Maintenance Physical and More

This morning on my drive to obtain a physical I roll over on the road a recent road kill – a raccoon. The poor critter was probably in the prime of life- like me now; when he made just one fatal choice to cross a country road during rush hour.

This raccoon road kill brought me back to years ago while in my early twenties. Mike Hardy and I were in USAF Survival school at the time. We were heading to town (Spokane, Washington) population then somewhat in the 300 thousand range. To me coming from Miami and Mike from New Jersey; this was a small town.

We drove the road into town from Airway Heights, a yet smaller town just outside of Fairchild AFB.

Suddenly up ahead Mike spots not one but two roadkills. One a rattler and the other a raccoon. Possibly ran over during low light hours. We stop to access the carcasses and determine that the six foot rattler is a fresh kill and deserving of a skinning and an eating.

While Mike works on the rattler I make a decision that a Daniel Boone type cap can easily be made with the carcass now in front of me. We finish the task at hand and place the remains in the bed of my 1966? International 4×4 pick up truck.

That evening as we drink beer and bbq a rattler I remember running around the yard acting like Daniel Boone fighting off a band of Indians. If you are not familiar with Boone he as a young adult, supplemented his farm income by hunting and trapping around the year 1775.

I’ve since lost track of that ‘coon cap but, still have one on my shelf. Perhaps a reminder of when life was simpler and two young men skinning a snake on the side of a road to eat was not such a big deal. No photos to post, no big drama story that needed to be embellished.

Perhaps my walking down the middle of a river yesterday for exercise with my nephew was not such a big deal but, the memories can last a lifetime.

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Jeep Camping Pismo Jeepfest

She’s come a long way I silently think to myself. Now when pulling a big hill on our new 2019 Jeep JL or dropping down to the other side of yet another mountain range the progressively louder breathing noises emitting from my Patti are down to a low rumble. Maybe it’s my bad right ear. Don’t hear quite as good as I used to.

There is absolutely no way I could accurately describe or write down the sounds for you.

For the retired this is our lives. If planned, well then travel, places to visit, things to do happen. Without planning and venturing further and further from home we just continue to live our daily lives.

Something like Ahhhhhh, Ohhhhhh. Possibly vowel sounds spoken aloud?

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A Retirement Story

Most retirees enjoy a good hobby or two. Some become so passionate in their hobbies that it consumes their every waking and possibly even napping moments. I’m not one of them and neither is my new friend Hugo. We both share a love of military vehicles and that is why we joined a club in San Bernardino devoted to the preservation of military vehicles. The Inland Empire Military Vehicle Preservation Group is sad to say a dying club. Simply put not enough young people are interested in keeping the tradition alive. Unlike Hugo who goes all out in restoring to its original condition both a fighting US and a British personnel transporter I prefer to keep the memories alive by supporting the club in my own way.

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I love old classic boats and Jeeps

I love old classic things, especially teak lined boats and jeeps. And also I feel a need, at times to focus on near lost cause projects.

Yes at times, I am known to have gone to great expenses to resurrect a boat or a Jeep for another twenty year life span. That’s about the working life of a jeep or a boat according to yours truly.

And just maybe in another life span I’ll also come back with the proper skills to do the job right.

If you resurrect your boat or jeep project correctly, then you add another twenty year life span back into it; if you are able to keep it or if the right owner takes it off your hands.

Take this ’59 Willy’s for example. It spoke to me then and now it continues to do so. I’ve come close to taking it to a paint shop on several occasions but, then stopped myself. Somehow she has rattle can spray paint written all over.

This new Jeep will also be a classic someday. Easier finding a friend than a new jeep. All I have to do is go on Facebook and even today I come across two coworkers from a long time ago that are now in the final years of their careers.

The following was written not long ago and never posted.

The 59 Willy’s is almost ready for a trip across America on Route 66 but, far from finished if you go by the picture above.

Soon the roll bar will be powder coated the body will be one color and the new Bestop soft top will be added.

This is the little jeep I feel will connect me more with America and its old highway and not the new Jeep. And so (retirement) time continues marching on.

Now get out and start using and enjoying your boat, jeeps or classics a little more.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

– Albert Einstein

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The Photographer

My generation will likely not grow old thinking, I wish I would’ve taken more pictures in my younger days? Why? Possibly because our brains weren’t wired the way they seem to be now.

