Jeeps, Steeps and Sheeps

How time flies. It’s been 2 weeks since my last post and every day somehow gets filled up with some activity or another. Amid the hustle and bustle DD and the Captain did manage to book in a couple of days for just some rest and relaxation.

On the domino front the boys (Lonesome Larry and CC) have upped the score to a 9 11 to 2 lead over the femme fatales (DD and Busty Barb the Believer). There is little doubt that the boys will come away with the season’s championship as only 2 or 3 games are left on the schedule. One would think the girls would concede the series at this point but futility seems to course through their veins. In other domino news CC and DD took on a challenge from the USA team of Dashing Dave and Jezebel Jeannine (using Missouri Rules). The match was called at a tie score because of darkness (i.e. past DD’s bedtime).

One sign that the winter season in the LTVA is almost over is the now annual Chili-Fest put on by our neighbours Cora and Merle. Several cauldrons of delectable chilli (including a vegetarian one) were ladled out to the guests. The only downside was the absence of Beano. In addition to the chilli there were enough scrumptious desserts to clog the arteries of a champion marathoner. Even with 167 diners in attendance there were copious amounts of food to take home in doggy bags. Another great event put on by Cora and Merrill. Thanks again.

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very chilli in the desert

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Chef Merrill

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the Alliteration Alumni waits for the dinner gong

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part of the throng

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Mr. Solar (centre) and wife Linda

And speaking of the season being almost over DD and CC have just over a week left at the LTVA before beginning (March 7th) our northward trek to the Great White North. After another week of temperatures predicated to be in the 90s. Some cooler weather will be welcomed.

Campfire at the Wolf Pack

Perhaps in apology for not making the Castle Dome Hike, Hawk and Red Fox invited the rest of the climbing team to the Wolf Pack for dinner and a campfire.

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the Alliteration Alumni with new member Wiki Wells (centre in red shirt)

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Red Fox, Hawk and CC

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Mary Wells performs for the AA

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is this really necessary DD?

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LL and BBB

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come on baby light my fire

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WW, Red Fox, Hawk and CC mesmerized by the fire (well maybe not CC)

Domed to Failure

Given Hawk and Red Fox’s contrition of missing the 1st Castle Dome climb a 2nd assault on the mountain was hastily planned for the team on the next Tuesday. The climb team was whittled down to an elite group of 5 who would make the assault without the benefit of the Base Camp team of BBB and Mary Wells. Additionally team historian and librarian Wiki Wells would be unavailable and his absence could be detrimental to the effort.

Despite an early departure (6:30 a.m.) and a record pace for the climb, the elements conspired against the team and the final assault of 400 feet to the peak was called off due to wind gusts approaching 25 to 35 mph. The disappointed group sadly made their way home with a vow of a successful assent next season.

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LL and CC pumped for the climb

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the female contingent support group

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Hawk and Red Fox still smiling at the beginning of the climb

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the Steeps

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LL at the base of the cliff

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CC heading to the thumb

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view from the base of the thumb

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LL marks the high point of the climb for today

Jeep Screech 3

Everything happens in 3s is an untested theorem but in the case of jeep trips and DD screaming and screeching it turns out to be true. Lonesome Larry and Busty Barb the Believer (true masochists I’m sure) unaware of this adage again invited the Captain and DD for another jeep trip in the desert.

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another tequila sunrise

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paratroopers at YPG (Yuma Proving Ground)

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just about got it made

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successful landing

Suffice to say that the roads WERE just as sketchy and DD just as screechy. Thankfully for LL and BBB this was to be our last jeep outing of the season.

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the Jeeps heading to the first drop off

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BBB, LL and Sue wait for rest of the jeeps to land

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our leader Slobber Jaws

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a pit stop overlooking the Colorado River

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and there it is

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a view of the opposite of the river where our Thursday Overlook hike goes to

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the LTVA off in the distance

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the  Mountain Sheep

Painted Desert Hike/Fish Camp Hike

These 2 hikes are annual repeats of our Thursday group hikes and despite the smaller number of hikers this year they are still great bits of exercise and sightseeing.

Painted Desert

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CC lost again from the looks of it

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great difference in colours of the rock

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WW, CC, Hawk and Howard at the rattlesnake mausoleum

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the Lost Canuck (left) and his disciples

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DD and Red Fox share another support group

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the Neil Young rock (Heart of Stone)

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the burro guardians

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down another damn wash

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DDs art deco photo  of the week

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entrance to the bat cave

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DD apparently hasn’t seen the bats behind her yet

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a sky hook rock

Fish Camp

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across the scree field

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DD points us in the wrong direction

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face in the rocks

Jeanine’s Just Get Over It

Complaint

DD is still moaning about not getting to the top of Castle Dome.

Response

Please play the Beatles “When I’m 64” cause that’s what you’ll be when you get try next year.

By stubbs99

The Castle Dome-inators

February 7th dashing Dave celebrated his 71st birthday by getting himself invited to the Captain and Debbie Dewdrops for a down home solar cooked vegetarian dinner. DD’s culinary offerings included kale salad, lasagna, fresh baked bread, cookies and ice cream (no she didn’t make the ice cream). Thanks go to LL and BBB for provided the bread dough.

