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I write occasional daft emails to fellow members of my woodturning club.  As we get new members, some of them are stupid enough to ask me for some of the older emails.  As time passes and the read them, they will learn never to ask again - but meanwhile I have to dig into my email archives and find old items and then send them one by one to the unlucky recipients.

You would think they would find more useful things to do with their lives than read the sad wittering's of this old fool and try to make something of their lives - but no!  Any that appear here will do so in reverse order, there are many reasons for this, but logic is the main driver.  If there is one thing I have - it is logic.  Not much else to be fair - but I do have logic.

I have only recently worked out how to put the pictures in, so many are still missing.  I will continue to work on it.

36 - Jan 2018 - Skew were made for me

Sent: 30 January 2018 21:10 Subject: Skew were made for me

Hello my dusty buddies and welcome back to one of my ridiculous emails.

This is a long one - you may want to come back to it when you are having trouble sleeping. I am not fond of this post - it was thrown together too quickly - however - it is what it is and perhaps one day I will rewrite it.

Manilla is the Capital of the Philippines. Is that where they make envelopes?

2018 is moving into second gear now and we are about to embark on a brand new wood turning year. We have an exciting set of demonstrators for you, and lots to do.

I am also starting afresh this year in many ways, and have a few new little projects to try to bring to fruition is only I get my gander-up as it were. What it has to go up no-one can tell me - but "up" it jolly-well has to go.

So what have we to discuss this month.

  1. Thanks to Harvey for January

  2. Get Well Tony

  3. I bought a new PC for a new project

  4. Martin Saban-Smith

  5. The club AGM is almost upon us - why is it important

  6. I have too much wood - am I the only one

  7. I laughed out loud

  8. Should I finish the holiday blog?


Apart from being one of the nicest people I know, Harvey also does a bloody good demo. I really enjoyed the evening that Harvey prepared and presented to us last month, and wonder quite how many of you are aware of the time and effort that Harvey went to in order to make the evening as good as it was. There were the diagrams explaining what he was going to present, all of the tools he bought with him to make sure he was not left high and dry (these only relate to about 2.5% of his total number of tools mind!), he had about half a dozen other examples of the work he was presenting to give us alternative ideas, and he had his best wig on. (He did sneeze once in the first half and I swear you could see daylight when it jumped up, I told him to wear the chin-strap - but would he listen!!)

Genuinely Harvey - thank you so very much for the all the hard work, the preparation and trouble you went to in order to give us a quite splendid demonstration!

Get Well Tony

As most of you are aware, Tony Harvey is unwell, albeit thank goodness on the mend. Along with Harvey - Tony is genuinely one of the best people I know - and I am more than relieved to see him on the mend. He is one of the hard working committee members of your club, and there is every chance you will not see him at next months AGM depending on how his recovery goes. Tony had heart surgery recently in St Barts in London, and is now at the very early stages of becoming a bionic man. (The six million dollar man in loose change) I think there was a choice of giving him a new valve made from some sort of synthetic muscle, or a mechanical (metal) one. I am guessing the surgeon had a few bits over from rebuilding his old Morris Marina, because Tony has a metal one. Amazingly Tony does not have to take blood pressure pills any more, although if he gets any chest pains he does have to take 2 level 5ml spoonfuls of Castrol GTX. Joyce (Mrs Harvey) is also a little worried because he keeps backfiring if he eats too much.

I bought a new PC for a new project

I splashed out in the sales and bought myself a new PC. It is only a cheap one - but I wanted something to use while I fixed by more expensive old one. Despite my better judgement I went to Curries PC world and let some spotty 16 year old oik talk at me for 20 minutes before I finally gave up and chose one myself. I have seen sewers that are more full of it than he was. Anyway I am using it now to type this thing, but not sure it is comfortable, the keyboard has some of the keys on the wrong place and it takes a bit of getting used to. More to follow.

March Demonstrator Martin Saban-Smith

The club evening in March sees the return of the man who pretty much owns the interweb, Martin Saban-Smith. Martin has a presence on just about everything, Instagran, Snapchap, Facepaint, Twatter and YouTube. Since Martin came to see us last time he has become older. If you want to see what he gets up to then there is no much chance of you not being able to find him on the web. He is several facepaint pages, you tube channels and web-sites. There are a whole series of videos for beginners, over 100 episodes of videos that chart his journey as a full time wood-turner, and he also has a club people can join - the Black Dog Workshop in Four Marks in Hampshire. It seems that everything he does turns to gold, you can go off people!

I have a feeling Martin will bring some of his products with him, so ask your partners for an advance from your pocket money and be willing to spend!

The club AGM is almost upon us - why is it important?

