Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

In Loving Memory

 In Loving Memory

I’m sitting in my garage with the door open, listening to the neighborhood children play. It’s a cloudy, gloomily Friday evening but the birds are chirping and the longer days give more hope to getting more done. I can’t really find a way to start or even write this entry, but I’ll do my best. My name is Tom Begley, and I write this on behalf my sister Virginia Massey as well. It is with our deepest regret that we have the opportunity to address such a wonderful audience our dad has acquired over the years.

   Yesterday (Thursday) morning, my sister called me at 9 a.m. Telling me dad hadn’t returned a call from the day prior. I immediately eased her mind with the idea that he may be getting a new phone now that he was in town again. Plus his last blog mentioned how horrific the services are at his site, especially considering we were getting the rain he was concerned about. Ginny seemed instantly calmed, my job was done. I mentioned that he was coming over to possibly go to the train museum, weather permitting, but it was not. So, I said no matter what… dad will want to see my son by the time Jiujitsu starts at 5. 

    It’s not often enough that I talk to Ginny, I was happy to put her mind at ease. I told her, “Dad has lived in the worst conditions and now he’s hooked up to electric with a toilet 50 yards away, and hospitals in every direction. He’ll be fine.” We hung up. And now that Ginny was good, I came to realize how hard I pitched the idea that he was ok. Given his medical history and the tone in her voice, it didn’t sit right with me. 

    After a few errands on my day off with the family I was pleasantly entertained by an adorable 6 year old with a barrage of questions and the squeaky giggles of baby Charolette. By 12:30 I was asking my wife why he hadn’t gotten back to us. It’s not like him, and there were no more distractions. Now, I’m unsettled. Time to go.

I recalled the camp site from his last blog and started heading west. The phone said 30 minutes. The whole time I’m thinking thoughts I typically don’t. Dad is such a positive, easy going man and thankfully a little bit of those good traits had rubbed off on me, but not in this moment. I’ve got a part of me that is recalling dads heart issues. The other part of me is thinking that he’s visiting with a friend, and like every other time I’m about to see him, I am too impatient. I’m too excited and just worried for no reason.

Before I know it, I have arrived. Pretending not to be anxious, I was looking desperately for his truck. Really, not knowing if it was a good thing or not if I saw it. I was too distracted to be critical of the predicted flooded RV spots and gigantic pot holes. But the trees were practically nonexistent, I could see almost straight through…. and not a red vehicle in site, not one. just as I pulled towards the office… there it was!On the right, just like the picture but RVs on either side now. His bike still locked up and everything cleaned and undisturbed.

I quickly got out of the truck and pretended not to run over and lightly started knocking on the door. Other campers were everywhere, but the misty rain was keeping everyone in. I started knocking louder, on each window. But no response and everything was all locked up. I called my wife and ran to the office to get the ‘wellness’ check involving the police she recommended. They arrived a half hour or so after.  It was getting real. We’re about to break the lock to the camper my dad loves. And he better not be in there! I’m about to give the go ahead and he better pull up sitting shotgun with a buddy yelling at me as to why I would call someone to bust his lock. This would be a trick considering I don’t recall him ever yelling at me in the 38 years I’ve know him. A couple stern talkings and a well deserved spanking or two, but my concerns for those died off when I was to big to be bent over his lap at age 6.

Before we break in, I step away to pee…. again. And on the way back I see the air fan hatch on top ever his bed. My walk turns into a full run straight to the truck, up the hood, top of the cab and right onto the roof. The hatch is open just a little. So, I lean down and can see something. It’s been almost 2 hours pacing around his truck. ripped that hatch off with no hesitation and punched out the desert dusted screen to see what I could. The officer asked if I got in, if I could see anything. Just then, poked my head in, my eyes adjusted to the lack of light and I could see. I could see him.

Dad was laying rested in the bed with the most peaceful, content appearance. Head on the pillow, blankets pulled up. But I knew how hard I was knocking and pushing on the truck. Reality finally set in. Our dad had passed. I screamed dad a few times while I thrust my arm in to grab his. He wasn’t waking up, our fears were true. The feeling was surreal. As I sat up with tears instantly pouring down my cheeks, I told the officer. Sitting on the roof, not sure what to do or think or say or how to act, my heart was crushed. Crushed just as I’m sure yours is now too.

