Friday, December 20, 2013

What Happens in Vegas ...

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  Well, not really.  It usually ends up on You Tube, Facebook and other places on the internet.  In some cases it might even end up on a reality show.  Or in a blog, like this one.  I enjoy visiting Las Vegas.  We have fun.  This time was even better because we met up with our son, his friend and her family.  Awesome people.  And it was great spending time with them all.  It was also fun for the same reasons that it's always fun - the diversity, amazing entertainment options, incredible food, nice weather, unusual cultural experiences...there's even good art to be found.  One of the major hotels is featuring an exhibit called Warhol Out West, which we visited on our previous trip. Included are some of Andy Warhol's most famous original paintings and prints, as well as a very cool display of his Polaroid instant photographs.  Those of you who know me are familiar with my more than casual interest in film photography, and I was fascinated by Warhol's Polaroid portraits.  Attempting to put myself in that exact moment when a picture was taken is a stimulating exercise. That's what I do with art, my own or other's, try to make it interactive and personal.

I also try to find art in unusual places. Each time we visit I'm drawn to a location overlooking a particular section of Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as "the Strip." There's something about this view that appeals to me in a curious sort of way. 

The symmetry of the traffic. The glow of neon lights in various shapes on either side of the street. And what about the people in all the cars?  Where are they going to, or coming from?  My imagination races...until a familiar voice snaps me out of it with a "Come on! What are you looking at anyway?"  I usually don't try to explain due to the fact that I actually don't know what I'm looking at.  I guess I'm looking at...everything.   But I can never quite take it all in.  The scale confounds me.

This was the first time we've been there in December, so things seemed even more festive. Even the chorus girls were all decked out in a holiday theme.

And the decorations at the Bellagio Conservatory were incredible.

I think the main reason I enjoy traveling to Vegas has to do with the fact that it's such a treat for the senses. All of them.  Even feel.  Most days everything is warm, dry and crisp to the touch.  Nights are often cool and the air is fresh and a little sweet.  Then there is the sound of the casinos.  I won't deny that it is alluring.  The music is loud, the machines are bright, shiny and lit up like the Strip itself.  Add the frequent "WOOHOO!" or high fives at a card table close by and you've got the full effect.

It's funny how I like solitary places so much but still enjoy visiting a hot spot like Sin City where there is very little solitude.  What there is, however, is a lot of excitement and potential for what might happen.  Maybe it's that potential for a new adventure that keeps drawing me in.  In any case, I'll be back.  And maybe next time I'll bring back a story or two that may have stayed there in the past.  Because sometimes there's a story that is just too good not to tell. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's 5:30 a.m. as I begin to write this.  The temperature is minus 4.  That's 79 degrees below my preferred number.  I've said this before - I don't like winter.  Never have.  The snow has it's benefits so I can tolerate that, in moderation.  But I especially don't like the coldness of winter.  And after my heart attacked me several years ago, very cold air actually makes it hard for me to breathe.  Doctors can't tell me why, but I never had a issue before so it must be related some how.  Shorter days are also a problem because I love the sun.  You've heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Yeah, well, I have that.  I can manage it just fine, though.  Whenever I start feeling depressed I just think positive thoughts like, "only 7 months until May!"  That one's a bit of a stretch but, hey, I'm willing to settle for pretty much any positive thought on a dark morning in a December deep freeze.
Meditation helps.  I have discovered a source for guided meditations that are as short as 10 minutes, and can do wonders for whatever disorder or malady may be affecting you.  You should check it out. There are meditations for gratitude, nature attunement, grounding, breath and body awareness, enhancing creativity, even one for morning energy (that one comes in handy on occasion), and a dozen or so others.  Your guide is Mary Maddox, and she is awesome.  Check out her site at .   Also available as podcasts on iTunes. 
I can also find some respite in reviewing my photography files.  Or by forcing myself to go out and find a visually pleasing wintery scene. I will often be rewarded for the effort.  Even a reluctant resident of this frozen intermission between fall and spring can still occasionally find artistry in a desolate landscape.

