Continued from part 7

Or click here to go back to the beginning…

“I’ll go as far as I can go and this ain’t it…”

After a couple of whiles, I was having to stop every few hundred feet of downhill progress and get the pressure off my legs and toes. Shawn stuck with me initially, but we finally reached a point where he decided that I needed the motivation to keep going, so when I sat down on a rock, he just Kept going. 

I called after him.

He stopped and turned around.

I asked him if he had a knife.

He said “yes”.  

I asked him to “please cut off my toes”.

He said “no”.

I explained that I was referring to the tips of my boots, thinking that it might relieve the pressure.

He came back, took out his knife and said, “How about if I just slit the toe of one boot to separate it from the sole and we’ll see how that goes?”

That sounded good to me, so he hacked away. We then proceeded to the next switchback to see how it worked out. It was actually much better, so we stopped and did the other boot. 

This really helped a lot, for a couple of whiles. My legs were still a bit stiff, but the toes were better so I just ignored the legs.

Going downhill is actually tougher than going uphill, so in addition to my downhill boots, I always bring a pair of downhill knees in the form of braces. I don’t usually put them on until I am fairly well into the downward trek because the knees don’t bother me initially. This day was no exception.

But we finally got to the point where the knees started giving me problems, and I went ahead and installed the braces. They helped for awhile (which is, actually, just a bit less than “a while”). 

By the time we had gone another while, the legs, toes and knees were giving me issues again and I was utilizing two hiking sticks for support and balance. (I cannot tell you how many times my hiking stick has saved my life over the decades. Literally.)

At this point, I had run out of remedies and the only things that were keeping me going were my mantra, “I will go as far as I can and this ain’t it” and Shawn coaxing me on.

My legs hurt. My knees hurt, My toes hurt. My back hurt. My upper torso looked like the spillway of the Hoover Dam because I was sweating as much as ever, and replacing the perspiration with more and more water.

And then Shawn reminded me that I needed electrolytes.

Fortunately, he brought several packets of electrolytes to add to the water. Unfortunately, I didn’t add them to the water, I simply threw them directly into my mouth as he tried to warn me not to do that.

Are you familiar with “Pop Rocks”? Well, that’s what these were like. If you just throw them into your mouth, they start exploding. This causes one’s mouth to foam over rather quickly. It’s kinda like popping an Alka-Seltzer into your mouth.

The problem with doing that is that you cannot swallow the foam fast enough to get it out of your mouth, and if you try to close your mouth to prevent it from escaping and embarrassing you, you will choke to death on the foam being forced down your throat and up into your sinus cavities and out of your nose.

I lovingly refer to this as the “mad dog effect.”

Believe it or not, there are actually benefits to being in such awful physical misery (I’m always looking for the bright side).

One of those benefits manifests itself in one’s ability to completely not give a rip about the multi-colored stains appearing as approximately three and a half gallons of  Pop-Rockian/Alka-Seltzerian foam slithers its way out of your gaping mouth, down your chin, traversing the front of your shirt, across your beltline and and taking up permanent residence in the crotch of your favorite hiking shorts. 

The chagrin comes later when you discover that the stain doesn’t come out in the wash, but at the time of the event, you’re just happy not to be drowning or, maybe worse, happy that you didn’t just swallow them whole the instant you threw them into your mouth. That would be really bad, I think…

As the day went on, so did we. Shawn be-bopping down the trail and me doing my best “ET” gait imitation. 

By the time we finally reached the top of Vernal Falls and approached the Mist Trail, I had lost enough weight that my shorts were slipping badly. And I was out of notches on my belt. The only thing that was keeping them up was my rump, and that was about to give way. This is when I started hearing comments from strangers about a man my age dressing like that… 

Luckily, the mist was extremely heavy, and I put on my rain poncho to 1) keep me dry (there’s some sort of irony in there, somewhere) and 2) hide the fact that my pants were about 50% of their way down to my ankles. .  

It was extremely slow going down the steps on the trail, but I thought I was doing well enough until, about halfway down, I heard a woman’s voice behind me say, in heavily accented English, “Excuse me prease.” I moved as far as I could to the side and watched – I’m not kidding – a little tiny Japanese lady, who appeared to be in her 80’s, USING A WALKER, glide effortlessly past me. 

It was at this point that it began to dawn on me that I might be in trouble…

After slowly making our way downward for what seemed to be an inordinately long period of time (probably because it was), we finally got down to the footbridge:

View of Vernal Falls from the footbridge – This was actually taken a couple of months prior to the hike, but I couldn’t make myself get a shot while I was there on this occasion (except the night shot)

We decided that I would wait at the footbridge and Shawn would go the rest of the way to the valley (just under a mile further down the trail) and get help. He was gone for some time, and I decided that I would start my way down myself. 

A few minutes along the trail, I met Judy coming up the other way. She had met Shawn on the trail (she was coming to see if she could find us – it was getting late) and he told her where I was waiting. 

