12/21 December 2021 Journal

The Trip to Wisconsin

December 6; Monday; Camas --> Twin Falls, ID
After deciding the rush was too much for me, said we're probably NOT making it to Pocatello. Less pressure. Got rolling about 7:45am and took 14 to Bridge of the Gods, then up to I-84. Proceeded west. Fueled at reservation west of Pendelton and climbed Cabbage Hill to Deadmans' Pass. Weather started to get snarky and was 32F. Watching for Ice. Thought the road closure Eastbound was due to construction but turned out NOT to be the case. First, a bunch (5 or 6?) of very wide semi-trailers had looked they got stuck and couldn't proceed... and they closed the highway??? But all the way to Baker City the other side was just closed... totally. Our eastbound side was a little iffy (passing lane snow build-up) but we made it. It was officially open. Why?? Don't know. Closer to Idaho it started raining and sleeting or snizzling out. Snarky all the way to Boise but slowly improved from there. Decided to do the 120 miles or so to Twin Falls and we arrived there about 5:30pm. Checked into the Hampton ($110).

Could have gotten a cheaper hotel but I've come to the opinion, after some noodling about it, that we should enjoy ourselves while traveling. Staying in the cheapest place has often given our self-respect a hit. Don't like off smells, doors that don't close securely (jamming chair to keep the door closed), etc. For the additional $20 or $40 bucks, it's now become worth it to me. Can't take it with us, ya'know.

Looking ahead, the weather looks to improve and give us a window all the way into Wisconsin in the next few days. If all goes according to plan, we'll make it to Laramie tomorrow night, Omaha the next, and BD after that. All about 500 mile days.

December 7, 2021; Tuesday; Twin Falls ---> Laramie;

Wheels turning a little before 7 am, but stopped or gas at Costco and made a wrong-tern or two before really rolling. Decided to go to Ogden and stay on 4-lane and get the 15 minutes estimated advantage to the Montpelier cut-off. Good weather, but as the day wore on and we moved eastward, the wind picked up. Warnings of 60+ mph and bans on high-profile trailers by the time we made Laramie. Tried to drive about 75 most of the way. The truck is running well.

Arrived early in Laramie and decided to go downtown to Altitude Brewing for a beer and dinner.

December 8, 2021; Wednesday, Laramie --> SW Omaha.
Fueled and hit the road around 7am. Over Sherman Pass and down into Cheyenne, then into Nebraska, which is where we stayed for the rest of the day. Road quality varied during the entire trip, but sections of this state really sucked. Nothing of note happened.

At another Hampton. Dinner for Dar in the room (from Casey's... A wrap sandwich, turkey no less. Near freezing.

December 9, 2021; Thursday, SW Omaha ---> Beaver Dam
Traffic through Omaha during drive-time wasn't unmanageable but did keep the traveler on his or her toes. As we got to the river we were going against the main flow and things eased into a comfortable steady state. Wind is still out of the south but not a factor. MPG for the trip help steady at between 13 and 14. Maybe I'm getting used to the pace of the days but it seemed easier today. Getting an early start is surely the key to this kind of trip.

December 10, 2021; Friday; Beaver Dam Day 1
Stayed at the Farm all day. Dar started in on the main project -- the reason for our being here -- going through and getting rid of our stuff. Maybe "getting rid" overstates things a bit... but minimizing and decluttering and final disposition of much of it is the goal. The clearly stated objective is to have everything we're keeping and taking back to Sutherlin down to a volume that'll fit in the bed of our truck. And with the bed cover, that means just one layer of boxes or storage bins on the floor.

December 11, 2021; Saturday; BD2
Up a little after 6am and working on this journal. The wind is hawking and light snow or ice pellets are falling and being swirled around. There was some talk about driving up to the Amish Bakery this morning, but we'll see if weather changes that. Otherwise, it's going to be more of the same for Saturday.
Amish Bakery and grocery store
Verizon store
Dinner with Marion

December 12, 2021, Sunday, BD3
Call Tim, 9am
Bright sunny morning, but cold. 27f degrees. Really not that cold compared to previous experiences in Wisconsin in the Winter, but for a boy from the west coast, it's chilly.

Dennis and Laura got locked out of their Google Accounts. Big Problem. After much gnashing of teeth and guessing, we got it back. They really need to have a backup system for when they don't or can't remember. Sheesh. Close call.

Using Dar's Republic Wireless data today. It's $5 per GB or half what Fi or Mint Mobile charge for additional data. So we'll use as much of this as we need, allowing for the full use of the 10GB we have as of today from Mint and the about 10GB from Fi. It's going to be an expensive month for Internet connectivity.

December 13, 2021; Monday; BD4
Another bright sunshiny day here at the farm in the Town of Westford in the County of Dodge in the State of Confusion. D&L are leaving for Marquette for a few days. We're here and trying to balance decluttering with visiting and enjoying life. There are a ton of pictures being taken of stuff that will be gone soon.

