on you.

In the Oklahoma Panhandle, it is pretty treeless and the contour of the land is very gently rolling hills.  (I’ll show a Winter picture at the end to let you see how far one can see out there.)  I was raised in the small town of Keyes, which is in the eastern part of the furthest west county in the Panhandle, which is Cimarron County.  Living out there, one has to learn to tolerate wind, because it is a pretty common thing.  In the Winter, we always say that the only thing between us and the North Pole is a 4-wire barbed wire fence, and three strands of that are broken.

While there isn’t much “touristy” in that part of the Panhandle other than the Black Mesa area in the northwestern part of Cimarron County, I can say that the people are some of the friendliest that I have ever known.  I know of one man that used to keep a 5-gallon can of gasoline by his mailbox out by the road.  He told me once that he would rather people use that five gallons of gas than siphon the gas out of his vehicles.

When I was growing up, the area’s industry was primarily agriculture, except for a compressor plant for what was then Colorado Interstate Gas Company.  Later, when I was around 14, the government built a Helium Plant just east of Keyes.  Even though that plant was the newest and the most efficient of several Helium plants, it was the one that was closed down instead of older, less efficient plants.  We always claimed that it was closed because the government big-wigs didn’t want to drive that far for inspection trips.  We were 125 miles from the nearest commercial airport and there was another plant less than 50 miles from the airport.  (Lets not get onto “government” yet.)

Naturally, since most jobs were agriculture that was what most of the jobs were that were available.  I had good fortune because my grandfather went west to Cimarron County in the early 1900’s sometime and homesteaded on 160 acres.  So, while I was a “townie”, my early jobs were in agriculture, driving old tractors that ran on Propane and had no cabs.  Talk about dirty and occasionally cold work.  Grandpa farmed about 6 quarter-sections of land and had a half-section (320 acres) of grassland, so we did farming and some ranching.

Grandpa was a firm believer in doing things right.  When we built temporary electric fences around land to put cattle into, he always used old railroad ties for his corner posts.  They are heavy somewhat rectangular posts that were at least 6 feet long.  Most other people used posts that were round and only about 4 inches thick and about 5 feet long.  Needless the say, the ties weren’t particularly easy to handle, but even though Grandpa was somewhat small in stature, he had no problems with those ties.  Mostly because he had the sense to lift them correctly.

To this day, I have a belief that if you are going to do something, do it right the first time so you don’t have to take time later to do the job again.  I think I got that philosophy from Grandpa.  So, I guess maybe I got some of his pioneer spirit.  If so, I’m proud to have that spirit, leading me to grasp for the spirit of adventure and travel.  (However, the adventure part has gotten more mild over the years.)

Sentinel of the Prairie  -  Windmill in a Panhandle Winter

Winter Windmill

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Blog?

While having had experience on reading and commenting on many blogs, my past thoughts were that I would NEVER have an interest in having one of my own. The reasons were numerous:

1. I knew nothing about HTML and other technical aspects, thus I felt that I could never maintain one properly;

2. I wasn’t sure that I could ever find enough to say that would be interesting, even to my own family, let alone the public as a whole. And, that may yet be proven true;

3. That I wasn’t sure that I even had the time to keep up with yet another “iron in the fire”.

With the onset of the plans to sell our home, sell our other possessions, move into our Mobile Suites, and eventually travel full time, I had undertaken numerous additional projects. I began by purchasing software that would allow me to digitize some of my old vinyl LP collection and other software to digitize some of my old VHS tapes. While I ran into a snag (not yet resolved) with the VHS tape digitization, I am still digitizing the LP’s.

On top of that, I began a project that Jo had been encouraging me about for a long time. That project being the writing of a book. For a long time, that project languished because I had no idea as to what I wanted to write about. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to write about religion, and writing about politics can lead to some very disgruntled relationships, so what was I to do. Then Jo suggested that I do something along the lines of a book of my photos with my own comments about the photos included within the book.

So, some time back, that project began. However, I found that it was something of a daunting task to look at a photo and be inspired enough to write about it. Likewise, it was difficult to consider thoughts to write about and then find a photo that would be related to those thoughts. So, even after a number of months, I only had something like 32 pages of photos and comments. Now, if anyone remembers having to sit around and watch “Uncle Whomever’s” slide shows, regardless of how boring they might have been, I wouldn’t want my book to suffer the same fate or cause the same boredom. Thus, I am very, very particular as to what photos would be included in the work.

