Monthly Archives: December 2015

Star Wars, Again (hint) and California

Last Friday we walked in without a line to a 2:55PM showing at the theaters at the Riverside Casino in Laughlin, AZ. 3D to boot. About 30 people were in the theater at show time. With the senior discount it was $9 a piece. The emptiness was quite bizarre as we watched long lines at theaters in NY (we get NYC network TV). Not even a line for pop corn. I guess dropping quarters in slot machines is more fun.

In 1977 Star Wars was mind blowing. Actually, the light speed visual was the killer for me. Tripping without the acid. In 2015, I’m looking for a little more, maybe that procto-tazer to pop up from the seat and really light up my life. Maybe some wookie smell, you know, super-sensorama. Oh well, the 3D was ok. Now about the movie….no comment until everyone has seen it. Y’all seen it by now? We hadn’t planned on seeing it in 3D but Bullhead City, AZ is on mountain time and sister city Laughlin across the river is in Nevada where they are on Pacific time. So we were an hour early for our show at 3:55 but just in time for the 3D version.

Seems like the southwest is not the place to be this winter. It dropped down to 29 degrees last week in Bullhead City. Not a day over 63. It was warmer in NYC. The wind factored into the nastiness ruining the couple of nice days. On one of the milder days we took Luna to a dog park. It was closed. Andrea found one point of oddball interest – the Laughlin Labyrinths. My vision of 8 foot shrubbery – in the desert? Ha! – was brought down to earth, literally, upon arrival at the location on a hill overlooking a couple of the casinos. As you can see in the photos, the labyrinths are made of rocks. Somebody certainly put some time into them.

A note of apology to all football fans for the behavior of my favorite player (and top fantasy pointman), Odell Beckham. At least he keeps his violence on the field, so far. And how ’bout those Giants. Five losses with 10 seconds or less to go, including the Pats and Panthers. Good teams win those games.

We left cool and windy Bullhead City (friggin’ auto-correct keeps making it Bulkhead) yesterday and minutes later it was an hour earlier. Better than light speed! A few minutes later and we were in California. That southernmost tip of Nevada is pretty narrow. The 200 mile drive to North Palm Springs passed around mountain range after mountain range through the vast Mojave Desert. Not the most boring drive but nothing spectacular. We realize we are pretty jaded when it comes to scenery. Along the way we noted many different types of cacti. That was kind of interesting. Not many trees. I also worked on my distance estimates, as in, ‘wonder how far it is to that next cell tower’. And you watch the odometer for 8 miles. Or, measuring distance in songs – ‘it’s Dazed and Confused’ to that next big hill’. On long drives your mind really wanders.

Remember the song, “It Never Rains in Southern California”? Maybe not, 1972. It was always on the radio, still is on classic rock stations. Well, its rather pathetic and depressing lyrics are overshadowed by a very upbeat, catchy tune. I remember the irony of it playing on the radio at midnight as I was driving out of rainy Escondido in 1976. It’s in my head now because it’s been raining all day off and on. What hasn’t been off and on is the wind. It has been relentless at a pretty steady 15-20mph with gusts around 40. Truth be told, we could see it coming. As the GPS was winding down the miles to the RV park, we were beginning to grasp the enormity of the windmill farm on the west side of the street. It streches miles to the west, up and onto the top of a mountain/hill. No wonder there is no residential or commercial development anywhere close by. I brought down the satellite antenna for fear of it bending. The awning over the large slide out has been roped down but it still flaps. Big gusts shake our 17 tons quite easily. We are facing north and thus completely sideways to the wind. It’s a bit unnerving.

The geography has created a giant wind tunnel, the San Gorgonio Pass. Take a look at Google Maps in satellite mode. Find Desert Hot Springs and then look west. Interstate 10 curves up to go through the pass between San Gorgonio Mountain to the north and Mount San Jacinto to the south. Now imagine a low pressure system moving in from the northwest, churning counterclockwise. Voila, the perfect storm. Or at least the perfect place to build a wind farm. It is the oldest wind farm in the US. You could look it up (but I already did).

Three of my favorite subjects in one swoop – Classic Rock, Geography and Meteorology. OK, now the photos. Nothing spectacular here. I have a very shaky video that I won’t include – walking by a decorated front window of an RV at night. The window included a backlit 3D image of Jesus – wait, let’s keep him out of this for fear of offending anyone – it was an image of a serious Russell Brand and he always looks at you no matter what direction. So when you walk by, his eyes, actually the whole face follows you. It’s creepy. So I named him Creepy Je.., I mean Creepy Russell. But it’s too big, datawise. Sorry.

