Thursday, April 28, 2016

Eau de Horse Stable? SOARing in Mesa; A BBQ Feast; A Hillbilly Driver; Rudy and His Friend; Gunsight Pass; Buddha and Hula Babe

Our campgrounds lately have been in remote desert settings, rather than in urban areas, which suits us just fine. One day, My Lovely Bride asked me to go to the store. On the list was "air freshener". At the time, we were camped downwind of an equestrian trail ride facility. As I opened the coach door to go to the car, I took a whiff of a pungent aroma and said, "Darling, would you like to try a new scent, perhaps Eau de Horse Stable? She was less than amused...

It's been a busy 10 days or so since I last sat down to blog. Suzanne has had several events, including her S.O.A.R! workshop at Unity of Mesa, sponsored by the International Association for Near Death Experiences (IANDS). It was a big success...

...with much credit going to Brenda Baker, who not only manned the book table, allowing Your Faithful Correspondent to take a hike and also to care for our trusty canines, Rudy and Gretchen, but who also kept MLB in very good humor. Brenda can be relied upon to provide many memorable moments of mirth!

Thanks also to Rev. Mark Fisk of Unity of Mesa, whose hospitality was much appreciated. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the delicious BBQ rib feast that Brenda put on at her beautiful home in Glendale. Brenda's friends Linda and Cindy are on her left and right, and Lynette from Tulsa at MLB's right. You will note the unusual table manners of three of the ladies present; they are spoofing around with their rib bones... Brenda was kind enough to make enough ribs and creme Brulee for a platoon of Marines, which provided lunch and dinner for several days for Suzanne and myself. She even loaned us her propane torch (the size of a WWII Army flamethrower) to singe the top of the desserts. (I was worried about the Arizona Highway Patrol arresting me for transporting hazardous materials in my car.)

Speaking of potential run-ins with the law, we almost had a disaster when we drove to our next social event, a dinner with friends in Scottsdale. As we were leaving the coach, I hung our garbage bag on the car's bike rack, planning to drop it in a dumpster at the campground entrance. However, I was distracted by My Lovely Bride (that makes it her fault, right?), and somehow forgot to stop and drop it in the bin... imagine my surprise when we pulled up at our hosts' lovely home 50 miles and an hour later and found our trash still hanging from the bike rack. Not an eggshell, soda can or paper towel was missing, which says something for the strength of  plastic bags, if not for my situational awareness... at least none of our friends noticed our car looking a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies!

But they would have at least been understanding and forgiving. Lynn and Jeff Hollahan were our hosts, and had also invited Elizabeth and Cyril Boisson over. These two couples are delightful and much fun to be around. We had met them at the bench dedication ceremony mentioned in the previous blog post. The ladies immersed themselves in spiritual topics while the guys talked cars, boats, golf, wine, etc. Jeff is a Morgan Stanley financial adviser and Cyril an art expert who sets up major art exhibits around the world. He had just returned from China (or was it Mexico City?), and I wondered how his travels didn't destroy his sleep cycle. We had a great time with fabulous wine, delicious food and stimulating conversation.  The evening was all the more special when the children that all three couples have on the other side made their presence known with beautiful evidence that Suzanne could not have known.  Hi Morgan, Devon, and Susan!

Lynn and Jeff had graciously invited Rudy and Gretchen to a play date with their dog Kirby, and the puppies all seemed to get along well. Rudy was seemingly fixated on the good smells emanating from Lynn's kitchen; he lay down next to a metal Dachshund door stop, staring through the closed door into The Place Where Food Comes From, and I guessed that he and the doorstop were sharing canine culinary experiences... 

On our last day in the Phoenix area, I went for a hike while Suzanne gave a reading. I came across this old saguaro cactus "stump", with its framework of woody ribs showing. Indians used these ribs for the walls of their homes, and to make long poles for collecting fruit from the tops of the saguaro. 

My last hike was on the Go-John Trail, and the most interesting geologic formation was at Gunsight Pass. This unusual rock formation looks just like the open iron sights of an old rifle.

