Friday, November 24, 2023

Turning Delays Into Vaca 2.0


      So, by now it's no secret that Barb and I have had some pretty big RV issues this trip and are now marooned in Marlow, OK until our RV is once again certified 'seaworthy'.  I have always practiced good preventative maintenance procedures on the RV.  The only problems we had experienced to this point were, unfortunately self-inflicted.  We did suffer a mishap in Shiloh, IL when I didn't see a pretty big washout on the right side of a tight turn into the park and bent the rear entry stairs.  Our RV is 35' and as such the turning radius can be critical.   I just didn't see this before it happened.  This is still awaiting maintenance as we have just changed our entry/exit to the front door.  

      However, 3 days later we discovered we had blown a wheel bearing on the rear axle.  When I finally found a mobile repairman to help us, we discovered not only the wheel bearing was destroyed but the brakes and entire internal structure was burned, including the spindle.  All needed to be replaced.  Additionally, to our sad surprise we discovered the mounting bracket to the rear TorFlex axle was completely severed.  Initially we didn't think these two issues were related, but now believe they were.  It is by the sheer grace of God that the entire bearing assembly as well as wheel didn't fail catastrophically while on the road and exit the vehicle.  It was recommended that the welded axle 'fix' would not be guaranteed to last so we agreed to a new axle as well.  

       After a week of coordinating, searching, and visiting the closest Dexter Axle Factory in El Reno, OK repair guys was able to special order a new axle with just a 10 day build and 4-day shipping time.  

      By now you'd think we would have reached as well as exceeded our limits of sanity/stress limits.  Believe me it has been hard, yet since my mom's passing, I have been in this vacuum of emotionless and wonder if this hasn't helped.  Things could be worse.  We can afford the repairs, just have to accomplish all this not on our own schedule.  We're retired and our schedule has always been fluid.  We're in our grandson's hometown so there is the priceless opportunity to spend more time with him.  I have been trying to deal with the adversity of aging and stress......growing older gracefully, but this time while Barb set into her forecast mindset of comforting me and cautioning me not to let this ruin our trip, I discovered that I was able to overcome this more easily than I would have imagined.  Barb has always been my 'Rock'.  I love her for this.  This time I think I surprised even her.  I'm not going to turn this into a cathartic post about dealing with the frustrations of like, but I did find this useful.  Funny how age puts the really important things into the proper perspective.  

      According to Robert Half in his 11 methods to deal with adversity and moving on these are the principal caveats.   

  • Embrace it
  • Practice Self Compassion
  • Master Your Emotions
  • Make Humor Your Ally
  • Engage In Wellness
  • Purge the Clutter
  • Be Grateful
  • Develop a Growth Mindset
  • Cling To Your Purpose
  • Maintain Confidence In Your Capabilities
  • Reflect & Move On
      It seems that time has proven to many of us that adversity is inevitable and that some are able to flourish in trying times, while others seem to struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  Those that exhibit authentic resilience find ways to not just navigate the murky waters of uncertainty, but rather transform adversity into opportunity.  They see it as an essential fuel for life’s journey.  I don't necessarily subscribe to all of these points but did touch on most of them to get through this.    
      So, during the coming days we embraced the delay and set sail on finding a new happiness.  Of course, as time and parts updates surfaced, so did we.  We have spent time each day with our grandson and his family, helped out with driving/transportation chores, and enjoyed several nights dining out at Esperanza, Smoking Joes Rib Ranch, Meers, Store, and Dicintio's Pizza. 


       I set my feet firmly in the kitchen and provided meals for us as well as Brock several times a week during our stay.  I only wish I could have cooked some Q.  I even perfected a couple new recipes for Thanksgiving Cupcakes and BBQ Elote' Cups.  Some days Brock ate with us and somedays he did his own thing.  22 years old now, the visits evolve.  

