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by Lloyd Treichel
Dateline: July 22, 2003 -- Jackson, Michigan
There was no plan to be in Michigan this year, but when you have lemons, you make lemonade. My original plan was to spend the months of June and July traveling through Idaho and Montana....
Instead I ended up in Denver to check in with the doctor after having numerous 10-15 minute episodes of periodic missed heart beats. Even after caffeine was cut out, it continued. The doctor said it was nothing to worry about. I've not had an episode since. It was just like the car that fails all the time until you take it to the garage.
Just to make sure everything was okay, I had a stress EKG before I left Denver. The test showed that I was in excellent health -- for everything that the EKG tested.
Actually, the skipped beats were really nothing more than my heart telling me that I was still on the "topside of the sod".
Since we are on the subject of health...
Health insurance rates were just raised by 23% to $320 a month. That is for a $10,000 deductible. So I pay the monthly premiums plus any medical expenses. That adds up to a few dollars in a year. The insurance has nothing to do with health and everything to do with estate protection. ... I will stop there ....
Stress... is what caused those skipped heart beats. That was Vanita's (my daughter) conclusion.
So where would this stress come from? How about the state of the investments. The concern is that the monies will not last. However, that concern did not deter me from spending some of that capital to ...
Down size my home on wheels.... The real stress came from the designing and committing to the purchase of a new fifth wheel which I pick up in September. New Horizons did an excellent job on my current home so they will build the new one. I am down sizing from 28 feet with a slide to a 24 foot with no slide and 3000 pounds lighter. A virtual tour will be on these pages by the end of September.
There is no real way to justify the decision. Like every home purchase, it was an emotional decision.
Star Valley, Wyoming ... is south of Jackson, Wyoming. This valley straddles the Wyoming and Idaho border with the forested slopes of the Salt River Range topped with snow providing a very picturesque landscape. The Intermittent Spring flows near the town of Afton. The spring stops flowing about every 10 to 15 minutes. Then the water resumes after a few minutes of rest. That is one of those things that I took on faith since I was there during spring runoff when there is no stopping in the stream of water.
Statue of Liberty ... replica is found atop a hill in the middle of the Kansas country side. From that point, all one sees is farm land and a few grain elevators in the distance. It is located on US Hwy 281 near the village of Harlan. Later, after an Internet search, I found that these replicas were erected across the US in the late 40s and early 50s. This particular one in Kansas surely must be the most remote.
Largest ball of twine .... in the world can be found in Cawker City, Kansas. Being a thrifty minded person, Mr. Frank Stoeber collected the twine until the ball was 44 feet across in 1988.
Branson, MO ... There are no straight roads across southern Missouri. 150 years ago, the roads were laid out on the high ground avoiding all the bottom lands and that is where they have stayed resulting in curves and lots of hills to traverse.
Branson is Las Vegas entertainment and shows without the casinos. My reason for stopping there was to see the Sons of the Pioneers. My timing was bad; they were on a two week vacation.
While staying in the area, I went for a day trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Keeping with the Victorian decor of the city, the McDonalds has a most elaborate Victorian facade. However, the golden arches were intact.
White squirrels ... can be found in Olney, Illinois. At least that is what the sign said. Unfortunately, as I drove through town, it was raining. No doubt that kept the little buggers in hiding. It is another of things that I will take on faith.
James Dean ... His home town of Fairmount, Indiana was right on my path so I stopped in to get a dose of "cool". The James Dean Gallery has a collection of memorabilia of the period including many personal artifacts. With a town population of 3300 people, each September 30,000 people show up to celebrate James Dean Days.
Hair today, gone tomorrow... Actually it was hair for two years and it was cut off on June 18. After two years, it was time to give it up. I proved that I could grow it long enough to gather it into a pony tail. I believe that I was losing the hair faster than I could grow it. ... However, that is another story.
Phone books ... cannot be found in phone booths. If you are lucky enough to find one, frequently the pages you want have been torn out. The city maps are never there.
Campgrounds... Two Corps of Engineer parks were on my stops. One was in Greenville, MO and the other in Carlyle, IL. There was no packing of rigs in these parks; many of the tree shaded spaces were over fifty wide.
Hiking ... Not much.
Cinnamon Roll Search ... The cinnamon roll search provides more email and conversation than any other part of this column. When I passed through Salt Lake City, I enjoyed a visit at Carole and Tom Atkins' house. The after dinner dessert was a gift wrapped cinnamon roll.
My search over the past several months was turning up nothing new. Then I found Tom's Town Bakery in Branson, MO. The cinnamon roll was a tad larger than a snack, but it had a pleasing balance of raisins, cinnamon, roll and a light powder sugar frosting.
Finding bakeries is the hardest part of the cinnamon roll search. Once found, the roll must pass the visual test. Is it snack sized? Sheet baked rolls instead of in a muffin tin? Do the concentric rings lay reasonably flat? How high is it? Must have powder sugar frosting. Not a sticky bun. No nuts. Raisins preferred over plain.
Once it passed all those tests, I can purchase the roll. By that time, I am pretty sure that it will be edible. That is when balance comes in.
Latest Read ... Of my recent reads, a book in the arm chair travel genre was Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen. The subtitle is On Foot Across Borneo. He writes about his walk across Borneo -- alone. This is the home of head hunters, animist beliefs, and as he walks across the jungle he is viewed as being the devil since only the devil would walk alone in the jungle. His description of walking through the rain forest is chilling and foreboding. I was to Australia's rain forest and did a hike on a mostly improved trail, but I could still relate to the leeches, the roots and the mud. I did it for a few hours; Eric does it for months.
Ego Plates ....
RAMTHIS -- Right! On a Dodge Ram.
IRELAXU -- Masseuse?
NAILWMN -- Does nails or female carpenter?
UCNDOIT -- Inspirational message.
H20S -- I'll wager that the owner's name is Waters.
Another play on the popular bumper sticker: "My Golden Retriever is smarter than your honor student."
On the side of abandoned building in an abandoned town in Kansas: "Eat out more often, the wife you save may be your own."
Thanks for reading ... If you are not already notified of updates, send me an email.