Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Journalists

Writing is important to Marketeers, even retired ones like me. So whether it's a script, truck review or letter of recommendation, writing ist Alles. Thus, when I realized I was in the company of professionals, I was a tad awestruck.

It'd been drizzling on and off all day on our way to The Expo (see prev post) so when Eggbert veered off the Forest Rd and started cross-country toward the big pine, I knowed whut he whar thinkin'...overhanging limbs'd provide some cover.

The road was fine as we came in, but I tho't we might need some additional shelter for making breakfast, so I added the tarp. And then, as the light began to dim, I watched (incredulated!!) as the drizzle turned to large, white flakes.

Now, I know for you folks from Cleveland Heights this is nothing. But here in the land of viscous, lube-like clay, it can be, as they say, problematic.



But if you have the time, enough water and food, and it lets up, it'll usually dry out by the end of the day, definitely by the next. But when it's wet, it's often impassable, even with four wheel drive.

It rained/snowed all night. Eager to get to The Expo, I skipped breakfast, chugged some coffee, packed and, without checking the road, roared off. Twenty feet later I was stuck.

It was early and so far no one had gone by. I decided to walk. I mean, what the hell, it was maybe three miles. And I needed the exercise.

As I headed toward the road, a truck hove into view. I raised a thumb but was still surprised when they turned onto the side road to my camp. They wallowed through the six-inch-deep puddle by the cattle guard, slewing a bit as they came out the near side. I watched as the tires cut inch-deep gouges into the formerly smooth surface of my "driveway." To forestall further damage, I ran to meet them. (At 5:28 in this video is what the puddle was like.)

It was a family out sightseeing in their spanking new, not-even-two-hundred-miles-on-the-odometer, ride. I described The Expo and as I clambered aboard, Grandpa cautioned me to "Be careful and don't scratch the paint!" But when they stopped at the bottom of the hill to let me out, they seemed kinda concerned. I, having hitch-hiked around the country in my youth, knew it'd be alright. But I'd barely gone 50 feet when they pulled up alongside and said they'd decided to go too. I climbed back into the bed.

We soon arrived and after thanks and farewells, parted ways. I was mightily grateful....the ride got me there far ahead of the 8,000 expected. And though there were already quite a few, I surmised the majority, still to come, were probly still leisurely hunkered over their coffee.

After a couple of hours I'd had enough and started homeward. As I strolled past the long line of recent arrivals waiting to park, I began to think about how I hadn't brought any water and how, now, at age 63, after several months of only brief escapes from city life  -- my partner's mother is dying and I'm supervising her care including three caregivers, several hospice nurses, and various other duties associated with her recent enrollment in the medical cannabis program -- I'm in pretty bad shape. After less than half a mile, I noticed the beginnings of a blister. Still, the sun was shining and my thumb was waggling like it was still the '60s and hitch-hiking was second nature. I figured somebody'd stop eventually.

Then it happened...a shiny red truck with three guys. As one leaped out and began making room inside, the driver started grilling me about my destination. Allllriiiigghtttt!!!

Exchanging pleasantries, they alleged they were journalists. And not just ANY, but with the most prestigious periodicals on the rack!! I figured they were bullshitting. I mean, everyone KNOWS those kinda people have deadlines; they don't have TIME to pick up hitch-hikers. Hearing my skepticism, they pulled out business cards. I had to pause for a moment of awe (see first paragraph).

Now, if'n you ain't poured yerse'f a beer or martini, nowz the time. This he'ar yarn's jus' gittin' started so iffin yer gettin' bored, ya'll mite wanna call hit quits wha'l yer ahed.

So here we are back at the first paragraph. I'm blown away at my luck and trying to pick which question to start with (demographics, psychographics!!). But before I can fire my first salvo they start asking ME questions. So we're going along and I'm telling 'em about the mud and, figuring they had planes to catch, as we approached the Forest Rd turnoff I tried to help by encouraging them to let me off at the bottom of the hill. It'd been sunny all day and had dried out some, but I suspected it might still be slick. And it ain't easy to get off neither.

They insisted on driving me to my doorstep where, after fording the aforementioned puddle, the tread quickly loaded up and, with wheels still turning, we came to a standstill. Andrew, (ONLY because they're much younger can I use first names) deftly pressed the button to shift into 4 whl and we once again began forward motion. We're talking less than 100 feet here and mud gouges, which we were adding to, can last for millennia. After another 50 feet I asked them to stop.

Still thinking they were time-bound, I clambered out expressing gratitude and doing all I could to let 'em know they'd done more than was imagined. But they got out, hung around, tasted the great beer I'd discovered a few days earlier in Payson and generally behaved like normal people!

I knew no one'd believe me and was, again, surprised when they readily agreed to stand for a photo. From left to right....Andrew Collins of Jalopnik and Truck, Yeah, Scott Evans of  Motor Trend and Zach Bowman of  Road & Track.




