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Cross Country 2012, Day 8

Saturday, June 18th
Couer D’alene

It’s great to be in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Perfect place for Steve to be for the summer. Very Huge Thanks to Ray Kish for opening his home to us.

We’re all happy to be reunited with the Martin family, even if Dave is annoying.
Great to hang out with Hattenburgs and Casey as well, who bake cookies and sleep in Rivers room for us:)




Rivers likes to eat rocks and pine needles.


The one thing that was missing: “Teeth Like the Sun.”
“Walks on Wheels” and “Toes like a sloth” and “Bebe Rios” all really missed him – and were very happy when he pulled in to Black Rock.


8 days later we’re safe and sound at our final destination. Cross Country 2012, success.

Cross Country 2012, Day 7

Friday, June 15, 2012
Las Vegas – Couer D’alene, Idaho

I woke up feeling desperate. Exhausted and very worried about Steve’s wheelchair situation.
But.. Thanks to Jeff in Nola and Troy and Todd from Permobil and Nick in Vegas, they found us a loaner chair, similar to Steve’s. Hallelujah.

I called our friend Dave Martin, who we will be spending the summer with, and he must have heard my desperation and exhaustion, because next thing you know – Steve, Rivers, and I were scheduled to fly in a jet 3 hours later straight to Idaho.

So we hugged Blair goodbye and thanked him for driving the MV-1 the rest of the way.

We rolled out of the Bellagio.


And met up with Dave and Ray at Atlantic Aviation.


We were very skeptical about fitting Steves chair on the jet but Dave said they’d make it work.. So, we head to the Lear jet.


And it was definitely NOT easy getting the chair into the jet. Even though the loaner is quite a bit smaller.



After some grueling lifting and shoving, the chair was on. We successfully fit a square into a circle. And we were off.

2 hours later we landed. Huge thanks to Dave Martin for setting this up.


Goodbye Vegas


Hello Black Rock!


Cross Country 2012, Day 6

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Las Vegas

Another bad night sleep for Rivers in a hotel bathroom.


I got him dressed and went downstairs around 6:30. Luckily Vegas ends late/starts early.
Apparently Rivers didn’t feel exhausted like his mom did.


The day started out pretty swell, walking through the streets of Vegas.


However. A little while later.. We went to Caesar Hotel to go to the Apple Store and had to pay a lot of $$ to fix a phone. One of us got a bladder infection, and Steve’s wheelchair started rolling only in circles.
So once again, “Teeth like the Sun” had to push the wheelchair. Luckily he’s built like an ox bc that’s 500 pounds of heavyweight.
After a couple of calls we had people around the country trying to fix the problem (turns out it’s the motor).

So the repair guy Nick tried for a couple of hours to fix it, but he couldnt AND we were not going to get the motor until Monday. Terrible news because pushing this chair for the next 4 days was going to be brutal.


Spirits were kind of low at this point, but we went downstairs and rented a scooter. Turned out too tough for Steve to drive so we did it the old fashioned way, with me on his lap driving, and Manny Blair pushing the kid in the stroller next to us.


Looking a lot more like the griswolds and less like a wolf pack,
We crossed the street in our rolling posse and got stuck in the middle of a left turn lane. I drove us too fast and made a right turn and nearly dropped Steve off the back of the scooter.
He was not happy.

But. The night turned out well, as it usually does.

We met some people from Nola:


And Blair got one of those dumb big drinks.


We shot a cool time lapse and called it a night. Rivers fell asleep in Manny Blair’s arms on the way home.

Cross Country 2012, Day 5

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Grand Canyon – Las Vegas

So. Rivers has changed from a 9pm – 745am sleep schedule to waking up at midnight, 3, 5, and 6am. Being in hotels is tough – I can’t let him cry himself back to sleep because I don’t want to be an a-hole to the neighbors.
So… When Steve and Blair woke up really early to go shoot a time lapse of the Grand Canyon – I literally found myself with my hands around Steve’s neck in frustration of sleep deprivation.

