Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Exhausting Trip Was Perfect

   The Exhausting Trip to watch Liz throw at one of my favorite Highland Games in McPherson, KS was perfect. Even though I felt like I was going to sabotage the damn thing without really trying and for no known reason to me, we made it! I spent a bit over 100 hours with Liz and good friends I really only get to see once a year. It's been a favorite of mine since the first time I went when Al Myers was AD.  Joe Lane, Mark "Irish" Cannon, and a couple of other guys from my first year showed up. Joe and Mark got me started. It became part of my life. Something my friend Starly Craig calls my "Amour De La Vie". She's right, it is part of my "Love of Life". It keeps me going when things look a little bleak.
  It's what I wanted to show Liz. All the games are fun and a great way to travel and participate in the greatest athletic endeavor I've found. The Highland Games require so much from competitors in physical and technical skill, it was something I didn't think I'd ever master. 2012 was my best year. I took Second at McPherson my best showing as a Master. Liz gets a Third Place on her fourth Games. My God, I was so proud I had to go hide so I didn't cry in front of all the burly men. She turned her first caber that day as well. Her smile blinded me for a while. Again, I was so proud of her, and could see that she is going to keep this up. I hope she does. The biggest thing about the Highland Games isn't the competition, it's the people who compete. I know a couple that aren't much to talk about when it comes to being personable. But in my experience, everyone from the Pro's on down will give tips and hints to help you improve. They do this during games, it's possibly the greatest exchange of sporting knowledge I've seen. It's done so everyone gets that shot. The place to improve themselves in a sport they love and enjoy. THAT is what I wanted Liz to see. I want her to see that the athletes I know and like are simply some of the best people I've ever met. I would hope she sees this too, and adds it to her "Amour De La Vie". Next year my nephew Josh Cook is wanting to throw. He's a Kansas boy, so I'm going to head him to HASA. Sorry TCAA, you're my group, and Liz's, but the kid needs something closer to home. HASA and TCAA to me, are two of the groups of athletes that are going to lead Heavy Athletics and Highland Games into the future. They both are active in their communities, do volunteer work, and strive to serve something bigger than themselves. That's damn straight honorable, and something that I see both groups excelling at on a regular basis. I'm Proud to be a member of TCAA, and proud to know so many in HASA. Charmed, is what I call myself.

