Busking to Idaho

The fall came with a rush for Ol' Dutch and Miss Trixie and we soon ,found ourselves on the road again in the big old Conestoga.

Around Christmastime last year my daughter Cricket and her husband Cap bought a house in Pocatello, Idaho, and with youthful vigor hosted a party to celebrate. However, this party was billed as a “demo party” where their guests proceeded to rip out all the walls and ceilings in the house.

As you know, though, “the best laid intentions often go awry.” If you do not know what that means it best can be summed up in this particular situation as, “Dad will come clean up the mess."

Oh they meant well and got in a few loose electrical wires and boxes and actually swept out the floors but that's about it. So some 10 months later, off to Idaho Ol' Dutch and Trixie headed on a bright and shining Saturday morning.

The trip was slow of course pulling the massive RV but the colors were gorgeous across Colorado and into Utah. On Sunday morning, we slowly found our way North from Price, Utah, and up and over the pass there at Helper.

On the down side of that pass we encountered a traffic jam of monumental proportions and after a brief intermission we were told to expect a delay of at least four hours. Most of the cars turned around and headed for new routes but a quick survey of those by Trixie and we could see it would add 200 miles to our trip and take more time to traverse.

We found a pull off on the side of the road and waited for the road to be cleared. Having all your “stuff” along in an RV has certain advantages when traveling as lunch and other amenities are just a short distance away at any one time. Other travelers could be seen climbing the hills to use the “facilities” so we were spared from that at least.

To escape the confines of the truck, Ol' Dutch grabbed his guitar, his harmonica, a chair plus a large ice tea and set up camp alongside the road. A quick survey of the situation and I could see that as soon as the road was clear we would be overwhelmed with a procession of cars that would make the exit of Moses from Egypt pale in comparison.

Now as many of you know, Ol' Dutch is always on the lookout for a good thing and making money in any shape and form is first on that list of many. It didn't take me long to find a bucket to place on the side of the road with the word “Tips” emblazoned in bold black letters on it.

Trixie made the comment that now I was a busker and it took me a while before I could finally look up that word on the Internet.

Here’s what I learned: street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities and “busking” is particularly associated with singing or playing music. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given.

So there I sat by the side of the road and when the road cleared ahead of us an endless stream of cars and truck passed, each waving and smiling at my attempt to make the best out of a bad situation.

I am not sure if it was the speed of traffic or the poor performance on my part but my bucket was lacking at the end of the day. I was hoping for bills of course as any change tossed out of a car at 40 mph might end up causing a black eye on yours truly.

So although I was a tad discouraged one must remember that it takes a while to build up a following and I soon expect to be making gas money anytime a road side delay is experienced.

At least the people who drove by had a smile and a laugh as Ol' Dutch's expense and if that made their wait more bearable, long live Busker Dutch!

Living Online

Even though I am a big fan of smart phones, I do see that they have added more complexity to people’s lives. Studies show that we are all becoming more and more stressed due to the fact that we cannot get away from being constantly “on.”

I can recall being on vacation and having to find a pay phone to call my employer to see how things were going. Even in daily life, time in the car meant “alone time” when traveling to job locations because no one was constantly ringing your cellphone to ask for favors.

Some people have actually solved this problem by doing what is called “turning off their phone.” I know, crazy, right? No matter where you go you see people basically married to that pocket communicator and even on dates people will sit there and text who-knows-whom while their date does the same.

Ol' Dutch is about as bad as the next in this regard and I am starting to be a tad concerned that I have caught the dreaded “text” disease. Every ding or vibration of my phone has me reaching for that tool of the Devil to see who had a birthday, what politician lied now, who got shot, what kid needs money or Trixie's latest instructions.

The latter is the worst as I used to be able to say I didn’t hear her or remember her instructions but now she has legal proof that she sent them to me via text.

Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful advantages to having these new-fangled contraptions such as being able to see the granddaughters pet the cows, do a dance recital, sing a song or pick their nose. Well, most of it’s good.

One thing that has come to Ol' Dutch of late is the advent of online surveys. If you have not gotten into this aspect of modern connectivity then let me take a few moments to explain.

Someone, somewhere will decide that they need a sampling of Americana and will offer to pay any qualifying online idiot to fill out a survey. This can be anything from soup to nuts and includes political choices, food shopping trends, new car buying decisions, health care insurance questions and about anything you can dream up.

