Saying Goodbye

It is hard to believe that a short two months ago, I sat at the Bangkok airport with all of my bags packed, getting ready to head back to the United States for the first time in two years. As for most people around the world, it had been an interesting two years, and I was excited to get back to see the people I loved. It was going to be a little different from other trips back home because the threat of the pandemic loomed large over everything everybody did, and I was also going to go through the process of moving to a new country at the same time.

Despite all of this fear that was plaguing the world, there was still hope. A vaccine had become available and people were starting to take off their masks to get life back to normal. We were a little worried when we first started looking at coming back that we would have a hard time finding a shot, but by the time we landed in Portland, Oregon, there was enough vaccine in the United States to where we could walk into a local Target and get a vaccine without an appointment. We also were able to leave Thailand just in time. The numbers have skyrocketed in that country for the first time ever with the latest numbers showing over 17,000 new cases just the other day, and it does not look like it is going to slow down anytime soon. I feel for all of the people I left behind in that country, and I worry about them as they struggle through another school year. I hope that they can get things under control soon, and find a place where they can start easing up the restrictions that I got to enjoy while I was living out there.

As I went through my stuff in storage, my sights switched over to Jordan to see how they were handling this crisis. The numbers there a lot lower, but there has been a new creep up that I will keep an eye on. I also look at those numbers for overall vaccination, and though Jordan is not in a place where America is at, they still steadily move in the right direction. It gives me hope for the next year that it will be closer to a normal school year as opposed to the last two, and I will also be going on a new adventure in a new country at the same time.

The summer was still a great time to catch up with friends and family, and meet new characters along the way. I always find myself falling into that comfortability that it means being an American in America. The old relationships feel like we pick them up right where we left them off, and the conveniences that we have come to crave while away are once again taken for granted.

But we were able to discover some new ways that America has evolved as well. I remember being excited about the movie, Chef, right before we started our overseas adventures, but thinking that the land of food trucks that it described was a little taken out of context. There might have been a couple of places where these existed, but there seemed to be more of them during our return visit. It almost seemed that this was the preferred way of dining out, but summertime and Covid might have had something to do with it as well.

That didn’t stop me from searching out the more traditional way of eating out. Of course, I hit my fair share of Mexican restaurants while in Colorado because I needed to get as much green chili as I could. This is my favorite of all food groups, and everybody I meet who has ever eaten green chili understands my love for it, yet I am still confused as to why it can still only be found in three of the four states connected with the four corners region. It makes coming home that much better because I get to have this food again. I still do not believe that I got enough on this trip out, but I still enjoyed what I had.

I also love being able to see the beauty of America every time I am home as well. I am really lucky to be associated with what I consider to be two of the more beautiful states, Oregon and Colorado. I love seeing the mountains and forests that both of these places have to offer. Though I have seen some beautiful and amazing sights all over the world, my heart always returns to the mountains and I don’t think of any place better than these two for me to connect back with them. I was able to spend a good amount of time in them in Oregon, and I wish I would have ventured beyond the foothills during my stay in Colorado.

I was still able to make it outside quite a bit and enjoy the majesty that is Colorado. Whether it was taking long walks in many of the green spaces that can be found in many of Colorado’s neighborhood, or going out to Chatfield Reservoir, I was able to spend a lot of time outside. This is not something that is as enjoyable in a more tropical climate, and there are times of the year where Colorado is better spent indoors, but I was out here during the summertime and this is the perfect time to be outside there.

I was even lucky enough to experience some of the wildlife during my trip. During the last couple of years, I had run into what many would consider exotic animals, with Thailand filled with many types of monkeys, tropical birds, and a variety of reptiles, and snakes. But this is only a matter of perspective. From the other side of the world, a herd of deer or elk is just as exotic as a monitor lizard is to the people of America. Being deprived of this view for so long has made it exciting once again, and I enjoyed it every time I came across the usual herds of animals that I grew up with.

Not everything ended up in taking me to the great outdoors. There were a couple of stops that showed me other great things that America had to offer, and they were not always Target stores. The greatest had to be the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs. It was nice to get out to museums once again, and though I had to spend my time in there wearing a mask, I have been doing it so much lately that it no longer bugs me. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and a great way of celebrating the Olympics this year.

