Monday, April 28, 2008

My First Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show Pt. 3

I awoke Sunday morning more refreshed than Saturday morning having gotten more sleep the previous night than Friday night.
Mike Lyons and I got up, got ready, got checked out, and got ourselves over to the Lancaster High School for Day Two of this year's Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show before it started.
We needn't have done so when we did as most of the other vendors weren't in any hurry to do so themselves nor were the customers to be seen initially at opening time.
Sunday mornings are typically quiet at most shows and thus was the case with this show.

By mid-morning we had folks ambling through but it stayed quiet until mid-day when things picked up a bit more.
However, Sunday was nothing like Saturday for me, although it was still a decent day.
I'm reasonably satisfied with this show and intend to come back if invited which Vivian says should happen so I'm happy with everything.

I got a repeat customer from the day before whom brought a friend with her and dropped additional money at our booth which was much appreciated to go along with the good conversation.

I had one dealer do a trade with me for an Arizona petrified wood slab of an entire log cross-section polished on one side along with some cash in exchange for a rather sizable Chinese Nantan meteorite which was a steal for me I felt and is one of the prizes of my meteorite collection.

Overall, most of the other dealers in the indoor section did not much better than we did and more than not did worse by their own admission which I felt bad about but that's how it goes in this current economy.

I figure if I can successfully get my business started and rolling during this weak economy then I can do fine with it over the long haul.
This is a trial by fire and if I pass it I will be fine.
I just have to hang in there and not get discouraged keep learning from everything that happens and appeal to God's Providence to bless my toil and give me good judgement in my decision-making.

Over the course of the day I heard through Vivian, that one of the regular dealer/vendors located outside in the parking lot and who was camping there had seen Andy(not DeLong) undress in the nude at his pickup truck in plain sight of all the night before which he had also observed him do at another show previously.
Andy is missing some parts...seriously.

Anywho, we started to subtly pack up at about 4:30 p.m. and we were late in doing so compared to some of the other dealers.
Nonetheless, we were done and out of there by about two hours later and had light to drive with lasting us over the Tehachipi Mountains.

We stopped at Mojave for gas and food and water at the same place I stopped for the same things at on the way back from the other Lancaster show I did last November.

I hate driving through Bakersfield and usually avoid it by taking Highway 223 and I-5 around it but at night I actually enjoy buzzing through Bakersfield on Highway 58 and Highway 99 and this night was no exception.

The last time I did a nocturnal drive through Bakersfield I saw a brilliant greenish fireball hurling down through the atmosphere and breaking up and slowing before my eyes. This was sometime last month coming back from Arizona.
This meteorite appeared to fall somewhere out over the desert northeast and beyond the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Boy would I love to find that sucker laying on the ground out in the middle of the desert or up on some desolate mountain in Eastern California or Western Nevada.

I found out that the halfway point between this show and my house is around the intersection of Highway' 46 and 99 at Famoso northwest of Bakersfield.

At Wasco we stopped at McD's, something I NEVER do anywhere but I have found the Wasco store makes a great nocturnal stop while taking that route at night.

From there we safely got back over to the Central Coast without incident which was nice as I never feel safe on Highway 46. It really needs to be a divided highway but local politicians don't seem to have the pull to get the moneys needed to make that a reality.

I was too tired to write this blog when I got in nor in the days that followed until tonight.

By the way, this coming weekend (Saturday, May 3rd-Sunday, May 4th, 2008) I shall be a dealer/vendor at the other Bakersfield Gem & Mineral Show "Art in Stone"
at the Kern County Fairgrounds and I will blog that experience, too.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My First Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show Pt. 2

The alarm sounded early but my body resisted the summons to the day.
However, we had much work remaining from the night previous in getting set-up for this weekend's Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show at Lancaster High School.
Somehow I mustered the strength to get out of bed and get myself going and after reserving a room for Saturday night we headed over to the show just after 7 a.m.
Once there we got busy completing our preparations and finished by the 9 a.m. show starting time.

The promised mobile coffee vendor was there until a bit later but once they did it was well worth the wait as the retired marine and his wife tarried all day to serve vendor, club membor and visitor alike with great coffee and food.

Milo, my closest neighboring dealer/vendor played Celine Dion tracks all morning during set-up which was just plain down wrong. ;-p
It was way too early in the morning to be hearing her crooning on and on with all her soulless poppish gusto devoid of soul. >:-O

Later in the morning Andy Delong and Milo and Vivian got into a bit of a testy exchange about Andy's unfounded allegation that he was robbed of his spot by Milo.
The whole thing seemed so stupid and besides, what was the point in bringing it up now that the show was underway?
Poor Vivian! She was SO patient.
If I ever am a dealer chair I will be reasonable and respectful and patient up to a point but will be the "Dealer Nazi" when anybody injects unnecessary drama into the process.

Once the show started I was off and running by 9:30 with my first sale.
The day continued like that throughout until things quieted down a bit too much by late afternoon with nothing but Milo's continued Celine Dion tracks to keep us company.

Overall I could not complain one bit the show and how the day played out.
I was very impressed with the community enthusiasm towards the show in coming out in the numbers they did as well as folks willingness to spend money.

Today was by far and away my best day of the year so far and I could not be more pleased.

During the course of the day my girlfriend phoned me to say there were brush fires breaking out in various locations across California, mostly in the Southland with the two most significant ones being near Running Springs on the San Bernardino National Forest which they got a handle on as well as another one above Arcadia/Monrovia on the Angeles National Forest which you can see here.

Late in the day Lancaster High School's prom began marshalling on the campus to be bused elsewhere.
The kids looked remarkably mature and "adult" all gussied up like they were although some of the girl's outfits struck me as a bit too revealing for gals that young at a high school function.
What scares me is that was my first and only reaction: not ogling the leggy and/or low-cut young hotties but instinctively parentally reacting in a "you're not going out that door dressed that way young lady" sort of way.
I'm not even a father so where did that come from?
I must be getting old. >:-O

Anywho, after the show ended we headed back to Motel 6 and checked into our room and then after resting up went out in Lancaster and got dinner at Rubios and then headed back to the room and watched TV and I worked on the internet and then retired for the night to the sounds of the city (mainly sirens) only partially drowned out by the air conditioner.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My First Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show Pt. 1

Thoughts and concerns about the show woke me up before my alarm so I got started and did fairly well with me time use this morning.
It was quite obvious from the get-go that today was going to be much warmer than any day we'd experienced in a while.

