Family

What is a mom worth?

What is a wife and stay at home mom worth? That’s the question that has been raised in a couple of venues I have been in recently. Now, I am not talking about the love aspect, because love is priceless. I can’t and won’t put a price on my love for my wife, that just IS.

My beautiful wife and I both worked when we were first wed a couple of months ago, but due to totally opposite and conflicting schedules, money that wasn’t worth the time, and just her physical well being, we decided it would be best for the family if she stayed at home. So now she is a stay at home mom and housewife and I absolutely love it. Money is tight, but the girls have their mom all day, which I believe is important. She isn’t taxing her body like she was before, which always worried the hell out of me. Also, she doesn’t have to stress and worry about her safety being a waitress working a graveyard shift.

To me, this is all priceless.

Lately she has shown some concern over money as things are tight, to which I have this to say: Babe, you are contributing more than you think. I don’t worry about things like I used to, we will get through the tight finances and debt and we will be okay. Don’t worry about not bringing home a paycheck. You do things that are just as important, if not more so, on a daily basis. I love you.

This article says these things in a much better way than I can, so I will share it for your reading pleasure: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-roles/value-of-stay-at-home-moms/the-value-of-stay-at-home-moms

Now, if some of you disagree with me and this article and think that this is all easy and stay at homes mom have it easy, I say try and do it without one. See how hard it can get. Better yet, hire out to other people. Get yourself people that do all the things a stay at home mom does and see how much it costs you. The average stay at home mom puts in 96.5 hours of work a week according to Salary.com and Forbes. Imagine paying a housekeeper, a cook, a launderer, a driver for errands, (etc.) for all of this and then having them on call for nights too. Yup, it would run you a huge bill.

In the end though, as I already said, it is all priceless. You can’t put a value on what a mom and a wife does, it will never come out right. Just love them and help them when they need it.

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Categories: Family, Life, money, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Fathers Eyes

I’m sitting here at work and waiting. Waiting for a phone call from someone I need to talk to about running a class and waiting for someone to come in so I can fit test his respirator. Sometimes this job is a lot of hurry up and wait. Waiting leads to thinking and pondering.

This morning getting out of bed was not high on my priority list, though it had to be done. I hit the snooze button on my alarm, only for it to magically go off again right away (I’m sure to the annoyance of my wife). I looked at the clock and it said it was five minutes later, but I know that was a lie. I had just hit the snooze button, no way it could be five minutes later. I dragged myself out of bed and in to the bathroom, cat weaving in and out of my feet, to discover the top hinge on the bathroom door was broke. Mentally cataloging another fix, I closed the door, turned on the bathroom light and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t my eyes looking back at me.

I saw my fathers eyes in the mirror looking back at me, clear as day. Sure it was my face, but it was his eyes. Not the eyes of my dad in the months before he died, but the eyes of the man I remember from 20 years ago. Still blue, but bloodshot and wrinkled in the corners, a bit of a permanent sun burn, and tired.

There is a picture of my grandfather (mom’s dad) when he was still in the army, but after he came back from Korea. He was around 21, in uniform, and sitting on some grass looking up at the camera. I first saw this picture when I was about the same age as he was in that picture. We looked just alike, scarily so. My cousin looked at the picture, looked at me, and said “You could have been twins!” Scary, especially as you know if you read my blog, my mom says that him and I are very much alike. However, as much as I may look like my grandfather, act like my grandfather, and in many ways think like him, the eyes staring back at me in the mirror are not his.

They are my fathers.

Categories: Family, Father, Grandfather | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Birthday

Today is my birthday, I am 34 years old. I don’t really know where the last ten or so years have gone, they are very much a blur. I know much of my early through mid twenties was spent in a haze of drinking my way through nights and spending my days working for peanuts. Mid to late twenties was getting myself together and going back to school, getting my heart broke, starting a job that has become my career (at least currently), moving out of my codependent mothers apartment, and just being me without someone there trying to tell me how to think and feel. Late twenties to early thirties was becoming more established in my career, reconnecting with old friends, losing old friends, getting my heart broke again, and then finding the woman and girls who would become my wife, daughters, and the loves of my life. I gained 20lbs, lost my dad, gained ten more pounds, and then got married.

My life has been easier than many other peoples in this world, but I know people that tell me I had to grow up way to fast and that I had it hard. All I know is that the preceding 34 years made me who I am as I sit here, killing time at work, writing this, and wanting to go home to my family. All in all, the 30’s have probably been the best part of my life so far.

Maybe it just gets better from here?

Categories: Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

She was wating for me…..

My dad died last June, the weekend right after fathers day to be exact. He had a major aneurism a couple of days before Fathers Day, as he walked in to The Roadhouse in Kramer Junction. His Chrysler 300C was sitting beside the diner for a couple of days before my fiancée and I drove her up here. After he died she sat up here for a few months, and then was moved back down to my dads house, where it sat. My siblings and I all agreed (even the ones that do not get along), that the car belong to my brother T. T bought the car for my dad about three years before, and before my dad died he probably put close to 3,000.00 in to the car.

