Monthly Archives: November 2009

None The Worse For Wear

I made it home safely and I appear to be none the worse for wear. I was less tired from the trip back than the trip out, but was just as anxious to get out of the car. Matt and Heather flew back to San Francisco from Denver and were happy to not have to drive the rest of the way. I don’t blame them.

I should clear up a couple of things from the last message I sent. First of all, I used the term biannual to describe my sinus issues. Wiktionary says that the term means twice every year, but is often confused with biennial, which means every two years. So it is better understood to use the term semiannual, which also means twice a year. I stand corrected. Who said English is an easy language?

Secondly, I talked about wanting to wake up in Park City, Utah and see the mountains. I expected them to be beautiful, but we had driven into town in the dark, so really didn’t see much. In comparing Park City with Lake Placid, the downtown area goes to Park City. But the beauty of the surrounding mountains, hands down, goes to Lake Placid. The mountains around Park City don’t have many trees and, at this time of the year, are brown and not very attractive. Both were home to the Winter Olympics, so they have much to offer as far as winter sports are concerned.

Lastly, Matt and Heather had gone to the pool and sauna at the Holiday Inn Express we stayed at. They said I would have loved it. The pool had a set of rules that topped my cottage rules. We’ve all seen the signs that say, DON”T PEE IN THE POOL, but these went farther, and mostly included bodily functions. They couldn’t remember them all but they included, DON’T ENTER THE POOL IF YOU ARE HAVING DIARRHEA; IF YOU CHANGE A BABY’S DIAPERS BE SURE TO WASH THE BABY’S BOTTOM AND YOUR HANDS BEFORE GETTING BACK IN THE POOL; DON’T USE THE POOL IF YOU ARE INCONTINENT; BABIES AND INCONTINENT ADULTS MUST WEAR PLASTIC LINED DIAPERS WITH PLASTIC LINED UNDERWEAR, and on and on.

Other than the sinus thing, we had a great time in the Denver area. We stopped in Fort Collins at New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale, did a brewery tour where they served samples at three locations, and finished with a couple more samples in their tour lounge. Near the end of the tour, we went down a circular slide from the second floor to the first. It was small and you were supposed to keep your feet from touching the sides to slow you down. I didn’t, and my foot hit the side twice, slowing my descent. The woman after me pointed her toes directly toward the heavens, squealed continuously, and didn’t slow down at all. I think I have a butt print on my bald spot, but I can’t see it to check it out. She was from Wisconsin, so if it’s a big W, let’s say it stands for Walker and not rehash the details of how I got it.

I really felt crappy that evening, so we didn’t stay out long, and I didn’t get carried away sampling beers from the area. Matt said he would try to ply me with beer, and get me to tell them how I “lost” my hat. I felt bad enough that my defenses were down, and I told Matt and Heather on the way back to the hotel. I made them promise not to tell anyone, so we’ll see how true they are to their word. All three of us were laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our faces.

The drive over the next two days was pretty much uneventful. Surprisingly, I only noticed a couple of people who did stupid things driving that could have resulted badly and they both happened in Illinois, right after I crossed the Mississippi River. I was using my cruise control and was coming up behind a semi. I checked my mirrors and a couple of cars were passing, so I continued behind the semi getting closer and closer. Just then, the lead car passing pulled in between me and the semi and hit his brakes. I had to hit my brakes, check the mirrors, check my blind spot, and pull over into the passing lane, all within a second or so, to keep from hitting his little BMW. He immediately took the exit that he wanted. Why did he feel he had to pass me when he knew he wanted to get off the expressway? Apparently it was his Alpha Male testosterone kicking in. I’m sure his passenger, young enough to be his daughter, was impressed.

The second one was a car in the center of three lanes. It hit its brakes and instantly went from 65 to 30 in fairly heavy traffic. They wanted to exit and hadn’t thought far enough ahead to move over gradually. This was a twenty something woman with, you guessed it, blond hair. As the chaos subsided, she moved over in front of a couple more cars and took the exit. I was happy she was off my road, but felt sorry for the cars on the road she terrorized next. Luckily I had seen this move often in Florida, when geezers would stop in the middle of the road, not knowing where to go. I know, I know…it’s wrong to compare blond girls with seniors having dementia. My apologies to the seniors.

