Archive for October, 2011

The 40K Canine……#257 (the 90’s)

October 28, 2011

 

Sammi - the 40K canine

Sammi – the 40K canine

The 24 ft.Budget rental truck and its wayfarers mission from Orlando to Columbia fulfilled, the lyrics of the familiar Dave Dudley  song  Six Days On The Road sung by band member Kenny Kannada no longer abetting in Gary’s head.   The unloading began, his sister  Nan providing an enclosed area adjoining the garage,  capable of adhering all of the furnishing,  enabling a return of the 24 ft moving appliance to a retail Budget dealer in Jamestown.   The couple occupying what was affectionately called the Sleep Shack,  a two room building with a kitchenette, restroom and sleeping accommodations for friends or family when visiting overnight.   Gary’s first order of business after returning the rental truck was to retrieve his 97 Buick that remained at his brother-in-law’s Don  mother’s home in San Mateo.  The second order was one of satisfaction, not one of self, but one of acceptance by others that his decision to marry was made from the heart and dedication, to dispel any doubts about his love for Fran.

Jamestown Budget Truck Rental

Jamestown Budget Truck Rental

The 24 ft.Budget rental truck and its wayfarers mission from Orlando to Columbia fulfilled, the lyrics of the familiar Dave Dudley  song  Six Days On The Road sung by band member Kenny Kannada no longer abetting in Gary’s head.   The unloading began, his sister  Nan providing an enclosed area adjoining the garage,  capable of adhering all of the furnishing,  enabling a return of the 24 ft moving appliance to a retail Budget dealer in Jamestown.   The couple occupying what was affectionately called the Sleep Shack,  a two room building with a kitchenette, restroom and sleeping accommodations for friends or family when visiting overnight.   Gary’s first order of business after returning the rental truck was to retrieve his 97 Buick that remained at his brother-in-law’s Don  mother’s home in San Mateo.  The second order was one of satisfaction, not one of self, but one of acceptance by others that his decision to marry was made from the heart and dedication, to dispel any doubts about his love for Fran.

54,000 acres of wind farms

54,000 acres of wind farms

 

 

 

 

The Keller Ave. exit on #580

The Keller Ave. exit on #580

Gary's home as seen from Shone Ave.

Gary’s home as seen from Shone Ave.

Looking up 82nd Ave & its summit

Looking up 82nd Ave towards its summit

Having shared stories with Fran about the adventureland of his childhood,  Gary deciding the on a journey to the Bay Area.   The Buick traversing the Altamont Pass with its 54,000 acres of wind-driven generators  conveying them to Interstate 580 towards the sphere of his boyhood memory.  The six lane traffic laden interstate a replacement for the memorable Mountain Blvd,  the two lane blacktop the wandering entry through the East Oakland Hills.   The Buick navigating the Keller Ave. exit, voyaging up the four blocks to Greenly Dr. and over one block to his corner lot boyhood home at Shone Ave then traversing up Shone to its summit where one could look down on the vista of Oakland, San Francisco Bay, the  Bridges and San Francisco itself in the distance.   Gary pointing out the steep incline of 82nd Ave. that dwelled down to MacArthur Blvd and Castlemont high school,  pointing out that the walk to school was always more enjoyable than the return.  Once again continuing on #580 toward the bay,  approaching the toll booths for Bay Bridge, noticing the toll price was $2.00  remembering when it was only .25 cents.

