HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

How times have changed. This past week I had someone ask me when did I move to Denmark. I thought for a bit and replied, “December 1992”. After answering I then calculated how long this has been – 28yrs this coming December! Then I got to wondering where all the time had gone and how things have changed.
My brother and I are very close, so when I moved to Denmark it was very hard for me not to have the access of communication with him. Phone calls were very expensive, so I limited myself to one call a month, sometimes calling him, sometimes others I needed to contact. Next was the pony express (mail). From the time I wrote a letter to Larry (brother), send it, him to receive, sit down and write, it was somewhere around 3-4 weeks for a turn-around, sometimes longer. It was better than nothing at all and so I began to write more than I ever had.
After moving to Denmark, I transferred to the 7th Army Reserve Command in Germany, my job entailed me learning how to operate a computer, so I convinced the wife we needed to buy one. We bought the latest, greatest available. It had about a 540 megabit hard drive – big for the day. I remember Windows 3.1 came on 6 discs. A couple years later we got e-mail. When sending mail, I would first prepare the message and address. Then disconnect the phone, hook up the computer, dial up the connection and send. It was superfast for the day. I evolved right along with technology. Today I just click an icon on my computer screen, connect through a wireless connection to the internet, if Larry is home, he will hear his computer ring and we can talk just like over the phone, except there is no phone cost. Better yet, if we want, I can click on a button while talking to him and it will activate a camera in my computer, transmitting a live video so we can see each other while talking. Reminds me of a cartoon I use to watch as a kid, “The Jetsons”. They were a futuristic family who when talking on their phone could watch a video screen seeing who they were talking with. At the time, this was so “out of this world”, but fact today! If we take a look, many things in our lives have changed many for the better, but sometimes I wonder if some are not so good.
When I first started to ride the train to Germany for Army Reserve, mobile phones were not so present, especially those which could connect to the net. Then, I would read a book most of the trip or just watch the country side go by. If someone sat down beside or across from me, it was not hard to strike up a conversation (if they could speak English). Today, I notice hardly no one talks with others. First thing after sitting down the smart phone or laptop computer comes out, they are instantly connected with the world and who cares about those around them. We as a whole have become disconnected with those around us while we are connected with the bigger world around us. I notice many time when the wife and I go out to eat, so many people around us, the mobile phone is sitting on the table and most can not let it go, they must pick it up every once in a while and see who has sent a message, who has posted something on one of the social sites so many watch. It is amazing to watch people sit at the same table, next to each other and yet they are so distant from each other they hardly talk to each other. I do have to state an exception: the wife and I went to a farrier friend of mine for dinner. We sat at the table and enjoyed a good meal. About half way through the meal, his girlfriend went to the kitchen to get something and also came back with her smart phone, sitting it on the table. The first time she started to look at it, my friend reached over took it stating: ”We have guests, there is no place for a phone on the table”. Inside I smiled, thinking at least someone has good sense. There is also the flip side.
Today so many people are able to work from home because they can connect with the world from their computers. This is allowing parents to spend more time at home if they have this type of job. For me, I am able to send my bills out the same day over the net instead of writing it out, spending money to send through the mail. Then if someone is late paying, I no longer have to repeat the process costing me more money, I just hit “send” and out it goes again. Churches have benefitted from the internet as well. With this Chinese virus thing going on and members are not able to attend, many have turned to “Video” church. Amazingly enough I get to attend church in Boise, Idaho. Yea, the time difference is such that I don’t get to see the live feed, but they have the sermons posted so I can watch when ever I want. We are able to make appointments, do shopping, go places on the internet. So many things have been made easier, more accessible, easier to communicate worldwide. Those who were kids in the late ‘90s will never know a world without instant communication, unless the net goes down.
Some things which will never change internet or not. Going outside on a nice warm morning, listening to the birds sing, feeling the morning warmth on your body as you enjoy the smell of a nice cup of coffee. Standing on a mountain top on a clear summer day as you slowly turn around seeing the full scope of the world presented around you – oh yea, you can see it on the internet, but you are also limited to the size of the screen, you cannot feel the sun on your body and let all your senses sample the time and place. And just the small thing of communication. Yes, you can see someone on the video, but there is still the ability of one’s senses to sample every facet of the environment around as you converse. The internet, hi-tech is great, but unless you step outside this “virtual” world and really live life, one will never really experience life.

