Monday, November 25, 2013

Album of the Heart ~ March 13, 1874

From friend Fanny Johnson
I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Researching the origins and authorship of this quote proved quite interesting. It is generally credited to Stephen Grellet, born Ettiene De Grellet du Mabillier (1773 -1855). He was the son of a counselor to King Louis XVI. 

During the French Revolution of 1792 he was sentenced to be executed, but in 1795 he escaped and fled to the United States. Impressed by the writings of William Penn and Quaker beliefs, he joined the Society of Friends in 1796 and became involved in missionary work across North America and Europe.

The quote, with a slight variation in wording, is also attributed to William Penn 1644-1718. He was born in London, the son of an admiral and landowner. He was educated in theology and law and was jailed several times for his resistance to the Church of England. In his twenties he converted to the Quaker religion. In 1681 he received a royal charter to form a new colony in America, to be named Pennsylvania. His vision for this territory was a peaceful refuge for members of all religious beliefs.  
In Cassell's Book of Quotations, published in 1914 by W. Gurney Benham, the author states that every effort to identify the author of this much quoted saying had failed. There seems to be some authority in favor of Stephen Grellet being the author, but the passage does not appear in any of his printed works.

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.
You certainly usually find something, if you look,
but it is not always quite the something you were after.
JRR Tolkien

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wishing You Were Here ~ Nov 23, 2013

Another year exits stage right
Life moves on with each sunset flight
From the seeds of friendship you so freely cast
A cosmic garden has come to pass
It took root in love and continues to thrive
Ever brilliant and so much alive
We all have new challenges to bear
As well as joys and stories to share
We remain the same, yet forever changed
By the cosmic cowgirl, at home on our range

You taught me well about facing each day
Life throws us curve balls, but we're here to play
Follow your heart
Jump in with both feet
Say what you mean
And follow your dreams

 Zarzo's lines reside in plain sight
 Words to the wise forever in flight
Did you come to ride?
 Or did you come to hide? 
 Here to ride girlfriend, fearless, strong and true
So very glad to have shared time with you

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Album of the Heart ~ February 27, 1871

To Sister Flora
We may write our names in albums,
We may trace them in the sand,
Or may chisel them in marble,
With a firm and skillful hand;
But the pages soon are sullied,
Soon each name will fade away,
Every monument will crumble,
And like earthly hopes decay.
But my friend there is an album,
Full of leaves of snowy white,
Where no name is ever tarnished,
But forever pure and light.
In that Book of Life ~ God's album
May your name be penned with care;
And may all who here have written,
Write their names forever there.
Sister _______

Research on the poem itself proved to be quite perplexing. I found it referenced in a number of (published on line) autograph books: Alice Rebecca Williamson from Bedias, TX 1890, Lizzie deBevoise from Jamaica, LI 1874, and Ida Jane Briggs Seely from Briggsville, PA 1885 to name a few.

Next I came upon a publication entitled "Poetical Selections for Autograph Albums" compiled by Marie Tomisetta for Sharps Publishing, Copyright 1881. The inside cover page states "Poetical Selections from Celebrated Authors, suitable for inscription in Autograph Albums". However, none of the poems were credited to their celebrated author.

Sgt. Andrew Boyd, Co.H. (Washburn)
Andrew Boyd
A new day dawns. Digging a little deeper I found "A Complete Military History and Record of 108th Regiment N.Y. Volunteers". The regiment fought many battles in the Civil War: including Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. The untitled poem is attributed to Captain Andrew H. Boyd, from Company H, and was written in his Civil War Diary on March 15, 1863.

I can't explain the signature "Sister ______". I recently found out that Great Grandmother Flora had two sisters, but Sarah (Sadie) and Lillian, were too young at the time, so the writer of this entry remains a mystery for now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Visual Road Home ~ Oct 29, 2013

The roads home provide visual delights at every turn. Autumn is a great time to travel the coast. The winds of spring and summer have settled into breezes and the sun remains warm. 
Hwy 46 ~ From Paso Robles to Cambria

North of Cambria ~ Hwy 1
 Way to Big Sur ~ Hwy 1
Golden Gate Bridge ~ Hwy 101

Mt. Tamalpais ~ Hwy 101
The Vineyard Trail Next Door
If you come to a fork in the road, take it ~ Yogi Berra

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We Ride a Serendipitous Trail ~ Oct 28, 2013

For the last three days Las Vegas has hovered at 85 degrees, 70ish at night. A slight breeze came up yesterday and cooled the afternoon a bit.   