I joined up with my business partner and friend Mike Lyons at my storage unit about noon and we hit the road about a quarter after noon.
From Atascadero we took US101 north to Paso Robles for a change (we usually take Highway 58 when headed east but felt antsy to get to Lancaster ASAP given we weren't going to have all day to set up.

From Paso we headed east on Highway 46 with surprisingly heavy traffic but we were fortunate enough not to get stuck behind any slower traffic.
I hardly ever take Highway 46 between Paso Robles and Shandon as I usually stick to the more scenic and slow Highway 41 to go between Atascadero and Shandon.
Consequently today was my first day in quite awhile to see that stretch of the road and I was shocked at how much development has taken place along the highway in Northeastern Paso Robles all the way out to Estrella.
Where there is not commercial or residential development there is agricultural development (read as "viticultural").
The net effect of all of this is to make the area look less like its former true self and more like a pretentious, forced-funky and spiritually hollow (did any of these people read "Bobbit"?) attempt at hip, slick, and coolness in a Napa Valley wine-sip sort of way.

I found it rather alarming how fast this year's thick, luxuriant crop of grasses are turning brown with the flowers now noticeably on the ebb.
So much for April showers bring May flowers this year: more like December into January showers bring March into April flowers.

There were cool dust devils out in the San Joaquin Valley which was cool as I love 'em.

Just east of Blackwell's Corner (James Dean's purported LAST STOP per the signage there) we hit a fairly vigorous dust storm blowing off a recently disked field.
This brought to my mind the incident a few years ago when there were terrible Spring dust storms out that way that on at least one occasion helped to trigger a series of vehicle accidents along the stretch of road between I-5 and the Kern/SLO County Line.

We stopped and took a break at a little gas station/market in Wasco (between I-5 and the 99 Freeway on Highway 46.
I've used this establisment many times in the past and its always worked out well.
The first time was when I went fire-watching the McNally Fire in the Sequoia National Forest in July, 2002, and drove through Wasco several times over the course of the fire while going back and forth between Atascadero and Tulare County.
Anywho, I had their pre-prepared tuna sandwich and hoped I didn't pick up food poisoning as I don't trust food items prepared in some factory in Vernon, CA, or the like.

A bit east of there on Highway 46 we reached the 99 Freeway and unbeknownst to us at the time that was the halfway point in today's drive.

From there we took the 99 south to Bakersfield and picked up the 58 Freeway eastbound.
In eastern Bakersfield we came upon what appeared to be a recently terminated pursuit situation with three CHP units behind a nice sports car parked in the broad median area.
As I drove by it appeared to be over whatever it was the driver appeared to be putting something back in her purse (probably her DL proof of insurance and DMV registration.
She appeared to be nicely dressed and in her Middle Age.
The entire scene struck me as funny and wacky as it suggsted an older woman in a luxary sporty-looking foriegn car was being pursued at some point by three CHP units.

A bit further east of Bakersfield I drove past those impressively large citrus grove and was overwhelmed by the fragrant odor of the citrus blossoms which gave me a flashback to my childhood experiences in my maternal grandparent's back yard filled with many different types of citrus trees all of which programmed me to feel warm and fuzzy inside smelling that wonderful natural fragrance again.

I was concerned how the load in the back of my pickup would effect my pickup going over the Tehachipis but it turned out to be no problem whatsoever.
It cooled off quickly as we gained elevation and there was till snow in the mountains south of and overshadowing the Tehachipi Valley.

When we came down into the Mojave Desert from the Tehachipi Pass it warmed right up again and the winds weren't too shabby, either.
We got off the 58 Freeway at the first exit at Mojave in order to follow the original Highway 58 route as closely as possible.

We took Business Route 58 right into town and met up with southbound Highway 14 and took it right down into the Antelope Valley and into Lancaster where we exited Avenue J and took it west to 32nd Street West and right up into Lancaster High School.
We got there five minutes before they said we could start going inside and found a bit of confusion and chaos as the event organizers were doing their best to get the show rolling desite school having just let out and the school having just let the show people start coming on the premises.

Despite the hurdles that needed to be jumped the club pulled it off and we dealers got going with our set-ups.

I was surprised at how hot it was despite the fact we were experiencing a mild Santa Ana which usually makes it hot in the canyons and coastal valleys of Southern California but with no compressional heating at work in the Antelope Valley (well I reckon you could say there was compressional heating due high pressure but that related to terrain.
I really did think it would be cooler than it turned out to be today.
This weekend will be much warmer even still and I thank God we are indoors under the circumstances.

Of note today was the tragic shark attack at Solana Beach by a great white shark upon a 66 year-old retired vet and animal-lover who was training for a triathlon.
Apparently, he was in the middle of the group of swimmers and the shark came up under him and pushed him up out of the water and bit him fatally on the legs and left him to die which he soon did die due to hemorrhaging from his two main arteries in his legs being severed.

Another item of note is dealer Andy (NOT DeLong) damaged part of the school grounds trying to squeeze his pickup into an aperature too small for it to effectively pass through which caused Dealer Chairperson Vicky to have a blood vessel burst (figurately of course). ;-p

We got most of our set-up completed but decided to call it a night and head to a motel room for the night.
We had originally planned on camping on-sight but after realizing we would't be able to shower there decided to throw in the towel and spend $56 for two beds for the night.
I sprang for $2.95 for the wifi signal to post this report.
It seemed worth it to me as I avoided having to drive around looking for such a signal. ;-p

By the way, the host club (Antelope Valley Gem and Mineral Club) was nice enough to host us for a potluck which was really nice of then to do.

