Words to live by: Make today your best day ever!

Make today your best day ever!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

And Then, For No Particular Reason....

I watch "Forrest Gump" just about every time it's on. Sure, it's a sappy portrayal of silly and sillier coincidences and staged improbabilities, but....

It makes me think every time I see it. And I need an infusion of Gumpian logic today.

Let me count my blessings: I have a job. I have a uniquely wonderful family who loves and cares about me. I get to write as an avocation. And within my aging body I feel younger as each year blows past.

But that same job, while providing the means to operate the home (don't I sound like the prototypical Capricorn?) has exhausted me as it keeps me from trails, from writing, from all those escapes I enjoy so much. It's not the job's fault - I enjoy what I do, and month after month I keep proving I'm damn good at managing numbers as well as personalities.

I miss my time with the birds and animals, though. If I'm lucky I have time to take a drive somewhere to listen to the owls and slithering night things. And that's a drive, not a hike. Solutions are just not there, work close to home in my specialty is just not there, and that sets me into a funk.

I'm lucky enough to share my night excursions with The Kid or The Gina, sometimes both. Those drives are good for me, allowing me to explore possibilities I can't explore on someone else's time. And the time to pull the trigger on change may be now - it may be time to take The 4wheelbob Story public.

I so enjoy speaking to groups, to schools, Scouts, to anyone who'll listen. Do I have something to say? A lot of folks have told me so. Then there's the $100,000 question - could I support my family as a writer and speaker? Hmmm....well, I think so, if all the dots connect. It'll take finding someone to represent me, as I have a decided lack of ego which doesn't allow me to ask for money for an hour during which I'll try to motivate. Finding an agent should be easy, right?

Not so much. As a newbie, it's hard to get anyone's attention. But I'll keep plugging, hoping to find a representative with a few yards of vision, one who might be able to understand that when 4wheelbob talks, people listen.....most of the time.

Just a few short words on frustration, and the ideas that can spring from it. I'm so ready. Is there an agent in the house? Now I'm off to calm those critters in my head with the Arroyo Mocho Trail for a bit. Take care, and Happy Trails!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happiness is.....

...not so tough to find if you don't have gigantic expectations. I'm a pretty simple guy. I like birds, animals, snakes, long trails and a few people. I like being able to listen to other's ideas and enjoy the time spent looking in each other's eyes and sharing some human time.

I also like to issue challeges - to me. Often. I don't like disagreements. They rarely end in accord because most people aren't very flexible anymore. I'm able to keep smiling because I understand that just as I'm not going to change their minds, they probably won't change mine. I simply listen, hope to hear a cogent argument being made and usually...OK, frequently...just go on believing that my position is right. I don't understand why it's so difficult to learn to defend a point of view without hurling invectives at each other.

Oh, yeah - I really hate web based disagreements. I guess many feel they are now licensed to say anything to anybody in any foul, disrespectful manner they choose because it's done anonymously and no one will ever know they said it. There is nothing quite so disturbing as the incivility of this "modern" world.

But I digress. Barn owls are flying over the yard, and I can sit in the back and listen to them stake their claims to that air space all night, and always with a sense of wonder. So many magnificent creatures, and so few who appreciate them. Instead, the world has come to a wherewillwegowhatwillwedothisisntfuniwannagohomebecause itsboring kind ofplace. How sad. Life blows past so quickly, in huge chunks if you happen to have any of your time placed on temporary or permanent disability, for example. Survival then sudennly takes on a new spirit, not always a positive one. Our world has become a "me" world, each of us with an entitlement to the life we want. It can get contentious among us, and instead of finding solace in nature, with beings who understand that they are pieces of a larger, impossibly intertwined community, we take by force, practice cruelty, destroying the very people and places with whom we should be celebrating each other's lives.

And I'm tired of it. Enough. Humans can be educated, and egocentric, and uncaring. If you see yourself, try this - stop, sit, close your eyes and listen. Turn down the noise we people love to make and there, in the background of all those sounds you may hear a robin, a wren, a woodpecker or hawk - have you noticed them before? Now open your eyes and watch them - there's not a second of wasted time, of finger (wing?) pointing, of anything but nature's urgent push to survive. There's no pretense, and every action has a purpose.