Right after they left, I realized I should have gone with them because it was 530am and Rivers was wide awake, cranky and wanting to Chatty Cathy. He decided to stay awake til about 5 minutes before the boys came home – which was around 10.

On their end.. Blair and Steve left at 430 to head to the GC. They set up the camera for their first time lapse, had breakfast at the lodge and then set the camera up for the second time lapse. They left their spot for 5 minutes, and even though they hid the phone with a large rock, a lady picked it up and turned it in to the lodge.

At the same time, I was pacing back and forth in the room because I had no money or toys for rivers, no phone reception, and was too chilly to go outside because im a pansy, texting Steve and Blair to hurry the f home. And then I got this text..


So the honest girl meant well, but not only did she move the camera from a prime spot, she deleted the time lapse app, erasing both shots from the day.

Once I got this text, I realized I could text with wifi so I got my brother Vinnie to call Blair. He wrote back that “Blair was pushing Steve up the Grand Canyon”, that they knew about the phone, but he had to go.
***Side note. Last night after we checked into our room, Blair (also named by Steve at the Ruins, “Teeth like the Sun”, rushed into our room, panting, dropped Rivers on the ground and said “I’ll be right back, Steve’s battery died, he’s stuck in the woods and has a halo of Mosquitos around his face”. The sucky part is, well, the suckiest part of this is that Steve can no longer swat flies from his face. So that’s a bad situation. Blair ran back and pushed Steve up the hill into safety.

(this pic happened right before the bAttery died)


Anyhow. We drove back to the Grand Canyon.
The Canyon is indeed Grand.



Las Vegas, here comes the Gleasons…
We’d like to point out here that Steve and I used to be extremely low maintenance travelers. We’d never go anywhere with more than a backpack.

Things have changed in 2012. We pulled up to the Bellagio with a uhaul. Blair was frazzled because i was stressed bc we were running late and the iPhone map got us lost.
We handed the bellhop everything from wedge pillows to walkers to nukes to dirty clothes bags to formula and bottles to subway bags full of dirty diapers to pill organizers to strollers to wheelchair chargers, you name it – it was on the cart.

Uncle Ronnie set us up with a babysitter and tickets to The Cirque de Soleil “O” show and to dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. In 6 minutes we got the sitter set up, changed and head to the show.

For those who have not seen this, We would all three strongly recommend it. It’s like the grand canyon. You feel like a doofus however you try to describe it.
Steve adds that he thinks it would go well with the head scratcher..

We crossed the street to the Paris Hotel for dinner.


Very good, especially the frisée kale salad with bacon and whipped cauliflower.

Steve’s first lap dance of the night
(of 2)…


What happens in Vegas.

Cross Country 2012, Day 4

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Aztec, NM – Jacob’s Lake Inn (40 miles from Grand Canyon)

Interrupted sleep due to Rivers up every couple of hours and a 3am bathroom incident. Our apologies to the Step Back Inn..

First stop – Aztec Ruins, actually Pueblo Indian Ruins circa 1100-1300. Really cool.


We did a self guided tour. In all honesty, it was hard to understand the book.


Steve checked on ancient pueblo ADA regulations.

Steve set up his iPhone for a time lapse on the edge of a deep, circular ruin.


When we came back to retrieve it, the phone was gone. I looked down in the pit and there it was, laying on its back in the ruin that you’re not supposed to touch.

So the volunteers called the authorities and were instructed to call the archaeologist.

Vern, the archaeologist, hopped in the Pitt and got the phone. Unfortunately, the time lapse was gone, which unfortunately happens to steve occasionally.


Awesome place. Makes me want to go home and clean out the house.


Next stop. The Four Corners! It’s not in our “1000 things to see book”, which makes me wonder how credible this book is..


At the next gas stop, right after Rivers learned how to crawl out of his seat


He had an explosion so he pulled up to the Jacob’s Lake Inn in his skins


After a dinner with the boys we went to sleep.


