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Road Trip Day 8 June 14, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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Day 8, Saturday June 2nd
Drove as far as Gallatin National Forest, Montana

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I have now personally looked all around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and I can see no evidence of a box canyon where the government could set up a landing strip for aliens.  For those who don’t understand the reference rent or buy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, on DVD and you will understand.  I do enjoy seeing the nation’s first National Monument every time I’m in the area.  As a boy I was a Y-Indian Guide (a pre-Cub Scout father/son activity). At the impressionable age of seven or eight I was told the story of an Indian brother and sister who were being chased by a giant bear.  The children climbed up on top of a tall slender mesa and the bear came after them.  They prayed to the Creator who sent an eagle down to lift the mesa up away from the bear.  The bear clawed at the sides of the mesa, but couldn’t reach the children and he went away.  The eagle returned the children to the ground when it was safe and Devil’s Tower is what remains of this event.  I did not see the Close Encounters box canyon, but I can see the claw marks on the sides of Devil’s Tower so you judge which story was true and what story was not.

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From Devil’s Tower we crossed Wyoming into Montana and got pelted by the nastiest thunderstorm we had crossed yet.  The rain drove sideways across our truck and with a high profile camper on the back, the safest speed I could travel was 35 mph on a 75 mph freeway.  It was dark at full noon and the lightning was spectacular. We were headed for Little Bighorn and we feared we wouldn’t get to see much there, but just as we got near we drove out of the rain cell and into clearer skies.

On the banks of the Little Bighorn River, General Custer and the U.S. Calvary did everything wrong while the Native American warriors gathered there that day did everything right.  I had watched history shows and read accounts of what happened at the Little Bighorn and never fully understood the gravity of what happened until I visited this place.

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White markers are placed where the Calvary soldiers were killed and red markers memorialize where the native people were killed.  The red markers are not as numerous as they should be because the peace that would allow the combatants to simultaneously honor both sacrifices at the battle did not exist until now, so the deaths of all of the native warriors are not fully documented. But you can still see evidence of all of the places of the battle that would forever change the west. The warriors won a great battle and much respect from the overly confident Calvary. That respect though, fostered a renewed effort to defeat the tribesmen. The Calvary which had been defeated and failed to drive the tribesman off of this part of the land and onto reservations did so in vein.  Today that region is a very large Crow and Cheyenne territory.  If reason had existed in Custer’s time, the Calvary would have been there to help establish this territory as native land peacefully.

In a modern truck and camper, we could cross these vast lands in a matter of days.  We have driven the route of the early European settlers and crossed the lands of the first Americans.  Out here the politics of Washington D.C. and the dysfunctional government of my home state do not seem to exist anymore.

After spending time at the Little Bighorn, we drove up west past Billings where we hit more hard driving thunderstorms.  It was a comfort to have Internet access via smart phones so we could confirm that these cells were not expected to turn into tornadoes.  After pushing past these, we made our way to the Gallatin National Forest at the base of the Beartooth Mountains in Montana.  Our AAA and Rand McNally maps said there was camping available on some roads marked in gray, meaning dirt roads.  Those maps have no way of conveying how hard it would be to tell which of the dirt roads and ranch driveways in the areas were the ones depicted on the simplified maps.  This was one of those places where a GPS excels. Those maps marked roads that clearly went from point A to point B and we could figure out the road to try from the only one shown on the GPS that went through to the same points.
But that didn’t make going down the road feel much better.  We were crossing Montana ranch land on a dirt road that looked like it was there to serve the ranches only.  For miles while dashing down the deserted gravel road, there were no signs or other reassurances that we were heading to a campground or public land.  It wasn’t until the nearly halfway point on the road that we finally saw a National Forest sign pointing our way down another road.  But that start too took us past more ranches and the only other vehicle we ever saw that afternoon was a rancher on a quad.  It wasn’t until right at the end of the road that the National Forest boundary became clearly marked and a campground was thankfully found.  After all of this, and with the terrible weather starting out the weekend, we were amazed to get out here and find other campers already there.  It was a bit of a roller coaster relief finding campers here.
It was a relief to know that we hadn’t stumbled into a long forgotten campground that the local ranchers living on the borders of would resent our intrusion.  As we drove though the campground looking for a suitable site, we became wary of the other campers.  They were all dressed in camouflage clothing and we began to fear these were hunters who would be running around shooting at everything that moved.  Many of the unoccupied campsites were so neglected and overgrown that it was hard to tell where we could park for the night.  As we slowly drove through we began to notice that the camouflaged campers had little camouflaged children with them.  These were Montana families dressed in Montana rustic outdoor gear.  None had guns that we could see and it looked more like they were here for the fishing in the swelling river adjacent to the campground.  We found a suitable site and backed in and set up for the night.  It wasn’t long before the first group of quad-cycles went by.  Now we wondered if these were joy riders that would be terrorizing the campground roads.  No, they were moms with small children in their laps taking themselves to the nearest toilets (which were located far from most campsites).  The rain moved in again and we hunkered down in our camper for the night playing cards and having ice cream sandwiches until bedtime.  It had been an adventure just finding this place, but it turned out to be a quiet comfortable place to stay the night.

