The Stadium

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Qualcomm stadium is a dump.  The Chargers might stay or leave, who knows?  But the stadium is most certainly a goner.  It’s hard to fathom it’s home to an NFL franchise.  It’s an embarrassing eye sore to America’s Finest City.  It’s unfortunate the Aztecs are stuck playing there.  It hasn’t always been a dump.  The steep downward trajectory seemed to begin when the Padres moved into Petco Park in 2004.  Petco is beautiful, new, clean, and full of modern conveniences.  The stadium is ugly, old, dirty, and has no conveniences.  It has been in limbo for years.  It is neglected, unloved, and past the point of no return on all the deferred maintenance.  It will be strange to drive through Mission Valley and not see it.  Seeing the stadium always conjures up memories.  If the stadium is no longer there will the memories and tales diminish or grow taller?

San Diego Stadium opened in 1967 on 166 acres of city owned property.  It was built for less than 28 million dollars.  That was the heyday of the multi-purpose stadium movement, of course now each sport needs its own home.  In 1980, the name was officially changed to San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, aka The Murph.  In 1997, the naming rights were sold to Qualcomm and the stadium became know as the Q.  That deal expires in 2017.  It would be fitting if Waste Management or EDCO acquired the naming rights the remaining years.

Amelia’s parents went to the very first Padres game at the stadium in 1969.  I’ve only been going to the stadium since 1974.  I’ve seen it all, Padres, Chargers, Aztecs, Holiday Bowls, KGB Sky Shows, and concerts.  Not to mention tailgating memories, wrestling friends on the asphalt, and jeering Dodger fans.  More stories than I can remember, and some that I can’t share.

In the mid 70s, a general admission ticket to the Pads was somewhere around two dollars. We’d wait until the 3rd inning, then sneak down to the field level seats.  Attendance was always sparse, except when Randy Jones pitched.  Then the stadium came to life, watching the lefty induce groundball after groundball on his way to another complete game victory in a mere 90 minutes.  This was also the era when the KGB Chicken was hatched.  And who remembers the Tuba Man?  Many times he would be better entertainment than the product on the field.

This is going to sound unbelievably crazy: in the early 80s they would let you bring your own booze into the Pads game.  It had to be in a plastic container or some dumb rule like that.  We would stop at 7-11, buy a couple 12 packs of Coors Light and a couple gallon jugs of water.  Pour out the water, right in the 7-11 parking lot, and fill the gallon jugs with beer. And then just stroll through the turnstiles.  For real, this is how it was!  Eventually someone came to their senses and figured out they could make a lot more money by squashing that policy.  But of course after years of being able to do it, everyone was upset with the policy change.  So naturally everyone would try to sneak beers in.  One ingenuous friend, who shall remain nameless, hollowed out a small boom box that we would use to smuggle in beers.  And for the most part the ushers would turn a blind eye, except for one guy that was coined the banjo player.  If you were in his section, good luck fooling him. The stands were full of characters.  And some of the vendors were outright kooky.  There was this one vendor who sold newspapers.  Once he sold out his supply he would take a victory lap around the stadium with arms up in the air.  Everyone would give him a standing ovation.  This would happen every game!  It was the game.

Then in 1984, all hell broke loose.  The town was electric, finally a winner.   The Pads beat the Cubs and were going to the World Series.   Words can’t truly describe that year.  We lost to the Tigers, but what a year.

14 long years later, we had the ’98 team and another World Series trip.  Amelia and I were lucky enough to attend every home playoff game and the one World Series game at the stadium.  Without a doubt, our best team ever to date.  Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, Caminiti, Finley, Carlos Hernandez, Leyritz, Greg Vaughn, Flannery, Wally Joyner, Quilvio Veras, Chris Gomez, and Kevin Brown to name a few.  And the future hall of famer, Bruce Bochy, was the manager.  It was an incredible high.  The town was in love with the team. The NY Yankees swept us.  And celebrated on our field.  But the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen happened.  As the Padres were leaving the field they received a standing ovation, as if they had won. The players could hardly believe it.  They were showered with love.  It was an emotionally charged moment that practically brings me to tears recalling it.