Of course, I also have my books.  A great escape from the dreariness of these gray days can always be found within the pages of a good story.  It's funny how I have grown to prefer non-fiction and books about history during the warmer more truthful summer months, but by the time those insincere months of January and February roll around every year I find myself reaching for a classic novel by Vonnegut or Brautigan.  I can re-read these authors over and over and discover something new every time.  Lost Horizon by James Hilton never fails to reveal the promise that spring is not all that far away.
Then there is my record collection.  Nothing like a good classic album to lighten up an otherwise dark and cold night. Or day.  Music on vinyl is different than what you get with a cd or from an ipod.  It's a richer, deeper, more accurate sound.  It's real.  How can you listen to John Denver or Harry Nilsson (in any format) and not feel better? One of the smartest things I've done is hang on to so many albums from high school and my days as a radio disc jockey.  And the term was accurate back then because we actually played those wonderful round vinyl discs.

I'm still adding to my collection on a regular basis.  Right now I'm on the hunt for a clean reasonably priced copy of Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.  Finding it will go a long way toward the healing of my winter blues.  That might be a tall order, but if you hear of one let me know.  Think of yourself as my doctor and that's the prescription.  "Listen to this record and call me in the morning."


Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday Drive

It was one of those Sundays with no plans.  The possibilities were endless, as always, but there was nothing that absolutely needed to be done right now.  I cleared the driveway and sidewalk of snow from a light dusting the night before, replaced a burned out light bulb, read a few chapters from a book that I'm struggling to finish (it's pretty good, the subject just doesn't grab me), then turned on the TV and watched a bit of Naked Vegas.  If you're not familiar with this show, let me just tell you that it's not what you think.  In fact, I was not familiar with this show either but it caught my attention as I was flipping through the channels and sort of sucked me in.  I awoke from my television trance after about twenty minutes and was able to walk away.  Good thing, too, as I had a feeling this episode was not going to end well.  Then I surfed the web for a while, checking out a few of my favorite sites.  First stop was  I was a little disappointed in some of the latest content, though.  I'm a big fan of Krista Tippett.  But I am not a blind follower of anybody and really don't care much at all for Whoopi Goldberg,  so when I saw her being featured I moved on.  My next stop was  There's always something interesting here.  This time, under the Art & Design tab, there was a feature about how someone had taken historic photos and colorized them.  Big mistake.  I really didn't like any of them. The originals in black and white are exactly as they should be.  Colorization added nothing in my opinion.  Actually made them less interesting to me.  Take a look and see what you think:

The original


I can't see where adding color did anything at all for this picture.

Or, look at this iconic photo and tell me which version you think is more...well...real?

I don't know about you, but I have to go with the black and white. You can decide for yourself if you go to the site and take a look.  Lots of other things to see there, too.  I recommend it.

Okay.  Let's see. Where was I? Oh, yeah, a Sunday with no plans...but endless possibilities.  I watched football for a while, then decided to take a little drive and see if I could discover any photo opportunities.  I'm always looking for photo opportunities.  Lately, I've been wanting to find an old bus to photograph.  Not sure what the attraction is, I just thought an old broken down bus might be a cool subject.  Well, as fate would have it, about twelve miles into my trip I found myself near the little town of St. Onge.  I saw it almost immediately after pulling off the highway onto the dirt and gravel road (but mostly dirt) that served as the main street.  An old bus.  But not just any old bus.  It was a blue bus.  And green. But mostly blue.  

 I don't think it's the blue bus that the Doors sang about.  Or the one the Merry Pranksters named "Further" and had such strange and psychedelic adventures in way back then.  Or even the Magic Bus the Who sang about.  But, still, it's a pretty cool bus.  What happened next, though, really put an exclamation point on the day.  I was getting back into my car when all of sudden I heard music blasting out of the top floor windows in the old abandoned sandstone building I was parked next to.  Live music.  Like a band practicing.  Except, if this was practice, it was serious practice.  Because someone up there was belting out a song like it was the last day of the Fillmore and they were the headliner.  It was awesome!  And totally unexpected.  That's what made it so great.  I'm still not sure if it was a local band getting ready for their next gig or a few musicians getting together for a jam session.  Doesn't matter.  I was just glad I was in the right place at the right time.  That happens to me.  Being in the right place at the right time.  Maybe because I'm always willing and open to putting myself in the right place at the right time. Anyone can do it.  But it might take a little effort.  Sometimes as little as simply deciding to pick up your camera (everybody has one) and go for a Sunday drive.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Best Seller?

