Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This is Even Harder than I Thought it Would Be

Going through my dad's stuff is just heartbreaking. I gave him this travel mug just last summer when we went to Star Trek the Experience while visiting him. I did not expect to get it back. At least not so soon.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sweet Blissful Sleep

After yesterday when Sera napped just an hour out of the 15 we spent on the road, we have caught a break!
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No Cornfields

Not here in Wyoming anyway. We decided to attack Utah from the north. We'll return through Colorado so that Magi's nephew can see more scenery.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009


Maid-Rite burgers are pretty good! They're loose meat burgers and appear very fresh.

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Cheaper Drinks than McDonald's

This unfortunately named place sells 32-oz. Drinks for $0.59!
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How do you tell the difference between Illinois and Iowa?

No, really. Is there a difference? I've seen no evidence of deserts or canyons so far. Nothing I can drive my uncle's Corvette into except more cornfields and I really don't think that would establish my recklessness.
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Like the View?

After a bit of a late start we are well on our way on the least scenic part of our trip. If you are a fan of cornfields, then the first 550 miles of our trip is for you!
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Working It

Yesterday I did 7.65 miles in 30 minutes in 90+ degree weather. That's an average of 15.3 miles per hour. I have to explain this since 71% of adults can't even calculate miles per gallon. I blame the math teachers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thinking Ahead

I've been keeping myself busy for the week, and trying not to think about my dad. We're headed for Utah to take care of everything on Saturday, and I'm sure with a 25-hour trip and four days camping in the town where he lived I'll have plenty of time to do just that. Right now, there are preparations to make, including a minivan repair (I'd rather not have brake failure in the Rocky Mountains), picking up and adjusting to new glasses (and contact lenses) tomorrow, picking up Magi's nephew who's going with us and hopefully helping with Sera, and packing up our camping gear.

Magi has prepared an entire organized menu for the stay, and has already made several dishes that we can cook using the Dutch oven we picked up a few years ago but never used. We are pretty much always ready for camping, but this time we have to conserve space for bringing back family photos and and a few personal items that we won't trust to shipping companies.

Virtually all of the surviving pictures of me when I was a child are in these boxes. My mother's were almost entirely wiped out by mold, not that there were that many of them from those years after the divorce, I have about half a dozen, and my dad had the rest. It will be something to go through them. I'm just sad that he won't be able to elaborate on any of them or tell me stories from my early childhood. Last year when we tried to do so, he got very upset and was reluctant to think about the past, which if you knew my dad, you would find very unusual.

I'm hoping that my brother will be able to join us there, since I haven't seen him in seven years and my sister (she has a different father; yes, I know that makes her my half-sister, but I've never thought of her that way) should be able to spend some time with us as well, since she also lives in Utah. The three of us haven't been in the same place at the same time since we saw "Braveheart" together, which would make it 1995.

I'd like to spend more time going through Bryce Canyon National Park, which last summer I found to be one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. It makes the Grand Canyon look colorless and plain. Unfortunately, we didn't know what we were missing until we drove through it on our way out of town. We spent about two hours driving and stopping at overlooks, taking pictures, but it was very rushed. I'd really like to bring my bike, but there's no room on this trip.

I know this is going to be an emotional week ahead, and I'm just trying to put off confronting the fact that he's gone until my first summer school session is over (Friday) and I have the appropriate time to really start grieving. I guess this would be the denial stage, then?

Testing posting from BlackBerry

I just want to see if I can post from my phone.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


What's wrong with the third panel?

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Loser Again!

After a six-week plateau, I was down to 282 pounds this morning, a loss of four since last week. After cooking dinner and putting Sera to bed, I had the hardest 30-minute ride yet. I did 7.5 miles, which means I hit my target average of 15 miles per hour, which included a mile of construction zone with loose gravel and rocks. When you're feeling down, endorphines seem to be the way to go.

Father's Day

Father's Day, as you might imagine, was difficult. My dad had been fighting bladder cancer for a number of years. The surgeons would operate, remove tumors and then he would spend days expelling clots. This last time, he just didn't seem to rebound. The pain, already considerable given his spinal arthritis, was compounded. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't eat. He put on a brave face, made plans to take long trips, but simply got worse. This last week was the worst for him. When I talked to him a few weeks ago I think he was trying to protect me, but then Dee called. Dee is the woman who has been his angel for the past eleven years. She was the love of my dad's life, and made his last years the happiest of his whole life.