I am not sure where they get their money but just this past week a crisp new $2 bill came in the mail for about five minutes of my time. That would translate into about $24 an hour and that ain’t chicken feed in anyone’s books. Another survey soon arrived and I now have another $5 coming in the mail.

At the rate these invites are escalating I soon will be on my way to making real money on the Internet from the comfort of my recliner. No more will I have to hustle and compete in the real world for dollars as I can just wait for it to come to me in my post office box.

Now you may assert that this is not “real” money. But, let me remind you, all businesses take a while to build up and I am working on this on a daily basis by surfing the Web for more opportunities to voice my valued opinion.

Since Ol' Dutch spent his entire life providing for a spouse and kids, he never did get to have a good boat. But now I can see that with just a little bit of work that dream may now be a reality.

My brother-in-law just bought a new boat and it was somewhere in the $22,000 range so taking that price into consideration Ol' Dutch only needs 6,286 more surveys to get that new boat.

I will have to up the rate of survey taking however to make this work because at the current survey payment schedule it’s going to take me about 120 years to save up enough to make a trip to Bass Pro Shops. I am not sure even they will go that long on payments?


Sounds of Silence

Ol' Dutch has suffered many a year with a hearing loss and it’s a quiet world where I live.

Doctors have told me that people who suffer from such a malady can get it a myriad ways. They say it can be anything from shooting guns, loud music, loud industry sounds, train whistles or any other loud noises.

Now Ol' Dutch worked on the railroad for many a eon and some people would say it was all those train whistles across 2.3 million miles riding a train, but, I have found the real source of hearing loss among men. Marriage.

No matter what married couple I talk to it seems I get the same story from the woman of the relationship about how the man either cannot hear or maybe chooses not to. My not so lovely ex used to say I had selective hearing and maybe there was some truth to that as it kept me from hearing too much from her.

I am around a lot of people in the RV parks who have been married 40, 50 and even 60  years and they all tell the same story. Old John just cannot hear Joanne and so she ends up taking care of a lot of details for him since John didn’t want to do them anyway. There is the truth that Old John could hear just fine before he got married so there has to be some correlation there.

Several weeks ago my good friend Susie Q gave me a hearing aid. Now Ol' Dutch has been approached many a time to buy one but being part Scotch I realized that I could buy a boat or new gun for that kind of money so I suffered in silence. And the fish, elk, deer and bear could care less if I can hear or not so it’s a win-win deal.

Perhaps that kind of silence is what people really need to find, anyway. You see if a person only hears half of what it going on around them life is really twice as good.

You only hear half of the insults people may throw your way, half of the news which is mostly bad, half of the complaints of those around you and half of the requests for favors from your friends and neighbors.

When a person stops to think about it, this is a great way to reduce the stresses in life by -- you guessed it -- half.

Suddenly, long winded sermons become bearable, kids who are crying don't drive you up the wall, dogs barking next door are not a problem, politicians don't seem half bad, spouses become bearable and friends’ requests for a loan are magically reduced in number as you just don't hear them.

Why just last night Trixie and Ol' Dutch were up on a mountain bear hunting and on the way out in the darkness night, Trixie kept whispering something about a “tree.” Now I didn't want to spoil it for her and tell her I have seen trees before thereby lording it over her so I just smiled and kept walking.

Little did I know that “tree” was really “pee” and she about wet her pants before we got to the truck. So there are downsides at least for Trixie living with the hard of hearing but that is her cross to bear for choosing someone as good as me.

After all who else would take her on a date bear hunting over a dead elk carcass in the woods on such a gorgeous evening? She ain't gonna get that in California with her fancy friends, no sirree Bob.

That kind of thing only comes about from true love. She did remark that the forest was full of Gremlins and eerie sounds as we walked out in the dark which is EXACTLY why Ol' Dutch prefers to live in silence.

No telling how many bears have almost eaten me or Bigfoots have tried to abduct me but Ol' Dutch just walks along in silent ignorance of the ghouls around me, happy as a pig in a mudhole.


Jack of All Trades

We all know people who seem to be a jack of all trades and master of none.

What you may not realize is that this group breaks down into two smaller categories. Some of them (let’s call them the Doers) can actually do a lot of things halfway successfully while the other bunch (Undoers) can’t accomplish much at all

Knowing someone from the Doers can come in handy when the sewer is plugged, a water leak is causing a flood in the kitchen or some other pressing issue that “the wife” needs done.

