Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday went well, with me driving a good part of the day through the incredible scenery of the Canadian Rockies, with a break to play golf at a nine hole executive course that was interesting because it had a lot of trees so it was a strategy course. I played pretty well and shot a 45, even though the greens were very bumpy and brown (because of the excessive ice this winter, I was told). I kept driving and traffic was heavy but I almost made it to Sicamous, eventually stopping at a KOA at a little past nine, totally exhausted again. I wanted to set up my tent but I didn’t and instead I slept in the truck, making the big mistake of shutting all the windows to keep the mosquitoes out. I dropped off at about 10 and at 2 I woke up in absolute fear, sure that my vehicle was rolling down a hill. I jumped in the front seat over the middle one and hit the brake before I realized that I wasn’t moving. My heart was beating at an incredible rate—I was scared I was going to have a heart attack—but finally it started to slow down and I climbed back into the back and got the key, got back up front and finally opened the door and the fresh air was like some elixir. I was so worked up that I had to have half a valium to go back to sleep, and I left both front windows cracked a inch so I wouldn’t die. What a horrid experience and all my own fault.
I felt much better when I awoke on Friday at 6:30, and after a hot shower and a cup of coffee and an egg and cheese bagel at Tim Horton’s I felt pretty good. The scenery was less spectacular, but interesting enough and I stopped at Salmon Arm to play golf. I walked, playing with a threesome who were friendly and I shot pretty well (46) considering I had a set of clubs that had two pitching wedges, two 2 woods, and no sand wedge, no 9, 7, and 6. The square head driver was terrific and all of my drives were pretty far. I drove on toward Hope and got off to take a nap and at the exit was a superb looking river, the Coldwater. I napped and then decided to fish the stream and that was a lot of fun, even though I only caught parr. I then drove to Hope and did my clothes and ate at a horrible Chinese buffet (good rice and noodles) and then drove on to Chilliwack so I wouldn’t have to drive as much tomorrow. I found a campground right near town and setting up the tent was pretty easy, taking perhaps fifteen minutes. I then drove to a Safeway to get some supplies and ended up at a Starbucks, catching up on this blog.
My phone problems continue with no GPS and internet but the phone is working fine so I guess that is okay. I really would like the GPS to work in Vancouver, and I am even considering buying a cheap GPS just for the rest of the trip.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Thursday, I went in to see Jeff and he worked on my jaw and my back, neither of which as feeling too tight, but the massage felt very good. After that, I called Gyorgyi to see what was up with her and she said to come up to visit if I wanted so I did. Her niece Laura is now six and a lot of fun. We immediately started fooling around on the hammock and then I suggested spraying one another with the hose and the real fun began. She was mainly in control of the hose and we stayed cool and had fun, using the hose for target practice and digging an eight inch hole with it. Our playing gave Gyorgyi and Lazlo a chance to go shopping and when they returned a couple of hours later we went to the Wildflour restaurant for dinner. Dinner was good but not great and then I went back to G’s place and read some of Lazlo’s writing and talked a little with G.
On Friday, after G invited me, I drove up to the Virginia Animal Safari and though it was brutally hot, Laura had a lot of fun feeding the camels (which stole your bucket of food if you didn’t hold on very tightly), elk, bison, lamas, and deer. There were ostriches, rheas, emus, zebras and in the petting zoo had some cute baby pot-bellied pigs, kangaroos, and giraffes, goats, plus some lorikeets that you could feed with a liquid mixture. Then it was off to Natural Bridge, which was pretty impressive and then to the butterfly room, which wasn’t. I took a break, briefly drifting off in my air conditioned truck, and then we headed for North Creek for a great dip in the big pool there. Lazlo didn’t want to go down the trail so G, Laura and I went in, and it was great, cool and a lot of fun. Laura was especially excited by sliding down a small rock slide and G of I caught her again and again. I drove back and had dinner with them at G’s house and then drove home totally exhausted.