Although I would have a problem completely shutting people out of my life, I grow more respectful of nature each time I can sit and - and learn - from a non - human. So please, turn off the Blackberry. Stop texting. Get out of the house and look around. Put your faith in these beings rather than your electronic doodad. You might just learn a few things. Then, look me in the eye, across the table or on a bench and we'll talk for awhile. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

That Big Yellow Thing In The Sky?

It's been a while. Two weeks ago, as I huddled in my down bag at 9,000 feet in the White Mountains in a snow flurry(on Memorial Day?), I swore off any knowledge of it, finally. Weekend after weekend, run after run (or roll, in my case), long hike after long hike, chipping mud from shoes clothes, wheelchair parts and miscellaneous exposed body bits, its appearence nevertheless surprised me.

I'd given up on summer. There it is, though, on my calendar - taunting me at my desk, begging me to strap on the backpack so it could once more abandon me as I set out on another adventure. But here it was today - the sun, showering warmth that fractured the foggy morning in Silicon Valley. I wanted to get up from my cube, but feared disrupting the moment, maybe setting off rebellion with the Weather Gods. So I just sat, as I always do, and looked out the window.

Checking the forecast for the weekend, however, finally fired me up. No, 12,000 feet will probably hav to wait until September given the snowpack, but local trails will be dry enough to navigate over any possible distance. Maybe a loop from Skyline Gate in Redwood Regional. Perhaps a long slog up the Iron Horse and back, Dublin to Concord, a 40 + mile endeavor. Or maybe I'll find a creek or pond and just roll in - after all, I've gotten so used to wet weekends...why change now?

The best part? Summer, real summer, is just two weeks away. And it looks like summer is going to hang on for a while - maybe September, if there is a Santa Claus. Training is way behind schedule, so I'm going to have to double time my days, making Casey Jones - style rolls all over the western states.

I hope to see you, by the way, this Saturday, June 11 at Quarry Lakes Regional Park in Fremont, where I'll have my Ambassador shoes on as the EBRPD unveils "Healthy Parks, Healthy People". Early next week you can read my full take on the program at ebparks.org/bobcoomber . Best of all, it'll be a nice day. A nice weekend. Nice nights after work to zoom some mileage into the mix. Has anyone ever made the Livermore - San Jose commute in a chair? Probably not...another "first" to seek... :-)

So enjoy this time - full moon on the 15th, Solstice on the 21st, and Livermore's Relay For Life the 25th - 26th. I'm still looking to finish with close to 50 miles under my wheels, and being on the track for as much of the 24 hour event as I can muster. All because it's finally summer, and I'm ready to roll. It's what I do, how I roll. Oh, I'm on a roll now...see you out there, for as long as this summer thing hangs around. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

One of These Months, We'll Have a Summer! Memorial Day, 2011

Memorial Day weekend has, for the last couple of years, been "Opening Day" for me. Three days of almost - summer weather in a mountain or desert setting, warm days and cool nights watching Mom Nature shake winter off and welcome warmer times.

Why would this year be different? With as heavy a snowpack as we've had here in the Golden State, I read with rapt attention the CalTrans road openings that made my Thursday prior to the holiday - Sonora, Ebbetts and Monitor Passes had opened, while Tioga was still closed. Friday I could hardly wait - I was to be off to California's White Mountains, our highest desert range, for 3 days of nesting bluebirds, trails through the bristlecone pines and short summits, those to maybe 11,000'. Last year I was able to spend a fine 3 days out here over Memorial Day, even with copious bits of powder still on the ground over 11,000'. I knew it would be cool at night this year, and had heard of snow predicted in the Sierra Sunday morning. And though I was physically prepared for grungy weather, I really hadn't let my mind deconstruct the possibility that conditions this year may not be, uh, optimal.

But onward I went. Leaving home around 8 AM Saturday, I made it to Sonora Pass by noon. In all my Memorial Day crossings of this pass, I had never seen such an accumulation of snow still on the ground. Ever. And that's a long time for me, as my wife will be pleased to let you know. The trip over was uneventful, and Hwy 395 south to Bishop was remarkably quiet for a holiday weekend. I stopped to pick up supplies and gas in Bishop (Von's for both, by the way - cheapest gas on 395) and headed south to my turn off at Big Pine.

