Monday, October 24, 2016

Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure

Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure

  I'm going to tell you about a spot that is gorgeous and overlooks the Mississippi.  It is trespassing if you try to do it by yourself, and kind of dangerous.  We received city approval to check it out.   I'd like to take my camera and tripod and take some pictures when I return to Northlandia in a few weeks.   

Next to the New Boston cemetery is a dirt road that, with a bit of scouting, will take you to a path that winds through soem fairly dense overgrowth.  Follow that path and you'll come to a an overlook area that is directly above the New Boston water department spilloff.  Thus the approval from the Wombie who knows other Aquamen in the area.  

This overlook provides a really nice view of the river few people ever have a chance to see.  There is a cement platform of sorts, but it is not fenced and should one go tumbling, they would be be wet and pretty banged up.  This is the view upstream.  You can see the partially submerged barge on the right and New Boston itself further up.  

This is a Google Earth satellite picture of the area.  As you can see, it looks like they brought a bunch of cement in and dumped over this pipe, creating a kind of lookout.  Don't try this at home, the Wombie and I are experienced gatecrashers and mountain goats.

This is looking downstream.  The tree on the left prevents a better look, but even this view is pretty neat.

One more view, why not.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Flashback Friday - Iliff Part 1

After college graduation at Iowa Wesleyan,  Marj approached me and said that parental support would be there if I wanted to continue in my studies.  I gave it some thought and weighed the pros and cons of continuing.  Flush from graduating with honors I guess, given the opportunity, I decided to continue.  I really enjoyed the classroom experience; learning was something cool to me and I liked the field of philosophy/theology.  The endless ideas intrigued me and ultimately felt I wasn't finished with that world.  Given the support from the folks and my willingness to commit to two more years I chose a small grad school on the grounds of the University of Denver.  It was called Iliff and I enrolled in classes that would lead to a Masters of Arts in Theology.  

My 2 years in Denver at graduate school was notable for a few reasons.  It was the first time I had ever done something on my own - school up to this time was always done in the shadow of older bro, Phil, and side-shadow twin.  Even entry in the college fraternity was with the Wombie.  Everything, and I mean everything, for the first time, was up to me.  After a summer working with Ed on the farm I packed my bags in my blue VW and headed out to a great unknown.  The first night out I stayed in Kearney, Nebraska mostly because there was a Phi Delt chapter there.  I thought I might stop by and see another chapter other than my own.  In college a few frat bros and myself went to Jacksonville once to a Phi Delt Summer Conference.  I was still very much in the old college bubble.  I remember stopping but I don't recall any events of that night.  

Once I saw the mountains for the first I was amazed.  They sure as hell don't have those in Seaton or Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  I pulled out a map and found a small faint road going into town that surely would keep me away from all the city traffic.  Ore-Garmin days you took your chances.  That faint little road turned into the major Interstate that winds through the city.  Okay, that didn't work out, did it?  

I found the school at the corner of East Iliff Avenue and South University Boulevard.  I arrived and had about 4 days worth of orientation ahead of me. It was a horrible touchy-feely experience where we were all encouraged to...gulp...share.  I recall one session starting with Cat Steven's Morning Has Broken coupled with some other inane exercise and just about bolted at that, but since I had nowhere else to go, I rightly decided to stick around a little while longer.  Thankfully orientations eventually end.   And, thankfully, classes begin.  

Once we got the sappy opening few days out of the way, I was given an advisor, Dr. Jean Miller Schmidt.  She was a pioneer of sorts for the school.  In the stuffy old academic halls populated mostly by males, she was the first female professor of that school. Beautiful, with dark black hair, she was an alluring figure but tough as nails.  She would be the one to oversee my thesis and eventually approve it for submittal, and there were times I became a bit frustrated and probably pissed off when I would hand in the latest revision and have it back in hand for more.  

I was a bit of an oddball in my class in that I was not a theologian or looking for a ministerial career.  I was concentrated specifically in the philosophy side of things so I was the only one in my group of friends or acquaintances that was in a whole different program.  

This is David, a hairy hippy type.  Nice guy, quiet and liked to toke up every so often.  More buddies I hung out with were the Calhoun Boys, siblings from Alabama who were attending together.  Eddie Valverde was my closest buddy and I have written about him before.  More on him in subsequent posts. There was Jan,  Jennie, some guy I've forgotten his name who was obsessed with Elvis Presley.  I thought he was going to die of laughter when I told him the joke "What's green and sings?"  Elvis Parsley.  There was my Filipino friend who was a freshman at the University of Denver.  Maybe more on her later but maybe the less said the better.  Like the old saying goes, "Not everyone reads aloud every chapter of their life."

This is where I went to classes.  For the most part they were fun and challenging.  Small class sizes prevented me from melding into the background but the academic windbags generally liked to hear themselves talk so I don't recall too much stress.  

And of course, Colorado itself was very pretty and on weekends we hit the road.  Mostly Jan and I would go places which I'll talk more on later.  Sometimes we'd have a car load.  Colorado Springs, Sheridan, Pikes Peak, a meadow with cold Coors and cheese tray, the infamous Colfax Avenue and other places.  First time on my own a long way from home.  I pretty much did the solid Midwestern work-ethic thing:  I graduated the next year, didn't skip classes, took my studies seriously, missed home, and more importantly, somewhere in those couple years gained the confidence necessary to navigate life.  

