Sunday, May 08, 2011


In January a smaller group of the family than usual went on the annual winter trip, this year to Belize. We stayed on Ambergris Cay and the photos below show my nephew Jon and some of the views from the plane as we approached (a little more than a day late but I won't get into a rant.





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Above is my friend and Abner's dog sitter Rob at his graduation from UNCA


The next group shows Biltmore, again, in spring. It never loses its beauty no matter what season or how many times I have seen it.




My friend Ingrid came to visit from California in early April and somehow ended up being photographed in front of a lot of the local scenery. . .as is evidenced below.






Biltmore Flora and Fauna are bursting with abundance again this spring. I think the impressive white shrub is Spyrea.




One day this spring Abner and I accompanied our friend Josh to Rumbling Bald for some bouldering. I did a little climbing, Abner mostly watched, and Josh worked on a problem he has been attacking for some time. He is a pretty amazing climber to watch. Though small in height he is ridiculously strong and moves like Spiderman on some of these bouldering problems. On this particular day, the problem didn't get sent (in bouldering vernacular, that means success wasn't there on that day).





Winter scenery isn't usually what people come here for but to me it is some of the best. We don't get a whole lot of snow but when we do it is usually quite beautiful spread across these mountains.



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I am not really certain why I have posted so little to this blog in the last year but the spirit simply has not moved me. It might have something to do with the fact that after more than 6 years of living in Asheville I have settled into some routines that tend to be pretty comfortable but also pretty repetitive. Consequently, posting photos of the same beautiful places, the same dogs, the same flowers and mushrooms and the same animal life seems pretty pointless.

Things have changed a bit recently though so I might just start having some stories to tell again. Regular readers will probably remember that about 14 months ago I discovered the solution to finding good dog-sitters for when I take trips on which Abner cannot accompany me turned out to be right under my nose. 4 young men, all in their early to mid-20s whom I had met either at the climbing gym or the Biltmore Outdoor Center, and all of whom Abner has known for a couple years turned out to be interested in staying at my place and keeping Abner busy and exercised when I was gone. Three of the four have stayed with him multiple times and it has worked out really well. When any of these guys shows up at the door Abner is excited to see them and that is always a good sign. Before, most of my dog-sitters were older women who were more interested in how the remote worked than keeping Abner out doing what he likes to do. These guys all pretty much live for strenuous outdoor activity so I never had to coerce them into doing what I wanted them to do in the first place.

The only problem is that they are all young men in their 20s and as tends to be the case, all are at a point in their respective lives where change is the only constant. I realized that within a year or two, the chances were good that all would have moved onto careers, graduate school, relationships or some other unknown that would either take them away, make them unavailable for sitting, or both.

Coincidentally about 2-1/2 years ago I became interested in Airstream trailers because DWR (Design Within Reach) licensed a special version of the Airstream Bambi that looked really beautiful. I was sufficiently interested that I made a trip to a dealer outside Winston-Salem to look at it. I immediately realized that it was way too small at 15 feet for Abner and me to travel in it so I started looking at bigger ones.

In the end, with a lot of advice from friends who have had trailers in the past and those who have them now. I settled on an Earthbound Golden Ridge. Nominally it is 29'6" long although I think that includes the tongue, so the trailer itself is probably about 27 feet. It is pretty comfortable although I have only had it for about 10 days and have spent all of two nights in it. Tomorrow it goes back to the dealer for some warranty repairs for things that weren't quite right when it was delivered. This is important since I am planning a couple very long trips in it this summer. If I can master the art of driving, managing, and living in this RV for multi-day trips the anticipated disappearance of all my dog sitters won't be as hard to deal with since Abner will be able to travel with me on trips within the US and Canada. What I will do for international trips remains to be seen. At this point one of my 4 guys is in Argentina, one just graduated from UNCA yesterday and probably won't be here a year from now, one is staying at my house for most of this summer but probably will be in grad school somewhere by next spring, and one starts Nursing school in Johnson City, TN this fall.

So you can all look forward to stories of my ineptitude in dealing with the trailer and of the no doubt unusual characters we will meet in RV Parks and other places as we travel this summer.