Cross Country 2012 Day 3

Monday, June 11, 2012
Tucima to Aztec, MN

For the record, today’s blog is pretty boring.

Woke up in the motel, happy to be unscathed, and head to Santa Fe.

We listened to the England vs France
Euro Cup Game on the way.

Stopped to check out the Santa Fe Opera House (checked off in our book)



We walked/rolled around an art district (all wheelchair accessible:).


Blair met a gal named Blair. She’s an artist. She asked him he was our nanny. Hence his new nickname, Manny.


We stopped for the night at “The Step Back Inn” in Aztec, NM, where we tomorrow will hopefully see aliens, and will definitely see ruins.

Cross Country 2012, Day 2

June 10th, 2012 (Happy Anniversary Jill and Paul Varisco!)
Fort Worth to Route 66, Tucumcari

(for the record, no disrespect for Fort Worth.. It’s a great city, we just hit a shady spot)

First night of sleep kind of rough for Rivers.
He took his first hotel bath today.


And had one of his daily rides with his dad.

First stop – Fort Worth Stock Yards — to cross this out in our “1000 things to see before you die book”. (For the record, we got this book in 2008 pre-diagnosis:)


Lunch at Taco Casa.
No shortage of cheese at this fine establishment.
Can guarantee stomach aches in about 2 hours.


Stopped at a local Target (Rivers first buggy ride)


to get a bunch of these


Which are good for both Steve and Rivers.

Ended up tonight on Route 66 (another spot in our book). Warm and dry wind. Perfect.
Steve shot a 300 seconds


and we ate at the one place in the area that was open and not deserted, Pow Wow Restaurant.


Picked the Budget Inn because of location and advertisement of “wifi and HBO”, of which it had neither. We were definitely excited in a nervous way, looked like a site for a scary movie..
and the check in girl added to the unease. Seemed like a nice girl but up close looked like she was in The Thriller video.


Luckily for all of us, she did not end up in Blair’s room…

Cross Country 2012, Day 1

Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Nola – Dallas/Fort Worth

So. We’ve decided to add our Cross Country 2012 trek to the Shunpike Expedition.
Final destination: Couer D’alene Idaho.
We have two new travelers this year:
Rivers Gleason, age 7.5 month and Blair Casey, Gleason Family G.M.

We were scheduled to leave on June 5th – but due to an ankle staff infection on Steve, croup and ear infections on Rivers and Strep throat on Michel – Friday June 9th was our day of departure.

We’re driving the MV-1 with a tiny Uhaul attached.

After lots of help from friends, fam, and mostly my parents, we said our goodbyes and rolled out, approx 12pm.



We had no idea what route we were gonna take until we drove away.
We decided Dallas as we approached the interstate.

First stop… Krotz Springs, Cajun Cafe.


Here, we ate boudin balls, meat pies, cracklins. Very HOT.
Good – but doesn’t compare to the Jazz Fest.

Rivers new trick.. He sits on his dads lap and reaches for things on the table. Today, he couldn’t reach so he grabbed Steve’s joystick on the wheelchair and rammed them into the table. No one was hurt. It was awesome.

Next stop – fuel up at Shreveport.


Dallas hotels were sold out for some country band in town plus a republican convention.
So – Blair drove his 10th straight hour to Fort Worth.

As we pulled into the last gas station for the night we saw 3 guys riding horses, two chasing after the other one, on the interstate…
Thinking we were probably in a rough neighborhood we drove past a couple of fellas that threw a gang sign to Blair, followed by the fact that there were seven bail bond shops on a street somewhat close to our hotel, we thought it best to get a lock to attach our trailer to the car, so we spent the next hour driving through neighborhoods with all Spanish billboards and signs.


We finally found a truck stop and walked in to a guy sleeping at the counter. We said “hi.” Nothing. We said “Bobby?”. Nothing. Blair yelled “BOBBY!” He woke up, his hands immediately going in his pants, and he directed us to the locks.

We pulled up to our hotel around midnight and there were two guides on horse and buggies riding down our street.