She helped me down the rest of the way to the trail head where we met Shawn – walking a couple of bikes. 

He had gone back to camp and got his and Megan’s bikes so that I could ride back to camp and relive the pressure on my body. AWESOME!! (I mean, GROOVY!!!)

It took a minute to get me up on the bike, but when I got on, it was an amazing relief. I was able to pedal back without any problem, and Judy stopped to get me a 50 gallon drum of ice cold root beer and brought it to the camp site.

It was a little after 8:00 PM. Everybody else had made it back by about noon…

I was helped off the bike, carried to a picnic table, sat down and froze in that position for a short time. Donna sat across from me, told me to raise my right hand and swear to never do Half Dome again in my lifetime. At that point, I had no problem doing that (although I kinda regret it, now).

After eating some dinner, Judy and Shawn helped me to the tent and into my sleeping bag. I didn’t even undress, though Judy took my boots and socks off.

And that, dear friends, was as far as I could bloody go.

Saturday morning, July 16, 2011…

I woke up and couldn’t move much. Judy had to help me change my clothes and helped me get out of the tent. We walked around for a few minutes until I got loosened up a bit and was able to hobble around. 

We ate breakfast, and I was able to get around a lot better, so we packed up and drove home.

And that is when the real adventure started…



Continued from Part 6

Or click here to go back to the beginning…

July 13, 2017

Tomorrow, July 14, 2017, is the sixth anniversary of the beginning of my final trip up Half Dome.

Today, July 13th, 2017 is the sixth anniversary of the day before my final trip up Half Dome. It was more comfortable. In fact, here’s a picture of six years ago today:

Mirror Lake, July 13, 2011. Left to Right: Shawn, Man Of Action, Billy. And that’s the base of Half Dome in the background on the right.

Picking up where we left off…

…Then we all took off back to camp. After a few miles, I, as is typical for me, fell a bit behind. Fortunately Shawn stayed with me. I say fortunately because I would still be up there somewhere if he hadn’t.


Shawn and I  were moving along reasonably well for an hour or so before we started the real down-hill part of the slog. It was getting hot and I was going through a lot of water – or rather, a lot of water was going through me. From inside my body, out through my skin, through my clothes and back out into nature. Some serious perspiration going on there. The more I sweat, the more I drank and the more I drank, the more I sweat. It became a vicious cycle of drink and sweat, drink and sweat, drink and sweat. I was sweating so much that I didn’t think I would have to urinate for a month. (As it turned out, that was about a week short of the actual time. Not a bad guess on my part, don’t you think?)

  • It’s time to interrupt my story and provide a conversion table, of sorts. In this case, we will be utilizing actual scientific and mathematical calculations to convert ‘Whiles’ to ‘Miles’. For example if I was to say, “I had made sure to cut my toenails before the trip in hopes of them not ramming into the forward facing end of my boots, and that seemed to help…for a ‘while‘”, you would have no idea how far I had progressed during that ‘while‘. 


  • Additionally, even if I made it clear that I had progressed ‘x’ number of miles during that ‘while’, you would have no idea how much actual time had passed while accomplishing that feat (or ‘feet’, as you will see later), so it becomes necessary to provide a second table – that table being a conversion of ‘Miles’ to ‘Hours’

Before we begin, it is necessary that I provide accurate data regarding the distance, altitude gain, total altitude and the typical time required for the completion of the trip. Now, I realize that this information is readily available through an internet search, and I know that such sources are “touted” as always being “accurate”, but I have decided that the most reliable source for this information is actually the front of the shirt that I got after my first trip up the rock in 2005 (one of the ones that didn’t nearly kill me the most.).

Don’t get me wrong – I trust some of the information found on the internet. I really do. But I have known this shirt for twelve years and it has never once failed to provide me with good data.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for the World Wide Web…

I have complete faith in my shirt.


Pay no attention to the apparent Hobbit seen at the bottom of this photograph.

As you can see, the total miles in the round trip is 17 miles from the trail head. To this could be added the distance to and from the camp site – figure about 2 miles. This would give us a total of about 19 miles, give or take a few centimeters if we were going to use those figures. But we’re not, so 17 miles it is. 

Now, on with the calculations:

Total distance:  17 miles / Total time:  20 hours  =  .85 MPH average

1 ‘While’ converts to 2 hours or 1.7 miles, based on the average speed of the legs attached to the lower half of my body. 

*However: The rate of speed achieved during the uphill portion of the hike was substantially less than the rate of speed achieved during the return trip. 

*This is completely counter-intuitive, I know. Things normally go faster downhill than they go uphill. But I am not a normal thing…

It took approximately 8 hours going up. We were on top for about 45 minutes, so subtract that from the total time. That leaves about 11 hours and 15 minutes for me to get back down.

Return distance: 8.5 miles/ Return trip: 11.25 hours = .75555555555555 MPH average

1 ‘While’ converts to 2 hours or 1.51111111111111 miles, based on the average speed of my descent. 