OLD YEAR GONE, NEW YEAR BEGINS

So I have once again successfully completed another vacation. Sitting here in the Lisbon airport with a few hours to kill is giving me time to reflect on the passed year. My year begins with the ending of my annual trip to vegetate in Portugal with John. It is a time of reflection, regeneration and just plain whatever. This year’s trip will have a little different meaning for me as when I return, the following Monday will go under the knife for a new left knee. Am I worried about it, apprehensive or scared – not really. I am just put out at myself for falling apart.
You see, my whole life I have been fit as a fiddle, able to do what I wanted, go where I wanted to go and such. Now I find myself acting like the “old” guys I used to see coming to my hunting camps when I was a guide. Or the old guys walking down the street. I used to, well not really think about them, but I would in the back of my mind, without thinking about it, run through my head – “Boy, sure glad I’m not that old guy.” I got out of bed this morning in my hotel room and looked at the person staring back at me and I almost didn’t recognize him. I just stood there for what seemed like hours (actually less than a minute) wondering how I had changed into this old gray bearded, fat guy, instead of what I used to be. I remember back so many years ago, an “old” guy once told me: If you see something is life you want to do, then do it because there will come a day when you won’t be able to, and if you didn’t, you’ll look back and say, I wish I’d have done that. Well most of my life I have always taken that chance, gone out on a limb and tried something different. I look back and I have had a good life. I have had many great opportunities and gone ahead with them – it has been fun.
I got paid to do things many people pay to do. Being a professional guide was good. It was a lot of work. I remember so many good times, fun times. There were also many long days, hard work. Times where it was cold, wet and I wondered if it was worth, but that thought only lasted about two seconds – even on a bad day (which there never really were).
Growing up I used to hear: Join the Navy – See the world. Well I joined the Army Reserve and have seen more places in the world than I ever thought I would. Yes, may times it wasn’t that great vacation place, but many times I got to visit history, to see where history was made, to walk in the steps of men who’d gone before me I had only read about
I have meet people from all over the world. This morning I had breakfast with a former princess of Russia – Anastasia ( we laughed about that one). She was a beautiful 24yr old gal living in Moscow who have been in Lisbon for an international web seminar. She came from a small island in the northern Pacific, attended university in Moscow, went to work for Microsoft, but now has her own business. Before her I shared a cup of coffee with a great young man from Spain who had also attended the same event. He was great to talk with. Having the chance to meet and talk with people from all over the world lets me expand my knowledge and vision.
But the thing I am most thankful for is the beginning I had. My brother and I were adopted, and the people who wanted us were the best in the world. I was give fantastic values and a direction in life. I had a great life where I learned as a very young kid what hard work was and to accept responsibility. I learned early life wasn’t always a bed of roses and I wouldn’t always get what I wanted, but I would have what I needed. So many times our wants out race our needs and when it come down to it, our needs are very small compared to what we really think. I also learned after I left home, two things I never ask God for – a place to say and something to eat. God provides this for the birds of the air, so I knew and have always had faith these two things would always be provided to me. I may not have always had the best place to stay, nor the fancy foods to eat, but I have never needed.
So now I begin a new year, and it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