Fort Worth is interesting.

We were all ready for bed after a long, eventful day. Especially Blair.

*** this journey is in memory and honor of Maelan Elizabeth Graffagnini, our little angel watching over us all. ***


Welcome Home Steve-o!!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Steve and Jim pulled onto Grand Route St John in the IronHorse at 12:45pm today!!

After a quick and exciting welcome home, we went to lunch at Mr John’s –
and were joined by:
Thad, Madeline and Chris, Thais and Marcus, Allison and Neil – and visited by Shawn, Pauly, and Willy P.




3 hours after lunch we had a welcome home dinner at Mila – joined by:
Vin, Jules, Pauly, Hil, Thomas, Kerry, Mad, and Chris.



The 11 day wait is finally over.
I’m so happy to have Steve back home. And I’m so grateful to Matt, Mikey Mo, and Jim for getting him back safe and sound to me.

PS – the IronHorse smells like crap…

Music Heals

Sept. 3, 2011: a doozie of a post.

If music heals, and I’m sure it does, I am a healthy boy.
Music can foster an energy that hard to tap into. Music can be calming or powerful or angry or inspiring. Or healing.
I love hearing a song and having it take me to a memory with feelings so real its as if they are brand new.
This weekend was an incredible reunion of friends who are like family to me.

Yesterday I received a text message from a great high-school buddy, Josh Hartnett.
As follows…


I am not even sure how to explain the rest of this plot. It turns out that Josh was at the show with a guy named Chris. Well, Matt and Chris have been corresponding for the last month or so. Why? Because Matt, being Matt…


was trying to get the best connection possible to enhance our PJ 20 experience.

Back Story: Through a friend, Erica Perkins, I connected with Mike and Ashley McCready a few years ago and I got to go backstage a couple times for PJ shows. Me, being me…


I never really want to ‘bother’ Mike if I’m going to a PJ show especially a 20th year anniversary show.
Well, it turns out (hold on tight here) that Chris works for Mike and Matt was talking to Chris and Chris knows Josh and Matt knows Josh and I know Josh and Matt and Mike. But none of us really knew that we knew each other until this text (see above)!

Long story short, Matt and I left Spokane four days ago content with any version of Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary show. Then we picked up Mike Moses… Then Salters arrives… Then Hartnett…


Next thing I know we are camped out on the hill overlooking the amphitheater. Then we are all shining love on eachother in the VIP tent behind the stage talking about the best of times.


Mike and Ashley came down to catch up and say hello.


And Ashley, being Ashley…


…says she wants us side stage for the show. Then she does a little wave of her hand and has someone print these up.


So, why not? Better now than never right?

Play this video for my exact pre show thought:

And then…
The lights dropped and things got crazy…

The man:


“…Let me run into the rain
To be a human light again…”

So we were on stage. Rockin in the free world. For two nights. Cameras. Bodyguards. Crowds. Tambourines. Set-lists. And it was incredible.


But at some point on the second night during ‘Given to Fly’, I walked over to Matt and hugged him and we started weeping.
It’s his favorite song.
And suddenly this wasn’t about passes or access or crowds.
It was about music and friendship. A good combination. I went to middle america with an intention. An intention to enjoy the band that built the soundtrack of our lives with my friend. And it infected the people we met up with. More friends. New friends. Family. And even when life turns brutal and impossible the soundtrack remains to hold us together. Even if we are weeping. The soundtrack remains.


“…And he still gives his love, he just gives it away
The love he receives is the love that is saved…”

PJ or Bust (Part II)

I was insistent that we visit Yellowstone national park on this road trip. At this point we had lost some time due to roof problems and tire blowouts but we also purposely built in some time, buffer time, in our itinerary.
Matt, being Matt, was a little ‘nerped’ that that we didn’t have enough time in our schedule to visit the park. That’s one reason I love Matt. He keeps me on point.

We drove through Yellowstone anyway and it was a nice detour from the I-90 route…



…but took longer than we thought it might so we stayed just east of the park in ….