Back to the story…

In the first couple of hours, my legs started to cramp up a bit – not charley-horse bad, but enough to slow me down a some. But I was still limber enough to keep moving somewhat steadily.

And this is where I really started missing my “downhill boots”

I had made sure to cut my toenails before the trip in hopes of them not ramming into the forward facing end of the boots on the way down, and that seemed to help…for a while. But a ‘while’ is not enough to get me back down to the flat land on the valley floor. In fact, in this case, a ‘while’ converted into ‘miles’ becomes about 1.51111111111111 miles over a period of 2 hours – not that far when you consider we needed to go 8.5 miles. 

But I digress (again). 

Now, where was I? Oh yes – my toes. There is not a lot that is more irritating than to take a step and have the toes on that foot slam into the front of the boot you are wearing. It’s OK on a temporary basis, I guess, but after a while it really starts to hurt.

Imagine the nail of your big toe being slowly lifted and separated from the flesh with every step you take. Then imagine the same thing on the other foot with every other step you take. That’s about what it feels like.

And that’s what was happening with my feet with each step. And that was after only 1.51111111111111 miles of the downhill return out of the way. 

Oh! Look at the time! I have to get to bed.  Grand Hike Finally on the 15th… 

Click here to get to part 8…

Continued from part 5…

Or click here to go back to the beginning…

And then…

We emerged to this…

The last four hundred feet of the hike up Half Dome is pretty much vertical. You pull yourself up using cables. Unfortunately, those cables are not visible in this shot because, at that time, the rock was situated inside a cloud. 


View from the bottom of the cables. This is what it looked like at 7:38 AM, July 15, 2011 when we arrived at this point…


If you look closely you can see the cables as a dark smudge looking thing running up the center of the rock.


Here we are getting ready to go up the cables. Donna has a better camera than I do…


Preparing to make the ascent up the cables…

Once we were all gathered at the base, we were ready to go up. (By the way, the reason I did this hike the first time is that I hate heights. I don’t like high places. I figure if God wanted me to like high places, He would have made me an eagle or a mountain goat. But He made me another kind of animal. He made me a chicken. I did it to conquer my fear of heights. I still hate high places, but I did get over the cables on Half Dome.)  

The trek up was uneventful. I didn’t faint, fall or throw up. Once we got to the top, we could relax. Here are some photos…


Shawn letting everybody else know that he made it to the top.


Somebody else let everybody else know that they made it to the top.

me halfdome 1

Man of Action letting everybody else know that he made it to the top.


Every body letting everybody else know that we made it to the top. L to R: Nicole, Shawn, Man of Action, Megan, Brian, Lauren.


Everybody else letting everybody else know that they are either very brave or very stupid.


Shawn convinces Man of Action that he should let everybody else know that he is either very brave or very stupid.

At one point, the cloud began to dissipate and some pretty spectacular scenery began to poke through. Unfortunately, the camera couldn’t begin to capture the power of the moment, but here it is anyway…


View of peaks across the way through the cloud.

Then the cloud dissipated rather quickly…

2011-07-15_10-02-47_742 2

It was right about here that the first indication that something was wrong with me made its appearance in the form of three major charley horses in my legs… 


Breakfast time!

I managed to get the pain to settle down and go away. Walked it off. 

And then it was time to start back… 


Headed back down the cables. This is the relatively flat part at the top.

The trip down the cables was also pretty uneventful, other than two people who had started up when we were almost down at the bottom who turned around and decided that the climb was not for them…

We reached the bottom and headed back down the way we came, passing a couple of rangers who were asking for ID and checking us off the list of permitted hikers. (In order to do the hike, the National Park Service has instituted the requirement that you register several months ahead of time and reserve the date(s). They want to limit the impact of too many hikers – not a bad thing, I think, and they want to know who’s body they are looking for if you fall.)

We all stayed together until we came to a stream. Shawn had a filter system, and we all filled our water bags. This is a good thing.

Then we all took off back to camp. After a few miles, I, as is typical for me, fell a bit behind. Fortunately Shawn stayed with me. I say fortunately because I would still be up there somewhere if he hadn’t.


And that’s where we’ll pick up next time…







If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…

The Wrong Direction

We were now serious about this endeavor. 

While I was starting off correctly by putting the right foot (my left foot) first, I cannot vouch for the proper foot conduct of anyone else in the group. I can, however, say with certainty that nobody in the group was going in the right direction to get us on the right trail to the top of Half Dome. 

This was, however, remedied within about five minutes when someone realized that we had walked straight into a cliff. Fortunately, it was the cliff wall that we walked into and not the top edge. 

Naturally, this caused a re-evaluation of our collective sense of direction, and we reversed our course.

NOW we were on the road.

Throughout the night, we made our way along the trail. We saw nary a creature along the way and there were no special incidents . Of course, it was dark so we probably wouldn’t see any, would we?  

