Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Walktober – Katie’s way

Katie here! Mama said that Miss Robin over at breezes at dawn is hosting Walktober again this year!

Mama said there were great clouds. Whatever mama.

She said I could participate if I wanted to, and I said…. “Well of course I want to participate mama! Have you ever known me to ignore a chance for a walk?”

Then I had to think about where I wanted to go. Mama said since it’s a Walktober I should go somewhere that showcases the beautiful colors we have around here in the fall.

This is a big mowed space next to the lake just perfect for a Walktober!

In the end I had to let mama choose because I was too excited to think straight. Plus I don’t have a drivers license.

We ended up going to one of my parks, the Holly Recreation Area, which is only about 15 minutes away from my house. Mama parked at the boat launch where there’s a big long earthen dam that is perfect for running. There wasn’t anyone out there so I got to explore and sniff as much as I wanted while mama took pictures of stuff not me.

Incoming sheltie! You better have a treat for me mama!

It was such a pretty day with a good breeze that made my fur fly. I love it when I look good. Which frankly is most of the time. I am, after all, a princess, and a princess is never seen in public if she’s not at her best.

Then mama said I needed to get to work to find pretty color. That was, after all, why we were out there. I figured she was in charge of pictures so it was her responsibility to find pretty stuff, but I ended up having to do it for her. So typical.

Here’s some color mama!

She thought the purple flowers I found were very pretty.

Pretty buds up close.

But she said they weren’t really the colors representative of fall in Michigan. She said I should look around and find something more appropriate. Mama is so demanding. So while she was busy taking pictures of not me I wandered over here.

Colorful enough for you mama?

I figured this would do the trick, and I was right. She got all excited and stuff, which sort of backfired on me cause she made me sit there for a long time while she tried different angles and settings. Then she wanted to do closeups too! Geeze mama!

These aren’t edible so I wasn’t interested.

She said I did good and she was headed back toward the car. Wait just a minute there mama! This was my Walktober and I wasn’t done walking! I marched right past the car and headed down a path the follows the edge of the lake.

Do you see me way down there?

Mama just shrugged her shoulders and followed along. She really didn’t have a choice cause I was not getting in that car! Then she got all interested in taking pictures of the lake.

They’re just lily pads mama!

She called this her Monet image. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it kept her busy so I had more time to sniff.

The path took us over to the beach. Nobody was over there on a chilly October afternoon and mama said I needed to remember my responsibility to find you all some color. So I tried.

I’m pretty sure white is a color!

I figure flowers are nice, and asters bloom in the fall here in Michigan, so they count for a Walktober, right?

Then we took a path that winds through the woods, heading back to the boat ramp. And guess what? There was more color!

Hey mama look!

Mama likes being in the woods, so we spent a long time in there. I didn’t pressure her to hurry, and she didn’t ask me to move along either. That’s why we like taking walks together, we both understand the purpose of a walk.

Mama found this color all by herself. I was busy sniffing on the other side of the path.

I like being in the woods too, so I didn’t mind when she took a couple more pictures of me. Plus she had treats.

I’m feeling a bit small here, mama!

Mama said that I did a great job finding color to show you all. Plus I got to go on a walk, sniff the fresh air, let the wind show my fur off, and spend time with my mama. Win/win!

A splash of color hidden away in the woods.

I’ve been at camp so much this summer that mama and I haven’t had time to do many walks together. So I’m really grateful to Miss Robin for getting mama to take me out exploring. We didn’t have much in the way of traditional fall colors, not yet anyway, but we had a great time.

Not a lot of color, but very dramatic.

I hope you enjoyed my park as much as I did, but I don’t see how you could without being there. Maybe some day we can all get together and go on a walk. Meanwhile, Walktobers are a pretty cool way to stay connected!

Does this wooly bear mean a long or short winter?

Where will you take us on your Walktober? We can’t wait to see. Take a walk, write about it and link it to Robin’s Walktober post (or any of her posts) by Oct 19th. Robin will do a summery post on or about October 21st. She’ll even wait a few days if you need a bit more time.

Mama, as usual, is behind and hasn’t figured out where she’s going. I told her she’s not allowed to hijack my walk, she has to do one of her own.

