Camp Layman, Plumas National Forest, 9/20/17 – 9/24/17

Camp Layman, Plumas National Forest, 9/20/17 – 9/24/17

This year for our annual ‘guys’ camping weekend, the five of us headed up to a new spot we had never camped together previously. It was a gorgeous cabin-camping area called Camp Layman located in the beautiful Plumas National Forest.

The destination of these yearly cabin-camping trips is always different and picked by our fearless leader, Frank-buddy.  I generally don’t pay any sort of attention to where we are going other we will be camping in the Forest somewhere.


We generally take a similar route out of San Jose and head Northeast for roughly a 4-hour drive and then the last 1 hour of the drive takes us to our unique destination.  However, on the drive to this year’s cabin as we approached the 4-hour drive time the road became strangely familiar to me. As it turns out, ironically enough, Camp Layman is located just outside of a small town called Graeagle. Graegale is where we host our annual guys weekend golf tournament!

I instantly had a great feeling that the guys and I were going to have a great and fun experience because, having spent so much time in the Graeagle area, I knew the location was nice, the people are extremely friendly and we weren’t so remote that we didn’t have resources such as a locate grocery store, if needed.


Upon arrival we were greeted by the extremely friendly camp hosts. They provided us with all the camp information such as the amenities of the cabins, which did NOT include internet service, as well as other things we should know such a communal fire pit and BBQ area. The overall experience at Camp Layman was so wonderful because everything was so clean and taken care of. The camp hosts really encourage these sorts of communal activities and all of the cabins instantly became friends amongst each other.

The cabins themselves are super clean and have everything we need as we were ‘roughing it’. Inside the cabins, they have hot showers, a stove with plenty of dishes, a coffee pot, refrigerator and, for the first time in our cabin-camping experience, some really nice interior decorations. There were several beautifully hand-drawings handing on the walls.

Our cabin was 4-5-person capacity with four beds. So, before you jump to any conclusions about the sleeping arrangements how 5 guys and 4 beds works out, let me just say that, as in every previous year, I just end of sleeping on the couch. I actually prefer this because I like to spend all of my waking time chatting and having a good time with the guys so there generally isn’t much sleeping happening anyway.  Being a couch-dweller enables me to be in the middle of the action at all times.

There were roughly 15-20 total cabins at Camp Layman of various sizes and capacities.  Some looked like they could be 1-2-person cabins and then there was at least one cabin that was 10-12-person capacity. There was a nice little creek that ran out front of each cabin which was a nice little, subtle touch of ambiance.

The guys and I would spend our days hiking, shooting, conversing about politics, sports and family-life. Then each afternoon we would do a delicious BBQ for lunch. One of the other nice things about Camp Layman was that they provided a BBQ grill for each cabin. We always bring our own but it was nice to not have to haul out our BBQ. This was a nice surprise that allowed the campers more time to enjoy each other’s company instead of hauling gear.

In the evening’s each night the five of us would gather at the communal fire pit with our fellow Camp Layman campers and spend some really great time getting to know each other and sharing interesting stories.



So, in summary, let me please provide my ratings:


Location: Cromburg, CA = 8 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Cabin: Camp Layman = 9.5 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Fellow Campers: 5 dudes and 2 dogs = 10 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Food: 9 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Drink: 7 out of 10 Steeler Stars


I had a lot of fun guys and I look forward to next year!



What I’m grateful for from the Year 2016

As the year of 2016 officially comes to a close tonight at 12:00:00.01 (yep, believe it or not there is an official one second added this year – it’s a “leap second”).

Five things I am grateful for from 2016:

1. My wife and furry-kids are one more year aged, yet still contributing to Neal Home zaniness.

2. Business and Career modification has proven to be professionally, as well as personally, rewarding. 2016 was the year of building a solid foundation and 2017 will be the year of executing a solid plan. We are so excited for the future that we can’t contain our giddiness to share all the great news!

3. Great personal friends that visited our home throughout the year for BBQ/swimming fun in the summer, socialized with us during the holiday season or just dropped by to say hello for no reason whatsoever.

4. I had a wonderful opportunity to visit close family and friends while in Oklahoma recently. This was such a refreshing experience that I cannot express how awesome this was.

5. My Dad went home in Heaven to be with friends and family. His strong legacy lives on forever and he is at peace. God Bless you Dad!

Wishing everyone a bright, fun and prosperous 2017! Happy New Year!

Oklahoma Visit – December 2016

Home away from Home (Sallisaw, Oklahoma)

I made a quick, last minute trip to Sallisaw, Oklahoma recently.

Although Sallisaw has never been an official place of residence for myself nor my immediate family and I did visit there for a week at least once every year for my entire life. Sallisaw is where my Dad, Floyd Neal, and all of his incredibly kind family was from. This is truly my Home away from Home. Let me please share a just a few of my highlights visiting this wonderful city and awesome people of Sallisaw, Oklahoma.


