Preparing to get on the road on Apr 9th with 1st stop in Mt. Home, ID. Mt. Home AFB was my last duty assignment from 1985 until I retired in 1990. Made some great friends and some still live in Mt. Home. I’ll visit others in different parts of the country as I travel.
On the road! First stop, Mountain Home, ID. Mt. Home AFB was my last active duty assignment from 1985 to 1990. A coworker and friend, Doris Earl, retired in Mt. Home and we have stayed connected. Doris and I first met in 1982 at Base Career Advisor school and she was at Mt. Home when I arrived in 1985. We have kept in contact and every time we travel through ID, we stop and visit her and Cathy. Due to COVID, we’ve not seen each other in over a year so it was great to re-connect and have a change to swap stories and get caught up on our lives and adventures. It was a short visit, but a great time of good food, good wine and fantastic company.
Next stop was with another Air Force friend, Scott and Cathy in Ogden, UT. Scott and I first met at Fairchild AFB, WA in 1973 and worked together until I left for Okinawa in 1975. We re-met at Hill AFT, UT in 1983. Debbie and I were at Scott and Cathy’s wedding. We have seen each other over the years and lost contact in the last few years. It was great to re-connect with them and get up to date on our families and learn about kids and grandkids.
To Greeley and connection with the Beard side of the family (Debbie’s maiden name) and visiting Carla, widow of John Beard (Debbie’s nephew) and a visit to the Linn Grove cemetery.
To Denver and and overnight with Karen & Avi, dinner with family. Headed out of Denver a trip interruption in the form of a dead battery. Arrived in Pueblo, where I’ll stay until next Monday with Sherry and Dennis. Visited Ascension Church to see the columbarium were we will bury Debbie on Saturday. We will video the service and a link will be posted in this journal. Sherry and Dennis arranged for a camper as my ‘home away from home’ in Pueblo – fantastic.
Saturday – April 17: A difficult day. Laid my dear Debbie to rest in the columbarium of Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo, CO. Greatly missing my girls, yet surrounded by family and friends here and in spirit all over the world. The Levinson family gathered around me for a short service of committal (I’ll post a video of the service when I have the opportunity). I’ve experienced great hospitality, support and love here and have one more day and then on the road and on with my life to discover what’s next in my ‘new normal’. I’m thankful for the Levinson family and for all of you who have offered prayers and support from all over the world. Your love tempers the grief and encourages me to keep on discovering new adventures and challenges. God Bless You!
Thank you also to Roz, parish administrator at Ascension church, the parish sexton, and Rev Karen, rector, for their help and support to obtain the columbarium niches and have the service.
Sunday was family day with the Levinsons and packing up for the next leg of my trip.
Monday, on the road again down through Southern Colorado and into New Mexico to Gallup for an overnight in the El Rancho Hotel. We’ve stayed at the El Rancho several times over the years and liked it for the 40s décor, good food in the dining room and a nice bar. Overall the hotel has declined. General maintenance and service seems to have deteriorated. The heat was turned off (although the temperature was still in the 60s). Probably lost its ‘romance’ for me.
Tuesday drive to Scottsdale was pleasant. I took the ‘short cut’ off the interstates and saw some interesting scenery. Coming in to Scottsdale there were lots of cacti along the highway. Warm in AZ, in the low 90s on Tuesday night. Nice visit with Brenda and Jeff. They have a nice house with a large back yard full of all sorts of birds and critters. It’s nice to catch up with Brenda as we’ve not seen each other except a couple of times since I retired from the AF.
Dinner with Jeff & Brenda, joined by Britany and her boyfriend and a MHAFB CBPO veteran, Rocky and his wife. Great conversation about the ‘good ole’ days’ and catching up with the past 30+ years.
Thursday morning off to visit Jeff and Eileen in Mesa. Enjoyed my visit and reconnecting with Jeff. I’d not seen Eileen since Beth and Florian’s wedding. Jeff took me on a tour of Mesa and to Goldfield Ghost town. Hot day and a few tourists and an interesting representation of the history of the early mining days, under the shadow of Superstition mountain. Had dinner with Jeff and Eileen and drove to my hotel in Chandler. Having some problems with my MG and keeping my eyes open. My hotel was a Hampton, but an old and not-well-kept one.
