Monday, October 21, 2019

Almost a year has gone by.

I've been very bad about keeping up with this blog thing. Let's see if I can make an update. It might be a long one but there's a whole year to catch up on. The biggest news is Paula's retirement. After 38 years working for Haagen Daz/Bread & Chocolate/Cafe Latte she said goodbye. I know she really loved her job and did it extremely well. They hired a very young woman to fill her seat. Let's hope she can continue to operate the business office as well as Paula had. I still want to get my sourdough bread there. She left at the end of May. We had a great summer! We went on a road trip July 26th. Headed over to Wisconsin where we stopped at good friend Sheila Ochowicz summer lake home. Really nice dinner and wonderful conversations. Swimming in great water. Wish we could have stayed longer than one night.

Made it to Cleveland on the 27th. I got to crew on Denny & Katie's sailboat for the regatta. We won mostly because of my work on the jib and spinnaker. I wore my high visibility shirt in case I went overboard.  That's downtown Cleveland in the background. 

Had a very nice, too short, visit with Katie, Denny, and Abbie (my favorite niece).

Does Buck look comfortable?

Headed over to Niagara Falls on the 29th. Rode the "Maid of the Mist" boat up to the base of the falls. It was cool to see. Very wet too.

We joined a program called "Harvest Hosts." Members are able to stay at host locations for free in their campers. There are about 1000 locations now. Wineries, golf courses, museums, farms. We stayed at the first one near Niagara Falls. A great farm. Paula bought a ton of stuff in the farm store so it really wasn't a "free" spot. Buck had lots of fun running through the orchard.

We decided not to bring the car trailer on this trip. Most of our stops were going to be visiting friends and relatives so we figured our bikes would be fine. Next stop was our friends Amy (Peterson) and Bill Peck. They have a huge dairy farm in the Finger Lakes Saratoga area of New York. Their son was showing a heifer so that was fun to watch. They have a beautiful house with a swimming pool.

I think she really liked me:

Cows as far as you can see. And this is only one of their several barns.

This baby liked me too:

The milking parlor has 40 stations. They milk 1000 cows. Each cow gets milked 3 times a day. A tanker truck full of milk about every day.

The kids (4 boys ages 4-11) really liked Buck. They tried to trade their labs for Buck.

Again, too short of a visit. Very fun time though. Probably best to leave before wearing out our welcome.

We found the dump station in Albany, NY.

Made it to Rick & Laurie's (Velleu/Gage) country home on July 31st. It's a wonderful relaxing place about a couple hours north of Manhattan. Hudson River Valley. Laurie's daughter is getting married on August 10. Paula wanted to get there early to help with the preparations. The wedding is taking place at the country house.

Our campsite for the next couple weeks out behind the barn. Wonderful site, very quiet.

This is Buck and I helping with the prep.

Managed to get in a few bike rides too.

Buck really loved roaming and protecting the grounds.

I guess I didn't get any pictures of the four of us. I do like this shot I got of Rick finally relaxing after the wedding. There was almost no time for relaxing before the wedding, at least for Rick. That's Laurie's granddaughter. Paula had the best time doing all sorts of crafting things getting ready. I liked being able to help too. Even though I much prefer to relax in my old age. Their country house is such a great venue for relaxing.

We went into the City (Manhattan) for a day of visit with George. Also caught a big band show at "The Iridium." Why do people wait for hours to walk up and down stairs that go nowhere?

Paula's sister is Connie and she is very missed. We go visit her bench whenever we get to the City. Central Park. (I wore my high vis shirt again, in case I got lost in the crowds)

We left New York with lots of crying on August 13. Slept in a truck stop in Maryland that night. Made it to Williamsburg, VA, on the 14th.

We stayed here for 5 days, visiting great friends Jeff & Cindy Brett. Got some nice runs and bike rides in. Saw some historic areas. Learned a lot about the early years of our country. We rented that car for our visit. Buck even got a good history lesson. Here we are at Fort Monroe inspecting the moat.

From there we went to my favorite nephew's (and niece-in-law's) home. Nick & Jessica. We managed to get a great campsite real close to their place.