It has been great to get back to America, especially after two years away, but nobody can spend their whole life in rest and relaxation. Like an international school teacher under normal circumstances, I have to get back to the country where my work is, and I am complicating the process by changing schools and countries to Amman, Jordan. So I have packed up my bags, eaten those last meals, and given those last hugs to family and friends, and I have headed off the airport. I am confident that the world is moving in the right direction, and I will not be forced to stay away for as long this time around. So as I head off to a brand new adventure, I say goodbye to America, and guarantee I will be back soon.

A Change for Downtown Littleton

The sunset from the View House in downtown Littleton.

Last night, I got to travel to my old stomping grounds of Downtown Littleton. It is the place I used to work as a bartender, and the building which housed the brewery still stands though the brewpub is no longer in operation. It is not the only changes that have come from this quaint section of metropolitan Denver. A street that was filled with barber shops and dive bars has turned into a neighborhood filled with apartment buildings and high-end restaurants. The only thing that is holding this place back is the main streets that have cars traveling through to get to busier parts of the city. I was told that during the pandemic that they closed off the streets and allowed these restaurants to spill their tables out into the roads so they could stay in operation. It created something that could be found in Europe with the walking streets, giving it a feel of something more out of the 18th century rather than modern times. If they would just add cobblestones over the pavement, they would have something spectacular. People would take the light rail from Denver to this exciting location, and certain buildings that have remained empty might actually get filled up again, adding more to the atmosphere.

There are other places that I know of that would benefit from this kind of arrangement, downtown Castle Rock in Colorado, and downtown West Linn in Oregon, but I also know the biggest argument against them as well. The roads that would be closed happen to be main thoroughfares that would have many motorists mad if they were changed into a place where only walking people could go. These places already have sidewalks, and people can wait for the lights to change before they walk across the street.

I do understand their points, but at the same time, the pedestrian outdoor areas are the busiest places in Europe. They are always filled with tourists looking for ways to spend their money. They also add a certain amount of charm to the cities they reside in, making people want to visit more. There are a couple of these locations in Colorado that I know of: Pearl Street in Boulder, Old Town in Fort Collins, and 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, and they are always busy. As some of the older parts of smaller towns are looking to revive their older parts of town, I can see them eventually make this slight change to bring back the business they lost, and this is the best time to do it. Many of these proposed locations did the same thing that downtown Littleton did during Covid, and they can see how the conversion can transform their part of town.

Bend is proposing to do this right now with Minnesota Avenue. Some of the trendier restaurants in Bend are on this street, and they want it to stay the pedestrian mall that they had during the Covid crisis. The town is currently considering this, but it is meeting with the same resistance that other places will meet, traffic, and why should people put up with this for something that will only be in use for at most six months out of the year.

It is just a trend that I noticed last night as I visited the place where I used to work, and I wonder if it will take hold or not. I am pretty sure that if it does, it will take a couple more decades before it is considered because the American society is not ready to go there yet, but I am sure there will be a couple more of them popping up from time to time as towns start to see the benefit to them.

Things

I am already thinking about winter. It was one of the chores that I knew I had to do while I was in the United States because I knew that the clothes I had shipped to Jordan from Thailand would only be appropriate during the first couple of months out there, and then I would need some long sleeves, pants, and hats. I had some of that stuff in Thailand because my thought was we would travel to cooler places to get away from the tropical heat, but then, Covid. So I do have a weeks worth of clothes that will allow me survive in those conditions, and they are not for the really cold temperature that Amman can sometimes get to.

So this is why I have been thinking about winter.

Growing up in Colorado, and visiting Oregon often means that I do have these clothes, but I pushed them in some boxes and bags and left them in storage some place in one of these two states, and even then, I am not sure where I left them in those states. It has been a little game of hide and seek so far this summer, rummaging through this box and that one trying to find what I know is out there, and yesterday, I went to my storage unit in Colorado.

Lo and behold, I found the missing clothes among piles of things that I am not sure what they are anymore. This little game made me realize what has become of my life, and my things as they are strewn across the world. Of course right now I am living out of bags and have to rummage through them every morning to find the things that I need to be a part of society. I have some rare discs and records tucked away in a closet at my parents’ house, and a couple boxes of random stuff at my in-laws’ house. And somewhere, en route, there is a shipping container full of more stuff and things finding its way to my new place in Jordan. I have truly become a man of the world, and like a teenager does in their room, I have left myself wherever I just happen to drop it.

