September 2, 2016
Happy Birthday, Kate!
I spent the day editing the 650+ photos I've taken, curating them, and creating a shareable folder in DropBox. I bought the disc format of Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 and it arrived yesterday. The forecast was for thunderstorms all day today so why not stay inside and edit photos? It also rained much of last night, although it wasn't forecast. It hasn't rained at all today.
I'm also uploading the entire folder (145 large format, high resolution photos) to FaceBook. I'm using ALL the RV site's Wi-Fi bandwidth! Even my iPad and iPhone can't stayed connected! I guess that makes me a dick, but I'm rationalizing this as recompense for the shitty site.
The President of Uzbekistan has died. Job opening! I could be a tyrant – wait, I already am!
The President of The United States is up for grabs. Job opening! I could be NORMAL and ETHICAL – both, at the same time.
When we went to Patagonia last year, Jean asked me if I thought the other guests would think we are lesbians. I told her I thought that could be an initial suspicion – much like any man and woman traveling together are assumed to be married – but that they would quickly realize that we are straight friends. A couple of weeks ago, she asked me the same question about our upcoming trip to Utah. Both times, she followed with, "Which one of us is the guy?" My response: "I have short hair and you has long hair, but neither one of us is a hair-and-make-up-girl, so it's a toss-up." Jean replied that she wears bright colors and I wear neutrals, so she is probably girlier. I should have said two words, "Calvin Klein," but I didn't. I also should have mentioned that I have spent lots of money on my hair (cut, color, AND highlights), I get regular manicures-and-pedicures, I wear dresses for no reason at all, and I NEVER wear t-shirts with words on them. But, none of that matters because I typically wear a guy-ish uniform (think Katharine Hepburn) and I have short hair. Jean surveyed three people who have met both of us: they all said I am the guy. Story of my life.
Enterprise confirmed this morning that they will drop off the car tomorrow and deliver me back to the RV park on Wednesday. I am relieved. I don't know where I'll go, but "anywhere is a better place to be."
September 1, 2016
I love that The Weather Channel apps for the iPhone and the iPad give me different information for the same city when they are sitting next to each other. Why? Is it because IBM owns The Weather Channel? And, neither is right.
I hate my new RV park in Durango. I might hate is less if I were in a better spot (dusty, no trees, little personal space, highway noise) which they have. Or, if one of my sewer hoses hadn't come apart and I needed both to hook-up. Or, if the old crank at the front desk knew anything about the hospitality industry when I asked to be moved because my hose broke and I hate my spot. Or, if I hadn't realized before driving here that I can't ride my bike to town without dying. Or, if Walgreen's hadn't told me that they don't have a relationship with my new Obama insurance provider, so they'd have to transfer my script to Rite-Aid. Or, if I didn't have to wait a half an hour at Rite-Aid to get one-third of my prescription because retail pharmacies won't give 90-days. Why? Is is a concession by the insurance company to drive traffic into the retail pharmacies on a monthly basis? Why is my medicine do much cheaper at CVS? Why do Rite-Aid pharmacies all look like they were last remodeled in the 1970s? And, their employees are so sad. I love CVS. I hate Rite-Aid. Now, I hate Walgreen's, too. Or, is it because I was so looking forward to shopping at an Albertson's again until I walked into the one in Durango which was old, and sad, and tired, and had no hip food, and the people were scary, and the check-out had those circular belts from the fucking 1970s!
I almost bawled. I probably have PMS, but I don't know it because I don’t have a fucking uterus (which also means I have nothing else to blame).
Enterprise better deliver my car, and bring me back to my fucking RV park on Saturday. I'm going to call tomorrow and confirm the service. I'll ride my bike there and back if I have to, death notwithstanding. I can't be trapped here for a week. Besides, I've prepaid for a round-trip ride on the Durango-Silverton RR: the primary reason I'm here.
My trip to the RV park office yielded a visit from an employee who fixed my sewer hose. I had arrived in Durango at 12:30, but I didn’t get to my site until 15:30: Walgreen's, a tailor, Rite-Aid, and Albertson's (including lunch in the parking lot) consumed the three hours. Two hours later, BOB was set up outside and inside, his face was washed, and the dogs were walked twice. Then I fed them, took a shower, and started to feel human again. The drive today was beautiful and that should not diminished by poor retail service, poor hospitality, and insurance carriers, but it's amazing how easily beauty can be erased by life if you let it.
August 31, 2016
Thanks to my barking dogs, I met another Jeeper this afternoon. He was smoking a cigar and chewing tobacco at the same time. His teeth are the color of tobacco – no surprise there. If they were dentures perhaps Shirley McLaine could channel Martha Raye to help him out, but alas they are real. Teeth are the first thing I notice about someone. When I took the dogs to Petco in Missoula to get them groomed last month, the groomer had crystal meth teeth. I was a little worried about leaving the dogs with her, but she was very nice and not at all tweaky. Maybe she had bad teeth genetically, or maybe she'd been poor all her life and couldn't afford prophylactic dental care. Both of those explanations made me feel sad for her and better about leaving the dogs. They were perfectly groomed when I picked them up – perhaps the best grooming job they'd ever had.
The day the dogs were groomed, Kim, Kate and I went to the Triple Creek Ranch in Darby to have lunch. It's a Relaix & Chateau property which combines extreme pampering with extreme activities, if one is so inclined. There were a few obnoxious 212-ers staying there just so they could brag to their friends about having done so. That makes them worse than us because we were only having lunch there just to brag to our friends about having done so. Lunch was $28 pre-fixe for three courses and complimentary wine. Kate and I restrained ourselves from abusing the “free” wine, only because we each had an a la carte Bloody Mary as an appetizer. We walked around the property before lunch then went to the front desk to make various inquiries. As a result, one of the staff took us on a tour which was different from our own, apparently "off-limits," excursion. She said the one-bedroom cabins are around $900/person/night, all-inclusive – all inclusive, that is, of the extreme activities – and, that most people stay three or four nights.
The first full day Kim, Kate and I were in Polson, Montana we took a private flight around the area – the Kerr Dam, the National Bison Range, the Mission Mountains and Flathead Lake. I had arranged the trip when I was previously in Polson, and the pilot suggested we lead off our stay at Flathead Lake with his flight because it would be a good surveying tool. He was right about that, and the flight was fabulous. When we deplaned we drove clockwise around the lake. We went to a winery at ten-thirty and did a tasting, then we had lunch at a micro-brewery, both of which the pilot recommended. He was right about them, too. We continued to Big Fork and Kate fell in love with it. I had been there twice before, so I knew she'd like it. We continued south along the eastern shore to Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge. We escorted ourselves around the property and then I went to the front desk to inquire about accommodations. Reservations are made one year in advance for one week at a time. It's all-inclusive (save the liquor of choice which you provide), and about $4,000/person/week. Someday when Extended Stay America isn't my upper price limit for accommodations, I will stay there the week after I stay at Triple Creek.
The tobacco-stained Jeeper chatted with me alone for a bit. He had interrupted my pre-departure-black-tank-flushing-toy-put-away routine by going to the trash and alarming the dogs. He said he'd seen me around and hadn't had a chance to meet me. We were joined shortly thereafter by Tom and his wife Phyllis who were on their way to the "Colorado Family Happy Hour." The Jeeper prefers golf these days to Jeeping having driven every road around here many times. Mid-brag, the Jeeper's timer went off: he was flushing his black tank, too. When he returned, I was invited to join the "Colorado Family Happy Hour" crowd for dinner at a barbecue restaurant, but I declined because they were leaving at five forty-five. I explained that I had eaten lunch at two, and that I typically ate dinner at eight. Truthfully, I was hungry because I ate lunch at twelve-thirty, but his spitting had killed whatever appetite I had. Yuck. The Jeeper asked me if anyone had taken me Jeeping, and I said no. He then went on to tell me that his Class A is 45 feet, and that he used to pull a Jeep AND a trailer with a motorcycle which made him 85 feet overall. He said that he was illegal in every state. He's a cowboy – a “Marlboro Man” of sorts. Guess what killed the Marlboro Man? Yuck.
