Jul 31, 2006

This is why we now have to have pre-trip pat-downs

It's time for Camp Grammie. That means taking Ethan and Emmett to my parents' home in Vermont to stay for a few weeks. They get to be spoiled, spend time with cousins and run around the Green Mountains while Janet and I are back here all lonely.

Due to various obligations, Janet didn't come along while I drove the boys up on Saturday and came back on Sunday. After about 200 miles, we gave her a call when we stopped for lunch. Here's a transcript.

Janet: Do you have my car keys?

Keith: Nope.

Janet: What about Emmett? I had him put something in my car just before you left.

Keith: Emmett, do you have Mom's keys?

Emmett: No.

Keith: He doesn't have them.

Janet: Have him check his pockets.

Keith: Emmett, check your pockets.

(rummage, rummage, moment of discovery)

Emmett: Uh ... yeah, I do have them!

Janet found ways to cope.

Emmett, Ya Goof!

Jul 24, 2006

More delayed vacation pictures below!

See below for more vacation pictures that I was finally able to get into place! Do it NOW, or you know what I'll have to call you!

Exciting delayed vacation pictures of parts of our van

These pictures are only appearing now because there's something wrong with the host for our site, Blogger.com, when it comes to posting pictures. I was only able to get these in place with a tedious work-around. Imagine hosting somethng like a photography blog here. Major pain.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Blogger, Ya Goof!

Anyway ...

So while on vacation, we go to the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota, this huge statue being carved out of a granite mountain, and they give away blast fragments. A couple of days later, on the long drive back, I discovered that we were transporting one of the rocks in one of our cupholders. So see where trip memories will linger?

It was Ethan's cupholder, so: Ethan, Ya Goof!

Also, when we were unloading the luggage carrier on top of the van, one of the suitcases slipped and put a scratch in one sliding door.

And who did the suitcase get away from?

Uh ... that would be me. Keith, Ya Goof!

Jul 21, 2006

Messing with ya!

This one will make you read an email chain backward!

With all affection, I say to my friend Linda: Ya Goof!

-----Original Message-----
From: Linda and Carl
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 3:22 PM
To: Keith Eldred
Subject: Re: New email address

And I was feeling like such a capable "techie" because I got this all figured out!!
----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Eldred
To: Linda and Carl
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 3:20 PM
Subject: RE: New email address

I was messing with you and out-and-out lying in my reply.
How could I reply if I didn't get your original email?
This may be YaGoof material ...
-----Original Message-----
From: Linda and Carl
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 3:18 PM
To: Keith Eldred
Subject: Re: New email address

We have a new email address at home: (censored)
----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Eldred
To: Linda and Carl
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 3:16 PM
Subject: RE: New email address

Sorry, I didn't get it.
-----Original Message-----
From: Linda and Carl
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 3:13 PM
To: Keith Eldred and whole bunch of others
Subject: New email address

We have a new email address at home: (censored)
Hope to hear from you so we know you got this message.

Jul 19, 2006

I brake for fruit!

Here's a story I just heard from my old college roommate, Phil. This took place during his work toward a second degree after graduating with me.

I was really broke. After eating pasta for two weeks straight, I got a paycheck from my part- time IBM job and splurged on groceries. I especially looked forward to a dessert of ice cream and cantaloupe, which was very expensive in the middle of winter.

Driving home in my crappy Volkswagen Beetle, my groceries tipped over. This normally wouldn’t have been an issue. But the week before, my foot went through the floor while I was routing tubing from the heating ducts at the engine up to the front seat, because the normal heat ducts had rusted closed. I looked out the rear view mirror and sure enough, there was my cantaloupe rolling down the street behind me.

I stopped and pulled it out of the ditch, broken but still edible. Dessert had never been so sweet.

Salvaging runaway cantaloupe is one thing. But for leaving groceries the chance to fall out the bottom of your car, we say: Phil, Ya Goof!

Jul 9, 2006

Only one trip pic?!

I dunno what's up with Blogger. It let me add the one trip picture below but no others. Maybe this is because we're one the road. I'll try again when we get home.

Blogger—Ya Goof!

