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June 17th, 2007, 05:50 PM
Journey into Sobriety

Hi everyone. Hope you are doing well, and staying on top on your selves.

Sunday evening here, and I now have three weeks of vacation ahead of me. I sorely need to make a journey out west, to clear some cobwebs out.

The clear and good feelings have persisted, and things look great. I eagerly anticipate the call of the road, a journey to find the new Neil.

You see, I have done this before. Taken long road trips out west. Only before, my usual mode of operation was to stop somewhere, hit a bar and get ripped with the locals. So I would drink myself silly, and sleep right up until check-out time before dragging my sorry hung-over carcass out of bed. Then back on the road to the next stop. Booze was a major reason to ?enjoy? the trip. The new bars, the new people to get drunk with, and so on. Booze was an essential element of the trip.

Now, I am well enough I think, to do this thing as a whole new person. I crossed the 18 months sober line this past Friday. I?ve gone a whole year and a half without a drink. I feel a new confidence in myself, and a feeling that there are new things waiting for me out there. No longer will the choice of hotel/motel to stay at be dictated by a bar on premises. It will have no weight at all in the choice of where to stay. No longer will I call the front desk to ask for another hour or so of checkout time, because I am too hung-over to get my act together.

My senses are clear in a way, that I have not known in years. Probably since I was a teenager. I am healthy, and strong, and should be able to make the journey with much less difficulty than in the past.

So anyway, I will try to update this thread as I go to new places. I?ll take my little road laptop, and log on when I can to update the journey. Where am I going? Don?t know for sure right now. It will be an adventure, as nothing is really planned. Just hitting the road for a couple of weeks to see more of what is new inside myself, rather than checking out the sights.

Be well.


June 17th, 2007, 06:06 PM
Hi Neil, you have done so well, 18 months you must be so proud.
Enjoy your journey and keep in touch.
Best wishes Paula.

June 17th, 2007, 06:17 PM
Sounds good Neil, and congrats on the 18 months, that must feel amazing!

June 17th, 2007, 08:40 PM
Cool plan. Keep us posted. I too have planned stays at hotels based upon the bar. Now not so much.

June 17th, 2007, 11:32 PM
Neil, I cannot wait to hear your tales from the road. I have missed you posting lately and want you to know how pivotal you have been in changing my thinking about drinking so please keep it coming.

June 18th, 2007, 01:01 AM
Neil, I am so proud for you to be taking this journey sober.

You have been such an incredible inspiration for so many of us.

I wish you happiness and safety on this journey.

I drove across the U.S. last summer from Seattle to Toronto with a via to Dallas to see my kids, I managed to put on 7200 miles on a 91 Honda. It all happened very well except for a new radiator in Dallas. Never missed a turn, and never got lost. I did this trip sober and also, never gave in to burgers. There are a lot of places out there where you can get salads, etc. and just good food.

I wish you well my friend.


June 18th, 2007, 09:20 AM
Happy holiday Neil, I am looking forward to hearing about your trip as you go along... Congratulations on reaching the 18 month mark, you sound so happy and positive now.. I am just over the 8 month mark and although it is much easier on a day to day basis then it was in the beginning some days I really hit the wall, but I will NEVER give in, this is one battle I am determined to WIN...

Have a good time, love, Louise xx

June 18th, 2007, 09:53 AM
Thanks for "taking" us with you. I can sure use the diversion from everyday work and life!
What's "our" first stop!
Can't wait to hear all about it...

:) Nancy

June 18th, 2007, 10:27 AM
Good for you, Neil! I,too, will be looking for road reports!!

Right now, I'm in the Green Mountains in Vermont--what a wonder it is to get away from the city...part of my own journey to re-discover myself after racking up well over a year of sobriety myself...

Happy Travels!!


June 18th, 2007, 11:00 AM
Hi Neil and Sujul...well done both !!and enjoy the break.

i love going away on my own for retreats for a few days/ i read a little, walk a lot, sit by the river..eat nice food/ If i am lucky i go some place where i get spiritual direction/talks.........it really gives me peace in my life. Then i have to go back to reality and show love in action. no good learning this new way of living and not holding onto the peace it brings.

LOVE IN ACTION has to be my motto...............Have a fun sober break

I,m not on the same level booze wise but i ham happy with how my journey is going at present..no boozing weekdays........heaven!!

Regards Cassy

June 18th, 2007, 12:03 PM
Have a wonderful trip, and WOW congratulations onf 18 months AF.....

June 18th, 2007, 08:32 PM
Have a great trip, Neil. I'll be looking forward to your travel reports! I hope the trip brings you all that you want and need.

Hi up there in the Green Mountains, Susan!

Hugs and Happy Trails,:l

June 18th, 2007, 08:32 PM
DAY 1- A slow start.

Hidy Ho! (anybody a fan of Mr. Hankie on South Park? ....disgusting...)

OK, so I got a late start. Didn't get on the road in earnest until 12 Noon. Even at that, I made just at 400 miles today. There were gentle rains for about a 1/3 of the mileage today. The worst part was getting through the St. Louis traffic.

So my first intended destination is my alma matter. University of Kansas at Lawrence, KS, where I done did grad-did-e-ate with a Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering way back in 1984. Actually my diploma says 1985, but I finished up the hours in December of ?84, so technically I?m an ?84 grad. I have not visited the university (as an esteemed alumnus?har, har.) in 10 years. Actually, anyone who has given them money as donations is an esteemed alumnus anyway. I would like to get some junk, that I could not afford ten years ago, much less when I was a student. You know, bric-a-brac souvenirs and such. I do donate the engineering departments a bit of money, and they put my name in the yearly honorarium listing, so that?s OK.

So I?m in Kingdom City, MO, and another two hours to Kansas City, and another hour to KU. I intend to take a ton of video tape on this journey with my 3CCD DV camcorder, so as to make some DVD?s. Also, I will try to post a few pics in the MWO pic section for your amusement.

Today was just getting started with some basic mileage.

I did note something today, that sort of broke my heart. I was eating in a Burger King for lunch, and I saw a young girl, maybe 19 or 20 struggling with a pre-employment exam or something. She was trying to work simple math problems to make change or something. It seemed as if the simplest problem took her 10 to 15 minutes to figure out, and she was visibly very uncomfortable taking that test. I wanted to take that test away from her, and work all the problems for her, but just an internal issue of mine I guess.

Road drinks are my standard issue these days. Glacier Freeze Gatorade for the win.

This is the first trip I have started on, where I didn?t slap my forehead down the road two hours, because I forgot to take something, or do something to secure the house for my vacation trip. My sober brain actually remembered all the details this time. My old drunken brain was very forgetful of things, and now days, I sometimes amaze myself by actually putting things in their right place.

Oh well. Back at you tomorrow with another report. Just getting started here. The truck operated flawlessly, but those gas prices are a bit of a stinger.


June 18th, 2007, 08:52 PM
Hey I live 20 miles from Lawrence, Kansas. My neice is getting her Ph.D. in computer engineering this year at KU.

Have fun in Lawrence, it's a great town.

June 19th, 2007, 04:12 AM
Thanks for the update Neil,
Hey, you do realise don't you that you are not alone on this trip, at the moment I think you have maybe six or seven of us sitting right there in the pasenger seat next to you and as the journey progresses I'm sure more will be joining.. Perhaps we should all chip in to help pay for the gas, let us know, Ha Ha..

Happy travelling, looking forward to the next chapter..

Love, Louise xxx

June 19th, 2007, 09:09 AM
I'm there too, I've even had my rabies shots for the journey haven't you Louise ?

Have a good one Neil

June 19th, 2007, 10:31 AM
http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/5/5_2_3.gif (http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb001_ZSYYYYYYJGUS)I'm going to Kansas City....Kansas City here I come!
They got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one!

I love road trips!

:) Nancy
PS..don't forget to eat ribs at Famous Dave's and pick up some bar-b-q sauce to take home!

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June 19th, 2007, 02:50 PM

You worked hard for this vacation and think of it you'll be able to remember everything!
Can't wait to hear more.

June 19th, 2007, 10:18 PM
Day 2- Ghosts and Angels

Hello Sports Fans!

I am exhausted as I write this. Legs are sore. I forgot how much walking I did back in the day when I used to go to school here in Lawrence, KS.

I had originally intended just to stay here for a few hours, but circumstances got the best of me. I went and did a little memory walk, checking out the various places I used to live while at KU. The dorms, the apartments, and such. I lived in 4 different places while here, and one of them is gone forever.

I went to the private dorm I used to live in, and they let me walk around on the floors, and I took a lot of pictures, trying to get a record of my past. Many things look so much smaller than I remember them. It?s not that I?m any bigger physically (well maybe a little in the girth), but I?ve been 6?2? since I was 25 years old.

No, my perception of the world has changed. For example, I could have sworn the dorm rooms were much bigger. They were TINY. That comes from me living in my big house out in the boondocks these days. My perception of what is large has just changed.

The kids on campus look like they are little kids to me. The girls and boys are BABIES, compared to my 51 year-old, booze and weather-beaten hide. They are so young.

Anyway, I went to the engineering building, and was lurking around. I saw a fellow come out of what used to be the wind-tunnel area, and I asked him if it was still operational. I told him who I was, when I graduated, and all the stuff. I proceeded to get a 5 hour tour, and run-down of the whole Aerospace Department. I met a full tenure professor, that graduated with his BS, 4 years AFTER ME. Good God, I am old. They even fired up the wind tunnel for me, so that I could reminisce, and see how things had changed a bit with the technology. That was very kind of them, to be nice to the visited alumnus like that.

My video camera kept getting the eyeball by many of the students and faculty. Seems like it was an object to covet. I could have only dreamed of such toys when I was a student.

I walked, and walked, and took mucho video and photos. A catalog of my past for later reference will be valuable as I continue my recovery and healing.

You see, some of my major drinking behavior (like a great many others), happened while at university. I saw a few of my old watering holes were still operational, and feeding a new generation the liver ripping poisons of inequity. Oh well, college is a time to be carefree, and when we are young, we can afford to be a little on the wild side I guess.

Many memories of the best time of my life came flooding back. But, at the end of day, I also remembered a lot of bad things that happened to me during drunks. Car crashes, girl friends lost, classes missed, injuries to body, soul, and mind. I wish I had been able to drink in moderation back then, but it has just never been in the cards for me to be able to do that under any conditions.

This is therapeutic, and cathartic in a lot of ways though. Sins of the past against myself can be forgiven. I have made it to the future. I asked a lot of folks on campus if they remembered anything about 1980 or so. Most just shook their head, and said, ?Wasn?t even born yet.? I saw at least one professor I remember. Holy cow, he was almost to the stage of needing a walker to get around.

I saw engraved on a set of concrete steps, carved in with a steel rod or something, some names, and the years, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002, and finally 2004. It looked old, and trodden on by millions of feet. You see, I remember when that set of steps was first poured, and was brand new back in 1980 or so. Now it looked well used by the years. I think I am like those steps in a way.

So I will stay here in Lawrence for the night, and rest my bones. Must have walked 10 miles today, up and down steps for quite a bit of it. This has been indeed a good day for me. Evil ghosts of the past, were hunted down, and killed. Angels from the past, were revisited to see what possessed the dreams of a young man in his prime. This is a way to grow. Sober is as sober does.

