Haircut In Place

I was getting shaggy long before The Virus came to town. The other day, the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas floated an idea. “Maybe I could cut your hair.”

For background, as a kid, my dad cut my hair many times, and while I was young enough to be oblivious to the quality of the result, I enjoyed those times. (As I reached my teens the thinning shears in the home haircut kit were an object of fascination to me, allowing me to be shaggy while not overheating my cranium. Dad and I both appreciated the engineering behind those shears.)

So there I was with way more hair than I wanted, and the Official Sweetie offering a fun project of togetherness. No arm twistage was required. “It will not be the best haircut you ever had,” OSoMR&HBI said. I will not tire you, dear readers, with a litany of the bad haircuts I’ve had in my life, but I was reasonably confident that this one would not be the worst.

Plus: The difference between a good haircut and a bad one? Two weeks. By the time anyone saw my lovely locks, time would have passed and evened things out.

The cut went down. Of course we documented the adventure.

shaggy jerry
My hair goes from 70’s to 80’s as it grows, but the transition from there to 60’s is messy.

My new favorite hair stylist arrayed her tools: My heavy-duty hair trimmer (I lost all the guides over the decades, but my good pal John gave me the 3 from his set a while back, so it was 3 or nothing that night), scissors not intended for cutting hair, and a sweet comb from roughly 1978. Add a couple of hair clips and we are ready to go!

“Wow! That’s short!” The Official Sweetie said. She had made a few exploratory passes with the trimmer, but finally she put the guide against my scalp and made a run, bogging the mighty trimmer for a moment with the sheer power of my thick hair, but leaving behind a summer-length swath of almost-naked scalp. I felt the breeze and smiled.

Byng was not OK with all this.

Meanwhile, our little dog Lady Byng was not OK with any of this. Clearly pack members were doing terrible things to other pack members, which might have been all right were it not happening in the room that exists only to torture dogs with baths.

At one point The Official Sweetie stopped. “I kinda want to stop right here,” she said. Although without glasses my image in the mirror was indistinct, I could see what she meant. Kinda reminded me of the bad guy in Fifth Element.

I asked that we carry on, however. I wanted a haircut with staying power.

For the next few minutes I came to appreciate barber’s shears. When in the big chair I hear “snip snip snip” at an impressive rate; that is the product of scissors that are both sharp and quick. Loose-hinged but somehow tight. Cutting hair with slower scissors requires a great deal of patience.

OK, I promised I wouldn’t belabor bad haircuts of the past, but my worst haircut was also the most time-consuming and most expensive. Jason (a friend’s favorite) fiddled with my hair for an hour, cutting one goddam strand at a time, and while the final look played to my hair’s Ultra-80’s feather-the-fuck-out-of-it-and-make-David-Bowie-weep strength, that was not what I had asked for. I just wanted my hair to be shorter.

My needs are actually pretty simple. My hair is long. I want it to be short. Even my regular hair-cutter has a hard time believing the transformation I want, and she’s done it several times.

My sweetie knows this. She hacked away with scissors and trimmer, and while the result was maybe not what a trained professional would have pulled off, it was not too shabby.

Over the last couple of days I have found a couple of places the clipper missed, and there is some choppiness. But overall, an unquestionable success.

Before you even ask, I will not be returning the favor.

Reflecting on how Fortunate I Am

It is not surprising that Silicon Valley has active Coronavirus cases. This is a hub of world interaction, especially with Asia. The capital-V Virus is here now, has been for a couple of weeks.

For the past few days my company and all the other tech companies in the area have been encouraging their employees to work from home. Starting today, I will have to pass a health quiz and fever check to enter my office.

What a luxury my company and I share. With some minor technical complaints, I can work anywhere. I just need my brain and a computer for it to manipulate.

There are kids who will literally starve without their school lunches. There are hard-working wage-earners who won’t get the hours they need, and others will simply lose their jobs.