STATE OF MIND

Inserting the key into the lock silently I thanked John for leaving it. The rusty gate hinge gave its familiar drawn out squeaky greeting as I entered the “Consulate” as it is known to all of us who visit John since his move to Portugal in 2006. I have only missed one year coming to this, my place of retreat, cleansing of my soul, my mind, what I call my sanctuary.
I work hard all year long, dealing with each problem as it arises(both home and work), hopefully in a matter which will let people (and the wife) know I really care about the situation I am currently in and trying to resolve. Like everyone I need my vacation to just get away to forget the worries and care of life , to regenerate that spark inside so I can continue one more year. I didn’t get that last year and by the middle of this summer I could feel I had over extended and just needed to get away. John had informed me he would not be home upon my arrival, so had arranged for a friend Dave to pick me up. As I approached the inner double door, I noticed the wood stack on the left was gone, about time I thought, thinking back to how many years ago John and I had cut and stacked it there. Going through the door I looked to the right and smiled, yes the forge and bellows. What a magnificent pair they are. I have spend many relaxing hours with this pair as I reached over and gently patted the top of his anvil. Looking to the left the Danish Ensign still hangs on the front of his ceiling high cabinets. Even though the sun is shining it is very dark in here and I instantly know why, looking up as I enter the open inter court area I see a year’s growth of grape vines still doing their job of providing shade. I’ve never been here in the heat of the summer, but I understand how important these vines are to the Consulate for shade and keeping it cool. The upper deck had two sides covered, the inner court where I am is topped and the open front side is also covered with vines. John has trained them up the back wall of the area as well. There are two sources for these vines, one being in a dirt spot next to the south wall, these vines are the ones covering the inner courtyard. The other source comes from the kitchen! When John moved in this old grape vine was growing in a dirt patch on the back wall, so he provided it a place to continue to grow and built his kitchen around it. He has an opening for it to go outside, and had trained it to the top deck, patio, northwest wall. Yes they give lots of grapes and most people here in Portugal press their own wine. John doesn’t he just wants the shade, so the grapes go to the neighbors, who in return give him some of the “fruit of the vine” later on.
Just before I turn to my left, approaching the rock stair case leading to the upper room, I gaze upon the large stone slab covering the ground to my right. Affixed to the kitchen wall are two headstones, one for Jessica and the other for Conan. Jessica was John’s bulldog who moved from Denmark to Portugal with John. She was very special and I can’t tell you how much he loved this little girl. I could see the effect on John the year I came down after she died, very noticeable. He swore he’d never get another one, yet the following year I was introduced to Conan, he was a special guy as well (also English Bulldog). Now they are gone, he just has a cat. Much easier for John to take care of, but just not the same.
At the top of the staircase Istep on the stone surface leading to the room. I set my day pack down and open the door and am greeted with the slight rush of warm air as I enter. Looking to my right the shutters are open letting the warm fall sun in. I can smell the room had been closed for some time, so I set my gear down at the foot of the bed, go over and allow some of the great fresh fall air in. As I open the window I breathe deeply, put my hands on the window sill and look out over the view – mountains. The one thing Denmark doesn’t have I really miss. These aren’t Idaho mountains, but they fill the void.
After stowing my gear I head back down to the kitchen. I might add John’s kitchen is special. It is a completely separate room from the rest of the house. The first year I was here, it was a three sided room, completely open facing the south. Along the back wall from left to right is the fridge, gas stove and cabinet. Assorted cast iron skillets and pots hand from hooks on the roof beams. Above the stove coming out of the rock wall is his grape vine’s main trunk heading out its own little special window. Before I arrived the second year, John had a wooden wall built for the kitchen. This is special as it is panels hinged together so they could open and fold back against the rock structure. When fully closed a door is incorporated in this very ingenious design so if he wanted he could leave it open, then in the winter rainy months it can be closed up, snug as a bug in a rug.
I did the first natural thing when entering a kitchen, I opened the fridge, low and behold the lower shelf was full of beer bottles. He knows I enjoy nice cool one, so he had a few chilling for me. I reach in and grabbed one. As these are not twist off, I looked over the table and found the church key hanging in its proper place, with a quick movement the top was off. As John wasn’t home, there was only one place to go – the top deck, so I headed out side, back the way I entered. After closing the squeaky gate and a few steps up the street, I turned to my right, climbing the rock stairs. Oh, a new gate at the top. Going through it I turned immediately to my right, opened another new gate and stepped up onto the deck. Looking around I spied an old canvas deck chair folded up laying on the table. Sitting my beer down I proceeded to erect this canvas wonder and placed it in the sun. Ah, yea as I sat down. Propping my feet up on the railing I gazed out over the Portuguese landscape. Way down I can hear some vehicles on the road. I can hear a couple motorcycles on some mountain dirt road. I look up and see a few birds flying. I got my warm vest on as there is a slight breeze blowing . To my left I see the Idaho State flag is flying in honor of my arrival. To my right the Danish flag is flying as should be for the “Southern Danish Consulate”. I secure my beer from the table and take a long draw, afterwards just resting it on my waste between both hands I close my eyes and feel the warm sun on my face. Yes – vacation, I can now relax.