A couple of days later I was checking the "stats" on the blog and noticed there'd been over 5,500 hits. Usual  traffic is 40-90 (per day). After several double-takes, I figured I'd been hacked. Further investigation revealed the hits were coming from a site called Jalopnik\TruckYeah. I sortuh remembered Andrew saying something about writing for an online publication and after clicking on the URL found myself looking at an article about.....me!!! Holy friggin' catheads!!

It's both proof of his readers' discernment and a tribute to Andrew that in the space of less than four hours I had more hits than in the five years since I began blogging. And as I read the article I could see why. Even biased as I am, his ability to convey the nuances of our meeting was impressive.

As they turned to leave one of 'em commented, "Well, we gotta take care of each other." And as I raise a glass to all three, my rejoinder is, "Truck, Yeah!" ...and once again, Thank You!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Overland Expo West

You know how when you walk into a party, a bar, or a nudist colony and you just fit in? Well, the Overland Expo West was that way for me.



Check it out....a komode!



                                                                    (Four Wheel Pop-Up Campers).



Everywhere there were folks talking about their adventures, the great people they'd met and where they were headed next. And next was, at least from those I spoke with, remote areas of the Southwest, Mongolia (on motorcycle, no less), India, South Africa, Malaysia and places I'm gonna have to check the spelling of.

                                                                The Journal blog.


Most of the rigs were larger than what I like, but the majority were designed for outdoor living i.e., sans porta-potty and shower. I was interested to see quite a few older-model-enthusiasts including a (young) couple from Calgary, Alberta (Canada) who had driven down in their 1988 Toyota Landcruiser J4.



This Willys predates even the Toyotas.






It was great to meet and see some of the folks/rigs I'd read about in The Journal. The lived-in look of  Anna Callau and Pablo Rey's VW synchro with it's roll of toilet paper perched atop some clothes and socks drying on the dash was especially homey.





A close-up of that bumper.....






Even some appreciation of color.... note matching lugs and


                                                                                 (THAT's cool....towel drying on front bumper)




contrasting Max-trax (the purple thing on the side of the van)....










And although it's surmisal, for some reason this one had a "family" atmosphere.




But it was the overall vibe that was so cool. No talk of politiks, guns, sports or religion. When it wasn't destinations it was vintages (wines) or micro-brews; an eclectic group that felt like a family.

Many thanks to the Overland Expo folks for putting it together!!!

Next Post: The Three Journalists and hitch-hiking around Mormon Lake.

The High Road to Young (Arizona)

The blue haze that blankets the region comes from one of the largest open-pit mines in the world; it's exhaust from the huge dump trucks. You can see it happening when you stand at the overlook provided for your viewing pleasure. It exudes from the lower end of the pustule and adds a metallic flavor to the air....worse than Los Angeles ever was.

But when the desert blooms the close-ups are incomparable. I took the road to Young (not shown on Google maps). It's dirt in places but nothin' yer momma's cadillac would mind -- though some of the switchbacks may be challenging for "longer" vehicles (you know who you are).


The diversity is impressive. Barrels, Spanish Bayonets, Cholla, and a profundence of catclaw which, with its pungent, honeysuckle smell, helps over-ride the aforementioned odour-mettalica. There is a constant hum of bees. That's Eggbert -- with open hatch & turquoise towel -- in the upper left.





No doubt a relative of the pussy-willow (damifiknow), this specimen was sanctuaried in a canyon near Cherry Creek.






Appearing much-like the tasty fruits of other specimens, these too had formidable spines waiting to attach themselves to incautious fingers. Note "greenness" of new growth.





This symmetrical wad was, you could tell, very pleased with itself. And rightfully so, eh?









These were the dominant species...covering the desert (see photo below). 







Although it was cloudy, the bluish cast in the distance is from The Mine.




These three were having a great time!!!





And as everyone attests, the sunsets are incomparable.



Friday, May 8, 2015

FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA - HOZHONI ART GALLERY

I created this post to help promote an exhibit (see flyer below) that has since ended. But the gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Much of the work is exceptional and if the instructor(s) are amenable I encourage you to tour the artists' working space. There you'll see even MORE wonders.




Flagstaff's WEEKLY HAPPENINGS.


The Hozhoni Art Studio is one of the most advanced art programs for artists with developmental disabilities. It specializes in Native America and other outsider art. The program is a non-profit visual arts program where artists create and collaborate with other artists organizations and galleries, as well as display and sell their works.The goal is to promote artists with disabilities cultural contributions and successfully market their creations. (Lifted from the gallery's webpage without permission.)

Picture

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Torquey The Tornado - Vincent Distasio

I was reminiscing about "the gallery days" and realized it was past-time to post this vid of Vincent Distasio. Vince has over 400 paintings and is always eager to show them to visitors. Call: 505-293-0614 to make an appointment to see his work. 




A few of his paintings can be seen at iac2.com.