In today’s world we look-for any excuse to use this highly sophisticated device that we always carry that is still referred to as a phone. No longer do you easily spot that nerdy picture taker from afar who never leaves home without that 35 mm camera hanging around their neck.

And what if you lost that phone or upgraded from Android to an IPhone like I did earlier this year? Where do those pictures go?

Above one of the first pictures I found taken by me in 2019 that will likely survive as a result of the ICloud.

And I don’t need to write about that picture to recall the exact moment I took it or the hike I was on. Somehow that information today I believe will always stay in my head. Or will it?

And now one of the earliest (2010) era pictures saved on my Google Photos account. Prior to this date it was either Kodachrome or Kodak.

And no the Kodiak bear picture was not Photoshopped, a word at that time I had never heard of. And yes I still think that I continue to do stupid things like that today even though I like to think that I am older and should be wiser.

The original Kodak bear picture was taken by my friend Petr on my Fujifilm XP WiFi capable camera. An app would download your picture if you chose not to remove the SIM card to transfer the picture from to your computer.

And why document the above or anything else for that matter?

Because for instance my single typing finger just got tired. And so as I looked down on my smartphone and the WordPress app, I suddenly notice a small microphone on the lower right corner. Why hadn’t it occurred to me earlier that I could simply dictate my story? Because like I said earlier my brain is not yet wired that way.

Words now flow from my eyes while looking down at a picture or screen to my fingers tapping on a smart phone or keyboard. Perhaps one day they’ll flow easier by simply speaking and a device will capture that sound and turn it into a written word on a device.

Perhaps change is a good thing. Perhaps slowing down to take a look at the past once in a while is also a good thing.

The picture above was taken over nine years ago. It’s also a reminder of how time continues marching on, waiting for no one.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’

Start where you stand, and work with

whatever tools you may have at your

command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

– George Herbert.

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The Hanging Tree 4×4 Ride

Russ from got me out on the trail testing my Version 2.0 of my Willys V8 project. Prior to this meeting the last time I saw Russ was in 2011 while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through the Big Bear area. And the last time we did any Jeep related expedition was also in 2011 when I believe it was ten jeeps that signed up to travel through Canada, Alaska and the Yukon Territory and on to our goal the arctic. The story is still out there if you google Jfreeks and Alaska Arctic jeep expedition.

Yesterday as we drove our 4×4 rigs through trails in the Holcomb valley Russ shared Big Bear old time lore. His voice came across well over my recently installed GMRS radio.

See that lone juniper over there, that was formerly a hanging tree during the old miner and prospector days of Holcomb Valley.

As miners and prospectors came to seek their fortune, outlaws, claim jumpers, gamblers, and general troublemakers followed close behind.

In late August, 1861, the notorious little valley was taken over by an organized gang of horse thieves from Salt Lake City known as Button’s Gang. This gang ruled so fiercely that its members could take over almost any cabin, or force storekeepers to give them any equipment or supplies they wanted.

When the victim of a hanging was finally cut down, the branch from which the rope hung was chopped off. So you can tell how many “met their Maker here. “

Two incidents are illustrative of the 40 or 50 murders committed the first two years after the discovery of Holcomb Valley: When “Greek George” jumped the claim of “Charlie the Chink”, a duel to the finish ensued. “Hell Roaring Johnson” was shot when he tried to fix the first election held in the valley.

Not all of the fugitives evaded justice. There is recorded evidence of as many as four convictions and subsequent hangings at one time on this tree.

When the victim of a hanging was finally cut down, the branch from which the rope hung was chopped off. So you can tell how many “met their Maker here. ”

Today cruising up to Big Bear Lake to meet up with Russ and a new member William and his wife I felt like I was part of the crew from “Roadkill ” where gear heads take trashed out cars and put them through their paces. Like I said earlier my jeep is a work in progress.

By the time I arrived home and assessed my loses I lost two bolts from my left side header, the old Willy’s rattling like an expired paint can, one headlight fell off on the trail and dust and dirt everywhere.

My body felt extremely dehydrated from the 100+ heat coming down the hill but, I was still smiling.

Unfortunately for me I only got the jeeps bumper welded on Friday so did not think or have time for any overhead cover till I was on the road.

Sometimes I feel that an off the “rack” (lot) jeep may have been the wiser way to go instead of this current project.