I called Progressive which will dispatch Safelite to my parents' house on the morning I requested to drill and fill the crack in my windshield. If that works, I will incur no expense; if it doesn't, and the windshield needs to be replaced, I'm out of pocket $1,000. I called yet another shop in my parents' town to do BOB’s inspection. Yes, the shop can do it, but I have to call the week before to book the appointment. So, the good news is that if I have to replace the windshield (which Safelite can't do), I won't have trouble rescheduling the inspection appointment; the bad news is that I'm trying to schedule a trip immediately thereafter and who knows when I can get the new windshield. Uncertainty is certainly inconvenient!
When I left Glenwood Springs last week, I drove through Grand Junction so I could have blood drawn to manage a minor chronic disease. The technician told me that my provider should have the results the following day. My PCP left the practice last summer, so her PA has been taking care of me. I like the PA better than the PCP. Today is the last day of my coverage by UnitedHealthCare, no results were posted to my portal, and I had not heard from the PA. I called my PA’s office this morning, and I was told that outside lab work doesn't post to the portal. I then learned that the lab in Grand Junction didn't send the results. I explained my situation: I'm traveling, my insurance changes tomorrow, I want a 90-day prescription, etc. Several hours later, I called a second time and I went through this with another employee in my PA’s office. I called a third time and left another plaintiff message. My PA called me at the end of her day: she had the results, she would call in the script, and I would need to retest in October.
I have Graves' Disease: it is an autoimmune disease which causes the thyroid to become hyperactive. On the night before my 27th birthday, I had plans to have dinner with a friend. On my birthday, I had a date for lunch with one guy, and a date with a different guy for dinner. My friend canceled my pre-birthday dinner, so I ordered pizza from one of those "famous" joints on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My roommate was out that night. I ate my pizza alone (which was fine), but by ten I didn't feel very well. By the time he came home I had been vomiting for a while. He called an uncle who is a doctor, and he suspected I had food poisoning. My roommate called a cab, and took me to Mt. Sinai Hospital. The cab ride was hellacious, challenging my stomach at every turn. When you walk into the ER in a GSW (gunshot wound) hospital, you are a low priority. So, I sat in the waiting room with the chronic diabetics as the ambulance patients continuously bumped me down in priority. After vomiting for several hours in the ER restroom, my roommate yelled at a nurse who took my vitals: they were finally bad enough to warrant attention.
A month later I still felt funny: I would get winded walking up steps although I was fit; I would wake from sleep with a pulse of 130; and, I ate a pound of bacon in 12 hours because I was always hungry. I had been given an anti-emetic and IV to rehydrate me while at the hospital, and the consensus was that food poisoning was the likely culprit, so there was no likely connection between that incident and what I was currently experiencing. That January, after four weeks of bitching to a friend, I had a consultation with his nonagenarian general practitioner. The doctor asked me some questions, poked and prodded, drew some blood (himself), and concluded that I have Graves' Disease. Two months later, I was treated with radioactive iodine which my thyroid absorbed in a suicide mission. Over the next two months I gained 20 pounds as I became hypothyroid, and it is the fattest I've ever been. Once my thyroid was pronounced dead, my endocrinologist put me on a replacement hormone. I was stable for 22 years until menopause.
Menopause, peri-menopause, post-menopause! Menopause is defined as the one-year mark after the last period. Peri-menopause is defined as the pre-game. Post-menopause is defined as the post-game. So, by reasons of deduction, menopause is a one day event which no one can pinpoint. I had a hysterectomy (ovaries and tubes are intact) three days before I turned 42. It turned out that I had Stage I adenocarcinoma. I found that out three weeks later in a letter saying: "Congratulations, you had cancer!" Menstruation was artificially interrupted for me, but my ovaries don't know that. I never had that marker of "last period" to define my transition from peri- to menopausal, so I just refer to myself as menopausal and the healthcare professionals say peri-menopausal I suppose that when I'm sixty or seventy and refer to myself as menopausal they'll say I’m post-menopausal. Tomayto, tomahto: let’s call the whole thing off.
August 30, 2016
Verizon charged me $255 for data overuse. I have a 24GB plan, and I was told when I bought the Jetpack that if I went over the 24GB Verizon would “speed limit” me via “Safety Mode.” I received one email from Verizon saying I was being charged $15 for an extra 1GB. Verizon did not send another 16 emails saying the same. It turns out that the customer has to enable Safety Mode via the Verizon app in order to avoid overuse charges. No one told me that. While I was on the phone with Verizon inquiring about their usury, the employee tried to walk be through the Safety Mode selection. I couldn’t do it on my iPad, so she turned it on for me. From a billing perspective, it is easy to see the Baby Bells in Verizon's DNA.
Yesterday, I called the telephone number for the company my father said could inspect BOB when I return to Pennsylvania. The man who answered said his lift couldn't handle BOB's weight and I should call Tom. Tom didn't answer his phone – ever. My father said to try the RV dealer in New York near him. I called, but the dealer doesn’t do Pennsylvania inspections. The service guy said, “Call Joe in Athens, PA.” So, I called Joe, and he said that my windshield chip constitutes an automatic fail. Fabulous.
My father emailed another inspection resource for me. He had called and confirmed the windshield chip failure. He also suggested I call Safelite to replace the glass. I did that. The employee said he was "100% sure they did RV windshield replacements, but he could be wrong." Clearly, he never took statistics. He was wrong: Safelite stopped doing RV glass replacement because of the dimensions of the windshields. The math whiz referred me to Duncan Systems - 1-888-RVGLASS. Duncan, unlike Safelite, doesn't act as an intermediary with the insurance companies. I have to call Progressive and open a claim. OK, I can do that.
I want to ride the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad while I'm in Durango next week, and I want to do it on a sunny day. The forecast next Tuesday is perfect, so I called to make a reservation. I booked the Presidential car: it has 16 window-only seats. Hopefully, none will be occupied by children. The ride is three-and-one-half hours each way (~50 miles) plus two hours in Silverton. I asked the railroad employee whether there are any bike racks at the station in Durango. He didn't know, but he assured me that there must be some on the block since Durango is such a bike-friendly city. (He doesn't ride a bike, however.)
According to Google Maps (beta), it would take me an hour to cycle from the RV Park to the Durango station. I have to be there at seven-thirty in the morning, so that's a no-go since sunrise is after six-thirty. I called the RV park and asked for a taxi recommendation. Then, I called the taxi service and found out it would cost me $25 each way. I went online to check Enterprise’s car rental rates thinking it might be less expensive to have a car to drive to and from the station. There are two Enterprise rental offices in Durango, and one is three miles from the RV park. The website said the closer office was closed on the day I wanted to rent. I called the office and I was informed that is open a half-day on Saturdays, closed Sundays, and closed for Labor Day. Instead of a two-day rental, I now have one for five days because of the holiday weekend. I'm going to drive to Key West and back just to get my money's worth.
I called Jean this afternoon and she made the mistake of asking me what I'd done today: paid bills, downloaded statements, dealt with Verizon, learned that BOB’s windshield chip will cause him to fail inspection, booked the railroad excursion, booked a rental car, and did laundry. We discussed my options since I now have a rental car for five days, but most of them left me unenthusiastic. I am interested in going to the Four Corners National Monument because I’m a geographic nerd. But, I’m not very interested Mesa Verde National Park because Stone Age cultures don’t do it for me (I need the wheel).
August 28, 2016
I sent a text to my aunt yesterday morning to wish her a Happy Birthday. Later in the afternoon I called her cell phone. Someone else has the number now. It wasn’t the new owner’s birthday.