The culmination of the club year is the AGM. It is certainly one of the cheaper months of the year - we don't have to pay for a demonstrator, all it costs the club is a few cups of tea and coffee and some out-of-date biscuits. It is however the most important month of the year for the club in so many ways. I have to pretend to be a grown up for at least 2 hours, and that alone is worth seeing.

The club needs help, it always has and it still does. We need people to do all of the things that make the club tick. It needs to organise the hall, maintain the equipment, book demonstrators, lay out chairs, pay the Bills, maintain the membership details, monitor the membership and make sure they pay their annual subs, man the door on club nights, buy books of raffle tickets, run the shop and buy stock for it, put all the equipment away after club nights, book the hall on the right dates, arrange exhibitions and shows, go to committee meetings, dream up themes for competitions and Saturday workshops, remember to buy chocolate biscuits for Terry, make sure the competition is judged as fairly as possible, maintain the club library and tool-bank, type of the committee minutes every month, welcome new members to the club instead of having them walk in and feel lost, maintain a very good web-site and refresh it regularly, make sure the cups get engraved in time for the annual presentations, buy and prepare food for the annual party, man the bar, write a quiz, be good looking.....

I hope you are getting the message - and I apologise because I would go on for another few paragraphs listing the things that the committee and the wonderful helpers do for you every year.

A couple of people every club evening miss out on part of the demonstrations to make sure you get tea and coffee at half time, I think they are wonderful.

It is not something that happens by accident, it happens because a lot of people, A LOT of PEOPLE are prepared to help. There are a lot of people who do their bit and then nip off home as soon as they have done their thing, and that is fine because they helped to do something on the evening. Thank you, thank you all of you = but can we have more please.

Despite what I wrote above, despite the endless list of things that need to be done, it is good fun, and people do it because it is achieving something and it is rewarding. Join us, please join us. I personally get a feeling of achievement and of a job done to the best of my ability. I do as much as other committee members - and I enjoy it as much. The more people join us and help, the better it is because we don't have to rely on the same people spending all their spare time working to run a club for nothing.

We need new blood on the committee, it is as simple as that. We lose our treasurer this year because he is moving to Scotland. We therefore need a new one. We could always do with new blood on the committee as well. So this year - when we ask for volunteers to step up and take a turn on the committee - why not put your hand up and see if you can spare a few hours to help us out.

Here endeth the lesson!

I have too much wood - am I the only one?

I have more wood than I can shake a stick at, and I have a lot of sticks. The problem is I can't say no when I am offered wood. Only yesterday afternoon Mike Larby gave me 4 large logs and I waxed them this morning to stop them spitting.

On this subject - Ken Porter has some Holly. If anyone is interested, they can phone me and I can give them details. The problem is I am not making stuff fast enough. I have enough pen-blank wood to last the rest of my life - but still I check to see what burr wood Brian brings to the club every time we have a club night. I have some great wood - what I need now is some warmer weather so I get out in the garage and not only use up some of that wood, but also to make maximum use of the lathe I spent so much money on. Bring it on.

All of this of course assumes that I can actually find the time to do this! I think I need to employ a cleaner... I am worried that any skills I learn from turning regularly will be lost if I don't keep it up. You can forget you know - it's not like riding a bike. I remember when I was at School as a younger lad I did so well with algebra, but now I can't speak a word of it.

I used to answer a lot of questions about concrete as well - very hard. Happy days at school - I will never forget them. I was only 17 when I lost my virginity, but I found it again when I got married.

I laughed out loud

I mentioned the new PC, one of the reasons I bought it was to use it to put together a new web-site. Born out of boredom, I decided to get all of this rubbish together in one place. Not long after Xmas I had a look around and was pleasantly surprised to notice the was not in use - so for the grand total of about £17 I registered it for myself. I then realised that I had no idea when it came to creating a web-site. Oh how I laughed, I owned a .com domain and was buggered.

The grand plan was to solve the issue whereby people come and say they have missed one of these emails, or do I have some of the old ones, whereupon I then get home, have to find the old emails and send them out one by one. I don't mind of course - but there has to be a simpler way. I decided that if I could find a web-site somewhere I could put them all on there and people could help themselves.

So, now I own the domain, I am in the process of creating the web pages and brining in the various emails, which date back as far as 2013 (at least those I can find!!)

While looking for them and collating them, I read a couple and saw the following - which did make me laugh - perhaps they will strike a note with you.

1. Geordie recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid. When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time

2. I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a coffin, 3 hours later and they're still walking about with it. I thought to myself, they've lost the plot!!

3. I was at a cash point yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could help her check her balance, so I pushed her over

4. Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy.

5. I was driving this morning when I saw an RAC van parked up. The driver was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable. I thought to myself ‘that guy's heading for a breakdown.’ and my favourite silly one this month

6. Went around to a friend's house today. His wife was sat there with their new-born baby. She asked if I'd like to wind it. I thought that was a bit harsh so I gave it a dead leg instead.