Then there are the many, many people who will go to work and risk exposure every day. I will be on the couch with my dogs, wishing the screen on my laptop was bigger.

“It was CRAZY up there!”

I remember a time, long ago, walking along a beach that had a huge amount of rotting vegetation. My friend commented on the stench, and I wondered, not for the first time, if perhaps my sense of smell just wasn’t as good as most people’s. This week I got my answer.

If you have been around me for any amount of time at all, you know that I will sometimes sport a lingering cough that goes on for weeks. During the course of my malady my lungs are clear, but there is a steady stream of grot flowing down my sinuses and into my throat. Even when I don’t have a cough, I have an irritated throat most of the time.

In general, those coughs have been triggered by sinus infections. I recently began to wonder if there might be a structural issue in my face that made me more susceptible to infection, and made the infections linger beyond all reason.

So at last, after about 50 years of just rolling with the problem, I went to see a nose doctor.

Dr. Carter, who is a hoot, peered up my nostrils and said, “Yep, your septum’s deviated to the left.” I was a little surprised at that, only because in general it is the right side of my face that is more constricted. Dr. Carter then ran fiber optics up my nose and down into my throat, looking around. “This is gonna feel really weird,” she said as she guided the camera into my head.

She scheduled me for a head scan and when the results came back, I sat with her and we went over the image. It turns out my septum started to the left, but then veered back to the right and hammered directly into one of my sinuses.

I think perhaps to make the insurance justification easier, Dr. Carter first started me with a regimen of medications and shooting saline solution through my nose. But finally it was time to get the sumbitch fixed.

I mentioned I was having the procedure to a few friends, and two of them immediately set out to temper my expectations. Sure the results were great eventually, but both my friends warned me that the recovery could take a long time — even months.

Eight days ago I checked in at the surgical center and, after a delay, I was wheeled from a crowded pre-op holding pen into the gleaming, science-fiction-worthy operating room. As is procedure, the OR staff chatted amiably with me while the anesthesia did its magic. Vacations was the topic.

… and then I was somewhere else, not in pain, but profoundly uncomfortable, with unrelenting pressure behind my eyes. I reached up and began to massage my besieged eyeballs, really working on them, when someone said in an alarmed voice, “Don’t rub your eyes!” Apparently that was not the right thing to do.

That post-op time is a little hazy for me, but the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas got to meet the esteemed Doctor Carter, and was also impressed. OSMR&HBI reports that Dr. Carter used the phrase “all kinds of wonky in there” to describe the state of my under-face, but also she said that the surgery had gone well.

In my nose at that point were two splints, tied together by a suture through my septum. The splints had airways built in, but let’s not fool ourselves — all that blood and mucus was going to get in there and plug those suckers.

[Get-poor-quick aside: how hard would it be to create a tool to allow the patient at home to safely clear those airways? It would have made a huge difference to me.]

Home, I settled onto the couch, propped myself up, and that became my home base for the next four nights. For the first two nights, sleep was pretty much impossible. I could put my head in a comfortable position, but when I dozed off my tongue would block my airway and I would wake up after a few seconds in a suffocation panic, or I could tilt my head back, cpr-dummy-style — but them my throat was so open I would dry out after a few breaths and begin to cough (I wasn’t supposed to cough).

Eventually the inflammation lessened and I was able to get at least some air through my nose. That resulted in a suffocation emergency after a few minutes, rather than a few seconds, and that made a big difference. Never was I so glad to get two hours of sleep in a single night.

In the kitchen three days ago, I opened the container for my traditional second cup of the morning, a blackberry and sage infused tea, and… I smelled it. I mean, I really smelled it. Even with my nose stuffed with plugged-up hardware, I smelled it. Later, I ate a very-ripe banana and it tasted weird. Like no very-ripe banana I had eaten before. I almost chucked it when I realized that it wasn’t the banana that was different.

I got pretty excited. I had just been looking forward to breathing better and maybe not having a wracking cough 10% of the time. I had not considered that my actual sense of smell might be enhanced.