This morning I rode my bike to the airport to pick up my rental car. Enterprise gave me a Dodge Charger. I had to put my bike in the back seat because it wouldn't fit in the trunk. I took the bike back to BOB and drove to Crested Butte which is at 9,000 feet. It didn't break 60 degrees until after one o'clock. I went to the Last Steep Bar & Grill for a burger and a Virgin Mary. Apparently, if you want either, that's the place to get them. On the weekends, they have a DIY Bloody Mary bar. The bartender pours you 14 ounces of vodka which leaves you two ounces for the mix, cheese, onions, lettuce and tomato. My Virgin Mary was excellent. When I finished the first half of my burger I felt full. I choked down the other half as a matter of principle. Maybe it was the Virgin Mary or maybe it was the altitude that made me prematurely full, but it wasn't the burger: I have eaten two cheeseburgers in a sitting and felt less full.
There was a farmer's market on Elk Street in Crested Butte which made parking challenging. I parked at the Nordic Center. After lunch, I walked through the farmer's market. Earlier I saw that local peaches and nectarines were available, but after lunch I couldn't bear the thought of buying food. Instead, I opted for a 20 minute, $20 chair massage. It was a small indulgence, and my expectations were low: they were met.
Crested Butte is almost two hours from Montrose. I had to go over two passes and endure frost heaves and road repairs to get there. I kept the Charger reined in outbound, but I did 80 mph twice while passing other cars on my return. It was fun. It's a dangerous car, however: it has a lot of power and a twitchy steering wheel, so you could easily make a fatal mistake at high speed.
I went to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on the way back from Crested Butte. I had planned to go there first since it is less than 20 miles from Montrose, but the weather forecast was better for Montrose in the afternoon, and Crested Butte expected thunderstorms by one o'clock. Montrose is at 5,700 feet, and the Gunnison National Park south rim road is at about 8,000 feet. The temperature difference between the two was over 10 degrees. The south rim twists and turns therefore availing the driver of a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Unfortunately, it was cloudy when I arrived, and from various vistas I could simultaneously see sunshine, socked in rain, localized thunderstorms, and a tsunami. The canyon is dramatic for its narrowness, depth, and pegmatite rocks. It is also fucking scary if you're an acrophobia. The drive is only seven miles, but there are 12 overlooks some of which require several hundred yard walks. I realized by the third or fourth overlook that I was running out of gas. I didn't sleep well last night and dramatic changes in altitude give me headaches. I skipped a couple of overlooks, especially after the Chasms made me want to hold someone's hand to walk back. If the weather is agreeable, I may go back tomorrow morning or afternoon. Also, I would to drive the east portage road down to the Gunnison River to dip my toes into it.
I have a friend who used to climb when he was younger. A climber he knows climbed The Painted Wall in the canyon with his girlfriend. It is 2,000 feet, and the highest canyon in Colorado. Apparently the couple was 15 feet from the top when they unclipped from each other. They were standing on a ledge and the remaining climb was simple. Somehow, she fell from the ledge to her death. My friend thinks I would have made a good climber since I have a high strength to weight ratio. I told him that I'm afraid of heights. He said that all good climbers are afraid of falling (which is what height represents). When I lived in Philadelphia, a few of my friends and I did a repelling adventure in Bucks County. I had a hard time walking up to the ledge. I had a harder time stepping backward off of it. But, hardest part came after I stepped off the ledge and my belayer said to me, "Hey, your carabiner is upside down. Can you flip it for me?" I did it and repelled 150 feet. My tall, Italian, gym-body friend got goofed up on his first repel and ended up with his back to the wall hanging like a worm on a hook. He made it to the bottom, walked up, and handed in his gear. My short, non-athletic, gay, Jewish friend Tom repelled ten times! I didn't equal Tom, but I went several times. I loved his lack of fear and faced mine each time.
I turned 30 when I lived in Philadelphia, and Tom, Meredith and I celebrated it at a tapas restaurant. Two summers later, in 1996, Meredith and Tom turned 30 and 40, respectively. That summer, Tom while was remodeling his townhouse he realized that neither his cat nor his contractors would survive the experience if they were both in the same house. Tigger was a Bengal, and he stalked Tom and would bite him in the calf when Tom went upstairs, so Tom was afraid he’d do that to one the workers. Tom and I convened, and I called my parents: they agreed to adopt Tigger permanently. Tom and Tigger, Meredith and her boyfriend, and my Westies and I drove 250 miles to my parents’ house in Upstate New York. Tom rented a minivan with a TV for the trip. Tigger howled the whole way.
Because Meredith was turning 30 that summer, and because my parents lived near Big Flats, NY, the soaring capital of the US (or New York State), I bought Meredith a sailplane ride for her 30th. Tom thought it was great idea and signed on as well. Meredith's boyfriend went fishing. I forget whether I went up first or Tom did, but Meredith went last. Tom and I watched her take off then land almost immediately thereafter. She ran out of the plane and burst into tears: she was terrified. We are such good friends that the fact I bought her a birthday present which made her cry became a matter of pride for both of us. Tom and I both loved our 40+ minutes of serenity floating on the thermals. We'd do it again in a heartbeat.
We gave Tom got a bike for his 40th. He was happy. It didn't scare him, so he didn't cry when he rode it. Sadly, I never get to ask him, “Hey, remember when I bought you the birthday present that made you cry?”
I suppose if I had met a guy who climbed when I was younger I might have been able to overcome my fear of heights enough to like it. (I believe in the transfer of confidence – to a certain degree.) I jumped out of a plane in New Zealand when I was 37 in an attempt to conquer my fear of heights, but being at 12,000 feet doesn't create the feeling of “exposure” that standing on a 150 foot ledge does. If I met a guy today who was a climber, I probably wouldn't start climbing. I'd probably expect the worst every time he climbed, but I wouldn't stop him – because I shouldn't.
August 27, 2016
This morning I went for a bike ride. I intended to do the town loop, but I aborted it because it would have taken me at least two hours. I want to enjoy my bike and not have it become an instrument of torture, so an hour is long enough for now. I have trepidations about riding solo anywhere, but especially in unfamiliar territory, so when the loop called for a left into the unknown” countryside I turned right into the city.
The manager at the Glenwood RV park had asked me what makes an RV park good for me. I threw out a few criteria, but I'm going to list 10 now in no particular order and then pick the top three: a level site, personal space with grass, high efficiency washers and dryers, no dirt (dust), OK to wash the rig, a courteous staff, shade trees, the view from and/or of the park, proximity to town, and "real" Wi-Fi. My top three in order: shade trees, personal space with grass, and no dirt (dust).
A level site is more comfortable, and the readings from the tank sensors are more accurate. Great laundry facilities make the weekly chore faster and easier - and laundry is my favorite domestic chore - but as long as my clothes get washed and dried at a reasonable cost high efficiency machines are just a luxury. Even if it's not OK to wash the rig in a park, it's usually OK to wash the windshield (which means the whole front), so I can get the bugs off of BOB. I know when to expect mail from my father and Amazon tells me when my packages are delivered, so getting a phone call or a note from a courteous staff is just a bonus. A beautiful view from the park is a lovely thing as is a beautifully manicured park; of the two I'd take the latter. Proximity to town when one is car-less alleviates the feeling of being trapped, but so do bicycles and rental cars. Real Wi-Fi means I can stream NPR from my iPad without using my data plan.
Shade trees are particularly important because the sun at elevation is brutal and the wind above a certain speed will rip off an awning. Without them I am relegated to existing inside the rig in AC. Personal space with grass allows for a more enjoyable outside experience. There's something a little white trash about sitting in your driveway, and something a little middle class about sitting in your lawn; besides, the dogs like the grass. A dirt driveway creates a ton of dust which makes being outside unpleasant and the inside unclean, the latter being totally unacceptable to me. That is how I came up with the idea for Clorox wipey-feet: I put Clorox wipes under my feet and slide around BOB like Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.”
