June 5, Still in Houston

Margie and I are still in Houston as we continue to help Rebecca care for little Jonny, now three months old and doing great. He's growing well, gaining weight on schedule, and lately is showing signs that he's about to start teething. At least that's what we surmise as he drools a lot and wants to constantly gum his hands. He hasn't quite figured out yet that he cannot get both hands in his mouth at once, but that hasn't stopped him from trying (smile). Jonny mostly sleeps through the night now, but still wakes up around 6 in the mornings no matter what time he goes down the night before. At least we get to see some pretty sunrises and enjoy the cool part of the day.

Jonny at two months


Margie has been getting out to sister Nancy's place every Sunday to visit and spend time with their mother, Emalene, who is doing well also. A few weeks ago Emalene's husband, Aubrey, hurt his back when he missed his chair sitting down in front of his computer. Aubrey spent time in the hospital and a rehab facility before returning home to Jim and Nancy's place, where he's currently using a walker to get around. I went out there last Sunday on my motorcycle so that I could return with Jim's pickup truck, which I used on Monday to help Rebecca and Tony move to a new apartment. Their new place is a two-story unit with a fireplace that is much nicer than their old apartment. In addition to moving items from their previous apartment we also collected several pieces of furniture that had been kept at Malcolm's (Rebecca's father).

While we've been helping care for Jonny I've taken two long motorcycle rides without Margie. In early April I rode my Honda Shadow out to Death Valley to rendezvous with brother Eric, friend Dick and a friend of his from Phoenix. It took me four days to get to Death Valley and much of the time I was fighting a headwind. Indeed, the four days that we spent riding in southern and eastern California were marked by cooler than normal temps and lots of wind. Eric decided we'd have to label this the "Chicago" trip for all the cross winds we encountered. One day we rode east along the Angeles Crest Highway trying to make it to Wrightwood, a town with a nearby ski resort that my family used to visit in the '60s. We saw several signs indicating that the road wasn't open all the way to Wrightwood, which concerned us enough that we stopped to check with another motorist. He assured us that the road really was open, so we pressed on, only to be stopped several miles short of Wrightwood. There we found another cyclist who told us that the road ahead had been damaged by slides a few years ealier and had not been open since then. At that point I was getting very low on fuel and so I nursed my Shadow back west and then north off the mountains to get to the nearest service station. We spent that night in San Bernadino, and after Dick's friend left the next morning to ride back to Phoenix, Dick, Eric and I rode up the east side of the Sierras to Bridgeport. That's a lovely stretch of road, but again we had to battle winds and, eventually, cold, as we got to the higher elevations and were approaching Bridgeport (between Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe) after dark. Dick and Eric knew of some nearby hot springs, but after we got checked into our motel I was too cold and tired, so didn't join them when they went to the hot springs. Next morning, just before we split up, they took me out to see the hot springs and I wished then that I'd felt up to joining them the night before. Well, at least I know where the hot springs are now and can enjoy them another time.

Death Valley campsite

Eastern Sierras near Bridgeport hot springs

On my way back from Bridgeport I spent my first night (a Thursday) in a motel in Boulder City, next to Boulder Dam. I could tell from the weather forecast that I'd catch rain the next couple of days, so chose to swing by Tucson for a visit with Randy and Ginny. Since it was Easter weekend, their daughter Rachel was visiting from North Carolina, and they were all busy with Easter weekend activities. Still, they were happy to see me and by spending Friday and Saturday nights with them I was able to avoid the rain Saturday. Leaving Tucson on Easter morning I made it back to Houston in three days without much wind and no rain, having put a total of 4600 miles on my Shadow in twelve days.

Randy helping Rachel with her taxes

Randy, Rachel & Ginny ready for church

Riley in Tucson
My second cycle trip was up to Council Grove, Kansas, for a Memorial Day weekend rendezvous with the Porter clan. Randy and Ginny, Roxanne and Eric all flew into Kansas City airport on the same flight and then drove a rental car to the Cottage House Friday evening, where we visited a while before I went on out to my Corps of Engineers campsite on the Council Grove reservoir. On Saturday we five drove down to Wichita to visit the grave of Lucile, Dad's older sister. Then it was back to Council Grove to await the gathering of Porters, including Rex, Debbie and son Kevin, who came in from Wisconsin, and Uncle Gene, Aunt Dorothy and daughter Ann from Minnesota. The Minnesota crew also included Ann's daughter Nicole and her husband, Mike, whom we all enjoyed meeting. Late that night cousin Jane and her two sons, John and Mark, arrived from Wichita. With John was his wife Caron and with Mark was his wife Kami, along with their one-year-old son, Aidan. On Sunday morning we were joined by cousin Rich and his wife Sarah, and we all went out to the Greenwood Cemetery for our traditional walkthrough. Gene, Rich and Jane shared many stories about our Porter and Haucke ancestors as we visited each gravesite to plant flowers. Of course, we also visited Mom and Dad's plot, and put a few new pebbles atop their gravestone. Following the cemetery visit we all convened at the Hays House for the traditional lunch, in which we were joined by Helen and Willis Huston and a couple of friends of Rich and Sarah. In addition to a fine meal we were all entertained by Jane as she presented a poster session about the highly contested 1930 Kansas governor's race, involving Frank ("Chief") Haucke. After an afternoon of more family visiting on the Cottage House porch we all assembled at the Pizza Hut for supper followed by dessert at the adjacent Dairy Queen.

Cousin Jane feeds grandson Aidan at Cottage House

Uncle Gene and crew at Parkerville Bank

The next morning, after the Wisconsin and Minnesota crews had departed north, Randy, Ginny, Roxanne, Eric and I drove down to a roadcut not far from Dunlap to look for fossils. We found several interesting fossils in the limestone rocks and then spent some time tossing other rocks into the stream next to the roadcut. By then it was getting time for my siblings to take me back to Council Grove so that they could head back to the airport for their return flights. I used my iPod Touch (and the Cottage House Wi-Fi) to check the Council Grove weather and learned that rain was possible that night, so I decided to break camp then and head south. It took me just that afternoon and the next day to get back to Houston, with only a little rain just north of Houston. All told, I put about 1600 miles on my Shadow, a much shorter and easier trip than my California trip.

I've already got another motorcycle trip planned with son Keith and Eric for late July, with a tentative rendezvous set for Grand Junction in western Colorado. That will make for a long ride for all of us just to get to the meeting place, but there's no help for it if we want to do some touring of Colorado.

So far Houston has had an unusually warm spring and now that summer is upon us we aren't looking forward to even hotter days, to say nothing of the humidity. The A/C in our motor home works well, but we've had some intermittent problems with the thermostat sticking so that the compressor doesn't shut off. We've been trying for several days to get a service man out here to replace the thermostat, and hope that he makes it today. We have been taking a few walks with Jonny in his stroller around the 4-acre fishing lake here at the RV park, and may yet take advantage of their swimming pool.

Our vehicles at Lake View RV Resort

Palms and oleanders reflected in fishing lake

Love to all,
Riley & Margie

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