The problem I have is that the formatting of the text on the web page is very tricky, so I have to reset and re-format everything - and that is taking time, so be patient. I will do a few hours every evening and see where we get to in the next week or two.

I also get distracted easily, at the moment I am watching cricket and the fifth one day international where we are getting some well deserved but very late comfort by beating Australia 4-1 in the series. Also earlier I was watching Time-team. I think all we can draw from that program is two things:

  1. All of the ancient civilisations were skeletons who lived underground.

  2. We always have to dig down to find ancient relics - so is the earth getting fatter?

The final part of the holiday blog

It is so hard to remember some of it now. I believe we left it a couple of days in where we had been to Colorado Springs, then through Durango and experiencing a platinum blonde lady who swore blind London was in Wales. We were headed for Monument Valley...

Wednesday 13th September.

You will remember that Ian had purchased deodorant and a few toiletries while we were in the supermarket trying not to sound too welsh. The following morning Ian did mention that he had brought shaving foam instead of deodorant, and had spent the first half hour in his room trying to wash off strange blue foam from under his armpits and everywhere else it had apparently run into….

We had a coffee before hitting the road, still not a proper Starbucks, but nice nonetheless. We met a local and had a chat, he had just dropped his little girl into school and was having a coffee and reading his emails before going to his office. While chatting we noticed deer walking down the high street, apparently most nights they have bears in the dumpsters - I am so glad I locked my bedroom door.

We set off on our drive to Monument Valley, I will be honest here - although much of what we saw was empty, it was breath-taking. Miles of empty, and miles of breath-taking.

Then we hit on a delay - we stopped at the start of some roadworks, and we sat stationary for a few minutes. Then we sat for another few minutes, then some more. After this we went nowhere, and then for a change was sat still. It was about 15 minutes into this intense activity that I wondered if someone had hit the pause button of life and we were in some sort of fifth dimension. Five minutes later we saw dust. The dust seemed to be coming from the desert floor almost as far away as the horizon. As things later turned out - it was actually further away than the horizon. About 10 minutes later the distant dust turned out to be a convoy of big Murcan trucks and cars. 5 minutes later then flew past us and left us in their dusty wake. At this point 6 cars ahead of us, the lead car started his engine and we were off. It turned our that this was one of those situations where they shut half of the road for roadworks and create a contra-flow where, with traffic lights, only cars from one direction at a time could use the road.

I decided the lights must have been broken and it was this that had caused the delay. I decided incorrectly.

Out of interest I looked at the mileage when we moved off. We covered almost 7 miles before we go to the other end of the contraflow - 7 miles!!!! Next time I wait at traffic lights in Newbury at road works I will could myself lucky that I only have to wait a few minutes.

The only thing I can say about Monument Valley is you have to look at it to be amazed - and you have to be there to believe it. Stunning stuff really. There were hills and mountains and mounds of all types (including the lady with the see through loose fitting cheesecloth shirt!!)

We did go off road here and used the four-wheel drive we were blessed with in the car we had - it was good fun. However it was over too soon because apart from the early start - the hours of fun in the Monument Valley National Park, we had to head north towards Salt Lake City to get to the Motel rooms we had booked for the night. We had booked a small motel in a place called Moab.

It went wrong, when we turned up and the Motel in Moab they claimed we had not booked, which I was very angry about in a very British way, I pointed to the confirmation email that I had received that very morning from this Motel saying that two rooms were in fact booked and we were guaranteed a room. I was right, but only sort of right. I had booked it for the following day, so if we chose to sleep in the car overnight - we could check in just before lunch time. I felt like a prat - but being British, I apologised and left. The nearest hotel with rooms were liable be in the town next door - 52 effing miles away!

Thus - 52 miles later we pulled into Motel6 in Green River, but not after we have a small incident with the local plod.

We were on the outskirts of Green River when I pulled out to pass a police car with it's lights flashing and a car that it had clearly pulled over. As I drove past I had to allow extra room as an American policeman rushed out from in front of his car into the road and make for his door.

We continues on our way only to be pulled over b y the same officer about 2 miles down the road - and he was not happy. He seemed to think he was about to be run over when I overtook him, despite the fact that I not only missed him, but I missed him after he jumped out from behind his car, in the dark, without wearing a hi-viz jacket. The word Prat once again sprang to mind.

Ian - not given to patience or diplomacy looked hostile as the Murcan plod pushed his face through the open window. He read the riot act for a full five minutes and asked to see my licence, which I duly passed over. He didn't recognise it and cottoned on to the fact that we were not fellow Murcans, but were in fact civilised British folk. "It's a good job for you that you are not American" he said. I shot Ian a very quick glance which clearly said "Don't you dare say anything - despite the golden opportunity" - Ian glanced back at me with a look that said "but this man is American, stupid, a moron and has it coming" - but luckily he kept quiet.

