Thursday, June 10, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 14 - Bakersfield, CA to Morgan Hill, CA


The two old buzzards made it home by noon on Day 14! This has been our longest Road Trip so far and it was a really nice combination of nature and glitz, of staying in one place for a while and taking day trips from a hub. And how much more of a contrast can you have one one trip than Twain Harte, California and Las Vegas, Nevada?

Our final day's journey was from Bakersfield, CA Morgan Hill and though we weren't tired of taking photos and videos, there just didn't seem that much of interest to record for posterity, though we suppose the Harris Ranch feed lots at Coalinga would be of interest if we could record in smellivision! I-5 is a pretty boring stretch of road. If we'd come across a bad accident.... well, you know, we are buzzards.

So it's back to watering and laundry and unpacking and mail. Must admit that we are taking it pretty slowly with lots of breaks to catch up on a backlog of recorded TV shows. And we are celebrating John's Route 66 birthday on Saturday. And again next weekend with our kids. So life is GOOD at The Buzzards' Roost.

We enjoyed having you with us on our road trip. Thanks for your comments. And, yes, we did make the whole trip without the distractions of TV or radio (and seldom an alarm clock). Newspapers and computers were allowed. We have a winner of the Mileage Madness contest and we think you will all be amazed at the results.

Linda is grateful for a safe trip to there and there and there and back. And for John's cousin Jerry who so graciously house sat for us. And for Jesus (his Mexican Restaurant - that's where Linda is treating John to his birthday dinner).

John is grateful for home. Also, for Jerry and for all of you, our fellow adventurers.

No photo gallery or video for today.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 13 - Las Vegas, NV to Bakersfield, CA

LEAVING LAS VEGAS: the Blog not the Movie

The 2 old buzzards were packed up and ready to check out of Best Western Mardi Gras by 8:30. John sent Linda in to the lobby to turn in the keys. He also handed her a baggie of change with specific instructions to send it through a slot machine once and that he would split the winnings (if any) with her. This would be the 1st gambling either buzzard had done on the trip (except for Linda's Sponge Bob, Jester Guesser and darts yesterday). After finding a machine that would take actual coins instead of a ticket, Linda sent the quarters through and then got paid off by the attendant in actual folding money - 3 whole dollars. Which was maybe a dollar more than she had put through the machine 2 quarters at a time. Wheeeeeee! We came out ahead!

And the temperature was in the 80s as we were leaving. We stopped to get gas. John pumped and Linda cleaned off the windshield. As she was finishing up a young girl approached and asked if she wore perfume. "Wow, how could I be offending someone out in the open air?" Linda wondered. Then she figured out that the girl was giving out samples to try to sell cheap knockoff perfumes. She told the girl "No, thanks" and the girl said "Welcome to Las Vegas" anyway. Both old buzzards thought that was a pretty funny send off. Ii was just like the first day we arrived and pulled up in front of our motel room. Some dude drives up in a beat up car and wants to know if John would like a nice 3 carat diamond for "his lady".

Mileage Madness Alert: While in Las Vegas, Wilma mostly rested. The only miles she added were 4 trips to the Las Vegas strip and one to an IHOP. We left today on Highway 15 to Barstow and then took 58 to Bakersfield. Our only trip tonight was to Outback Steakhouse. The deadline will soon be approaching to submit your entry because we arrive back to Morgan Hill tomorrow night.

Today on the road we saw acres and acres of cactus, some pretty wildflowers and mountains as well. Much of it was similar to things we have already photographed so we didn't pause to shoot. There were quite a few wind turbines in the Mojave area along with lots of Joshua trees (which aren't really trees but are cactus Linda thinks). They were named by Mormans after the prophet Joshua (to signify Joshua with his arms up in the air). We saw lots of different sizes of them today. Some had many many arms. Happy, happy Mormons!

We had a rest stop at Denny's in Tehachapi and Linda added Dennys to her list of where not to ever use soap. The really strong obnoxious smell just won't go away. The only other place on her list is McDonalds. Does anyone else have this peculiar quirk besides Linda? John doubts it.

It's great to be back in cooler weather. It was only 71 degrees in Tehachapi. We soon saw lots of citrus groves, a few with oil pumps scattered among them. Linda also saw a few really large pumpkins by the side of the road. Someone's been busy collecting trash and putting it in those orange bags!

The vagabond buzzards checked in at the Vagabond Inn in Bakersfield at about 3 pm which gave them plenty of time to relax and blog a while before dinner. The motel was nice, clean (major criteria), roomy enough, had a king-size bed, wi-fi (another major criteria) and free breakfast (malted waffles, no less). Cost less than $50 including the pet fee.