Just (Resting Before I Start Raking Leaves At The Cottage) Jack

On The Road Again

We’re on the road again, headed back to Michigan. I told you in the last e-mail that we’d be stopping in Reno the first night, and we did. We stayed at The Peppermill, a fairly upscale hotel. The casino part wasn’t any larger than a couple of the ones I’ve been to in Michigan, but is much more opulent. There are so many lights and mirrors in that place, it’s hard to find your way around. We checked in at around 7:15 (10:15 in Michigan), went to our rooms and freshened up (the guys would say “hit the john” but I’m trying to be polite), and went to one of the six restaurants embedded in the glitz. I had a lobster bisque and a Caesar salad. Matt and Heather had sushi. Then it was off to the games.

Matt and Heather played cards for about four hours, took a fifteen minute turn at the roulette table, and cashed in for the night. I didn’t write down all the details, but suffice it to say that The Peppermill did not come out ahead. I broke even. I walked around the gaming floor twice, got lost each time, then packed it in and went to bed by 10:00. Since I didn’t bet, I didn’t lose. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against gambling. I just don’t get the “charge” out of it (no pun intended) that some people do.

We got up yesterday morning, checked out of the hotel, and headed across Nevada. The only other time I was in Nevada was when I was discharged from the Air Force in 1970. On that trip, we took a quick trip through Las Vegas (three hours or so…I was poor so “risked” a roll of nickels), then angled up toward Utah. So I had never been across the northern part of Nevada. What a desolate place. I usually like to get an hour or two of driving in before stopping for breakfast. Matt and Heather had cereal in their room, so they were fine with that. At around 8:00 we came to the first place available and it was a tad bit early, so we went on. As I passed by the exit, I saw a sign that said “NEXT SERVICES 57 MILES”. For the next 57 miles there was nothing.

We went by one spot that had what I thought was smoke coming up from behind a hill. As we passed by the hill, I realized that it was steam and we were going through an area of hot springs. Unlike Arkansas and Yellowstone, the people of Nevada had not exploited the hot springs to gather in tourists. Other than a few pipes stuck in the ground to capture the steam, there was nothing else there. I’m not sure why they did that, because there wasn’t anything within 20 miles to use the steam for. And it’s my guess that if they’re saving the steam in case the place ever turns into a tourist trap, it will have cooled off by then…just a thought.

We stopped at the next town that had anything at all, and went to the local diner. It had a sign that said something like “MEXICAN RESTAURANT” followed in smaller letters, “WE SERVE AMERICAN FOOD TOO!”. It looked like any other small town restaurant with five or six of the local retired guys lined up at the counter, telling stories and laughing. I noticed one of the booths by the front door hadn’t been cleaned up yet. It had two empty beer bottles and glasses, and it was 9:00 AM. We took a booth against the wall and it was obvious that we were the only strangers in there. The food was good, relatively cheap, and the coffee tolerable.

As we left, I was getting into the car when I noticed a spent shotgun shell on the ground. We made a couple of comments about it and were on our way. We weren’t very far down the road when I noticed a sign that said “REPORT ALL SHOOTING FROM ROADWAY”. It started the wheels turning in my head (there are actually wheels in there…an MRI confirmed that when I had the bike wreck of ’03). I guess we were in the Old West where people actually do carry guns in their pickups and, it appears, aren’t afraid to use them.

After driving through five more hours of nothingness, we entered Utah. If Nevada had nothing, that part of Utah had less. We dropped out of the high desert, with nothing but scrawny sagebrush, to the Bonneville Salt Flats where there was nothing but salt. No trees, no sagebrush, no grass…nothing. This went on for thirty or forty miles of exactly, and I mean exactly, straight, flat road. The only things to look at were where truckers had gotten into a highway trance, drove off the edge of the road into salt sludge, and were dragged back to solid ground by a wrecker.