Stopped at Nunatak Coffee for a cup and to check wifi. Quite acceptable. Other errands to do

Stopped at Park Avenue for a beer. Then to Walgreens for flu shot and check with FedEx. Stopped to see Jan and Dave before picking up the cookie supplies at Rechecks.

An American in Paris.

December 14, 2021; Tuesday; BD5
Both of us had some unsettled sleep last night, probably due to the later-than-normal cup of high-powered coffee yesterday. This day will be dedicated to work... going through and discarding stuff.

My job today is on photo crew. Going through thousands of them and picking out a few to scan and keep. Went through two boxes of pics. 10% or about were saved for scanning -- and the rest tossed.

December 15, 2021; Wednesday; BD6
Today: Hoch family gathering at Park Avenue 3pm.
Woke to warming temps and fog/rain. Predictions say 60s today. Will break records. Strong wind warnings for tonight. Bill is flying today and weather may impact arrival.

Dar and I are running into town for a couple errands and to see Marion before our Hoch Christmas event at 3:00. She apparently has a mouse in her apartment and we're going to bring a couple mouse traps to try and catch the critter.
Big wind tonight. Had good time with brothers and sister.

December 16, 2021; Thursday; BD7
Today: more decluttering; TV BOD mtg; Trip to Costco
Feeling a little down after our family get-together last night. Jerry and Bill are both on the darker side of things. Add that to my growing list of things I don't understand. It might be a good thing that we're now based in the PNW and not so close to them. Seeing and visiting every few years might be enough.

Storm from last night has passed and is now just wind and clouds, which should be with us most of the day today. Colder, more seasonal air is behind it.

December 17, 2021; Friday; BD8
No plans for the day; decluttering work continues;

Tonight, Dennis announces that some guys are coming over to take down the barn starting Monday. WhooRahh. What transpired was entertaining. Laura almost flips out, Dennis gets pissed. As always, Laura comes around and becomes a reluctant fan of the plan. Of course, Dar, while she held her thoughts close, almost flipped out too. What excitement. What entertainment.

December 18, 2021; Saturday; BD9
Steve/Annette are coming over this afternoon. Dinner is being provided (Costco Chix Alfredo). All four of us are reluctant to get too close to these folks considering their anti-vax stance. And, to put the icing on the cake, they've all been sniffles and such for the past few weeks. Why-O-why are we doing this???

(for the record, Covid Omicron variant has been exploding around the country. Depending on how one counts... the fourth or fifth peak in infections. Where this is going is unknown.)

Dar's been making good progress on her stuff. I've helped by culling through pictures.

My thoughts these days include my sadness that Bill and Jerry are so consumed by the Dark Side. Whether it's religion or indoctrination or whatever... I can't understand how thinking people can lean in the direction of tearing down this democratic nation in favor of the Trump cult. Just don't see what they're seeing.

December 19, 2021; Sunday; BD10
Today: Call Tim at 9am; Make Chili this afternoon.
Denmark, among the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, is suffering a severe wave of Covid infections -- an indication that we may be in for some real trouble in the months ahead. This could be the "big one". Might have made the right decision to NOT fly... as travel could be restricted in the coming few days.

Made chili this afternoon. Not my normal "pair chili" ingredients, I did my best with what I had. Think it'll turn out OK. Now distracted by the Packer game. Playing the Ravens. (later) and what a game. Pack won by one point when the Ravens two point conversion failed.

December 20, 2021; Monday; BD11
This is Dar's cookie baking day. Will have Marion, Annette, and ??? along with Laura. I'll stay out of the way mostly.

Drove out to Walmart to drop of vhs tapes for transfer. They could not print the order or process it. So I had to re-do the order on their machines. Its not expected to be processed and back again until Jan 11... so I guess we'll have to be patient on this one. This is just a test anyway. The tapes selected are throwaways. Stopped at Nunatak Coffee to sync computer... and for a bit of solitude.

1pm; back at farm; Been thinking about my two brothers. I'm bothered by how they can be so politically passionate about the Dark Side. I'd like to have a good relationship with them. Family and all. But I find myself unsettled. I could go to the extreme and just cut off ties. But that wouldn't be taking the high road. I think I'll keep staying in touch with them, maybe in small ways, texts, etc. And see what happens. I don't know why this is the big issue with me it apparently is, but I just have to deal with it.

December 21, 2021; Tuesday; BD12
We've been lucky with the weather this trip. Sure it's Winter, but it's really been seasonal -- no big arctic outbreaks or snow. How long will this quiet spell last? Stay tuned.

No commitments on the books today. Planning a trip to St. Vinnies and a little time at the coffee shop. But other than that, a quiet day. At Nunatak Coffee for a little free wifi. Then to Great Harvest Bread for lunch.

December 22, 2021; Wednesday; BD13
No firm plan for the day. Another clear and cold day. Heard about Shirley Velma falling and laying in the garage overnight, then spent many days in hospital before transferring to Randolph nursing home. How much abuse and damage can one body take before giving up?

Mostly hung around the farm today.