One of the highlights of the journey is reaching the top of Nevada Fall. One of the reasons it’s a highlight is that everybody wants to stop and take it in (translation: let’s wait for Bill to catch up). It’s a great resting point after the arduous climb to get there. And it has some pretty spectacular views, even at 2:30 in the morning:

The hours crawled by, and it was getting a little tough on Man of Action. However, I refused to give up and stop. I have developed a sort of mantra and kept repeating over and over in my head. “I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”  

“I should have prepared more for this hike.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“It sure is dark out here.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“I wonder if my sleeping bag back in the tent is comfortable.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Well, time to stop.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Are we there, yet?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Did I leave my guitar turned on back home?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“I wonder what makes my feet hurt.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Did I remember to turn in my vacation request?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

At some point, we came to the “Little Yosemite Valley”. This is always a welcome sight because it means that you are walking on level ground and you will be for a while. Plus, it’s got restrooms, food lockers and tent camping. There is also a river running down the middle of it which eventually becomes Nevada and Vernal Falls.

It really is very beautiful and inspiring.

I took a picture…


 After a brief stop, we continued along our way. 

Donna, knowing that I was a little slower than the rest of the party, stayed with me along the way and kept me company. I hardly had to use my mantra at all – Thank you Donna!

Eventually, the sun began to show itself, and I began to recognize where we were, having been there a couple of times before in the daylight. 

It was time to take another picture…

donna on trail

Donna, just after the sun started to make its appearance.

And another…

me on trail

Me, just after Donna became visible. See how happy I look?

We weren’t there, yet, but we were approaching the switchback steps. These go on for about three seconds short of an eternity.

switchback stares half dome

I didn’t take this photo. Mostly because I couldn’t make my body move in such a way that I could lift my camera. I found it on the interwebs. The steps are a challenge…

Once past the steps, you pass through a couple of large stones and out onto the saddleback. It’s not very wide and it’s about a 5,000 foot drop off either side…



A long way down. But it’s faster than walking…

And then…

If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…

 Click here to go to the next chapter…





There are times when I want to express my view that something is extremely positive or that I really like something about someone, somewhere or some object. This is usually not a problem for me because I am a reasonably positive person.

However, at some point in the past decade or so, I seem to have fallen into the habit of using the word “awesome” whenever I want to express my belief that something was, well, awesome. It was like, “Your (insert noun here) is awesome!” is just about the only way I would describe something that I thought was extremely positive. 

“Your hat is awesome!”, “Your house is awesome!”, “Your wall is awesome!”, “That cow in your living room is awesome!”. 

See what I mean?. Everything is awesome. It’s not “great”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “fantastic”, “spectacular”, “breathtaking”, “formidable”, “overwhelming”, “imposing”, “magnificent”,” grand”, “majestic”, “daunting”, “mind blowing”, “wondrous”, “striking”, “astonishing”, “stunning”, “inspiring”, “nice”, “good”, “lovely”, “swell”, admirable”, attractive”, “becoming”, “charming”, “delightful”, “favorable”, “pleasant”, “nifty”, “peachy”, “cool” or “ducky”. 

It’s “awesome”. 

I suspect that many of us do this out of habit and don’t even realize it.

I have decided that I need to replace the word “awesome” with something a little less used by the general public, but something that I think would be awesome if more people used it. Something that may be used to mean (pretty much) the same thing, but with a little less imposing sound to it. Something a little more laid back to more closely approximate my own easy going personality. Something that was used long ago, and has never come back around for a second spin. 

I would like to invite you, my loyal reader(s), to work with me to bring back the word…


Yes, “Groovy”. 

I know, I know. “Groovy” is a silly word and you may not want to go anywhere near it. I get that. But think about this – you will probably be the only one of your friends or acquaintances to use it for awhile. Pretty soon, somebody in your circle of friends is going to think it’s a pretty cool word and start to use it. Then, one of their friends will think that if that person can use it and make it sound so awesome, then maybe they should start using it, too.

The cycle will repeat itself over and over and over again and pretty soon, a fairly large group of people will start to feelin’ groovy.

And maybe some people who are moving too fast will slow down a bit and make the morning last. Maybe they will stop yelling at each other and pay attention to life around them. You know, go kickin’ down those cobblestones and looking for the positive things instead of focussing on the negative.  

Anyway, I think it’s an awes –  groovy idea.

Or am I being a little too far out? 







I have a wife. Her name is Judy. She is the most awesome human currently residing on the planet. Yes, Earth – THAT planet. 

Judy has a husband (me). His name is Bill. Many people aren’t sure WHICH planet is his current place of residence, but let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that he lives on Earth, too. 

Bill and Judy have been married for a few years, almost 46 of them, and they are both very much in love with each other. 

Sometimes people ask Bill and Judy the secret to the longevity of their marriage. Judy used to say that it was because she has a really bad memory, but she has changed her mind on that score. Now she says it’s because she has a really good memory. 