I have an idea for a book. It's sort of a biography.  But not about me.  It would be about you.  A collection of stories from everyday people about their work, adventures or interesting experiences. Maybe a theme would develop if the stories are similar in mood or subject, or it could contain a wide variety of unrelated events in the lives of unrelated people.  We could call it "Extraordinary Tales From Ordinary People."

Okay, we can work on the title.  But, here's why I think this just might be a good idea.  I was in the Books-A-Million store the other day looking for a good read.  I was in the non-fiction/biography section and began to notice the large number of books about seemingly uninteresting subjects written by unknown authors.  Uninteresting and unknown to me anyway.  There were also quite a few titles written by or about famous people who are famous for no reason I can think of.  The phrase "famous for being famous" comes to mind. Kendra Wilkenson, for example.  Former Playboy Playmate and reality TV star.  That's pretty much it.  But she has at least two books in print. Not bad.  Another one I noticed was by a guy named Jacob Tomsky. The book is called "Heads in Beds," and is about his experiences in the hotel and hospitality business.  Really?  That's a book? Sounds kind of dumb. I must admit, though, the title did catch my attention.  And the sub-title reeled me in further - "A Reckless Memoir."   I'm sure he has some good stories to tell, but doesn't everybody? 
The stories in our book don't have to be about wild times or outlandish behavior.  They could be about memorable events that changed a life forever.  Maybe yours.  They could be about things that are funny enough to give anyone a good laugh.  They could be about things that are embarrassing, enlightening, frightening, mystical, magical or just plain weird.  Like the time when we were in high school and us guys took the girls to a cemetary out in the country in hopes of scaring them right into our arms. Turned out that it was us guys who got the scare.  Something happened that night....but you'll have to wait for the book to find out what it was. 
So what do you think? You in?  It will be a lot of work.  But it will be fun.  Who knows, it could be quite successful.  Because, remember that dumb book I mentioned earlier?  I bought it.  Turns out it's pretty good so far.  Which goes to show....well it goes to show that I'm a sucker for a good title.  But it also shows that anything is possible when it involves a good story.  Everybody loves a good story.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Road Closed

The snow has stopped here.  Looks like the biggest snowstorm in years is over.  It just doesn't seem right that it's October 5th and we have well over two feet of snow surrounding us.  When this all started the other night, a couple of friends mentioned snow, rain, thunder and lightning all at the same time.  I remember years ago living in Wyoming when this happened.  There was rain mixed with snow, loud thunder, and brilliant flashes of lightning all going on simultaneously.  I remember thinking, "strange days are here,"  and wondering if this is what the end of the world would be like.  But the world didn't end.  It continued on.  Just like now.  We'll be back to normal in a few days, and many years from now we'll be talking about the "storm of '13,"  and recalling scenes like this -

This is my back yard, where normally at this time of year we would be enjoying morning coffee, admiring the deep red leaves on our fledgling maple trees, and hoping for a hummingbird to stop by our feeder for a quick snack on the way to wherever it is they are on their way to this time of year.
Instead we're trapped inside.  I guess that's not such a bad thing.  We have power.  Some people are still sitting in the dark with blankets pulled all the way up around their neck.  Maybe they should make a fort with cushions and chairs.  That always seemed to help when we were kids and needed some kind of escape from whatever troubles, real or imagined, we may have been experiencing at the time.  
But we are warm and rested.  So I decided to go out first thing and begin the task of cleaning up the mess of deep snow and fallen branches.  I started the job with great enthusiasm, but hadn't gotten very far when it hit me ... I was the only one outside doing this.  I looked up and down the block.  Nope. Not another soul in sight.  No sounds of snowblowers, or shovels scraping driveways.  No sound of snow plows off in the distance clearing the roads.  Just the sound of the wind in the trees, and of my heavy breathing.  What was I thinking?  Even if I dug us out, we weren't going anywhere.  There was still no travel advised.  Some roads even remained closed.  So I stopped.  This is how far I got -

Not that far.  But it was enough for now.  Maybe I'll try again later after it warms up a bit and the wind dies down some. Or, I'll just stay in today.  All day.  Cook up a batch of my most excellent chili (complete with my home grown red bell peppers, saved from the storm and ready for harvest), catch up on some reading, watch old movies on TCM ... or ... all of that. 
Wait! What's that noise?  Sounds like kids laughing and shouting. They are out sledding on the big hill behind our house.  Now that's what to do on a snow day!  I wonder if my old Flexible Flyer is still around here somewhere?  Or maybe I can round up an inner tube.  I guess the business of cleaning up will just have to wait.  There are other things to do.  More important things.


