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My mother passed away March 1st, 2019. My sister coordinated services held March 16th, 2019 in Hobbs, NM.

A son’s eulogy

My mother, Kathy Bruce, was found deceased in her apartment on Friday March 1st, 2019.

She was an amazing human. I know you’re supposed to say that but I’m not just saying that.

She flipped houses before it was cool. Spending her days taking down walls, putting them back up, and painting them. She taught herself to pour ceramics using a kiln she kept in her home. She was the manager and owner of a house turned apartments. She was a teacher and community leader in the Denver area. Mostly all at the same time, a true queen of the side hustle.

She counseled battered women in the greater Denver metropolitan area. She administered multiple online communities, some of which she created herself. A hardcore naturalist and observer of the world, fascinated and giddy by things she had not seen or done before, even late in life.

What struck me most about mom though was, as she got older, she took on more and more the look and feel of Janis Joplin captured in old news reels and interviews, complete with a cackling laugh that turned the soul.

Her big-brim hats flopping up and down revealing her big-rim, rose-colored glasses. Her brightly colored clothes draped over her like a series of cloaks waving around as if she were underwater at times. She dyed her hair bright red but subtle enough so she didn’t look like a clown.

She was always playing with something. Learning something. Reading something. Experimenting with something.

Food was probably my favorite as a kid. Dissecting and learning about squids, before cooking and eating them, for example.

She had her moments and days, like we all do. For me, however, I will always remember being related to Janis Joplin’s doppelgänger.

Many will sing the blues at the loss and mom will be here, in spirit, pullin’ her harpoon from her dirty red bandana, playin’ soft. Joplin’s album Pearl was released after her death and was the first to hit the Billboard charts, at number one, for nine weeks, and went quadruple platinum. I don’t know if a bang like that is prepared for mom or if she would have preferred to only live on in the hearts and minds of those she impacted.

I do know, I am forever changed for having known, experienced, and interacted with her.

I also know I’m not alone. Thanks, mom.

At this point, I’m reminded of the final recording of Janis’s life, which is also on Pearl. It’s an a cappella piece entitled Mercedes Benz. Janis closes it with a smile you can hear, filling the room with a quick, cackling laugh preceded simply with a jovial, “That’s it.”

A mother’s obituary

Kathy Denisee Bruce, 62, of Hobbs, NM, formerly of Denver, CO, passed away March 1, 2019.

She was born September 21, 1956 in Lamesa.

She is survived by her daughter, Nova Brygger (Scott) of Carmel, IN, son, Joshua Bruce (Becca) of Nashville, TN, three grandchildren, Ariel, Ashton, and Rylee Brygger of Carmel, IN, her mother, Geneva Sumrow of Seminole, brothers, James Kolb of San Antonio and Joe B. Logan of Seminole, sisters Amy Kate Logan (Troy) and Donna James (Jeff) both of Seminole and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

Kathy was preceded in death by her father, Carrol “Tex” Kolb and grandparents K.K. and Katie Whitaker.

A celebration of life will be Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 2 PM-5 PM (Mountain Time) at Griffin Funeral Home, Hobbs, NM.

Printed in papers in Seminole, TX (Seminole Sentinel), Lubbock, TX, and Hobbs, NM.

During the service we had a vase containing dozens of sea shells no bigger than a silver dollar. We asked attendees to take one as a token or piece of mom. By the end of the services there were over 50 shells left.

When I moved my mother to New Mexico from Colorado, one of the first things we did was buy her a car; having left her van in Denver in fear it would not make the trip. This car was the first new car mom had ever owned. Instead of leaving it in Texas and trying to decide what to do with it from a distance, my sister and decided I should drive it back to Nashville while she drove back to Indianapolis.

When I told a long time mentor and friend about mom and the plan for the car he said:

“If I can offer some advice - take the drive back to Nashville slowly. Use the time to see some of the country you haven't spent time in, and to sort out your thoughts a bit. I drove from south eastern Georgia all the way to Leavenworth Kansas in one shot several years ago, and I regret the fact that on that entire trip all I saw were truck stops and Waffle Houses.”

My sister and I received many messages from people who wanted to attend but couldn’t for various reasons. I also find myself at a point in my life where I don’t feel overly rushed to be somewhere. Given the circumstances, I would like to take mom on a road trip I think she would have appreciated.