Bill, on the other hand, has a bit of a different take. He gives the credit to something he calls mystery

One day, a few weeks ago, Bill was helping out around the house by doing the dishes.  During this act, it dawned on him that there were a few utensils missing from the inventory of knives, forks, spoons, etc.. Not that there weren’t any, but that there were not the former quantity of eight place settings of matching style. In other words, there were lots of utensils, but no eight of them matched. 

This kinda bothered him, because he knew that they had purchased actual place settings of matching silverware for eight users. But now there was this hodge podge of different styles types and sizes. He was able to find three salad forks, four dinner forks, five teaspoons, two tablespoons and one knife, all of the same make and model. Plus a plethora of mixed makes and models.

All in the same drawer.  

This finally led him to check in with Judy to see if she was hiding the rest of the set somewhere, possibly in her purse where you can find anything from lipstick to a toilet plunger if the need arises (Bill refers to Judy’s purse as her magic bag of tricks), but to no avail. She had no idea where the missing items could be.

This further led him to suggest that they should purchase a complete set of knives, forks and spoons, etc., just so they can have matching place settings in case anyone ever wants to join them at their house for a meal. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Judy agreed and immediately started searching the internet for something suitable. She found several good deals on nice settings and presented them to Bill for his input. After a brief few days of discussion, they agreed upon a specific 45 (actually 50) piece set. It looked nice and it didn’t cost too much. 

With the decision made, Judy ordered them and a few days later they showed up at the post office, where Bill, with hope in his heart, picked them up. He was not immediately disappointed when he opened the package: 


It all looked good to him, so he left it as it was and didn’t open the rest of the sub-packages because he wanted Judy to have the pleasure of seeing her brand new silverware, fresh out of the box, when she got home.

This worked out great, until she got home. 

When she, with great anticipation, opened the rest of the boxes, they discovered that there were a few surprises:

  1. There were no knives and only a few forks
  2. There were LOTS  and LOTS of spoons

This was the perfect set of flatware if you want to have a large ice cream and soup banquet, but it wasn’t much good for meat, spaghetti, potatoes or anything else requiring reduction in size or stabbing in order to get it from the plate to your mouth.

In order to save you the trouble of reading about this episode forever, I’m just going to move on the rest of the actual mystery involved. But be assured that the situation was (mostly) rectified by contacting the manufacturer. I say “mostly” because they are out of stock on the knives (possibly because they sent ours to somebody who can now have a “let’s cut stuff up but not actually eat it” banquet). 

Subsequent to this challenge, Bill has discovered that the rest of their “eating”ware suffers from the same malady that he discovered with the knives, forks, etc.. Partial place settings. They have always bought these items in settings of eight. Eight of each bowl, plate, saucer, cup, etc.. But now there are twos, threes and fives of these items present. 

How does this happen? Bill doesn’t know and he really doesn’t care. All Bill wants to know is where this stuff goes. Do the kids have them? Are there boxes they have not yet unpacked in the last move? Have they broken over the years and Bill just didn’t notice? Have they been burglarized and all that was taken was a plate, a cup, a fork or a spoon and Bill just didn’t realize that they were gone?

Bill approached Judy with his conundrum and she didn’t help solve the mystery (in his mind, anyway). The best that Judy could come up with was “They have probably been broken over the years. You DO realize that we have had these same dishes for the last thirty-plus years, right?

And therein lies the real mystery…

There’s no way that’s true. That hypothesis goes against nature.

Look, Bill and Judy are a man and a woman. They are married. They love each other. Very much. They spend a lot of time together. It’s only natural that, with all of those truths in place, over the years the forces of nature would win out and they would eventually succumb to their feelings and go out and buy a new set of matching dishes at some point.

They would have to.

Wouldn’t they…?

Hello Gentle Reader(s),

Welcome to the inaugural posting in my brand new blog category, Sightseeing With Bill

Now, before you roll your eyes, sigh real big and mutter something like, “Not another travel log blog,” let me say that Sightseeing With Bill will not consist of the usual “everybody shoots pictures of that thing in that city” content. 

You know how, when people go on vacation, they always take photos of all of the famous attractions for which a given location is famous? For example, when someone goes to Paris, France, you can count on seeing a deluge of shots of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, or Inspector Clouseau’s apartment building. 

Or when they go to China, you will be forced to sit through a terabyte’s worth of the Great Wall, the Yanxi River or even an adorable Panda or two. Or three. Or four. 

And what about the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City in Arizona? 

All wonderful things to see, to be sure. But aren’t you just a little bit bored with being inundated with same photos of the same places and the same things that you have been inundated with in the past? And if you believe in reincarnation, in past lives?

Of course you are! 

And that, Gentle Reader(s) is why I have taken it upon myself to find a way to alleviate the “ho hum” factor so prevalent in the “Hey! You got a minute (translation: Hey! What are you doing for the next three or four hours?)? Let me show you my vacation pictures!” events in your life and replace them with something like “Hey! I hear you have some GREAT and UNUSUAL vacation pictures! I have three or four hours to be amazed at what you have brought back with you! Please tell me that now is a good time!”. 