It was reminiscent of January 15, 1995, after the AFC Championship game, Chargers beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, we were going to the Super Bowl!  A huge spontaneous welcome home party was held at The Murph late that night.  They opened up the stadium and 70,000 showed up.  Interstate 15 was a parking lot.  People were parking on the side of the road and walking to the stadium.  Seating was a free for all, but my buddy was working at the Union-Tribune and had an employee ID card.  So we got into the press box and sat there.  It was one big cheering love fest.  When Seau took the stage, with his family, the place went bonkers.  He gave a great speech.

I just laugh when all the pundits say SD is not a sports town.  They point to all the fans from the other teams in the stands.  Of course, there are a lot of fans from the other teams, this is San Diego, who doesn’t want to visit?  Why not take a mini vacation to San Diego and see your team play.  And you have all the transplants, still clinging to their old hometown teams.  Trust me, San Diego has great fans, especially when you give them something to cheer about.

A funky thing about the multi-purpose stadiums is in the fall when baseball is still being played and football begins, the dirt infield stays, so they play football with a big dirt patch on the field.  This was the case on September 10, 1978.  The infamous date of the Holy Roller game against the hated Raiders.  I was in the stands that day.  It was brutal.  I have a bad track record with Chargers games.  I also witnessed a couple of depressing playoff losses.  The Marlon McCree fumble in 2007 and Nate Kaeding’s choke job missing three field goals in 2010.

One of the most memorable Chargers game I attended had nothing to do with the actual game.  I couldn’t even tell you who we played or if we won.  Of course we were drinking, and we were watching the cheerleaders with binoculars, instead of the game.  I’m sure we were all saying stuff.  But our friend’s wife,  who’s a well known hot head, and whose head gets even hotter when she’s drinking, overheard her husband say something like “I would hold anyone of their hands” (that’s the PG version since this is a PG blog).  Somehow she held it together until after the game, as they were at the bottom of the escalator, bam!  She sucker punched him.  A bullseye, instantanous bloody nose.  Guess what?  They aren’t married anymore.

The Marshall Faulk SDSU years were really fun.  And the current Aztecs are exciting. Donnel Pumphrey is the real deal.  A Heisman Trophy candidate.  Unfortunately the SDSU Aztecs are stuck with Qualcomm Stadium as their home.  45,000 attendance in a stadium that holds 70,000 equals a bad atmosphere.  Too bad, the Aztecs deserve better.

It seemed like the Beach Boys played the stadium a million times.  I was at either the first or second Rolling Stones Farewell Tour.  Now here we are in 2016, some twenty plus years later, and The Stones are playing yet another final farewell tour.  Guns and Roses just played the Q last month.  No, I was not there, not even a free ticket would have brought me out.

The mother of all concerts, especially for a 19 year old was on August 5, 1979.  The line up was Shakin Street, UFO, Pat Travers, Blue Oyster Cult, and Cheap Trick.  Before the show even began we felt like pieces of burnt toast after spending the night on the banks of the San Diego River like the homeless, so we could be one of the first to enter.  My recollection of the day is spotty.  I do remember there was an incident with some Birkenstock sandals.  And the bass of Blue Oyster Cult is still rattling my cerebellum.

It’s going to be strange when they tear down the stadium.

 

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Padres Memorabilia.

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House, lit like a Christmas tree on our driveway in PQ. This was after the final NLCS game in ’84 when we beat the Cubs.  He was lucky enough to be there.  He drove all the way to our house honking his horn.  The entire town was complete bedlam.

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House’s tickets. Only $25 in ’84!  Game 5 1998 never happened unfortunately.

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The late 90’s was a great time to own a restaurant named Fins!

 

Photos are more plentiful in this era because everyone has a smart phone.  I don’t have too many pics of all the time spent at the stadium.  This next set is from the ’98 World Series Game.

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Mother and daughter baseball fans!

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Pre marriage, unfortunately I don’t have the red vuarnets anymore, but I still wear that Hawaiin shirt!

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Happy Tailgating.

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Donna and Jonna.

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Bruce Bochy.  I still can’t believe that shitass Sandy Alderson pushed Bochy out the door.

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Donna and Amelia, pals since kindergarten.

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Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago at the SDSU Cal game with Bill and Marianne. Aztecs won!

Industrial Eats: Buellton, California

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Porchetta, yellow squash, fried egg, greens, and yes garlic.

