Thursday, May 8, 2014

Texas Trip - Route 66 and beyond.

We are leaving Albuquerque. That should be a title of a song:

The truck is filled and I'm leaving Albuquerque,
The sun is rising time is O dark thirty,
and highway 40 isn't going far north
enough for me.....

It's a song in progress. give me time.


Time - we don't have much of it today, we have to reach Vegas.
We do have enough time to stop in one of the towns used as a reference for Radiator Springs.
Holbrook Arizona - a town known for being the town that's known for being a town.


There is a bit of nostalgia in the neon and pink and strange souvenir stores. What the town is more known for is the hotel.


It's still working, you can still rent one out. Here are some pics for the curious.


We have a few laughs and do one more drive by on our way to Winslow.



Sing it with me: "I'm standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It's a girl my lord in a flat bed ford slowing down to take a look at me."

Moving on.

Jackrabbit. Its nothing more than a store. There may have been a truckstop there once. For now, it's many signs pointing out the Jackrabbit. You find yourself saying it a lot. Jack Rabbit. Jack. Rabbit. Jackrabbit.




Back on the road - curiosity satisfied.

Side Note: Have you seen a greyhound bus recently? More importantly... have you notices that the logo for greyhound is pretty damn nice? As far as logos go, this one is pretty much artwork.


We stop at the meteor crater - because its awesome.
This rock:


Made this hole:

(Those two people are my travelling companions)

We haven't eaten for a while, so they suggested that we go find something. I suggest we stay where we were. In the back of the fridge, I have stashed bar-b-cue from Texas. We fire up the microwave (because we have one!) and eat ribs on the side of the crater overlooking the plains. Not a bad way to eat lunch.

We move on to Vegas, and stay at the Cosmopolitan. The view from my room is perfect way to end the day. It's about as blurry as my eyesite.



Tomorrow - heading home.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Texas Trip - day three

West Texas - No country for old men.

Damn this road is boring. I'm leaving a crappy hotel and taking the 10 down in a south easterly direction. It's mile and miles of nothing. Occasionally you have a rock - and that's considered "scenery".



But we are making good time and laughing about how land is probably pretty cheap out here. Perhaps it would be easy to own land near the giant natural hill that is shaped like... oh, Idunno... something.


Hours and hours of nothing, cars being towed are an occasional break. This thing has seen better years.


The debate between San Antonio for the evening and Austin is quickly settled when I mention that Austin has Four Seasons. After last nights hotel, my co-pilots are thrilled to have a comfy plush bed.
For the record, I love Austin. Mucho. The people, the food, the music, the vibe. So I take them to two bbq places - both closed for corporate events.

We end up at a steakhouse, and after a couple manhattans, we walk back through the town and pass out.

Good morning. It's the fourth day of this trip, the car is parked right in front, the garage was too low.

It's off to the wedding at a private ranch. We are there for the rest of the day, the following day, and we are leaving at dark thirty the next morning.

Day 6. 4:00 am. And we are on the road back to Albuquerque. Also through west texas.

Its boring. And there is not much here either other than empty main streets and rusted cars for sale.


Ballinger. Sweetwater. Snyder. Lubbock. Clovis. Fort Sumner. Santa Rosa.

And now we are on Hwy 40. Seriously. There's nothing along the way but birds and sky. Maybe that's a good thing.


Tomorrow we are looking for the heart of Route 66.




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Texas Trip - Day two

It's day two and I'm not in a VW. Apologies, but the Sprinter is faster, and much more luxurious - which satisifies the sensibilities of my fellow travellers.

We leave Phoenix and head straight to Tuscon. We left at a reasonable hour, and todays leg to El Paso is somewhat short, so we decide to stop at David-Monthan Air Force Base, home of the Aircraft Boneyard. It's located here and is best seen using satellite view.

Short Description: Metal weakens (as we know) and plane metal weakens faster under stresses. These planes go through lots of stress, so when they reach the end of their serviceable life, they bring them here, prep them for storage, and then either use them for parts, or make unmanned drones that the navy practices shooting with lasers and other items.