What started as a need to get the car to Nashville, some friendly advice, and the well wishes of others turned into a full-on creative and gamified project I think mom would have enjoyed.

The Devil’s Icebox Cave entry (our previous road trip)

Mom and dad don’t fly, preferring to drive. My dad is typically the road-tripper who wants to get where we’re going. Mom, on the other hand, is the road-tripper who sees a sign on the roadside advertising some local attraction and wants to pull over to see it.

Needless to say, road trips with both of them were often interesting.

Mom acting like a child begging her parents to pull over, “It won’t take long, I swear.” Of course, all involved would usually have a good time and stop feeling rushed to “get there” wherever there was. One such attraction was the entrance to the Devil’s Icebox Cave in Missouri.

My sister had just been married. Mom actually flew to Dayton, Ohio to be in the ceremony. Mom, dad, and I were driving back to Denver, CO together, which was the first time the three of us had been in a car together for any period of time since before their divorce in 1992. In Missouri, mom saw a sign for the icebox and said, “Ooooooh, what’s that? Tony, we have to go.” And, we did.

It was humid, hot, and the walk to the stairwell was not enjoyable.

Mom was leading the way with a demeanor that said, “Where are you little cave?”

We descended the stairs to the opening and, as we did, we remarked about the humidity disappearing and how pretty it looked. Then mom choked out a laugh like a baby playing peekaboo and turned to me, “Ha! Joshua, check this out,” she blew out a breath and I could see the vapor it contained. As we continued down the stairs we didn’t have to try so hard to make the breath visible.

This was the last cross-country road trip mom and I went on.

Project points of interest

Sea Shells and Geocaching

50 of the remaining sea shells were turned into what are called "hitchhikers" in Geocaching parlance. Mom had hitchhiked at least once in her life; so, I think she'd be okay with this metaphor. Where there is a hitchhiker there must be a ride and, in Geocaching parlance, this is the trackable (kind of).

A trackable is a game token with a code on it, which can be attached to something else. This code should only be visible when holding the game piece in your hand. Each token has a remembrance message on the back of it.

If a trackable has a hitchhiker there needs to be a way to attach them; often a chain. This set uses small jeweler bags to keep the two together.

The first 20 contributors of $10 or more received a solo trackable consisting of one of the largest shells from the set of 50, the trackable & remembrance, and what I call a turtle shell. A turtle shell is just a name to a special box holding the aforementioned.

By putting the trackables and shells "in-game" so to speak, mom gets to metaphorically continue her road tripping over the globe and seeing things she never has. This idea was inspired by a story she told me of an ivy plant whe was given when I was born, "Now there are pieaces of you all over the country." Granted, there's no way for me to know if anyone is still growing pieces of that ivy plant; however, thanks to the Geocaching platform and community, I can see what the shells are doing.

The ivy plant (details)

I grew up in a military family and moved around a lot. Mom always carried an ivy plant with her from state to state. In 1992 I learned the story of that plant. Her father gave it to her while she was in the hospital having me. When we would move from one state to another she would give her friends a piece of the ivy plant as a starter.

She said, “So, now there are pieces of you all over the country.”

The trackables have a goal and geocachers move them from place to place. Most will be to make it to Pike’s Peak, Colorado before my sister and I get there around 2022. Others will be more generic and infinite (ex. Move me at least 100 miles from where you found me). In this way, mom, or at least her memory, gets to continue traveling the world and seeing things she’s never seen; a never ending road trip.

I don’t know if I will be able to drop all 50 during this trip but I will do what I can.

That’s how mom’s road trip creates ways for you to participate and experience her (and life, to be sappy for a second).

The HiDo K.D. Road Trip Trackables

These are the trackables for the Hido K.D. Road Trip set.

March 29th, 2019 (Casey Jones - Nashville, TN)

I woke up, showered off, and was honestly getting tired of road tripping. I wanted to site still for a moment. I kind of did.

I waited for The Casey Jones Home and Museum to open. Ate the hotel-provided breakfast, which I've had worse. Jackson hotels were interesting, if for no other reason than they still have smoking rooms (I didn't take one but still). The hotel was one in a string that all seemed to be competing on price. I also managed to get all the trackables put onto my profile page.