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Road Trip: Day 6 & 7 June 10, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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Day 6, Thursday May 31st

Drove as far as Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Camping the night before at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota was our first chance to have a campfire.  So of course we had smores (marshmallows roasted on the fire and put between graham crackers with a hunk of chocolate).  The kids also filled out as much of their Wind Cave Junior Ranger booklets as possible at the camp.  This made it easier to complete the program after our tour in the morning.  It was cold outside, but the kids had fun. We took the first tour of Wind Cave in the morning.  Wind cave is a very long natural cave, but the water that does make it into the cave does not go through the minerals that are needed to leave stalactites behind.  The kids finished their Junior Ranger booklets and got their second Junior Ranger badge of the trip. 

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, it is a relatively short drive from Wind Cave to Mount Rushmore.  The most common route would be up Interstate 315.  But we don’t typically go the interstate route so we elected to take State Highway 87 instead.  This took us up through Custer State Park where we saw lots of bison.  The traffic on 87 was light and RV’s were almost non-existent.  Something we should have wondered more about.  But we were enjoying the scenery and the  bison herds with lots of playful bison calves.  It wasn’t until we had gone an hour up the road before we learned why RV’s do not travel it.  A sign warned us that there were tunnels ahead with a clearance as low as 12 feet two inches.  With a car carrier on top of the camper, our vehicle is 12 feet 6 inches tall.  We either needed to be shorter or face driving an hour back down the road and then an hour back up 315.  My solution was to open the carrier and split the contents among the open halves.  This lowered our clearance to below 12 feet. The tunnels are roughly drilled through solid granite and they were positioned so that you see the Mount Rushmore carvings as you drive though them.  We were glad to have gone through the trouble to get through them.

    

We were at Mount Rushmore five years ago.  We saw the memorial for about ten minutes before fog rolled in and hid the memorial for the rest of our three hour lingering there that day.  The presidents didn’t hide this time and we got a good long look at the memorial, but we were getting tired from the cave tour and from climbing up and down on the truck to shift the contents to fit the tunnels.  We found a campsite and set up for the day at around 2 PM.  The kids played in a creek over the afternoon and I cleared the memory chips on the cameras.

 

Day 7, Friday June 1st

Drove as far as Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.

Our second night in South Dakota marked the first time we stayed in the same state for a full day.  We went back to Mount Rushmore in the morning for sunrise views of the memorial and to finish out the kid’s Junior Ranger booklets.  They received their third Junior Ranger badges and we hit the road.  Mount Rushmore had been our most eastern target for the trip up until the last day before leaving home.  That was when I happened across the television show, The Most Extreme Roadside Attractions, on the Travel Channel.  They featured a place called Wall Drug in South Dakota that had unusual things for sale and exhibits that included a six foot jack-a-lope and robotic life sized T-Rex robot.  My nine year old was hooked. 