Friday, Apr 23rd, Drove to Tucson to the Pima Air and Space museum. A great museum with lots of aircraft and military displays. I mostly saw the displays in hangars as I was having vision problems in the bright sunlight. Good displays of the F 5, F 100, and F 4, all planes I worked on. Didn’t walk out the to the B 52 – too hot and bright. Left the museum headed to Roswell. Had to tape my right eyelid up to be able to drive. It was interesting driving across the White Sands Missile range and a Border Patrol checkpoint. I’d forgotten Holliman AFB was in that part of NM and Roswell was a larger town than I expected. It was a longer drive than I really wanted to do, but I’d already made reservations at the Roswell Inn.
Saturday, a short driving tour of downtown Roswell and visit to the UFO Museum. A disappointing tour: a small museum housed in an old theatre. Mostly ‘hokey’ displays, but some good history of the story of the UFO crash in 1947. Did a virtual reality ‘space flight’ telling one of the stories about the crash. Outdated technology, but an interesting experience. Left Roswell for Eddie’s in Clyde, TX, Just east of Abilene.
Arrived in Clyde to discover there are no motels in the town and drove back to Abilene and found a nice, new Hampton. My room had a whirlpool tub, so I had a relaxing evening and a good sleep.
Sunday, Apr 25. A wonderful visit with Eddie, Casie, and Harley. The had arranged a family gathering and we had burgers from the grill, and I met Casie’s daughters and the new grandson. It was good to gather as a family (even though I’d never met any of them before). Reminded me of Sunday afternoons at my mother’s house with all the kids and grandkids. From Eddie’s, I drove to Breckenridge for an overnight at the OyO motel. I wanted out-of-the-way and got it. No Wi-Fi, ice, refrigerator and about 6 miles from the nearest restaurant. Had a good night’s sleep in preparation for my visit to Nancy’s grave.
Monday up early after a not-so-good nights-sleep and drove to Graham to find a restaurant for breakfast, then to Newcastle. I had a hard time finding the cemetery and asked at the bank for directions. Once I arrived, I didn’t recognize any landmarks and couldn’t find Nancy’s grave. After walking and driving around for over an hour, I went back to town to the Post Office and the postmaster knew the exact location of her grave. Spent a short time at the grave and left two rocks, one from Eddie’s house and the other from the Levinson’s. Other than Pueblo for Debbie’s burial, the most difficult point on my trip.
Headed south to Leander, having trouble with my eyes and taped my eyelid open to see for most of the drive. Jerilee’s home sure looked good when I came down her street.
Journey Part 1 complete
My arrival in Leander marks the end of the 1st part of my journey, in miles and emotion. Connection with Debbie’s family through meeting with Carla and visiting the Beard cemetery plot in Greeley and, of course, Debbie’s burial and being with the Levinson family in Pueblo, and seeing Eddie began my journey as almost a mission; a connection and continuity with the special people in my life who now live in my heart and soul. Arrival at Jerilee’s shifts my focus to the present and the precious relationships of family and friends to ‘what’s next’. Connecting with kids and grandkids and other family is my purpose from this day forward. Remembering and celebration the joys of life through the next generations with great hope and promise. I don’t expect a grand revelation (one would be nice though), but my hope deep in my heart is to move forward to find out what God has in mind for me in my final years on this earth.
The response of family and friends and their revelations of how they remember me in the ‘old days’ is almost embarrassing and makes me feel humble that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to touch other’s lives in ways that they remember from many years earlier.
Tuesday a quiet day around the house just hanging out. Brian had to go to VA as his father died on Monday. My eyes were still giving me a hard time, so I went to a local ER. I got a through exam, blood, urine test and chest X Ray and I have a UTI that the doctor thinks are aggravating the MG causing my eye problems. Some IV fluids and antibiotic and take-home antibiotic pills.
Made contact with Chuck and we arranged to meet in Fredericksburg for lunch and a tour of the Nimitz Pacific War museum on Wednesday.
Wednesday, up early for the 1 ½ hour drive to Fredericksburg. Met Chuck and we had lunch at what seemed to be a very popular German restaurant (we were the first customers when they opened and there was a waiting line outside when we left. The museum is first class, perhaps the best I seen, rivaled only the WW II Museum in New Orleans. A tiring day but feeling better and some improvement in the eye problem.