When my brother bought the car for my dad it had a little over 74,000 miles on it. As it sits now, it has over 247,000 miles on it, and still runs pretty strong. Mostly highway and interstate miles. The car had been in really good shape, but as my dads health became worse, his cognitive abilities lessened, the miles grew, and the car became a bit battered and bruised, inside and out. Hence, the 3,000.00 that was put in to it. Water pump, radiator, hoses, alternator, oil pressure sensor, windshield, etc.

My brother T let the car sit, he didn’t want to deal with it at first. I think later he just wanted to let the car “retire.” However, as I am getting married on Friday he agreed to let me have the car for my fiancée. She needs something other than my 21 year old, falling apart Explorer, even if it is only for a couple years until we can afford a decent car for her.

The car has been sitting since June and hasn’t never even been started as I had the only key, no ones else wanted the responsibility of the key. So last night I caught a ride to my dads, jumper cables in tow as I figured the battery would be long since dead. I walked up to my dads car wondering if I would have enough gas to drive the 20 miles to the nearest gas station, wondering if I was going to get pulled over for driving a car that wasn’t registered or insured, wondering how much money this was going to cost me in the long run, wondering if I was even going to be able to get the car registered in my name, worried that something would go wrong, and then I got a strange feeling that I should try the key, so I did.

She unlocked when I hit the button on the key fob and turned over when I started her. She had about a quarter tank of gas and all the tires were fully inflated. She had an oil starved tick from the top end when I started her, but as the oil flowed and she warmed up, she quieted down.

I pulled my dads clothes out of the trunk and put them in his house, along with his glasses and address book. I’m not sure what will happen to them, but I know that my fiancée and I will take care of his car.

As I pulled out of the gate and drove down the road, she started running even better. After using up most of the old gas and replacing it with new gas, she ran even more confidently down the road.

It was like she had been waiting for me to come back and rescue her the whole time.

Categories: Cars, Death, Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The only one….

Some days I seem to be the only person at work and in my family.

There is a saying in Government that goes something along the lines “Those that work get the work, those that don’t still get raises.” Basically in Government jobs, if you work your butt off and do a great job, you still get the same pay raise as the man or woman that can’t do their job. If you demonstrate you can work and work well, your boss will probably give you all the work, all the projects, etc. While the coworkers that don’t work, can’t work, or just screw up the work, they get very little to do. Again, everyone gets the same pay raise. At least in the GS pay system. Their are other Government pay systems out their, but I am unfamiliar with them.

At work, I get the majority of the work. My customers for Safety are two of the three largest and most technical departments on the base, encompassing chemistry labs, physics labs, optics labs, energetics labs, large machine shops, etc. Not to mention a handful of other departments. I also run the confined space program for the base, the traffic safety program, blood borne pathogen program, assist with the fall protection program, energy control (lock out/tag out) program and respirator program. Though I do more to run the respirator program than assist with it.

With all of this I am also the Non Ionizing Radiation point of contact for our command, backup for my supervisor in the Emergency Operations Center, on the Chemical Hygiene Plan board, and more.

My supervisor is a great manager. I think she took all this in to account when she selected me for a promotion a few months ago and made me her Deputy. Still, when you are the only person that people can go to for all of these things, it can get overwhelming. I am the only person in the office that can do a lot of the things above and I can’t be in two places at once. If I make the wrong call or manage my time improperly, I can end up holding up a multi million dollar test. That has only happened once so far. Worse, if I make a bad decision in regards to certain deficiencies or programs (i.e. confined space or respirator), I can kill someone.

Family wise, I am the only person that my mom has. My mom is emotionally a wreck at most times, has a stress disorder, bad coping skills, very low self esteem, a stressful job that barely lets her make ends meet, can’t make friends very well and a love life that is a couple deaths short of a Greek tragedy. I am the only person she has to talk to, help her out with things, etc.

Right now she is being evicted from her apartment and has been looking for a place to live. A veteran used a VA loan to buy the duplex that she has lived in for 10 years. As VA loans make you live in the place you buy (I think for a year), and the other apartment is on a new lease, my mom is being evicted out of hers.

She has only been working for about 11 years and that came at the end of a divorce to a bad man. She doesn’t make much money, doesn’t have much of a savings and is now forced to either rent a crappy apartment (there are not many nice rentals in this town) or buy a small house. She has chosen the latter and is buying a small house in a bad neighborhood. Most of the house was renovated, but it still needs work. Of course, I am the only person she has that can help her do this work, help her move, etc.

I am basically the only person my grandparents have too. They live an hour away and I go down their often to help them, probably not as often as I should though.

