Saturday, June 03, 2017

A slow start

I am having a hard time being motivated to write on a timely manner. It just might be that I'm having too much fun on my first leg of retirement. Here is my catch-up and vow to write more frequently.

Cecile and I drove to Backus, Minnesota to pick up our new Scamp trailer May 22. It was something of a mad dash up there, but the reward was our very own miniature home on wheels.  The Scamp is just 13-feet from bumper to hitch but it has a double bed, a kitchen, a toilet and a shower. They only make 500 a year and you have to get them directly from the factory.

They have become something of a cult. The price is reasonable but the supply is limited. Used trailers can cost as much as new ones (so the new owner avoids the trip to Minnesota).  That made it a no-risk investment for us.

As opposed to the fast trip up, we meandered back, keeping on secondary highways and even a few county roads. The trip gave us a taste of the delightful surprises that come with Scamping. We pulled into New Ulm, MN, after spotting a European-style church spire. As we drove down the main street, we came across the "famous" glockenspiel just minutes from its daily 3 p.m. show. The sign said it was the only authentic German glockenspiel in the U.S. As the hour struck, a carillon of bells played and then a door opened so we could see carved figures dancing below the clock face. It was great fun.

We stopped for the night in Clear Lake, Iowa and found a restaurant off of Buddy Holly Place. It turns out the venue next door was the Surf Ballroom, where Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper played in 1959 before boarding a light plane that crashed in a field just outside of town. The fatal crash site has become a rock shrine. On a rural road way out in the corn fields is a giant pair of Holly-esque glasses. A trail leads off into the field so you can stand at the actual site of "the day the music died. "Bye, Bye Miss American Pie."

Cecile spotted a curiosity in a tour book that became our next target: The house that Grant Wood used as a backdrop for his iconic American Gothic painting. There is not a lot else going on in Eldon, Iowa, but the house and accompanying museum are well worth the side-trip. The museum does a good job explaining the life of a Depression-era artist who was always on the lookout for a good scene. On a visit to a friend, he sketched the farm house with its ornate window. Then he later added his dentist as the straight-faced old farmer and his sister as the farmer's plain daughter.

The staff at the museum is great. They are quick to loan you costumes and then use your camera to take a photo. They've done it so many times that they have the perfect angles marked on the walkway. Cecile and I mugged it up for our own Bentley Gothic pose.

We finally caught the interstate for a faster last leg home. But the trip was a good test for our next great adventure. We are packing the trailer for a six-week western tour. We will head fairly directly to Portland so we can be there in time for grandson Briton's middle school graduation. Before we wear out our welcome, we will meander east.  We have no itinerary, but we do have a goal: Pure fun.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A time to end, a time to restart

For the most part, I have only posted to this blog when I have traveled or have a new adventure. Given the demands of job and family, that was sporadic.

But I'm back. With luck, laid back.

I taught my last class three weeks ago and donned my cap and gown for a last University of Missouri School of Journalism commencement a week ago. I'm retired -- sort of. My paperwork doesn't put me on a pension until Sept. 1, but I have no summer classes and no university duties.

It's an odd feeling, this retirement.  It is somewhat like an atheist, a mystic and a believer talking about the afterlife. Part of me seems to have simply vanished. Part of me has merged with the greater good. And part of me has faith that something even better is coming.

I can't do much about the first except to sigh. I'm quite proud of the second option. And the third -- oh that third. Better things are indeed coming.

Tomorrow Cecile and I go to Backus, MN, to pick up a brand new, 13-foot Scamp trailer. It will be our Tardis, our Transporter, our covered wagon and our embodied daydreams for the foreseeable future. We plan to travel extensively and write our own adventures.

Not that some have not already been written for us. On Mothers Day -- Aug. 14 -- our grandson Fletcher Avel Bentley was born in Knoxville, TN. Though we drove there shortly after his arrival, we expect that the Scamp will give us many excuses to visit son Garrett, daughter-in-law Brittany and our newest progeny.

The trailer will also be out travel ticket to Oregon this summer to visit daughter Gillian, her husband Will and our first set of grandchildren -- Evelyn and Briton.

But first we have to get the trailer. That means I need to get some sleep in this Minnesota hotel, wake early and drive the next few miles to Backus. Backus.  Hmm, seems a good omen for a return to blogging.