I mentioned that to my boss via chat, and his response was, “You should grab an IPA, really test that baby out.”

Which tonight I have done. I went in to have the splints removed this afternoon, and Dr. Carter regaled me with stories of just how messed up my nasal structure had been. “It was crazy up there!” she said. She described bony masses, chiseling, sinuous septums, and a bunch of other stuff. “How have you made it this long without having that fixed?”

I shrugged at that. How was I to know that breathing could be so easy?

Because holy dang, when the splints came out, the breathing commenced. And the smelling just got better. And the IPA? Magnificent.

Gilfoyle’s Prognosis

Perhaps you read recently about my little asshole dog’s time wearing a heart monitor. Welp, the data is back and it’s on the better-news side of the spectrum. There was one “event” that aligned with “squirrel” in his diary. There were other minor irregularities, but none that require immediate intervention.

For now, it’s all good, but the little guy has a bum ticker. There’s a real chance that eventually medical intervention will be required.

“I don’t want it to be about money,” the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas said. And I agree. We are responsible for the well-being of our pack members who don’t have thumbs. All they give in return is unconditional love, companionship, humor, and a thumpy feeling in my heart.

It’s only right Official Sweetie and I look out for the health of the pack.

But.

I vow now not to prolong the suffering of creatures who depend on me so I can feel that thumpy feeling a little longer. I promise Byng, and Gilfoyle, and any others in my care, that they will not suffer simply because I don’t want to say goodbye.

That applies to the humans I love as well.

3

Rock Week

After an extended grind at work, it was time to take a few days to get my regular life back on track. I had several goals, from getting back on the bike to installing a ceiling fan to making appointments with doctors.

I was successful-ish. I got enough done to feel like I was catching up, but I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to. I didn’t ride my bike as often as I had planned, but I got plenty of exercise. I didn’t get the new ceiling fan installed, but I learned about alternative home wiring.

I moved a lot of rock. On Wednesday I shoveled up old rock and moved it to its new home in the raised gardens where is color would not be wasted. I was pretty blasted on Thursday, but the real cost of exercise comes two days later, and in Friday I was hurtin’.

Hello, Saturday.

The night before I couldn’t sleep. A shit-ton (shit ≡ 6.5) of rock was going to be dropped in the street. There would be no stopping until all 13,000 pounds were not in the street anymore.

I woke up feeling all right, and when the Most Wise Official Sweetie called to have the rock dropped in the driveway rather than the street, my anxiety dropped. And I felt pretty good, physically.

“Today is going to suck,” Official Sweetie said. I was inclined to agree. But if you accept that going in, you can steel yourself to the pain.

The rock arrived, deposited with great care in the driveway. Five cubic yards, 6.5 tons, 13,000 pounds. A shit-ton. “That’s a lot of rock!” The dump-truck driver said, many times.

I didn’t reply, “We’re going to rock this town!” though I probably should have. I believe that was the only pun or cultural reference relating to rock that was not spoken over the next two days.

I just wanted to be a machine. Even as the great pile of rock loomed over me, I wanted nothing more than to be a tireless agent of transport. Shovel shovel shovel, trundle trundle trundle, dump. But we weren’t there yet. There was planning to do. Brian stuff.

Official Sweetie did the brain stuff. She also pushed more than a couple of barrow-loads of rock. She is tireless. She is awesome. But it was up to me to move old rock and to place the new stepping-stones.

Once I had discussed whimsey-level for the paving stone placement, and I put some math to use to establish spacing, I spent a while carrying paving stones and digging them in to their new happy places.

Eventually it was time to move rock.

Shoveling is a skill. “Lift with your legs, not your back,” is the axiom, but for the longest time my knee heartily disagreed with that aphorism. For the first few hours of shoveling I put an enormous load on my arms to compensate for all the other body parts not ready to step up. My arm was on fire and I knew there would be hell to pay. Finally I found an odd straight-backed crouching form that did not extend my knee through its vulnerable range, and shoveling improved greatly.