Reflections after a great Walktober!

A princess can be generous, but she never gives away her Walktober.

Can we go check for color over there mama?


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Almost to Canada

Well, on my last travel post I thought we were ready to cross the border into Canada, but as I sorted through photos I realized there was still plenty to see in Minnesota.

Enjoying Lake Superior on a warm summer afternoon.

Unless this post gets really long there’s no way I can get you through Minnesota and all the way across the northern shore of Lake Superior and back to the border at Michigan.

Everywhere there are ships loading and unloading.

Let’s just see how far we get.

I didn’t want to move on without telling you about Gooseberry Falls, north of Duluth.

I was fascinated by the exposed tree roots as much as by the falling water.

There are a couple of sets of waterfalls, all of them were beautiful when we were there. You could walk on the rocks very near the falls if you wanted, or stay on the trail. The trail took you further down the river where you could get a view of all the falls at once.

Most waterfalls we saw have upper and lower falls.

And even further north is Grand Portage National Monument. We stopped there because we were expecting an historical monument. Maybe a marker.

Pretty impressive.

But there’s a beautiful information center…

One of the interior murals.

…and guided tours of the restored trading post.

Explaining the birch bark Indian shelters.

We explored the interiors of several buildings…

The kitchen and the dining room.

…and then the lake shore itself.

The gate down to the dock where boats full of goods would land.

I could have stayed out on the dock for the rest of the evening.

Such a beautiful evening. The clouds were perfect.

It was getting late and we were almost to the border, so reluctantly we moved on.

But wait! There was another set of waterfalls, on the Pigeon River, in the Grand Portage State Park. The river makes up the border between Minnesota in the United States and Ontario Canada. Should we stop? It was chilly and starting to rain. It was late in the evening and getting dark.

Of course we stopped.

There weren’t many people out there, but the walk was relatively short, maybe only half a mile back to the falls. We hurried as the rain came down harder.

The High Falls on the Pigeon River.

We could hear it before we saw it. The falls were magnificent, and we were glad we made the trek. The walk was on a paved path most of the way, not difficult at all, which made it easier for us to sprint back to the car.

Now we’re ready to head into Canada! But that will have to wait until the next post. I think that blogging while sleepy could be a problem.

And you know I’m all about safety. Stay tuned.

Surprise, there are more waterfalls in Canada!


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Ashland Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota

Katie has released the blog back to me so that I can get back to the travelogue…we circled Lake Superior in late August and early September. There was lots to see.

Sturgeon at the Duluth aquarium.

I could do a separate blog about each town we visited, but in the interest of saving some time, here are just a few images from a couple towns before we headed into Canada.

The side of the co-op was covered in a beautiful mosaic. This is only about a third of it.

Ashland was a town in Wisconsin that we were just driving through on our way to Duluth. We weren’t planning on stopping there, in fact the road moved north of downtown, following Lake Superior’s shore.

But we saw a sign that referenced ‘public art’ with an arrow pointing toward downtown, a block away, so we turned toward town. And we were astounded by our first glimpse of huge murals painted on the sides of many of the retails buildings.

The flowers complimented the beautiful mural.

At first we were just going to take a couple of pictures and move on. But then we realized how outstanding these pieces of art were and we parked and walked from one end of town to the other.

These women were real people who worked at the local diner back in the day.

I’m only showing you a fraction, they were all worthy of photos and I took pictures of all of them on the main street. I think there were a couple more further away.

Sometimes the murals melted right into the afternoon sky.

If you ever get the chance to visit Ashland I recommend giving yourself an hour or more. Plus there was an absolutely wonderful burger place right downtown. I had a really good bean burger.

Mural reflections.

I recommend visiting there too.

Then we got back on the road, heading to Duluth.

The bridge into Duluth.

Duluth is a working town, lots of ships coming and going. While we were at the aquarium we saw a big ore boat come into port. And no matter where we went ships were loading or unloading.

I liked the grey ship with the grey sand against the blue sky and water.

You saw the post about the mansion in town. There’s also Pattison State Park, named after the family that built the large house.

Upper falls. It’s hard to see just how big these falls are.

Lots of waterfalls there, and I was still figuring out settings to make the water smooth. Sometimes I got it right.

