Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I spent several days in Fortuna, Eureka and Arcata. I attended a Center for Spiritual Living service Sunday, where I met a lot of friendly energetic folks. My hotel was definitely bare bones, so they dropped the price for me. I went to Humboldt State University, and asked around for my friend, Aman Mellow Blume to no avail. I did drive on the walkways though, following (or so I thought) the map Admissions Office provided me. Luckily, it was summer session, so just a few people had to get out of my way…joke. Later I visited with the good people at US Servas headquarters in Arcata. Amy, Shelly, and Laura were pleased to see a traveler drop by. Of course. I’m feeling a bit road weary, for lack of a better term. No melt down, but something to keep in mind. Then I stopped at a rest stop on my way to Crescent City, and it all cleared up. What has Nature wrought?

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Just a brief jot to say my Subie is in the body shop getting her skirt repaired. Three or four days they say. The cost in time, money, and aggravation has to be paid if I want my EOL car whole again. The car rental people provided me with a GMC Acadia SUV. It even has satellite radio and hands-free phone. (It still drives like a truck though.) Host families are unavailable for the moment, so I got a room in Ojai. I’ll be having coffee with Craig Walker tomorrow, and going back to The Gables for lunch. I’m still thinking about going to Reyes Bar & Grill. The winding road may be a bit much. Getting the blog more of less current, doing laundry at a laundromat(?) and contacting family and friends in the Bay Area is filling my time. No pictures worth uploading. Okay so I found a couple…

Here’s Craig at our chat at Java & Joes.


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I’m sitting in the yurt, the guest house, up in the mountains above Boulder Creek. Getting here was a thrill, finding one hidden road – track really – after another. Tys directions were superb, and the skull-on-a-stick was the clincher. I wish I had mounted my camera on the roof rails, so you could see the narrowness, the rutted-ness, the twists and turns of the track. The Subie was so much fun, being in her real element (outside of the snow and ice mode) for the first time. I didn’t even need the skid plates as she did her version of goat-on-hillside. On indicator of the climb was my mileage: 10.4 mpg! I just made one wrong turn towards the end, and was lucky to find a neighbor who told me how to backtrack to the skull thingy. And then I was there, May 31. Melissa saw me first, waving and smiling. Correction, Jack, their dog saw/heard me first and gave me a good once over almost jumping into the car.

To say I was in another world is an understatement. After five years of constant work and effort and design choices, they had their housewarming party just two weeks before. Their house is almost finished. And what a house it is. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but adobe walls play a big part of keeping the house cool/warm as needed. It was in the high 80’s that day, and going inside was a palatable relief. And they are off the grid, using solar for their electrical needs. No big screen TV (no TV at all) and no microwave, but in this Eden of theirs, who needs them? I will fill in more of the details later, but for now, these people have created, and live, in the real deal.

‘Later” is now. July 6

The five years of home building goes like this:

  • The “Year of Stone”
  • The “Year of Wood”
  • The “Year of Mud”
  • The “Year of Inside Finishing”
  • …and The “Year (plus) that IS”
If you would like to see more details (photos with text) you can visit his wonderful blog at: http://ideamountain.com/

All our meals have included fruits and veggies from their gardens. Gray water drains to some of the veggies that can use it. Their well, 340′ deep is pumped to a water reservoir. The 3/4 ton diesel pickup runs on waste vegetable oil, which an on-prem machine converts. Tys does his work remotely, connecting to the web from his phone’s modem. My phone showed “no service” but my Kindle got five bars. Go figure. When Tys and I go into town, I’ll upload the text and show pictures, but in the meantime I am incommunicado.

Their ten acres is natures cathedral, redwoods reaching for the sky far above. Sun glinting through here and there, birds, lizards and other critters unseen sharing the habitat. Melissa and I took a walk to their neighbors and from there, the Pacific was visible to the west. This is my second host family for US Servas. I am so glad that this volunteer organization exists, and doubly so for the great people I have met, and their unconditional hospitality. I am blessed.

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Tomorrow I leave for the Santa Cruz area to spend the weekend. I plan on stopping in Cambria, maybe Hearst Castle (never been) and Big Sur. I’ll see how the timing works. After staying with my hosts, I return to the scene of the crime, and will get my Subaru repaired (three days). I will return to Ojai and visit with Craig Walker re Ethel, and go back to Reyes Bar & Grill. I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it.

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“Turn left, right?”

Directions for the rest of us:

I hope to be visiting with a new host family very soon. In communicating with Tys, he informed me that they live deep in the woods of the coastal range of mountains. The directions (edited) are as follows:

“First, get on the highway, going north.  Look for the highway 7/hwy 12 north sign. I’m not sure of the exit, but it’s marked as a dangerous one…there’s a big sign that says “curve sharpens”. After the curve, you end up merging onto hwy 12 north, but you’re actually going east.  Stay in the right lane, as the next exit, only 400 meters or so, is hwy 7.