They're both officers in the army assigned to Fort Bragg. Got a nice tour of the fort and met several of their co-workers. It's fun to see how great these kids have turned into adults.

From Fayetteville we went to Charleston, SC. We met up with Pam Cadden, she used to work with Paula and has lived in Charleston for many years. It was nice to have dinner with her and catch up. Then we went to a Harvest Host farm. They had lots of animals to interest Buck. Then we went to visit our favorite niece-in-law, Erin (Bartlett) Blumel. Her husband, our favorite nephew Mike Blumel, is an Army Ranger assigned to secret missions so he was not in country. Had lots of fun touring Savannah, GA. Getting to know Erin better and spend some nice time with her was great.

We scored a great campsite, real close to their house.

Had a nice visit and dinner at Paula's cousin Gerry and Ann's house too.

I think Mike & Erin's dog likes me.

We left Savannah and went to a Harvest Host farm/zoo in northern Georgia. Lots of cool animals that we could feed treats to. This is my buddy George:

Hey Mike, what day is it?

On the road again. My happy place.

From Georgia, to Tennessee, and back to Georgia. The highway winds a bit in this area.

Back to Tennessee

This is a normal fuel stop. I usually get about 9-10 mpg and go about 700 miles on a filling.

We use "Carmin the Garmin" for navigation. Apparently she has confusion about how to spell Memphis.

Stayed at a great Harvest Host location near Cobdin, Illinois. A winery called "Star View Winery." Beautiful location. Found a super nice deserted hard pack gravel road to run on.

The only complaints on the Harvest Host web site were about the lack of a large level area in the lot. I agree. But I didn't complain because the rest was so nice. Young couple that own it were super nice too.

So there you have it. We were on the road for 33 days and covered 4,000 miles. Not a single problem with the motorhome. I just love having a "Truck Conversion." 12 liter Caterpillar motor and 10 speed transmission hauls the mail. We had the most wonderful time made even better by Paula not having to worry about work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

My Dad ended his fight with Parkinson's.

My dad, Frank, had been fighting Parkinson's for 13 years. He did a great job holding it off. He was committed to his participation in a study at the Mayo Clinic for PD sufferers. He tried so hard. Mom was a fierce fighter with him. She worked incredibly hard keeping dad on schedule with his meds, exercise, appts., etc.... Summer, 2017, his delusions started taking over his brain. He thought people were fighting with him, trying to steal his money, saw fires, etc.... It was just so sad to watch. Mom tried to keep him at home but he was just way too hard to deal with. He would get up at night and do very odd things. One time mom found dad in the van in the garage with a duffle bag packed, at 0300 hrs. He said he was waiting for me to pick him up. Other times he would get outside and wander. Sometimes he fell down outside and couldn't get up. And mom couldn't get him up when he would fall. We moved them into Lilydale Senior Living memory care unit. It was the best care we could possible give him. But he still was very active and delusional at night. The stress was just too much for mom. She moved back home and we kept dad at Lilydale. This tore him up. He thought mom had left him for another man, and taken all his money. Very sad times. Christmas was going to be at Jim & Anne's new Afton house. Knowing this would likely be dad's last Christmas with us we wanted to make it as special as possible. We hired a great music duo, husband and wife Andy and Catherine. They let me play drums with them too! She plays piano, and he plays guitar. They often perform at Cafe Latte. They were the greatest. And dad loved it! Paula got him up dancing. No easy feat for dad, he struggled just to walk by this time. He even managed to keep his hallucinations in check. I think he was really having a great time. Unfortunately, this was the last time he seemed to be somewhat in touch with reality. January was the worst. He almost never was with us in the moment. It was constant delusions and hallucinations. His food intake almost completely stopped. He was checking out, so to speak. By mid January he was pretty much catatonic. We all kept vigil with him. Taking turns sleeping next to him. And spending our days with him, trying to keep upbeat, yet knowing the end was near. On January 24th Jim, Anne, Paula, and I were with him in the evening. Mom and Linda had been with him all day and went home around dinner time. We had music playing and we kept talking to dad. Anne had a stethoscope so she could give us a report on his heartbeat and breathing. She said his heartbeat had started changing dramatically and she knew he would die soon. I'll let you watch Paula's eulogy for the rest. Partly because I'm crying too much to type right now. And partly because she did such a fabulous job with it.  Frank Winsor Eulogies

Linda, Evan, and Steph did great jobs with their eulogies too. Please click on them and watch.