I woke up about 5:30am with a soft howl in my ears that sounded like it was coming from the windows. I reached behind the curtains to feel a major draft and realize it's the wind. We are, after all, on the 27th floor. It seems that last night's said breeze turned into a red flag wind warning, with gusts of 40-80 depending on your location. Are those ripples in my water glass?

Pencil and Pen drawing Art Print:  "Windy Day"
Windy Day
We're on the road about 9am and the wind is indeed howling: tumbleweeds and dust devils are dancing in the vast openness, clouds of dust are drifting across the highway. The Expedition holds her own so we barely feel it. As a precaution, however, we keep a healthy distance behind large trucks and stay on the upwind side. A parade of big rigs bobbing and weaving down the interstate is not a comforting site.

Did you know that the first noted use of "serendipity" in the English language was by Horace Walpole? In a letter to Horace Mann in January 1794 he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip whose heroes were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of. That sounds about right.

We got a little turned around in Bakersfield trying to find our way to Costco so it took a little longer than expected to get there. We pull up to a pump and a truck pulls in behind us. The driver gets out and says "Hi Rod". There stands Jeff,  a friend of his from Santa Rosa. They've traveled together to Las Vegas for the March NASCAR races a number of times. Turns out Jeff is on his way to Missouri on some family business. What are the odds?

We decide to push on towards the coast for the night. Once out of Bakersfield, we head up I5 for a bit and turn left onto Hwy 46 for Paso Robles. It's a road less traveled, freshly paved, winding through ranches, vineyards and rolling hills. The remnants of a storm moving east provide some great visuals.

We stayed at the Best Western in Paso Robles last November on our way home from Arizona so we stop there again. They upgraded our room for coming back ~ cool beans. This also means we can walk up to Big Bad Bubba's BBQ for dinner (worth checking out if you're in the area). Long drive today so it's early to bed, looking forward to getting home tomorrow. I love traveling but it's oh so nice to sleep in your own bed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bringing Down the House ~ Oct 27, 2013

Today's event is at 1pm so we use the morning to get organized. We always over pack (scouts at heart) but we are prepared for anything. It will make checking out a little easier if we only have to make one trip to the car tomorrow so we schlep the hanging clothes bag (never touched), shoe bag (too hot for boots or slippers), laundry, spare books and snack bags down to the rig. After a leisurely breakfast and a little play time in the casino, we head out to the taxi stand for the short drive to the Thomas and Mack Center.

This is the final day of the event and it's going down to the wire. You couldn't have written a better script for 17,000 PBR fans. There are 35 riders in the first round with hopes of finishing in the money. The top 15 move into the final round. If you win the event there's a $250,000 paycheck, if you win the world championship there's a $1,000,000 paycheck. And trust me if you've ever watched bull riding you know that every cent is EARNED.

The riders start from last to first so the top two ride last in every round. Silvano Alves rides Cowtown Slinger for 88.25 points. J.B.'s bull is Harlem Shake, but he's acting up so much in the chute there is concern for the safety of both rider and bull. The judges make the call and J.B. will ride Ford Hammer Down. He's at the chutes on the other end of the arena, so action stops for a bit while he walks down and gets reset. Think about how hard it would be to stay focused after all this hullaballoo. Evidently no problem for J.B. his ride earns 91 points, here's a link:
In the final go round Silvano rides Big Tex Rocks. The bull didn't perform well so he is again give an opportunity for a re-ride. Much to everyone's surprise he takes the re-ride option on Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. He scores in the high 80's but the point is mute.