My fiancée is a different story. She is really the only person I have that I can ask for help as everyone else either lives too far away, is not in a position to help me with anything, or is the one always asking me for help. Though I am reluctant to ask her for help; instead just drawing strength from being with her and having her and the kids in my life. She gets mad at me for this and chews me out for not asking her to help lighten my load. I guess I just became used to doing everything on my own, helping and supporting everyone else. I don’t really know how to ask for myself. Besides, she works swing shifts and graveyards, has two kids, and is going to school full time. She is Superwoman for pulling all of that off! Her strength is one of the many things I love about her and I know she would be strong enough to handle anything I ask of her too. However, when she is already facing so much on a daily basis, how can I ask her for help?

By the way, Jen, if you are reading this. I love you and thank you for everything you do for me. I’ll see you tonight 🙂

Last week an old friend and his wife came in from out of town. As his wife and my fiancée were inside Dennys, getting to know one another, we were outside so he could smoke. He looked at me and said “You used to be the laid back one out of the group. Now you are wound really tight and kind of angry and cold. What happened? I’m worried about you.”

My fiancée agreed with him when I told her about his concern.

A few weeks ago, at the end of the work day, my supervisor came in my office, sat down, looked at me and said “I’m worried about you. You are always doing everything for everyone else, taking care of everyone else. I can see it in your eyes. You need to take some time for yourself and start focusing on yourself more.”

At that point my office phone rang, I was needed for an emergency mishap. I ended up working an hour and a half over that night, almost missing a dinner date with my fiancée and the girls.

Categories: Family, Friends, General, Life, Work | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Looking in the cracked mirror

It would be easy to blame all of my flaws on my parents. Isn’t that what society does today? Blame everyone but themselves? Alas, I am an adult now and I have to take responsibility for my own actions.

Somewhere along the road of life I learned to be pessimistic about pretty much everything. Again, my first thought is to point at my mom and say “I learned it from her!” But again, I am responsible for my own feelings and actions. I have a really good life these days. Let me state that again, I have a really good life.

Why do I have a good life?

First and foremost I have a beautiful and loving fiancé that is always there for me and two beautiful daughters. I can’t state that enough. I see them and I can’t believe that they are in my life, it was like winning the lottery. When my dad ended up in Loma Linda she drove down there with me and never left my side. When my sister and her mother held a memorial service for my dad, my fiancé was right there beside me even though she had just come off working two graveyard shifts in a row and was dead on her feet. She calms my anger. In general makes me want to be a better man for her and the girls. Do better, be better, be there for her like she is for me, give her nice things. Be the dad for our daughters that they deserve.

Why else do I have a great life? I have some great friends; some if which I have had for most of my life. Last year I helped start The Sidewinder Motor Club where I have made even more friends and had some awesome experiences. Career wise, I was recently promoted to the GS-12 position of Deputy NAVOSH Installation Program Director. Fancy way of saying assistant department head for Safety. I was just given a great performance review for the year, I have the respect of some fairly high up individuals and to be blunt, I am damn good at my job when I am not being lazy.

I drive a 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T as my daily driver! Screw you gas mileage! I can afford a big V8! Speaking of big V8’s, my grandfather recently gave me a 1984 F250 with a 460 V8 and camper to repair and then just have. My fiancé gave me an X-Box One for Christmas! I have a comic book collection that my nerdy friends envy and a book collection that a lot of people drool over….until they help me move.

Speaking of my grandfather, he told me he was proud of me. That’s huge in my grandfathers world. For all of their flaws, my bio family does care for me and even love me. This is more than a lot of people have.

But the pessimistic me is always there…..

I’m constantly looking at what’s wrong with me, what I don’t have, etc. I see my car loan and my student loans and complain about how broke I am, when in reality the student loans gave me my degree and my degree helped me land my job! I love my car, so then why do I complain about the loan that I took to get it? I look in the mirror and see a fat version of myself, but instead of doing anything about it I just complain. I always want more, I never do good enough for myself…the list of complaints when I look around me can go on.

I’ve always been told I am hard on myself, that I judge myself too harshly. However, I am also told I judge others too harshly. It’s true too. For some reason I really don’t like most people, even ones I haven’t met. I tend to judge them on the smallest actions and immediately dismiss them as being a moron, a douche, an ass, a mooch, a drama queen, etc. I tend to prop myself up as being better than they are too, unwilling to recognize the struggles they are going through because I can’t see past my own past.

I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to my friends that were given a lot of breaks in life or just grew yup privileged. Yet, these are the same ones that I compare my life too and say “well they did it/have it, why can’t I?”

These are things in my life I need to change for my fiancé and the girls, or I am going to drive them out of my life. I need to be a better person, while also recognizing that I already have things pretty damn good.