First pic – driving over the mountain range to Bullhead City. A very short stretch of that ride is really awesome. Wish the picture was better but that was a big turn.

2 – Laughlin at night, mini-Las Vegas Sorry about the quality.

3 – Andrea and Luna on the shore of the Colorado River in Bullhead City Park looking over to the last casino on the Laughlin strip, Harrah’s.

4 – the Riverside Casino movie theater, 7 minutes from the start of Star Wars on opening day

5 – the entrance (ha!) to the Laughlin Labyrinths. It’s the only indication that you have arrived. There’s just dirt, sand and rocks – looks like a vacant lot from the road. Google Maps found it.

6, 7, 8 – the labyrinths

9 – view of a couple of casinos from up on the hill by the labyrinths

10 – the Colorado River from the river walk outside the casinos

11 – fourteen of eighteen Ortega tacos were broken. Come on, man! I’m writing to them. Back to Old El Paso.

12 – view west from our RV’s window today. Rain and windmills

Hoping to have some decent photos soon. Hiking in Joshua Tree NP later in week.

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On The Road Again

Hello friends and family. The Odyssey has had its major blemish cleaned up and some other fixes including an unexpected manifold replacement. Cha-ching.

Our month in Colorado Springs was a bit surreal. We arrived October 30th and the next morning some crazy guy went on a shooting rampage and killed three random people. Then on Black Friday it was the Planned Parenthood madness. In the midst of the insanity we treasured our time with all the McDavid’s and, of course, Mr. Personality, grandson Leo. He really seemed to enjoy his first Thanksgiving with a juicy, fried turkey smothered in queso topping off the annual gluttony feast. Can’t we just have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a big bowl of Capn Crunch some year? Really. It’s too much food. The memory of the old Thanksgivings is better than the food. My memories of teen years at Uncle Bobby’s (my mother’s little brother did more to keep the 20+ first cousins together than anyone else) for Thanksgiving were mostly of playing morning tag football and then watching afternoon college games before (mid 60’s) the pros made it their day. Give me some white meat and mashed potatoes in gravy, some of my mother’s string beans/mushroom soup/onion crisps, and finally a piece of pumpkin pie and I’m happy. But, I digress. Leo called us out on our plans to leave a week later.

As sad as we were to leave our little buddy, we couldn’t wait to flee from the cold (and the shooters). After a too long drive to an overnight stop at an RV park near 30 degree Albuquerque, we continued our bolt to warmer weather, stopping overnight at Meteor Crater, AZ. Surprisingly, it is on private property that has been commercialized. The RV park is just off I-40 and the crater is 5 miles south. The moon astronauts used it for familiarization with the moon’s surface. Got a few pictures. It was a dreary day. One interesting picture from the deck frames the mountains in the west. It was cold there too.

We finally made it to relatively mild weather in Apache Junction, about 30 miles east of Phoenix. Carefree Manor is yet another 55+ RV park among hundreds in the sprawling Phoenix area. They don’t hold back on the holiday decorations. It was fairly cloudy for the week there but every sunset, though lacking direct sun, produced a vividly deep orange horizon. Sorry, no photos. We did manage to take a nice hike on another dreary day in Lost Dutchman State Park. A little bit of sun would have helped the photos as would more camera battery life. It died before we got to the height of the hike.

During our week in Apache Junction we had the RV washed and waxed by a guy from Smithtown, Long Island, uncle Bobby’s home town. Truth be told, a guy The Donald wants to kick out did most of the washing and waxing but the guy with the thick NY accent was pleasant.

We moved on Friday at a more reasonable pace. The stopover that night was at a little town named Wikieup, about 100 miles or so northwest of Phoenix. I should have stopped to take a picture of the sign for the town of Nothing on the way but there was no warning and I can’t back up towing the Jeep. But really, it was nothing, just a sign declaring a town. It’s actually on some maps. About 30 miles north of Wickenburg, a town of fast food joints in the midst of nowhere, just north of Nothing, route 93 becomes the Joshua Forest Highway. Suddenly Joshua trees were everywhere. And every so often there appeared these giant rockpiles, cairns on steroids if you will. Remember the rock people in Galaxy Quest? Well, picture dozens of them standing together downing Jim Jones Slammers and then collapsing on each other. Or, perhaps they were just soft rock hills ravaged by water and freezing temperatures. The Galaxy Quest story describes them better. I loved that movie. What a cast. Alan Rickman was great. Whatever, the rock piles were cool and unusual as were the Joshua trees.

