I first got to know Mike on the Yahoo Woodgas group, and then received quite a few telephone calls on the Landline, using the old fashioned real telephone. We both had Amateur Radio Licenses, so we were experts at “chewing the fat”.
In 2009, Mike wanted to take Sue to visit the Gulf of Mexico, and we made arrangements for him to stop here and stay in our basement guest room. Unfortunately, most of his vehicles had 198,000 miles or so, and one thing after another would break, delaying the trip. Finally, they decided making the trip in one of their rattle-trap cars would be too stressful, so the trip was cancelled. Here is what he wrote on Oct 5, 2011: "The car we would take (95 olds) occasionally drinks coolant and is now leaking brake fluid from the master cylinder. The transmission slips occasionally as well but I don’t worry about that. I know when to downshift it. I plan to take care of the master cylinder this upcoming week. Of course there is finding someone to feed my stupid cat. I can’t believe she hasn’t killed every chipmunk in the area yet. I think she eats 3 a day and leaves a few around for the ferrel cats that also live here. "
So that trip never happened, but a few years later, we made a trip to Minnesota (June 2013), scheduling a visit with David and Judy Bloom to see their woodgas setup. When David mentioned my last name to his wife, she replied that her Aunt had married a Menke, and it turned out that he was my Grandfather. (We brought Judy so 8 X 10 photos.)
From there, we drove right past Bill Schiller’s previous house near Anoka, MN, and then a spur-of-the-moment trip to Madison, Wisconsin. There, I had some time to look at maps, and decided to visit Mike, and sent him an email to his Yahoo account. (An account he hardly ever checked.) On June 24, 2013 we arrived at Mike’s place, and spent several hours waiting in the driveway, and doing a self-tour of his gasifier projects and walking up and down the hill between the house, shops, and the place where he did his survey computing. We had no cell-phone service there, so at one point we drove around looking for a signal, but had no luck and returned to his driveway. Eventually, we left a bottle of wine and a bag of Mesquite BBQ wood on the porch with a note, and headed for Texas.
Later that day, Mike wrote, "I was never more than a few miles from here today (Monday). Wish I had known you were in the area and would have come home. I left 2 messages but don’t know if you have phone or computer .
I have to have my truck worked on tomorrow (uptown) and I walk uptown to get the mail usually around 10. But I will probably be working in my office during the day except for those short excursions. I have to get some stuff computed for Wednesday. We have to stake a job about 35 miles from here. The trailer is just one of my workshops and I don’t live there but spend a lot of time there. My office is in the pole shed about 200 feet down the hill from the trailer and I live in the house around 700 feet down the hill from the trailer all on the same side of the road."
With better planning, we could have had a great time doing Face-to-face. Our trip to Madison was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and was not on our itinerary, else we could have worked it out.
I believe Mike mentioned that his property used to be a Lead Mine. Deer used to stand around the outside of his shop.
One thing I learned from Mike was the value of good old Duct Tape for sealing joints. I wrap joints with the tape, and then use the elastic band from a pair of old BYD’s to hold the tape tight over the joint for a long time. It works.
Mike could make things work! Rest in Peace. Ray, WX5D