German Scalloped Potatoes with Bratwurst, Onions, Green Pepper, and Cheese

ROTEL Meatloaf

      We took day several trips to Lawton, OK to the Classic Comic Book Store, Harbor Freight, Whataburger, and even up to the Wichita Mountains one day.  We also did some local geocaching, a hobby we seldom get to enjoy.  We consider ourselves very lucky to enjoy the friendship of our in-laws Rickey and Frankie Blundell.  They have always welcomed us with open arms and unlimited hospitality.  

      What was scheduled to be a 4-day visit turned into a 3 1/2-week vacation.  I have to give BIG UPS to M & M Trailer Services of Marlow and Dexter Axle for their 'rush custom order'.  Their staff was very skilled and helpful on sight and kept me honestly in the loop once we decided to buy new and not weld the axle break.  Marlow Truck Repair - K & B Repair (  We also had them remove the rear entry stairs as we plan on replacing/upgrading them.  I have to say the work was excellent and the final price was about half of what I expected.  Barb the Rock was always there.  The fur babies never know the difference, as long as they get their food, treats, and cuddles every day.  Well, we missed out on the Lockhart BBQ Festival, but will now head straight to Leakey for our winter.  In the end we're safer for our travels and our family is still intact.   

“Every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” The true secret to success is the ability to embrace adversity as a chance to change ourselves and our situation.

Napolean Hill

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Friday, November 17, 2023

Geocaching SW Oklahoma


      Geocaching is a hobby we have both enjoyed for over 10 years now.  We used to be much more heavily involved, but still fit it in when we can.  Simply put participants use navigation skills to find hidden containers or geocaches.  Geocaching is a type of global treasure hunt of people looking for caches, or hidden stashes of objects.  Geocaching may also be described as a series of hide-and-seek games, where hiders provide online clues for seekers.  There are several million geocaches located all over the world.  Sometimes the hiding places can be quite innovative and sizes from micro to large make the task that much more challenging.  It requires a navigational device, such as a handheld GPS, but it is not necessary.  We use the geocaching app Geocaching on our I Phones working well for us. 

      I have known people with over 10,000 finds and others that have that many and are striving to geocache the entire U.S.  Barb and I are still pretty much rookie pioneers that enjoy the sport within reason.  Caches are usually a small container that contain a sign in log and perhaps some trinkets.  You sign off that you found it, exchange one trinket for another, and return it to it's original hidden location.  We have found caches in Michigan, Missouri, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and Oklahoma accumulating a pretty modest count of 212 finds.

Micros are the hardest to find
      There are always caches located nearby every time we camp, but for one reason or another seldom make the effort to get back "on the horse".   Being sidelined here waiting on RV parts is the perfect opportunity to get out and stretch our legs.  There are 7 in our vicinity and even more a few miles more.  

      Setting off we usually decide which cache is closest and work from there.  We dial in the app and find the cache, navigating to as close as we can before setting out on foot.  I do have a Garmin handheld GPS that I carry as well should we have problems.  It is decent exercise with the obligatory lunch break as well.  We even took an hour out to let Roux run in the Duncan 'Bark Park'.  We just had lunch and let her play NASCAR DOG.  

      We started out 'bangers', finding the first 3 easily.  Our luck would not hold as the next 3 were located in the country on backroads and not found.  Checking back with our site we discovered these sites had problems with maintenance in the past and, in fact had not been found since back in April.  On our way back into town we stopped and found 1 more underneath the skirting of a light pole mount.  We finished the day 4 for 7.  Roux did have fun at the Bark Park as Barb and I sat on a bench, eating our lunch and feeding 'Her Majesty' on her pit stops from play.   It was still a pretty nice day with temps at 70 and sunny.  We're gonna try and get out again before we leave.  

