Roadtrips: 2011 and 2017

I’ve always loved a roadtrip.
I’ve been on more than my share.
There will be more.
I aim to move even farther to the lower right on the bell curve that tallies up road trips.

Our 2017 road trip is only a couple of days away.
I’m expecting to put over 3K on a rental car in a period of 14 days.
We’ll sleep in OK, NM, AZ, CO, and KS.
We’ll see concerts in Albuquerque (Santana) and at Red Rocks (The Avett Brothers).
Shelly will see the Grand Canyon for the first time.
I’ll see parts of Utah and Colorado that I’ve never seen before.
This roadtrip is a vacation for her and a getaway for me.
There will also be a reunion factor as my son is planning to meet us in Denver on 7/9/17. The last time I saw Joseph was 2 years ago. There are stories there….both past and to come. One of my favorites is The Epiphany.

I shudder to think how much I woulda spent on film and processing if I had taken this trip in 1980. (That summer’s first roadtrip took me from Corvallis to Green Bay for a high school reunion. Not mine. I took hundreds of shots on that trip. In the digital age, add a zero.)


This upcoming roadtrip is very different from the one I took 6 years ago.
That one back in 2011 was:
Shorter…at only 1,200 miles.
One-way…from New Tampa, FL to Reeds Spring, MO with short layovers in the Atlanta suburbs and at my folks place in the Leadbelt.
It too was a “getaway” but in a much different sense.
No live music in route.
No pictures.

Six years ago I was traveling alone in a packed car that I bought on eBay. Before I hit the road that last Tuesday of June, 2011, I had shipped about 25 boxes of books, albums, CDs, slides&pictures, and some household good to my sister’s place at Table Rock Lake.
I was down-sizing. Bigly.
I left behind a 3400 square foot house filled with furniture…and “stuff.” I moved only one piece from Tampa: the small rocking chair my parents bought for me when I was a toddler.

My marriage of 37 years had imploded a few months earlier. It was time for us to start new lives.
Before I drove away I wrote one page letters to Paula, Joseph & Caroline. (I re-read the letters every once in awhile. It’s a good thing to do.  I did it again yesterday.)
I didn’t know how long I’d live at my sister’s when I arrived on July the 5th. (After 3 months we couldn’t stand the sight of each other, so I moved to The Abbey…where Shelly and I are about to renew our lease.)
I had no idea how long I’d live in Missouri. I still don’t….


When we hit the road on 6/29/17, we’ll be traveling with a USB drive loaded with literally hundreds of hours of music.
Back in 2011, it was a shoe box full of CDs.

The majority of music we’ll listen to on the trip will be people I’ll be seeing in the second half of 2017 (Shelly will have to miss some of the shows):
Shovels and Rope
The Avett Brothers
Wood Brothers
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Ryan Adams
Jason Isbell
Father John Misty
The Rainmakers
Drive-by Truckers
Band of Horses
Bob Seger

When I left Tampa in 2011, I hadn’t seen live music in years. (No wonder I was not a happy camper….but there was a lot more to it than that!)

Six years has flown by. I have made lots of new friends.
The vast majority of them are music lovers.  Many are musicians.
I fell in love.
My life is good again. I hope yours is too, and that you are traveling the high road.

Be. Be kind. Just Be.


They called her “Rag Woman”

It was a spring day in 1976. A Monday. The first class after lunch. Pre-Algebra. A packed classroom, most of whom didn’t think they had any reason to ever learn or understand math. (I still feel sorry for them. I’d bet that some of them said “do you wanta supersize that” for a looooong time….)

I was finishing up my only stint as a full-time school teacher. Union (Mo) High School. We were living a bit north of there in Washington, with the Missouri River a couple of blocks north of our upstairs apartment, at the foot of the hill.

I had taken advice from a couple of UHS veteran teachers and had assigned seats before the first class, separating a couple of hyper guys from each other. Johnny was in the corner to the right of my desk…front and center. His buddy was back row, left side. Empty chairs near him in all directions.

Johnny usually arrived early so he could spar a bit….verbally that is. He liked to talk. I liked to challenge him.

On that particular Monday, Johnny and his buddy arrived together, whining about the substitute teacher from their study hall earlier that day. She had split the two of them up soon after the bell rang to start the class.
They were looking forward to the regular teacher being back the next day.
On Tuesday, they were really pissed off!
“That Rag Woman is gonna be here for at least two weeks!! Mrs. Smith is in the hospital and we’re stuck with that mean old bag. Nobody that small should be that mean!!”
I just smiled.

When Johnny came into the classroom on Wednesday…always one of the first kids to arrive…always chatty…I asked him about study hall that morning. He groaned.
“She gets meaner every day. The Rag Woman is gonna make me stay after school the rest of the week. She said I was causing a commotion. At least she won’t be in charge of detention.”
I just smiled.
That Thursday very well might have been the day that I heard Gary Wright singing “Dream Weaver” for the first time. That song is one of my “First Time Tunes.”
Every time I hear the tune I flash back to riding in a ’74 Super Beetle, listening to KSHE as my wife of 15 or 16 months drives us to Union High School.