Wilma did a great job of getting us down under to The Outback in Bakersfield. We had only been to an Outback once before. For an appetizer we had the Awesome Blossom (it's the law apparently). Our waiter Tyler was just off the boat 2 days from North Carolina and did an excellent job despite our adding on to our order a couple of times. He was very busy but gave us real southern hospitality. John got a filet and Linda got salmon. Both were excellent. So back to the Vagabond for our last night away from home for a while. Today as Wilma carried us here, we started coming up with some ideas for our next Buzzards on the Road Adventure. You'll just have to wait. It will be a while. After tomorrow it's back to eating beans, collecting cans and rolling pennies again...gotta buy that ticket to ride!

Today Linda is thankful for extension cords, microwaves and back scratchers. John is always thankfor for Linda's patience, kindness and back scratches.

No photos or video today.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 12 - Linda Hits New York New York in Vegas


The 2 old buzzards breakfasted in their Mardi Gras room on some road kill. Well, actually John had his leftover pancakes from last night's dinner at IHOP and some shredded wheat. Linda had Raw Bits Twang Twang.

Linda was ready to hit New York, New York so she loaded up with a bottle of frozen water and a few snacks to have later for lunch. John and Maggie let her out just past The Statue of Liberty. She figures that may be as close as she ever gets to seeing the real one in New York. The heat did not start out as bad as yesterday. It was less than 100 at 10am.

Inside the New York, New York Casino Linda had a good time seeing the sights and shopping. She found a dollar store or rather a TEN dollar store that was a lot of fun. She got a glass wine stopper in the shape of a mermaid. Now, I ask you, how many of you are lucky enough to own one of those? She also got a purple bracelet with glitzy polka dots. She hasn't yet showed them to John.

Once Linda got outside again she noticed a walkway leading to a colorful place with turrets and fanciful shapes. After shooting a few photos she got on the walkway to take a closer look. It was only after getting on the walkway that she realized it only went one way electrically. To get out again you have to walk on your own power. Soon she was inside The Excalibur which was very ornate with statues and stained glass windows. She got sucked in by a booth where you can try to win a prize by having the court jester guess your weight (within 5 lbs or so) your age (within 2 or 3 years) or your birth month (within 2 or 3 months). She decided to choose age so the court jester wrote down her guess. When Linda reported that her age was 66 the court jester showed that she had written 50 on her paper. Whee! That surely made Linda's day (even if it was a scam). Now it was time to choose a prize which was pretty easy. She chose a pointed red hat with a veil. A Red Hatter just can't have TOO many red hats. Then the court jester let Linda get on the scales so she could see how much weight she has gained on this road trip. It looked like she weighs the same but her clothes have gotten a lot heavier. Next Linda heard a rumor that there was a Whack A Mole game downstairs so she went to check it out. Alas, it was out of order but she did play a Sponge Bob game and threw some darts. At Sponge Bob she won a hat charm and at the darts she hit 2 out of 2 balloons and won 2 large fabric roses.

Time for some fresh air again since the smoke from the casino seemed to be drifting downstairs. Linda walked back to New York, New York and found something she had not seen before or since in this town - a park bench. And it was in the shade and empty. She told John yesterday that Las Vegas must only want people to sit down when they are at the slot machines or gambling tables or restaurants because, other than some very narrow seats in the main lobby of The Bellagio she did not see any places to sit down. Anyway, the bench was a welcome sight and Linda had her cheese sticks, pistachios, granola bar and cold water. Then it was decision time. She could either journey down the road to the Luxor and Mandalay Bay or go across the street to MGM Grand where she knew there was a place to get on the monorail to go back "home". She decided on MGM and enjoyed exploring a lot of it while searching for the monorail station. The monorail was great and dumped Linda out at the Las Vegas Convention Center which is fairly near The Mardi Gras Best Western. It was the second time Linda had been on a monorail. The first time was 48 years ago at the World's Fair in Seattle.

This evening the buzzards had tickets to see ventriloquist/impersonator Terry Fator at The Mirage. We had been big fans of his when he was on America's Got Talent and were happy to see him win the $1 million prize a few years ago. He has really done well for himself. Pretty sure his contract in Las Vegas is for $100 million. Don't know the time frame. The Mirage has built him his own theater. The show was really great. He really talks right to the audience a lot and is very sincere. And you know what George Burns said “If you can fake sincerity, you've got it made!” But Terry Fator does seem to be a down to earth really nice guy. After John scolded Linda for taking a flash picture inside the theater (before the show started) because all these shows have photos allowed and no recording allowed. When Terry Fator first got on stage he said shoot all the flash photos you want becuase it doesn't bother he or the band. And, shoot video of your favorite characters, but don't try to video the whole show or the ushers whill stop you. How rare is that opportunity?

