Friday, June 25, 2010

Count your blessings Adventure

A funny thing happened on the way to work.

This was not the adventure we had wanted this morning. We got up this morning and we loaded into the truck this morning so that I could pick up my son this afternoon. We stopped for coffee and headed down the road. Not a mile out of town we befell a large chunk of mother nature.

We were heading around a blind inside corner with steep slopes on the uphill side. Something large and brown lumbered down this steep hill. I sent my brother a text with this picture and said. "Biggest F'ing Bear I ever seen".

I estimate we were doing about 30mph when we saw this large male brown bear. It looked about 400lbs, cute fiancee thinks it was more of a 500 pounder. I edged to the middle of the road, thank goodness there was no uphill traffic, and had slowed down some but the animal had come down the hill and had too much momentum, and couldn't help but get in front of us. Blam, lucky for us and the bear we shoved him down the road instead of pining him under the truck. The bear went skidding down the road on it's side. I edged the truck back to the right side of the road, and saw out of the corner of my eye, the bear clawing over the guard rail. We pulled into a turn out that was right there and I got out to see the damage. I could tell there was some because I could hear the edge of the front bumper rubbing on the tire.

I got out of the car and I could hear the bear going through the brush below. I do damage estimates on cars all day at work and started looking over what was damaged. There was a hissing noise and green fluid coming from the front of the vehicle so I piled back into the car and drove it back home so I didn't have to tow it.

When we hit the bear, the cute fiancee said "that is the ugliest brown dog I have ever seen", no honey that is a big damn bear.
I can see it in slow motion in my memory now, and how odd it was to see this huge bear sliding head first down the road. I doubt that the bear went unhurt but they are pretty stout animals.

At odd times last summer we had bears in the trash outside the cabin. This one looked similar to the big male I shoo'd out last year.

Cute fiancee tensed pretty good so she is sore tonight.

I wonder what the CHP officer thought as I told him the story of us hitting a bear. I had the feeling the lady at my insurance was thinking "yeah right" when I told her the story to make arrangements for repair.

I also had a study in human thinking today as I carried my camera around showing the damaged truck. The ladies at work would look at me and say "you hit what", or "NOO??" then they would all ask how the bear was. The guys would go to the primal instincts side and say "mmm bear jerky", or "bearskin rug"

We are counting our blessing in this. I have a $500 deductible that I barely have, but will gladly pay, because if we had been driving our low to the ground Geo Metro that bear would have been in the car with us, and this story would have a different ending.

I should never have gotten that "bear claw" pastry, this morning at the convenience store when we stopped for coffee this morning. Cute fiancee just said "thank goodness the insurance policy doesn't have a 'bear clause'.." lol

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adventure of Death

On Memorial day we snuck in an adventure. It can take a while to post some of these things do to not always feeling, or rather mentally, up to writing anything when you get home from work.

I planned our route, and found a hotel for $32 for the night. The destination....The lowest place in the Continental United States. Death Valley.
We decided to start out early from State Line Nevada. We drove up there and got our room and dropped some quarters in the slots. Not the luckiest time we have ever had. We might have left a couple of dollars in the hole but not bad. Had breakfast and hit the road. Unfortunately, do to the lay of the land, there is no direct route to Death Valley from anywhere. One option was to stay in a hotel in a place called Baker Ca. There is only one Hotel in Baker and according to a review by some one it is expensive and a truckers dive. Baker is actually the "Gateway to Death Valley" and strategically would have been better but starting out from there was un-attractive. We had to drive to Las Vegas first and then head west towards a town called Pahrump. The climb up through an area called Red Rock Canyon was beautiful. You have to go over a 4000' pass to get back to Pahrump. It is funny to be out in the middle of the desert and it is all dry, and you see a sign that says "chains required during cold weather". Cute fiancee got some rest and woke up in the interestingly named town of Pahrump. If there are any people out there that listen to a late night radio show called "Coast to Coast AM" I solved a personal mystery when we crossed into the county that Pahrump is in. At one time this radio show was broadcast from Pahrump and the announcer would intro the show "from the kingdom of Nye". Pahrump is in Nye Coast to Coast is good to listen to if you have to drive through the night. They talk about stuff like UFO's, alien abductions, black helicopters and such, just thinking that these people they interview believe some of this stuff can keep you up for hours.