I was overcome with fear and emotions I wasn’t prepared to feel. When I saw him, I also saw the keys hanging and was able to quickly retrieve them with a coat hanger the officer already had. I jumped down in a panic and let myself in to be with him. To make sure, even though I already knew. There was nothing to do but sit with him and cry. And as I was, I couldn’t help but really take in how peaceful he looked. This was on my list of personal ‘top nightmares’ to go though, and dad looks like he’s more comfortable then I’ve ever seen him. Accompanied by all this sadness, there was this weird relief. Not for me or anyone of us left to morn his loss, but for him. As much as we know how much he would have wanted to spend all summer holding all 3 of his adorable grandchildren, how every moment with him is always cherished, this really was the way he wanted to go. We all know he didn’t want to end up in a hospital,  not for a second. He’d say it wasn’t worth the money, but it goes beyond that.

The dust didn’t really settle, it certainly hasn’t yet. But once that calm had passed over me and I could begin to try and enjoy my last moments alone with him, my fears turned into telling my sister who was so worried, along with the rest of my family. I reluctantly stepped out to call her, not wanting to hear the imminent pain in her voice.

Even though I was the person to have found him, it felt unexpectedly good to be able to sit with him for a couple hours with him before getting picked up. Knowing that he wanted to be immediately cremated and that my sister would only want to see him alive, I was happy to have that opportunity to sit with him and talk to him and tell him how much everyone who ever met him will be missing him. It may sound twisted, but I was just concerned about his grandchildren, friends and everyone that hadn’t met him yet, not so much myself. My dad was an interesting person to say the least. Adventurous, honest, loving, committed, faithful, diligent, quick witted and funny, the list goes on and on. If you met him, you most certainly know already. I wanted everyone to meet him, to enjoy the person he was. We all loved seeing him on his adventures, or what he would just call daily living. And we loved sharing him with the world and wish it could have continued forever. He was a man you couldn’t resist but want to be around.

Virginia and I are now left with the responsibility of informing all of his friends and family of their loss as well. There is no good way to let so many people know who care so much about him. We have all lost someone very special which whom cannot be replaced. But since this can’t be undone, instead of just letting the tears pool up, we will do what we can to make the best of such a great loss with happy memories, stories and pictures we hope to hear and share with other people that loved him too. Dad didn’t want people to morn his death, he never even really cared if his birthday was celebrated in any fashion, in fact we would sometimes remind him. But we will be having a service, not for him, but for everyone that cared about him who can make it. He would cringe at the thought of someone going out of their way for him, and we certainly would not want to burden anyone either. Simply having him your thoughts and prayers all this time has meant so much already.

Services will be held this Thursday, June 28th 4-8pm at Willow Funeral Home. In the following weeks, I will drive to his trailer left behind and hope to follow in his footsteps to some degree. Updates of that happening may be thrown out there in the near future. We truly wish we could have told each and every person that cares about him face to face followed by a big, uncomfortably long hug. Given the blogs he wrote, I couldn’t help but want to tell more of the story the way it happened. I will never have his writing capacities, but I now see the therapy in having a journal or just putting it out there.

There are so many stories and fond memories yet to be told about him. There are so many more pictures to be shared. Unfortunately, dads funny, beautifully told, HIGHLY detailed articles have come to an end. It wasn’t just entertaining stories, or checking in for those who cared for him… it was inspiring to say the least.

   There was so much more he never told you. He never mentioned how great and loving of a father he was for so many years. He was the most supportive, dedicated caring man we’ve ever met. We will miss you dearly.

Willow Funeral Home

1415 W Algonquin Rd

Algonquin, IL 60102

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Home, Sweet Home

Usually, I’m fighting for full sun. With hookups and seasonally high temperatures, that quest has reversed.

The day went like clockwork despite uncomfortably high temperatures and humidity. After an hour of unbridled joy at the dentist’s office, I got to see my son and his bride as well as a grandson and new-to-me granddaughter who smiles incessantly, at least until it’s naptime. Absconding with way too much mail and packages of stuff I’ve ordered for repair and replacement, I took off to load up on groceries and pick up an inline water filter.