On Saturday morning, I had little to do to get ready but I dumped the compost and rode the exercise bike along with yoga and weights. The grass didn’t need cutting so I left that alone, but I had problems with the water just before I was to shower up. I was going very slowly, and since I was just about to leave, I took a dripping shower and headed off. I hope I don’t have a serious problem with the spring but I will have to attend to it when I return home. I hope it is just the filter underneath the crawl space.
I called Rob on the way up and he was just 20 miles ahead of me so we met at an Applebees for coffee and tea. It was nice to see him after not being able to walk with him the last couple of nights. I was hoping to play golf but the weather wouldn’t allow it so I drove in to the Amtrak station and exchanged my ticket. I am very glad I did it because the ticket agent was a complete idiot and took over an hour to exchange the tickets. I was calm throughout because I was not in a rush. After getting a room at a Comfort Suites, I ended up walking quite a bit in the Short Pump Town Center Mall, a very well laid out shopping area. I had dinner at a Maggiano’s there and it was quite good, as usual. When I got back to the room I was too tired to even go in the pool, so after a few hours of TV I just went to sleep, getting up around 7 and having a quick breakfast before riding an exercise bike for 20 minutes. Then I rushed out worried about getting a parking spot at the station but when I got there there were plenty of spots and I ended up ready to go an hour before.
The train was about 25 minutes late but I finally got on about 10:20 and I had a comfortable ride, where I briefly drifted off, and got to Washington around 12:40. Union Station was well air conditioned and was full of restaurants and shops, but I wanted to walk around a bit so I headed over to the Capitol and walked around, past the Library of Congress and the Senate Office buildings. It was very empty since the Capitol was closed on Sunday, and very hot, but I enjoyed it and then walked back to Union Station for a late lunch. I had to stop walking since my knee really started hurting but I did a good bit of exercise and I did some yoga once I was on the train.

The train left Washington on time, and the only real problem was that I only had a roomette until 2:30 in the morning, at which point I had to move to coach in Cleveland. It was a long six hours and my attempts to sleep recalled some of my nightmarish Greyhound travels. But 8:45 came and we were in Chicago on time and I was quickly off to the Navy Pier. I took a cab over when I found I wasn’t near the right bus and when I got there I immediately decided to rent a bicycle, which was an excellent move as I need a long ride and the path along the lake was quite scenic. When I returned I walked to the end of the pier and realized that my knee was giving out so I bought a ticket (7 dollars) for the water bus to Union Station. It was a pleasant ride and the Chicago buildings maintain their interest. I had lunch when I returned at a sushi place but just after I ordered I saw that I had an e-mail from Rosemary that my schedule was not going to work and that I might only have one course in the books. It ruined my lunch but after it I called Rosemary and she worked it out so the 200 level courses (which I had already finished the rules and outlines for) would run but I would have to teach three courses in a row, a daunting task since I won’t get a chance to recharge with a nap after my first class as my usual schedule allows. I will have to drink more caffeine and I am sure my third class will be less energetic.
