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Do you remember that crazy GPS navigator that keeps making my life so interesting every time it panics and starts calling me all sorts of rude but semi-accurate names?  Well, today I specifically told it to take me 5.5 hours WEST to the city of Burien near Seattle.  I distinctly remember saying the words.  Long story short, so THAT’S why I’m eating supper in Bozeman Montana tonight.  Burien, Bozeman, I suppose the two cities are close enough on a cosmic scale of travel.  At least my GPS is CONTINUING to make my life interesting.  Oh well, I guess I’ll spend the week in Montana and work in South Seattle NEXT week.  Unless my GPS gets a little confused again.  I’ve always wanted to drive to Sydney Australia…
And to think that not so long ago I used to be so consist and reliable.  I did just fine as an unemployed bum, but give a guy like me a legitimate job and I just loose it.
Love ya!

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(I had to look at last night’s message to see where I slept last night.  Aberdeen!)
From Aberdeen I went to Ocean Shores where I ate the other half of yesterday’s burrito from the comfort of my van.  It was COLD, WINDY and snowing lightly.  (All that was happening outside, NOT inside my van.  Just thought I should clarify the matter…)  From there I took all the back roads I could, eventually winding up in Toledo, Washington. By back roads I mean the kind that have washouts and landslides and LARGE sinkholes that have been coned-off and are waiting for repairs sometime in the next decade. (I felt right at home!)  The most snow I’ve encountered today was about 3″ going over the coastal mountains.
I got an urgent repair ticket this afternoon for a Costco in Pocatello and my boss said I had to jump on it because I was the closest right now.  (The regular guy, Robert, is filling in for the Hawaii guy this week.)  An hour later Robert called me from the islands and told me I could go back to my nap.  He had just fixed the problem over the phone.  Nice!
The tiny little motel I’m staying at is really quite nice, or it will be when it warms up.  (It was at 49 degrees in there!)  The room even has a commercial toilet.  (The owner is either too lazy to unplug toilets or too cheap to buy plungers.  Tisk tisk.)
All for now.
Love ya!

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Tonight I’m dining at a Mexican restaurant in Aberdeen, elevation 25′.  My motel room is just a block away from where I’m dining and my first job tomorrow is two blocks away.  I guess it’s a natural response for someone who often has a 6-hour commute ONE WAY to their job.
I’m certain that tonight’s motel room will be better than the one I stayed at last night in Federal Way.  About an hour after I was tucked in for the night with all my stuffed animals surrounding me to keep me company, and my 2500- candlepower ‘Tooth-Fairy’ night light bravely burning beside me, I discovered that what had appeared to be a thermostat on the room’s heater actually functioned as a simple manually-controlled On-Off switch.  This caused me to sleep until I was “Too”.  Too hot, wake up feeling queezy and turn the volcanic steam vent off.  Go back to bed.  Finally drift off to sleep in a puddle of sweat, only to wake up an hour later shivering on top of a sheet of ice.  Too cold.  Get up shivering and start up the heater.  Repeat.  During one of these laps in the wee hours I heard someone pounding on the exterior door of the room next to me.  This went on for at least 5 minutes.  (I know this is wicked of me, but I hope he bruised his knuckles.)  I failed to mention that I had rejected the first room I was assigned because the bed hadn’t been made.  I don’t think I’ll be staying there again during this century.
Gotta get some sleep now.  Love ya!

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My EX-buddy Aaron is just a few years younger than I am.  Today he announced that I have lived in SEVEN decades.  60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, and now the 20s.  I hope Aaron appreciates his four flat tires tonight…

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I’m writing from a steak-house in Deer Lodge Montana tonight but I’ll be sleeping in Missoula if all goes well.  There’s not an abundance of food options around here – thankfully the menu has something besides steak…

Montana is a pretty state, particularly if you like solitude.  This week I must have gazed upon a few-dozen zillion-acre parcels of human-free land.  It’s been nice.  Here are a few of what I would call ‘highlights’ that I’ve seen this week:

A herd of horses that must have been at least 100 strong with miles and miles to run and graze at will.  Not a barn as far as the eye could see.

There is a dusting of snow on the mountains and the wind has blown it into stripes.  Low or sheltered places are white while the rest of the ground is brown in various shades.

My road paralleled an old 18″ wide horse trail for at least 20 miles.  The trail had been carefully surveyed through the mountains a hundred years ago to be as pack-horse friendly as possible.  Just like a railroad grade, but wide enough for one horse and rider without an inch to spare.

I stopped beside a good-sized river that was in the last stage of the freeze up.  The channel had iced-in until it was just five feet wide.  There was slush and miniature ice-bergs all crowded together in the current.  I’m glad the old single-lane wooden bridge was still in pretty good condition…

I passed a 12′ wide mobile home on the highway today.  The driver was going just 79 in an 80 zone.  These country bumpkins should learn how to drive.  The roof had obviously been installed properly.

The Montana Big Sky sunset sure was pretty tonight.  And WIDE too.

All for now.  Gotta get back on the road.

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Today I worked in Olympia, then in a little podunk town southeast of Chehalis who’s name escapes me right now, then further east to the town of Morton near the foothills of Mt. Rainier.  I made a new friend there while walking down the sidewalk, a 79 year old gentleman named Mark.  We only chatted for ten minutes but I have to admit that I’m eager to meet him again in Heaven and really get to know him.  I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun together!