At around dusk, we drove along the south end of the Great Salt Lake, into Salt Lake City (I wonder how it got its name) and up into the mountains. We spent the night in Park City. I can’t wait for the sun to come up ‘cuz I think it’s going to be spectacular. We went to the “historic downtown” for dinner, played some cards in the joint we chose, and came back and crashed. Well, I crashed. Matt borrowed my workout shorts and he and Heather headed for the pool/spa/sauna. I’m not asking what Heather wore. Their business! I spent a fitful night, suffering from my bi-annual sinus crud.

Just (Feeling Like I Was Dragged Through A Knothole Backwards) Jack

Packing Up

I’ve checked out of Inn 1890 Bed & Breakfast, and I’m packing to come home. I’ll stay with Matt and Heather tonight, then load the car, and we’ll leave tomorrow mid-afternoon. Matt has a meeting in Japantown (a section of San Francisco) and we’ll pick him up there. We’ll drive as far as Reno (I’ve never been there) to spend the night. Matt and Heather will gamble and I’ll walk around and people watch…my favorite pastime in casinos. Matt and Heather will accompany me as far as Denver, where we’ll take a tour of the New Belgium Brewing Company (actually in Fort Collins…they make Fat Tire Amber Ale). They’ll stay until Sunday and fly back to SF, and I’ll head out Saturday morning for the last leg of a long, long drive.

I’ve played poker out here with Matt and his friends four or five times. Each time I’ve lost…never more than a few dollars, but always on the minus side. This past Saturday night I won. Not much, maybe $10.00, but on the plus side for once. We had a long day after an afternoon in Hayward at a Barrel Aged Beer Festival (some awesome beers); a couple beers and a light snack at The Trappist, an excellent beer bar in Oakland; and a night of poker at Eric and Heather Gahan’s. Their kids were just going to bed when we got there, so we spoiled that. They were wound up for quite a while, so Heather and Eric took turns playing and coaxing the kids to sleep. We got back around 2:30 AM. My body clock is somewhere between East Coast and West Coast time, so my sleeping has been erratic.

We got massages again Sunday. Yes, they allowed me back, but a different girl, the one at the front desk, took me on. I found out that you were supposed to lie down on both towels, and cover yourself with the towel and blanket at the foot of the table. Last week I wondered why you would have to weasel your feet under that pile of stuff. So no rub noises from “body on synthetic leather”. Lucky for her I had left my underpants on ‘cuz the towel slipped off when I turned over. Also lucky for her, I didn’t wear any old underpants with holes…’nuff said!

We went to Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant afterwards, had margaritas and I had an enchilada. I was going to order two, but one was just right and, for once, I wasn’t bloated with too much food. Yesterday, Heather and I went down to Fisherman’s Wharf, went to a couple of shops, and then stopped by the Buena Vista for Irish Coffee. After that we met Matt and Anna for Japanese food in Japantown. Today, for lunch, we went to a Korean Restaurant in Daly City. Just when I’m getting used to using chopsticks, I’m headed back to Hastings where chopsticks are used as kindling to get the wood stove going.

I have some sad news to report. I’ve lost my favorite hat. It was the one I bought when Diane, Harry and I did the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in 2002. It was just a San Francisco tourist hat, but I liked it and it fit me well. I guess I should be honest and tell you that I didn’t really lose it. It’s in a waste basket at Inn 1890. Why would I throw away my favorite hat, you may be asking? I’m embarassed to tell you. It fell in the toilet. You also may be saying, that water isn’t all that bad. It can be washed. Without going into the sordid details, the toilet had been used. You’re probably wondering why I would be wearing my hat when I was going to the bathroom. Well, keep on wondering ‘cuz I’m not telling. Just use your imagination.