While looking at my stuff, and all of the places where it is, I am constantly thinking about a story I taught a couple of times early in my teaching career by D.H. Lawrence called “Things”. It told the story of a couple who started taking teaching jobs overseas. Of course, they did not want to bring all of their stuff with them, so they put some stuff in storage here, and other things in storage over there. They bought art and mementos along the way, but they did not have a place in their house to display them, so they stored those in other countries. They ended up having places all over the world to hold their stuff for them. I now thing of that story and realize that I am now living it. (I will put a link to the story at the end of the post if you are interested to read for yourself.)

There are a couple of themes that could be looked at while reading this story, but the one that stuck with me and the one that I always return to is how we no longer own our possessions, but instead they start to own us. Part of the lives of these characters was to tend to their things, and I am participating in the same ritual. Some of these things are easy to attend to; whereas, others are going to be a surprise when I return to them years later. I will have forgotten that I have some of these things, and it will be like a return to Christmas when I find them again. But it makes me start to wonder how much of it I really need, and how much of it I can give away.

My wife and I always talk about going to the storage unit every summer and reorganizing it to move to a smaller storage unit, but something always comes up that makes us put that off for another year. Basically, it is easier to maintain my things than to deal with them, but someday I will have to deal with them. Until then, I will just lock the door to the storage unit, push that box in the corner of the room where I found it, and track my shipment over the internet until it arrives, and I will continue to play this game with my things.

“Things” by D.H. Lawrence

Until We Meet Again, Oregon

The time I spend in Oregon always seems a little short. It feels like I get there and before I know it, I need to move on again. Most of the time I get there after a long grueling time of work, and I need a big break. By the time I leave, I feel well rested and ready to take on another year of teaching.

This time was no different.

I spent most of my time in Central Oregon during my last visit, and though it was incredibly hot while I was there, I still found time to get among the forests and mountains that surrounded me. It was exactly what I needed. I have learned a lot about myself over the last couple of years, as I am sure that many people have. The biggest thing that I learned after spending time on beaches and diving in the ocean is that I am a mountain man. I need those rugged landscapes, and the opportunity to play in the lakes and trails that take me to hidden gems.

Oregon allowed me to visit these again after a long time away from them.

I also learned that I am a dog person. I really always knew this already, but after spending a good month with Maggie, a new dog that my in-laws rescued, I got remember how great it is to have a dog around all the time. She was a little nervous around me as she is with all males, but after a month of getting used to me being around, she started to allow me to pet her and even put a leash on her to take her out on a walk. We created a bond that I hope she does not forget about by the next time I come around again.

That unconditional companionship brings a smile to my face even thinking about it.

Even though I have been to Oregon on numerous occasions, I am still able to be surprised by the beauty that it has to offer. Around any corner in the central part of the state, I don’t know what I will find around it. It might be the perfect landscape picture. It might be a herd of deer or elk frozen in jump waiting for one of us to make or move. Or it might be a rainbow reaching over the trees framing one of my favorite places in the world.

Thank you, Oregon, for the time I got to spend with you, and I look forward to the next time we will meet again.

Sparks Lake, Oregon

As my time in Oregon started to come to a close, I took the opportunity to get out on one of its many lakes one last time before I am able to get back out here. I am pretty sure that it will be in a year, but I have said stuff like that before and was disappointed in the results. I also don’t see another world wide catastrophe happen again any time soon that would cause me to delay this plan, but at the same time I understand that I need to make the most out of the moments while they are still available.

This time I went behind the Sisters and up by Mount Bachelor, one of Oregon’s premiere ski resorts, to check out one of those lakes. There are many lakes in this area, and I have been to Elk Lake before even though that was many years ago, so I decided to check out the other big lake they have out there, Sparks Lake. This is one of the more popular lakes in the area, and is one of the ones that allow motor boats though they cannot travel faster than ten miles per hour while out on the lake.

