Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Cloud chaser

I was focused on something else, turned around and this was behind me.


Yesterday the sky was facinating; blue sky filled with huge black, white, navy and grey clouds. I thought about those yellow soybean fields I’d seen on my drive home from our latest camping adventure. I thought about housework that needed to be done.

I thought about it for approximately 2.4 seconds.

And then I picked up my camera, wrote a note to my husband and hit the road with no particular destination in mind. Well. I did think I might head right back toward the campground, but that was three hours away, and the clouds were moving fast. I was worried I’d miss the dramatic sky if I stuck to the freeway and drove for that long.

See that dark streak of clouds? When I first saw that it was right over the silos. Stunning!

So at my first opportunity I exited and began to wander those back country roads. It was a part of the state I’ve explored like this before, and I always figure I’ll end up with the same images over and over, but I never end up in exactly the same place.

Looks stormy, but it never rained.

I guess that’s the benefit of miles and miles of farmland and the big open spaces that I love.

Harvest time.

Good thing the car tells you which direction you’re going, because some of the time I could have sworn I was going east when I was going north. I’ve learned a long time ago to trust technology, but even so eventually I wasn’t sure where I was.

I ended up in a town with houses like this…

Pretty stupendous architecture.

…and this.

Summer flowers still going strong.

Pretty. I stopped to check my map (yes paper maps are still useful!) and to walk around a little. Then back on the road.

I was looking for that elusive soybean field. But instead of bright yellow I kept seeing acres of brown. The plants were about shin high, totally brown and I couldn’t tell what they were.

What IS this?

When I had a safe place to stop and look more closely I pulled over.

Looks like a bean pod…but???

I still don’t know what they are. Are they soy beans that have totally dried? Or something else? Does anyone know? I should ask my family. They live on farmland and will surely know what this is.

A little sway in that roof line.

Besides soybeans I was chasing the sun. I’d be driving along and the sun would pop out, striking the side of a barn off in the distance. It would be stunning, surrounded as it was with the dark stormy sky.

See that stripe of sun? It was right on that red barn when I pulled over, but by the time I got out of the car it had moved.

By the time I’d find a safe place to stop and get out of the car the sun had moved on. The clouds would shift, moving from their perfect placement, and though still pretty, the shot wouldn’t be as stunning as what I originally saw. The image that caused me to stop would have to remain only in my memory.

I got lucky. While I was standing there the sun struck the side of this barn’s metal roof.

I guess it’s kind of like trying to get that perfect shot of a baby playing, or a dog being cute. It takes some planning and a whole lot of luck.

Eventually I just stopped trying to catch that perfect moment, and enjoyed them as I saw them, driving cris cross along the country roads. I wished I had some sort of tracker on the car so I could see, later, what my route looked like.

A classic.

It would have been crazy. I turned around regularly to go back to a barn or a field. Sometimes just because. I know I went around several country blocks and at least once I wondered if I was driving on a road I had explored just minutes before.

Eventually I crossed a major road and checked the map again. I was all the way up toward Saginaw. It was getting late, so I wandered over to the freeway and headed home.

Did I ever find that red barn sitting in a soybean field? Well…

Red barn, yellow soybeans. Check.

…yes, yes I did. It was just a little field and a little barn, but it was pretty. I’ve found other more stunning examples in other years, and I’ll probably go out once again this year to try again, but I was happy to find this one.

And just look at all the other neat stuff I found while I was searching!

The sound of the dry corn rustling in the wind was special too.

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There’s more to camping than the sheltie-girl

The road to the campground.


If you listen to Katie you’d think that all camping adventures are about her, and I suppose in some respects they are. We don’t do things she doesn’t want to do, and on this last camping trip of the season she didn’t want to do very much, so we stuck close to camp.

Still, there were many beautiful things to show you.

The grass turned color depending on the light.

We made short forays into the deep old growth forests. The air felt cooler to me, but I guess a sheltie-girl’s heavy fur coat made it hot for her, even there, so we didn’t stay very long.

It’s cooler back here in the forest.

The ferns along the forest floor were mostly brown. I don’t know if it’s drought or they had an early frost. No one else seemed to know either. They were still pretty in brown, but I felt kind of sad that their summer was over.

Variations of brown.

Katie and I drove a few miles down the road to visit two lakes, formed when the glaciers slid over Michigan years ago, then melted.

Amazing color, even before the leaves really begin to turn.

The sky was an incredible blue and the lakes were perfectly still. I couldn’t stop shooting images. Katie was pretty patient about the whole thing.

Reflections in the still water were mesmerizing.

It would have been fun to kayak on either of these lakes, and I think you can rent kayaks from the park. But Katie said she wasn’t into boating so we didn’t check that out.

Lilly pads add some color too.

As Katie told you the last night we had a storm blow over, making the sky and even the air turn bright pink.

Pretty in pink.

It was pretty amazing, and the camera caught even more pink than our eyes could see. Everyone was out looking around in wonder.

I’m glad the weather cooperated last week and allowed Katie and me to get one more camping trip in this season. We’ve been so lucky this year; we didn’t get rained out on any of our adventures.

It might be a long winter, but we’re already planning where to camp next spring.

Sky in the water.


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She can’t silence me people!

Katie here.

Well I never. I never! Mama and Daddy left me for almost three weeks! I was at camp and it was noisy and other dogs got all the attention! I swear no one fed me or played with me or took me outside and I was all alone!

Checking out my gardens.

Oh. You don’t believe that?

Well, OK, it wasn’t all that bad and they love me a lot there and I get to go outside a bunch, in fact they say I don’t want to come back inside when they call me. That’s cause I think I should get all the attention wherever I am, and do whatever I want, given I’m a princess. But it turns out all those other doggies are princesses and princes too! Who knew?