After what turned out to be a very long lay we got to the hotel, knackered - and grateful in equal measure. Our two rooms were a long way away, sods law - they always are.

Room key didn't work of course…

Thursday 14th September

The first motel that actually offered breakfast. Not much - but it was welcome.

After we ate we drove 230 miles to Ogden. I had never heard of Ogden, perhaps many of you have also not heard of Ogden. It lies 50 miles to the North of Salt Lake City and is a massive centre for people who are Mormons. I have nothing against people of any religion, as long as they don't impose it onto people of a different faith - or even no faith. There lies the rub, if you want to get a drink in Ogden, you have to search long and hard. I don't care if mormonites don't drink - but I do care if they tell me I can't. I am not a mormonist, and I like the occasional beer. I shall not be returning to Ogden.

Added to this, I think the blonde in the supermarket who thinks I was Welsh, along with the rest of the population of London, has a sister. On the very thirsty return to the hotel, after wandering round a dry town to look for a beer, we found a cleaner in the corridor. A pleasant lady, armed with a broom and a hoover, she presented the appearance of a geriatric Barbie doll. She clearly heard Ian and I talking as we strode thirstily toward our respective rooms and cried out "Oh - you are British" We confirmed her suspicions, hiding any trace of a welsh accent and not mentioning sheep, rain, daffodils or rugby. "Well spotted" we said. "Its wasn't difficult" she replied "Britain is one of my favourite places, I love the Royal family, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle etc"

"Oh lovely! I responded, "Sounds like you enjoyed your visit, when did you go?" "Oh I have never been there" she said, "but I did go to Salt Lake City once when I was younger". OK - so when she was younger she went 50 miles to the big city...

Apparently she also had a sister in Las Vegas. Why I mention this I have no idea, frankly I also have no idea why she mentioned it to me either - but I thought it might be useful one day should you ever go to Ogden, it's nice to have a little local knowledge. Perhaps I should log into Wikipedia and add a small entry under the Ogden page?

Friday 15th September

I slept badly, there were thunderstorms and people arriving all night, finally got to sleep at about 1:30am, only to be woken by a work colleague who rang me to ask something. Andy (that was his name. I know it's not important to the overall gravitas of this incidental story - but I include it for completeness, and just in case I add further anecdotes about Andy in later missives, whereupon you will exclaim "Oh Andy - he rang Phil in the middle of the night when he was on holiday". You see my point.

I digress. Andy was in Dubai. We have an office there, and Andy was deep into a problem with one of the system and rang me up to ask me something. Now you should bear in mind that for me, it was 1.30 in the morning. He thought I was at home, and at home - if indeed I was there at the time which I wasn't of course - it was only 5.30 - albeit where he was it was still just after lunch, coming up to about 2pm.

"Hello it's Phil"

"Hi Phil - it's Andy P"

"Hi Andy - listen - can I ..."

"I am in Dubai"

"Very good - but listen I....."

"I have a big problem and I need a hand - can you talk?"

,"Strictly speaking yes - but it's very late here, listen I..."

"Really - I thought it was not that much later - of course I could ring you tomorrow if it is awkward"

"Actually Andy - in the truest sense of the word it is tomorrow now - so you may as well get it over with"

"Tomorrow? What do you mean?

I was trying to work it out, having just woken up, and really he was ringing me yesterday lunchtime, on a telephone number that was to all intent and purposes last night, whereas it was actually tomorrow in Ogden. I could send him and email today with tomorrows date on it and he would receive it yesterday 9 hours before I sent it and with an answer that I had to a question which was dated 7 hours before the office which I was not at left for the day before I was due in the following day. Meanwhile as he had not yet posed the question in real time I felt I should get some sleep before he did.

Andy rang off before I could explain all of this saying his lunch was going cold and telling me not to be so grumpy at 5.30 in the afternoon and perhaps he should ring someone more reasonable. I'll get him back one day.

We strode across the road from the motel in the morning, we had breakfast at Denny's, (Tiffany's was shut)

Ian ordered a cappuccino while I order a latte, and we both got a black coffee! AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

I was too knackered to complain. So we went shopping. I wanted some socks, so we went to Walmart. I found socks and went to pay for them (this is mans shopping, there was no need for anything else).

The young guy behind the counter added up the one item of shopping, 10 dollars and 60 cents he said, I gave him a ten dollar bill and a one dollar bill. He looked hard at each and sucked on a thoughtful tooth.