We stopped in Pahrump and got some snacks and stuff for our adventure, and headed to a place called Death Valley Junction. If there is a destination in this area this Junction is the place.
The stop there is a must. You will love the story you hear when you get there.
The story starts with Borax, and 20 Mule Teams. Death Valley is geologically very interesting place. Almost every element of the periodic table can be found in this area. The area is littered with silver mines, and a substance called Borax or Sodium Borate for short. This stuff is used for soap, cosmetics, and ceramic glazes.
Sometime after 1923 the Pacific Coast Borax Company built themselves a little corporate town at a stop on the Death Valley Railroad. The town was not much more than this large U-shaped Mexican Colonial affair.

It was pretty self contained with a Hotel, Gas Station, Post Office, Workman's Quarter, Hospital and Morgue. Plus a Recreation Hall that was set up for those crazy films of the time, the Silent Movies. The Hey Day of this town lasted up until the 1940's
Then came along Marta Becket. In 1967 Marta had a flat tire in Death Valley Junction. The story goes that she took a look around at the charming little town and peeked in a hole in the door of the Recreation Hall and saw a huge amount of possibilities. She fell in love with the place and she stayed. She rented the Hall at first to put on her own performances. She upgraded the place and even was able to buy the place with the help of a foundation. The part we liked is that some of her shows didn't have an audience so she painted one on the walls. We paid $5 each for this tour and it was well worth it. She painted everything but the floor.
At the back in prominence is the King and Queen of Spain.

I'm sure there is a story to all these characters she has painted. There are things going on in the paintings and the young tour guide hadn't heard all the stories yet. To the right of the royal couple is their entourage and in the boxes further right is some Nuns.

The tour guide said that Ms. Becket thought that everyone should see the show so she included everyone. To the right of the nuns in the upper box is a Madam and her ladies from the brothel up the road. The Madam brings them here to get some culture and refinement.

In the box below the ladies of the evening is a upper class couple. The lady of the house in kind of in the center with a younger lady to her left, with her, I presume, Husband in the left corner.
On the right seams to be possible suitors for the young ladies affection. Lots of goings on in each mural. At the bottom of some of the boxes are Local Indians entertaining by doing tricks or shows of strength.
The place is very dark and I had to position correctly so I didn't get a glare from the flash.

I would like to go back and do this tour again and hear what is really happening in all Ms. Beckets' paintings. She is a rather good artist
This is the royal couples entourage to the left.

You can see in the pic above that a man is handing a lady some flowers. In the next one there is all sort of action. A court jester in the top box and what looks like a lady dancing for some judges.

At the sides of the stage there are characters, I think are actors for a play or something.
We had a double take on this one. The lady in the vale has a cigarette in her

Ballerinas, and a Nordic god...

on the Ceiling she painted the facsimile of a dome. It has the gods of the 4 winds blowing from the corners.


and lots of Cherubs..

Her stage is ready for her to perform. She still does plays, from here.

The Hall was originally called the Corkhill Hall. Ms. Becket transformed it and renamed it the Amargosa Opera house. There is a plaque outside commemorating it.

They also let us see some of the rooms of the Hotel. Ms. Becket has painted in the rooms too.
This one was painted for Red Skelton, a friend of hers, he stayed in this room a few times.

She likes doing headboards.

And other paraphernalia.

This was a great stop. If it has a great story to it, that will make the adventure that much better. If there was money to be had this place could be fixed up to original status and bigger tours could happen. We looked in some more windows and decided to head on down the road.
Death Valley to the west beckoned. Will post part II in a bit.