Finally, I have to comment on some unusual interactions of apparently inanimate objects. Suzanne had been given a bronze Buddha by Elizabeth Boisson, in honor of Suzanne's interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump. Suzanne treasures this small figurine, and has him placed on a shelf right next to her chair in our dining room. She commented about that little Buddha being quite representative of her spirituality; I agreed; then she pointed at my solar-powered girlfriend, and surprised me by saying, "Ty, I think Hula Babe also represents your spirituality, in a slightly different way." (I wasn't sure whether to be insulted or complimented.) But I got her back a few minutes later when I said, "Sweetheart, it looks like Buddha may have been corrupted by Hula Babe..." He was sitting there calmly in his namaste pose, apparently mesmerized, right in front of that saucy Hawaiian girl wiggling her hips and bust. (Note: it could be that he was in the true state of nirvana, which refers to the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion and delusion have been finally extinguished. But I don't think so.....) 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Desert Rain; Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix Events; Wildlife! Helping Parents Heal; Sanaya; A Gift with Diamonds?

While in Tucson, we actually experienced several days of rain in the desert. This isn't unusual in July, when the monsoon comes, but April is normally pretty dry. The Catalina Mountains had wispy clouds capping the peaks and some washes actually had flowing water. 

Desert plants love the rain, and many were blooming. Others just soaked up the moisture and sat there looking pretty. This small cactus(?), like most plants in this harsh environment, has hundreds of spines to protect it against animals looking for a meal. They looked sort of like mochi balls, a Japanese New Year's delicacy, but since I didn't care much for them when I was stationed in Japan, I didn't want to sample these prickly versions either...

Tucson is a fun place, and we have many friends there. Suzanne spent a morning working with Dr. Gary Schwartz and his lovely wife Rhonda at the University of Arizona, while Rudy, Gretchen and I took a walk and washed the car. Then we met up for lunch and sightseeing in Tombstone, an hour east of TUS. This historic western town is known for its silver mines, the Earp brothers, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone's population grew from 100 to 14,000 in seven years, but is now only 1,400.  

We also visited friends from The Villages who had recently moved to Tucson; Christine and Randy Smith have a world-class view from their beautiful home. Many readers will recall that Christine was The Villages Flute Choir director for several years.

We got out for several hikes in the rugged mountains near Tucson. My Lovely Bride is seen here on the Romero Canyon trail in Catalina State Park, a beautiful destination with multiple outdoor activities. This hike was just before our last event in Tucson, The Meaning in the Messages, which Suzanne gave at Canyon Ranch, a high-end resort north of town. Gary and Rhonda Schwartz graciously joined us for dinner before the event. Located in a beautiful mountain setting, Canyon Ranch is known for hosting celebrities and for its healthy menu. Quinoa and kale were prominent, but wine was unavailable. (Now, is that really necessary???) 

I chuckled at this sign at Catalina State Park. I mean, come on, everyone knows that snakes are reclusive creatures which only come out at night. They are never seen by regular folks, unless you go to a zoo...

... so imagine my surprise when My Lovely Bride was walking one afternoon to the shower house and came back 30 seconds later hyperventilating and unable to speak coherently for a few minutes. When she finally said, "Snake!" I asked her why the fuss. (This was not a very bright question.) She then said something like "I almost stepped on a very big rattlesnake just behind the coach.  He was right in my path and rattled at me!" I wanted to say that stepping on a rattler isn't a good idea, but instead decided to be sympathetic to her plight. I said, "Let me grab the camera. This will be a great blog entry. Show me where he is!" We went outside, and just 30 feet away from the coach is this guy (gal?) slithering down the trail towards us... a Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) about four and a half feet long. 

Suzanne called the park office, which sent the camp host and his wife with a bucket, thinking it was a small non-venomous gopher snake. When the camp host saw the big rattler, he kept his distance and said, "I think I'll call the cavalry on this one." 

The "cavalry", in the form of a totally nonchalant young ranger, soon arrived, by which time the snake in question had coiled up in a defensive posture, not really liking the attention he was getting. The ranger lifted him with a snake stick into a large wooden box and relocated him about a mile away from the campground. This was the first poisonous snake we have seen in several years of hiking and camping, but it sure gets your attention. Now I know to send MLB to check out the vicinity before I go out to take a shower... Smack!