Hills Brother Coffee

Hill’s Brother Coffee

Golden Gate Park Amphitheater

Red and White Bay Cruise

Red and White Bay Cruise

The happy couple boarding for a Bay Cruise

 On the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge one is greeted by a  familiar landmark, not the Ferry Building that was built in 1898 but the aromatic bouquet emitting from Hills Brothers Coffee on the Embarcadero below bridge, a welcoming to the city by the bay.  Gary having found long ago the most direct way to Golden Gate Park was to follow the familiar overhead power  lines  of the No. 5 McAllister electric-powered bus he had taken as a youngster.  The couple arriving at the renown Park,  with the Natural History Museum,  the Aquarium, and the de Young Museum, the two touring the exhibits, marshaling their time, Gary deciding to move on,  traveling west down Fulton Ave, coming into view were the cascading  white tips of the breakers announcing the presence of the blue pacific.   A brief stop at the ocean having one more objective before returning back to Columbia,  North Beach and  Pier 39,  the traffic laden haven for tourist better known as Fisherman’s Wharf.  The couple enjoying the sundry shops,  the abundance tourist activity,  the showmanship of the street vendors, but before departing the two deciding to board a Red & White fleet Bay Cruise ship.  The journey out under the Golden Gate Bridge, experiencing the leeward rolling  swells from afternoon incoming tide bucking the ship,  Gary once again as in the past absorbing the sea breeze,  the slight mist and in someway sharing a moment in time like so many before him.   The boat turning about but not retracing its course back but casting  itself towards the infamous  Alcatraz, the island presence still foreboding,  the cruise heading back Gary wondering if others aboard shared thought of another time.

AIMCO Columbia Village Office

AIMCO Columbia Village Office

With their stay at his sister’s in Columbia, Gary becoming keenly aware of his employment status keeping abreast to  opportunities in the Sonora Union Democrat, hesitant about returning to a EMT or  hospital contingency but still willing to allocated his maintenance experience.  Noticing in the paper the woodland Columbia College was in search of a full-time maintenance person,  decided to investigate, submitting a brief resume’ being informed he would be contacted by phone.  Being summoned to the college campus just over a mile from his sisters,  on arrival being directed to a small frame conference building off a tree-lined path, the setting was unexpected as was the academic committee who was assembled for the interview.  While waiting, the 58-year-old couldn’t help but notice that he was much older than the other applicants, during the interview he found the job wasn’t for a maintenance person but for a on-call custodian who would do routine cleaning and set up chairs for school activities.  Receiving the perfunctory phone call the position had been filled he continued to monitor the paper,  noticing  the Columbia Village Apartments having placed an ad accepting applications for a management position in a soon to opened AIMCO complex.  (AIMCO),  Apartment Investment & Management Company being the largest owner-operator multi-family apartment housing company in the country.

Apartment Investment & Management Company

Apartment Investment & Management Company

   Gary approaching Fran with his recent discovery, pointing out that with her bookkeeping and business management skills,  his maintenance experience  they would make an ideal team for the position.   Fran somewhat hesitant then agreeing,  the couple setting about documenting their resume’, Gary traveling to the Columbia Village location just over a mile east them on Parrotts Ferry Rd leaving the resumes’ being told he would notified.  The couple expecting a long wait, but to their astonishment receiving a phone call the following afternoon asking them to meet with the complex manager for an interview.  Gary and Fran arriving  the interview going well but as expected the result was indecisive, informed there were other applicants but  they would be notified as to a decision.  The phone rang and it was the expected call,  requesting the couple meet again, this time scheduling a meeting  with a corporate representative at a recently opened AIMCO Apartment complex in Sonora.  An ensuing  evening trip to Sonora, their AIMCO host began by providing information about the responsibilities and duties of facility manager,  the security of the building and residence,  questioning Gary about his maintenance capabilities and referencing the company’s belief  it was  beneficial to have a husband and wife team with both fiscal management and maintenance skills.  The interview was completed, the couple leaving  but still no employment confirmation.

The following morning the couple received their third phone call from AIMCO  notifying they had been accepted for the position and to meet at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon at the Columbia Village office.  The afternoon arrival  finding a conjugal hostess introducing  them to the paperwork that accompanied new employees and handing them an itinerary for a two-week training course that was to begin in three days.  Gary was about to mentioned  fiscal compensation when the lady  brought up the subject, their position  would of course provide an apartment and monthly salary, their total employment package in excess of $47,000 per year.   She continued that their new working environment would not be in Sonora or Tuolumne County,  but a new complex in Roseville,  18 miles northwest of Sacramento, it was about to  inaugurate a Grand Opening and there would be an influx of new tenants.  The drive back,  Gary elated,  he and Fran having found a once in a lifetime opportunity where they could both work together and begin a substantial life.