“So,” you may be asking, “how is he going to accomplish this seemingly impossible task?”

Well, I could go into a deeply detailed and descriptive explanation of my method of going off the beaten path (or, in some cases, into the actual middle of the beaten path) and run the risk of boring you. However, I believe that the better course will be, simply, to demonstrate my method and let you marvel along the way.

For this first foray into unusual and exciting sightseeing photographic journalism, I have chosen as my subject location the beautiful and exciting city of Seattle, Washington…

And, with that, I launch…

No visit to Seattle is complete without stopping by the world famous Space Needle:


“Wait a minute,” you say, “that’s just like every other person’s vacation picture of the Space Needle!” 

Well, actually, it’s not. You see, the real subject here is not the Space Needle, but the airspace above and around the Space needle. I discovered that this specific airspace is actually part of the route followed by several migratory birds, including but not limited to 

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Western Wood Pewee

Townsend’s Warbler

Hammond’s Flycatcher

American Redstart

Cassin’s Vireo

MacGillvray’s Warbler

as well as the occasional common Seagull. 

What makes this photo so interesting is the complete non-presence of any of these creatures, thereby enabling the discerning eye to witness the actual route without the clutter of photo-hogging birds impeding the view. 

Next on our journey, located in close proximity to the migratory route above and around the Space Needle, only several hundred feet below, are these interesting orbs located around the place. It’s hard to tell from the photo on the left just how large or small they are, so I have included the photo on the right to give some perspective. 

At first glance, one wonders what these objects are. At least, this one did, so I did some investigation and found that these objects are actually petrified, prehistoric exercise balls utilized by the original inhabitants of the region, several trillion years ago. 

If one closes his or her eyes, clears his or her mind of all cognitive activity for a period not to exceed three days or one week (whichever comes first), one can imagine the original inhabitants of the region in their semi-weekly exercise ball class at the local fitness center (in this case, the Seattle Center).

Next on our tour of Seattle, we see one of the original Seattle Fitness Center franchises, amazingly, still fairly intact though, apparently, with some deformation located toward the bottom of the entrance door. 


Note: It is not known with certainty that this was the Entrance portal because it lacks the usual door buzzer commonly found at such entrances. However, it can be argued that the facility is several trillion years old (as stated in the previous set of photos) and the actual buzzer may not have yet been invented. It is quite possible that there was an employe who stood at the door, greeted the prospective (or returning) excercise ball buff and yelled out an announcement that someone other than a current employe of the franchise had just entered the premises. 

Until confirmation one way or the other, this is the accepted explanation. 

Next up, I cam across this set of leftover food storage units. 


Remarkably, there is a lot of food within the Seattle city limits, and not all of it gets eaten at one sitting. This creates what are commonly referred to as “Leftovers” – food that is, well, left over when the people who are eating a meal couldn’t possibly take another bite.

I discovered that these food storage lockers contain some fine delicacies just waiting to be eaten by someone who happens to be passing by at, say, lunch time. Or in-between meal snack time. 

In this locker, I found a mostly uneaten cheeseburger that was quite delicious. 

Dogs have always had an affinity for the common fire hydrant, even, it seems, back in the days prior to the invention of the actual fire hydrant. 


This above photo is strong evidence that the fire hydrant was anticipated long before it became a reality, as was the interest by our canine companions long before the invention.

One early manuscript states very clearly:

“We really have to find a way to keep this mutt from peeing all over the patio furniture. It’s getting really bad, and I’m afraid that the neighbors are going to notice.”

“I know, I know! But what are we going to do about it?”

“Why don’t we direct him to a fire hydrant and be done with it?”

“What’s a fire hydrant?”

“It hasn’t been invented, yet, but they think that dogs are going to love them and use them in the same manner in which Fido is currently using our patio furniture.”

“But what’s a fire hydrant?”

“Fire: Flames and heat, etc..”

“HYD: Slang for “How Ya Doin'”

“Rant: To speak or shout in a wild or impassioned way.” 

“I’m guessing that it will be something to do with asking a house fire how it’s doing in a wild or impassioned manner.”

“Where can we find one?”

“We can’t. There aren’t any. What we have to do is trick the dog into thinking they have been invented and point him in the direction of one. I think we should put a sign on a tree and tell Fido where it is.”

Unfortunately, the manuscript stops there, so we can only guess what happened next. But it does appear that the attempt was made, as shown in the photo. And it is certain that dogs do, in fact, love fire hydrants. 

Almost as much as they love patio furniture…

Next on my walk, I discovered this fascinating Irrigation Control Valve, an unsung and ignored hero. 


This is an object quite ignored by tourists everywhere, including in Seattle. While many people will spend hours gawking at and photographing beautiful lawns and plant life, they fail to notice the thing that keeps them that way – water. And how is water applied to flora in the city? Through sprinkler systems. And who tells the sprinkler systems when and how much to water? 

Why, it’s the poor, unappreciated Irrigation Control Valve. 