A Doer person has watched enough HGTV and made so many trips to the local hardware storethat they always know where to start on a project. Not only that, they also know when to quit and call in a professional. They are experts at taking an item apart and not putting it back together correctly.

An Undoer, on the other hand, is a person who “thinks” they are an expert on the matter and commence to mess things up even more than when they first started.

A small water leak for them ends up requiring a new sink to be installed due to damaging the threads on the old one during the repair process. Or a routine oil change results in needing to buy a new car because they forgot to add the oil back in after changing it.

Now, while one may be an Undoer for most of their life, there is still time to become a Doer.

Ol' Dutch can attest to the fact that the older I get, the more careful I am when fixing something. Gone are the early days when I was short of time and money so no matter what I fixed it never seemed to stay fixed.

Why, one time I built an entire house with a screwdriver, a hammer, a skill saw and a drill and that is no exaggeration. It’s what I had and it worked out although I had to go back and remodel several times over the years.

Still after all these years, I’m not sure if I had to remodel because of my inexperience at the time with construction, the tools I had on hand or just the normal “wife wants it different” syndrome.

You men know what I’m talking about. No matter what house you buy, the “perfect one” that she chooses will need a remodel in due time. She knows it from the moment she selected the house and at just the right time, she’ll let YOU know that it is time to remodel.

For someone in the Doer group, it’s no problem to tear out a wall, drop in some new fixtures, add an island and counter top plus tile the kitchen floor.

But for the poor man in the Undoer category, it’s quite a different story. Oh, he gets it torn out and a real effort is made the first weekend or two but suddenly elk season looms and with football also starting afresh the poor spouse finds herself living in what is known as “a mess.”

No amount of “encouragement” from the significant other can get the project moving again once it hits this stage and only with a great amount of persuasion does the man ever try and finish what he started.

Finally, the man will call in his buddy or some professional and just pay him to finish the job. This does not come about without a lot of thinking but the sudden realization that a plumber, electrician or A/C specialists is way less expensive than a divorce lawyer.

If you have a member of the Doer group around your house,count yourself lucky. Otherwise, if your man is like Ol’ Dutch and responds to the call of the hunting season, you will most certainly find yourself perusing the Yellow Pages when you need something done right. 

The Grim Reaper Cometh

Today more than any other I was reminded that the Grim Reaper is creeping ever so much closer to my soul as I forgot to write this column for the week. They do say memory is the first thing to go.

Such forgetfulness can be worrisome but the doctors tell you that even though you lose your keys, if you know what to do with them once you find them, then you don’t need to worry a lot about losing them in the first place.

Most men rely on their wives or girlfriends to keep them informed of important dates and that’s why I have Trixie.

She is usually spot-on when it comes to those things. This time, however, our lives have been reduced to early morning hunting, late-night socializing and trying to keep the rest of life rolling which means that writing skipped my feeble mind.

The wonders of modern convenience, though, never cease to amaze me and even now I am writing this in an aspen park at 11,000 feet to be zipped to your local paper by some method I cannot even begin to comprehend.

Last Sunday we had another rousing round of southern gospel singing at Aspen Ridge RV Park and I felt pretty good being able to remember at least most of the old songs. But, then, phrases like “on a hill far away” and “some glad morning when this life is o’er” are pretty much ingrained on my soul.

Playing a guitar and singing at the same time is akin to the old test of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time so at least Ol Dutch has a little bit of light left in the old bulb.

The long walk up to where I hunt every morning at zero-dark-thirty does make me stop and blow like an old horse and it seems that it's harder every day let alone each new year.

Regardless of what Trixie may say (and certainly thinks), Ol Dutch is the epitome of hard mountain man physique. 

 I may not be the picture of champion-ironman-training-manhood like Trixie was used to but I do bring a few things to the table where those guys fell short. I’d like to see one of those fellas put fresh game on the table, stock the larder full of fish, nap in the afternoon or be so forgetful it allows Trixie to get away with just about anything by saying, “oh, you just don’t remember that.”

So if you are beginning to forget things in life just make sure it is things that are not worth remembering like your golf score, the last card game with the ladies when they beat the pants off you and that big elk you missed.