Hey mama! You saved me some tomatoes!

ANYWAY…

Mama finally came and got me and I told her off the entire ride home as is my right. And when I got home I told daddy off too. For hours. But then mama asked me if I wanted to go for a walk around the yard. Well yea mama!

I also told mama that none of you wanted to see her old pictures of forts and oceans and old houses and stuff. What you wanted (and I’m sure I’m right) is to see me! The Princess! Of course!! So I told her there better be lots of pictures on this blog (I can type but I don’t get the ‘insert media’ part of it. Plus I can’t decide which of my beautiful portraits should go where.) of me and she better get hopping because it’s been way too long since you’ve had the pleasure of seeing me.

And I told her she’s way behind in the camping quotient and I don’t care if it gets cold at night she better get that tent put up and it better be in an interesting place, not just my old back yard. Though on second thought the backyard might be OK, just don’t tell her that yet, I want to make her work for it.

I got to run in my yard!

I’m not vindictive, no I’m not.

Mama says daddy set the alarm clock each morning for 6:30 or 7 a.m. and she doesn’t know why. She thought she should be able to sleep in more, given it was her vacation. Well. I’m here to tell you mama, that 6:30 was sleeping in. Now that I’m back in town we’ll get right back to our normal schedule. Yep, 4:00 a.m. seems a reasonable time for a sheltie-mom to be up and at ’em.

Yes siree, I’m going to whip her back into shape. No more slacking mama!

My flowers are still pretty.

It is, after all, my responsibility as the Princess in the household to make sure my subjects are in shape.

She’ll thank me later.

Your gal Katie.


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So much to show you, so little time to share

Jefferson’s haven.


As you have probably surmised, we’ve been traveling. If you’re following along on Facebook you might even know where we are today. And of course you know me. There are photos. Lots and lots and lots of photos. Many were intended to be shared with you on this blog, intended to be a day by day account of the wonderful things we’ve seen and done on this extended vacation.

Washington’s haven.

But somehow that didn’t happen, and now I’m days, even weeks behind. We’ve been to Jefferson’s Monticello and Washington’s Mount Vernon. We’ve wandered among Washington DC’s monuments and explored a few forts and climbed a lighthouse and toured a submarine and strolled an Atlantic ocean beach and walked over three miles along the cliffs of Newport. Just yesterday we explored five golden age mansions and ended our day with another lighthouse.

He had a dream.

What should I share with you? I’ve sorted the mansion photos and I could just catch you all up by starting there, but that’s going to be a long blog and I might do better to put it together when I get home, when I have more time, faster internet, when I’m not packing the suitcase to head for the next adventure.

A light in the haze.

So I’ll leave you with just a taste of everything. And even then it was hard to choose which images to share. I picked them randomly from little thumbnails. Nothing is edited, they’re just the way the camera saw things. No time for messing around, we’re headed out this morning for somewhere new.

Stay tuned. I promise to show you a tiny bit of those mansions someday soon. If Katie allows it anyway.

Submarine history tour


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When a crash is not just a crash

Middle picture is without the guard, and below that, with a guard.


The purpose for our current road trip happened last Tuesday. We and other members of the Truck Safety Coalition family attended a conference to discuss car and truck crashes, specifically the situation when a car slides under the trailer of a semi truck from the side.

This is what happens when a car goes under a trailer. Imagine being in the car with your family.

That’s called a side underride and it’s usually deadly.

When you slide under a trailer your car’s safety features aren’t activated because your front bumper doesn’t hit anything. The first part of your car to come in contact with the trailer is your windshield. And then your head.

This car was driven into a trailer at 35 mpr. The trailer had a side guard.

It’s been a problem for years. Jennifer’s dad was killed when his car slid all the way under a trailer on a dark country road more than thirty years ago and she’s been fighting this and other truck safety issues ever since.

Jennifer talking about her dad’s crash and how grateful she is that side underride is being talked about today.

But in this past year a solution has been developed. And it happened because people began to talk about the issue. Last year was the first conference on underride, and there the inventor of a side guard and a manufacturer happened to meet. They’ve been collaborating ever since, and at this year’s conference we got to witness their side guard in action.

Conference members wait above the test crash area to see if the side guard works.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hosted our meeting, and did a test crash so that we could see what would happen. (Click the ‘meeting’ link above to see the crash test yourself.) The car was driven at 40 mpr into the side of a trailer with a side guard, named Angel Wing, installed behind the wind flow shield.

Waiting in anticipation.

The car did not slide under the trailer. Though the trailer itself was moved several inches, the passenger compartment of the car was not penetrated.

Tears and applause.

The driver of this vehicle probably would have had a wrist injury, probably a headache, and bruises from the seat belt, but would have walked away.

This driver would have walked away.

Members of our truck safety family, there to witness this test, cried softly after. Unspoken was the knowledge that if something like this had been installed on trucks years ago they wouldn’t have been in Virginia this week, standing up on a platform, watching hope unfold.

Hope.

We have hope that someday, maybe sooner than we imagine, you’ll see Angel Wings, or some iteration of it, moving down the highway near you. We have hope that someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, a family will only have to deal with bumps and bruises, and not a funeral.

Side guards will save lives.

Someday soon the results of lots of peoples dreams will come to fruition. And it will happen because people from all walks of life sat down and talked. Trailer manufacturers, truck companies, safety experts, devastated families, government officials.

Two grief stricken mothers, working together to save other lives.

Everyone has a different viewpoint, but together an answer can be found. Truck crashes happen to all sorts of people and it takes all sorts of people to find a way to fix the problem.

All families matter.

Someday another mother will be holding her child, alive and safe. She might not know who to thank. But I, and now you, do.

Stay tuned. And stay safe.

Be vigilant. And please support our efforts.