ARE THEY YOUNGER OR AM I OLDER

I was sitting in the dentist’s chair this morning looking at this very young gal who claimed to be the dentist. I wasn’t really listening to what she was saying, rather I was thinking, Holy cow, she is so young, how can she really know what she is doing?, yet she was very professional and did good.
The other morning I stopped in a place to get a cup of coffee and spend my telephone time reading a bit, having a cup of coffee and enjoying my morning. I was greeted by what seemed like a very young, smiley guy. As I placed my order I wondered why this kid wasn’t in school. With coffee in hand, walking away I thought, “ I wonder just how old he is”? Then I began to look at myself.
When I began to shoe horses here in Denmark I was 36, still had a full head of hair. I got a couple customers I picked up then and still do their horses today. One in particular I remember she had one kid in arm and the other one in a carriage. Today both these gals have grown into young, good looking ladies in their twenties. And it only seems like just yesterday they were about a foot and a half long!!
I would be driving down the road and come up behind a car just putting along, seemingly in no big hurry to get anywhere. As I would pass the car I would glance at the driver, yep look at that old guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing? Today as I drive down the road, not really in a big hurry to get anywhere, thinking about if I will have time to squeeze in a few holes of golf, cars zip around me in a big hurry. As I glance at the driver I seen them looking at me sometimes. I bet they are thinking: Look at that old, gray bearded guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing?
Where did the time go? I look back and it has gone by so fast. 2018 just got a start and we are already one fourth of the way through March! How did the time get by me so fast? I remember so many years ago an “old guy” once told me: If you get the chance in life to do something, do it, because there will come a time in your life when you won’t be able to do it, and you don’t want to think, “Gee why didn’t I do that”! I have taken lots of chances in life and done a lot of things, gone a lot of places and glad I did. I’ve had people sometimes think I was crazy for the chances I’ve taken or the things I have done, but looking back now I have had a fun life.
I remember once during my professional guide life I thought to myself, “Gee, I am getting paid to do what other people are paying to do”. Hunting, fishing, floating the Salmon River, driving jet boats, living in the wilderness area. I can look back on all those experiences and smile. I look back on my life so far enjoy it. I have had some people tell me they can’t believe I have done the things I have done – I really don’t care what other people think, I know what I have done and where I have been. I am thankful for the adventures I have taken and the fact God has been watching over me because sometimes I could have been in deep trouble out there by myself.
In moving to Denmark I gave up the best job I ever had in my life, but other doors opened to me and I’ve gone places and done things I never would have if I had remained in Idaho. I see and know so many people who are afraid to step out and take a chance. Remember, sometimes those golden opportunities only knock once at your door and if you don’t take them you will have to settle for second best. Even at my age now I am still getting new chances and opportunities which I will continue to take advantage of. Don’t be one of those who is afraid to take a chance. Yes I have had failures, but they were also something. Physically now I can’t do a lot of things I did earlier, but I still got the memories and I can’t say, “I wonder what it would have been like if I had done that”!