Eight shovels a load, around the house and up a curb. Ten-shovel loads were tough to pull up the curb so I decided to walk more, and just roll with it. It was a big job and it was going to take some time.

As night fell I was beat. Junked. But not finished. My body was hammered enough that I knew I couldn’t assume I’d be motile the next day. I really wanted to finish. My tireless, motivated bride wanted that even more than I did.

But it was not to be. My feet hurt so bad I had difficulty walking. As the night grew darker cars were giving me less room as I pushed loads of rock around on the street. “Five more loads after this one,” I told myself. I had to call it quits for the night.

I managed the five loads, another few hundred pounds of rock moved from A to B. Completely depleted I staggered home with Official Sweetie and when we got there I greeted the dogs and just lay on the floor.

My watch was happy, congratulating me on my biggest workout ever. My dogs were happy to have a chance to bury themselves in such a magnificently redolent pack leader. I was less happy; I knew that as empty as I felt at that moment, there was still a lot of rock to move.

Sunday came round, as Sundays always insist on doing, and I was mildly amazed to discover that I could move. I could even walk. I was expecting agony and I got… okness.

My feet — I don’t know if I’ve properly communicated how they felt Saturday night. I was filthy down to my pores, but I put off taking a shower as long as I could because that required standing. I was amazed that I could put on shoes, let alone walk.

The good part about Sunday was that the job was finite and known. Three or four more hours of shovel, shovel, shovel, trundle trundle trundle dump, with occasional breaks for level level level. Two wheelbarrows, two motivated trundlers, and a few thousand pounds of pebbles.

Then it was over. I gathered up our tools and staggered once last time along the path I had blazed along the street.

The rock is spread, and it looks good. My legs were noodles, but no worries about getting exercise during my time off.

3

Gilfoyle’s Been Having it Tough, Lately

We just celebrated two years with Gilfoyle, and I have to say that while the little dog is an asshole, he is an endearing one. Chicks dig him especially, but men also respect his demeanor. He has that certain something, and even as his social skills improve, he will always be an asshole. Perhaps that is to be expected from a ten-pound dog bred to move cattle around.

A few weeks ago we were at the vet for routine stuff, and she spent an unusual amount of time listening to his heart. Something wasn’t right. Experts were consulted, measurements were taken, and all is not well with Gilly’s little ticker.

On Monday the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas took him in to have a heart-monitoring rig strapped to his body, so the vet could get a good reading on his heart in more normal circumstances.

Gilfoyle handled the visit well, and consented to having a lot of his lush fur shaved off while it was installed. When I go home from work I found this:

He hardly noticed the rig at all, except when he was cutting corners too closely. Official Sweetie kept a diary of events that might be of interest when looking at the data: “3:20 p.m.: Squirrel; 5:40 p.m.: UPS delivery.”

A day later it was time to remove the heart monitor. About noon I called from work with some rather good news, and OSMRHBI didn’t react at all. She was not in a good place.

It was the tape, you see. The vet, carefully following the letter of the instructions, had used a particular very sticky tape to affix the sensors to the poor little guy. When I called, Official Sweetie had just spent an agonizing amount of time trying to peel the tape off a frightened, hurt, confused, betrayed dog.

The title of this episode may be deceptive; Gilfoyle has recovered from the trauma, although he still has stripes of adhesive in his fur. The Official Sweetie, being cursed with a remarkably good memory and a wonderfully big heart, will take a little longer to recover from the episode.

And now we wait for the data to be loaded up and analyzed by the experts. Gilfoyle has been downright spry lately, still improving after a couple years of normal dog life. I’m not sure what his life was like before he joined our family, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t normal.

Of course I’ll let you all know what the prognosis is when Gilly’s numbers are crunched – at least I will if it’s still Blogtober.