A couple of quick side notes. From the e-mails, you can gather that we’ve been to quite a few breweries and beer gatherings. I may need a stay at the nearest Betty Ford Clinic after I get back, but let’s wait until after the third annual beer, wine and mead tasting at our place on December 5th. Secondly, Heather showed me pictures of Matt wearing her clothes. Just when you thought you really know your kids…

I never get used to seeing the weird people in big cities (nice segue from the last paragraph). This is the one I’ve been in the most, but San Francisco seems to have more than it’s share of strangeness. Most of the people are street people, can be mildly mentally ill, and you can learn to ignore them. They beg, but usually aren’t “in your face” obnoxious. There was a guy on the BART train Saturday that was “creepy weird”. He looked like one of those guys that could have easily been a serial killer, or one of those guys that could have been from a planet different from our own. Those are the scary ones to me. There was a guy on the bus on Sunday after we left Tommy’s, that could have ben the subject of the “Rainman” movie (Dustin Hoffman). He was dressed nicely, looked perfectly normal, and sat there quoting an advertisement for American Airlines, then quoted an advertisement for the New York City Tourist Bureau. Then he would cross himself about ten times (he must have been Orthodox ‘cuz after forehead, chest, he went to right shoulder, then left), and started all over again.

I can’t help feeling sorry for them all…the ones who are mentally ill and don’t know any better; the ones who have mental “issues” but aren’t bad enough to be institutionalized; the ones who know better but have abused alcohol and/or drugs way too long to have the capacity to change; and the very few who are really down and out due to a crappy economy. Matt and I have duscussed this issue back and forth each trip and haven’t come up with a conclusion. I guess all we can do is offer help to those who want it, and let the others live the way they choose.

Just (Nobody Knows You…When You’re Down, You’re Down And Out) Jack

Wine Country

Sorry for the long blog…I just got back from a couple of days in wine country. Actually, it included Sausalito and Tiburon, which are both just across the Golden Gate Bridge on San Francisco Bay. We have talked about coming to Northern California next fall after I really retire. I’ve been on the Pennock Foundation Board for 23 or 24 years and this is my 14th year on the Pennock Hospital Board. We don’t have term limits or age restrictions and we’ve generally done a good job of policing ourselves. So it’s time for me to hand over the reins to someone else. I love what I do, and have plenty of good years left, but I’ve been there long enough and it’s time for new blood (and I mean that literally).

Jean will begin collecting Social Security in March, so she may not want/need to work so many hours at the fitness center. This winter will be a good test, I guess. Since we both retired from our full time jobs/careers, we haven’t spent all that much time together. I spent some time in Florida in the early years, but Jean stayed up in Michigan, for the most part. In the summer I’m out at the cottage a lot, and Jean isn’t. I suppose if we can spend two weeks in Florida in December, travel to Arizona between Christmas and New Years stopping in Baton Rouge, spend three weeks or so in Phoenix, go wherever (needs to be warm) from late January until March, then go to Rocky and Nina’s wedding in New Orleans without killing each other somewhere along the line, I guess we can make a deposit on something for next year.

Back to the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. I got a Tom-Tom gps for the car before Matt and I drove out here. It’s been valuable in getting us around so far, but Matt did the navigating. So on this trip I was on my own. Lesson one…it’s best not to navigate to the “center” of the city you want to go to. My first stop was Sausalito, so I told it I wanted to go to the city center. It told me how to get from Matt and Heather’s apartment across the Golden Gate and which exit to take on Highway 101. After I got off the freeway, it told me to make a right, then another right, then another right. It led me to the on ramp to go back to San Francisco, so I guess the city center is under the overpass.

I knew better than to do that, so I turned left instead (after I backed out of the onramp) and pulled into a Presbyterian Church parking lot. I set the gps for an address, the Chamber of Commerce, and went out the driveway past the sign that said wrong way, do not enter. The police didn’t see me, so I headed for the Chamber office. I couldn’t find a parking place anywhere near it, so after driving back and forth for fifteen minutes, I put in the address for the Tiburon Chamber of Commerce. It took me back to 101 and I went a couple more exits down before I took the Tiburon exit. I was somewhat familiar with the streets since I swam the Tiburon Mile a couple of times.