NEVER TOO LATE

This has been the story of my life – the things I want to do or enjoy have always come later in life. I guess through it all I have learned it is never too late to do something.
I wanted to join the army and fly, but 1 December, 1974 put a stop to that – I took a ricochet from a pistol in my right eye ending my flying and delaying my military career until late in life – age 26. By this time most guys have enlisted and completed eight or nine years. When I went to basic training I was called “old man” as I was the oldest in my platoon. Yet even with the late start and not getting to do what I really wanted to do I managed to have a Reserve career spanning over 22 years and I achieved the rank of Sergeants Major and now enjoy a retirement. In a way I felt a little left out as I already had a civilian career under way, but I was privileged to serve my country and contribute as I feel everyone should.
I’d been married and got divorced in 1984. After living in Pasco, Washington for a year, I moved back to Idaho and somehow got into riding saddle bronc. Here I am in my late twenties starting something which is a young man’s game (much younger than me). At my age most rough stock riders are in the second half of their career. I had a ball. I traveled to central Oregon, Northern Nevada, and many rodeos in Idaho. I didn’t make any money, but one thing I can tell you – there is nothing like coming out of the chute on that eight second ride!
I was around 30yrs old when my brother and I took a hunting trip with our horses in to the Salmon River Wilderness area in Central Idaho. While there I got offered a job as a guide and packer. On our way out my brother asked me, “You’re going to take that job aren’t you?” I replied, “You bet, this job has been offered to me and it is one most guys would give their right arm to do. Lots of guys pay to go to guide schools to get a job”. So began another episode in my life – professional guide/packer. I will have to say it was the best time of my life, so good I wrote a book about it.
Low and behold at age 36 I up and move to Denmark, half way around the world. The clincher to my move was there was an Army Reserve Command in Germany so I didn’t have to give up my long range goal of a military retirement. So here I planted roots and started a business as a farrier. Late in life I am beginning all over again. It was hard work and there were also hard times but I stayed with it and soon was able to enjoy a nice life.
My job in the army was infantry, but my war didn’t come until the end of my career. I was in year 19 when I answered the call to war. In 2003 I deployed and wouldn’t get back home for about 14 months. The worst part was I didn’t get to do what I was trained to do. I would have rather been in an infantry unit up front fighting the enemy, yet I ended up in the rear as the Rear G3 Sergeants Major of V Corps, doing a job we combat arms guys always detest, but I did my job to the best of my ability. After I moved up to Baghdad, I made contacts with an infantry platoon and was able to go out on night patrol with one of their squads. It was great, just being one of the guys, not in charge of anything, just taking care of my sector. I was out with these guys every chance I got, at minimum once a week. At age 47 I was finally getting to do what I was trained to do and enjoyed every minute.
So now I reach another late in life challenge – farrier competition. Last year I got talked into going to Las Vegas to attend the final for the World Championship of Blacksmiths. I entered the novice class, at first did I feel stupid – an old guy in this class with a bunch of young farriers, but no one said anything about it. I had a great time. I told a friend of mine I wanted to go back again this coming December so he said he would help me. I am not the best at forging. I can make shoes I need for the horses I work on, but for competition it takes lots of practice, practice. I got problems with my shoulders and arms, but it is fun and I am going to do it. I have just entered another competition in June, so I am pounding iron. Again I am entered in a lower class and will find myself against lots of younger farriers. I am having a good time and figure if I don’t do it now I may not have another chance.
We only go through life one time. If I’d put off things because I was too old, I would have missed out on so many good times in life. Yea, many times it is late in life, but at least I gave it a shot and had fun. After all, what is life if we don’t have some fun?

LEARNING TO LEARN

I just returned from a great learning experience at the International Hoof Care Summit. The long plane ride home has given me time to reflect about what I had learned and how I thought things could have been better.
I have been shoeing horses for many years, so by this time in my career it is not all the big things which I take in, but it is a multitude of small things, how other farriers do things differently, approaching problems in a different way. Many of us spend our working days alone with horses – other people are around, but not other farriers. Once in a while we might run into another farrier but for me this is seldom, so the chance to interact with other farriers has been a blessing.
The International Hoof Care Summit is a well planned event which has been running now for many years. This year was the third time I have attended. I knew I wanted to go as the learning experience is there. Having the schedule of events sent early gave me a chance to scan the subjects to be covered and choose the classes I wanted to attend. The worst part is you can’t attend them all!
First you have to understand this event is for both farriers and veterinarians. One of the speakers was a very well respected British farrier Simon Curtis who is very high and respected the world over for his work. His presentation was over three days and covered a very interesting subject, but it was also invaded with massive amounts of scientific data – for this kid I hate scientific data. Just give me the end result and the things I need to know and I’m out the door – good to go. I have always been more comfortable when farriers like Danvers Child, Mike Wildenstein, Grant Moon or the such are talking because they don’t use all the scientific BS, they talk at the level us “common” farriers really understand. Great, but are we just standing in our still water pond with no moving water?
You know what – vets were there as well and I can imagine most of them were very interested in all the data, how facts were found and the research behind the subjects. I remember looking around a bit and there were also other farriers who were interested (I guessed) as they ask questions about the data and findings. Yes I was able to wade my way through it, and many times it was only later after I was thinking about the subject the light bulb finally went on in my head. When that happened I finally understood – I’ve learned something!
Afterward on the plane ride home I got to thinking. We as farriers work with vets. Yes they understand our “language” and most of the vets I work with we have no problems. But also the other thing I got to thinking about is: Should I as a farrier bend a bit and try to understand some of the language vets use more than we do – OF COURSE! We farriers are part of a team, owner, vet and farrier. If I as a farrier don’t try to understand some of the language vets use then I am failing on my part to understand the whole picture. Applying this to the Hoof Summit I just attended, would I change any of the presentation? At first I thought yes, they need to keep it simple for us farriers, but now my answer is no, I have learned and expanded my mind into more the realm of the vet. No, I do not or will never consider myself as knowledgeable as a vet, but should I block my learning and not try to understand more their side? By attending events such as this one I have really been in the learning process. I attend things that are a “little” above my level and force myself to understand. The best part is while at the Summit and attending one of these more technical seminars, many times I am sitting next to a farrier who might understand so I can lean over and ask a question and not feel stupid if I don’t understand. After the lecture I can either ask the speaker who I’ve found is very patient with us less knowledgeable ones or talk to a farrier who gets it and get a good explanation. This is the learning process. If we fail to enter realm which we don’t fully understand then we will never expand our minds and learning capabilities are not fully use. Right after the Summit I thought there were some changes I would make, but now – nope, I want to expand my mind.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