Back at you tomorrow.


June 19th, 2007, 10:32 PM
Neil, your day reminds me of when I went back to my college to visit after 15 years. College years were the best four carefree years of my life. I thought it had not been that long since I had graduated but it had been. Same as you, the kids looked like babies. My professors were so much older, and in fact one of them had just died and I would have sworn he was not that old. But it was still a thrill to go back there and relive those times in my head. Seriously, the best four years of my life. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Sounds like a ball.....with a clear head no less!

June 19th, 2007, 10:43 PM
Day 2-addendum

Oh yea, thanks everybody for your kind words of support.

Irish, Lushy, Spacie, Belle, Pebbles, Kali, Kathy, Hilary, Phil, Cassy, Susan,Paula, and Java. You are such great road companions. We need to get a Magical Mystery Bus someday, except without all the weird stuff huh?

One thing of note. I had all my supplement bottles on the counter, and just scooped them all into a nylon soft-side briefcase. Road food is just the pits. I need to find a better way. I think I will hit a grocery store for some fruits, and prepared deli salads and stuff. I miss my rabbit foods. I shifted my diet towards more whole grains and veggies. All this red meat and sodium is hard on the guts. Less about that later.

Eyelids slamming shut. ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz


June 20th, 2007, 07:26 AM
Hi Neil, thanks for the update, I think most of us are with you every step of the way.. I'm on holiday from work myself for the next two weeks, haven't planned to go away, but reading your travel journal I almost feel as if I am on a trip as well...

Isn't it funny, but when you go back, things, such as buildings and places never seem to be as big as you thought they were.. It seems a good metaphor for facing your fears, they never seem as bad as you thought either if only you turn round and face them..

I must say, that from reading your posts, your happiness and contentment seem to spring off the page, and I can see from some of your earlier writings from months ago how much you have changed and grown.. hope you don't mind me putting that but it was just an observation of mine..

It would be a good idea to print out all your posts from this trip and turn them into a journal then in years to come you could look back on them..

I wonder where you will be going to next, can't wait..

Safe journey,

Love, Louise xx

June 20th, 2007, 09:43 PM
DAY 3- Hard push to the West.

To my fellow road warriors:

Got a good bit of mileage today. 484 miles (807 km). It was that vast stretch of I-70 between Lawrence, KS and Limon, Colorado. So this is where I holed up for the night.

Two things in my favor, were that the time change happened at the KS-CO border, so actually I had another hour, and more daylight by my home clock. Also, the speed limit in Colorado is 75 mph (125 kph), so I made good distance and time at the end there.

Nothing really interesting to report today. Just burning up road, and trying to get up into the Rocky Mountains for tomorrow. I am only an hour or so from Denver from here, and that battle will be for tomorrow. North from Denver up into the big mountains. The key here is always trying to find that perfect trout stream. If I see it, I will know it. Any fly fisherman has to rely on senses of a type, not normally used in the manmade world. You have to know about the fish, and where they may be. Just an instinct from long ago, perhaps lost on modern man. This is a spiritual sense more than anything. He who would fish for trout in the high Rocky Mountains, must indeed get to know the higher powers of creation. Something found in the sounds of nature, or a gut feeling like no other. The high Rocky Mountain trout streams are my altar, church, and cathedral. Watch that movie, "A River Runs Through It", and it sort of touches on what I am trying to communicate here.

I did almost get destroyed by an 18 wheel truck today, but a long horn blast, and foot to the floor acceleration got me away from the situation with little sweat.

I am now more than a mile above sea level here in Limon. I think elevation is almost 5400 feet (1646 meters). By the way, I try to convert to metric for our international friends here. Also, my engineering training got me to thinking in both systems early on.

I sort of went berserk in Topeka, KS. I bought yet another GPS system. So now I have two GPS units. One is the trusty old Magellan Meridian Gold, but the backlight went out on it. I have had my eye on those 3D color automotive GPS for a while, so now I own a Magellan Maestro as well. The two units complement each other well. Each making up the other ones deficiencies. I just love to be able to tell where I’m at, and where everything is, at all times. Call me Mr. Techo-geek.

BTW, Irishlady, if my demeanor has changed a bit, well I have explanation. Just being away from my work drudgery, and all the stress and strain is a blessing for me. Also, out here in the American west, the population density thins out quite a bit, and less hassle trying to fight for ones own space. Things are easier going, and peaceful out here it seems compared to the east side of the Mississippi.

Heres a link to Limon, CO if you are interesting in seeing where I am at now.

Limon, Colorado (CO) Detailed Profile - relocation, real estate, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, news, sex offenders (http://www.city-data.com/city/Limon-Colorado.html)

Tomorrow, a push north to Wyoming.


June 20th, 2007, 10:00 PM
Neil, last year I drove from the Olympic Peninsula in WA state to Toronto via Dallas and back alone. It was absolutely liberating and exciting. In that whole trip I only ate 1 burger over 7 weeks and 7300 miles. At Denny's they make great salads and grilled tilapia. Wendy's does salads and sandwiches and of course the grocery stores have yogurt and all things healthy. I am so excited for you and look forward to more posts.

:l Hilary

June 20th, 2007, 10:03 PM
P.S. When we all accept the fact that we don't have a perfect past and that most people don't alcoholic or otherwise, we can accept ourselves much better.

Safe driving my friend.

June 21st, 2007, 09:49 AM
http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/12/12_7_27.gif (http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb001_ZSYYYYYYJGUS)Hey Neil!
I think I just passed you on the road! ......NOT!
It really sounds like your getting to your "place"... That is the place where we can take a deep breath and "know" what life is really about.

Love to hear more "fish" tales! :)


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June 21st, 2007, 11:31 AM
Hi Neil,

I clicked on that link, my God, that sky is awsome.. Can't wait till you get to the Rockies... Are you taking any photos that you can post in the gallery ??.. Oh, one more question, what is a GPS system ??..

Looking forward to tales from Wyoming, Safe motoring..

Love, Louise xxx

June 21st, 2007, 07:08 PM
Neil, I know exactly where you are! I graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Happy traveling...I wish I were riding shotgun right now. Enjoy the scenery, fresh air and all the wildlife

June 21st, 2007, 08:56 PM
DAY 4- No fish, almost to Montana

Well, I made my way to Sheridan, Wyoming. The @#$%*( hotel wireless does not reach my room. So I called the front desk, the place is sold out (like every other place here tonight), and he just said to move down to the lobby where the signal is good. Advertisement says wireless in every room. False advertising. So I found a Laundromat, where I get a signal. Needed to do the laundry anyway. Also, a short email to the hotel chain in question, with a few unhappy words.

On to the good stuff. My new GPS routed me around Denver via toll road, and I missed that mess altogether. Saved at least an hour. I did not get the call of the fish, and had an inner drive to go further north. So now I have a signal from Montana. It is just a few miles to the north of here.

Sheridan, WY is a very old, historic western type town. Very tourista. Summer time means hotels are full every night, and I barely got into the one I?m in now.

I saw several hundred pronghorn antelope between 30 and 60 miles south of Sheridan. A shrinking American species, like many others. I saw a magnificent buck antelope standing just a few yards from the road, and I wished I could have pulled over there, but it was a construction zone with cones and things.

So here I sit in a Laundromat in Sheridan, Wyoming watched the clothes go ?round.

I am thinking I may try to get as far north as Glacier Park in northern Montana. We?ll see. Almost to Canada. It is wilderness out here, compared to east of the Mississippi.
I have visions of heading back down through Idaho, and then Nevada. Stay tuned. Who knows where this will end?


June 21st, 2007, 08:58 PM
Oh Irishlady:

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It uses a system of satellites, put in place by the governement. If you have the little gadget, of which there are many types, you can tell exactly where you are on earth at any time.

You can put the signal in a computer, with road maps, or other things, and use it to navigate around with ease. You have to be a bit of a technical nerd to get the full enjoyment from it. Some of my best toys for a few years now.


June 21st, 2007, 09:29 PM
Hi Neil, hotels aren't all they are cracked up to be via their advertising are they?

I remember Sheridan, WY and a short time away I actually saw cowboys with chaps, etc. herding cows. Much fun.

Stay safe my friend.


June 21st, 2007, 09:35 PM
Lt. Columbo

Oh yea, just one more thing (like Lt. Columbo. Some of you older members may remember Peter Falk played that character, and always said before leaving, "Just one more thing.")

I will try to post pictures of a few things, when I get better situated here. I am on the mad dash, and probably on the return legs, can post those pics. I also took more video, and can extract a few digital stills from the digital video, but that takes a while to do right. I forgot to load the camera software on my little laptop, but I may be able to download the program since I have the keys stored on a PDA.

Montana here I come!


June 22nd, 2007, 11:31 AM
Neil, Northern Colorado is my stompin ground. I'm a Colorado native and grew up near Denver. I know what you mean about the Rocky Mountains bein an alter. Absolutely GODS country here as I will always honor it as that.

That ride of Montana up to Canada is absolutely beautiful as well. Like Precious - wish I was sittin shotgun with ya right now. Geeze....I could use the break and good conversation.

Keep on enjoying and thanks so much for sharin your road trip. : )

June 22nd, 2007, 07:12 PM
DAY 5- Revelation and the Big Sky.

Greetings LTA?s:

Well today made up for yesterdays difficulties?.in spades.

Let?s start last night. I had another nightmare, of a common type I have had off and on for the last several years. Most of the time, I forgot what the situation was, but it always revolved around a central theme. It is pretty deep down in the infantile brain, so I won?t go into the specifics. This time, I woke up with a start in the Wyoming hotel room about 3AM. I immediately remembered, and understood what my sub-conscious brain was doing this time. This time, I understood it. So, I did the EFT thing on it, and WOW. I hit another major hot button this time, but unlike other times, I fell into a very deep and peaceful sleep afterwards. Takes time, but the truth shall be revealed. The inner work takes time and patience.

If I have gotten anything out of this trip, that was well worth the price of admission. I needed to shake up the systems. Hang the rugs over the line, and beat the dust out of them, so to speak. A major psychological impediment is on the way to being removed. Still need more work, but the revelation was I finally understood the issue.

I made a hard charge up to Billings, MT, and on up to Great Falls, Montana. Have you ever been someplace where the energy feels right, and you know you belong there.? I sort of have that feeling now. Everything clicked.

I did stop at the Little Big Horn National Park, and finally saw the battlefield. I did not realize it was so close to the interstate, but there it was. Thanks to my fitness program, I walked up the hill to the main monument at a brisk pace, while others 10 and 20 years my junior were huffing and puffing, and taking it slow. YES!! The work has paid off. Took a bunch of photos and video.

Stopped in Billings, MT to get some supplies, and refuel. Always refuel every chance you get out here in hard core west of America. The Dakota truck is perfect for this territory. It made the charges up the elevations without even straining (Magnum V8).

So I made a reservation early this AM in Sheridan, at a different hotel chain. The Maestro GPS system made me take some strange turns, but lo and behold, it got me here fast and without error. This has been a good day for Neil.