Thursday just hanging out with the family. Went to Best Buy looking for a new MP3 player to find that they no longer carry them and I purchased an IPod touch (my first ‘Apple experience). While I was out I hit a curb (hard) and ended up with two tires with knots and one uneven wear. Went to Firestone on Friday morning for tire replacement and alignment. Worked to set up the IPod and had trouble finding a Windows driver to use to put my music on the new device. Brian got home late Friday.
Went with Jerilee to a friend’s home and had a drink watching the TX sunset. It was a wonderful week with the family and fun watching the coming-and-going of 2 college age daughters. Great to see the kids doing so well.
Monday, May3rd, up early and headed for Monroe. Another difficult day’s drive with my eyes and arrived in Monroe mid-afternoon. Tuesday I went with Donald for a couple of service calls and in the evening we had dinner with Zach, Alison, Emily, and her Zach at The Warehouse.
Wednesday morning we visited the Channault Museum. A nice small museum with a variety of displays of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, dedicated to Claire Channault and the Flying Tigers. Donald and I bought a memorial brick for our dad for their entry walkway. I went with Donald to what will be Emily’s new home in Mer Rouge to fix their air conditioner. We returned to Monroe for pizza in a restaurant overlooking the Ouachita river and a beer at the Flying Tiger brewery. Bought some Flying Tiger beer to take home.
Rest of the week just hung out with family. Had lunch with some of Donald’s buddies. Hard to believe these guys were born about the time I graduated from High School and joined the AF. Vickie’s niece and nephew came by for a visit. The niece is a senior at Neville High School (my HS). I realized the change as she is black and a letter-earning athlete, compared to the “no blacks” policy of my era in school.
Sunday went to church at Grace Church and had a mother’s day luncheon at Zach Moore’s house. It was nostalgic to stay in my childhood bedroom and remember the years as a teenager and later years sharing that room with two wives. Good visit. Looking forward to Emily’s wedding July
Monday, May 10 – left in the am headed to Nashville. The weather cleared and it was an easy drive. Hardly any traffic in LA, AR, MS until I got close to Memphis; then traffic all through to Nashville. It’s good to be with Wendy and family. I look forward to the week with them. Danna is home and Braden is still in school; Riley is in Chattanooga.
Enjoying hanging out with family in Nashville. I contacted a seminary classmate and we had lunch on Wednesday. He’s working part-time at St. George’s Episcopal church, the largest congregation in the diocese. He took me on a tour of their 28 million dollar renovation; quite a facility and active congregation. In the evening I had dinner with Tamara and Eyal, Karen Grossman’s daughter and her husband. It was nice to meet him and to catch up with Tamara as I had not seen her since she was a teenager.
A gasoline shortage has caught up with the Nashville area due to a ransomware attack on the main gas supplier for this part of the country. I might affect my trip if it lasts through the weekend. I have enough gat to make the graduation in Sewanee, but not to begin the trip home.
Found gas in Nashville and trip to Sewanee went well. Staying at the Smoke House; Their restaurant and store burned, but the hotel is intact.
Had dinner with Andrew, his parents, and grandmother on Saturday evening.
Sunday, got up early to go to the SOT graduation. Graduation was in the football field. It was set up well and the graduation went well. Saw my favorite seminary professor, Becky Wright. Found gas in Monteagle so I’m set for Monday’s drive to Conway. Had lunch with Andrew and family; took a nap, and loaded some of Andrew’s books in my car to take back to Olympia for him.
I couldn’t visit the convent, so I called Sister Elizabeth and we had a nice conversation. She didn’t know that Debbie died. She told me about Grace church, a ‘bush arbor’ church were I led worship and preached during my seminary days. The church is still active and the sisters continue to help with worship, music, and children’s ministry.
I’m at my eastern-most point of my trip and will head west to meet up with my Davidson cousins in Conway, AR. My cousin, Barbara, is in the hospital so I may not get to see her – a real disappointment, but it will be good to see Mike and Linda.
Arrived in Conway, good drive, some traffic around the detour around the Mississippi River bridge on I 40. The bridge was closed due to a major crack in a support beam. GPS sent me through Memphis for several blocks and up me on I 55.
Had a nice dinner with cousins Mike and Linda and Linda’s husband Ferrell. Short time together but time to get caught up on the past ?? years. Talked about visiting Barbara and Linda and decided it was a try. Got up early on Tuesday, put on my clergy shirt, and went to the Baptist hospital to visit Barbara. Easy to get in to see her and we had a nice visit. she’s having UTI and irregular heart beat and possible kidney problems. It was great to see her and everything fell into place for the visit to happen.
