Tuesday, September 30, 2014


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The Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto is  a modern, beautiful new building. I was impressed with their efficiency in Livermore, and here as well.  They fell a bit behind and we had wait time, but not much. However, I wanted to avoid traveling through the mire between Fremont and Palo Alto and insisted we go the short cut over the Dumbarton Bridge. Wrong move. We allowed one hour padding to get there on time. We barely made it and had no time for lunch before his multiple appointments began.
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His first eye exam, reading the charts. His vision is 80/20 in his good eye, and 200/20 in his bad eye. He had four separate exams.
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I thought his exams were eye and regular physical. I had it wrong. They were all to do with his eyes. The cataract was so thick, it couldn't be measured on the first machine and had to be measured on a second machine.
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The doctor, our last stop, gave him the good news that he could have the second operation one month after the first one is well healed. . We rushed, hungrily to the canteen only to find it closed. The cook's helper was just dumping the rest of the soup and gladly gave us a bowl instead of dumping it. Our lunch, finally. And, I was able to get a coffee to keep me awake on the long drive home, now in the middle of the worst traffic. We returned the way we should have come and new to me was the streamlined new roads and fixes that have been done to that once horrible section between Palo Alto and Fremont. My memory of that road was a time costly mistake.
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We stopped a couple of times to stretch our legs and arms and take a drink of water. At the vista view point, from the foothills above the valley, we stopped to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
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We watched it until it finally sank behind what looks like Mt. Diablo.
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It was the first time I've had a dinner of cheez-its and wine. Then wired from the caffeine, I boiled some eggs and ate those, too.  I couldn't get to sleep until after 10:00. Now, we have to go back for the surgery on October 8th, I think it is. We know the right roads to take and we'll spend the night for follow-up check on the 9th. I'm grateful Jim is so patient.  We laughed a lot over our cheez-its.

Monday, September 29, 2014


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My long time friend, Paul Moeller, and I had lunch yesterday at a place we like in Murphys. He is soon headed for Thousand Oaks to be with his girl friend for twelve days,  and I’m just arriving home after two months. So, we seized the day and put aside my mail and his project of carpeting his deck and zapped to town.
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Certainly, it is about sharing food, but more about sharing time. Being on the road has changed my lifestyle, so I always try to get together with old friends as much as I can when I’m home, even if it means dropping everything and obeying the rule, “people first”…
The world is a mess globally, but in your own small community you can find peace and sanity through family and friends.
My friend Jan came by and offered to teach me a rain dance, but I declined. Been there done that. I am thankful for the rain but I don’t like dancing in the mud.
Traveling can make you dizzy in a way. We drove from Hoh rain forest where the average rainfall is over 200 inches per year to California where we are in a deep drought. Earth, if we treat it right, is a grand place to live but carries death and destruction without intent, and surprises.  In Calama, a town in the Atacama Desert of Chile, records show, that it has never rained. Can you believe it?
Today, I will drive Jim to Palo Alto to have his pre-op exam on his eye, and a yearly check-up. Then back to Murphys. Much to do in the first week home.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


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We left Lake Minden north of Sacramento yesterday and arrived in Murphys at about 1:30. I walked the lake the night before without my camera and missed some great shots of two big catfish surfacing, mouths open, holding above water long enough for a photo. Dang. I should always carry my camera, I know that. So, I told Jim, we had to walk the lake again before we left in the early morning-with camera. Reflections on a “glass” surface.
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Clear and beautiful.
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The fish were feeding, and jumping and biting, but just try to get a photo.
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A fish would surface, grab an insect and be under before you could snap the photo. I have multiple pictures of gray shadows in the water.
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It is a pretty place, and peaceful here. Jim gets exhausted driving with one eye impaired. He has to concentrate so hard that we move very slowly. So, it was a lovely last night on the road.
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I got home to my usual pounds of mail and then made the mistake of looking at the news.  What mediocrity we call news. Everyone is incriminating Obama because he saluted the flag with a cup of coffee in his hand. There are life and death issues to deal with and the news focuses on a cup of coffee?
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Did the “newspapers” ever make a fuss about Bush saluting with his dog?  What crap passes for news. I used to give Jim a bad time about getting rid of his news feeds. I don’t any more. It is mostly garbage and good luck trying to tell the truth from the lies. Lies have become standard and accepted. Money to both parties is like a river, while very little work gets done by the people we elect TO SERVE US. What shame that we have entrusted our fate to legislators that  govern from where their largest donations come from. Corporate interests.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We arrived in Nicolaus, California. I was hoping to say goodbye to my grandsons who are moving temporarily to Australia. I got to talk to them on the phone. Just before a move, a million details need attention. How lucky we are to have email and the internet.

