Years grow shorter, not longer…

 

Lately, I’ve been really reflective. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic we are all trying to survive, not traveling this summer, or the fact that I’m now sixty.  It could be a combo of all three, but I think it’s mostly the pandemic. A few days ago my good friend, Needles, sent me the following text.

 

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And then you hit one of these is in reference to the picture he texted.  My brother’s old refrigerator, that we eventually moved into Needle’s garage in Mammoth. The text blew me away.  It has been in my mind for several days, apparently I’m not the only one feeling reflective.

Looking at old photos is the best. Earlier this summer, I was scrounging around the garage, got side tracked and fell into a memory vortex looking at old photo albums. It was the same kind of endorphin high one feels at a high school reunion. A rush of memories. Happiness. I just had to share my high, so I started taking pics of the photos and texted them to the friends that were in them. Their responses made me even happier.

A few days later, I began receiving texts of pictures from them. What a treat! Especially the photos that I have never seen before; one was a group photo that included my late brother.

These are trying times. Out of the blue, surprise a friend and text them an old picture. Stay connected and spread a little happiness.

 

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The classic photo: Long Bar in TJ.  None of us were 21; it didn’t matter, the drinking age in Mexico was 18!

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Myself, Fralia, and Frank: on our way to Lake Havasu, sometime in the mid to late 80s.

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Acomb and House at my 40th birthday party.

 

The next three photos I had never seen before until my buddies texted them to me.

 

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Acomb and me before we turned thirty.  Outside of the Del Mar Race Track, where he hit it big!

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1985, Nick and Sherri’s wedding: that’s my brother, Eric, on the right with red Vuarnet sunglasses in his pocket.

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Lake Havasu, circa early 1980s

 

Stay safe everyone 😷

Full disclosure: Years grow shorter, not longer… are lyrics from the Jimmy Buffett song, Wonder Why We Ever Go Home.

The Pandemic Blues: July 15, 2020

 

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One of my few remaining LPs. RIP Country Dick Montana and Buddy Blue.

 

We are living in dog years.  Every day feels like seven.  137,000 dead and rising.  The positive cases keep stacking up.  What a horrible mess we are in.  No national leadership and no plan. God help us.

Elective surgeries recently opened up, so on June 17th Amelia had a bunionectomy and surgery on two hammer toes on her left foot.  It was originally scheduled for April, but the Covid kiboshed it. “A summer to remember” is the mantra I keep repeating everyday, much to my wife’s chagrin 😉. Six weeks on crutches and in a cast, then four weeks in a boot.  So we are definitely staying home and hopefully safe this summer while she recovers.  The Airstream is sitting in storage.  I go over once a week to visit her and reminisce. My other repetitive line, is a catch all for the Covid era: “People are stupid.” Every day the news confirms and reiterates it.

Music has always been a passion of mine. There have been times when it’s only smoldering, but the Covid has fanned the flames. Staying at home equals not spending as much money as usual and listening to a lot more music.  I’ve been taking that extra money that we used to spend on god knows what and investing in the joy of music. I’ve bought more CDs in the last four weeks than the last two years.  Music is powerful.  It stirs up emotions and memories.  I’ve never been a guy that wanted to be in a band or a rock star.  Instead, I’ve always wanted to be a songwriter.  To be able to craft a short story into lyrics…that’s magical.

In the late 70s and throughout most of the 80s every payday signaled a trip to Tower Records on Sports Arena Blvd.  All of us would load into someone’s VW Bug, super excited to go buy more music.  The vibe in the store was amazing. You could spend hours leafing through all the vinyl, listening to what they had spinning, chatting up the employees, and people watching.  You had your favorite artists, and always knew when they had a new release coming out.  You also mined the store for unheard gems, looking to be the first guy on the block to discover the hot new artist.  Bragging rights!  I like to take credit for discovering Lucinda Williams, but truth be told, it was my friend, Suzie. I will take credit for Green on Red, Jason and the Scorchers, The Plimsouls, Scruffy the Cat, Steve Earle, and Wire Train.