In the past six days we had seen dinosaur bones buried in the ground and spectacular caves. We had driven up above the tree line and had been snowed on.  We traveled in the footsteps of the early pioneers, but my nine year old had continued to talk about seeing Wall Drug.  He wanted a chocolate-brown cowboy hat from Wall Drug and only from Wall Drug.  Our next destination now was Wall Drug.  Part of what made Wall Drug famous was the highway signs posted up to fifty miles away from the destination.  We traveled our first interstate to get there. The first question my boy asked when we turned onto the interstate was, “how close are we?” Just as he asked us we passed our first Wall Drug sign that read, “Pretty Near.” For the next 30 miles or so he dutifully read every Wall Drug sign informing us about the cold ice water, cold beer, donuts, T-Rex and more.

   

With all of this, you can build up some pretty big expectations for Wall Drug.  If you go there expecting to see things you have not seen before, you may be disappointed.  If you go there expecting to see an eclectic offering of things for sale coupled with homespun attempts at Disney style animatronics, then you will have fun.  My boy got his cowboy hat and cowboy boots and something Californians no longer knew existed.  He was able to buy a cap-gun that was not entirely safety orange.  For those who do not know this, California has taken the nanny state to the extreme that any and all cap guns must be bright orange and fluorescent green and they are not allowed to have a speck of coloring otherwise.  I have countless friends and family who managed to live through our formative childhood years without every causing harm with our realistic gun replicas, so throwing caution to the wind; I purchased a flintlock replica to complete the cowboy image.

That afternoon we traveled though the South Dakota Badlands and circled back up Interstate 90 into Wyoming.  We made it to Devil’s Tower, the nation’s first National Monument an hour before the visitor center closed, which gave us the chance to pick up another Junior Ranger booklet before going to the campground.  My son was the most popular boy in the playground that night with his cowboy hat and cap-gun.

The Classic American Road Trip: Days 1 through 5 June 4, 2012

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My family and I struck out on the Classic American road trip starting on Saturday, May 25th.  It is something we’ve done several times before going out into the American west with a rough route in mind, but with no specific agenda.  Most of my time has been spent driving and seeing the sights with the family.  But I have also taken the time to write down a mini journal of what we’ve seen along the way.  Here are the first five days I jotted down.

Saturday May 26th.
Drove as far as Cave Creek, Nevada.

We started out on a typical route up Highway 50 over Echo Summit  to Tahoe.  What we did not expect to see up at the summit was snow, lots of snow.  It even snowed a little on us as we crested the summit and drove down into Tahoe.  Typically, the Sierras compress the weather as it goes over their peaks, so we then expected that to be the last of the snow.  We were wrong.  As we followed 50 around the lake, we climbed up the Eastern Nevada range headed for Carson City.  On that drive it was not only snowing more, it was sticking to the highway.  One zippy little car that had passed us not long before spun out.  We slowed down and passed and then came upon the scene where some cars encountered the side of an RV.

Our truck has 4WD and with the off-road tires, we were in control, but I worried about all of the compact cars around us with nothing more than street tires and unprepared drivers between their control and the side of our camper.  But we made it off the mountain and into Carson City without further incident, and the snow cleared so we thought we had seen the last of that.

Wrong.

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Highway 50 in Nevada is known as the loneliest highway in the USA.  It felt like it on Saturday.  Adding to the surprising lack of traffic was snow again on the summits and in the valleys with a definite winter wonderland feel.  Only one week from June, we were changing from shorts into pants and from sandals to shoes.  Our next stop was in the little town of Austin where we wanted to refuel.  There was snow here too, and to our surprise, the power was out when we arrived.  There were people who had stopped at the remote place for the gas they needed at 9:AM. It was 1:30 when we arrived and thankfully the power was restored within 15 minutes so our delay was minimal.  We headed out and drove the remaining distance to Cave Creek, Nevada where we camped for the night.

There was no snow there when we stopped, but as you might guess, it didn’t take long before fluffy white flakes began to drift from the sky.  Chad and Natalie got to run around a bit in the falling snow before Chad’s boy-ness kicked in and he started getting muddy.  We retreated to our nice warm camper and eventually fell asleep.