The museum was pretty well done, especially since I had never heard the actual story of Casey Jones. The museum was also built for efficiency because after watching the mini-documentary (less the 10 minutes) I'm pretty much an expert and the layout for the building creates a factory-line like path for the exhibit…you are moved through it with options for faster egress, if desired.

Leave the theater, which is the first thing you do, you get pulled right into an exhibit, which is a switchback corral with various exhibits. That dumps you into a passage you would have hit had you gone straight. A side exhibit rehashes some parts from the video with the funeral coach and a model of the accident. Outside is the train, which is not on the main path; though what was interesting here for me was the design of the fuel car. It had wooden slats that held back the fuel. Now, you're shoveling this into the train; so, having a wall is inconvenient to say the least. So, it looks like it's designed for you to take the upper beam off and place it on a shelf on top of the car; thereby, giving you easier access to more fuel.

The house was nice to look at. And here's where the efficiency of movement falls apart. You have to make your way all the way back to the front of the tain (and the souvenir shop). But, if that's the wors thing that happens, you're probably okay.

I ate the store and restaurant and checked out some of the other shops before heading out of town.

I stopped off to drop some more trackables before arriving back in Nashville, TN. That's what I realized I was missing one. I tend to take projects pretty seriously, especially if other people are buying in; so, I retraced my steps where I was. No luck there, I drove back to Jackson and retraced my steps there as well. Then I gave up.

I'll probably talk to the Geocaching folks to see what the protocol is there. Maybe make a new one and dedicate to the POW/MIA folks.

I made it back to Nashville in one piece. Cleaned out the car, which I had been doing all along, and am dreading having to clean it again as the front looks like the tray in the bottom of a bug zapper at a campground.

March 28th, 2019 (roaming - Little Rock, AR)

I woke up early and headed for the Discovery Place, with a sidestep to drop another trackable. It was fun though it did seem a little worse for wear; however, the whole town I had seen seemed that way, reminded me of Dayton, OH in that way. No disrespect meant just is what it is.

The best thing for me was a tiled wall. If you place your palm onto the tiles, a sound is produced. But, if you only place a finger or two, nothing happens. Beyond that, it gave the appearance of a daycare center with no addmittance.

I left and made my way to the post office. I crossed state line road and tried to get a shot of the post office just as I was crossing from Texas into Arkansas. As I did a man called out, "Hey! Are you the one who owns the harold building?"

Given I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and Vribrams and the only signs of affluency were the iPhone I was using to take the shot and an AirPod hanging in my ear, I could not fathom what would make him think I owned a building. But I just said, "Nope."

David B, the homeless Vietnam veteran, and I talked for some time. He introduced me some of his friends. He gave them a grocery bag filled with food for which they were sincerely grateful. When they had left he said something to the effect, "Just because I don't have anything doesn't mean I can't give." He invited me to lunch at a soup kitchen down the road where he assured me I would meet, "Some of the nicest and most giving people I would ever meet."

I thanked him for extending the courtesy and explained that I was headed out of town and making up for some lost time. I gave him $20 for entertaining, and answering, my questions and making me laugh. He was eternally grateful and assured me I didn't need to do that. I assured him that it was came from more than just me and people who also didn't have to give it to me.

It made me think that giving (money specifically) sometimes isn't just about receiving value in return—paying for a candy bar. It's about trusting that the person you have given the money to will invest that money wisely and in a way you might respect. If I had though David B would invest it in drugs or alcohol, I might not have given it to him…maybe.

I got to the post office and took a panoramic shot from my feet standing in both states all the way to the top of the flagpole. Visited the Korea and Vietnam war memorial again for some better shots. Ate a quick lunch. And headed on my way.

I had told those following the HiDo K.D. Road Trip that if we could get the last two solo trackables claimed (two people) before I left Little Rock, AR, then mom and I would head to the entrance of The Devil's Ice Box.

I was looking for a discovery museum again, two in one day. This was a fascinating experience and feat of civil engineering, pretty sure not in a good way. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I hopped into a lane I thought end; instead, it went all the way to the exit I wanted, which noone was taking. I sped up and took the exit. As I rounded the curve there was a fork and the GPS said, "Keep right"; so, I did, right into another curve, another for, and another "Keep right"; I did, into another curve. This curve ended in a stop sign for which I was to turn left. Then another left. I parked.

I look at the map on the GPS to get a grip on what I had just done. Effectively, I had gone through the corkscrew of a roller coaster. Good times.