After my bike ride, the dogs and I took advantage of the late morning shade in the grass to our right. I was reading my geology book when a man walked by and inquired about my dogs. He left an hour later. Red is a "Jeeper" who has a Shar Pei, and we talked a lot about dogs, especially the downside of having alpha dogs. Tom, who is parked to my right, joined us and I learned a little about Jeeping in southwestern Colorado. You've gotta love 70-somethings with Rubicons with lift kits and winches! I excused myself because I needed to have lunch, otherwise I could have chatted with them all afternoon.
After lunch, I took out my trash and I noticed that Dick, who is parked to my left, was sitting outside with his cat. I introduced myself to the cat (you have to admire a cat who will sit in a camp chair), and Dick invited me to sit down. We chatted for a bit until the weather became cold and blustery, when we both jumped up to reel in our awnings and secure our outside possessions. I returned to his site with more clothing and he gave me a tour of his Tiffin Class A. It was great! I would buy a Class A if: one, I were a part of a couple; and, two, if I had six weeks of vacation a year (I need two weeks each year to leave the country). Dick is only the second person I've met who is solo, and the first was the "writer" in Oregon. I gave him a tour of BOB and we went back to his rig, sitting inside with a space heater warming his rig because the temperature had dropped. I asked him to fill in what I knew about his background, then I vomited my history without invitation. I never do that, but Dick is a real person I felt comfortable with him from hello and it was really nice to spend some time with someone who isn't self-absorbed. When I went inside his rig the second time to escape the cold, he asked if I wanted him to leave the door open citing, "Some women prefer it," he explained. I told him I'd follow my instincts and said he could close it.
Alone, in BOB, later in the evening, I learned yet another crucial life lesson: when you spill a bowl of arugula on the floor, don't let your 20+ pound dog eat all of it, no matter how much she likes it.
August 26, 2016
In order to get the bike into the rear storage compartment I had to remove two storage boxes. They now reside on the passenger seat of the cockpit when I'm parked and in the cabin when I'm underway. It drives me crazy that they no longer have a home, but I wanted the bike more than I am OCD crazy. The shop opened at nine and I was there three minutes later. I knew I'd have to remove the front tire to get the bike in the compartment, but I also had to remove the seat and the left pedal. The mechanic who instructed me how to remove the tire and pedal gave me some foam bits to cushion the bike. He suggested I buy some foam piping insulation to protect the aluminum tubes. He said I could get it at ACE, and I reversed direction in order to do so. I bought six feet of it, and a metric hex key set. I cut the pipe insulation in the parking lot and realized I needed more. I went back into ACE and discovered GlassPlus and Rainex. Heaven! I Googled ACE to see where they are located and whether they have any job openings of interest to me: Oak Brook, IL, and no. Bummer.
My second night in Steamboat, after making the rear storage measurements, I was sitting at the dinette when a truck backed an Airstream into the site two to my left. A young woman emerged from the passenger seat carrying a French Bulldog. She put it in the trailer. She then removed a Pug and put it in the trailer. Another French Bulldog followed as did a small Boxer. Clearly, they like squishy-faced dogs which breathe like sixty year-old men whose septa have been deviated by...boxing. Four dogs and two humans in a travel trailer caused me to look up Airstreams’ products and their layouts. That led me to clicking on the "Company" information which led to "Careers" and bingo! Airstream needs a VP of Finance and Operations! I wrote a short blurb about BOB: how/why I bought him and what I'm doing; I love the Mercedes, hate the Coachmen (poor workmanship); I ran a jewelry company that made Tiffany-quality products. The next day I received an email from Airstream saying my resume was blank. I resent it and the receipt was acknowledged. I'm sure it hit the circular file as soon as it was read: well, she has no RV industry experience, so how can she possibly contribute? Call me cynical, but there is a groupthink mentality in the workforce: everyone has to have had the same experience for the team to work together nicely. Am I the only one who sees value in the contrarian position? Have you ever tried this?...done that?...what about???
I've had two contacts from firms which want to "market" me to employers, i.e. pay to play. Fuck off. Yesterday, a "recruiter" had a job for me in RI as an "Order Processing Assistant" for $16/hour. Fuck off.
Yesterday, I took my new bike for a spin. My RV park in Glenwood Springs is on the bike path that runs between I-70 and the Colorado River. Before departing, I went to the front desk to ask the obese, heavily tattooed attendant to hold my keys. I gave her the spiel: "If I have an accident while cycling, the police won't have to break into my RV to get my dogs out." She looked at me in horror and went to get her boss. He said yes as long as I cracked a window and put on the AC. I said I'd be back in one or two hours.
I've had two bike accidents, I witnessed my father have one in Alberta, and I watched Kim go down in The Netherlands, so it's not as though it's improbable. Texting and talking on the phone while driving have only increased the risk that cyclists will be hit by inattentive drivers. I could have attached the park's business card to my key ring so the police could connect the dots, but what if someone steals my backpack? The bike is registered, so my ID could be traced through it, but probably only between nine and five central time Monday through Friday. I'd rather have someone know that I'm riding and wonder why I haven't returned for my keys.
I only rode 12 miles. When I returned I spent some time in my hammock – seizing the opportunity since I've never had two trees in any site I’ve rented. Around four-thirty I took the dogs for a walk and the site manager stopped his golf cart to ask about my ride. We chatted about the bike path and he asked if I was coming to the bar and grill that evening. "What bar and grill?" I asked. In addition to having a rafting company and ropes course, the site had a restaurant (of sorts). I said I'd stop by for a drink later. I didn't really want to but the new me is trying to be less of a wallflower. Less than an hour later, and fresh out of the shower, I heard a man's voice calling to me. The chef was standing outside BOB wondering if I'd like to eat dinner at the restaurant. "Well, what are you serving?" "Burgers, hot dogs, and chicken," he replied. "I'll have a burger, medium rare with Swiss, no fries, please." "What time are you coming?" he followed. "How about seven?" So, I had an appointment with a burger.
I left BOB at twenty of seven for my two minute walk fearing the burger would be served promptly. The manager intercepted me in his golf cart, and I said I the chef had come to see me and I have an appointment with a burger. "Hmm, he didn't mention it to me, and I've already let the kitchen staff go for the night since we're not busy," he explained. "That's OK," I said. "I have leftovers, so I can eat at home." "No," he countered. "I'll take care of it," and, he drove me to the bar.
There was an older couple at the bar having drinks and waiting for their hotdogs. I ordered a glass of Cabernet and paid the bartender for the burger and wine. The manager cooked the burger for me. It was medium well, but obviously I didn't say anything. He sat down at the bar and chatted with me while I ate. The bartender closed up and went home. When I finished my wine, the manager got up and unlocked the bar and poured me a drink on the house. He did this one or two more times. He also insisted that I try what he considered to be the best tequila (which was interesting given he doesn't drink). I took a small sip and sad it was very good, although truth be told it was wasted on me. I learned from him that most restaurants’ staffs drink on the job, including the management. He said he didn't play that game, and that he is lucky his bartenders and chef work sober. I also learned that all of his restaurant employees go broke between pay checks (except the bartender who can make a grand a night in tips during the high season). So, he floats bridge loans to his staff, and they always pay him back.
My last lesson from the manager was on which head lamps and flashlights I should buy. This came about after he told me that taking my keys that morning was against company policy. I explained that I don't like to do a lot of things alone because I'm afraid of bears, rattlesnakes, and men (not in that order). He said they get the occasional bear in the park, but they're only really dangerous in the spring when they have cubs. He said there aren't any rattlesnakes in the canyon because of the elevation (I’m not sure I believe that). He knew of no incidence of women being attacked by men in the canyon. Mountain lions, he said, were another story. Those concerned him. He demoed the headlamp and both flashlights and I texted the information to myself. Then he gave me a golf cart tour of the property and dropped me off at BOB.