Another thing that impressed us was that he asked all the people in the audience who are currently serving, or have previously served in the military to stand up and be applauded. Then he sang the Michael Buble song, "Home". And, yes, he really can sing all by himself and, yes, he sounded like Michael Buble. He has a great singing voice. What continues to amaze John is that Fator can do a great impersonation of say, Garth Brooks, but does it as a ventriloquist. Imagine singing "I've Got Friends in Low Places", sounding like Garth Brooks and NOT moving your lips. But then, John is easily amazed!

Tomorrow we head out of here to cooler climes. It got to 106 degrees today.

Linda is thankful for frozen yogert, brazil nuts and flashlight buttons. John is thankful for barstools, Quarter Pounders with cheese and ice cold milk.

Photo gallery can be visited by clicking here.

Linda's point and shoot video can be viewed by clicking here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 11 - Linda Goes to the Bellagio in Las Vegas


Just kidding! It's a wonderful cross section of the world here in Las Vegas. Apparently the economy is thriving all over the world judging by the number and variety of ethnicities present in this desert. Where do they get all the water to make ice and run fountains that shoot 275 feet into the air? Amazing to this little country girl. But then, we didn't see anybody from Greece or Ireland.

The 2 old buzzards went to the buffet breakfast here at the Mardi Gras Best Western and it was OK once we figured out how to get plates and silverware. When we walked in we seemed to be the only ones who didn't understand the system. Linda was happy once she found some granola and was lucky enough to put some milk on it before Bessie ran dry. John enjoyed some eggs and peaches. We were seated at a table of a veddy English family - young parents with 2 young children, another one on the way and a set of grandparents. Linda was amazed that the 3 year seemed to be in control of everyone. He did not raise a spoon or a fork to feed himself. The young parents begged him to eat his fruity loops and he would occasionally oblige them and open his mouth like a baby bird. So different than what we are used to observing with Isaac (our almost 3 year old grandson) who has been using a spoon and fork to eat with for many months.

This afternoon John dropped Linda off at the Bellagio so that she could see The Conservatory and The Dancing Waters. When John dropped her off at about 12:30 pm it was 104 degrees. Linda was armed with a frozen bottle of water, her camera and a granola bar. She had a grand time taking photos of giant ants, butterflies, bumblebees, plants, a garden trowel and real plants. One group of about 10 people asked her to take photos of them with 2 cameras. Then they took a photo of her and also wanted to include themselves in a photo so it would look like she really did have some friends. Look for Linda's New Best Friends and some shots of the Bellagio Conservatory in the photo gallery. Linda shopped a teeny bit, watched people, walked through the casino and then cued up outside to watch the dancing waters show at 3 pm. She can take short videos on her regular camera so you will have a chance to see it too. Then she went on a moving sidewalk, some escalators and back to the Bellagio where the dancing waters was starting up again. "Oh, good" she thought. "I will just watch this one. However, she quickly realized that the water was dancing to one of John's favorite composers so she fired up the movie feature on her camera again. (John adds... that would be Aaron Copeland).

By the time show #2 was over Linda was ready for a ride back to the Mardi Gras Best Western. She called John on his cell phone and he came to fetch her. This was soon accomplished since the traffic had decreased considerably since midday. The temperature was still about 104 degrees and Linda's frozen water bottle had saved the day. She finished the last of the cold water on the way back to the Mardi Gras Best Western.

John had a great idea for dinner – IHOP – and not on the Las Vegas Strip. We drove to where the “real” people live which was a refreshing change from all the glitz. There was Einstein Brothers Bagels, Perpetual Chiropractic, Pizza Boy, Store-It Mini Warehouse, Pet Grooming, Teeth Whitening, Super Pawn and Half-Price Lawyers (Vegas, after all). Once we entered IHOP we could have been in Anywhere, USA. John had chicken fried steak and Linda had talapia. Both selections were quite tasty. On the ride home the temperature had dropped to only 100 degrees. And, once back inside our room, it was closer to 58 degrees.

Linda is thankful for her new pink broad-brimmed sun hat, Brazil nuts and moisturizing lotion. John is thankful for a cool place to stay in during the day and to sleep at night. John is thankful that he doesn't live in Las Vegas. And, John is thankful for chilled Snickers bars.

Today's photo gallery can be viewed by clicking here.

