Homer's Travels: December 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2016

2016 ... What a crappy year.  After a long battle with heart disease, the Father-in-Law passed away.  very close friend was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a couple months later.  Too many famous people died.  I had minor medical issues most of the summer and the Wife hurt her shoulder.  Oh yeah, the election sucked too.  I have never wanted a year to end so soon.

Not that everything was bad, mind you.  I got my Scuba certification (yes ... I consider this a positive even though I didn't like the experience so much) and our Cuba and South America trips were incredible.   Oh, and the Cubs won the World Series - the Father-in-Law would have loved that. 

Let's look back at 2016, shall we:
Last year I really didn't have many expectations for 2016.  I expected it to be dominated by AT training which was not nearly the case.  The whole political mess was not on my radar and I never saw the sadness and heartache that were to come.

I'm not sure what 2017 will bring for me.  It will surely be dominated by my Appalachian Trail adventure that will occupy five to six months of the year.  That I am looking forward to.  It's the stuff happening off the trail that has me a tad concerned.  The nation may be aboil this coming year.  Being out on the trail with limited contact with the outside world may be a blessing but I will always be worried about the Wife holding the fort back home.

I've always ended my Look Back posts with the same sign off.  I will do it again despite not being so hopeful this time around. 

Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year for all.
May all your dreams come true in 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Photograph: "Train Cars And Lodges"

My last photograph post of the year.  Coal carrier train cars juxtaposed with beaver lodges on a frozen lake.  This was taken two weeks ago at Big Lake Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"Train cars and lodges"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Photograph: "Wasting Away"

Another picture from my walk yesterday.  The remains of a drowned tree, with it's arms raised in the air, wasting away.  It won't be long before it falls over.  There may be a metaphor there somewhere.

"Wasting away"
by Bruce H.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Photograph: "Sinking Into The Ice"

I went for another training walk today making my way to Shadow Lake shopping center, over to the Walnut Creek Recreational Area, and back home.  The walk was 15 miles (24.1 km).

Along the way I saw geese, a swastika rendered in shaving cream along with a self-portrait of the artist also in shaving cream (i.e. a Dick Pic), and a patchy blue sky that lifted my spirits a bit.

Here is one of my more interesting pictures that I took on the walk.  A leaf is sinking into the ice.  It looks like concrete but it is actually ice on the surface of Walnut Creek Lake.

"Sinking into the ice"
by Bruce H.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Photograph: "20th & S"

The corner of a bakery ... now closed ... in South Omaha.

"20th & S"
by Bruce H.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Was Christmas Good To You?

We had a very nice Christmas weekend.  On Saturday we had a ham and pork loin lunch with the In-Laws followed by our usual gift exchange.  On Sunday we had a turkey lunch at my Mom's followed by more gifts.  By the end of the day on Sunday I was packed full of food and felt a bit disgusted with myself.

Christmas Laser Light Rays.
I decided to work some of Christmas off by going for a walk.  I dropped off my car at the shop to get serviced and headed out for a long walk.  My legs were a bit more sore this morning than usual.  I ended up only walking 13.8 miles (22.2 km) which was about three miles shorter than I'd planned.  I will save the longer walks for later this week.

Most of my gifts were in the form of food or funds.  Twizzlers, caramels, and chocolate bars should keep me supplied for at least a few days.  The funds will be going towards equipment needed for my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike and for hotel rooms during my AT breaks.

Thank you for everyone for the gifts and the Christmas wishes.  It gave this lackluster year a bright spot.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wishing all my family and friends a very Merry Christmas.

Je souhaite à tous ma famille et mes amis un Joyeux Noël.

Volendo tutta la mia famiglia e gli amici un Buon Natale.

Ich wünsche allen meine Familie und Freunde eine sehr frohe Weihnachten.

Ik wens al mijn familie en vrienden zeer Vrolijke Kerstmis.

Ar mian leo go léir mo theaghlach agus lena chairde ar na Nollag an-Merry.

Deseando a toda mi familia y amigos una muy Feliz Navidad.