You begin by getting on to a bus that takes you on a military base. After a proper ID check, we are driven around the base with acres and acres of this:



and this


The white stuff covering them is a paint/protectant that can be peeled off. It both protects the cockpits from sun damage, and keeps the kangaroo rats from entering the plane.

There is a lot of cold war history here, along with tons of damn cool planes. I have a particular fondness for military humor.



All the pics of the yard and the museum are here in a set.


We continue down the road and start seeing the signs for the infamous "thing". "What is it?" Sopt and see the "Thing!" Its an infamous tourist trap, but when you are in the middle of nowhere, you have to ask yourself, why not? An likely, you need to fill up anyway.



We pull over, and pay the dollar.
Spoiler alerts ahead!

-There are three quonset huts filled with... stuff? I have no idea where he collected this junk, but part of what is inside is a bunch of paper mache' models of torture techniques. Some strange cars. A limo that claims that Hitler once rode it it.


And then of course, there is the Thing, which they tried really hard to put under glass that was difficult to take pictures, but my beat up Canon has modes. :)


The thing is nothing more than a dessicated corpse. According the the interwebs, she, was found a while ago had been on display for years as an indian woman. I suspect that there are worse places to have your body resting (just ask Elmer McCurdy).

We got our one dollars worth of curiosity satisfied, and went on our merry.

El Paso was.... El Paso. I have political thoughts about that town, but I'll save them for the campfire. It was a curious place.

Cheap hotel, poor sleep. We were happy to leave the next morning, even if it did mean driving through West Texas.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Texas via Non-VW road trip.

It's December 10. A Tuesday morning, and I am loading myself and the wine and the rest of the gear into the Sprinter. It's not a Bus, its loaded with power, luxury, equipment, and all the items that I normally don't need or use on a road trip. I'm not the only one going.

There's a family wedding outside of San Antonio, and we have been tasked with providing the wine. Shipping is expensive.

I'm traveling with two in-laws, they have done road trips before, but not this kind of distance or time constraint, and not with me. The invite was appreciated and was a welcome end to a rough year.

We drove this vehicle.

6 AM and we are headed out the door. Down I5. Pasadena, San Bernadino, Palm Springs.

I am suspiciously not taking that many pictures this time. There isn't much to take pictures of... It's dry, high dessert, and our plan today is to cover distance.

Road signs are teasing us of the places that we aren't visiting.


Blythe. I am confident that the alien superrace that secretly controls our minds lives in Blythe. They will never be discovered there, as no one ever visits.

We are treated to a spectacular sunset.



Phoenix. We arrive at an almost reasonable hour, around 8:00pm.

We have a well-deserved dinner here. For anyone in Phoenix who has the pleasure of eating there, I have serious food envy, and I live in a food capital. Seriously, I would I driven there just for dinner.

We wake up early the next morning and head to the Boneyard. Up Next

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Travel, chili, and yet more travel.

I've been absent. For most of you who follow me (thanks to both of you!) I've been working at a new company that has me on the road. Often.

So I have all sorts of stories and pictures to share. One is about the roadtrip I took in a massive Sprinter of luxurious luxury, and another about a trip to the Wolfsburg VW museum. And a Dutch VW repair shop.

I'll start with our annual January campout.

The Anti-superbowl campout was always poorly named. It's not as if we are anti- anything, including the Superbowl. It's a timely name, one that describes the weekend that it is held. But it isn't accurate.

We found a new name: The Chili bowl. It's often chilly there, and we make chili annually. Perfect name.






This Campout has traditionally been a mix of Motorcycles and VW's. Ask Joe about it. so Chris showed up on this:





And as usual, we find ways of keeping ourselves warm.





I suspiciously have not taken as many pictures on this trip. It is possible that I was being social after being a troglodyte for a while. So let me make this easy for you. Click here.


Enjoy the road.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

High Sierra Camping part two

It's Saturday morning, and after a short light breakfast, (yogurt and granola - breakfast of camping champions) We are off to Mono lake for a canoe tour.

