Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Life Without Travel is Still Pretty Good

It has been a couple of weeks since my last entry. I get uninspired to write when we are sitting still. I really want to keep writing, but I seem to fall into a routine and before I know it 2 weeks have gone by and I have not written anything.

In my last entry, I mentioned that I was having an issue with my back. I am not totally sure what happened, but I did some heavy lifting earlier in the day and was careful not to strain my back. I was feeling fine. Later that evening, I got up out of a chair and BAM! It was all I could do to sit back down. The next morning, I almost needed assistance to get out of bed. It took about three days to get to the point I could walk without pain, and almost 2 weeks to get back to normal.

The bad news is that first weekend was when Michael and Connor came to ride and I could not do much. I did spend a bunch of time with Connor at the pond fishing. He loves to fish and other than helping him take the fish off the hook, he can do it all by himself. Not bad for a 5 year old.

I did have some friends come out to the ranch to ride and Michael got a good ride in with them.

Shannon needed to be out of town for a few days, so she had William come to the ranch to stay with us. What started out as a 3 day visit turned into 8 days. We had a blast. He is so active at 7 years old. We fished, hiked and took 4 wheeler rides. We even did some work around the ranch. I loved having him with me. Kim and I tag teamed. When he had me worn out, he would go make cookies with Kim or play Wii in the trailer.

Will even helped with the dishes.

Grand kids are great all of the time, but we really love to get them one at a time.

After being here 6 days, he finally said the words I have been waiting to hear for 2 years. "Grandpa can I ride my motorcycle?" I bought this 50cc bike for the grand kids to ride, but it has not seen much use to this point. I have been patient and waited for them to decide they wanted to ride it. I was expecting a short ride, but after he got going he rode for over an hour and he only quit because it started to rain. The best part is he was riding with confidence and even did some riding in the standing position. I asked him where he learned that. He said, "By watching you Grandpa". My heart melted.

Here is a blurry shot of him riding in the standing position. This is a much needed skill to ride on the rough trails at the ranch.

Here is a short clip that we will enjoy for a long time.

Will woke me up the next morning and wanted to ride more. He rode on the wet grass and got his bike pretty muddy. He tipped over a couple times and got a few scratches, but that did not slow him down. I think he is now ready to ride and I could not be more proud of him. He really wanted to wash his bike, so that is how we ended our visit.

We also got the boat out while Will was here and went to Bull Shoals Reservoir. The water was too cold to swim or ski, but we did catch a few fish and the boat ran well. We are ready for a fun summer at the lakes.

I also wanted to mention a totally unrelated thing that happened the other day. I have now been retired for 2.5 years. It is difficult to remember what it was like going to work every day. While I worked for MICROS, the now division of Oracle, I developed a few special relationships. For many years I taught sales schools for new employees and really enjoyed watching those young people advance up through the company. I got a note from one of those guys the other day on their last day at the old company. He wanted to thank me for my mentoring. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. It is just so nice to know that I had a positive impact on someones life.

We are staying very busy with activities at the ranch and more time watching the grand kids. I will periodically try to document our summer in Missouri. We are planning to move fairly soon to spend a week or two at the lake. We are also beginning to talk about some extended travel plans for next year. We are already getting excited about that.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mothers Day Weekend

Another week as gone by since my last post. It has been a very busy week. My partner Bob brought his motor home out to the ranch and stayed most of last week. He worked on the trails while I mostly worked around the ranch. There is always mowing to do and equipment to maintain.

While mowing, the mower just popped a quit. I had to pick the back end of the ZTR mower up with the tractor and drag it back over to the shop. It looked like there was a problem in the valve train. I removed the valve covers to take a look. The good news is that one of the rocker arms had worked it's way loose. I reinstalled the rocker arm and the mower now runs. Yeah!

I also spent some time working on my riding machines. I was hoping to get the grand kids to do some riding over the Mothers Day weekend.

We have a large elm tree directly in front of our trailer. We have seen a resident of the tree before.  I was walking back from the shop and this big black rat snake was laying in the grass.

I would estimate him at 4 feet long. It was really cool to see him climb up the tree and quickly slip into a knot hole on the tree. That is three big snakes we have seen in the past two weeks. I am glad none of them are poisonous.