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LL the Dough Boy

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CC serves the bread

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does Dashing Dave always look this excited about his Birthday??

Dashing Dave being an avid fisherman was slightly disappointed to not be served a fish dish. However, to make up for this imagined slight David, did receive a special gift of a fish albeit in a significantly deteriorated state that CC and DD had been hauling around for several months in the storage compartment of their trailer. Despite the fish’s questionable state of health that Big Mouth Bass sure as hell could belt out a tune. This wonderful song has now without question become Dashing Dave’s theme song.

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Something’s fishy here Dave

To top off the evening Dashing Dave and the Captain staged a remarkable comeback in defeating DD and Jezebel Jeannine in a hard fought dominoes match. Behind by almost 200 points the boys called in team psychologist Lonesome Larry, who in sharing his positive aura via the renowned “thumb shake” provided the crucial boost for the victory.

The BIG EVENT of the week was a group hike up Castle Dome Mountain about a 45 minute drive northeast of the LTVA. Details of the hike are covered in the last section of today’s blog.

Little Grand Canyon Hike

Thursday’s (February 4th) hike took our group out near the Yuma Proving Ground to the “Little Grand Canyon”. This hike is notorious for being our longest and most gruelling group hike. A small but hardy group of hikers made the trek this year and were rewarded with seeing several mountain sheep in the hills along the trails.

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parachuting at the Yuma Proving Grounds

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desert intruders

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BBB shows how not to break her nails while hiking

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a natural nail polish dryer

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CC on safety patrol

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LL and BBB navigate the canyon

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BBB checking for stragglers

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Red Fox and Hawk

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Lost Canuck moves the hikers along

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DD swears this is a UFO

Pot Holes Hike

After last Thursday’s hike this week’s (Feb 11th) trek to the Pot Holes was a more sedate affair. Given that the temperature was getting up to the high 80’s it is just as well this relatively short hike of 4 miles was in the books by noon.

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a modern day miner near the pot holes

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and old abandoned mine (pot holes)

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Hawk not overly impressed with cat fish heads on the pole

 

Conquering Castle Dome

Tuesday February 9th was the day DD and CC had been thinking about for a couple of years. On a daily basis we are treated to the inspiring site of Castle Dome Mountain off on the northeast horizon. And now after a few years of talk, it was time to walk the walk. Lonesome Larry was able to secure the services of notable retired Sherpa Guide, Fathomless Fred, to guide us up the mountain. A small but select group of courageous hikers (Lonesome Larry, Johnny Wells, Debbie Dewdrops and the Captain) were chosen for the mountain assault supported by Busty Barb the Believer and Mary Wells at base camp.

Special Note: Johnny Wells will now identified in this Blog as Wikie Wells (WW), short for Wikipedia Wells given his ability to dispense an over-flowing stream of data on almost every subject raised.

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morning view of Castle Dome form the LTVA

By 7 a.m. (very early by LL’s standards) the climbing team headed out to the mountain. A 45 minute drive brought us to the trail head where we loaded up our packs and headed down the wash to base camp which we are able to find despite a wee bit of a wrong turn down a dead end canyon that added an extra ½ mile to the trip.

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along the wash to Base Camp

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A mile further up the wash brought us to the beginning of the actual ascent. Before going on here are a few minutiae of the climb:

Fathomless Fred – 75 years old, 5th ascent

Elevation at parking lot – 1500 feet

Elevation at Base Camp – 1750 feet

Elevation at start of ascent – 2000 feet

Elevation at base of the “Thumb” – 3450 feet

Elevation at top of Castle Dome  – 3754 feet

Ascent time form parking lot to base of the “Thumb” – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Ascent from base of “Thumb” to peak – 25 minutes

Descent to Base Camp – 3 hours, 20 minutes

Fortunately for the climbing team the entire ascent was in the shade of the mountain with a reasonable temperature in the low 60’s. Once the first 3rd of the ascent was completed, the climb became steeper and more treacherous with large sections containing a lot of loose gravel and stone that encouraged slipping where it wasn’t really advisable to do so. Arriving at the bottom of the top cliffs we skirted across the face and up to the base of the Thumb where we broke for lunch. A wrong step here would have been catastrophic with a rather hard landing 1500 feet below.

The final assault team of FF, LL and the Captain climbed hand over foot for most of the remaining 300 feet to the top. The incredible views were only modestly muted by a bit of haze and not soon to be forgotten.

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shadow dancers on the ridge

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John Wells, LL, CC and Fathomless Fred

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silhouette of the Thumb and Castle Dome

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don’t want to fall on this guy

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DD pauses for a rest on the hike up

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part way up the mountain

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getting a bit steep

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but a lovely view

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almost to the Thumb

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looking out from one side of the Thumb

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and from the other side

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LL preparing for the final assault on the summit

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lunch time

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LL at the summit

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views from the top

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looking east

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CC signals a successful climb

The trek down was in some ways more difficult than the ascent due to the tendency to want to involuntarily ski down some of the gravel sections and now being in the heat of the afternoon sun. The team managed it successfully however with only a few minor scrapes and scratches and made it back to the LTVA by 5:30 p.m.  Despite the rigour of the day DD and CC are looking forward to a return to the mountain, possibly this season with the intent of dragging Hawk and Red Fox along who were perhaps conveniently out of town for this one.