Desejo a todos os meus familiares e amigos um Feliz Natal.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Photograph: "Candle Wax"

I use a candle warmer in the den during the holiday season.  I like the long lasting smell of cinnamon, holly berry, or pine to fill the room while I'm writing or surfing the net.  I also like the strange patterns the wax makes as it hardens.

"Candle wax"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Second Annual Star Wars Viewing ... With Lunch

Today I went to see Rogue One - A Star Wars Story in 3D IMAX with the Wife's niece.  Last year we went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Rogue One is a much better movie than The Force Awakens, in my opinion.  The characters are interesting, there are some funny bits, and the action is top notch.  Unlike The Force Awakens, the story felt fresh and original and not another retread.

It was interesting to see two Computer Generated 'human' actors done so well.  If I hadn't known that Peter Cushing had died years ago I would have never guessed it was not 'real'.  Well done.

After the movie we continued our new tradition of going to the 11-Worth cafe for lunch.  We talked about movies and television and other geeky stuff.  I gave her a Star Wars themed birthday card (it was her birthday yesterday) that included a band that lit up and made Wookie and battle noises.

It was a fun time and, since the next Star Wars movie is expected to come out next December, it will be a tradition that will surely continue on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

And Winter Begins

Today is the first day of Winter so I celebrated with a nice walk in South Omaha and Bellevue.  Over the five and a half hours and 16.1 miles (25.9 km) of the walk I tried to find a picture that would illustrate the first day of winter but, since the temperatures went over 50℉ (10℃) there was nary a lick of snow to be found (except pathetic little patches in the shady spots).  So to illustrate the first day of winter, I will have to resort to using a picture I took a week ago.

Ice floes on the Missouri River taken from the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge.
This is an oddly warm Christmas week and the weather for Christmas day - 60℉ (15.5℃), 60 mph (96.5 km/hr) winds, and rain - is even farther from normal.  Damn 'Jyna' hoax!!!

I hope everyone had/is having a great Winter Solstice!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Day To Remember

Today is Geneviève's memorial.  Friends and Family will gather to share stories.  I regret to say I will not be attending.  I will miss the funny stories, the smiles, the laughter, and the inevitable tears.  I will have to be satisfied with the memories I shared with Gen.

Gen's family welcomed all to share their stories either in person or via e-mail to be read during the memorial.  I've already shared many stories of our Caminos together in Homer's Travels.  They are all there for anyone to read.  (Our 2011 Camino was documented from August through October 2011 and our 2013 Camino was documented  from November 2013 through February 2014.  I refer to Gen as Gv.)

We all mourn ...
We all mourn in our own way.  I realize now that I began mourning the day Gen told the world of her diagnosis and her chance of survival.  I spent the next eight weeks grieving and sinking into depression.  I went through most of the stages of grief ... a few of them several times over.  It came to a crescendo on the day of her passing.  I woke up on the first of December and I felt the depression lifting.  Things that once reminded me of sadness now brought a smile to my face. Instead of wandering melancholy spaces I explore galleries of our happy times on the Camino.

I would like to share one thing.  During one of our chats in November I told her:
"I always felt you there along the edges of my life.  I don't want that feeling to go away but I know it will."
Geneviève responded:
"I will always be next to you ... I'll be among the stars shining over you."
I couldn't understand it then, I thought they were just words to comfort me, but I feel it now, I feel her next to me as I walk, I understand, and it does gives me comfort and that is how it should be.  Gen had given me a final gift - acceptance.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Photograph: "Winter Creek"

The cold temperatures turn a little creek into a white ribbon running through the trees.

"Winter Creek"
by Bruce H.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book: Hugh Howey's "Dust"

My twelfth book of the year, and probably my last, was the third book of the Silo trilogy.  Hugh Howey's "Dust" completes the trilogy started in "Wool" and continued in "Shift".

The series is a rather new take on the post-apocalyptic genre which means it's a take I have never seen before.  That said, I'm no expert in post-apocalyptic fiction.  The trilogy explores the life in the Silos, large underground living spaces.  The second book explains how the Silos came to be and why they came to be.  The third book describes the beginning of the end of the Silos.