The Cabin:


Some of the best scenery was just east of Yellowstone.



After that, we literally drove east for a day and a half… …stopping only to eat…






…And grab some nifty souvenirs…


Note: somewhere in South Dakota, I noticed the Ironhorse’s spare tire was making a awful rattling sound. Learning from our tire incident (see PJ or bust Part I), we chose not to ignore the sound. It turns out that the ‘swing away arm’ that the spare tire rests on was cracked.

Long story short, we backed into a tree in the Alaska and it finally caught up with me. So now we have a spare tire as a companion in the van.


Speaking of companions, we met back up with Mike Moses after he finished his work in the state of Montana. He made a last-minute decision that was okayed by Laura, his wife, and hopped in the van on the quest for Pearl Jam.


Luckily he did because we needed his expert weather tracking skills to dodge one of the more gnarly thunderstorms we’ve encountered.



Partial Nerpy:


Half Nerped:


Fully Nerped:


We finally arrived in East Troy on Friday evening, right on schedule. Massive love to Matty for putting in some long hours driving the iron horse.
We anticipate some great hangout time watching a band we grew up with. Perfect.

It’s funny, I can’t do as much physically as I used to, so sometimes I feel like I’m not helping on these trips. But, when we got into the hotel in East Troy, Mike and Matt commented that this is one of the coolest things they’ve ever done and I helped spearhead it, so that felt good. And we haven’t even seen any music yet!

Play the vid:

“…One night thunder cracked.
Mercy backed outside her windowsill.
Dreamed I was flying high above the trees over the hills….”

PJ or Bust (Part I)

August 30, 2011:

Michel flew home with the family and Matt Shaw offered to road trip with me back to NOLA. We thought it might be fun to see the Pearl Jam anniversary show on the way. What an epic way to wrap up this summer’s trip.
Being raised in Washington and being “a child of the 90′s”, I have grown up with Pearl Jam in the background, and sometimes, the foreground of my life. I can lay songs from the bands portfolio over scenes from my life like a soundtrack. Highschool – College – Pregame – Postgame. I’m not alone on that, I know. Twenty years later…

Matt and I did some route calculations and decided to go for it. Next stop Wisconsin…


Jim Salters offered to join me for the second leg. Milwaukee to NOLA. I anticipate a great trip but already miss Michel. It is amazing how much a part of each other we are.

Sitting on the dash as we loaded the Ironhorse:


As Matt and I were about to leave spokane, the poptop roof frame broke. It took us (help from my dad) the better part of two hours just to get it down and locked in place.

Pre-broken roof photo…


We finally hit on the road and started getting that road trip vibe, when my drivers side, rear tire de-treaded!


The velocity of the tread severed my water intake and my coolant line also…

Thinking we may never get to Milwaukee, we limped into Kellogg Idaho. We happened to find a tire shop and they luckily, were able to get us on back the road.


A little post action play by play from Shappy:

Knowing that we definitely were not going to make our intended destination (Bozeman, MT) today, we took a slight detour and rendezvoused with Mike Moses who was on business in Helena Montana.



It sounds cliché but most road trips like this really are more about the journey than the destination. Being able to catch up with Mike in such an organic fashion was really special for all of us.

“…I can’t see what’s next from this lonely overpass…”

Infinite Joy

We thought this might be a good ‘side post’ to our adventures.
ESPN listed the top 10 plays of the past 25 years.

Play this video:

I don’t think the video is formatted for mobile playback.

The Variscos storm the NW – Couer D’alene

So we spent the next couple of days living in this:


We enjoyed breakfasts outside in the crisp Northwest weather:



We took morning walks / golf cart rides along the beautiful grounds and golf courses of Black Rock:
(some in our new Gonzaga Prep attire)






Sean did lots of filming:



We hung out at the Black Rock country club:




We bade farewell to Seanny P


We carted to the beach on Lake Couer D’alene:



We hung out with friends:





We took a cocktail cruise on the Stewart’s Stancraft “the hornet” – after Paul impressed Steve and Michel by jumping in the cold lake:





We hung out at night by the fire pit with the colored heat flames and chatted with friends and looked at the stars. Unfortunately, no pics available.