Family of Fantastic Furr’s

I had the great pleasure to finally meet, in-person, two of the most wonderful people to walk the face of this Earth; Tammye and Fred. They are the amazing furr-mommy and furr-daddy of 8 – yes, 8 – animals of all sorts from cats, dogs, horses and even a rabbit!

These two-wonderful people have organized, and execute, a beautiful Sunday morning service of prayer, education as well as just bringing people together for a local independent living facility. I was so fortunate to participate in one of these awesome events on the Sunday while I was there and the joy that it brought to the residents was so amazing!

Tammye and Fred are simply outstanding examples of decency and they deserve only the best in life. They are precious people and I’m so glad they are my friends. Love you both tons!!!


The decency of strangers

Old Sallisaw High School


Sallisaw High School was the root of many great stories. So many great people and awesome relationships were born at this wonderful place. Although it’s no longer useful as a school it is still an extremely useful historical landmark that helps share the terrific memories of Sallisaw history.


AOK Printing


I had a simple printing need while in Sallisaw and I happened to come-across AOK Printing which is a professional printing company. My particular request was easily satisfied and I would like to give a huge shout-out to the great folks at AOK. They can expertly fulfill any sort of major printing or marketing needs and I will certainly be calling upon them for their business services in the near future!


14 Flags Museum


Sallisaw is certainly a city in transition between respecting old-school tradition yet allowing for modern growth. One of the old-school traditions that is quite prominent is Sallisaw is the “14 Flags Museum” which is beautifully displayed proudly on Main Street.


14 Flags is a historical landmark with a fantastic history as a gas station, stage-coach stop and authentic living quarters. It’s a really great place to visit if you are ever on I-40 between OCK and Ft. Smith.


General Sallisaw demeanor


Overall I would like to make a general comment about the folks of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. I would like to say that they are kind and compassionate people. This has been my opinion from years of experience of socializing within their community and it is always so wonderful to visit this great place.


I love this place like my Home and I feel a special kindship there. I have great hope that Sallisaw will also be a decent place of great humanity.

Dad’s Legacy

This was my first visit back to Sallisaw, Oklahoma since my dad went to Heaven on 4/21/2016. So, naturally, I wanted to visit his marker and pay my respects to a truly wonderful father.

Honestly, I visited this place several times in a few days during my visit to Sallisaw. Sometimes with family but many times without; it just felt like the right thing to do to be there. The Sallisaw Cemetery is really a beautiful place. You would think that a cemetery might be a grim or sad place to be but this one is anything but. The grounds are beautifully taken care of by the wonderful staff.


Delicious Dining and Stimulating Conversation

On my way back to the airport for my early morning flight, I was graciously invited to stay overnight with my terrific family in Tulsa, Les and Myla. Myla (with Les’s positive encouragement) had prepared the most scrumptious meal ever! I was the fortunate recipient for one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever experienced. After this great meal and some chit-chatty while eating it was time to discuss ‘real business’.

For Les, Myla and myself ‘real business’ consisted of nothing more than shooting-some-poop discussing a wide range of topics into the early-morning hours. I feel sorry for keeping them up so late but it was such a joyous time to get to spend quality time with such great people.


In summary, my Oklahoma 2016 trip was a beautiful experience. We shared great memories of the past and we also shared fantastic vision for the future. I am so proud to recognize my family and friends in Oklahoma because you are all so special. God Bless you, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!



Kevin Neal Life Updates, 12/16/2016

I provided the last Kevin Neal Life Update on this post from 11/22/2016 so I won’t rehash older news and I’ll move right into significant updates since then.


Bellaringa slowly on-the-mend

After a tremendous medical scare a few weeks ago, Brandee and I are glad to report that Bella seems to be slowing improving. We have no illusion that she will revert 100% to her kitten-like and somewhat vicious demeanor because, after all, we appreciate blood inside of our bodies instead of Bella’s bite or scratch wounds with our blood running down our arms!

No, in all seriousness, we encourage and appreciate Bella’s feisty attitude after what we’ve been through with her the past few weeks. Bella is playing with Jack more often, she’s certainly more active, she continues to eat well and is in no obvious pain. I guess it’s just natural that a 14-year furr-ball might lose a step-or-two at her age.

Overall, we continue to pray for her to be comfortable, enjoy her life and bring the happiness that Brandee, Jack and I enjoy so much.


Home away from home

Have you ever felt like there is some special place that you feel most comfortable although it has never been your permanent place of residence? Is there a place that is so full of genuinely decent people who share in each other’s life’s journey through good times as well as the challenging times? Most might think of their home away from home as a nice vacation spot on a sandy beach, enjoying a refreshing drink in the warm sunshine. Not me.

