Monday, January 30, 2006

Road Trip part 3..........Getting Lost in Nevada

The trip through Death Valley was meant to be a short cut on the way to northern Nevada. You see I had heard that in northern Nevada the plains are full of wild horses, the mountains teaming with wildlife, and every valley has a creek full of trout. Our destination was the Humboldt River valley around Elko, and parts thereabouts. The plan was to stay the night in Tonopah Nevada then go exploring the next day. My Dove and little Joshua could stay in Tonopah, a mountain town with lots of touristy things to do. RIGHT! There is nothing to do in Tonopah, absolutely nothing, unless you consider exploring abandoned mines,

hotels, and trailer parks (yes.........abandoned) something to do. My Dove did not, so we lit out at first light. There was however a fine dusting of snow, so we had a snowball fight before leaving, then we left.

We headed north, as I remembered the map showed us going north. I had not mapquested this portion of the trip because I was quite sure I knew which way north was. So we headed north for a few miles, until the road veered west, and stayed west for a piece. I kept thinking it would veer back north anytime, but no such luck, and soon we had gone a hundred miles west. Time to look at the map. Seems I had missed a very small jog to the east in Tonopah, that would have put me on the road north. Do you have any idea how fast a hundred miles goes by when you are doing 90 mph? We were not about to turn back and waste two hundred miles, so we decided to visit Hawthorne, home of the largest Ammo Dump in the world.

When speaking of ammo, the word "Dump" does not mean disposal, it means storage. Go figure the English language. The valley Hawthorne is in would be very pretty, if there were not thousands of Bunkers everywhere. Literally thousands of bunkers full of ammunition and ordnances were everywhere you looked. The town seemed like an afterthought. However, Hawthorne is home of the Ordnance Museum, so we decided to make the most of our mistake and ventured inside.. We were the third, fourth, and fifth visitors in the past week (my Dove declined to participate in this educational experience or she could have been the sixth).

Well, Bishop California was just down the road a couple of hundred miles, and I know there are trout creeks there because I've fished many of them, so we headed south and west back to familiar country.

Did you know that Golden Eagles are "opportunistic eaters"? Well let me tell you about it. Tyler, a fine road trip driver, spotted a large bird feasting upon road kill and asked to go back for a looksee. I told him "Sure, but don't be too disappointed when your Eagle turns out to be a Vulture". That silly bird let us drive up to within ten feet of him (it could have been a her), then gave us that old "Get away from my dinner!" look before spreading his majestic eagle wings and flying away. It's true, Golden Eagles eat carrion, in this case Coyote, and we have proof.

You may be asking yourself "Why did senorlechero change the subject from Getting Lost to Golden Eagles?". Well, I'm a guy, and guys will do anything in order not to admit they should have asked directions.

Enough said, check back later for the last installment of Road Trip

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Road Trip part 2..........Death Valley

With southern California traffic behind us we left the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 States, and headed for Death Valley, the lowest point in the continental United States. The road from Lone Pine into the White Mountains is a living post card of desolation and beauty. Thousands (or millions, depending on who you believe) of years of brutal weather have carved these mountains into jagged and nearly impassable hills and valleys. God must have known what he was doing when He hid all the gold and silver in these hills, because who would look here for it? A lot of people from the looks of it. There are mines everywhere, many of them open for exploration, which is exactly what Tyler, Joshua and I did.

Many of the mines were inviting, but one in particular was actually calling our names. From the highway it looked like a perfect round opening into the hillside, which goes to show you how distorted things can be at 80 mph, I mean 65 mph. It was time for a short rest stop anyway, so we turned around and drove up the narrow dirt road and parked 40 feet from the opening. We did not come prepared for mine exploration, but did have a couple of flashlights and a warning whistle, so we entered the mine with the confidence of experts. About 20 foot into the mine we halted to look at the old timber beamsholding up the roof of the mine, and our expertise began to dissipate a bit. Tyler pressed on into the depths (why do they say depths? The mine is perfectly level. Shouldn't they say "the lengths"?) ahead of Joshua and I as we decided caution to be the better part of bravery. About 100 feet into the mine, and half a dozen old beam supports, Joshua decided he had gone far enough. Naturally I stayed behind with him so he wouldn't be afraid, and cautioned Tyler not to go too much further. Perhaps 5 or 10 seconds went by, and we decided not to wait for Tyler, after all, he can take care of himself, and we skeedattled on out of there, back to where Clyrinda had a nice picnic set up on the tailgate of the truck, as though she expected us to arrive any moment.

