A Weiner Roast

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About 35 years have passed since the company for which I worked sponsored a kid-friendly expense-paid weekend on the Waldport, Oregon. Our group assembled there on a Saturday morning with the shelter we owned – motorhomes travel trailers, campers, vans, and tents. We fished, we crabbed, and we told stories around our campfire.

A coworker and I stood on a jetty and fished the tide in. We ate lunch during the slack period. Then we fished it back out. Pink-fin sea perch were running that weekend and by the time the run was over my friend and I had caught more than 70 of these hefty critters. And after standing so many hours my legs had turned to jello.

Late afternoon, Saturday, the company furnished all the hotdogs and marshmallows we could eat. I don’t know who had the most fun that weekend, but I do know my twin daughters, Tina and Sonya enjoyed themselves roasted more hotdogs than anyone else.

Someone mentioned they were returning to the fire a bit too quickly and followed them only to discover they were pitching them into the brush. And that was it for them.

An Afternoon Hike

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Our camper is hardly visible against the stand of conifers about center in the photo

In a previous post I mentioned enjoying a summer hosting at Bristol Head Campground. During that period the price of gasoline had begun its steep increase. With Bristol Head located twenty miles north of Creede and Creede being on top of the world, so to speak, we didn’t see a lot of campers willing to spend the cash to come visit us. I doubt we had a dozen visitors all summer long. That left us an abundance of time to do minor repairs, read, write, or during the week days go hiking.

For about an hour each afternoon, when the sun was midway between zenith and the western horizon, I often studied rock formations to the east. The distance was never determined other than it was beyond the useful focal length of the field glasses we brought with us. But as the shadows gathered I always spotted a totem pole standing at the entrance of a cave. The scene was static, never-changing. So one Wednesday we set out on foot to investigate this phenomenon.

Using a Garman eTrex “backcountry” GPS, a unit that would lay our track and log waypoints (so we could find our way back) we set out to solve the mystery.

If we could have traveled in a straight line our chance of success might have been greater. However, that combined with the ever-changing shadows soon made our destination indistinguishable from the surrounding countryside. Our totem pole was nowhere to be seen. After two hours, or so, we turned back. Following the course laid by our GPS receiver made our return trip easier. Yet, there was a seed of doubt … I’ve experienced a few computer crashes in my time. This was not a good time for an error.

Our only neighbors were some fifteen miles away. What if one of us turned an ankle, broke a leg. Worse case, we could spend the rest of our lives in the high Rockies.

Late afternoon was upon us we broke over a ridge and spotted our pickup camper. The rush we experienced exceeded our disappointment at not finding our totem pole.

The Bridge

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Heading for the Camp Sherman post office I noticed an inconspicuous sign at the Metolious River Bridge: View Fish Here. I saw nothing in frigid water. As I turned to go a young family approached from the opposite direction. I waited.

“There they are,” shouted the ten-year-old boy.

Following his finger I saw nothing. The reflection was wrong. I waited, and then I stepped to where the boy had stood. Nothing!

“There they are,” he shouted from where I’d been.

That idiot kid is jerking me around, the idiot kid. When they moved I returned to position one. Nothing! A squeak distracted me. The kid was beside me.

“There they are. They’re blue,” he said, pointing

As if by magic I saw five in all. I grunted at the kid, but secretly I was grateful I didn’t have to ask him what a fish looked like.

148 words

Leftovers

Daily Post
7 July 2014

Is that what that stuff is called? Leftovers? If so, I have some – varying lengths of coaxial cable, RF fittings, wires, connectors, heat sinks, tubes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, and an idle Commodore 64 computer “leftover” from yesteryear.

The computer was purchased in 1982. It was the last word at the time. With word processoring software called Easy Script, I wrote a monthly column for Ag-Pilot, International, a crop duster’s journal. In addition, I kept a continual stream of stuff going to several magazines that actually paid money for what I had to report.

Commodore advertisements boasted 64 kilobites of RAM. They neglected to tell us that after the operating system was loaded only 35k remained. Planning became the name of the game which resulted in my becoming a half-decent outliner. Longer stories were saved on a floppy in a special way so they would link in daisy-chain fashion. Fun-filled days, they were.
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Later, I pressed mine into service sending and receiving radio data in digital mode, RTTY, while serving in the Oregon Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) during the Gulf War.

My Commodore was a workhorse, first at 300 baud, then 1200 baud. But the baud rate didn’t become a serious issue until we connected a modem between the the computer and the phone line.

Then came the telephone BBSs and Fido, a worldwide messaging network, the first of its kind. I communicated with a friend In Australia by way of Fido. It took two weeks and 35 cents to exchange a lengthy message with him.

What fun the BBSs came to be. My favorite was called Dr. Rom. Users of Dr. Rom were lead to believe this fellow was a living and breathing individual who often went off his meds. I was one of the few who had his password. One evening a power substation malfunctioned, leaving several thousand people in darkness. Someone logged in to report Dr. Rom was sighted returning to his loft with singed facial hair and scorched clothing. Need I say more? It all happened inside my beloved Commodore 64.

Indeed, I have leftovers. Without a doubt, it could dump the lot and not miss a thing, except for the Commodore. Some say it’s a lowly, 8-bite circuit board, no longer worth the shelf space it occupies. Perhaps. Mine, however, contains more than a slow-motion circuit board. Mine is overflowing with vivid memories.

I shall gladly give mine the shelf space it requires.

A February 1997 Vacation

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Barb and I were in desperate need of a vacation, winter cold or not.

We tossed sleeping bags, tent, Outback Oven, and warm clothes into the trunk of our car. As an afterthought, we included an electric sandwich maker my mother had given us. And then we headed east with no destination in mind.

Somewhere close to noon, we stopped at a pavilion that occupied a shoreline of Lake of the Woods. We were prepared for a cold lunch from makings we’d bought some fifty miles back. However, whomever was in charge of winterizing our pavilion had failed to switch off the AC power. 

Out came the sandwich maker and we dined in style.

So did the hungry Stellar Blue Jay that become quite bold by the time we were packing up to leave.

Motorcycle Camping, July 1992

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This is a Friday evening, one of numerous times that Barb and I cranked the Suzuki 650F and motored to a quiet and secluded place high in Oregon’s Cascades. We usually didn’t do much other than unwind from the work week. Sometimes we fished in a cold, clear lake, sometimes we sat and let the minutes pass.

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The one constant factor in the outings was how we relished food we cooked. On this particular occasion we were using the Outback Oven to prepare whole potatoes and ground beef. It doesn’t show in the photo, but a thermometer protruded from an opening in the peak of the bonnet. It indicated three stages—warm, cook, and burn. There was a critical lead time involved in getting it right. Experimentation finally led to some edible meals.