“Take hwy 7, the long, curvy, 2 lane road through the state park, and through the towns of Belton, Loch Lomond, Crookdale and then you get to Rocky Creek.  Drive through the town, stop at the one stop sign, then go about 300 meters, past the new sushi restaurant and over a small bridge, to Wolf Creek Road, which is a right turn.  (mark your milage meter) go 4.5 miles up Wolf Creek Road and look out for the almost hidden left turn onto Elk Creek.  If you are going up hill for more than half a mile, you’ve probably missed it. If you see a street sign for ‘Pinto Mesa’, you’ve definitely gone too far.

“PLAN B: if you get confused and can’t find it, DO NOT turn around and try going back a different way. Go back north (downhill) and go to Rocky Creek and use your cell phone to call both Tys and Melissa on our cells.

“Directions off the paved road:

“From Wolf Creek Road, [start your tripmeter/odometer at that point] take Elk Creek Road north (the only way in) 1.8 miles.  It’s a windy single lane road,so be careful of people coming the other way.  You will go over the same creek 3 times – there’s three bridges.  About ¼ mile past the 3rd bridge (2 miles from the start) there will be a sharp, LEFT-hand turn uphill. That’s Gamble road.

“You will go a total of 3.3 miles uphill on Gamble. This is the hard part for any car.  Go slow and steady. If you start to spin your tires, back up andtake a faster run at the slope. The first place people get confused is just 1/2 mile up, where a road goes off to the left. Don’t take that. There’s a small sign calling that road ‘Little Duck’.  Instead, stay to the right, and always go uphill. You’ll pass a number of signs and gates that say stay out and ‘go away’ and such, but just keep going uphill. If there’s any sort of fork or driveway, always take the one that goes uphill. When you finally get to the top of the hill, Gamble road hits OceanView Road. That’s our road.  Go left, slightly downhill (don’t go the other left uphill on the road with the heads on spikes – maybe that’s obvious) About 350 meters south, you should see our driveway on the right. On the left, there’s a doghouse looking structure, with a brown shipping container behind it.  Our black and white dog should come out and be barking at you”.

[Ed: did I mention they live in a yurt?]

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May(day) 10th, 2012

You know you’re in Nebraska when your GPS, mounted on the windscreen, doesn’t change one whit. (See photo).

One of the main presumptions I made about my road trip, was ubiquitous cell phone coverage, no matter my location. Here I am, racing to Southern California, traveling nothing but Interstates, and the coverage? Zip. I mean, I would pass obvious cell towers, and my little icon blinked back at me, mute. When I got to a metro area, quick as a rabbit, I’d call my sons to check in. (Getting them to pick up was another matter). I can just imagine, when they tried to call back, straight to voice mail. One explanation that came to me: is that there is nothing happening in Iowa or Nebraska.

Omaha = Obama…

After ten hours of driving across the platens we call “The Midwest,” my mind begins (sic) to wander. There, high above me, the contrails of  a western bound jet. Truth be known, I would give anything to be on board. Anything, you understand! Center seat, rear of plane, across from the lavatory, anything!

Note to self: I-80, Nebraska, mileage marker 119 – feed lot. Close all fresh ari vents beforehand. I’ve been warned.

I think the “end-of-time” people have a point. Here it is, 2012 CE, and the evidence is all around us. To wit: wind-power towers. There are so many now, that some time later this year, the our good ol’ US of A will be ripped from our ancestral moorings, and launched into oblivion. A kind of geophysical “rapture.” (Just you wait and see, it’ll happen, and bed sheets do not parachutes make.)

…later (much later) that day…

Arrived at my motel, a Super 8, in Sterling, CO, 800 miles from home. There’s a prison right next door, and its presence added to the bleakness of the area.

Sterling is northwest of Denver by about two hours, and my plan was to rise early, and – wait for it – go through Denver at rush hour. Bad plan. I waited in Sterling, puttering around until rush hour passed, and that worked just fine – and I flew through the metro. I had made reservations for the motel, on the fly, somewhere in Nebraska, at a gas stop. Hotels.com took my Amex card, but when I went to check out, someone else’s Mastercard was used, and for $20 less(?). Ah, technology. I’ll figure it our later…

The advertised “internet service” must have been dial-up, because I had very sporadic access. I was unable to get my blog updated until today (Sunday, May 13th) and so it goes. While traveling, cell phone coverage was also sporadic, but I think my car’s link and my cell were having a hissy fit. I think it’s fixed now. That said, I want to thank NPR for their talk shows, especially Public Radio Remix. Having voice in the car made me feel less a solo act. Yes, I have the “me, myself, and I” voices in my head, but that can carry me only so far! When the chats were enough, I would wander over to either Watercolors, or Spa, on Sirius satellite radio. In any event, it made the time fly by.

I did stop here and there, and sometimes you can see some pretty things.