That was fun.

The drive down into Death Valley was spectacular, with deep canyons carved out like scars in the sides of the mountains dropping thousands of feet into the valley.

We stopped at the gift shop and bought some trinkets, a very important thing to do on all road trips, and pressed on to Scotty's Castle. I'm sure I could do a google search and find out who Scotty was, but for me it's enough to know that he was a kook who built a gigantic castle out in the middle of nowhere, and now the Government charges 15 bucks a head to go inside the castle. I think Scotty never existed and the state made it all up.

I'd like to tell you all more about Death Valley, but we hightailed it out of there because we had to get to Tonopah Nevada and wanted to be there before dark so we could explore the town.

Hold out for the next installment of Road Trip, where you will learn how not to plan the stops along the way on a road trip.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Brief thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm not a big supporter of holidays created by the Government to give government workers three day weekends, so I usually don't think much about the man today's holiday is meant to commemorate, but today is an exception. Powerline had a great post about the King. It ends with this great quote from the speech King made the day before he was murdered......

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now, because I have been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life, longevity has it's place. But I'm not concerned about that now; I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Oh, that we could all feel that way about our lives. To live as though we could die tomorrow, but act in ways that impact the future is indeed the path to happiness. Martin Luther King was happy, though he knew he could die at any moment. In fact it's likely that he expected to be murdered as the hatred toward him was so strong.

There is another prominent figure in America who is hated with that same intensity.......President Bush. May he too be happy as he presses on toward making a better future for us all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A MUST READ commentary by Dennis Prager

Whatever your feelings and attitudes are about the new movie this commentary by Dennis Prager

Road Trip

A year or two ago I began thinking about life outside of San Diego. Actually, I have visited a place or two, and even enjoyed other places, but never, ABSOLUTELY NEVER, have I thought about living somewhere else.

California has become a difficult place to live. The weather is great, and we are so close to the ocean, mountains, desert, and Baja California, but the people here get worse and worse all the time (I acknowledge that I am part of the problem).

So I've been looking at houses and property in other states. My wife, my dove, Clyrinda, laughs at me when I find a farm in Nebraska, or a horse ranch in upstate New York, or a home on the prairie out in Wyoming or Nevada. That scoffer. Her idea is for us to go visit places and see if we like them. RIGHT!!! She's got a point.

So I took the week after Christmas off and we went on a road trip to check out Northern Nevada. Land is cheap up there, and the antelope roam, along with the wild donkeys, and supposedly Mustangs too (the four legged sort). I wanted to get up near the Humboldt River area and check out the hills and valleys, which are said to have a trout stream every hundred yards or so.

We hit the road and after 6 hours (two in the worst SoCal traffic I've ever seen) made the town of Lone Pine CA, our first stop. The Dow Villa hotel sits in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States (couldn't tell from our room).We were tired and hungry, and Lone Pine was the perfect place to end the first day of our trip. Lcpl Tyler, traveling with us, noticed there was a cute young lady working the desk in the hotel lobby, so we sent him to ask her where the best restaurant in Lone Pine was. Now mind you, Lone Pine is a one traffic signal town. There are two sporting goods stores, both closed up for winter, a hardware store, two or three gas stations, a Mcdonalds, and a western clothing/cowboy supply store. We were pretty sure the young lady would tell Tyler to take his pick of the 3 cafes in town, but she didn't. She very confidently told him "the Merry-Go-Round three doors down". So Tyler comes back and tells us we should go to the Merry-Go-Round Cafe, just a slight error in interpretation on his part. We should have known something was off because the tables had linen tableclothes and napkins, and there were only 5 or 6 tables in the place. But we were seated right away and ordered drinks (that would be water for me). The waitress brought us menus and informed us that there was "one more special left tonight", which was a "Teriyaki Pork Chop"..........not your everyday "cafe" entree. Upon opening the menu I found four or five entrees, all about $20-$30 each. Being from California we are used to meals being about 15 to 20 bucks, but not in a "cafe" in Lone Pine.