Mono lake is filled with brine shrimp and flies, and has been the subject of a large conservation effort since Los Angeles county began diverting water away in 1941. It's been a long slow recovery.

The valley is filled with Sage - so strong you can almost drink in the scent.

We get in our not-so-stable canoes and learn a little about he history of the lake.
The Ospreys are slowly returning and making nests at the tops of the tufas.


It's beautiful and serene. Paddling on such a calm surface reminds you of just how small you are...

There are other birds that fill the area. This is a Says Phoebe.

And this is another osprey warming its wings.

I did mention the flies, didn't I?

There is other wildlife too.


Time, salt, mud and some erosion makes these little structures that could be mesa houses if they were larger. As they stand, they are about 8 inches high.

The lake is very salty. This is what happens when you take your water shoes off.
The gulls don't seem to mind.


We finish our tour after about an hour and walk around. One of our team heads home a day early, the rest of us head back to Mammoth and sit still for the afternoon.

I leave early the next morning. It's a pretty ride through Yosemite, I'm not in a rush and enjoy the meadows and lakes of the upper section while slowly working my way around tourist vans and busses.

I make it down to Groveland and the valley has the distinct smell of smoke. Apparently I threaded a needle - a wild fire had taken over the area and they would be evacuating some sections later that day. It would have been a long ride back the other direction.

Arrived at home at 3:00pm. I'm unpacking the sage I harvest from the campsite and placing it all around the house. For the next six days, the house is filled with the smell of the high sierras, and I'm sleeping better.





Friday, November 22, 2013

High Sierra Camping

I didn't have the time to take my bus on this mini-campout. I had to leave late, and I had to make good time.

My ridiculously awesome friends sensed that I needed to get out of town, so they insisted and I went on my other german vehicle. (BMW motorcycle, two cylinders, horizontally opposed, don't hate me.)

Typically, when I go to this part of California, I drive along hwy 120, and turn right on 49, heading to Yosemite. This time, it was 120 to 108 all the way up into MonoVista, Twain Harte, and the Stanislaus National Forest. I'm heading for Buckeye Hot Springs

The Pass at Sonora is at 9,623', and at one point, reaches a 23% grade. It's a twist of the wrist and a lean left, then forward to balance the weight, then right, and a downshift, then... you get the picture.

Here's the map if you want to get an idea of just how twisted this road is.

I connect to 395 at 9:00pm, and make it to Bridgeport  by 9:30. The instructions say to turn toward twin lakes, and look for signs to the hot springs - difficult at night. I miss the turn off, and make it all the way back to Twin Lakes Resort. The bartender there is closing up (at 10???) and tells me where I'm going.

It's another dirt road, and a couple of cliffs, and I'm riding on them at night. Magically, I find the campsite, and my VW friends are there, with food.

I awake to this the next morning.



The hot springs are about a mile walk, none of us are interested.  We opt for Travertine hot springs just outside of Bridgeport instead. So I ride out first, and in hindsight, have no idea how I found this place last night.

I refill in Bridgeport after a brisk paced ride through some beautiful turns on a perfect sunny morning, Bridgeport has the dubious distinction of the most expensive gas in California. I think it was 5.35/gallon. I didn't take a picture of it, my camera would have shattered it's lens in protest.



Travertine Hot springs are located here. I've got a moment to unwind and let my sore shoulders and wrist decompress.



 The water is at about 110f and cools to around 100 be the time it hits the pool.





We warm up, relax, and then head to Mammoth, our second night for camping.



We are just outside of monolake and it's time for a panoramic photo.



We arrive in Mammoth lakes,  and the campsite is full of other vehicles. We find our site and I set up the tent. It's not as comfy as my bus, but I sleep fine in it.


Mike and I decide to explore some of the other vehicles. Hwy 395 is famous for offroad adventures, We were sure to find some machines that had too much money poured into them - not that there is anything wrong with that.

This beast was towing a re-purposed army trailer complete with fold outs for easy access.


I'm a sucker for a sportsmobile. The owner told me that the two screaming children inside were for sale. I think they had a rough day.






We didn't do much other than warm ourselves by a fire, we had a day of Kayaking ahead.