I walked Lake Minden, which is part of a Thousand Trails resort, and didn't take a single picture.
This morning, I thought about many things, as I cruised through my science publications, and emails from groups I belong to. I hope I can find enough "sound bites" of wisdom to make this blog worthwhile.

As history has shown, it is impossible to bomb your way to peace.

A poison kills you," says biology professor Frederick vom Saal. "A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him."

A scary thought. Plastics in all forms, its seem, are unhealthy for us and the planet.

New research led by Michigan State University psychology professor David Z. Hambrick suggests that, unfortunately for many of us, success isn’t exclusively a product of determination — that despite even the most hermitic practice routine, our genes might still leave greatness out of reach.

I NOW know why all that practice didn't make me a great pianist. It's my DNA.

The probiotic properties of the lactic-acid bacteria isolated from wine are similar to those of probiotics that come from foods like dairy products such as fermented milk or yogurt and dry sausages, and foods of plant origin such as sauerkraut and olives, fruits, cereals, meat or fish.  

Good news, and two glasses a day will do it, but, it has to be wine without sulphites.

Gulf coast ecosystems were supposed to rebound after the BP oil spill. They haven’t.  (Tim McConneil)

So, are we going to trust drilling in the arctic?

Oh,well. this blog didn't turn out quite like I thought it would. I can't find half the information that I kept somewhere that should reflect a bit of wisdom.

We are just a couple of hours away from Murphys, and home again.  Jim is already looking at the weather and thinking about ditching.  He is a Weather Wimp!!!

Friday, September 26, 2014


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We left Rogue River for Redding, California where we usually stop and spend a night in the Moose Club’s parking lot. I have many pictures of beautiful Mount Shasta because I’ve made this trip often to my place in Rogue. This time it was under cloud cover, but still beautiful. A very thin cover of snow, where normally, it is heavily snowed all  year.
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The drive through the Siskiyou pass is beautiful. We were spared much rain, but the clouds boiled and threatened.
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We passed what should have been Lake Shasta and it was empty except for a trickle of the original river winding through the bottom of the canyon. I was stunned to see it.  I tried but didn’t get the picture from the window.  Several miles later, Banner Bay still retained some water. It is scary and we have to wonder what will summer be like next year if this is a long-term pattern as scientists are predicting?
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Then we were in for another shock at the Moose Club. Their club is 102 years old. Their beautiful building, swimming pool and so on, is 65 years old. They, like other fraternal organizations, with dwindling memberships, were facing bankruptcy. They sold out and will be out of their building  by Oct. 12th. What a bummer. We wouldn’t have been able to even speak to anyone if they hadn’t been in the process of cleaning out accumulated stuff and getting ready for a “garage” sale this weekend. Everyone was saddened by this turn of events and we spent a couple of hours commiserating with them and trying to find something to buy. I’m at a time in my life where getting rid of stuff is my goal and I need nothing, not to mention no room in the Motor Home. They hope to find a smaller place and keep their charter going.

