Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hardy Backer

We are back in remodeling mode. A guy I know from church is coming this week to install the heated floor in the bathroom. I still need to bring the floor level up so it matches the floor height in the hallway. To do this, I am installing quarter inch cement board (Hardy Backer) over the plywood sub-floor. This brings the level up and provides a great surface for tile adhesion...or in this case, heated floor adhesion topped by self leveling compound.

I have purchased special screws for the Hardy Backer. I'm screwing into the joists but also into the plywood.

As you can see from the picture, this floor isn't going anywhere. I've put down three pieces of Hardy Backer and used 200 screws.

It's been cloudy all day and the wind has been blowing off and on for while. It has been threatening to rain but nothing substantial has fallen.
We did have one three minute burst of rain and that little bit did seem to clean the sky. But then the wind came up and everything got hazy again. The picture above was taken right after the rain fell. It was the first and only time I saw blue sky yesterday.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Since we returned from Iowa, the air in Spokane has been very hazy, a result of all the fires raging in the state.

We  really need some rain. The smoky conditions are pretty vast. We encountered smoke filled skies in Wyoming. It was smoky off and on through Montana as well.

Here is what it looked like on my way to work this morning.

And here is what it looks like in the neighborhood.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Homecoming

We were shut out of Audio Books for the day because, as predicted, the i-pod was dead. So we had to spend our 10 hour drive actually talking to each other. When that didn't work, we started scanning the radio. We found some stuff to listen to but it was spotty, so we still had to talk to each other. I found out that Susan has blue eyes.

We stopped at the $50,000 Silver Bar but we didn't stay long. They have even more crap than they used to. But don't go there for a cowboy hat. They don't have them anymore.

We rolled into town about 4 and pulled up to a house that had been lived in by cats for the last week and a half. We unloaded the car and walked to the Hub. Priorities!

It seemed like the cats were happy to see us but it's hard to tell. They can be so needy.

In any event, it's great to be home and I like that we have an extra day to decompress.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Left Behind

We hit the road shortly before 8 AM and we were on our way. We started listening to a new audio book called "The Goldfinch". This book is almost as long as the one we just finished. We won't get to the end of it before we reach Spokane.

I have a tradition of leaving something behind whenever we stay with Phil and Margaret. We discussed it prior to leaving and I felt assured that I had everything. I even made a final sweep through the house. 

Towards the end of our driving day, I figured out what it was a I left behind. My charging cord for the i-Pod.

That meant we would probably not be able to hear the book the next day. Which turned out to be the case.

We drove about 700 miles and made our goal of Sheridan, Wyoming after about 12 hours of driving. We checked in to the Super 8 and unloaded our cargo. We had the joy and thrill of a KING SIZED BED. 

We then went in search of a nice little Sheridan bar and grill to have some dinner. We were looking for a bar the GPS suggested when we came upon the Wyoming Rib and Chop House. It looked just right and it was. 

It's amazing how much long drives take out of you. We were pretty tired.  I can't imagine crossing the prairie in a covered wagon and making maybe 12 miles a day.

I'm sure I would have been dead shortly after leaving St Louis.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Last Day

Today was our last full day in Iowa and the agenda was an easy one.

We slept in a little later. We went to Valley Junction for lunch and then I abandoned the ladies so they could shop and I could drop.

I had a nice relaxing afternoon involving some reading, some piano playing and some napping. Then I got talked into a game of miniature golf. Which I won!
We had a nice dinner back at the house and then went down to the Greenwood one last time to hear Neil play with the Soul Searchers. He had extra duty tonight because the bass player had to take his daughter to college. That means Neil played bass on the keyboard. 

We got out of there after their first set and returned home to one more night in the small bed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Tourists of Madison County.

Today's agenda: The Bridges of Madison County.

I must say that I loved the Bridges, and Madison County was my favorite county.

That's a line from a short-lived sitcom called "The Knights of Prosperity". Susan and I both laughed our asses off when we heard it but it appears it is funny only to us.

I made a comment about Madison County a couple of days ago and Margaret decided it would be an excellent addition to our itinerary.

We left the house about 11:00 and headed for a little winery called the...get ready for this...Madison County Winery. It took about 35 minutes to get there and it is in Madison County. And it is in the middle of nowhere. We met Phil and Neil there and enjoyed some wine tasting and some beer tasting. 

The beers were pretty good. Iowa wine is nothing to write home about. It's not that they are bad. They are just not that good. I would say that they are a little bit of okay!
From there, we drove another 20 minutes to Winterset, Iowa...the birthplace of Marion Morrison. Marion only lived there a few years before the whole family moved to California and he became John Wayne.
But the town is very proud that Marion's mom birthed him right there on John Wayne Drive, which happens to be the exact spot at which they built a John Wayne Museum. Talk about a coincidence!