I went back to the station and the nightmare began. I had been sitting there for almost an hour (to rest my knee) when they announced that the train to Whitefish was going to be delayed and no one could tell me how long so I really couldn’t do anything (like going up in the Willis Tower (the name of the old Sears tower) or going to a movie. Finally we got off four hours late and I was already pretty impatient but I relaxed as the train began moving. I called the Downtowner to tell them that I was probably getting in around one or so, and they gave me instructions on getting a late key. But there was no way we were even close at one, as we kept losing time and finally stopped for hours just outside of the East Glacier stop. It was past dawn on Wednesday when we got going (the ten hour delay did have the benefit of allowing the passengers to see Glacier, which is fairly impressive even from the train). Finally we stopped about a mile from Whitefish and waited almost an hour to get in so my total delay was twelve hours, a new record surpassing my previous one of ten hours getting into Denver. I was a little tired but I wanted to get going and after picking up my Traverse, driving to the UPS store for my gear, and getting a 128 dollar receipt for the room I didn’t use but was charged for, I started to drive to Fernie about an hour later than I had originally planned. The weather began to look threatening up ahead so I stopped to play golf at a new course near Eureka and then feeling much better drove to customs and got through in about fifteen minutes. The weather continued threatening with bursts of rain and I tried to get my browser to work to check the weather (perhaps I would head back into the US) but it wouldn’t so I took a quick nap in the reclining driver’s seat and drove on to Fernie. The weather was much better so I exchanged some money (because of the US debt problems I only got 184 Canadian dollars for my 200 American, with the teller apologizing), bought a basic license (56 dollars for 8 days and found out that to fish the Elk or the Michelle (which I had originally planned), it was another 22.50 per day. That means fishing would cost me almost thirty dollars a day with money that was worth significantly less than Canadian. With the weather still promising, I went to the bike rental shop and rented a bike for a little over an hour, pedaling along the Elk and noticing quite a few good fishing spots over near the golf course. The fellow at the rental shop only charged me eleven dollars and told me that fishing the Elk in town was pretty good, and told me to talk to his girlfriend Leah at Elk River Fly Shop. She agreed that the fishing could be good and gave me directions to a small park by the river and sold me a license and three green drakes and three stimulators. When I drove to the park, however, I saw a fisherman there and decided to either find another spot on the Elk or drive up to the Michelle. I called the shop and a fellow there said that the spots near the golf course could be productive so I parked near the Canadian Tire and walked in about three hundred yards and started fishing. With some effort I caught a small cutthroat on a green drake and then I moved up and caught three more, two of them over 12 inches. I was totally exhausted but delighted with my success and I struggled back to the SUV with no energy left. I had planned to camp but I decided I was too tired and got one of the last rooms at the Travelodge, showered and then ate salad and pasta at Boston Pizza then went shopping for some need supplies. After that I bought a paper (since my browser and my GPS was still down) and drove over to the Tim Horton’s for a cup of coffee and a Danish. I was too tired to really enjoy my break so I read some and went back to the room exhausted and fell asleep by ten, a productive but energy draining day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A very good visit with Tamara and Andrew from VOF. We walked the right of way and they found no problem with it. They wouldn’t guarantee anything but I think there is a really good shot at the lawyers and the board approving my application.
I rode the stationary bike after they left (it was brutal outside) and did my weights and yoga in the 71 degree, air conditioned house.
I am very excited about heading out on Saturday and I have pretty much everything in order. I should be able to pack the remaining stuff in less than two hours so I should get off by noon or so.
My only real tasks left are to shovel out the one culvert and to cut the grass again, both of which I hope to do Friday morning before it gets hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I was tired yesterday when I got home so I went to bed well before 11. Not surprisingly, I woke at 4:15 and couldn’t go back to sleep so I started my day and just at dawn I sat out on the porch and did my meditation. A cardinal started singing and then stopped and I sat out there waiting for a second bird but none started singing for 20 minutes. I am getting better at sitting still and that is a useful trait as I get older.
I drove into town around 11 after my practicing and yoga and weights and after stopping for a few errands I went to RU and Charley Cosmato, a former student, showed me how to use D2L for putting on outlines and rules.
I then headed off for golf and shot a 48 on the back nine. I played the last two holes from the white tees.
After that I went for a good walk with Rob and now I am almost ready to head home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I decided to run down to Charlotte on Saturday early afternoon. I really needed to get out of this area for a couple of days. I took a bike ride at the park I usually go to, and then I walked around before heading to dinner. I stayed at the Motel 6 at Carowinds and in the morning I stopped and walked around the Fourth Ward and downtown again. It was a very rewarding visit.
Today I rode my bike for six miles in the Sisson pasture, then I went back to the house and practiced, did yoga and weights and got my stuff ready to send to Whitefish. It seemed to take hours but I finally got pretty much everything together. I drove in to the UPS store and the sax alone would have cost 80 dollars each way so I passed on that. Even without the sax it was 174, which is quite a bit, but I did send a lot of gear, including fishing, camping and all my extra clothes and my boots.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yesterday I did my usual practicing, yoga and weights and then I changed the oil in the generator. First I had to chase away a small copperhead that seems to have taken up residence there. Not what I want but I just have to be careful.
