R.I.P. Sara Marie: December 13, 2019


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.



February 2014, in her prime.



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


April 2017, my happy girls.


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.


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.


New Years Eve 2018, Sedona.


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.


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


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


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


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



Potrero: November 24-26, 2019


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!



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


The old girl


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.


The Tecate welcome arch


Dancing chicas in the parade


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.



This guy was all duded up.


The ever present military


Sweet ride parked outside of Taqueria Los Amigos


We loved the murals


So are those tattoos on her arms?


El Mejor Pan de Tecate. What an amazing bakery!


The chocolate rats were muy delicioso.


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!



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.




Thank you very much,




The drive home and random thoughts on Colorado.


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.



Green River


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.


An overlook of the Green River on the Athena Trail


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


There was also a stretch of rock to ride.


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


These are concrete tent pads from the old missile base.


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


Another stop, Amelia just had to walk the rock.


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


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.



View from a trail on Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs


Phlox in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


Fleabane Daisy in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


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.



New mile markers at Phil’s World


Rattlesnake Sandmat in Prescott


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


The Great Sand Dunes National Park is magical.





Steamboat Springs: July 2-7, 2019


Swamp Park Trail, a few miles outside of town.


Before we left on this trip our friend, Dennis, gave us a quick summary of his top spots to visit for mountain biking in Colorado.  I would say his description of Steamboat Springs was spot on.

“Off the charts beautiful, great climbing trails, not much fun technical downhill stuff though.”

That pretty much sums it up.

The town was super crowded, but that’s to be expected during a major holiday week.



Eagle Soaring RV Park, Site #16.  Eight miles west of Steamboat. Just another ho hum spot, but thankful for the full hook ups. We needed to run the AC every afternoon.


Getting the RV Park ready for the 4th.


This dude was spraying the heck out of everything, hopefully not with DDT, but whatever he was using worked. There were minimal mosquitoes.


Sorry for the poor picture.  I absolutely love the artwork.


This is the first one of these parking meter like things we’ve seen, makes sense.


Just like the RAT (trails at Ridgway), Emerald Mountain had directions for four different rides. We did this one.


Lupine Trail


Start of Morning Gloria


Mid way up Morning Gloria


We didn’t do Root Canal, but I had to take a picture.


We hit two breweries in town, Butcherknife and Storm Peak.  Both were just okay.  Storm Peak had a bunch of customers on the patio and inside smoking pot.  That was interesting.


Yampa River runs through town.


We did the famous Alpine Slide one afternoon.  You ride a chairlift to the start.  First time in years either of us have been on a chairlift.


There’s two tracks that run side by side.  I can’t believe it, but Amelia beat me to the finish line.


“I’m ready to go home and chase lizards in my backyard.”


Ute Lodge, Middle of Nowhere Colorado: June 29-July 2, 2019



Our dear friend, Dianni, and her family were heading home to Fort Collins after a long stay in Corvallis, Oregon. They picked this spot for our three-day rendezvous. It’s also cool that they know the owners, Mona and Karl. It’s always insightful listening to owners of a business. For them it’s definitely a lifestyle choice.

The Ute Lodge is between Meeker and the Flat Tops Wilderness. It’s isolated and a totally different camping experience: kind of like boon docking with full hook ups. It’s a large property with eight cabins, eleven RV sites, and a yurt two miles up a 4×4 fire road. They also have a pond, horses, pigs, laying hens, twenty-seven chicks, of which only one will be a laying hen while the other twenty-six will be used for meat, and finally, there is zero cell service.

It has been years since we’ve seen Dianni in person, so we had a lot of catching up to do, especially her and Amelia. The two of them are kindred spirits. So there were many meaningful conversations and a lot of socializing. It was quite a treat to see her and particularly interesting to see what characteristics and traits her two kids inherited and learned from each of their parents.

It was hard saying goodbye. It’s too bad we all don’t live closer to each other. One of the most heart breaking and tender moments of our entire trip was when Dianni started crying when saying goodbye to Sara. I’m tearing up a little writing about it.



Colorado Columbines


Site #6


The view from our site


Amelia feeding Junebug, a 5 week old filly.


Sara was quite fascinated with the pigs.


Trappers Lake, about a 30 minute drive from Ute Lodge.


Tony, flyfisherman extraordinaire


Dianni & Amelia in the Flat Tops Wilderness


One-eyed sphinx moth


Leo, Amelia, Dianni, and Jasmine prepping dinner


The three ladies in the Aspen Cabin


Occasionally you see some white lupine.


Myself, Amelia, Tony, and Dianni on Papoose Creek trail, right from the campground


Jasmine and Dianni


On Monday morning I went for a drive looking for cell service to check in for work.  The white faced cow did not want to move.


Sara looking for her mom


Sig Alert! Sig Alert!

We encountered a 30 minute delay on County Road 8 when leaving Ute Lodge.  Three large groups of sheep were being herded eleven miles to National Forest Land.  It was a highlight for us city folk.  Sara was going bonkers.  Of course with sheep comes sheep shit and it was all over the road and now up inside all of our wheel wells and on the front of the Airstream. I’m betting it’s still there when we get home.