Another long overdue post.

I've been pretty bad about keeping up with my blog. Oh well. I just need to try harder. I see the last entry I made was about our trip to Idaho. Well, last summer (2017) was a good one. The World Police & Fire Games were supposed to be in Montreal so I had been doing a fair amount of cycling to be ready. Montreal didn't work out so they moved the games to Los Angeles. That's good because then we could see old friends there. I decided to get a smaller trailer for putting the bicycles in and then rent a car when we got to LA. I've often wanted a smaller enclosed trailer than our car hauler. So it worked great. I ordered a Legends aluminum trailer. I spec'd everything and had it built just the way I wanted. 10' long, 3k axle, bigger tires, roof vent, no side door, ramp rear door, stainless hardware, etc.... I put Yakima brackets on the floor so I could put my racks inside for the bikes. I also wired it into the alarm system of the motorhome. Worked really nice for the bikes. I also set it up as a spare bedroom in case we need it.

We visited our friend, Susan Craven, outside Denver. Her husband, Mike, passed away around Christmas last year. Very sad deal. We had a really nice visit with Susan. We cried a lot. It was so good to spend some time with her though. We also got to visit Susie and Marshall Steel at Grand Junction, CO. Always good to stay in touch with them.

We stayed in the Moab KOA on the way out west. Had a great visit to Moab. Did some off road riding but Paula didn't have her fat tire bike so her hybrid wasn't the best. We went on an off road adventure in a Hummer H1. That was great! Very scary. Those H1's are very competent off road. It was a sunset cruise so we got way up in the hills and had a nice snack and beverage while watching the sun set.

We stayed at the Acton, CA, KOA. It was a great location, very close to the cycling events. But there were commuter rail lines right next to the campgrounds and the rotten train engineers always blasted the horns when passing the campgrounds. I'm convinced they did it to be mean because there was no grade crossing anywhere around. The park electrical was marginal. In the afternoon the voltage would drop on one of the legs so we could only run one a/c unit. Not the best. Especially since it was VERY hot all day every day. The Games were great. L.A.P.D. did a super job putting them on. The crit was FAST! I got dropped handily about 5 laps in. Kept riding hard and catching other dropped riders. The TT was cool. It started up the valley in the canyon. Full road closure. 5 miles downhill and 5 miles uphill. I did fine for me. Middle to nearer the lower end of my age group. There was a crazy hard hill climb TT. I didn't get last. So that's good. The road race was fun. 35 miles, one lap, up in the Soledad Canyon area. I stayed with for the first 7 miles and then it started climbing. BIG climbing! Got dropped but kept riding hard. Didn't get passed by any of the guys that got dropped before me. It was very very hot too. I finished about mid in my age group again. I drank 5 bottles during the 35 miles, and that still wasn't enough. We had a great time meeting cops and their families from all over the world. We got to spend some time with Shawn and MaryAnn Ruda. We got to visit Paula's old friend, Cathy Rafter Huetmaker. Wonderful times, very memorable. After the road race we got on the road to home. We pulled out Wednesday afternoon and made it 500 miles before sleeping somewhere. Then Thursday we did 750 miles. Then Friday another 750 miles and made it to Paula's 40th high school reunion pre-party. At least we got to take our time getting to LA and do a lot of relaxing.

The 2019 Games are supposed to be in China. I don't have any intention of going to China. And it's really hard, but fun, to cycle enough to enjoy the games. 2021 is Denmark. I might be convinced to go there. We'll see. That's all for now, thanks for reading.