Our final Tucson event was Suzanne's Getting Out of the Box presentation to the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS), held at Unity of Tucson. It was preceded by a delicious Mexican dinner sponsored by members of the Tucson IANDS chapter. Suzanne is a member of IANDS, and was the first medium invited to speak at their annual national conference. I felt a bit inadequate since I was the least knowledgeable person about near death experiences (NDEs) at dinner, but vowed to learn more about this fascinating topic. I also have to thank Brenda Baker, who drove to Tucson from her home near Phoenix to attend this event, and to bring us several boxes of books which we had shipped to her house. Brenda is one of Suzanne's greatest fans, and is a self-proclaimed "stalker" for all of her events in April. Thank you, Brenda, for being such a helping friend. Also, thanks to Chuck Swedrock and Larry Merrill from IANDS for their hospitality and help making these events so successful.

We left Tucson and relocated the coach to one of our favorite state parks, Usery Mountain S.P. in Mesa, Arizona, for Suzanne's next event, also Getting Out of the Box, given to the Phoenix Chapter of IANDS, at Unity of Mesa. (By the way, Brenda Baker attended this event as well, and even brought along our good friend Lynette Setzkorn from Tulsa.)

After 24 hours in Mesa, we moved the coach to Cave Creek Regional Park north of Phoenix, and just west of Carefree, AZ. Earlier that week, Suzanne conversed with Elizabeth Boisson, the co-founder of Helping Parents Heal (with co-founder Mark Ireland), a support group for parents who have lost a child. Finding out that we were staying nearby, Elizabeth invited us to a dedication ceremony on Friday evening for two benches located on a trail in the hills above Cave Creek and Carefree, one for her son Morgan, and one for the son of a friend. We met at a trailhead, and about 40 of us hiked up to a beautiful overlook where the two benches were located. 

Cyril Boisson, Elizabeth's husband, had hiked with special-ordered dozens of biodegradable dove-shaped helium balloons which the participants released at the end of the dedication ceremony. Here is Elizabeth joyfully releasing her dove balloon. A remarkable synchronicity occurred two days later when we were driving back from an event on the 101 freeway, about 35 miles south of the location of the ceremony. Right at dusk, one of those dove-shaped balloons swooped down just a few feet over our car as we drove down the freeway. How it stayed airborne that long and passed right over our car is still a poignant mystery...

Elizabeth and Suzanne (at right) were brought together by a mutual friend, Irene Vouvalides, who started a chapter of Helping Parents Heal in Hilton Head, NC, after losing her daughter to cancer. Now Irene is helping other grieving parents to know their children are still very much with them in spirit.

While they were chatting on the trail, Elizabeth asked Suzanne if she knew Susanne Wilson, another medium. In fact, they had been at a conference together, but had not had the opportunity to meet in person. Elizabeth made introductions, and Suzanne and Susanne struck up an immediate friendship. They got together two days later and while enjoying a little tea party found they shared many amazing similarities: both are married to older retired military men; both have two miniature breed dogs; both have an MPA degree; both work with Dr. Gary Schwartz; both began giving readings about the same time; they are the same age; and most of all, they found in each other someone who can truly understand the emotional aspects of being a medium. 

While at Cave Creek, we met Connie Mariano and John Weber in the nearby town of Carefree (what a great name!) for dinner at Cartwright's, which is now one of my favorite restaurants. (Thank you both for this culinary experience!) Connie is a retired Navy Rear Admiral, and was personal White House physician to President Clinton during his second term. John is a retired executive with a passion (that puts it mildly) for airplanes.  It was great to meet them both after reading Connie's excellent book, "The White House Doctor:  My Patients Were Presidents"  

John was having trouble remembering how many aircraft he has, so he took us to his Sky Ranch hangars to do a quick count. I was most impressed by his two German Schempp-Hirth Arcus gliders; this is his single seat racer with its "mast of shame" in the deployed position. John implied that purists might scoff at a sailplane with an engine, but it frees him up to launch and recover without a tow plane, and in event of an emergency, gives him about 50 miles to find an alternate (bingo) field. I was lusting for a ride with an obviously highly skilled sailplane pilot, but our schedules are both chock-a-block this month; we arranged for John to take me up next April when we return to Cave Creek/Carefree.

Unity of Phoenix invited Suzanne to hold a Sanaya session in their beautiful sanctuary last night, and almost 200 attendees were held spellbound by her channeling the collective consciousness known as Sanaya. Thanks to Rev. Richard Maraj and Rev. Tina Brown for their kind invitation and support, and to Jeremy McEwen, Audio/Visual Coordinator.  