I was really surprised that they allowed motors out on this lake, and I didn’t see anybody out there with one while I spent the day there. The lake is sprawling and it is rather deceptive about the area that it covers. I entered on the eastern side of the lake, and the water was not that deep over there. In fact, there were many times that I was worried that I would beach my kayak as I tried to navigate through the weeds and the rocks that were all over the place. I couldn’t imagine how difficult this would be if there was a motor attached to the boat. I think most of the people that were out there thought the same way, and that is why the whole lake was covered with canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards.

Once I got over to the other side of the lake, the depth changed and landscape changed drastically. There were many places over on this side where I could not see the bottom, and there were a lot of little tributaries that I could explore. The coastline of the lake was also covered with lava rock that gave for many interesting formations to stare at and ponder. As I looked closer at the coast I could also see a yellow line where the pollen in the area showed where the height of the water reached recently. It shocked me to see that the water in the lake was easily a foot or two below where it usually rested. It explained the problem that was occurring with other side of the lake and why the water was so shallow. It also reminded me how dry Oregon has been this year, and makes me worried about what might happen in the next couple of months if they do not start getting some rain.

That did not stop the wildlife making its way to the lake. You have to look carefully in this picture, but beyond the ducks, there are a couple of deer grazing on the edge of the lake. I tried to get a little closer to get a better picture, but as soon as they heard me creeping closer, they dashed off into the wilderness. I am sure that on any given day out there, the opportunity to see the wildlife is always present which just adds to what this lake has to offer.

Sparks Lake is a treasure, and a great place to go out kayaking on. Just to warn you though, I have been told that it gets rather busy during the summer and it might be hard to find a place to park. It is also a little more rustic than other lakes in the region, but there are plenty of places to camp, and if you get there early enough you should be able to stake out your own spot somewhere along the shore. The road in has not been groomed recently, so if you are going out there, you will want to go with an SUV or truck though I did see a couple of sedans struggle up the path just fine. It will probably be really busy during the Fourth of July weekend, but after that, it is a great day trip if you find yourself in Bend or the surrounding area.

The Food Truck Stop

When did this start to happen?

Don’t get me wrong. It is pretty cool, and it is fun to have this dedicated place where you can get a drink, and a choice of some delicious food from five or six options. But I did not know that food truck stops have become such a big thing. I traveled down to Bend last night to visit with an old friend at one of these places, and along the way I could see a collection of food trucks gathered together like a small herd at many locations along the way. According the local news, there are even more of these spots all over Bend. I was even invited to go to a different one while I was staying outside of Portland but couldn’t make it because I was still under quarantine protocol at the time.

My point is that I have been away from the country for a couple of years, and all of a sudden, it has become a thing. I know that the food truck is not a new thing. It had been around long before John Favreau highlighted the story of a man’s adventure with one in his great movie, Chef, and I had even eaten from a few of them from time to time. I also knew that there were places where they would gather in order to sell their feasts; I had visited them in Colorado and Seoul, but usually during some kind of festival so they had a reason for gathering. It is just that they are all over the place now, and seem to be more ubiquitous than a regular restaurant, especially in the Central Oregon area.

The one I went to last night was called On Tap, and it was located by the St. Charles hospital underneath the shadow of Pilot Butte in the eastern part of Bend. It boasts of having the most beer on tap than any other location in Bend, even though it does not brew any of the beer that it serves. Most of the selection comes from local breweries even though I did see a couple from the east coast and one from Colorado on the list. They also had a nice selection of wines, and various ciders (which has also become a thing while I was gone). You go up to the counter, order your drink from a couple of pushy bartenders (they could have been a little more patient as I read through the selection), and then find a spot at one of the many picnic tables found on their grounds. It has a very communal atmosphere, and I would imagine would be even better if people did not have to socially distance themselves due to the straggling effects of the pandemic still lingering on. I don’t know what happens during the winter. The bar is located in a permanent structure that can be closed up with some seating still available, but the amount is severely reduced because of this. But then again, Bend is a big tourist destination during the summer, so maybe On Tap can make a bigger chunk of its money during these months, and allow that to give them what they need to coast during the rest of year.