An additional problem that I will have, once the book is near completion or is finished, is finding a publisher for it.  Having never written a book, I don’t have first-hand experience and only have the knowledge from one other person that I know that wrote a book.  But, because her book is an entirely different genre, her publisher doesn’t do photo books.  So, at some point, I’ll have yet another “iron in the fire” in trying to find a publisher.

In the initial thinking of starting “Ignoring The Barking Dogs”, I asked questions on the forums at RV Dreams of those that had blogs and participated with the forums. After being encouraged that it didn’t take an IT technical expert to maintain one, I then had another thought that eventually convinced me to start the project. That thought was that by making me write more often, it might be easier for me to complete the book. So, if nothing else, I would benefit by challenging myself. (I had developed into a rut where I no longer try to challenge myself in almost any endeavor.)

Now, the challenge is to write about topics that will challenge or interest readers. Who knows, perhaps something I write might even shake the beliefs of readers. Are you as readers prepared for a shake-up? Perhaps a comment should be made to tease you into remaining interested?

In the course of writing this, I can probably predict that you will be subjected to topics on religion, politics, personal beliefs, seemingly irrelevant discourses about those that have influenced me over the year, and of course, the happenings of what has led to the choosing to go full-time RV’ing and how we made our choices. Hopefully, along the way, I can help others with decisions in their own lives.

Now, for the teasing comment:  Can you see God in this image?  I’ll explain later.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Reflections and Ruminations

Having been born in 1946, I certainly am old enough to have plenty to reflect upon. But, before anyone asks, “Then aren’t you too old to ruminate on much”, I should mention that I plan to live to be about 100 and die at the hands of a neighboring camper who thinks my Mobile Suites takes up too much space.

Alas, within the reflections category, I distinctly remember a simpler life. While I can’t remember exactly when it was that my parents got a telephone, I do remember that it was on a “Party line”. In those days, in the small town where I grew up, you had the options of paying a bunch for a “Private Line”, paying less for a 2-party “Party Line” or even less money would get you a 4-party “Party Line” phone. I think we started out with a 4-party line.

But, it being a 4-party line didn’t bother me. I didn’t have anyone I needed to call. In our small town of less than 600 people, all I had to do was to run (or hop on a bicycle later in my youth) to my friends home to discuss all the “important” things in a young man’s life. You know, like how much string did you have or how big was your pocket knife.

It was an age when a youngster, male or female, learned to shoot a .22 caliber rifle and/or a shotgun. Since most fathers owned .12 gauge shotguns, most of us waited a few years for that one because of the recoil. At about 10 or 12, I plunked down $16 in the hardware store for my very first rifle, a .22 caliber bolt action single shot. While not usable anymore because of a broken bolt handle, that rifle still resides in my home.

As life went on, things got more complicated. High school introduced one to the need to learn to dance so you could attract the girls. Playing sports in my case was a non-issue because I was anemic as a youngster, and hard physical sports were difficult. I could handle baseball, but that was about all. So, my interests ran to listening to music (listening only – can’t read music) and reading. The Hardy Boys series were great. Plus, I was raised at a time that those books were actually being written. One had to wait for new ones to come out.

That reading led me to an interest in high school of going into journalism. I was even a co-editor on the school paper and responsible for writing all of the “editorials” for the paper. One of which got me beat up in study hall by my own classmates in front of one of the coaches. Seems he didn’t like what I wrote. Huh!!! Fancy that!!!!

But, college was something that I could see wasn’t going to work for me. While I had a journalism scholarship at the University of Oklahoma, it wasn’t enough for a “full ride”. Mostly it paid for tuition and a few books. Living expenses were going to be a burden upon my folks. Also, it seems I changed my major from journalism to “P-A-R-T-Y!!!” That led of course to a suspension for a semester. That being in the time of Vietnam (1965), I was pretty sure that I would be drafted before a semester suspension would be over. I was pretty close to right.

However, the suspension and early send home, allowed me to meet Jo and that was the beginning of a good life, although with a few rough struggles. My one regret was not getting a degree, but I’ve certainly gained a good education simply by continuing to read. Life went on and since Jo and I married while I was still in the U.S. Army, my pre-occupation was going to be on providing for my family. They were my priority, and I was going to be a father.