Hopped out, dropped a trackable before heading to the Museum of Discovery. This was very fun and entertaining. The magnetic wall to create ball gravity tracks, the pedal machine for seeing the engergy difference between incadescent and CFL bulbs, and a tornado room, which I did not get to experience—probably because the museum was closing.

I left and went to drop a few more trackables before hightailing it out of there.

From Little Rock, AR I headed to Brownsville, TN as there were more places to drop trackables. I was putting serious pressure on myself to try and drop as many of them as I could. Unfortunately, every cache spot on went in Brownsville was either full of nope or full of, "I think someone in a small town got really bored" because I didn't find any caches. I struck out at three of three attempts. That's never happened before. So, if they exist, I salute the owner. If they don't, that's kind of annoying, more of a Spaceballs salute at that point.

Decided the vibe in Brownsville was a little too Children of the Corn. I was going to pull off into a rest area that was on the map only to discover, like the caches, it didn't seem to exist. At that point, I decided just to head into Jackson, TN for the last site.

Found the hotel. Checked in. Dropped a trackable (seriously, these things are everywhere). And went to bed.

March 27th, 2019 (lunch - Texarkana, TX)

I woke up and coordinated with a friend I was supposed to have lunch with. Another friend had to bail out on dinner, which was bittersweet. Bitter because it took a decade for us to meet in person the first time and it had been a few years since then. Sweet because it meant I could make it all the way to Texarkana in one shot, having dubbed the Austin + Dallas leg the Molasses Leg given how many friends I apparently have in the area.

My friend and I ate and caught up on what had been happening since last we spoke, which wasn't that long ago actually. We also dropped a trackable by his office as I introduced him to Geocaching.

Then I headed out. I said it before and I'll say it again, Dallas drivers sure know how to drive considering they don't know how to drive. Watching many of them weave through traffic is amazing and wholly unnecessary.

I arrived in Texarkana and pretty much hit the first hotel that came up in a search. It was the first time I arrived in a city with what I felt was some time to kill. I went to a geocaching spot and dropped another trackable. It was by the Texarkana Post Office, which is the only feral building to reside in two states at once.

It was dark though, which was good considering I was dropping trackables but did not allow for the touristy thing and Texarkana had two sites I told everyone I would see. So, headed back to the hotel and caught up on some things (as I had been interleaving various types of business all along this trip (I love the 21st century).

March 26th, 2019 (Bruco - Lewisville, TX)

Woke up and continued the gabfest with my friend who took me to see her mother; who I had not see since her daughter and I were dating in high school. Realized I had missed the promised stop at something called "Bruco" in Italy, TX and would need to head that was soon if I was going to make it to north Dallas before too late.

When I made it to the Monolithic Institute I felt strange. I was surrounded by all the egg-shaped stuctures. They weren't odd looking when taken on their own merit, only the in the context and juxtaposition of where I had come. I pulled into a parking spot at the visitor center.

The visitor center is a small dome building. The front door is perfectly normal. The main room is like walking into a small studio apartment. A couch to the left, a kitchen area opposite that, with a closet to the right of that. I noticed a TV suspended on the wall opposite the front door with an arm and a DVD player.

I headed for the small TV and then got sidetracked by the presence of a bathroom. I quickly stepped in and took stock of what was there. A standup shower, sink, and commode. With that I had seen the entire house and releaved my bladder.

Then I went back to the TV and powered it and the DVD player on to see what I could see. I could only see one chapter on the DVD as there was no remote or way to navigate the menu. I left the vistor center and walked across the street to what was labeled as the office. The Facebook I sent my friends summed it up pretty well, "Looks like The Shire and feels like The Stepford Wives."

Long story short I got into a conversation with Gary Clark, Monolithic's Vice President. He gave me the education of what they do from a business perspective. Then we both headed over to what I had come here for, Bruco. The name given the to the main manufacturing plant for the airform of various structures they are contracted to build.

The airform is designed and welded together. Then it is inflated with air. The interior is sprayed with urethane to reinforce it (and to turn the inflating fans off). A skeleton of rebar is laid inside and then sprayed with concrete; like an upside down swimming pool.