Categories: Family, Friends, General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fun with Ford F250

About then years ago my grandfather bought a 1984 Ford F250, with a gas guzzling 460ci V8 under the hood. This was right before fuel injection, but while everyone was trying to meet newly stringent emission standards, so the engine is carbureted and a MESS of vacuum tubes. He promptly threw on an MSD ignition system to do away with the “abomination” that was the Ford system, a K & N air filter, two chamber muffler, air bag suspension and then plopped a big Lance camper in the bed. You know the kind that sit in the bed, hang over the top of the truck, have a bathroom in it? Yep, that kind. He took it on a few trips, one of which he developed an vacuum leak and burned up a cylinder. My grandfather, not one to half ass anything, bought the best crate engine (still a 460) he could buy and had it installed. The engine has a brand new crankshaft on it, not a regrind and probably has less than 2,000 miles on it since it was put in the truck.

About four years ago he went to start it up, but it wouldn’t start. Battery was good, starter solenoid was good, and relay was good (at least he thinks). In his trouble shooting he decided it must be an ignition switch or wiring issue under the dash, so he started tearing all that apart. he didn’t get very far as it was the middle of summer, not in a garage or in any shade at all and laying down under a dash board is ruff on a young person, let alone an (at the time) 82 year old man with a bad back.

So, he stopped working on it, saying he would get to it when it cooled down…..four years later he decided to just give it to me. So now that it has been sitting for four years without being started it has more issues than just the ignition.

1. All three batteries are horribly corroded (one truck battery, one deep cycle batter for the camper in the engine compartment of the truck, one deep cycle battery for the camper in the camper) to the point that the clamps on the wires are messed up.
2. Gas doesn’t last that long. Both fuel tanks (19 gallon midship and 17 gallon aft) need to be dropped, pumped out and flushed.
3. While the tanks are out, the fuel pumps will be replaced.
4. Carburetor need to be cleaned out.
5. Fuel lines should be flushed or blown out.
6. Original ignition problem needs to be diagnosed and fixed.
7. All fluids need to be replaced and anything that can be lubed and greased (oil, auto tranny fluid, diff, etc.) needs to be lubed and greased.

Did I mention this truck is sitting about an hour away from the nearest decent mechanic? Consequently I will be doing all this in the dirt of my grandfathers yard, with the help of an 86 year old man who can’t really help. Grateful for the truck, just wish I had a little help with it. Nothing I can’t handle though 🙂

Categories: Cars, Grandfather | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Grandfather stories, part 2

The second in my series of stories my grandfather tells. This will be about my Grandfathers childhood:

My grandfather grew up during the great depression. As a child he remembers people in soup lines because there was no food, people trading services for food that they grew because there was no money and he remembers the Hobo’s. Growing up, my grandfather used to frequent the hobo camps. He would sit and listen to them play harmonica, tell stories, eat their food and generally have a good time. He described them not as the Hobo’s that we think about, but as honest men that were just traveling place to place looking for work. Sometimes they would steal crops or chickens to eat, but that was because they were hungry and there was no work to be found.

He said that growing up his family never went without food. When he was young and his dad was a lawyer in Cleveland, he would trade his legal services for food. Some people would pay in vegetables if they grew vegetables, if they raised pigs they might pay with a slaughtered pig, etc. Later on, after moving to California, my great grandfather was able to provide food through working and my grandfather would provide food from hunting and other means. One of these other means was road kill.

Back then the bumpers of cars were a lot higher off the ground than they are now, and the speed limits were a lot slower. My grandfather says that these cars would be going down a road and hit a bunch of “prairie chickens.” Evidently these birds had long necks, which put their heads at just bumper eight of the car. The car would go by at 30mph or so, and “Thwock!” the bumper would start hitting the heads of these birds, killing them but not harming the bodies. My grandfather would gather them up, take them home, clean and dress them. Dinner is served.

If he didn’t get his birds this way, he would get them with his rifle. At the age of seven my grandfather received his first rifle, a .22 Iver Johnson self cocking safety rifle . As he states, his father didn’t believe any boy should pass the age of seven without a rifle. My grandfather said that he immediately went out and shot all the glass insulators off the telephone poles. My great grandfather found out and immediately took the bolt out of the rifle, hiding it in a drawer somewhere. My grandfather said that some months later he came across the bolt, put it back in his rifle, and went on his merry way. My great grandfather of course knew, but never said or did anything.

I know in the previous segment I wrote about my great grandfather, recounting my grandfather’s stories. However, I didn’t tell the ones that specifically detail some of the interactions between him and my grandfather.

When my grandfather was young, he always went around barefoot in the summer time. Shoes were expensive and as a child he would have out grown them or wore them out too easily. He said that one time he stepped on a board that had a very large nail in it. The nail went in the bottom of his foot, out the top, effectively nailing the board directly to his foot. His brother and his friend Billy (who I will talk about more, directly) helped him in the house and sat him in the kitchen. My great grandmother put a big enamel wash basin under my grandfather’s foot to catch the blood, then went and brought my great grandfather in. My great grandfather kneeled down, looked at the board and then looked my grandfather in the eye, pointed at him and sternly said “Now don’t you cry.” He then proceeded to pull the board and nail away from my grandfather’s. My grandfather says the he sniffled, but never cried.