YaGoof! Trip Report (Days 9, 10 and 11)


Today was drive, drive, drive. From Murdo, South Dakota, to Lancaster, Wisconsin. We started the day looking at our maps for points of interest along the route and didn’t find any. We stopped mid-day to refine plans for tomorrow and took longer than expected. We no sooner got back on the road than we discovered that the route holds one of the world’s great attractions! With free admission! But because of our extended stop, we arrived just too late to visit. The best we could do was get this picture outside:

This was the signature goof of the trip. We blame it on the company behind the museum for not starting their billboards much earlier. I think this is the first time we’ve said this to an entire company: Hormel— Ya Goof!

Actually, the boys were just as happy to skip this site. C’mon, guys! Ya Goofs!

DAY 10

We got an early start in order to arrive in Chicago by mid-day to meet up with family friends, Larry and Marlene. Miraculously, we drove to their home without trouble. They treated us to a wonderful lunch at Johnny Rockets, then escorted us to Navy Pier and even pumped fresh quarters into our depleted parking meter. Super hosts.

A double miracle: We got out of Chicago easily, too.

I did manage something of a goof in South Bend, Indiana. We detoured off the interstate to see Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame. I had in my head that it was a statue, even though I’ve seen it before, many years ago (a faithful YaGoof! reader, Julie White, will remember pointing it out to me). We discovered the mosaic that actually IS Touchdown Jesus, but I said, “Naw, that’s not it.” I stand corrected, as demonstrated in this brief essay about another visit to Notre Dame.

Keith, Ya Goof!

DAY 11

We’re ending our trip on a high note, with a visit to family at their vacation home on Lake Erie, at Catawba Point in Ohio. So far, swimming and ping pong. No goofs to report, but I’m typing this at 4:00 p.m., so there’s still time! Tomorrow: Home again.

Jul 7, 2006

It's melting! It's meeeeeeeeeelting!

Quick road posting. After lunch at a Burger King with a TCBY inside, Ethan and Emmett emerged with overloaded cones. They could only shrug and say that two scoops was a LOT at that place. We all had to pitch in to lick this problem.

Guys, Ya Goofs!

YaGoof! Trip Report (Days 6, 7 and 8)

This report on days 6, 7 and 8 is coming on Day 9. I’ve found time to type the reports but not always Internet access.


Not much is open in Des Moines on July 4, at least in the downtown area.

The boys and I drove to West Des Moines and got some things for a picnic. The store had a different kind of cash register: Your cart went off the left while you and your items circled around to the right, meeting up at the end. Way cool.

We ate in a little park with our pastor, Marlys Hershberger, who was at the conference with Janet. We all managed to keep cherry pie off our clothes.

In the evening, we saw the Iowa Cubs (AAA for the Chicago Cubs) play at Principal Park. It was their largest crowd ever at 14, 179, and at the concession stands, it sure felt like it. You could hardly walk through.

And besides Dippin’ Dots, the only ice cream to be had was a Blue Bunny chocolate malt, a frozen shake in a cup that you have to let melt for about 12 innings before you can start mixing it.

And outside the park is a sculpture with a kid apparently about to swing his bat at the catcher.

And between innings, when vehicles circle the field to shoot out T-shirts, a couple ended up at the wall in center and just stayed there throughout the game.

Principal Park people—Ya Goofs!

Actually, it was a decent park, but what can compare to Blair County Ballpark? And the hometown boys won by a healthy margin, ending with a double play.

Happy Birthday, America!


We were shooting to leave town about 10:30 and hit the road right on schedule at noon. Heck, we stopped for lunch even before getting on the Interstate.

Nice job keeping on schedule, Team EEK! Ya Goofs!

Our destination is Mount Rushmore. Our reservation was at a motel about three-quarters of the way there. The billboards across the state are entertaining. It makes it hard to pass up the Corn Palace today and Wall Drug, where we’ll stop tomorrow before Rushmore.

Our motel is a little quirky but nice. The light on a timer in the bathroom is a bit much.

For that, we say: H & H El Centro Best Western people—Ya Goofs!

We had fun throwing a beach ball to a little kid at the pool. Emmett got the kid to bob him (Emmett) in the face over and over with the ball. Good times.


We had a traveler in full teenager mode at being asked to … gasp! … get up. Ethan, Ya Goof!

No continental breakfast in sight this morning. I thought all Best Westerns offered that. H & H El Centro Best Western—Ya Goofs!

Ah, well, that gave an excuse to chow down at world-famous Wall Drug. We spent two hours there.

On to Rushmore. The heads looked smaller than expected. Must be the result of a lifetime of close-up photos.