Saw a very interesting wind turbine farm. Biggest wind turbines I have ever seen between Billings and Great Falls. Wild, open country, and I love it. I begin to hear the trout fish vibes coming from a little further west.

The hotel is first rate. Excellent wireless, and the pool and spa are just a short few steps from my room downstairs. I just did a triple pool plunge, with 5 minute spa warm ups between plunges. Excellent! This is great.

Great Falls, MT seems to be a progressive place, unlike some of the places I passed through, so it agrees with me all the more. Many things went so very well for me today, and I would write a thousand more words just to go over them, but I will leave it at this.

Tomorrow, I will drive to the Glacier National Park, and see the disappearing glaciers. They are almost gone folks. They say global warming is melting them fast, so if you want to see the last glaciers in the lower 48 states, better hurry. I read that the ones in Alaska are going fast too.

Hope to see moose, elk, or bear somewhere tomorrow. I have not seen one bison on this trip so far, but maybe tomorrow. By the way, my totem animals, (for those into such things), are definitely the dolphin and the penguin. My Mom?s are the bear and the tortoise. Do you have totem animals? (Some of you may know, and some others may have no idea of what I?m talking about!!). You have to have a little native American in you to know this thing I think.

Tomorrow: Coeur d?Alene, Idaho


June 22nd, 2007, 09:01 PM
Neil, I am so with you on this trip. I can imagine every mile you are driving and love it that you want to share it with us. If you get a chance on the way back, Please see Mount Rushmore. It is such a wonderful monument and architectural marvel.


Be safe my friend.

June 22nd, 2007, 09:10 PM
I have family in Couer'd'alene and spent many a summer there. Small town but the lake is beautiful!!! Keep us posted!

June 22nd, 2007, 10:31 PM
Hi Neil
I'm enthralled with all the details of your trip! It's fascinating for me to hear about all of these places I've never heard of over the other side of the world. I looked up the website that you posted and ended up drooling over the beautiful houses for sale in the Colerado area. I find it astounding that so many bathrooms are required in one house!
You write beautifully and your openess regarding your personal journey is very inspiring. I have every admiration for you. Keep safe and I look forward to hearing more soon.:)

June 23rd, 2007, 04:29 AM
Neil, what can I say, I feel like one of those trout, well and truly hooked... This sounds as if it is not just a vacation journey for you but also one of personal discovery and I wish you well..

Have you ever thought of giving up the day job and becoming a travel writer, you'd never starve thats for sure..

Drive safely and keep us posted..

Louise xxx

June 23rd, 2007, 10:57 AM
Hi Neil, I got to thinkin. Without lookin back in your posts as I am pressed for time. (I work weekends) I think it was your birthday yesterday. No wonder you had such a nice day. Hope I have this right cuz I'm gonna post on general discussion. And gonna look back in your posts later. Much how I live my life. Leap.....and the net will appear!
: )

June 23rd, 2007, 09:41 PM
DAY 6-Change of Plan, and God's country

Hello yonder there:

Instead of going to Coeur d?Alene, I headed south a ways. Reason? Well, I found out that the ?Going to the Sun Highway? in Glacier National Park was closed. The winter was hard there, and avalanches wiped out sections of the road. Retaining walls were breached as well it seems. They are patching it up, but won?t be ready till next month. They also talked about doing a major rebuild on that road as well. So, if I can?t drive the world famous highway, then I will wait until it gets fixed. Maybe I can catch it before the big glaciers melt too much more. It is astounding the amount that has melted in just the last 50 years (my lifetime).

So, I headed south to Pocatello, Idaho. Very glad I did that, as the drive on I-15 was amazing scenery. The Missouri and Boulder rivers cut through some incredible mountains, and it was very satisfying. Another thing, was the hotels at Coeur d?Alene were pretty high priced. I don?t mind paying a premium price for a premium room if that is what I want, but when it gets premium price for moderate hotels I flinch. Just the penny pincher in me. So I found this current room, excellent for median price, which is OK. That situation in Sheridan, Wyoming is still leaving a bit of a bad taste, and the hotel chain has not responded to my email complaint yet. Doubt if they will.

So, I ran the video camera while I was driving when I could find a straight stretch. Not many of those on that drive, even on the Interstate. I saw one place that was out of some fairy tale story just south of Great Falls, shear granite cliffs plunging into a crystal clear river, and gigantic evergreens everywhere.

Stopped in Butte, Montana to check it out. I was there in 1991 I think, and it has grown quite a bit. They have a big mountain at Butte full of copper, silver, and gold ore. It was half gone in 1991, and now it seems almost mined into a flat spot. I don?t think there were but a dozen hotels there in 1991, now there are 3 times that many I think.

So what is on my mind now? I made reservations in northern Nevada, and now I think Yosemite National Park may be on the plate here. I must manage my time here appropriately, as I don?t want to end up making excessive hour drives in a mad dash back home. A little planning on the computer helps a bunch.

Pocatello is a neat and clean small town in southern Idaho. I saw the massive potato fields being irrigated north of here at Idaho Falls. Also saw the most unpleasant trigger of my life I think. It was a very large quadruple grain elevator, which had a gigantic Budweiser logo and the Kleisdales pulling the wagon on the side. Must have been a 100-foot (over 30 meters) high. They really know how to hurt a guy.

Beautiful scenic drive today.

Tomorrow, Nevada and stop for a little ?adult recreation" maybe. Don?t ask, please.


jane rees
June 24th, 2007, 12:08 AM
hi Neil

sure am looking forward to hearing about your road trip! sounds like something out of a movie !!! Please keep us posted,I desperately need the diversion.
Good to find you Irish lady...wondered where you had gone? I think 8 months is deserving of a posting on the longterm abstinence board.Well done to you. XX
I am 40 something days and my life has become confusing with the myriad of changes...more of that when I am in a more positive frame of mind.
Meanwhile, i'm on my holidays with Neil :H
Jane x

June 24th, 2007, 10:38 AM
http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_19_2.gif (http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb001_ZSYYYYYYJGUS)Oh ok............we won't ask.....

http://www.smileycentral.com/sig.jsp?pc=ZSzeb098&pp=ZSYYYYYYJGUS (http://smiley.smileycentral.com/download/index.jhtml?partner=ZSzeb098_ZSYYYYYYJGUS&utm_id=7926)

June 24th, 2007, 12:05 PM
Boy, a lot has happened since I last checked this thread. Thanks again for posting it, Neil. I think you already have a magical mystery bus, and we're all on it.

Your description of the scenery, and espec. your speaking of your inner journey as well, is very engaging. And no, I won't ask either (but I am guessing:H ).

Travel on!


June 24th, 2007, 04:10 PM
Well I'd like to ask, but, I'll just use my imagination... The way you are describing this trip Neil all I can see in my minds eye are crystal clear rivers, tall mountains and forests, beautiful..

Jane, thank you for your kind words and big congratulations to you on 40 days AF, I know what it takes to get there..

Louise xxx

June 24th, 2007, 07:53 PM
Adult Recreation is legal in Nevada. But I am not asking about it either. Don't want to know.

June 24th, 2007, 10:23 PM
DAY 7-Desert Dreams on the Sabbath....

Hello and how are you?

Todays trek took me from Idaho, into the Nevada scrub desert. On the way from Pocatello, to Twin Falls, a bit of scenery was enjoyed. At the Twin Falls turn onto the serious desert road, I crossed the Snake River. An awesome sight for sure. The Snake river cuts its wall straight down a 1000 feet (over 300 meters) at the Hansen Bridge. I stopped and took mucho video and pictures. What a sight it was.

The drive straight down south to the Nevada border, was weird. I got into a strange hypnotic state, where my body was not me anymore, but a remote controlled vessel that I was inhabiting. A semi-Zen state, that lasted for maybe a half hour or better. The energy of the desert always is strange. I was jarred from my weird meditative state by an enormous Nevada dust devil. Mini tornados they are. It slammed my truck, and shook me out of my reverie.

Onto I-80 which rips through the Nevada mountain ranges, I passed through a tunnel of perhaps a half mile (almost 1 kilometer) that was cut straight through a rock mountain. It zapped my senses, but upon exiting I only had one word. COOL!!!

The mountain ranges are spread out further, and there is a definite energy from the earth here that is strong. Not so many bugs on the windshield in the desert, as life has a hard time out here without the water. Exact opposite of my humin Tennessee jungle environs.

Frequent gas stops, as the desert towns are few and far between. I finally arrived in Winnemucca, Nevada. A small northern Nevada town, jammed with casinos of course. I may go down to the casino floor after bit, and play a few rounds of video poker, but gambling is really not my thing.

As I write this, I am more relaxed than I have been since I started my course of sobriety over 18 months ago. Another psychological impediment has been removed from my boozed out, but healing brain. Here goes?.

You all wanted to know what the ?adult entertainment? was? Well, Winnemucca is home to about 4 legal brothels. I finally did it sober. I always wondered if I could do the deed completely sober and healthy. Lets just say, I was pleasantly surprised at the results of my physical fitness program. So yes, I am relaxed, and satisfied in the extreme. A nice young lady of about 30 years old was my companion for the last hour or so. If you want more details, move it to PM, and I will try to answer your questions within reason.

So my journey continues. Tomorrow, I have made reservations in Bishop, CA. It?s a short drive to Yosemite National Park. I have never seen that park, only in pictures, and it looks like an incredible place on this planet. From there, I do not know. Back east I suspect.

Oh yea, the doggies are AOK. I called my boss this morning, and all is right with hounds. I do miss them though, but it will be a joyous reunion for sure.

Tomorrow: Goin? to California.


June 25th, 2007, 05:40 AM

You are amazing ! what a fantastic journey you are on, in both senses of the word and what honesty. It must be a relief to feel like another bug has been removed from the system !

I am riveted, what will the next installment bring ?
safe driving

June 25th, 2007, 10:25 AM
Fire Update

As many of you have seen on the news, the south Lake Tahoe area is burning out of control. The fire started yesterday, and I have been keeping tabs on this development.

My route today, which I computed last night, will take Route 95 south from I-80. This should leave me well away from any evacuation traffic, as I won't be going as far west as Reno.

So far no injuries reported, but several people have lost their homes and property to this out-of-control fire.

I measure a 65 mile (100 kilometer) buffer between my route, and the trouble.

Just wanted to let you know that my plans have taken this into account.


June 25th, 2007, 12:10 PM
Your trip sounds so amazing. What a terrific adventure for you. You mentioned you went through Twin Falls Idaho. That is my stomping grounds from High School.... We lived on the canyon rim, as the bottom of the canyon is the country club. It pretty dangerous road for intoxicated country clubbers. Yes, the beauty of the desert. I know Winnecuma well from the days my father owned land there. Safe travels....

jane rees
June 25th, 2007, 07:55 PM
Ahh Neil
how wonderful it all sounds and so far removed from my surburban lifestyle. I am captivated ( and i was definitely gonna ask if you hadn't told!).
I've gotta get to those Rocky Mountains before i die...

June 25th, 2007, 08:24 PM
DAY 8- Sneaking into California, via the Oasis.