I, personally, feel that my home away from home has always been visiting with my Dad’s family and friends in Oklahoma. For me, there has always felt some amazing level of comfort there. Although I have never maintained a mailing address in Oklahoma and we generally visit for one week per year, the heartwarming reception received is such an inspiration that I sincerely try and capture into my travel-bag and bring back to California to infect people with kindness. Wish me luck.


The decency of people

Sometimes in our daily lives, and which is reasonable considering stressful life events, we might tend to think that by default everyone and everything have bad motivation. This is not true and there are decent people everywhere.

During my recent travels, I would like to recognize a few exemptional people that really stood-out:

  1. AOK Printing,

I went into their business with a random print inquiry. Not only did they satisfy my need, they went far and beyond my expectations to provide a professional representation of the material. This company is top-notch and highly recommended for your print, graphics or design-marketing needs.

Even if you don’t have printing needs, AOK Printing is a great place to visit to discuss football, family or current events. Highly recommended!

2. American Airlines flight #AA103 on 12/15/2016 (French-speaking flight attendant)

As the safety announcements were announced on the intercom system of American Airlines flight #AA103 on 12/15/16, the accent from the lady over the speaker system was clear that she was most likely fluent in French language. With this rather obvious evidence I engaged in a feeble attempt to engage in a conversation “en français” with this lady. I had studied French in High School but that was long ago and “J’ai oublié le français” (I had forgotten French).

Through-out the flight she played along and encouraged the an ongoing conversation in French as much as we could which was quite fun and entertaining. It was super fun! Merci beaucoup #AA103!!!

  1. All Oklahoma Truck Stops and Eatin’ Places

One of the really special perks of visiting Oklahoma is the down-home cooking and genuine hospitality of the local truck stops, diners and eatin’ places.

Unlike most places where most of us might quickly scarf down a meal for pure nourishment sake or simple sustenance, in Oklahoma any meal is a time to slow down, relax, be grateful and enjoy a great conversation with friends or family.

If you have ever had the pleasure to enjoy such an experience then you certainly can understand my point, if not and you happen to be traveling through any of the ‘fly over states’ (including Oklahoma), do yourself a favor and stop-by a truck stop and enjoy this great atmosphere for yourself. You won’t regret it.


I’m pleased to report that, by the grace of God, things are good. Brandee, Jack, Bella and the Fish all are getting along well. Friends and Family are still beautifully amazing people. Business is solid and growing. And, most importantly, people all over our awesome country have renewed confidence in the future and they are optimistic for good things to come.

God Bless and here is wishing everyone a wonderful early Merry Christmas.



Roadtrip(s) – Q1’16

What a crazy past few weeks this has been!  It’s been an interesting time of change that has encompassed a full-range of emotions from professional enthusiasm to personal reflection.

First of all I would like to thank my wonderful wife for her terrific support and patience. Our life this past month has consisted of lots of car travel, hotel rooms and many other impromptu activities. From a personal reflection standpoint it’s truly amazing how karma treats us all.

charger_sideAs I mentioned previously much of our time has been in the car traveling to-and-from various locations all over the state of California. Fortunately, Brandee had strongly encouraged me to purchase a new car last year and, in retrospect, was this never a better decision. I could not have imagined the horror of having to travel such distances in our other vehicle(s) without air conditioning, heating or other comforts (not that this travel is luxurious in any way, but it’s less suffering indeed). Having a reliable automobile for the insane travel we’ve experienced recently is refreshing so that we can focus on other more important priorities.

nationsOne of the fringe benefits for all this road travel is that you start to notice particular road-show landmarks. A significant landmark that we noticed recently was the NATIONS Giant Hamburgers in Tracy. I had been to a NATIONS long-ago but couldn’t recall anything notable about the experience so Brandee and I tempted-fate with a visit on the road home recently. Brandee ordered a cheeseburger, I ordered a bacon-cheeseburger with a side of onion rings and drinks. Something for sure is that you better bring your appetite when going to NATIONS because they certainly bring quantity. After a delicious breakfast of burgers, ‘rings and drinks we were back on the road home.

floyd oklahoma 2007Above all else, and most importantly, it’s the love of family that is what truly matters in life. Floyd Neal, is my wonderful Dad and the proud father of four sons. His amazing mentorship, encouragement and support is a son’s life-dream. I am so grateful to spend some quality time recently with my eldest brother. His amazing spirit and awesome inspiration is truly infectious. Mike, you are a terrific person; thanks! John, you are an excellent role-model for your son and we look forward to your exciting near-future! And Robert, Dad loves you more than anything and you surely must know that. Dad has been so good to everyone in his life that I nominate him for the Best Dad Ever Award!

Family First,