Here's the pictures I took on the trip:   Photo album from 2017 World Police & Fire Games

Saturday, September 3, 2016

RV trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Wow, I just realized I haven't updated my blog for a LONG time. Thought I better make an entry. Our good friend, James Dougherty, decided he wanted to do an Ironman Triathlon (2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run). So he entered one in Coeur d'Alene, Idaha. Set for August 21, 2016. They have friends with a lake home about 45 minutes out of CDA that they wanted to stay with. Paula wanted to go and cheer him along on the race. So, I came up with a great idea. Since Annie and the kids were planning on driving there from their lake home in northern Minnesota I figured this would work out. We drove our camper pulling the enclosed trailer and met her in Fargo, ND. We put her Honda Pilot in the trailer and stuffed her 5 kids in the camper. Annie wanted to ride in the Pilot in the trailer. But I decided that was just too much for Paula to take care of all those little rotten Dougherty kids. James had planned to fly to CDA so he wouldn't be worn out from the travel before the big event. We had a great road trip out. We slept in a rest stop in the middle of ND the first night. Next night we slept in the parking lot of a pizza place in Butte, MT. They actually had very good pizza too. And when we got to CDA we had a really nice campsite right there across the Spokane river from downtown. It was about the perfect spot for the triathlon. James met up with us out there and they all went to their friend's place. And Paula and I got some much needed peace and quiet. James did a great job in the tri. We all had a fun time cheering him on from all over the routes. We loaded the Pilot into the trailer and headed back toward MN on Wednesday. James found us a terrible campground outside of Bozeman, MT. But then the next night we had a great site at Mt. Rushmore KOA. We got to see the lighting of the monument. Thomas let out a humongous fart during a quiet time of the ceremony. Pretty audible for about a 20' circle. They got a room in the hotel. The campgrounds was great. Drove through the Black Hills and the Badlands. Really fun to have all the little urchins with us in these great landscapes. Fun to watch them explore such a wild place. I did all the driving so I always had a great seat. Everybody was very helpful keeping me fed and watered. Our last sleep night on the road we found a nice dead end street in Sioux Falls. Quiet and level. So, we covered a bit over 2800 miles. Slept several times with all of us in the rig. Got a bunch of nights in campgrounds. Only big issue was the fridge door coming open and spilling the entire contents onto the floor. Guessing somebody forgot to secure the velcro strap to it before we started down the road.

So, it was a long trip but the time just flew by. So happy to be able to do this with our great friends. I just wish we could have spent more time and relaxed a bit more. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Work cars I've had.

Watching that car show, "Top Gear." Made me think about all the squad cars I've driven over the years. Thought I better make a note of them now before I forget them (since most were pretty forgettable). When I first hit the street on FTO most of the squads I drove were '82 (or thereabouts) Ford LTD Crown Victoria. Not a bad car. Not very fast, not very responsive, soft seats, pretty roomy, did the job okay. My biggest complaint that I can recall is that a few of my FTO's smoked (which bothered me terribly) and having the window cracked for the smoke caused cold air to be sucked in through the door handle freezing my leg. 

When I got off FTO I was sent straight to the midnight shift and assigned a '1984 Dodge Diplomat. I actually liked that better than those Crown Vics. The Dip had pretty good handling manners and a fair amount of power from it's 318 ci. engine. Seats were much better than the Crown Vic's too. All our squads had the speaker for the siren mounted up on the roof in the light bar so it was very noisy inside with that going.

Next up they got about 6 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity. Front wheel drive, no ABS, v6 motor. Looking back it wasn't a good idea to throw out a handful of front wheel drive squads to the troops with no training. These cars had terrible torque steer. They also had very bad vinyl seats. I didn't mind the car too much because it was a handful to drive and kept me busy. We only had performance summer tires on them too so terrible in the snow even with FWD.

I get a little fuzzy here but I'm thinking we got some Caprice's? I'm pretty sure I had about a 1989 one. I think this was about the best squad I had. Good handling, good power, good seats, roomy enough. I still remember one time where I had the tilt wheel up getting ready to get out. I had to turn the wheel quick and I jammed my hand on the A pillar mounted spotlight handle. Pretty sure I broke a finger on it. That really hurt. One of my Caprice's I had a interesting light bar on called the "Tomar Fast Flash." It had some very bright (for the time) strobe lights in it.