My dove wanted to leave, but I insisted we stay and enjoy the experience. The food was good (not exceptional, but better than Dennys), and the place was mobbed. The entire time we were there people were calling in their reservations or coming in off the street and putting their names on the list for the 45 minute wait. The meal cost us $100 not including the tip, which was generous and well deserved by the hard working waitress and her helper (whose day job is managing the Mcdonalds down the road a bit)

I don't get the whole "trendy restaurant in Lone Pine" thing, but it is what it is.

The next morning we got our breakfast at a cafe across the street from the Merry-Go-Round before heading out on the next leg of our road trip. It was a very good breakfast (breakfast is my favorite meal to have at a restaurant) and definitely satisfied our craving for "on the road cafe food".

Stay tuned for the next installment of Road Trip................Into Death Valley We Go

Police sniper murders misunderstood Bank Robber

This Story from Fox News tells us all we need to know about the "militaristic" attitudes of the authorities in America today.

Two people rob a bank in Florida this morning. From the reports the two were not a threat to anyone, they were just there for the money. But when the police showed up before their getaway and the pair (seemingly a man and a woman) were cornered, they took three or four people hostage. A bit later one hostage was released in exchange for cigarettes (can you believe they let bank robbers smoke inside public buildings in Florida?). Personally, I would have held out for some Cuban cigars, but that's just me. Later another hostage was released, and reported being treated well and seeing "no weapons", although they believed the robbers had at least one weapon.

The police were in such a hurry to use deadly force...I'm wondering if they were trained by Janet Reno and believed the pair to be Cuban refugees, that they did not wait for negotiations to work, and invaded the bank building with some sort of explosive devise, forcing the robbers to flee outside with their hostage.

To make a long story....well it's really a short story....short, er, shorter, a sniper shot the male sniper to death, leaving both the surviving robber, assumed to be a female, and the hostage psychologically scared for life, and further damaging America in the eyes of Europe and the third world (who have no banks to rob.........and would do anything for American made cigarettes). Couldn't they have just negotiated a bit longer? Are not snipers good enough shots that they could have shot out his frontal lobe, turning him into a peace loving and docile person, who could then be returned to a productive life, perhaps living in a halfway house next to your child's elementary school? I mean really, haven't we grown past the "wild west" days of sheriffs shooting bank robbers when negotiations can accomplish so much?

It's hard to believe isn't it? But doesn't this all sound very familiar?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I should have been a cowboy

During his 2004 deployment to Iraq Lcpl Tyler started listening to Country/Western music. I listened to a few of his CDs and really liked what I heard, now I'm a C/W music fan. The funny thing is that I had not listened to anything other than Christian music for about 8 years, but C/W music sparked something inside me, reminding me of good music from the past.....James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Band, Van Morrison, and many others. What I liked about that old music, and what I like about C/W music is that it tells a story. I love songs that have nice melodies, well played (and non distorted) instruments, and tell stories.

But the other thing I like about C/W music is that many songs speak of God and how He plays a part in the singers life. It seems to me that any song worth singing should be aimed at God and be pleasing to Him.

Now I know that not all C/W music is aimed at God, and frankly, much of it is just about "good times", but that's the way it is in life, some good and some bad. To quote Brooks and Dunn, "I've learned the path to heaven is full of sinners and believers", and so it is with music.

For now C/W music is pleasing to me and I thank God for that