Greetings dear readers of my American odyssey:

Woke up at the crack of dawn today, which was 5:30 AM Pacific time I think. So now I have two hours ahead of my home time, which would have been 7:30 AM. Ahead, behind two hours, however you choose to look at it I guess.

A fast start from Winnemucca down I-80, where I head straight south on route 95.

I never thought much about an oasis. You know, the place in the desert where there is water and green things in the middle of the scrub. Well, Fallon, Nevada is a true oasis I think. As I headed south, I saw patches of alkali salts, and thought, alkali desert where nothing at all will grow. Then rising up, I saw trees and things from the desert floor. It was Fallon. I would guess about a 10 mile diameter circular patch of life. I must do the Google Earth thing, and see what it looks like from space.

Then a surprise. A discovery of a secret place, that never seems to get much press. That?s why it?s a secret I guess. The Walker Lake State Recreational area. It was a good sized lake, in the middle of all this desert. I only saw one boat on the entire thing, and very few camper vehicles. There were hundreds of places, and many facilities there for vacation travels, but I would say less than 2% of them were filled. Amazing, all that state money to build all that infrastructure, and hardly any users. It was beautiful, as Nevada mountains rose from all sides of the lake. I took several photos and video at a strategic location, and marked the location via GPS.

Then further on, a massive complex of buildings down on the desert floor a short drive from the Walker Lake. I thought to myself, this had to be a military installation. Indeed it was. It was the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot. Good Lord, it was big. Out in the middle of this barren area, and well hidden from the enemy I guess, but more than that, well defensible. It?s on the maps, but I just never paid any attention. Maybe that?s the way they want it?

Further on, I stopped in Mina, NV for one more visit to a ?recreational? facility. I already covered that yesterday. The inner beast prevails sometimes.

Turning onto an almost deserted side road Route 360, where I must have had 4 or 5 miles (7 to 8 kilometers) of road all to myself. It was a hard climb up Route 360 to Montgomery Pass by the Boundary Peak. I see why it was not so much used, but it was a new, excellent road. I scraped just past the 7000 foot (2134 meters) high mark, blasting by a couple of trucks bogged down to a snails pace trying to clear the pass. I love the Dakota truck. It really was made for this country. Full air conditioning on, never bogged down, never even tried to overheat. I just wish it got a hair better fuel economy, but trade offs must be made. I would have been miserable on this drive in the Saturn, even though it gets twice the mileage. Best a vacation be a comfortable and relaxing time.

The agricultural check station at the California border was closed solid. So I snuck into California without so much as a trace. I think they know that the route 360 road is a tough one, and figure it?s not worth it to keep the ag check station open there.

So now, I?m in Bishop, California. A small town, about 1 ? hours south of Yosemite. I got an incredible AARP rate at a hotel here, and will lodge for two nights. It has incredible views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I am definitely in California, as the younger residents all have that ?Jeff Spiccoli whatever attitude? it seems. Tomorrow will be the great Yosemite Park exploration. I need some rest pretty bad as well.
Nevada wore this guy out in more ways than one.

Tomorrow: Yosemite National Park


June 25th, 2007, 09:11 PM
Hi Neil, it's really glad to keep reading your travelogue day by day. It's really quite entertaining, and it sounds like you are having a wonderful time. We are all getting such vicarious pleasure from your writing, and it is always good to hear from you.

I think I might go into mourning when you get home!

Oh, and I'm sure glad to hear that your pickle is still crisp;) !

Happy trails,

June 25th, 2007, 10:19 PM

Actually, now that you mention it...

When I got unpickled, my pickle got crisp again. When I was pickled, then I had a mushy soft pickle. :H

All the more reason for us guys in our middle years to leave the sauce alone you know.

Cigarettes were no good either. Probably a major reason for certain blue pill prescriptions these days.



June 26th, 2007, 04:03 AM
Oh Neil, you crack me up, your " adult entertainment " was what I had imagined it to be, glad you enjoyed it so much that you ended up doing it twice..

This is certainly one hell of a trip, and, like Kathy, I too will be sad when you get home, but, as they say, all good things come to an end, still haven't figured out who THEY are yet but they do say a lot of things..

Enjoy Yosemite, looking forward to that one..

Be safe, Love, Louise xx

June 26th, 2007, 01:49 PM
Headed out to check on my cucumbers!

Don't have any idea what made me think of them?:confused:


June 26th, 2007, 11:26 PM
DAY 9- Yosemite National Park...

Hi ladies and gents:



There are no words. The hour of digital video, and well over a hundreds of photos I took may only barely touch the soul energizing power of this place. You just have to be here.

Words cannot even hope to describe what can be experienced with eyes, ears, smell, and touch. Yosemite engages all senses.

I drove all the way into the Yosemite valley to see the famous El Capitan, and the water falls. It makes you feel like an ant crawling the face of this earth. Less than an ant.

My GPS logs just about overloaded with data points. The twists and turns, and ups and downs of the road taxed the data storage in my Magellan Meridian device. It was trying to keep up with wild changes of direction side to side and up and down. I lost the satellites a few times because of the rock cliffs.

I just cannot describe the place. It is a sensory overload that fills your eyes and ears with too much information as well. It is trees, streams, rocks, mountains, plants, wildlife, and more in a massive assault of beauty on your very soul. Pictures just cannot do it. Video could not do it. All I can say is, you just have to see it with your own eyes. Wild sculpture of Gods own inspired hands is perhaps the best words I can come up with.

You just feel the place as much as you see and hear it. It soaks into your deepest gut, and drives in energy of love and beauty. I should have seen this place earlier in my life I think, but today was incredible enough.

This is the pure reason to be sober I think. This was living in the most blessed state you can be in. I was inspired, and awed, and overwhelmed. This is the reason to be sober.

That?s all I have to say about that?..

Tomorrow: Somewhere in Arizona-maybe.


June 26th, 2007, 11:42 PM
Neil, thank you for sharing this wonderful trip with all of us. I had many of the same feelings when I did the trip last summer. Words just don't explain the sights, sounds and the ability to enjoy all of it.

Drive carefully, my friend.


June 26th, 2007, 11:59 PM
Some Photos

OK, I finally downloaded a select few photos from todays journey.

I had to reduce the quality and color of course to get on MWO photo server, and it really cuts down the impact, but you get the idea.

Just click on my gallery number up there in the upper right hand corner of my post to see so far. There will be more, as I sort and process. These were just off my Nikon camera. I took several hundred with the Panasonic still camera on the digital video. I also can extract 640 by 480 stills from the digital video, but that will have to wait until I get home on the desktop computer with the video processing software on it.

Enjoy, but again, these photos just cannot capture what I saw today.


June 27th, 2007, 12:04 AM
Neil, you are a wonderful photographer. These pics are amazing. Thank you.

June 27th, 2007, 09:49 AM
America The Beautiful!

Thanks for the small peek!:) Nancy

America, the Beautiful
By Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain.
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.
O Beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years.
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

June 27th, 2007, 09:54 AM
Just an FYI!
America, the Beautiful

"America the Beautiful"was written by the professor, poet, and writer, Katharine Lee Bates. Bates wrote the song in 1893 while on a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado. When she got to the top of Pike’s Peak, she said, "All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse". The view was so beautiful that it inspired her to write the song that is considered by some to be the country’s unofficial national anthem.
"America the Beautiful" first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. Within a few months, it was set to music by Silas G. Pratt. Bates revised the song in 1904, after receiving many requests to use the song in publications and special services. An additional change was made to the wording of the third verse in 1913, to give us the version we know today.

For two years after "America the Beautiful"was written it was sung to just about any popular or folk tune that would fit with the lyrics. "Auld Lang Syne" was the most popular of these tunes. In 1926, the National Federation of Music Clubs had a contest to put the poem to music. None of the entries seemed to fit the poem. Today, "America the Beautiful" is sung to Samuel A. Ward’s "Materna". Before her death in 1929, Ms. Bates never indicated publicly which music she liked best.
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/images/buttons/scroll.gif (http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/americathebeautiful_words.html)

This audio version of "America the Beautiful" was obtained from the United States Air Force (USAF) Heritage of America Band. Visit the USAF Heritage of America Band's official Web site (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=exitkids.html&to=http://www.heritageofamericaband.acc.af.mil/&alias=USAF+Heritage+of+America+Band&log=linklog) for more patriotic songs.

A service of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (http://www.gpo.gov/index.html).

Last updated: February 1, 2007
http://bensguide.gpo.gov/images/buttons/help.gif (http://bensguide.gpo.gov/support/index.html)http://bensguide.gpo.gov/images/buttons/home.gif (http://bensguide.gpo.gov/index.html)http://bensguide.gpo.gov/images/buttons/symbols_bck.jpg (http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/index.html)Page Name: Ben's Guide (3-5): Songs and Oaths -- America the Beautiful (http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/symbols/americathebeautiful.html)

June 27th, 2007, 06:04 PM
Neil, what can I say?? That certainly is Gods own country.. Those photos are fantastic, I can't begin to imagine what is was like to actually be there....

June 27th, 2007, 08:30 PM
DAY 10- Cool Sierra to Mojave Heat

Howdy and how are y?all?

I haven?t downloaded my GPS logs yet, but I think today was the greatest altitude change in any one days drive. I started this cool AM in Bishop, CA and headed straight south on Route 395. Went right by Mt. Whitney, the tallest point in California. The Sierra Nevada mountains have their own particular charm and power, as compared to the Rockies. A few snow caps in the mountain crevices are still left.

My fingernails were driving me crazy, and my lips were chapped from the super-dry air of the Yosemite area. I stopped in a Lone Pine, CA drug store to get the nail clippers and Chap Stick. I was in a bizarre episode of some surrealistic TV show. I don?t belong here in California, and never will. These small southern California towns are forgotten it seems, as LA and the idiocy of the Paris Hilton show steals it all away it seems. I am putting great distance between that place and myself now, but at one point in today?s journey, a slight twist of the steering wheel, and I would have been in that morass already. I have been to LA too many times in my life already.

It is time to head back east now. A jog back on highway 58, and Barstow pops from the desert. I-40, my old friend and I are together again. Gas is outrageously high priced, with the little accordion bellows on the pump nozzles to ?catch? the horrible vapors. I descend to 500 foot (150 meters) or so in the Mojave Desert. My home in Tennessee is higher altitude than that.

I am starving, and need a full dinner. Needles, CA is it, and a Denny?s restaurant beckons. I stop, and exit the truck. A sledgehammer of heat hits me in the face. It is over 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). This is the hottest part of the US right now, as revealed by a quick check of the newspaper. The waitress is a very nice older lady, and I am the only customer taking a very late lunch. A large tip is the order of the day.

I write this from a great little hotel room in Kingman, Arizona. Amazingly enough, the manager is from my Tennessee town, and used to work a hotel near I-40 there. That hotel had a bar, infamous for being a pickup place for straight folks in their 40?s and 50?s. I knew it well, and told him. He knew as well the reputation, and a slight grin ensued. I also mentioned that was only during my drinking days, and I no longer indulged. The manager gave me the best room in the entire hotel I think, as the parking, the view, the amenities are all the best it has to offer. I just made the reservation by computer, and took my chances as usual with only the Internet information.