Hwy 168 east from 395 is a nice 13 miles to White Mountain Road, and because there was no traffic I was able to drive in a most relaxed state, looking at the wildflowers, watching for animals, marveling at rock formations in the Inyo Range....all good stuff. Arriving at White Mtn Road, I made the turn up into the Whites. Already, though, the weather had set the tone - wind was howling in the 25 - 40 MPH range, and ominous clouds were wrapping around the mountaintops, settling low on the hillsides. When I arrived at Grandview Campground it was 45 degrees - a tad cooler from Bishop's 80. As always, I have the car arranged for quick set up so I can get camp put together in a hurry. This was a perfect day to test my ability to put up the tent, set up cooking stuff, get the water source and secondary water source ready to roll....which, despite the silly wind, proved I hadn't lost my touch. Only a blow up of my new 2.5" luxury (for me!) pad from REI (Camp Bed) might take a minute or two. That little purchase, by the way, made even a stormy, cold night seem like a hotel. Well, almost.

My concern as afternoon spun into night was the wind and dust. Clouds had blown east, and those to the west over the Sierra looked ominous but would, if White Mountain history held true, dissipate by the time they moved east. I started a campfire under heavy wind, impressing even me with the method I used - ignite dry grass and tiny twigs, add larger and larger pieces until the fire had been established, then add the Heavy Duty stuff. Around 6 PM, the temp had dropped into the 30's. I was bundled up well enough, and the fire kept the front side warm. But by 7 I was done. I got into the tent as the wind threatened to blow my chair into Nevada. A few well placed rocks anchored it firmly in place and I put on my very warm night clothes. I was tired, so I brought my secondary water supply (my Camelback) into the tent with some cheddar flavored potato chips so I could enjoy them without a fight. I was dozing by 7:30, waking up intermittantly as the wind blew without let up for hours. I woke at 2:30 AM because the outside had gone silent - no wind, not even a rustle. I could hear a pair of night birds chattering with each other and went back to sleep hoping that was the end of the breeze.

The next sound I heard also woke me, an hour and a half later. It was some kind of precipitation, but I was not awake enough to determine how hard it was raining. It was also at this small sleep disturbance that I coughed while in the middle of a rotation in my sleeping bag. Something in my rib cage tweaked, and I was in some real discomfort. It was not going to go away, the pain told me. I found a position in which I was comfortable, and tried to get back to sleep. It was all right as long as I didn't cough. <coughcough/hack> OUCH! Water fixed the situation, though, so I was back to sleep. For a while. Dawn woke me, and as the sky lightened I saw the result of the pitter patter heard in the wee hours - an inch of snow had accumulated on the seat of my chair. The campground had been carpeted with a soft, delicate layer of fluff, which amused me to no end. The cold, however, was not amusing. It had to be in the teens, at least. Now, I've been here in October and camped at 11,000' and run into nearly zero. But this is late May. Memorial Day. It was to be sane at night. So much for using a calendar to plan a trip.

And then to top things off the wind started howling again. Sticking my head outside the tent I saw a disturbing gathering of clouds surrounding the campground. I got dressed and ready for the day, heading to the stove to try to boil some water. The stove had been covered in snow, however, and the water jug was frozen solid. I got into the car and turned it over. The thermometer said it was 20 outside. It didn't provide the wind chill number. I grabbed some essentials from my tent and decided to head to Bishop for some warm coffee. Although such a side trip would normally violate all my outdoors orientation, I wanted warm food, dang it! I made it to the road, heater blasting, up the hill toward the Visitor Center so I could get a cell signal and let Gina know of the weather conditions. However, the road was iced to impassibility a couple of miles north of the campground, and I headed out, back toward the highway and Bishop.

It got uglier. As I approached Bishop, the big electronic advisory sign let me know all the passes that had just opened two days ago were now closed. 4, 88, 89, 108, 120....all were impassible. I then glaced east to the Whites to witness a hellish cloud cover moving southward, gobbling up White Mountain Peak, Campito Mountain, Boundary Peak....Clouds dropped lower and lower, new snow could be seen falling over the entirety of the range, and I felt lost - clearly I had to pack up unless I really wanted to demonstate a superior masochistic ability. I gobbled up a hot meal and headed back. I would have to pack, and fast. There could be no time wasting. And then I'd have to figure the best route home. I had one in mind...

