Tuesday, February 2, 2016
There is something about snow that moves a certain melancholy feeling deep inside of me. This quote from Damien Echols puts it into perspective, at least for me.
“I miss the snow. I miss looking at it, walking in it, tasting it. I used to love those days when it was so cold everyone else would be tucked away inside trying to stay warm. I would be the only one out walking, so I could look across the fields and see miles of snow without a single footprint in it. It would be completely silent - no cars, no birds singing, no doors slamming. Just silence and snow.”
If you grew up around hard winters, where the snow fell in feet instead of in traces, you may have grown weary of having to deal with the shoveling and the slush and the freezing temperatures. As with all things, too much of anything can get old and cumbersome. Having spent many years along the Gulf coast, I came to dread the beginning of Hurricane season, not so much because of the fear of one of Mother Nature’s most destructive forces, but because I knew for the next six months or so, every time a slight disturbance developed in the Atlantic or Gulf, a certain unease would resonate through the community until the threat would dissipate.
Winter storms can create the same anxiety. So your feelings toward snow may be more like Carl Reiner’s.
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
Whether you feel like Mr. Echols or Mr. Reiner, the next time you’re out in fresh snow, yet untouched by human influence, try to look at it as if you were a kid experiencing it for the first time. Snow can be truly amazing with the right perspective.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Well, after some 3K miles of traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, we have settled in Panama City Beach for a much needed break.
On our way to Longview, Washington we managed to take a quick detour through Flagstaff, Arizona and made a quick jog up to the Grand Canyon. My mother had never been there and my wife had only seen it from the west rim.
When you get to Flagstaff, you have several options on how you want to get to the south rim of the canyon. One would be to head west on I-40 about 30 miles and take Hwy 64 straight north. 64 will join Hwy 180 and take you straight to the south rim. But if you're looking for scenery you won't get much on this 60 mile drive.
The other option is to take Hwy 180 north out of the heart of Flagstaff. It will wind through the mountains and forests for about 40 miles then meet up with Hwy 64. It's a beautiful drive if you have the extra time. This route will add 15 to 20 miles to get to the Grand Canyon.
So enough about that. Here's a few pictures we took, but just for the record, the ONLY way to truly experience this true treasure of our planet is to go see it yourself. Stand at the edge in awe. I know we did.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
THE BEAST HAULING US ACROSS THE US
A few days ago, I began posting about our journey to leave Southeast Texas and travel the states. I’ve decided to change up the format a bit and give you a little information every post about our present location and weather conditions—after all, one of our major complaints with SE Texas was the hot humid conditions. Oh, and let’s not forget the smell of the local refineries and paper mills.
Oct. 7 2015 in Longview, WA
Current temp is 57 with rain
Now back to our trip getting here. When we finally made it across the HUGE state of Texas, we took the back roads of southwest Oklahoma to the town of Anadarko—self proclaimed Indian capitol of the nation. If you want to learn a little about Native American culture and heritage, this is a good place to start. There are museums, artistry, and artifacts. During the eighties oil boom, Anadarko went from a population of 5000 or so, to something double that, and that number may be low depending on when you took the census. But the oil boom is long gone so Anadarko is like a lot of small towns in this country; considered home for some, a pass through on the map for others. I graduated High School there and still have family members who reside there, including my mother who is joining us for a few weeks on the early part of our US journey.
I wish I could fill in another paragraph or two about the great things we saw on the road north towards Kansas, but I can’t. Maybe if we had gone farther east to Tulsa or at least to Lake Tenkiller I could have provided some nice pictures. Driving north through Oklahoma City straight up I-35 toward Wichita Kansas you see mainly farm land or grassy rolling hills. Oklahoma City has done a lot to revitalize its downtown area with lots of fun things to do, but driving through does little to keep your senses occupied. We were just making miles to get from one place to another.
If you’re wondering why we went north through Oklahoma and Kansas to get to Washington, stay tuned.
Thanks for traveling with us today. Watch that first step getting out of the truck.
Monday, October 5, 2015
MY VIEW IN LONGVIEW WASHINGTON
As I write this blog, I’m sitting next to a series of picture windows overlooking a tributary that dumps into the Columbia River in Longview, Washington. To my right I can almost throw a rock to the Oregon border. The foothills surrounding this area, and the sunny October sky, are enough to make an outdoors person want to go take a hike or a bike ride. To say this area is beautiful might be an understatement. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I left the southeast coast of Texas just nine days ago. My wife and I packed everything we own into a ten by fifteen storage unit and took off in search of adventure out on the open road (and many back roads, I’m sure). So how did we get to Washington? And what did we see along the way? Where will we go next? I’ll try to answer those questions as we go along. If you’d like, travel along with us through this blog. I’ll try to offer thorough descriptions, travel advice for when you decide to experience some of these places and I’ll include as many photos as necessary for you to get a feel for what we’re seeing.
Find you a seat close to a window and buckle up!
I’ve lived in Texas most of my adult life, as has my wife. Anyone who has experienced driving across the state east to west or north to south knows how Massive this state is. If you’re going through Texas you better pack a lunch, and dinner, and maybe a midnight snack-just to be safe. Here’s an example: El Paso, TX is closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas. Going East out of Houston, you can cross three states and be halfway through Florida before you would reach El Paso going west. You could visit TEN northeastern states in the distance it takes to go from Houston to Amarillo, TX (600 miles!)