Today?s journey was just a blast from high to low. From cool to hot. This is Arizona, and my neck hurts a bit. A little Icy Hot muscle rub, and a very late dinner tonight, and all will be OK.

Tomorrow: New Mexico? Colorado? The fish waits to be caught?.

June 28th, 2007, 08:16 PM
a tip

Hi Neil, I have been following your journey vicariously. On the lips, I never leave home without a tube of carmex, little yellow tube with a red top, in any walgreens or walmart by the checkouts. You WILL thank me! LOL enjoy and I am very jealous, love road trips! Suz

June 28th, 2007, 10:03 PM
DAY 11- A rotten apple in the barrel....


Bad Hair Day!!

Bad Travel Day!!!

Late start out of Kingman, AZ.

Traffic jam on I-40, traffic was at a complete standstill, and I had to go around in Flagstaff. Much hassle and headache. All the drivers seemed to have me targeted.

High winds on I-40, constant fight to keep control.

Highway patrolman pulled out fast when I whizzed by at only 3 mph above speed limit, and tailed me for 5 miles before letting me go on.

Trucks hogging both lanes on the steep grades uphill. Truck trailers swerving all over, as well as other trailers.

I passed by Grand Canyon, and Meteor Crater, as I have seen them both twice. Last time was over 2 years ago when I drove Mom and Dad out there for their 50th anniversary.

Some a**hole in a Mercedes Benz straddles the middle lane at 80 mph, and nearly clips me.

I went to do laundry and wash the truck (it was a terrible mess) in Gallup, New Mexico, and I lost my $%^&&@# hotel key during that. The washers and dryers only worked half the time in the public laundry, and the car wash left streaks all over my truck.

Hotel manager charged me for the lost key, and I don?t dare go back out to look for it. It is a special type key, and not one of those credit card things. I think it best for me to just get in the bed, pull the covers over my head, and leave this day behind.

And that?s only the half of it!!!!! Shitty travel day. Lets write this one off the books.
Tomorrow: Must go to southern Colorado, and at least try to catch a fish.


P.S. Suzanna thanks for the tip. The medicated chapstick did the trick, and it is a bit more humid here.

June 28th, 2007, 10:06 PM

Even your bad day makes for a wonderful read. Thank you also for your pics.

June 28th, 2007, 10:30 PM
Day 11 -addendum

BTW- As I was sitting in the crappy laundry, I spied a cooler full of cold beer.

I cannot tell you just how much I wanted to buy a case of cold ones right then and there, and just drink the day off the books. I mean I felt it rise in me from the days hassle.

Of course, I did not, as that would have fixed nothing. So I got my little yogurt cups, bananas, and peaches I saved in my cooler, and gobbled them down in the hotel room just now. That was dinner for today. I sort of went nuts in a super Wal-Mart last night, and bought a bunch of health food for myself in the deli. Salads, fruits, fresh wheat bread, and some turkey slices because I needed my good stuff.

But I tell you, that cold beer in that cooler just about ripped me off my butt with its tempting draw. God did it look so ever good.

I will deal with life and the difficulties without that stuff. I figured things had gone so well the last 10 days, that I was due for a clinker.


June 29th, 2007, 03:57 AM
Aw Neil, everything was going just hunkey dorey for you then WHAM.. You know, we all need a day like you just had as a test, pass the test and come out the stronger, I bet that cooler full of beer was one of the toughies though.. Well if I were your teacher then I would mark you 100% on your paper and give you an A+.. At least all the horrible and irritating things happened in the one day, hopefully tomorrow will be better..

Happy motoring,
Love,Louise xx

June 29th, 2007, 09:48 AM
Sorry you had a bad day yesterday and lost your key in Gallup. I would say welcome to New Mexico and give you suggestions but sounds like our winds have gotten to you! If you change your mind, and especially if you decide you want a beautiful place to camp, pm me. Southern Colorado is beautiful. I don't know if you are interested in ancient Indian ruins, but if so Mesa Verde is wonderful. My family used to go to the hot spring pool in Glenwood Springs every summer for a break while on our camping trips but I haven't been there for years. I grew up in Colorado and am biased but love the entire state. Hope you find some good fishing.

June 29th, 2007, 10:37 AM
Some comments.


Thanks for the good grade on my "term paper". It is just a reminder that that after 35 years of drinking, I would be just kidding myself to think the psychological cravings would just magically dissappear after only 1 1/2 years of abstinence. But, I knew this already. I mentioned this for the benefit of our long term members, who may still struggle after months and months. I can empathize. We must truly re-engineer and overhaul our entire self-image. Those words are easy to type, but in practice, it takes all the effort of self-love a human being can muster.

Louise (not the Irishlady Louise):

I have made reservations for two days at Pagosa Springs. My "secret" fishing spot, which has been known for 20 years to me now is on the east fork of the San Juan River to the northeast of that town. It be south of Wolf Creek Pass, in pretty much wilderness area.

If no luck there, I can ask at the local fly fishing shops where the luck is. I have my flies, my fly tying kit, and my topo maps. Wish me luck. The wild rainbow trout resides at the higher altitudes, and is small, but most satisfying to catch. I am catch and release fisherman by the way.


June 29th, 2007, 11:00 PM
DAY 12: Lost Wilderness, Rock Spires, and Suicide Prairie Dogs...

Hello my cyberspace friends:

Today was a mixed bag for sure.I was very glad to get out of Gallup, and on the road straight north out. I got a phone call on the cellular voice mail, but had no signal. I figured it was about a reservation in Pagosa Springs I made yesterday via computer. More on that later.

The first thing was a climb through New Mexico desert, where I saw of all things, the suicide prairie dogs. Yep. You read right. Those familiar with the American southwest know what prairie dogs are. Little rodent creatures, very cute, that lives in large towns of burrowed holes. I saw several standing on their hind legs, about a yard (meter) from the pavement edge, or actually on the road shoulder. I saw them, and would whoosh by at speed, only clearing the prairie dog by about the same distance. They would not even budge a muscle. Any other animal would scurry back off the road like lightning. Not these guys, and there were several like that, to boot. Suicidal prairie dogs.

Then a new sight met my eyes as I approached the Colorado border. Massive rocks jutting from the earth, that had wild shapes. The biggest up there was called “Ship Rock”, as it sort of looks like a 500 foot (150 meters) tall ship. One rock captivated me, and I drove about a half mile (almost kilometer) off road to take video and pictures. It was different from every angle, with wild spires, and crevices. I will post a picture of that soon. This was new, as I had never traveled this road before. Most impressive, and those rocks always have earth energy and power in them. Some just see a big rock, but I see power to last millions of years beyond my puny bodies term of function.

The Rocky Mountains loomed in the distance, as I turned onto Colorado 160 a bit east of Durango. I got a phone signal finally, and pulled off the road (I always pull off and stop to do cell phone stuff if I am driving) to return the message. My reservation at one particular lodge close to my secret fishing spot was not accepted. They said it was all sold out and no chance of getting in. I said, OK, and I will make other arrangements. More about this later.

I had another reservation at a chain hotel on the west side of Pagosa Springs, and arrived in good order. The very nice lady at the desk was Russian I think. I asked her if I could extend my stay to two nights there, and she said no problem. Now this place is sold out for the night as well.

Well, continuing on, I decided to quickly make a scouting run on my old secret fishing spot. While on the way, I passed the lodge where I had the second reservation, and the lit sign clearly said “VACANCY”. I was about to call the reservation cretin back, and do some butt chewing, but I thought “They probably have some asinine reason”. I stayed at that lodge the last time I was here, in 1995 I think, maybe 1994.

So I continue on up into the wilderness area, and I have a hard time remembering where the turn off is. Mountain storm clouds are gathering, and lightning is striking the peaks. A little rain falls, and messes up my clean truck, since the road is dirt and gravel. Well, a lot has changed in 12 years. My secret place is no longer secret. Every place on up into the remote area has an RV, or camper, or tent, or monster diesel motor home parked in every nook and cranny. CRAP!! My favorite spot from years ago, is clogged with several RV’s, and trailers with 4-wheel ATV motorcycles. CRAP!! My place is ruined!I drive as far as I can up to the end of the road, and see one ATV parked there, and nobody in sight. I decide what the hell, and park my truck, and assemble my gear. I have not fly fished here in 12 years, and I’m probably very rusty. I need to “practice” and get my stuff in order.

Fly-fishing is an art, with much paraphernalia to attend to. I have a new set of waders, and new 4-piece fly rod, reel, and some other new stuff as yet untried. It takes me 30 minutes to get it all together, and I venture out into the stream water. Jeepers, I am out of practice and rusty. 30 minutes of fumbling like a newbie, and the old rhythms come back. I forgot half my fly fish knots, but amazingly that comes back as well. The main problem, is that my eyes are not nearly as good as they were 12 years ago, and there is much difficulty seeing what I am doing. I get it together, and then a young man comes marching out of the brush, and stops. I ask him if he had any luck, and he said that he had fished for several hours, and caught one. This is not encouraging. I told the fellow, who was about mid-20’s or so, about my years here in the past, and bountiful catch’s I had back in 1990 when the place was hardly known. I lamented, and the young fellow just says, “Yea, everything changes all the time.” He shows me the fly he used that finally caught his fish, which was a gray wet nymph. I am determined to use dry flies. The river is teeming with bugs like I never knew. The fish are well fed obviously, and will be picky eaters. Too many people catching to few fish probably as well. The magic and mystique destroyed. So he leaves, and wishes me luck.

Fly fisherman have a code I think, and I liked that fellow. The art of the fly fisherman enjoinders a deep spiritual awareness, not found in any man-made church. This is what I came for anyway, but not with these yokels jammed bumper to bumper in their motor homes and campers. So it was test run on the gear, get my casting arm back into time, and get the kinks worked out of the systems.

It gets dark, and I pack up my gear, and even more campers and motor homes plod up the remote road. It is no longer a wilderness because of them. Just too many people know about this place now, and I have lost something forever. I get very depressed on the drive back down the mountain, and wonder if this will be the fate of the world.

On the drive back into town, the lit sign at the lodge now reads "NO VACANCY". It's just as well. That place has gone neon and glitter as well it appears. It used to be a real mountain lodge.

A thin plastic coat of superficial banality has settled on Pagosa Springs it seems, compared to 20 years ago. It seems as if it will go the way of Aspen, Colorado and become commercialized, and synthetic. I lament again, and become depressed more. This is not what I came for, and the redneck beer drinkers, with their lawn chairs and propane grills have taken over what used to be something special to me. So I have a nice dinner at a small restaurant, and get the most expensive thing on the menu, to lift my spirits a bit. Sirloin and scallops, with all the trimmings and garnishes. Meditating on what was lost, I now resolve to find a new place, where the lone wolf like myself, can put some space between the next fisherman and me. I must have gone by a lot of those places up in Montana and Wyoming, but a rush was on, and I accept the consequences of not stopping when I should have.

So just the couple of hours I had today, before the sun got too low, the art was rediscovered in my hands. That was good enough. No fish were caught, and I went as far up river as I could before the road ended. It is time to find a new road, further out perhaps, where those fish await.

I wish you all well, and tomorrow is another day.