And, to top off more bad news, Jackson Co. officials claim they never received the phone reservation for the inspection of my building foundation framing. I’m so appalled by the repeated series of mistakes they’ve made over this small building, I’ve contacted an attorney to see what, if anything, I can do about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


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Jim and I stopped off to visit my son while he builds a new house for me. He is housed in a fifth-wheel while he works. I designed it and he made sure everything worked so a cupboard door doesn’t bang into kitchen fixture, and that I have enough outlets for electrical and important stuff like that. Then he drew the plans and had them stamped for approval and any input from a local architect. It was raining steadily while we were there and my camera lens got smudged and wet, even though I had it covered with a hat, under a poncho, while I carried it.
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The forms were ready for the required inspection. He made an appointment last Monday for the inspector to arrive this Wednesday and his pour was scheduled for today, Thursday which involves his labor, the cement company, the materials, etc.  And, a delivery for framing materials on Friday. Doug has 28 years of building experience, from tract homes, commercial tilt-ups, condos, fancy custom homes like Ruby Ridge in Livermore, and he has built bridges in environmentally sensitive areas. This house is a small two bedroom and I designed it to sit on a narrow site where the original mobile home sat. That way we take advantage of an existing well, and septic system. So it is 16 feet wide by 64 feet long,  and will be wheel chair accessible. Just in case…
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I love my place here on Evans Creek, so I tromped through the wet to look at the river. It looks good for spawning salmon. Nice and full. Little gravel beds near the banks are spots they like to lay their eggs. When I bought the place in 2001, I specified I was looking for a property that was south-facing. I had to be able to walk into the river without climbing down a steep bank and it had to have year round water and fish. I’m standing looking down river with rain drops visible on the surface. I’ve seen beaver here, and a turtle, some frogs, and many, many ducks.
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This is looking up river with high weeds and blackberry vines regrown during the last couple of years. The trees on the bank are alder and they have a limited life span.DSC05354 (Copy)

I tromped the 7 acres from one end to the other, looking for star thistle that took me three years to obliterate by hand picking it. I found a few colonies had resurfaced and Doug will hire someone to hand-pick them again. And, the blackberries I had removed mechanically have come back. And, another invasive plant has found a home and I will have to return in the spring and work removing it. I’m very much a farmer at heart. I’ve seen wild turkeys, coyote, fox, many deer and a possum on my small strip of land. And once, I scared something heavy that thrashed through the bushes. Don’t know if it was a bear, or a feral pig?
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My back gate onto the property has been locked for so long, the key wouldn’t turn in the lock.  I was thoroughly wet by the time I returned to the guys in the 5th wheel. Jim set Doug up with a set of ear phones so he could use his satellite service to make phone calls by computer. His cell, nor mine, nor Jim’s work from the property, though a few people have been able to call from here over the years. Not with any consistency, though every company you talk to promises, AT&T, Verizon, Century Link and some others I’ve forgotten the name of. I guess I bought property in a dead spot.
An even deader spot is the Jackson County Building Department.  The inspector didn’t show up yesterday and Doug had to cancel his pour for today.
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But the people here are friendly and helpful. Rogue River has a beautiful library for a small town. Doug has built birdhouses for one of their fundraisers, and he loves it that he can buy great books from their book sales. We thought we’d check out their book sale, but they are closed on Wednesdays. The totem is part of the library building.
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I don’t know how to interpret totems and this one has similarities to many of the Pacific North West tribes we’ve bumped into. For a small town, Rogue River has some good restaurants and “watering holes.”
We stopped at the VFW and had a beer. We met a great group of friendly people and that has been my experience in the past. I love the people here. When I told them my son would like to join them, they personally told us he should just come down, he’d be welcome. Since his father was a vet, he can join, but even if he wasn’t they said, he can come by any time.
People make a place and I feel fortunate to have had good years in Rogue River and a never-ending supply of water. I’m also a survivalist. I need to know I have access to water.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