I found the third book, like the other two, to be interesting but a bit disjointed at times.  The story jumps a bit and some of the parallel stories didn't seem necessary.  Having said this, the fact I read all three books tells you that I did find the story to be, at the very least, intriguing.

I gave "Dust" the same Goodreads score as the others: four stars.  Looking back, if it allowed me, I would have given them all three and a half stars I think.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Photograph: "Sidewalk Philosophy"

An interesting piece of graffiti on the Keystone Trail bike path.  It stood out as it was not political but philosophical ... or maybe physics-al.

"Sidewalk Philosophy"
by Bruce H.
(Original artist unknown)
It's not that easy to read but it says:
"The PAST, PRESENT + Future are all simultaneous and INFINITE."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Photograph: "Reflections In Reflections"

Taken from the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge over the Missouri river facing west.  The bright spots in the building's reflection is the sun's reflection.  There are also ice flows on the river.

"Reflections in reflections"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Photograph: "We All Need Some Magic Juan"

I love stencil art.  It always seems to pop up in the oddest places.  This was on the South Omaha Trail.

"We all need some Magic Juan"
by Bruce H.
(Original artist unknown)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Photograph: "Red Ball Transfer Co."

A picture I took along the South Omaha Trail.

"Red Ball Transfer Co."
by Bruce H.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sock(s) It To Me

I've purchased one more piece of gear for my Appalachian Trail (AT) adventure.  It's another very important feature of foot maintenance though it's often overlooked as it isn't very exciting.  I'm talking about socks.

After shoes, socks are the most important thing to keep your feet happy.  On the AT I will be using a two sock strategy that I'm sure I've posted about many times over.  As a matter of fact I talked about them in this post from 2014.  I talked about it some more here and here.  No need to rehash I would guess.

I bought nine pairs of Omni·Wool merino wool blend socks yesterday.  I've worn these for years including both of my Caminos.  I will be packing three pairs initially and will switch out with fresh socks every two pairs of shoes.  The socks are durable and warm.  While warm, I have worn them during the heat of summer with little discomfort.  The merino wool also cuts down on the odor.

Most of the above posts talked about my experimentation and experience with toesocks.  I still have to purchase another five pairs of toesocks before my footwear system is complete but I will correct that issue sometimes over the next month or so.

Step by tiny step I am slowly getting my gear together.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Through The Worst Of It ... Time To Get Back To It

Whatever I had last week has seemed to have run its course.  While my nose is still dripping a smidge and I'm hocking up some nasty luggies, my energy level is near normal and I've restarted my stretching/exercising portion of my Appalachian Trail (AT) prep.

I'm planning to get on my bike trainer tonight for a short ride while watching the first episode of the  Mythbusters pseudo-spinoff White Rabbit Project on Netflix.  I hope to do a bike trainer session at least three times this week if not more.  I will also fit in two long walks, hopefully during snow showers forecasted for the end of the week.  Nothing like walking in the falling snow.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Photograph: "Blue Shining Through The Gray"

What we all need at times.

"Blue Shining Through The Gray"
by Bruce H.
(Original artist unknown.)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Photograph: "Flights To Freedom"

I'm feeling a bit better today so I will post an interesting juxtaposition.  A flight of fire escape stairs and an enabler of avian flight.

"Flights to freedom"
by Bruce H.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Chowing Down On The Walking Dead

Well, I hinted in yesterday's post that if I didn't feel well today I would skip the planned walk and catch up on episodes of the Walking Dead.  Last night I felt pretty awful.  I felt better this morning but by noon I could feel that my energy was flagging.  I'm glad I didn't go for a walk.

Kind of how I feel.
I have six episodes of the Walking dead on the DVR and I've worked my way through half of them but now I'm starting to feel like I should be an extra on the show. 

Before I go lie down I wanted to give props to the Wife who went to work feeling like this for most of the last week.  She's my hero!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The South Omaha Trail - A Nice Newish Trail

I went for a walk on Tuesday.  I decided to follow the newly finished South Omaha Trail.  When I say newly finished I mean it's been finished sometime in the last year ... or two.