 

Not exactly a winning name, but this restaurant is a real winner.  It’s called Industrial Eats because it’s located on Industrial Way in Buellton.  This place has soul.  It’s a legit farm to table operation.   A one of a kind place that can’t be duplicated, and if some corporation tried, there would be no way they could operationally execute it.

This was the best dining experience we’ve had in decades.  You order at the counter.   The menu board is on a roll of butcher paper.  They give you a number and deliver the food to you.  All the tables are communal.  Everything is cooked in two wood fired pizza ovens.  The space is just buzzing.  And it’s reasonably priced!  The three of us shared the pictured porchetta; a fennel sausage, tomato, mozzarella, basil pizza and a prosciutto, taleggio, parmesan, argula pizza.  If you are anywhere near Buellton, please visit Industrial Eats, you will not be disappointed.

 

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Cool entrance.

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I have no idea what the deal is with the Bruce Willis pillow on top of the cheese case?

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If I lived here I’d go all the time.

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Denise and Amelia chatting up the owners Chef Jeff and Janet and petting their dogs.

 

Buellton was a short three night stop on our way home from San Simeon, two with Denise.  We stayed at Flying Flags RV Resort.  It’s a big resort and quite busy, yet strangely quiet.  No generators help, and folks abided by the quiet hours.  We got back home through dreaded Los Angeles just a little scathed on a 10 mile stretch of the 101 before the 134 split.

 

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Flying Flags RV Resort.

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Pretty cool, it would be even cooler if they allowed mountain biking.

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Lower section of Lover’s Lane Loop.

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Spanish Moss hanging off the oak trees.  Spanish Moss is not a parasite.  It’s a epiphyte.  It absorbs nutients and water from the air and rainfall.

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Upper Lover’s.  Grass Mountain in the background.

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Tidy tips.

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Look at me, I’m Hap-Pea and Denise is Pea-Wee!

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The beautiful grounds of Sanford Winery.

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Damn!  Denise fell on the Lover’s Lane Loop hike.  It wasn’t until the next day when she got home that she found out she fractured her wrist.

San Luis Obispo & San Simeon: July 31-August 8, 2016

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Foggy morning on Oats Peak-Montana de Oro State Park.

 

California’s central coast is a beautiful stretch of land.  It’s one of many must see areas in this amazing state.  If you live in San Diego, the problem is you have to drive through LA to get to it.  We left before 6am on a Sunday morning and were able to get through it fairly unscathed.

Fires and smoky skies are part of summer now in the west, especially in California.  The huge Soberanes Fire in Monterey County was drifting smoke as far south as San Luis Obispo.  I guess we kind of lucked out only having smoky skies four out of eight days.  It was never bad enough where you had to stay indoors, but you could see and smell it.  And it sure ruined the beautiful vistas.

When I was in West Virginia people were asking me about the drought and fires.  Living in a state that’s damp, humid, and the vegetation is always green, they couldn’t comprehend the drought and large swaths of land burning out of control for weeks on end. Unfortunately, they recently experienced a devastating flood that took 23 lives and ruined over a 1,000 homes.  If I was feeling like a smart ass I’d say something snarky like, “Climate change is just a hoax made up by the Chinese.”  But death and destruction really aren’t joking matters.

San Luis Obispo or SLO as it is referred to in SoCal, is a nice college town with some good mountain bike riding.  I never knew this until this trip, but Obispo means Bishop in Spanish.  We were here a couple of years ago, and will probably be back again in a couple of years.

Denise joined us in San Simeon, home of the famous Hearst Castle.  If you are around my age or older I’m sure you remember the Patty Hearst saga from the mid 70s.  She’s 62 now, living in Connecticut, and is a grandmother.  The marriage to her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw lasted until his death in 2013.  Crazy, huh?

Anyways, unfortunately there’s not any mountain biking in the San Simeon area.  What a shame because the terrain is perfect.  Odds are it could be quite a while until we return, but then again one never knows.

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Bang the Drum Brewery.