Back in camp, clouds swirled over my favorite trees and the little bluebirds spoke softly with each other, probably laughing at me while hunkering down for a cold day. It was now 24 degrees, balmy by early morning standards. I packed quickly, well organized and with  mercifully little to pack. Snowflakes blew through, and the temps made every one stick. I left camp and headed back to the highway. One short drive north to the Sierra View overlook told the ultimate tale - from Sierra View I could not view the Sierra. The storm had taken the Palisades, Mt Ritter / Banner Peak, all the way down to Whitney and Williamson - the Sierra might just have been a cloud. I said a prayer for any unlucky through hikers that might be caught on the PCT, despite all the posted warnings; this was a February storm, not May.

I usually feel a sense of defeat if I don't ride out bad weather, and have been hiking a lot over the winter in driving rain and fierce cold. But I felt good about this; I would be safe, and I'd enjoy one hell of a long drive in order to get around the Sierra. I made it south after filling up in Bishop, toward Independence and Lone Pine. I spoke with a ranger farther south who advised me that my next possible crossing, Hwy 178, was a windy, RV - filled pass over toward Lake Isabella. He advised me to go all the way to Mojave and catch Hwy 58. I did, and he was right. 58 moved fast through the Tehachapis, into Bakersfield and west to Interstate 5. The wind was still blowing - it was as if the windmills on the Altamont, over the Tehachapis, near Palm Springs - had all reversed themselves and unleashed a horrendous statewide wind.

My day became anticlimactic on the Interstate. Miles blew past, and each mile closer to home was just a little more comfortable. I made it back by 9:30 PM, tired as I've ever been and full of ideas about how I'd ride it out next time...a 4 - season tent? Sequestering the water supply in a larger tent? A wind - proof fire? I intend to be back there soon, perhaps in a couple of weeks, and will try to convince Gina and Sab to share the big tent with me. But like me, they aren't yet convinced there will be a summer. I was so pleased to be able to see one last (hopefully!) blast of winter so late in the year. Although it screwed up my plans, it was just another day for Mother Nature to keep us in the loop as to who's boss. See you out there soon! Maybe in summer, if we have one...

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's The Right Thing To Do

People are among Nature's most interesting studies.

Capable of almost anything, from delving deeply into subjects of great intellectual and physical intricacy to feeling emotions unlike any other member of the Animal Kingdom, we can be caring or callous, instructive or destructive, ambitious or malicious. Trying to understand what we're going to do next may be a matter only for historians, philosophers or physicists.

But there are only two things I know about people, things I try to practice every day, and each very difficult to refute. Yes, this is the internet, so while those who stay up for days at a time trying to find any conceivable glitch in another's point, hold on for just a little while. I'm sure you'll think of something. But I'll make it short, elemental. Here are 4wheelbob's Pair of Random Wisdoms;

First, and most important: Each of us has something to offer everyone - lessons of sorts, a thought, an image, a smile. Not all the lessons are warm, fuzzy and rosy - not all education is easily disseminated. But a lesson may be as simple as "hey, I smiled and she smiled back!" or as tough as "guess I shouldn't have gone for a drive after that fourth drink (sound of handcuffs clicking)". Some people seem downright unapproachable, distant, aloof, even angry. What lessons have they had to endure? What might we learn from them? Then the obvious: what can we do to help make their lives a bit easier to endure, if not completely enjoy? Each of us can learn such tiny, important things from one another.

The second piece is even simpler and more satisfying: what can I do to make another's life here better? Can I offer a joke, or a warm meal? A cup of coffee coupled with a willing ear? Perhaps even a room until a situation gets sorted out....
Being social beings, I find it perplexing that we can't use the technology that got us the internet, and the ability to look up or store vast amounts of knowledge on a hard drive to help each other. Yes, of course I see Facebook pages for every conceivable cause, including my own. Yet, when in close physical contact with our fellow humans, we back away, seeking instead to intellectualize every possible emotion, feeling, spirit....and missing the most basic primate behavior, that of talking, touching, joking, telling stories - communicating face - to - face, without the book. We retreat to our Blackberries to text another sitting across a table. We trumpet our achievements on social networking (what would Ben Franklin think of THAT?) sites, but sit on our hands when sharing a table, sitting in the cool, damp night.

I enjoy making people laugh, or challenging them to think. I love spouting off inanities, just for the simple pleasure of being inane and inviting people to look closer and see that I have a soul, a spirit, even a mystery that will take equal amounts of thought and poking to arouse. And as much as I enjoy using the computer to share thoughts like these with you, I'd be in my element if we were yammering to each other all night, being silly or thoughtful or reflective. Because on the internet, I can't see you smile or hear you laugh. I can't piss you off or argue sports in real time. No, that takes more effort. Effort which, I pray, you are willing to expend in order to make the most of this life.