I hope to see as many of you as possible this weekend at the show.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool III

Monster Children

The other day in the Vons parking lot while pushing my cart full of groceries out to my pickup I observed a mother being dominated by her apparently three year-old daughter.
She was letting her little monstrosity know that she could only take one toy doll into the market but the little monster wanted to take both in and was physically fighting with her little monster for possession of it.
I was tempted to tell her to nip that in the bud now or she'll wish she were dead once her daughter hits her teenage years.
I see this sort of thing all too regularly and it alarms me what our nation is producing in its children: overly-indulged, undisciplined, narcissistic, self-centered, contentious, spoiled brats.
We see the product of it even now in the news each day when somebody has a snit when their girlfriend dumps them and starts seeing somebody else and old boyfriend does something newsworthy in response for example.

Wrong Reason To Vote For Obama

I'm hearing more and more anecdotes about people voting for Barack Obama because their kids pressured/talked them into it. Folks.....this is absolutely the wrong reason to vote for somebody. Vote for them for YOU, not anybody else. Let your kids vote for Obama and if you like him vote for him or don't vote for him if you don't but either way do it because it's what YOU want.

Number Six

The other night Number Six was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Canadian actress Tricia Helfer who plays Number Six on the modern reimagining of Battlestar Gallactica was interviewed. She is indeed as statuesque in real life as she appears to be on the show and, yes, she is THAT long and leggy and, yes, she used to be a model.
Unfortunately for you single guys out there, she is happily married.

Bogus Balkan Meteor Strikes

There is a gentleman in Bosnia who claims space aliens are targeting his home.
He claims that on five different occasions a meteorite struck his home and even has given scientists his finds who have verified the material as meteoritic.
The odds of this happening even once are astronomical but five times in the past six months is ridiculous.
Either he is making this up and somehow acquiring the meteorites or somebody is messing with him but somehow acquiring the meteorites to toss on his roof.

Old Woman Meteor

When I was a child in the late 1970's or early 1980's I had the privilege of seeing the Old Woman Meteorite on display at the Desert Discovery Center in Barstow, CA.
I had the privilege once again to see it again several years ago.

My Ticket

My speeding ticket arrived in the mail and it was painful: $200.
I plan to plead my case with the judge via mail if possible as driving to and from Shafter doesn't seem worth it especially as my odds of success are slim at best.
I'm guilty of driving over the speed limit.
However, my 76 mph should have be considered 11 mph over the limit, NOT 21 mph as NOBODY drives 55 mph on Highway 46 under ideal conditions unless they are stuck behind an RV or want to get their ass run off the road or have the car behind them tailgate them or have cars dangerously going around them creating the possibility of there being a head-on right in front of oneself put-putting along at 55 mph.
Perhaps the judge can be convinced to agree with me.
What do you all think?
Any advice?

2008 Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show

Tomorrow I will be driving to Lancaster, CA, to set up for this weekend's 2008
Antelope Valley Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show
put on by the Antelope Valley Gem & Mineral Club at Lancaster High School located at 22701 32nd Street West.
I hope to see as many of you there as possible and look for me to blog this thing either as it happens (preferably) or after I get home depending upon how successful I am finding some wifi signal there.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Thoughts on Pole-Shift 2012 Doomsday Lunacy

The 2012 Pole Shift Doomsday Wackiness running amok on the web these days relies upon ignorance for success in keeping its adherents/advocates faithful and creating new adherents/advocates.

Here is a primer:

Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS NOT the same thing as genuine polar wander.
Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS NOT the same thing as geomagnetic reversal.
Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS NOT scientifically valid.

Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS New Age Doomsday prophesy wackiness.
Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS pseudo-scientific conspiracy theory wacktitude.
Pole Shift Doomsday Hypothesis IS an older idea that Plate Tectonics Theory nullified.

Adherents/advocates of the Pole Shift Hypothesis claim Albert Einstein supported it.
The reality is that Albert Einstein wrote the forward to Charles Hapgood's Late-50's book The Earth's Shifting Crust which pre-dated Plate Tectonics Theory which repudiated that and other such hypothesis and theories.

Another reality of Pole Shift Hypothesis is the hysteria-side of it promulgated by pseudo-intellectual New Agers and Theosophists who claim Mayan prophesies and other mumbo jumbo point to a global calamity in the year 2012 when they claim the poles will shift and physically move the crust of the earth around not to mention rearrange the rotation of the earth so everything gets moved around and the few who survive will find their weather and climate radically changed.

Through dating techniques we can rule out the Earth's axis shifts at intervals from every several thousand years to even longer as we can now rule out they even happen at all as there is no credible evidence they even occur.
Oops, I misspoke: one may have occurred 800 million years ago ... maybe, and even if it did, it took 20 million years to play out.

The New Age versions of this fable rely upon doomsday interpretations of the calendars of dead civilizations like the Mayans and Aztecs who apparently didn't even foresee their own demise.
Furthermore, how could they know about a global phenomenon that last happened well BEFORE they were around?

These people also like to point out the incidents of woolly mammoths found frozen standing in place with food still in their mouths as proof of these catastrophic pole shifts.
There is just one problem with those stores: they aren't true.
ALL frozen woolly mammoths that have been discovered were found in some stage of decomposition and NONE were still standing.

Yet another version of this nonsense calls for there to be yet another planet orbiting around our sun in a very wacky orbit that has it coming by us every several thousand years and triggering a catastrophic pole shift.
This planet is called Nibiru by the more New Agey elements and Planet X by the more pseudo-scientific crowd.
There once was speculation of a Planet X in respectable circles but that has since gone away as that possibility has been ruled out.

As stated previously, the popularity of this Pole Shift Doomsday Hysteria relies upon the ignorance of those who advocate it. Just a modicum of personal research and a dab of common sense should be enough for anybody entertaining these thoughts to have those intellectual demons exorcised.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poll: Most Significant Disaster in California History

Which of the following do you consider to be the most significant disaster in California history?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recommended Wildfire Reading

I am currently reading Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories fame.

I have possessed this book for years but only recently made the time to read it.
It is a most haunting story and Maclean captures every iota of that spiritual/metaphysical/transcendentalist quality of the story of Montana's Mann Gulch Blow-up of 1949 that killed 13 out of a 16-man smokejumper unit.