2

Jury Life: The Trial

It has been a while since I wrote that title, and I’m wondering just what to say. There’s the small version: an insecure kid — both emotionally and economically insecure — crossed a line more than once, trying to keep his mildly awful suburban girlfriend close by so he could talk her out of dumping him.

We saw, at the start of the trial, during the testimony of the girlfriend’s dad, a video of the kid in front of the girlfriend’s house. He is obviously angry. At the end, he scoops up the family cat and walks away. I seriously questioned my ability to be objective after that.

Dad said the cat was gone for days, but finally came back. The first lie of the trial. Turns out The Kid and Max were besties, and Max is choosy about his pals. Dad also denied threatening to shoot The Kid.

Complicating things: Awful Girlfriend’s mother became a lifeline for the kid. He was unwelcome in his own home, but she had his back. Even after everything, she tutored him up to get his GED. Her husband is not aware of this. But from her delivery of testimony it’s easy to see where Awful Girlfriend learned her ways.

Reflecting on all the questions about abuse during voir dire, it turns out the girlfriend was not above pummeling her physically-smaller beau. At least, according to her mother.

If you haven’t guessed already, I was (still am) sympathetic to the defendant. But there was simply no getting around the fact he did two of the three things he was accused of. The third just smelled like the DA going for broke, and was just silly.

Apparently we’re on the fast version of this story, so I’ll just say I was elected jury foreman because I’d been on a jury before, Juror 4 did a great job challenging everything, and I wish I’d challenged Juror 10’s desire to get the fuck out of there to make sure he was actually voting his conscious.

Guilty on two out of three.

If I were the judge, I would put this smart, emotional kid into community service, caring for people. I can see him in a nursing home, doting over the residents. I think The Kid could shine in a role where caring too much is a good thing. Losing a friend will be brutal for him, but this is what he was built to do.

There’s a lot more I can say; observations during the trial, the fidgety and annoying habits of Juror 2 (had I written this three weeks ago, that would have been its own episode), the friendly bailiff — but ultimately we did our job. I’m disappointed that we were asked to do our job in this case; this seems like something that didn’t really need to go to trial. Perhaps Miss Li, the defense attorney, felt that the witness testimony would affect sentencing. She might be right. It’s not her fault jury trials are really fucking expensive, and she is obligated to do what is best for her client.

Justice is a slippery thing, my friends, and the law is not always about right and wrong. But this time the law was clear and I have to trust the judge to do the right thing.

2

My Sweetie Knows Me

When Valentine’s Day hit, I got up in the morning and, before The Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas rose from her slumber, I paused just a moment to appreciate just how lucky I am. The Official Sweetie does not need me to make gestures on days like this to know I love her.

But it turns out she wanted to make a gesture for me. And it was magnificent. Here’s what I got from the Bronx Zoo:

I suspect that if I went to the Bronx Zoo tomorrow and demanded to be introduced to my namesake, I would be met with dithering and obfuscation. “It’s in there somewhere,” they would say, as if, should my namesake emerge, the zookeepers could say, “that’s Jerry Seeger the Roach and Stuff right there!”

But seriously, it’s this kind of thing that makes me love the Official Sweetie so much.

4

This One’s for Mom

A few weeks ago I was in a fabric store with the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas. My mission was to select the fabric for my holiday shirts. While I was poring over the seasonal offerings, and surprising OS with my sparkly decisions, there was a woman in the same section with her kid installed in her shopping cart.

That kid never stopped talking, and I’d guess that 90% of all utterances were questions. Mom tried to answer most of them, but deflected many.

I was in a time warp, looking at me and my mother, possibly on the shopping trip where I picked out the double-breasted suit pattern, the busy blue/purple pinstripe fabric for the jacket, and the fuchsia double-knit for the trousers of my Easter outfit when I was eight years old, give or take.

OSoMR&HBI has seen pictures of that outfit, so sparkly reindeer shirts should not have surprised her quite so much, my normal attire notwithstanding. You gotta sparkle for the holidays.

