Tuesday, February 28, 2017

El Capitan State Beach

The weather was perfect. Temps in the mid-sixties, the slightest of breezes and clear skies at night. Mostly up-scale Mercedeses and Ram vans, the loudest noise was, one evening, my own expulsive cry of ecstasy.

A few of the sites, thanks to the vegetation, offer a modicom of privacy. But the proximity of others meant Smith remaining leashed 'til after dark. We've reached an understanding, or so she's led me to believe, and I've learned, upon hearing the squeak of her paws as she slides down the dewslickened windshield, to open the window. Stepping from the outside mirror, she slips her Lurpacness through. Having breakfasted at 3:30, she, without ado, settles to her morning rest.

According to the camphosts, the beach sand is taken away by winter storms leaving it a madman's pavement; ranging from pebbles through cobbles to small boulders.

The variation of types and their colors are a feast! Very few, if any, shells, however. Over the course of the summer, they say, the sand returns.

TV Tower Road

Crossing through Los Padres National Forest on highway 101, there's really only one place to stay. The narrow, winding road, is cut out of the cliffside

and it's not until you reach the ridgetop, with views of Amtraks (that silvery sliver in the middle right)

and the Pacific Ocean, that there's a level spot big enough to lie down on.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pozo....Let's Go See

I read Waiting for Godot when I was 16 and immediately adopted it as my "bible." I've yet to hear of a Pozzo but Pozo was close enough; I had to go see.

An irrepressible YESS! escaped at the sight of the large blue highway sign saying NEXT SERVICES 70 MILES.

Highway 58 snakes through the Panza Mountains of central California from McKittrick to Santa Margarita and, due to its tight turns, top speed is around 25 mph. It can take *days* to get from he'ar to they're. The loops are so tight you can look across the "ravine" and see if anyone is gaining on yuh. There rarely is; all the more reason.

Pozo Road is a narrow, paveless lane with occasional chunks of hillside spilling out acrosst. Signed NOT SUITABLE FOR CAMPERS OR TRAILERS, it mirrors 58 and goes around to the South then rejoins it east of Santa Margarita.

After cresting the first divide, Pozo Rd descends to La Panza campground. La Panza's sites are aligned along a small stream in a valley of oaks. The stream, which serves as the access road, meanders past nicely spaced pit toilets...the all-important distinction so necessary for those troubled by plein air pooping.

Guess I'm gonna hav tuh breakdown and use the tripod. Yet another indicator of age...shakey hands & fuzzy pics.

Empty when we arrived, I was suckered into settling in at the back. During the night others arrived. Perhaps you can elucidate for me the mindset that prompts someone to greet the dawn, still dark at 5:30, with half an hour of shooting.

Less than a mile further west is a junction with dispersed sites and other options. It's been a lifelong frustration...I never seem to go *quite* far enough. Like the Who, we won't get fooled again!

The Pozo Saloon has hosted some of the biggest names in music including Joe McDonald and Willie Nelson & Friends. There's a giant stage out back large enough to support a WALL OF SOUND. And they have a good stout on tap.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trona Pinnacles

Toying with the idea of crossing over into Death Valley, I practiced my self-titillation at the southern end of Panamint Valley. A nice stopping place a few miles south of Trona, The Pinnacles are anomolous tufa in a sea of sedimentary.

It rained for two days occluding the view. So we waited. With a strong showing of azure and some white fluffies for contrast, the road was a hopscotch of puddlea (how's THAT for a plural?) & ponds. As a topper, there's a steep hill and a small sea (without the rain probly an unnoticeable depression) just before the info plaques.



Along the way we'd waved to a Honda Accord, but they didn't stop to say whether they'd walked the last half mile down the escarpment or over the great water.


I kept Smith leashed as there were people about. It's a popular spot with dispersed camping allowed throughout the area.

PHOEBE!!! (Named after the Gates' daughter)

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 fill with tears 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 National Rifle Association (Renowned gun advocacy organization) 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

UPDATE - 5/13/18

It's been over a year and I'm totally sold! Every day I pull 'em on and say a word of thanks. Photo soon. They're showin' signs of wear but not a hint of cracking. Nor are they stretching.

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, plus having multiple restitchings where the upper attached to the lower, 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 Iprolly didn't do much fer 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.