The schedule was set for the couples training sessions to begin,  Gary making a phone call about their first session time, Fran asking him to  inquire about pets at the new facility.  Gary interjecting the question during his phone conversation, being told that upon initiating a new opening the policy was no pets allowed.   Upon hearing this, Gary knew Fran’s response,  Sammi being her companion for several years there would be no way Fran would give up Sammi for an employment opportunity. She was ironclad in her disposition about Sammi, Gary was shaken with the loss of opportunity, but having been through many disappointment in life,  having learned something more meaningful than disappointments that was understanding.  Gary thought it best to drive to Columbia Village,   giving an amazed management the explanation that they would have to decline the $47,000 position because of the corporations pet policy.

Fran's cousin Rhoda Turner

Fran’s cousin Rhoda Turner

Gary noticing that a hint of animosity beginning to build between the couple,  not serious but problematic because of the lack of intuitiveness and the  failure to obtain a mutual goal.   Fran needing some free time, from the confines of living in Columbia, deciding she would like to visit her cousin Rhoda in New Jersey,  Gary agreeing,  giving the couple time to recoup from this their first constricted altercation.   With a one way airline reservation obtained, a late afternoon drive,  the two spending the night in Oakland rather than San Francisco for the early morning flight east.   The return drive home was an enduring one for Gary, questioning himself about his actions and feeling a sense of lost opportunity, but still a hope for the future.

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A Six Thousand Mile Journey…….#256 (the 90’s)

October 12, 2011
Leaving Orlando on I - 75

Leaving Orlando on I – 75

The 24 ft. rental transport loaded,  the late afternoon finding the couple and Sammi,  Fran’s deer chihuahua who wasn’t use to riding in a  car, let alone a truck as Fran didn’t drive, the three prepared to proceed west.  With the exertion of moving, the lateness of the hour and Gary’s aversion to drive at night in unfamiliar surroundings  it was decided to get a bite to eat and spend a final night in the Orlando area.  A morning awakening at the Best Western Mt. Vernon Inn in Winter Park  a suburb of the Orlando Metropolitan area,  the 24 ft. rental truck discovering Interstate 75,  the north- south central corridor of Florida.   As the hours passed Gary not fathoming the length of the sunshine state,  the drive finally intersecting Interstate 10 in the Florida Panhandle providing  a westward turn.  The Budget rental truck with its 55 mph governor,  the sun beginning to wane in the west, a day long drive about to be completed,  Mobile Alabama  designated for the nights stay.  Gary taking notice of the seaside products of Mobile,  a panoramic view from Interstate 10,  having never before viewed any part Alabama let alone historic Mobile.  He soon discovering the distance  to travel across Alabama in this part of the state amounted to 50 miles.   From the interstate the  only scenic sight of note was that of the bay,  its ship loading capabilities and a view of the modern high-rise of the city giving a projection of the new, the view of  the bay  a remembrance of the past.

George C Wallace Tunnel Mobile

George C Wallace Tunnel Mobile

Modern Day Mobile

Modern Day Mobile

The threesome once again traveling west on Interstate 10, the 70 mile sprint across the lower part of Mississippi at 55 mph,  Baton Rouge and the  state of Louisiana looming ahead.  The highway and traffic consuming  the driver’s attention, Gary determined to make Houston estimating that eight hours of  travel remained.   An early arrival at the junction of interstate 45, the truck able to travel north of Houston,  the travelers deciding to park it for the night in the very quaint town of Conroe Texas as the eventide darkness settle in.  A feeling of home setting in, the congenial lady behind the motel counter addressing him with that slow Texas southern draw, Gary having traveled for many years in Texas from his band playing days,  recognizing the commonality of these gracious people.    The couple spending a second night before resuming their trip north on Interstate 45,  Gary appreciative of Fran’s knowledge diversity, there being no lack of conversation because of subject matter.  The driver with the pedal to the metal or a reasonable facsimile , happy to be back on familiar turf as they journeyed thru Dallas,  boarding interstate 35 towards the Red River and  Oklahoma looming ahead.