Monday, September 16, 2013

A Walk In The Woods

The pictures tell the story.

Clear, cloudy or in between - the sun always shines here.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Shifting Gears

Things have changed.  My thoughts of late have been more in tune with John Denver than Jack Kerouac, who was the original inspiration for these writings.  I seem to be drawn more these days to "...seeking grace in every step he takes."
 instead of
"...we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.'
'Where we going, man?'
'I don't know but we gotta go.” 
So it is that I have slowed down a little, and have taken to wearing a hat.

It's not  cap, like a baseball cap, but a real hat.  It's a good hat.  It suits me.  I bought it at the arts festival earlier this summer from an interesting little man who makes the hats himself. He also gave me an amazingly clear crystal for free that he said he dug out of a cave in Alabama. Or it might have been Arkansas.  Anyway, he told me to put it under my pillow and see what dreams may come.  So I did, and had a pretty cool dream.  Someone who is likely to read this was in that dream, but dreams are private things so I can't go into details.  I will just say it was a simple dream, nothing very exciting or wild. Just sort of a partly truth and partly fiction recollection of my younger days.  The next morning I took it out from under my pillow and put it away.  Once was enough, for now.  Don't want to use it up.  I may need it later.

A lot more of my time this year has been spent hiking and bicycling in the Black Hills , rather than on motorcycle road trips.  After so many years I'm still finding new points of interest and re-discovering locations right around here ... places that I've been to before but not fully explored.  I always seem to find something new and fresh in even the most familiar places.  One I keep going back to is 11th Hour Gulch.  It's always an adventure there.  The sign on the side of the highway is gone and the entrance is completely covered with vegetation, so if you don't know about this place you would just drive on by without realizing it was even there.

In winter the side of the sheer rock wall becomes a sheet of ice, thick enough for ice climbers to test their skills.  In summer the trickling water down the side interacting with the minerals creates a kaleidoscope of color on the rock.

I love these little treks into nature.  And, although it's great to have company,  sometimes I like to be alone.  No offense intended to my fellow travelers and occasional companions, family or otherwise, but sometimes I prefer quiet solitude to companionship. 

After writing that last paragraph, I stopped for the night and resumed the next morning, which happens to be this morning.  And, after some thoughtful reflection and a good night's sleep, I have realized that the spirit of Jack Kerouac is still in me.  The following passage from On The Road comes to mind -
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 
For me it's not only the mad ones.  It's also the fun ones, unusual ones, outcasts, misfits, and some that are just so unlike me that I'm inexplicably drawn to them ...

So, I guess things really haven't changed all that much.  Perhaps it's just that as time passes thoughts begin to creep in about how physical changes on the outside of oneself must inevitably lead to changes on the inside, too.  Changes in the way you think and act.   But I realize that this doesn't have to be true.  I can still seek grace in every step I take, whether those steps are are on a trail beside a clear cool mountain stream or on a busy city sidewalk.
And I can wear a hat if I want to.  I don't care if it makes me look old.  I am kind of old, and don't have a problem with that.  So if you see me coming your way wearing my new hat, tell me you like it.  Even if you don't.  It's not really a lie.  It's just being kind.  We need more kindness these days.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Days Are Just Packed