May 12th

On my way to southwest Utah, I gave my US Servas/host family listings a shot. While at a lunch stop, I searched the rather sparse Utah hosts, and googled their cities. Bingo! Ivins, UT. Never heard of it, but the zip code was for St. George, UT. I called and talked with Sanjoy, who was most encouraging, and said he would call me back after talking with his wife, Benita. I hadn’t driving five minutes and he said that my spur of the moment request for a visit would be quite all right. Unbelievable! And this was in the afternoon, and I was 400 miles away, and would not be arriving until 9:00 p.m. or so. He suggested (and I’m glad I did) that I call from Cedar City, and hour away form their home for directions. I was received most warmly, and made to feel immediately at home. And what a lovely home it is. We chatted for an hour or so (truth be known I rambled rather than talked, but after another 800 mile day, what did I expect?) and I slept very soundly. In the morning Benita suggested we visist the amphitheater where there was a farmer’s market and car show going on in the parking area. The gem of the tour was the amphitheater itself: seating 2,000 with state of the art audio/video facilities, it is nestled between two gigantic bluffs (all bluffs in UT are gigantic, then again, coming from MN, what do you expect?).

Sanjoy and I then had a walk-around of their “zero-landscape” gardens – minimal watering required. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here, but I was most fortunate to see these wonderful, ancient plants in various stages of blossoming. I felt transported to an ancient time, where the environment was harsh and unforgiving.





Sanjoy & Benita – my wonderful hosts

May 13th

Getting to Las Vegas was a breeze. From Vegas to LA was another matter. Several 20 mile sections of interstate had a speed limit of 60, which I dropped down to 65 or so, thinking road construction or ??? Nobody else did however, and I almost got run over doing so. Back up to 78 mph I went. In the 400 mile run to LA, I saw three CHP troopers, all on the other side of the freeway. (I just saw the headlines here in CA: “Another financial crisis – $16B deficit”). With gas prices at $4.70/gallon I think they want me to fix it while I’m here.

Coming over the hill (I had been dropping in elevation) I saw a vision of hell: smog and power lines and stop and go traffic heading towards Vegas. Thank heavens Margie lives close to the ocean. With my white knuckles on the wheel, I’m perversely glad I couldn’t/wouldn’t take a picture.

Then the Garmin started sending me hither and yon. So I cobbled together a path that eventually got me to her home. I even went by my alma mater: Cal State Los Angeles. Long story short: I took Rosecrans Ave for nine miles across LA bypassing the 105. So what if it was stop and go, the air kept clearing, and the temperature kept dropping. And here I am, typing away.

Happy trails everyone – I’m off to the races!

[Note from editor: future postings will have, for the most part, slide shows instead of individual photos – I think they’re easier to view. We’ll “see”. For practice, here are ALL the photos from the last three days in slide show format.]

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When will I…?

As WCCO TV News asks: Good question. When will I leave – for points unknown? Anytime after Feb. 14. That’s when. Here’s the rub: I got stuff to do, oh boy, do I ever! For starters, my company GraveSite Groomers is between campaigns, so it would seem we have a lull in the action, Ha! Getting wholesalers, printings, database online and the home office ready for action, is taking time. Then there’s the tax issues, and I’m right up there with Mitt and his peeps, getting that straightened out. The homestead is coming along nicely, de-cluttering in progress. Of course, de-cluttering leads to four exit streams: trash, recycling, donations, and then there’s the “eBay Project.” My talented and creative wife amassed a great deal of arts and crafts material. Dolls and doll accessories, knitting and crocheting from skeins to machines to patterns, paints and paper, and more. Quite a bit of this treasure trove is being donated, especially the knitting & crochet items. But the dolls and the accessories are going on eBay, and that means inventory control, pictures, shipping boxes, bubble wrap, and yikes – those rascally peanuts!

The Outback is primed and ready. I’ve been collecting camping and traveling gear as the de-clutter goes on, and will take with me a modicum of self-sustaining articles: camp stove, mini-soft-sided cooler, roadside/emergency bags, sleeping bag. Yes, the Subaru can, in a pinch, convert the passenger side to a relatively comfortable sleeping accommodation. (Or so I’m told.) Then there’s 17 kilos of maps and Trip-tiks from AAA-Minneapolis (thanks to Susan, the back-roads Queen). I’ll endeavor the take the roads less traveled to be sure. That said, I’m a close to civilisation as the next GPS satellite or cell tower. My Garmin has proved it’s worth over and over, 5″ screen and resource locator, like motels, campgrounds, and points of interest. Internet and e-mail means plugging my G2 Smartphone into the Mac Book Pro and away we go! Three power points (cigarette lighters…) in the car will keep all my toys charged and ready for action. Three USB ports will channel your phone calls to my hands-free speakers, and keep the iPod touch available for podcasts and music not available through XM Radio. Connected.

Like I said, I will be away, far away at times, but as close as I need to be to track my travails – I mean travels – as I wend my way across our US of A.

When will I….? Soon, real soon.

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