Today's video, taken with Linda's digital point-and-shoot camera can be viewed by clicking here. John says it's really quite good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 10 - Beatty, NV to Las Vegas, NV and "Love"


The two old buzzards stayed at the Atomic Inn in Beatty, CA last night and slept well thanks to a great air conditioner and a pleasant room. If you would like to learn more about this weirdly themed inn you can click here. When we went into the lobby this morning we were expecting to have a complimentary breakfast since Linda had noticed 2 coffee dispensers and a counter with a tray and tongs the evening before. We got our caf and dekaf coffee and were greeted by the owner who was in town from Reno. There were 2 slices of orange out on the tray and 2 tiny donuts by the tongs. Linda had the orange slices and John declined any food. The owner fit right in with the theme. The counter and walls were all green, his shirt and hat were green (all the SAME green). Look for his photo in today's photo gallery. He was very interesting and gave us some scuttlebutt about Beatty. John asked about the big casino sign outside of town that says El Sueno. An owner of 3 other motels and casinos in town had a brainstorm that he would build a casino to cater to Spanish speaking clientele. But with the change in the economy and his violating ordinances like Irv Perlitch, all that ever got built was the big sign. It's turned on as you can tell from today's photo gallery.... but nobody's home. Though it is a nice gesture to list all the kids names who graduated from Beatty High this year.

As we were leaving the office to go get some "real" breakfast John said to Linda "Nice hat - that's your compliment" (as in complimentary breakfast - hah!). So we breakfasted at La Ensenada just down the street. Linda had V8 and John had the 2X2X2X2 (two eggs, two pieces bacon, two sausages, two pancakes). Even he couldn't eat all of his pancakes! We rolled out of Beatty at about 10:40.

The drive to Las Vegas was highlighted by a stop near Area 51 to get ice cream. It sounded good in the 100 degree weather. Alas, the western-themed gas and ice cream place was closed. So we went across Hwy 95 and made do with iced coffee for John and green tea ginger ale for Linda. This gas station had an alien theme (like our motel) with floating green and purple aliens inside. There were also lots of alien t-shirts, etc for sale. Next door was a REAL fireworks store. M800's for sale. John wasn't allowed! Just like he's not allowed to stop in Pahrump.

Cooled off considerably, we proceeded to drive through the Amargosa Desert. There was a wide variety of plants - creosote and yuccas and some wildflowers still blooming since they had a pretty wet winter for the desert - 8 inches of rain instead of 4.

We rolled into Las Vegas at 12:45 and found our hotel with no problem. This place was recommended to us by a dear friend in Morgan Hill. She has really done her research since she is here about once a year for a convention. The rates are very reasonable, the room is spacious, well air-conditioned, they are pet friendly and their WIFI is great. Also it's just over a mile from the Mirage where we're seeing two shows. Thanks, G6K!

John finished editing, converting and uploading the video from Day 07. You read what it's about in the Day 07 travelogue and you've seen the photos. Now you get to watch the video! It's just over 21 minutes long, but it's really worth watching... we think... but, what else would we think?

We made our way over to The Mirage and picked up our tickets for the Cirque du Soliel show "Love" and then went to a The Carnegie Deli there in the casino for a quick bite to eat. Linda ordered the Salmon Enchanted Evening (a salmon salad) and John ordered a pastrami sandwich. The waiter brought Linda a small sample of the salmon salad to try to make sure she would like it. She quickly decided to have a bowl of borscht. John's sandwich was piled high with great pastrami.

Then it was off through the milling crowds to the theater where both of the old buzzards thoroughly enjoyed the show. Unlike most of the other Cirque shows, this one is performed only in Las Vegas. Though there are lots of acrobatics in the show, it's really a musical. We had watched a 90 minute PBS documentary about the concept and staging of the show which is what pushed us to come to Vegas to see it. We're not here because we like 111 degree temperatures. But we both liked the show so much we agreed that it was worth putting up with some of this hellacious heat.

Linda is thankful for 7-11s, night lights and bagel chips. John is thankful that Linda got an ice cream at 7-11, that he didn't buy and M800s and all music by the Beatles!

Today's photo gallery is on seven pictures. But you can see them by clicking here.

We didn't shoot any video at all today, so there won't be a video for Day 10.

Rest well fellow travelers!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 09 - Bishop, CA to Beatty, NV


After a Sunshine Comfort complimentary breakfast at the Comfort Inn, the two old buzzards and Maggie Mae left Bishop California at 9:55am where the temperature was a sunny and warm 83 degrees. We got gas for $2.99 at Giggle Springs Gas. The prices seem to fluctuate wildly from place to place. A few blocks away gas was $3.16. Near Bodie yesterday we saw gas for $3.99. We also stopped at Looney Bean Coffee Roasting for John's mocha and an iced decaf for Linda. Just out of Bishop we entered the Inyo National Forest and got about a half mile down the road before John had to pull off and shoot a cattle shoot. He ssems to have a "thing" for cattle chutes. We soon passed a sign that said "NO SERVICES FOR 97 MILES". That would really sober you up if you were doubtful about your car's health. What a deserted area (that word desert is making more sense all the time) but yet beautiful at the same time. In those 97 miles we saw such a variety of plants and rocks. Lots of wildflowers are still in bloom and there is still lots of snow visible on the mountain tops which makes the warm temperatures seem quite out of place. Soon we saw Death Valley Road branching off to the right of our route. Little did we know that was an omen!