It's very interesting to spend two hours conversing with someone who didn't ask my name, where I’m from, or what I do. I knew the manager’s name because it was pinned to his shirt. After two hours, I also knew that he grew up in LA, spent most of his life there, took two companies public, is 52, is best friends with the owners of the park with whom he is going to Denver in a few days for the Journey concert, lives in an apartment below the restaurant, and he spends March in La Quinta, California. I would have guessed he was in his mid-to-late-fifties. I also thought that if I'd taken two companies public I wouldn't be running an RV park for my friends – no matter how much I liked them.
I realized two days ago that I needed to get blood work before the month ended. Originally, I thought I would be in Durango in August – before my insurance changes from United HealthCare (UHC) to Blue Cross of Butt-Fuckistan (an Obamacare plan which is cheaper and better) – but I changed my plans and forgot about the insurance timing. The order for the lab work lists UHC as my insurer and I didn't want to risk having a problem with either the lab or the insurance company. Grand Junction had the only UHC lab in the area, and it was on the way to Montrose from Glenwood Springs. By ten o'clock my blood had been drawn and I was back on the road.
Montrose has a real DIY truck wash and I couldn't resist debugging BOB. Although I finally mastered the two-handed power sprayer, the foam brush once again got the better of me. Because it's a truck wash, the foam brush is about 12 feet long. It oozed an electric blue soap which ran down the handle of the brush. When I finished, I had blue soap all over my Nantucket red khakis and cream colored cotton-linen sweater. My hands were so blue you would have sworn I'd given a Smurf a hand job. I left the truck wash and got diesel, food and wine - not at the same place, unfortunately.
I got propane at the RV park. The attendant told me to pull up. Then he told me to take my dogs out of the RV: no people or pets during propane fillings. I told him no one had ever made me take the dogs out of BOB. When he was finished, I backed up to swing left to go to my site. There was another RV at eleven o'clock so I swung hard to miss it. In doing so I nailed BOB's reflector at the starboard stern. I should have backed up more and turned more softly: lesson learned.
I dumped my black tank in Glenwood but I didn't take to time to flush it. It wasn't full, but I didn't want to carry the weight. I flushed the tank with my blue hands when I arrived in Montrose. The guy in the Class A to my left got to watch me do that, set up, top off the DEF, and top off the windshield fluid. We had been chatting about this and that and he invited to come over and sit. I said I had blue hands, was filthy, am somewhat OCD, and I needed to shower and do laundry. "What time is Happy Hour?" I asked. He said that it is at four o'clock at the RV perpendicular to his left. I remarked that that is a little early for me, and he said most of us don't drink. He went promptly at four. I was inside folding some of my laundry. He returned a little after five just as I was returning with my last dry load. The wind started to blow and it started to rain. There was a severe weather advisory with thunder and lightning in the immediate area, so I reeled in my awning and brought my clothes drying rack inside – much to my dogs' annoyance. It rained hard at a 45 degree angle on my clean BOB for 15-20 minutes. The temperature dropped 15-20 degrees, and it was once again calm. I ate the leftovers I was supposed to have the night I had the burger, and I was grateful that I didn't have to cook after 11 hours on the go.
This morning I ironed my clothes and did some other domestic goddess things. Then I went for a bike ride in Montrose. I found a town loop online, so I printed it, and dropped my keys at the front desk in case I died. I headed into town to the local bike shop to buy a spare tube and repair kit, then I picked up some AAA batteries for my label maker at ACE Hardware. I inadvertently left my town loop map at the front desk of the RV park when I dropped off my keys. I retrieved it through Chrome, but it was too small for me to use on my iPhone. Nevertheless, I rode around town and reacquainted myself with riding in traffic. I was nearly broadsided by a woman running an alley. At the end of my trip I watched a guy pulling an RV make a left turn from the inside turning lane and cross into the outside lane cutting off a pickup truck. Old guys! Jeez.
August 24, 2016
I bought the bike yesterday morning. And a helmet. And a lock.
August 22, 2016
Yesterday marked the first time I arrived at an RV park after the office had closed. There was a packet with my check-in information waiting for me, so it turned out to be a quicker, simpler process than checking in with a human being – like self-checkout at the grocery store. I had driven from Park City to Steamboat Springs via US Rte 40. Starvation Reservoir is a stunning sedimentary vista - sandstone abounds! As I approached Colorado, I saw a sign for the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center, so I turned left. The next sign said I had to drive another seven miles. My brain balked at first then reset: it didn't matter what time I arrived in Steamboat. Other than the cross-country drive with my father, my times of departure and arrival have rarely been material given the comparatively shorter distances I have been driving. Dinosaur NM has two visitor centers, but only the Quarry one has fossils. I didn't know this when I turned left.
While the geology of the drive thus far had been outstanding, it got unbelievably better as I approached the Green River and the Dinosaur NM Visitors’ Center. Pink, yellow, grey and purple sand created hills above the sprawling river valley. I parked BOB, walked the dogs, and had lunch. I powered the generator so the dogs could have AC and I went inside the Visitors’ Center. A three minute shuttle ride took me and others to the quarry where the dinosaur fossils are still in the wall in which they were discovered. It's a veritable logjam of big bones. The driver who took us up gave me some cantaloupe her neighbor grew: amazingly, it tasted like cantaloupe tasted when I was a kid! I gave her a Wet One wipe. I walked back to the Visitors' Center and she stopped the shuttle to ask me if I wanted a ride. "No, thank you," I said. I was busy photographing rocks: it's my new job!
Today, I uploaded my resume to "The Top Five" executive recruiting companies, used Adobe Element's free trial software for photo corrections, then I took the free shuttle to town. The shuttle drove me a mile and made me get out to wait for another shuttle which would continue my eastward journey. Once in town, I went into an apparel boutique and a jewelry shop – old occupational habits are hard to break. Then I went to a ski-and-bike shop I'd found online when searching for Trek vendors. They had a Trek 7.3 FX which is one of the models I was considering – and, it is chartreuse! I took it for a test drive and it felt small by comparison to the other bikes I've owned, but it was comfortable. One of the guys thought the fit looked good and mentioned that the frame geometry and sizing have changed since I last bought a bike in 1998 (a Klein road bike that was 55cm (~21.5") and this bike is only 17.5"). While I was at the store, I decided that I did not want to transport a bike inside BOB’s cabin, nor did I want to buy a hitch mount because it would interfere with my rear slide-out and storage access. So, I measured the bike, and I said I'd be back in the morning if I could get in the rear storage compartment.
August 20, 2016
Last night, when I took the dogs for their bedtime walk, I encountered a man exiting the fenced-in dog run. He was holding one Yorkie and looking for the other. He had a flashlight, and I walked with him back to his rig as he searched for the dog. Fortunately, the missing Yorkie was under his truck. The event caused me to dream about tiny dogs walking alone in the street. My dogs are not car proof, and our proximity to the 45 mph service road which separates us from the 80 mph I-80, makes me anxious. I always walk them with the leash loop over my wrist, but in traffic situations I take two turns of the leash in my hand to keep them heeled. No harm came to the tiny dogs in my dreams.
Around nine this morning I turned on the kitchen faucet and no water flowed. I went outside and switched on BOB’s pump and the water flowed, so BOB wasn’t the source of the problem. I went back outside and switched off BOB’s pump. I disconnected the hose from the site source and turned the faucet on: nothing. The woman in the Class A to my left said the water was off until ten. Really? Interesting. She agreed with me that this place is a little odd. Yesterday, I did three loads of laundry - two on hot and one on warm. All three machines filled with cold water. I went to the office to inquire about the hot water. The attendant said there are three hot water heaters and perhaps the one serving the washers was depleted. Being a contrarian, I said, "Or, the hot water for the washers has been turned off." She apologized to me and walked away. She should have offered to compensate me for the three loads but she didn't. This is the least service-oriented place in which I have stayed. There is neither general (message board) nor specific (call) communication from the office regarding anything. My neighbor went to the office to inquire about the water. Guests have to inquire whether they have mail or packages.