Many years of working different jobs and getting to see Jo get her degree and finally seeing both sons get their degrees has brought me pleasure. But, life continues to go on, inexplicably towards an ending somewhere.

While I’ve had a longtime interest in photography, I also had a dream to travel the country and take pictures of the beauty provided by God and to perhaps even write about what I had seen. But, since we weren’t (and still aren’t) rich, I never even mentioned my dream because I never felt that we could afford to do such a thing.

Then, along came 2008. When driving home from work, we drive by the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds, where twice a year they have an RV show. While we had a 26’ fifth wheel, Jo mentioned that we should drop by the RV show that evening. We stopped and went in and Jo immediately went to this 36’ fifth wheel. (I had thought, “OK, maybe she wants something like a 30-footer.”) So, I immediately went to her and asked her what she was thinking. She said that we ought to look into the idea of selling our home, selling about everything in it, buy a luxury RV, and live in it until we retired. Then, upon retiring, we could travel the country.

Well, do you suppose I was definitely interested? That led to a bit over 2 years of researching, looking, researching, test-driving motorhomes, researching, pricing all kinds of equipment, researching, and then finally deciding. We now own a 38 foot luxury fifth wheel and the house is up for sale.

Ruminating has led to the plans of traveling to an area of the country, parking for anywhere from 3 to 6 months, and traveling around that area seeing all the sights before moving on to another area. Towards that end, we have sold a lot of our furnishings and other unnecessary items in preparation for the period of living in a home without a lot of space. Have you any idea how liberating it is to get rid of STUFF?

While we don’t expect everything to be rosy and perfect, we aren’t concerned. If necessary, we will “workkamp” either for just our RV lot rental and perhaps some utilities or we will work part time for extra cash. Not have a lot of expensive needs helps a lot with the idea of being able to accomplish what we wish.

The future of this blog will likely include planning for and taking some trips with our RV, thoughts and philosophies of myself and Jo, and whatever happens to come our way. So, I invite you all to join us in our journey and hopefully, I won’t make it too boring.

At the time of delivery of our new unit.  DRV Suites is the brand name and the model is a Mobile Suites 38TKSB3 with a Ford F450 pulling it.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Have Been Blessed!

I was fortunate to be raised in the Oklahoma Panhandle. While that country does not have the blessings of a lot of trees, it did instill in me the love of the wide open spaces. There isn’t a sunset or sunrise that can be so beautiful, especially with the right clouds in the sky. Being from an area that many would consider desolate, after all, there are very few streams and rivers there, I have developed the ability to see beauty in some of the worst of places.

In addition, my mother was a self-taught artist who did most of her work in oil paintings. There is so much that I learned from her, not the least is that ability to be observant of the country around me. From growing up looking at her paintings, I have learned the art of composure with photography, especially with landscapes.

As a young child, our family tended to spend some weekends fishing at area lakes and vacationing in mountainous areas. Most of those vacations were in Northern New Mexico and Colorado. Having family that lived in Hotchkiss, Colorado, we spent quite a bit of time there and on Grand Mesa in Colorado. Not only did my dad love fishing, but so many of his brothers and sisters as well.

From all of that, I long ago developed a love of the outdoors. The wide expanse of the Panhandle country led to the love of the wider expanse of a clear, starry sky at night. To lie in a sleeping bag at night and see the twinkling of God’s expansive network of heavenly bodies is an experience that so many people never get to enjoy.

To be in the mountains and hear the wind blowing through the Pine trees and “quaking” Aspens is music to my ears. So much so, that at every house we have ever owned, there have been pine trees in the yard. Even the wind rustling through the grasses of the prairie has its own unique sound, much as each musical instrument’s sounds are different from others.

And then, God’s creatures blend in their own sounds, both in the night and during the day. If one stops and listens, with face turned up, one can see and hear God’s special light and sound show. Stars at night and clouds during the day present a soothing, spectacle that stirs my very soul. Even the flashing of lightning and the crash of thunder is a sound and light show of a very special nature.

So, my thanks to my ancestors, now long gone but perhaps knowing of what I speak and write, for settling in the Panhandle and giving me the blessings of family that knew the beauty and the value of the outdoors and of the mountains. I have been blessed beyond measure by all the beauty, all the lessons of my family and the experiences of growing up with them, and with the love and encouragement so many of them have given me in the past and in the present.

