Monday, February 20, 2017

Borax Visitor Center - Boron, California

Yahsar, iz troo, dee winterz iz ruff. Day juss ain't much tuh entratane onez se'f. So we unz is scrapin' duh bottom ub de barrel fo' sumpin' tuh reeport. Mebbe you'unz kin find sum humor in h're sumwherz.

It was the promise of a Visitors' Center (WiFi!!!)  that drew me off the four-lane. There was nothing at the end of the off ramp but in the distance I could see some buildings; I went that way.

An empty guardhouse delineated the entrance to the grounds. As I drove in I puzzled at the why and wherefore of a Visitors' Center in an industrial locale. But countless doses of LSD have left me with an Insat'able Curtiosity.

The speed limit signs were funny: 37 1/2, 14 mph --  *someone* had a sense of humor. There was an electronic sign displaying the "accident free" days.

I toured the parking area, noticing the Health & Safety building and, stopping at the stop sign at the exit, noticed the large sign hanging over the road to the left....VISITOR  CENTER.

The broad avenue, wide enough for a Euclid, led up and up to the tippy top of a man-maded promontory. There, overlooking The Pit, were two quonset huts gussied up to evoke memories of Death Valley Days -- including Ronald Reagan as a strapping Pioneer.

They start you off right with an example of necessary measures. I recalled a contractor who built super highways telling me about some of the stupid things the dump truck drivers had done. Obviously, as the picture below attests, they're experienced. With double bumpers you can ignore the emergency brake and no one'll get hurt.

Inside are great rock samples; exquisite models of the plant equipment; an entire wall of things you'd never imagined (footballs!!) that include borax in their making. The wall text says there's a full-time staff tasked with finding new uses.

The gift shop includes an unusually fine selection suggesting there's someone with an eye for quality - the gems and settings are FAR superior to anything you'll see along the highway. It's worth the trip....but no Wifi

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Incredible Valentine!!

I attribute it, in part, to an early childhood in the military -- we moved nearly every six months -- and I, like many children who moved often, learned to connect quickly.

It was also due, in part, to their romanticism -- breakfasts at sunrise after a night spent dancing; wine with dinner, fine china and silver ware; original art on the walls, sculptures; a wide range of music and an appreciation of diversity.

Thus, my relationships can be deeply intimate even when sprung forth from a brief encounter.

So it was that I heard of the years-long struggle by their daughter and her husband to become pregnant. And as you're no doubt aware, modern science, ignoring the fact that there are plenty of people already here, has pursued techniques for adding to the population when the usual method is unsuccessful.

Choosing as I did (TMI TMI alert!) to get vesectomized at age 22, I'm prone to the gimlet eye when confronted with the holiday pictures of the 40-50 people that now constitute some of the "families." Having had several children, frequently with a series of wives, their children carry on the tradition. A tradition of FAMILY VALUES (It's okay as long as they're serial.),...and lack of social conscience. Thank god there are some who aren't opposed to supporting another's offspring.

So it was with astonishment that I felt my eyes tearing as I read the txt announcing the heard heartbeat heralding the successful in vitro fertilization. At least I know, unlike many of the children I met when I had my business providing after-school programs, *this* one will be loved.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2017


I'd read about Berdoo Canyon and watched a couple of Youtoob vids. In one, a young couple carefully made their way, she spotting, in a spanking-new pickup towing a popup camping trailer. He allowed as how things were complicated by the length of the truck, implying, I surmised, they'd, at times, gone unhitched. (practicing my Proust.)

The other (vid) was dash-mounted. The pace was fairly speedy and as the boulders and rocks flashed by, one was left thinking it uninteresting, gray-brown uniformity. But I was unprepared.

The road to the canyon is littered, like one to a landfill, but instead of plastic bags there're millions of shotgun shells, brass of all sizes, torn ammo boxes and plastic bullet holders. Every 100 yards there's a pile of trash riddled with holes. The ground Is COMPLETELY covered with broken glass; were it patterned you'd think "Mosaic!" (See: Williams, Pantheon, 2008)

It was a weekday, and here and there were folks, standing atop mounds -- like prairie dogs -- shooting. One had his binoculars up.

It began, each day, soon after first light. Increasing  steadily as the hours wore on, it continued until well past dark. (Night scopes?)

Sunday, driving out, I was struck goggle-eyed as I passed group after group after group of five to twenty-five people separated by not more than a couple hundred yards...all BLAMMITing away.

The women scurried about, in the manner of traditional family values, shuttling beers to the men. (And yes, I admit to yet *another* instance of male prerogative -- factualizing based on surmisal.)

Were *these* the respected members of the NRA who'd left all the trash?

Pix purposely left out; like a two-headed calf, youse gotta see tuh believe.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Galleries Of Highway 62

Romantic that I am, Valentine's is top 'o the list. I'd begun searching for cards and gifts several weeks in advance but I hit paydirt when I got on highway 62 going north from Palm Springs.