Baa baa!




Ridgway State Park: June 24-29, 2019



Ridgway State Park is conveniently located between Montrose and Ouray. When we arrived the lady at the entrance gate was super chatty. She told us the state parks only allow 3.2% beer, but they are not really enforcing it, wink, wink, just be careful. Noticing our bikes she also told us about the RAT Trails, but more on that later.

Colorado is finally evolving with their liquor laws. It always struck me as strange that you can buy weed legally (and I guess now shrooms in Denver), but you couldn’t get a real beer in the grocery store. As of January 1st that law finally changed. Now all the supermarkets are advertising real beer for sale. Sadly though the selection isn’t that great, too bad, Colorado has a lot of good breweries. Maybe they are all struggling with the distribution. It’s silly the state parks are still stuck in the 3.2% era.

The campground was exceptional: full hook ups, affordable, and plenty of space between sites. I’d rate it 4.5 out of 5. The minor negatives are too close to the 550 Highway and not enough shade. It hit 90 degrees a couple of days and we had to turn on the AC. The other bummer, the state parks charge an $8 per day use fee, on top of the camping fee. But if you are a resident, for $40 you can buy an annual pass, non-resident is $80.

The RAT trails are amazing! Another great trail system on BLM land. At the main trailhead sign it had directions for putting together different rides and travel directions for the trails. What a great idea. Hopefully more biking areas start doing the same. It was fast, flowing single-track. A little reminiscent of Phil’s World. All the trail names were rat themed. If you can’t have fun, then what can you do? Unfortunately there wasn’t a Socrates or Ben trail. They need to get building, because certainly those two famous rats deserve their own trail.

We put on our tourist hats and did a couple of day outings with Sara. One was to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It’s dramatic, not too well known, extremely steep, narrow, and quite different from the Grand Canyon. Our pictures really don’t do it justice.

Then one evening we drove up the Million Dollar Highway from Ouray, past Red Mountain Summit, almost to Silverton. As advertised, it was steep, plenty of S curves, no guardrails, terrifying, and at the same time beautiful. I don’t think we’d ever tow on it. On the way back we stopped at Red Mountain Brewery for dinner and beer. The little town of Ouray has three breweries, but only Red Mountain allowed dogs, and only on the patio.

More often than not, I celebrate my birthday on the road. I’m pretty sure I turned twelve in Elko, Nevada. This year I turned fifty-nine at Ridgway State Park, Colorado.



Site 236


Geez, finally


View from Rat Trailhead


RAT is Ridgway Area Trails



Rat Trap Trail


Ridgway Reservoir

Another one bites the dust.  Amelia said it’s time to get rid of my 25 year old Dipsea shirt from 1994.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison


One of the many overlooks


The Painted Wall, at 2,300 feet it’s the highest cliff in Colorado


Old Juniper with Painted Wall in the background


A viewing platform on the Million Dollar Highway, Amelia is looking down on a raging waterfall.


There’s a Red Mountain #1, #2, and #3. This is #3.

Remember the TV Series McCloud?  This is one mile north of Ridgway.


Uncompahgre River, don’t ask us to pronounce it.


Kind of a decent sunset

Salida: June 16-24, 2019



Salida is a cool little town. My first impression was: it’s like a beach community because of all the people riding around on their townies and beach cruisers. It has a different, better vibe than most mountain towns. The Arkansas River is the center of attention and all the activities that go with it. Mountain biking is also big. The town has a population of around 5,300 and three bike shops!

Way back in December of 2014 we met a couple at Catalina State Park in Arizona from Salida, Tim and Lisa. Of course Amelia has kept in touch with Lisa. The first thing we did in Salida was visit her at their house. Amelia really wanted to see her work studio and figure out when we could meet up with them. One of the memorable lines from Lisa was, “The deer aren’t cute. They are pests.” We certainly saw a lot of them, especially where there was green grass and shade. It was so common we didn’t even bother to take any pictures. I guess the cuteness wears off when they are tearing up your yard.

Our first two rides were unguided with us relying on the Trailforks app and a bike shop map. It seemed like all we did was climb and go the wrong direction. We did not have as much fun as we were expecting. I kept saying I’m going to reserve judgment until the end of the trip, but I certainly wasn’t seeing the goods our friends in San Diego had been hyping. Then I hooked up with Tim for a Saturday ride. Wow, nothing like having a local guide you around. The hype was real. This place is fun! On Sunday Amelia joined Tim and me for a shuttle ride. I drew a little blood, but the route was awesome. Thank you Tim!

Originally we booked five nights at Mt Shavano KOA, ten miles west of Salida. What a dump. You’d think we’d be happy because it was virtually empty, but the emptiness gave the park a creepy feel. After three nights we bailed and went to Four Season RV Park on the east side of Salida.

What’s a trip in the mountains without unhitching or hitching up at least once in a deluge? That’s what we experienced when we unhitched at Four Seasons. We got soaking wet, but we were happy to be out of Charlie Manson’s campground. (That’s what I was calling the KOA. Amelia didn’t like me saying that). And we had a nice view of the Arkansas River twenty yards from our bedroom window.

