Friday, August 23, 2019


Carole and I plan our longer vacations meticulously. We don't narrow down our daily activities so that we're stuck to a rigid schedule, but we do make sure of our routes, our campsites and lodging, and our multiple destinations. 

Thus, we've begun the initial planning for our Colorado trip which will take place year after next. Yes, we're going to have many vacations between now and the long Colorado haul, but we're doping out particulars for what will be Carole's retirement celebration-trip to the state of so many 14K-foot summits.

Carole has never visited Colorado. I went in 2012 and have never quite gotten the scenery out of my mind. We want to spend a lot of our time in and around Rocky Mountain National Park, but we've already discovered that reserving a good campsite there might be a problem. We're targeting our vacation for September to coincide with the Fall aspen leaves, so it'll probably be a little easier than booking a site in summer, but you never know. Fortunately, Colorado has a lot of options when it comes to parking your travel trailer in a National Park, National Forest, state park, or BLM campground.

Hopefully, we'll be okay on that count.

The trip will last somewhere between one and two months. It will be, by a good deal, the longest trip we'll have ever taken with our travel trailer as our lodging. We're going to book some train rides (definitely the Durango-Silverton rail), and lots of hiking, some kayaking, and a little shopping.

I'm looking forward to it, and Carole is already excited about this vacation. Hell...she'll be retired before you know it and the trip will be upon us.

On a hike just outside of Durango in 2012. The leaves really were that shade of gold, and the skies truly were so blue they were almost black.

One day in the middle of the Weminuche Wilderness of the San Juan Mountains.

Along the appropriately named Blue Lakes Trail.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, A Review.

Andy, Carole, and I went to see ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD last week. We tried to go see it the week before, but when we got to the theater we discovered that the e-ticket website had given me tickets for a different theater instead of the one two miles from our house. So we got a refund and planned to go seven days later.

As chance would have it, we saw the movie on the 50th anniversary of the night the Manson Family murdered Sharon Tate, Abigail, Folger, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, and Wojciech Frykowski. This fact of synchronicity made Carole feel a bit weird.

As usual, I went to the movie not expecting much. I rarely see a movie I enjoy, and even rarely walk away from the theater feeling impressed by a film. Over the years I've found that Quentin Tarantino movies sometimes please me, and at other times I find his efforts to have wasted my time. So, I really didn't have much in the way of expectations.

I was amazed when, by the time the end credits rolled, that I had already decided that this movie rates as a classic film for me. I'll stand it alongside the best of the best in my memory of great movies.

Yeah, it was that good.

There are all kind of neat little touches that Tarantino added to the movie to make it a little more enjoyable and interesting than it might otherwise have been, but that's not why I enjoyed it so much. It wasn't seeing Damian Lewis and Mike Moh doing supernaturally good renditions of Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee respectively. (They were both so heatbreakingly good as the two actors that it was almost like seeing them back from the dead.) And it had nothing to do with Kurt Russell and Zoe Bell probably recreating the two characters they played in the execrable DEATHPROOF. Or the generally phenomenal job that both Brad Pitt and Lenoard DiCaprio deliver throughout the two hour and 42 minute neo-classic.

What it was for me was the recreation of a time and place that seemed utterly real, even if the movie was a kind of fantastic alternate history featuring these fictions and true personalities capering about in the compact and separate civilization that we call Hollywood.

And, for me, it was a film about tribalism, nationalism; and loyalty to that tribe.

Some people are parts of tribes. If you're a die-hard Irishman, maybe a Sicilian, you might get what I mean. If you're a Jew you probably know what I'm talking about. If you hail from Japan you likely will understand exactly what I am trying to get across. For Tarantino his tribe are the creative and business folk who were drawn to, and live and work in Hollywood. I get the distinct impression that he loves that place as much as anyone, and adores the folk who live there, toiling away in that industry, be they true artists or loathsome hacks.

This was a kind of love story tribute to Tarantino's adopted nation of Hollywood, and for his tribe who inhabit it as true citizens. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was, superficially, the kind of movie where QT steals from the best, re-crafting sly situations, borrowing cool titles, altering clever dialog, and molding it all into new emotions and fantastic images that are wholly original. With this movie he may very well have pressed all of that crude stuff into a perfect gem like a Mort Weisinger Superman squishing a lump of coal into a diamond.

Yeah, for me, it glittered.