We arrived in Nevada at 11:37a.m. The sign read "Welcome to Nevada. You have now entered Hell". We soon had stopped at a historical marker and some old ruins of Palmetto, Nevada. It was a silver ore mining town started in 1866. It had died out by 1906 but there are lots of the stone walls left that can be easily seen from the road. We had started noticing Joshua trees a few miles back. The miners named their town Palmetto because they thought the Joshua trees were a type of palm tree.

On this one day, we have probably had the windy-est, rollercoaster roads and we're sure the straightest flattest roads ever. When we get around to posting the video for today, you'll see what we mean.

Tonight we are staying in Beatty, Nevada where the temperature when we arrived just after noon was 99 degrees. We unloaded at The Atomic Inn, turned on the air conditioner in the room and left to cruise around town for something good for lunch. What we found that sounded best was homemade ice cream at the Death Valley House of Nuts and Candy. John had rocky road and Linda had almond joy.

Today's history lesson: Gold was discovered just outside Death Valley, CA in 1904. Several small mining towns developed and Beatty was the most prosperous of the camps in what was called the Bullfrog Mining District. Beatty is now the only surviving town of those camps and it is the 1st community of any size north of Las Vegas.

One of our tricks when checking in to a place is to ask the local person at the desk where their favorite place to eat is. In this mecca, a Mexican-American place called La Ensenada was recommended. I took Joyce Rigby's advice and ordered a chili rellano (but in this case it was a chili rellano burrito). Joyce always her true test of a Mexican Restaurant is their chili rellano. It was excellent - like a hidden treasure inside of a flour tortilla along with rice and beans. John got a combo plate of chile rellano, cheese enchilada, shredded beef taco and rice and beans. We didn't see anybody ordering American food so obviously Mexican food is their forte'.

When we left our nicely air conditioned room to go to dinner it seemed cooler but the temp actually showed to be 102 degrees. Buzzard # 1's theory is that it seemed cooler because by 6:30pm there's a lot more shade that there was when we arrived. And, he is going to attest that there is a difference when it is a "dry" heat. The humidity here is -15%. Oops, just looked on the laptop weather channel and it's +15%. Still, your mouth dries out and evaporative coolers work well.

Linda is thankful for funny socks, ice and cool clear water. John is thankful for ice cream, air conditioners/swamp coolers and a road out of Beatty!

Today's photo gallery can be found by clicking here.

Today's video takes you from the fire straight into Hades in Beatty, NV, a strange little town of around 800 folks, one casino, several hotels (that used to have casinos with them) and a great ice cream place. Check it out by clicking here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 08 - Twain Harte to Bishop via Bodie

As Linda would say, today's adventure was "BODIELICIOUS"!

The 2 old buzzards got loaded up and departed their hideaway at Gables Cedar Creek Inn by about 8:45 am. The target was 9:00, so we did well. Stopped at Alicia's Sugar Shack in Sugar Pine (on 108) for coffee. Linda also got a huge ginger molasses cookie to nibble on later while going over the windey roads that John has been warning her about. Ginger is supposed to help with motion sickness. She also is experimenting with some wrist thingys that each have a magic button that you place in just the right spot.

So the buzzards were armed and ready to attempt making the trek over Sonora Pass. It is snowed in during much of the winter and spring. They try to get it open by Memorial Day but didn't make it this year. However, within the last few days it had been reported to be completely open, no restrictions. Wilma (our GPS voice) had other ideas. She wanted to take us about 150 miles out of the way on another pass and kept telling us to "Make a u-turn if possible". John had other ideas and finally Wilma gave up and recalculated the route to take us over Sonora Pass. So you can't always trust your GPS completely, especially if it's a lady GPS.

The weather was beautiful going over the pass, just a few sprinkles of moisture periodically. And the scenery and clouds were both spectacular. We are headed for Las Vegas and if Sonora Pass had been closed our alternate route would have been much less scenic (Tulare and Barstow).

After going through Sonora Pass the scenery changed dramatically. This side of the mountains has much less moisture than the other side and is classified as a high desert, even though it does have water flowing through it from melting snow. We stopped for lunch in Bridgeport. Linda had a fish taco and John had a cheeseburger. It was a cute place where we could eat outside at a table with an umbrella. And they had a really nice large map of Bridgeport and the surrounding areas.