Of course, there are also my friends. So many people that I have known have blessed me as well. While we all have different loves, we all share a love of one another. My sister and her husband love the experiences of cruising, but Jo and I prefer the spectacle of the mountains and the prairies. Beauty is different for many of us, but thankfully, those differences don’t diminish the love we all have for each other.

So, for the New Year, I offer our hope that all of your lives will be filled with beauty, splendor, and love. Don’t forget to share your blessings with others.  Just as I share beauty that I have seen.

Evening sky at Eleven Mile State Park; Colorado Springs Area 2008

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Awakenings

Recently, I was listening to the Rush Limbaugh radio show, on which was a guest host by the name of Mark Steyn who was interviewing Walter E. Williams, who is an economics professor at George Mason University, a fill-in talk show host, and author. The interview was related to Walter William’s recent book, “Up From the Projects.”

During the conversation, Mark got around to talking about Walter’s late wife, who was married to Walter just two months short of 50 years before passing away. In that discussion, Walter brought up the point that Mrs. Williams was his “civilizing effect”. Further discussion brought out a point that hadn’t occurred to me before, and that was that our wives tend to be our own civilizing influences. As Walter said, we guys tend to be barbarians and our wives, either by action or words, manage to calm most of us down and make us palatable for civil society.

So, for the “awakening” of this blog, please allow me to attempt to heap a little praise upon the woman who has civilized me over the past 42 years of marriage.

It was the evening of September 11, 1965 when a friend of mine and I were on Main Street of our small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Even though it was evening, I was still nursing the effects of a hangover from the night before when a ‘60’s model Ford Galaxie convertible drove up the street. My friend made a comment that he knew the driver, who turned out to be the brother of the beautiful young lady who, unknown to me, would become my bride. That beautiful, young lady was also in the car. So, six of us drove around all evening.

As time went on, we became better acquainted and I even went to work on her father’s farm, up until my enlistment in the Army in 1966. During that time, while I was separated from her, I proposed via a letter. I didn’t even have the courage or good manners to propose in person. To my surprise, she accepted and then waited for a couple of years for the wedding, which occurred on December 25, 1968. (To this day, I still tell people we meet that I chose that day so that I could buy one gift and two cards.)

Just a few days ago, we celebrated our 42nd anniversary by me forgetting to even say, “Happy Anniversary.” She said it first. But, it has always been that way, with me constantly forgetting her birthday as well.

Jo has been a long-suffering wife, but she has also been the most forgiving, most beautiful, most intelligent woman that I have known. She has been my lover, my wife, my helpmate, my conscience, and an inspiration to me for years. Because of her, I am even working on a book made up of some of my photos and comments. She has been a delight to me and a definite gift from God, because who else could have known the influences that I needed in my life? While I have given great praise to my mother for the influence that she was in raising me, she was only an influence for mostly 18 or 19 years, while Jo has been around for 42 wonderful years.

Jo’s life with me hasn’t been a smooth ride. For a number of years, I drove semi-truck and trailers, most of which was under circumstances of me being gone from home for weeks at a time.

We have a mutually supporting relationship, and each of us dearly love each other, in spite of the fact that I am not a demonstrative type of person. In fact, some family members of hers and mine have had to chase me down to get a kiss.

While there is little hand-holding, hugging, and God forbid, kissing, we both know that each of us is in love with the other. Whatever it is that we do, we really enjoy doing it together. One of our greatest loves is traveling and seeing the country.

Since I am a serious, amateur photographer, I have long had a desire to travel the country, seeing all that I could and photographing all that I could. I had never expressed that desire, thinking that it was a dream that we could never afford. Then, about 2 ½ years ago, she broached the subject that she thought we ought to sell our home and everything in it, buy a luxury RV of some kind, and live in that until we retire. Then, upon retirement, we could travel to our hearts' content. Needless to say, I was immediately receptive to the idea.
Now, I find myself anxious to reach retirement so that we can go and do the things we like, without the confines of a career, a home to maintain that is in one place, and do it all with the company of the woman I love so dearly.

From Psalms 19: 1-4:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.


All of creation reflects the beauty that He is and proclaims his glory. And I have such a pleasure to see God every day in his creations. Beside me stands a gift from God, for which I can never thank him enough. That gift is my beloved Jo, His greatest earthly creation so far as I am concerned.

I love you, Jo.

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