Sunday May 27, 2012
Drove as far as Ashley National Forest, Utah

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Started out with a light dusting of snow on the ground at Cave Creek Nevada.  We headed out to Great Basin National Park where we visited the Lehman Cave.  This is a two mile long cave with some of the best examples of all cave formations including stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, cave bacon, cave popcorn and some rarely found formations such as cave shields and cave turnips.  The kids loved it of course, but what’s not to love?  We ate lunch there and then struck out of Nevada and headed into Utah.

We saw more snow, but not nearly as much.  Utah doesn’t have the long lonely highways like Nevada and Utah speed limits are much slower.  We aimed for the back roads and avoided the interstates like they were the plaque.  We found a little place down a bumpy dirt road just off the highway in the Ashley National Forest where we made camp by a little stream.  There is a little fire pit and someone calling himself Kohl camped here in 82 and 84 (or so he felt compelled to document on a the birch trees growing here.  We stayed there for the night before aiming for the Dinosaur National Monument on the Northern Utah/Colorado border.  I do not feel compelled to document our stay on the trees like Kohl felt compelled to.

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Monday May 28, 2012
Drove as far as Kremling, Colorado

Started out from our remote campsite and drove to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.  Dinosaur NM is a place where the ground holding a large variety of dinosaur bones has been turned upright.  Int the late 1950’s, a large visitor’s center was built over the quarry.  We were able to walk right up to the rock face and look at the exposed fossils in the rock where they were found.  Some are even exposed so that you can touch a real dinosaur fossil in it’s natural setting.

While the dinosaur quarry is the main draw to the National Monument, the park has the Green River running through it.  After visiting the quarry, we drove out along the river back into a canyon where a settler had a homestead built in an idealistic setting.  This wasn’t so unique except that this settler was a woman who moved out to farm the land long before women even had a right to vote.  She lived there nearly 50 years and her cabin and homestead are now a part of the Monument.

After Dinosaur, we drove on into Colorado.  Up to this point, the roads had been clear of traffic for the most part and the towns few and far apart.  Northern Colorado is not the same however.  It was like being back in California again and not in a good way.  The towns are many, the people are many, and the scenery is spoiled by the population.  Steamboat Springs Colorado was the first place we had come to since California with the Share The Road signs for bicycles.  Trouble is these signs seem to be posted where the bicycles are the ones who don’t want to share the road by riding in herds that slow all traffic to a crawl.

It was a relief to make it up into the Routt National Forest.  This was the first of what would be 3 crossings of the Continental Divide in two days.  We had high hopes of finding a nice National Forest campground and spending the night.  We tried all of the 3 campgrounds off of Highway 40 to no avail.  All were closed.  So we pushed on hoping for a campground open nearby.

An hour later, we finally came up on the Wohlford Mountain Reservoir which had camping, but the layout, pit toilets and the characters there were so bad, we elected to gamble on something else down the road.  That something else was the Red Mountain RV resort in lovely downtown Kremling Colorado. Thankfully the place was quiet with full hook-ups and showers for only $10 more than the crappy reservoir campgrounds would have cost.

Tuesday May 29, 2012
Drove as far as Gering, Nebraska

Started out from Kremling and headed into the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The crossing of the Continental Divide here was much more impressive since the highway was purposely built up above the tree-line to a height of thirteen thousand feet.  The wind was fierce, the air was cold and yes, we saw snow again, but in its rightful place.

Here the kids did their first Junior Ranger program of the trip.  If you aren’t familiar with this, each National Park has a Junior Ranger program where they hand out a booklet and have the children fill out some of the activities.

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They then take the booklet to the ranger of the park and he or she asks them about what they did and saw and grill them about filling out the booklets.  We did this a few years ago in a few parks in the southwest, but I don’t remember the rangers being such sticklers then. We were only in this place for the day, but the Ranger was not going to let us escape without the kids attending some Ranger program.  Luckily, that included viewing a movie.  We were on vacation to see the land, not sit in stuffy movie theaters, but to get the silly requirement over, we went and saw the same kind of movies we watch on the Discovery Chanel. With that requirement out of the way, they were pronounced Rocky Mountain National Park Junior Rangers.  And once more, it was to the highways.