Since so much melting of snow has been going on during the last few weeks, the streams are really wide and fast. You will see both still photos and some videos of our trip over the pass. We took tons of video. Now it will take tons of time to edit and assemble. One highlight, especially for Linda, was a side trip to Bodie State Historic Park. It's not on the way to anywhere. There's one really rough road in (13 miles of bad road, 3 of which is unpaved) and the same really rough road out. Gold was discovered there in 1859 as gold deposits were starting to dwindle in other parts of the gold country. By 1879 Bodie had a population of 10,000. It had wickedness, badmen and really, really hard winters. One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: "Goodbye God, I'm going to Bodie". The phrase came to be known throught the West. Some have interpreted her statement to mean, "Good! By God, I'm going to Bodie"!

The philosophy of the park is to maintain Bodie in a state of "arrested decay". Instructions in the guide say "Don't touch anything. Leave every rock and rusty can in place for our grandchildren to see. Watch out. This is a real ghost town; splinters, nails and broken glass are everywhere. Linda had a grand time wandering around Bodie and seeing a wide variety of buildings that housed everything from churches to hotels to funeral parlors to barbers to saloons. And, of course, lots of residences. It is truly a fascinating place and we hope that you will get a chance to go there sometime if you have not been. We heard from Del Foster that his family went there a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. John and Maggie Mae had gone there about 5 years ago so John wanted Linda to get to see it. Now she can mark it off her bucket list but would like to go again some day. There were a lot of the buildings that she didn't make it to in the time available. If you are interested in learning more about Bodie you can go to by clicking here. And, there's a great unofficial website you can get to by clicking here.

After leaving Bodie we headed for Bishop where we are staying overnight. John and Linda were both craving a chef's salad and found a family restaurant called Jack's that filled the bill. You can see a few photos of it in the gallery for today.

Our room at a Comfort Inn is quite nice and yeah! they have 5 bar WIFI! The temperature is a dramatic change from Bodie and Twain Harte, which were in the 50s and 60s usually. As we neared Bishop Wilma reported that the outside temperature was up to 90 degrees. Thank goodness for ice and air conditioners.

Linda is thankful for wildflowers and ginger cookies and anti-nausea wrist bands (they worked!). John is thankful not roaming Bodie at over 8,000 ft., for 51 degree temperatures rather than 90 (Bishop) and for air conditioning.

Over 90 pictures in today's photo gallery. Hope you enjoy some or all of them. We think the sky and clouds in a few are just spectacular. You can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

Today's video is about 42 minutes. Lots of reparte and commentary. You won't hurt our feelings if you fast forward (as long as we don't find out!). You can view the video by clicking here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 07

Breakfast of shredded wheat and raw bits twang Twain for the 2 old buzzards.
Out of caffinated coffee at the hideway so John drove into DownTown Twain Harte at the Little Cottage Cafe to get his fix. Linda made do with green tea and honey.

The buzzards love puns so when John told Linda she would experience intensity like she never had before, she thought long and hard. With no results. So what else is new?

At around 9am the buzzards departed for Columbia to go to a special four-day event that just happened to start today - a recreation of the Columbia Diggins, a tent city (as it was called) that supported the miners at many places in California during the Gold Rush. This one was dated at 1846. We have been to the quaint little town of Columbia (A California State Historic Park) many times but never during tent city days. It was quite an experience as we hope you will see from the photos and videos we took. There were many volunteers in period costumes and attitudes to make it quite a moving experience. Most everything that would have been required by the miners at that time was in place. There was a mining supply, general mercantile, assayer's office, entertainment, gambling establishments, laundry, Chinese herbs, guns, a blacksmith, a water slough for separating gold out of the dirt, an itinerant preacher, eggs, bowling, bakers and English lace makers.

There must have been at least 3 charter busloads of 4th graders there and they were all so very engaged by what they were experiencing. A large bell was rung at intervals and they seemed to know that it was time to move on to their next learning station. Another fascinating aspect was the age range of the volunteers who were dressed in the oh so authentic looking costumes. we saw volunteers as old as in their 80s to as young as 7 and 8-year-olds. Another way they added anthenticity to the event was that anything purchased or bet had to be done with gold eagles that were available at the entrance and at the assayer's establishment. There's a picture of a gold eagle in the photo gallery.

We left the 1800s and stopped in Sonora to get another Mufaletta for John and another turkey and artichoke sandwich for Linda. We ate under the redwood trees at the Hideaway at The Gables Cedar Creek Inn. We will be leaving tomorrow and it has been a wonderful stay in this peaceful corner of the Gold Country. If you ever come up this way, we would really recommend a stay at Gables Cedar Creek Inn. Tim and Jan Ewing are wonderful hosts.

Oh, yes, back to John's pun. Soon after their arrival at the tent city, Linda was marveling at the wonderful quality of the tents. John then said, "I told you it was feel intensity like you've never felt before". Ouch! How right he was. Funny guy!