Nobody takes the time to acknowledge the ICV. 

Why? Because nobody knows it even exists, outside a few engineers and gardeners.

Why? Because people are so dazzled by the results of the work that the ICV performs and they never stop to think about who waters the garden. 

Well let me tell you right here and now that I intend to put an end to the ignorance. At least in Seattle. Look at this picture. Look closely. Stare at it for a couple of hours. Take the time to read all of the writing on the cover. 

You will never look at ICVs the same again…

Let’s move on to our next attraction, the local Psychic.


Something, I’m not sure what, told me not to go here. So I didn’t.

Next, I came upon Nature…

Most people make the mistake of seeking out Nature in the middle of lush forests, majestic mountains, spectacular sea vistas. Oh sure, you can find it in any natural setting, but you can also find it in places where bears don’t defecate. 

I actually happened upon these magnificent specimens right in the middle of the city. To be sure, I was surprised to the point that I nearly tripped over each of these beautiful forms of plant life, but the experience taught me that you can find Nature even in the most developed of downtown areas. You just have to keep your eyes open and look for it. 

Don’t miss out on the wonders of Nature just because you are surrounded by steel, concrete, glass and Starbucks.

Always expect the unexpected, even when you don’t expect it.

Remember the empty skies over and around the Space Needle?


While you may love the fact that you have a clear sightline to the route taken by migrating fowl, you may actually want to see some evidence that they actually exist, when they are not in evidence in the spaces above.

Because I was not looking for the most obvious evidence of the path taken by these migratory birds (and the occasional common Seagull), I was able to discern their exact lane of travel by looking in the opposite direction from the most common sightings. 

Instead of looking up, I looked down. (To be completely honest, I thought I had, somehow, lost a sock while crossing the street and, while staring at my shoe, which was still situated solidly on my foot, and wondering how my sock had could possibly have fallen off without the shoe also leaving, I realized that I had just about used up all of my allotted commas in one sentence and quickly looked away from my ped in hopes of saving a comma or two, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but splatters of bird dung right there on the street in front of, and below me. 

And then it hit me. 

On the top of my head.

I looked up. I saw it, soaring majestically overhead, riding the breezy currents above the surrounding buildings and coming from the direction of the aforementioned Space Needle. 

I couldn’t be sure if it was the Olive-sided Flycatcher, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the common Seagull or Rodan, but I saw it. 

And I could tell that it saw me, too, but that doesn’t matter because that’s when I knew I had made, quite possibly, my most exciting discovery of the day…

I could track the migratory movement of the birds without ever once looking to the sky above. All I had to do was follow the white stains left on the ground. And on the top of my head. But mostly the ground.

And I thought, “What further need have I for pictures?” 

What further need, indeed…

Well, as it turned out, I needed at least one more because, later that night, as we were visiting with friends in their beautiful home overlooking Puget Sound, Judy decided I needed to take at least one more photo. 

So here it is…


I originally posted this 12/1/2016 on my Facebook page. Thought it fit… 

NBA Friends – Merry Christmas! Some of you will remember this and some of you won’t. Some of you will know some of the people in here and , maybe not others. If you were there, you know what a blast this was to do. If you weren’t, try to imagine… And eat your heart out! LOL
Back in 1994, the Beach Boys played a concert after a Padres game at Jack Murphy Stadium. Channel 8 decided to put together a contest and asked for people/groups to submit videos of them performing Barbara Ann. The winner(s) would perform the song on stage with the Beach Boys at the concert!
Retired Corporate Mom, Barbara Brumfield, thought it would be fun for us to submit an entry, so she showed up one day with her movie camera and asked for volunteers.
Nobody wanted to do it (yeah – right!) so we got some ideas together, wrote down the words and shot three takes. Then we had to get back to work.
They get better as the the number of takes increases.
The third one is the one we submitted.

Did we win? We were sooooooo close! 

Who won?

Well… It was some drunk guy. Knee deep in the Pacific Ocean. Wearing a straw hat. Playing a ukulele… Really.

And then he never showed up for the ball game or performance!!

Oh well – we had a ton of fun doing it!  

Anyway, enjoy…

Things With Six Strings

The Bed Hair Trilogy – Part Three

The Grand Finally

(As in “it’s finally done”)

Click here to start at the beginning (Part One)

In the first two segments of this series, we have almost thoroughly discussed the subject of Bed Hair.

We have seen the manifestations of the condition.

We have learned that our pets are, for the most part, immune to its ravages, and that they will almost certainly go out of their way to keep from warning us that we are in possession of a good case of the stuff.

We have determined that some fortunate historical figures have been able to turn their Bed Hair disadvantage into a vehicle for achieving huge success in the fields of art, music, science and military domination.

But what about the rest of us? What about the guy who has no aspirations of world domination? Or the woman who is…

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Click here to catch up on everything and have some idea what the heck is going on…  and start at the bottom of the page with Part 1 (one).