Our first evening in SLO we went to Bang the Drum Brewery.  They tout themselves as the smallest brewery on the central coast.  It had a funky vibe & better than average beer.  The next morning I couldn’t find my wallet.  I had a panic moment and canceled the two credit cards.  We figured I must’ve lost the wallet in the campground showers or the brewery.  I scoured the showers, talked to the hosts, no wallet.  The brewery wasn’t open for hours, but I was able to leave a voice message, so I did.  Two hours later they called back, sure enough they had my wallet!  I swear I only had two beers.  We picked it up hours later when they opened.  All my cash and everything was still there.  I love Bang the Drum.

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Thankfully Amelia is back in the saddle!  This is the Hazard Peak trail in MDO.

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Our friends Mike & Chris’ property in Templeton.  They just moved to Templeton and are going to build their dream home on this lot.  We’ve been hearing about the land for as long as we’ve known them.  And of course in their modest and understated way they completely under hyped how awesome it is.

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Big cousin of bumps.

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Amelia, happy to be riding.  Cerro Cabrillo trail-Morro Bay State Park.

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The view a third of the way up West Cuesta Ridge.

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Our spot at Washburn Primitive Camp- San Simeon State Park.  For one day we had Flag Flying Fifth Wheel Fred as our neighbor.

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San Simeon Pier, constructed in 1957.  At 850 feet it’s considered a small pier.

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A chilly and windy, but clear day.

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The Santa Lucia Range.

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Elephant seals at Piedras Blancas – only the adult males are here this time of the year.  It was a first for us.  We couldn’t get over how huge they are.  Up to 16 feet and as much as 5,000 pounds.

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They were just laying around, occasionally flipping sand on themselves as protection from the sun when it got warm.

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The little white speck on the upper left is the Piedras Blanca Light Station, more on that in a moment.

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Hate it when that happens.

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On Saturday we went full tourist mode and visited Hearst Castle with Mike and Chris.  I even got suckered into buying this photo.

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Naked Golden Girl at Hearst Castle looking west at what is usually a jaw dropping spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, unfortunately for us this was the smokiest day.

Denise’s sleek new camper van.  The Luxor-TS Pleasure-Way.  She’s only had it four months and has already heard every porno joke in the book regarding the name.

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A chilly and windy, post dinner walk on the boardwalk in Cambria.  If you are in the area definitely stop at Sea Chest for dinner.  Cash only, my kind of place.

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Piedras Blancas Light Station.  What a great tour, much better than Hearst Castle.  The light house is just a small part of the tour.  On the nice walk around the grounds we saw all the typical seabirds and a Peregrine Falcon, Elephant Seals, Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters.  There’s less than 3,000 Sea Otters in California, so seeing them was a score.  The BLM and all the volunteers do a wonderful job running this property.

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Dune Buckwheat on the Piedras Blancas Light Station property.  The entire property used to be covered in ice plant.  They ripped it all out and put in natives.

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The sign says it all.

 

 

Southern West Virginia: July 24-27, 2016

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My grandfather built this house in Mullens. He was a carpenter by trade.  He and grandma lived there from 1955 to the early 70s.  My Uncle Butch also lived here while in high school.

 

William S.Burroughs once said, “When you stop growing you start dying.”  The coal camps (unincorporated communities) and small towns in southern West Virginia are dying a slow death.  Prince, Thurmond, Nuttalburg, Stotesbury, Kaymoor, Sewell, and Quinnimont are already ghost towns.  Maben, Mullens, Wyco, Pierpont, Lynco, Slab Fork, HooHoo, Glen Rogers, Jenny Gap, Otsego, and many others are barely alive.  It must be strange to once live here, as my mom did, and now see the poverty and sadness that permeates the area.

When I go back to Sacramento where I was born or think about San Diego in the 1970s, it’s not recognizable now because of the growth.  Just the opposite is occurring in southern West Virginia.  My mom grew up in Maben and went to high school in Mullens.  Maben was once a bustling lumber town.  It had wooden sidewalks, whitewashed fences, tennis courts, schools, and even a movie house.  The W.M. Ritter Lumber company ran a nice company town.  When it was sawed out, the lumber company left, and the coal mining began.  The town became dirty, nothing was kept up, schools closed, basically it went to pot.  The kids from Maben had to be bussed to Mullens to go to high school.  All the Mullens’ kids were “townies”; if you were from Maben you were looked down upon.  Butch, my mom’s youngest brother, lived in Mullens when he went to high school.  He was lucky according to my mom.

