Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

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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

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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…

NF-493 – The Movie

Well, due to its length of 29 minutes, not too many folks are going to suffer through this thing because it’s not relevant to how they camp or would want to camp if they could. Then again, if you harbor the same “get out there” delusions I do and want to find out what you can unknowingly get yourself into, then this is for you. All the trail surface variety and wild 3 MPH action is here. plus there’s all that blue sky on one side and mountainside on the other. Looking at the footage, it’s obvious that I dropped a wheel solidly into that erosion hole at ledge’s edge, and yet I can’t explain why no tire tracks can be found in the dust around the bad part of it. I’ll have to leave that mystery as it is. Not being a Read more…

The Billion-Dollar Idea

This is from an interview with the news anchors at WGN in Chicago. I think it’s a fine idea! It’s very short at just 2.6MB, so have at it.

The Ghost Posts of Mayhem

Know what? I just realized that my three-part series on pistols which I’ve groped has not necessarily not shown up on the Strolling Amok homepage on the date that each was actually published. Instead, they’ve gotten buried in the past, according to the date they were first begun as rough drafts. It’s a WordPress thing. That doesn’t affect anyone who has subscribed to this fiasco, since the notification emails always have direct links to the post. For everyone else who just wanders in to the home page, they see nothing new – it’s buried way back in the stack. That’s a tragic loss to all the people who have not subscribed. Yeah. Sure.

So, the most recent post on the mighty Smith & Wesson Model 500 is here, while an earlier post on the Glock Model 23 is here, and last and least, a post on the Ruger 22/45 Mark II is here. If you don’t enjoy things that go bang and throw pellets, don’t bother. Then again, they may prove to be a potent antidote to insomnia. If you do geek out on firearms built for very different purposes, or simply enjoy finding out how one life can be derailed so badly from making a difference in the world, just click on a link!

In With the Old, Out With the New

Yep, the water hereabouts is pretty hard.

The photo above shows off the latest essential mod to any boondocking rig, a vintage brass plaque to a motor club. I’ve had it laying around for decades, with the plans to do something with it someday. I assume I picked it up at a garage sale, of which I am a recovering addict. The lack of space to put stuff really helps with that. It has three holes in it for mounting, so some stout copper wire did the job on the Mighty Furd’s grill. I think if I lived in a metro area, I wouldn’t expect it to still be there after a few months, so we’ll see how long it lasts out where I go. I don’t happen to use Triple-A as my Roadgoing Adventure insurance, so this is purely a decorative item as far as the Furdster is concerned.

In this day of cheap window stickers and clubs that exist mainly to generate income and profits, such badges as this serve to remind me that automobile clubs originated to help members with the myriad of problems that presented Read more…

The Nature of God – Part 12

[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the various parts in this series from the beginning, I strongly urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]

If you have read through this series of posts, you’d now think that presto, this guy got through whatever unexplained problems he had and now walks with God and stuff, right? Well, not exactly. I have to summarize and not explain things, because the details are not relevant to the topic, frequently involve other people, and this series of posts would top out at 700 or more parts. You don’t want that, trust me.

It turned out to be a very timely thing that God gave me such a bulletproof sense that his One-on-one affection was so deep and, when push comes to shove, unwavering. It was timely because I promptly and unknowingly headed into the swirling circumstances of what I considered to be Shitstorm #3. Without that utter convincing, I might not have made it through. Time passed, and I headed into Shitstorms #4 & #5. At some point still a decade short of the end, my very brief solace was a counselor who said, “The good news is that, obviously, this situation can’t possibly get any worse than this!” Oh, yes it could, and did, oh my yes.

In general, I never felt that constant, close connection with God that I had hoped for through all this. It was more of a distant relationship, with us crossing paths every great now and then. He would give me something intimately meaningful and restorative to keep me going, and then seem to be off and away. Something made me suspect that Read more…

Gang Aft Agley

In 1785, Robert Burns penned To A Mouse, which includes the lines, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

I’m apparently just about to hit the “gang aft agley” part, since a prolonged heat wave expected to last at least through the third week of July will make camping a distinctly unpleasant experience, and it gets markedly worse the farther west I go. Please, no cheese with my whine, thanks. We’re talking triple digits here, folks.

Currently at a rest stop near the western edge of Wisconsin near Sparta, I just found all this out while Read more…

And Today’s Forecast…


The above is a shot taken at 8AM, temperature about 38 degrees. Welcome to Flagstaff in late May. It was a cold one last night, with the temperature 30 degrees at 10 PM. That’s right when the furnace ran out of propane, so I got shoes on and stepped outside to swap the Grandby’s twin 10# tanks. The 2″ of snow on the ground was a surprise, as was the 26-degree low for the night at 4 AM. I had the fabric-area window covers and extra-layer Arctic Pack buttoned up to slightly slow the cascade of cold air from the fabric. It worked pretty well, what with the furnace set to 58 and the batteries reasonably happy to power it for a lot of On Time.  (You can subtract about 10 degrees on the bed platform.) Today is forecast to reach a high of 60, and a low of 30. I’m at a little higher elevation than Flagstaff, so I might be a couple of degrees colder than that. Warmer air should be moving in tomorrow. That’s good, as a tank of propane that lasts me a couple of weeks at “normal” temperatures cuts down to 3-4 days in this kind of weather. Tomorrow is resupply day, just to avoid any chance of draining the “spare” tank before Monday noon.

Yesterday, I went on a stroll down a marked trail that’s not on any map I have. FS9123G. Since it’s not on my MVUM map, it’s not for motor travel. It was once, but is doing its best to Read more…

The Weather Reminder

Yesterday was both neat and wearing. Driving southwest down route 35 across Kansas just happened to take place while a cold weather front was moving in. A 25+ MPH wind shifted from south to north-northwest and all points in between during the course of the day before it finally weakened over the last couple of hours in New Mexico. But that still left plenty of nudging the steering wheel while cutting across the Oklahoma Panhandle and Texas. Calculated mileage spent much of its time at 9.0 MPG in the direct headwind, while only in New Mexico did the day’s average limp up to 10.5, all while holding a steady 65 MPH. I didn’t really need the onboard calculator to tell me I’d need to keep an eye on the fuel gauge, since the turbo boost gauge was into hill-climbing readings just to hold speed on the flats. It was a reminder to me that for all our technology, we’re still very much subject to forces much greater than our own.

The part of Kansas I was in was dormant farmland, and tumbleweeds were flopping across Read more…

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