Somewhere in there we got the 4th generation Caprice (1991-1996). These were often referred to as the "bubble" or "bathtub" squads because of their shape. I hated the seats, no lumbar support whatsoever. They were low in the car and the door windows were hard to see out since we sat so low. The only thing good about the car was ABS. This was the first squad we got with ABS. It was wonderful!! Saved me bunches of times. When they rolled it out there was really no training for us. I had done enough reading about it to know how it works and what it could do. There were some high profile accidents where cops blamed the ABS. Then they came out with some minor reading article telling us how to use ABS. I believe most of the problems were caused by cops not knowing how to use ABS.

We also got a bunch of Crown Vics around 1991-1997. I liked these way more than the older LTD's. The biggest thing I can remember about these is how smooth the engines idled. It was way more comfortable than any other squad before. A lot of the time a cop spends in the squad is idling. These engines were smooth! They weren't any faster or better handling. But it sure was smooth.

We had lots of these squads over the years. My last one was a 2011. I retired in 2014 with that one. Ford quit making the Crown Vic at the end of 2011. The department decided to switch over to the Ford "Police Utility Vehicle." This was basically a Explorer modified for squad car use. I drove the Utility a few times and really didn't like the driving position. The seat is up high and you can't stretch your legs out in front. They are also very hard to see out the back windows due to structure and tinting. I was senior guy on the shift and the boss asked if I wanted a new Utility or keep my Crown Vic. I kept the Crown Vic. The Utility does have all wheel drive and active handling. But I still kept the Crown Vic. I think mine had a little over 100k miles on the clock when I left.

Some notes. When I came on the squads didn't have power windows, cruise control, and am/fm radios. The department didn't want those items to save costs. Then as time went on the manufacturers ended up charging more to have those items deleted since everybody in the world wants those items. I can't remember what squad was the first with electric windows but that sure was nice. Lots of times people flag you down and want to tell you something. The roll up windows made it pretty hard to do that when they were on the right. The midnight shifts got awful long with no music radio. Most of the guys would bring a boombox and bungy cord it to the cage. Sometimes I did but that was a hassle. Can you imagine how morale would be if they took those items out of the new squads now? Hahaha. We didn't have smart phones and internet to occupy our time back then either. I remember when I got my first pager so my wife could beep me if she wanted me to give her a call. Boy was that ever nice. My first cell phone was a Motorola DynaTac from about 1993. Pretty sure it cost me about $600. But I'm straying from this subject. Thanks for reading. Have a great day.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How about a happy story? One night I was driving my van to work the midnight shift. Warm summer night so I had my window down. I was wearing my uniform so I'm thinking I had worked an off duty job that day ( I usually didn't wear my uniform home). I worked midnights for 7 years so it was sometime between '84-'91. Crossing Snelling Ave. on Marshall I hear a loud bang sound as something hit my door, just below the open window. I kept driving so whomever threw it didn't think I would do anything about it. I drove up to the next intersection over the hill and turned north, knowing they couldn't have seen me turn there. I parked over on Carroll and walked up into the woods by the railroad bridge overpass. I spotted two guys on the bridge and they had a carton of eggs that they were throwing. I came out of the brush and shined the flashlight and yelled at them that I'm the police and they're under arrest. I handcuffed them together so they couldn't run and walked them down to the gas station at Carroll and Snelling. This was before cell phones remember. And, we didn't have radios issued to us so I had no way to communicate. I had the attendant call the police and tell them to send a squad to assist me. We tagged them for throwing objects at cars. I took a picture of the van with the egg splatter on the door. It hit about 3" below the window. I came very close to getting an egg on my uniform. If they had hit me in the face I could have easily crashed. I was rather upset with these two college boys. They had obviously had a couple of beers and thought it would be fun to pelt passing motorists, and get a little throwing practice in at the same time. I wrote a report and don't remember hearing anything about what happened after that. Well, a couple years ago I'm at a local charter middle school for wayward youth. Handling a call for some problem children. After resolving the issue the principal asks me if I have a minute to talk to him about something else. We go in his office. He says years ago he did something really stupid with a buddy when they were in college. He tells me about that incident. He said he felt so bad about it afterward and he wanted to apologize and thank me for being firm with him and catching him and treating him fairly. I almost cried (I do cry easily, but still). He said I made a profound impression on him and taught him a valuable lesson. I thanked him for thanking me. I told him no hard feelings and I'm glad everything worked out for the better. Thanks for reading.