June 30th, 2007, 12:30 AM
Neil, I do understand the complexites of your trip. So much of it is awe inspiring, but trying to go back is difficult. Development happens. I have found that to be the case whenever I've gone back/

My husband is a fly fisherman, catch and release.

I wish you well on this part of your trip.Stay safe my friend.


Saint Jude
June 30th, 2007, 03:17 AM
Thanks so much for the update!
Having lived in Southwest Colorado for 20 yrs and @ the Grand canyon for a season.. I know the country you're speaking of pretty well. Also the fact of it growing & changing as things do...
I'm so thankful I was able experience Telluride as quaint little mountain town that it was while I was there. It was kinda heartbreaking to see what it was turning into ... just before I left..:cool:
Thanks for bringing back some fond memories... those canyons & mountains never change too much no matter what... you can't get an RV up too high! or low...(thank GOD!)
Catch some big uns!:)
Have a great trip!

I used to kayak on the San Juan river every spring at least 2 or 3 times! for about 5 days each trip... beautiful canyon country! Bluff to Mexican Hat!

June 30th, 2007, 04:30 AM
Neil, I could feel your despair as I read your post just now, and what a grand metaphor for life your last paragraph was.. Rushing past when you should have stopped, and the realisation its time to find a new road, one less travelled perhaps ??

Good luck for tomorrow,

Love, Louise xxx

June 30th, 2007, 07:48 PM
DAY 13- Absolution of the Spirit. Wilderness Trek.

Hello dear friends of the dry spell:

I only put maybe 70 miles (113 km) on the truck today. It looks like it has gone through heck and back (well, not that bad). Those were miles up into the wilderness area.

I stopped at a local fly fisherman?s shop to find something I sorely needed. A flip down magnifier to see, so I could tie my knots. My regular sunglasses already have a progressive 2.25X reading power, but that?s only so I can read my instruments while driving. I needed something more powerful, and the shop had exactly what I needed. A neat little gadget, that clips onto the bill of your hat, and can flip down. It was a 3X magnifier, and that was perfect.

So I asked the young man running the shop (another 20-something) where I could go to get away from the madding crowds that now inhabit the east fork of the San Juan River. He was more than happy to show me on my topographic atlas a good location, up to the northwest, rather than the direct east of Pagosa Springs. A word of warning, I would have to climb down a ways into the river gorge, but I said a little hiking is OK. He then said it?s at 8500 feet (2590 meters) altitude, so the hike would be a little tough. Well, you know, I am confident now with my exercise program that I could handle a little trail walk.

I then asked him of the best flies for that area, and bought a dozen or so. So off I went, after filling the gas tank, into the mountain again. The road turned to dirt and gravel just a short distance up, and after 15 miles (24 km), it got very narrow and just one lane, but the road was graded flat, so no worries. A sportsmen?s shop appeared out of nowhere, lucky for me at this point. I had forgotten to get a license, and needed to potty pretty bad. So there I stopped, and got legal and business done. Good thing for me, since I saw a game warden stop in, and he gave me the eye. See Mr. Game Warden, I have a fishing license!!

Onward up to the mountains, and I found the spot I was needing for my soul. A quick survey, and it was over 100 feet (30 meters) down to the water from the narrow road. A steep descent, and I figured right then I better prepare. In the bed of the truck, I had a special container just for this purpose. It contained a backpack, water bottles, and pockets for essentials. My waders, and sandals went in. Not knowing if black bears were in the area, I stuck my trusty .357 magnum in a side pocket of the backpack. Fishing rod case, reel, and knickknacks for the descent into the canyon. It was a little tough getting down, but I came upon a side stream, and pulled off the shoes and socks, to put on the sandals (for water wading anyway), and got to the next area. Thre were very large rocks, many the size of automobiles, and some even larger to climb over. This IS the Rocky Mountains. I heard a moose bellow I think, and the sportsmen?s shop did have a warning posted about the moose, but it was the severe penalty for hunting moose without the proper license (very expensive). Wherever that moose was, I never saw him or her.

Into the stream, and it was not so cold as to need waders. So I went in sandals on bare feet. The tackle was assembled, and 4 hours later, no fish. I worked the stream up and down for a ways, and slipped and fell in the water once. Banged up my right hand on a rock, but my pride was more injured than anything. Just a slight scrape at the base of my thumb near the wrist. I tried dry and wet flies. I tried casting from every direction, and nothing. The slow waters in front of, and in back of the rocks. No fishy for Neil today. I was getting a bit sunburned on the arms, and my bug repellent had all washed off from my baptism in the Piedra River. The moose bellowed again, probably in response to my mild cursing of the big horse flies biting me. Ah, nature.

So I packed up, and climbed out. WHOAAAAAA!!! I may be in pretty good shape now, but climbing the steep rocks out of the canyon at 8500 feet knocked the wind out of this middle-aged codger. My heart racing as I reached my pickup, and I quaffed the pint of water in my bottle. Good grief, I need more exercise when I return home.

So I found the spot I needed, but the fish were nowhere to be found. That is OK. I still had a good day anyway. I noted on the topographic maps that the Piedra falls was at the end of the road where the official wilderness boundary began. So I drove onward to see how far it went. The roads I was on, are only marked on a topographic map, and not a regular road atlas. They are indicated as Forest Service roads, so that is about the limit for a regular automobile. But it was only for the true blue back country explorer to see I guess. The climb I made knocks out more than 90% of the regular fishing crowd, who had congregated around the bridges, and easy access areas.

I came within 10 yards of a feeding mule deer on the road, and took many pictures and video. In Tennessee, that close proximity would send the whitetails a runnin?

So the end was reached, and very few other folks encountered, even on this holiday weekend. My goal was met from yesterday, and a new place is found. I imagine in the off-season, this area is almost abandoned.

Pleasantly tired now, I have my sights set on a Chinese buffet down the road a bit.

New pictures for you!! 2 New Mexico rock pictures. 2 pictures of the place I fly fished today, and two pictures of mountains at the wilderness boundary. Enjoy!n>

Tomorrow: A mad dash to my birthplace.


June 30th, 2007, 09:45 PM
Day 13- Addendum

Well, I just got back from the Chinese restaurant, and it was not buffet, but traditional.

I got to thinking about this. You know, if I had done this journey two years ago, a few things came to mind:

1. After seeing the situation at the San Juan River, I would have driven back to Pagosa, found a bar, and just got shit faced. I would have been grumbly, and pissed, and drowning my dissappointment in beer and whiskey.

2. I would have been so hung over this morning, I would have just laid in bed till noon or later, then probably stopped at a Sonic for a burger or something, too miserable to leave my vehicle.

3. Even if I had found the place I did today by some miracle, I would not have had the fitness to get down in that gorge. I would have just driven by, and said "piss on that".

So here it is. I am sober and healthy now. The reward for today is self evident. Look at those pictures where I was. This is the reward to myself for turning my life around.

Please consider this, if you are looking for more reasons to find your way abstinent. You see, sharing it with you all makes all the difference.

Be well.


June 30th, 2007, 09:48 PM
Well today was a much better day for you than yesterday. I just viewed your pictures and you're in gorgeous country.

Safe travels my friend.


June 30th, 2007, 09:57 PM
To Hilary:


Yes, it was. This is the thing we all must remember. Even when it seems as if we are helpless, we really do have the power within ourselves to salvage a bad situation.

I just want to emphasize, that this is one of the big changes that happened to me when I got sober. I became filled with more determination and resolve than ever. Seems like things just started going my way a little more often in strange ways after several months of not letting booze control my life.

Some very strange subtle things pointed me in the direction of todays destination, and if I had been trashed as in the past, I would have missed all of them.


June 30th, 2007, 10:23 PM
Neil, I just want to thank you for including us all in your journey and I think your pictures are fantastic. Happy travels to you!!

June 30th, 2007, 10:37 PM
Day 13- The Deer

I just posted two more pics in "other critters". It was the fine mule deer snacking on tree leaves.

This animal had no fear of me, and it was close to the wilderness boundary. I took a few minutes of video of it as well.


June 30th, 2007, 10:49 PM
Aw Neil, the deer let you get up pretty close didn't they. I can't imagine our local deer being so fearless.


June 30th, 2007, 10:59 PM
I read with nostalgia about Pagosa Springs. I remember it well. And Aspen when it was a podunk town and Vail was nothing but elk mating grounds. Sigh. But I am so glad you found a place still unspoiled down an unpaved road. I'm glad you enjoyed Ship Rock and its neighbors. The Navahos consider it very sacred. Thanks for sharing your journey and your pictures. They are beautiful. And congratulations again on your sobriety.

lucky 2.0
June 30th, 2007, 11:19 PM
I feel like I am on vacation! Thanks for the travel tales.

Be safe.

July 1st, 2007, 05:47 AM
Neil, those pictures were wonderful, how I envy you this trip... I have to agree with you as well about having the power withing ourselves to salvage a bad situation, sometimes you have to dig really deep to find it, but its there, and once found you never want to lose it...

How many more days will you be travelling for ??

Love, Louise xxx

July 1st, 2007, 01:34 PM
This is so wonderful, Neil! Thanks so much for taking us along on your journey....

July 1st, 2007, 07:03 PM
DAY 14- Wolf Creek Pass and Panhandle Time Travel Shock..

Hello from the hinterlands:

I didn?t quite make it to my birthtown yet. Seems as if the hotels there are sold out through end of July for some reason. I must look into this in person.

I?m very close though, in Amarillo, Texas. Just less than an hour from my place of birth back in 1956. I won?t give the name of the town for my own personal security, but if you are curious, I will tell you in a PM. This is the flat land that the world forgot I think sometimes. It is dry, and dusty, and windy. I was born and grew up in this area here, and it was rough with not too many luxuries. It is home though, and all is familiar. I know the people, the ways, the lingo, the expressions, the jargon, the courtesies extended that are unknown elsewhere it seems. You see, in this area, the environment is so rough that people just don?t seem to want to make it worse than it already is by being inconsiderate. Sure there is the legendary Texas arrogance and pride here, but it comes from making a living in this unforgiving territory.

What comes from the Texas Panhandle? Just the very basics of our tenuous society. Oil and gas wells still a pumping. Field grains, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, and a little corn by the mega-bushel irrigated from the deep Oglala aquifer. Millions of head of cattle and hogs for food. That?s what happens here in the Texas Panhandle. Not much tourism, or glamour, or sparkle. No big con games of insurance, finance, entertainment, or government. Just the absolute salt of the earth. They produce things here from the very earth. The absolute basics of food and energy for our ravenous society.

Several men wear Stetson hats still, and women are respected as being tough as nails to put up with all this. This is the place where I was born and raised, with values that many folks in other parts of the country sometimes find offensive. It just comes from the land here, and the harshness.