Passing all that scenery we dropped down into the tiny town of Wikieup. Our destination, Dazzo’s Country Store and RV Park is a member of Passport America, a network of 50% off parks with severe limitations on days of discount usage. Dazzo’s pros: $10 a night with PA. Dazzo Cons: Dazzo (unless of course you subsribe to the science fiction of Fox News). You can’t just pay your $10.58 and walk away. Dazzo is like a talking statue at a boardwalk arcade that someone put a thousand dollars in coins in. In our five minutes of walking away we learned these great truths:

*The world is flat. God wrote in the bible about the four corners. Makes perfect sense that he meant the corners of a flat planet.

*We never went to the moon. Proof? Neil Armstrong asked each of the supposed moon walkers to swear on a bible that they walked on the moon. None Did!

*There is a tunnel between LA and NYC. Truckers told him.

*When the race wars that the government is attempting to start get under way, the government is going underground. (And probably taking the subway to LA)

*Obama is a Muslim. Isn’t it obvious by his name.

*When the president declares martial law, which apparently happened on Fox News minutes before we arrived, he’s going to send in the militia to take away all our guns.

After the first couple of sentences I thought he was a comedian and laughed but Andrea engaged him questioning his facts. Like trying to put out a fire with oil. We didn’t hear anything about Roswell, Area 51, or contrails but he did offer this mind blower of all truths:

*The government, the same one that prints “In God We Trust” on money and makes immigrants pledge their allegiance to “one nation under God”, has Proof, and is hiding that proof, of the existence of God. I wonder which one?

Escaping the office we just wanted to hide in the RV. About a minute after taking Luna out for her 9PM walk, a flash of lightning was followed seconds later by hail and a torrential downpour that lasted for hours. I kind of wondered if crazy Dazzo had anything to do with the weather. We then locked the doors.

Next day on to Golden Valley, AZ, about 10 miles west of Kingman. I chose the Tradewinds RV Park because I knew, from experience through the area last year, that it was also nowhere and subject to no light pollution. And this past weekend was the peak of the annual Taurids Meteor Shower, known for fireball type streakers. It turned out to be too cold, windy, cloudy and rainy at night – except for a couple of hours after sunset Sunday night. Nice sky. While it was 70 degrees in NY, I walked the dog in windy 40’s, again around 9, watching the huge hole in the skies for one little flash. Before surrendering to the weather again – cold and snow cancelled the November Leonids – I hid from the southwest wind in front of the RV and decided to spend 5 minutes looking up. In about 10 seconds I was rewarded with one of the top three fireballs I have ever seen. As I looked northeast, about 80 degrees up, it streaked to the north increasingly flaming to almost blowing up about 30 degrees across the sky. Not real long but quite the spectacular fire breather.

Coincidentally, our friend Amy, a fellow full time RVer and high school friend of Andrea’s from Wheatly HS in Roslyn, LI, on her way from Florida to Seattle, met us in Golden Valley and we shared a lovely dinner. See you down the road, Amy.

One more stop, twenty miles down the road to Bullhead City, AZ in Ridgeview Resort and RV Park where we are here for a week. Still chilly. We were here last February, up on a hill overlooking the Colorado River and the mini-Las Vegas Nevada city of Laughlin in the Pacific time zone on the other side of the river. Leave here to gamble, gain an hour. Return, you lose. Kind of a bonus loss. We actually have a view of a few of the casinos here. I promise, I’ll get some decent pictures. There are some small but jagged mountains around the area. Very pretty. Again, I’ll get some pics.

Is that enough for now? I had a lot more to say about the shooters in CO but I mellowed over days with no photos. No point in raising my dander over some meaningless murders. But, as I often ponder sights along our long drives I focused on a sad one Monday. Driver training today is pathetic. Driving along the nation’s highways I note the many, many tributes to Darwin – beautifully flower decorated sites, often accompanied by crosses denoting the failure of a driver to drive straight, negotiate a simple turn, or slow down at an intersection with a stop sign or traffic light. But mostly they are on straight highways. Shrines to Darwin. Appologies to anyone who’s lost anyone because they didn’t slow the fuck down or were slaughtered by someone else.

Well, it’s been a while so I had a lot to say. Hope I didn’t piss anyone off. …..Nah.

Just watched the Republican ‘Debate’. Thinking of crazy Dazzo. He said it doesn’t matter who is voted president. The bankers run the country. Perhaps his you-tube school of education missed the Goldman-Sachs debacle. I actually don’t think he’s too off on that conspiracy theory. Dwight D. warned us about the growing power of the military-industrial complex. My theory is he was right, it grew, and they control foreign policy – and created enough enemies to continue cranking our billion dollar war machines with the blessing of 300 million while selling billions more to our enemies. I asked Dick Chaney to swear on a bible that this is not true and he told me to fuck myself so it must be true.

Happy Trails.