Then it was off to Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort in greater metropolitan Marengo. Since the Fourth of July weekend is coming up, finding a spot to stay for a month straight was Read more…

Classic Motoring

Now in my “staging area” for a swift strike at my dentist’s office an hour away tomorrow morning, today’s drive would have been four hours, but wound up being closer to five due to my inability to find diesel fuel in eastern Iowa that isn’t biodiesel. Not that I’m against biodiesel on principle or anything. It’s just that the Mighty Furd can’t abide by anything over 5% biodiesel, or the excess will accelerate how quickly the DPF clogs. That’s a quirk of the 2008-2010 series. I used to accept biodiesel as an unavoidable random chance event, but I’m making more of an effort now to avoid it. On the western half of this trip, the Furdster was going into regen mode several times a tankful, which is unusual. But I had done a lot of idling down trails and such. Today was the first day of a clear run, and mileage also happened to pop up from a very good 15.5 to a superb 16.5 MPG. I’d like to attribute it to some very pricey Amsoil additive I just started using, one which claims to improve combustion enough to reduce the number of regens, which in turn would prolong the life of the expensive DPF. But two days of use and one day of improvement do not a trend make. (As of 2011, true Ford diesels were made able to accept up to 20% biodiesel, as I’m sure all other brands were.)

About that Classic Motoring title – remember the old days, when you’d open the car’s windows on a hot day, and maybe pop the floor vents open, the ones near the Read more…

A Stitch Not in Time

Just a travel update. During today’s run, the Mighty Furd feigned normality very well. Odds are that the cooling fan clutch has gone bye-bye, since the fan itself remains surprisingly lazy and hasn’t made its usual obnoxious roar on cue since in New Mexico last year, on the way to Yuma. At least I think so. It’s harder to recall a customary event by its absence. It seems that the Furd’s cooling system, rather generously-sized to accommodate the extra heat occasionally put out during regeneration mode to clear the diesel particulate filter, simply doesn’t need a radiator fan unless it’s towing big, and/or heading up a long, steep grade. But I’m not of a mind to put off repairing it for long, since I’m also not of a mind to encounter a repeat performance on the extra-long trip back toward Yuma. I opened the hood to look for any disconnected connectors, but that was a wasted effort, what with all the tightly-packed clutter. Unbelievable. What an unholy mess!

My error today was in not double-checking the distances involved in the travel itinerary. The “commute” section of the trip back to Illinois was a copy-&-paste from an earlier tour. Unfortunately, that schedule had a hole in it, an accidental Read more…

I’m Giving Her All She’s Got, Captain!

Adventure comes wherever it will. Sometimes whether you want it or not. East of Dillon on I-70 is a climb that bests all others. I mean, it goes up for what must be at least a dozen miles, and it’s relentless. I have apparently never been on this stretch of I-70, because it’s new to me.

After a pleasant and tasty breakfast at Mountain Lyon Cafe, it was a short jaunt to the Interstate and points east. With a few miles under my belt, the climb started out innocently enough. Then you eventually notice that you’ve been passing 35 MPH semis and RVs of various types for an unusually long time. Set on cruise at a mere 65, the Intrepid hurls past with throttle to spare. The turbo boost gauge is about as high as I’ve ever seen it on cruise control, and is holding steady. With the coolant and transmission gauges per usual, I concentrate on lane usage ahead of me. Wow, this thing is really long! So glad I have a Read more…

Le Koroc Houseboat

I came across the above platform and wanted to document it before the temporary churn of travel chaos makes me unable to locate it again. I had once looked into building a pontoon-based houseboat as an alternative to a travel trailer, which tends to result in a very nice hovel on water, and a fairly impractical one on land. My own stumbling blocks with the concept itself (besides being unaffordable and unworkable for construction time) were how to easily add a third pontoon to help with the prodigious weight that must be dealt with, how to minimize overall weight on top of the platform, and how to obtain said pontoons compartmentalized for safety. Aluminum pontoons can and do fail, albeit rarely, immediately capsizing and inverting the craft in the water. This can trap the occupant(s) underwater. Almost-firsthand knowledge. I had to abandon this alternative quickly, but I do like the idea.