And always remember this: never pick your nose on a bumpy road. That’s how Ol’ Dutch nearly poked his eye out. 

Purses and Backpacks

Now most of you that know Ol' Dutch long ago came to the conclusion that he must shy away from anything which shows his effeminate side.

This did not come about easily. It took many years of refusing to hold the wife's purse while she tried something on before it took hold for good. And, still, I’m not sure if it were my refusal or the divorce which really finalized that situation.

Someone once said that the reason divorces are so expensive is that “they are worth it.” Now I don't know about that but for Ol' Dutch his life of hunting and fishing instead of working did coincide with that ugly event so maybe it’s true.

Whatever the cause the outcome has been better than first anticipated. Here, I am now, a man without a bag-to-hold on any shopping adventure Trixie drags me on as she will never let loose of the reins of her glorified duffel bag she calls a “purse.”

Elk season has begun for Ol' Dutch and with that comes what is known as “quiet time.” That is never in huge supply with Miss Trixie around so it does give me a chance to recharge and think about some of the deeper things in life. And, this week, I thought about having a purse.

In preparation for bow season, I was amazed at the do-dads and dew-hickeys that were needed in my backpack to feel like I was complete in the woods. It also helped me to understand a bit why women need a large purse.

In my pack I noticed some camouflaged paint and as I thought about it there is not much difference between that and the war paint women carry in their satchels. It serves exactly the same purpose which is to hide from unsuspecting prey anything that would give away a true identity.

Further inspection took me to the elk urine and elk-in-heat potion that is sure to seduce any bull worthy of the name. Perfume does exactly the same thing and many a bull has fallen to the wafting smells and aromas of a pretty lady flaunting her stuff.

These scents are not to be confused with “cover scents.” Too much of that whether you are hunting for bulls or men is not a good thing. But, I’ve probably said enough about that, if you get my drift. Well, maybe not my drift as it’s pretty rank at the moment.

One pocket in my backpack has an elk bugle call and a cow call. These have been known to come in handy a time or two and any woman worth her salt knows just when to make the appropriate gestures and flirty conversation to attract the bull of her choosing.

As I looked further through my backpack I was amazed at the plethora of items I am hauling into the woods on my back. They include lighters, ropes, knives, plastic baggies, snacks, meat salvage bags, batteries, phone, emergency blanket and even a fake elk cow decoy.

One early morning out hunting I reflected on my backpack and how it has everything that I could possibly want.

Then, I recalled, the many, many times I’ve been missing something --- be in a Bingo dauber, gun ammo, lip balm, new guitar strings, phone charger or fishing bait --- and I’ve asked Trixie if she happens to have the said item. She dives into her bottomless bag and comes up with a solution to my every need.

I would not be a bit surprised to see her pull out an expedition tent out of that magician’s hat complete with Oxygen and crampons for a full ascent on Mount Everest.

Oh yea, she already did that once. Dang, if only I had a purse like that.


My Wallet is Empty

Recently Ol' Dutch had the opportunity to buy a ranch in Texas. You might ask why anyone in their right mind would buy one there and Trixie may agree with you that I am not in my right mind, too.

But it’s near the grand-daughters and Bubs, my son, so there is some advantage to being close at least part of the year. Now before you get to thinking that Ol' Dutch had amassed some kind of near fortune to buy such a place that is not the case at all. I am tempted to call it Oleo Ranch as it’s just a “little spread.”

But the one thing I have noticed is that just buying the land is only the tip of the iceberg as now there are things I need to buy just to keep the place running and Ol' Dutch is feeling kinda poor after the initial purchase fun has worn off.

I was talking to Trixie about this situation and told her that it reminded me of a story to which she rolled her eyes and sighed heavily which usually means she is anxious for my impartation of wisdom to her young ears.

This story had to do with my brother-in-law who at 6 years old had gotten a dollar for his birthday. A dollar was real money back in those days.

He was anxious to spend it so his mother took him to the Woolworth store in the local town. Once there he perused the aisles and finally found the perfect item: a wallet that was priced for $1.He proudly bought it and carried it home.

Once there he suddenly realized that now that he had the wallet he had no money to put in it and cried himself to sleep.

Such is life so it seems. We often have the money to buy something then find out there are hidden costs or that we find ourselves without enough money to enjoy what we just bought.