While sitting in the Hamburg, Germany airport waiting for a flight, I tried to remember the number of times I’ve sat in airports around the world, but somehow the number escaped me. As I looked around, others are sitting there for different reason, but most are like me, to cheep to get a room somewhere for such a short time.
Completing this trip, looking back it was kind of interesting. On the train down to Hamburg I had a great conversation with a lady who was a glass blower. She had her own shop in Denmark and had the glass hot about five days a week. She’d spend four years under a master glass blower learning and now she’s got her own shop. She’s been doing this for about the past fifteen years or so.
As time moved on morning slowly came. After checking in and getting dressed again after the security check I progressed towards the smell of coffee. I’m in the mind set I will be up for the next 24hrs hours or so until I make my final stop at Springfield, Mo. After the coffee stop I headed off to the gate – passport check! The German police were checking our passports again (even though they get checked at the ticket desk). I stepped up handed over my boarding pass and passport. The lady kept thumbing through my passport, obviously looking for something, then she asked how long I’d been in Europe to which I replied I lived in Denmark. She then wanted to see my work visa. In the twenty four years of living in Denmark, it was the second time I’ve been ask for it.
London was something else – never been there before! I get in the passport control, then get to a bus which took me to the next terminal where I again did a security check and then the long walk to the gate. In a way I was glad for the long walk as I knew I had around 9hrs to sit on the plane. Getting my seat it became clear the plane was almost empty! Later on I learned there was only 79 passengers! Ok for me, plenty of space, could stretch out across seats and relax – just glad I didn’t buy a 1st class ticket!
Charlotte, NC and through the passport check, run through the security check. I got to have my own private search. I had a knee brace on and they wanted to check. Come to find out they were training a new guy, and he explained how he was going to do this “pat down” search on me and then had to run the metal detector over my brace which said there was metal there, but they searched and couldn’t find any. I really didn’t care, I had lots of time to kill, might as well kill it somewhere. As I was getting “dressed” again I got to talking to a man who was also an author and was nice to talk about books.
I found a place to get something to eat. As usual the airport prices are out of this world. I got a draft beer, not large and something to eat. When I got the bill it was over $22! Later on I headed to my gate and spent the next hour just watching people. While watching I got in a conversation with a lady. It was very nice to talk to someone who thought the same as I do, like: How stupid can our government be by letting in all these “refugees”, not completely checked out? How come we are letting people flood in our southern border? Guns are the reason for violence in our country – dumb if they can’t see the real problem. But then I wasn’t surprised, I was in the middle of country music country, Bible belt, a place where people really care.
The flight to Springfield, Mo ( not Homer’s Springfield) was in darkness and stuffed in a flying cigar. I actually got to doze a bit, between the aching knees. I did get the chance to look out over the blackness at the lights. I wondered where I was and what the people below were doing – who was on their way home, eating supper, all the things people do at the end of a day. I soon felt the plane start downward, I was glad. THUMP! – Cheated death again. I was once told by a pilot a landing was nothing but a controlled crash. Another one told me any landing you walk away from is good(he’d went down once).
Walking through the Springfield airport it was strangely silent and empty (compared to the big international ones I’d been in), but I liked it. As I walked through the final doors, here was this lovely lady, her son and daughter-in-law to meet me. “I’d know you anywhere” Jene said to me as she gave me a big hug. I got introduced to Craig and his lovely wife. Jene had made me a ham and cheese sandwich and had a bag of sliced dill pickles!! And the bottle of water she brought hit the spot. After about an hour’s drive we arrived at me final stop! After a quick house tour, I got introduced to Jene’s homemade mince meat pie! Wow, I hadn’t had one since my Mom’s. It was truly a great treat!! Ah, but the best thing of all was getting undressed, laying back in the soft warm bed and drifting off – no I didn’t drift off – I got smacked down!!