Dee told me that it was bad, worse than he was letting on. Within a week the prognosis was that he was terminal. I made plans to get out to Utah as soon as the first summer school session ended, but his condition degenerated far faster than anyone expected. When I talked to him a week ago today, he was lucid and upbeat. But when the hospice workers started him on Fentanyl and I talked to him on Wednesday, he was starting to slur his words and the pain was so great, he knew when morphine was not working and the Fentanyl was kicking in. By Friday night, he was nearly incoherent and was talking about having visions. He still wanted me to pick up some Winchester rifle cartridges for him on my way out to Utah, though! When Dee put him to bed on Friday night, he didn't wake up again, which was probably a blessing. He passed away last night, so at least now his pain is gone.

I'll be writing about my dad all this week. There's a lot to say, and it will help with the grieving process. We'll be headed out to Utah to settle his affairs next week. We'll be camping in Panguitch while we're there. I know he'd have loved that.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

John McClain October 8, 1943 - June 21, 2009

I lost my dad today of all days. Dad, I love you and I will miss you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Truth About Santa

I still remember the day that I found out about Santa. I was in third grade and was one of the last holdouts in my elementary school class. I firmly believed in Santa Claus, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. A hand-painted toybox give to us by Santa had so strongly resembled a storage box that had been in one of our sheds, that I pointed it out. I was sternly corrected that it was not the same box, even though that storage box was no longer in the shed. The price tag for my Mickey Mouse watch that Santa gave me one year was still attached to the leather watchband that the elves had allegedly made. I still held out.

The last straw came on a Sunday when I was reading the Parade magazine section of the Sunday paper, and the question of the week to celebrities was posed to Alan Alda: "When did you find out there was no Santa Claus?" I was very upset. Not because there was no Santa, but because I had been wrong and I had been lied to. And then when I was asked to perpetuate the myth for my younger brother and sister I became complicit in the conspiracy.

I'm not looking forward to the day I have to admit to my daughter, who's currently three, that we lied to her. She won't be fooled for long with small mistakes, though. We'll probably be busted when she figures out that Santa couldn't possibly afford the licensing fees required to make Mickey Mouse watches and still give them away for free.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Still Not Losing

I'm stuck. I bought a new bathroom scale and it's making me mad. I figured that it was going to give me a different result than the scale I had been using during the school year, but I was going to simply use whatever it said as a new baseline and move on from there. Oddly enough, it gave me the same result as my May 4 weigh-in: 286. Since this scale uses increments of 0.2 pounds, I'll even throw in the exact weight: 286.2 pounds. Okay, not so bad. My weight hasn't changed in about 40 days or so. I'm still working out every day, and controlling what I eat. I can look at this as a new starting point and move on, right? Well, I stepped on the scale this morning and guess what it said? 286.2. The same exact thing. I guess it's not so bad, since yesterday we had a cookout (more on that later) and I probably ate the equivalent of a quarter cow or something, but I would have thought the scale would at least have a different number.

I guess I'm going to have to increase the intensity of my workouts or just work out longer. I can spare an hour a day now, but I don't know what I will do when regular school is back in session. I can tell you right now that I'm not getting up at 4:00 AM!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Before and After

What a difference nine months can make!

Ten more miles today, riding down to the park where I play disc golf and back, and then scouting garage sales in the nearby neighborhood where every street is named after either game birds or the dogs that hunt them.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Disc Golf

I've been playing disc golf for 20 years now, on and off. My buddy Eric introduced me to the game when I moved to Michigan City back in 1989, and we spent many an enjoyable day at Madeline Bertrand park in Niles, Michigan. For those not familiar with the game, basically you throw rubber discs, sort of like Frisbees but with much slimmer profiles and more mass toward a goal consisting of a basket suspended from a metal pole with link chains hanging from the top to catch the disc. You try to use the minimum number of throws to get the disc in the goal, and the lower your score the better.

I hadn't played in a few years, but my recent surge of activity has gotten me out to play quite a few rounds already this year. We've played Wilson Park, Madeline Bertrand Park, and I've played Ferettie-Baugo Creek three times this week. It helps that Ferettie-Baugo Creek is right by my house, and I bought a season pass so I can play all summer long for $30. The courses by us are typically a mile or so long when you add up the hole distances, and the game provides a very nice walk in the woods. Some of the holes go through narrow groves of trees, and some cover 600 feet of open space.

It's going to be interesting to see if I can get back to the form I had when I was stronger ten years ago and to see if accuracy can overcome age!