My grandfather often speaks of his friend, Billy Masters. Billy lived in a severely abusive household and many times my grandfather remembers Billy having bruises and welts all over his body, received by his father for some offence that had been given. My grandfather often tells a story about the two of them playing out in the woods one day and Billy missing his curfew. My grandfather repeatedly tried to get Billy to go home, but Billy was having too much fun. The next day when Billy came over, he had been beaten black and blue. When my grandfather tried talking to him about making it home on time, Billy just said “I was having fun. Besides, a beating only lasts a little bit.”

One day, while out in a farmer’s field, they came across the farmer’s tractor. He and Billy jumped on the tractor and started it up. The tractor started rolling along and my grandpa looked at Billy and said “Do you know how to drive this thing?” Billy of course applied in the affirmative. Well they went rolling along and pretty soon were heading to a swamp at the back of the farmers property. Billy said that he couldn’t stop the tractor, so both the boys jumped off. My grandpa said that the tractor ran itself in to the bog, the turning back wheels digging it deeper in to the mud, until it eventually sank almost the whole way in. When I asked my grandfather if the farmer ever was able to get the tractor out of the swamp, he said that he doesn’t know. He did say however, that whenever he and Billy would pass by the famer’s house, the farmer would watch them like a hawk.

One of the Billy Master’s stories that my grandfather tells more than the rest is about the time that Billy sold my great grandfather a lock. Evidently my great grandfather had just finished building doors for a big barn like shed. It may have even been their garage. Standing there he said that all it needed was a lock. Billy Masters heard him, went over to him and said “Mr. Heath, I have a lock I will sell you.” My great grandfather told him he would look at the lock, so Billy went home and retrieved the lock.

My grandfather says that his dad looked at it, pronounced it a brand new lock, and asked Billy what he wanted for it. Billy told my great grandfather that he only wanted a nickel for it, so my great grandfather gave him a nickel for the lock. He then put the lock through the hasp of the doors, locked it and began to walk away, when he stopped and asked Billy for the key. Billy looked at my great grandfather and the exchange went like this:

Billy Masters: “Why Mr. Heath, there isn’t any key.”

Beverly: “WHAT?! NO KEY?!”

Billy: “No Mr. Heath, you don’t need a key, just these.”

At that point Billy produced what my grandfather says looked like a couple bent nails. He walked over to the lock, stuck them in the tumbler, stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and proceeded to pick the lock with them. When he was done he handed the bent nails to my great grandfather. My great grandfather laughed at Billy and said “Take your lock and give me my damn nickel back.” He then walked away, shaking his head and smiling.

As my grandfather grew up he was separated from Billy. He often states “I wish I knew what happened to him.” My mom and I looked the name up some time ago, and we found a few different ones that might be him. Unfortunately they all turned out pretty bad, so we never said anything. We don’t even know if any of them were the right Billy Masters anyway.

My grandfather didn’t need Billy Masters around to get himself in to mischief, even as an adult he has a mischievous streak a mile wide, though it has been tempered with age. One of his favorite stories is about the time he took a bucket of grease and brushed it up and down the railroad tracks. He said a steam locomotive came along, hit the grease and that was it. The tires started slipping and the train wouldn’t go forward. Of course me grandpa was standing there, smiling sweetly up at the train engineer. The train engineer looked down, smiled back and pulled a lever. The lever opened bins of sand underneath the locomotive, which covered the grease. The locomotive was then able to move its way down the track.

As a side note, not knowing this story, I did something similar as a child. I’ll save that story for a later date though.

As my grandfather got older he became a fighter in school, a smaller guy (he didn’t get bigger until about 18) that bullied and fought the big guys. He actually caught the eye of a man named Gus Gursing (Gurzing?), a gym teacher who had at one time been a professional boxer. He taught my grandfather how to fight, which may have been a mistake because he just found himself in more fights after that. Always beating up bigger kids, or putting up enough of a fight that it just wasn’t worth fighting him.

He gained a well-deserved reputation as a trouble maker and hung out with the same. He likes to tell the story of how he and his friends would go to the gas station next to his high school at lunch where they kept bottles of beer and various kinds of soda in a barrel of ice. Of course the ice would melt and become ice water. He says that the bottles of “Dad Old Fashioned Root Beer” looked just like the bottles of generic beer that were floating next to it. The ice water would make the labels on both the bottles loose, so he and his friends would switch the labels and buy the beer to drink with their lunches. He says that after a while the gas station caught on and stopped putting the beer in that barrel.