VACATION

“But can I send a SMS (text message) to you”, she asked? “Sure but don’t expect a reply until after I get back because I don’t have a telephone with me”. She looked at me with a shocked puzzling look – “You don’t have a telephone with you?” “No” I replied and continued to comment, “Why do I want to talk to you on my vacation?” This customer was totally shocked I wouldn’t have a mobile phone with me on my vacation.
I guess I don’t understand some people who insist on taking their work with them on vacation. After all isn’t vacation meant to be a time you’re free from work or do I have it all wrong? Every once in a while I’m shoeing a horse I will over hear people talking about how their vacation partner was on the phone with work. Sometimes I can detect a little discuss in their voices as they talk about it. Dedicating time to family or whoever you’re with while on vacation I feel is important. There may come a time when you wish your time would have been spent more wisely.
I guess it’s the speed of the world and the almighty dollar (money) which dictates how people live and spend vacation. I think there are many people out there who really don’t have their priorities straight. Sure getting ahead and being successful is important, but is it really so important you would risk sacrificing the happiness of your family and your own well being?
Yea almost every place one goes today has wifi and is connected. It makes it so easy to take work with you. It reminds me of a couple different hunting camps I had when I was a guide in Idaho.
One camp I had four very successful business men from California. I was informed by my boss not to ask them about where they worked or what they did. They were up there to have fun and get away. I spent ten days in camp with these four guys and I never once heard them talk about work. I had Harry (ramrod of the group), tell me they really didn’t care if they didn’t get an elk, they were there to relax and have a good time. They ended up getting a couple elk, a deer and a bear. But most of all they had a good time.
On the other side of the coin there were four guys who flew in to Cold Meadows and then about 3-4 hours by horse to their camp. Each day they had arranged with an airplane service to fly in the Wall Street Journal – every day! Then someone to ride out and bring it back. Ok, they had the money, but by the end of the camp, some of these guys were stressed from reading the Journal and they really didn’t have a good time. To me it was a waste of money and a good time, but each to their own. I wonder how different these guys would have felt if they’d just told the people at the office – handle it and had a good time.
This was back in the 80’s so there were no mobile phones, but satellite phones were known. I had one guy tell me once we needed to get one. I looked at him and said if we had one, I’d strap a stick of dynamite to it and send it sky ward. He looked at me kind of funny.
Yea, I got my computer with me on vacation, but for me writing is not my day job, it is something I do to have fun and relax. I will probably write more blogs in the two weeks I’m on vacation than I do in two weeks at home. The reason I’m sitting here and writing now is because it’s raining and blowing, so John and I can’t get out and do what we want.
I think in today’s rat race more people need to sit back on vacation and watch the rats race by!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

So I’m on the road again. Through thes past 20 odd years I have travel a lot around Europe, Middle East and back to the good old U.S.A. As I was on the train yesterday crossing the great expanse of Denmark I thought back over some of the journeys I have taken.
My very first long distance trip in Europe was to my Army Reserve duty station in Berlin, Germany. It was an experience for this little Idaho guy driving a Toyota Lite-ace doing only 90 kilometers an hour on the German autobahn having no speed limit! I soon found navigating the streets of Berlin wasn’t much different than any place else. Also divers were just as crazy as most big city drivers! But at the end of the weekend I found my way back to Lintrup, Denmark with no problems. The careful prep I’d put into my map recon paid off. Later on I started taking the train, and that was a whole different ball of wax.
It took me a while to decipher the train schedules posted in the stations. First of all I didn’t read German, but then most was just times and city names so how tough could it be? I soon learned it was more than just times and city names. There were also these little itty bitty numbers sometimes next to some of the times. After standing on a train platform waiting for a train that never came, I soon learned that these little itty bitty numbers were for all the exceptions to the schedule: differences for weekend, holidays, Sundays and such. The best thing was usually if you missed a train, there’d be another one coming. I soon learned how to read the little reservation stickers above the seats. I spent many trips standing up. Then I bought a little fold up stool I began to pack just for those instances. Sunday evening headed back was especially interesting. Many times I felt like I was on a German troop train. In northern Germany was located Air Force, Navel and Army bases. Lots of the military guys got weekends off and headed home. Sunday evening they returned, so the cars were full of troops headed back. Every once in a while one of them would be a little drunk and giving the conductor some flack. Well these guys didn’t take any crap and the next stop the drunk was ejected from the train! Every once in a while I’d get into conversations with some of them. Since I’d be carrying an American Army ruck sack, we’d get soon find things in common. Sometimes I’d have a guy his exchange unit crest or rank insignias with me. One part I never got use to was the crossing from Germany to Denmark. On Sunday nights after a certain time there was no train connection between the two countries. I’ve spent many a night sitting in the cold train station at Flensburg, Germany. Winters nights were especially long and cold. If I was lucky and some homeless dud hadn’t found them, there were some hot water pipes in the back of the station. I’d have my poncho liner over me with my back against the pipes. This was great – you just couldn’t go to sleep due to the unsavory types coming around the area! I put up with this for ten years.
It is always a new adventure going to a new country. Learning how to decipher the schedules and figuring out how to get from point A to point B. One time on a trip in Portugal I went to sleep on the train and missed my stop. When the conductor woke me to check my ticket he just shook his head and told me in broken English I needed to get on at the next stop. So here I was in God knows where at two o’clock in the morning in the outback of Portugal. By now I was a seasoned traveler, so I just went to the schedule and figured out I needed to wait only four hours more until the next train. This is the reason I always carry a book, a good thick one!
So once again I’m sitting for an hour at the train station in Lisbon, Portugal waiting to head north. Hey, after all it’s just an adventure and I’m on vacation so there’s no hurry!