I currently do not have a turntable, but still rue the day I sold hundreds of albums and a handful of 45s before our move to Mammoth Lakes.  I actually thought I sold everything, but I had so much vinyl that there was a stash I forgot about!  So I still have about a 50 LPs.  There’s just nothing like holding an album sleeve in your hand.

 

Scruffy the Cat, Boom Boom Boom Bingo LP with the Tower price tag! 1987 release on Relativity Records.

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I wore this one out, especially side one, song one; “Time Ain’t Nothing.”  What a terrific song.   1985 release on Mercury Records.

 

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OMG!  Who didn’t have this album?  “baby i’m-a want you”

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Rod Stewart & Ronnie Wood’s band, featuring the classic “Stay with Me.”

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I want to make it perfectly clear: THIS IS NOT MINE!  It’s Amelia’s.

Valley Girl, what a great movie. The Plimsouls playing, “The Oldest Story in the World” in the bar scene. And Nicolas Cage with one of the best lines ever in a movie. “That chick Julie is truly dazzling.”  Need I say more.

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The X album with the great Dave Alvin song, “4th of July.”

 

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Stephen Stills & Neil Young’s 1976 release. I guess they were getting along that year.

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Buddy Blue’s 1987 post Beat Farmers release on Rounder Records.

 

All of us screwed up at least once and accidently left an LP in a hot car. It’s crazy how bad the vinyl would warp. The record would be ruined.  One time the Tower Records lot was full so I had to park on a side street.  When I came back to my car, someone had stolen my Pioneer AM/FM Cassette player.  They yanked it right out of the dash.  I was so bummed.  If you had a VW, shit like that happened too often because it was so easy to break in through the wing vents.

With all your albums you could then spend time crafting mix tapes. It was a real art form and a great way to impress a chick.  The movie High Fidelity, starring John Cusack, does a terrific job of nailing that era.  The Hulu series remake of the movie with the smoking hot Zoe Kravitz is also worth viewing.

 

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This crate is three layers deep and full of mix tapes. Many of them were given to me. Some of you might even recognize your own writing.

One of my favorite mix tapes.

The last mix tape my brother made before passing away on April 5, 1994.

 

Then one day, vinyl was out and compact discs were in.  There was great hype surrounding CDs, but the bottom line was vinyl sounded better, a lot better.  And then the world famous Tower Records was gone daddy gone, shuttered, out of business. Now CDs are on their way out and everyone is streaming music, but the bottom line is CD sound quality is a lot better than streamed music.

When my two friends and I opened Fins in 1989, music was a big part of our concept.  At first we played cassette tapes, but there was always the issue of having to flip the tape!  We quickly got smart and bought a five CD player and brought in our own existing CDs and started buying a bunch more.  Each store had a couple hundred CDs and we encouraged managers to bring in music. The opening manager would select the day’s music trying to create a theme that could be titled, if not the Fins logo sufficed.  I won’t name names, but a couple of managers always seemed to have their one go to CD that they always played, so eventually we just hid A Decade of Steely Dan and Honk, Five Summer Stories Soundtrack! Each store had a space on the wall for Today’s Music Mix, a plexi-glass holder that held the sleeve of each CD that was playing.  Every Friday was Jimmy Buffett Day (Fins, get it?). CD Trader on Miramar Rd was the place to go, but it was nowhere as cool as Tower in their heyday.  From 1989-1997, when we were in the stores all the time, with great managers, it was music magic. We had some brilliant mixes and customers loved it.  But as often happens, growing pains and lack of control doomed the great idea.  You can read the article below from an old Fins newsletter.

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January 24, 1995, grand opening party for Fins, La Jolla. Take a look at the Today’s Music Mix on the wall! Jimmy Buffett, Fruit Cakes, Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World, Counting Crows, August and Everything After, Frank Sinatra, A Swingin’ Affair and The Jayhawks, Hollywood Town Hall.