Canadian Geese followed me briefly on the Keystone Trail on their way to Papio Creek.
The South Omaha Trail connects the Keystone Trail that runs just east of our home to the Field Club Trail.  The trails runs roughly 3.75 miles (6 km).  It has been half finished for awhile while the city got the necessary federal permits to finish the trail (part of the trail runs along federal highway land).  I'd ridden and walked along the unfinished trail but on Tuesday I walked the whole thing.

The last portion of the trail is awesome.  It is very well done with simulated stone retaining walls and almost wavelike smooth concrete along the edges on some of the downhill sections.  I was impressed by the workmanship of the trail.  Omaha is slowly becoming more and more bikeable which is a step in the right direction.  With this connector finished I could bike the ten or so miles from my house to the city's downtown area.

This short trail was just a portion of the path I walked on Tuesday.  I added a lot of street distance including past a new set of roundabouts at 42nd and Q.  Roundabouts are fairly rare in Omaha but they are becoming more common ... another positive development in my opinion.  I ended up doing 16 miles (25.75 km) in all.  I was a bit sore when I got home.  This was to be expected since I haven't kept up on my walking as I should have.

I hope to go for another walk on Friday but that all depends on how this cold the Wife passed on to me progresses.  If I feel good I'll walk but if I feel like I'm dieing, then I'll be watching the Walking Dead on the DVR.  Kind of appropriate I would say.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

First Bloom

The Christmas cactus has its first bloom today.  By coincidence last year's first bloom was also on the seventh of December.  This is from a clipping of the original 'old lady'.  Sadly the 'ol' lady' did not survive being transplanted into a larger pot.  Not sure what happened since I was very careful with her.  Fortunately this clipping is doing great and a second clipping I have is also going to bloom soon.

2016 First Bloom - the holiday season has officially started.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

You Want How Many Pairs?

I made another purchase in preparation for my Appalachian Trail (AT) hike next spring:  Shoes.  I've been wearing Salomon Eskape Aero hiking shoes for a couple years now and I really like them.  They are comfortable, lightweight, and, while not waterproof, dry fast.  I guesstimated that I would need a new pair every five to six hundred miles or five pairs for the entire AT.

My current Salomon Eskape Aeros 
The shoe model is old and I noticed that they are no longer listed on the Solomon website.  Fortunately on Amazon I was able to find three different vendors that still carried them and were selling them at clearance prices.  I order a pair each from two vendors and four pair from a third.

The third vendor, the one I ordered four from, sent me an email asking if I was sure I wanted four pair.  Made me chuckle a bit though it wasn't a laughing matter for him since his shipping charges (Free to me but not for him) would probably wipe out his profit.  I explained that I was hiking the AT next year and I expected to destroy five pairs of these shoes over the 2,200 miles (3,540 km) of the trail.  His response was very nice:
"That's actually really awesome that you are doing that.   I wish you well with your adventure."
Since the shoes were mostly on clearance, the color choices were limited.  Apparently the red ones are the least popular so I ended up with four pair of red shoes.  I'll be styling on the AT. 😆

For those wondering why I ordered a sixth pair, my current shoes are worn out and I need that extra pair.

Monday, December 05, 2016

A Sign Of Our Deplorable Times

I saw this on my walk the other day.  It was painted on the sidewalk across the street from the Ralston Middle School.  Sad 😢

A sad sign of our times.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Christmas Snow Laser Light Show

A bonus post.  It is really cool when the snow falls through the laser light projectors.  You get a glittering green and red light show!

Laser Light Snow Show
I made a video of the snow falling through the laser projectors too but it is not as impressive as the real thing.

Photograph: "First Snow"

I interrupt my brief posting break to announce we received our first snow today.  😊

"First Snow"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Successful But Sad End To NaBloPoMo

I set out to post every day during the month of November and I am proud to say that, despite almost forgetting to post a couple of times, I met the challenge.  The last post of the month was a very sad one for me to write.

I'm planning to continue posting each day for awhile, I think.  As many of my posts last month, they will not all be deep thoughtful dives and I suspect many of them with just be photographs.

Something to remember.
But first I need to take a short break.  I'm going to take a few days off to collect my thoughts.  I will restart my posting on Monday unless something exciting comes up that just screams to be posted about.  Until then, Love Life.