Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pinnacles National Park, Matisse-Diebenkorn & Mark Johnson

Parks, In My Esteemed Opinion (IMEO), are in close competition with rest areas. The problem is there's not a rest area on highway 25 between Coalinga and Anthony Chabot Regional Park.

I spent the first prev night, about 20 miles north of Coalinga, California on a turnout on Coalinga Road. It was late afternoon when I'd finally gotten out of town and the final twelve miles to the park were too far.

In the morning I was greeted (in an aggressive tone) by Mike Baumgardner with "What're you doing?!"  I rejoined with "Who wants to know?" a bit louder which got him tuh thinkin' 'bout his options. He claimed I was on HIS LAND!!!..."The easement is 30 feet from the centerline." I looked and thought he maybe had me by three feet. Always the gentleman, I gave him his choice of weapons, but once he learned I was enroute to the Matisse-Diebenkorn exhibit at SFMOMA he was all smiles and ready to talk art, cats and what to wear.

Pinnacles wasn't much better. Buggy, screaming children, hollering youths. It finally got quiet around midnight. Only $11.50 with the senior discount. No hot water at the sinks and those push-on faucets that automatically turn off after ten seconds.

It's all Mark Johnson's fault. If he'd just posted some of his paintings I could have gotten my art fix and avoided all this.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Hitch-hiking was, in my youth, a way of life. I put so many miles on my thumb it still felt natural to extend it. But I was astonished when people actually stopped.

The first guy took me to Little's Diesel, the shop where Phoebe was getting worked on, and waited while I conferred with the mechanic. He then took me back to town and dropped me at the laundromat.

Walking "home," a young woman stopped to inquire about my destination and tell me about the Cowboys' Bunkhouse, a low-cost place to hang one's hat. Fifteen minutes later she came by and said, "I'll give you a ride if you don't mind riding in the back." of the pickup, she meant. I clambered aboard and when I got out I offered to help with the gas. Her emphatic "NO!" left no room for discussion and with smiles and waves I strolled down to camp.

The next time a man who'd worked at BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SANCTUARY for ten years. He told how the founders were a group of 30 or so who, in the sixties, lived communally. Some were heirs to industrial-era fortunes, but all had an interest in animal rights. Some still live on the property though the organization is now, as a non-profit, controlled by a Board of Directors.

Lastly came Rolene.

Raised in the LDS tradition, her daughter was one of many selected for "elite training" in Texas. When her daughter returned and tried to convince her she'd been sexually abused by the Bishop, her mother refused to believe her. Finally convinced, she lost both her children for a year for spreading heresy. When she got them back she left the community and moved to Kanab.

I was flabbergasted that after enduring so much she had the courage to stop and give me a ride. It's people like her, and the others, that give a BIG lie to the paranoia the media promulgates.

And it inspires a sense of gratitude that, for me, is priceless.

Thank you all for your help and kindness!

Thank god I'm not in Cleveland.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Homeless on Kanab Creek

Six days ago,  while boondocked near Kodachrome Basin State Park, Phoebe let out a loud CRASH as she rolled backward off the block I'd set up to adjust her clutch. When I got in to test-drive my work, it was to discover the clutch was no more.

I got her going using the starter (HURRAY for standard shift!!)  and drove to Kanab where Tricky Ricky Rocks (see blogpost) had vetted Little's Diesel Service.

In the course of things I consulted (this is for all you other Tracker enthusiasts out there) with Fritz Gafford, owner  of Tracker Ranch in Livingston, Texas. Another Tracker driver met somewhere had described him as an aficionado.  Over the course of our 20-minute conversation I came to appreciate his opinion.

Over he last six days I've gained a feel for the vast gap 'tween Overlanding/RV living and homelessness. I was lucky to find a nice campspot within walking distance of town. Less than a stone's throw from Kanab Creek, aside from the highway noise and a few ATVers, it was idyllic. But thinking about it as a way of life brought into contrast the difference between the motorized mobile life and a shopping cart.

In my teens I hitchhiked the U.S. with a Camp Trails "Freighter." Their largest backback, I never could get it, during the four years I lived out of it, below 60 pounds. I traveled sans tent; when it rained I hunkered under my poncho. I had an army-surplus sleeping bag someone had added a pound of goose down to that enabled me to sleep comfortably in sub-freezing temperatures.  A breakdown fishing rod and a few hooks brought helped tease the trout out of the Idaho streams. I kept a journal, carried some brown rice and soy sauce, an extra pair of jeans, three shirts and several changes of underwear. It couldn't understand WHY it weighed so much.