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safe and sound at the bottom of the descent

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LL and DD tuning in

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back at Base Camp

Jeanine’s Just Get Over It

Complaint

JJ did not want her domino loss publicized so I expect she will soon be complaining.

Response

Ha! Ha! Ha!

By stubbs99

The Never-Ending Screech is Lost in the Wind

Favourite Movie – Gone with the Wind

Favourite Song – Blowing in the Wind

The astute readers of this Blog will quickly deduce the connection between the above noted 2 favourites. Yes Wind is the common denominator and wind is what we have been getting in heavy doses yesterday and today. Local desert denizens have recorded wind gusts of up to 70+ mph with sustained speed in the upper 20s to the mid 30s. Needless to say anything that ain’t bolted down is either blowing or gone with the wind. Luckily we had enough warning and haven’t had to go scampering across the desert to retrieve any of our possessions. We did have our sun oven blow off the table and when CC stepped out to pick it up he was assailed with a wall of gravel and sand that literally filled his ears with grit in less than 2 minutes. CC does not recommend this as a medically prudent method to clean ones ears.

And speaking of being assailed Lonesome Larry and the Captain continued their 2016 rampage at the domino table by again trouncing DD and Busty Barb the Believer in the 5th match of the year to take a 4 – 1 lead. The dispirited girl’s team has formed a support group which they pray will alter their current downward slide.

DOMINO UPDATE – it appears that the solitary victory by the girls is best classified as an aberration as the girls dropped another match last night and fell to a dismal 1 and 5 on the season.

Debbie Dewdrops and the Captain were visited by one of DD’s golfing partners and her husband from Vernon, BC. Fran and Greg are making their virgin voyage south in their new 5th wheel. DD and CC took the newbies to a local grower to pick oranges and grapefruits right from the tree.

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DD and Fran

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Turquoise Mine Hike

This week’s Thursday hike was a return trip to a series of abandoned turquoise mines. Due to the short distance of the hike a few of the intrepid hikers made the mines an intermediate stop and hiked a further mile of so up a boulder strewn ridge where we found an old abandoned rock cabin that was likely a miner’s home in days past. The owner of this cabin would certainly never have had an issue with noisy neighbours except perhaps a mountain lion or two. The view from the cabin was exquisite but a walk home at night from the local pub would be beyond even the heartiest of souls and not encouraged.

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heading to the mine site

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looks like a photo op

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Castle Dome off in the distance

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fishhook barrel cactus

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flowering ocotilla

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lunch at the “cabin”

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view from the cabin of the reservoir

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another view from the cabin

Cowboy Breakfast

Our friends and neighbours, Jerry and Sandy hosted a unique (for us anyway) cowboy breakfast for the locals. Now Jerry is the real deal and hails from Prescott, Arizona where he and Sandy live on their ranch. The main part of the breakfast required an early start. No big deal for a cowboy. Along with helpers Steve, Dashing Dave and Leonard, 4 large cast iron pots were filled with hash browns, eggs, meat and cheese etc. and then placed on a bed of hot coals in depressions in the ground and then covered with another layer of hot coals. About an hour and a half later a hearty breakfast was ready for everyone to enjoy. There was also a large selection of other side dishes (fruits, cinnamon buns etc.) brought along by the  30 or so guests.

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hosts Jerry and Sandy

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the breakfast pot

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the French Connection – Andre, Danielle, RRR and Arlette

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the breakfast horde

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the line-up

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Dashing Dave and CC snarl at the paparazzi

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Jeep Screech 2 – The Sequel

Well I’m just about running out of creative ways to describe the bizarre behaviour of DD when we venture out on sketchy road trips. Despite her delusional perception that “she is behaving better” on these adventures I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide after viewing the following videos taken with Lonesome Larry’s GoPro on our latest outing.

As an added tidbit this junket found us travelling up Black Mountain which is the location of where DD found herself tumbling into a sizable hole where she thought there should be road last year. This tumble resulted in a nasty cut to her leg so perhaps flashbacks added to this year’s horror show.

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BBB and DD on top of Black Mountain

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20 jeeps in total made the trip

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the road up the mountain

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the guide dog

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DD before the trip down

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doesn’t she look happy

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the descent begins

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the “road” gets a bit sketchy

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and DD’s happy face quickly disappears

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DD’s hand prints from her escape attempts

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finally at the bottom

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LL and BBB provide a wind break for the Captain

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DD must be much shorter than BBB??

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the smooth road home

 

Jeanine’s Just Get Over It

Complaint

JJ is back with more complaints. Seems not only did the Captain not publish a complaint previously filed but to add insult to injury the whole Complaint section was vanquished to the rubbish bin in the last blog.

Response

My editor sends her apology to JJ for this miscue and the column has been restored. Unfortunately JJ’s original complaint has also been misfiled. Complaints to which no official response has be provided can refiled within 36 hours of publication and will be, if warranted, included in an upcoming post.

By stubbs99