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Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Just From Point A to Point B

Many folks would tell you that the stretch of I-70 from Kansas City to Denver is a long, boring and monotonous drive. Could be true. Just a matter of perspective. In any case, we can decide to enjoy the ride as well as the destination.

This is a rare year for much of Kansas where everything’s still green in August. The Flint Hills region, which runs through central Kansas, is a vivid green – as far as one can see in any direction. Its gently rolling hills are home to a large area of tallgrass prairie, the largest left in the world.

The Flint Hills bring to mind Indians, buffalo, cowboys, cattle drives and old westerns. I daydreamed my way through the region which ends by the time you leave Junction City and Fort Riley.

Windmills Old & New
Before long we saw a windmill farm that stretched for miles with hundreds of windmills running and generating power. This led to a long discussion of the history of wind generation and the diversity of power generation methods. We marveled at the creativity of the human mind.

As we drove on, I noticed old windmills still operating in the same fields as their modern counterparts. Pretty awesome to think of the old windmills generating power to bring water to a farmer’s cattle and today’s windmills generating power for large areas of our country.

Of course I stopped and took pictures. As we left the windmills, I saw stone posts that once held the miles and miles of barbed-wire fencing. Long rows of the stone posts still stand beside the steel posts used today. Cattle – too many to count – grazed in the fields. Lots of calves still stayed close to their mothers.

Walter P. Chrysler Home
We drove through Ellis, Kansas, which boasts a railroad museum and the boyhood home of Walter P. Chrysler. Several old Chrysler and Dodge vehicles were parked around the house.

Small towns dotted the landscape with the co-ops and churches standing tall on the horizon.

Before I realized it, we passed through Goodland. We drove past the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign and wondered how many times it’s served as the background for pictures.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vacation and a Conference

The thermometer sets at 104 this hot, August afternoon, but cool thoughts fill my mind.

With my long summer mostly behind me (except for the fact that since my radiation treatment I still can't taste anything), I'm planning fun time. The mountains of Colorado have been calling my name. With family and life-long friends to add to the allure, we're planning to head west next week.

Mark, my son, had a meeting at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs this week. Just knowing he was there, and hearing about his adventures raised my "Colorado homesickness" to an almost unbearable level. The only cure is to spend some leisurely time soaking up the mountain air, blue skies and incredible views. We always visit our old haunts - our homes, the church where we were married, Colorado College, the Garden of the Gods, etc.

As we talk about our trip to Colorado, we're also making plans and reservations for the September AGLOW (Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers) conference in Ashland, WI.

Middle Island Lighthouse
I've never seen Lake Superior. If this conference and the amenities measure up to last year's in Michigan, it will be an awesome adventure. Memories of lighthouses, the beauty of the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, shipwrecks, islands, Traverse City, cherries, wineries, an elk preserve and catching my first salmon dance through my mind with the slightest encouragement. Michigan is a beautiful state.

Capt. Mike
The lighthouse photo is the Middle Island lighthouse in Lake Huron. Captain Mike took us to the island. He and our guide, Ron, gave us the history and a tour of the island and fed us lunch before we returned to shore.

Back to Wisconsin, I hear that the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior will enthrall me and once visited, forever call my name. I can't wait!

That's both the beauty and the curse of traveling. Once you've fallen in love with a new destination, you can't wait to return. So we head to Colorado this month. Next month we'll visit Wisconsin to see outdoor writer friends I met last year and to create new memories. A full schedule of activities is planned with plenty of opportunities for story ideas. It promises to be a great week.

We are going to get back to Michigan, but that's another story.

Did I tell you I'm shopping for a new camera lens? Wow, I've missed my photo jaunts this summer! I'm ready.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A New Project Begins


On a hot August Sunday, the sun is shining and throwing shadows of leaves and branches onto the still-green grass. It's a year where plenty of rain has kept the world green a little longer. Even the birds are quiet in the heat of this lazy Sunday afternoon. Few boats are on the water and the lake shines like clean glass.

We're thinking about a trip to Colorado. There's nothing quite like the mountains to inspire me. Just the thought makes me want to grab my camera and jump in the car!

But on this sunny afternoon, it's a great time to think and plan ahead. The Bugle has gone to press. Role Call: Women's Voices - co-authored with Joyce Faulkner - is now available. I finished my last editing job and I'm excited about my new project.

I'm spreading my wings and writing a biography of a nature cinematographer. So much to learn about this creative man, his passion for his art and the wonderful films he's created - films that we've seen on TV series such as Discovery and Profiles of Nature.

It's funny how much writing actually takes place in my head for months before a single word is typed on my computer. This story has percolated through my mind all spring and summer.

However, now it's time to start typing...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Great Fishing on Texas Coast for Texas International Fishing Tournament

Another great year for both offshore and bay fishing! The 71st Annual Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT) ended August 1 with a weekend of good weather and good fishing. There were 1222 registrants, 466 boats and two days of fishing. Forty-one billfish were caught; 9 Blue Marlin; 22 White Marlin; 10 Sailfish. Shown in the accompanying photo (by Valerie Bates) is the 670-pound Blue Marlin caught by Francis Knapp Jr aboard the 37' Bessie Belle.

A complete winners list can be found at www.tift.org/2010-winners.pdf.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Month and a New Me

August 1. I awoke to sun rays dancing through the vertical blinds and birds filling the air with beautiful songs. Caught up with my email and Face Book and anxious to get back to work.

A new month for a new me! Two months of surgery, going hypothyroid, low-iodine diet, radiation and isolation. Now I'm rejoicing and starting anew. Back on thyroid supplements and starting to feel human again. Hopefully radiation zapped remaining cancer cells and I can focus on our beautiful world, my family and friends, marketing our latest book and my current writing projects.

The Bugle is almost ready to go to press. My husband and Peanut are back with me - still keeping my distance for a couple more days though. Good Lord, how I missed them. The weather's hot but gorgeous. My friend Gay and I are both headed to Branson this week. Gay's daily texts and calls made some long days bearable. Joyce managed to simultaneously plan a convention and keep daily tabs on me. Nancy Smith juggled her book awards program and checking in with me. Mike Mullins entertained me with photos of his hummingbird friends. Marlyce Stockinger gave her "awesome possum" love. Barb Riggle made it possible for me to finish the Bugle even though it seemed an insurmountable task at times. Sean Murray offered me "been there and done that" advice that made it all easier. TC, next time I'll take you up on some of your marvelous cooking.

Friends offered prayers and support. Each one shared their love and lightened the load. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You are all living proof that real love surrounds you when you need it the most.

Meanwhile my son Mark and family are returning from a great vacation at Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. My nephew Matt and his family are leaving for a semester in Scotland. My brothers each made the summer brighter for me and now they can focus on their own activities. Jim can cook "real" food again, butter, sauces and all.

I'm still hoping to attend the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference in Ashland, WI, next month. Last year we had a wonderful time in Michigan. I fell in love with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

If you're looking for a great vacation spot this fall, you'd love Michigan. But that's another story for another day...