I highly recommend it to you all and I feel every junior or senior high school student should be required to read it to graduate.

Next up on my reading list is the book by Norman's son John Maclean entitled Fire on the Mountain about Colorado's Storm King Mountain Blow-up of 1994 that killed a mixed assembly of 14 hotshots and smokejumpers.
Obviously both incidents occurred outside California but they both have some important things to say to Californians.

After that I plan to read a book I picked up last month at the multi-agency visitor center at Lone Pine entitled Fire in the Forest: A History of Forest Fire Control on the National Forests in California, 1898-1956 by Robert W. Cermak which looks very interesting from just skimming it when I got it.

I have already read Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1949 by George E. Gruell which I can't recommend highly enough.

One of my favorite books ever on California wildfires is Santa Barbara Wildfires by Raymond Ford, Jr. with photos by Keith Cullom of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. This book is far more than just about the famous wildfires of Santa Barbara County but also about the history of firefighting in Southern California and to a degree in Greater California along with being a primer on California fire ecology.

I suggest you all look into reading some of Stephen J. Pyne's books.
First and foremost of his books read Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire followed by in no particular order Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910 and Fire: A Brief History and Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires and Smokechasing: A New Look at Wildfires by One of America's Leading Fire Scholars.

I also suggest Harold Biswell's Prescribed Burning in California Wildlands Vegetation Management with a new foreword by James Agee whom some of you have heard of and know about.

One last recommendation I make for now is Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California by David Wyatt.

I will make more recommendations later but these twelve book are enough for now.
Please let me know what you all think after you read them.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Like a Horse on the Way Back to the Barn

Previous Day: On To Kingman & Let's Win There

Goin' Back To Cali

We got up reasonably early and got our day started with breakfast from next door at JB's which has absolutely the best wheat toast anywhere on Earth.
It was much warmer than any previous morning of the trip but calm.
The Weather Channel on television and the National Weather Service online both warned of high winds across the Mojave Desert both in Arizona and California as well as put the area under a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger.
This might seem odd to you given we're talking about brush fire danger on a desert but given how much rain fell there earlier this past Winter along with the high winds predicted fire can propagate rapidly across a desert that has even sparse vegetation.
This was so impressively demonstrated by the Hackberry Complex in June, 2005, which burned over 70,000 acres of the Eastern Mojave Desert north of Goffs, CA, in eastern San Bernardino County.

By the time we hit the road the winds were blowing pretty good in Kingman, AZ.
After getting underway we took Route 66 out of town to the west which in Kingman is called Andy Devine Drive in honor of favorite son Andy Devine .

Heading out of the bottom of the canyon between Kingman and McConnico a large brown snake when shooting across the road in front of me.
Another such snake would pull the same stunt later in the morning in the California part of the Mojave Desert and come so close to getting run over I would be forced to take evasive maneuvers.

After getting on I-40 at McConnico we shot back into California which felt nice, especially after having accomplished so much on this trip and there being no feeling of having not accomplished much as I've sometimes felt in the past.

Over the Desert....

By the time we crossed back over the Colorado River and into California the winds were really ripping and the sky was very hazy in that Summery sort of way this area tends to have which leaves the sky looking rather brassy which seemed odd in April.
We passed through Needles on the interstate and I remembered something a high school classmate of mine who lives up the road in Bullhead City told me to wit the folks in that area refer to Needles as "Needless" to which I have to agree.
It does possess a really cool old train station though which deserves to be brought back to its former glory.
At the junction of I-40 and US-95 we jumped off the interstate as US-95 piggy-backs Route 66 which we follow as much as possible across the Mojave Desert.

A short ways up from the interstate is a roadside jerky-selling operation which has much signage in the area celebrating their "fresh jerky".

A short ways up the road from there is the location of where the late comic genius Sam Kinison met the maker he so often flippantly referred to in his stand-up act.

A bit further up and we turn off of US-95 onto National Trails Highway which is the modern name given to Route 66.
From there we took it through Goffs and Essex and Chambless and a short ways west of Chambless we began encountering some sort of bicycling endeavor with one of the riders having this double-decker bicycle contraption that had the pedals up where the bike seat would normally go and then another bike body was welded atop the bottom bike frame it appeared from what I could see going by at highway speed.
A steady stream of these people continued on the way westward towards Amboy where the event appeared to be based.
A bit further west I saw another rider on one of those double-decker bicycles and continue to wonder how they mount them and first get started going.

Several years ago somebody thought it would be cute to tie a pair of shoes to a desert tree by the south side of Route 66 east of Amboy which caused many other folks to do so filling up that tree and now other Shoe Trees have emerged in the general area of Amboy along Route 66.
On this day I noticed a new quirkily-themed tree: a bra tree.
There were all sorts of sizes and colors and styles and this tree is located on the north side of the road just east of Amboy.

Just west of Amboy and east of Amboy crater another high-speed desert lizard crossed the road in front of me.
If got to the east-bound side and froze with indecision but was safe. That little bugger was actually standing up on all fours, as opposed to crawling which seemed so unusual to me given the types of lizards I'm used to dealing with on the Central Coast.

We got back on the interstate at Ludlow so mom could use the lava bed rest area just east of Newberry Springs.
After we stopped there we got back onto Route 66 at Fort Cady Road.
I noticed that the eccentric desert rat who used to live on the north side of Route 66 just west of that intersection and sold rocks and junk is now gone and the place looks abandoned.
As I recall Huell Howser's interviewed that guy or somebody else did in another documentary on the area.
I fear he may be dead which makes me also wonder about the current condition of the other even more eccentric desert rat in that community known as "General Bob" who hangs out at the Baghdad Cafe.

By this point is was clear the winds were howling in the Barstow area to our west given all the sand and dust in the air to the west of our location.
By the time we did our usual shunpiking job around Barstow to the east and north via Route 66 to Daggett-Yermo Road to Yermo Road to I-15 at Fort Irwin Road to Old Highway 58 to Highway 58 we were in howling winds with occasional sand storms.
The pungent smell of upwind milk cow yards was rather jarring at times.