Laundry is done. John even folded and packaged his. He has a funny way of packing clothes for road trips.... one T-shirt, one pair of drawers and one pair of sox in a large ziploc freezer bag. Casual shorts are packed loose, but with a handkerchief already in the pocket. Each night he just grabs one package of clothes. Every other night, he also grabs a pair of casual shorts, complete with hanky. Goofy, but organized! We are pretty much set to take off for Bishop tomorrow. We'll be going over Sonora Pass and hope to be able to stop by the ghost town of Bodie. We spend tomorrow night in Bishop, CA (where John hopes the wifi is better!)

Today's history lesson: Columbia, California - The first year was almost the last for the new town, Water, indispensable for mining placer gold, was in short supply. The area had no natural streams, only gulches carrying runoff from rain and snow. In the summer the stream would dry up and the miners would leave the area. So, the Toulumne County Water Company was formed to bring water into the area. Columbia was only one of hundreds of settlements that sprang up during the exciting years when the cry of "Gold" brought Argonauts from all of er the world to seek their fortunes in California. However, unlike many settlements, which have long since succumbed to fire, vandalism and the elements, Columbia has never been completely deserted. Through the years it has retained much the same appearance as when miners thronged its streets,. So, recognizing an opportunity to preserve a typical Gold Rush town as an example of one of the most colorful eras in American history, the State Legislature in 1945 created Columbia State Historic Park. Bet you didn't know that two of the gold seekers up here in Gold Country were John and Daniel Murphy, two of Martin Murphy's sons. They struck it rich and had a town named after them, Murphys, CA. Thus endeth the lesson. Be ready for a pop quiz tomorrow...

Linda is thankful for wind chimes, old friends and new friends. John is thankful for history, for Gentleman Jack (that's a repeat!) and for the excitement that comes from our road trips.

Today's photo gallery can be found by clicking here.

The exciting 21 minute video of Columbia Diggins Tent Town can be viewed by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 06

After breakfasting, the buzzards made a short flight into downtown Twain Harte for coffee to go at the Little Cottage Cafe and brought it back to the hideaway to enjoy out on the front porch in the comfortable sort of Adorondike style chairs. They relaxed and enjoyed the sounds of the birds and the occasional whack of a golf ball hitting a redwood tree. The hills are still green here and the poppies (our state flower) are blooming their little hearts out.

Around noon it was off to Sonora for some antique store shopping for Linda and some bench testing by John. Linda had good luck in the very first store - found 2 things on her bucket list (one was a bucket) and a couple of birthday presents for John who will be catching up to Linda in age late next week. After a couple of more stores John spotted a combination soda fountain, book and antique store called Legends. As we entered there was a definite smell of mildew which Linda figured came from so many old books that were for sale throughout the place, starting out on the sidewalk. The very long bar had beautiful woodwork and lighting. Linda had a wild berry sorbet and John had praline pecan. Afterwards John headed back to his bench outside and Linda went downstairs to see what treasures might await her there. As she descended the stairs there was a definite sound of running water. She soon saw a waterfall coming out of the wall of what was previously a gold mine. No wonder there was the smell of mildew! There was mining equipment for sale and walls and walls of books. A very interesting place. Apparently there were gold mines under much of what is now downtown Sonora. We have been to Sonora many times but had never been downstairs to see the remains of an old mine.

At her next stop Linda made another exciting (for her) discovery - a new ukelele store which is now inside of her favorite music and teacher supply store, Sonora Music. That's the most ukeleles she had ever seen in one place so she had to take some photos of the wide variety available. Apparently there is a local ukelele diva who started the store and gives lessons and has a ukelele band. Linda got one of their CDs but has not listened to it yet.

After finding a pudding rock and a very wide brimmed pink hat, Linda was willing to leave some treasures for other people to discover.

And, at just past 3:30pm, it was time for the Earlybird Special to start at Gus' Steak House, located on the outskirts of Sonora. We had heard rave reviews of it from a friend who had property in the area. Gus did not disappoint. The waitress brought us water and took our drink orders. She came back with them and also with yeasty warm French bread and a little warm container of cheese fondue. It brought back memories of Digger Dan's in Gilroy. From 3-7pm they have a two for $19.95 special. It has a really wide selection. John got tri-tip steaknand Linda got salmon. As we were leaving we couldn't help but notice that the bar area has one wall completely devoted to Oakland Raider fandom. You would think that they would all be 49er fans in Gold Country! I guess there are rebels everywhere. The buzzards were able to get the ingredient list for the delicious fondue: 3 kinds of grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar and Monterey jack) and beer (Linda had thought it was white wine).

Around quarter 'til six we went to the library to use their reliable wi-fi so John could upload the video for Day 03. Videos are huge files and trying to upload one on a unreliable wi-fi connection is not advisable. Still, it took about half hour. We sat outside the library (closed) in Wilma (our van) and read the Union Democrat newspaper.