Her favorite job was Stevens Clinic in Welch.  She worked there from 1954-56, and hadn’t been back until this trip.  Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a fantastic book that partially takes place in Welch.  I highly recommend it.  She paints a vivid picture of what living in Welch was like in the mid 1970s.  It has only gotten worse.  It was devastatingly sad to see the city.  My mom had wonderful stories about working there, and how the town was just buzzing with life.  We both knew it was going to be bad after reading Glass Castle, but even that didn’t prepare us for what we saw.  Boarded up buildings, empty lots, empty homes, no commerce, no buzz, no vibrancy, just a sense of hopelessness and despair. In the heyday of the 1950s the population was almost 7,000.  Now there is around 1,500.

McDowell is one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the USA.  Welch is the county seat.  I won’t overwhelm you with statistics, but here are a few.

  • Life expectancy for men is 64 years
  • Less than half the adults have graduated high school
  • Median income per household is $21,574
  • Overall poverty rate of 33%, childhood poverty rate of 56%
  • Obesity rate is 37.9%
  • Teen pregnancy rate is 96 out of 1,000 girls, double the state & triple the national average.

Most of the folks are down on the government or outright hate it, yet they are dependent upon it. Welfare checks, disability checks, food stamps, free lunches for kids, and the community hospital.  And drug abuse is rampant.

I often wonder why the people that remain just don’t leave?  I don’t know what the solution is?  Without coal mining there is no work.  Welch and all the small towns and coal camps are very isolated.  I can’t imagine what can turn it all around.  One day they will probably all be ghost towns.

I took very little pictures because it felt like I was exploiting their plight.

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Mullens.

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Mullens.

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The nice part of Welch.

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Welch.

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Wanda T. and my mom.  In front of Welch Community Hospital.  They badly need nurses. I told them to apply!  They would’ve been hired for sure with their experience.

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My mom’s old high school, now a middle school.  Mullens big rival was Pineville.  Both high schools are now closed and they merged into one.  My mom still can’t get over that.

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My mom and her childhood friend, Wanda S.

 

 

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Wanda S. and my mom entering the China One Buffet in Sophia.  I wouldn’t say Sophia is thriving, but it’s doing alright since it’s really close to the big town of Beckley.  It was a crazy scene inside the restaurant.  Authentic Chinese food, Chinese employees with barely a grasp of the English language, and all the hillbillies just eating it up.  The place is always busy!

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The nursing school buddies. L to R, Wanda T., Bertha, my mom, and Boots.

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Wanda T.’s home in Scarbro.  A lot of homes, at least 20%, in all the communities we drove through had that star on them. I was convinced it had something to do with the military or perhaps a secret club.  Wanda T. said it was just decoration.

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Yup, I went into a Walmart in West Virginia…

 

 

 

The Family Reunion: July 22-23, 2016

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Leaving paradise for North Carolina & West Virginia.

 

This is my mom’s “last” big trip, or so she tells me.  (I thought Cuba was the “last” big trip?)  She wanted to go to West Virginia one last time and to North Carolina for a family reunion.  So off we went, while Amelia and Sara held down the fort.

In March of 1957, at 24 years of age, my mom fled West Virginia.  She jumped on a plane, for the first time in her life, and flew to California, where she’s lived ever since (except for a three year stint in Idaho from 1971-1974 and quick detour to Bay City, Texas in 1980).  Her first thought in California was, my god I can see forever.  It was nothing like the hollers of West Virginia.  She moved in with her brother and his family in Winters.  Nurses are always in high demand so she quickly got a job at Yolo General in Woodland, and then four months later Sacramento County Hospital.  She bought an orange Mercury convertible with a black top, and according to her, she was the cat’s meow.   I count my blessings everyday that my mom moved to California.  The downside, I never really knew my grandparents.  They were in West Virginia, then Florida, and eventually Texas where they both passed away.  I only saw them about five times throughout the years.  Amelia is lucky.  She grew up across the street from her grandparents.  They practically raised her.

