Black Hills Honeymoon: Revisited (Part Three)

The landscape rose gently as we drove north on Highway 385, having backtracked almost all the way to Chadron before heading up into South Dakota. At Hot Springs the solemnity of unspoiled vistas was fractured by dozens of billboards promoting the plethora of sideshows available in these once sacred hills: Holy Terror Mini-Golf (presumably referring to the look on a dad’s face upon seeing the price); Big Thunder Gold Mine (“Do I hear rumblings and is that canary dead?”); Maze Family Adventure Park (“Hey Mom & Dad, Lose Your Nagging Kids Here!”); Flags and Wheels Indoor Racing (“A Thrilling Experience You Can Then Try at ... [Read More]

Black Hills Honeymoon: Revisited (Part Two)

From time immemorial there’s been enmity between the Crow Indians and the Sioux. Just imagine Red Sox and Yankees fans with guns. It was brutal. Their favorite pastime was stealing each others’ horses, and a Crow raid in 1849 for that purpose erupted in the famous “Battle of Crow Butte.” Besides oddball landmarks and quirky statues, I have this compulsive urge to visit historic places, especially somewhat obscure western battle or skirmish sites involving Native American tribes. If preserved – i.e. the local demographics haven’t changed to Walmart’s advantage -- these are typically unspoiled landscapes featuring an historical marker and maybe a descriptive plaque or two. Crow ... [Read More]

Frontier Days – Cheyenne, Wyoming – Day 2

Today's start was a bit more wholesome than yesterday's - a parade.  I had breakfast, lingered and then  walked out the front door of the hotel.  The Plains had put several rows of nicely padded chairs on the sidewalk for their guests.  I took one right on the curb.  A lovely couple from Kansas joined me on one side and a mother and daughter up from Ft. Collins on the other.  We all laughed and giggled as the events marched in front of us. It had all the usual parade elements - clowns, military bands, drill teams, kelt-clad pipers, Shriners on go-carts, high-school bands, unicycles, floats, ... [Read More]

Frontier Days – Cheyenne, Wyoming – Day 1

I never had a body in front of my hotel room before.  The entrance to my room at The Plains Hotel, Cheyenne's historic pre-art deco hotel just across the square from the train depot was not on the corridor but rather off it in a small niche leading to rooms 335 & 337.  The niche had a beautiful window allowing in the warmth and the light of the afternoon sun.  The body was laying, almost basking in the warmth and light.  It lay on its back, motionless without apparent rise or fall of the chest.  But the expression did not have the entirely flat aspect of death.  It ... [Read More]

Black Hills Honeymoon: Revisited (Part One)

Carol and I never really took a honeymoon. We were married in 1975 in San Diego. She worked and I was in graduate school. Her sister got married a couple of weeks after us in Nebraska and we decided to drive to the wedding, but not directly. We took a roundabout route that I suppose could be considered a honeymoon of sorts. That’s if going to the Black Hills, Wall Drug and the Badlands counts as a romantic journey. I hadn’t been back that way until this past month when we tacked a side trip onto a family reunion. Besides returning to the Black Hills, I ... [Read More]

A Spiritual Journey – Day 2

St. Andrew's Abbey - Day 2 My room has heat but not air conditioning.  It is more luxurious than the cells of my previous visits but still unpainted cinder block.  It has a sliding door to a patio.  I slept last night with the slide open, and awoke this morning at 5:15 reaching for a blanket.  The Mojave had finally shed its heat.  I pulled up the blanket but there was no reason to go back to sleep as the alarm would go off in moments.  So I got up, pulled on a t-shirt and short to be at Vigils at 6:00. After Vigils there was time ... [Read More]

A Spirtual Journey

  St. Andrew's Abbey - Day 1 I arrived just in time for Vespers. The Guest-Master's door was locked which surprised and confused me.  But the church bell rang and I realized he, and all the other monks, had stopped work, for prayers. I walked the few steps to the chapel.  It had not changed in 30 years.  And the Divine Office itself was as mysterious and gentling to this Protestant as it had been then. After Vespers one of the other guest pointed out Father Phillip, the Guest-Master.  He was a small and bent with a grey beard that hung below his neck and fanned across it.  Father Phillip ... [Read More]

A Trip Around the Santa Monica Bay

In the course of my life I've been on the ocean a lot.  I even held a ticket with the Inland Boatman's Union when I was young.  But being a waiter on a boat that runs up and down the British Columbian and Alaskan coast does not a sailor make.  Several times in my life I have been invited to sail by some richer friend who needed extra crew for the Wednesday night "beer-can" races at some yacht club.  I have done this enough to develop a theory about sail boat captains.  Once a friend or business colleague steps behind the wheel of any sloop ... [Read More]

Wild Turkey

  My hosts picked me up at 4:30 in the morning.  The Labyers were a very interesting couple of men.  Hal Labyer is president of the bank in Duncan, Oklahoma.  His son Matt is president of the local "vape" store.  (If you don't know what a vape store is you need to get out more often.)  What they have in common besides genes is a love of hunting taught by the father to the son and now a passion they share.  And this morning they were going to share it with me. We left the Holiday Inn in Duncan, Oklahoma and drove to Foster.  Given that is ... [Read More]

A Day at the Getty – Ashes to Ashes

    Felix was my mother's kid brother.  He was a bit to old to fill the older brother role for me but he was the best uncle a boy ever had.  For starters my father hated him.  He was "a theatrical" and by definition stayed out late and night and ran with the "fast crowd" - all very high recommendations for a teen age boy. Felix was also childless.  He married his college love and for well over 50 years Thelma was the adult in the room.  Felix was my pal and corruptor.  Among other things he did for me, in the 70's he taught me the ... [Read More]