And once more it was like being back in California. It was relatively slow going up and out of Colorado into Nebraska.  By the time we were in Nebraska, the scenery was more open and the traffic was less, but the speed limits didn’t improve like I had hoped.  We got slowed down from 65 to 60 miles per hour.

We found a little RV park in Gering Nebraska just south of the Scott’s Bluff National Monument.  The camp host first tried shoe-horning us in between two other RV’s.  It was silly because there were plenty of other open sites, so when I asked to be moved to a nice one a little away from the rest, he resisted because he was saving that “pull through” site for trailers.  I pointed out the fact that there were plenty of open sites, no one else arriving on a Wednesday night and that it was after 8 pm local time.  He relented, we moved camping spots and finished another day on the road.

Wednesday May 30, 2012
Drove as far as , Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Started out from Gering on our way to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska.  It was a place we had never heard of before, but spotted on the map when we were looking for places to go.   Our first stop of the day was breakfast.  We picked the Log Cabin from a list of restaraunts provided by the campground.  I think Chad and Natalie were possibly the first children who ever went into this place.  It was the first place I can remember that didn’t even have kids list of dishes.  The food was good enough and we needed the hearty meal later.

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The next stop was Scott’s Bluff National Monument where we saw displays of the Oregon Trail.  The road we started out on was the old Oregon Trail road in fact.  The kids saw wagons and we walked though the exhibits and then headed north across the prairie.   It is just humbling to think of the effort the early settlers endured to cross this land without roads.  The rolling terrain rolls with the grasslands that are now also farmed, though not so entirely that you don’t get the feel of what it was like here two hundred years ago.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument has been set aside in the heart of the Nebraska west.  Though the monument is named for the fossil beds found here, the real story of this park is its setting in the Lacota Nation.  We walked a three mile trail on the search of the very unimpressive fossil beds, but the walk was more about experiencing the prairie, wind and all.  We joked about the trail being up-hill both ways.  Physically going out and figuratively coming back against the wind that ceaselessly blew.  All were agreed by the end of our hike, that we were all doubly grateful we were not part of the original Oregon Trail.

From Agate, we headed north again into South Dakota.  The highway here slowed us down to 55.  I normally can’t drive 55, but the way up into the Black Hills was scenic and we went with the flow.  We traveled up into the Wind Cave National Park.  Being no stranger to the Junior Ranger badge program, we made sure we stopped in on the visitor center that evening to pick up the booklets so the kids could complete them that night  before our cave tour the next morning.  This let them fill out the activities sitting at the camp table rather than working on benches and display surfaces at the visitor’s center.

We camped in the National Parks campground in Wind Cave NP and had our first marshmallow roast.  Great fun.

My Father Loved The Lakes May 8, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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My father loved the lakes. They were his go-to place to get away with his family.  He loved fishing, but it wasn’t the sport of fishing he loved. He didn’t have a tackle box the size of a suitcase and he never had a fancy rod and reel.  His style of fishing was a reflection of his personality, straightforward and uncomplicated. Put a worm on a hook and catch a fish. For Delbert Wells, fishing was an excuse to spend time with his friends and family.

Through the 70’s and 80’s, every major 3-day holiday was a time to go to our home away from home, Santa Margarita Lake.  The number one activity at the lake was as you can guess, fishing. Dad would “get up at the crack of dawn,” which often wasn’t as close to sunrise as it sounds, but it was the coolest time of the day.  He’d take whichever of his kids he could wake up then and we’d go out on a boat with his best friends Dick and Roy (oh, the stories to be told from these two).  We’d go out on the lake when the water surface was smooth as glass, and we’d start fishing their favorite coves, working our way further and further back to where only boats could go.

Dad, Dick and Roy would spend the morning telling their stories that I never got tired of hearing, even if I didn’t always fully understand them.  It was more about the way those three interacted that was the entertaining part.  Roy was the comedian, Dick was the grumpy old man and my dad was the straight man with the deadpan delivery. Occasionally there was the excitement and interruption of bringing a fish on board, but mostly it was about the time together alone on the lake.  Dad was always there and ready to help us kids take care of our bait and help us land the bluegill and catfish. He wasn’t the one telling the most stories, and for those of you who knew him, that is saying something. But he was inseparable from those mornings.