Wonderful World of Color

We went to Disneyland AGAIN. We would live there if we could. We have the place all picked out. Disney has what they call the Dream Suite that is above the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm not positive but I think it has little, overhang, porches that look out over the Rivers of America and the inside of the Pirates ride and the Blue Bayou Restaurant. A new attraction has opened at Disneyland and it had only been open for 3 days when we got there.
The Wonderful World of Color. I took video with my camera and surprisingly it didn't do to bad for a low end digital.
First I need set this whole thing up. Disney was Sunday. We have to go back to Saturday to my company picnic. Kudos to my company for putting on a picnic at all in this messed up economy. This couldn't have been cheap at all considering there is more than 500 employees at our company.
They had games and prizes to give out. We won a snow cone maker, which was quickly bartered for a poker set that came in its own carrying case. My son made it into the finals in the Hula Hoop contest. Rule number one should be in these contests "no hips, no hula". Comedy ensues when adults that could hula as a child think they have this thing down now that they are older.

The food was pretty good, Tri-tip, Ribs, BBQ Chicken and all the fixin's were there. They had jumpers for the kids. Contest like Egg toss, Water balloon toss, Tug of war, and, drum roll please ( this is the relevant, The Three Legged Sack race!
Cute fiancee and I were once track and field stars in our High School days, I'm not sure why I joined Track back then I was the Swimming star of a School that had no pool. Ok so STAR may be over stating it a bit, but the cute fiancee and I are competitive.
We joined the Three Legged Race.

The age group was 19 and up, and we were the up.

If you will notice the two young gentleman in the blue and black shirts. These are the young bloods that I think are our big competition. The next bit of TOTAL cheating was done in fun, and we ended up paying for
We had to start down at one end and run to the other and pick up the sack, so we could stick our legs in it and walk back to the start finish line together with our adjoining leg in this sack.
I told the cute fiancee to run down and grab the sack, and I was going to take out the two young gentleman next to me. Thank goodness at 48 I can still move pretty fast and not have a heart attack. They said go I darted over to grab the kid in blue and slow him down, got in the way of his buddy. A little fun tussle with the young man in blue and we over shot the bags. I run back and the cute fiancee has the bag ready. We stick our feet in it and start the three leg part.
We were near the end. Now from time to time the cute fiancee are in tune and think the same thing. We look and see that we are in third place. Big mistake, I take a long step to make it to the finish. This long step is not one that the cute fiancee can recover from and on her next step her other free leg goes underneath her and we end up in a pile up.

Cute fiancee at the point of our fall says "don't fall on me!". I almost made it, and only kind of landed on her. It was not good. The smile on my face in this picture didn't last long. Cute fiancee had twisted her hip in a funny way and was in some pain. She said later that she didn't want to get up crying like some of the kids earlier. So I helped her up and we hobbled back to our seats. The MC that was running the game came over to check on us.
Cute fiancee had a great and painful story to tell. I'm sure this is the gift that keeps on painfully giving for her because she has told everyone we have run into in the past few days how I beat her up and landed FLAT on her during the Three Legged

Almost to I have my son all week with me here. He had just got back from a trip to France with his High School and I took time off from work to spend some time with him.
He brought back some cool stuff for us. Cute fiancee now has a small replica of the Eiffel Tower that lights up and twinkles. I have a book and a plate for a part of the old Roman Aqueduct in France, the Pont du Gard, and small replica of a sailing vessel. I had spend most of the 10 days he was gone telling everyone that my son's High School invaded France, and that France gave up willingly and he was now the Foreign Minister of the new country. So, Sunday was suppose to be "my" Fathers day because he won't be here the next weekend. The pressure was on for me to come up with what "I" want to do. My son finally offered up Disneyland, once again I'm the Disneyland dad, we have yearly passes which comes in very handy. I asked cute fiancee if that would work for her, she was still in some pain, she said she could make it. I think she wanted to see the Wonderful World of Color.

