Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie
Heidi (in front) - The Staff to Rylie

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The End of an Era

It looks like I won't be going to Washington this summer after all. I received a really good offer to do a long term instructional design project in the Bay Area, so I won't be traveling for awhile. I've been wanting to stop chasing my tail around for awhile, so I'm pretty happy about this turn of events.

This could be the end of an era. To be honest, after five years -- four more than I had initially planned on doing -- I'm getting a little tired of living in this tin can and the uncertainty of my income. I'm ready for a home base again. I know that travel will always be a big part of my life, but I would like to start doing more international travel. There are so many great places to see! I will continue the blog, for awhile anyway, unless I get too boring because I've run out of things to write about.

I have really appreciated all of you, my readers and friends, for accompanying me and Rylie on our journey. I get a kick out of seeing the locations of my readers around the country -- and world -- on Sitemeter. Traveling in this motorhome with my beloved furry sidekick has been a life-changing experience for me, and I have gained so much. I highly recommend this experience, at least for awhile. Don't be surprised if I write a book about it.

Rylie's Notes:

Uh oh. I don't like the sound of this. The Staff is going to be at work all day. This is going to put a serious crimp in my treat schedule.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Duluth Childhood Memories

I got a bit nostalgic during my recent trip to Duluth. My parents are preparing to sell the home they have lived in since 1967, and where I spent my childhood, so old memories kept popping up. My parents live on the outskirts of Duluth, up over the hill, as they say. They have 1.5 acres, but much of it is woods, so the woods were my playground.

Cheerful daisies and buttercups are everywhere:

and plenty of maple, birch, and pine trees. I used to play quite a bit on the big rock in the back yard, and apparently there is something special about it, because the geology students at UMD like to come out and look at it:

Far back in these woods a rope swing used to hang from a huge tree, so we ignored the ticks and mosquitoes and frequently made the trek. We would hop onto the big knot at the bottom and sail through the air. Across the road was an open field where we used to play baseball with the neighborhood kids. Now it's all overgrown.

One winter the next door neighbors flooded their front yard to make a skating rink. I was in heaven -- I loved to ice skate. Sometimes we got so much snow that we could climb onto their garage roof and jump into the snowbanks. After one blizzard, so much snow had piled up in front of our door that we had to jump out one of the windows to catch the school bus.

This is the spot on the deck where the bird feeder used to hang, which attracted a black bear a couple of years ago. The bear tried, unsuccessfully, to impersonate a bird, so Mom and Dad decided to take down the feeder:

My parents' house is just over the hill in the photo below. I was riding on the back of a friend's bicycle when I fell off, and the pavement scraped a big hole in my knee, plus gave me various other scrapes and bruises. The quarter-sized scar on my knee remains to this day. The lighter strip going across the road is the spot where Rylie and I met the bear on our morning walk during our previous trip:

We were walking in the spot below when the bear came out on the road. Rylie knew it was there and had warned me of its presence by stopping dead in his tracks and refusing to budge. But after waiting a bit and not hearing or seeing anything, we continued up the road. That's the closest I've ever been to a bear, and I still can remember the rush of adrenaline:

There are plenty of ferns and other greenery in the back yard -- it's wild back there!

This is the little house in the big woods where I grew up, although it looks different now, with the addition of the deck. The surprising thing about this deck, is that my Dad built it while legally blind. He compensated for his lack of sight by making measuring blocks out of wood and not using power tools:

I have to admit that it feels strange when I think of my parents selling this house. It has been a part of our family for so long, it almost feels like a member of the family.

Rylie's Notes:

That reminds me, I'm still mad at The Staff for not bringing me with her to Duluth. I like visiting The Grand-Staff. They have lots of rabbits and squirrels for chasing, interesting wildlife smells, and they give me lots of treats. It's a perfect vacation destination.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Duluth Photos

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge With Boat Coming Into Harbor

As usual, my visit to Duluth was much too short and this time, bittersweet. I saw family I had not seen in decades, but unfortunately, it was at a funeral. We had to say goodbye to my Aunt Elsie, whom I admired and enjoyed so much. Aunt Elsie was widowed at a young age with 3 boys to raise. She had spunk, determination and humor, and she was a single woman RV traveler long before it was popular. Although she thought she would never remarry, she remarried when she was in her 70's, proving that it's never too late to find love again. I will miss her.

I did very little photographing on this trip, but I have a few photos. The photo below is a view of Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge from Thompson Hill, a couple of miles from where my parents live.

Below is a view of the St. Louis River from the same location:

The next photo is a tour boat coming into the canal and harbor:

The little lighthouse at the canal entrance:

Canal Park is the area on the edge of Lake Superior where many tourists come to stay in hotels on the lake, browse the shops and restaurants, and see the aerial lift bridge. At the foot of the bridge is Grandma's, a former bordello which is now a popular saloon and restaurant. It's a Cheers-type place where I used to meet up with friends:

Duluth has a long history as a big shipping port, so there's a few big anchors laying around:

You can rent one of these contraptions to pedal around Canal Park. What is that, a quadricycle?

This is the edge of Lake Superior looking toward London Road, where a lot of the old, beautiful mansions are, including Glensheen, which you can tour. If you keep driving to the right, you'll drive up the north shore of Lake Superior, and eventually end up in Canada.

More Canal Park photos:

After 8 changes in my flight departure time, including time in the Minneapolis airport, on the runway, and in a holding pattern over San Francisco, I finally made it back to Pleasant Hill. Rylie was very happy to see me when I returned, and couldn't give me enough kisses. He watched me very intently for the next 24 hours, and even skipped his breakfast the next morning. This is highly unusual, so I guess he was a bit discombobulated. He isn't used to being separated from me, but the staff at Romp apparently loved him and took very good care of the little rascal.

Rylie's Notes:

I don't recall approving any vacation request for The Staff. I will have to determine the appropriate repercussions for unscheduled, unapproved leave of absence. I may have to remove the morning snuggle from our schedule to discourage this behavior in the future.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Still light at 9:00 p.m.? I must be in the Northland, and tonight, another thunder and lightning storm. Had a great visit with my cousin Kelly today, and I'm really enjoying the time with my family. Dad is slowly recovering. I've been working hard at my parents' house trying to get it ready to put on the market.

I have been getting daily photos of Rylie, who apparently has gotten quite attached to one of the workers at the doggy hotel. He thinks he's a lap dog. I have to admit, I miss that little rascal. I'll be seeing him Tuesday night when I return to the Bay Area.

Rylie's Notes:

The Substitute Staff adores me. I humor her by sitting on her lap and giving her kisses. It's a tough job, but I do what I can.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fireflies and Thunderstorms

I arrived in Minnesota yesterday evening and was treated to some of my favorite Minnesota things (besides my family), fireflies and a thunderstorm. I love watching those tiny green lanterns blinking around, and thunder and lightning is always a good show. The weather is gorgeous, and because of the wet spring they've had here, everything is very green and lush.

I hear that Rylie had a little trouble adjusting to sleeping at Romp, the dog boarding place. He was trying to go with me when I dropped him off, so I supposed he wasn't happy about me leaving him there. He seems to be adjusting a little better today.

Rylie's Notes:

(stony silence)