In the afternoon I drove up to see the Feed American Southwest Virginia and it is quite an operation. Amy was very nice and gave me a fine tour. After I figure out my finances following the easement, I will give them some more money and I talked to Amy about doing some volunteer work when I return in August.
Today I took apart the shed door and I have to replace some of the wood so I will pick up some today and finish the job in the next few days. I did my practicing, yoga and weights, and then headed to NRN to get the mirror replaced. I picked up some wood and some wood hardener at Home Depot. I am going to head up to the Blue Ridge and then maybe fish the Maury in the evening.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A very productive day as I think I have finally got the batteries equalized. I got number one up to 1250, and six seven and eight were all around 1270. I tried to finish the equalization with the solar but it kicked out, telling me that the batteries were fully charged so I turned on the generator and set it very low and finished off the equalization.
I also got word that Tamara and Irv are coming out on the 20th to gps the coneflower and to walk the access. I am pretty sure they wouldn’t be doing that unless things were pretty much set.
I pushed a piece of the tractor barn sheathing out but I was able to fix it easily. I took the tractor out and ran it all the way to the gate to help level out some of the worse bumps and it helped.
In the afternoon I drove out to towards the peaks of otter and did a 2 mile plus walk along the road in the shade. The view was stunning as always. I saw a scarlet tanager there so that was a real treat.
I have e-mailed two women on match and we’ll see what happens.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I am trying to equalize the batteries and I am getting close to getting them fully charged. After that I will equalize, perhaps for the very first time, according to the battery people.
I did my yoga and weights, practiced for 40 minutes, cleaned up a bit inside. I took the incredibly smelling compost bucket up to the garden and it was very funky. I guess it will bring in a lot of worms. After airing out my truck, I went and picked a bunch of wineberries, then put them in the freezer in 4 sealed bags. There should be enough until I leave on the 24th.
I then went for a six mile bike ride in the pasture. It was a real workout and pretty hot but I enjoyed it greatly.
My big concern now is how much I am going to have to spend on getting rid of the Tree of Paradise. It seems that VOF will accept my easement, so I should save 7000, but I don’t want to spend all of that on the eradication effort. I am 2800 behind on my bugeting right now, so if I spend 3500, I will still have a few hundred left over. Britt Boucher said that the Virginia Department of Forestry has a program to help landowners in my situation and I left a message there on Friday.
I will be teaching my 202 courses the same as I planned but they will be called 200 courses. I already have my outline done and I should have the rules done tomorrow.
I was driving back up to the house after picking the berries and I ran over a branch and it flipped up and broke my passenger side mirror. I was able to buy a small mirror at K-mart and duct tape it in place, but driving with it is a little iffy. I have to be very careful until Monday when I hope New River Nissan will be able to fix it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yesterday was a driving day that ended up well. I decided to head up to Lynchburg to change my Amtrak tickets, and after an excellent massage from Jeff, I began my drive. I got there just after the station opened at 4 and changed the tickets, finding out that there still wasn’t a roomette on the last part of the trip. I will save me 278 dollars to stay in coach and that is tempting since I will only be on the train for 19 hours but I will decide if a roomette opens up.
On my way back I returned Cathy Gallo’s call and she reminded me that it was Claire’s 18th birthday and I felt stupid for not remembering. I decided that I had to drive to Radford and give her a present and I did. I chatted with them and had a lot of fun joking, especially with Cathy, Maddie and Claire. I think Claire appreciated my driving in and I know Cathy did.
I slept poorly again last night (and it was rather warm) but in the morning I did my yoga and weights and practiced for 40 minutes. Then it was time to go play golf and I was terrific, shooting a 43 on the back nine from the red tees. I chipped very well and I missed three easy putts or I might have shot a 40.