So here’s one Frenchy-speak Quebec guy who builds complete rigs (for uber-dinero, no doubt) that should get you dreaming. He does so though his company, Diagno. Apparently, cedar is the wood to go with due to its comparatively light weight. This particular sample has a 26′ length, 13′ of which is cabin, and it’s meant for fishing, not living in. At 5,600 pounds, it’s workable for transport. Add more cabin, and the weight goes up. Check out the 6-1/2 minute video below!

Jefferson, Colorado

Jefferson, a likable little town.

At the Junction of US Highway 285 and County 77 or Tarryall Road lies Jefferson. In spite of its ultra-Spartan nature with just a few businesses and a church, it’s affable. One shop I stopped in was a catch-all similar to what gas stations now sell, with the addition of some dinette tables and chairs to make a cafe of sorts – and there were quite a few people seated. The cheif cook and bottle washer had to handle all the cafe and the front counter as well, but seemed relaxed about it. Everyone seemed to know everyone.  Next door was a sort of Read more…

The Reluctant Prepper

I took this with a telephoto backed off all the way in order to show what this view looks like to me instead of a camera lens that pushes it far away.

“Prepper” as in getting ready to leave Pike National Forest. I haven’t been able to get out much due to weird sinus issues, so it feels kinda early to do errands back in Frisco and Dillon tomorrow. Then I’ll overnight in Dillon again, hopefully where I did before. Friday morning, I head for North Platte, Nebraska to begin “the commute”. That normally involves driving 3-4 hours each day, starting late and ending mid-afternoon, where I can do as I like wherever I’m parked. This trip, it will be with a twist. If the mid-nineties forecasts hold true, those afternoons will Read more…

A Change of Heart

This is a long post, but it’s an account of the exploits of one 24-hour period.

All it took was one full day of 98-degree temperatures at Valley of the Gods, followed by a 10 PM reading of 93 to convince me that this tourist business ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. By 5 AM, it was 69 degrees. The rest of the week was forecast to imitate that. That’s the time when you do a little soul-searching. About 30 seconds’ worth is plenty, I’d say. Oh, I was careful to get a quasi-group thing going. After all, it wasn’t just for my comfort – such heat makes bread get moldy quickly, and badly shortens the overall service life of batteries like mine. And the fridge was not holding temps very well.

A planned overnight north of Moab followed by a half-week a Grand Junction, Colorado was to be the last of the sightseeing. After that was to begin the eastward “commute” to Illinois. Unfortunately, those two stops would be no cooler at all. A solution was needed, and fast. A look at the next stop after Grand Junction, an overnight in Evergreen CO, involved driving through Dillon, a high elevation area I’d had to resort to on my way out west last year, due to a prolonged heat wave then. I’d be trading away heat for Read more…

Valley of the Gods

Due to a misunderstanding with my GPS, I entered the west end and saw this. Okay, but not that exciting.

[This post contains 22 small photos. The larger versions are available when you choose to click on them.}

My plan had been to enter the east end of Valley of the Gods, Utah, a gravel road that spans two highways. This was because there were cautions online about having to charge through sand in order to begin the trek at the east end, and I wanted to see just how intimidating it was, given my sporadic difficulties with thick dust at Monument Valley. It was supposed to give the willies to larger and heavier towed rig owners. Instead, my GPS, set for the “fastest route” to get to the east entrance, felt that beginning at the west end would be the quickest way to get there, and I, not realizing the subterfuge, blindly obeyed. The west end is a short jaunt from Goosenecks State Park, so I feel that my GPS was either deluded about the nature of that roadway versus the highway, or perhaps didn’t even care. We’re working through this issue together now. Its conversational ability is somewhat limited, but then, I”m not in a position to point fingers.

But eventually, you see things like this.

I can’t claim that the west half is no great shakes, mainly because of aggressive washboard. Too many vehicles going too fast. Five miles in to what is purported to be Read more…

Post Navigation