J.B. has won on points with one more bull to ride. He draws Wipeout and scores 93 points. The cheering is deafening. J.B has twice finished 2nd and twice finished 3rd so he is on top of the world. Paycheck for the day $1,250,000

J.B. Mauney won four rounds at the 2013 World Finals including this 93 point effort on Wipeout in the final go.
Final Ride ~ J.B. Mauney and Wipeout
Photo credit Andy Watson

“There’s no better feeling. You dream of something all your life and to eventually get it ..... feels like you’ve done conquered the world.”
Silvano Alves, the Brazilian who has won the last two PBR World Championships is a total class act and a great ambassador for the sport. As soon as J.B.'s bull is out of the arena, he's out to congratulate him.

It's a gorgeous afternoon so we decide to walk over to the MGM grand for lunch. It's 2 miles (sure looks closer), but we've mastered the buck and weave to stay in the shade most of the way. The Vegas monorail starts at the MGM Grand and ends at our hotel so it's a great way to get back home and see yet another perspective of the city.

This a been an experience of a life time, a total rush. There's much to be said for living in the moment, for closing the door on real life for a couple of days and just doing what pleases you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Street Walking in Vegas ~ Oct 26, 2013

Gotcha! Not what you're thinking at all, curb your imagination and read on. 
Opened the curtains in our 27th floor aerie to an amazing sunrise reflected in the windows of the Wynn. Since we've been doing a lot of sitting the last few days it's time for a walk. Temperatures are in the mid eighties, which is warm for me, but large hotels cast mighty shadows. After breakfast we take off down the Strip.

There is something for everyone here: shows, fine dining, sports events, gambling, and shopping. Where else could you find the Chapel of the Bells wedding chapel next door to the Strip Gun Club? There are hucksters and entrepreneurs on every corner. People watching is spontaneous entertainment: short story scripts everywhere you look.

Wynn Atrium
We declare a turnaround point at the Wynn and stop in to look around. By the time we returned to our hotel we were astonished to find we'd walked 5.3 miles. (iPhone app from Kaiser called Every Body Walk! logs time, distance, calories and your route via GPS).
We head out to Thomas and Mack Stadium a little after 5pm. Our taxi driver tells us not to worry about standing in line for the return trip. He handed us his card and said "call me when the event is over and walk up to CVS Pharmacy (about a quarter of a mile) I'll pick you up there".
 Eight seconds is an eternity

10 months, 26 events, 71 riders, 2,500 outs and no one has seen a race like this one in the 20 year history of the PBR. It's the best bulls vs. the best riders. The venue was more electric than the night before, the crowd larger and louder.  
Since mid season J.B. Mauney has been on fire, overcoming a 3,000 point deficit. Tonight he's in second place, by only 19.75 points, so he rides next to last. The feeling is that J.B. is betting on himself and leader Silvano Alves is betting on J.B. to fail. 

Silvano has a penchant for not taking re-rides and keeping low scores (judges award one to rider if the bull is not performing well) and on a previous night he didn't take advantage of the opportunity and kept a score of 70 something. This may come back to bite him. 

Some of the riders have theme songs and when J.B. enters the chutes you hear the first few bars of George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" and 15,000 fans go nuts. He scores 90.75 points on Breakdown. Silvano's bull tonight is Trueblood and the clock is stopped at 6.9 seconds due to a touch, 1.1 seconds short of an 8 second ride (rider cannot touch the bull with free arm).
Click on the link below to see J.B.'s ride on Breakdown

J.B. Mauney is only 26 and being the World Champion has been his dream for over 20 years. He regained control tonight with only the final two rounds to go tomorrow. Past champion Kody Lostroh captured the moment: "There've been a lot of great races throughout PBR history, but this year with guys swapping places at the Finals, it's inspiring to watch.”
We've been screaming, clapping and cheering for a couple of hours and need to take a few breaths and calm down before we reverse direction on the 120 plus steps of what we've dubbed the Stairway to Heaven.  Since we have a personal taxi tonight we just amble out of the arena and stroll over to the CVS parking lot. He's pulling in as we walk up ~ big time tip. Back to the hotel for a late dinner, a little gaming, and a few chapters of Louis L'Amour.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Fabulous Friday Find ~ Nov 8, 2013

Into the Wilderness
Into the Wilderness

"This hand bead embroidered neckpiece is an escape into the wilderness. An owl's eyes, an eagle's wings, a look into the wild life of a wolf and raven are depicted with beads".  This is truly a one-of-a-kind hand beaded creation and is signed by the artist.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Las Vegas Flashback ~ October 25, 2013

Rod describes the drive from Bakersfield to Las Vegas as miles and miles of miles and miles. Truer words were never spoken, but the desert has magic and mystery at every turn.

Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day,
rarely of what they had seen.
Louis L'Amour

Arrived in Las Vegas in the early afternoon and were immediately introduced to the "Spaghetti Bowl". We may complain about Bay Area roads, but nothing holds a candle to this maze. Driving on city streets in Vegas is no picnic either so we decided then and there to leave Pearl parked at the hotel for the weekend. Time to walk, take a taxi or hop the monorail to get around town.

Picked up the event tickets at the Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV and headed east to find our hotel. In the 4500 block of Las Vegas Boulevard we stopped in our tracks at the site of the "Pink Elephant" Motel.  

circa 1962
 circa 2013
Circa 2013 

A mere 27 years ago we spent our second night as Mr. and Mrs. here, in what we've always described as the quintessential dive. The only difference today is that it's now listed on the Roadside America website as an Offbeat Tourist Attraction. Rumor has it the elephant came from Disney World and used to trumpet loudly, but after causing several accidents the owner was told to remove the sound mechanism. Can we pick 'em or what?

Once settled at the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) we had a bite to eat and left for the event. We ask the concierge about getting a taxi to the venue. He points to the place to be and said "tell the driver not to take the Strip, it's the long way around". Taxis charge by the time it takes you to get where you're going and this city has really long signals.

Thomas & Mack Center

Thomas and Mack has at least 50 steps up to the front entrance. On the left side of the staircase is an escalator. We started up the stairs and a gentleman standing nearby said "You might want to consider taking the escalator, its the one free thing you'll get in Las Vegas." We decided on the stairs because we wanted some exercise, but after three days in Vegas we got his point. Our seats were up another 77 stairs overlooking the center of the arena. Needless to say our knees got some exercise over the weekend.  

The defending world champion Silvano Alves arrived in Vegas with a 538.5 point lead over J.B. Mauney and then J.B. took the lead by 30.75 points after Round 2 on Thursday. Silvano reclaimed the No. 1 position tonight by 19.75 points. The fans are going nuts as the suspense builds, the atmosphere is electric. The bulls are also vying for a world championship. Will be it be Asteroid or Bushwacker?
 Asteroid JB interior
Add to the mix and the world's greatest (singing and dancing) rodeo clown, Flint Rasmussen, and you've got the total package, pure entertainment every night of the event.
After letting the crowd thin a bit we head out to get a taxi back to the hotel. There are only 500 people in a line. It took over an hour but it was a balmy 70 degrees and we had a great conversation with a couple from Quebec who had flown in for a birthday celebration. Once back at the hotel we grabbed a bite to eat and unwound in the casino for a bit. Well tomorrow is here, we best get some shuteye.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Toughest Sport on Dirt ~ Oct 24, 2013

So most of you already know we're fans of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders). Trisha got us hooked back in 2006 and we've been following J.B. Mauney ever since he turned pro that year at the age of 19. He has attitude, swagger, a smile that could light up New York City and a dream of winning the World Championship. He's matured a lot in seven years and he just might reach his goal this year. 

J.B. Mauney

The second half of this season, after some time off, he began chipping away at the lead of Silvano Alves, the two time world champion from Brazil. Silvano was on track to win the title for an unprecedented third year in a row. When J.B. won the last two events of the regular season earlier this month and inched closer to Silvano we started getting excited.

We have always wanted to go the PBR Finals in Las Vegas and Rod promised to take me back to Vegas 27 years ago (we'll get to that story tomorrow). So, on the spur of a moment we packed up the Expedition and took off. First stop is Bakersfield, the half way point.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The To Did List ~ October 15, 2013

Now home from our adventure, it was time to take care of some car business. We purchased Ruby the Explorer in April to tow our trailer, but due to my spring and summer of TACE treatments we stayed home all summer while I recovered.