We were really looking forward to having Shannon and Brian and their kids come out to the ranch for Mothers day weekend. The good news is that Scott and his friend Jim came out on Friday night also. It was good to see those guys. We did some riding on Saturday morning. Jim has been working on his riding and he is improving nicely. The bad news is that Hannah and Eve could not make it this weekend.

As I wrote in my last entry, Kim was sick with a cold earlier in the week. She made a nice recovery, but then I was sick for the weekend. It was not too bad, I was able to push through, but I was whipped by Sunday evening.

We had a full weekend. We had a big campfire on Saturday night. Then I took Brian and Shannon on a tour of the property. We went to a few places they had not seen before.

Brian wanted to ride the 4 wheeler, so I led him around the property. He said he had a blast. Will rode with me in the mule. Here is a shot of the Grand Canyon of HHR.

I did not doing a good job taking pictures this weekend, So, I got permission from Brian to use a few of his.

After the 4 wheeler ride, we decided to go fishing and shoot some guns. Both Isabella and Will caught a number of fish. Will likes to give them a kiss before letting them go.

Shannon and Isabella had gone back to the lodge. We were getting ready to start shooting and Will had a half worm on his hook. He said "One more cast". Brian and I were watching when his bobber went down with unusual speed. It soon became evident that he had hooked a large bass. I had hooked a large bass a couple of years ago when I was fishing with Will, but we did not get it to shore. Will reeled this one in all by himself with Brian and I lending advice and filming. We did not weigh it, but it is well over 7 lbs.

He caught that on that little princess fishing pole. WOW!

Will and his fish. 
Will was so proud of that fish. Brain and I were amazed. That is a story that will be retold time and time again for the rest of our lives.

You can see the buzz cut Kim gave Will. Kim gave me one a few days before, so Will wanted one too. I love having short hair in the hot and humid summer months of Missouri.

We have been enjoying watching all of he birds returning to the Ozarks. We have had finches, bluebirds, robins and many other varieties. We also have seen a regular show of hummingbirds at our feeder. The one on top has claimed this feeder as his own and defends it rigorously.

It has been a fun week at the ranch. I have had some great friends come out to ride. I really enjoy catching up with my riding friends.

I will try to do a better job with the camera. There is no lack of content, I just need to remember to take it out of my pocket and capture the moment.

We have big plans for this coming weekend. Unfortunatly, I hurt my back yesterday and writing this blog entry is about all I can do right now. Hopefully, I will feel better tomorrow and I can go play with Michael and Scott. I will let you know how that goes in my next entry.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hiking at the Ranch and Grandkids

It is difficult to keep writing when we are not traveling. I find my life pretty ordinary and that is not very interesting. The truth is my life is still pretty great. I still enjoy the freedom of not having to go to work for someone else, and choosing my daily activities for myself.

I have been hiking around the 750 acres doing a little trail maintenance and checking out the sites. Here is a picture of the amazing terrain:

This valley is very steep and rocky. We call this area "Something Special". It is used as an element in the Ozark 100 Miler in November. It looks a bit different with the leaves on the trees.

The entire ranch is now covered by the new leaf cover. The view is very different from the winter months. We had almost 4 inches of rain in the past week. If that had come before the MORE race, the riders would have had to ride through a very wet creek.

This creek was dry on April 24th for the race.

While I was hiking around, I got a look at this good snake. It is a Prairie King Snake. We leave them alone and let them eat the vermin and copperheads. It is about 3.5 feet long.

While I was working in the shop the other day, I saw a Black Rat Snake that was over 6 feet long. That was kind of exciting.

One great thing about the ranch this time of year is the flowers. These Iris's were on the ranch, but transplanted by Kim and Linda to this small garden.

Last weekend, Shannon and her family had a combined birthday party for the entire family. They rented out a local arcade called "1984". It is a very cool place. It is filled by video games from the 1980's. I use to play them for hours. It is amazing that I cold still remember the patterns and was able to do pretty well at Galaga, Xevious, Defender, Missile Command and others. I did get some time with the grandkids. Here are a few shots.

That is Amelia and Cameron along with a family friend Cocoa.
Amelia has something to say. 

I have been working on getting things ready for a big family weekend for Mothers Day. Kim has been sick with a cold, so we are hoping she is feeling better by Sunday. I have been getting all of my small bikes running well for the grand kids this weekend.

Little TTR 50 on the left, then my \KTM 400 and two TTR 125's. 
Well that is about it from here. Happy Mothers Day to all of the mothers out there.