So there you have it - I'll be doing Iliff off-and-on the next few   Fridays.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Monmouth's Prime Beef Festival provides a pretty decent show and this year was no different.  Just like last year I met my old high school buddy, Ed Johnson from Peoria.  He has a beautiful '62 Chevy Impala.   Miss Frump made the trip without any problem.   

The Frump shined up after arriving and ready for attention.

I tend to be a purist at car shows.  I shy away from an over-the-top presentation.  This owner, however, seems to revel in it.  I'm sure this guy garnered more laughs than my disgusted harrumph.   My rationale is the car is the real show, not the skeletons, stuffed toys, LED lights, photo albums, drive-in window tray.  But to each their own.

This guy bought a hearse and grill in a coffin.  Actually, I find this clever and fun to look at.  

That is a real tufted leather floorboard.  My God, the money these guys spend on their wheels!

Just a plain old pick up.  No chrome, no modifications.  I liked that a lot. 

As compared with this gaudy monstrocity.  Souped up, chromed out, wild paint job and everything modified in the cab.  Give me the old white one above any day.

This is real comfort for a day of showing.  A tent when you can't find a tree, and a cooler full of tasty food and drink.  Beats 18 holes of golf any day.

And yeah, winning recognition is the topping on the cake anytime.  Yea, Frump!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


While walking downtown I had my iPhone and snapped a few pics that seemed somewhat interesting to me.   Maybe you, too.

It was an abandoned store front and someone had posted this on the window.  The reflection from the window shows the cars parked along the street. 

Apparently not satisfied with posting a note on the window, the perpetrator of the previous picture decided to double-down on his assessment of someone. 

What could the catalyst for a movie or song,  the placement of an envelope on a door.  Eviction?  Rent notice? A plea of some kind?  A letter expressing love?  Who knows.  Only the owner of the envelope and door know for sure.   Harry Chapin could have spun a great ballad from such a vision.   Or perhaps new Nobel laureate Bob Dylan.  

Everything is art.  Art is everything.  I don't know what used to be here but when it was removed created a brick canvas for someone.  Look closely and you will see some art (?) or porn, depending on your perspective.  (My perspective? Art, of course.) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

A couple of things I saw recently on Netflix streaming that weren't too bad.  Seige of Jadotville is an early 60's recreation of a UN-sanctioned Irish  company stuck in a bad place in the Congo.  Think a modern Zulu but instead of spear-throwing Africans we have well-armed gun-toting Katangese soldiers and French mercenaries.  The bar scene between the Irish leader and the leader of the French is classic.  Keep your hanky handy.

The other one is a bit tougher to evaluate.  In my family we call it the "Fluke Factor".  There was a movie quite a few years ago called Fluke.  It was about a guy who was reincarnated into a dog after a car accident.   It was widely panned and has a 27% score on Rotten Tomatoes.  Only me and Roger Ebert liked it.  The Fluke factor is a good movie that receives mostly negative reviews.  

I came across The Fundamnetal of Caring after reading a few good reviews on Reddit.  Paul Rudd is a guy who takes the job caring for a kid with Muscylar Dystrophy, and they take a road trip.  Derivative, hokey, unbelievable as Hell, but likeable characters and will bring a smile to your face.  Glad I watched it. 

Meanwhile American Horror Story sucks.   

It does, however, beat watching the news.


Went swimming last Sunday.  Water was a bit chilly after a week of no sun, but you got used to it quickly.  The days are numbered, however.  Might try again this weekend but I suspect its just about over for this season.


Let's say you live in a community with 2 banks:  Wells Fargo and 1st Bank of BFE.  Why would anyone do business with Wells fargo?  The account scam by the bank is just the latest in a series of stunts this bank has pulled in the last 10 years. 


Have we run out of names for our vehicles?  I walked by this truck parked at Waterboard and glanced at the name.  It is a Toyota Tundra PreRunner.  I was curious as to what a prerunner is.  According to sources, a prerunner is a truck that runs an endurance  or off-road race course prior to the actual race to practice how they will drive it.  How is that making you excited about a product?


My day job down here, Alfred, is learning to use a straw.   Its hit or miss but I expect a major breakthrough this coming week.  I think more will go up than down.


I have to admit I was a little shocked a more than surprise to learn the number of Cub fans who went to bed before the end of the decisive game last week.  Yeah, it was late.  Yeah, folks had to work the next day.  I understand.  But this wasn't staying up late to watch a debate or Gone With the Wind, that you've seen 34 times. It was the most important game in a decade or arguably over a 100 years for Cubs fans and they retire once they thought the game was lost or they got tired.   If I had gone to bed in '86 I would never have seen that ground ball by Mookie that went through Billy Buckner's legs that tied the game in the 9th inning.  That then led to Gary Carter hitting a single that brought Mookie home from second base and won the 6th game of the World Series.  