My grandfather said that early in his school career he had been held back a year, so his senior year of high school he was already 18. He was still very much a trouble maker and getting in to fights, when one day someone picked a fight with him, not the other way around. Even though he did not start or want the fight and the gym teacher went to bat for him, the principle of my grandfather’s school told my grandfather that he was being expelled and transferred to another school. I do not remember the name of the other school, but it is where they sent all the juvenile delinquent types; my grandfather says it was more of a prison than a school. Being 18, my grandfather said “Nope, I’m not going.” He walked off school grounds and that was it.

He says that two months went by before anyone noticed and called home to see where he was. His father answered the phone and talked to the school, with my grandfather right there in the living room. My great grandfather said something along the lines of “Well he’s 18, so he doesn’t have to go if he doesn’t want to.” Though I am sure my great grandfather was disappointed in him.

Next up, the years between school and Korea.

Categories: Family, Grandfather, History, Stories | Tags: | Leave a comment

Writing Challenge: Map it out

I’m a few days behind on reading everyone’s blogs, and attempting to write a blog that someone may read. So I just saw this neat little writing challenge, which is something I have been meaning to do. I have just never been sure of the format, so as usual, I am going to wing it. If you haven’t guessed already, I just sit down and start writing, I never have a plan.  I could go in to more detail about this trip, but this will be long enough as is.

As I previously said in a post, I love my car. Not long after I got my car, I went through a really tough time. Heartbreak (I’ll end up talking about that in another post), health issues, friend of mine killing himself, and getting in a lot of trouble at work for losing my temper. This was all in about a 3.5 month period. So, in the spring, I decided to take a road trip in my new car. I wanted to travel some of the back roads of Nevada, and I especially wanted to travel on the Extraterrestrial Highway and see the dinky little town of Rachel, and basically drive around the whole Nevada Testing Range, Area 51, etc. My brother decided to go with me.

Here is a map of the whole trip, all 1,100 miles of it.

I will break it down for you so it is a little bit easier to see just where we went.

We left Ridgecrest (where I have lived for the last 15.5 years) and drive North to Bishop,  where we had a late breakfast at the world famous (literally) Erick Schats Bakery. This trip was high desert, going in to mountains, and is quite pretty.

Afterwards we left Bishop,  we headed up up Route 6 through the  Chalfant Valley, and eventually the town of Benton. Not much in Benton except an overpriced cafe/gas station and a trailer park type community. From Benton we headed East and over Montgomery Pass , down in to the Nevada desert, and then on to Tonopah. I may blog more about Tonopah one day.

After getting gas and a snack in Tonopah, my plan was to head on to Rachel and hang out for the rest of the day and night. I wanted to stay in the trailer park hotel, drink, and look for UFO’s. My brother asked if we could take a detour to Austin; “It’s not that far out of the way, and I’ll pay for gas” was his argument. He also said that I could really open up my car on the road to Austin, and if I got a ticket he would pay for it. Hard to argue with that. So we headed North up the Big Smokey Valley towards Austin. Now, this is a long and lonely drive. I think I saw two other cars, which on these Nevada back roads is not uncommon. It is a pretty drive, and I don’t think I did less than 95 mph the entire way there 🙂

Austin was actually a neat little place, I wish we had explored it a little more. I will probably head back one day to do so. After looking at the airport in Austin (my brother is a pilot and is looking at remote airports for a business venture), we headed back down to Tonopah. While there we grabbed another bite to eat, gassed up, took a wrong turn, and headed to Goldfield before we figured out we went 30 miles the wrong way. We were paying very little attention, just enjoying being brothers on the open road. We could have ended up in Florida if we had been paying a little less attention!

Goldfield is a spooky place, you can feel the weight of the dreams that went there to die. I have been there before, and I never wanted to go back. We turned right around, went back to Tonopah, and then went up and around the Tonopah Test Range, and on to the E.T. Highway and then Rachel.

 

The E.T. highway should be named the Cattle Highway. It is all open range, and absolutely LOUSY with cattle! So here I am, at night, on an unfamiliar road, driving about 25 mph, and dodging cattle. What should have been a little over an hour drive, ended up being closer to three hours.  Good times 🙂 We finally reached Rachel about 9:30 PM, and quickly decided we were not going to stay in this place. Though we did stop for a drink and talk to some very odd locals.

My brother said if I was willing to make the drive, he would put me up in his favorite hotel in Henderson, which is on the other side of Las Vegas. My brother has a business based out of Henderson, but never goes in to Vegas proper, not his style. So, we (I) made the drive to Henderson. I think we checked in to the hotel room some time between 1:00 am and 1:30 am.

The next morning, after some great sleeping in and a late breakfast, we drove down to Boulder City to see the Hoover Dam. What gave this part of the trip some extra spice was a convention in Boulder City. The Mongols Motorcycle Club was having it’s convention there, and the police looked nicely out manned. If you want to read up on the Mongols, go ahead, you will get an idea of why the cops were crapping themselves.