In Morongo Valley the Gallery at Covington Park is, to understate it, off the beaten track. There's a large brown sign, like those for National Monuments, Forests & the BLM, for the Morongo Valley Preserve and The Park that marks "the turn." Keep going past the Preserve, it's not far, but from the sand on the road you'd not expect a gallery nearby. It's in the long building adjacent the park restrooms. I didn't see any posted hours and it was closed the next day, Tuesday, I think,  when I went back for more.

Rainbow Stew at the south end of Yucca Valley has an incredible collection of hand-crafted jewelry, much of which incorporates gems and minerals from the area. They also have an extensive selection of cards created by many of the artists whose paintings are also offered.

Farther up the road, a few blocks before the junction with highway 247, is ArtFx.

Celebrating five years of extantness, Carlos said he grew up in New York City, got tired of being a COO and moved to Yucca Valley when he was 21.

On his annual trips to Bali he commissions artworks to sell in his gallery. Every other year he organizes a 17-day tour for 6 people for $3k each (contact him in Dec of 2018 for the one in July 2019). He also has an amazing selection of crafts and objets d' art from Thailand and Cambodia including this canoe which, he pointed out, includes anatomically correct rowers.

For those who disdain the blandness of Tom's or the proletarian Nike, he has these....

Only 20 pairs as of 2/8/17. $85.00.

And finally, demonstrating the fine art of "how it's done," now loving known as The Lurpak....

Thursday, February 2, 2017

White's Boots

The Danners lasted a little over three years. But by the time I'd had the heel taken down -- they were the firefighter model and meant for hiking in duff and on logs -- which required resoling and the multiple restitchings and eyelet replacements, they ended up costing over $350. So $475.00 for a pair of White's didn't seem unreasonable, esp since they guarantee the fit.

Not much left of the Danner (it's the right).

The leather was so dried out it was tearing where it attached to the sole. Partly my fault...lack of maintenance and the fact they were too narrow to begin with. To remedy, I used the olde cowboy method of walking through streams then walking them dry. As predicted, they stretched...but I doubt it did much for their longevity.

White's. Handmade in Spokane with American leather. We'll see how they do. The sole seems wider and makes 'em more stable than any prev boot...a plus for an aging, one-eyed, lizard like me.

They first send a try-on. You wear it around the house for an hour and call 'em. They give you a shipping label to return 'em and they make changes. I went through it again to get the heel a bit narrower and more tongue so my #12 slid in more easily. The 3rd time was charmed; they fit like gloves.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Magic in Superior, Arizona

The epitome of Willkommen, her smile prompted me to answer her questions. I took my turn and learned she'd attended parochial schools where they'd pushed her toward the nunnery. Instead, she married. 

She became a designer and after retiring decided to pursue art. Her husband, jealous of her time, issued an ultimatum. They divorced and she retired to Superior, Arizona where she's enjoyed turning her home into a three-story art work, inside as well as out. The lady holding a star got her branded as a witch which, she says isn't really accurate. She's more of an alchemist and was a longtime member of the Carl Jung society. She's still "into" mythology.

The saying above the entrance, "Kiss the joy as it flies" is from a poem by the artist, William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827).

On Sundays, the day I was there, she staffs Sole to Soul Awakenings, a gallery that offers body work, essential oils shop...more info on Facebook. 

Below are two of Marilee's medicine bags, now mine. They come with an Apache Tear, a stone purported to heal grief, aid in grounding and protect/clear from negativity.

I also bought this book.

There were others whose pages formed the words LOVE and one had the word HOME with the O shaped like a heart. $50.00!!! Take note all yea who celebrate Valentine's.

Marilee offers workshops based on "The Artists' Way" and
tours of her house for $5.00. Call in advance to schedule. 602-291-0550

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Overland Journal - Gear Guide 2017

The latest issue is on the stands....of Barnes & Noble, that is. Other than a few "stores" they're the only place to buy it off the rack.

This is only the second Gear Guide Issue I've seen and I was pleased to, yet again, see how differently these folk do things.

There's a great article that begins like a review of a BMW F650GS. As you're reading along you may find yourself wondering about where a guy who would exclaim, "Great giddy ants....!" might be from. Checking the byline, I surmise "Lisa" is, perhaps, female. Come to find out, she and her husband have been overlanding on motorcycles for years and writing about it.  

On page 109 Southwest guide and photographer Jake Quinones describes the "build out" of his 2012 Jeep Rubicon. The image below was taken in 2014 when he stopped by my camp on the Taos steppe just south of the Colorado line. As you can see, I still had Eggbert then. The photo served as my blog banner for over a year. 

I especially like the line in The Archeologist's Backpack (p. 89) where Mr. Bass, the owner of the rig, says about his "groover," "This has become the single most important piece of gear in the van besides the corkscrew." Take note, this magazine isn't for folks who open bottles with their teeth....even if they can.