Cubs fans, stay awake.  Watch every inning, through thick or thin, good and bad.  Don't read about it the next day; live it.  You never know when you'll get back to this point.


Remember that scene in Scarface where he takes a machine gun and wipes everyone out in a blaze of gunfire?  That's Trump these days.  The final couple of weeks could be fun.


Cruising in Miss Frump to Bushnell Car Show.


Last time I was at the grocery store, this kid checked me out.  I noticed his name on his tag was "Ylber".  I asked how it was pronounced and, poor kid, rattled off for the 10,473rd time in his short life, "It's like Elmer only with B instead of M."  I asked where it came from, and somewhat proudly, I thought, he said it came from Albania.  His parents immigrated from that nation and he is the first American born person in his family.  Nice story.  Hope they like it here. 


Finally, bless those dog lovers who can't go grocery shopping without their pooches, and bless the open-minded store owners who allow them everywhere in this area.

This guy toted his dog, first in the cart, then strapped over his shoulder.  Wonder how he'd handle a Newfoundland? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Head Out On The Highway, Looking For Adventure

Head Out On the Highway, Looking For Adventure

Somewhere on Route 99, where the large granite stone honoring the six Littleton boys is located,  Mr. and Mrs. Wombie and I came across one of those historical markers you usually drive by and wonder what the fuss was.  Today, and forever more, we stopped. 

In Memory of Chief Taimah (Tama) of the Fox Tribe, Thunder Clan

An Indian gentleman and a true friend of the early white settlers, Chief Tama proved his devotion to the white men by traveling to Praire du Chein, Wis. when a plot had been made by Redmen to raid the place and kill the agent.  By revealing the plot of his tribe he saved the agent.  Tama, Iowa, in Tama County and the Tama Indian tribe all bear his name.  His grave is 20 rods east from here.

Dedicated to the Pioneer Spirit of Martha Haight Stapleton by the Betsy Ross Chapter of Daughters of the American Colonists 1954.

I can see why the settlers liked this guy, but what did his tribe or other Indians leaders think of his informant status.?

We ran across some kind of old dam system building and I saw this window with this old phone in it.  

Along Route 99, and this would be a great riding road next summer, we came across this sign along the road.  We always take these types of detours.

What we discovered was a deep-rutted dirt path with overgrown trees and bushes.  About an eighth of a mile up this rough path was a cemetery that seemed to still be used.  No pictures of the place, it was unremarkable.

What was remarkable was how they could ever get a hearse up this road.  And calling it a road would be charitable.  Pretty neat detour but don't try it with anything except a truck or Jeep - you won't make it.  

Down the road was a town called Wapello, and after our journey so far, we needed a cold one.  There are 2 bars in town and we picked the Sandbar and it was a good choice.  Nice, friendly place.
Nice roadtrip.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Flashback Friday

Believe it or not "time" is a philosophical topic much like the nature of mankind itself.   For most folks like you and me it is simply a way to measure the rate of change.  For us it is measured in minutes hours and days.  Our forefathers measured it more in terms of seasons.  

Emmanual Kant, a philosopher, not one of my favorites, wrote of time:  "If time is infinite, then there could not have been a beginning to time.  However, an infinite period cannot have be completed:  if it is infinite it must go on forever.  But if there is no beginning to time, then an infinite period has already elapsed, which is impossible.  Therefore it cannot be the case that time had no beginning.  On the other hand, if time had a beginning there must have existed a state of no-time. In a state of no-time there is no way to distinguishing one "moment" to the next. But that is impossible given that time now exists.  If time had a beginning, there must have been a moment preceding this beginning and this moment can be distinguished from all other moments by its proximity to the beginning of time.  But this is a contradiction because..."well, you get the rest of this gobbledygook don't you.  

All he is saying, and in a convoluted fashion, is that time exists all by itself (not man-made) and is an observable phenomena that we cannot explain.   When you don't know stuff you throw in words like "contradiction", "wherefore's" and "impossible."  

However interesting that discussion may be over a few cold ones at a certain community center in Northlandia, this much is certain. Time exists, and in my personal observation, sometimes it flies.  These are my thoughts about time:

Time will continue for infinity.  The universe, indeed, all universes are constantly moving and can be measured in time, if such observations were possible. 

A day will come when we as individuals can no longer observe time.  This doesn't mean that time ends for us, it simply means that we, in a state of death, no longer have the capacity for observing the passage of moments.  

Therefore savor, taste, feel, grab, hug, smell life.  Be kind to your neighbors, love your family and friends.  If you have a chance to take a bike ride with a buddy, you damn well better do it, the chance may never come again.  If you are with family make it fun and memorable, someday the opportunity will end.  Be aware and cognizant that moments are temporary - and precious.  Make them count.

Before and after pictures are always kind of bittersweet.  We have bookending moments.  A time before and a time after.  Evidence of life's passage.  The top picture of the boys, young and just starting.  The lower one taken last summer showing the passage of moments.  

This weekend, if you have the time, give some thought to making your moments especially meaningful.  Tell your kids you love them.  Visit your folks and tell them straightaway and face to face what they have meant to you.  You get the idea.  Its not like you have all the time in the world.