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Monday, December 4, 2017

Leaving "Oz"

“I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas." Scarecrow to Dorothy, from "The Wizard of Oz."

Life is a tornado
Caught in peculiar twist of Bizarro fate, Bobbie and I find ourselves swept up, up and away in a freak tornado. We land far, far away from rainbows of sandstone in beautiful "Oz," where bluebirds sing from treetops and troubles melt like lemon drops.  

Somewhere on the plain planes of Kansas  

This is not the dream that I dreamed of. Where are the bluebirds...the stars to wish upon? 

We grind on and on, silo after silo after silo—topped to the brim with this years bountiful harvest of shredded corn stalks—into a blinding sun that hangs in the muted, dry, blue-gray haze of cow gas, down an endless four-lane Interstate that vanishes into the oh-so-fucking distant horizon.   

In bygone days of youth, strength, endurance and ignorance, I made tedious odysseys across Kansas' featureless landscape more times than I have fingers upon which to count. Kansas the barrier, of sorts, a mental and physical impediment that stood between my home in Les Miserable and a future in the mountains around Lovely Ouray.  

The 60's and 70's were restless times, and I was a restless young man. My peon job at a Yamaha Motorcycle dealership only offered  a paltry one-week's paid vacation per year. FYI, people...grief from 51 weeks of toil for "the man" cannot be undone in 7 fucking days. 

So every September I'd make the long trek to Colorado, dreaming of quitting that job, moving west, and shaking up the doldrums in my inane, rut-of-a-life. To this day, the interminable tedium of crossing Kansas is forever etched in both memory and ass. 

I'd leave Les Miserable on a Friday after work...brave "Bloody 13's" carnage, north to Highway 50 West, a two-lane endurance test of oncoming semi's, cow-pattied stockyards, shadowy silo's, night-black darkness, and unimaginable fatigue. 

Then came the "all-nighter," crossing the endless pancake plains of Kansas behind the wheel, alternating between Mountain Dew and truck-stop coffee in order to keep my eyes open. Sometime around 4 am, I'd finally reach the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" sign...a regrettable, if not premature ejaculation/geographical misnomer as the Kansas plains do not effectively conclude until one is midway across Colorado. 

After 17 to 18 bleary-eyed, over caffeinated hours, I'd roll into the loving arms of Lovely Ouray, set up a tent in the Amphitheater Campground, pull the pop-top tab on a can of Coors, and proceed to die from exhaustion. It's one thing to ride the leading edge of anticipation and euphoria when going on vacation, another thing entirely to endure the wretched and onerous return ride back home and to work. It's like my dear ole daddy used to say, "If you wanna to get to heaven, you gotta do a little time in Hell."

Now, and more to the "point:" Our annual autumnal getaway to "Oz" was cut a month short this year. Son, Caleb, and his beautiful bride of one year, Kelli, recently cropped the tops off their Colorado roots in order to cultivate a new "garden" of opportunity in Osage Beach, Missouri. In partnership with Kelli's gracious and loving parents, Jim and Joyce, they are now owners of the Osage Beach Rv Park, a beautiful wooded oasis that borders State Park Land for hiking trails, as well as boat access to the humungous Lake of the Ozarks. 

Funny, life's "tornadoes." Just when you think you've put "crossing Kansas" behind you for good, it sneaks back in front. 

Juliet with her "nomad dad," Chris...a great guy with a great daughter.

So we bid hiking buddies Chris, and his lovely Seattle-based daughter, Juliet, farewell. For the second time in as many years we've had the pleasure of hiking with Juliet, the first being in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, and now, Zion. Her trips to see "dad" involve flights and tight itineraries, but we always manage to treat her to some gorgeous hikes. We trust that she returns to the Great (soggy) Northwest with a voracious lust for "next time," and some "itchy feet."  :)

Aside from pain-in-your-ass, Kansas, our trip to Missouri was fine. Jim and Joyce put us up in the master suite and prepared tasty and hearty home cooked dinners.

View from Master Suite...

With hands full of renovation projects to do this off-season, we were eager to help out by laying new flooring in the main office while there. But first, Kelli and Caleb wanted to take us on a hike... :)) 

Ah, reminders of my teenage years, playing amongst Missouri's woods and limestone cliffs...
Time to lay some flooring...

I hope to finish posting the rest of our hikes in "Zion," then maybe even "The Johnson Thanksgiving Reunion" blowout in Golden, Colorado...if and when "motivation" returns. 

If not, have a glorious and happy holidays, and we'll see you down roads less traveled...


  1. I will look forward to whatever you post whenever you get to it. I know full well the backlog of posts waiting in the mind to be written. Ahh...someday. In the mean time, I am settling in.

  2. Welcome back home. I have been to Ha Ha Tonka many times.

  3. Always nice to get involved in some Father/ Son work projects. Even thought it's not Colorado, this is a great opportunity for Caleb to work out doors and enjoy the water. My Son almost ended up working in Salt Lake City, my excuse to move to Utah. But he ended up moving to Carmel, Indiana 5 miles from our house. Nice to have the grandchild close bye.

  4. Very interesting, so we were probably passing in the night back in the 60's 70's on I-70 only I was going back & forth from Forbes AFB to my home in Springfield, Ill. Then in 68 I made my farewell to the Midwest trip and again on I-70 headed for California, Due You Know the Way To San Jose every so in grained in my memory, to this day. Unfortunately did not stop in Colorado, probably just as well because it would become my vacation play ground for the rest of my adult life.
    Now I don't know what field of work Caleb was in but getting to work outdoors everyday and in a beautiful resort area like the Lake of the Ozarks he will probably live a long and healthy life while getting to know many like minded folks who appreciate Nature.
    Sounds like you and Bobbie had a real special Thanksgiving holiday.
    Have a safe trip back.

  5. Well, it may be Missouri, but at least the "kids" are involved in something that brings people close to nature! Too bad it's such a looooong drive.

  6. Ugh, feet are itching like crazy! Already trying to figure out if I can make it down South again before Spring. How cool that your son and his wife are the proud new owners of an RV park! You have obviously had some influence there!

  7. Good luck Caleb!! hope to see you down the road!! walden creek rv steve


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