The big news was an e=mail I got yesterday from Irv:

Thank you for spending time with me last week on your (Justin) property to investigate its potential to support natural heritage resources. Based on our observations and my photographs, staff here believe the property supports at least three natural heritage resources – smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata), montane dry calcareous forest/woodland, and rich cove and slope forest. Also, we have records for two rare aquatic species – Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) and spatulate snowfly (Allocapnia simmonsi) – within the North Fork Roanoke River fairly close to the property. Considering these factors, it would be very appropriate for the easement to not permit commercial-scale timber harvesting and to restrict future construction and land clearing to a small area around the cabin – ideally no more than the area currently occupied by the homestead – and a small area around the orchard on the northwest side of the property. We recommend the easement leave some flexibility to control invasive species and to manage habitat for natural heritage resources, following guidance from DCR. (For example, the smooth coneflower might benefit from some small canopy openings.) It might be appropriate for the easement to require a habitat management plan, prepared in coordination with DCR, before any habitat management activities are undertaken.

Hopefully, the right of way issue will be resolved soon. Please keep me posted. This is an important easement.


Irvine Wilson
Natural Area Protection Specialist
Department of Conservation & Recreation
Natural Heritage Program
217 Governor Street
Richmond, VA 23219

I was delighted by the e-mail and I forwarded it to my lawyer and he wrote back to say, “You’re in,” and that is wonderful. I haven’t heard officially but it does look good.
I went for a walk with Rob and he cooked up some dinner and that was quite nice.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My knee continues to be sore from the hike with Tamara and Irv, and Rob thinks I should try some advil to cut the inflammation before I consider another syn-visc shot. I will even though I haven’t taken any pain meds since Kripalu.
Yesterday I did my yoga and weights, practiced, and spent almost two hours greasing the tractor. My grease gun seemed to run out of grease about a third through and when I opened it it looked like there was still at least a quarter left. I figured that I would put a new cartridge in and I called Wimmer to make sure I would be doing it right, since I think the mice ate the grease gun instructions. With that information I put the cartridge in and the gun wouldn’t work so I called Wimmer again and they said that it had air in it and you just had to keep pumping it and it would clear. That wasn’t working but when I took the outlet tube off the tube, grease began to flow and I was able to grease the whole tractor including the one fitting which seemed jammed, but which filled up when I turned the wheels.
With that done I headed off to the Blue Ridge and the Maury and the walk in the pull out at Purgatory Mountain was excellent. I then dropped to the Maury and after wasting forty five minutes trying to find an accessible spot, stopped and fished a nice section but got no fish though I had several hits. I was ready to give up since it was almost 8 but I stopped at the bridge near Glasgow and caught two nice bass in the deep water under the bridge. I got to Carrabba’s just as it got dark and had a very good shrimp dish.
This morning I did some practicing (my jaw was hurting a little), then some yoga and weights. My big project for the morning was to find the deed and the plat and after searching in many places I finally found both so I can mail them to Tamara on Tuesday. On the way out I ate some wineberries and picked a few for Rob.
I then drove in for a walk with Rob and lunch and I hope to fish walker creek this evening near the funeral home.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Another change in plans. I am now going back to Whitefish but I won’t leave until the 24th—the big assumption being that the waters will have gone down enough by then—and I will return on the 14th cutting the trip down by a few days. I don’t have a sleeper on the way back to Clifton Forge yet but I am first on the waiting list. I just got too freaked out by the extra 1600 miles I would have had to do if I went to Denver, so things seem settled.
My knee was really hurting this morning but I did cut the grass and I trimmed the road a little. I decided that I had to do weights and yoga and I did and I think it may have helped a little. I did my practicing and I left around 3 to head out to Floyd and then the Blue Ridge Parkway. I couldn’t find a good place to stop and write but I did a little in the Floyd Country Store, not a place to write unless you are desperate. I then drove south on the BR parkway about 20 miles, stopping at the Mabry mill and walking near a stream before heading to Chateau Morissette for dinner. Logan was my server and it was nice to chat with him a little. After an excellent dinner I stopped at one of the overlooks and walked a mile back and forth and really enjoyed the view.
I got e-mails from Tamara and Irv and they are both going to come out again. Tamara warned that the access issue is still key even though Irv did verify the Smooth Coneflower.