 

I’ve already said as much, but I’m not a streaming music guy.  I really enjoy laying down a five CD mix. I’ve been working remotely since 2012. Music keeps me company and makes me smile. Three years ago my last five CD player crapped out on me.  I was in a panic.  Good Ol’ Craig’s List saved me! I found a guy in Vista that has a garage full of receivers and CD players he has repaired and sells. If I were smart I’d contact him tomorrow, don a mask, and go buy two more players, because sooner or later this one is going to crap out too. Now, during the Covid, I’ve started naming the mixes again, just like back in the day at Fins.  And texting the pic of CD inserts to my music loving buddies.  It’s great fun, a nice way to stay connected, and gives me a little daily creative outlet.

 

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Over seven hundred CDs and counting!

 

Here’s a few of my recent mixes:

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“Short Stories From Larry’s Kid”

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“Toiling Away in Obscurity”

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“This is what the cool kids are listening to today.”

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“Mark Knopfler Thread”

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Johnny’s daughter, “Cash Only”

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“Easy Listening Sunday”

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“Trying to Stay Upbeat”

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“Black, Bold, and Beautiful”

 

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer’s, Not Dark Yet, is a real stand out for these times. I can’t rave about it enough. Another real gem that I recently knocked the dust off of and now can’t stop working into mixes is Kathleen Edwards’ 2003 release, Failer. I hope someone doesn’t hide it from me 😳.

 

Please stay safe! 😷

Fletcher Point: June 8, 2020

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Fletcher Point

 

We miss traveling and I miss blogging. I know, I know, things are “reopening”, but color us cautious.  Over 113,000 dead and 2,000,000 positives, and cases still rising in many states, including California. We will be staying put or close by this summer.

It never ceases to amaze me, I’ve lived here 46 years and I’m still discovering things literally in our backyard that I did not know about. Fletcher Point is one such place. The trailhead is only 4 miles from our house! It takes you through the least traveled west southwest side of Lake Hodges. The middle third of the hike is a little sketchy. I wouldn’t consider it a family hike nor a stroll for older folks.

You see the name Fletcher a lot in San Diego County. There’s Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach. Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa. Fletcher Hills in El Cajon. They are all named after Colonel Ed Fletcher (December 31, 1872- October 15, 1955). He was quite a guy that did many amazing things in his life, among them, he was instrumental in developing Lake Hodges.

Ever since the Covid stay-at-home era all the local trails have never been busier, so it was quite a delight for us to see only one runner. The other delightful thing was all the flowers, especially considering it’s June.

There’s one thing that gets Amelia going more than trash on a trail, and that’s chicks that leave toilet paper on the trails. I should’ve recorded her rant! She was going off on prissy girls not just air drying, but with much more colorful language and descriptors. 😂

 

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The neighborhood pond at the beginning of the hike

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The easiest part, the beginning

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Golden Yarrow

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Slender Sunflower

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Yellow Bush-Penstemon

 

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Seventy feet deep below that red buoyed corral is a contraption called a Speece Cone. The only one of it’s kind in SoCal. It constantly injects oxygen into the reservoir which reduces the nutrients algae feed on.

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Weed’s Mariposa Lily

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San Diego Bedstraw

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Chamise

 

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Charming Centaury. The flowers are so brilliant they look fake. I never use filters on any of my pictures.

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Fletcher Point is that peninsula.

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Can you see Amelia scrambling in the upper left corner? This is one of the sketchy parts.

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Red Bush Monkeyflower

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White Sage

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Fletcher Point

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Behind the trees on that ridge is the old vacation home of the Ralphs family, as in Ralphs grocery stores. The home has been there since 1928. The Ralphs bought it in 1938. Multiple generations used it for 50 years. I have no idea if someone is currently living in it.

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Bernardo Mountain in the background, one hell of a mountain bike ride.

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Fletcher Point

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The road above the houses is Del Dios Highway.

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Turkey Vulture

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The lizards and rattlesnakes are thick out there, thankfully we didn’t see any rattlers. Trust me, we were looking.