From there I drove west to South Bend, just a quarter mile from the Pacific Ocean.  South Bend has a whole lot of restaurants, 95% of which were dark at 5:30 this evening.  I wound up at a tiny Mexican restaurant and I’m just hoping I survive the gastronomic experience.  At least all the employees are Mexican and can just barely converse in English.  That’s a good sign.  I wind up in so many out-of-the-way places each week that finding a safe place to eat isn’t a challenge, it’s like taking another pull on a one-armed bandit during a winning streak.  You just know that your good luck will run out at any moment.  (These crab enchiladas are pretty good.  That reminds me, don’t order seafood in central Montana.  A waiter tried to convince me that ‘Spam’ was an exotic fish.)

Tomorrow I’ll work in South Bend, Ocean Shores and Shelton, then hit the road for Idaho.
Remember that podunk town I mentioned above?  They still use rotary telephones there.  That was refreshing.

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Finding a Mexican restaurant tonight near Fife was rather challenging, and rush “hour” traffic slightly compounded the problem.  The first ‘restrauant’ turned out to be a taco trailer.  Not interested.  The second restrauant was in an extra rough section of downtown Tacoma – there was no way I was gonna stop anywhere near there.  Restrauant number three was close to downtown but had no open parking spaces.  Restrauant number four, the one where I’m writing this note, is just right.  It’s called ‘Mexico Magico’ and appears to be in a ‘reclaimed’  portion of the city.  The little voice inside my head is assuring me that a half-dozen thugs with brass knuckles WON’T be awaiting me upon my departure.  So far so good.

Nothing UNUSUAL happened today while working in Tacoma.  A panhandler was squatting DIRECTLY in front of a “No Loitering, No Panhandling” sign beside the entrance to a Safeway store,.  There was obvious gang activity at the west entrance to another Safeway, so I parked near the east entrance and continued with my business.  Again, nothing unusual for Tacoma.

I’m eager to get back home where it’s safer.  The cougar that was spotted on the north edge of our property a month ago doesn’t bother me a hundredth as much as do these people.  Still, it’s good exercise to avoid the bad places – I certainly don’t want to get flabby in that portion of my life.

I was just signing the bill at the Mexican restaurant I’ve been telling you about and what do you suppose was advertised on the pen?  “Evergreen Personal Injury Council”.  I love it!!!!!  

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As I walked out of the restaurant tonight I stopped to watch a 30-something man who weighed at least 225 pounds stoop down to start the gas engine of his SKATEBOARD.  Not a scooter with a little handlebar, but a low-slung skateboard.  It even had a headlight, taillight and blue side lights.  The board was about 4′ long.  After he warmed up the engine a little he stepped on, postured himself as though he needed to withstand a 150 mph wind, hit the throttle and took off into the night.  The temperature was 27 degrees Fahrenheit, he wasn’t wearing a coat, a helmet or any padding with the exception of his bulk.  I think he singlehandedly disproves the theory of evolution…
I found an advertisement for the skateboard just now.  It was in a sales brochure and they cost $550.  My creative mind wanted to stamp the words, “Fool Not Included” on top of the skateboard.  Oh well, to each his own.  I guess I’m showing my age.

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Ah, fulfillment at last!  The computer at the motel I’m staying at is in the process of being de-wormed (just how does one go about that I wonder…) and so I was assigned room 549 and given two keys, at least one of which worked very well in the lock.  It was a little bit strange to walk boldly into a motel room that was OCCUPIED by someone I’ve never met before.  Thankfully the gentleman was very polite and I was allowed to make an honorable retreat.  I almost wish I’d walked into an occupied room that was interesting in itself.  Perhaps two dozen automatic weapons lying on the bed with a moose standing in the bathroom rubbing it’s antlers against a palm tree that was growing out of the toilet.  I’m sure you get my drift.  At least then I’d have something INTERESTING to write home about.  Still, we need to be content with what we have.

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I’m in Bonner’s Ferry tonight, just 90 minutes from home, but I think it’s wiser to sleep here tonight than to sleep at home.  Wiser, but definitely not as pleasant.  I’m staying in a nice old country motel for just $45 a night.  It has a new bed, a hot shower and baseboard heat that even works.  All it’s lacking is my sweet wife!

I’m having supper in a restaurant made of milled logs.  It has a very pleasant atmosphere and the food is equally pleasant. I’m eating the cedar plank salmon.  No bones in the salmon but the cedar is leaving splinters in my mouth…
Tomorrow morning I’ll head east to northern Montana and work my way east and south until I tire of all the fun and finally start home again.

Tonight I met a hunter who will have to buy his meat from grocery stores this year.  He waited too long in the season and there’s not much left in the mountains.  I politely directed his gaze across the street to where a herd of seven deer were grazing in someone’s pasture.  He sighed long and with much emotion.

“You don’t happen to have a bow and arrows, do you?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Silencer for your rifle?”

He shook his head again.

“Reckless driving with your Toyota?  Perhaps hit an icy patch and go off the road?” I prompted.

He shook his head yet again. “It’s my girlfriend’s truck.” he explained. “She’d be a little upset with the dents.”

Moral of the story: go hunting early in the season.