We played liverpool rummi..



It was a heavenly few days – some of our favorites of the trip.
Thanks to Ray and Annette Kish for letting us stay in their house – we’re fortunate to have such loving, amazing people in our lives.

The Variscos leave the Northwest

August 29, 2011

It’s almost time to leave Steve and the Northwest. We spent our last day in Couer D’Alene at the country club – swimming, eating, playing cards, and working on agendas for Steve and me.


Then spent the evening at The Gleasons for a feast – homemade spaghetti, chicken wings, and salad from the garden. Some of Steve’s buddies joined us. Beautiful night.




Goodbye and thanks again to Mike and ‘Jackson’ Gleason.


That evening we stayed at the lovely Davenport Hotel.


Steve and I stayed here 7 years ago when I drove to the Northwest with him for the first time.


We had a really delicious breakfast downstairs the next morning with Gail and Kook. Paul Sr enjoyed his corned beef hash.

We said some goodbyes.

It was really rough to leave Steve. I mean real rough. We’re such a team now and it doesn’t seem right not being with him. But – I’ll see him in about 10 days. And it’s time for me to get home to start getting ready for young gleazy.


As it turns out, it was not time for us to leave quite yet. Due to plane mechanical issues, we were forced to stay for one more night!!


So we got to take the Varisco’s to a hip spot called “The Flying Goat”, which is home to my personal favorite pizza called “The Kiernan” (it’s actually on my top ten favorite foods).


We ended the night playing Liverpool rummy at one of Steve’s favorite Spokane spots – “The Elk”.


And the next day, we had to say goodbye again. Not any easier.


But Steve has some more adventure to embark upon. And I gotta get home. Until I see you again, I love u Steve-o. And I’m lucky for every single minute I get to spend with you. Ten more sleeps.

The Variscos storm the NW – Spokane

Jilly and Paul flew to Spokane today!
We were very very excited to pick them up from the airport.


How about that belly!!! – SG

Steve gave them a tour of the city. He showed them old houses, old parks where he played baseball, soccer, and football, old schools, as well as all of the cool neighborhoods.

We had to take a break to go to our OB Spokane doc, Dr Satterfield.


But first – we stopped by the world famous, well at least SPOKANE famous, Dick’s, for burgers.


Documentarian Sean Pamphilion, AKA “The Fly”, “SeannyP”, or “Sonny” was with us for a couple of days.


Dad treated all five of us for under $20. And that includes the order of fried chicken. Steve has never heard of anyone ever ordering Dick’s fried chicken, but dad couldn’t resist.


Right as we were leaving, as I was reaching for my drink, a bird pooped on my cup. It just missed my hand.

So we drove to the doctors office and I had an ultrasound.


Steve, Jilly, and Sean with his video equipment all came in to watch.
Young Gleazy definitely has Steve-o’s nose! In my opinion.


Everything looks good!!:)

After the doc visit, we continued the tour and stopped by Steve’s high school, Gonzaga Prep. We saw a couple of his old coaches.



Saw an old pic of Steve on the wall…
He’s #34, next to his best buddy #33, Jim Salters.


Notice his fingers in an upside down peace sign. Players have tried to imitate them and have gotten in trouble for it. There has been one #34 since Steve, but after him the coaches said no one has “deserved” the number. And it’s possible that no one will use that number again, because Gonzaga Prep is inducting Steve into the hall of fame on October 25th! (along with John Stockton)!


Unfortunately the baby is due October 28th – but if we can have the baby come late, he’s gonna try to get to the ceremony…
It was awesome – coaches were excited to see him and players were excited to meet him.

Afterwards, we continued the tour. Nice view of the city behind us.


After packing in everything we could, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory with Ray and Annette Kish, who very graciously offered their cabin in Couer D’Alene to us, Tony and Tina, and Gail.