Working on my fluid water technique on the lower falls.

The first night we stayed on the top floor of a hotel with a view of the city.

Lake Superior, a ship, the iconic Duluth lift bridge and a cloud front. Perfect.

At night it was so pretty. I could show you that…but you can imagine it. I sort of liked this shot from our window.

Lots of color at night.

Just because it’s fun.

OK, OK…here’s the real night shot.

Took this one with my phone. Phones cameras are amazing.

The second night we stayed at a hotel down near the marina with a lovely view of the bridge and boats.

Early morning light on the marina.

Plus we got to drive across the famous lift bridge!

Crossing the bridge.

After two days of sightseeing in Duluth, visiting mansions, lighthouses, waterfalls, the aquarium and Lake Superior we moved on, heading north into Canada.

Pretty and peaceful at the Duluth aquarium.

I guess I’ll have to post at least one more travel related blog or I’ll have abandoned you at the border.

Roses in full bloom at the Leif Erikson Park at the edge of Duluth as we left town.

And there’s plenty to see in Canada.

Stay tuned.

Building on a building in Ashland.


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Exploring

Katie here. I know, I know, you’re expecting more photos of mama and daddy’s latest trip. Trust me, there are definitely more in mama’s files.

But geeze! Have you all forgotten about me?

Come walk with me in my backyard!

I’ve spent an awful lot of time at camp this summer. Don’t get me wrong, they treat me great there, but it’s not the same as being under mama’s feet. So since I’ve been home I’ve become something of a Velcro dog, never further than a foot or two from mama.

I kind of love my backyard!

Today I asked her if we could please take a tour around my yard, so I could make sure that everything was still copacetic out there, given I haven’t been around much, and mama said “OK baby girl! Let’s go explore the yard!”

Mama’s abstract of my fur.

We stopped at my zinnia garden which replaced my tomato garden of years past. I have to say I like tomatoes much better than silly flowers. I may be a Princess, but flowers don’t do a thing for me. Give me a ripe cherry tomato any time. Especially one I can pick off the vine for myself.

I ask you – how are these flowers better than tomatoes?

I’ve put in an Executive Order for tomatoes next year.

Way in the back of the yard daddy has been trimming trees. Do you see me in there?

I’m in there, hiding from mama!

How about now?

I’m right here mama!

Mama took so many pictures that I finally just laid down in the nice cool grass. No sense trying to rush her when she’s got that camera in her hand.

Yep, might as well take a break.

Mama also says to tell you her finger is healing. The bruising is all gone but the doctor says the bone hasn’t healed completely yet. It’s only been three weeks but mama says it feels like she’s been injured forever. She went to her first physical therapy session today.

She says it’s going to be a long fall.

I told mama that Fall is my favorite season!

Anyway, I enjoyed my wander around my yard. Things look OK, so I feel justified in taking a nap now. Never used to be that the backyard was equated with an adventure, but hey, I’m a senior, adventures can happen anywhere!

Yep, everything is good over here.

Talk later, mama says more travel photos are on deck next.

Zzzzzzzzzz…


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Michigan sights

I’m sifting through images from our recent road trip around Lake Superior.
There are so many places I didn’t show you, that didn’t happen to fit into the particular story I was sharing on the blog.

How about I show you a few of the pretty things we saw on the first part of the trip, in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan – I’ll show you Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada soon!

There’s a town in the UP called Christmas. When I lived in the UP in the early 80s there wasn’t much in Christmas except a post office that was busy during the end of year holiday season as people wanted their cards postmarked from Christmas, Michigan.

Santa stands under stormy skies hawking his casino.

In August when we drove through Christmas on our way to somewhere else we were amazed to see that apparently Santa has sold out.

We stopped in Munising for a night. You saw the waterfalls we saw there, but you didn’t get to see the sunset over Munising Bay. It started out kind of slow.

Lots of clouds but not much color action.

I got bored with the clouds and started messing with camera settings, not paying attention to the sky. But a quacking duck flew by and I glanced up. And gasped, as the sun was touching the top of the hills across the bay.

Those hills are on fire!

Eventually the sun died and the sky turned pink. We didn’t leave until the sky was black.

It turned into a colorful evening after all.

