Saturday, May 27, 2017

San Francisco!!

Even though the Matisse-Diebenkorn exhibit was a bust, the trip into The City was great!!

Visiting from Colombia, they said Medellin is now safer than Schenectady.

A quick stop at Nordstrom just down the street from the museum.

And riding the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Matisse-Diebenkorn at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Pathetic. Of course there's no way to know how/why they chose what to show, but they were all mediocre. And to charge $31.00 to see 'em! The colors, in nearly every piece, were muddy and there were MAYBE two Matisses that were bigger than 16 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm). I suspect budget constraints; some curator had an idea but lacked the wherewithal to pull it off.

NOW you can see "the name."

Never too humble for posterity.

On the plus side, there were two rooms of work by Richard Serra! That's a $500.00 White boot for scale. (Well, they're $250.00 each.)

Always larger-than-life. About 20 feet square.

It's lead. You could feel the toxicity in the air. Almost as creepy as Tommy Hilfiger. No, no, wait. I mean Freddy Kreuger!

Appreciating cultural diversity....


Then there was In Situ. Billed, by the docent overseeing the cafeteria upstairs as "fine dining," what you see below was their $14.00 "hamburger." Called The Apocolypse, it was a teensy chunk of beef encased by an edible, charcoal briquette-esque with a texture that evoked memories of a chimichanga. We'd've sent it back but didn't want to wait for the alternative. 

I had the Lamb Manti. It was three SMALL portions of stringy lamb delicately embraced within some wide multi-ethnic rigatoni, or some such. The flavor was okay, but at twenty-two bucks it was a rip. I'll get revenge through TripAdvisor. Our complaints elicited offers of a post apocalypse coffee, but it took prompting to get her to add the word "complimentary."

Total bullshit!!

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 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 just couldn't do the remaining twelve miles to the park.

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 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. It wasn't long to realize 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

In Cedar City, Utah I spent a couple of hours enjoying the BFA exhibit at the Art Museum. Then another hour attending a performance of Red, a play about Rothko. Then a stop at Safeway to restock the larder. Thus, it was way past dark when we pulled into a large turnout at the beginning of highway 14, a two-lane road that leads to some of Utah's most spectacular scenery.

Smith, inside all day, had had enough, but I was reluctant to let her out. The highway was barely 200 feet away and there were other folks using the rest area. Finally, at 2:00 a.m. after pleading with her all evening, I strapped her into her walking jacket tightening it as much as I could, clipped it to the roof rack and lay down, finally, to sleep.

In the morning it lay at the end of the 15-foot lead, empty. 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, a good-sized river, and had all the things she loved: steep, rock-laden banks to clamber upon and lots of boulders with hidey-holes to explore. Half a mile downstream were nice-looking homes, each with goodly amounts of land around them.

On the other side of the highway was a spectacular canyon, no doubt FULL of mice, voles, reboks and all other manner of prey.

She'd reached that age where children are fed up with their parents. She enjoyed being outside so much she wanted it full 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. She'd survived 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.