Anyway, while I was poking through the fabric options, the kid was offering up a never-ending stream of questions. Based on some of the questions, I got the feeling that we were on similar missions. While I can’t specifically remember any of his fabric-related questions, they were in the vein of “Why is it snowing on the dog?” Questions that really don’t have an answer.

Then for a while he asked simple mathematical questions, which his mother answered easily. “What is five plus fifteen?” “What is five plus twenty?”

Then he dropped the bomb. “What number do you get when you add up all the numbers?”

Getting no swift answer from his mother, the kid grappled with the question himself for a little while, naming a couple of very large numbers, quieter now as he realized that those were numbers too, and part of all the numbers, sensing rather than knowing that he was touching on a deeper sort of mathematics. He had asked a question it took mankind almost our entire history so far to even know how to ask, let alone how to answer.

I did not go over and accost mother and son and congratulate the kid on asking a massively awesome question, and tell the frazzled mom that her child was destined to grow up to be like me. She’ll find out soon enough, for better or for worse.

But I got to climb into a time machine that day, and see myself and my patient mother from the point of view of an aging man who still likes to sparkle now and then. It made me irrationally happy to know that in fabric stores, the impossible questions were still being asked.

2

My 2018 Resolutions

Last year I made several ambitious-but-attainable resolutions. I failed at all of them.

For 2018, my goal is much simpler: do better at everything than I did in 2017. The bar is pretty low.

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“I haven’t … since I got married.”

I had a quiet chuckle the other day when I thought to myself, “I haven’t showered since I got married.” Immediately I came up with several other personal-hygiene-related phrases I’d had a chance to use: “I haven’t brushed my teeth since I got married.”

But what of other parts of my life? It seems like there should be plenty of opportunities for a newlywed to find humor with the phrase. “I haven’t eaten since I got married” only lasted a short time for me, but would have been pretty good.

I get the feeling that I’m missing some pretty good ones. Any thoughts from the bloggcomm?

9

So, I’m Married Now

Yep, my best friend in the whole world, my sweetie, my soul mate and I tied the knot today. I’m more than a little pleased by that.

18

An Apology to my San Diego Friends

I was in San Diego yesterday. I debated whether to tell anyone, but in the end this was a hit-and-run trip to the courthouse for a document, with a little time set aside for a trip with my sweetie (and dogs) to Kono’s for a big breakfast and a too-short, very happy visit to Dog Beach.

For those keeping score at home, Kono’s is everything it ever has been.

For my San Diego friends, I promise I will visit again, and next time there will be ‘bertos and Callahans and Tiki and BV and Keith and Mikie and Adam and Jerry S. and all the rest of you. I feel a little guilty, but this trip turned out so very well that I hope you can forgive me and accept my rain check.

2

Sonora Pass, Revisited

Has it really been so long?

If you own a nimble little car, particularly a convertible, put Sonora Pass on your bucket list. Be sure to note, however, that it is closed more than half the year. At almost 3,000 meters above sea level (officially 9,624 feet), it’s just not possible to keep the road open year-round.

I drove the pass once, many years ago, and this time the memories came flooding back. The place where I passed the slowpoke in a VERY short passing zone. The guy just wouldn’t pull aside, through there were ample opportunities. Then there was the place farther up when I had to shift down to THIRD (I have a six-speed), and briefly to SECOND, because the grade was so extreme and I didn’t want to lose momentum. I remembered the smell of burning brakes coming off the vehicles coming down, vehicles that probably shouldn’t have been there to start with.

Another corner, farther up, that I didn’t remember but now I will, as it hairpinned around to the right, steeply up, and I kept the accelerator to the floor to keep momentum and steerage but needed both hands to steer as I discovered myself in the wrong gear. It’s the kind of moment automatic-transmission drivers will never know, for better or worse. There were some people in a pullout there, and they probably heard my steadily-increasing-in-pitch “WoooooooooOOOAH!” as the full glory of that curve became apparent to me.