Finally, after all that story, you the faithful reader have now made it to Disneyland. Cute fiancee is bound and determined to walk off this pain in her butt and hip. I go to get my son's tickets to get in, and the ticket agent said, "if I wanted to get in to see the new light show I had to go into the California Adventure Park to get tickets to see it".
Thankfully we took her advice.The line inside the park was rather long, and we waited about 45 minutes to get to the place where they were passing them out. I must admit to see this was a lot of hassle, but it was worth it. I'm sure in the coming weeks Disney will iron out the problems loading the people into the viewing area and the experience will be much better.
Three tickets in hand we made it back to D-land and had a reasonable day considering cute fiancee was still working out the pain. At dusk we made our way back to California Adventure and cute fiancee suggested we go see the Aladdin show at one of the theaters there because it was ending in August. That was a fun show. They had put together a short version of the movie, with aerial performances, Aladdin flies over the audience on his magic carpet and waves at the kids, and other special effects that were pretty cool. The guy who played the Genie was a riot. After that we went and grabbed some food and headed to get in line for the light show.
Disney had built this new water and light show over the past year or so. They had drained this large water area and had been putting in all these pipes and conduits on to the bottom of it. They had displays showing what it might be like place in strategic areas as you observed the construction going on. (they don't always let you see what they are doing behind the walls they put up) Cute fiancee did well, they herded us like cattle into a holding area and we sat there for the better part of 45 min. We heard the first show going on. After the people from the first show finally left we were herded into the show viewing area.
Center stage to this is the huge Ferris Wheel with Mickey's face planted in the center. This thing has lights all over it and it does a display in the evening.

I shot short bits of video trying to get the best parts of the show and make it so that upload time wasn't too long. The Opening was pretty good.

Forgive all the motion, I was trying to get as much of the show as possible, and it was a very large "screen". They showed a lot of scenes from Disney movies.

What makes this show cool is the fact that they are projecting the visual on a wall of water or mist depending on the scene. I suppose this won't work well on windy nights. They warned us that being in the section we were in and if we moved all the way to the waters edge we would get wet. There was definite drizzle on us by mid show.

The thing was really inter active too. Bubbles start floating by you, and in the planters that divide the viewing section there was little fountains that would shoot up to the action.

They also had lasers scattering in and about the mists and a very good sound system that the pipsqueak mic on my camera does not do justice to.

It was fuzzy in places but still amazing. Reliving some of the magic of these movies was fun too.

Space battle in water..?

Can't tell we are Disney geeks in this one.

Energy baby...

I can't tell you how impressive this was in person you need to go..!



About this time we find out that it isn't just water they can shoot

Couldn't contain myself on the next one. You could really feel the heat from the flames at this point.

I think in this one they were trying to put you in The Lion King. I'm sure you all remember when the King is killed by a stampede. It was pretty wild seeing all those animals coming at you.

This last one is where my poor little digital camera's memory card filled
I was thinking as I typed that at one time 35mm was all the rage. Film that is so last century.

Cute fiancee loved it. We were all pumped when we left. Cute fiancee hobbled back to the truck and we headed home. We didn't get home until almost 1AM, way past our bed time. Then up again at 5AM to get her to work. One of those weekends that you needed more weekend to recover from all the adventure...grin
AWESOME SHOW!! Disney always wants their guest to go in with there eyes wide and mouth dropped to the floor. Good job Disney mission accomplished.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Small Adventure, Good Exercise

We have found a cool place to take a walk. Here is the place on Google maps. The Aqueduct. There is a stretch of the California Aqueduct that runs through the desert near the Victorville/Hesperia area. It finally comes up to the mountains where it is pumped over from a lake created for this water system. A lake the the cute fiancee points at and fondly says my childhood camp ground is down there at the bottom of that lake. Lake Silverwood. We drive by it twice a day on most days to get cute fiancee to work. The Aqueduct flows for most of its length by simple gravity. When it reaches a point in Hesperia it comes to small canyon that it must cross, then flow across a small group of foothills, then cross another, lower valley to reach Silverwood. The part that crosses the foothills is about a 2 and a half mile length of open canal that has a paved road paralleling it. If you zoom in on the map in the aqueduct link above, you can see the water channel we walk along. When it isn't boiling hot it is a cool setting for a walk.