After my visit with Barbara I headed East to Springdale, AR for my stay at the Inn at the Mill, a quiet small hotel. I diverted my drive at Morrilton to visit the Auto Museum on Petit Jean Mountain. In the late 60s, my dad and I did some polishing and plating for some of the cars and some gift shop items. My uncle Bill Davidson had some connections with the Rockerfellor brother who started the museum in the early 60, Nice collection of well-preserved cars and motorcycles.
After the museum, I headed for Al & Mary’s and drove through some rain. I travelled part of the Cherokee toll road.
I had a great visit with Al & Mary, once again good to get caught up. On Friday we went to Woolroac museum in Batesville, a museum and game preserve developed by Mr. Phillips of the Phillip’s petrol company at the turn of the 19th century. An interesting museum with lots of Indian heritage and the local wildlife, cattle, and buffalo. Had a Buffalo burger at a local restaurant.
Friday – May 21. Headed north with a stopover in Derby, KS to visit a friend from Las Vegas days, Yvonne and her twin 4 year old boys. Again, good to catch up with her life and family and to see she and her family doing well as an Air Force family.
We visited the Kansas Aeronautical museum near the McConnel AF Base. The museum was dedicated to the various military and civilian aircraft developed and build in Wichita since the early days of flight. Wichita was one of the cities that got a large influx of people from TX, AF, MS, TN in the early 50s to coming to work in the aircraft industry. My grandfather Manes left Hillcreek, AR. in 1953 for De Moines, IA and then to Tulsa, OK for work for Douglas Aircraft. I stopped for the night in Hastings, NE. The drive through NE was petty desolate with little traffic and some rain and fog.
I arrived mid afternoon in Rapid City, SD to visit my sister, Betty, who just moved there last week. Her daughters, Paula and Samantha have lived in Rapid City for several years and it was good to visit them in their hometown. Saturday afternoon they had a graduation party for Samantha’s son Koby. I had a chance to meet the niece’s and nephew’s significant others and enjoy the time with all the family. Nice to reconnect with my sister’s children and grandchildren
Sunday we went out for a family dinner in downtown Rapid City. The place has changed a lot since I was here last – in 1974 – TDY from Fairchild AFB. We came to Rapid City to train load crews to load bombs on B 52s. Our airplanes were still in Guam and Ellsworth had the same model B 52s.
Monday morning Betty, Jade and I went to see the Crazyhorse Memorial near Mt. Rushmore. It is something. The face is almost completed and you can get an idea of how large the finished image will be. It’s an interesting story of the genesis of the carving and its continued work.
Tuesday morning I hit the road to Mountain Home, my last stop, to see Doris and Cathy. I saw a sign for Devils Tower and decided to take a detour through the hills of WY and it was worth the side trip. Quite a different view that presented in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and it is impressive. I also saw a lot of WY wilderness. I arrived in Mt. Home early afternoon and spent a restful and refreshing time with my sisters. It was good to unwind after the time on the road with good friends.
Friday morning I headed out on my last day’s drive. Good roads, weather, and light traffic until approaching Portland (which I expected). I 84 was stopped approaching Portland and took side streets around to I 5. Arrived home later than I expected, but glad to be home. I was greeted by blooming flowers all over my yard and a recent mowing, thanks to my fantastic neighbor, Mike. I’d forgotten what a nice home I have and am grateful for the time away to better appreciate what I have.
The entire trip was 50 days, 8,493 miles, 17 states (not counting repeats). The longest drive I’ve ever made and while it was tiring, it was also refreshing. I planned this trip as a “what’s next” discernment to give me time to figure out my future adventures and challenges and how to make the change to living alone. I think I’m there (as much as possible). I have some things I want to do with my house and I’ll travel more this year: To Monroe for Emily’s wedding in July and to Germany to visit Beth and her family in October. Next year – Asia (maybe) if my health and finance hold out.
I cannot express my appreciation for everyone who welcomed me at their door during this trip. I made contact with family and friends that helps me understand how blessed I’ve been in my life of work, in the Air Force and the Church, and the blessings of family in the several generations I’ve experienced. It’s great to remember the ‘old days’ and to look forward to the future of the new generation with all their ambitions and opportunities.
I LOVE YOU ALL! Thanks for following my ‘big adventure’