Starting with the marina at the front of the lake, there are 13 floating boat docks tethered to the shore where the bathrooms for the anglers are.  Most of the docks are around the wider main body of the lake, but the last one is located way back in a long finger we called the narrows. It was the landmark that signified the unofficial end of the morning fishing trip.  The old timers to the lake called it Pier 13, where dad and the rest of us went to unload the morning’s coffee and other beverages before heading back off the lake ahead of the afternoon heat.

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On our way to pier 13

This weekend we went back to Pier 13.  As in the years past we had one large boat like the one Roy owned and we had a rented aluminum outboard boat like the ones dad and Dick would have shared in renting.  As you see from the pictures, there was a large group there, including dad in an unassuming container. We toasted our goodbyes to dad where some of our fondest memories of him will always be.  He will forever be inseparable from that place and our final tribute means he will be there at Pier 13 in body and spirit forever.

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Arriving as a group at Pier 13, Margarita Lake CA.

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I’m on the right. This is just after we tosted goodbye.

He Was A Rocket Mechanic April 16, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.
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My father was a rocket mechanic during my childhood.  He had started in Florida during the Cape Canaveral years and moved to California when Vandenberg Air Force Base became the West Coast launching point for missiles and military satellites. When a grade school assignment came to interview someone who witnessed history, he told me about being on a team that experimented with launching rockets and trying to catch them with an airplane.  He wasn’t a scientist or an engineer.  He was one of the ground crew who worked to build and maintain the things that the scientists and engineers dreamed up. He was a blue-collar rocket man.

He was also a great father.  I loved the few times families were allowed on base to tour the place where he worked.  I got to stand next to real rockets with names like Titan and Thor that were ready to launch at a moment’s notice. He worked long hours on the base but when he was home he found time to be a dad to six children. He took me on camping trips through the Y-Indian Guides and he helped me to build backyard forts.  He had a mid-western charm and could make instant friends with anyone who wanted to hear his stories. 

He taught me how to work on cars and build anything I could imagine.  He was an inspiration to me in many ways, but if you ever wonder why I write about science fiction, the answer is definitely because my dad was a rocket mechanic and what little boy couldn’t help but to be impressed with that.

Delbert Perry Wells passed away on Sunday, and this little boy will miss him.

 

People Everywhere! April 4, 2012

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It started with a simple idea.  My son was taken by the images of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park after watching an episode of California’s Gold on PBS. We live just a few hours away so we decided to go on an overnight trip there for the start of the kid’s spring break.  For some reason this trip seemed different than trips to SF in the past.  I’ve been there many times so I expected a culture shock, but not in the way I experienced it this past weekend.

The crowds were shockingly dense. Disneyland park dense.  Rock concert dense. Standing in line at the DMV dense.  Maybe spring break had something to do with it, but wow this was not the thing I was hoping to experience.  The picture here was taken at 9 am in the Tea Garden on Monday. Within one hour of taking this picture the place was filling up fast and the Zen of the place was gone.

We drove down to Fisherman’s Warf, but we never stopped. Too crazy.  We drove up into China Town and got out there where the crowds actually worked in our favor providing cover from the shopkeepers trying to pull you in to see their cheap imported wares. It was fun to see the kid’s reactions to the explosion of sights, sounds and people.  The reprieve was in the Exploratorium and the CA Academy of Sciences where admission charges naturally regulated the masses.

I know there are people who thrive on the crowds, but not me.  I was glad to come home to my rural life.  I absorbed experiences that will probably find their way into my writings and my kids got to experience the sights of the city.