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The red fruit of a Lemonade Berry plant

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Lake Hodges dam

 

The stats

A Fairy Tale: April 16, 2020

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March 31st, standing in a long line, the last time we went to Costco.

 

Once upon a time is a classic fairy tale opening.  I’m afraid that’s exactly what my last post was; a fairy tale.  In the not so distant future the world will not resemble the one from the not so distant past.  There will be a new normal, and it’ll be quite a bit different from the old normal. How different and what it looks like no one really knows, but I’m guessing face masks will be common place and shaking hands won’t be.

In my life there’s been three events that have altered “normal.”  The HIV/Aids crisis, September 11th, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.  We’ve been “staying at home” since March 14th, thirty-three days and counting, with no end in sight.  San Diego and California’s early adoption of staying at home, social distancing, and face masks while in public seems to be working to flatten the curve and slowing down and reducing death. But people are getting antsy.

We feel safe at home, walking around the block, and riding our bikes, but it’s terrifying to go into a crowded store to buy groceries. In our county, you cannot enter a store unless you are wearing a mask.  And all the employees are wearing them too.  It’s jarring to see everyone in masks. Amelia said it best, “You can’t see anyone smile.”  That’s sad, because a warm smile goes a long way in this environment. All non-essential stores are closed, and unfortunately many of them will never reopen. They can’t hold on, their businesses will be lost.

At the beginning of stay at home, there was a lot of stress, anxiety, and fear. And a lot of alcohol consumption in the evenings, but that is not sustainable nor conducive to quality sleep. When we did sleep the dreams were crazy, vivid, and intense. Now over thirty days into it we’ve adapted and have throttled back some.

Humor has always been a coping mechanism. The darker the times, the darker the humor. Right now there is some hilarious stuff rattling around in cyberspace. Is everyone over Zoom happy hours and meetings? The novelty has definitely worn off for us.  Zoom rhymes with gloom and doom. Is your neighborhood like ours? Everyday there’s a parade of people walking around the block. And everyone is friendly.

The news and images coming out of New York are horrifying, a complete nightmare.  And this is the United States of America? You would think that would wake people up to reality.  How horrible to die alone, and how horrible for the families that can’t be with their loved ones. I heard someone say, “In America, even our pets don’t die alone.”

There’s been a complete failure of leadership at the national level.  It has exasperated the situation.  Our death count could’ve been lower if swift and decisive action were taken earlier.  Instead, what occurred has been well documented.

I’d like to leave you with a rhetorical question. Why is Dr. Fauci receiving death threats?

 

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I’ve heard availability of these items has now improved.

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Long lines at Costco because every other register is closed for social distancing.

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Early on this was typical at the grocery stores. We just went shopping this week and the shelves were almost completely stocked now.

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San Diego’s beaches, bays, boardwalks, and even the ocean are closed.

 

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All of the open space parks and trails are closed.

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And of course neighborhood parks are closed.

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The first responders, medical professionals, and essential workers are all heroes. They risk their lives daily.

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There’s a lot of chalk art in our neighborhood.

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Hope

 

As a distraction to this current nightmare we are all in, I’ve been giving a daily tour of our yard on Instagram.  If you love plants and flowers check it out!  gregharris395

Stay healthy!

Once upon a time…

 

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, there was an amazing world, and in that world there was a great country called the United States of America.

Every community had buildings they called schools.  In those schools teachers taught and kids learned.  Beyond the book learning, they learned how to socialize and get along with others.

There were places where people went to work called workplaces.  In the workplaces, there were rooms where people met, called meeting rooms.  People got together in those meeting rooms to solve problems and plan for the future.

The grocery stores had shelves that were fully stocked.  You could walk in and buy anything you wanted! It was an amazing time.  You could get toilet paper, eggs, bananas, and fresh vegetables.  The meat section had endless choices of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and lamb.

Breweries were a big deal.  It was a very regional thing and every city had them.  People would gather at these places and drink fresh beer, socialize, and have a good time.

People ate out at restaurants.  They wined and dined.  You could feel the energy in the busy establishments.