I thought about walking into town (Kimball Junction) to go bike shopping but I couldn’t bear repeating the brutality of the I-80 traffic whizzing by me as I walked on the bike path. Instead, I took the dogs for a walk on the upper level. There's a section for Class As which overlooks the middle and lower levels. One of the spaces was empty to I walked through it to look over the ledge. There's a stream which runs by the tent section and a bridge over it, so I took the dogs down there. A little girl was trying to net minnows in the stream while her father and brother were packing up their tent. A pair of fenced Italian Greyhounds barked at my dogs when we walked by them. Their mother came out to explain to me that they bark because they're afraid of other dogs having been attacked by a larger dog when they were younger. "That's too bad." I said. My dogs bark at other dogs because they're assholes.
During a phone conversation a few days ago, Jean and I both realized that my stay in Park City has made me feel trapped in a way I haven't felt thus far. Three nights each in North Fork and Arco felt somewhat isolating, but I had Happy Hour in North Fork and I could have walked to town (on sidewalks) in Arco had I felt moved to do so. Regardless, my expectations of each place was low, unlike here. Avoiding disappointment is about managing expectations. My desire to get a bike is in part fueled by a desire to flee at a speed greater than I can walk. Biking alongside traffic doesn't ruin the experience for me, since usually I'm in traffic and not on a bike path. Walking, to me, is supposed to be a quiet and bucolic experience, save walking to work in a city. I need exercise but I'm a big believer that it shouldn't be unpleasant (because if it is I will quit). As I returned to BOB with the dogs it occurred to me that I could just leave now and dry camp somewhere between here and Steamboat Springs. Oddly, as opposed to my Mt. Rainier experience, I have too much water in my fresh tank right now, so I dismissed the thought. There is nothing wrong with a lackadaisical day in Park City (well, Kimball Junction).
I just read Olga Khazan's article "Why Hyper-Masculine Men Are Scary, but Not Fish-Like Men" in today's online issue of The Atlantic. Clearly, Caster Semenya is an hermaphrodite. Why doesn't someone just admit that? She has internal testes and no ovaries. Her parents probably had her crank cut off and called the stump a clit. What were they thinking? Oh, if we make her a girl she may be an Olympic athlete someday! On the hormone scale she reads male with three times the level of testosterone a normal female would have. To look at her, she reads male: she makes the Cold War East German female Olympians look like supermodels. (Yes, I know that I am being mean to say that.) It must be difficult to be a parent of an hermaphrodite and have to choose the sex of your child via surgery. That process only makes the child appear to be of one sex through examination of the genitalia: it doesn't necessarily make the child one sex hormonally. Even if you remove her internal testes, Semenya becomes neuter with female genitalia. Since she is both male and female, isn't it unfair for her to compete against people who are only female? Men have bigger hearts, bigger lungs and more red blood vessels than women, all of which can create an athletic advantage per se. Clearly, the next conflict regarding competitive athletes will come through a gender reassigned man seeking to compete against women.
I have a huge problem with gender reassignment surgery. I think that just because surgeons can do some things doesn't mean they should. While I have empathy for the people who identify with the sex opposite their genitalia and reproductive system, altering those parts doesn't really make the transformation complete. There are experiences in childhood, puberty and young adulthood which are unique to each sex. A biological boy who feels like a girl doesn't menstruate, doesn't have to guard his virginity, doesn't have to worry about getting pregnant, and doesn't have to worry about being assaulted or raped. His subsequent conversion to "female" cannot incorporate the totality of the biological, psychological and social experiences of being born a girl and growing up as one. The result of the surgical alteration is a transformation to become a biological, psychological and social "hermaphrodite," i.e. both sexes and neither.
A further comment to Khazan: Michael Phelps' height, wingspan and floppy feet might be genetically anomalous and give him advantages over other men, but he is a man competing against men. All of the Olympic Games are competitions among same-sex athletes: they are neither gender-neutral nor gender-ambiguous events. If Mr. Phelps' genitalia were removed and he presented himself in a racer back one-piece, I think even Katie Ledecky would cry foul.
Now, transvestites make me laugh! Whether they are spoofs like Dame Edna, the lads from Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, my business school roommate in a Laura Ashley dress on Hallowe'en, or real drag queens, they are endlessly entertaining. Guys who cut off their cranks: not so much.
August 19, 2016
Last night was the first time I saw my neighbors to the right since they set up on Monday. They seemed to be having trouble with something so I asked if I could do anything to help. I noticed when I came home that their fresh water hook-up was leaking. The guy said he didn't need any help, rather they were trying to figure out whether to leave in a few minutes or wait until the morning. I think he said they were going to Reno which is 550 miles from here. I commented on the size of his trailer (it is 24 feet), and he said they bought it because they're moving from California to Connecticut to be closer to their kids. He figured he'd have to make four round-trip cross-country treks to complete the move. (I did not point out that they could hire a mover which would certainly be less time-consuming, if not less expensive.) The trailer weighs 3,500 pounds, and head-to-toe the Class A and the trailer are 73 feet (almost three times BOB's length). He said that I shouldn't have any problem towing my Jetta because the manufacturers always low-ball the limit. I still think I'll call Coachmen.
Yesterday, I rented a car and drove from Park City past Deer Valley and over the Guardsman Pass into Big Cottonwood Canyon where the Brighton and Solitude ski resorts are. The geology of the valley is staggering with vertical faults and all three flavors of rocks - igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary - in plain view. From there, I went up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon which is home to the Alta and Snowbird ski resorts. On the eight drive, the grade averages over seven percent which makes driving interesting. My destination for lunch was the Foundry Grill at the Sundance Resort, and I drove Utah 92 (the Timpanogos Highway, aka the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) to get there. While I might have considered driving the Guardsman Pass and the two canyons with BOB, the following review from the "Mountain Directory East & West" cemented my decision to rent a car:
"Narrow switchbacks 12 miles ahead. Not for vehicles over 30' in length." They are not kidding. The road starts out narrow and keeps getting skinnier until they stop painting a centerline and it is barely over one lane wide. The grades are long and steep, and the curves and switchbacks are extremely sharp and narrow. This road is shown as a primary road on some maps. It is not a primary road! The views are memorable but it should be scouted in a smaller vehicle."
The review was completely accurate and I saw the sign. There were places on the road that are too small for SUVs to pass each other at 15 mph. I saw a truck pulling a travel trailer camper past the sign, but he pulled over at a closed campsite and I went by him. The quality of the road varied, and most driving mistakes would be fatal. It was 20 miles and 60 minutes of sheer terror and exhilarating beauty. Riding shotgun would require wearing diapers. I drove in the middle of the road.
The Budget rental office is about seven miles from the RV park. I planned on using Lyft to get there, but the wait was 25 minutes. I called a local taxi service and waited 25 minutes (10 minutes longer than promised) and paid $35 in cash because the driver hadn't download the Square software on his new phone. I don't like to pay cash for anything because I like to have records of my spending, and because I haven't seen a Bank of America in three months (and I hate to pay non-bank fees). The rental car was filthy inside which I only discovered after I drove away. Someone had put almonds in the console and it was full of fragments. There was dirt on the rear seat and front seat floor mats. There was a jumbo plastic soda cup jammed under the passenger's front seat. I told both Expedia and Budget, the latter of whom gave me a 10% discount. That was not the point! Why don't people do their jobs and clean the fucking rental cars?
There was a Lyft driver three minutes from Budget while I was checking out so I requested the ride. I received a notice from the app that my account had been deactivated. I tried to reactivite my Lyft account by using the mobile Customer Support feature. Every time I indicated the purpose of the contact is because my "account is disabled" the form defaulted to the start page. I Googled a phone number for Lyft and I learned that you can only talk to a person at Lyft if you've been killed in accident or murdered by the driver. I hung up the first time, but I was so frustrated that I called again. I told the woman who answered that I was stranded (my emergency) and that my account was deactivated. She said she'd contact customer service and that I'd get an email which would tell me what to do. Her email routed me to the circular reference customer service form.