That's all there is to it. Those of you who've met me on a trail and engaged me in conversation (not too hard to do) understand. Those with whom I've shared coffee and chatted about the beauty of the day and what it will hold within its boundaries understand. Those who've allowed me to be a part of their lives, as either benefactor or benficiary, friend or lover, jokester or foil understand.

Writing and posting this as I will may seem contradictory, but fear not. Stop me to talk if you see me on the street, and you'll know, too, of my passion for people and life. Break away, if only for a day, from your electronic bindings and listen to another, without anger, without judgment, without scorn. We'll all be better for the time when we can look only at the individual and our similarities and not the artificial factional differences that so frequently divude us.

Share a moment with someone you don't know. You might find it the most educational moment of your life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Time's A Wastin'!

As usual, even my after work / resting part of the day is turning into an adventure. It's just to the left of 9 PM out here on the West Coast, it's still low 70's outside and I'm getting ready to go find some Great Horned Owls just north of town.

As I'm writing, a barn owl just flew over the house, causing a great disturbance in the Dawg Force - all three of them are sitting in back looking at the dark sky, wondering if some kind of angel is about to descend on them.....kinda cute, really. But the warm air tells me there will be a wide eyed flying circus this evening, and I want to check it out.

Another spring - summer favorite I haven't noticed yet should show itself soon - bats. The Giants could only hope to have bats as active as our neighborhood's. A few years back a small, innocent critter flew into the house and caused us no end of goofy looking drama as we tried to usher it back outside. It was probably not a fun evening for the flying mouse, though. By the time we managed to gently direct it toward an open window it had tired. Once outside the poor thing rested for a few minutes then flew off to take its frustration out on small, six legged flying things. Bats are good to have as neighbors.

Ah! Just now, a killdeer is going off about something a backyard or two away. Of course, they go off about damn near anything, so it's not a shock but it is amusing. Meanwhile, barnies are still chatting while cruising the neighborhood.

So I have a fascination with the natural, and a general distrust of too much electronic doodadism. That's the old fart in me, trying to find comfort as an analog guy in a digital world. That's why birds, lizards, ground squirrels, wolf spiders....all those beasts and critters that just don't want to leave their niche in the evolutionary chain....appeal to me so much.

Maybe there's a bit too much of that around my home. It's hard to interest a teenager in Mother Nature's magnificence, even harder to convince them to just sit, listen and marvel. Hopefully, age will mellow them and they, too will catch on. As one feels the urgency of life pulling in an unkind direction, there's little comfort in a world without all the flying, crawling, slithering, swimming beings with which we share it. I may, in fact, be just a bit more comfortable in their world sometimes. It's really a great place to be. Join me there!

As for me - I'm off for some owling. Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mister Toad's Wild Ride - Saturday, April 23, 2011

A lovely Saturday after a long and very busy week had me itchin' to hit the road. Although that's an old, overused expression, I tend to hit the road more than in a cliche sense. Saturday was not an exception - at 8 AM I had not picked a compass heading, tending this time of year to head north or east. I was open to suggestions, and Gina had a good one.

"Why don't you make a run to The Olive Pit?" It was more an invitation - The Olive Pit is a small specialty store in Corning, CA, just a few miles south of Red Bluff on Interstate 5. We make a semi - annual pilgrimage there for olives of all descriptions - cheese stuffed, garlic stuffed, rutabage stuffed (OK, I wanted to see if you were paying attention)....olives, trail mix, olive oil, some of the best peanut brittle, which is a particular weakness; each visit I roll through the doors as a warrior, taking no prisoners as I fill a cart with goodies. Our young houseguest and I are both savage olive fiends, and she has found and neutralized my stash. This is a drive that had to be made.

Off I went by 9:30 or so. It's not a difficult drive - I 80 to I 505 in Vacaville and onto I 5 at the metropolis of Dunnigan, home of Bill & Kathy's restaurant. Highway Five is an easy drive, and one can be entertained by looking west at the mountain ranges of Mendocino County or the many wildlife refuges just east of the freeway. Traffic is light, especially on a Saturday. I made it to The Olive Pit by noon. By 12:30 the shelves had been plundered, and $120 later I had enough olives to satisfy even the most insatiable olivephile (is that a word?).