Ethan was more teenager than ever at being asked to … gasp! … walk here and there at a legendary site. But he came around at Crazy Horse.

Wow. This was all we expected and more, from the excellence of the operation to the beauty of the facility to the grandeur of the sculpture to the expansiveness of the dream, which I hadn’t realized extends even to a university and medical center for Indians. Humbling. This is what inspired the creation of Team EEK! It’s nice to have even that thread of a connection. We even danced together in an Indian dance led by Sidney (Shoot, I wish I could remember his last name. It ends in— well. He was once the International War Dance Champion.)

Of all sites of national importance, I put this second only to the memorials at Washington, DC. If you don’t have it on your list of places to visit—well, I don’t want to call it a goof. I just urge you to put it on your list of places to visit!

Leaving Rapid City, I was pulled over for speeding. Keith, Ya Goof!

But I’ve never met a more pleasant and professional officer. I received a warning.

Janet made an excellent call in asking for a return trip through Badlands National Park. I had been more interested in making time back across South Dakota. I was wrong. It’s unforgettable. “Badlands” is exactly the right term for land as harsh and sandy, and yet the vistas are beautiful.

Plus prairie dogs!

For Ethan-like resistance to taking that routine, Keith gets a loud: Ya Goof!

Jul 4, 2006

YaGoof! Trip Report (Day 5)

Happy Independence Day from the road.

Des Moines picks up a little on Monday morning. There's traffic.

Janet performed church conference duties. The boys and I went to the Science Center. It's a lot like the Carnegie Science Center, including its IMAX Theater. If I understand correctly, a membership in either one is good for admission at the other, as well as 270 other science centers in the U.S.

The worst hardships we suffered today were sections of the skywalk where there's no air conditioning. Come on, Skywalk people, we need climate control! Ya Goofs!

This was our first experience with a skywalk, though we've seen something similar in State College. This article tells us that the Des Moines Skywalk involves 27 city blocks and that Pittsburgh has one, too.

Jul 2, 2006

YaGoof! Trip Report (Days 3 and 4)

The posts of the trip so far are way too long! Agh! The cyber-equivalent of trip slides!

Keith, Ya Goof!


A short drive to Springfield, Illinois.

Fantastic museum honoring Abraham Lincoln, with state-of-the-art theatre shows that are Disney quality.

We lost track of Emmett for about 20 minutes, enough time that we had security looking for him. When he turned up, he hadn't known he was lost.

About ten minutes later, we lost track of Janet. She lingered too long looking at these gowns owned by Mary Todd Lincoln.

Emmett, Janet—Ya Goofs!

We also saw Lincoln's law office and the home where he accepted the nomination for president. It was an honor to be in both places.

We saw the most complete Frank Lloyd Wright home in the world. The boys thought it a big drag when we entered, but ended up glad to see things like a lamp made for the home, sold at auction and bought back years later for $700,000! Emmett was beside the lamp at the time. I took his arm and steered him away from it.

Ethan, Emmett—told ya this was a good site to visit, Ya Goofs!

We used a very badly-done map to find a movie theater just in time to see "Superman Returns." Our collective review: 3.5 stars. It has plenty of plot holes, but the strengths (pun intended) are the casting of Superman, the action sequences nicely contrasted by quiet and romantic moments, and the story that has a true challenge for Superman.

Bryan Singer, great job overall, but because of the plot holes: Ya Goof!


This trip was built around a church conference where Janet is a delegate. After a rather leisurely morning, Janet realized that she was due in Des Moines earlier than we thought, and we didn't have a minute to spare. MapQuest estimated the trip at five-and-a-half hours. We made it in four-and-a-half.

Janet, Ya Goof!

While Janet started her delegate duties, we figured out where to park for the hotel. It only took three trips around the same block and one instance of driving on the wrong side of the yellow lines.

Keith, Ya Goof!

Des Moines, is VERY quiet on a Sunday. One illustration: We sat at red light looking at a map and stayed there when it turned green because there was no one behind us. It turned red and green again, still with no one behind us.

The conference center, several hotels and other downtown sites are connected by an elevated tunnel called the Skywalk. Naturally, I started referring to everyone in our party as "Skywalker." At first, Ethan didn't get it.

Ethan, Ya Goof!

YaGoof! Trip Report (Days 1 and 2)

The YaGoof! team is traveling this week. But we’re still blogging (a) because we brought along our laptop and (b) because 75% of the YaGoof! team likes to sleep in, so the remaining 25% can use the time here.