It took me to the dock area where there are a series of historic buildings, Ark Row, and around to a parking lot. Apparently the gps doesn’t know me very well ‘cuz the parking lot was $2.00 for the first hour, so I backed out of the driveway and drove three blocks back to where I came from to park for free. After doing all that, I walked to the Chamber of Commerce office. It was on the lower level of Ark Row and couldn’t have been any larger than six feet by ten feet. The door was locked, the light was on, no one was there, and there wasn’t a note saying when someone would be back. I walked around the town for a half hour or so and no one showed up. 0 for 2 so far.

I programmed in the address for the Chamber of Commerce in St. Helena, and I was off. It took me through the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Beautiful views and mile after mile of vineyards. I stopped in Napa and did a quick driving tour of the town, then got back on the highway and I was off again. I made it to St. Helena, parked on the main street of town, and walked both sides of the street. I went down to a building that looked like an old fashioned Dairy Queen and got sweet potato fries and a root beer. It was three in the afternoon, the place was packed, and that was my lunch.

I walked over to the Chamber office and went in. An older woman was behind the desk. When I told her what I was looking for she gave me a handful of brochures and magazines, told me about the new oncology unit at the local hospital, talked non-stop for 10 minutes, and told me if I would retire there, I could be the treasurer of the senior center. She was either trying to pack in as much information as she could before I ran away, or she was starved for someone to talk to. In either case, I politely told her no and was on my way. Next stop Santa Rosa.

It’s a town about the size of Kalamazoo, and I had no intention of looking around there for a place to come to next year. But it’s where Russian River Brewing Company is, and the sun was “over the yard-arm” somewhere. The drive from St. Helena was through the coastal mountains. Jean would have hated it. Going up the east side was switchbacks all the way. The speed limit was 35, but dropped to 20 several times on some tight, hairpin turns. Once to the crest, it was an 11% grade downhill, again with hairpin turns. The shoulders were non-existent, and the road dropped off at the edge a foot or more. Once into town, the gps took me right to the front door of Russian River Brewing. I was forced, forced to pay $2.00 for parking in the downtown area. I sat at the bar and the guy next to me started trying to get me to talk, but when a young, blonde, twenty-something girl came in and sat in the open seat next to him, he stopped in mid-sentence and his attention turned elsewhere. After a short stay, I was off again.

I drove to Guerneville, which is the starting point of the Vineman and Half Vineman Iron distance race. I got there after dark, and the gps took me down one of the desolate country roads to an address that was supposed to be a motel. It wasn’t, so I guess that one was my fault. Then I used the “search for hotels in your area” feature, selected which motel I wanted, and it took me right to it. The room was actually a cabin, but one of the smallest cabins I’ve ever seen. It couldn’t have been more than 10 feet by 10 feet, with a 3 foot by 8 foot bathroom. What about the other two feet you say? A 2 foot by 2 foot closet. But it was plenty big enough for me.

The proprietor of the motel recommended a place just down the road for dinner. After a Lagunitas IPA, a half pound hamburger and seasoned fries, I was ready for bed, and it was only 7:30. I sat outside under a heater with another couple and an older guy. The older guy, the waitress told me, lived alone way back in the mountains. I could tell ‘cuz he talked from the minute I got there ’til the minute I left. Luckily he was talking to the couple, so I didn’t have to pretend to be listening.

I went back to the cabin, stayed awake until 10, then zonked out. I woke up at 1:30 and stayed awake ’til 4. After checking out of the motel, I headed back for San Francisco. I stopped in Tiburon, where the Chamber office was open, and got another handfull of brochures. I tried again at Sausalito and still couldn’t find a parking spot. I stopped at Fred’s Restaurant, where I had 1 pancake and 1 piece of french toast. It doesn’t seem like much, but the french toast has ice cream in the batter and, after grilling, is deep fried. If you know anyone who has a problem gaining weight, a couple days with me will cure their problem.

I got back to the city around noon and drove around for 25 minutes trying to find a place to park. After getting frustrated, and getting low on gas, I called Matt on my cell phone (no, I wasn’t driving…I was parked in a no parking zone with my hazard lights blinking). He came down, hopped in, and we were parked within 5 minutes.

