Looking Like My Parents

I had to laugh at and share this shot, because in it I look like I textbook combination of my parents.

While this provides some assurance that my family tree is as advertised, it is also a bit frightening: I look like my parents did when I was a teenager.

Ah, well: aging beats the alternative.

Happy Hannukah, everyone! Chag Sameach!

Kick-Back Stack

Sunny’s eyes just about came out of her head when the waitress at Kick Back Jack’s set these monster blueberry pancakes down in front of her.

My dear wife had her revenge, though: she made it through about 80% of this massive stack, then jumped back into the car and drove another four hours.

Never underestimate the ability of a thin person to make food just seem to disappear.

Reasons to Love Amtrak: Service

They gave these to me for free. Portland station for the win again.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, domestic US airlines had a culture of service that they extended to everyone regardless of whether you were flying first or coach. That sentiment is mostly dead unless you are seated in the front of the plane, and even then, its a crapshoot.

Amtrak, on the other hand, has a service culture that harks back to the golden era of air travel. I will choose Amtrak over any domestic US airline, and this simple gesture on the part of a Portland baggage handler is just one more example of why that is the case.

When in Portland, Eat Elk

 

Three years later, I am still thinking about this elk burger (with avocado instead of cheese) I enjoyed at the taproom of Deschutes Brewery in Portland.

I just checked. The restaurant made it through COVID, is still open, and the elk burger is still on the menu.

I’m thinking “road trip.”

Ghost Songs on the Gila

I was early on the day I visited, a mid-winter weekday after the holidays. It was in the low 40s with a brisk wind. Apart from a ranger and a docent trying really hard to stay warm, I was alone. I walked the site slowly, almost tiptoeing, to sustain the quiet.

The wind freshened as it shifted a few degrees, and I heard a low keening come from the ruin. I froze in place, listening intently, turning my head. I was in the center of the site, and it was one of those moments when you feel like you, like Billy Pilgrim, have become unstuck in time.

The interaction of the wind, the ruin, and the rafters of the shelter were interacting to play tricks on me, I rationalized. It’s nothing.

As I looked back toward the ruin, I saw a jackrabbit close by. He was on his haunches, regarding me. I regarded him back. We continued this for about a minute. Then I lost the contest, turning to look again at the ruin, but when I turned back toward the jackrabbit, he had vanished, and the keening stopped.

I heard a car door slam, and a family, bundled against the cold, began walking my way. The spell broken, I headed into the gift shop to warm my ears and buy the postcard in the photo.

Watch Over the Butterfield

Located in a remote and picturesque vale in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona, Fort Bowie is an overlooked treasure among the National Park system. It’s all about the history here, but there is so much natural beauty you could turn your back on the fort and just enjoy the site for the feeling of being in a protected mountain stronghold.

Casa Grande

I lived in Arizona for nearly two years, and though I consider myself more attuned to local history than your average bloke, I never understood what “Hohokam” meant.

In a few hours at Casa Grande, mercifully unburdened by children or other distractions, I walked through a door into a culture that had for centuries irrigated and cultivated the Gila and Salt River basins. The day was clear but icy cold, keeping the numbers of visitors down.

Overhaul

In the waiting room at Nissan while my baby gets a checkup. Air, oil, filters, fluids, rotation, alignment, and a full diagnostic. I don’t know what we’ll encounter on the road, but we’ll both be healthy when we begin.

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