I like the whole engineering aspect of this thing. Water flows to an end point in Hesperia and is channeled into, I think 3 pipes, gravity lets the water flow through the pipes and over to our little section that is at the same level then flows over to that lengths end and back into 3 more pipes and gravity fed over to Silverwood which is also at the same or slightly lower level.
One of the stenciled signs where the water boils up into our walking canal says "siphon".
I know what that is. I used this siphon stuff a lot in High School to get gas for my car. A small joke there. Dad I swear it wasn't from your car..grin
Where was I, oh yes, we walk along this little stretch of aqueduct.

There are some land marks that make some nice places to either make goals to reach or marks for your progress. There are actually two roads paralleling the channel. one is paved and on the other side is a graded dirt road. There is a road that crosses the aqueduct but they have it blocked from traffic. Using Google Earth I mapped out the distances to these land marks.
First land mark, High Tension Power lines that cross over the channel. .9 miles
Second land mark, Bridge crossing the channel 1.15 miles
Last land mark, South end of Canal 2.41 miles
I need a good land mark between the second and the last land mark to make a kind of 3/4 way, but we haven't gone that far yet.
We have seen and heard some wild life along the aqueduct. The second time we walked the channel we were watching a couple riding on the dirt road on the opposite side and the guy riding by all of the sudden swerves to avoid something. The look on his face said to me snake. He rode up a bit to a pile of rocks ( we saw several of these piles of rocks on that side when we took our first walk and now we know what they are there he picks up one he can carry and goes over to the point he swerved at and starts throwing the rock down at the ground. There is a berm at edge of the road so we can't see the rock landing. He throws then dodges out of the way. He is such a Macho man. He gets another rock, throws then dodges. We ask what he has found, he said "rattle snake". Several rocks later and his primal fears assuaged he peddled on. He was not very graceful killing that snake.
Not to long after that cute fiancee pointed to something on the pavement. It was a baby rattler. I was determined, if I had to kill this very small coil in the road I was going to do it gracefully. Cute fiancee would not let me get near it. Darn her I just wanted to look, and maybe poke at it with a stick...grin
I guess there is fish in the Aqueduct. There are people fishing there all the time. We saw a Cormorant on the edge near the water the other day. Cormorants are those birds that dive under water and chase after their pray. It dove to the water when we got close. On the way back I saw it diving for fish but not coming up with anything. As we got back to the car there was a couple at the edge fishing. The lady was hiding near a wall for some shade, and asked us if we saw anybody catching anything. I told her, no and that even the Cormorant I saw diving for fish was coming up empty too.
I'll report back when we reach the other end and see where the water drains out toward Silverwood. I take my camera now just in case we find some more wild life.
Speaking of that. Two weeks ago it was a lot cooler and cute fiancee wanted to walk before we headed home. I hadn't brought a jacket, but I did have a Serape that I had been given for the Cinco de Mayo celebration we had at my work. So I covered up in that and we started walking.
I got an idea for some comedy so I had the cute fiancee take a picture of me with my phone wearing the serape and my Indiana Jones look a like hat, and I texted the picture and the words "this man" to my friend Kevin, Then I took a picture of the canal and texted that and the sentence "will swim this body of water to reach the US and bilk the American system of thousands of dollars and send it back to Norway". He and I are of Norwegian descent and with all the hoopla over the new Arizona Law it made for I was hoping a chuckle...grin

Death Adveture coming soon

We had another adventure and I'm starting it soon. Hopefully it won't take as long to write as the Olvera street