From the Hoover Dam, we decided to drive on to Beatty, stopping only in Indian Springs (home of Creech Air Force Base and a squadron of Reapers) to grab lunch and converse with a really cute waitress.

From there we went on to Beatty. The only things to do in Beatty are eat, drink, gamble, and sleep; which we did. There are also a couple of brothels…..but I don’t think I will ever be desperate enough to go to a Beatty brothel. Those are some scary women. I also got hit on by a chubby drunk indian girl off of the reservation. I told her I was gay.

The next morning we had breakfast, and headed over to Rhyolite. Rhyolite is an amazing ghost town, and if you have never been there, you should. I encourage you to read more about it, and visit it. The header picture on my blog page was taken there.

From Rhyolite we went up the Daylight Pass Road, which goes up over the Amargosa Range, and in to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. I think the road goes over the foot of a sub range of the Amargosa’s, named the Funeral Mountains. I’m not sure, I just wanted to put Funeral Mountains in my blog 🙂

Long story short on Death Valley; a bunch of 49’ers took a never before taken route to California, went through an unmapped, unknown, and inhospitable desert, and most of them died. The only thing that kept them going was some big black mountains in the distance, which they thought were the Sierras. Unfortunately it turned out to be the Panament Range, which borders Panament Valley…another desert. They eventually made it just North of Ridgecrest, to what is now the Indian Wells. Most had died off at that point though. Fortunately for my brother and I this is not 1849, and instead of being on foot (the 49’ers had ditched the covered wagons, at the oxen, and even resorted to drinking ox blood while traversing Death Valley), we were in a Dodge Challenger.  So from Stovepipe Wells we went on in to Panament Valley, through the town of Trona (another place where dreams died hard), and back home to Ridgecrest.

Over 1,100 miles of driving lonely back roads, mining towns, cattle towns, Vegas, and bikers. Near Area 51, nuclear test sites, and Reaper Drone squadrons. I was home, and ready for a nap. My car was ready for an oil change, and my brother was ready for a shower.

Edited Post Script: Seems the maps didn’t turn out too well 😦 I’ll have to play around with this later and see what happened.

 

Categories: Cars, Daily Prompt, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Family and Me

When I signed up for WordPress I was supposed to give an introduction and tell a little bit about me, and I responded to that by basically saying “No.” Well I was challenged today to talk about my life, and my family. So, I figured I would put it on here, so here I go.

I can’t talk about me without giving you a little back story on my family, you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from. I’ll actually start at my maternal great grandfather. He grew up on the panhandle of Texas, and would have to hide behind the door with a shotgun when the Apache Indians would ride up and demand food from his mother. This guy was brilliant, he had a law degree, a chemical engineering degree, a mechanical engineering degree, and was an Army Officer and artillery instructor in World War One. He was asked to be a part of the Idaho Supreme Court, moved to California during the Great Depression (South gate area), and practiced law there, as well as doing some other things. He eventually moved up to what is now Edwards AFB, worked in a machine shop, and built houses in Boron. He was a very cold and stubborn man, detached father. My Grandfather had very little love for his father and never learned to be a dad. I do not know much about my great grandmother. 

My grandpa was in the Korean war, went through hell, and was tore up by, of all things, an artillery round. He raised two daughters, one became my mom. Both he and my grandma are good people, but really bad parents. My grandfather is also a insanely intelligent man, but does not recognize it. He thinks he is average, and everyone should be able to learn what he can, know what he knows, etc. If you don’t, then you are just stupid. Sadly, this is the attitude he took raising his daughters, and took with me when he tried to tutor me in math. 

My grandma is just cold, money grubbing, and a liar. She has her good points, but she should have never been a mother. She doesn’t like kids, never wanted kids, and admitted to my mom that she tried to lose her. 

They moved from the LA area to North Edwards, just out side of Edwards AFB, when my mom was three. My grandpa got a job on the Air Force Base, and they lived in a house that my great grandfather had built.They were cold, hard, and harsh parents. They didn’t raise my mom and my aunt to be self sufficient, they raised them to be housewives. My mom barely made it through school and married young to get away from them, ended up in a bad marriage, and then later had to leave. She basically became homeless because my grandparents wouldn’t take her back in. She was working as a waitress in Whites restaurant and bar in Mojave when she met my dad. My dad was a regular in the bar. They dated for a short time, and then were married. 

My dad is 18 years older than my mom, was raised by two Jehovah Witnesses that bounced back and forth across the country. His dad was a musician, and so my dad spent most of his life moving back and forth between Detroit and the Riverside/Highland area down by San Bernardino. Route 66 plays a big part in my family history. When he met my mom he was newly divorced from his crazy first wife, was paying child support on four kids (the oldest only ten years younger than my mom), working at a cement plant in Mojave, and was a raging alcoholic. 