So today?s sojourn from Pagosa Springs took me over Wolf Creek Pass. The GPS recorded a high point of 10, 960 feet (3340 meters) altitude, which is the record for this trip. The mighty Dakota truck didn?t even flinch or cough climbing up there. I will never curse that truck again. I may scold it, but never another evil word. I could feel the effect of the altitude past the 10,000 foot mark. Deeper breaths, and a giddy sensation in the blood. They make airplane pilots go on oxygen past 10,000 you know. I saw some young people riding bicycles up there, and wondered just how much training and dedication it took to accomplish that feat. Not in my lifetime anymore. Once you get past 40, that sort of thing is just a good memory of the past I think.

mily: Times New Roman;">So on the final leg into Amarillo, I had the most intense deja-vu, time travel warp I ever had in my life. The four-lane road from Dumas, TX to Amarillo, TX is a short trip. I passed under a railroad trestle, and a most intense sensation of spine tingling weirdness flooded my body. I had a memory of driving under that trestle back in 1977. I was in a 1969 Camaro, and I was going to Amarillo to watch the very first Star Wars movie for the first time. It was new, and exciting, and everyone was talking about how amazing it was. This is now over 30 years ago.

I clearly remembered while driving in the Camaro back then, how wonderful it would be to have gadgets and technology that allowed video recording and playback, navigation and such, and communications like those in the TV series Star Trek. I passed under the trestle, and wondered what my life would be like in the 21st century perhaps 25 years from then, and was filled with awe.

So today, I drove my Dakota, with two GPS systems functioning, a cell phone at my side, my digital video recorder, and digital camera in a little bag in the seat. I have a cool mini-notebook computer (I?m writing this on), with a 120 GB backup drive in the bag as well. I have a portable remote control DVD player in my suitcase, and my entire music collection compressed onto the 120 GB hard drive. I have several movies, and a double layer DVD recorder built into the computer. I have a portable brainwave machine, and a PDA with all my data and finances on it. On and on, all my gadgets.

The time warp hit me hard. I have more things that I could have dreamed about 30 years ago. You see, there was not even VCR?s yet. Movie cameras still used film, and so did cameras. There was no such thing as a cell phone yet. My hotel room has a microwave oven., and those were not widespread at all back then.

Just call it a bizarre wrap around in the time matrix. I was both there and here at the same time for just a few short seconds. 1977 and 2007 existed at the same time in my mind, and an even more bizarre clarity hit me. It must be that God is all things, in all places, at all times, ??all at once. Suddenly, I had a new understanding, and it all seemed to actually make sense for just a short while. This is enlightenment I think. I just got a very short peek at the infinite I believe. This is the reason I have made this trip, to find the new things within, and not so much from without.

So my dear friends, I will be heading to my birthplace tomorrow to gather some history and records. Then I will make my way to my parents? house tomorrow for a few days of visiting and conversation.

I will not be able to give you a report tomorrow or the next few days if I end up at my parents house, because Dad only has dial-up, and would get upset if I hooked my laptop into his stuff, so I will respect that. I have not told them of MWO ever, but they are glad I have given up my poisons, and will leave it at that.

If I find a wireless connection in the town where my parents live, then I will update once more from there before heading home.

Next report: Arrival back home in Tennessee. (Irishlady, I will probably stay with Mom and Dad for the 4th of July activities, and be home Thursday or Friday.)


July 1st, 2007, 07:23 PM
Neil, I hope you make time to visit the Palo Duro Canyon. If you watched Lonesome Dove it will take you back there to the scene where Gus caught the glint of Blue Duck's buckle up the canyon from where he was bathing. It is well worthwhile.

Thanks again, my friend for sharing this.


July 1st, 2007, 07:25 PM
Also, it was a spot where Charles Goodnight camped.

July 1st, 2007, 07:34 PM
Palo Duro


I have camped out several times in Palo Duro Canyon. Got blasted on whiskey a few times down there back in the 1970's as well. Saw the amphitheathre play "TEXAS" a couple of times, and rode the Sad Monkey railroad back in the day. I wonder if all that is still going on? It was about the only tourist attraction back then. I know the Texas Panhandle very well.

My sister graduated from West Texas State University over in Canyon, which is short distance from Amarillo, and Dad took night classes there back in the 1960's to get some additional college credit. He had to make a two hour drive after work everyday to do that, and it must have been rough working in the oil patch and taking college courses, and raising two kids all at the same time. Very rough.


July 1st, 2007, 07:40 PM
Okay, sorry for suggesting something you are so familiar with. In this case it may be more of a painful memory. Yes, your dad certainly hoed a difficult field, he must have worked very hard.

I will just push one point further - did you understand what I meant about the Lonesome Dove scene and the Palo Duro canyon. The hair on my arms came up when I was down there. It seemed electric with history.

July 1st, 2007, 08:55 PM
Lonesome Dove

Oh yea,I had the entire series recorded on tape you know.

I had to explain to my fellows in Tennessee about all the stuff going on there.

Some other interesting things. I believe parts of the Paul Newman movie "Hud" were filmed down in Palo Duro Canyon, and in the towns of the Panhandle.

Now here is a bit of history, not well known, but it was in "Lonesome Dove" as well. They camped out at the Adobe Walls sight early on in the movie. Now I have been to the Adobe Walls sight many times, and there are two monuments. One for the buffalo hunters (caucasian men), and one for the Native Americans who died there.

A record shot was fired by one Billy Dixon during the second battle of Adobe Walls. That record stood until a Vietnam sniper beat it almost 100 years later!!!! Here are links to that event.

Handbook of Texas Online: (http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/AA/bta1.html)

History of Adobe Walls (http://www.oldwestlibrary.com/OWL/adobewalls.htm)

Billy Dixon (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/3975/billdixo.html)


Now you can read it, but I have stood there on several occasions, and wondered just how in the heck he did that. I still search for the right replica of the 1874 Sharps rifle he used, but Lord they are expensive, especially the genuine original black powder cartridge technology used in 1874.

Anyway, without giving too much away, I was born fairly close to this historic sight. A lost bit of American history, but I have quite a few books and articles on this particular event.


July 1st, 2007, 09:10 PM
I have some of the books too, Neil. I think that Larry McMurtrey plagurized much of Charles Goodnight, i.e. the graveside carving for Deets, is a direct removal from Charles Goodnight's memoirs, i.e. "never shirked a task, etc," Although I am willing to believe that was a common post on the headstones back then. Our friends in Abilene call McMurtey a "rascal" for his novel.

It's a very intersting history, and when I lived In Texas, I would drive around all of that mesquite and wonder at the cattle drives that drove thru that.

I enjoy this journey with you. :thanks:

July 2nd, 2007, 03:13 PM
xtexan;158226 wrote:
The time warp hit me hard. Just call it a bizarre wrap around in the time matrix. I was both there and here at the same time for just a few short seconds. 1977 and 2007 existed at the same time in my mind, and an even more bizarre clarity hit me. It must be that God is all things, in all places, at all times, ??all at once. Suddenly, I had a new understanding, and it all seemed to actually make sense for just a short while. This is enlightenment I think. I just got a very short peek at the infinite I believe. This is the reason I have made this trip, to find the new things within, and not so much from without.
Yes!! Neil, everything you write is so incredibly vivid and moving--but this passage choked me up because I believe I know EXACTLY what you're talking about here...that experience of having a sudden glimpse of eternity, of God-ness, of yes, the infinite....words are simply inadequate to convey the enormity of the moment....

Truly, I believe I have had this same experience--and I DO mean the very SAME experience-because it is a moment of everywhereness and timelessness that transcends our individual selves...it is moments like this that give me something even beyond hope--maybe it's faith, maybe it's trust...whatever it is, my life is illuminated by these instants of enlightenment....

It is these moments of "bizarre clarity" that keep me sober--I don't want to damage that piece of the infinite that I have been entrusted with....

Thanks, Neil~~

July 2nd, 2007, 07:25 PM
DAY 15- Releasing the demons within.

Hello fellow travelers:

I drove to my hometown birthplace today, and stopped at the hotel where I tried to get a reservation yesterday via computer. They had plenty of rooms, and when I mentioned the deal on the Internet, they just smiled like it was no big deal. The room I got has both wired and wireless Internet. I hooked up the wire, since it is 100 Mbs speed, which I will enjoy the rest of the evening.

I took a lot of video and pictures today. I visited both houses where we lived here when I was little. The first house, we moved from when I was but 18 months old, but I still have some fragments of memory from there. Most notably the configuration of the heater in the bathroom, was open gas fired, which Mom lit with a match before my baths during my first winter. She wanted to get the bathroom nice and warm before preparing me for my bath. Strange the things we remember.

I visited the elementary school I went to, now wiped off the face of the earth. I visited the middle school, and then the high school I went to. I actually went inside the high school, and walked the halls. It must of shrunk or something. I went to the junior college I attended for about a year before flunking out due to massive drinking everyday. The worst my drinking ever was, when I was 18 years old. You could buy whiskey at that age back in the 1970?s in Texas, and I remember selling off a lot of my possessions at the time just so I could buy another fifth of Canadian Whiskey.

I toured all the streets, and noticed all the changes. Places vivid in my memory, now with windows boarded up, broken, and abandoned. Places where much activity once occurred now desolate and discarded.

I went to the public library, and asked for the high school annuals from the early 1970?s, a time when Nixon was still president. They were very gracious, as they had to retrieve them from the library archives. They just let me have them without signing any papers, or ID or anything. This is part of what I remember. The honor system.

I spent a good 3 hours going through those annuals, struggling to retrieve memories, both pleasant and unpleasant. This was the time when my drinking began, and the mission was to discover what things might have contributed to my behavior. Many times during that examination, I got very uncomfortable, and wrote down a name, or place, or an event that came back. This was most useful for me, as things long forgotten and repressed were now shoved in my face. My leg began to dance up and down a few times, which was a habit of my nervousness from youth. I had the urge to bite my fingernails again, which was a habit of youth. Here it was, a torrent of memory, which I now had access to with a new perspective.

Why did I get a crush on that particular girl? Why did I feel so intimidated by that kid in the picture? Why did I feel such terrible inferiority? Why was that kid so cruel to me, and why did that kid help me out, and be my friend? All has changed, and now all these things have faded into the past.

I left the library, and took another tour of the small towns streets. A new viewpoint began to take form, and this was just another place on the road. This was the place where I first emerged from where I was before birth, into the physical world of material existence. Birds leave the nest, and fly away.

I visited my grandparents? grave in town, and then went out far to the west of town, and viewed the grave of a little friend I had, who died at 5 years old. She was killed in an accident with fire at that age, and that was the first funeral I ever remember going to. I did not understand about death, but I remember people attempting to explain to me because I was 5 years old at the time too. There is more to this story, but I will leave it at that.

Then, I did something very deliberate, and with absolute sobriety. I went to the caretakers? office of the cemetery out on that western hill, and asked to buy a plot. She asked for whom, and I said, ?This is for myself?.

She showed me the available plots, and I picked the one most western at the far edge of the cemetery. It overlooks a vast field of mesquite trees, and a new young oak has been planted there right where I picked my final spot on this earth to be. I told her it was my intention to live past 90, and she replied, ?The oak will be large enough by then to completely shade your spot.? And I hope it will be.

I don?t guess a lot of folks pick out their final spot, and buy it when they are but 51 years old, but I thought that this is a choice I have right now, and I have the power to make it now. A very grown-up decision it is indeed. I am healthy, and strong, and sober, and this is what I wanted. Nobody will be burdened with decisions of this or that when I go, as it is my intention to have it all pre-arranged and paid for. I put down half on the plot, and she told me the rest was due whenever and however. It is my space now for the future.