That was about the time Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” came on the radio. I had to laugh. 55 mph would not be happening for a while.

I pulled over where there was a good view of the road below me. It was a long way down from where I stood to the rushing river in the valley below. I stretched, took in what oxygen was available, snapped a couple of unintersting pictures. The slope of the ground beneath my feet felt odd; paved surfaces aren’t supposed to lean like that.

Back in the car, around a bend, and a better place to stop. My foot twitched between brake and throttle, indecisive, but I decided to pull over again. “Taking it slow, today,” I reminded myself. “Smelling the roses. Only planning to get as far as Tonopah.”

I pulled over again, stood on a rock and fired up the panorama feature on my phone. At this time, I’m unable to upload the result. I’ll get on that real soon. After a few more moments to appreciate the view, I hopped back in the car.

Not much farther up the snow pack started to become significant. The snowplow cuts through the banks at the side of the road were obvious. My memories of my last time through the pass don’t include snow. For a few miles, the best potential camera shots were from the perspective of the road; one seldom-discussed advantage of convertibles is the ability of one to hold a camera up over the windscreen and get a good shot.

Touch-screen controlled cameras suck for this purpose, however. Even when using the hardware button to trigger the picture, too many knuckle-brushes against the screen change modes and settings, and while I could spare a hand occasionally, I could not spare my eyes to ensure that I had taken a shot. At one point I pulled over to review my work and I discovered I was in time-lapse mode, with a sped-up view of my lap. Then I was in some sort of ease-in-out-slow motion video. I just wanted a dang picture.

Not a great picture, but I like the reflection of the snow, and the reflection of the reflection.

Just over the top, maybe two miles on, a bicyclist was stopped at the side of the road, heading up, lights flashing fore and aft. He was straddling his bike, clearly gassed, panting through a salt-and-pepper beard. “Almost there!” I called out, hoping he took it as encouragement. I looked at my clock. Early afternoon. I wondered when he has started his assault on the pass that morning. He was a long way from any potential base camp I knew about. Maybe I should have offered him some cookies, or a Gatorade. In hindsight I think I could have been more helpful.

More memories as the road wound back down, and a curve carved with luck-fueled precision, the suspension squeezing and releasing in synchrony with the bank of the tight curve, the tires whooshing loudly but not squealing, the car shooting ahead as I downshifted to take some of the load off the brakes. I was redeemed for the curve that had taken me by surprise on the way up.

There’s a military base just beyond the steepest part, on the first flat piece of ground. As I passed one crew was paving the helipad (a road sign warned drivers of dust kicked up by helicopters), while another fatigue-clad bunch sat on a ring of boulders, facing the man addressing them, the way kids at camp might sit in a circle and listen to their counselor tell a story. My first time through, when my car was much younger, I had noticed that the propane tanks on the base were painted light olive, rather than white. I spent many miles pondering the logic of that. Was white not the best color? I always assumed white was intended to absorb less heat from the sun. What possible threat would be mitigated by painting the tanks pale olive?

There was more to my drive yesterday, but past the military base it does not qualify as Sonora Pass anymore. Sonora Pass is a wonderful drive, rivaled by few other stretches of road in this very large country of ours. It felt good to renew our acquaintance.

3

Road Trip Coming!

Draw a rough rectangle anchored in California, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Washington, and you have an idea the route we’ll be taking sometime early next Summer. Sound vague? It is! (Though I prefer the term “flexible”.)

There will be three of us in the vehicle — pilot, navigator, and small dog. I want to keep the miles on any given day reasonably short, stopping at many rest areas to let the small dog sniff things and for photo opportunities I’ve driven through in the past. Unfortunately that means we won’t be able so stay in any one place terribly long.

That rectangle intersects many old friends, and some of the best sights the western United States has to offer. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this trip. Those in the path of our march will be hearing from us as plans solidify.

Road Trip! Wooooo!

1