After an extremely hectic three weeks of travel and events, Suzanne is ready for a day or two to recharge her batteries, but her schedule seems to be getting even more frenetic with each passing day. On Saturday, she presents her S.O.A.R! course at Unity of Mesa, and she is preparing for her inaugural Serving Spirit mediumship course (already filled) in Prescott Valley on Saturday/Sunday 30 April-1 May. 

I bought Suzanne a little memento (with diamonds on the top) of our time in Arizona. I have also been playing some sound effects to entertain her click here, but she has not responded with the enthusiasm and joy that I envisioned; even after reading Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, I still don't understand women....

Monday, April 11, 2016

Santa Fe; Silver City; Dragonfly Trail; Tucson; Desert Flora; A Nose for Wine?

Well, it's been a fast-paced week... After My Lovely Bride chastised me for lusting after a 72-ounce steak in Amarillo, we headed west in the coach and arrived at our next event in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. We stayed at an RV campground downtown, and one of the first things we saw was a cat strolling around. We see a lot of dogs in campgrounds, almost always on lead, but rarely a cat on its own. We were amazed when we then saw the feline climbing a ladder into the driver's window-cum-cat door of the motor coach. The owners obviously allow their cat out for a walk on its own, because the ladder was placed in position for Fluffy to climb back in whenever nature's call (or perhaps carnal desire?) was satisfied... 

Santa Fe is the home of gifted transformational music composer Jim Oliver, with whom Suzanne recorded a guided meditation on our previous visit. We were able to get together with Jim and his lovely wife Jann for a New Mexican dinner with some of the hottest salsa we've ever enjoyed.   Jim and Jann taught us that the most often asked question in the state of New Mexico is "Red or green (chili sauce)?"  We found both equally delicious.

Santa Fe has some lovely hiking trails, and we chose one just behind St. John's College, the Atalaya Mountain Trail, for a day hike. Here we see MLB relaxing for a minute, since we had last hiked at an elevation of 86 feet back in Florida, and Santa Fe is at 7,000 feet! We were both pretty tuckered out after our first Southwest hike. 

Suzanne's Getting Out of the Box presentation at Unity of Santa Fe was very well attended, and the attendees were enthusiastic and appreciative. There were also several college students and young couples there, a demographic that is usually absent back home in our home town in Florida. Thanks to Rev. Brendalyn for her hospitality and inviting Suzanne back for a third visit to Unity of Santa Fe.

While in Santa Fe, Suzanne received an email from a woman in Silver City, NM, who noted that her small town had seen an inordinate number of deaths of young people over the past couple of years, and asked her to come and speak there when she had a chance. Fortuitously, we had a couple of days free and were able to drive directly to Silver City where Suzanne presented her Meaning in the Messages talk last Friday. Even with such short notice, the event was Standing Room Only, and several people had to sit on the floor, but no one seemed to mind. We received a very warm welcome from Silver City, and would love to return in the future.  The highlight for Suzanne was bringing through three young spirits to bring healing for their parents.

While we were in Silver City, we were able to go hiking and to dinner with a delightful couple, Denise and Scott Kennedy. They took us hiking on the beautiful Dragonfly Trail near Fort Bayard, an army fort that had been manned by Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Colored Infantry Regiment during the Apache Wars from 1866-1886. The fort was later used as an Army medical center studying tuberculosis, and housed German prisoners of war during WW II.  Suzanne met Denise last year at her Unity Village weekend retreat in Kansas City, and we both enjoyed getting to know both Denise and Scott better.

Always seeking balance after Suzanne's readings and presentations, we also got out for a mountain bike ride on the same trail we hiked, albeit an extended version. Here we see some of the petroglyphs (including the dragonfly for which the trail is named) that Native Americans etched on the rocks centuries ago. 

This cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia kleinea) are known for their barbed spines which adhere tenaciously to passing animals, hikers and mountain bikers. Birds often nest in these cacti, presumably to avoid ground-based predators.

On another hike, near our campsite at an Elks Lodge, I found this warning sign as I exited the trail; but there had been none where I entered! Fortunately, I missed the opportunity of being attacked by a crazed ground squirrel or coyote!