The not so scenic view of Mississippi from I-10

The not so scenic 70 mile view of Mississippi from I-10

Approching Houston

Approaching Houston

The Budget rental truck arriving in Oklahoma City, a surrogate  home to Gary for almost twenty years.  The drive to  3019  S.W.124th Street was second nature,  his daughter Marlo’s family  sharing the rental half of her mother’s duplex.   Gary ringing the doorbell, not receiving a response  stepping next door, Marlo’s mother coming to the door.  Kaye somewhat startled to see her ex husband at the door presuming that he was still in California having no idea that he had journeyed to Florida and was now married.  Gary briefly explaining the situation that he had detoured to Oklahoma City so Marlo could meet Fran before continuing on.  Kaye briefly saying that Marlo, Chris and the Kids were at a house they had purchased in Moore,  giving him directions.  Gary thanking her and asking if you would care to meet Fran who was sitting in the truck, her answer was blunt, “I think not”.  Upon arrival at the Moore location, discovering his daughter and son in-law Chris had purchased a storm causality home, a victim of the May 3rd  F5 tornado with winds of 318 mph that destroyed over 1780 residential homes.  Being no stranger to Oklahoma weather he had witnessed time and time again that the homes on either side could be destroyed but missing one in the middle, this was the case of his daughter’s purchase.  Gary at a loss for a means to communicate his unexpected marriage in a way to initiate some understanding from Marlo, but she brushed aside his words without any acknowledgement, instead directed the conversation to the  talking  about the deluge of damaged homes and all the devastation caused by the tornado. He had hoped for a better introduction but realized it was futile ending the visit, they still had long trip ahead of them.  Gary having planned to continue northwest to Kiowa, his home for 20 years and to introduce Fran to some of the special Kansas people he had worked with, but because of the lateness of the hour there was a change of plans,  deciding to spend the night in Oklahoma City.   A passing thought crossing Gary’s mind about calling Marlo, telling her about remaining in the city for the night and a possible get together  but decided against subjecting Fran to his daughters contemptuous attitude.

Chris, Garrett, Allison and Marlo

Chris, Garrett, Allison and Marlo

Damage from the May 3, 1999 OKC tornado

Damage from the May 3, 1999 OKC tornado

The morning finding a  journey that Gary had made numerous times for more than 22 years,  a sense of  melancholy filtering in,  his explanation was knowing that it might be a long time before traversing this roadway again.   The drive thru Kingman, Dover, Hennessy and Waukomis, crossing the Cimarron River, the dampness bouquet of the  pasture land,  the many memories all being way stops in road of life.   Crossing the Stateline, the water tower marking their arrival in the 12 square block community of Kiowa,  the driver proceeding, showing his bride  his past place of residences, halting at the Kiowa Hospital.   The two entering the medical facility,  Gary greeted with smiles,  introducing Fran to the staff,  giving  notice to special friends, Glenda Holdaway,  Gay Farney and a pillar of healthcare, hospital Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan.   Having spent seven years of his life titled as a Plant Services Manager  and additional 16 years on the Kiowa Ambulance Service,  Gary noted a meaning of loss almost like he was departing family.   Having made a prior phone call to his daughter Sandra who was in Kiowa, making arrangements to meet and have a lunch at the Ranch House restaurant.  Sandra was the exact opposite of Marlo,  Gary choosing to remain somewhat silent during the meal, witnessing Sandra’s acceptance of Fran as family, the two carrying on a conversation like they had known each other forever.  A two lane Oklahoma blacktop drive awaiting, saying goodbye to his Princess was difficult.   The road was unfamiliar, the rental truck pilot having never traveled the southwest rural route to intersect Interstate 40 from Kiowa, their late afternoon goal was to attain Amarillo before dark but noticed a marquee, We Accept Pets,  at the Irish Inn at Shamrock Texas deciding they had traveled enough for one day.