My mother grew up in West Virginia, but spent most summers in North Carolina visiting all her cousins.  The reunion was held at Ashe Baptist Summer Camp just outside of West Jefferson, which of course is just down the road from Jefferson!   We were told to BYOB, so naturally I picked up some beer , 4/16oz pack of Appalachian Mountain Brewery Long Leaf IPA, for myself and a couple of waters for us.  When we arrived, most folks were already there and it took me about 30 seconds to figure out no one was drinking alcohol.  That was almost a faux pas!  So I stealthly put the 4 pack back into the car.  That would’ve been something, the odd duck from California drinking beer as they all were pounding soda pops and sweet tea.  These are true Southern Baptist folk.

 

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My mom’s mother’s maiden name was Yates, her sister married a Barker.  So this is my great aunt’s people.

 

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Gravel road up to the reunion.

 

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The reunion invite wasn’t kidding when they said weenie roast the first evening.

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Nor were they kidding about the Rook tournament.  Sonny boy and I almost won it.

 

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I guess these are my kin?  Cousins, once, twice, three and even four times removed and their families. I only met one person before, Polly.

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My mom’s first cousins. L to R, My mom, Sonny boy, Florence Ella, Jane, and Polly. In case you didn’t figure it out, the theme for the second day picnic was super heroes.

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Polly, Florence Ella, and my mom, circa 1939.

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Ashe County Cheese Factory.

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I’m a big rooster guy!  West Jefferson is a hip little touristy town.  They have all the cool things like a brewery, art shops, antique stores, and a coffee shop with cold brew on nitro!

 

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There are many murals on the bulidings in West Jefferson.

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This was my favorite because of the Spanish!

 

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All in all it was beautiful country, but a bit claustrophobic.

 

If you ever find yourself in this part of North Carolina be sure to tune into WSGE-FM 91.7.  What a great independent radio station!

Worth the Drive

It’s a rare post by the blogger’s wife.  I’ve been told you, the reader, would figure it out right away because I don’t write at all like Greg.  He put the pressure on so I enlisted some help from my poetry writing kin.

I drove 11 hours and 15 minutes to get there and 15 hours and 30 minutes to get back, but it was well worth it.  My dad’s third wife and my later in life stepmom, fondly called Geanie Geanie, lives in Fortuna and her son and his family live close by in Redway.  I spent five fabulous days with them.

Geanie and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Trinidad State Beach.  The fog was rolling in and out as we walked through the warm sand collecting drift wood and shells while admiring the huge rocks and plants clinging to them and the cliffs.  We also visited Patrick’s Point State Beach, which had incredible views from multiple spots.

 

TRINIDAD STATE BEACH

by Geanie Geanie

We arrived at low tide
the sandy shore was long and wide
captured on it’s Eastern side
by rugged bluffs in camouflage
hidden beneath a hodgepodge
of needled trees and some with leaves.
Woven through with hanging vines
sipping fog’s dewy wine. A drink
shared with flowers
in yellow, purple and pink.

Sentinels of rocks on the exposed shore
(We’d never seen up close before)
wore their geology
scarred and dark with history.
Growing on their lower side
was sea life nurtured by the tide,
but up high where it was dry
Succulents flowered in the sun
Nature showing it can be done
Diversity works for everyone.

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This was our view from the bench where we had a lovely lunch just out of the fog .

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Delaney and me atop a huge fallen redwood in Rockefeller Grove.

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Geanie, James, Francine, and Delaney on the Eel River.

One day we piled into the Subaru and headed out to the Lost Coast.  So beautiful!  Within the first ten minuets of our hike Delaney had composed a poem especially for this blog.

LOST COAST

Can you feel ocean breeze

as it tickles your nose with ease?

Listen to the little bird’s song,

can you try to sing along?

Look at the sea foam in the waves

as it crawls into hidden caves.

Watch the little bumble bees

pollinating willow trees.

Look closely at the wild flowers

as they change through the hours.

You hope and wish the clouds will shoo

to show the sky’s brightest blue.

This is what I love the most

about walking throughout the Lost Coast.

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Tonopah, Nevada: June 26, 2016

After leaving GBNP the plan was to go to Lone Pine, Ca so I could singlespeed up Horseshoe Meadows Road on my birthday.  It’s a solid 8 hours from Great Basin, longer than we like to drive, so we decided to stop half way and spend the night in Tonopah.  To be honest I can’t remember if I’ve ever even driven through Tonopah?  I’ve definitely never spent the night.  I knew it was a mining town.  Tom Russell sings a song about a Tonopah whore.  The weather guy in Mammoth often mentions a Tonopah low, an atmospheric condition that creates heavy percipitation on the east facing slopes of the sierras.  And Tonopah Brewing Company is supposedly pouring quality beers.  Why not stop?