Tucson was our next stop, and after setting up camp in Catalina State Park, I got out for a hike while Suzanne gave a phone reading. Catalina is famous for its 60,000 or so saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea), found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. They can live 150-200 years, grow to 50-60 feet tall and weigh 3200-4800 lbs.

There were also many ocotillo cacti (Fouquieria splendens) in bloom. Although it is not a true cactus, it provides some needed splashes of color in this parched desert environment. Those are the Catalina Mountains in the background.  

There is some rugged terrain here, and not much water. I was carrying 3 liters in my backpack, because you never know when you might get in trouble and be out longer than expected. (Note to Judson Emens: Thanks for the Alabama visor. Not only did it provide shade, but as I passed another guy hiking, he said, "Roll, Tide!" when he saw my stylish chapeau; now if my LSU friends will be just as accepting... yeah, fat chance!)

Suzanne's first event here was her Meaning in the Messages presentation to the Tucson International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) at Unity of Tucson, where she had spoken last year. It was a warm and welcoming group, and she will be speaking to them again Thursday evening (Getting Out of the Box)

Finally, Faithful Readers of this blog may recall the dinnertime behavior of our Dachsund Rudy, who often pushes his food bowl around with his nose to let us known in no uncertain terms that he's hungry. It was somewhat disconcerting when after a long day on the road, I noticed Rudy's Dog-Mom pushing her wine glass around the counter with her nose, hoping that I would be a bit quicker in opening a new bottle of Pinot Noir that we had received from friends. (Thankfully, the stemless glasses are made of plastic and not crystal!) 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tuscumbia; Haylee and Family; Terrible Weather; Tulsa; A Gun Show? Boxed In; Tulsa Events; Shegonna; Amarillo

We actually got to stay in our new house for five nights before loading up the coach and heading northwest to Alabama. Two long days of driving took us to Tuscumbia, near Muscle Shoals, where we met a wonderful family with whom we had been corresponding by email for over a year. Judson and Donna Jo Emens are probably the kindest, friendliest, most giving couple we have ever met. They have two adopted daughters, Haylee and Nadia. Judson had contacted Suzanne about Haylee, who has cerebral palsy and had been confined to a nursing home at age 21 with people five and six decades older than she before the Emens rescued her and cared for her for five years. Suzanne gave Haylee a reading over Skype which helped her a lot. Thanks to a local benefactor, Haylee now has her own home and 24/7 help so that she can live independently. 

We had a thoroughly delightful time with the Emens family. While Suzanne was giving Donna Jo a reading, Judson took me for coffee and a tour of the Wilson dam at Muscle Shoals, part of the TVA system. 

This view of the dam was shot from the tower where we would have dinner that evening...

Suzanne and I then went for a 4-mile run with Judson around Tuscumbia, following a route that he had set up for a Final Four Run a few years back. Judson also joined us for a tour of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's childhood home in Tuscumbia, where the cherry blossoms (Prunus serrulata) were in bloom.  Interestingly, this was the very day that Patty Duke, who played Helen in "The Miracle Worker" passed away. 

This magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) at Ivy Green is the largest I have ever seen. The estate is named after the English ivy which grew at Helen's ancestors' home in England. Built in 1820, the simple clapboard house is well-maintained and filled with artifacts and memorabilia from her life.

Here we see Suzanne at the same well pump where Helen first understood what Anne Sullivan, her blind teacher and lifelong companion, had been trying to tell her with sign language in her hand. 

As we were driving around Tuscumbia, Donna Jo showed us this cool billboard, with 9 year old Nadia and one of her teachers, promoting the school that she attends.  Isn't the message appropriate?

Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner in a revolving restaurant atop a hotel tower overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River. It was a great way to finish our visit to Tuscumbia.

As we were about to depart for Arkansas, Judson dropped by to let us know that we would be encountering severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes along the way. He suggested that we might not want to proceed all the way to Little Rock. After watching NOAA weather radar all morning, we stopped short in Millington, Tennessee, just east of Memphis, and hunkered down for the night. The yellow, orange and red blobs on the radar arrived over us that evening, and it was a very long night. Unfortunately, our little Rudy had another bout of upset tummy and had to go outside in the midst of it all, which was more than a bit disconcerting... but we made it in and out safely, and he's feeling better again. The worst part of that night was only getting about two hours' sleep. (I could get by with little sleep in my 20s and 30s, and maybe even into my 40s, but now I need at least 6 hours a night or I'm a tired grump.) We got on the road again the next morning, still with light rain and low clouds, but by that afternoon the skies had cleared, and we arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after our longest driving day ever in the coach, 424 miles. We crashed (metaphorically speaking) right after a light dinner and felt much better the next day.