After lots of mizithra and Spimoni, we said our thank yous and drove to the amazing cabin at Black Rock.

More about that tomorrow…


We watched the Foo Fighters documentary at Ryan and Monique Thielman’s house (excellent show)
Ryan recommended a lodge in Sandpoint, Idaho. Called…
The Lodge in Sandpoint

We took his advice and made reservations and it was Awesome.


View from the Room


We had dinner with Ryan and Mo at the lodge restaurant -’41south’ which was only about 14 steps away from our room – very convenient for Steve and me.



Food was great – best thing was “Avocado frites”.



Our room had a light-switch fireplace and colored heat was very, very enjoyable.

Sunset from the room…


Anyway, the next day we drove into Sandpoint, a place that Steve really loves. We had a delicious hash brown breakfasts at “Connies” and visited a farmers market.


What a great northwest town.


We bought some beautiful sunflowers.


And brought them to the Thielman Family house on Pend Orielle River.

We went for a ride in Ryan’s boat – which I understand is kind of like the “IronHorse” of the water. And took a couple dips in the river.


Back at the cabin, we ate delicious guacamole and bbq chicken sandwiches on the beautiful lawn overlooking the beautiful river. We did lots of video recording – mostly about Steve and football at Washington State. The Thielmans are big time Cougar Fans. A great moment.

The Thoelmans are a great, loving Spokane family who really love Steve-O.
I know it was difficult for them to see him in this condition. They talked about what a great boy he is and what an inspiration he’s always been, which seems like the general consensus of everyone who knows him.


Spokane and Pullman

Back at Mike and Jackie’s in Spokane.


We relaxed for a couple of days and watched an entire season of “Game of Thrones” in the basement. Highly recommend it.

We visited a piece of property that Mike was interested in buying. Pretty, raw land and quite a walk for Steve-o’s legs.
We ended with a some tears, a prayer and a group hug.



We also took a day trip to Pullman and visited Gail.
We watched the 1994 Apple Cup on a VHS tape when WSU beat UW. Its a huge rivalry for Washingtoners. Steve was a sophomore and had a good game and had a huge hit on a big guy named Cam Cleland that knocked them both out.
Gail showed us an old box of Steve’s stuff. This was my favorite picture/article of when Steve was a bit more of a meathead. I learn more and more that he was kind of a “big deal” here at WSU.


We had lunch at one of Steve’s favorite college pizza places called Sellas. Really good salad with ranch dressing.


Then drove to Lewiston to pick up the Halibut caught in Alaska from Brendan.
This shot is from a pullout overlooking Lewiston.


We also got to have lunch with Grady at one of my favorite Spokane spots, Bruchees.


Summer Joy


I told Sean that I want to roll down my dads hill before he leaves from this filming session. Why? Why not? It’s fun! It’s not the cliffs or bridges or cornices I used to jump or the waves I used to surf but… Still fun! That’s joy. Go find your joy for today.

click the video below for the action…

You may notice that I anticipated the snap count and may, possibly, have jumped offsides. But I don’t see a flag anywhere. Winning.

Does Michel sound impatient?

Hayden Lake to Spokane: HOME!

Tuesday, August 15, 2011

Matt made us pancakes for breakfast and we ate them on the deck in the warm sunshine overlooking Hayden Lake.

We went for a morning swim.


It’s hard for Steve to swim now, as his reflexes tell him to breathe in when he’s supposed to breathe out. It’s a huge disappointment, because he loves swimming in rivers and lakes and oceans and pools and it’s now really difficult. However, he said he wanted to swim to the dock in the picture above and as tough as it was, he made it.

Brendan unpacked all of his stuff from the van and we said our goodbyes. He’s surprising his wife Leslie by getting home a day early.


The boys chatted and then Steve and I head to Riverside State Park.

We took pictures from the bridge of the “Bowl and Pitcher”




We did some video recording for the baby. Steve talked about memories from “Malibu” youth group and traveling to south America and the Galapagos Islands.