From GBNP you take US-50, the so called loneliest highway in America, then US-6.  You only drive through two towns in 240 miles to Tonopah, Ely and Warm Springs.  A whole bunch of nothing is out there, that and every single road sign was shot full of holes.

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Silver Sage Travel Center. Ely, Nevada.

 

Let me forewarn you, the town of Tonopah is a speed trap.  The county line goes through the middle of town so there are two Sheriff Departments handing out tickets.  If you are going one mile over the posted 25mph speed limit expect a ticket.  I’ve never seen a short stretch of road being worked so hard in my life.  We were not ticketed because we didn’t speed, but we sure saw a whole lot of folks getting written up.

We spent the night in the back parking lot of Tonopah Station Casino.  They called it their RV Park.  Yes, it was full hook up, but it was definitely the back parking lot.

 

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Tonopah Station Casino RV Park.

 

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Amelia was less than ecstatic about spending the night here.  I convinced her dinner and beers at Tonopah Brewing Company would make it worth it.

 

My mom always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  So I have nothing to say about Tonopah.

After all of that we ended up driving nine hours the next day to San Diego.  We scrapped Lone Pine because of temps above 100 and poor air quality.  Smoke from the big fire in Kern County was drifting into the Owens Valley.  Horseshoe Meadows Road will have to be for another day.

Great Basin National Park: June 22-25, 2016

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GBNP

 

At 8,000 feet, 90 degrees is kind of icky.  I don’t think the flora and fauna dig it much either, that could be why I saw turkeys at 10,000 feet. Thankfully our last day was cooler.  As mentioned in the previous post, GBNP is known for three things, caves, bristlecones, and dark skies.  I threw in the fourth, Wheeler Peak.  At 13,063 feet, it is the second highest point in Nevada.  A lot of folks scoff at the highest point, Boundary Peak 13,140 ft because it’s considered a sub peak of Montgomery Peak in California. The two peaks are only about a mile apart.

Great Basin is lucky to draw 100,000 annually, making it the least attended national park in the system.  I would rank Bryce and Capitol Reef above Great Basin, but it is still worthy of a visit.  The highlight of the trip was the time we spent with Denise, R’s second ex-wife and a big influence on Amelia.

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Amelia and Denise enjoying Baker Creek.

The Lehman Caves tour is a must do. The tour is led by a ranger.  When you first enter everything looks fake.  It’s very strange.  Then you start learning about all the different formations and history of the cave.  It’s really fascinating.

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Kind of creepy, right?

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Kind of gross, right?

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This is the most photographed feature in the cave, The Parachute.

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Jackasses that vandalize and leave graffiti have existed in every century. This butthead did it in 1891.  It used to be a free for all before it was declared a National Monument in 1922. Everyone would take souvenirs and trash the caves.  In 1986, Great Basin became a National Park.

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Amelia clowning around as we left the cave.

 

On our second day, Amelia and Denise did a hike together.  I tackled Wheeler Peak.  It was a little tougher than I expected.  The last mile was steep.  And of course super windy along the ridgeline.

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Beautiful shaded start on the way to Wheeler.

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Sorry for the subpar pic. These are turkeys at 10,000 ft.  They are not native to the area.  In 2004, the Nev dept of wildlife introduced a group outside of the park, hoping to establish the birds for hunting purposes.  They weren’t exactly thinking about the possible ramifications.  Well sure enough, now there are hundreds that have migrated up to the park and have began wreaking havoc.

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There was still plenty of flowers above tree line. This is Colville’s Phlox.

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Sky Pilot.

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Alpine Avens.

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Colville’s Phlox and Moss Campion.

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You can faintly see the trail at the bottom of the pic. At about 3’o clock you can see the guy that blew past me.  He’s one of those nuts that does Spartan Races.

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No sunglasses and squinting at 13,063 ft.

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Amelia at Stella Lake, 10,400 ft. Looking up at Wheeler Peak.

 

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Taken on our way home at the California Nevada border. Boundary is on the left, Montgomery right.