TRAVELING HOME

I started the drive. It was a very warm July day. My car had air conditioning, but I rolled down both front windows because I wanted to get all the smells of the trip. Right off the bat I was getting the rich smell of mint. Brought back fond memories of pulling weeds out of a mint field, one of the many jobs I did as a kid to make a little money. Many times I just had to follow the signs and not try to rely on my memory for the route as the area had changed so much. So many more houses, businesses, roads changing, for a bit I almost no longer felt like the Treasure Valley had been my home for so many years. Now I was headed to my second home – Salmon, Idaho. I was trying to remember how long it took to drive up. I wasn’t sure, but was figuring I’d be there between 3 – 3:30p.m.
I was just starting to climb out of the valley – past the golf course and then up. So far so good my memory hadn’t failed me yet. Now it was just a straight shot to Banks, turn left up the Middle Fork of the Payette River until I got to Lowman. Turn right and head to Stanley, and then another left down the Salmon River which I would follow all the way to Salmon, Idaho.
I’d come off Horseshoe Bend Hill and going up the Payette River. Lots of traffic from those returning from their Fourth of July outing. I thought traffic was pretty heavy, but this was the first time in my life I was headed up at the end of this weekend, always before we’d been one of those headed down out of the mountains. I saw a big sign stating there were flaggers on the road at Banks – I wonder why they’re doing road work on this weekend I thought as I drove, but then again this was Idaho and many times I wasn’t too surprised. As I rounded the turn I saw banks and the usual crowd of cars – people stopping to get something to drink, but then I got the shock of my life! I looked up and yes there were flaggers, but they were traffic control! I looked up the highway coming from Cascade and there was a line of traffic stopped as far as I could see. I looked at the traffic stopped coming from Garden Valley and it was the same. “My” flagger had his slow sign out and so we kept moving. I turned on my signal light and turned towards Garden Valley. I passed cars where some people were out walking around. I wondered how long the wait was. After about 6 – 700 yards the stopped line petered out and now new vehicles were being added to the line. Then I thought about all the houses and how the population of the Valley had exploded since I have moved to Denmark – So much traffic, so many people. I was glad I had grown up in a time where there weren’t so many people up, yet at that time I thought there were many!
It was an uneventful trip up the Garden Valley to Lowman, except now the road was paved and not the gravel one I remembered. Turning left I now proceeded towards Stanley Idaho. I kept both windows down and was soon smelling the cool mountain air. After a while the Sawtooth Range came in sight. So great to see after living in Flat Denmark!!
Through Stanley and headed north down the main Salmon River. It wasn’t long before I started to really know where I was. Seeing places soon triggered me knowing which town and place I was approaching. I was amazed as I hadn’t driven the route in 22 yrs. Approximately 3:15p.m. I arrived in Salmon, Idaho, just about the time I figured. I soon felt the feeling of being home. After so many years it was great. I’ve only been gone from Denmark six days, but it feels like a month. Guess it means I’m having a great relaxing time!!