Mon, 26 Apr 2004

Racking up miles on the road less travelled

We just returned from another trip to Colorado. Dad’s shop is loaded to the gills with tools, books, electronics equipment, surveying instruments, and tons (literally) of his possessions. Mom needs the space cleared so she can rent the shop out. That means separating items we want to haul back to Spokane, some to keep and some to dispose of on eBay, items for a local auction, and the rest to the landfill.

Dad passed away six months ago. It was our first trip back since his funeral. Mom was happy to see us and had plenty for us to do around her apartment: fixing blinds, hanging mirrors and pictures, and such. Truth be told, I think having our company and helping with the minor tasks were much more important to her than cleaning out the shop. So that job never got done. We barely made a dent in it. Which means another trip, soon.

I had a miserable cold that hit me as soon as we arrived in Grand Junction and stayed with me until the day we left. That dampened my enthusiasm for the shop cleaning project, otherwise I might have pushed harder to get the job done while we were there.

Still, it was a wonderful trip with a long list of highlights.

  • On the way, we spent a night with my best friend from high school, Vince Baiamonte, and his wife, Barbara, in Rexburg, Idaho. We had a great time catching up, sharing dinner and breakfast the next morning, and refreshing some nearly forgotten memories.

  • Bob Somrak took us out to dinner at Zack’s Barbecue in Hotchkiss. We had a good visit. Bob has added many new pictures to his website. When we got back to Grand Junction, I set up a link on Mom’s computer for her. She and Jenny spent an hour browsing the site and trying to decide on their favorite photos.

  • We stayed at the Bross Hotel in my home town of Paonia, Colorado one night. The historic Bross Hotel, built in 1906, has been restored as a Bed and Breakfast. It was a run down, low rent, eye sore when I was growing up in Paonia. Now it is a marvelous piece of living history. And breakfast was fantastic. Linda served, among other things, Baked French Toast. It had a flavor and texture that reminded me of a really good bread pudding and was topped with a pecan sauce like a sticky bun.

  • On the return trip, we spent a night with Russell and Sueli Durtschi. Russell and I worked together at Computerland of Orem for several years in the 1980s. We spent a summer mountain biking together, including a trip to the top of Mount Timpanogos! The Durtschis have some wonderful kids, Rafael and Melissa. Rafael was a first class gentleman. Melissa, 9, reminded me of April at that age—a perfect angel.

  • The following morning, Russell lead us on a bike ride he called The Tour of Opulence. He lives in Spanish Fork, so we started there and rode to Hobble Creek Canyon and back hugging the base of the mountains. Folks with more money than God have erected some truly amazing monuments to ego along that route.

  • The normal route home is simply east on I-70, north on I-15, and west on I-90—endless hours of interstate broken only by the relatively short stretch of non-interstate between Green River and Spanish Fork, Utah. We departed from the normal rout and took a road less travelled when we reached Dillon, Montana. It was richly rewarding. From Dillon, we backtracked a couple of miles and took 278 west, then north to Missoula on US 93. Along the way, we stopped for an hour at Bannock State Park and wandered through the old abandoned buildings, visualizing life over 130 years ago.

  • We stopped for a picnic lunch at the Big Hole National Battlefield—such a beautiful, quiet place. It is difficult to imagine the violence that occurred there and eerie to stand that historic ground.

  • Just a few miles down the pass on US 93, we rounded a corner to find a half dozen bighorn sheep grazing along side the road. We pulled to the side and got a couple of pictures of them.

  • In addition to the bighorn sheep, we saw elk, deer, antelope, coyotes and several large crane or stork like birds. The birds were in the fields along I-15 in northern Idaho. I’ll have to do some research to see if I can discover what they were. If you know, drop me a note.

It was a great trip, and I’m actually looking forward to the next one. It will only take a couple more to put Jenny’s white, 1997 Honda Accord Wagon with the two bikes on top over the 200,000 mile mark.

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Mon, 05 Apr 2004

Deli and Pizza Express

Our lunch plan was to go to a deli we’ve been regulars at since we moved to Spokane. We were going to take sandwiches to the park and enjoy a nice Spring day. The Deli and Pizza Express has been a regular part of our summer routine for years.

Tom always greets us as we walk in and starts making my favorite sandwich without asking—he knows what I’ll order: a Deli Avocado with Turkey. It’s not on the menu. It’s nice to have a place like that where the people know you and you feel you’re among friends. How are the kids doing? Has Jenny gotten you to cut down that tree in the back yard, yet, or are you still winning that battle?

The deli was all locked up. The equipment, signs, and furnishings were gone. We were just in there a week or two ago. No indication from Tom that it was coming to an end. We’ll miss Tom and the deli.

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Last ride?

Paramedics were loading him on a stretcher while continuing CPR when we happened on the scene. He was an older gentleman, ashen gray and lifeless. A passer-by had apparently found him lying there in the trail just east of Barker Road. Jenny teared up as they wheeled the gurney past us—she thought she recognized him.

Perhaps we’ll see a note in the paper or hear a news bite to let us know what happened and whether or not he survived. But it didn’t look hopeful. The paramedics seemed matter-of-fact going about their business. There didn’t seem to be the urgency you would expect when there is hope for a life hanging in the balance.

They wheeled his bicycle up the trail after the ambulance departed.

I assume it was his last ride.

Jenny will be searching faces on the trail this summer hoping it wasn’t the friendly older man she remembers from last year. They always waved and smiled at each other.

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