The airforms are pretty interesting and are really what makes this different. They are made of a material similar to a soft-shell many put on a track bed, which is then covered in PVC material making it semi-waterproof and wind-resistent. The airform replaces the traditional framing of a building, providing the scaffold upon which the other materials are applied. When the building is completed, the airform is left in place and can provide rain and wind protection, like shingles and other roofing materials for a few years.

Gary told me that every building on the lot is an experiment of some soft. Bruco itself is an experiment is creating a large dome with minimum building materials while providing high durability and strength. That's why it's multiple domes instead of a domed cylinder. If they had gone with straight alls, it would have required more concrete and rebar to maintain strength. Further, Bruco's exterior is coated in tin sheets that cover the airform to experiment with different exterior solutions beyond the airform.

The main office, which doubles as a retal office, a secondary business and service Monolithic provides is an experiment in heating and cooling. Specifically, can a space as large as the main office be effectively tempature controlled using nothing more than three or four window AC units. From firsthand experience, I think it can. Further, the office employs sound dampening blankets hung from the ceiling to reduce reverb.

I thanked Gary profusely for the education and tour and head on my way to north Dallas.

I made it to Lewisville, TX and opted for a hotel. I dropped another trackable and grabbed something to eat before calling it a night.

March 25th, 2019 (Dr. Pepper Museum - Granbury, TX)

Woke up early to be able to say goodbye to everyone. Got into a healthy debate with my cousin-in-law (making up words I'm sure) before heading out.

Dr. Pepper Museum was very nice. I had my first Dr. Pepper in almost five years, when I replaced it with water as almost my sole beverage. This was after over 20 years of drinking Dr. Pepper almost exclusively and actiely avoiding water.

I've decided that I can only enjoy Dr. Pepper now if it comes from a glass bottle, in which it was manufactured, and is made with real sugar; needless to say, probably not gonna be drinking a lot of Dr. Pepper.

Then headed to Granbury (outside Dallas). Met a long time friend and her boyfriend and his son for dinner. It was good catching up for the night.

March 24th, 2019 (Austin, TX)

I have no concept of time as we typically measure it. So, I was a little shocked to find out that The Dr. Pepper Museum was closed because it was Sunday; truth to be told, I was a little shocked to find out it was Sunday. My cousin and I went out caching and I think we dropped 11 trackables altogether, in two caches, we really lucked out.

March 23nd, 2019 (Austin, TX)

Woke up feeling surprisingly rested. Hadn't slept that since I lived in my car.

I'm glad I didn't push through that night because I would have missed Cooper's BBQ in LLano, TX. Good food and made friends with a couple regulars standing in front of me in line.

Dropped a couple more trackables before making it to my cousin's house.

March 22nd, 2019 (departure date - Midland, TX)

I woke up and did some more running around to finalize some things. Then made our way to Midland, TX. The goal was to make it to Austin, TX while dropping trackables along the way. We did not make it to Austin.

While in Midland though I met a gentleman who is way more in the know of all things Geocaching than I and picked his brain before dropping the one attributed to me and then three more into a cache he owns.

I made it to a small rest area my cousin told me about. Found one cache, was too concerned about muggles (non-cachers) despite it being quite late at night. Used the facilities and pressed forward.

Stopped at the next town to drop another trackable. Then kept heading on. Don't remember when I decided to turn back but I did. Decided I would rather sleep in a well lit rest area than try to push through to Austin.

March 21st, 2019 (planned departure)

Originally, this was the day I was supposed to leave. Unfortunately, I still had to get the oil changed in the car, pick up mom, and handle some incidentals that came up along the way; not the least of which was related to this project.

March 17th, 2019 (crowdfunding)

I had been considering various aspects of this project for a few days leading up to the moment of starting a crowdfunding campaign. I wanted a mechanism for people to opt-in to "taking a shell" (I'm big on consent), this seemed an easy way to do that.

The road trip was going to happen even without extra funding. In a way this was more akin to a matching program.

Three "tiers" so to speak chosen mainly because of the simplicity as it relates to the US dollar: $1, $5, and $10. There were roughly 20 large shells and those became the solo trackables. 20 of those at $10 apiece would be $200 on top of which I would throw another $200.

I wasn't counting on the compassion of my friends and family most of whom contributed 8 to 10 times more than that. After the first day of the campaign being open I ran out and purchased more aesthetically interesting boxes for the 20 solo trackables; while the shipment of the inexpensive lucite ones were on their way.