When someone asks you, "What have you been up to lately?" The standard reply is usually, "Oh, not much."  Maybe that's true sometimes.  But sometimes it isn't.  Last night while waiting for shooting stars to light up the sky I began thinking about what I've been up to lately, and came to the conclusion that these past few days have been packed.  Almost as much as a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.
Yes, sometimes doing nothing is doing something.  And on these most recent days I've been doing something, starting with a motorcycle ride in the rain.  It was Friday night on the way to see Robby Krieger of the Doors play at The Buffalo Chip Campground near Sturgis.  For those of you who aren't familiar with him, let me refresh your memory.   I'm sure you have heard the song Light My Fire. Well, you know the 2 1/2 minute guitar solo in the middle of the song?  That's Robbie Krieger.  He also wrote the lyrics.  And on the song Roadhouse Blues when Jim Morrision said, "Do it Robbie! Do it!"  He was talking to Robbie Krieger.  Still might not mean that much to you.  But it does to me.  That's why I wasn't going to let a few storm clouds and the threat of a thunderstorm stop me from riding over to see him in concert that night.  Yeah, I could've driven the car.  But that would have taken away from the whole experience.  If I was going to go to the Chip to see the last remaining member of the Doors, I was going to ride not drive.  About 5 miles out the rain started.  Lightly at first, then it started to really come down. Hard.  I was wearing a rain suit and I've ridden in the rain before so no big deal. But this time I noticed something.  Perhaps my senses were heightened or I was more aware of the moment (I've been working on that lately).  But, whatever the reason, I realized that I could taste the rain.  I'm sure everyone, especially when they were kids, turned their face up to catch some raindrops on their tongue.  I did it. But I don't remember ever noticing that the rain actually had a taste.  After all, it's just water.  But during this ride on this night there was a very distinct taste.  I can't describe it exactly, maybe sweet is the word.  Or syrupy.  Or it could be that it just tasted like...summer.
The rain ended by the time I arrived, and the show went on as planned.  It was good.  But I had to turn away during a couple of songs and just listen without looking at him.  I did that because he was wearing khaki pants, some kind of a Hawaiian-looking shirt and boat shoes.  I don't know what I expected him to be wearing.  Leather pants? Aviator sunglasses like he wore back in the day?
But boat shoes?  Come on.  Robbie Krieger don't wear no boat shoes!  Although, he is pretty old now.  And I guess he's earned the right to wear whatever the hell he wants to.  So I got over it.
Had to work Saturday, and laid low Saturday night.  Enjoyed sitting in the back yard on a cool summer evening. At some point after my wife went inside I fell asleep right there under the stars.  It was only for a short time but I felt refreshed when I woke up.  It was sort of like a mini camp-out.
Sunday I traded my motorcycle for my bicycle and went for what turned out to be a challenging ride on the Old Baldy Trail in the Black Hills.  It's been 15 years at least since I last rode that trail and my skills and fitness level were much better then than now.  I made it, but it was a tough one for me this time.  Well worth the effort, though, because of scenery like this...

I need to get out on these mountain trials more often. I'll never be as good as I was, but I can definitely be better than I am right now.
The next day was Monday, August 12th.  The day the Perseid meteor shower was supposed to peak.  We went outside again that night and looked up.  It was only a short wait for the first one.  Then another. And another!  It was pretty cool.  More than once we each let out an "ohhhhhh!" and an "ahhhhh!"  Plus a few of those gasping sounds you make when you excitedly suck in a bunch of air.  I can make that sound but I can't spell it.  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, having made it yourself on several occasions no doubt.  Maybe when you saw a meteor streak by in the night sky. 
So that's it.  A brief history of the past four days in my life.  Not that you should care all that much.  But, I do believe it's good to review life's events every few days.  Even write them down sometimes. That way you might remember them longer.  They could be important things to have later in life.  Memories I mean.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

6,600 Feet Above Sea Level (and all is well)

Ho hum.  Another Sunday.  But it wasn't.  Ho hum, that is.  It was a Sunday though, and that's always a day for adventure during summer in the Black Hills.  This past one lived up to expectations.  Actually even exceeded them.  And it all started out with a simple breakfast with my lovely wife at a lovely little table in a perfectly lovely location.  The view was..well..lovely.

Our plan was to continue from here up to Roughlock Falls, then on to... "Hey look! A squirrel!"