If you've managed to miss the promotions, the movie revolves around a weird kind of love story between two inseparable pals: Cliff Booth, a very skilled Hollywood stunt man who apparently works exclusively for his best friend Rick Dalton played to a kind of loony perfection by Leonardo DiCaprio. You never get the distinct impression that the two are gay, or that they have somehow sexually consummated their relationship. But you also wouldn't be surprised if they were and had. Instead you get a kind of vibe of total loyalty of each for the other. Booth seems to actually believe in the greatness of his buddy, and Dalton really does go to bat for his friend and servant.

Of the pair, Booth seems the less real. He's almost like a superhero. He is that kind of a creation. There doesn't seem to be much he can't do (including beat Bruce Lee in a fight), and he has the kind of self-confidence that one would imagine coming from a fellow with superpowers.

Rick Dalton, on the other hand, is a man who really doesn't believe in himself. Beset with tremendous doubts about his talent, he stays drunk much of the time, suffers from all sorts of psychosomatic ailments, and generally exists in a constant mope thinking that his days as an actor are almost over since his late 50s/early 60s popular western TV show was canceled. There is one scene in which it is revealed that he lost the part in THE GREAT ESCAPE that went to Steve McQueen that is nothing short of reeking grief in a purely brilliant bit of film making by Tarantino.

Everyone who has investigated the film even cursorily knows that the movie deals with the intersection of these characters' lives with those of some of the Manson Family. You are left wondering how that will play out and exactly what will happen as the two sets of humans are twined inexorably together leading to the last act in the movie. I have to say...the situation and my agonizing over what would happen created a lot of tension in my own noggin.

Yeah, it was effective.

To cap, the end of the movie is nothing short of exhilaration. There is action, and there is pure hilarious violence that I can only describe as glorious release. You'd have to see it to believe it, and to be amazed how Tarantino ties up so many tiny threads into a whole, logical, realistic bit of rope.

I was impressed while it was going down; and I was impressed as I walked out of the theater; and a week later I remain impressed.

It's a freaking great movie. Not decent. Not good. Great.

I'm placing it up there on the top shelf in my memories with the best of the best.

DiCaprio as the self-doubting Rick Dalton, and Brad Pitt as the super-confident Cliff Booth.

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. In some ways, the film serves as a kind of temple to the memory of Sharon Tate. And the flawless Robbie manages to make me believe that Sharon Tate was as perfect and joyful as a woman can be.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


A few times in my experiences hiking or camping or backpacking in the forests and wilderness areas I have had some creepy things happen. I've had several bad encounters with bears--once when I thought I was about to be killed (but of course was not).

And a couple of times I had what I can only describe as weird experiences. It's said by many that humans still have some basic senses that they don't acknowledge on a conscious level, but have retained from those ancient days when we were still relatively helpless herbivores traveling through grasslands and forest, ever on the lookout for predators who could kill and eat us. Perhaps it's just an amalgam of the senses we know which, combined on a subconscious level accumulate to give us a pulse of a warning to make us alert for danger that we cannot pinpoint with any one or two of our five senses. Thus, the prickling of the skin for no observable reason, or the tickling of the fine hairs on our necks and arms when we cannot see or hear anything definite.

The first time I had such an experience was when I had decided to hike alone to see Mooney Falls in the Nantahala National Forest one very late summer afternoon. I had already done several miles of hiking elsewhere and on the way back to my campsite at Standing Indian I pulled off the Forest Service road to take the brief hike to see and photograph the waterfall. I figured I could easily do it before nightfall. And I did that, but barely.

Here's the thing. On the way back to my truck I paused to take some photos of gnarly old birch tree that everyone who hikes the trail notices. I figured to capture some images of it on my way back and stopped there to gather those shots. And as I got my camera out and began to record the images all I could hear was the rushing of the creek, and all I could really see was the close press of the green trees and woody rhododendrons that pushed in all around.

But I had the distinct impression that I was being watched in the swiftly failing light.

That's right. I felt that someone, or some creature, was peering at me through that luxurious mass of trees and flowers and shrubs. Why was I feeling that way? I have no idea. As I said, all I could hear was the rushing water, and all I could see were limbs and leaves moving in the slight wind. But the feeling was so strong that I stopped taking photos and looked all around me, trying to spot anything that might be giving me this very disturbing and very creepy sensation.