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The weather was perfect, warm and balmy with a lovely breeze blowing off the river. We are staying at the Valley of the Rogue State Park with walking trails next to the mighty Rogue River. It was protected as a wild and scenic river under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  Located in southwestern Oregon, it flows 215 miles from Crater Lake to the Pacific Ocean. The 84 mile, Congressionally designated "National Wild and Scenic" portion of the Rogue begins 7 miles west of Grants Pass and ends 11 miles east of Gold Beach.
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On the river path, several well warn spots from former campers provides access to swim in the river if you want to, at your own risk, of course. At this spot, someone built a stone pool, maybe to entrap salmon, or maybe to take a safe dunk.
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The park has a salmon viewing platform and from all information gathered, the spawning season is upon us, Sept. and Oct. But we didn't see one jumping salmon in the Rogue.  We are here because I have property at East Evans Creek. It flows into the Rogue. My place was flooded, not by wild lands flooding, but frozen and broken pipes on the inside destroyed it beyond redemption. We had to stay here because my son is in the process of building on my place, and cement trucks need the turn around space.
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The park used to have beautiful views of the mountains. Now, they have the scar of a clear cut. I hate mentioning negatives, but if we ignore them, nothing changes. Clear cuts are not necessary to sustain a lumber industry. Sustainable logging is not only possible, but healthier for birds, animals, insects, rivers, watershed, air quality and their industry. Greed is the defining push for clear cutting. Every one I see angers me.

In fact, coastal Washington and areas of Oregon have been taken over by an invasive but beautiful plant, scotch broom. Not on this trip, but another, we've seen entire clear cuts filled with scotch broom preventing native plants from re-growth.  What puzzles me is why nurseries in Washington, Oregon and California allow the sale of invasive species?

The park is spacious, and well treed. But it too, is a victim of invasive star thistle. We walked through patches of it on our way to the trails. Even so,  I can imagine the beauty of this park, what it once looked like. Green and beautiful, a refreshing river. And, I'm grateful for whatever pieces of our wild land heritage we can save to savor what this land was like in the past.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Jim drove a long stretch that brought us to Springfield, Oregon. The weather was beautiful, and warm.  We set up in a barren Moose Club parking lot. After lunch, Jim took a long nap after partying with the Eagles the previous night until 9:00. We're boring after 7:00 p.m. Didn't do anything but read and I finished a really gripping book, Stones From The River, by Ursula Heigi.
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I was rummaging through some pictures this morning and remembered seeing this spinner. It is a triple. Up close it is just a flat burgundy color but when all three parts flash in the wind, it becomes a thing of beauty.
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They are kind of magical the way they reveal hidden colors and constantly move. I have no real needs in my life other than enough to eat and a steady supply of books, but if I ran into one of these, I'd buy it. It is called the Hummingbird.
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The middle section spins a single...
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...to a double heart, over and over again.  The bottom heart has hearts.

Kind of silly, but I stared at it and took pictures until I caught the movement at its best display.
The camper told me he bought a motor for it so it spins constantly. He too is mesmerized by the spinner. He bought it from a guy in the park who made them. The guy  has since moved on. Dang.

I'm cooking Mexican rice tonight, it is an earthy food, simmering in the pot. It sustains whole countries as their basic food. So here then look at rice through the eyes of poet Mary Oliver:

I don't want you just to sit at the table.
I don't want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk into the fields where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with mud like a blessing.

We move to Rogue River State Park today as we push relentlessly for home.

Monday, September 22, 2014


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After leaving Westport, I received an anonymous email stating that information I posted  about sea lions being new to the area is wrong. I was told this from a woman who lived in the area for sixty years. I should have checked. My anonymous writer is correct. Sorry about that. The picture above is of an un-named beach. We were looking for a spot my cousins David and Melissa recommended to us. This wasn’t it.