And on another evening we watched the sun set over Lake Superior. It didn’t turn out to be much, but it was fun to watch people playing in the waves.

A warm summer day at the beach comes to an end.

There’s a ‘covered road’ near where I used to live. I’d forgotten all about it, but while we were exploring I saw a sign pointing the way, so we turned right and I’m so glad we did. I remember this being stunning in the fall.

Miles of tree lined road with sun filtering down.

When we came out the other side of the covered road my husband caught, out of the corner of his eye, a huge metal dam. Well of course we had to stop and explore.

Lots of metal angles made for photography fun.

And speaking of exploring, when I lived in Hancock I often passed the Quincy Mine buildings, abandoned and falling apart. Now they’ve been restored and the site offers tours.

I always thought this building was beautiful.

Of course we went.

This huge hoist has been sitting inside the building for more than a century.

I’m so glad we did, it was fascinating and nostalgic, all at the same time.

So much history here.

We were driving across the UP one morning when I noticed a commotion up ahead in the ditch. Several large birds lifted off as we approached, and I caught the spread of a huge white tail. They were all bald eagles!

They were just amazing.

They flew up into the trees there, and we turned around to see what was happening. While I was changing to the long lens most of them flew away. The light was bad, my settings, in my haste, were wrong, but I got a few shots, mostly bad, from which I could crop a few images.

He was looking at me, I swear!

And just before we left Michigan we stopped at Lake of the Clouds in the western part of the UP.

You can see the scale by the size of the people in the upper left part of this image.

This lake never fails to delight, no matter the season.

You can click on any of the images to make them larger and to see more detail. Of course on those eagle crops the detail is already lost, but I couldn’t help but share that experience regardless of the quality of the pictures.

Soon I’ll show you a little of Ashland Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota and Thunder Bay Canada. And maybe more!

More history awaits.


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Be brave

In the past two days, since we moved north and west from Duluth Minnosota, we’ve explored Canadian waterfalls…

Kakabeka Falls

…and a fur trading fort set in 1816.

Fort William

Tonight as I sort through those images there are plenty I’d like to show you. But you’ve all seen waterfall images (though even I think the falls up here are pretty spectacular) and I’ve shared lots of forts in past travel posts.

If you like, once I get home, I’ll post some of my favorite shots from those experiences. But this post will focus on our adventures last night, when we drove to the top of the Sleeping Giant mountain to watch the sun set.

There’s potential for a spectacular sunset.

The road up was almost 6 miles of bumpy, rutted dirt. When we got near the top the road disappeared into pure rock. We were driving on the top of the mountain! There’s a viewing deck up there, but not exactly what I expected.

Not quite the nice wide deck I was expecting.

It’s a metal walkway extending out from the side of the mountain, 100 meters above the lake shore below. The floor is made of wooden slates…

Ummmm…don’t look down.

…that you can see between. It’s a very long way down and it took me a few moments to stop feeling light headed enough to slowly creep my way out toward the end.

It helps if you hang on to the railing and concentrate on the horizon.

But when I finally did, the view was astounding.

Picture perfect.

And to my right the lowering sun made the cliff glow.

The light on the cliff against the dark clouds was breathtaking.

I couldn’t keep from feeling a thrill to be out there…

It was amazing! photo credit to my husband.

…even though there really wasn’t much of a sunset.

Just before the rain came.

It was scary, being so high above Thunder Bay, but I’m glad we went. If you’re ever nearby I recommend you venture out too!

Just don’t look down.

Good night sun!


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Finally!

Katie here. You might have noticed a distinct lack of Katie-related posts on mama’s blog this summer.

Here I am at my park!

OK sure, she went to Norway, and then Washington DC and then she went camping, all without me.

Pretty in blue.

I guess she had a really busy summer and she didn’t have too much time to spend taking me to my parks. Oh, she says that the reason we haven’t gone to the park in forever is because it’s been really hot.

Mama said the light was magical.

Sure mama.

Though, to be honest, and I’m nothing if not honest, it has been pretty hot here. I haven’t wanted to go out and sit on my deck, or sit in my outside pen either. So she might have a point.

Invasive beauty.