Being fair - there were not that many teeth to suck thoughtfully upon. He was wearing a Batman cape, and to this day I honestly do not know why. He put the ten dollar bill and the one dollar bill carefully in the till. After a moment he looked very hard at the till for further instructions. Apparently it then told him to give me 40 cents change, and when it did he came alive again, took 40 cents from the till and presented it to me with a smile that told me that the gap between his ears was just that.

Well schooled then! I would love the see the expression on his face on his graduation picture. I am wondering if it was anything like this...

Anyway - we left Ogden behind us, and armed with fresh socks we headed towards Yellowstone Park and the Rocky Mountains. it was a nice trip, very picturesque, lots of agriculture, but still not a lot of wildlife despite the signs asking us to watch out of deer, bison, bears, and all other beasts of the firmament.

We were headed for a place called Victor, we were hopeful, this was a B&B as opposed to a hotel or motel and the pictures looked good.

Nice trip up toward the rockies, lots of photos, first signs of agriculture but still no wildlife.

We arrived at the town of Victor, still 5 five miles from our destination, thought we would get a bite to eat. Now, Victor is a small town, and not many places were available to eat. Actually two places. The one we chose had a sign outside that said “eat here or we both starve” posted just outside a little wooden hut and we thought this looks nice. (The other place was shut by the way) I had hot dog, Ian had a brat dog, yummy yummy food to die for, literally to die for as it was bloody awful. The ambiance of this tiny establishment was further enhanced with used female underwear (top and bottom) completely adorning the roof of this shed. The only other customer told us that we were lucky as they had recently been washed (last year). Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had we been armed with it we would have cut our looses at this point, left town, camped under the car at night and taken our chances with the bears. However - we were unarmed with aforementioned hindsight - so read-on dear reader as joys await.

Ian’s wonderful use of the GPS bought us straight to the cabin we had arranged to stay at in the back of beyond at about 3:30. As mentioned this is a b&b as opposed to a hotel, and we were looking forward to staying in a cabin in the woods. We pulled up in the driveway - albeit early, and rang the bell, we knocked on the door, we called and we repeated knocking and ringing for about 10 minutes. Nobody was at home, they were expecting us at 6:00 pm and we assumed they were out shopping.

We wandered the five miles back to town to look for a coffee shop, and after enquiring were told we should nip over to Jackson Hole as that was the best place locally to get a coffee. That seemed like a reasonable suggestion so we jumped in the car and headed for Jackson Hole.

It turned out that Jackson Hole is an hours drive away on the other side of one of these local Teton Mountains. Local has a different meaning over there. The gaps between this tiny towns is massive - and the equivalent of driving from Newbury to Bristol - to get a bloody coffee!! Anyway - we did, we had coffee and then "nipped" back again. We got back to the cabin at 6:30, still nobody at home. The penny, having been inserted quite some time ago, finally dropped. Wrong Cabin. We returned to the road, turned left and explored further, only to find the place we were looking for. As we were peering up the drive a distant voice from the woods shouts “Phil!” - we had arrived. We had also found wildlife - the owner had a cat..

Now, this is a proper cabin in the woods, the owner built it himself. The owners name was Bill, he said people called him Wild Bill. I have the photos and it is a gem of a place. Beautiful smell of wood smoke, not disinfectant and plastic. Authentic, interesting, and I use the word interesting here deliberately. If you look at the web-site - you should page down to the bottom and read the reviews... We didn't read the reviews which was our downfall.

You weren't about to cook dinner were you? This might take a minute, now where was I - oh yes...

Having been ushered into the house, Bill showed us our rooms and then went to make coffee. We came down and we chewed the cud for 2 hours, whereupon Bill went for pizza. He was obviously the trusting sort, having invited us into his home, and then promptly buggered off to get pizza. Pizza was in town apparently - clearly well hidden as we hadn't seen it earlier despite two visits. We knew it would take him an hour to get there and back, and fair enough, it did.

When Bill got back he tucked hungrily into his pie ( they called pizza’s “pies”over here). I really should explain the correct use of the English language to Bill, although for reasons you will come to learn, we decided latterly not to upset him. About 20 minutes into a heavy conversation about Mormons and why he decided to become one (among other things) there was a tentative knock on the door. "Oh shit" said Bill in a very un-mormon-like manner and hurried over to open the door. On the doorstep were two weary travellers both of whom spoke very good French, (because they were French). It turned out that out of the two of them Hermione spoke a little English, Pierre did not really speak English at all. He sat there and smiled a lot. This was an odd and un-nerving thing for a french person to do, they are normally sullen and looking for a reason to go on strike or burn something.

"Did you book at the last minute?" said Bill "Oui" said Hermione "okay I don't normally check my emails that often" said Bill impressing us with his business acumen. "But you're lucky we do have a spare room. Two American people arrived earlier today took one look at my place and said there is no way we are staying here and left. You can have their room. Americans can be very rude. Luckily you are European so you are polite."