There were entertainment options galore.  Movie theaters, plays, live music venues, and sporting events. Professional athletes were paid mind boggling sums of money to entertain us by playing baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, and football.  Perhaps the biggest sporting event, even bigger than the Super Bowl, was March Madness.  The Big Dance.  The NCAAs.  College basketball at its most exciting.  And if your team was playing, it was even more exciting.

This is going to sound crazy, but there were buildings called libraries.  The libraries were full of books that you could check out for free!

The words “social distancing” were never uttered.  People hosted parties in their homes.  When you saw your friend you shook their hand and/or gave them a hug.  People stood side by side and reminisced and laughed.

Let’s hope in the not so distant future, the world once again resembles the one from the not so distant past.

March 18, 2020

 

 

The End of an Era: ❤️day – Feb 16, 2020

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Buenas Dias

 

Two months later we are still sad without Sara.  She was so much a part of our Airstream adventures.  Granted everything is easier now, but she was such a joy.  This being our first trip since she’s died was emotional.

Tradition is we go out to Borrego Springs on President’s weekend.  The weather typically is nice and it’s a short easy trip.  As we were driving into Borrego Valley we both commented how much we still like it out here.  It just leaves us with a peaceful feeling.

At 1pm, as we drove past Peg Leg campground we couldn’t believe how crowded it was.  At the stop sign, we turned left on to S-22 and were just astounded by the crowds across the street in the open area.  There was even an Airstream; usually it’s just the toy hauler crowd since they can ride there.  We made the left onto Rockhouse Trail, up over the small rise, and it was like we were smacked in the face.  Uh-oh, something was not right. The place was completely empty, save for one guy. We drove a little further and there was the answer.  Private Property. Unauthorized Persons Prohibited, Unauthorized Vehicles Removed signs at all the turnoffs where the boondocking has always been.  I guess now it’s where it used to be.

F@*K! Now what.  I figured for starters I’d jump on the singlespeed, ride over and go talk to the one guy.  He wasn’t any help and was kind of a dick.

Decisions…what do we do? Where do we go?  The last thing we dreamed of was this curveball.  While we were having a typical married couple conversation about the predicament, Amelia spotted a yellowish orange State Park Boundary sign behind us back towards S-22.  Ah ha! We will outsmart them. We will set up on State Park Land.  So we did.  And felt really good about our smarts, or at least I did. 😁

A couple of hours later we went out to look at the blooms.  It isn’t a super bloom this year, but there is some beauty to be seen.  A huge problem in the Borrego Valley is the invasive Sahara Mustard.  I do not know what the solution is, but the plant is literally choking out the natives.  The stuff is everywhere.

Then we went to Carmelita’s for a nice early bird Valentine’s Day dinner.  It was a glimpse into our future.  The place was full of couples in their late 60s and 70s.  All the guys were in Costco cargo shorts.

The next morning there were four more RV’s, in the blatant, no way could you explain  your way out of it, Private Property area.  Dodos.  We had breakfast, and took off in the truck for our morning hike.

We came back and were finishing up lunch in the Airstream when I saw a Park Ranger Law Enforcement Officer making a beeline towards us in his truck. I went out to greet him, told him my story about being a good guy and clearly being in State Park Boundary, unlike all those other dodos.  He understood my logic, but said the problem was I trespassed across private property to get to our spot.  So even though I was a good guy, we were still being evicted.

Buzzkill. We pulled up stakes, hitched up, and went a couple miles east on S-22 to where the Park Ranger said it was all right to camp.  There were five other RV’s.  Not a glamorous site, and literally twenty yards from busy S-22.  We decided to stayed hitched up, so the next morning we could just drive home.

The story behind the Rockhouse/Dry Clark Lake boondocking area being closed is the property owner finally just had enough of people leaving trash, broken bottles, and toilet paper all over.  I can’t blame the guy, if it was my land I would do the same.  It’s the end of an era.

 

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The end of an era.

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All wildlife and plants protected, but not us; we were evicted.