But I couldn't see anything that might dictate danger. Just that feeling. So, I took a few more photos.

And suddenly all of the hairs on my arm went up. And the fine fuzz on the back of my neck was standing to attention as gooseflesh made pimples up my spine and down my arms.

It was at that point that I just made a quick 360-degree examination of my surroundings, jammed my camera back into its case, and hauled ass down that trail as fast as I could without actually running. After all, doesn't running trigger a chase response in big predators? I didn't want that. But I will tell you that I closed the last circuit of that particular hike in quick order and found myself hustling up the slope of the trail to the parking spot where my truck waited. It was pure relief to open that door and close it solidly to create a hardened barrier between my mortal flesh and the perceived threat that I never actually saw or heard--merely felt.

Well, that was then. Some years back.

On my hike last week in the Big Draft Wilderness Area in West Virginia I had a similar experience. I had decided to do a five-mile loop in the wilderness that would take me from the campground at Blue Bend Recreation Area and back to my campsite. So I did exactly that and soon found myself deep within that wilderness and its rich forest of recovering hardwoods and hemlocks (but mainly hardwoods).

When I began the hike I startled a couple of whitetail deer who, upon seeing me, scattered and thrashed the woods with their fleeing. I watched their tails bouncing through the green screen of limbs and leaves like flags of white vanishing in the distance. We surrender. We surrender. We surrender. After that it was mainly just bird song and wind blowing and the laboring of my breath as I gained the ridges of Brown Mountain.

Along the way, at a wide curve in the trail that took me through a cove, I discovered a particularly ugly Turkey vulture watching me. This vulture--for some reason--seemed fascinated by my presence and it followed my progress into the wilderness, flying from tree to tree, branch to branch, to watch me as I hiked along. I thought it was curious, but they're very intelligent animals, I have learned, and not much that they do particularly surprises me. After about a quarter of an hour it finally lost interest in me, and I lost sight of him.

Around that time I noticed a pile of bear scat in the middle of the trail. Not terribly old, maybe dropped since the last rain. I am never startled to see bear crap in the forests because they seem to be just about everywhere in the southern high country, these days. I rarely see the bears, though. Now and again as they're racing away from me when I startle them.

The higher I climbed on the mountain, the more obscure the trail became. Until I realized that few people were using this trail and it began, at times, to vanish into vigorous growths of all types of low, green plants; including stinging nettle which pricked at my bare calves and made me miserable for several seconds every time I brushed against those nasty, poisonous leaves. All I could do was plunge ahead and make good guesses where the trail should be. And each time I was right.

In no time at all I had achieved the summit of Brown Mountain. At the top, I paused to take some video and photos and.

I got that old, creepy feeling that not only was something watching was also following me.

My breath held in my chest as I strained to hear anything that was not...well...normal. But there were only bird calls and some slight sighing of wind among the trees. Nothing moved that should not be moving. Nothing called out that alarmed me in any way.

And, yet.

That feeling of being watched and followed.

Once more I pushed on, knowing that I would soon come upon a trail shelter in the wilderness. Most wilderness areas do not have things like trail shelters and bridges and such. They are, after all, supposed to be wilderness. But in a few minutes I came to that shelter. It stood there in the shadows and dappled sunlight of a mild summer day and looked as if it had not been used by anyone in a very, very long time. As I had realized since I'd begun the hike, not many people walked into this wilderness. I was very much alone. At least when it came to human company. Still, that feeling of being watched and followed continued to dog me.

I saw some brightly colored mushrooms on the ground near the shelter and decided to photograph them. And it was then, crouching on the forest floor to get a good point of view, that I heard something cracking what I knew were very large, very dry dead limbs on the ground. Something relatively close--perhaps forty or fifty feet away.

I stood up and looked in that direction, and didn't see anything; but did hear some more limbs being cracked underfoot and then some lighter sounds as of something retreating from me through that decaying leaf litter.

I had been right. Something had not only been watching me, but apparently also following me. Or maybe it was someone. I have no idea.

But feeling even more a sense of dread than I had before, I put my camera away, pointed myself down the trail toward Blue Bend, and made haste to get back to the campground and my waiting wife.

Sometimes, I know, those feelings of being watched, of being followed, are not passing paranoia. Sometimes they are spot on.

About where I scared the deer.

Hello, Mr. Man. What are you doing here in the deep, dark woods?