"Geocachers are the only people that can get lost, even with a GPS in their hands"
Otis Gore

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Bocadillo de Vaca


      Still marooned in Oklahoma awaiting our RV axle I return to the cathartics of my kitchen.  This comes from the traditional kitchens of Spain usually specializing on ham, but this one features beef and pork.  It is a common type of sandwich. The bread may be fresh or toasted, and it can be made with a variety of toppings including cheese and vegetables like lettuce, tomato, onion or pickle slices. Various kinds of mustard and mayonnaise are also common.  Olive oil is such an integral part of not only the Spanish cuisine but also all the traditional cooking done around the Mediterranean.  Not a problem for me, it has been my go-to oil for over 15 years now, Extra Virgin only.  

      Pretty easily and quickly made it is delicious with chips and/or a pickle for a complete meal.  The perfect easy meal for us and our 22-year-old carnivorous grandson.  

4 mini sourdough baguettes

½ pound beef strip steak or Steak Ums 

4 strips cooked, but NOT crispy bacon (you can substitute ham)

1 ripe beef tomato, sliced to fit

Garlic spread or butter

Hidden Valley Ranch Original Secret Sauce

Extra virgin olive oil (use a good splash) 

You can add cheese and/or onions if you like

      Pre-heat your oven grill.  Start by cutting the baguettes in half lengthways and toasting them on one side.  Rub the toasted side of the bread liberally with the garlic spread, then add the tomato, drizzle with some olive oil and arrange the slices of beef/bacon.  Drizzle the Secret Sauce to taste.  Close the bocadillos, slice on the bias, and serve with chips/pickle and a cold beer.  It is quite tasty.  Yeah, I don't know anything about a good Spanish wine. 

“Olive oil is a gunsmith, a watchmaker and a healer”
Spanish Proverb 

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Friday, November 3, 2023

Di Cintio’s Pizza Cucina, Marlow, OK


      We ate here last spring on the way north and were quite surprised.  It was our grandson's suggestion.  We could hardly wait to return and dine here again.  I was admittedly surprised at the quality of a small pizzeria in a small Oklahoma town with such BIG FLAVOR.  Red Sauce, Pesto Sauce, Ranch Sauce, and Alfredo Sauce.  The most savory of meats and smoothness of cheeses.  Marlow, OK is a small town in the middle of cotton and cattle country.  It still amazes me to find such eclectic cuisine.  

     Located just east of the corner of Main Street and US Hwy 81 in downtown Marlow, America they have served the same New York Style pizza recipe since 1959.  DiCinto’s Pizza in Marlow was established by Brian DiCintio, who grew up in New York City, but moved to Marlow 40 years ago!    DiCintio's Pizza Cucina  They offer a wide variety of starters, salads, and specialty, house favorites, 'build your own' pizza pies, and available pizza by the slice.  There is dine in as well as an outside patio with which to enjoy your meal.  They are only open Thurs-Sun.  They recently added 'DiCintio’s After Hours'.  Music goes on at 8 pm and ends around 10 pm!  They serve up slices, appetizers and cold beer.  

      We arrived with our ravenous grandson ready to 'pig out' and enjoy life.  We skipped the appetizers, choosing to enjoy our beverage and chat about whatever a 22-year-old wants to.  For our pies, Barb ordered the 4 Meat, Brock and I ordered 'The Don'.  IMPORTANT NOTE: Calories consumed when dining with your grandson don't count nearly as much as normal.  

      Good town with great people, how can you go wrong?  In our case this year we were here for an extended time due to RV repairs (again).  There are several places to dine, but this one was perhaps our biggest surprise.  The food was GREAT and the service top notch. 

"Everything you see I owe to pasta."
 Sophia Loren

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Friday, October 20, 2023

Chicken Soup for the Senior Citizen Traveler


      Here we are on the verge of departure of our 11th year of post-retirement traveling.  It has been an eventful summer, let alone couple of years.  We realized a couple more projects around the farm, yet spent much of our summer waiting our place in the 'contractor line'.  In the end everything got done and we are completely satisfied with the work.  We highly recommend Paul Martin for anything trees and The Flooring Pros for the work on rebuilding the floor in our upstairs bathroom, entryway, and stairs. 