But, I’ll bet there is more satisfaction over the years to be had from this 1959 than any dozen new mall crawlers you tend to see all around. Like a guy once told me, ” they ain’t building anymore 1959’s.

And even when she is sitting she is putting a smile on kids.

Believe me when I say this four wheeling is hard work. I would’ve easily walked a twenty mile day on the camino in lieu of this hanging tree driving loop and felt way more rested and allot cleaner at the end.

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Day 14 – Last day on El Camino de Costa Rica

Last night we celebrated the finish of our camino a day early. Wine, cheese and fresh crackers flowed freely. At around 5:30 in the evening two women showed up to cook for us. Conchita hired them to cook us a meal. Not just any meal but, a coq au vin classic style French stew.

This is where the chicken is braised slowly in red wine and a little brandy to yield a supremely rich sauce filled with tender meat, crisp bits of bacon, mushrooms and burnished pearl onions. And of course some of the local spices.

And for dessert a coconut flan is served. Good food, good friends, something to do, something to look forward to. What more does a human being crave or look forward to in this lifetime.

And on the last stage of our camino we covered 12.5 miles, 23,948 steps and climbed seventeen floors. Our start point – Naranjito to Quepos.

I now write these words while sitting on a teak leaf that I laid atop the still moist red rich Costa Rican soil. Sweat continues dripping from my body as it feels like I am sitting in a sauna rather than a country road while waiting for the others to catch up.

The camino is not yet over but, yet another stop is made to see or explore some other trail or “must see” thing. It does irritate me quite a bit to stop when I finally find my rhythm and possibly am feeling the “barn” effect, i.e. the finish.

At some point we go from country to city on the camino and my Wikiloc app is telling me I am on a direct course to the finish in around an hour. I don’t look back.

And just like that the Camino is over. I take a picture or two and sit by the Quepos sign in a shady spot. Soon our guide Yorly and Marco walk up and are surprised to find me.

A short while later our remaining two show up Conchita and Garry. Marco starts shaking up a cheap bottle of champagne and makes the experience memorable by wetting each one of us. We laugh, no tears shed. Just a happy ending to a two week experience. Garry and I started together and finished together. I know that I was a pain in his side sometimes. From the start I fought the “tour like ” experience we were on. Someone to watch over us, care for our everything from food to lodging to transportation of of anything we did not want to carry. I needed to do some pennance. I needed some alone time. Guides came in and out of our lives. Vladimir, Giovanni, Sergio and finally Yorly. Our tour operator Fabian made everything flow with precision. Three other wonderful people started with us Charity, Glenda and Kiley.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The bug bites will heal soon. I almost died on this Camino but, then I didn’t. When the trail through the jungle gave way I instinctively grabbed a tree root and pulled myself up and back onto the trail.

Live your life like it’s your last days they say. Well I think I’ve reached a point in my life where if it doesn’t kill you it will certainly give you more memories to share.

Pura Vida

Rafa on the Camino.

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Day 13 – El Camino de Costa Rica

Town emergency. The road somewhere up ahead experienced a landslide and is now impassable. The men folk are all in the fields and not able to assist in human road clearing. The stinky hikers just got enlisted to save the day.

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Day 12 of 14 – El Camino de Costa Rica

It’s now 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday and according to my Apple Watch we just walked almost twelve miles, a measly 23,000 steps. We also climbed 62 flights of stairs on a downhill incline.

The road towards the Pacific Ocean stage of the camino. The first time we saw the ocean from our vantage point it still resembled land and roads. Must’ve been a reflection because later those ocean roads as well as the intermittent cloud mist suddenly vaporized revealing some spectacular scenery.

About two hours ago we detoured our way from the main camino road down another 20 degree grade into the town of NARANJILLO. The gravel road was slippery at times as a result of the heavier and heavier downpour now falling on us. Calling it a town is a stretch of my imagination as is village or I’ll just call it like it is; seven families.

When we saw the church and school and an open metal roof structure we arrived. No wonder to me it looked like the entire town turned out to see these three wet gringos; one even walking without bothering to put on rain gear.

We sat on a homemade park bench soaking wet from head to toe; even though Yorleny and I quickly donned our rain gear minutes after the downpour. The droplets were so thick you could even hear the sound of the rain change when Mother Nature cranked it up a notch or two.

Yorleny pulled out and carried an umbrella, me in shorts and a rain jacket, Garry just kept walking. I gave up on looking for my pack cover.