Pushing on.

Death in the midst of so much life.

I'm still here. You are, too, I see. Hm.
Where does a big bear shit? Anywhere he wants to.

Sometimes the trail vanished under depths of stinging green.
It looked like it had not been used in a very long time.

Pretty colors to distract me....WHAT'S THAT NOISE??!!

Nothing there! But I think I'll leave, now.

If the forest will let me....

Monday, August 05, 2019

The Real Heroes

I'm sure most people work hard. I always have and almost everyone I've ever worked alongside have done the same. Lazy bastard goldbricks are actually rare--that's why they're singled out for righteous condemnation. The hardest working people in the world are laborers. Today the laborer is targeted as being stupid, unambitious, and a drag on the economic well-being of the nation; and rife with shirkers who don't do their jobs. These accusations are bullshit promoted by the economic elite and their toadies who all are, in fact, a drag on the well-being of 95% of the US population.

Here, then, are a few groups of people who work harder than any cocksucker sitting in the penthouse, and fully capable of someday storming those palaces, tearing the occupants out of their fucking beds, and slitting their leech throats. (Remember what was done to the stinking Romanovs, you rat bastard thieves.)

Highway laborers.



Construction workers.

Letter Carriers.


Farm laborers.

Steel workers.

That steelworker part reminds me of one of the few truly lazy fuckers I ever knew. For a bare few months of his oh-so-precious life he worked in a steel mill. It was frankly the only time he ever worked in his entire worthless fucking Nazi life (that's something else--later on he became a Nazi). He was one of those fortunately rare pieces of shit who gets a woman to support him while he lies around at home. At any rate, because he worked for a few weeks in a steel mill between terms in college (which his mommy paid for), he claims to be a laborer. Yeah. Seriously. He claims to be a laborer because he worked for a few weeks in a steel mill. Before that brief sojourn earning a paycheck, and since, one woman or another has supported him--either his pathetic mama or his long-suffering wife. But he's "a laborer". The hilarity.

At any rate, laborers are the reason this nation exists and has flourished. Strong, hard-working men and women who were either wage slaves, or just plain slaves built this country. They hacked it out and hammered it together. At some point we're going to take control of it, and the blood of the leeches who have exploited us is going to grease the wheels of a new kind of society. I wish I was around to splash some of that elitist crimson lubricant onto those gears.

At some point, the bill will come due and payback will be Hell. Count on it.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Review: The Boys.

Before I get back to posting about hiking, wildlife, photography, camping, and (less and less, these days) writing, I want to pause to review the Amazon television series The Boys.

Based on a series published by Wildstorm/Dynamite, The Boys features a storyline in which a group of normal humans set about to try to kill and/or socially neutralize the superheroes who have appeared in the midst of US civilization. The small group who band together to do their utmost to take down the "supers" are various guys whose lives have been negatively influenced by their interactions with the hyper-powered people who exist like gods and actors/rock stars amidst all of us who are just normal people.

But how does one go about destroying that which is invulnerable? Therein lies the brilliance in the comic book and the TV series.

I have to admit that I have never read the comic. I only became aware of it some time after the publication of my superhero novel, WORKING CLASS HERO. The comic was conceived and written by long-time writer Garth Ennis. My previous exposure to his work was based solely on PREACHER which I found to be rather more nihilistic than I like, but oddly funny for all of the gross shit he tossed about in that particular book. The guy is very talented and is a skilled storyteller. Now that I have seen (and enjoyed) the TV series I will have to seek out the collected comic book series and give it a go.

Thus, all of my comments here concern themselves with the TV series and only that.

Okay, first of all it is based on the now-silly premise of what the world would be like if superheroes were real. As if no superhero comic that appeared between 1938 and today was about that same thing. As with titles like Miller's Dark Knight and Moore's Watchmen, we deal with the minute details of how the presence of god-like humans walking around lowly mortals might play out. I can dig it, and the theme has been used to decent effect in some past attempts.

The supes in The Boys are treated as extreme celebrities, generally based on the level and importance of their abilities. At the top of the heap is a super-powered team called "The Seven" who work out of a vast skyscraper in an urban area (New York? I can't recall that it's ever mentioned where the story takes place.). The Seven act kind of like the Justice League or The Avengers in that way. They scan the city looking for crime to bust, and do so on a pretty much daily basis.