The food I had was really good as well. I had a shrimp po’ boy, and it was nice to have some cajun food again after not seeing a place where you could get for so long. It was really tasty though I wish it could have a little bit more of a kick with it, but then again I am in the Pacific Northwest, and this is not something that is always offered with the food out here. They had a lot of other selections as well with vegetarian, Mexican, Asian fusion, bar-b-q, and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. Of course, I couldn’t taste it all, but the food that I saw being carried around all looked delicious.

Families and dogs were even welcomed. I saw many children run and duck through the tables, and they even gathered on the grassy patch at the far end for a game of tag. The dogs were always looking for a piece of dropped food or a pat on the head from the people passing by. The food, drink, outdoors, and people created the perfect atmosphere for a great summer evening. It does not mean that I will hunt out another one of these herds every night, but I would enjoy finding different ones, or coming back to this one so I could try some of the other cuisine. It was all around a fun evening.

I guess I now understand why this has become a thing.

The Neighborhood Pool

In the land without air conditioning, many people are asking themselves how to stay cool during this period of unprecedented heat. If have heard some unique solutions to that problem, some of which I am sure worked and some that might still be in the developmental stage. Some people would sleep with ice packs wrapped around a towel and resting on their necks. Some people would stand in front of the open freezer, or if they were lucky enough to be at a place that had them, would spend time in a walk-in cooler. Some people would run over to the faucet in their kitchen every once in a while to run the head underneath the cool running water. The main thing that everybody in the Pacific Northwest had in common the last couple of days has been that they have been looking for a way to beat the heat.

One of the most obvious ones has been the neighborhood pool. It is a staple that can be found in many of the communities across America, and it is on days like these ones that it really brings the community together. All of the neighbors can come to this place to shed their work clothes for a more casual approach, relax in the shade with the good company of neighbors or a book, and cool off in the water with family or friends. All pretensions seem to melt away at this place, and people can really just enjoy themselves. The place is made for relaxation, and becomes hard to do anything else while being there.

Growing up, this is where I would spend most of my days during the summer. Both my mother and father worked, and they did not want anybody at our house while they were away. They did allow us to go to the pool though and we would arrange to meet all of our friends over there during the day. I know now that it was because we could be supervised while we were there, but I look at how the herds of children move around the pools now and think back to those days when I was among their numbers. It amazes me how we could be easily entertained all summer long by diving after different things we would throw in the deep end, or show off our skills by jumping and eventually diving off the diving boards, or playing intricate games of keep away with all of the other kids in the neighborhood. They have become some of my favorite childhood memories.

The pool that we went to had ten minutes at the end of every hour designated for adult swims. It was basically a time during every hour where nobody would be in the pool and we always wondered why they would do this if nobody took advantage of it. I wonder if it is still a thing at some pools because I have not run into it for years, and I still can’t think of what the purpose of this time was. Even though I would complain about it as a kid, I still enjoyed those ten minutes every hour. It was a time where we get our drenched bodies out of the water and lay down directly on the hot concrete around the pool. That heat always felt so good on the skin, and I remember enjoying the way it would dry me off after a good hour of swimming.

The Snack Shack was also a favorite of ours. We would scrape together our nickels, dimes, and quarters, and bring them with us every time we went to the pool so we could spend it on candy. A snickers bar got quickly devoured; whereas, a box of nerds became a treasure that we would slowly share with everybody else in the group as we experimented with the combinations of all the different fruit flavors. It is probably where I developed the sweet tooth that I still have today.

I may not be as active when I go to the pool anymore, but I still enjoy going. I’ll hop in every once in awhile to cool down while trying to find a corner where I can talk with my wife while avoiding all the kids that are around. (Maybe that is what adult swim is for.) Most of the time, you will find me in the shade with a good book, and of course, I will always find a reason to visit the Snack Shack if they have one. Nothing exciting every happens at the neighborhood pool, but that does not mean that I still don’t get excited to go to it when I have a chance. I am glad that I had one growing up, and if you find that you have one in your neighborhood, you might want to think about checking it out a couple times this summer, just to see what they are all about.

The Heat Dome – What’s Not Being Said

I have had many a summer day in the Pacific Northwest where I watched the weather at night and saw some other part of the United States contending with a heat wave, and think that I was lucky to be in the cooler air of this corner of the nation. Yes, it has days where things get hot in Oregon and Washington, but it does not last long and the cooler weather is always right around the corner. That is until this week. It is blistering hot out there. This is the kind of heat that will melt you if you stand out in for too long, and it is not just breaking the heat records out here. It is crushing them. The hottest day in recorded Portland history up to this current heat wave was 107 F, but they have had temperatures hitting 114 F. That is like Arizona heat, and has me spending most of my time inside avoiding getting exposed to any of this extreme weather.