So on a less morbid note, my mission here is accomplished. You see there were no external demons to slay, but only the ones within. I will have to reflect and consider what I have seen and done today for a while to digest it properly. This is my life, and I want it back from that damn booze. I will get it back. Keeping an open mind on the psychological aspects of the drinking addiction is often an esoteric venture. Being an engineer and mechanic by training, those things that are not quantifiable by the laws of physics, are not part of the picture. I understand the laws of motion and thermodynamics, and the qualities of static tangibles as well. Weird emotional stuff locked in the brains mass of cells and nerves is beyond our technologies now. No magic pill or treatment exists to exorcise psychological demons, so we must make out own way to this end.

This is all I know to do that works. No long expensive talks with a shrink would have ever done what I accomplished today. No high dollar pill, that gets advertised ad-nauseum for our mental troubles could ever be as effective as today?s self-therapy. I am now ready to leave this place for the rest of my life, never to visit again until that end comes. This is where I was born, and this is where I will end.

Now, it is time to go further, and become more than I ever was. There is work, and growth to be done, and time is a wastin?.

Tomorrow: No report. Visit with Mom and Dad for a few days, then homeward to Tennessee.


July 2nd, 2007, 07:41 PM
Wow, Neil, I haven't checked for a few days. I hardly know what to say. Everything you have written just resonates with me, the ups and the downs and even your buying your burial plot. Thank you for sharing these days with all of us. It has been very special and very moving.

I very much understand why you won't be on for the next several days, but I still don't like it.:cool: I don't know how you will feel at the end of this trip, and I hope you will share it with all of us. I am going to feel like I know you better, but also like I've finished a really terrific novel, which is always a major bummer to me!

Thanks for sharing, Neil!


July 2nd, 2007, 09:20 PM
"It must be that God is all things, in all places, at all times, ??all at once"

I love that Neil!

It's those little "God stops" that give us Hope!
I'm happy that you've made that stop on your journey. Priceless!

:l Nancy

July 6th, 2007, 10:03 PM
DAYS 16-19: Return Home


I just got back home to my Tennessee deep woods sanctuary, and all is well.

I will compose a final epilogue over the weekend, but just wanted to let my faithful readers know that xtexan is back in one piece, none the worse for wear.

Katie dog almost climbed over the fence when she first saw me walking up to the backyard fence. Petey dog was leaping and spinning in the air and barking at the same time. I brought them a new sack of dinner rounds, but they had plenty of supplies left, as my boss called this morning, and wanted to know if he needed to check on them once more. The doggies are happy that big dog (me) has returned to set the world right again!

Mom and Dad were better than I expected, and the visit went well. I taught my Mom how to use a bread machine to make her own bread, and I helped Dad solve some nagging computer problems. More on them later.

The mighty Dakota truck will need some well-deserved cleaning and maintenance. I have video to process, and digital photos to sort and save. I have a ton of receipts to get entered into my Quicken, and about 10 lbs. of mail to go through.

My gear is in disarray, dumped on the kitchen floor, and will need to be gone through. The fishing gear is worst of all, but a labor of love getting that back into order.

The lawn is not as bad as I thought it would be, so that is a plus.

So, I made some fresh ice tea, and went through the emails after calling the parents to let them know I made it OK.

The trip is over, and it has been the best of journeys. I must reflect on a few things, as this has been such a very different odyssey. A good nights sleep in my own bed will be greatly appreciated tonight.

Stay tuned, and I will close my journal in a couple of days with some final thoughts.

May you all find the best on your journeys.


July 7th, 2007, 07:45 AM
It's good to hear that you are safe and sound, Neil. Believe it or not, I've been waiting impatiently for your next post, even though I knew it meant the end of your journey! I'll be looking forward to the summation! Take good care! I hope you enjoyed the rest. I'm glad your doggies enjoyed having their "top dog" back!


July 8th, 2007, 03:44 PM
A few words in closing...

I?ve spent the last couple of days since arriving home in a state of great contentment. The myriad of tasks to get my life back into order for the coming months have come in a sort of dazed fog of not really being here. This is a new sensation for me, as in years past, the return home from the long road trip was fraught with worry and dissatisfaction that it was not long enough.

But this time there was a difference. It was a big difference that I have alluded to several times during the chronicle. My old pal, the alcohol was not along on this journey, and was only missed but one short flash of a few minutes. That was sitting in the public laundry in Gallup, New Mexico after the bad travel day.

Now, after reflecting for a time, after a couple of great nights sleep in my familiar home bed, an expanded consciousness of my life is imbedded deeply. This awareness is not at all concerned with the acquisition of material things or political power. This awareness is more in touch with the process of living, breathing, eating, and sleeping. I am content just to move about in the day now, and let the hours pass without pressure. This is what a vacation is supposed to do. A renewal of the mind, body, and soul it is.

Horrid little bits of depression, resentment, and frustration lodged in deep crevices have been dislodged, and washed away. Not just bits from the last several months of sobriety, but also bits packed in tightly from my childhood and adolescence. I can feel it, and it is a damn good feeling. There is even a new physical sensation to my body, as old and festering psychological issues were at last dealt with, and believe me, they do manifest themselves in your body in the strangest places. Pains in the neck, back, arms, legs, headaches, you name it. Of course it has not been a 100% healing, but a major advancement has been made. I can do the things of life successfully without a beer or whiskey or wine glass in hand. I proved it to myself, and this may have deeper long-term effects for the good.

The major difference this time, was that I was not expecting or demanding that the place I went to was going to make the change. No, this time, I concentrated on the internal sensations that the experience was producing within. This was never possible before with a trillion ethanol molecules always floating in my bloodstream during a trip. In times before, the booze had to be planned around, and dealt with since it had put it?s own toxic limitations of what I could do, or experience. Not this time. No hangovers, no shame, or guilt, or misery from my dependence on alcohol to alleviate pain or boredom.

You all know what I am talking about to some degree. The thought process is, ?This place is great, and beautiful, and a drink would make it all the better!? Another would be, ?This has been a hard day on the road, and a drink would make it all better.? And yet another, ?These are strange and new people to me, and a drink would fix me up just right so I could talk to them!?

Nope. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Wrong and double wrong. Booze is poison to me, and all it can do is kill me in the end because of my twisted love for it. It is even more apparent than ever that I will never be able to drink ?normally? or ?moderately?. The internal stuff that was made manifest on this trip was pure and powerful, and it has always been the stuff that made me drink to destruction. I put my hands around its neck and squeezed with all my might. Drinking Neil was choked a bit more of his stranglehold on me, sober Neil. Even now as I write this, vague memories of dancing in the dark, with beautiful ladies, and a delirium of whiskey sated euphoria still remain hidden in the shadowy rooms of my psyche. Becoming sober and self-aware is always going to be the job of our inner angels, locked in battle with the inner demons. I have claimed large chunks of territory by this journey, and hope to enjoy the inner space now claimed for the interim.

You have to give things their own significance. You are the one that has that power. The thing that makes another laugh, may drive you to tears. That which excites you with joy, may drive another to black depression. There is no standard of what you are ever required to feel in any situation. I have tried to put into typed words some of these things over the past few weeks, to give them a little more weight for yours truly. I could have kept a diary of the boozes-heads road journey, and no doubt it would have been completely different. No doubt it would have been far less of a holistically motivated story for myself. Your kind words of praise and approval have made this experiment even better. It just would have not been the same.

There is still a bit of America out west there, where the real freedoms our ancestors fought for and enjoyed still exists in pure form. In so many days leading up to my escape from the drudge, I would say to myself, ?I deserve to have my freedom!? It comes at a cost, and always does. I?d gladly give up the bogus little securities and safeties of the suffocating Orwellian machine we are spiraling towards, to get just a bit more.

The coming days where I resume my job, and the day-to-day routine will find the memories of the last three weeks fading. One thing for certain though, that as long as I stay sober and abstinent, they will not be so fast to lose color. My physical exercise program needs to be revived (found that out at 8500 foot altitude in Colorado), but I think my self-work to drive inner growth can safely idle for short time. With all this new territory gained on the emotional front, perhaps it is best to sit and survey the land I have acquired. But not for long, as this thing is a never-ending task it seems.

Video of the trip, downloaded to hard drive, awaits processing into DVD?s, and select photos will be printed and perhaps framed. My GPS logs have all been downloaded, and solidifies yet another aspect of the journey. Each second I was on the road, each stop, each dash all recorded in exact detail. Speed, position, and time all transcribed into numbers saying that I was here and when. I will combine all these things into a story to perhaps to be researched by my niece, nephew, or some other relative some day.

Mom and Dad, now in the evening years of their life, only seem concerned now with just making the little things count. No major life events to engage in, or worlds to conquer, and I found myself becoming a little more like them in the few days spent with them. I told them of plans and intentions for the coming days and years, and they seemed just glad to have me there, and content with my personal journeys. I played the videotape from Yosemite for my parents, and it gave them great pleasure to see both the scenery and their son engaged with the natural world so clearly. I told them of the journey to the wilderness in search of the perfect trout stream, and they were glad I found the place for my heart and soul. They just want me to be happy, and they got that sense this time for sure. Is the excessive drinker ever really happy with his or her life?

In all, I feel like I have gathered up a massive collection of new experiences both internal and external. My journey into sobriety has been far more successful than I could have ever dreamed when starting out three weeks ago. It is my sincere hope that my words can perhaps help you out there, whether you are a member or a visitor to the MWO forum. This is for us.

Neil: 5963.91 miles (9595.93 kilometers), June 18th to July 6th, 2007.

July 8th, 2007, 03:51 PM
Amen, Neil, and thank you!

July 10th, 2007, 04:19 PM
Come on Neil, bring it on.....

July 10th, 2007, 05:24 PM
Neil, I am so touched by your posts, I think I stopped breathing. Thank you so very much. I couldn't be happier for your own personal growth and progress. You are an inspiration and it seems as if you are truly rid of that monkey on your back.

I was touched when you dedicated this journey to MWO.

Thanks again

Hilary :l

July 11th, 2007, 08:11 AM

I started off reading your travel journal from your first day on the road. I followed you all the way and what a rollercoaster of a trip it has been.. From your exilerating descriptions of all the awsome places you have seen to your more personal writings about yourself and your innermost thoughts..

The two pieces which touched me the most were the ones about your trip to the place where you have purchased your burial plot and the last one where you talk about your parents and also about how this trip has affected you personally.. They made me so emotional because they touch on so many things that resonate with me.. Like you I to have had one hell of a mental clearout, but, there are still a few dark corners and a locked room or two waiting for my attention, I have promised myself I'm going to deal with them soon...

Have you ever started reading a book and it is so good that when you come to the end of it you feel sad and you wish you were just starting to read it again for the first time, well that is how I now feel knowing that I have come to the end of your travel journal..

A big, big thank you for sharing all that with us, oh, by the way, WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT YEAR?????:H

Lots of love and good wishes,

From Louise :h

PS.. 102 POSTS
1901 VIEWS WOW..