Here I was with three boxes, several backpacks, although none designed for living out of, my sleeping bag, a car-camping special, weighs in at twice as much as the one in my youth and isn't as warm. The last hitchhiker I picked up, several years ago, said it'd taken him two weeks to get from Nashville to Albuquerque; a distance I'd covered in the '60s in three days, at the most.

They just called and said Phoebe's ready. They found several other things wrong and aware she's my home, they made the repairs to last. Billy hadn't added it up yet, but I'm suspecting it'll take me a couple of years to pay it off. But if you're ever near Kanab, Utah and need help, Little's Diesel is the place. Mike Little does the diesel and Billy does the automotive.

It's great to have my home back!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Smith, the Cat, Jumps Ship

It was in Cedar City, Utah that I spent a couple of hours enjoying the BFA exhibit at the Art Museum. Then, of course, I had to stop to restock the larder. It was dark by the time we pulled off into a large turnout at the beginning of highway 14, the road east to Cedar Breaks and some of Utah's most spectacular scenery. Smith had had enough of being inside but I was reluctant to let her out. The highway was barely 200 feet away there were other cars coming and going. Finally, at 2:00 a.m. after pleading with her all evening, I put on her walking jacket, tightened it as much as I could, clipped it to the roof rack and lay down to sleep.

In the morning it lay at the end of the lead, empty. I walked up and down calling until 2:00 in the afternoon. She hadn't eaten since her after-dinner snack at 8:00 p.m. so I figured she'd be hungry by noon.

The spot was next to Coal Creek and had all the things she loved: steep, rock-laden banks to clamber upon and lots of hidey holes to explore among the boulders. Half a mile downstream were a number of nice looking homes, each with a goodly amounts of land around them.

She'd reached that age where children are fed up with their parents. She enjoyed being outside so much she wanted it full time....like me. Sitting in a car, waiting, was no longer acceptable.

It's been a relief. I still worry about what became of her, but know she's resourceful and had managed to survive in the Redwoods for god knows how long before I found her. I'm confident she found a place where she can get her meals and be outside all the time too.

But I still get a hollow feeling in my stomach when I think about her. But next time a kitten shows up it'll be straight to the shelter. I learned my lesson. And yet, I miss her.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hatchet or Hitachi

Her screams have yet to attain the resonance that accompanies the release of deeper tensions, but they're piercing enough to inspire concern. We've been fortunate to not have had any neighbors and as she's grown more comfortable mit Das Hinterlands, we've ventured farther and farther into the wilds....both literally and metaphorically.

The delights of discovery seem boundless; one of the perqs of a new relationship.

Betty Dodson popularized the Hitachi Magic Wand in her workshops for women on how to masturbate. Recent experience with the Panasonic's Panabrator EV22 indicates The Wand may have some competition.

Monday, April 17, 2017


I was crouched down trying to get a closeup of a flower when I heard that distinctive buzz. I looked over to see Smith backing away as a good-sized rattlesnake flowed forth from it's lair.

It was ready for battle and quickly assumed the position. I, in my most authoritative outdoor voice, told Smith, "NO!" She, of course, ignored me.

Apparently she got the gist of it's intent and began walking away. As she stepped on a curved stick it twanged up. With lightening speed she gave it a good whack...just in case someone was watching and thought she was intimidated. This coulda been you buster!!

It's been over 35 years since I encountered a rattler. We've been a bit more cautious since; almost a Zen-like influence, but it was encouraging...where there're snakes, there are mice, raptors, foxes, and other animals many of which have disappeared in the name of range management. This gave me a bit of hope....they haven't ALL been killed off.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Manzanar on Interstate 40

They say, "Don't get mad, get even." and this is a wonderful example.

Wandering in the blazing sun, still suffering guilt for the blankets with smallpox, I kept wondering, "Where's that pointy obelisk that symbolizes how we put it to them?"

Sky City is the nickname for Acoma Pueblo where the Spaniards, led by Don Onate, in 1599, cut off the right foot of 24 men, a hand from each of two men and enslaved hundreds of women and children for twenty years. (Wiki: Acoma Massacre) In 1998, during the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Spanish colony of New Mexico, the right foot of a statue of Onate in Alcalde, a community a few miles north of Espanola, was removed. Like the Holocaust and 2001, folks remember.

There IS a fine view of Mt. Taylor and a water spigot on the other side of Phoebe with a big sign: WINTER WATER SUPPLY.

West bound to Utah. Exploration ho!!!