Even though Pacific Northwest is known for its humid climate, it is still nothing like the humidity that is found in tropical climates. Coming from a dry place like Colorado, yes, it is easy to feel the difference, but the air does not hang on to a person like it would in Thailand or Florida. It is still relatively dry, so the real feel of the temperature does not fluctuate much. If it is says that it is that hot, than it is that hot. It gives the heat a completely different feel to it. It feels more like being stuck in an oven rather than swimming through a pot of water ready to boil. You don’t sweat as much, but it still is not fun.

The interesting thing about this unprecedented moment in the history of this part of the country is how it is treated by the media. The best way I can think of to explain their coverage was the way the local weather lady reacted to the forecast on the news last night. She showed the high temperatures for the next day on the screen, and then just shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “What can I do about this?” It was funny to watch, but it hinted at the bigger thing that was slapping everybody in the face who was watching it. There is a bigger news story that is going on here, and they have an opportunity to talk about it, but they would rather just shrug their shoulders and walk off screen instead.

One reporter came out and said that this event was a once in a thousand years event even though earlier in the news cast he talked about how the city of Portland had flirted with these temperatures just 13 years earlier. This is another thing that I hear on the news a lot. During recent floods in Colorado, they called the events a once in a hundred years event, and then reported the same thing two years later when it happened again. The cliche does not ring true when they have to repeat them every year. This is not an Orwellian society and I will not forget what you have told me in the past just because you want to change the narrative.

There was only one place that really addressed the bigger issue of what has been going on in the Pacific Northwest during the last few days, and it did not come from an American source. I like to get my news from the BBC because it allows me to see what is going on in America from an outside perspective. They do not always portray us as being that great of a country, and sometimes what we view as being important is pushed further down in their news feed than if it had come from an American source. They were not afraid to talk about what the source of this insane amount of heat is coming from even though they did add the provision that “not all phenomenon can be easily explained scientifically.”

But it has been explained scientifically before. Over fifteen years ago, scientists came out and warned about events like this. They stated that would not only be about the rising heat, but we would see more of these once in a hundred year phenomenon. Droughts would last longer. Storms would be more destructive. Hurricanes would become more frequent. We can no longer continue to ignore what is being said, and we need to come out and say it ourselves every time we are face with this evidence. We need to admit that we have a problem, and we can no longer push it behind us in the hopes that it will somehow fix itself. That is not how this works.

And it just can’t be you that comes out and says what everybody is thinking. It is the media that needs to quit hiding behind the safety of banality and come out and say it as well. It needs to be one of the things that is the among the first that we look at when we look at fixing the problems of the world because it is the world’s problem. We need to be strong. We need to be courageous. We need to be bold.

We just need to come out and say it.

Show Off Those Guns Vaccinated People

No, we are not wearing bandaids because we got boo boos, and most of the time my workout routine does not highlight the definition of my arms, but this was an exciting moment. It was that final step that we needed to take to get back to the lives we wanted to live, and not one where we are stuck indoors all the time. It will make a little bit easier, but it won’t get to that perfect place until the rest of the population does their parts and gets vaccinated as well. Then the masks will be able to come off, the restaurants will open again to full service, and the one I am looking forward to the most, travel will start up again. Everyday, the country inches closer to that goal of herd immunity and I can’t wait until it gets there. As of the writing of this post, Oregon (where I am at right now) has 58.1% of the population vaccinated, Colorado (where I will be next) has 57.4%, and the country of Jordan (the place I will be moving to at the end of the year) is at 21.7%. Those are some exciting numbers. It does not mean that I will get to see that goal of being able to travel around the world freely anytime soon, but at least things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Getting my second shot almost didn’t happen too. I had an appointment scheduled at 11:00 yesterday, and the place I was going to called me up at 9:30. Their refrigerator broke the night before, causing their vaccine supply to be spoiled. At first, I didn’t know what to do, but after getting on the phone and calling a couple of other places, we were able to find one that had the same dose that we needed and we could walk right in. The pharmacy we went to was a little busy, but we were still able to get in and out within a half an hour. It showed me how easy they are making this for everybody, and if people want to get back to life as normal, they need to go in and get their shots. This way the United States government can send more vaccines to other countries. The world will get that herd immunity that is needed to make it safe again, and we can put this pandemic behind us.