December 23, 2021; Thursday; BD14
Dennis and Laura left for xmas with kids in St. Paul.
No plans, but killed a portion of the day with Chase. Tried to execute a transaction for the kids for xmas. For whatever reason, Chase found my request suspicious and locked me out of my account. Phone attempts were a series of long wait times, hang-ups, and failed attempts. Had to drive to Sun Prairie to the nearest Chase branch in order to get the lock removed and my transactions done. Really, kind of a wasted day.

Dan White, Matt, and Ian were stacking wood at the farm and I stopped to talk. Dar and I checked out the new Kwik Trip for dinner. For a gas station/C store, they have a pretty good selection of things.

December 24, 2021; Friday; BD15
No plans except a run into town for supplies for dinner with Marion tomorrow. (later...) At Great Harvest while Dar runs some errands and does shopping. Started Reading a new book... one by Nicholas Christokis... Blueprint: the evolutionary origins of a good society. I'm really taken by this guy after listening to a Sam Harris podcast about the learnings from the pandemic. He's a very engaging speaker and a clear thinker.

I think it's time to get a new eyeglass prescription. I'm feeling more eye strain from working on screens. That, and my eyes go "buggy" after a long period of time on screen. Trouble focusing on distant things. It comes back after a period of time.

December 25, 2021; Saturday; BD16
Christmas Day; No plans; perhaps find a football game and/or a movie.
James Webb Telescope successfully launched from French Guiana. It still has 29 days of unfolding to do... with 350 individual points of potential failure to contend with. Fingers are crossed.

Standard Notes is the app I'm using for this file. To this point, I'm cautiously impressed by it. Secure, Simple, and Durable (Future-proof).

Stopped at Jan and Daves for a couple hours. Then dinner with Marion at her apartment. Back "home" by 8:30pm.

December 26, 2021; Sunday; BD17
Weekly Tim call this morning
No other plans.
Stray dog morning: Dar found a stray dog that appears sickly and not in good shape at our door this morning. After several phone calls and some hand-wriging, Town Chairman Danny Banes picked it up and put it in a heated shed until a vet could look at it.
Invited over the Dan and Julie White's for a visit. Watched some football and talked for a few hours. Christmas visitation snacks are very dangerous this time of year. I wonder how many people develop full blown diabetes during the holidays.

December 27, 2021; Monday; BD18
Woke to snow this morning. Might be an inch or two blanketing the area, not much more. Plus side: snow at Christmas time sorta kinda not quite. Down-side: salt is being spread on all the roads in the county. My truck is not used to it.

D&L advised they've possible been exposed to covid through contact with one of the grandkids. It's a secondary exposure so probably not much of a chance of it. They've decided to stay in St. Paul until thursday?? Whatever.

December 28, 2021; Tuesday; BD19;
D&L invited Jim and Gail White over for drinks tonight. We'll be doing the entertaining as D&L are not here. Wonder how this'll go...

More BD time this morning as Dar is taking Marion to Doctor for xray and blood draw. I'm planning to be at coffee shop for that time.

It's time to start thinking more seriously about departure and heading back to Oregon. The weather has been just shitty for travel so I hope it get's better next week.

Noon: working down at Nunatak Coffee shop. Marion's done with her stuff and Dar and I are going to do some grocery shopping before going back to farm. Need to pick up Jeep, drop some stuff off at Marion's, and head home.

Jim and Gail White came over after dinner for a visit. D&L were supposed to be here but due to a possible covid exposure, they stayed in St. Paul. Good time with Jim and Gail.

December 29, 2021; Wednesday, BD20
Recent snowy weather here is causing some problems for us. And projected wintery weather this weekend is causing us to keep a close eye on things. Today: focus on staging and progressing on the decluttering campaign.

D&L returned from St. Paul tonight. Went through a lot of pictures.

December 30, 2021; Thursday, BD21
Dennis and I drove down to Marion's place to change out her bed for an adjustable one from a neighbor. That took until Noon. Then treked over to Nunatak Coffee for some digital alone time. We're running out of data on our cell plans and I try to save uploads for free wifi.

Have been feeling "cathartic" about this job of going through our old pictures. It's like living those recalled times over again. You really understand the fullness of that time and how much happened during a life... my life. This will require some significant noodling in order to make sense of it all.

December 31, 2021; Friday; BD22
Worked on pics all morning and a portion of the afternoon. This pm over to Marion's for New Years eve. I'm really getting tired of pictures. Starting to feel the panic of getting out of here. Also trying to coordinate our exit around D&L leaving for Arizona.

Had a very nice time at Marion's apartment for New Years Eve. Back "home" by 8pm or so, and watched some drivel on TV while downing my last Whiskey before "Dry-uary". As in previous years (some, anyway) I aim to eliminate alcohol and added sugar (mostly sugary treats, cookies, and the like) until my Birthday on Feb. 3.

As a last note to this log for 2021 and December, I feel it important to say I'm still pessimistic about the durability of our democracy in the USA. After a hopeful start to 2021, with Biden and all, I'm not feeling any signs of hope in this regard. I think the future is dark.

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from Thom Hoch's Blog
All posts