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Our last time at Rockhouse Trail.

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Sand Verbena and California Spectacle Pod

 

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Desert Primrose

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Amelia taking in the best part of the day and holding a mylar ballon she picked up.

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Desert Lily

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Beetles munching on Desert Sunflowers

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Ocotillo, Airstream, and a half moon

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My wife saving the world, picking up trash. That’s her new thing.

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Maneuvering up and over the 10-foot-high dry waterfall in Powder Dump wash

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My buddy, Acomb, and his chick, Lynn, and their companion, Sammy, came out for a two hour whirlwind visit and dinner.

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Acomb made these delicious swordfish, hanger meat, onion, mushroom, yellow squash, and orange bell pepper kabobs.  I grilled them.  It went great with the bottle of 2015 Failla Pinot Noir he also brought.

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Sammy

 

R.I.P. Sara Marie: December 13, 2019

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May 2019, looking very regal.

 

Our sweet little Puggle passed away on Friday, December 13th. The greater the joy they give you the more devastating the loss. We are devastated by her loss.  The words pet and dog don’t really do her justice.  She was a true companion and we will miss her dearly.  She will always be in our hearts and minds.

Most of our crying is over.  Now we are adjusting to not having her as part of our daily lives.  The house feels a lot different.  If the past is any indicator, it will probably be at least two years before we get another companion.  Time will tell.

 

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February 2014, in her prime.

 

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Easter Sunday 2017, free ranging in The Valley of the Gods.

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April 2017, my happy girls.

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July 2017, she loved vanilla soft serve.

 

The beagle in her enjoyed chasing lizards and digging.  When we knew the end was near we let her dig to her heart’s content.  It’s just dirt and plants.  The joy she experienced was worth it.

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Of course we would have to bring her in to calm down before she stroked out. After about 15 minutes the panting would stop and she would be banging on the screen door to get back out to the digging.

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New Years Eve 2018, Sedona.

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She knew the moment the morning sun hit the front porch.  If you weren’t aware of it she would scratch at the door to tell you.

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December 1, 2019. The chaise lounge was one of her favorite spots for the late afternoon sun.

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Thanks to the Pug in her she snored, but it was a snore we found quite comforting, even in the middle of the night.

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October 10, 2019, hoping she will get some ice cream and of course she did.

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We love you Sara. Say hello to Jack, Sugar, and Sanchita. We will see you on the other side.

 

 

Potrero: November 24-26, 2019

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Live Coastal Oak at Potrero County Park

 

Damn, I can’t believe it’s been five months since we’ve taken out the Airstream. Sometimes life gets in the way of living.  Speaking of living, the old girl Sara is still alive.  It has been 7 months since she was diagnosed with Transitional Cell Carcinoma (bladder cancer).  The drug she’s on must slowing down the growth.  She has had several real bad days that had us thinking it was the end.  Then the next day she seemed fine.  One of those bad days was on this trip.  Now we are home and she’s fine.  She has us on an emotional rollercoaster ride.  We are pretty certain this was her last Airstream trip.

Potrero is in San Diego County; what we call East County.  A part of our county that we do not get to much.  In fact we’ve never been to Potrero until this trip.  It’s a pretty county park with a campground that has 39 sites with electrical hook-ups and water.  There’s not really much to do. The big draw is Tecate, Mexico which is less than a ten minute drive away.  That was the focus of our short trip.  Unfortunately the Tecate Brewery is closed on Mondays, so that was a big let down. When I was on the internets boning up for the trip I know I read Sundays are the day they are closed.  Oh well.  I also learned a few interesting things regarding Tecate beer.  Tecate is owned by Heineken.  They also own the brands Dos Equis, Sol, Bohemia, Superior, and Carta Blanca. The Tecate that’s imported to the USA is brewed in Monterrey.  The Tecate brewed in Tecate has more alcohol and is brewed with spring water.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this…I had no idea there is a Tecate, California. The only thing that separates it from Tecate, Mexico is the wall.  The moment we crossed the border there was a buzz in the air.  You could just feel it wasn’t an ordinary Monday, instead we stumbled into a National Holiday, Día de la Revolución.  It is celebrated on the third Monday in November, near the official day of November 20th. There was a parade and all kinds of celebrating going on.