When we passed Hinkley west of Barstow it meant more this trip than ever before as now I know that this is where that Erin Brockovich story happened.

Just about every time I go through Kramer Junction I wonder when they will reroute Highway 58 around that horrible intersection.

With increasing frequency and intensity when I go by the borax quarry at Boron I feel this urge to visit their visitor center .
Lord willing one of these days I shall.

Given how bad the winds were particularly in the western half of the Mojave Desert I expected the Mojave area to be the worst as it usually is but luckily not on this day.

....And Through the Pass

Over the Tehachapi Pass the haze was not as bad but there were stringers and tendrils of smokey-looking haze or dust which led me to suspect there was a brush fire upwind but over the phone I got confirmation that was not the case so it was just weird-looking dust, perhaps ashes from burn areas.

We got off Highway 58 at Highway 223 and stopped in Arvin for a hard-earned break which was nice.
The grasses in the field next to the parking lot at the county library we were parked at are all brown now.

From there we headed on home following the usual route (223-5-58-46-41).
Heading up I-5 we encountered numerous dust storms as the winds raked newly-plowed fields.
At one point thick dust was blowing across the interstate which reminded me of that tragic incident on November 29, 1991, a bit further north along this same highway but between Coalinga and Los Banos in which folks drove too fast through similar dust storms and a series of fiery accidents ensued in which 17 people were killed, many of them burning to death and other surviving with horrible burns.

After that not much else happened of note accept for the beautiful flowers still evident even as the sun was setting as we passed through the rolling hills between Shandon and Creston along Highway 41 with lupines now dominating the poppies and fiddle necks that so dominated the landscape some weeks ago.

I was a great relief to make it home and find all was well with my cat and my household as I never take anything for granted when I drive away.

Friday, April 18, 2008

On To Kingman & Let's Win There

Previous Day: Route 66 & Preskit

West is Best

Last night my little Chihuahua/Jack Russell "terror" mix Tequila was very sick throughout and needed letting out a few times and otherwise was restless and stirred oft which disturbed my sleep leaving me overly tired today.
I suspect it was caused by either mom feeding her scraps of her leftover food which is richer than Tequila's dog food or by the multiple rapid altitude changes throughout the day of several thousand feet each time or maybe a bit of both.
We slept in a little bit to make up for that and given we only planned on going a few hours west to Kingman there was no rush to get going.
When we did finally get away Tequila was still sick as she was most of the drive to Kingman.

It felt good heading west as it always does.
West is the direction I belong.
West is the direction of home.

We took Interstate-40 down the hill off the Mogollon Rim to Crookton Road just west of Ash Fork and then jumped onto Route 66 which we took all the way to Kingman, AZ.
On Crookton Road just a mile or two west of the interstate is a diminutive new lumber mill that appears to be processing salvage timber from damaged trees on the Kaibab National Forest.
The pungent aroma of all that freshly bruised, skinned, and even cut ponderosa pine is intoxicating as one drives by the location and I always roll my window down while driving by that location.

As we drove through Seligman, AZ, we had to dodge running down tourists more focused on getting photos of Route 66 kitsch than avoiding being run down by me which forced us to slow down to a crawl near the parked tour bus from which they had been disgorged.
After gassing elsewhere in town we headed onto the Grand Canyon Caverns for a short break where I partook in my ceremonial Route 66 vanilla malt, my very worst remaining culinary indulgence.

Keepers of the Wild

Following that we got back on the road and headed on into Kingman, AZ.
The past several drives through the Valentine area about 20 miles east of Kingman I've noticed a new wild animal park called Keepers of the Wild and am intrigued by it.
During our eastbound leg of this trip I was stuck behind a school bus that turned into its parking lot with a load of kids from a charter school.
For more information about it check this blog.
Moving to a location along Route 66 was a great marketing move aside from any other reasons for doing so.

House Hunting

We were lucky to be able to check into the motel early and get freshened up before getting to work.
Our work consisted of hunting for homes and checking some developments/sub-divisions on the side of Hualapi Mountain, particularly, Pinyon Pines Estates and Linn Ranch.
Mom found a newer house for sale that she fell in love with and unlike the previous two homes in the area she had liked in the past that are no longer on the market, this one is not too much house for her and is much more fire-safe not to mention a bit less pricey so things look good.

Tomorrow we plan to head west across the Mojave Desert and on home. 

Next Day: Like A Horse On The Way Back To The Barn

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Route 66 & Preskit

 Previous Day: Just Another Typical Day In California

Getting Our Kicks on Route 66

This morning we hit the road in Kingman, AZ, about ninish in the morning and headed down Arizona Route 66 which is the longest uninterrupted part that remains anywhere and I might add the most cool section and by that I don't mean to refer to the temperature. ;-p

We thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of this section of the road from Kingman through Hackberry and Valentine and Truxton and Peach Springs and Seligman to just west of Ash Fork, AZ.
Of all the sections of the Mother Road left in America this is absolutely the best.

Driving through the Hualapi Indian Reservation at Peach Springs is always interesting and today was no exception.

Between Seligman and Ash Fork and within sight of the former, somebody was burning piles of juniper just south of the railroad tracks in the strong and dry winds which seemed foolish to me given the fire danger in Arizona this Spring.

A short distance west of Ash Fork at Crookton Road the interstate swallows up Route 66 so one is forced onto the freeway there and thus we did.

Turning Point

We headed up onto the Mogollon Rim there and past Williams.
At the rest area near Parks we stopped and it was striking how almost all the snow that had been there the last time we were there which wasn't too long ago was nearly all melted but for one rapidly melting residual pile.
From Flagstaff down to the Meteor City Roadside Rest Area we ambled.

It was there that mom informed me she had for some time today been feeling like this part of Arizona is not for her as she is extremely intuitive like me and must follow the vibe wherever it leads (I'm the same way).
I had felt similarly all morning since we headed up onto the Mogollon Rim but kept silent until she spoke not wanting to bias her perceptions.

We jointly decided to reverse course and head back to the resort across the freeway from the Grand Canyon Deer Farm just east of Williams and drop anchor there which we did. On the way we gassed up at Parks and picked up the local real estate booklet.