After the museum, we set out on the real reason for our adventure; the discovery of covered bridges. We drove to a local city park where the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge, built in 1870, has been relocated.  Yes, they are all named. There are only about eight of them left and most of them have been moved from their original location.

Also in the park was a hedge maze. The height was just above my head so it was difficult to see over to find your way out. It wasn't really big so it wasn't really difficult. 
They also have what Susan and I refer to as a Thomas Kincaid Bridge.
The next interesting thing we found in the park was the Clark Tower. We had to drive a couple of miles through really dense Iowa forests to find this three story, stone castle.

These are the views from the top.

And just a few more pictures.

The bridge we had the most interest in was the Roseman Bridge. That is one that Margaret and Susan's Dad painted a lot. He didn't paint the actual bridge. He made paintings of the bridge.
There is a story that the bridge is haunted. Apparently, a criminal was tracked to the bridge and trapped there by posses on opposite sides of the bridge. Somehow he managed to escape but people have heard maniacal laughter that they attribute to his ghost.

We finished our visit by having a drink in a bar that was in the movie about the bridges starring Clint Howard and Merle Haggard. I'm going to double check those facts.

Then the half hour drive back to Des Moines and a fabulous home cooked Chicken Parmesan dinner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

It was Raining

Throughout the night, I heard the crack of thunder and the sound of rain. When I got up, it was pouring and had been doing so for some time. The paper will later report that just under two inches of rain fell, but I know it was a lot more.

Today we drove to Redfield to visit the cousins. It was raining.

Louise and Irene grew up on the farm in Redfield. Today it is farmed by Ed Swinger. We met everyone at the Dexfield Diner where we had an authentic, made from scratch meal in an authentic, farm town diner. Dexfield is a combination of the names of the two towns, Dexter and Redfield.
We got there a little after 11 and the place was empty. And it was raining. By the time we left around 1, it was packed and jumpin'. was raining.

From the diner, we drove the 3 minutes out of town to the farm. The big attraction was the new house the Swinger's are building. 

Ed and Sue have been working the farm since about 2000 when Louise and Irene's Dad, Jim died. They lived in the old farm house and Louise lived with her Mom in the rancher style house they built in the sixties. 

Ed and Sue broke ground on this new house in the Spring of 2014, so they are 15 or 16 months into this build. They were in no hurry to get it done. But now that it is nearly finished, the urge to move from the turn of the century house that leaks (Did I mention it was raining?) and is being held together with duct tape and baling wire into the ultra modern spacious open floor plan deluxe farm mansion they have built is considerable. 

I expect they will be moving within the month. Just some flooring and minor finishing issues need to be finished. 

Susan and I were quite jealous of the many amenities they have added. The cabinets are especially appealing. The drawers open and close smoothly and suck in slowly at the end of the close. The cabinets are easy to access and all the shelves slide in and out. They have a special shelf that swings up and out that holds a mixer. They have a central vacuuming system and a little toe kick area that you sweep all the dirt to and then kick the button to suck up the dirt.

After the tour, we returned to Louise's rancher for dessert. Susan got a special late birthday present of a new Tin Man.
Louise gave usa Tin Man the last time we came to Iowa for Christmas and it was stolen from our front yard later the following Spring. Now we have Tin Man Too and all is well.

We headed back to Des Moines about 4:00 and it was raining.

By the time we reached Des Moines, it was starting to clear. Blue sky was evident and warmth was returning.

Every time we come to Des Moines, the Latin King is a restaurant we must visit. It's great Italian food. Also, we try to snatch as many books of matches as we can. I'm not sure how that tradition started but it is a major goal and keeps us in matches well into our next visit to Iowa.
By the time we left for dinner, the sky had cleared and it was a nice evening. We rode out in Neil's 1963 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. 

As we enjoyed our meals, we noticed it began to rain. One might describe it as a deluge. The experience reminded us all that classic cars of the sixties had really shitty ventilation systems and it took most of the ride home before the wind shield was clear of fog.

When we got back to the was raining. Two inches, my ass!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Another Day at the Fair

Today's agenda was Iowa State Fair.

We arrived around 10:30 and stayed until 9PM. Susan's Fitbit said we walked ten miles.

We saw some Republican Presidential candidates. Scott Walker spoke at 10 so we missed that but he was walking around a lot. It was easy to spot him because it was a slow moving swarm of reporters and boom mics.

I got to hear Carly Fiorina speak. She had about 500 people in the crowd and she sounded pretty competent.
We visited the rest of everything we missed on Friday. The fair people report that for the first four days, attendance is 403,000 peoples, which is 43,000 over last years pace.

I totally blew getting a multitude of foods on a stick. I must be getting older because nothing really appealed to me and the deep fried stuff smelled horrible.

I also have exclusive pictures of the Iowa Pork Queen. Here she is in a private moment.
Here she is in a public moment.
Here she is in a poorly timed moment.
The skies threatened to rain on us but it never really happened. We were really glad we hauled umbrellas with us all day.