Anyway…tonight mama told daddy that since it was cooler she was thinking about taking me to my park after supper. I didn’t get excited because I’m pretty deaf now and I didn’t hear her.

I had such a good time!

But daddy remembered, and later on in the evening he woke mama up from her nap in her big comfortable chair and asked why she wasn’t taking me to my park!

Goldenrod starting to bloom.

And mama said, let’s go Katie! I didn’t hear that either, but I saw her pack up my park bag and I got pretty excited. And boy! When we got to my park I was spinning circles!

Light shines through the grasses.

Mama said the evening light was pretty magical and she spent a lot of time taking pictures of stuff that was not me. I didn’t really mind, though I did have to take myself on my walk a good part of the time.

Giving mama the stinkeye because she’s lagging behind.

And I also remembered my contract with mama; one photo, one treat. So even when she wasn’t focused on me, when she lifted her head from the camera and looked at me I trotted right over to get my treat.

At first she laughed and said, “No silly, if you’re not the model you don’t get a treat.”

These are mama’s favorite trees.

Really mama? I’m not moving until you pay up. And eventually she understood. One picture, no matter what it was, one treat to me.

Can’t beat this kind of light!

The walk went a lot better after we understood each other.

Little sunflowers hiding in the dusky evening.

It was a wonderful walk through wonderful golden light. I even did a short little run for mama while she figured out how her new camera did multiple shots.

Coming in for treats mama!

I got five pieces of kibble for that one.

I trotted around my park like I owned it. Mama says I acted like I was a teenager again…and that made her very happy.

Pretty gold.

Between you and me I can’t wait for snow, but I don’t think mama is on board with that one, at least not yet.

A wide view.

Meanwhile I hope it stays cooler so mama and I can get out for more adventures. Though I might have to pay dad some sort of salary to keep waking her up. Cause she’s getting kinda old you know, and she needs her sleep.

Another good day at the park with my mama.

I think, though, if she gets out more she’ll act more like a teenager too.

And that would be a good thing for both of us.

That was fun mama!


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Still smiling

Trent coordinates a smile a week blog post, asking people to share something that’s made them smile each week.

Well, currently I’m in one of my happy places.

Pt. Betsie on a windy wet afternoon.

And it sure makes me smile.

The Coast Guard on patrol.

What made you smile this week? Post about it and link up to Trent’s blog, he’ll recap on Monday.

Lots to smile about this week!


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Trying to find the night sky. Again.

I’m ‘up north’ and the sky is clear and the air is warm and the bugs aren’t bad. Perfect to head out and try to learn more about shooting stars. And there might even be a few shooting stars to boot!

The little lake was calm with families waiting for the sunset on the protected beach away from the big lake.

I went out to North Bar Lake, a place a photographer told me about years ago. I’ve been there a couple of times since, and I figured it might be the perfect place to watch the stars.

I got there way too early, but walked out on the beach anyway, trying to scope out a spot for sunset and star viewing.

Someone’s castle, left from earlier in the day.

There wasn’t much beach to speak off, the Great Lakes are high this year, but I’m not complaining, it feels good to see the lakes full.

Not a lot of sandy beach, but enough to enjoy.

Once I figured out there wasn’t any one particular spot I’d want to be I headed back to the car to read for awhile.

The stairs glow with late afternoon sun.

And then an hour or so later I dragged my towel, camera bag and tripod back out and walked way down the beach away from all the families and groups of kids with their bonfires and set up shop.

The last of the daylight shimmers.

It wasn’t much of anything, last night’s sunset. But it gave me plenty of time to play around, trying to figure stuff out.

Typical sunset pinks up the sky.

Like how to slow down the movement of water.

Add a bit of time to that shutter speed and smooth out the rough edges.

And how to make the most out of that time just after the sun goes down. The pink sky.

Still waiting for those stars.

The blue air.

The blue hour, Lake Michigan style.

But the darn moon, only half a moon at that, was just way too bright.

Moonlight on the big lake.

I tried, because I was getting tired of waiting, to capture the big dipper. Just to see what this camera can do.

Really, the big dipper is in there. Promise.

And then I focused for a minute or two on the group of college kids up the beach and their bonfire.

Don’t know what happened here, but it’s kind of cool, so I’m keeping it.