A dollar goes a long way in Tecate. The first shocker: it was only five dollars to park all day in a lot right on the border.  We had an authentic meal at Taqueria Los Amigos.  A typical open air street restaurant with flies buzzing all around. They had a nice little dining area and waitresses, but it was still a taco stand.  I think it’s ingenious how they serve the food on plates covered with a plastic bag.  My “save the world” wife of course thinks it’s a waste.  We had a carne asada burrito, two carne asada tacos, and a Sprite for seven dollars.  At El Mejor Pan de Tecate we bought a baguette, three pastries, and a coffee for four bucks and change!

 

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Site 10. Both nights there were only a handful of campers.

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The old girl

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Entering Mexico, I was carrying our passports. Once Amelia entered I said, “See you later,” and turned to walk away.  She did not think it was funny.

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The Tecate welcome arch

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Dancing chicas in the parade

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Caballeros, most of them were fancy walking their horses. Look at the horse on the left with the crossed front legs. He was doing some crazy shit. That’s Tecate Mountain in the background.

 

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This guy was all duded up.

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The ever present military

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Sweet ride parked outside of Taqueria Los Amigos

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We loved the murals

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So are those tattoos on her arms?

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El Mejor Pan de Tecate. What an amazing bakery!

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The chocolate rats were muy delicioso.

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The hideous wall

 

Thank you to everyone that has bought my book Summer of ’78 A Road Trip.  If you have not yet, please consider doing so.  A few weeks ago I did a podcast to promote the book. Click here to listen to it.  I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

Summer of ’78 A Road Trip

 

 

 

 

After more than two years of on and off work my first novella has been published!  Below is the first chapter.  At the end there’s a link to purchase the book through Amazon. The paperback is $9.99 and the ebook version is $4.99.  The ebook has colored photos.  The paperback has grayscale photos.  But the paperback you can leave on your coffee table and show it off to people!  Please buy it and spread the word.

Thank you!

Greg

 

A Grand Adventure

“Goddammit, Fralia, focus! Where’s your head at?” yells the coach.

I’m thinking to myself, Oh boy, here we go again.

It’s senior year in high school and none of us are focusing, but Fralia is always an easy target. And why not—good looking, charismatic, smooth talking, and dating the hottest girl in school. It seems like even the coaches are jealous of his charmed life.

Dave Fralia was the first person I met when I moved to San Diego. It was at “two-a-days” practice for frosh football at Mount Carmel before the school year began. We just hit it off and became fast friends.

That was 1974, and now here we are in May of 1978 and graduation can’t come soon enough. The day after graduation, we are jumping in Herman, my 1970 Volkswagen Bug, and hitting the road for a five-week trip of the Western United States. A grand adventure: a two-man tent, our fishing poles, and .22 caliber rifles in the back seat. Everyone thinks we are just talking shit. Oh, ye of little faith. I’m only seventeen, but will be eighteen in a week and a half after graduation.

We have a nice loop planned through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, down the Oregon coastline, and back into California. We’ll be visiting my friend in Idaho Falls. I lived there for three years, the formative ones, between eleven and thirteen. Idaho was fun, but San Diego is more to my liking. Toward the end of the trip, we’ll be in Sacramento, my birthplace, visiting my aunt, cousins, and childhood friends. Our last stop will be San Jose to visit our friend Suzie.

You are probably thinking, Herman? Who names their car that? Isn’t a guy’s car supposed to be a she? Well, Herman is a she. The Encinitas Herman Cook license plate frame inspired the name. I got a great deal at $650. She’s a faded red, without dings or dents. She always starts, is dependable, and— like most Bugs—leaks a little oil. The gas gauge also doesn’t work, but the trip odometer does, so I just have to be sure to get gas around 240 miles. I’ve only run out of gas a few times, but I always carry a skateboard and a gas can in the front hood for when it happens. Herman has a roof rack and we plan on taking the bench seat out of the rear and folding the back down for more storage room. She has a new set of bias ply tires. She’s good to go.