      After several years of helping to care for my mom long distance, she passed away peacefully in her sleep at the wonderful age of 95 on July 11th.  I am grateful to have been at her side when it happened.  My sister and her husband deserve all the credit for her wonderful care at the end of her journey since we sold the family home and she moved in with them in 2018.  Even with expecting the end, it was hard for all of us.  I can remember when we were children we'd have these family gatherings at the holidays, but sometimes in the summer.  Mom, my Aunts Lillian, Bonnie, and Betty labored in the kitchen for hours, making sure all our plates were full and everyone was fed.  You'd be hard pressed to find anyone saying a bad word about these ladies.  I expressed these thoughts at her graveside and although rehearsed for hours getting them out damned near killed me.  Now, the job as executor is in front of me.  I think Mom, Dad, and I planned pretty well.  They took care of their money and Barb and I helped out after Dad passed.  Mostly a matter of taxes now.  

      I turned 70 this year and my health is starting to show the wear.  Diagnosed with COPD about 7 years ago I have been through a few different inhalers to keep things at bay.  It really limits just how much and for how long you can do anything.  My bear hunt this fall exposed my gaps.  I also have a sleep study scheduled this month, but other than that, I'm just cruising along, pacing myself, and unsuccessfully working on 'that belly'.   We don't think of ourselves as 'old', but we know we're slowing down.  
      Barb is sailing along pretty smoothly herself.  She has had several appointments for minor stuff, but nothing major.  In fact, she has REALLY taken up the mantel for my limitations and makes me realize just how much we love each other.  I wouldn't exist without her.  Behind every good man should be a woman like........Barb. 
      I have for several years now tailored my cooking to healthier alternative and more portion control.  We do depend on the fish, clams, pasties, and occasional wild game we harvest in Washington and Michigan each year.  Additionally, we refill with more deer, pigs, and beef during our winter hiatus in South Central Texas at the Rotodome Ranch.  We don't shop for much more meat at the store other than poultry.  
      Travels are still fun and not much trouble.  The occasional hassle with the truck 'check engine light' or whether she brings the jeep along or not are the limit.  Once again, this year I spent a few $$$ to get her back up to snuff.  It's always EPA sensors or Check Engine Lights.  We always monitor our three biggest foes on the road:  gas prices, propane prices, and laundry prices.  A pretty low level of stress, actually.  Of course, occasionally someone forgets to thaw out tomorrow's entre and then we just order out   We got the RV stocked up with freezers full of lake perch, UP Sausages and pasties, Chicken, Pork Belly, Ham Hocks, Corned Beef Brisket, corn, asparagus, and cauliflower.  Our preplanning always seems to work out just fine; 10 years' experience?  

      Roux and the Outlaw Josie Wales are doing fine, but just a little confused after being home for 4 months, then in the RV for 10 days during bear camp, then home again, but unable to move about much due to the remodeling.

      In 3 days, we'll be on the road again, headed south to Texas with stops in Oklahoma for our grandson (who has become a good cook in his own right) and Lockhart, TX for the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival.  In reality I have felt myself in a void since Mom passed.  Perhaps the reality of it all will take some time to fade, but for now I feel a bit lost at times.  

“The good thing about crying, I’d realized, was the catharsis you felt when everything finally came out. It was as though I’d cried tears of poison; poison that didn’t have to be inside me anymore.”
 Jeremy Jenkins