Whether this was that particular day or not, it was the fourth day of her two week assignment…filling in for Mrs. Smith, the Home-Ec teacher.
As we pulled into the faculty parking lot I spotted Johnny getting off the school bus, and I was pretty sure that he saw me riding shotgun in Paula’s little orange bug.
Johnny got to the classroom even earlier than normal that Thursday. “I saw you in the car with that Rag Woman this morning!! Why would you get in a car with that mean old bag?”
“She’s not old Johnny. She’s only 24.”
“And I think she’s pretty nice. I’m married to her. She’s my wife. ”

“No she’s not!! Don’t say that! You don’t have a ring on, and neither does she.”
“You’re right about the rings. But you can be married and not wear a ring.”

“Yeah, but she wrote her name on the blackboard…and she wrote ‘Ms. Rudloff.’ Your name is Weiss. So you’re not married to her. You’re not!”

“Johnny, the ERA has been ratified by over 30 states. Even without it there is no law that says that married people have to use the same last name. When you’re in detention this afternoon ask Coach Denton who I’m married to…but for now get in your seat and take out your home work.”

That Thursday’s Pre-Algebra class was a little more raucous than usual, but it was never all that quiet. I never bought into the old techer’s adage “don’t smile until Christmas” and sometimes I might have paid a price for that.
Johnny expected her to lighten up after he told her that he knew we were married. No such luck. He got sent to detention one more time for making a racket and disrupting the Rag Woman’s study hall before Mrs. Smith returned from her two week absence.

We laughed even more on the ride home that Thursday than we had every other day that week. “Rag Woman” gave us a lot of laughs over the years.

In my mind’s eye I can still see the look on Johnny’s face on that Thursday, as I close my eyes and climb aboard the dream weaver train.

Be. Just BE.

“What was your favorite thing?”…Part 2

It was another weekend with LOTS of favorite things. This time it was me asking Shelly the question: “What was your favorite thing this weekend?
Before she could answer I gave her my answer: “My favorite thing was glancing over at Tom and Gloria at Piney River as Bob&Jeff sang ‘Like Dogs.’”

It coulda been a tough choice. It wasn’t. The weekend including June 3, 2017 was gonna have plenty of fun things even before I found out that Tom&Gloria were coming in from Atlanta:
…The 13th Annual Rock House Summer was Saturday 6/3/17 {my 6th one…it is always a blast}
…the headliners were The Rainmakers; the Nace Brothers were playing right before them; the 2 bands would close out the night on stage together {great bands individually…awesome together!}
…we were gonna spend a couple of nights at a cute little place called “Shady Acre” and our friends from Pittsburg, KS would also be staying at the 15 room family owned motel {we sat around the pool and talked until the wee hours of 6/4/17}
…Shelly and I were gonna take the Prius on it’s first road trip. A short road trip for us at 100 miles each way, but a roadtrip nonetheless. We were heading for the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, MO…a few miles east of Houston. {Nobody…other than beer drinkers….has EVER heard of Bucyrus. It is the middle of nowhere! We loved it.}
…the reason to head for Piney River was because Bob&Jeff were playing for a couple of hours. {awesome as always}
This was always going to be “brownie and hot fudge sundae” kind of a weekend…and then Gloria tells me that they are thinking about coming!!
Their visit turned it into a “Double Devil.” I had one at my recruit lunch when I interviewed with Arthur Andersen in Portland in 1981. It had to be at least 1500 calories: brownie, ice cream, hot fudge, more ice cream, more hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts, a maraschino cherry on top.

Having Tom&Gloria at the festival was the second scoop and more hot fudge.
Sunday afternoon at Piney River was a double helping of all the toppings.

I met Gloria in 1989 when I transferred to Sarasota with AA&Co…changing careers but staying with the same employer. We quickly became friends. Gloria was the first babysitter during those rare times that Paula would leave Joseph.

Tom came to work at Andersen in 1991. I interviewed him on campus, and then had to fight for him when staff was assigned. Tom was exactly the kind of person I wanted on my team: smarter than me, and only gonna get smarter. I seriously doubt if he has ever worked for anyone who didn’t learn from him.

They both had different spouses when I met them, and might already have been divorced when we moved back to Oregon in 1996. I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t matter. They will have been married for 20 years in 2018.
When my life was in the toilet in early 2011, Gloria was one of the 4 people who were my rocks. We spent lots of time on the phone. She listened. She inquired. She advised. Gloria was there for me. I can never thank her enough.

Tom&Gloria don’t just like dogs….they love them. Both been very active in “Adopt a Golden Atlanta” which is a volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding warm, loving permanent homes for Golden Retrievers. (Gloria has finally quit asking me when I’m gonna get a dog. She knows that I’m serious when I say that I’m too irresponsible and impetuous to be a dog owner…)
Before the festival, I messaged Bob Walkenhorst with a few of Gloria’s requests. “Like dogs” was at the top of the list. On Saturday she heard if from the parking lot, due to “nature calling” at the wrong time. Sunday we were sitting about 15 feet away when they played it. I wiped away tears of joy as Tom&Gloria mouthed the words to this classic song.

I loved that they got to: meet my friends; meet my sister and her husband; have a few slices from the Reeds Spring Pizza Company; spend a day at the festival; get a tour of the Rock House on Sunday morning…while all 4 of The Rainmakers were in the house; and top it off with two plus hours of Walkenhorst&Porter.
What a great weekend! I’m a lucky fella. Life is Good.

Be. Just Be.