 

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3,000 year old Bristlecone Pine. I have to be honest, the ancient bristlecone pine forest in the White Mountains of California is much more impressive.

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Amelia and Denise trekking back from the Glacier Hike.

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Just beyond this sign I saw seven marmots one morning.  There’s no signs posted for turkeys. They aren’t saying it, but I got the feeling they’d like you to run them over.

Permanent Wave

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Permanent Wave.

 

It all started with a glove filled with plaster, a permanent wave to passerbys.  Now the  NV- 488, a short 5 mile road from Baker to the Great Basin National Park, is an incredible open air art gallery.  I’m guessing most folks are in a hurry, so they probably do not see any of the art along the road, too bad because it is really clever and amazing.

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Nevada Fence Art.

We scoured the universe.

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Gateway to ?

 

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Nice eyebrows.

 

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Ha,ha,ha!

Half the park, is after dark.

 

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Please spare Snake Valley’s water.

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Baker Mix.

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Wheeler Peek, after Wheeler Peak in GBNP, the second highest peak in NV.

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Hang Out.

 

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Ladybug. 

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Snake Valley.

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For Amelia.

 

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The ghost of Jack Rabbits past.

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Wheeler Peek.

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Bristlecone.

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Wheel chair guy? I don’t know what this one was about?

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Horse with no mane.

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?

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Pie tins. Second from right is Van Gogh’ish.

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Great Basin National Park is known for four things: Caves, Bristlecone Pines, Wheeler Peak, and dark skies.

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Night Sky.

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Milky way?

 

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Mr. Wire

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Mrs. Wire

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Pegasus.

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I can’t figure this one out? I used to be good figuring out the riddles on Lucky Lager bottle caps.

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Good use of a George Foreman grill.

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Too Tall Tony  2-29-36 to  4-4-97

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Rolling Springs.

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Please help figure this one out!  I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with Amelia’s dad.

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Capitol Reef National Park

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Sulphur Creek, what an amazing hike!

 

Many of the national parks are being loved to death.  The infrastructures just can’t handle the number of visitors.  Parking is limited and shuttle buses are becoming mandatory.  Capitol Reef is not one of those parks.  There’s not even a manned booth to collect your money when you enter, instead there’s a self-pay kiosk.  The busiest park is Great Smoky Mountains, it draws over 10 million visitors per year.  Grand Canyon does 5 million. Yellowstone and Yosemite over 4 million.  Zion over 3.5 million and Capitol Reef will be lucky to do 750,000.

If you decide to visit Capitol Reef be sure to bring plenty of supplies.  Torrey, the gateway to Capitol Reef has a population of only a few hundred people, and no grocery store. Bring your own fresh fruits and vegetables, because you are not going to buy any of that here worth eating.

I’m pleased to report R was with us the correct amount of time, four to six nights is acceptable and everyone had a blast.  The heat wave was a drag, everyone better get used to it because it sure seems like it’s the new norm, but we worked our way around it.  The only other slight negative was we all got the shit bit out of us, not by mosquitos, but some other pest that was just relentless.  Oh yeah, and I almost ruined my iphone when I slipped and fell into Sulphur Creek.  I don’t want exaggerate but I could’ve gone over the falls. Thankfully after a few hours the phone dried out and all the functions began working.  The big tragedy of the trip, R broke his favorite martini glass!

 

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Thousand Lakes RV Park.

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Cassidy Arch Hike.

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$300! It should be $300,000 and 3 years of breaking rocks in the hot sun.

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Peregrine falcon. My first sighting in the wild. #321 on my life list.

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Greenstem Paperflower.

 

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It was magical 5 mile hike.

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No doubt, one of our top hikes.

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Lucky Amelia, the two men in her life!

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Father & daughter hiking in the Sulpur.

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Deep!

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The correct shoes for hiking in a stream.

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Happy couple.

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Utah Daisy.

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A ranger told us this is Rosemary Mint, but I kind of have my doubts.

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Ridable.

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One of the slots off of Cohab Canyon.

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The view across U-24 from Cohab Canyon.

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Best sunset of the trip, so far.

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Prince’s Plume.

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One hot evening we drove into town and I treated everyone to ice cream, including Sara.

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Apache Plume.