Junket to Preskit

After getting settled in our rooms we had a confab and decided to head down to Prescott and check out that area as we both had never been there but had a feeling it deserved being looked into which we proceeded to do.

Going and coming it was rather obvious that they are putting in a major north-south water pipeline just to the east of US-89.
I assume this will carry yet more water from the Colorado River to the Phoenix area.

It turns out that mom strongly dislikes the Prescott area as it is incredibly congested and populated and is more arid than she imagined to which I strongly agree.

After getting back safely to our rooms we had a feast from the in-house restaurant that we took back to our rooms and had in front of the television.

Tonight is very cold outside and cozy inside our rooms.

Next Day: On To Kingman & Let's Win There

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just Another Typical Day in California

Hitting The Road

Today mom and I embarked on a journey to the Desert Southwest wherein I am accompanying her she narrows down her choices of where she's going to live out the rest of her life.
We left Atascadero in our own vehicles but drove caravan-style after I finished obsessively-compulsively making sure more times than necessary that I was not forgetting to take anything essential or do anything vitally necessary for the safe and smooth functioning of my household while I'm gone. I did have some important bills to pay and also needed to fill up my gas tank before heading out which added yet more time.

We finally got out of town about a quarter after ten this morning and headed east on Highway 41 through the grassy, rolling hills of northern San Luis Obispo County east of the Salinas River Valley.
Where fiddlenecks and California poppies had ruled in previous weeks it was now the purple lupines' turn.

At Shandon we jumped onto Highway 46 and headed east driving noticeably slower than we did a couple of Sunday mornings ago when I got my first-ever speeding ticket and mom got her first since she was young and foolish.
It was rather noticeable how fast the grasses are drying out in eastern SLO County and western Kern County.

At Blackwell's Corner which is the junction of State Highways 33 & 46, I came upon a sight such as I had never beheld before and would have never imagined seeing anywhere other than Mendocino or Humboldt Counties if ever at all.
On the north side of Highway 46 just west of Highway 33 was a tent set up not ten feet from the road replete with bicycles and backpacks and two hippy-looking people.
How this was legal I'm not sure but given how highly patrolled that stretch of road is by the CHP as I found out the hard way a week-and-a-half-ago I would imagine they were aware of it and allowing it, but it sure wasn't safe given how easy a car could drive into it or a semi-truck's wake could move it.

Diversion As Diversion

We turned south on Highway 33 and took it to Lokern Road and headed east on it to Highway 58 which we turned onto eastbound and stopped in beautiful downtown Buttonwillow for gas and then stopped at the city park to let Tequila out to run and relieve herself.
She did that and much more by running amok throughout the northern empty section of the park chasing the myriad of ground squirrels who've taken that area over.

After that we resumed heading east on Highway 58 to Interstate-5 and took it south.
After a short drive we passed a Cal-Trans digital information sign parked on the right shoulder that said the interstate was closed at Highway 223 which was where we planned to jump off and head east back to Highway 58 in the Tehachipi Mountains thus avoiding Bakersfield.
I quickly diverted us off the freeway before we hit traffic snarls and rerouted us onto Highway 119 and headed east which was a nice alternate route for a change as we always use Highway 223 paralleling to the south.

While in the Lamont area I called the automated Cal-Trans Highway Information Network and found out the closure was due to a controlled burn of tumble weeds by Cal-Trans that got into some dumped ammo dumped in the weeds by the side of the road.
Anywho, we took Highway 119 east to Towerline Road and south on that back to Highway 223 and headed east on it right up the shoulder of Bear Mountain and onto a reunion with Highway 58.

Over the Hills and Through the Desert

From there we quickly slipped over the Tehachipi Pass without incident and down into the Mojave Desert which was cooler in temperature than I had expected but the air was clearer than when mom and we passed along its western margin en route to the Owens Valley a few weeks ago.

We continued on Highway 58 on across the Mojave Desert to Barstow where we followed the path of the Old Highway 58 around the northern margins of beautiful Barstow for old times' sake and to avoid as much of the mess of Barstow' traffic as possible.
Besides, taking old roads is way cool.
It's kinda sad to see how much this corridor has died since Highway 58 was diverted west of Barstow to junction with Interstate-15.

By now the winds were quite noticeable in places but none of it rose to the level of being labeled a wind advisory or greater.
East of Barstow most of the hills and mountains having intriguing colors and diggings that seductively beckon the rockhound to pull off the road and spend time out there.
Later this year I intend to do precisely that.
We took I-15 a short distance from Old Highway 58 to Fort Irwin Road at which we exited and got onto the frontage road south of the interstate and took it east to Yermo-Daggett Road which we took south to Old Route 66 which we turned onto and took east to Interstate-40 which we got back onto just east of Newberry Springs driving right by the famous Baghdad Cafe which I still haven't stopped in yet.

A White Thing

At the Newberry Springs Roadside Rest Area near the lava beds from Pisgah Crater we stopped and took a break.
I walked with mom over to the bathrooms and stood near the women's room with Tequila on leash at the edge of the lawn with the intent of giving her to mom when mom was done and then I'd use the men's room.

While waiting there, the rest area maintenance crew composed of five black male adults sauntered my direction from the east en route to their utility room at the back of the restroom building.
One of them, the alpha male of the group came up to me all big, bad, and self-important (this must have been the Latrine King) and let me know I had to pick up my dog's poop.
I informed him that my dog hadn't pooped on the lawn but had done so over in the pet area.
This was a fib as she had not but she was done pooping for the day as she had cleared her system earlier in the day but I didn't expect him to buy that despite being true.
I asked him if he'd like me to remove my dog from that location to which he replied by repeating that he wanted me to clean up after my dog to which I asked if that meant even out by the fence at the edge of the desert in the pet area to which he affirmed "yes" which now proved beyond a reasonable doubt he was full of shit and trying to stir shit with me as NOBODY picks up the poops their dogs leave in the pet area of a rest area as that is where poops are permitted.
I didn't want to get baited into taking on five lower-class tough-looking black dudes so I played the part of the stupid, sweet, gullible, and easily-intimidated white guy.
As I walked away he left me something to remember him with by condescendingly handing me two doggy poopy bags.
I accepted them and walked to the men's room, did my business and walked back to my truck and told mom what happened.