Ian and myself could not stop ourselves from thinking that Hermione and Pierre were in fact very polite, far too polite to say what their faces were clearly thinking but which Bill did not manage to pick up.

The French duo went to their room to unpack the bags while Bill explained a little about the woods that surrounded us. Bill suggested we go for a walk in the woods as the scenery was wonderful. While the prospect sounded OK - we said we thought it might be a dangerous place because of the grizzly and black bears, and we heard that there were mountain lions in the woods.

Don't worry about them said Bill "I will take you all for a walk in the morning and show you how wild it is out there" " Are you sure it's safe?" we said "don't forget the mountain lions and bears." "That's okay" said Bill "they have all either been killed or scared off by the wolves." I had no answer to that statement - but decided to sleep with my windows shut.

It is fair to say that the cabin was very interesting, it had been built by Bill and there certainly was what we could loosely call character involved in the essence of the building. While Bill had been out collecting his pizza we did investigate the other downstairs room which was full of musical instruments and guns. There were rifles of all sizes as well as handguns and some very large knives. I was reminded of the glint in Bills good eye when we turned up, and the large axe that he was holding in his left hand. Ian kept asking me if I remembered the plot of the film Deliverance.

Despite all of this (or because of it) I slept well behind my locked bedroom door with the chair jammed up against the handle. I awoke the following morning to find that it was now snowing, this was quite surprise having been in the Arizona desert only 36 hours previously where the temperature was 95°.

Bill cooked us breakfast of ham and eggs and potatoes to start us off for the day and having eaten this with our French room mates we decided to head off for the day into Yellowstone national Park. It was a long day because the drive to get to the park was almost 75 miles and because we were risking another night with wild Bill we had another 75 miles to drive back again later.

Within the National Park we did get to see Old Faithful, the geezer that erupted 20 times each day and apparently the eruptions could be timed to the nearest minute. There were roughly 3000 people there to see the eruption that we experienced at 3:07pm as advertised, most of whom were Japanese - they get everywhere.

On the drive to Yellowstone we constantly saw signs saying give way to elk, give way to moose, give way to deer, but we saw none of them. Up until this point we have driven through five American States and seen only four animals, and two of them were a dog and a cat (the latter being Bills, it was called Mr. Missy).

This was a cold day, due largely to the snow on the ground. We were well versed by now to looking at the temperature on the dashboard in Fahrenheit, taking 32 off it, multiply by five and then Divide by nine. The day had been long, beautifully demonstrated by Ian at one point when he said “it says 32 degrees, what is that in centigrade?” Like I said, it had been a long day…

On our return to wild Bill’s pied de-terre that evening (yes, we had signed up for 2 nights) we discovered that the French duo had also returned, clearly they too were up for a little adventure. Wild Bill held court for a couple of hours! He said this was very much still cowboy country telling us how safe it was around here, remembering that the wolves scared the bears and cougars away, and that the only thing to fear was “Killer Bob”

Yes, of course we asked, we had to ask. We needed to ask. We could hardly not ask. How could we sleep unless we found out about Killer Bob.

We asked.

By now Wild Bill was warming up, he sat down and started to explain about Killer Bob and also introduced us to another character called Dead Fred.

A few years back it seems that a man rode into town on horseback, this man being Killer Bob. Bill said you only have to look at him to know that he was evil. At that time Bill had a small jewellery shop in town and Bob walked in and for some reason asked Bill to go to Alaska with him to get some horses. Bill explained that because of his shop he could not spare the time so he turned down the offer. Despite being turned down, when Bob left the shop he didn't leave town.

It seems that Killer Bob stayed with Wild Bill for a few days during which time he asked if Bill had any guns for sale. Bill said he only had a few rubbish guns and they would be no good for Bob. Bill promptly hid the guns. During these few days it seems that the pair went into Jackson Hole together in Bills car to run some errands (perhaps to get a coffee?) and all the while the Bill was driving he said Bob sat silently and played with a very large knife. Is it just me, or is this odd?

Sorry - I forgot, I also mentioned Dead Fred and you may be wondering why. Apparently Fred was an alcoholic who used to regularly drink many beers before lunch. Fred got to know Killer Bob (one has to assume that at this time he was not known as Dead Fred for obvious reasons) and word has it that he upset Bob in some way. One day Fred was found dead in his sleeping bag, it was Wild Bill that found him.