If there were not those hidden benefits for the rest of us, I would ordinarily say to anyone who sleeps in: Ya Goof!


We aimed to get going at noon and left right on schedule at 2:00.

Ethan had a sketch pad with him, as well as some markers. He lost no time in creating a sign to put in a side window. Yes, he also brought tape to mount the sign.

Ethan, Ya Goof!

We made our way to Wooster, Ohio, to stay overnight. The morning would bring exciting stops like the Cats Meow Village, where they make those way cool-knick-knacks, and Simply Smuckers, the store at the world headquarters of Smuckers in nearby Orrville. There’s also rumored to be this special spot: a cow on top of a water tower.

We didn’t have motel reservations in this area, and the first place we stopped had no vacancy. The sun was setting, so this provided an anxiety rush for part of the party!

Note: Do you worry too much? Then I say: Ya Goof!

The next motel did have vacancy. And it offers a free hot breakfast! Whew!

We lit out to try to catch a showing of “Superman Returns.” This town is kind of an in-between size, and the motel didn’t have a newspaper with show times, and the theater didn’t answer their phone, so we just drove out to find it with the motel’s directions. Much driving about in two shopping centers on either side of the road ensued. Samples of conversation during the trip:

Janet: Watch! Watch! (This is what she says whenever I’m about to hit something with the car. In this case, it was a good call. I stomped on the brake just before smacking into a little red car past a stop sign that I hadn’t seen)

Kids: Dad, Ya Goof!

Me (to a man about to enter his car): Excuse me, is there a movie theater around here?

Man: There sure is. (pause)

Me: (Thinking: Dang these brief-spoken Ohioans!) Will you tell me where it is?

He gave me directions. We had been very close. All of the driving had been in vain. The next showing wasn’t for over an hour, and that would be too late. We went back to the hotel for a brief swim in their nice little pool and then some viewing of “Animal Planet.” We watched a guy taken off in handcuffs for neglecting his dogs. They were skinny and full of sores.

If you mistreat your animal, we say: Ya Goof! (In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to often suggesting to our dog and to others that he is as dumb as a rock, something which could be construed as mistreatment, but I hasten to add, could also be construed as grudging affection.)

One final note about Wooster: Some tornadoes touched down around here recently. At first, we noticed piles of brush in front of dozens of houses, and then we noticed that some of the piles were pretty big. Then we noticed lots of broken branches, and then we were in the real storm zone. We spoke to one man with a very big tree toppled in his yard. He said that wind shear took hundreds of trees in all. We took a picture at his house, as well as at the nearby golf course.


Apologies for the poor pictures. When you don’t know how to get good shots out of your own camera, you deserve to hear: “Ya Goof!”

YaGoof! Trip Report: DAY 2

Make a note: The Best Western in Wooster is clean, attractive, gives a good breakfast and has helpful staff.

Highlights of the morning:

We found the Smuckers gift shop, Simply Smuckers, after driving about twenty miles, even though it was only about ten miles away (we came to find out after some mis-driving). Ethan in particular was less than thrilled to be there.

We found Cat’s Meow Village with much less trouble. Quite the business, but I’d like to point out that it’s very easy to go in the wrong door and find out that it’s the exit.

It took quite a bit more driving to find an ice cream shop called SSScoops. A fifties-style place that used the name “SuperFriends” for the flavor “Crazy Vanilla.”

Exciting stuff, followed by lots and lots of driving. We got off course a couple times and lost about forty-five minutes in all getting back on course.

However, one wrong turn in Bucyrus, Ohio, led us to take pictures at a very cool mural that we found out was created by this artist.

After that, the only highlight was stopping at a place that has an impressive billboard that turned out to be false in three key ways:

1.Low price for fuel! (Except the advertised price turns out to be for diesel.)
2.Use any credit card! (As long as it’s MasterCard or Visa!)
3. Clean restrooms! (Not.)

But they did have gas and fast pumps and provided handy parking for the Burger King next door. This one happened to offer a very good Veggie Burger.

We ended up in Danville, Illinois, a town that's not very big but whose high school has a heck of hall of fame with members including Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, Donald O’Connor, Gene Hackman, and Paul Hawkins, the man who created the Good Humor ice cream truck.

If you’re on vacation today and will take a wrong turn, we affectionately say: Ya Goof!