If you're looking for a model for these seven heroes, I would assume that they're based on DC Comics JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. At the top of the pyramid is a particularly scary fellow called Homelander. He is, for all practical purposes, Superman. He can fly at supersonic speed, is invulnerable, strong beyond all reason, and has laser-vision eyes, can see through walls (except for zinc), has super-hearing, etc. He's Superman. Next is Queen Maeve who has all of the basic powers of Wonder Woman. Then The Deep who can breathe underwater and talk to fish--yeah, Aquaman. There is A-Train who acts as The Flash, able to run at speeds exceeding 1,000 mph. Translucent is a man who can become invisible and, while in that state, is invulnerable. A character called Black Noir (yeah, I know) who never speaks, wears an all-encompassing suit of solid black and whose powers are never spelled out (but we do see super-strength and blinding agility). And Starlighter, a young woman who is nearly invulnerable (she is hit with high-caliber bullets and is merely knocked to the ground), heightened strength (she can punch through brick walls) and can generate extremely powerful beams of light accompanied by shock waves. So there is some minor originality with the supers who don't actually correspond to familiar comic book super characters.

The series opens with a young couple in love whose lives intersect briefly with that of A-Train who, moving at better than 1,000 mph, runs into the young woman, reducing her to errant bits of scattered flesh and bits of bone and gallons of blood. He paused to briefly acknowledge what he has done, and then speeds on his way. Left psychically scarred is Hughie Campbell, her surviving boyfriend who has to deal with the fact that A-Train's killing of his love is considered mere "collateral damage".

After that, we soon discover that the supers--especially those who are members of The Seven--are immune to prosecution and don't even have to deal with  negative press. Everyone is supposed to adore them and anyone who is terminally caught in their wake are just supposed to take it in stride and go away to let the superheroes do their jobs.

Hughie Campbell is soon approached by a man named Billy Butcher who has an insane hatred of superheroes and who talks Campbell into helping him place a spy device inside the hq of The Seven. And thus the adventure begins.

There are a number of things that I quite liked about The Boys. First and foremost, I enjoy fiction that is socially and politically subversive. The Boys is certainly that. Superficially, the supers seem to be just  more silly damned comic book superheroes. But Ennis and/or the show writers have used them to stand in as foils for police officers and soldiers. Both police and soldiers routinely get away with mass murder and, as we are shown vividly, so do the superheroes. If you accidentally get killed by them, or even if they intentionally kill you, that's just part of the price we pay to bask in their glory. Each time I watched a super slaughter a human being I thought of the innocent people murdered by police officers, or shot and napalmed by our brave soldier boys. Just as with the cops and the soldiers, superheroes never have to face the music for their war crimes and brutality.

So there was that.

I also liked the commentary on the slavish devotion to the supers by the public at large. For every Billy Butcher or Hughie Campbell who hates superheroes, there are tens of millions of people who adore them and absolutely refuse to hear anything negative about them. Kind of like supporting the police or honoring the troops and fuck you if you don't.

From what I have gathered, the TV writers have pared down the comic book series considerably and hacked away quite a bit of extraneous plot and have focused on a more narrow storyline. There are actually things that you can get away with in a comic book that you just can't do on a screen, even the TV screen. But the writers here seem to have made excellent choices (from plot differences that I've read) to create an exceptional story based on the original yarn.

The writing is, frankly, excellent. Even the dialogue is wonderful. So my hat's off to the writers, even if I don't know who any of them are (other than Ennis). Additionally, the direction is very good, the cinematography exceptional, and the special effects are pretty much the equal to what I would expect in a theatrical film.

But the best thing about the series are the acting performances. Everyone seems perfectly cast and I cannot complain--at all--about the jobs any of the actors have done in creating the various personas. This is some major-league great acting. Especially considering that it's all just a silly superhero movie.

Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Elizabeth Shue, Colby Minifie, Chace Crawford, Simon Pegg...damn...everyone does it right. But to me, two of the actors stand out. First, there's Laz Alonzo, who is a man named Mother's Milk, one of The Boys. He just has a great presence and I appreciate good timing when it comes to delivering lines--and he's really good at that. The other performance that rises above most of the others is by Anthony Starr who plays Homelander. He is Superman as he probably would be if such a person existed--completely fucking insane and drunk with unlimited power. The guy can do anything he wants to do, and almost everyone else on Earth is just a flimsy bag of blood to him. I always thought of Superman that way, and it's what we get with Starr.