Just (I Feel Like I’m Gaining Weight By The Minute) Jack

City Living

In my last epistle I mentioned that we would all be going for a massage later that evening. In order to get there, we got on one bus, traveled through the city, got off I don’t know where, and caught another bus to take us to where we were going. I thought the fares were a dollar…they were the last time I was here…I thought. Matt said they were $1.50 so that’s what I took and I put six quarters in the slot. After we had ridden for a while, Matt said, I just remembered the fares went to $2.00 in July. Oops!! If I get sent to San Quentin, be sure to visit me sometime. I suppose when you live here, you get used to figuring out which bus to catch and when you need to make transfers. At any rate, I was with Matt and I just followed him. As it turned out, we went one stop too far and had to walk back six blocks or so to the massage parlor. With one bad knee, we didn’t run, but made it almost on time.

The girl that had me (poor choice of words, I know) took me back to a cubicle and told me to undress and lie down. With a hole where my head should be I was dumb enough to ask “Face down?” She said yes and left the room. There were blankets and a pillow on the foot end and, with where my head needed to go, my feet would either be on top of or underneath the pile. With no clothing on except my tighty whities…they’re actually black…I chose underneath. There were two towels and I got in between them. Apparently I was supposed to get under both, ‘cuz the smaller one on top barely covered my “better left unseen” areas.

I got my face situated in the face hole so I could breathe just as the girl came back in. She spoke a little English, but when she said something, I couldn’t understand her. I said I was hard of hearing (actually I am a little) and would she please repeat. She said “Hard or soft?” I immediately panicked thinking it may really be one of those happy ending massage parlors. Luckily it dawned on me that she meant firm pressure or light pressure. I answered medium hard which, as I think back, could have been the correct answer whether it was or wasn’t “one of those places”.

The cubicles were small, and the walls didn’t go up to the ceiling, so you could hear everyting that was going on in the other rooms. The girl was not very big, so she needed to get all her weight into giving someone like me a massage. As she was pushing back and forth, I seemed to slide on the table a little. The tables were covered with leather (probably not real leather), and you probably already know that a body sliding across leather often makes a sound like (how can I be discreet?) flatulence. I knew she knew what it really was, but everyone else in the building probably thought “Poor Mary…she got another gassy one”. I expected to hear “Dad! Knock it off! You’re embarrassing me”. I guess we’ll know if we are refused another appointment. Hopefully Matt and Heather can go back. If not, sorry! Actually she gave me an excellent massage and loosened up some of the travel kinks. I guess I won’t dump the Jeep after all.

Afterwards we went to a Japanese restaurant. There they brought a plate of vegetables, a plate of beef and a bowl of hot broth. The hot broth went in the middle of the table and the heat went on. When it came to boiling, we were to drop the vegetables in followed by the meat. It was slightly more complicated than that, but the point is that it was all done with chopsticks. With all my down time this past summer, I had vowed to learn how to eat with chopsticks. Well, my vow went by the wayside and I didn’t know anything about how to hold them. Matt and Heather showed me how, and I flubbed my way through the meal.

Actually, Heather helped me fish vegetables and meat from the boiling broth, and it was up to me to pick them up from my bowl, dip them in soy or peanut sauce, and get them to my mouth. It worked, and I didn’t starve, but I’m guessing most of the people in the restaurant just looked at me, rolled their eyes, and got a chuckle out of it. My area of the table was littered with bits of food and drops of sauce. It looked like some students just had a food fight in the cafeteria. I had Sake for the first time ever. I guess I’m enough of a hick to like wine or beer better, but it was good just the same.

Fast forward to today. I had an appointment at 8 AM at the UCSF Sports Medicine Clinic at Mission Bay. For those of you who have been here, It’s just South of the AT&T Ballpark. For those of you who haven’t, it’s way across town from where I am now. Matt took me down and told me how to get back. After my appointment, I walked East toward the bay, just like he said. I found the Muni platform and almost walked onto it when I realized that there is an outbound and inbound platform. I was headed for the outbound platform and would have been going down toward the airport. I walked down a little farther and saw a sign that said inbound.