I shared with her mom passing thought of going around the pet area and filling up the two bags with poops and returning to that jerk and while playing the character I had played with him earlier just hand the bags to him like they came from my dog and I had collected them and misunderstood that I was not supposed to bring them back to him.

On a more serious note, given how those guys acted, especially my friend the Latrine King and the hard way he looked at me and talked to me and given the standard by which many black folks seem to measure racism and bigotry against them I feel this was racially-motivated.
I feel the Latrine King wanted to show off for his buddies and make a fool out of that stupid white guy over there (me) and see how far he could take it and get by with it.
Had he been alone I would have been dismissive of him but I didn't feel like I could be certain the laws would be obeyed if I put the Latrine King in his place while he had the social and physical support of his pack.

Getting On In

From there we took Interstate-40 to Ludlow where we exited onto Old Route 66. A few miles east of Ludlow we wizzed by a young desert tortoise ambling northbound across the road on the westbound lane which caused me to rapidly break and turn around and go back and stop and get the little bugger off the road but not before taking this photo:

From there we headed on down to Amboy and by Amboy Crater and up through the Fenner Valley stopping for a break at the Goff's Store by the freeway where Tequila met her even smaller Chihuahua boyfriend who humped her last time they met.
We took the old road on up to Searchlight Junction then got back onto the interstate south of there not far from where the late comedian Sam Kinison was killed in a head-on collision by a drunk driver.
From there we I-40 on to Arizona exiting only for a brief break at the Yucca Roadside Rest Area and then got off for the day at McConnico where we again picked up Old Route 66 and took it on into Kingman and to our motel where I am composing this now much later than I should be up but I'm keyed up so what can I do?
Hopefully, tomorrow will be just as good a day but perhaps a bit less strange. ;-)

Next Day: Route 66 & Preskit

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool II

Am I A Dirty Old Man?
Today while out taking a walk with my little dog Tequila I had a sudden realization: I'm exactly TWICE as old as my girlfriend. Yikes!
Does that make me a dirty old man?
Prolly not as we have agreed to save sex for marriage and despite temptation have somehow managed it thus far.

My Sucky Birthdate
Having one's birthdate on April 15 sucks more than you can know.
Folks are not in as charitable a mood as otherwise nor are they much concerned with your birthday as they are finishing up their tax returns (or starting doing them as may be the case).
I suppose having one's birthdate on Christmas would be as bad in a different way as one's birthdate and Christmas would be combined giving one a net loss of potential gifts received over the course of one's life.
Then there are the Leap Year birthdates which I don't even want to wrap my tired brain around now.

Fire Season Looms
The grass even in my neighborhood is starting to turn brown and the smell of curing grass fills the air most days lately. The fire season looks to start early this year and will be severe given all the grass that has grown from the heavy rains we got early in the Winter but with the rain cutting out early as well things are drying out early, too. There was a roadside grassfire down in San Luis Obispo the other day so we may have sorta already begun the fire season around here.

Barack Obama
I used to like Barack Obama before he was a Presidential candidate and before I knew about his church and his de facto paterfamilias, Dr. Jeremiah Wright.
I used to consider him a great hope for the future of the Democratic Party and perhaps the nation as a whole.
He was my favorite Dem second only to Joseph Lieberman (I realize he's no longer a registered Dem but he's basically a Dem).

Now I cannot bear to listen to Obama or even watch him on television.
He makes me sick to my stomach.
He's even more full of shit than Clinton 44 who I prefer to him.
I never would have imagined myself feeling that way in the past.

Needless to say, it's been a weird political season.
I dread the future no matter who wins.
We're all about to lose I suspect but I hope I'm wrong.

In regards to Obama's mentor Dr. Jeremiah Wright, what is he a doctor of anyway? Demagoguery?
I suspect/hope Obama only obliquely share's Wright's views.
However, after his rather strange comments about his grandmother I'm not so sure.
On top of that is his relationship with Dr. Wright for which Obama's explanations insult one's intelligence.
Add to that are his wife's comments both now and her thesis in college for which her college won't release said thesis until the day AFTER the election and I'm no longer so certain of anything about that couple.

Regardless of what the deal is on that I suspect I know at least one thing that happened in regards to these suspicious collaborations in his life and it worked like this:
Early on, an ambitious young Barack Obama felt the need for some networking to help work himself up the ladder by hob-knobing and ingratiating himself with prominent members of the Chicago-area black community.
He found Dr. Wright and his church a useful vehicle that would make him (Obama) as well-connected as he could hope to be.
It worked great for so long as you can now see but now he's paying the inevitable price and I don't sympathize with him the least bit.
He made a Faustian pact and got burned which always happens.
To quote Malcolm X: the chickens have come home to roost.

Bolide Impacts
This theme seems to keep coming up time and again in recent years.
This very real threat seems to have finally stuck in the public consciousness as the theme seems to be resonating with many people.
This has been enabled by documentaries on NAT GEO and the Hitler Channel and the Discovery Channel, et al to go along with those two movies several years ago particularly Deep Impact .
Tonight, the History Channel featured two episodes of their popular series Mega-Disasters .
One featured comets in general and focused on the comet strike that created Burckle Impact Crater at the bottom of the Indian Ocean about five thousand years ago and finished with a hypothetical comet-strike offshore of San Francisco that utterly destroyed it.
The other one featured asteroids in general and focused on the Chicxulub Impact Crater in Mexico 65 million years ago and finished with a hypothetical asteroid-strike offshore of Los Angeles that utterly destroyed it.

Monterey Show
I received in the mail yesterday the contract to the Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Society's Monterey Show late this September. This was unexpected as we had been warned that we might not be back due to space problems at that end but those have been avoided and we're in like Flynn.

Poison Oak Update
My poison oak I picked up hunting for a lost mine last Saturday seems to have maxed out and is now on the ebb so I'm delightfully surprised at the mellowness of this outbreak considering my level of exposure.
Some of the countermeasures I took really seem to have worked so I'm making a mental note.