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Friday, October 13, 2023

The Golden Years: 5 Best Personal Protection Firearms for Seniors


      I turned 70 this summer, and although I am an educated, responsible, licensed gun owner of nearly 50 years now, I know that many our age are not.  The world is a much harder and rougher place than we have known for many years.  The government is no help and with an increasingly liberal society preaching to defund the police many of us depend on the 2nd Amendment, the bedrock of our country's history.  I am not going to regurgitate or debate anyone's particular agenda or belief system, but we have worked so hard to be where we are, why should we have to fear losing it to those who have no respect for the law or values our country has abided by for 247 years.  This is not an easy subject to broach, and as such, if you are not comfortable with it, then I ask you to move on.  RESPECT.
      There are many things to consider when thinking about a firearm for home protection past let's say, the age of 60, but it certainly applies to younger folks as well.  I am going to try to address most of these as well as provide a list of possible choices.  
      Remember that all these considerations should be tailored for each individual.  Women and men should each try to find a firearm that meet their own individual needs.  Let your lady to decide her own comfort and satisfaction.  I have known several men who decided singlehandedly what their lady should use, buying it only to discover that they when they use it they are not comfortable with it.  Take your lady with you and let her do the shopping fit and feel.  Better yet, find a range where she can test several weapons/calibers herself.  My wife has enjoyed her Smith & Wesson Model 3914 9mm for nearly 30 years now.  It is compact at 6", lightweight at 25 ounces, provides 339-foot pounds of knockdown power and the cost was $525.  Unfortunately, it is no longer made, but the picture helps with comparison and fit. 
      One of the most important factors is the size and weight of the gun. Seniors often have weaker hand strength and may struggle with a heavy gun or one too large to hold comfortably.  They should opt for a lightweight gun that is easy to handle.
      Another important consideration is the type of grip.  A gun with a comfortable grip will help prevent hand fatigue and reduce the risk of accidental discharge.  A grip that is too small or too large can also make it difficult to control the gun.  Seniors should look for a gun that has a grip that fits their hand comfortably and provides a firm hold.
      Sights are also an important feature to consider.  As we age, our eyesight can deteriorate, making it harder to aim accurately.  A handgun with high-visibility sights can help seniors to aim more accurately and confidently.  Additionally, a gun with the ability to install optics can be helpful for seniors who suffer from poor eyesight.
      Finally, the handgun should have minimal recoil, which can cause discomfort and make it harder to control the firearm.  The top calibers for reduced recoil are .22 LR, .380 ACP, and 9mm.
      Overall, seniors should prioritize comfort, safety, and ease of use when choosing a handgun.  By considering these important features, they can select a gun that will provide them with the protection they need without sacrificing comfort or safety.  Confidence is key here.  
      First of all, I will not recommend a self-defense rifle or shotgun; no ARs, no Mossberg 590s or Berretta 1301 Tactical weapons.  I will not recommend revolvers in the 357 mag or 44 mag calibers.  I recommend a simple semi-auto handgun.  

My personal recommendations

Walther CCP M2 Auto
      Initially known as the personal choice of James Bond 007, this gun has a well-deserved reputation for reliability.  This is the first polymer pistol with Softcoil gas technology.  This technology improves the user’s experience by reducing overall felt recoil and allowing the slide to be easily manipulated regardless of hand strength. The grip is very comfortable.  This gun is available in several colors.  
      A quality made German weapon, this gun holds 8 rounds and weighs in at just over 1 pound empty.  It has a trigger pull of 5.5 pounds which is on the reasonable scale for comfort.   Dimensions are 6.4 by 5.1".  Cost for this weapon is $449.  CCP M2 + | Black | A Walther Arms Concealed Carry Firearm

Smith & Wesson MP Shield 380 Auto
      Another American weapon in the compact concealed carry group, this one is also ergonomically designed for the smaller hand size and grip.  Perfect size for nightstand or carry, or a day at the range.  It is thin and lightweight - can be comfortably carried all day.  