Heather had given me a TransLink card that you prepay. It’s sort of like an I-Pass transponder that goes in your car so you don’t have to stop at all the toll booths in Chicago. I got on the next inbound train, showed the driver my card, and he pointed to his window, or so I thought. Matt told me to hold the chip next to the scanner and it would record the fee. I was searching all over the window by the driver and holding the card to everything that stuck out. He kept shaking his head and I finally realized it was on my left, not on my right by the driver. If I was overly sensitive, I would have thought that everyone was watching me and laughing inside. I guess I’ve been around the city enough to know that they were probably thinking either, “Ah, another tourist”, or “This is a great song on my Ipod. I wonder what I’ll have for lunch today”. Either way, I’m sure they couldn’t care less about my debacle.

Poker tonight. Jean may have to send me money to get home!

Just (Figuring Out How To Embarass Matt And Heather Next) Jack

We Made It

It’s now Tuesday morning. We made it here last night at around 7:30 local time. A couple of things…after riding over 3,000 miles, I’ve decided I’m not getting in the car again to drive back. I’ve either moved here permanently, or I’ll sell the Jeep and fly back. I used to like my car, but I’ve come to hate it. My back was so sore yesterday from the constant “bouncing” in the car seat, and being in one position, that I forgot about the knee pain (until we unloaded the car). Matt’s girlfriend, Heather, is petite, and she carried more things than I did.

Matt called ahead, and Heather made appointments for massages today at 6:30. It’s about a block from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant (best Margaritas in San Francisco), so I’m guessing we’ll stop by there afterwards. Matt tells me the massage place is definitely “no frills”, but they give great massages and it’s $35 for 70 minutes. He swears it’s not one of those “happy ending” massages, but when he was telling me that, Heather said “Oh! Yours wasn’t?” I guess I’ll find out tonight.

We has a great time on Halloween in Alberton, Montana. We stayed with John Wilcox and Annie Mead (both from Hastings), and they were excellent hosts. We made a trip to the local watering hole, met some really friendly people, then went back to the cabin for Elk burgers and homemade white chili. Good friends, good beer and excellent food. How much better can it get? I must have had altitude sickness ‘cuz in the morning I had a bad headache. It couldn’t have been the “tasters” at Big Sky Brewing and KettleHouse Brewing in Missoula, a couple of Coldsmoke Scotch Ales at The Sportsman, and a couple of half bottles back at John and Annie’s.

The next day we were off through the mountains. They are absolutely beautiful, but not easy to drive through. We had the car so full of beer from our various stops, plus our luggage, plus my bike and related gear, plus two guys that had eaten way too well (Matt and I…not hitch hikers), that the Jeep had to work hard on the uphills. I could almost see the gas gauge move lower on some of those five mile climbs. I noticed on one of the long downhills (not steep but long) there was a paved bike path on the other side of the freeway fence. Jean would have loved it!! Riding up, of course. We went through Couer D’Alene (sp), Idaho but didn’t stop to check out the Ironman course.

We got into Portland, Oregon around 4:30 after stopping at Full Sail Brewery in Hood River for some tasters and a light lunch. We met Matt’s friend Shannon Fuller (originally from Hastings), her friend Daryl (she grew up in Naples, Florida) and my cousin-in-law once removed, Tina Kimmey (Jean’s cousin Marlene’s daughter) at Horse Brass, a well known beer bar. Again, good friends, good beer and excellent food. I was not all that hungry since we stopped at Full Sail around 2:30. So I got Bread Pudding. You wouldn’t think that a Black Butte Porter and bread pudding would go together, but it did.

After no exercise for weeks due to the knee issue, too much food and no exercise for five days in the car, and tasting our way through all the good breweries along I-90, I feel a little bloated (the understatement of the year). When I look down I can’t see my shoes without leaning forward. So it’s off to the Diet Center and Betty Ford Clinic. Well, I’ll go after tonight at Tommy’s, the California State Homebrewers Competition on the 7th, a party at Aaron’s house on the 7th, and the Barrel Aged Beer Festival in Hayward on the 14th.

Just (Using Today To Recuperate) Jack