But I wasn't happy. Yes, I got a chance to get out and clear the work week from my consciousness. But I detest out - and - back drives, strolls, trips of any kind. This seemed a good day to make a long, convoluted loop of a drive. As I packed everything into the car, I knew it was early enough to drive almost everywhere and still get home before dark. Knowing the neighborhood as I do, I realized the short drive north to Red Bluff would hook me up to Highway 36 and east to Lassen Volcanic National Park, then return through the little burgs of Chester, Greenville and Belden. These are places I knew intimately, where I feel as if I were home. I spent many a summer vacation in these parts. So what a way to create a nice drive! I didn't ponder the negatives - there were none as my time was concerned, and Gina knew I wanted to get away for a long drive. I called to let her know that I'd be awhile and got a resounding "go for it!" from her. I peered into the clouds surrounding the place in the sky where 10,300 foot Mt. Lassen would be, and the clouds enveloping her summit would lead me into her arms.

Only minutes after turning onto 36 in Red Bluff, the rain started. That was good, as the birds in my neighborhood had made a statement on the hood, trunk and roof of my Corolla. The rain was light but steady. I passed the elevation markers - 1000 feet, 2000 feet....tiny former stage stops which were now sleepy places if one needed gas or something to drink - Payne's Creek and Mineral for example. Like many small settlements, these had begun life as stops for stagecoaches and, later on, buses. These days only the occasional passerby stops for anything, especially on a cool, wet spring day. As I made it past 4000 feet, the tiny drops of water drifted more randomly through the air - snow! Tiny, non - sticking flakes pattered on my windshield. Nothing stuck, as they melted off as quickly as it hit the car. The temp had dropped to 35 degrees (from 70 at Red Bluff) and I plowed on, intrgued by this spate of good luck in bad weather.

Lassen Park was only open to the Visitor Center on the south, so I motored on and into Chester a short piece later. I felt great, which doesn't always happen on my long drives. Cruising into Chester in the rain was uneventful. There was little traffic, as the summer vacationers were still months away. Businesses were closed for the season or just closed - I tried to find coffee, but as I also found in Greenville coffee was a scarce commodity in Plumas County, CA this damp Saturday.

After a drive south through Greenville (now featuring the Plumas County Charter School) I put my mind into "relax" and dropped into the wonderful Feather River Canyon (Hwys 89 & 70). The Canyon is a special place, waterfalls spilling from every crevice and crack in the sheer walls. The East Branch and North Fork of the Feather River were high and stunniing in their collective power. Although far from the highest I've seen the river run, it was not a day to launch a kayak or raft. I stopped at some of my favorite places - Twain, Belden, Tobin, Pulga - to watch a train go by or marvel at a 200 foot high waterfall. The wildflowers had started blooming in The Canyon, cementing images that I hope will carry into the work week. Driving up the hill from Pulga and into Jarbo Gap and Yankee Hill I realized I had relaxed thoroughly. Traffic was light, so there was no pressure to keep up a speed at which I didn't want to motor. I pulled off where I wanted to pull off, waited until I was ready to move on and traveled once more. This pattern was repeated all the way into Oroville.

From Oroville the trip was familiar and not nearly as enticing as The Canyon, but fertile orchards leafing out and readying for peach, nectarine and apricot season got me excited about driving back soon. Into Marysville, I followed Highway 70 to 99 where I turned south until it crossed I 5 again. This time, I took 5 through the Valley and into Sacramento, Stockton, Manteca then west to Tracy and home.

Usually, once I'm home from a 532 mile day I'm weary and just want to rest. But I enjoy sponteneity; I was excited to see The Pit, Plumas County, The Canyon...all among my favorite places, all in one day, all at 44 MPG (thanks, Toyota!) and all without incident. The amount of planning and forethought put into the journey consisted of filling the gas tank. Everyone should take a day like this once in a while - make a circle, see your state, country, world. With each loop, each new exploration, each addition to your self confidence and knowledge base comes a desire to see even more. And as anyone who knows me well will tell you, the road can be an educational, entertaining, wonderful place to be. All it takes is a tank full of gas and the freedom to leave convention for a few hours. Hey, meet you in Mt Shasta? Oh, HECK yes!