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What first appeared to me to be shells turned out to be paper or plastic garbage. This small area was packed with bits of broken plastic toys, aluminum cans and yuk. We saw beautiful clean beaches in Washington so this came as a shock to me.  I realized that the beaches we saw were all under protection of the reservations, park services, national forests, or camp grounds of some kind. A beach ungroomed and uncared for presents a different and sadder picture.
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On our way to Seaside, we had a brief traffic stop at the City of Raymond. These sculptures are a roadside attraction designed to get you into town, tarry awhile and maybe spend a little.
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Behind one of these sculptures is a huge sign letting travelers know in what direction to find- more sculptures downtown.
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I like it when art becomes a message and cities are willing to fund artists.
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We moved to Seaside, Oregon where is my favorite campground in the Thousand Trails system. I love the pool;  the weather was great so I got in a good swim before Jim phoned the American Legion. “Come on over, we’re celebrating Oktoberfest.”
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We ate bratwurst, sauerkraut and German potato salad. They ordered a special German beer for the occasion from Bouy, a local brewery.
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Jim even danced me. The musicians were fun and got everyone to sing.
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After a morning swim in my favorite pool, we went back to the Legion for breakfast. Most clubs are active on weekends and this one just had a lot going on. We left in the afternoon to be closer to the garage in Cornelius, Or.  where we have a morning appointment to get the oil changed in both the Motor Home and Bronco. Cornelius is Hazelnut country.
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We stayed at a very friendly Eagles Club. After the club closed at 7:00, another RVer parked in the lot invited us to join them for pizza and a bit of music. It was getting dark and without a flash, a lousy picture. But, you get the idea. Fun people and a lot of laughter.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


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On our visit to Westport, we ambled along the harbor, talking to fishermen and taking a lot of pictures.
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This place has a huge number of fishing boats and the overcast provided irresistible reflections in the water. I was impressed at how clean the water was, very little floating crap and only two greasy oil stains near the commercial floats, both by older boats. I compare that to my old diving days when to dive inside the breakwater was a dirty affair.
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We walked around the commercial docks where crab traps were stored for crab season, I expect.
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The traps get pretty grungy and studded with crustaceans.
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Suddenly, we heard a ruckus at the end of the pier. Gulls were squawking and flying and diving and calling, making a noisy complaint.
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As we got closer, the problem seemed to be centered around this boat. For minutes of watching the gulls, we finally determined the cause.
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Sea lions in the water were grabbing the offal. Competition. The docent at the museum told us the sea lions are something new to the area. They've moved north for better food. According to her, there is no food for them in San Francisco and they've left the areas in the south. Most likely climate change and depleted ocean areas are to blame. The locals have put up an electric net to keep them out, but apparently they can thwart the net.
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We heard them barking and found a colony of about ten lions inside the breakwater.
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On one end was this huge lion, set a bit away from the others. I'm thinking maybe he is the bull for this harem.
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But, he/she just preened and batted his/her eyelashes. I think maybe this lion is a female. I'm guilty as a lot of others who assign human characteristics to animals.
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A young sea lion tried to get up on the float and got warned away.DSC05292 (Copy)

Then the young lion tried to enter a space next to these two obvious bulls on the other end of the float. No dice. I'm sure the one is a bull because of the mustache.
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The lion tried to get these two to move over. They had no intention of sharing their sunny spot.
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It got a bit rancorous.
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And finally, he'd met the requirements of the challenge in some way and the old bulls on the end turned their backs to him or her and let him up on the float.
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One of the old bulls has a tattoo and we wondered what kind of trouble he got into, or what kind of tracking was going on? Since I don't know squat about sea lions, I may have it all wrong. But, it was a fascinating half hour watching them play their games, whatever they meant.
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We left the marina headed for a cool one at Westport Brewing Company. The license on this rusted old Dodge says Evergreen State. But, coastal vehicles run to rust unless they get expensive paint jobs along the way.
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This is kind of a warning, ...please don't park in front of my house... which is right next door to the brewery.
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It's a friendly little place. He has a 3 barrel system and produces 14 different beers. They had a good dark ale, but I didn't care for their stout. They have pot luck on Friday night, but we didn't go back.
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There we met a beautiful woman who shaves her head and wears 35 bracelets.
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She invited me to count them. They are all different. She says, " it is my signature. I never go without them." It was a grand, fun day.