As much of a geek as he is, John is still in awe of the digital image revolution and progress. Being able to take images and video, and on the same day, put them up on the internet and share them with others just seems incredible. Both buzzards have been trying to recall the name of the fast photo place that used to have drive-through kiosks in shopping center parking lots. You still had to wait for your photos or movies. Today John remembered..... PhotoMat.

Linda is thankful for the color purple, silly socks and the smell of mountain air. John is thankful for wifi at the library (wishes it was closer), for digital cameras and video and for the many friends with whom we get to share our adventures.

And, today's photo gallery can be viewed by clicking here.

There will not be any video posting for this day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 05

Another wonderful day on our road trip. Whee! It is really nice to be in an area where you can stay in the same bed every night and just take day trips every day from a hub.

The buzzards were up by 6am and rarin' to go. Well, as rarin' as any 65 plus seniors with achy joints can be. Right away Linda noticed that there was a deer in the room. Remember that tree she noticed yesterday with the duck on it? Well, today she looked down at the floor at the bottom of the tree and there was a deer. Stuffed? Yes, but cute, nevertheless. No trip to The Sugar Shack today. Linda attempted to craft mocha at The Hideaway. John's comment "It's hot".

At 10 to 10 it was off to the WIFI connection at the Twain Harte Library to dry run for a meeting via SKYPE. It was just for a test. No connection occurred as no party showed at the other end, so it was off to a walk for Linda. She was able to place the first letterbox to be listed for Twain Harte. The name of the letterbox is Spin Some Time in Twain Harte. It is a tribute to the Rotary Club of Twain Harte and is placed near their 2005 Centennial Project for Twain Harte.

At 11:45 it was off to Ironstone Winery for the 2 old buzzards. Believe it or not, they were more interested in the 1927 Robert Morton pipe organ at Ironstone than the wine.

We made it to Ironstone by 12:37 pm which was right on the mark for the 53 minutes that Google Maps said it would take to get there from Twain Harte. We had time to go to the museum and see the largest crystalline gold specimen in captivity and some other interesting things in the museum. It is a beautiful place - lots of plants in bloom and everything in pristine condition. The tour started at 1:30 and our guide was quite knowledgeable about the family who owns Ironstone and about all the many features of the winery. We toured the 65 degree caverns where many thousands of gallons of wine is processed - some in barrels and some in 15,000 gallon stainless steel vats (party on, dudes!). We saw the amphitheater where they have fireworks and attractions like Faith Hill, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Sugarland and Chicago. Each tour ends in the music room, so we got to have a demonstration of the pipe organ that was rescued from the Alhambra theater in Sacramento when Safeway was tearing it down to make a parking lot. Eventually, we will post a video link to this day and you can get a taste of the pipe organ on that video. Even though the organ has a beautiful console it is played by computer except for special events (like silent movies) in the fall and winter. The winery owner reminded us a little of both Irv Perlitch and of Randolph Hearst. He bought up many things that are now in use at the winery many years before he ever had a place to use them. Things like armored knights, chandeliers, marble slabs, pottery, statues, paving stones, special wooden slats, etc.

Before leaving Murphys we got gas for $2.97 which is the best we had seen it for in these parts.

Then it was off to Angels' Camp. We took Hwy 4 to Angels' Camp where we picked up Hwy 49. We wanted to get ice cream in Angels' Camp but struck out. Next we went to Mark Twain's cabin in Tuttletown atop Jackass Hill. The cabin was still there but there was no mule to feed carrots to. And Linda was prepared with clues to find 2 letterboxes near the cabin. She struck out on both of them. At least there's a photo or two to remind her of the quest. Oh, well...

After leaving Mark's cabin we were stuck in road repair traffic for awhile. The truck in front of us had a license plate holder we had not seen before. It said (on top) HORN IS BROKEN and (on bottom) WATCH FOR FINGER. Some folks are always thinking of others. Isn't that sweet of them to let you know why the finger?

Back to our hideaway and Maggie at Twain Harte. She was happy to see us (as usual) and we all went for pizza at the Pizza Factory (motto "We Toss 'em, They're Awesome") and it was. We ate outside under the pines at the hideaway and for dessert had some more famous Cover's apple pie.

Back in Morgan Hill, John's Cousin Jerry reports that all is OK on the home front. Weather is a pleasant 68 degrees and The Mushroom Festival was a huge success with crowds of 80 thousand plus.

Linda is thankful for Wilma's GPS, pinot grigio and mushrooms. John is thankful for cousin Jerry, for Gentleman Jack and the beautiful redwoods.

You can reach today's photo gallery by clicking here.

Here is a link to the video for Day 05. View it by clicking here.