By 11:15 I was so tired, sitting on the sand, looking for anything to take a picture of, the stars not really showing yet. I finally packed up and headed back to the car, checking along the way for things to shoot.

Can you see the tree and the stars and the fence?

I liked the old tree and the big dipper behind it. Not exactly why I was out there, but still pretty cool.

I sat on the little beach and captured the moon and the kids’ bonfire. And then I headed back to camp.

Can you see the bonfire out there, to the left and lower than the moon?

An hour later, pulling into the campground, the moon was setting, a bright orange crescent putting out much less light. And at my site, almost 12:30 in the morning, there were a ton of stars overhead.

No pictures of any of that…but you can imagine my frustration. And so the quest continues for another night.

A failure, but a fun failure.


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Truck safety earworms

The term earworm generally refers to a bit of music that’s trapped in your head, playing over and over inside your brain long after you heard the actual song. And that’s just what happened inside my brain today as I worked to weed my impossibly overgrown gardens.

With Congresswoman Norton

I keep hearing a mother’s voice as she described her young daughter’s journal, filled with life lessons, found two days after her twelve year old was killed in a school bus that was struck by a semi driven by a distracted driver. I hear another mother’s anguish as she described the crash that killed her seven year old sitting in the back seat of her stopped car when a semi slammed into the back of them. And the voices of the young adult children whose parents were killed when the semi hit them head on, going the wrong way down a mountain road. I hear the tremor in a survivor’s voice as she describes being pushed off a bridge by a semi. I hear the anguish in a husband’s voice as he talks about his wife and stepchildren gone in an instant.

Day 1 on the Hill, visiting my Representative.

I spent five days in Washington D.C. with these and many other families at the Truck Safety Coalition’s biannual conference we call Sorrow to Strength. It’s something of an emergence into grief, but it’s also a place to witness the rebuilding strength that comes from being together with others who have had similar experiences.

Before the press conference.

We spent Saturday getting to know each other, to offer comfort and hugs and empathetic tears. We laughed together too, over the silly things we miss about our loved ones lost to truck crashes, about the things we used to do but can’t any longer if we are injured survivors.

Representative Garcia, from Illinois, introduced the new bill to increase minimum insurance.

Sunday we buckled down and learned about the issues, many of which were contributing factors in our own crashes. This year we have four bills in Congress that we support, all focused on making the roads safer for everyone, truck drivers included.

Then, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we went to work, walking Capitol Hill and visiting offices of Senators and Representatives to educate, as well as transportation agencies to discuss the lack of rule making progress.

Things in Washington move with great deliberation.

It was hot, with temperatures in the 90s and a heat index well above that.

It was especially hot during a press conference we held on the Capitol grounds at noon on Tuesday. We were lucky to have three Congressmen introducing two new truck safety bills, and we were glad to support them by standing behind the podium holding pictures of our lost loved ones.

Kate talks about the multiple surgeries, costing millions, that her son needed after his crash.

But man, it was hot.

Regardless, our families were troopers and made it to all their assigned meetings, sometimes wringing wet, sometimes red faced, but there. People who never spoke in public before spoke to strangers in Congressional offices and spoke up at DOT meetings even while facing a row of men in suits.

And they did it all because of love.

Day 2, with one of my Senators who has cosponsored one of our bills.

Their love for those lost is bigger than any fear of the unknown. Bigger then the fear of being uncomfortable or sweaty or lost in the long marble halls of a Senate office building. Their love carried them through the telling of their stories over and over, reliving it each time, each time adding one more scar on top of the thousands of scars already lacerating their hearts.

A crash survivor being interviewed after the press conference.

And at the end of our time together there were more tears and hugs as we said goodbye to our Truck Safety Family, knowing that we’re never truly alone, even on our worst days, because these people have our hearts and our backs. Most of us will stay in touch through email and social media. And though we wish we didn’t have to, we’re ready to do it all again when D.C. calls.

Some of my Truck Safety family, ready to generate some change.

Love conquers all and our loved ones deserve to be remembered, not just for the way they died, or were injured, but for the way they lived. And that’s why I don’t mind the earworms dancing in my brain today.

We made time for ice cream.

It’s just another way of remembering them all.

Change is hard.