Bill sent on to say that he rang the police who came to pick him up and Bill said he contacted the coroner a few days later to ask how Fred had died. The reply came that he was very old. Bill asked if there was any alcohol in his body and the coroner said no there was none. Bill told us that this was impossible as Fred always drank every day without fail. From that point forward Fred was known as Dead Fred - a fitting name at this stage in his existence. Apparently Dead Fred had spent a lot of his time in the mountains arranging poles in the ground as some sort of landing round so that the aliens knew where they could land. Fred was apparently convinced that the afterlife was spent somewhere in space rather than on the surface of the Earth and therefore the aliens would need to know where to land in order to come and get him. Bill thinks Killer Bob found him before the Aliens. (Presumably also before the me in the white coats came to take him somewhere with padded walls and doors.)

A day or two later the local mayor said on no account should Bill ever get in a car with Bob as he was a very bad man and it would end badly. How the hell did the town Mayor get involved I hear you cry!! I don't know - he just did OK!!!!!! Now let me get on. Apparently Killer Bob had dragged a man through town by his hair after this man touched Bobs horse . Bob had spent two days in jail for this and only managed to get out by pawning one of his rifles to get the bail money, following which Bob left town on his horse heading for Alaska.

Bill calmly looked at us and said of course if Killer Bob ever comes into town again I'm just going to have to kill him. He said this as if you were going to tread on a spider. Bill was starting to worry us a bit.

I’ll cook you up some elk in the morning he said. Elk? WTF!!

Before bed he entertained us with a few conspiracy theories about such fun topics as 9-11 which apparently was carried out under orders from the Vice President, and about how crooked and dishonest Bill and Hilary Clinton were. (ok, perhaps there may have been some truth in there somewhere). He followed this up by insisting that we watch an old black and white propaganda film about World War Two and why it was important that America joined the war and killed anything that moved, especially if they were either German Italian or Japanese. "I have four of these" he said after it had finished , "would you like to watch another one?" We politely declined, made our excuses and retired to each of our well defended bedrooms.

The next morning we breakfasted on elk, potatoes and onions. It was awful. Once we had finished it, he declared that in honour for our French visitors he has gone out to buy some croissants. The only problem was he didn't know how to cook them? Instead of asking us, he sliced them up with a sharp knife (one of the ones we had not found and therefore not hidden) and popped them into the microwave for about 5 minutes. Jamie Oliver has nothing to worry about here.

Bill asked me again if I would like to see his guns? He said he has manŷ different sorts. I said no, I was fine, I would give them a miss as I have little…. “I can show you my chainsaw” he interrupted, smiling in the sort of way that makes you with you were already in your car and waving goodbye….

Apparently he taught his boys to shoot when they were about seven years old. I believed him….

I was talked into it and felt somewhat relaxed when I saw there was no chain on it…

We left a short while later, but only after he made us promise to write a good review. This was particularly important he said as for some reason people wrote bad reviews and did not seem to like him, but he decided we got it and we would obviously write something good. Also he said if he was ever in England he would look us up as he had our addresses.

How could we refuse? Anything to enable us to get in the car and leave. If you look below you will see a couple of the reviews we should have read...

Home was deplorable and completely inhabitable as a guest rental. Did not enter home because of overall exterior appearance. Pictures to follow. Contacted on Sept 6 upon arrival at proiperty.

Clutter in house and stairway. Smoky from fireplace. Not a clean smell. Deer hair in my mouth & bed.

Clutter. Stairs narrow. No shower in room, but down the hall. Did not give instructions to turn on heat. To cold for sleeping. Double bed-to small for 2 people. Deer skin pelt shedding hair by side of bed.

Impossible to find, off the beaten path, the property is in shambles, and the room and bathroom were barely tolerable. Cheapest place within 50 miles, and there is a reason for it. But if you want to meet an interesting owner, and you are not a clean freak, check it out.

The host is a super motivated hippie-sort, and has wonderful stories to share.

The property is in an absolutely horrific shape outside and inside, matter of fact it looks like a junk yard. Does booking not verify the advertising properties. Rooms seemed to have been double booked and the unfortunate Late-Comer is being offered personal spaces made up for an overnite.t was cheap and in the path of the totality

The bed was not comfortable and the yard was littered with junk--old tires, unused camper, piles of lumber and construction debris.

We headed for Cody, home of Wild Bill Cody. More of that tomorrow.

Monday 18 September

Cody was weird the motel, which was run by Chinese and obviously designed especially for the Chinese obviously as the shower heads only came up to my chest.

Route took us through the Big Horn mountains which are roughly 70 miles from the start of our journey. At one poiont we passed a town called Grey Bull, imagine our consternation when we saw a road sign that said if the road closed you should return to Cody and take an alternative route (305 miles.).

To say that the route and the scenery was monotonous and uneventful is an understatement of biblical proportions there are fields to the left full of nothing furthermore the fields on the right hand side also contained let me see if I can remember - oh yes - nothing.