The one ride we really wanted to do, the Monarch Crest, was not open. There’s still too much snow at 11,000-12,000 feet. Oh well…



The KOA. It looks nice in the picture, but it wasn’t.


Cool butterfly donation box at one of the Methodist Mountain Trailheads.  


The landmark S-Mountain


You gotta love a Big Lebowski reference.


Amelia on one of the exposed trails.


Nice little brewery. We met Lisa and Tim here on Friday night.


Get off the table!  On Saturday while I was riding with Tim, Amelia was getting the Airstream ready for our short drive to Four Seasons.  So the table was cleared off of the usual stuff like fruit bowl and flower vase.  When she got out of the shower, there was the Puggle.  There’s no denying her the morning sun.


Four Seasons RV Park. Close quarters but better than Charlie’s campground!


Our view of the Arkansas River. 


This pest didn’t make it through the winter. Now he’s a greeter at a trail intersection.


Tim and Amelia on the Sand Dune Trail


Looking towards Monarch Pass

Great Sand Dunes National Park: June 16-19, 2019




We love sand dunes.  There’s just something about being on them.  It’s a different sensation than any other outdoor experience.  And it’s a super workout trudging uphill with the reward of running down them.

We were here in 2000 for just a few hours with our friend Dianni.  That was before it became a national park; back then it was a national monument.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as crowded in 2000.  If you want to attract large crowds all you have to do is attach national park at the end of a name!

The unusual thing about this national park was we didn’t see a single Euro or Asian.  How strange.  I’m guessing 75% of the visitors were Coloradoans.

There’s a main dune access area where all the families go to pretend they are at the beach and to climb the lower dunes and sled.  What an awesome thing for families to do. There’s also a primitive area 4 miles north, of which 1.5 miles is a 4×4 recommended dirt road.  There are no crowds, but if you do happen to see someone the dunes are so expansive you never have to cross paths.

The most amazing thing is this time of the year Medano Creek pulses with rhythmic waves called surge flow.  I was calling them mini tsunamis.  The creek would be calm, then out of nowhere you could hear, then see a surge coming. The surge occurs when the antidunes in the creek bed break.

And now a little humor.  It’s so entertaining observing the going ons of a campground.  I have no doubt our fellow campers get a kick out of us.  My favorite observation this stop was when a wife stuck her head out of their fifth-wheel and yelled, “Honey fire up the generator I need to use the microwave.”




Pinyon Flats Campground site 17


Surge flow on Medano Creek and Mt. Herard in the background.


Nothing like a wide open expanse of sand dunes to make one feel small


This brazen mule deer was coming right at Amelia and me while we were sitting outside.  Sara was in the Airstream having a conniption fit.  So I leashed her up and brought her out.  She’s a big talker while in her Airstream, but she didn’t say boo when face to face with the deer.


Medano Creek looking downstream from the main dune access area


Early bird gets the worm. On our second day we got up early and went to the main dune area so we could hike up to High Dune.  When we came down the crowds were forming like a summer day in Pacific Beach.



Crazy scene: families setting up for the day with chairs, blankets, water toys, and implements for digging in the sand.  Just families having fun.


Folks streaming in as we were leaving.


Campground sunset


Amelia trying to follow my footsteps


Our deepest crossing


Narrowleaf Penstemon


Early evening after a thundershower



Pagosa Riverside Campground: June 14-16, 2019


It was an above ground pool.  I haven’t seen one of those in years.

Our friend, Needles, gave us the hot tip about Pagosa Riverside Campground. It’s just a few miles east of Pagosa Springs. He said as long as you get a riverfront spot it’s a good stop. So we made reservations months in advance and got one. He was right. It was a good two-night stop.

The weather was perfect for sitting in front of the Airstream under the awning. It’s quite relaxing listening to and watching the San Juan River flow. Because of the big snowmelt it was running high and fast. Occasionally some rafters would float by, we would wave and they would wave back. That was how we spent most of our time.

When not doing that we putzed around the Airstream and did chores like checking all the screws inside to see if any of them had loosened. Real exciting stuff.

The only time we left the campground was to go into town with Sara and walk the Riverwalk Loop. We didn’t spend the money to soak in any of the famous hot springs. Commercialized crowded hot springs aren’t really our scene, though I’m sure it probably would’ve felt great.





And walking Sara

Little libraries used to be the cool thing, now it’s bee hotels!


This dark ominous cloud amazingly enough only produced a few sprinkles.


The Mother Spring. It sources all of Pagosa’s hot springs. Guinness Book of World Records claims this is the deepest hot springs aquifer in the world, at least 1,002 feet deep.


One of the hot springs resorts.


Occasionally the vibrations of the road will strip a screw and it needs to be repaired. Jam wood glue and toothpicks into the hole. Let dry over night, snap off the toothpicks, file smooth, then replace the screw. Problem solved.


One of the fun things about traveling is sampling the local beer. I rate this one 6.5 out of 10, but the name an 11!


Morning sun on the San Juan