  So, back to the road trip. Before we left on Thursday night, I was a piping fucking hot mess all day. I couldn't get my shit together at all. It put me behind, and Liz, following my fucked up directions, did exactly as I asked. Nothing. Then I got angry at myself, then her, then me again. We finally scooted about 7 hours behind. I could have shot myself if I'd not divyed the damn guns up months ago LOL.  Anyway, to my horror I find I have hell seeing at night from the car now. When the hell did that shit happen. We get a crappy but clean room in Sweetwater at the Bugdet Inn. Best WIFI we had the entire trip LOL!!!
  Man, we dicked around more than I did when I rode my bike! We saw Turnpike Country, nothing to be excited about, but it was nice to see the difference in the land, how quickly it changed, the hills and trees. Wonderful. Wichita looks so big now, compared to when I did some hanging around there late 80's. It's got a terrible crime rate, and that makes me sad, it's a really cool city overall.  Such a shame. The road to McPherson up I-35 was nice. It was getting toward dusk, and there isn't much prettier sky than Kansas at dusk an sunset. Sorry Texas, just a fact amigo. The hotel was really nice. Room right on the corner of the lobby, clean, nice and helpful staff. So nice for a change to get that service is more than hello and goodbye. It really was a nice Friday, and I was ready to crash and burn.  So we clean up, I prop up, and by the count of ten, my ass is out. Up at 0500 give or take. Make a pot of doghouse coffee and fix Liz her tail gate breakfast, and we are nearly off. I was running behind, of course, so I sent Liz ahead to check in for her games. Carting that huge fucking load was really burning me down. The sheep dog guy helped me get everything to the Athlete's area, and only took a "thank you' in payment. Nice folks at these games and this festival.
    I had company right off the bat. Thanks Glenn for coming out, even for a little bit. I had a good time talking to you. My Brother In Law Carl Cook, his wife Janice and son Josh came to visit as well. It was so nice to see them. Janice is a wonderful person, I think Carl isn't entirely up to speed on how wonderful she truly is, and I believe I need to let him know. Their son Josh, God Almighty that kid is HUGE! He has no clue how naturally strong he is physically. He's also a Godly man, who knows he is and doesn't have the need to tell every moving thing about it. He's strong enough in his faith people can see it without his pounding it into them. That's damn cool if you ask me.
  While I'm entertaining, Liz is throwing her Master's Implements, and doing a fine job of it. She needs better training than I could give her. She has massive amounts of raw natural talent, that if she can get cornered will push her right into a Master's World Championship in a couple of years. Maybe sooner. I can't put into words how proud I am of her. Not because she is throwing well, but because she stepped out of her comfort zone TO throw well. These are mostly people she'd never met. Five years ago, she'd never taken that chance. I'm so proud of her for taking it now. This is not an easy road for Liz, not by half. She is concerned about how she is going to get by without me. She's going to have a lot to adapt to, but she and the family will be fine. There are too many people watching out for them on my behalf. Something I never dreamed would happen. It's humbling.  So, back to the games!! Liz is hanging in with a solid  third place, throwing well. Sir Francis Brebner a Highland Game World Champion, historian, and play by play man par excellence. He talks to the Athletes as the games go on, asking them for their highlights, how they got inspired, what they like about the games and playing at McPherson. He got to Liz. He didn't know she was my wife and asked "What inspired you to take up the Highland Games? You're having a good day out here." She said "My husband", pointed at me, then excused herself with "I'm sorry, I can't go on".  She was classy in that moment, like I've always known she was. She had me leave almost right after the women finished. Nothing I could do could get her moving. So we left. Later, I get a text from the AD Terri Ventriss. Liz had taken third. She got a nice prize and a certificate to go with it. She missed the fun part of the Ladies Turning Cartwheels, a Mac tradition.
  I so overslept Sunday it was dopey. I was angry with myself for sleeping so long. The truth is, I was well on my way to completely done in, and the extra sleep was okay. We went by the grounds, they charged me to get in..again, dammit. While we were waiting for Terri Ventriss to gather up Liz's booty, we had a nice talk with Sir Francis. He explained to Liz he had no idea that she was my wife. Then went on recounting stories from his times in the Highland Games. I was so honored to have a few minutes of his time. I count that as a highlight on my trip. He's a great teller of tales, and a charm to listen to as he speaks. I'd tell you young guys, talk with him, learn what he has to say and make use of it. There are certain people that come your way only once. Sir Francis Brebner is one of them. Be sure you don't miss that boat.
   Terri and Larry Ventriss caught me before Liz and I could escape. They thanked me for what I've brought to the games, and what I continue to do to support Highland Games. I argue that I don't do a hell of a lot at all. They seem to see something I miss, giving of myself for one. Somehow, I guess I can't see the forest for the trees. I don't have a clue what I've done for any adulation at all. I'm thankful others do, and can make use of it as time goes on. As I've said. Charmed is what I am.
  I managed to escape Dave Glasgow and Gunner. I didn't want to leave with tears ruining my mascara. These games are as hard for me to leave behind as is Scarby, Arlington, Austin, San Antonio. It's not the games, really, as it is the people. I'm going to miss all of them something fierce. People look at me funny when I say things like that. "I'll miss this or that". "You're going to be dead, you can't miss things" Really? Are you positive? I'm not. I don't know shit about what goes on, other than the little bit I spied when I coded in Houston. Don't be so damn sure of your self, missing people naysayers.
  After we left McPherson, I conned Liz into taking a ride 100 miles too far east for sure, to see my Grandparents home in Reece, and my great Grandmother's home in Eureka. It was okay to go, although I wish I hadn't. They've let the home go. The property is nicely mown, that's a plus, but the old house is now storage. Such a shame. Beautiful floors in that house. Millions of memories as well. But, this is now, and much like myself, the old girl is fading away. Such is growth, in some cases. We found Granny Wilson's home. It's set back a bit, and it's every bit as tiny as I remember. Bennie Lorre's Service station is still standing, although it's a bar and grill now. Dad worked there once in a while. It was there that he and Bennie put a small blower on Ruth Green's 1963 Impala two door. Dad said that it would fly. Dell pitched a shit yard fit about it, saying she couldn't drive something like that because he couldn't. Dad called down the Father In Law thunder when he said "No, Dell, Ruth drives great, you can't drive for shit, never could". I believe that was taken poorly. So, we scooted south, headed toward Stillwater where we spent Sunday night. By then, I was so beaten down I fell asleep at 2000, woke up at 0900. Did it again, put us on the the damn haul ass or be home way late clock.
  I was angry with me again. I stay angry with me, because no one else will push me along like I will. Anyway, after a bit, we scoot along digging the scenery headed south. Smaller towns, lower speed limits, a bit more travel, but on the whole, entirely worth it. We the exception of needing another day. I asked Liz to keep eyes out for 1940 Ford PU's and mid 50's Chevy PU's. I saw two 1940 Fords, one was running. Between us, I think we found eight 53-58 Chevy trucks. Just for kicks, but that 40 Ford would make a crazy sleeper hot rod. Clean up the patina so stop the surface rust. Smooth it out, shoot 10 to 15 coats of clear coat on it so it won't rust any farther. 450 HP big block, update the frame (retro-mod. new frame with old body. best steering, COG, and braking for a high horsepower hot rod with better than perfect suspension) God what a ride that would be! We got passed going the opposite direction by a 64 Studebaker Avanti. What a great car!! It's a shame Studebaker was on it's heels when the developed that car. It was a great one.
  Land and homes for sale, all very affordable. Much more so that this pile of rocks we find around here for double the expense. Oil Boom that's hung on this long with no plan of shutting clear down, that'for dicinks a good thing, but it do make the land and homes expensive. As Liz and I are scooting south for home, I start running things through my half empty head. Liz needs something like an X-Ray Van. The kind of thing a radiologist would send out to these smaller communities with orders for diagnostic ex-rays of people in the towns, bring them back for reading, and set up again for follow up pictures. Would it work? Fucked if I know, but it was an idea. We see loads of very nice land, lots of for sale signs as we get closer to the cities. I don't believe she wants to live that close to a city again. I'm looking at someplace like Bartellsville for a place she can work and live comfy like. Besides, that trip between there and Tulsa is a pretty drive. I don't know, honestly, if she wants to live here after I'm gone and Tank graduates. I'm not so sure I could. Twenty one years is a while to live somewhere without having some qualms about maybe moving. I have had itchy feet for a few years, but like Liz, I wanted all the kids graduated. I was looking somewhere closer to Fort Worth. I like Ardmore OK. Such a damn shame that those plans took a piss at a rolling donut in 2 years.
  As we go along, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that there is no way we are getting to Midland just an hour or so before Liz must leave for work. Yep, Mad at Myself for dicking around and costing us time. I feed her at a nice little park, and while I'm cleaning up, I notice these public restrooms. I went in to use one, and found it to be clean and graffiti free. Now, in Midland, that won't happen. Why is that? Well, for all it's posturing as a wonderful conservative, no problem city, Midland has EVERY problem of a bigger city, graffiti included.. I've managed to talk Liz into resting so I can drive and she can get some much needed rest on the rest of the drive.
  I'll be damned if down the road, I'm hauling ass but there are construction barricades along the right side of the road. Those big concrete ones, they scare Liz a bit when she's awake. Well, she woke up and swore I was going to hit one. I wasn't, but a bit farther up the road I give up my keys to her. I made this deal, so I have to live with it, and it's not a bad rule. (1) IF I EVER SCARE YOU DRIVING, I WILL GIVE UP MY KEYS. I did that.
(2) IF I AM AT ANY TIME CONCERNED ABOUT MY CITY DRIVING, I GIVE UP MY EXTRA 'CITY ROADS' KEYS. Which I did this evening. After all the driving and crazy assed stuff I've done with a car and or pick up, I've turned mine in for peace of mind.  I wasn't worried about hitting someone else and causing them bodily damage. I was concerned about ME being hit and causing ME bodily harm, as well as anyone with me.