At Cody we had been told to visit the devils tower on our way to Sundance. On our way there we passed such western sounding tiles as Buffalo, Spotted Horse, and Gillette. We spotted two turkeys and several herds of deer - this was extreme wildlife after seeing nothing at all.

We did drive to see devils Tower, to be fair it wasn't much of a tower but at least we've seen it which is in its self not really that interesting. However if I ever see close encounters of the third kind again I will know enough to know that this hill is not in fact made up of mashed potato.

The next motel was as uneventful as the rest.

Sitting outside of his room looking across the road, Ian spotted a bar and decided anything else he saw today would be seen through an alcoholic haze.

Even more when the flashing sign said open seven days a week, but then he felt slightly deflated when it changed to advertise the fact that tonight was karaoke tonight

Tuesday 19th September

Our grand entrance to Sundance was basically made on fumes as we were nearly out of petrol, so every chance we had we coasted down hill in a truck that basically did 8 miles an hour the minute you put your foot on the accelerator going uphill, but we made it.

We decided Sundance was going to be a base for two nights so that we could investigate Mount Rushmore or one-day and then gently ride down towards Laramie on the second day ready to make the last rush to the airport on the way home.

The motelin Sundance was no different to many of the others, although to be fair it was a little bit better Wild Bills and neither of us had to barricade the doors.

The advertisement for the motel claimed that it gave away a free breakfast. OK - this sounded good, the problem with the free breakfast was that it consisted of a piece of fruit a doughnut and a cup of coffee. Now I will admit that our healthy eating options had not been, up until this point, very healthy. However starting the day with a cup of coffee and a doughnut which was covered in sugar really wasn't the way to go so we decided to explore the locality and get breakfast on the way to Mount Rushmore.

It was raining when we left the motel and we were hungry but besides this were quite excited at the prospect of seeing the most famous American president's faces carved into the granite mountainside.

At the side of the motorway next to some roadworks we found a place called the country kitchen. At last we could avoid McDonald's and also dismiss the lure of a whopper. The menu in the country kitchen did offer plenty of fattening food but also offered just a simple two eggs and toast and that was good. Suitably fed we continued on the road to Mount Rushmore the excitement building the closer we got

I say excitement it was more leaning towards boredom as quite frankly the scenery by this time was very flat and also bereft of any wildlife, apart from the wildlife that had been run over and lay dead, and very flat, at the side of the road.

We finally arrived at Mount Rushmore only to be disappointed. The carvings certainly were cut in to the side of the mountain but frankly they were tiny.

We expected things hundreds of feet high but we found there were probably about 20 or 30 feet high which on reflection is quite big, but when you were looking for enormous it simply wasn't good enough and we left thinking Mount Rushmore is more of a hillock. I felt like a woman in some ways (being told it would be huge... You get the idea)

At this point it started to rain and it didn't stop until the following morning so we felt quite at home. The last part of the day was spent in the local bar where we sat and drank beer watched baseball on the TV and were only distracted by the lovely Texan blonde bombshell called Kerry who kept us entertained with stories of her ex-husband and of putting a full sized pool table in the back of her very very large car. This is one blonde and certainly believes that size matters.

Wednesday 20th September

Once again we were awoken to the prospect of a free breakfast sadly it was still nothing apart from a piece of fruit and a doughnut and some coffee so once again we decided to go in search of something a little more sustaining.

We set off on the road to Laramie as this was a chosen bass and was within striking distance of Denver International airport. That meant on the last day we would be able to get up without too far to go.

The trip was around about 367 miles, and as you can imagine this is a long way. We decided we could relax and soak up the scenery. One thing that this final long trip had on this particular day was scenery, there was a lot of scenery, and then more scenery. The problem was it was a long way in the distance and very very small, when you're driving down one of these endless road in America you realise how far away the horizon is and how long it takes to get there (hours and hours and hours and hours). The only thing today had over the other days was that we saw hundreds of deer, they were everywhere on both sides of the road which made a change because so far the number of states we had driven through was still higher than the number of different animals we had seen.

At one point we pulled over in the rest area on the motorway for a break. the rest area had free Wi-Fi and suddenly my phone burst into life to the sound of Martin Saban Smith who was doing a live Facebook broadcast in the UK so we sat and I listen to it for about 10 minutes before carrying on.

We found Laramee at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon by which time having travelled 360 miles we were pretty knackered but decided to sit and read a book for a couple of hours and prepare our luggage for the flight home following day.

The final day was uneventful, we went straight to the airport - checked in, tried the same trick of getting two outside seats in a row of three seats only to find someone already sitting in the middle seat when we eventually boarded the plane. Ian, being as subtle as a pound tripe hitting a slab of concrete from 400 feet took one look at him and said "Oh god - you're not American are you!!!"

Tact and diplomacy was never Ian's strongest trait.

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