Budget is in a hotel so I asked the front desk staff for a taxi recommendation. I called the service and was told that I'd have to wait 35 minutes and the charge would be $20: fifty minutes later, I was picked up by a delightful woman who had been delayed by a traffic accident. We talked about beer, the bad drivers in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and beer.
When I returned to BOB I repeated the form submission process with my iPad Pro and my PC laptop only to get the same result. I decided to use different words in the form and that worked. Apparently, if your account has been deactivated, the form IS a circular reference because they want you to fuck off and go away. This was my email exchange with Lyft:
Me: "My account has been disabled. I have tried to use this form from three different devices, but every time I attempt to use it, it reverts to the first page. Call me and explain to me how my AMEX was hacked through Lyft (twice)."
Lyft (Rae): Hi Sioban (sic),
Sorry to hear about this! I know how inconvenient this must be. Not to worry though, we can get this sorted out and get your account restored. As a security precaution, we will need to verify and confirm that you are the owner of the credit card, before we can make any changes. To verify, please send a picture of your photo ID that clearly shows your full legal name and address, as well as a photo of the credit card on your account showing your full name, expiration date, and only the last 4 digits showing. Please be sure to conceal the other details of your credit card, as that is sensitive information which needs to be secure. Please attach the aforementioned photos in your email response.
Me: One: you misspelled my name. Great attention to detail.
Two: are you fucking kidding me? Why don't I just give you my SSN, too?
Lyft (Rae): Hi Siobhan,
Thank you for reaching out about this. After investigating the issue with our risk team, we were unable to reopen your account.
Me: Please delete my account. Thank you for punishing me for being the victim of credit card theft.
Lyft (GENERIC): Your request (17944226) has been updated. To add additional comments, reply to this email.
In July, my AMEX was hacked twice and all the charges were to Lyft. I've previously had credit cards stolen electronically, but I'm not sure that I've ever had a stolen credit card used with a vendor in my profile (usually, the stolen cards are used to buy first class seats on Air Uganda). I didn't think anything about my relationship with Lyft regarding the stolen credit card because my transactions would prove that I was not close to any city Lyft services during the fraud. After yesterday, I have a new perspective: one, Lyft engages in non-face-to-face transactions like all online providers; two, while a bill-pay zip code and the CSV code verify the card, the purchaser and the receiver of the product or service don't have to be related (e.g. a parent's card could be used by a child); therefore, the vendor takes an inherent risk that the approved card is being using by someone whom the payer has approved.
Last year, I contested a charge from Amazon my AMEX. It was a rare event, but I had ordered something Amazon took weeks to fulfill (I'm a Prime member and I place >100 orders per year). In reviewing my order history I didn't see the purchase so I contested it. Amazon contracted me and said I bought XYZ and if I don't confirm the purchase with AMEX my account will be terminated. Draconian, yes, but it made me dig further into my history, and I confirmed the order. Lyft NEVER contacted me about the fraudulent charges or the cancellation of my card. Yesterday, when they required photos of my driver's license and the (cancelled credit card which I've shredded) to prove my identity, I'd had enough. One, I'm not going to give Lyft another data point to steal (maybe a Lyft insider stole my credit card?), and, two, the fucking credit on file isn't valid and I don't have it! I am such a BIG fan of disruptors, but these guys don't deserve to survive. Whoever stole my card and used it for BIG, EXPENSIVE rides on Lyft has done it before and is still doing it: it's called an algorithm, folks, so figure it out. In the meantime, FUCK OFF!
Yesterday, a recruiter from an insurance company called me before 07:00 MDT. I was up, and had been awake for two hours, but I didn't want to talk to someone I didn't know. I assumed the call was SPAM so I was rude to the caller: "Who is this? From what company? This is my cell phone. Please don't ever call me again." It was a recruiter from an insurance company in RI. I learned this from an email from her. I replied to apologize for my rudeness explaining the SPAM call and emails I have been receiving. I removed my resume from three job boards after realizing that they are too low-end for me and to avoid similar calls in the future.
August 17, 2016
Two weeks ago, I wrote letters to the presidents of three companies asking them to hire me. Two of the letters were specific business proposals and the third was just a traditional cover letter. I don't expect any of them to reply. This week, I registered with six job boards and I applied for several jobs. One already dinged me, and I am grateful for the response. I think three of the sites are too entry-level for me, but the aggregator sites pick up their listings so I created accounts as a CYA. I also updated my LinkedIn profile is spite of the fact that I hate LinkedIn. I REALLY hate the endorsement module because anyone can endorse anyone for anything. I've been endorsed for skills by relatives and friends, neither of whom have been professional colleagues. To me, LinkedIn is FaceBook for self-promoters: the more contacts the person has, the more important the person is. Right.
The job search process has become so personless, if not humiliating. I particularly hate the "salary expectation" requirement. What is this, an auction? Does the job go to the lowest bidder? When recruiters ask me what I'm looking for in a compensation package, I always reply, "I would like to be compensated similarly to my peers. I do not need to be the highest paid, but I do not want to be the lowest paid.”
This morning I took my dogs for a walk on a bike path paralleling I-80 eastbound. I set the timer for 20 minutes so that we'd turn around at one mile. I found the experience to be unpleasant in many ways: primarily, the I-80 traffic whizzing by me 20-30 feet away at 80 miles an hour, but the dead deer, the dead mouse, and the prospect of encountering a pit viper lessened what little joy there was. I made up my mind to buy a bike so that I could get "faster" exercise than walking - which I don't seem to do. When I got back to BOB I googled "Trek" to pick out a bike and then the problem arose: you can find your "perfect" bike on Trek’s website but then you can't buy it anywhere because it’s out of stock.
If I buy a bike, I will have to transport it outside BOB which means I need to buy a cargo carrier. If I buy a cargo carrier, what am I going to do with it if/when I tow my Jetta? If I wait until October to buy a bike, I can buy a bike adapter for the Thule rack on my Jetta: that way, I don't need a cargo carrier. Can I tow my Jetta with BOB? How much does my Jetta weigh? It is front-wheel drive, isn't it (as opposed to all-wheel drive)? I Googled my VIN and neither question was answered. I downloaded my owners' manual in an app from VW and neither question was answered. Then, I Googled, "Is my 2014 Jetta Sportwagen front-wheel drive?" and I got a tech sheet which said that it is and that it weighs 3,200 pounds. I can tow 3,500 pounds. How much does a dolly weigh? And, "Should I tow it on a dolly AT the weight limit?" That, is a question for Coachmen.
August 16, 2016
I've been listening to public radio in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho in addition to WGBH, KCRW and OPB. Like OPB, Montana Public Radio runs through the list of frequencies at which you can listen. Idaho doesn't have to since there is only one station. (I’m surprised there is public radio given the state is 96% Republican.) Wyoming Public Radio tells you to spin the dial and you'll find it somewhere - wherever you are. I like Wyoming - a state where the liberals tell you to be self-reliant.
I arrived in Park City, Utah two days ago. I had been searching online for professional truck washes for BOB. There are a couple in Salt Lake City, but they were out of the way. Many RV parks do not allow people to wash their rigs, including the one in which I'm parked (and the one I left in Jackson). However, most will let you wash the bugs off the front windshield, and often that is sufficient. Just before I hit I-80, I drove past a DIY car wash with bays big enough for RVs, so I did a U-turn and gave BOB a bath. By the time I was finished, I had blue soap from the foaming brush in my hair, on my white pants, and my hands and feet were stained. Twice, I nearly dislocated my shoulder by depressing the spray trigger without stabilizing the wand with my other hand. The force moved me several feet. I'm lucky I didn't slip and fall. A video of me would look like “I Love Lucy” meets “The Smurfs” mash-up.