"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Homelander! (Oh, please, God. Don't let him notice us!! PLEASE!!!)

Anyway, it's really good. If you're too sick of superhero shit to watch it, I understand and that's cool. But if you're not sick to death of superhero crap, give it a look. It's really cool.

Oh. And the last scene in the final episode of the first season (yes, there's going to be a second season): it's freaking great. I did not see that one coming.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Blue Bend Recreation Area

We're back from our week-long trip into the mountains of West Virginia. When Carole and I were younger we would vacation in WV at least once per year. Later, we got out of the habit of traveling north to those mountains and journeyed elsewhere. But lately we've had the urge to re-visit the state. So we hooked up the Casita and went to stay at the Blue Bend Recreation Area deep in the Monogahela National Forest about fifteen miles north of Lewisburg.

The campground is a classic site created and developed by the old Civilian Conservation Corps, that finest of mildly socialist programs instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That organization did so much to provide the USA with excellent recreational sites. Many decades after its demise, we are still enjoying the campgrounds, trails, lakes, dams, pools, picnic areas, and playgrounds those hard working citizens toiled to make for the generations that have come and gone since those days.

Weather-wise, we couldn't have had it better. Some of our more recent camping trips have been tough due to the rain and inclement weather we have suffered. But this vacation was perfect in that regard. It never rained, rarely even clouded over, and we left the hideous heat and humidity of the Charlotte area behind to find high temperatures in the mid to upper 70s and lows in the 50s every night. We had perfect sleeping weather and with the fresh air blowing in through the screens each evening I dreamed vividly. Two days back, and I already miss that place terribly.

Carole and I both got in some good hiking. I climbed the mountainsides in the Big Draft Wilderness Area which lies across the creek from our campground (via a swinging bridge), and Carole joined me on shorter, developed hikes on extremely well-engineered trails at Cranberry Glades Natural Area, the Falls of Hill Creek, and at Beartown State Park.

We had a blast!

Carole prepared her usual five-star camping meals. We did not lose any weight. She worked on some new Dutch oven recipes that were all excellent, as always. Breakfast, lunch, and supper were all feasts, each day.

I'll try to post some details, either in text, or photographs, or video--or all three--in the coming days.

I took this from a viewpoint on Brown Mountain in the Big Draft Wilderness Area looking down on a farm that abuts the wilderness.

Our campsite, which was enormous.

Carole, standing on the swinging bridge that allows access to the opposite side of Anthony Creek.

The swimming hole at Blue Bend, and the spot for which it's named--the big bend in Anthony Creek. The water was clear and cold and great for swimming on a summer day (even if it was only 77 degrees!). Those slate "beaches" and retaining walls and picnic shelters were all constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1935 and are still in use today.

A selfie I took deep in the Big Draft Wilderness Area on a five-mile loop hike.

A shot I took from a picnic area at over 4400 feet above sea level on the Mountain Scenic Highway. All of the peaks along the drive and around us were over 4,000 feet above sea level. Lots of dark spruce trees cover the peaks and ridges here.

Lots of amazing shops and restaurants in Lewisburg, WV which was not many miles from the campground. We spent the day here having a great time. They even have a top-notch bookstore where I bought a Bukowski volume I didn't have. Voted "America's Coolest Small Town" not too long ago. Well deserved, I think. I'd live there, no problem.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Next Road Trip!

Carole and I are getting ready for our next road trip. We'll have one of these a month for the rest of the year, I think, unless Carole has any trouble getting time off from her job. Next week we're headed a little bit north for a week of camping and hiking and sightseeing. I'll post details when we return.

We picked up the Casita from the RV service center where we have been taking it for whatever ails our beloved travel trailer. This latest problem was with the refrigerator which stopped working while we were on our last trip (to Fort DeSoto Park in Florida). We had fears that the fridge would have to be completely replaced, but a $111 part did the trick (plus labor). So we only faced a bill of a little over $200 instead of over $1000 for a completely new refrigerator. That was a relief!

At any rate, only a few more days of preparation and we'll be heading off to take it easy in a National Forest campground where we've never stayed (but have visited).

The Casita just home from RV Pros where they fixed the refrigerator. Works like it's supposed to!

The high country, not far from where we're going to be camping next week.