Things were not the best, and quickly became worse. He was an abusive alcoholic that would spend his whole paycheck in the bar, beat the shit out of her, throw plates of food against the wall, etc. They were already separated when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. I have more stories, but they are bad. 

My mom worked pregnant as a waitress until she could no longer physically work any more. Shortly thereafter I was born, and shortly after that we moved in to a house in Boron that my great grandfather had built, and that my grandparents owned. 

Now, we did not live there rent free. My mom ended up on welfare, food stamps, and after a few years was able to get child support from my dad. This all totaled to about 600.00 a month, half of that was rent to my grandparents. Now, Boron does not have any job opportunities. The only real employer is the Borax Mine, and that does not employ a whole lot of people these days. When I was about six she had a chance to get a job there and get off of welfare. She asked my grandparents to babysit me while she worked, my grandma look at her and said “I raised my kids, you raise yours.” Boron does not have any day cares, after school programs, or anything at all of that nature. My mom was forced to choose between working, or raising her son, she chose to stay home and raise me. She did briefly get a part time job later on to try and save up some money, however welfare made her claim that money and took it out of her check. I have a whole rant about the welfare system I will post later. 

My mom was a very loving, but strict and over protective parent. I hardly saw my dad until about 5th grade, and didn’t see my grandparents much until about that same time (even though they only lived 15 miles away). We received little to no help from anyone else. 

When I was in 9th grade, my mom had to call the Kern County Sherriff’s department on her abusive ex boyfriend. She ended up marrying the deputy that responded to her call, on the first day of school of my 10th grade year. He moved us in to his house here in Ridgecrest, and became very mentally and physically abusive. The week before my 18th birthday, which was just a couple weeks away from high school graduation, he was arrested for physically abusing her. However, all charges were dropped and he kept his job as a Sherriff. 

I grew up very poor but mostly happy until high school, Just prior to Jr. High I started becoming close to my grandpa. He taught me to camp, shoot, drive, some back packing, map and compass, carpentry, etc. He became more of a dad than my actual dad. Not so close to my grandma. Around the same time, my dad and I formed a friendship, He also taought me how to drive, and after high school he taught me how to work on cars.

in high school I had to deal with my step dad, a new school full of unfriendly people, a mom that was going through a slow mental breakdown, and no freedom. I had no car, no money, and only one friend; djmatticus. I looked in to joining the military after high school, but I had tore the cartilage in my right knee up in a wrestling tournament, and also have Mitral Valve Prolapse. The military would not take me. After high school I ended up with my step dads 1987 Bronco  II, which is one of the reasons my dad taught me how to work on cars. This and a few part time jobs, or working for my dad, gave me gas money and helped pay for the Junior College I was going to. While doing that, I had to take care of my mom and her continuously worsening mental condition because of my step dad. 

I had a chance to go to college in San Diego after I received my AA, I even lined up a job. However, I was afraid to leave my mom alone with my step dad. He was getting worse, and so was she. She ended up having an affair, it broke her heart when it ended, but inspired her to get some job training, get a job, and leave my step dad. When we finally moved out I was working for minimum wage at a daycare that is located on the local military base, spending a lot of time partying, and blowing my money. I had one bad night in a bar when I was 24. It made me realize I was 24, living in an apartment with my crazy mom, no career, a worthless AA degree, and had to do something with my life. I took out some student loans, and went to school at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, World Wide Campus. I took classes on line and on the local military base where I was working.

I ended up graduating Cum Laude with my B.S. in Technical Management with an OSHA specialty, and with a Security and Intelligence minor. I shortly thereafter found a job with the bases Safety Office. I was still living with my mom at this point, as I had been taking car of her and she was letting me live there rent free while I went to school. After getting the job with the Safety Office my student loans kicked in, so I lived with my mom until I got a promotion kicked in, at which point I moved out in to the little apartment I am in now. I don’t make much money, but I can pay my student loan payments, and my car payment. 

My mom is better than she used to be, but is really not totally self sufficient. When I was in high school she began relying on me to get the littlest things done, and it only got worse as time went on. By the time I moved out, she was the child and I was the parent. Over the last couple of years she has learned to be a bit more normal. She doesn’t make much money and has virtually no retirement. She will either work herself to death, or just work until she is no longer able, at which point I will probably have to take care of her again. 

My dad is 74, and showing it. He had a stroke when I was 18, you can see it in him now. We have breakfast most every Sunday. 

My grandma wonders why I don’t call her grandma. She did learned how to hug me, kiss me on the cheek, and tell me she loved me though. So maybe I can learn to think of her as grandma.

My grandpa is now 84, and has mellowed out a lot. Him and I are very close and I am one of the few people that can really get along with him. he told me he was proud of me about six months ago, that meant the world to me.
My mom says I am just like him.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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