Click here to go to Part Five (5)… so you know where we left off…

Well, Bovine enthusiasts, it’s been almost four (4) years since last we met on the subject of cows. I’m thinking I have left you hanging long enough. But take solace in the fact that this will, perhaps, be the last of the trilogy. Who knows…


Yes, it is, in fact, a fact that chickens smell multitudes worse than cows. Multitudes squared, actually.

While cows can smell items up to six miles away, you, as a human being, can smell a chicken ranch at nearly twice that distance, given favorable (or unfavorable, depending on how you smell it) wind direction. In that regard, cows can be labeled “fortunate”. 

I say “fortunate” because nobody wants to be the stinkiest object in the room. Not even a cow. And with chickens providing such negatively aromatic competition, the typical cow can point an accusatory hoof at the nearest barnyard provider of delicious eggs and deflect most, if not all, thoughts of disgust otherwise aimed toward her.  

But lets face it, even though a cow is not a chicken, she still emits a pretty “fowl” odor. 

But lets further face it, if there are chickens around, a cow doesn’t smell nearly so bad. This is especially true if you live in rural areas of the planet. 

But lets further face it further. If you are a city dweller, you, most likely, don’t live in very close proximity of a true, bonafide chicken raising, egg producing,  heavily populated chicken ranch. And you probably don’t have the foggiest idea just how much the chickens on that ranch poop. And you don’t have ANY idea what that sh – stuff smells like in large quantities.

Well let me tell you, city slicker, I DO! And it ain’t ANYTHING like your brand newly planted front lawn. 

Uh… sorry. Got a little carried away… 

“So,” you ask, “just how bad can a chicken smell, anyway?”

I am pleased that you have brought that up. To answer that question, I have assembled a short list of “how bads” for your consideration. 

  • The odor emanating from a small to medium sized chicken ranch is so bad that you can hear it.
    • (Yes, you can actually hear the smell, and it is not nearly as appealing as the sound of screeching brakes ending with a crash and the sound of breaking glass.) 
  • A chicken ranch can smell so bad that, over a long period of exposure, roosters have been known to lay eggs.
    • (Yes, even chickens are negatively impacted by their own smell.)
  •  I’ve seen uninitiated folks have their socks curl up, disintegrate and fall out of their shoes at the first whiff of a working chicken ranch.  
    • (Yes, up. Not down – up.)
  • And, finally, a chicken ranch ALWAYS smells so bad that it makes a cow smell like Nirvana Rose perfume.
    • (Yes, women – and the men who smell them – would rather smell like a cow than be subjected to the odor of the average chicken ranch.)

That’s how bad it is. It’s awful. Really awful.

And that, my friend, is what makes a cow smell so good.


And on that note, it’s time to say…



Things With Six Strings

In our last discussion, we learned all about Bed Hair. We learned about how it creeps up on you in the night.

While you sleep.

We learned that it gives no hint of it’s existence through any of our physical senses except for eyesight. We cannot directly hear, taste smell or feel it.

Notice the word ‘directly’.. for, while we cannot detect the ailment physically through any of these other four senses,we can detect when someone else has seen it in ourselves.

For example, we can hear someone whispering behind our back about how ridiculous we look with our ‘hair like that’.

We learned that Bed Hair makes no distinction between classes of people – it strikes anyone within reach of its’ pernicious tentacles – ever searching for that one last victim.

We learned that (contrary to the general population of the planet) some famous historical figures have made their…

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Hmmm… I guess you can train nose hairs after all… 

Nose hairs

Things With Six Strings

I’m going to start out by admitting something that has been rolling around in my head for a week or two.

For a long time, I didn’t think I was getting any older, and the thought that I was not getting any younger never made it’s way into my head. However, that has changed, and I am ready to go on record as believing that I am, in fact, not getting any younger. 

At first, I was disappointed that I was not aging in reverse, but after some consideration, I have decided that that’s not a bad thing, and here’s why…

When I thought about it, I realized that time only moves forward, never backward, and the only way one can expect to be around tomorrow is to move forward with it and get older. When you stop moving forward with time and, therefore, stop getting older, you die (not necessarily in that order)…

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Things With Six Strings

I was talking on the phone with a friend of mine (I’ll call her Judy) the other day (actually about 20 years ago, at this point, but something happened to me this morning that made me think of the conversation) when the subject of an early morning knock on the door came up.

It seems that her husband had somehow locked himself out of the house while releasing the dogs for an early morning constitutional in the backyard dog run. Being dressed only in his shorts and a small (but not unattractive) apron which proudly proclaimed “I’ll never be barefoot and pregnant”, he, quite naturally, was hesitant to go to the front door of their house to gain entrance. (Being new in the neighborhood, he was concerned about first impressions, and moseying through the front yard in such attire would give him unwelcome exposure – so to speak – to…

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Way back in 2015 – more practice with auto-focus. Before we got a real movie camera…

Again, making it up as we go along… And Steve is actually just under 6’7″ tall…