I will be honest. The second dose hit me a lot harder than the first dose did. After the first shot, I only had a sore arm which made it hard if I slept on one of my sides, but after taking the second shot, I got a little bit of a chill, and a wicked headache that made sleep hard for one night. It was a little uncomfortable, but it made me realize how terrible it would be if I contracted the real Covid-19 virus. It also lets me know that the vaccine is working. After a restless night’s sleep and a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, I am feeling a lot better, and I know that it will only be one day before I can get back to feeling normal. It is a small price to pay to know that I am safe and that I will not be spreading the disease to other people that I come in contact with.

So there is only one thing left for the rest of the people to do. If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, go out there and get it. Push the numbers up and get to that herd immunity rate. Let’s get the world operating again, and let’s quit hearing these death reports and stories of people stuck indoors. Go get that bandaid and show off your guns proudly, knowing that you have done your part pushing the world to the place where it needs to be.

Run Indoors – Escaping the Heatwave

I knew that it wasn’t going to be cold when I came back to America. I knew that I was going to have to face the heat of summer. I knew that when I finally made it back to Colorado during the month of July, I would probably face a string of 90 degree days that would cause me to return to the air-conditioned environment created by the great indoors.

What I didn’t know was that I would have to face these kinds of conditions while I was in Oregon.

That is not to say that Oregon never gets hot. I have experienced some hot days during all of my time out visiting the state. There have been strings of hot days that have made me want to stay inside until the sun dipped over the horizon, but most of those days have come in late July or early August. Oregon is usually trying to work its way out of the cool spring during the month of June, and when I first got out here, that was the weather I was experiencing. But the news in Oregon has been focusing on the heat wave that is about to hit the not only the state, but all of the West. It is not just a small bump in temperatures either. What they are predicting could break records for the longest streak of 100 degree days in a row, and in the middle of it all, the hottest day ever on record in Portland. Needless to say, there is a little bit of panic going on in the state right now.

Now, it is not the kind of panic that has people running to the grocery store stocking up on toilet paper. Only a world wide pandemic can cause that kind of panic. No, this is more of a reserved apprehension about how each individual will be able to handle this extreme heat. There is talk of running down to the coast where the temperatures are always cooler and will only reach the 70s, and they are setting up shelters to pump out cool air-conditioned air during the hottest parts of the day.

It appears that many people in Oregon have already decided that it has gotten too hot out there because a lot of the places are missing the people I would normally see there. I do not think that it is that hot outside yet, but I know when it starts to hit those triple digit numbers that I will be running inside with the rest of them. It is all a sense of relativity though. Most Oregonians have spent the last couple of months shaking off the colder parts of the year, and to be thrown directly into this heat wave is a shock to the system; whereas, I have been spending the last couple of years living in one of the hottest and most humid cities in the world. It will have to be those extreme temperature that they are forecasting this weekend that will get me to start to feel the heat, and like a lot of those people who are inside right now, I am not looking forward to it either.

That brutal heat of Thailand seems to have found me. It took it awhile, because I flew half way across the world to get away from it. Flying is way over the Pacific Ocean, it kept a watchful eye for me, and I should have spent more time indoors because it spotted me and is now bringing its fury down upon the innocent people of Oregon like they have never seen before.

I am sorry for that, but it was just a joy to have a change of season and be able to walk around outside without instantly sweating. The sad thing is that it seems to know what I will be doing next. I am moving on to my home state soon which is just east of Oregon, and this heat bubble is hanging over the Pacific Northwest just long enough to make the move over the Rocky Mountains. It looks like I will have to apologize to the fine people of Colorado in advance for the heat I know will be coming their way. But hey, it is summer, and you knew this heat was coming. It will only last for a short period of time before the crisp days of autumn come your way. Until then, look for those good people you want to spend time with, and run for that cool comfort you can get from an air-conditioned inside.