  This week of rest and healing from the Rest and Healing Trip has been very hard. I think I wasn't as clear as I need to be when telling people about it. Yeah, I'm certainly concerned about making the other three goals I've set for myself. What I did with this trip, and I proved it out, that when I get worn out, push myself too hard, or do any fifty different things I do over the top, the cancer is going to take advantage of it. I've gone so hard for so many hours, Baxter put on his running shoes and not much is slowing him down. This will go on until I rest enough to push back a little. I've tried, but it's not easy. It's less easy when you try far too soon to make it work for you. Monday I'll be better than today, and I'll see how that rolls for me. Should be okay, but we'll see.

  The bottom line? I would NOT trade anything for the time Liz and I had this weekend. NOT ONE SECOND!! All the extra pain, exhaustion, loss of weight but not appetite, it is all worth it. I saw so many old friends, new friends, and the entirety of the trip was filled with beautiful scenery. There was something that passed between Liz and I, even after 21 years, she got to see part of my past. Places where my live was shaped and formed, and what helped me become what I am, and who I am. All without a lot of talking. I saw it come through her though, and it was beautiful to behold. This was a trip that held a lot more for me than I thought originally it would. I was down on myself for all the lost time we had, all of that stupidly foolish on my part. I finally confided in Liz that I was awake long before she was, or slept through her waking and leaving for work time simply because I didn't want her to see me feeble. I'm terribly weak first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, it can last all day.

  The Goals!!! They are intact, so far. See Baby Chance/Stephanie, watch Liz throw in the Celtober Women's Team Challenge, do something nice for TCAA. The finest group of folks I know. T Day, X-Mas, Baby Sarah/Tim. It's a long time. Oh yeah! Since I added "Go To The Old Cable Tool Rig" Goal. That's mid month. I think I can swing that and save it. We'll see

  Thank each of you for the prayers, the support of myself and my family, and all you do along this trip of Terminal Velocity, right toward Critical Mass. Critical Mass is coming. Things will get to be tighter and harder to attain for me, but we'll do without, or rat hole some to tide us over. This is a game that's far from over for me.

 Go out, smell the clean air, suck in that sunrise and sunset as if you needed them for life, because you do. Nap time!

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