Oh, sorry.  I'm easily distracted.  But there actually was  a squirrel in the tree above our table.  It was hilarious to watch him pick those fresh green pine cones from the branch and chew them up just like corn on the cob.  He would finish one, toss it down to the ground, then grab another and start gnawing away.  It really was very entertaining.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, the plan.  We wanted to go up to the very summit of Cement Ridge where there is a fire lookout tower located.  My wife had never been up there, and it had been many years for me.  So many, in fact, that I didn't quite remember the way.   I took a wrong turn and finally realized something was amiss when we came to this spot ---

So I did what any guy would do after trying to figure it out on his own.  I got out the map.  And, yes, I had taken the wrong road.  So we back-tracked a few miles, found the right road and continued on toward our destination. 
There is always interesting and unusual scenery on any Black Hills backroad, and this one was no exception.  At one point we rounded a corner and gazed upon this landscape --- "Looks like Hobbit Land," my wife said out loud just as I was thinking the same thing.  The way the meadow of tall grass gave way to the clusters of small bush-like trees, then the Aspens, then the big Pines, offered an excellent illustration of the diversity of nature out here.  So much diversity in fact, that it actually did seem possible there could be a few Hobbits or Trolls in there somewhere. 
Then, right before the final turn-off where the climb to the summit of Cement Ridge began, we came across this old barn with a roof made up of tiller blades.  The word we agreed upon this time to describe the scene was "Vikingish."  That may not actually have been a real word. But it is now.
A few miles later we reached the lookout.  What a view!
To add some perspective - Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills is just over 7,200 feet, and here we were over 6,600 feet.  It was spectacular.
After wandering around for a bit we headed back down and were treated to a rare sight of some wildlife that I have never seen before in this area.  Right there sitting atop a big rock on the side of the hill next to the road was a Woodchuck, Groundhog and Marmot.  I say "was" instead of "were" because those are all names for the same animal.  At first I thought it might have been Honey Badger, but then I remembered a Honey Badger don't care, and this animal looked like it did care.  (Sorry for the pop culture reference right there.  I hope at least a few readers got it. And for those that didn't get it -- check out You Tube sometime).
Pretty sure it's a Woodchuck. (You can click on the photo for a closer view).  I know they're around this area, but I had never seen one in the wild before.  So that was kind of cool.  And, speaking of cool, by now a heavy layer of clouds had moved in and it looked like a good thunderstorm was brewing.  Soon huge rain drops were splashing onto the windshield signaling that it was time for us to go.  I kept the window open as long as I could to savor that wonderful smell of a forest rainstorm.  There's nothing like it. It makes getting wet quite all right.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Class Act

Everyone says their class is the best.  But they're wrong.  Because after attending my high school class reunion recently I am thoroughly convinced there is one group of high school classmates that outshines them all - the Belle Fourche High School Class of 1973.  You would expect me to say that because I am a member of that class, but it's true.  Here is the evidence to back it up -

  1. After 40 years we still had nearly 50 class members show up. That's a big number.
  2. Some traveled a great distance.  Georgia, Arizona, Washington and California for example.
  3. Everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed happy.  No complaints. No arguments. No discouraging words.
  4. I didn't observe any of those little cliques pop up.  You know, where a few people get together in a group and remain aloof from the rest.  But then, I don't remember much of that back when we were in school either.
  5. Everyone laughed at my jokes. Well, almost everyone.
I rest my case.  And, as a public service for those of you who weren't around in 1973, here's a short history lesson featuring photos and icons from that era to sort of put things in perspective.

We dressed like...

Neil Diamond

and Mary Tyler Moore

We drove cars like...


and Gremlins

Yes.  There actually was a car called a Gremlin.  (Girl in jumpsuit was optional).

We listened to...

The Doors

and Simon and Garfunkel

And I couldn't leave out this one...

"rub it in, rub it in"

We watched...

Sanford and Son

and Looney Tunes

There were also earth shoes, bell bottom pants and leisure suits.  Bicycles with banana seats, Hai Karate after shave and Twister.  And on a personal note - there was the cornflake bowl, creature features and a '63 Chevy.  Good times. Good times.

A friend and classmate perhaps said it best, "Everyone was so nice.  And kind.  And seemed genuinely interested in each other."  Truer words were never spoken.  So here's to us!  Now say it along with me We're the best as you can see! We're the class of 73!  We're the best as you can see! We're the class of 73!  Has a nice ring to it don't you think?



Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Dad! Look at that man in the back."

The flight was pretty smooth and on time, so things were looking good on our recent trip to Los Angeles to visit our son who recently moved there from Seattle.  The plane from Rapid City to Salt Lake City was nearly full and made up of seemingly uninteresting people.  You know, like us. However, during the connecting flight from Salt Lake City there was a movie star sitting in the row right in front of me. I could tell because her hair was perfect.  Okay, so I don't know that she really was a movie star, but if she wasn't she should have been.  This just added to the excitement about the trip which was increasing with each new Delta air mile I accumulated.  Soon we would be there.  The Left Coast. Tinseltown.  La-La Land.  The City of Angels.
After arriving our first stop was downtown to meet our son's co-workers and see what a view from the 51st floor looks like.  It looks like this ...

Not a view we are accustomed to, but pretty impressive just the same.  From there on to Bottega Louis where we gazed longingly into their amazing bakery display counter.

I was thinking "one of each," but I said "no thank you."  We already had our treat for the day. 

Now on to Hollywood, where we just missed a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel show by about an hour and a half. This car was parked outside of his studio. You would think he could afford something a little bigger.  But it probably gets pretty good gas mileage.
Predictably, there were a lot of TV and movie characters roaming around posing for tips.  All seemed to be getting a lot of attention.  Except for Wonder Woman.  She looked a little lonely. 
Spiderman was also there, and Batman.  The character getting the most attention, though, was Homer Simpson.  Sad day for super heroes.
The following day was Disneyland.  The happiest place in the world, where age truly doesn't matter.  Of course we had to ride one of our favorites -Splash Mountain.  Brian, who is kind of a joker anyway, decided to act like he was sleeping at the moment of the big drop when they take your picture.

After the ride the photos are all displayed on video screens in a lobby area where everyone can view them and decide whether or not to buy their picture.  In our "log" with us was a dad and his two daughters.  As we were looking at our picture up on the screen the oldest daughter said in an alarmed voice "Dad! Look at that man in the back."  She didn't know we were standing behind her, and was embarrassed when she realized Brian was right there.  Her dad reassured her everything was fine, "it's alright, honey, he was just really tired." 
Of all the ways to describe Disneyland, "Creepy" would not be one of them.  Even the Haunted House ride is more fun than creepy.  But there is this little place tucked away near the entrance that is not a typical Disney attraction.  You walk in from the clamor and clatter of a modern amusement park to a 1930s style bar that seemed to be right out of a movie.  The problem is that the movie is "The Shining."  Even the bartender looked like the ghost that Jack Nicholson had those weird conversations with in the movie.
"What will you be drinking, sir?"
"The hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd."

To add to the effect I ordered a "Side Car," a drink popular back in that era.  Just the fact that it was even on the menu added to the overall atmosphere. Even the lighting in the place was a little spooky.

Other observations I made on this trip included the fact that there are many opportunities in California if you know where to look.  Including simply looking out of your car window.
Seems legit.

And where else would you find a combination cafe/art gallery/hair salon?  This place was next to our hotel.  It's called Nue.  Actually it was a pretty cool setting for morning coffee.

Another interesting place was just across the street.  Interesting only because it's true.  This has to be the miniest Mini Mart I've ever seen.

 Notice there's only one parking space, and that's for disabled customers.  I guess if you're not buying gas, you're not shopping here.

I haven't even scratched the surface of things we saw and places we went.  There was the world's largest record store.  The vintage clothing / costume store.  A lot of beautiful people, and some not so much. Tom Bergin's Tavern, the oldest Irish pub in Los Angeles. And, of course, the beach.  We don't get much beach time around here so even a short visit was wonderful. 
I can understand why so many songs have been written about California...California Nights, Warm California Sun, California Dreaming, and of course California Girls.  There was also the traffic, smog, and too many people.  But those things don't change the fact that I want to go back.  There's so much still to see and do.  I bought a map to the movie stars homes but didn't have time to use it.  If anybody plans a trip soon you can sure borrow it.  Maybe knock on a couple doors and see who answers.  Back in my radio days we called Desi Arnaz (Lucy's husband) and he actually answered the phone! So, you never know.