Glenda Holdaway & Gay Farney

Glenda Holdaway & Gay Farney

Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan

Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan

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Gary’s youngest Sandra

The Ranch House Restaurant - Kiowa

The Ranch House Restaurant – Kiowa

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Famous Amarillo Steak House

Spending the night, the August Texas morning sun in Amarillo greeting the voyagers, canine Sammi finally comfortable with riding in a truck.  It was  the beginning of another long drive on the Interstate, saying goodby to Texas entering New Mexico,  skirting metropolitan  Albuquerque on the Interstate 40 bypass, Gary remembering 37 years ago when old Route 66 traveled through the downtown business section.   Traversing the high plains of the New Mexico, the dry expanse of seemingly endless four lane Interstate, Grants then Gallup, the small citadel still remaining a one side of the tracks town.   Crossing into Arizona they could see the cumulus clouds building giving notice of a desert thunderstorm, Gary hoping that it would pass, not looking forward to driving in the rain.  The echoing sounds of thunder and the accompanying lightning from the darken aura of the circular accumulation in the sky giving notice of  the storms presence.  The wind buffeting the truck, the wipers having difficulty in adhering to their job, Gary debating whether to continue or to stop and wait out the downpour.  His indecision  was answered as the cloud cover and rain-diminished and like the lifting of a blind the sun appeared reflecting on the glistening pavement.   The twilight in the west beckoning them into Winslow Arizona before dropping below the horizon, the way stop of a town in the middle of nowhere was given a nationally known address by the iconic Eagles Band with their song Take It Easy.  With the nightfall calling a halt to their journey the weary travels stopping at the Winslow Inn on the west side of town.

High Plains of I-40 in New Mexico

High Plains of I-40 in New Mexico

An overnight stay at the Winslow Inn

An overnight stay at the Winslow Inn

A Winslow morning and breakfast, the couple once again on Interstate 40 and the incline to the elevated scenic city of Flagstaff , most travelers associating the mile high domain with  the setting for many episodes of the Bonanza television series with its  ponderosa tree-lined summit,   but Gary a novice student of astronomy always associated Flagstaff as the home of Lowell Observatory.   A historic premier observatory built in 1894 and named after its founder Percival Lowell,  the observatory marking its place in history with the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930.   A brief stop in Flagstaff , a panoramic view of the San Francisco Peaks before  beginning their  downhill trek.   The couple enjoying the tree-lined descent when something that sounded like hail began hitting the windshield, its intensity briefly rising in volume and as sudden as it began it stopped.  It was then noticed,  the evidence of its cause,  below the bottom of windshield and pasted on the hood were the remains of numerous bees, apparently a swarm of bees  crossed the highway,  their pelting impact sounding just like hail,  a new experience.   Crossing the California Stateline passing through Needles,  a stop at the fruit inspection station and entering the  expanse of the 54,000 square miles of the Mojave Desert which stretches north and east thru four states.   Continuing on to Barstow, departing  interstate 40,  progressing on CA. 58 now in a northwestern direction,  the barren flatness of the Mojave desert still providing flora,   cactus, and renown Joshua trees, a beauty only perceived by those with an inward recognition of nature.

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Flagstaff scenery from I-40

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Needles California State Agriculture Inspection Station

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Not the only ones to traverse the Mojave

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Runaway Truck Ramp

The desert soon giving way to the rise of the Tehachapi Mountains and the notorious highway pass once known for runaway trucks, often made famous in the cinematography productions of a past era.  Scenes of  truckers losing their brakes and a reflection of the past remains, the highway is still dotted with turn-off’s as a precaution.   The 24 foot rental discovering highway 99 at Bakersfield, with the sun waning and a 4 1/2 hour drive yet remaining to Columbia,  a decision to halt for the night was made to late, Gary not wanting to turn around and go back to Bakersfield.  Continuing on,  a thirty minute drive and the familiar beckoning signs of motels once again began appearing,  the weary travelers would spend the night in the small town of Delano.   The morning finding the couple resuming the remaining 240 mile trek north, first through Fresno, and Merced, turning northeast on State 59  to its junction with  Highway 108 into Sonora.  The journey about to experience closure,  the final five miles of travel to Columbia coming swiftly,  the furniture laden rental truck traversing up his sister Nancy’s drive,  Gary and Fran’s 6 day 3189 mile journey coming to a conclusion.