Consequently we had no idea there was a problem until late September when we were finally able to take off for on a camping trip, almost. The salesman assured us the Explorer would tow a small trailer, but she had not been up to the task and we had to return home. See September 25th post entitled Go Back Jack and Do It Again.

We went back to the dealership and told them about the problem. While there, they did some research, and agreed we had a point. Our stand was that they needed to find a solution without more money out of our pockets. In the end they agreed to swap Ruby the Explorer for Pearl the Expedition, to extend the existing warrantee for a year and to refund us $1K. Something to be said for customer service.

Little Bit and Pearl
Looking back, Ruby the Explorer was akin to a high class race horse; pretty to look at, but a finicky and prone to problems. Pearl, on the other hand is more of a Clydesdale: classic lines, sturdy, a little old school (tach and speedometer have actual dials), and up for any task. She more than proved herself on our next adventure.

Clydesdale Horse Refrigerator Magnet - FREE US SHIPPING
Clydesdale Horse Magnet

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Ship of Fools sails again but all is not lost ~ Oct 1-7, 2013

October 1st ~ Avast, what nonsense is this? We turned on the news in Mariposa, after five days off the grid, to find out the Government has shut down. Once again the Ship of Fools has followed their Train of Thought over a cliff!

October 2nd ~ Well that nixes any idea of heading to Lassen because the National Parks are being closed. Hmmm, what to do? Consensus ~ Head home to do laundry and see if we can find a place on the north coast to unwind for a few days. We headed back to Jackson for an overnight and emailed our neighbor Carol to let her know we were on our way back and see if she had any suggestions.

October 3rd ~ Once home we find a message that we can use a friend's cabin in Fort Bragg for as long as we like. Sweet!

October 4th-7th  ~ Laundry done, we do a little grocery shopping and head north. This whole trip has had perfect weather and Fort Bragg was no different, 75 degrees during the day and cool enough at night to build a fire and curl up on a couch to read. 

First full day there we head up to MacKerricher State Beach for a long walk and then return to Fort Bragg to check out the museum, some shops and drop by the Skunk Train Depot in case we decide on a train trip Monday. 
The sea, once it casts is spell,
holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Jacques Yves Cousteau 

Sunday we spent the day in Mendocino: walking the headlands, visiting shops, galleries, and the Mendocino Art Center. After a late lunch at the venerable Mendocino Café we head back to the cabin for the evening.


The stay at Fort Bragg was the perfect ending to our adventure and it's only a couple hours from home. Instead of heading back the way we came on Hwy 128 out of Cloverdale we head back on Hwy 20 into Ukiah. The road is a little straighter, shaded and uncrowded, always a plus in our book. Ta-ta for now. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sequoia National Park ~ Sept 30, 2013

After breakfast we pack up and head for Sequoia, just south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon. First stop is to see the General Sherman tree. There is 0.4-mile (0.8-mile roundtrip) paved trail that descends from the parking lot to the base of the tree. Going down is a piece of cake, but coming back up the trail is a different ballgame at an altitude of 7,200 feet. Fortunately there are benches along the trail for sitting a spell and catching your breath.


General Sherman is between 1,800 and 2,700 years old and, measured by volume, is the largest tree in the world. It's about 275' tall and 36' in diameter. In 1879 the tree was named after the American Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served as a lieutenant in his 9th Indiana Cavalry unit. It has survived fires and drought and continues to flourish. It has endured as countless civilizations have come and gone (think about this).

This grove is a breathtaking sight to behold and as you make your way back up the trail you'll see a whole different perspective. Next stop is the Giant Forest Museum which provides visitors with an introduction to the features of Giant Forest including giant sequoias, meadows, and human history.
From there we slowly head down the mountain on Hwy 198, a picturesque collection of switchbacks, dropping nearly 6,000 feet before arriving in the small town of Three Rivers for lunch. On to Mariposa for the night. We're thinking about heading to Lassen next.