There are lots of things to see and do in Texas, but on our journey from Beaumont to Oklahoma—by way of Hwy 287 that cuts diagonal across the state—things turned out to be fairly uneventful. We prefer the scenery of west Austin, Fredericksburg and the hill country. A trip to Big Bend, TX will be on our travel list at a later time.
A few more quick notes about Texas:
Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885.
More species of bats live in Texas than any other part of the United States.
THE BATS FLYING AT DUSK IN AUSTIN
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Today is my 15th anniversary and I’ve spent a good bit of the day pondering what made our marriage survive this long, and why I feel so confident it will last forever. I’ll start by telling you a little secret. My wife, Regina, and I met through a valentine personal ad. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. These things aren’t supposed to lead to marriage, and definitely aren’t supposed to last, so what’s the trick, what have we done that so many others have failed at?
It could be that we don’t throw the D word (divorce) around like it could happen at any moment. We’ve argued, we’ve slammed doors, we’ve made each other furious—that’s bound to happen in fifteen years—but we ALWAYS meet back in the middle. Maybe we’ve just been lucky, if you believe in such a thing. Some might argue that it’s all just blind luck whether your marriage works or not. I like to think a higher power is in charge of it. My wife and I ardently believe God has his hand on our relationship. So what about other “faithful” followers who fall prey to the D word? It takes more than faith in God. You have to have that same faith in your relationship.
I know you’re wondering, Regina and I must be a perfect match, right? Sort of. Truth is, we are total opposites in personality. She’s aggressive, strong willed, says what’s on her mind. I was a very shy child and carried that into adulthood. I don’t like conflict, prefer instead to solve problems as quietly as possible. You could say I’m soft spoken. Or at least, I was. You see, over the past 15 years, something odd has happened; we’ve rubbed off on each other, in a very good way. Sometimes we are two peas in a pod, though. Like when we go to a restaurant and I’ll order the exact same thing she does. We never have to disagree about food, or movies, or travel. We love to get out and see the world. We can both compromise and get what we want at the same time.
My wife is an amazing woman, and I like to think she married an amazing man. What are the odds?
So I think I’ve figured out why we’ve made it this far. Are you ready for the secret? Here it is. It has worked for us so far.
Kiss each other good morning—no matter what—and kiss each other goodnight—no matter what.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
“Please hold while I connect you with your party.”
There’s a click then a booming male voice on the line.
“This is Father Time. How may I help you?”
“Uhhh . . . ,” I hesitate, feeling my resolve running into my shoes.
“Come on young man! I don’t have all day.” He chuckles at his own joke.
“Well, the thing is, I’d like to request, if it’s not too much trouble. Four extra hours in the day tomorrow!” There. I said it.
“Who is this?”
“It’s James Tate, sir. We’ve spoken before.”
Shuffling paper. “Yes. I see here where you called just two days ago. And now you are asking for another EOD?”
“A four hour Extend of Day, that’s correct. Just four hours.” I cross my fingers.
“You know we have a strict policy about how many EOD’s you can have in a year.” More paper shuffling. “Says here this is the fourth time this month. Not sure I can give you another. You can get addicted to these, you know?”
“But sir, you don’t understand. It’s not for me.”
“Well, who’s it for, Mr. Tate?”
I take a deep breath and just say it. “It’s for my wife, sir. She’s been very busy. I know she could use it and our anniversary is coming up and I just thought . . . “
“Whoa there. You know that is against policy. You are not authorized on your wife’s account. I don’t think I can help you without her consent.”
“Please, Mr. Time. Just this once?”
“I’m sorry. But there’s nothing I can do. What if I gave EOD’s to just anyone who called up? It wouldn’t be long until I wouldn’t have a job. She’ll have to call in herself.”
My heart sank. But then an Idea came to me.
“What if I give up four hours of mine?”
What do you do with your time?
Sunday, April 21, 2013
My wife and I just came in from an evening at the movies. I talked her into seeing OBLIVIAN with Tom Cruise. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here, but if you like SCI-FI, or seeing Mr. Cruise shirtless—a lot—spend the money and see it at the theatre.
What I really want to do is give a big shout-out to my favorite author; Mr. King. Saturday my sister and her husband were in town for a family event, so we spent our morning at a flea market. The ladies wanted to go see arts and crafts, but the brother-in-law and I wanted to go hunt bargains, in other words, sift through junk looking for a misplaced jewel.
While looking through a shelf lined with misc. books, I came across a copy of The Stand. I’ve read most of Stephen King’s books but wasn’t sure if I had read this one. Besides, I collect his hardbacks. I’ve got quite a collection going, including a first-edition of The Shining. So I spent three dollars and bought the book. I’m glad I did.
There is an interesting introduction in the front of the book from the author. He states that the original book published in 1978 had to be cut by some 500 pages to keep the price of the book down. In the copy I purchased—labeled “For the first time complete and uncut”—the last page carries the hefty number 1153.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of reading for one story. And here lies one of the reasons some say they don’t read Stephen King: His books are too long.
Here’s my take on the matter. Take it or leave it. I have yet to read one word written by Mr. King that came across as fluff, or filler. What I see is depth of color, setting, and character. I’ve read many of his stories and have been left wondering what happens next for the hero (if he lived). It’s like a trance. He pulls you in so quickly, you don’t know what hit you. Can his stories be told with fewer pages? Absolutely. But that’s not to say they should be. I love the winding road he takes me on. I can’t get enough of a writer who puts me smack dab in the middle of a different world every time I read one of his books, and has me believing every word of it. I am immersed in the workings of a master story teller. Besides, what’s the hurry? You can get back to the other garbage on your Kindle soon enough.
Any King diehards out there?