The ranch is just such a place for me now as I need a bush hog mower, box blade, my tractor overhauled, cattle wormed, hay baled, fence built, barn cleaned, mobile home demolished, trash picked up, metal hauled off and a hundred other things. So, do you see the problem?

Even though I was able to get the land, now I am a tad short on capital to really do it right.

My sister and all her kids came out to vacation last week and I was reminded of just how far we have come in our desire to have things. They each showed up with these new Yeti ice chests which are made of solid gold or something like that.

Now I don't know about you but in my truck is a old beat-up red Coleman ice chest that has had worms, fish, deer, antelope, sandwiches and cookies in it and only cost around $25.

But here they all were with these newfangled $300 coolers in each of their cars, $30 mugs to match for each adult (and some kids), shirts, hats and all sorts of other paraphernalia of the same brand adorning their earthly bodies. .

When I was growing up, my dad always had the cheap Styrofoam coolers and I never remember any food going bad or lack thereof when we needed it. Those coolers were designed to keep food cold for a set time until you could have a picnic and get back home even in a day or two.

My sister and her family, though, were quick to point out that these new plastic boxes would keep food cold for 10 days straight if you did not open it which totally defeats the purpose of a cooler in Ol' Dutch's mind. The measure of a “good ice chest” is how empty it is at day’s end and the success of the day can be measured from that alone.

Trixie and I had a conversation about getting a Yeti to be part of the “in” crowd but Ol' Dutch is afraid to buy one and then look in there and find there is no food, because I would have spent all of my money on the ice chest. But, I’m sure having a Yeti would make me cool and that’s worth a lot of money right there. 

Go Big

Getting to roam the earth like I do, I am often drawn to the most odd-named spots on this planet.   It makes sense that a lot of towns were named after meaningful people or places like New Amesterdam or Georgetown. And, some places are named after a unique geological feature common to the area like South Fork, Colorado named for the adjacent river that runs through it. 

In the San Luis Valley we see the early influence of the Spanish and later Latino peoples in the names of the cities and places like the Sangre De Christo Mountains which translated means, The Blood of Christ.

But Ol' Dutch has always been amazed at some of the names he visits and reads about and I have to wonder where these could have possibly originated?  You don't have to look far to find a Bugtussle, Texas or a Boring, Oregon. There is a Why, Arizona and there is Whynot, Mississippi. Another interesting place is Loafers Glory, North Carolina which I take to be a good place to re-shoe oneself but Trixie says that maybe is where Ol' Dutch can ply his trade of "loafing."

The town of Sweet Lips, Tennessee gives me great memories of a gal I knew from the South and Lick Skillet, Tennessee kind of leaves a slick feeling on my tongue.  I know nothing about Hell, Michigan but it would give most preachers fits as they try and convince their congregations that they need to be "saved from Hell." Personally, though, I have been in a few towns I wish someone had saved me from too so Ol' Dutch thinks this might just be one of them.

Now Ol' Dutch has never been one to be too prudish but how people came up with Intercourse, Pennsylvania for a town name is a tad suspect. As for other less than dainty sounding names there is Dildo, Canada to which Ol' Dutch won't touch with a 10 foot pole. And Middlefart, Denmark brings up thoughts of odoriferous airs about town. 

We cannot fail to mention Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales which has fewer residents than the letters in its name.  More local place names include Center which lies in the center of the Valley and Creede, named for Nicholas Creede who first found silver deposits there. 

I guess my favorite of all times however would have to be Timbuktu which is located far away on the edge of the Great Sahara Desert. This name invokes something far, far away and is also just fun to say like Waxahachie, Texas. 

Maybe this year you will find yourself in Hygiene or Spook City, Colorado. Or possibly you could find your way to Wideawake or maybe pick up a few new house guests in Old Roach, Colorado? There is one thing I do know after all these years and that is "wherever you find yourself, there you are" and the journey is half the fun of any adventure. 

So should this year find Ol' Dutch and Trixie in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico or  Pee Pee Ohio or some other town with an interesting name, we will try and always remember the old saying, "you cannot judge a book by its cover.” Even if we end up in Anus, France Ol' Dutch will try not to have a crappy outlook on life. 


Kevin Kirkpatrick and his Yorkie, Cooper, fish, hunt, ATV or hike daily. His email is Kevin@TroutRepublic.com. And his blog is www.troutrepublic.com.