A critical component of any road trip is music—I just got a swinging deal at Pacific Stereo on a Pioneer AM/FM cassette deck. None of our tapes are going to get eaten! We are each bringing a briefcase full of tapes. Killer mix tapes, plenty of Neil, REO, Steve Miller, Elton John, Ted, Frampton, Stones, America, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, April Wine, and even some Jimmy Buffett, just to name a few.

But graduation is still weeks away, and the days just drag on. We are in no-man’s-land: senioritis, completely done with high school, but still stuck in it. We spend our days putting forth minimal effort and screwing around: blowing off classes, running an underground newspaper, hitting the beach, and dreaming about our grand adventure.

 

 

Please purchase!  Click here to buy it

I’m probably pushing my luck, but if you could give the book a great review on Amazon it would be much appreciated.

 

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Thank you very much,

Greg

 

 

The drive home and random thoughts on Colorado.

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They consider this a shady full hook up site at Green River, Utah, KOA.

 

If it’s July and you’re in Colorado there’s no way to get home to San Diego without suffering in the heat.  We chose the I-70 to I-15 route.  From Steamboat Springs to Green River it was six and half hours.  Green River to Vegas, eight and half hours, but we stopped often to take in the beauty of the San Rafael Swell.  Then Vegas to home, six hours.

 

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Green River

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One of the most interesting trails I’ve ridden. Named after the Athena missile which was based here in the early days of the cold war.  It’s a 5.5 mile loop.

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An overlook of the Green River on the Athena Trail

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You can see the trail going through the crazy moonscape like terrain.

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There was also a stretch of rock to ride.

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Seems like the kind of place “we” would launch missiles from in the 1960s.

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These are concrete tent pads from the old missile base.

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One of our stops on I-70 after Green River. We love this scenery.

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Another stop, Amelia just had to walk the rock.

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Our not so lovely site at the KOA Sam’s Town in Vegas. 104 degrees when we arrived.

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Miserable Vegas heat, so the girls were standing under the AC. It’s hard to cool off the Airstream when it’s 96 degrees inside when you turn on the AC. It took hours just to get the inside to 84 degrees.

 

 

Some random notes and thoughts on our trip and Colorado:

The trip was 33 days long and we drove 3,390 miles. The Mountain passes in Colorado are beautiful but stressful when towing. It was the first time we’d been in second gear going down a steep grade, and we did it often.

Texans love Colorado.  There are a lot of Subarus.  Every town we passed through sold pot. There’s actually a place called Stoner, Colorado.  Unlike previous trips, I brought my fishing pole, but never used it.

In all the years we’ve been together we’ve never grilled hot dogs, until this trip!  They were quite tasty.  We drove through six states: California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.  All this talk about our infrastructure being in poor shape is true.  The roads were horrible, even the Interstates.

I had no idea so much coal is being mined in Colorado.  In 2018, Colorado was ranked the 10th highest coal producing state.

There are a lot of rivers and they are all beautiful.

Duh, we know there are mountains, but geez the cell service was horrible.  It makes it difficult to work while on the road.

People love their campfires.  It was 85 degrees and they were lighting them.

 

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View from a trail on Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs

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Phlox in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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Fleabane Daisy in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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There’s a trail in Salida called Chicken Dinner and it has nothing to do with being a winner.  It’s named after a popular candy bar introduced in the 1920s, that had nothing to do with chicken or dinner.  It was a chocolate nut roll.  Some folks consider it the first nutrition bar.  This is a genuine metal sign that came off the truck that used to sell them in the area, or some story like that.

 

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New mile markers at Phil’s World

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Rattlesnake Sandmat in Prescott

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It’s not all go, go, go.  The Puggle needs quality cuddle time.

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The Great Sand Dunes National Park is magical.