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Archive for the ‘miscellany’ Category

foldable favorite: portable invisible fence

I was outside at a Utah Starbucks when a man arrived with his two chocolate labs. He left them unleashed near a table, and without a word, went inside to fetch his latte. The dogs watched him disappear, then sat politely to wait for his return. “That,” I said to my friend, “is the difference between a lab and a dachshund.” Ralston would lie down to wait. Ripley and Raven would cry, “Yay, she’s gone! Let’s play in traffic!” and I’d never see them again.

Thus the need for Invisible Fence at home and a new camping must-have: “The Rock” portable electronic fence system. It works like a charm and the concept is fiendishly simple.

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pendleton round-up

I towed into Pendleton, Oregon minutes before the Westward Ho! parade and faced nowhere to park; every empty slot and lot teemed with RVs and horse trailers and teepees. Somehow I squeezed into a miracle spot in the WalMart parking lot, stuffed to the curbs with motorhomes, tents, and rednecks camped in the beds of their pickups…like spring break for hillbillies. I followed the crowd and piles of manure on Court Street to the all non-motorized parade which showcased wild west wagons and buggies, all manner of cowboy, Indians, Mexicans, sheriffs, preachers, outlaws, firemen, Oregon Trail pioneers, weird timber equipment, every rodeo princess in the Northwest, longhorns, mules, donkeys, horses, miniature ponies, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

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looney daze

The state fair may be legend, but Minnesota’s podunk summer festivals—Detroit Lakes’ Water Carnival, the Audubon Pet Parade (which took ten minutes, beginning to end), and “Looney Daze” (sic) in Vergas—deliver superior fun with easier parking.

Lakeside communities in northwestern Minnesota—frozen into a block of ice for seven-plus months—have to cram their pent up energy into the short tourist months of summer. In Vergas, where the loon is revered as a deity, you’ll find loon ball, the worlds largest loon, and, in August, Looney Daze. (Actual slogan: “WhAt HaPpEnS In VeRgAs!…StAyS In VeRgAs!”)

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raven

Ralston’s passing, as any pet owner can attest, was difficult and bittersweet. He will never be replaced, and I miss him every day. His demise was no reason to delay restoring the Four Rs to pack capacity, however. Ripley needed a companion—preferably a non-human that could understand the byzantine games he likes to play.

When people asked if I was ready for another dog so soon, I replied, “I may never be ready for another dog. But I’m ready for a miniature dachshund!”

Down, small dog lovers; just kidding.

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the rally

Airstream is but a tiny, shiny star in the RV universe—most are SOBs (Some Other Brand). ‘Streamers I recently polled guesstimate that Airstreams comprise only one to three percent of the market, both new and old.

As it was held in my backyard (Redmond, only thirty minutes from Bend), I dropped in on “The Rally” (sans DWR…no aluminum allowed*), the premier annual RV gathering, to see how the other (more than) half lives.

It looked kinda fun, if you have a White Box.

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wally byam’s birthday

I used to be crazy-patriotic. I walked precincts for the party when I was eleven, voted in every election since I’ve been able (wearing pajamas to the dorm polling place to be first in line at age 18), and I know every flag etiquette rule and the harmony part to This Land is Your Land. I grew out of it though, jaded in recent years by my understanding of the bigger world, media massaging, and our electoral system.

But, this Independence Day I had to turn my head so no one would see me choking up over a red white and blue birthday cake.

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the mothership

Jackson Center, Ohio: population 1365—where Wally Byam found the vacant paper factory in 1952 that would house his Airstream production center. Today, workers in JC continue to crank out the aluminum beauties at the only plant that builds new Airstreams and delivers them by flatbed to dealers across the country.

‘Streamers, plan a pilgrimage to the factory at your earliest convenience. (New buyer tip: order from a dealer, obtain the production number of your unit, and scurry to Jackson Center where you’re welcome to watch [and photograph] your very own Airstream being built step by step on the line during its nine day assembly process.)

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alumapalooza

Alumapalooza is an all-Airstream event sponsored by the good folks who bring you Airstream Life magazine, held on the grounds of Airstream, Inc.

Like a giant rally, but more, Alumapalooza crams back to back activities into a too-short six day event, presented by those who own and love Airstream: gear, technical and safety classes; workshops on interior design and vintage restoration; tax tips for fulltimers; morning yoga; numerous maintenance sessions; cooking and sketching demos; a short session on bucking rivets (“Buck Rivet”—best porn name ever)…

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john wayne’s birthplace

As I can’t resist a “world’s largest” or “home of” roadside attraction, I swerved off the highway in Iowa and followed signs to Winterset— birthplace of John Wayne (American). There I encountered bustle and excitement: bunting around the courthouse, a cavalry encampment, a Rotary-sponsored fun run, a band assembling in the town square, and everywhere, flags flying.

“What’s going on?” I asked a local Rotarian. “Memorial weekend?” He blinked at me. “It’s John Wayne’s BIRTHDAY,” he said.

Oh. Sorry! Didn’t know.

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road to ohio

From the moment I was informed by the nice gas station character that filled the trailer tires that 38 tornadoes just had their way with my eastern destination states, the hostile spring weather has tried to run me off the road: torrential rain in Washington; fat wet snow flurries in Oregon (is the west not aware that it’s nearly Memorial Day?); fierce winds in Idaho that actually BLEW A PART off the Airstream (hopefully they’ll reattach it at The Mothership); and fog so dense in Wyoming that semi drivers on the I-80 formed a 30mph protective convoy, hazards flashing.

I didn’t see another Airstream on the road until two days into the journey—they waved to me from the other side of the freeway where I was shipwrecked with a blowout.

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