On The Home Front I'm Leaving Home
It looks like I got the dog drama with my newest roommate cleared up so I'll be leaving tomorrow for Arizona/New Mexico.I'll be sure to keep you all posted here throughout the course of my journey (I hope).


Today I Turned 38

Today I turned 38.
More accurately, at about 4 a.m. this morning.
Of course, I slept right through that milestone, something I didn't have the option of doing 38 years ago this morning.
My mother informs me we both were crying. ;-)
She cried for good reason given what she unleashed upon the world that morning in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California those many years ago. ;-p

Seriously though, it's been one hell of a ride replete with thrills and chills and spills.
I sure hope I'm in the process of being a LATE BLOOMER as I have little to show for my time here thus far.

I've spent my entire adulthood casting about trying to find my way.
I feel like I'm finally onto something having had a longer learning curve than most people and yet perhaps having learned far more than most people ever do by 38.
I sure hope that doesn't come across as self-righteous and pompous as I fear it has but I mean that contritely and humbly.

Most folks don't get the privilege of screwing up their life as long as I have after having been given so much by God and having dropped the ball so often and egregiously (God says "to whom much is given much is expected) and still be alive.
I am truly blessed and realize I'm living on borrowed time.
I just hope I haven't used up all of God's GRACE towards me.
I wish to outlive my father who died at age 39 years and almost a month.
More importantly, I wish to finish my course as he failed to do.
However, at least his unfinished course saw him become a husband and a good one as well as a father and a good one and a successful businessman, things I have not yet accomplished.

I certainly am gifted with an outsider's perspective as I never felt like I fit in or was just like everybody else.
No, I'm not segueing into coming out of the closet as I am most assuredly not gay or bisexual or transgender or any of that other stuff.
However, I certainly can relate to how gay folks feel insofarasmuch (that's my own word) as I empathize with the feeling of not fitting in with everybody else even when I appear to be fitting in.

I used to be self-conscious about it but I've come to not only accept it but embrace it and am no comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life.
I've also gotten a better handle on what has happened in my life and have taken responsibility for my failures and shortcomings.

That is not to say that I am the finished product or that I don't dump loads of work to do on myself as I most assuredly do but at least now I have a better handle on what needs doing within me at least from my end.
I'll leave the stuff only God can accomplish in me up to Him and not worry about it.

New Years Resolutions are far less meaningful as the dates we humans begin and end our years are arbitrary points on the calendar.
However, our birth dates are actual anniversaries of one of our biggest moments in our existences.
Therefore, I'm making some birthday resolutions today which I intend to have achieved by the time I reach 39 Lord willing I live that long and actually am successful.

  1. I'm going to continue to draw back to God as I've been doing as I drifted away from Him over the course of my adulthood while I cast about.
  2. I'm going to continue to run a tighter ship and be more efficient with time and money and other resources as I've been doing over the past year or so.
  3. I'm going to eliminate my bad habit of interrupting people when they talk.
  4. I'm going to eliminate the F-bomb from my vocabulary except when it is appropriate which it usually is not.
  5. I'm going to get down to my fighting weight and get good muscle tone and vascular capacity and I shall accomplish this by continuing to regulate my caloric intake and by exercising regularly.
  6. I'm going to improve my nutrition by eating more vegetables and fruit.
  7. I'm going to be operating financially in the black and have finalized my working business model which I'm still working out now.
  8. I'm going to have two good roommates I'm not annoyed by and have no drama in my household.
  9. I'm going to get my teeth whitened.
  10. I'm going to go through my grandfathers things including his slides to preserve what is left of our family heritage.
  11. I'm going to attend the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show next February.
  12. I'm going to get caught up on all my little unfinished projects whose unfinishedness (is that a real word?) is a source of constant annoyance to me.

Anywho, that is a good start I feel and it shall be interesting to see what happens or doesn't.

Oh, by the way, thus far this week I have received no harassment about the movie The 40-Year Old Virgin.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool I

Dumbass Dog Owners
 Why do some folks get dogs when they clearly don't have the time to adequately care for them which includes being with them as often as possible and taking them for walks at least once per day?
Dogs are pack animals and social creatures and need more social interaction than being left at home all the time provides.
If one is going to be gone all the time one should not have a dog for crying out loud. What is wrong with these people?
I see this happen time and again and just have to shake my head in wonderment.

Poison Oak
There seems to be about as many remedies for poison oak as there are people.
When you tell folks you have it everybody eagerly wants to tell you their time-worn secret.
I appreciate this, of course, and suspect most if not all of them work to varying degrees but it can be confusing which to try next and which is more effective and how much does this boil down to perception versus reality.
I think I'll finish my
Tecnu products tonight and then try my girlfriend's family's secret which is one part bleach to about ten parts water and dab it on and let it dry.
We'll see tomorrow about that one.
Yep, the lost mine expedition yesterday is the source of my poison oak.
It could be a lot worse were if not for the countermeasures I took the moment I got home from the mines.


The Horror Of It All
 The stories you hear on the news these days make you afraid to turn on the news and hear the latest outrage or heartbreak.

Slim Pickings 
 Where have all the good Presidential candidates gone?
Send us decent Presidential candidates and we will vote (in droves and for folks, not against other folks).
Unfortunately, the pickings are rather meager this time around and seem to get more so each time around for many years going.
I fear for my nation's future.
There are no leaders leading anymore and we as a nation have no Grand Vision for our future course and no sense of National Purpose or Moral Mission such as during World War Two and the Cold War.
Clinton 42 failed to imagine that Vision and neglected to inspire that Purpose and carry out that Mission.
Ditto Bush 43.

Shaping Up
 Today I walked 6.1 miles with 4.1 this morning and 2.0 this evening.
I'm stuck on a plateau but at least I'm doing what I need to do to lose the weight I need to lose.
I ate pretty smartly today, too, so I'm fairly confident I lost weight.


G'Nite All!
 I be sleepy so good night all. Geez, I just dozed off again.

Over and out.