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…