      This weapon also holds 8 rounds and weighs in again at a 'smidge' over 1 pound.  It has a trigger pull of 5 pounds, again reasonable.  Dimensions for this gun are 6 .7 by 5".  This weapon sells for $454.  M&P® 380 SHIELD EZ® | Smith & Wesson (

Sig Sauer P238 380 Auto

   This Swiss made sub-compact single-action pistol has a 6-round magazine capacity and the SIGLITE® Night Sights are removable and adjustable for windage.  It has fluted polymer grips and black metal finish. It has a 6-round magazine, weighs only 15 ounces, a 5.5 lb trigger pull, and is 5.5" by 3.9".  It retails for $569.   SIG P238 - 1911 Inspired Micro-Compact Pistol Series 380auto (

Kimber Micro 380 Auto

      American made, this weapon comes in seven different models:  stainless steel and color/grip combos.  It has steel sights, a 7 round mag, low profile tritium night sights, and a 7 lb trigger pull, a bit on the heavy side.  This weapon is a remarkably light 13.4 ounces and 4" by 5.6".  It is priced on the high side at $713.  Kimber America | Kimber Pistols - Micro

Glock 42 380 Auto

      This is the smallest Glock pistol available.  5.94" by 4.13", this is another in Austrian gun maker Glock's fine line of pistols.  Light at 15 ounces FULLY LOADED, it has a safe action system, 6 round mag, and an 8 lb. trigger pull.  The pistol retails at $419. 

       All the weapons here are in the 380 ACP caliber.  The .380 ACP, with a handful of individual exceptions, is a subsonic round. Most bullet weights range between 75 and 95 grains. The Federal .380 ACP full metal jacket round weighs 95 grains, hits with the force of 203 foot-pounds at the muzzle and moves at 980 feet per second.  The advantage to .380 ACP is not power or velocity, but lighter recoil.  Remember these weapons would most easily suit older folks looking for a weapon to defend themselves and their property, but do not enjoy guns for other purposes.  

      Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, seek out a qualified range and instructor whereas to test your gun and loads.  I would recommend shooting at no further than 15 yards.  Most self-defense situations occur well within this range.  Choose the combination with which you are most comfortable.  Learn the laws in your state and locality.  Take the training and get your Concealed Permit and keep it current.  This protects you, your handgun, and your family/property against all possible liability or action.  Lastly, keep it close/handy/locked.  Remember, you are not the criminal.  I pray none of us ever has to use it.  

"Self Defense is not just a set of techniques; it’s a State Of Mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending."
 Rorion Gracie

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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Twin Birch


        We have frequented this venue for over 23 years now, both golfing, and dining.  Recently they decided to completely demolish and renovate the facility.  The previous owners and chef did a wonderful job:  golf lessons, specials, meals, etc.  We loved the Monday Night $10.95 Porterhouse.  Ownership and times change as does everything.  I look for more of the same in the future.    

      I have heard wonderful things about the new menu. Barb loves the new design and so we decided to check it out.  We visited mid-week prior to our winter departure.  Seating is self-serve and spacious, over 40 folks.   

       When seated we perused the menu and decided to do a 'dining in' thing, and not the usual golf club snacks.   They also recently added a breakfast menu.  
       They do offer a wonderful array of golf/bar/snack foods if that is your thing.  A wonderful Charcuterie selection as well as wraps, greens, burgers, wings, as well as soup and salad.  I hear great things about their wraps, sandwiches, salads, etc.  Additionally, they offer a Friday Night Shrimp and Fish Fry and a Saturday Prime Rib Night.  As I stated earlier, we chose to dine in on a Thursday with the entree specials.  Barb chose the Rib Eye Steak while I selected the Parmesan Crusted Whitefish. 
15 oz Ribeye, Boursin Mashed Taters, Broccoli 

Parmesan Crusted Whitefish, Cous Cous w/roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 
and capers with steamed asparagus

      We both enjoyed our visit.  The atmosphere is exceptional, service excellent.  Barb loved her steak, but found the potatoes to be dry.  The fish was decent, while vegetables were very good.  The total tab for our meal was $69.82.  A bit pricey, but decent food. Another plus for Kalkaska.  

"A recipe has no soul, you as the cook must bring soul to the recipe"
Thomas Keller

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