Summers in Spokane are absolutely beautiful. Warm and no humidity.

Ended the day at Mike and Jackie Gleasons. Felt good to be home. Not really at home yet, but a great place to stay and rest.

The Varisco parents are coming in soon to visit!

See comment below…


“I won’t back down” from JD and… Eddie

Deadmans Creek CG, BC to Hayden Lake, ID

Monday, August 15, 2011


We had a bath in the river this morning. The water was warmer than the glacier lakes we’ve bathed in but still nice and chilly.

We drove through the beautiful wine/orchard country of BC. I loved the drive. We stopped at an awesome stand.


We got organic peach lemonade, some fresh all beef rolls, pickles, chicken and mushroom samosas, green peppers, pepperoni sticks, and fruit. Delicious, all of it.




Steve spotted the “Inniskillin” vineyard so we stopped, very excited. We all tried this ice wine at a Varisco family dinner at Meson 923 and loved it.



Then we crossed the border!


Home sweet USA!


Oh and it was the boys first day of school today!

We stopped at Dick’s for burgers then slept at our friend Matt Blaine’s beautiful cabin on Hayden Lake.



Babine Lake Rd to Deadmans Creek CG

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another big driving day today. I think all of us are a bit travel weary and being this close to Washington makes us all ready to get home.

We stopped at Mezzanine Lake and cleaned out the van.


It was dumpy with a fusty smell.


There was sunshine today! Halleluiah!


We stopped at a pullout to stretch our legs and watch the sunset.


Then drove into the night. We listened to Cyndi Lauper. Then a deer ran right in front of me. Luckily I remembered the boys instructions from Alaska and hit the brakes and didn’t swerve. We all thought we’d hit it but the deer just made it, thank the Lord.

We stopped at our last campsite of the trip! A cool one, but it was in between two train tracks so we listened to trains every 1/2 hour.

Oh and… We missed my dad at Rock-n-Bowl tonight:(


Prince Rupert to Babine Lake Rd: Stewart/Hyder

August 13, 2011

The Matanuska Ferry arrived on shore in Prince Rupert, Canada at 5:15am, which with the time change was really 4:15am, which means we really woke up at 3:45am to pack up and get through the jerky Canadian border patrol, which means that after a couple hours of riding in the front seat of i suppose scenic but cold and gloomy scenery, one of us turned into GrumpyPants, and after stopping at a gas station and standing in the rain and our credit cards declining and being asked if I had a status card (meaning = are you a first nation (Indian)?), I was ready to punch Canada in the face.

But, after a few hours of sleeping in the lethargy lounge in the back of the Ironhorse, I felt normal again, luckily for the two boys in the front, especially the one named Steve.

We decided to power drive back up to Stewart, BC / Hyder, Alaska since we missed it on the way up. (About 120 miles out the way).


We head up 17 miles of winding (nerve wrecking) gravel road up a steep mountain to Salmon Glacier. It was pretty impressive.



Even with unstable legs, Steve can’t resist standing on the edge to look at the view. Typical Steve with his nervous nelly wife standing nearby anxious and ready for him to come back to safety.


As cool as this was, it was inundated with Mosquitos, which was really weird because of the altitude and cold weather. Anyway, we drove down the mountain to a place called “Fish Creek” to watch bears and more salmon running/spawning.

We only saw one bear here but I think I saw a record high (12-15) on the road today.

So all this happens in Hyder, Alaska, population 100. We had to go back through the border to get to Stewart, BC, which turned out to be a great stop.


We got some groceries at a cute market with the best produce we’ve seen in a while.


Then stumbled across a gourmet food truck and had rhubarb tea, salad with creme brûlée goat cheese, sautéed zucchini and onions, three very delicious burgers, along with fresh hot homemade bread. The owner was like the Chef Neal of Alaska. And his coworker has been to Nola and loves Bayona and Uglesich!




We camped on Babine Lake Rd at a pullout tonight in the middle of a bunch of ranches because we couldn’t find the campground. Passed out after a long day.


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