When the dogs and I emerged from BOB yesterday morning, a man in the neighboring RV apologized for waking me. I said he hadn't, and I remarked that he was leaving early. He said his mother-in-law had died a few hours ago, and that his wife and her sister had already departed (on a Harley and in a car, respectively), and that he and his brother-in-law were departing soon (on a Harley and in the Class A, respectively). In ten minutes, I learned that the man is 55, has three kids who are 30-something, has two grandchildren, lives in Nevada, his parents have a ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming, and he can't wait to retire because he has a lot of hobbies and interests. He's four years older than I am and he's a grandfather! I still have trouble thinking that I'm old enough to have kids (college-age or older!), but I am. And, I don't want to retire – ever. Why am I always surprised by these things?
The couple to my left has one Harley, and the couple to their left have two (matching ones at that). The couple to my right who replaced the man who left this morning have a Class A and they're pulling a 24' trailer. I haven't seen them since they set up yesterday afternoon. I can’t imagine what is inside the trailer – a sports car and a pair of Harleys? I don't even have a bicycle: I'm feeling like the poor kid in the neighborhood.
This RV park is odd. It is built on three levels and the upper level is condominium-ized with five parking sections. According to the park's website, Class C's are only allowed in Section A. When I called to make the reservation, I was told Section A was full but that I could stay in Section D. There are five spots in Section D, and it's the only pull-through parking at the site. The good news is that I'm parked on a concrete pad; the bad news is that the pad is separated from the adjoining ones by only three feet of gravel. There is no picnic table, no grass, no trees, no personal space, and my awning would touch the Class A to my right if I deployed it fully. The remains of a snake is in the gravel separating me from the rig to my left. Yuck. The laundry room is the dirtiest and most expensive of any I've encountered. There are two single occupancy toilet/shower rooms (one for men, one for women) for the 34 RVs in the upper level. I never use the parks' bathroom facilities, but many RVers do, so there are too few. From the entrance of the park, I could throw a baseball through the window of a car traveling west on I-80, and the traffic noise is constant. The lower
levels have post-apocalyptic landscaping.
I have developed a four-can-a-day La Croix seltzer water habit. Kim, Kate, and I call it crack. Kate has the habit, too. She's the one who converted me to the flavored seltzer. Bitch. Buy stock in La Croix.
I learned that I should not eat an entire pint of blueberries in one day. Buy stock in Charmin.
I learned that Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds are evil because a can is a single serving. Buy stock in Blue Diamond, too.
I eat a hard-boiled egg almost every day. What is the recipe for making perfect hard-boiled eggs? Oh, I know! There isn't one! I put raw eggs in cold water and bring them to boil. I shut of the gas and let them steep for 10 minutes. Then I plunge them in ice water. All, some, or none of them peel nicely. I always buy cage-free, organic, “I-am-the-Alpha-and-Omega”-3 large brown eggs. I speak softly to them and pet them gently before putting them in the water, and it just doesn't matter. Eggs are fuckers just like chickens. I should just resign myself to this, but I can't. I can't because I know I can buy perfect hard boiled eggs at the grocery store for a dollar a piece which means someone knows how to hard boil them consistently, and it’s worth the 3x mark-up over retail. I want a professional from the hard-boiled egg industrial complex to tell me the secret. Everyone I know has a recipe for boiling eggs (even an ex-boss who struggles with just boiling water), and no one can produce hard-boiled eggs that peel well consistently. I can only hope that if the recipe is classified, that WikiLeaks will leak it.
Yesterday, I was excited that I had reached the "The Identification of Minerals" lecture in my geology course. I REALLY want to be able to look at a rock or mineral and say, "Oh, that's rhyolite, equivalent to a fine-grained granite, but it's extrusive not intrusive." Needless to say, I was highly disappointed that the lecture explained that hand identification is limited to streak, cleavage and hardness. Okay, I learned that in chemistry. The next lecture mostly dealt with igneous rocks, and granite in particular. While watching, I Googled "granite" because according to the lecture it should be within a certain color range and not the rainbow of colors which is offered commercially. It turns out that a lot of what we buy as "granite" is really other intrusive igneous rocks like gabbro and diorite. The "granite" countertop in my ex-condo’s kitchen is probably gabbro, and the one in its bar is a green mystery rock which is likely "Golden Lightning Granite." I don’t care what it is, I would buy it again in a heartbeat.
Today, I saw a hybrid Cadillac Escalade. Isn’t that an oxymoron?
August 12, 2016
I picked up my dirty, window-chipped, soccer mom Toyota from National yesterday morning and began my Grand Teton adventure. My first stop was the National Museum of Wildlife Art. It's built into a butte about three miles north of Jackson's town square and it overlooks the National Elk Refuge. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a yoga class on the walk outside the museum. How fucking pretentious is it to do yoga outside a museum overlooking the National Elk Refuge? Is yoga with a view the new yoga? Isn't yoga supposed to be an introspective experience and not a "guess-where-I-did-yoga-this-morning-in-my-new-outfit" bragging opportunity? Barf.
The Tetons will torture you if you let them: every mile and every bend in US Rte. 93 gives you a new perspective, and therefore another desire to photograph them. I took about 50 pictures - zoomed in, zoomed out, landscape, portrait, with lakes and trees, and just the peaks. Only six to nine of the photos will end up in an album, and it will odious to cull them. I encountered a fox on Jenny Lake Road, but it disappeared into the woods too quickly for me to photograph it through the open car window.
I took the tram at the Jackson Hole ski resort for the view of the valley with my back to the Tetons. It was 72 degrees at the base and 52 degrees 4,000 feet higher at the summit. Since I was wearing a dress, and therefore under-dressed, I declined to get out of the tram and wait 15 minutes for the next one. I FaceTimed Jean on the way down. Corbet's Couloir is to the right of the first tower on the descent. It's a vertical run that is crazy when snow-packed, and seeing the boulders which compose it make it even less inviting (if that is possible). Skiing from the top of the tram is for experts only. Actually, 60% of all the trails at Jackson Hole are for experts only. I overheard a woman on the tram remarking that Jackson Hole has a very low return rate because of its difficulty. I'm thinking that if you factored out the people who died skiing off cliffs the return rate might be dramatically higher.
I bought a ridiculous amount of wine today because I'm going to Utah on Sunday and I'll be there for a week. Utah is the land of "don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?" funny underwear people. I haven't been there for almost 20 years. I hear it's easier to buy booze these days, particularly in Park City, but I'm not willing to take the risk. The one time I skied in Utah was Christmas 1997, and the ski base was 29" everywhere - about a third of what it should have been. I skied Park City, Deer Valley (for 1 hour), Alta, Snowbird, and Sundance. The last was my favorite because it was like a private resort with real people and great food.
I love Utah for Sundance and Little Cottonwood Canyon, Matt Parker and Trey Stone. I was a "South Park" fan from the "Jesus v. Santa" pilot, and I watched it for years. I wish I had seen "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway. It's probably easier to make fun of a relatively new religion, and Joseph Smith's tablets are fairly easy fodder. The truth is that all religion was founded by some guy approaching a group of people and telling them a remarkable story he claimed to have experienced (which he really made up). He was probably also controlling the food and water supply, too.
August 10, 2016
Yesterday, my Great Courses DVDs and guidebook "The Nature of Earth: An Introduction to Geology" arrived from Amazon. I watched the first disc today - six lessons. Heaven! Well, Earth! I should have purchased and watched it before I began my travels through the Ring of Fire, but it didn't occur to me to see if Great Courses had a geology course. I have been looking for one on Coursera for two years but to no avail. My goal is to be able to look at minerals and rocks and know what they are. I now know that the lava at Craters of the Moon is basaltic, that magma and lava are the same thing (below and above the surface of the Earth, respectively), that granitic magma has the highest viscosity, and that andesitic magma is only found in ocean trenches. I also know that a mineral must be: naturally occurring, a solid, inorganic, and, have defined chemical composition and crystalline structure. I know that there are two types of minerals: silicates and non-silicates. Silicates are either ferromagnetic (contain iron and magnesium) or not, and that they have five different tetrahedral crystalline structures. I haven't learned about non-silicates yet. I can't wait!
Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.