Day Life Milestones Reached March 19, 2012

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I have been on some crazy deadline roller coasters with my day job lately.  I am happy to report that I can see the surface as I have risen from the dark depths of 14 hour work days and weekends with nearly zero downtime.  One of my projects has been cleared to bid and another is finally ready to go sit in the bin at the Division of the State Architect. The latter is a school project that I have loved working on but look forward to letting it set until its fresh.  In the mean time, I plan to give my wife and children some of the attention they’ve missed and I hope to wrap up my next WOTF submission (yes in that order).  Unfortunately, success in passing deadlines inevitably leads to more deadlines.  Recent staff changes means that I finally inherit another project that has lingered miserably for the past year under others.  I hope that my drafting team which is starting to hit a production rhythm can help put the trouble child project back in line efficiently and without taking too much of my off-hours time away.

Writing wise, I hope to start finding some imagination time again.  I have a novel nearly finished, two very good short stories to complete and I have fallen behind submitting other stories to the markets.  But first, I must start simple.  Flash cards for my son.

The Wait For Results March 7, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Submissions, Tom's Posts.
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There is a trickle of results coming in on the Quarter One entries for the Writers of the Future.  For now, the only news reported is not so good news.  Many entrants are trying to read their personal results into the fact that they have or have not received news if they placed or not. 

The logical side of me asks, “Is the news either good or bad just because you haven’t read it?”  I believe it is either good or bad the moment you hit the “SUBMIT” button.  That is the point where you’re personal control over the outcome has ended.  From there, otherworldly forces will determine if the news of your results will come in the form of a polite e-mail or a phone call.  After you SUBMIT, you can no longer have an inspiration that will lift your story to the top of the others or doom your story with an ill advised edit.  From SUBMIT foreword, your news will come in whatever form it was going to come no matter what you do in the mean time.

I take “no news is no news” as equivalent to a tree falling in the woods and making a sound, no matter if someone was there to hear it or not.  You don’t know and likely can’t know if your personal news will be good or bad by the same degree from the moment you hit SUBMIT, until the moment you get your news.  So trying to glean your success from the length of time, or the number of other responses will not change your results, so until you do get your news, there is no news.

Of course the emotional side of me says that the dreams and fears will continue as long as the news has not arrived, despite how hard I try to keep a logical focus.  But isn’t that what helps separate me from the box I’m using to type this with?

Albert Einstein Must Have Had Had A Lot Of Deadlines February 28, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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Albert Einstein must have had a lot of deadlines for his work at the patent office in his early days of formulating the Theories of Relativity.   The other physicists of his age were working at cushy university jobs and I don’t imagine them being saddled with deadlines and the pressures of watching a calendar date approach as fast as a minute hand seems to move on a clock.  But if Einstein was under the gun for deadlines, he would have realized that time does speed up in proportion to the weight of a deadline.

I say this because my own deadline driven career has been operating at near light speed lately.  I’ve seen dates put on a calendar months ago morph from “achievable at a leisurely pace” to “oh my god”.  As the deadlines have drawn nearer, it’s as if all of the clocks have sped up.  What used to be a twenty-four hour day somehow became twenty-hours then fifteen, and despite increased effort, it seems that the more work I do, the slower the progress seems to get in comparison to the deadline.

That’s when I realized the image of the clock.  You can stare at a clock and not really see the minute hand move, but it does and after 60 seconds of staring, it’s moved without you realizing it.  The days in the calendar are working against me like this.  Two weeks ago I thought two weeks was going to be more than enough time for something that I thought would take a week, but time operating like it does for me right now, it turns out I needed a month.

Man that Einstein was a genius.

Dima Found February 16, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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I have been able to reconnect with my Quickoffice Customer Service Specialist Dima through the web.  He says that their e-mail system isn’t working so well.  Funny, but aren’t they a tech company? If they can’t keep their e-mail working what chance do I have for them fixing the problem with my phone?

On my own I did figure out that if I e-mail a Quickoffice corrupted file to a friend who has an Android phone with Quickoffice; he could open that file, save it and e-mail it back and I can then open the file on my PC.  So, 4 chapters and one short story are not a total loss.  I just have to repeat the procedure a few times, and this I figured out without my Service Specialist.  So now I will have restored my lost work.

Of course I will be shopping for a different word editor on my phone.  It’s too bad because I didn’t mind Quickoffice, but if it won’t work despite unloading the program and re-loading it; and if their experts can’t figure out the problem, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sorry Dima, let me know if you ever figure out how to fix things.