I have to inject a funny story at this point; I had made a reservation in Tulsa, and when we arrived Thursday afternoon, checked in at an office in a nice RV park area of the huge Expo Square complex. We were assigned site #65 at the southwest corner of the parking lot, outside the RV park, and almost a mile away from the office; as we left, the office guy mentioned, "Oh, yeah, we are having a gun show this weekend." There were several other big rigs and fifth wheels in the area, but the parking lot had hardly any cars in it. No sweat, I thought, there's lots of room, and we spent Friday with our friends Lynette and Brenda, and Suzanne tested equipment for her Saturday interview on the Internet show Buddha at the Gas Pump. We awoke Saturday morning to find the previously empty parking lot filling up fast, and there was no way we could have moved our coach more than 20 feet. In another half hour, we were totally blocked in, with cars or pickup trucks within a foot on three sides, and a hill behind us. 

Lots of guys were walking around with holstered pistols or long guns. One guy pulled so close along our right side that I was concerned he might hit our slideout; I was getting out, and My Lovely Bride said, "Ty, remember that everyone here except you is carrying!" I stuck my head out, and the driver next to us said, "Sir, you have any problem with me parking here?" "No, sir, so long as you don't hit the coach." (For some reason Suzanne was inside laughing hysterically at how polite I was with the guy)."You're safe," he replied. That was comforting. What concerned me more was that we might have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to move on Sunday morning before the throngs arriving for The World's Largest Gun Show totally blocked us in for the entire day. We wound up moving that night to the real RV park, where the nice lady said, "It looks like whoever took your reservation thought you were a gun show exhibitor." I hesitated to say that we were actually in town for my wife to give a presentation on attuning to higher consciousness and to channel her spirit guides, Sanaya... you never know how that is going to be received in some circles.

Along the same line, we saw this roadside sign in southern Alabama, possibly sponsored by a beleaguered treasurer of some local church... 

In a more positive vein, Suzanne gave her Making the Connection talk Friday evening to a very warm and enthusiastic group at Unity of Tulsa, and the response was one of the best ever. Lynette is one of the leaders at the church, and had put the word out very well.  It was a great evening, and most of the attendees would return the next night for a session with Sanaya. 

Saturday evening's event was also memorable. Two ladies even drove in from Dallas, Texas to hear Suzanne speak. Suzanne signed many books and answered lots of questions from attendees. We were invited back next summer, and are already looking forward to that visit. (Rest assured, it will NOT be on the same weekend as The World's Largest Gun Show!)

Many thanks for the Tulsa event go to Lynette Setzkorn (at right) and her "sidekick in stalking" from Phoenix, Brenda Bollmann Baker (at left). Brenda and Lynette will be attending many of Suzanne's events this summer, including those in Tuscon, Phoenix, Prescott Valley, and Unity Village. Brenda has an "earthy"alias (especially considering she is a high school English teacher): "Shegonna", referring to her comment about My Lovely Bride's likely reaction to my affection for my solar-powered hottie, Hula Babe: "Ty, shegonna kick your butt!"

Just before departing Tulsa, we stopped by Lynette's to say goodbye to her and Brenda, and I did get the opportunity to handle three pistols, two shotguns and a carbine while there. Lynette's late husband Mike left behind a small arsenal of weapons, and Lynette asked me to unload those that were still loaded. The pistols were straightforward, and the shotguns had empty chambers, but when I picked up the Winchester Model 94 carbine, I carefully unloaded the 7 rounds without chambering them, not knowing how old they were or in what condition the action might be.  Suzanne joked that even though I didn't attend the gun show, I did at least get a manly testosterone fix after two days being surrounded by a majority of women.

We are now in Amarillo, Texas, after a long day's drive from Tulsa. I saw a billboard advertising "Free 72oz. Steaks" for those individuals who could eat one. I suggested we stop there and give me a shot at it, but MLB said something like, "Ty, don't let your gun experience go to your head. You're not a hungry cowboy out on the range during a cattle drive!"