Stretching after a restful night on the cold, cruel ground, I open my eyes to a find ourselves surrounded by a campsite featuring chrome-and-dome invaders with names like Nomad, Tioga, Springdale, Prowler and the greatest affront to authentic camperhood known to man: Winnebagos.  Ugh.

Adding insult to injury, it seems the campground is crammed to the gills with various sundry Winnebago Wannabees: camper shells, tent trailers, and saucy Sierras that are bigger than my house.  The fifth wheel that really galls me is the air-conditioned, fully equipped Komfort.

That’s right.  Rub it in.


En route to the lavatory the rest of us mere mortals must abide, I pass a chrome and dome monstrosity called a Hitchhiker Nu-Wa.  Nu-wa?  What kind of a word is that?  No self-respecting trailer manufacturer would be caught dead shouldering that moniker.  Nu-wa.  Sounds like a Chinese side dish. As in, “Can I have an order of nu-wa to go with that?”

But there’s a clue in this name.  Apparently travel gear manufactured by nu-wa can’t go anywhere under its own steam, hence the name, Hitchhiker.

I mean, what’s the point in a little wilderness adventure without some hardship and adversity thrown in for good measure?  Take away the carnivorous chipmunks, roasting flamethrowers, mosquitoes as big as Hueys and all you’ve got left is your garden variety sheer misery.

What’s not to love?

Up next in The Family Circus: Tent Campers of America, Unite!


3-Ingredient Peach Cobbler!

Who doesn’t love a luscious peach cobber, especially one that’s so quick and easy, it practically prepares itself!


I don’t remember where I found this recipe. But with just three ingredients, it’s a keeper! Besides, who isn’t looking forward to summer and succulent peaches?!

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Small Things & Plain Vanilla

A few months ago I told you I was kicking around the idea of telling my story in book form. The post was entitled, A Journey With John Boy.

The big issue I was having in tackling that project is that I’ve always kind of felt like my life was excruciatingly ordinary.  No  addictions to overcome.  No time spent in recovery or prison. No major life drama.

Pretty much plain vanilla. Not much there.

While I was kicking around the idea of a new book, I started outlining. No one was more surprised than I  to find that I do have a story. Odd as it may sound, part of my story includes  Thursday nights with The Waltons.

From the book description:

When a writing professor insists that Kristine has a story to tell, she’s certain that her “plain vanilla” life is so unremarkable, it beggars description.

Later, Kristine follows in her mom’s footsteps, giving up a career in aerospace to raise a family. Severe financial stress, misunderstandings and missed opportunities rip the fabric of family apart, snowballing into estrangement, isolation, and homelessness.

Returning to The Waltons years later, Kristine slowly realizes that even plain vanilla has flavor.


So here it is:

Another excerpt:

High above the river a bald eagle soars in slow circles. Dropping like a stone, the majestic raptor glides low over the water, talons out, and spears a fish. Great wings beating, he climbs to the nearest conifer to tear and eat. Northwest clouds cough out a cold chorus as sable night seeps over the Olympic Mountains.

Night rings down the curtain on day. Ideas roll around in my head like lost pennies. Small things like eucalyptus trees. A Michigan dairy farm. Guitar lessons. A first love. Girl’s chorus and my first creative writing teacher. Lunches and lagoons. Summer adventures and sheer stupidity. Time is like a penny. Life stories that don’t always go the way we planned. Clark Park, to which I’ve never returned….

… Peering out the window at a rising moon, I give thanks for family, friends, and a roof over my head. I recall A.J. Covington’s advice to a fledgling Walton writer and pad back to my keyboard. I can’t help but smile. You were right, Doc. You were right, indeed.

Find out more at: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More.

Spaghetti & Meatballs & Why Mid Life ROCKS!

Ever notice how “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”?

Now THAT’s a clock tower! Balboa Park, San Diego. 2016.

The other day my 20-something son and his girlfriend decided to cook a spaghetti dinner for themselves. Sort of.

“Spaghetti has to have meatballs,” my son insisted. “It’s not spaghetti without meatballs.”

“We also need good pasta and a really good, rich sauce” his girlfriend opined. “Good meatballs need a good sauce.”

I was tempted to offer my help. Pull out my mom’s recipe for the most fabulous homemade spaghetti sauce you ever ate. Show then how to test pasta for doneness. How to roll meatballs the right size and shape.

No, I thought. This is their idea. Their plan. I’ll help if they ask for it. Otherwise I best just step aside.

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PALM SUNDAY & One of the Most Powerful Scenes in All Cinema

One of the greatest films of all time, Ben Hur, includes one of the most powerful scenes in all cinema. The dialogue is brief to the point of nearly non-existent. But the message  comes through loud and clear.

This brief clip seems appropriate for Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week. From Ben Hur, winner of 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Have you read the book?

For more on Palm Sunday, see: 5 Things About Palm Sunday That Remind Us Christ is King.

Why I Quit Instagram ‘Follow Loops’

If you’ve been on Instagram for only length of time – say, 20 minutes or so – you’ve probably seen various “follow loops” come down the pike.

Instagram (IG) follow loops are supposedly a growth strategy which bloggers and businesses have come up with to beat the Instagram algorithm and gain new followers. The host(s) posts a promotional image and instructs participants to “like/comment” and “follow” everyone who joins the loop, supposedly resulting in beaucoup new connections.

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Funky Astoria Restaurant Offers Big Taste, Bigger Views

The Wet Dog

Okay, okay. This funky little restaurant hugging the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon isn’t “The Wet Dog” café anymore. But we’ve been eating at this place for so many years, we still call it “The Wet Dog.” Even with the recent name change. It’s now the “Astoria Brewing Company.”

A favorite salad, featuring hazelnuts and dried cranberries!

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