After our greetings the women got right to work preparing a feast. We told them we just ate enough for two days earlier. They then agreed on preparing a to go meal.

Earlier I saw Yorly using the same bbq to try drying her only shoes.

her soaking wet trail runners. Garry called it quits and didn’t bother shielding himself when the rain started. She is now wearing flip flops.

Update: At around six p.m. my home-stay familia receives a phone call to inform me that someone stole Yorleny’s shoes. Apparently she left them out sort of hiker box style and someone thought she was disposing of them.

While we sat for over an hour in wet clothes someone pointed out that dry clothes is a game changer and so is coffee/tea and fresh baked goods. The local welcoming committee provided it all. They even tried to feed us a second lunch.

Unfortunately, nothing could top our lunch today on the camino. Truly the best we’ve experienced. The ambiance of a place certainly has something to do about the dining experience but, taking that all away Rancho Turistico still wins hands down. Our second top contender is JOSE at Bosque Tropical Nuboso.

Everyone is trying their best to make our experience of walking the camino a memorable one.

Since we have eleven previous days to compare home stays we now know what a one to five star experience looks like. Sad to say I cannot in all honesty give anyone above a one star if that.

Tonight I was supposed to sleep in a tent set uo by the locals. Since Garry is doing a home stay I also opted to do so on account of the torrential downpour still going on.

After our arrival, food, an ice cold shower, a short nap and then around ninety minutes later it got dark at 5:30 p.m. Since this little town from where I now reside has neither WiFi nor a cell tower anywhere in sight it turned out to be a long evening. Down by the community center limited free slow WiFi did exist.

The home stay with a view certainly tops our list. The homestay with an extra experience such as sugar cane processing, organic garden tour or other or diversion certainly enriched the experience.

Someone once said that to understand life it must be observed backwards; but, unfortunately to live it, it must be lived forward.

My homestay view.

Pura Vida


More to follow:

The food-

The home stay-

Mateo –

Marisol –

The land –

Our desire to –

My camino experiences in Costa Rica

Pura Vida

Rafa on the Camino

The Conchita trail-

On seeing the Pacific for the first time. Like Lewis and Clark

Comfortably numb by pink Floyd just pays through my headset.

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Day 10 – El Camino Costa Rica

Yesterday after waking and doing bathroom duties I began getting dressed, by first pulling a coolmax t- shirt over my head. Seconds later I started to dry heave on account of the horrible putrid smell.

Time to do laundry but, first find the least offensive and less wet shirt to wear. In 2011 I thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and my normal was usually five days without a bath or shower then walk down off the trail to my next resupply town where my Logistician mailed my hiker box for the following week. By comparison any camino walk is not only different but, far easier. And the scenery- priceless.

Today on the Costa Rica Camino it felt at times like I was walking in the Olympic National forest in Washington state for all the pine forest and moss. The area known as the Hoh rain forest receives over 12 feet of rain a year. By comparison some mountain areas of Costa Rica can get up to 25 feet of rain per year.

By 1030 a.m. today on the Camino Costa Rica a huge fog bank quickly rolls in and within minutes I feel the cold air. The rain started out slow but, not enough to warrant stopping to take my rain jacket out. By the time I sat down under a big pine to enjoy a cool drink and a snack. A Tico suddenly pulls up in his Toyota by me with a surprised look on his face. I tell him Pura Vida. He tells me fifteen years ago he lived in California. I then say to him in Spanish that I’m walking across Costa Rica.

He looks down at my backpack and then at me and says mierda santa!!

Literal translation- holy shit!

Costa Ricans are called ticos” because of their unique way of saying diminutives in Spanish. For example, when saying something is small —or “chico” in Spanish— Costa Ricans would say it is “chiquitico,” or very small.

We’re now just five days out from reaching the Pacific Ocean after having walked from the Caribbean ocean. Wonder how I’ll feel?

I’m imagining now the scene when Forrest of Forrest Gump is still running after he started three years ago for no special reason.

He crosses the country a couple of times and on his way, he gained a  group of followers. As they run on a desert road with the Monument Vally behind them, Forrest suddenly stops running.

He turns around and says that he is tired and he is going home now. While he is walking towards the group they make space for him and you hear somebody say,

“Now what are we supposed to do?“.

There’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes.” – Forrest Gump

“Always be able to look back and say, at least I didn’t lead no humdrum life.” 

– Forrest Gump

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